15 ways to conserve energy in your home
There are two simple reasons why saving energy in our homes is more important than ever: rising energy prices and the threat of climate change. We’re going to tell you how you can do it, from small changes that can add up to complete overhauls that will save you a lot of money (and the environment will owe you a ‘Thank You’ card).
Instead of regurgitating what you’ve read elsewhere, these recommendations have been split into three manageable levels (Easy, Medium Hard). This should help you to find something that’s within your situation and budget; if you’re renting and can’t change much, our Level 1 tips will still help you save money. For those of you who own your home and have the capital to invest for long-term savings, head to Level 3.
Level 1 (Easy/Cheap)
Lower the dial
This fix is quick and straightforward. During those cold winter months, it may be tempting to put your central heating system to work. But it’s not always necessary to max out your temperature gauge. Lowering the temperature to under 70 can save an additional 3% off your bill. Bonus tip: decrease the heat to just under 60 at night. You’ll sleep more comfortably, and it’s cheaper!
Work the drapes
This is a quick fix that needs a little bit of discipline. Open the curtains to let in the sunshine during the day, close at night to keep that heat in. Presto!
It’s surprising how many people complain of the cold in their homes while walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. Dress accordingly. We’re not talking winter jackets indoors, but use insulating materials and remember to layer for maximum effect.
Isolate your HVAC
Other appliances should not surround your unit. If possible, move televisions, lamps, computers, and any other heat sources to a reasonable distance away from your HVAC. This increases its efficiency.
Replace furnace filters
Don’t let your furnace work harder than it needs to. Either clean or replace the filters every three months.
Wait till its full
Your dishwasher and washing machine use a lot of energy. Ensure you maximize their efficiency by only running them when they’re full.
Level 2 (Medium/Requires Investment)
You can slash 10% off your heating costs by merely eliminating air leakage. This is most common in duct work and windows. For duct joints, all you need is duct tape. For windows, winterize movable parts with weather stripping and use calk for non-moving parts.
Go for low-flow
Sure, Kramer doesn’t like low-flow showerheads. But he never paid any bills. To avoid wasting water when you shower, we recommend opting for a showerhead that features a flow rate under 2.5 GPM. You may also want to take shorter showers; reducing your daily clean by 4 minutes a day will save 3650 gallons annually. Not bad.
Look for the star
Energy Star-qualified bulbs (of the CFL and LED variety) are far more efficient than the traditional incandescent bulb. Expect to use 20-25% less energy.
You may benefit from giving the exterior of your home a facelift. Your garage door is a comfortable place to start. For example, brighter colors are better for hot climates, while colder regions benefit from darker shades. White roofs can also keep your home cooler by around 30%.
Level 3 (Hard/Expensive)
Weather the storm
The installation of storm windows and doors requires a bit of investment and DIY skills, but it’s worth it: for some homes, it can lead to a reduction of heat loss by around 20%.
Planting evergreen trees on the north side of your house will block those chilly winter winds. Windbreakers such as the Chinese juniper can reduce 35mph winds right down to 10mph. They also look good and are a plus for the environment!
Insulation is vital both in summer and winter. The key areas where padding can make a real difference are your walls, attic, floors, crawlspace, and basement. If you want to get a green badge, go for natural sheep wool where possible.
Many of us think that sticking to older devices is environmentally friendly, as it means not buying unnecessary new things. However, sometimes ditching the old can be the best option for Mother Earth and your wallet. Responsible for 13% of your home’s energy use, replacing appliances with newer Energy Star equivalents can lead to a healthy reduction in your monthly bills (9-25%).
Smartening up your home is not just for the fancy techies of this world. Using smart thermostats can shave $180 off your annual bill. Much more convenient than the standard programmable varieties, smart thermostats can integrate with services such as Google Home and Alexa and have advanced learning mechanisms (adapting to your way of life).
Article Source: TourWIzard.net.
The 4 Key Trends Home Buyers and Sellers Should Watch in 2019
We’re entering the home stretch of 2018, when you can actually say, “See you next year!” to someone you’ll see in just a few weeks. It’s a time to look ahead, to make new plans, to achieve new dreams.
And if those dreams include buying your own home, you should keep an eye on the ever-changing tides of the housing market. Now, markets are like the weather: You can’t entirely predict how they will act, but you canget a sense of the forces that will push things in one direction or another.
