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5 Home Areas to Purge in the New Year

While the new year is often a time of revitalized goals, it is also an excellent time for purchasing unwanted clutter and junk, Circle a weekend in the first few months of the year and plan for purging. The following areas are a great place to start.

Kitchen cabinets. Pull everything out of your kitchen cabinets and examine your items for frequency of use. If you have duplicates, worn items or well-intentioned gadgets you rarely use, pull them aside for donation or re-sell. 

Linen closets. When was the last time you itemized your linen closet? Empty out your space and look for linens that are stained, damaged, faded or, in general, have seen better days. Cut them up into rags or store them for drop cloths for your next painting project.

Storage spaces. Storage spots–whether it’s the attic, garage or that closet in the basement–are often packed with items that we really got let go of. Go through each storage space and be brutal with your elimination tactics. If you haven’t used it in over a year and it isn’t highly sentimental, it should go.

Media collections. Do you have stacks of DVDs, books, magazines, and more that you rarely use? Dig through your collection and consider donating items to your local library. 

Clothes. Your clothes closet is likely stuffed full of items you rarely wear. Having trouble letting go? Pull everything out, put on a fashion show for yourself, and toss anything that doesn’t make you feel excellent. If you have items that are similar, let your least favorite one go. Anything with holes or stains should be tossed, cut up for rags, or stored for gardening or painting clothes. Consign your nicer pieces, and donate the rest.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

New Home? Use This Move-In Checklist

After an exhaustive search, you’ve finally found and closed on your new home and are ready to move in! While your mind might be all about painting, decorating and buying furniture, don’t overlook the important practical steps that should be taken upon arrival.

Consider this helpful move-in guideline from Lowe’s to make sure you’re safe and sound in your new home…then you can focus on being stylish, too!

1. Change the locks. You can’t be sure that the keys to your new home are the only ones in existence, so play it safe and change the locks. Now is a good time to consider home automation with smart locks and keyless entry, too.

2. Reprogram the garage door opener. This is another important safety step for your new home. Most remotes have a reset button, but contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure about how to go about it.

3. Know how to shut off the water. This is essential for any new homeowner to know in case of a water emergency. Find the main water shutoff, as well as all outside water spigots. Ask the previous homeowner if you can’t find them.

4. Find the main circuit breaker. Make sure you understand how it’s labeled, and which switch turns off what. If you’re moving into a new construction home, identify the circuits and make your own labels.

5. Test the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure there’s one smoke detector in every room. Carbon monoxide detectors are needed on each floor. Also, place a fire extinguisher on every level—and learn how to use it.

6. Know what to do if you’re locked out. Find a good hiding spot for a spare key, or make friends with a neighbor who can hold onto a spare set.

7. Get to know your HVAC system so that you’re comfortable controlling your heating and cooling systems. This will be essential to keeping your energy bills in check. You may also want to install a smart thermostat. 

8. Check out your lightbulbs. Look both inside and out and see if you need to make the switch to energy efficient lightbulbs. 

9. Replace all toilet seats. It’s always a good idea to go with a fresh start in the bathroom!

10. Create an emergency exit plan. Investigate your new home thoroughly and come up with an exit plan for all members of your family in the event of an emergency. Make this your No. 1 priority so you can sleep soundly on your very first night.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

How-To Protect Your Pipes This Winter

During the winter, many homeowners are vigilant in keeping their driveways clear of snow and their front steps free from ice, but how much time do you spend thinking about your pipes?

“Frozen pipe issues are more than just a minor hassle,” says Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. “Damage caused by frozen pipes bursting can cost thousands of dollars in repairs, property damage and loss. Fortunately, most homeowners can avoid untimely expenses like this by being proactive instead of waiting on freezing lows to arrive.”

Rose and the Four Seasons team list the following tips to prevent freezing pipes:

Survey the home’s exterior – Small air leaks near pipes can cause them to freeze very quickly. Use caulk or insulation to seal any troublesome cracks.

