TIP OF THE WEEK
Winter is a harsh and cold season that can be terribly straining on homes, causing costly and inconvenient breakdowns, especially to plumbing and heating systems.
Home experts recommend homeowners pay attention to the little things to avoid bigger problems from developing. Taking simple steps, such as having your systems serviced each season, can help safeguard appliances and systems and keep them running at optimal performance.
Check, then cook: Planning on baking cookies or making homemade bread for some cold weather comfort? First, check to make sure your oven is not losing heat. If the oven door doesn't seal properly, it could be losing more than 70 percent of its heat. Inspect the seal for breaks, tears or abnormalities and look for possible leaks. If you spot a problem, replace the seal; these are available for purchase at most home improvement stores.
Unblock and save: Over time, homeowners often add or rearrange furniture without thinking about how it affects airflow. Take a walk through your home and make sure there is at least an inch or two's worth of clearance in front of every air vent. Blocking vents can cost you more money as you are likely to crank up the heat to compensate, which causes your furnace to work even harder.
Let your thermostat do the work: Many homeowners assume they know how to use their thermostat, but often there is much more it can do. Some thermostats can actually learn homeowners' preferences and automatically adjust to save energy.
Don't forget your dryer: Tossing towels and blankets in the dryer to warm up on frigid days? Make sure your dryer isn't clogged first. A clogged dryer exhaust is not only inefficient, it's also a dangerous fire hazard. In most cases, all it takes to clean it is loosening the clamp to the exhaust and then gently pulling it off the back of the dryer. A vacuum attachment should be able to remove the lint and clear the vent.
Trust the pros: During the colder months, your heating system or furnace can run double duty trying to compete with outdoor temperatures, so make sure to have your unit professionally serviced to ensure it is working up to its potential. Also, consider a home warranty plan to help protect against unexpected costs associated with breakdowns and repairs.
-- Brandpoint/American Home Shield
Get feedback on your home
You've done all the work to sell your home. The kitchen and bathroom have been remodeled, you've updated your landscaping and you've staged your home for showings at a moment's notice, but your home is still sitting on the market and you don't know why. One way to get to the bottom of why potential buyers are passing up your home is to get feedback. Although it's best to not be home during a showing, your real estate agent can help get feedback. After a showing or several showings, ask your agent to call each buyer's agent and ask for specific feedback on the home and the price. If your home is overpriced or needs a few cosmetic changes, the agents representing the buyers will usually let your agent know. Once you hear the feedback, you can act on making your home more sellable.
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Set the tone of your home
Although most home decorating centers around the interior of your home, your front door can set the tone for what's inside. To help make a good first impression, consider painting your front door. Using a glossy hue, you can make a statement with red, orange or yellow. Other inviting colors you could use are turquoise, indigo, lime, powder blue, mint green, grape or white. If you front door has a screen door, you might also consider either getting rid of it all together or replacing it with a storm door with full-length glass to show off your inviting front door.
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Clean out your fridge to save
Your refrigerator is most likely a necessity for your home, but it can also be costly to run. The average refrigerator uses nearly 14 percent of a household's energy, but by properly cleaning it out you can reduce the energy consumption. First, roll your fridge away from the wall and dust or vacuum to clear dirt and dust from the coils. Then remove any unneeded and old food to allow air to circulate and increase efficiency. It's best to keep your fridge about two-thirds full to prevent air from leaking out when the door is opened. You can also consider moving your fridge if it is located near an oven or is in direct sunlight. A cooler location will make it easier for the fridge to maintain a cold temperature.
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