Home Owners

Reduce Your Home Heating Costs

Winters in Vermont can be brutal and your heating bill can add insult to injury. We've put together a couple of ways you can reduce your heating costs in simple and cost effective ways.

Keep the shades closed

During the night or when you're not home, there is no reason to keep the curtains open since it only adds to any drafts coming from the windows. On days that aren't brutally cold, it can help to leave curtains open in rooms where the sun will shine in. This will add some natural heat for no extra cost.

Programmable thermostat

While these aren't free, the money you could save will be worth it. Programmable thermostats allow you to preset times to turn the heat down or up when you're not home or sleeping. It's perfect if you're more forgetful or too busy to be changing it manually multiple times a day.

Socks

Have you ever noticed that you feel considerably warmer or cooler depending on whether you're wearing socks? Simply putting on some winter socks can make your home feel warmer. 

Fans

Use ceiling and standing fans to your advantage by using them to circulate warm air to different areas of the house. Just place them strategically to filter the air from heating vents or wood/gas stoves.

Only heat what you need

You might find that you don't need all the rooms in your home to be heated all the time. If the study or laundry room don't see as much traffic, then you might consider closing those doors (or vents) and saving more heat for other rooms. 

Deck the Halls

Holiday decorations can be the ultimate hassle on top of an already stressful season. Lucky for you we have some fun ideas that don't have to take too much time or effort to employ.

Solar Lights - There's a solution to the headache that is always putting up lights in and around your yard...solar lights. Wrap these around trees and bushes and they'll turn on automatically when the sun goes down. No extension cord needed!

Mailbox - If your home is less visible but you still want to show your neighbors the holiday spirit decorated your mailbox. You can wrap garland around the post or simply attach a bow.

Wreaths - You can't go wrong with a holiday wreath. If a fancy pre-made wreath is not something you're willing to pay for, there are plenty of other options. You can buy a simple, bare, fake wreath for a few bucks and decorate it with wrapping ribbon and other products from around your house. This is a great way to save money, as you won't have to buy a new one next year either.

Garland - Hanging garland is a holiday staple. You can utilize this kind of decoration anywhere that you want. Wrap it around your porch railing, hang it from the window panes, or string it along your fence posts. 

Candles - We know candles can be tricky due to the risk of fire, so we are promoting the use of electric automatic candles. In our house, we use individual electric candles that automatically turn on when the light starts to fade. Put them in your windows facing the road for a warm look for all to see.

Paper Snowflakes - If you live somewhere where your windows get a lot of notice, this is a perfect idea for you. Simply make or buy some paper snowflakes (very easy to make) and attach them to the inside of your windows. It adds a nice little touch to your home. 

We hope everyone has a safe and very merry holiday season!

A Guide to Selling Your Home in Winter

While many are hesitant to put their home on the market during the winter months, there are actually some things working in your favor. Some benefits to selling in winter include less competition from similar homes on the market and first-quarter job relocation is in full swing since companies want their employees settled in for the new year. Let's dive into some tips on how to make your home even more appealing during the winter months and guarantee that sale.

Turn up the heat

Who doesn't love stepping into a warm and cozy home from the chill of winter? The tendency to try and save money by keeping the temperature cooler in the winter can work against you if your potential buyers don't even feel they can take their coats off. If you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, fire that baby up: a warm home is an inviting home.

Safety first

One of the absolute musts during the winter months is making sure your driveway and walkway are accessible and safe. Shovel your walkways and put down salt or sand when the ground is icy and make sure your driveway has been plowed recently, especially if there has been a recent storm. Your likelihood of a sale goes down exponentially if the buyers can't get into the house.

Front door clutter

A common tendency during the winter months is to kick off your boots and strip off your coat as soon as you walk through the door. Make sure these areas are neat when your home is on the market. Organize the coat closet and make sure the boots are lined up instead of scattered around. If you have hardwood floors, make sure no one left footprints behind from snowy boots.

Holiday decor

A home that is strung up for the season can be a big draw, but you don't want to overdo it. Having too many large or overly bright decorations can distract from what your home actually looks like. When indoors, feel free to add some cute holiday touches but go easy on things like scents from candles or air fresheners. Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers.