Monitor indoor air temperatures – It’s a great money-saving practice to lower the thermostat at night or during absences, but temperatures should never be set below 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.

Pack-up outdoor hoses – Stow away outdoor hoses in the winter months and make sure the indoor valve is completely shut off. Make sure hose bibs are completely drained before covering.

Let faucets drip – On nights where a below freezing temperature drop is in the forecast, be sure to let faucets drip with warm water. Even a trickle of water helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Open cabinets – Cabinet doors can prevent warm air from getting to pipes under kitchen and bathroom sinks. It’s an important practice to leave them cracked so that the heat can circulate around the pipes.           

“Cold weather is troublesome enough on its own, and more so around the holidays,” Rose says. “If you do happen to fall victim to a frozen pipe disaster, turn off the water at the main as soon as possible, then call a professional right away.”

5 Tips to Refresh Your Home in the New Year

Each new year gives you the chance to reset and start new routines. When you’re considering new approaches to healthy living – whether eliminating or adding habits to improve your daily life – beginning with your home is an optimal choice.

Your living environment has a strong influence on your life, and it’s worth evaluating how you can make updates that create a positive space for you and all that the new year will bring. Consider these ideas to refresh your home and simplify your house cleaning routine so you can spend more time focusing on your goals this year. 

Start by Decluttering. It’s practically impossible to get excited about a fresh start when you’re surrounded by last year’s junk. Make decluttering and purging unnecessary items a top priority for your refresh. Clear counters and tables to create more inviting surfaces and force yourself to assess which items are worth keeping. Get rid of items you don’t need by donating, selling or disposing of them. Tackle piles of things you’ve carelessly tossed aside and find (or create) purposeful places for them to belong. 

Simplify Your Laundry Routine. Whether it’s the frustration of having no clean laundry or never-ending baskets filled with clothes that need folding, laundry is an area where nearly every home can use a refresh. Start with the basics to make laundry easy and quick. A streamlined laundry system starts with the right tools for the job, such as single-dose detergent pods that release while inside your machine, so you can simply toss one in and start the load.

Create a Fitness Space. One way to stay committed to a new workout regimen is to create a place where you enjoy spending time. Even if you don’t have a room to dedicate to fitness, you can make a fitness corner feel more intentional and less like an afterthought with some simple changes. If possible, locate your fitness area near a window so you can soak up the energy of natural light. Clear away unnecessary items and make room for the equipment or floor space you need. Add inspiring posters or make frames to hold your current workout guide. Add storage for hand weights, resistance bands and other small equipment to create your own home gym. 

Reconfigure Your Furniture. A full-fledged renovation may not be in the cards (or budget), but you can give your living space a quick facelift by simply rearranging the furniture. Beyond simple aesthetic changes, think about how you can make better use of natural light and improve traffic patterns. You might also eliminate extra pieces if the space feels overcrowded or consider borrowing functional items that add storage or seating from other rooms in the house.

Add Greenery. The middle of winter may not seem like an ideal time to hone your green thumb, but adding a few plants can make your home feel more inviting and chase away the cold weather blues. Plants can also help serve as a natural air purifying system; they absorb carbon dioxide to help stimulate their growth and are believed to absorb a host of other airborne pollutants.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Feel a Draft? 4 Places Your Home Is Probably Losing Heat

Winter is on its way and you know what that means… soon, you’ll need to turn on your furnace. In fact, if you live in a colder climate, you might have already done so.
 
Keeping your home warm while keeping your electric bill low is the goal for most homeowners. If it seems like your home is always chilly but your energy bill is high, you may be losing heat. Here are some of the most common places your home can lose heat:
 
1. Around Windows
Your windows are one of the prime places for heat loss. Old windows are known for letting heat escape while letting drafts in. Triple-glazed windows work well to keep the heat inside your home when the furnace is running. Since air isn’t really conducive of heat, triple-glazed windows act as a three-layer barrier to keep cold air out and warm air inside.
 
