Jeanne Little's Blog
When moving into a new home, the first thing you want to do is make it your own. That means painting, upgrading fixtures, and the all-important window coverings. Instead of just looking for the most stylish option, take this chance to go with curtains, shades, blinds and screens will improve your bottom line. Most of the energy lost in your home goes through your walls, roof, and windows. You can enhance your walls and roof with well-made insulation, but unless you want to remove the windows entirely, your only option is thermal window coverings.
Now, typically, "thermal" is associated with keeping heat in, think "thermal underwear," but thermal window coverings are designed to block heat from both directions. That means they keep warm air inside in the winter and warm air outside in the summer. In this way, the blinds help control the temperature in your home year-round, reducing your heating and cooling energy costs.
The Four Top Options
While there are a wide variety of energy saving window coverings, and even energy saving windows themselves, the mostly break down into one of four categories.
- Thermal Drapes and Curtains: These are the easiest to install of all the options. The installation is, in fact, the same as for non-thermal drapes or curtains. Just hang the rod and slide on the curtain. While not tight to the windows, curtains do work to reduce the amount of heat that travels through your windows. A secondary feature of most thermal drapes is that they create "blackout" conditions. Blocking as much light as heat, they produce more comfortable conditions for sleep or to stop the glare on your forty-two-inch television screen. There are a wide variety of blackout or thermal drapes on the market, but you will get the best results from those with an acrylic backing layer. The more layers of acrylic, the thicker and more effective the curtain will be at blocking both light and heat.
- Thermal Interior Blinds: Mini-blinds, plantation blinds, Venetian blinds, there are so many from which to choose. Each type's fabrication is from of different materials leading to various levels of thermal protection. Slatted blinds are useful because they give you greater control over the amount of light let into a room. Depending on the curve of your slats, you may also be able to create an air buffer between the blinds and the window, changing how the cooler or warmer air flows into your room.
- Cellular Shades: Halfway between curtains and blinds, these “honeycomb” shades trap air in hexagonal pockets between at least two layers. The more layers in the blinds, the more efficient they will be at stopping heat or cold from traveling through into your rooms. Unlike slat blinds, cellular shades create an air barrier in front of the window without needing to be adjusted for a particular angle.
- Thermal Exterior Blinds: Exterior blinds work similarly to interior blinds. They are mounted above your windows and lower or raise through channels mounted to either side. Made of a variety of faux and natural materials including bamboo, wood, vinyl, steel and aluminum you can find an amazing style to match your home's needs. In addition to adding thermal protection to the outside of your windows, external blinds increase the shade and privacy of your home. Make certain you check with your homeowner's association first though. Some HOAs don't allow outdoor blinds since they change the exterior appearance of your home.
Want to block even more heat and light? Or just have more control? Look for reflective window films, awnings, roof overhangs, and screens to augment your interior window coverings. Getting ready to sell? Ask your real estate agent about the best choices to improve the value of your home.
Many homeowners or soon-to-be homeowners are anxious about making big purchases online. However, there’s a lot to be said for the perks of online shopping for things like furniture and appliances for your home.
As technology progresses and more and more retailers build their online presence, the selection has never been bigger. That’s why we’re going to show you how to find the nicest furniture and appliances online, get the best deals, and ensure that you’re buying from a trustworthy seller.
Read on for our tips on online appliance and furniture shopping.
The efficiency of online shopping
If done correctly, shopping online is much faster than driving to your local furniture store. The best way to achieve this is to know exactly what you’re looking for before ever opening up your browser. This will help you avoid scrolling endlessly through Ikea’s or Best Buy’s websites wondering what’s worth clicking on.
You’ll need to determine the following:
Your budget. This will narrow down the selection immensely and keep you from dreaming about unnecessarily expensive items.
Your style. Is there a specific color that you’re hoping to match? Does your furniture need to meet a specific style, such as mid-century modern? Using these search terms will help you find very specific results.
Practicality. There’s a difference between buying a washing machine and refrigerator for yourself and buying one for a family of five. Knowing the size and load specifications you need will help you narrow the search.
Take advantage of user reviews
One of the immense benefits of online shopping is the wealth of reviews that can be read. User reviews help the consumer and the company--it tells the company what products people prefer and it tells the consumer if the product met the description and quality standards of other customers.
It’s best to purchase items that have a higher number of positive reviews. A refrigerator that has a single five-star review might be of good quality, but I would trust that the refrigerator with twenty four-star reviews is consistently a top-quality item.
If you’re buying from a smaller online store, check out reviews for the retailer itself. Websites like Yelp and Google+ are both good places to look before hitting the “checkout” button.
Try before you buy
The internet is just one tool used for online furniture and appliance shopping. If possible, make a list of your favorite products and visit a local retailer who has them in stock. This will allow you to compare how the products look and feel in real life, as sometimes photos don’t quite portray the color and texture correctly.
This is also a good time to make sure the items are sized correctly to fit your home. Before leaving for the store, measure the space you have to work within your home. Remember that there often needs to be room behind your appliances for wiring. At the store, check to see if the products you looked at online will meet your space requirements.
Home values continue to rise. Many people use their home equity in order to get a bit more financial security. The home equity line of credit can have many different benefits for you. From home improvement projects to a much-needed vacation, you can get the funds that you need for whatever you wish. Turn to your home equity with some careful thought, however. You could end up owing more than your home is worth, which defeats the purpose of tapping into your home equity to begin with.