Photos

There are a couple of sweet spots for taking home photos during the winter months. No one wants to see a photo of the property when all the trees look dead and the grass is browning. Try taking pictures during peak fall or once the snow has already fallen, taking care to rake leaves or shovel the walkway. Photos in winter can have a magical affect if done correctly and can look like a winter wonderland.

Benefits Of Buying Or Selling Your Home In The Fall

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Now that summer is over, you may be noticing fewer for-sale signs around. This is great news for buyers and sellers as the marketing is less competitive and you can take advantage of potential tax breaks and seasonal deals. 

Less Competition

There are generally fewer homes on the market in fall, but there are also fewer buyers competing for the house you want. An article from Forbes says, "Families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture. Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale - and in some cases, there's just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer."

Tax Breaks

"Fortunately for home buyers, owning a home can yield great dividends in tax returns. For example, both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income. Furthermore, if you have prepaid some interest before the due date of your first payment, and if you close your loan before the year's end, that interest can also be deducted." Deena Weinberg wrote for Realtor.com

Check out potential tax breaks for home sellers by clicking here.

Home Improvement

End-of-year sales on everything from appliances to home maintenance. Consumer Reports keeps track of the best times to buy what you need from lawn mowers in October to TV's and kitchen cookware in December.

Are Tiny Homes a Wise Investment?

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Tiny Houses are becoming very fashionable in today's word. The absolute height of modernism and simplicity, a tiny home is meant to push the boundaries of living efficiently. Typically smaller than 400 square feet, these miniature abodes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Is this surge of small spaces a sign of things to come? Or nothing other than a fad? Tony Gilbert of The Real FX Group examined all of the pros and cons of the tiny homes and compared them to traditional homes and living expenses. 

 

It seems there are Tiny Homes popping up everywhere. Magazines, websites, and reality TV shows all praise the space-saving miniature houses that typically range between 180 and 400 square feet in size. Is it a practical lifestyle choice? Is it truly possible to live comfortably with another person in such a tiny space? Do people still enjoy living in tiny homes after the first year? How much do they cost? These are questions you need to ask before you consider purchasing a tiny home.

What Does A Tiny Home Cost?

When you start visiting tiny home builder websites, you quickly realize these miniature residences aren't cheap. Prices for tiny homes as small as 200 square feet of comparably cramped living space can start at nearly $70,000, and the prices can increase significantly, depending on quality of materials.

One thing many tiny home buyers sometimes forget to take into account is that the price of the home does not include the land the home will eventually sit on. And, when you consider the fact that bathrooms average less than 3 feet wide, often contain recreational vehicle toilets, and have little or no plumbing, and the kitchens may not include normal appliances, that's a pretty high price tag for such a tiny space.

Do People Live In Tiny Homes?

Research on the internet, and you'll find stories from people who lived in their Tiny Homes for a short period of time, as the reality of living in such tight quarters becomes apparent. Some owners build the homes and decide to rent them. A few people manage to live in a tiny home for a few years, but many other people discover tiny homes don't meet their lifestyle or family needs.

While the idea of living more simply or off the grid can be appealing in our hectic world, the reality is very often not what people expect. Moving into a tiny home means disposing of or storing most of your belongings because obviously, tiny homes aren't known for their ample storage space. And storage space costs money.

There may be only a couple of cabinets for food in the kitchen area. Refrigerators are usually very small and fit under a counter. Loft bedrooms are very low, and placing a mattress on the floor serves as a bed. You can also have seating downstairs that serves as a bed at night. Some loft stairs have built-in drawers below them for clothing. And for some people, having no separate space to go when they want to enjoy some alone time, can be a major problem.

Buying A Traditional vs. Tiny Home

Fortunately, there are cozy and small traditional homes which can house a family comfortably, provide storage, give them roots in a community, and allow the potential for the homeowner to build equity. You don't need to give up the conveniences of being connected to town water, electricity, and cable to live in a cozier space.

Either way, if living more simply, and with a smaller footprint is the goal, be sure to consider all smaller home or condo options before spending your savings on a tiny home. Don't jump on the Tiny House bandwaggon without carefully considering all of your home buying options, because doing so may save you many thousands in the long run, and will give you peace of mind when it comes time to make a final decision.

To read the original article, click here.

Creative Ways to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

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The heat and humidity of summer are great...outside. Luckily, there are lots of tricks to keeping your home cool without running your air conditioning and racking up your energy bill. Realty Times posted a blog by Jaymi Naciri on some tips to get started.