However, if you can’t afford window replacement, invest in high-quality curtains to help keep warm air inside. It’s estimated that drapes can reduce heat loss by approximately 10 percent during the winter. You can also install weather stripping, which help to fill in ill-fitting windows.
 
2. Doors
Similarly, doors that are in need of repair or replacement are a leading source of heat loss. To prevent this from happening around your door, make sure that the perimeter around the door frame is insulated well. You can use weather stripping or foam tape to fill in gaps. You should also install new door sweeps to keep cold air from entering underneath the door. If your doors are past the point of repair, replacement doors may be in order.
 
3. Through the Roof
Even if your windows and doors are tightly insulated, you may still be losing a good amount of heat through your roof. If your roof is old or in need of repair, heat can easily escape through cracks in the shingles or worn-out insulation. If only minor repairs are needed, you can easily seal up any holes and add insulation.
 
4. Power Outlets and Switches
Areas around power switches and outlets are also prime areas of heat loss. If the outlets aren't insulated well, heat may be escaping through the walls. However, adding insulation is usually a quick fix. If you're handy around the house, you simply disconnect the power, remove the face plates and carefully add on external outlets and light switches. If you aren't handy, enlist the help of an experienced electrician to avoid injury.
 
Keeping your home warm and toasty this winter is easier than you may think. Take time before the first deep freeze to ensure your home is ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you!
 
This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.
 
Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colo. She studied at Colorado State University and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever possible. If you're in the market for a replacement door, Ginsburg recommends Pella.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved

4 Not so Obvious Fall Gardening Tasks

You might be spending your weekend raking and bagging leaves, maybe planting some spring bulbs, too. But there are actually a wide variety of important – and time- and money-saving – gardening tasks you could be embarking on this seasons as well. Check out the following ideas before you roll up your sleeves and head out into the yard:

Put down mulch. The fall is a great time to spread a layer of mulch as many plants get ready to go dormant and hibernate for the winter. This will make the job easier as you won’t have to worry about damaging young plants as you’re spreading mulch around. Also use this time to dig out new beds you’re planning to plant in the spring and cover those with mulch as well.

Collect seeds. Save some money on next year’s annuals’ bill by collecting seeds to start inside over the winter and plant in the spring. Look for seeds from sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos and any other fall plants still blooming in your yard. Same goes for your fall vegetable harvest.

Divide plants. Fall is a great time to thin flower beds, especially native plants. Using a shovel, separate about one-third of a plant and house them in pots over the winter, keeping them well watered and fertilized. They make a great gift for neighbors and friends, too!

Prepare for the birds. If you take care of the birds during the winter, fall is a great time to stock up on and organize your bird seed, before snow and ice make the task more difficult. Clean and inspect your bird feeders and hang them in easy to access spots that also allow you to easily view your feathered friends.

Source: The State Journal

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

10 Ways to Save Money on a Home Renovation

Are you in the process of renovating your home? Often, major upgrades can get quite expensive if you aren't paying attention, so if you're on a tight budget, consider focusing on saving money while renovating.
 
For example, if you plan to upgrade your kitchen, it may be better to purchase low-cost materials and cabinets. You can find quality affordable kitchen cabinets online for a fraction of what you'd pay in most traditional retail stores.
 
Here are 10 powerful ways to save money during a home renovation:
 

1. Set a Budget and Stick to It
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when renovating their property is failing to set a budget. By not having one in place before you begin work, you'll often end up spending more than you originally intended. Be sure to take time to figure out how much you can afford and create a budget for your renovation project.
 
2. Make Every Effort to Save on Material Costs
Another area where homeowners get in trouble is that they spend way too much on material costs. For example, you can buy recycled or reused building materials, which will help cut down on your costs. Even better, some of these reused materials are in excellent condition, so you'll get a good bargain on more high-end items. 
 
You can also check Craigslist, eBay or Freecycle to find free or cheap materials online. Many people are often literally giving this stuff away on these sites, so take advantage while you can.
 