Make Your Decision Smart
Your home equity can be a good thing to tap in to if you’re not planning on spending like crazy. Maybe you just want a little extra cash on hand for emergencies. You’ll be prepared for anything unexpected. This could be a smarter decision than just blowing a bunch of money on a vacation, for example.
Some smart things that you can use your home equity for include:
- Home renovations
- Emergency funds
- College education funds
- Cash advance
These ideas are investments that can help you to achieve other goals. You should be sure that you’re able to pay the money back. These projects or financial endeavors are much more suited to smart spending than just randomly spending money, buying a car, or other things that will put you in serious debt.
Home Equity Fluctuates
As the market changes, the amount of home equity that you’ll have to tap into does as well. The state of the housing market can actually dictate to you how much money you’ll be able to get. If the market isn’t good, you could end up in the negative financially, so do your research.
How To Get Your Home Equity
There are a few ways that you can draw from your home’s equity. The first rule that you should understand is that you cannot borrow more than 80% of what your home is worth. Take a full remortgage your home, giving you the full 80% amount that your home is worth in order to take a lump sum. Alternatively, you can take a cash-out refinance where you set the amount of money you’d like to take out of your home’s equity as you refinance the home. You can also take out what’s called a “home equity line of credit,” which allows you to use the amount of your home’s worth as a credit card of sorts. You borrow money as you need it.
The biggest issue with refinancing is that of planning. It’s important to know why you’re refinancing and what you’re planning on doing with the money. Used wisely, home equity can really be a great financial tool.
Selling a house the second time around may prove to be much easier than your initial home selling experience. In fact, a veteran home seller can learn a lot from his or her past home selling experience, including:
1. How to Establish a Competitive Initial Home Asking Price
Setting a competitive initial home asking price is paramount, regardless of a home seller's experience. If a seller establishes a competitive initial asking price from the get-go, he or she can increase the likelihood of stirring up plenty of interest in a house. Conversely, a seller who sets an initial asking price that is too high or too low may struggle to achieve the optimal home selling results.
Think about how you priced the home that you most recently sold. This experience may help you determine how you'll price your current house, as well as enable you to avoid potential pricing mistakes along the way.
Furthermore, it usually helps to look at the prices of comparable houses in your city or town. If you assess this housing market data, you can see how your house stacks up against the competition and narrow the price range for your residence.
2. How to Promote a House to the Right Groups of Buyers
If you previously struggled to showcase your house to buyers, you can learn from your past experience and avoid making the same mistakes once again.
Ultimately, a home seller should allocate time and resources to enhance the curb appeal of his or her home. If a house features a stunning exterior, it may generate lots of interest from buyers.
It often helps to maintain a clean home interior as well. If you keep your home neat, tidy and clutter-free, buyers should have no trouble envisioning what life might be like if they purchase your house.
3. How to Hire the Right Real Estate Agent
Conduct an in-depth search for the right real estate agent – you'll be glad you did. If you meet with a variety of real estate agents, you can find a housing market professional who can help you achieve your desired home selling results.
Don't forget to request client referrals from a real estate agent. Because if you can learn about past clients' experiences with a real estate agent, you can make an informed choice about whether to hire this real estate agent to guide you along the home selling journey.
Ready to add another house to the real estate market? Use your home selling experience to your advantage, and you can boost your chances of enjoying a profitable home selling journey.
Preparing your home is one of the most important things you can do before leaving for an extended period of time.
Whether you have a vacation home that you spend your summer months in, you travel for work, or you simply have a second property that will be unoccupied for an extended period of time, it’s vital to take the steps to preparing the home for the elements while you are gone.
In this article, we’ll talk about winterizing, preparing a home for heavy rains, and protecting it from a number of external forces. That way you can rest assured that your property will be safe while you’re away, saving you money in costly repairs.
Many Americans spend the winter months in a warmer climate. Similarly, it has become quite common to purchase vacation homes and cabins in the northern part of the country to visit during the summer months. Regardless, these homes will have to be winterized to avoid damage.
First, and most important, be sure to turn off the water at the main supply sources. Next, open up your faucets and drain all of the lines that carry water throughout your home and yard. Drain, and put away your garden hose, to protect it and your fittings from damage.
Now that you’re protected against water damage, you’ll want to protect against potential fires. Turn off and unplug all appliances. Not only is this a way to avoid fire, but it will also help you avoid needlessly spending on electricity.
It’s a good idea to turn your thermostat down so that your home is kept above freezing, but not at a needlessly high temperature.
Preparing a home for extended leave
Even if your home isn’t facing the winter cold, there are still measures that should be taken during an extended leave.
Cleaning your refrigerator out completely and then washing the interior will help avoid odors from spreading throughout the house.
Other odors can arise from the drains in your home, especially if it’s likely to get hot. To prevent this you can cover up your drains with painter’s tape.
You’ll also want to remove any food from your cabinets that could attract mice, ants, or other pests. While you’re cleaning, wash and put away any linens that you won’t be using for some time.
Be sure arrangements have been made at the post office for any mail you receive at your home. You could set up mail forwarding, have neighbors take in your mail, or purchase a PO box for the time you’re away. Regardless, it’s a good idea to not have mail piling up outside an empty home as it could attract the attention of those seeking to benefit from your house being vacant.
Before leaving, make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked. Remove any spare keys from obvious locations around your home, and make arrangements for someone, such as a neighbor, to check on the home and report any problems to you.