Standing fans

A fan placed in the middle of the room can give you some relief from the heat, allowing you to turn down you're A/C. With so many fan options out there you'll want to check out the reviews, which will give you specific info so you can find the best option for you. Personally, we're into this Soleus Air tower fan. Two words: remote control!

On a really hot day, you may also want to think about getting creative with your fan. "Not even an air conditioner can give off a faux sea breeze... but this simple trick can," said Huffington Post. "Fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust us: it's magic."

Get blinds

If you're considering different window covering options and heat coming through your windows is a concern, blinds may be a good choice. Choose white reflective blinds and you can reduce heat gain by 45 percent, while still having the option of raising or opening them easily whenever you want.

Take a look at your sheets

Getting through the day during a steamy summer may not be a problem, especially if you work outside of the house. But those nights when the temps don't go down can be unbearable. Sheets made of certain materials can make it worse, but new options can help.

"Cool bed sheets are made with natural fibers that are breathable and can prevent perspiration or feature moisture-wicking fabrics that whisk your sweat away faster than you can produce it — so you'll stay dry through the night," said Bustle. "Considering that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees, it stands to reason that sleeping with sheets that keep you cool can make your bed feel less like a sauna is a very good idea."

Look for natural fibers like cotton (especially Egyptian) or bamboo, and away from sateen and silk.

For more tips on keeping your home cool without constantly running your air conditioning click here.

Easy Summer Patio Upgrades

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One of the many fun things to do during summer is to enjoy spending time outside on your patio. It's a place where you can rest and relax or party it up on summer nights. There are some easy way that you can make this space work for you 

Update your furniture

If you're looking to change things up you might be in the market for a new look for your patio. New chairs, tables, and cushions can completely alter the look and feel of this space. You might simply need to upgrade furniture that has weathered through one too many seasons. 

Shade

If your patio receives a lot of sun, then you'll definitely want to invest in some man-made shade. Table or free standing umbrellas are super easy but you could go bigger with a canopy or pergola. 

Light

When the sun goes down you might still want to enjoy your patio and that's why it's a good idea to install some light fixtures. These can be as simple as hanging lights off the side of your house or citronella torches to keep those pesky bugs away.

Party Time

Ensure that every get-together is a blast with a grill and cooler to keep the refreshments coming. Lawn games are super fun and with those lights, you don't have to stop when the sun goes down. 

Tips To Get Your House Sold

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Let's face it, most Vermont towns can sell themselves with their close-knit feel, community activities, local amenities, beautiful landscapes, etc., but that doesn't mean someone will be willing to buy a house there if it doesn't make a good impression. Buying a house is a huge deal, and you want someone to be wowed when they enter yours for an open house or private viewing. Making a few improvements doesn't have to break the bank, but it can be the difference between them walking out the door or making an offer. Jaymi Naciri, from Realty Times, has written up ten tips to help you on your way.

Staging your home is a critical step in getting it sold, but all the recommended updates and upgrades can get pricey. Thankfully, there are tricks you can use to make your home look bigger, better, and brighter, without spending a dime.

1. Fix up your floors

Don't want to pay to replace or refinish your floors? No prob. Grab a brown crayon to fill in divots. A one-to-one mix of olive oil and vinegar rubbed directly on scratched areas will also help make it look new. You can also use canola if you don't have olive, but then use a one-part vinegar, three-part oil mixture. 

Floors look great but don't sound so hot? "Fix creaky wood floors with a generous dusting of baby powder," said One Crazy House. "Work it into the cracks until the floor is no longer noisy."

2. Make it sparkle

Presumably, you already have cleaning supplies, sponges, and paper towels in the house. Now all you need is some elbow grease to make your home look shiny and new.

When selling your home, you need to take the cleaning beyond your typical weekly run-through. Think "Spring cleaning" turned up a notch or two. Remember that potential buyers will be looking everywhere, including inside drawers and cabinets. Make sure they're crumb-free and well organized. They may also open your refrigerator. While this can seem intrusive, you don't want to give them a reason to walk away, so make sure to tidy up the inside, wipe up any spills, throw away rotten food, and put a nice big box of Baking Soda in there to absorb any leftover smells.