The realtor.com® economic research team analyzed a wealth of housing data to come up with a forecast of what 2019 might hold for home buyers and sellers—and it looks like both groups are going to be facing some challenges.
Here are the top four takeaways. For more information, see the full realtor.com® 2019 forecast.
1. We’ll have more homes for sale, especially luxury ones
We’ve been chronicling the super-tight inventory of homes for sale for several years now. Yes, homes have been hitting the market, but not enough to keep up with the demand. Nationwide, inventory actually hit its lowest level in recorded history last winter, but this year it finally started to recover. We’re expecting to see that inventory growth continue into next year, but not at a blockbuster rate—less than 7%.
While this is welcome news for buyers who’ve been sidelined, sellers must confront a new reality.
“More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com‘s chief economist.
“It’s still going to be a very good market for sellers,” she adds, “but if they’ve had their expectations set by listening to stories of how quickly their neighbor’s home sold in 2017 or in 2018, they may have to adjust their expectations.”
Although next year’s inventory growth is expected to be modest nationwide, pricier markets will tell a different story. In these markets—which typically have strong economies (read: high-paying jobs)—most of the expected inventory growth will come from listings of luxury homes.
We’re expecting to see the biggest increases in high-end inventory in the metro areas of San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Worcester, MA; Boston, MA; and Nashville, TN. All of those metro markets, which may include neighboring towns, could see double-digit gains in inventory in 2019.
2. Affording a home will remain tough
It’s no secret that home sellers have been sitting pretty for the past several years. But is the tide about to change in buyers’ favor?
“In some ways, life is going to be easier for home buyers; they’ll have more options,” Hale says. “But life is also going to be more difficult for home buyers, because we expect mortgage rates to continue to increase, we expect home prices to continue to increase, so the pinch that they’re feeling from affordability is going to continue to be a pain point moving into 2019.”
Hale predicts that mortgage rates, now hovering around 5%, will reach around 5.5% by the end of 2019. That means the monthly mortgage payment on a typical home listing will be about 8% higher next year, she notes. Meanwhile, incomes are only growing about 3% on average. That double whammy is toughest on first-time home buyers, who tend to borrow the most heavily and who don’t have any equity in a current home to draw on.
3. Millennials will still dominate home buying
Just a few years ago, millennials were the new kids on the block, just barely old enough to buy their own homes. Now they’re the biggest generational group of home buyers, accounting for 45% of mortgages (compared with 17% for baby boomers and 37% for Gen Xers). Some of them are even moving on up from their starter homes.
As we mentioned above, things will be tough for those first-time buyers. But the slightly older move-up buyers will reap the benefits of both their home equity and the increased choices in the market.
And regardless of whether they’re part of that younger set starting a career or the older set that’s starting a family, “they’re going to be more price-conscious than any other generation,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.
That’s because they typically are still carrying student debt and want to be able to spend on experiences, like travel. That takes away from the funds they can put aside for a down payment, or a monthly mortgage payment.
“They want to maintain a certain lifestyle, but they still see the value in owning a home,” Wolf says.
So they might compromise on distance from an urban center, or certain amenities, or space—70% of millennial homeowners own a residence that’s less than 2,000 square feet, Wolf notes.
There’s plenty of time to expand those portfolios, though, as millennials’ housing reign is just beginning: This group is likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade. The year 2020 is projected to be the peak for millennial home buying—the bulk of them will be age 30.
4. The new tax law is still a wild card
At the time of last year’s forecast, the GOP’s proposed revision of the tax code was still being batted around Congress. While there was talk that it might discourage people from buying a home, no one really knew how it might affect the real-estate market.
This year … well, we still don’t really know. That’s because most taxpayers won’t be filing taxes under the new law until April 2019. And while some people might have a savvy tax adviser giving them a better idea of what’s in store, for many, the reality check will come in the form of a bigger tax bill—or a bigger refund.
Renters are likely to have lower tax bills, but might not be tempted to buy while affordability remains a challenge, and with the new, increased standard deduction reducing the appeal of the homeowner’s mortgage-interest deduction.
“I think the new tax plan will affect mostly homeowners and home buyers in the upper parts of the distribution,” says Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. “Those who either own or are buying higher-priced homes are going to pay a lot more.”
Sellers of those pricier homes will also take a hit, as buyers anticipating bigger tax bills won’t be as willing to pony up for a high list price.
