How to Conserve Water at Your Home

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Water is an important resource and many homeowners use more of it than realized. It’s important to consider ways to conserve water and help to create positive environmental changes as well as cut costs.

There are many ways the average homeowner wastes water without even being aware. In fact some methods homeowners may think save on water use actually do the very opposite, according to the Charles River Watershed Association. For instance, running a dishwasher only when it’s absolutely full doesn’t keep dishes from getting clean, but it does save water quickly and easily. And for those who hand-wash their dishes it’s vital to turn off the tap in between rinsing dishes as a means of saving water. The same is true of brushing teeth and shaving.

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What about Outside the Home?
There are many ways to save water and obtain a healthier lawn simultaneously. The best time to water a lawn isn’t in the middle of the day because that leads to evaporation. Watering the lawn when the sun is just starting to rise or set will give grass the best chance to absorb as much water as possible. People also often water their lawns more than is necessary to keep the grass healthy.

There are many ways to maintain a healthy lawn and conserve water simultaneously. For example, leaving grass clippings on the lawn after cutting it will provide more shade and nutrients for the remaining grass. Also, well-fed grass results in a thicker lawn that can withstand the stress of heat and drought. Mowing grass at a higher height (3-4 inches) is another way to conserve water. Properly mowed grass allows for a deeper root system for the grass to find water and soil nutrients.

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Another Way to Water Your Garden
Many homeowners often enjoy cultivating their own gardens, but it is unfortunate that water is often wasted here as well, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Instead of using a watering can or spraying hose multiple times a day, homeowners may wish to consider installing a drip-irrigation system. Not only can this save time – as it doesn’t require gardeners to physically water plants every day – but it can also reduce water costs and potentially yield better crops.

Of course, a drip-irrigation system costs money and requires time to set up, but there is a significant return on investment over time. Many modern drip systems also operate on timers that can be scheduled and beat the alternative of having to manually turn them on and off each day.

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It’s a good idea to use common sense when looking at ways to save water. Most people probably know when they have a little wiggle room to cut their shower times or find other ways to reduce consumption around the house. A little effort and consideration may very well make all the difference.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Homeowners Should Invest in Smart Security Systems

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Homeowners and potential buyers should explore the options available in making their properties safe and secure. The good news is the variety of security systems now readily available are at relatively low costs with easy installation and monitoring capabilities.

One of the most popular types of home security features is the connected security camera, giving owners the ability to look at live footage of their home from anywhere with internet access or Wi-Fi, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Entire networks of these cameras can be set up around a home at a relatively low cost, and can also function as a high-tech baby monitor for new parents.

Ways to Stay Connected
Home security systems are now designed to pair with smart phones, tablets and computers giving homeowners real-time information, based on networks of motion sensors as well as door and window sensors – sending alerts to homeowners when alarms are tripped. Some services will also automatically contact the police or other emergency personnel in the event of a break-in or fire-triggering smoke detectors.

Doesn’t Have to be High-Tech
For homeowners who want to go beyond the benefits of smart home security devices, looking to low-tech solutions can be a good idea too, according to Reader’s Digest.

Something as simple as getting rid of the mail slot on a front door and asking neighbors to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity can go a long way towards ensuring a home isn’t subjected to a break-in. In the event that a family goes on vacation, it’s also a good idea to make sure all doors and windows are locked – including those on the second floor.

Homeowners who take pleasure in gardening may wish to take that extra step in planting large, thorny bushes which can deter thieves from breaking through ground floor windows.

It’s also advisable to never stack items – such as firewood, ladders or lawn care equipment – which could enable burglars, should they choose to enter by way of a higher window.

Experts recommend homeowners install lawn signs or window decals that say they’re protected by home security companies – even if they aren’t – to ward off would-be thieves.

In general, common sense is often the best tool any homeowner has to keep their properties safe. Simply being smart about keeping doors or windows locked and keeping close tabs on their keys is often the best first defense against any sort of break-in.

Interested in installing a professional home-security system? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Plenty of Ways to Start Summer DIY Jobs

Landcaping.jpgNow that summer is finally here, homeowners can put the finishing touches on their homes and yards with DIY projects. The problem some people face when they’re trying to start those efforts is that they can seem like colossal tasks to undertake. However, they don’t have to be.

One of the first things homeowners might want to do at this time is have a look at what may have changed about their properties during the winter and even spring, according to U.S. News and World Report Real Estate. A careful inspection will determine whether there are any cracks in a home’s siding, dead spots on the lawn or clogged gutters. If so, these obviously provide a good jumping-off point for where homeowners can start their work, and perhaps save some of the more aspirational “nice-to-have” changes for later in the summer.

