Archive for the ‘home remodeling’ Category

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Conserve Energy Painlessly

January 14, 2011

SAVING MONEY PAINLESSLY

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last six to 10 times longer. When Mom told you to turn out the lights, she was thinking of saving energy dollars, not rolling blackouts and bankrupt utility companies. Rarely have Moms words of wisdom been as fitting as they are now and not just in California. Electricity rates are going up everywhere. Besides switching off lights, there are several other painless methods to conserve energy and save money on your electric bills.

Plug ins * Look for those electronic devices, especially those with digital time and date displays that are infrequently used such as alarm clocks, TVs and VCRs in a guest room and unplug them.

* Unplug devices used to recharge electronics/batteries when they’re not being used. * Transformers consume energy. Consider unplugging devices like calculators that are not in use.

Appliances * Wait until you can fill up your dishwasher before running it. And if you have a heated-dry option, switch it off. Prop open the door a bit after the cycle to air dry your load. * If you have an electric cooktop, turn the burners off a few minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity.

Refrigerators
  • Refrigerators use more power than any other appliance in the home and deserve special attention. Although rushing out to buy a new refrigerator may not be in your budget, it is important to know that new models are more efficient and use as little as half the electricity of older units.
  • Full refrigerators run more efficiently than ones that are only partially full. So buy more food and save some energy.
  • If you have two refrigerators, or an additional freezer, decide if the extra expense is really worth it. Cram as much as you can into your primary refrigerator or consider disposing of two older refrigerators and replacing them with one larger, newer and more efficient model.
  • Make sure the refrigerator door seals are tight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
  • Place food and liquids in airtight containers. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move the refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils yearly unless you have a no-clean condenser model. Refrigerators will run for shorter periods with clean coils.
  • Maintain a consistent temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. Recommended temperatures are 37 to 40F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0F.
Lighting
  • Its obvious, but true: Turn off lights that are not being used. Consider installing timers or photo cells on some lights. And instead of constantly nagging the kids, try occupancy sensors that turn on and off automatically when someone enters or leaves a room.
  • Rather than brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops
  • Consider dimmer switches and three-way lamps. These provide low light levels when bright lights are not necessary.
Use linear fluorescent and energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in fixtures throughout your home to provide high-quality and high-efficiency lighting. Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last six to ten times longer. Although fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they pay for themselves by saving energy over their lifetime.
article provided by Realtor.com
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What’s the payback on Home Remodeling

December 16, 2010

Before you invest in remodeling your home check an excerpt from an Inman News Article by Mary Umberger

Five things to know about what seems to have a payback — and what doesn’t — in home remodeling:

1. The magazine studied tightly defined jobs on a national and regional basis, as well as for many cities. It further broke down many of those projects, such as kitchen remodeling, into such categories as “minor remodel” and “high-end.” The study was conducted in collaboration with the National Association of Realtors, whose members offered payback estimates based on resales in their geographic areas. Full results can be seen at remodeling.hw.net. The top five “moderate projects” with the strongest payback at resale time, returning 72.2 percent or more of their cost: steel entry-door replacement (at a cost of about $1,200); garage-door replacement ($1,000); wooden deck addition ($11,000); replacing 10 insulated, wooden windows clad in vinyl or aluminum ($12,000); an attic bedroom addition ($51,428).

2. The best bang for the buck was garage-door replacement, Alfano said. It was the first time that project had appeared in the survey, though it made sense because consumers seem to have a strong interest in curb-appeal projects these days, he said. The top 10 spots in the national ranking are occupied by 13 projects (there were ties), and nine of these are exterior replacements, Alfano said.

3. Two projects with chunky price tags held their own in the ratings, which surprised Alfano somewhat: The full remodels of basement and attic stayed in the top 10, despite their costs. In the survey, the basement rehab typically cost $64,500 and returned 70 percent at sale time, the study said. (Although the researchers wrote a lengthy and detailed description of the project in order to gain a consistent cost estimation, the basic job, for purposes of the survey, was to finish the lower level of a house in order to create a 20-by-30-foot entertaining area with a wet bar and a 5-by-8-foot bathroom; walls and ceilings were of painted drywall, exterior walls were insulated, and wiring and plumbing were new.) The attic bedroom carried an average price tag of $51,000 and returned 72.2 percent of the cost, according to the study. (This task was to convert unfinished space to a 15-by-15-foot bedroom and 5-by-7-foot bathroom with shower. The plan would include a dormer, four new windows and closet space, with new insulation, heating and air conditioning, and wiring to code.) “They’re fairly beefy projects,” Alfano said. “But they add living space without breaking ground. People are looking for and need to have more living space, and (those two projects) are the most economical way to do it” — generally cheaper than a room addition, he said.

4. Kitchens are the darlings of home remodeling, and lately the market action is in the magazine’s definition of a minor version, Alfano said. There’s probably no such thing as a cheap kitchen remodel. But by the magazine’s terms, the minor remodel takes a functional but dated 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops and leaves the cabinet frames in place, replacing their fronts with new, raised-panel wooden doors and drawers. The room also gets an energy-efficient wall oven and cooktop, laminate countertops, mid-priced sink and faucet and resilient flooring. Again, the key here is not messing with the footprint in order to conserve costs — no walls or plumbing were moved. The average cost for such a job was about $22,000, with a likely return of 72.8 percent of the cost, the magazine estimated. “It jumped up to fourth place this year, which is nice to see,” he said. “People are getting back to traditional projects, but in a smaller way.”

5. Although the “don’t bother” category — in terms of payback — may be debatable, the project that had the least return, according to the survey, was installing a backup power generator, at an average cost of nearly $15,000. Its payback was about 48 percent, according to the study.