3. Let the light in

Everyone is looking for "natural light," so show off what you've got by opening up those blinds and drapes. Did you just reveal a bunch of dirty windows and sills? Ewww. Grab that cleaning spray and make them shine. An old toothbrush is a great way to get gunk out of corners and in window tracks.

If your place isn't light and bright, even with all the blinds and drapes drawn, you'll need to depend on artificial lighting. This is no time to have lightbulbs out. Go hit that stash in your laundry room cabinet and switch out for fresh bulbs.

4. Declutter

Home stagers will tell you there is no more important step when preparing your home for sale. "If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story," said Houzz. "It's not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative's garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble."

Do a walk-through with an outsider's eye, or ask a friend or family member to help since they'll be more objective. Anything that isn't used regularly or is taking away from the open feel of the house can be packed away. Small appliances and anything else hanging out on countertops can be put in a cabinet if you're not ready to stick it in a box. You want people to see the bones of the house, not your blender.

5. Depersonalize

While, you're decluttering, keep personalization in mind. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in the home, and they might not be able to do so if they can't take their eyes off your wall of taxidermy.

6. Create closet space

Even if you have the world's largest walk-in closet in the master bedroom, you can give buyers the impression that there isn't enough space by overfilling it. Stagers recommend taking half of your clothes and shoes out and packing them away to create some airiness. Does the idea of packing up your stuff freak you out? You're going to have to do it when you move, anyway. This is just giving you a head start.

7. Remove the stink

Does your home greet guests with a big whiff of cat box? Potential home buyers might just turn right back around and get in the car. You also want to make sure your animals aren't irritating those who are touring or impeding them from entering certain rooms. Don't want to board them? Surely you have a friend or family member who'd love to watch your pets during showings, right?

8. Pull those weeds

You really can't overestimate the importance of curb appeal today. Even if you don't want to spring for a few bags of mulch and some colorful flowers to frame your door, there are easy and free steps you can take to give buyers a great first impression. Dispose of any visible weeds, leaves, and other unwanted stuff hanging out in the yard. Give your bushes a trim and mow the yard. If you can't power wash your home, at least wash the outside of the exterior windows that are within eye level.

And don't forget about the area closest to your front door. Sweep that stoop and make sure your welcome mat is actually welcoming, instead of dusty and dirty.

9. Address your furniture

Some of the most common problems in homes when it comes to furniture: 1) It's ugly; 2) It's old; There's too much of it; The arrangement is uninviting. Ugly and old might be hard to overcome when you're trying not to spend money, but the rest you can do something about.

"Sometimes when sellers are trying to make a small room seem like it's more spacious, they have a tendency to push all of their furniture against the walls to leave a big open space in the middle. This type of arrangement may leave a lot of open space, but ultimately leaves the interior design looking unfinished -- a big turn off for buyers. In this situation, it's better to create furniture groupings. First, envision the way the space should be used," said Freshome. "Do you have a huge flatscreen TV that requires a lot of seating? Is there a corner in your living room that would serve perfectly as a reading nook? Group the furniture in ways that would make sense for the intended use. Then, make sure that there are clean and direct pathways through the room. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home and one of the quickest ways to do that is by creating a cozy seating area that's fit for conversation."

If the problem is that you've created a crowded space by using too much furniture, ditch a few pieces in a friend's garage for the time being (or, even better, donate them!) to create an intimate seating area. You can always bring those pieces back into your new home.

10. Borrow stuff

If, at the end of the day, your home still isn't looking show-ready, maybe it's time to raid a friend's house. Have a loved one who has an extra couch that's more neutral than yours or a couple of great accessories? It's time to test their love for you.

To read the original article click here.

Improve the Value of Your Home in 5 Easy Steps

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Damien Justus, of Realty Times, offers some great suggestions to boost the value of your home without going completely overboard. These are things that can be applied to any house, in any neighborhood. 

What increases the value of one home might not increase the value of another. A resort-style pool and outdoor kitchen in Wyoming might not hold as much value for buyers as the same resort-style pool and outdoor kitchen added to a home in South Florida. What works and what doesn't is dependent upon the current market conditions in your area, what buyers in your area want, and the overall feel of your neighborhood. It's not to say you cannot add something no one else has, but you have to add the right thing.

Building a 4,000-square foot addition to your 1,200-square foot home in a neighborhood that consists of all small starter homes is not a wise home improvement. If you're looking to add some value to your home, try one of these five easy steps that almost always adds value no matter where your home is located.

