Posts Tagged ‘home’

5 Ways to Keep Your Old Home Green

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Image of a happy green home.If you’re one of the many who has adopted an old or historic home, you undoubtedly know all the good and bad that comes with it. While your house may be historic and full of character, it may also be full of holes and gaps for the wind to blow through, making efficient heating impossible. It’s certainly more difficult to transform an older building into a “green house,” but it can be done affordably and without destroying the integrity of your home. Here are some tips for looking closely at your home, understanding where the energy is going, and improving your savings and your impact on the environment.

Hot Water Heater

Check the temperature of your water heater. You may want to consider turning it down a few degrees; every 10° difference will equal up to about 3-5% of your energy. If your home has room for change, you may want to consider a different type of heater. Today there are solar water heating systems and tankless systems for a less wasteful, “water-on-demand” approach. If your home has an existing duct system, you could also opt for a geothermal heat pump to be installed underground. Check with your State historic preservation office before you go ripping up the ground, and be careful not to disturb your home’s foundation.

Air Sealing

Nothing is more inefficient than heating a house where the air blows straight out. Your home may have more air leaks than you realize. These leaks could be anywhere there is a seam, a chute, or a door. You can perform an energy audit on your home to better discern where the air is flowing, but for the most part it’s easy to tell. Cover your windows when there is a draft and close your chutes when not in use. You can fix any air sealing that is damaged or worn out with the many DIY guides that are out there. Just remember that while your air is flowing so chaotically, every cubic foot of conditioned air that leaves the house invites in a replacing cubic foot of outside air. So close the door!

Windows

Windows are usually a major culprit in energy loss; on average they are responsible for 10-15% of the energy lost in a home. While most consider it essential to replace the windows when there is significant energy loss, usually all they need is a good repair to become more efficient. Fix any wooden framing that has become termite-ridden or water damaged, and caulk both the interior and exterior pane sealing. You could look into installing storm windows for added efficiency (low-E is best, but more expensive).

Insulation

Depending on what time your house was built, you could have any type of insulation in the walls (some people find newspapers padding their interior walls). As a bare minimum, the best places to install new insulation is around attic spaces, basements, cooling ducts, and around water pipes. You can do this yourself, but you may need a professional opinion to help avoid cold pockets and thermal bulging. There are also plenty of potential fire hazards in old walls, including tube wiring. You’ll also need proper ventilation to avoid mold and water damage. But with the proper precautions, new insulation in your home will help keep the heat in significantly.

Natural Heating/Cooling

The nice thing about old homes is that most of them were built before the days of instant heat or air conditioning. They had to adapt to the environment that they were built in and naturally have great features to combat the elements. Warm climates normally have fireplaces built on the outside of the walls, while cold climates have interior chimneys. Homes in high-wind environments generally take up an L- or U-shape to provide a working area protected from the cold. And despite the shameful insulation, most old houses have extremely thick walls that allow for great heat absorption from the sun that warms the home at night. Trust your home’s natural ability to keep you comfortable, and you could become more energy efficient than you ever thought possible!

Michael David is a freelance journalist and blogger living in New York City. He loves his work, and enjoys collaborating with great local companies that offer a great commercial real estate loan. Michael loves writing about DIY projects, home improvement, and garden-related topics.

Improve Your Home Without Spending A Lot

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Cheap home improvement in 2013.With the struggling economy, many people are struggling as well. Much needed improvements to your home may be put off as the price to complete them may be too high. Items on the list, such as renovating the whole kitchen or bathroom, may have to be delayed. However, there are many ways to improve your home without spending a lot of money.

One of the cheapest ways to improve your home is with paint. Go to your local home improvement store and spend some time in the paint section. Many have computers set up where you can input what room you’d like to do, the dimensions of the room and what colors you would like to try. After inputting the information, it will give you a basic view of the room with the colors you have chosen. By using the user-friendly software, you will prevent spending time and money on a color you really don’t enjoy. Painting a room in your home will not only give it a nice fresh look, it will help to add value to your investment.

If your kitchen looks a little tired, consider refinishing your cabinets. Although time-consuming, this is relatively easy to do. An electric hand sander will be needed and these can usually be purchased for under $50. To refinish your cabinets, remove the doors for easier access and use the electric sander to remove the old finish. Once this is done, you will be able to stain them or paint them in your color choice. For added updates, consider adding new hardware to your cabinets. You will be surprised at how quickly this can change the look of your kitchen.

Another way to improve your home is by giving the outside of your home a fresh look. Stand by your driveway and try to look at your home through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before. Does the house look drab? Perhaps a fresh coat of paint will bring it back to life. Is there clutter in the yard? Simply putting stuff away in a garage or shed will clean up the area and offer more appeal. If landscaping is not your cup of tea, many high schools offer horticulture classes to their students. It never hurts to call and ask if they need a site volunteered for a class project.

Many small home improvements can not only improve how you see your home, they can improve the value of your home, as well. In 2013, with the economy in such a stressed state, the value of your home could mean your survival.

Simple Ways to Save Energy At Home

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Saving energy can be simple and save money as well. Here are a few hints that can be done inexpensively and by everyone. If you educate yourself and everyone in your household about saving energy, not only will you help the world, but you will help yourself by lowering energy bills. It will be a win/win situation for everyone.

Saving energy and money at home.

Saving Energy ay Home

You can save energy by changing your light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs. This may take a small investment at first as they are more expensive than regular bulbs, but the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) says that they use 67% less energy than incandescent bulbs. You may be able to save $50- $60 in energy costs over the life of one bulb.