DIY Tasks That Can Save You Money Right Away
For homeowners who are worried about the cost of electricity for keeping a home nice and cool all summer long, it might be wise to think about DIY projects that increase efficiency. For instance, resealing doors and windows or adding new insulation for older homes is something that can end up being worth the investment of both time and money. Some homeowners might be surprised to learn how much cooled air – and, in colder months, heated air – seeps out of their homes through even the smallest cracks. Some home improvement experts estimate that there are enough bad seals in a home to be equivalent to leaving a window open 24/7 all year long.

Homeowners may also want to use the early months of summer to do more physically intensive work before the sun gets too hot. Building outdoor features like decks or playgrounds, planting trees or repairing fences as soon as possible will pay off all summer long.

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Other DIY Ways to Save
In addition to outdoor jobs, there are some basic indoor tasks homeowners can undertake to keep costs down, such as installing ceiling fans that can spin in both directions, according to Laser Level Hub. These simple devices can help to raise or lower a room’s temperature by as much as 10 degrees, and use far less energy than air conditioners.

Finally, for those who want to maintain happy, healthy lawns and gardens, it can be wise to invest in anti-pest efforts. Using pesticides and deterrents – both chemical and natural – can help protect the plants owners pour so much care into fostering, saving them time, money and headaches. However, when putting these into use, it’s wise to follow all instructions as carefully as possible.

In general, the more research any owner can do about how to properly execute all the DIY jobs on their to-do list this summer, the easier and more efficiently they’ll be able to complete that work. At this time of year, it can also be a good idea to start a group in which friends or neighbors all help each other tackle these jobs, providing support and camaraderie, and getting work done more quickly.

If DIY is not your thing, remember Sibcy Cline Home Services can recommend many home-related service vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Home-Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your home on a regular basis not only keeps it in its best shape, but will also make your home more desirable when it is time to sell. Here are some maintenance tips to follow:

Air Conditioning Repair

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Heating and cooling systems should be professionally maintained twice yearly. On a monthly basis, be sure to check the filter to see if it needs to be replaced.

Drains
Maintain a clear pathway in your drains with this monthly activity: Pour one tablespoon of salt down the drain, then slowly pour one quarter cup of white vinegar. Let this set for one hour and then flush with hot water. For more serious clogs use a drain snake to pull debris out. Be sure to flush thoroughly with water.

Garbage Disposal
Flush out the disposal on a monthly basis with hot water and baking soda. This will eliminate odors and avoid chances of clogs in the system. To clean the teeth of the grinding blades, drop in a half dozen ice cubes along with a couple of lemon wedges. Run cold water into the disposal for a minute until the wedges are ground up. The ice will clean the grooves of the blades and the lemon freshens the disposal.

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Smoke Detectors
Replace smoke detector batteries twice a year.

Hot Water Heater
Flush the buildup in your hot water heater twice yearly.

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Clothes Dryer
Remove lint from the exhaust duct once a year.

Refrigerator
Once a year, vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath this appliance.

Fireplace Chimney
The chimney should be inspected and cleaned every year.

Need help with your home-maintenance needs? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

 

Boost the ROI on Your Remodel in 2017

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With home prices and buyer demand on the rise, it’s smart for any homeowner to consider remodeling at least one part of their house to boost their asking price. However, any real estate professional can tell clients one simple truth: There’s a right and a wrong way to approach this issue. And a lot of it is tied up in return on investment.

For example, some owners might think it’s wise to put thousands of dollars into renovating a bathroom, but if it’s only going to come with a marginal increase in asking price, then it might not be worth it to them. With this in mind, there’s plenty of data to suggest which investments are going to pay off the most, according to Remodeling Magazine. The good news is that the value of these investments is on the rise thanks to the generally improving housing market.

Going less traditional
While many people may see redoing a bathroom or kitchen as the fastest and most obvious way to get more ROI for their remodeling buck, that might not actually be the case, the report said. Something as simple as putting new insulation into a home can provide owners with an additional in property value of $116.90 above every $100 they spend.

More traditional remodel efforts, like installing stone countertops, replacing garage doors and installing new steel doors also made the list of the biggest ROI last year, the report said. However, it’s worth noting that a number of “green” remodel efforts, including installing new installation, are moving up the list as consumer demands change.

“I think over time that really starts to loosen up prices a bit and allows some of these [remodeling] factors to become more significant as part of the price,” Jonathan Diehart, director of custom services and published research at Metrostudy, told Remodeling. “When times become more difficult, the price becomes competitive. When times are better, the price bands get bigger [on homes of equal size]. It’s no longer ‘It’s a 2,500-square-foot house so it should cost this,’ but rather ‘It’s a 2,500-square-foot house that has this and this.’”