The biggest change resulting from the new tax law, Hanson predicts, will be in mortgages, since people will be less inclined to take out large mortgages.
“If anyone is going to be upset about the tax plan, it’ll be mortgage bankers,” he says.
This article was first published by Realtor.com.
‘Tis the Season to Sell: 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays
As we careen at warp speed toward Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of the joyous festivities in between, you might be tempted to take your home off the market—or hold off on listing it—until after the new year. After all, you’re swamped with cooking, shopping, and decorating, and the last thing you need is a bunch of potential buyers traipsing through your house, right?
Wrong. It’s a big mistake to either remove your home from the market during the holiday season, or to not put your home on the market if you’re getting ready to sell.
Why? The first reason is painfully obvious: Your house can’t actually sell if it’s off the market. Leaving your home on the market is the right choice. Sure, people are busy, but wouldn’t you rather see people in your house when it’s messy with baking in the kitchen than miss the house? Let somebody else take their house off the market and miss out!
In fact, this time of year can actually be ideal for selling. Here’s why.
1. Your listing will rise to the top
If homeowners in your hood take a break from the market because they don’t want to bother keeping their properties in show-ready condition over the holidays, that makes for reduced inventory. And that means buyers who are actively searching will be more likely to uncover your listing.
During the busy spring market, for example, you have way more competition than during the holidays. So you’re much more likely to get your home sold when you’re not competing with more potential sellers.
2. Your house looks (and smells) amazing during the holidays
With festive greenery, the sweet aroma of cookies baking, and a warm fire in the hearth, you’ve got built-in ambiance—meaning you can appeal to buyers’ senses in a way that you can’t during other times of the year. With that nice, homey feeling, homes tend to show a lot better during the holidays, while making people feel really good. Plus, chances are good you’ll tap into some buyer sentimentality: During the holidays, we tend to feel nostalgic about family, home, and memories. That can cause a nesting instinct to kick in—and that often results in a sale.
Don’t go overboard with decorations, though. Even though it’s the holidays, you still don’t want too much clutter. And remember: Buyers need to imagine their furniture in each room, so avoid blocking important selling features such as large windows and fireplace mantels. And if you live in a colder climate, be sure walkways and stairs are always shoveled clean, and turn your thermostat up before each showing to keep things toasty. When you walk in and it’s warm and cozy, that helps in the selling process.
3. Holiday buyers aren’t messing around
Yes, things typically slow down in the weeks leading up to the holidays. But there are still people actively looking for homes and ready to pounce—or those who just entered the market on a short timeline and need to buy fast.
The people who are out there looking at homes during the holidays are serious buyers. And in areas where you have bad weather, these buyers are going to weather the storms—pun intended—to visit your property. Potential buyers who take the time to set up home tours during the holiday season are also more motivated to move forward if they like what they see. These are not tire-kickers just looking around because it’s fun; those are all weeded out.
4. Families often search during school breaks
Speaking of serious buyers: Relocating families often capitalize on the holidays as a time to move without tumult on the kids. They want to find the right property, have stress-free negotiations, and get their brood settled before school starts up again in January. It’s a good time to show your house to people from out of town.
5. It can be easier to close a transaction in December
Buyers can often get their loans processed and approved faster in November or December than they would in the traditionally busy spring months. It all comes down to the holiday slowdown: Fewer home sales are on deck to process, plus lenders are motivated to close deals before the end of the year.
6. The holidays give you a chance to adjust your selling strategy
If your home’s been languishing on the market for several weeks—or months (eek!)—you might be feeling antsy. Maybe the best solution is to take it off the market and try again after the new year.
Fight the urge! You’re better off staying the course and using this slow time to tweak your selling strategy. Would home staging draw in buyers? Do you need to tackle that paint job you’d been putting off? Should you reassess your asking price?
Generally, the reason a house does not sell is because it’s not priced right, and if it’s been sitting on the market, nothing will change over a 30-day period if you’re pricing it the same. You’re much better off getting the price in line with where it should be, and leaving it on through the holidays.
If you are on the fence about listing your home this season, call me, let me walk you through your options. I’d love to talk to you personally about your real estate needs. Norma – 469-450-2559
The Difference an Hour Will Make This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click the image to download.
Every Hour in the US Housing Market:
- 596 Homes Sell
- 278 Homes Regain Positive Equity
- Median Home Values Go Up $1.20