Use less hot water to save energy. Install low flow shower heads. Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. Less hot water used means less hot water heated and less energy used.

Insulate windows by putting up plastic can save you money and energy. Of course, in the best of all worlds, everyone would have double paned windows, but that is a fairly large investment. Rolls of plastic are much less expensive.

Change your manner of dress to suit the temperature in your house rather than change the thermostat to suit the way your are dressed. Wear sweaters and warm slippers in the winter and in the summer wear shorts or thin clothing.

Set your thermostat to no more than 68 degrees in the winter (55 at bedtime) and to no less than 78 degrees in the summer. Use fans or ceiling fans whenever possible, as these do not use as much energy as air conditioners.

Keep the use of other small appliances to a minimum. These use great amounts of electricity. When you replace appliances, buy Energy Star appliances to replace the old ones. These use 10- 50% less energy. Also unplug appliances when not in use. People do not realize it, but even when turned off these appliances continue to use small amounts of electricity when not unplugged.

Efficient use of blinds and curtains can help. Open the blinds and curtains during the day during the winter to let the sunshine help heat the house. Close them at night to keep the heat in. Do the opposite in the summer to combat heat.

Close the doors and vents to vacant rooms. There is no sense heating or cooling unused areas. Not heating or cooling unoccupied areas can save energy quickly, and you will notice it on your utility bill.

These steps may take a little adjustment to get used to, but you will see the benefit on your energy savings.

Top 5 Home Improvements You Can Do This Summer

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Well, sure, summer is all about relaxing vacations and fun days spent at the beach. However, summer is also a great time to get some work done around the house as well. And, since you can improve the interior of your home regardless of the season or weather outside, summer is the best time to deal with the exterior renovations.

At this point, you might be thinking: “Gosh! I only have just a few days off the office and you want me to work!”, but I would like to tell you that exterior home improvements do not necessarily have to be large and boring projects. In fact, in the following guide, I made sure to include some fun home renovations, which you can benefit from for the rest of the summer.

1. Get a swimming pool

Let’s face it, there is nothing like the scorching heat of the summer to remind us about the advantages of owning a swimming pool. Granted, the increase of property value won’t determine you to engage in such a project unless you are planning to sell the house. On the other hand, nothing motivates you more than the thought of taking a dip in this warm weather.

But, won’t this cost you a fortune and take weeks to build? No, it won’t, if you decide to purchase an above ground swimming pool. And, did I mention that the latest design, styles and quality of the above ground make them a good-taste, fine decision for any backyard, regardless of how small they are? The bottom line is that you cannot ask for a more rewarding summer home improvement project than this.

2. Barbeque grills

No summer is complete without at least one barbeque session! Irrespective of what you put on the grill – corn, burgers, steaks, tofu, sausages or whatever else you have in mind – it will taste better. Besides, it only takes an open flame to feel that it’s summer time. Now, I’m not saying that the barbeque grills you find at the local stores are not good, but a permanent grill surely adds to the flavor and taste. In addition, a permanent one considerably simplifies your grilling sessions (especially if you intend to have barbeques on a constant basis) and it is also cheaper in the long run, resource wise.

3. Patios and decks

If you decide to build a permanent barbeque grill or get a swimming pool, then it is very likely that you want to hold outdoor parties as well. And, since you want to enjoy that time with close friends or neighbors rather than worry about people stepping on your lawn, a suggestion is to consider a new patio or deck. Even though it sound complicated and may appear to imply a lot of effort and money, in reality this project is not only fairly simple, but it does not take expert building skills, effort or that much time. If you already have a swimming pool or a permanent barbeque, wouldn’t it be a shame not to complement it with a beautiful patio or deck?

4. Siding and paint

I know I told you the summer home improvement ideas in this top will not imply large projects. On the other hand, summer is the best time of the year to freshen up the exterior with a new coat of paint or fashionable vinyl siding. The limited amount of rain during summer and the warm weather outside both ensure the perfect settings for the fresh paint to dry properly and evenly.

5. Shingles, roofing and gutters

I will not deny the fact that this is the sweatiest of the home improvement projects. Nonetheless, summer is also the best time to tend to the most abused part of your home: the roof. Heavy snow in winter as well as the whipping winds and rain of early spring and autumn all wreak havoc on your gutters and roof. Since summer is synonymous with fine weather, it is the ideal time to check for damage and perform the necessary repairs until they escalate and start causing all sorts of problems to your home.

Hello, my name is Chad and I love writing about the home improvement topic in general and my favorite store has to be Superior Stone and Cabinet!

Money for Home Repairs

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009


If you are in need of money for a home repair, then you should check into a government grant. There is not need to go to the bank for a high interest loan when you might qualify to receive a grant that has been especially made for home repairs by homeowners. This is a great program to at least check out to see if you qualify. The worst that could happen is that you do not get the money, but you will not be any worse off then you were beforehand.

The government in the past has offered over a trillion dollars in these grants. These grants are the most common grants awarded every year. It was said that the average home across America was awarded four thousand dollars of grant money. The great thing about these grants is that there are no credit checks, so you cannot be denied because of a bad credit report. Banks will always check your credit and debt to income ratio, but with the grant you only have to apply and prove that you are a homeowner doing repairs to your home.

The money for these grants comes from private companies that will often pay around five percent of their profits to stay within the same tax brackets. This helps not only the private companies, but homes across America. The best thing about this grant is that you don’t have to pay it back.