3. Find Good Deals on Essential Pieces
No one said you had to pay top dollar for the most essential pieces for your home renovation. Instead of spending a small fortune for new granite countertops, you can wait a little while for the materials to go on sale. The same holds true with kitchen island installations, brand-new windows and just about anything else that needs replacing during the home renovation process.
 
4. Pay Cash for Materials and Contractor Expenses
This tried-and-true idea works wonders when attempting to cut down on renovation expenses. You'll be able to save a significant amount by offering to pay cash for your materials and contractor fees for a couple of reasons. First, by paying cash instead of using credit, you can avoid the possibility of paying hefty interest charges. Second, sometimes contractors will give their customers a price break when you offer to pay cash for their services.
 
5. Don't Rush the Renovation Process
Sometimes people are eager to finish their home renovations. This can turn out to be a major mistake if you aren't patient. Instead of using your credit to pay for your expenses, wait and save up. Additionally, you might end up spending top dollar for materials or contractor fees when you could've paid much less if you were willing to wait a little while longer.
 
6. Perform DIY Renovations When You Possess the Skills to Get the Job Done

Some repairs and renovations are going to be out of your league. However, many folks will have no problem handling some DIY projects on their own. Instead of paying somebody to complete easy to moderate repairs or demolition, you can take the bull by the horns and perform these activities yourself.
 
7. Reuse Materials Whenever Possible
Instead of letting certain materials go to waste, feel free to reuse them whenever you can get away with it. This is a great way to save money without going over your budget or breaking the bank. For example, you may be able to reuse some of your cabinetry and appliances without replacing them.
 
8. Avoid Making Big Purchases Until the Items Go on Sale
If you're renovating your kitchen and putting in brand-new appliances, you should always wait for them to go on sale. Of course, this only works if you aren't under any time constraints, but instead of buying an appliance on a typical Wednesday, you could wait until a big Fourth of July sale is happening. You'll save a lot of money this way, so take advantage of these excellent opportunities.
 
9. Shop Around When Hiring Help for Home Renovations
You obviously want your home renovations to look amazing; however, that doesn't mean you have to pay top dollar for the most expensive contractors in your area. You can shop around and get multiple bids from as many contractors as you see fit. This will help you find a top-notch and inexpensive contractor that meets your needs.
 
10. Sell Any Working Appliances That You Intend to Replace
Do you own a refrigerator that's in good working order? How about a well-used stove that's still in good condition? Instead of throwing these valuable items away when you replace them, you could list them on Craigslist, eBay or the Facebook Marketplace. You never know what someone may want to purchase. Selling your old, but working, appliances could help you recoup some of your renovation expenses and lower your costs at the same time.
 
It's possible to save money on your upcoming renovation. You just have to be willing to do things a little bit differently than most people. Take advantage of sales when the opportunities arise, hire good but inexpensive contractors to help with the renovations and use the rest of these tips to the best of your ability in your pursuit of saving money!
 
This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.
 
Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses like best online cabinets find their audience online through outreach, partnerships and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

Selling? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Overprice Your Home

From the way the tulips bloom in spring to the snazzy new wet bar in the basement, you’re well aware of all the reasons why your home is worth every penny you’re asking for it. Unfortunately, the market may feel differently.

No matter how many unique characteristics contribute to the value of your home in your estimation, ultimately, local market statistics, such as comparable market values, still play the largest role in determining the optimal listing price for your home. Here’s why putting your home on the market above that price can be detrimental:
  • You might miss the “new listing” allure. Sometimes, the best chance of selling your home is within the first 30 days when it hits the market as a new listing. But, if it’s priced too high for the area, buyers will overlook it and wait for a price drop.
  • You’ll help the competition. Your home may attract buyers to your neighborhood, but if it’s priced higher than others in your area, they’ll take the better deal!
  • You won’t show up in searches. When buyers are searching online—which most do before ever showing up in person—they set search parameters based on price range. If your home is priced too high for your neighborhood, you’ll be skipped over from the get-go.
  • Your home will lose interest. If your home is priced too high, it will linger on the market, which becomes a red flag for buyers. The longer it sits on the market, the more people assume there is something wrong with it.
  • You’re working with the wrong agent. If the real estate agent you’re working with agrees to list the property at an unrealistic price, that’s a red flag. An experienced local expert will strongly advise against listing too high (for all of the above reasons) and probably won’t take the listing if you insist.
When it comes to choosing the right listing price for your home, make sure you’re working with an experienced real estate professional, then follow their guidance when it comes to price.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