What makes a good ROI remodel?
There are a number of common factors seen across all the things that tend to top the remodel ROI list on a regular basis, according to House Logic. For example, these projects tend to be low-maintenance going forward, implying shoppers want a kind of set-it-and-forget-it attitude toward such efforts. Likewise, homeowners don’t necessarily have to invest in the highest-quality items as part of their remodels, and certainly shouldn’t break the bank to undertake them. Finally, because energy efficiency is becoming so sought-after, it might be wise for owners to consider the ways in which they can improve their homes’ ability to reduce consumption of heat, water or energy.

Often, it’s wise for owners to consult with industry professionals before making any decision on a remodel, especially if they want to undertake these efforts just ahead of real estate sales. This is where an agent’s experience can really go a long way toward helping current owners boost their ROI in short order.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Need a recommendation for your home’s remodel? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

Snow Shoveling Tips for Your Home

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Shoveling snow. This is not a fun activity, but is necessary during winter. Here are some tips about shoveling snow around your home:

Snow Shovels
Many shovels are now constructed of strong, light-weight plastic. Steel shovels are durable and will outlast all others, but require more energy to use since they are so heavy. Aluminum shovels are more durable than plastic and lighter than steel. But, aluminum may bend when in contact with an ice chunk or driveway crack.

Look for shovels with a sturdy handles. Fiberglass and resin handles are the best.

And, think ergonomics! Select a Z-shaped handled shovel that is designed to ease the strain on the lower back when shoveling. Some shovels come with a large wheel on the handle that supports the weight of the snow (like a fulcrum) and helps with lifting heavy snow. See one here.

Pushing the White Stuff
It is best to push snow rather than lift it. There are push-type shovels meant for just pushing snow from a 24-inch to 36-inch diameter blade.

Or, you want to consider purchasing either a gas or electric snow blower to help make snow removal an easier process.

Be Safe

  • Your cardiovascular system will be stressed and your heart rate level rises when shoveling, so be sure to check with your doctor to see if you are in shape for this type of activity.
  • Wear light layers of water-repellent clothing. Be sure to wear a hat, gloves and sturdy snow boots.
  • It is best to clear snow early and often. There is less strain on the body to remove snow in phases.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water! And, be sure to pace yourself.

Not up to removing snow? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for a recommendation of snow removal from your home.

Burning Calories!
Want to know how many calories are burned shoveling snow? This blogger did! My snow removal usually takes one hour and I burn 312 calories. To find out your snow-shoveling carloric burn, go here!

This blog article was inspired from information from HouseLogic of the National Association of Realtors. 

5 Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill in Your Home

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As the weather cools down, homeowners across the nation will start turning on the heat and bracing for the accompanying energy bill. Whether your home is heated using electricity, gas or oil, heating is usually the largest bill, so it goes without saying that lowering this monthly bill is a priority. We have you covered with five great ways to lower your heating bill.

  1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
    Programmable thermostats are becoming increasingly affordable, and can take a serious bite out of that heating bill. These thermostats can decrease the amount of heat being used at specific time periods, for example when no one is home. Some modern programmable thermostats – called “smart” thermostats – can even sense when you are on your way home by connecting with your mobile device.
  2. Reverse your Ceiling Fan
    Everyone knows that a ceiling fan can save you money on cooling in the summer by blowing cold air over your skin, but did you know that it can also save you money in the winter by redistributing warm air? Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan so that it sucks cool air up. This will displace the warm air that naturally accumulates around the ceiling, forcing it to flow down along the walls and back to the floor. According to Del Mar Fans & Lighting, this can save you up to 15 percent on your winter heating bills if you lower the thermostat to maintain the same temperature.
  3. Use Blinds and Drapes Strategically
    If you have south-facing windows that let in significant light, they can actually let in more heat than they let out during the day. Light passes easily through windows, but once it strikes something inside it turns into heat. This heat has trouble passing through glass. We call this the greenhouse effect.

This means that you should leave your south facing window – or any windows that get significant daytime light – uncovered throughout the day. At night, when temperatures drop and light fades, pull the drapes and blinds down to keep that heat inside.

  1. Invest in Caulk
    Caulk is cheap – heating a house is not. For less than $5 at your local home goods store, you can purchase weather caulking to seal the tiny gaps around your windows. According to One Hundred Dollars a Month, homes lose about one-third of their heat through windows and doors, so this is an important investment of time.
  2. Purchase a Home Warranty
    While an HMS® Home Warranty won’t do anything to keep your heating bills down when everything is going smoothly, it will be there when the worst happens. A mechanical failure to a heating system can be a blow to even the most conservatively planned budget. A home warranty can help to hedge against the risk of an expensive repair or replacement.

While heating will still likely be your largest utility bill, using these tips can help to save you money and keep you feeling warm.