The Top 5 Home-Preparedness Tasks for Fall


While the bright skies and cool temperatures of fall make it prime time for weekend getaways, trips to the apple orchard, and hikes in the great outdoors, remember that this is also a critical time of year for home care. If you don’t want to spend too much of the season on house-related chores, focus on at least these five tasks. They’ll be easier and less costly to address now while the weather is still in your favor:

  1. Inventory your emergency supplies and equipment. Are you prepared for the aftermath of harsh weather? If you have an emergency generator, make sure it’s serviced and ready to go. Have flashlights and batteries gathered in a convenient spot, along with an emergency water supply, candles and matches. Make sure old fuel has been drained from outdoor power equipment and have a fresh supply at the ready.
  2. Button things up. Don’t wait for chillier temperatures to start checking for drafts. Investigate all windows and doors to see if air is escaping, and caulk and seal as necessary.
  3. Have your chimney cleaned. Before peak fire season gets underway, have your chimney professionally cleaned and serviced to remove creosote build-up, get rid of any nests, and take care of any repairs.
  4. Prep your lawn. You may think your grass duties ended with summer, but do two important things this fall: aerate and fertilize. Aerating opens your lawn up, allowing fertilizer to reach the roots that continue to grow throughout the winter. This process will set the stage for a healthy showing come spring.
  5. Prune your trees. To avoid tree branches coming down during winter storms, trim them now in the fall. For any major jobs, be sure to hire a professional. 

Get out and enjoy all that autumn has to offer…but take care of things at home, too.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

5 Things That Will Make Your House Stand Out

Even though you know all the many things that make your house so special, the average home shopper is probably a bit jaded. They’ve looked at countless homes online and have probably driven around to see many in person as well. They may even be at the point where they’re not going to bother getting out of the car if they pull up to a house and it just doesn’t grab them.

That’s why it’s exceedingly important to make sure your house stands out at a glance. The market is competitive, so you need to attract the discerning – and sometimes tired, frustrated and stressed out – eye of buyers. Here are some ways to make your house just a little more eye-catching:

1. Paint the Trim. Painting the trim around your roofline, windows and front door in a complementary color can be an instant wow that really sets your home apart. Just don’t do anything too crazy. Consult a color expert at your local paint store to find out what options may work. 

2. Get creative with shutters. Adding fixed shutters to your windows is another eye-catching feature from the curb. A contrasting or coordinating paint will make them especially appealing, or they can be stained for a natural look. Architectural elements or gingerbread can be added for additional appeal.

3. Make the front door a focal point. The front door is possibly the first thing homebuyers will see from the curb, so make sure it’s special. Paint it a stand-out color, such as red, black or cobalt blue. Frame it in stonework or panels of decorative or stained glass. Go with a natural wood look and add cast iron elements, such as a door knocker and sconces. 

4. Put plants in focus. If you’ve got a green thumb, let your landscaping lend a hand with curb appeal by adding attractive potted plants to your front stoop or porch, window boxes with trailing vines and flowers, and neatly trimmed grasses and shrubs along the front and side border of your home. 

5. Light it up. The right accent lighting will work magic for your home’s presentation, so make sure your front door is lit properly, add atmospheric lighting along walkways and can lights to shine a spotlight on trees and other important features of your lawn or home. 

These few steps will serve as immediate attention-getters to prospective buyers and leave an indelible impression as they narrow down their choices. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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