Start Outside

What's the first thing buyers see when they drive up to your home? Your lawn and front door, and they make more of an impression than you might imagine. If your lawn is a mess, your door needs some paint, and your house is dirty, the first thing you do is get it all cleaned up. You're not going to spend thousands on elaborate landscaping, but you might be surprised just how much of a difference a freshly mowed lawn and some brand-new mulch in the flower beds make.

Move it Indoors

Paint is everything in a home. You can have your home any color you want but if you choose to sell and want to increase the value of your home, you're going to add value by adding a nice, neutral paint color to every wall. No more personal colors in bedrooms, no more accent walls, and no more old, dirty paint. Even if your paint is only a few years old, you will make a big difference in the overall value with a fresh coat.

Upgrade the Fixtures

Next is the fixtures. It's time for new door knobs, light fixtures, and faucets in the kitchen and bath. Cabinet and drawer pulls are also important, and every one of these very small details makes a very large difference. You can upgrade these for next to nothing while seeing a significant improvement on the value of your home.

Fix Any Small Issues

If you want to add value to your home, it's time to fix the small issues. If you have a leaking faucet, get it fixed. If the air conditioner makes a funny noise when it runs, call the home warranty company and ask them to come out and take a look. If it's broken, they'll replace it. If it's fixable, you just got rid of that pesky noise and increased the overall value of your home in the eyes of buyers. Small issues are some of the biggest issues. Repair any little dings or holes in the walls, fix any broken baseboards, and repair anything that's not quite perfect. These little things add up substantially.

Clean it Up

Finally, it's time to clean your house. Hire a professional to come in and clean every single nook and cranny. You're not tidying up for dinner guests anymore. You're cleaning cabinets, drawers, walls, floorboards, ground, baseboards, trim, and everything in between. You might not think a home that's clean is worth more, but you'd be surprised. If your sparkling clean house is for sale for the same price as another house down the street that's almost identical but isn't spotless and has a lower asking price, people will want your home. Even if it's more money, it's less work for them and it's cleaner.

A house is an investment, and that's why it's imperative you do what you can to increase the value of your home without spending much money. It's not always expensive upgrades and renovations that add a few extra dollars to the overall cost of your home. Sometimes it's small, easily forgettable details that make the biggest difference to a buyer.

To read the original article click here.

Expectations for Your First Year in a New Home

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Jaymi Naciri, of Realty Times, is here to prepare you for the inevitable. Your first year in a home is going to be great, but it's also going to challenge you. Naciri has created a list of some things you might want to keep in mind while getting settled in your new place so, when something comes up, you can handle it with ease.

Moving can be exciting, and it can also be scary. It can be smooth sailing or so wrought with silly (or serious) issues that your cat peeing in the box of towels because you haven't unpacked his cat dish yet sends you into the kind of rolling-on-the-ground, slapping-your-leg, crying-big-fat-tears laughter that makes your family wonder if you need medical intervention. And that's just the beginning of the adventure.

In the first year in a new home, you'll likely experience the full spectrum of human emotions, sometimes in the span of a few minutes. And while you can't know everything that's going to happen, you can prepare yourself for some of the inevitabilities, of both the good and not-so-good variety.

Something's going to break

It could just be a sprinkler head or it could be your air conditioning unit in the heat of summer, but knowing that something will eventually break in the house is the best reason of all to be proactive. Being able to quickly deal with a leaking water heater or a roof that's been damaged in a hail storm is key to minimizing the damage to your finances, and your sanity.

There are four main keys to being prepared:

  • Saving your money -"Owning a house doesn't change the rule of thumb that it's wise to have approximately six months' worth of income in a rainy day fund, and more experts are now recommending that you build up nine months to a year," said Zacks Investment Research. "What changes is the amount of your monthly expenses that will be consumed if you need to tap into the fund. If your mortgage, tax, insurance, utilities and other payments rise with a new mortgage, you could use your savings up more quickly. With this in mind, if you were saving less than the guideline, intending to tighten your belt, the increased bills that come with homeownership makes skimping on your rainy day fund a dangerous business."
  • Knowing where everything is located - You don't want to get caught in an emergency situation and be scrambling around trying to figure out how to shut off your gas.
  • Finding a trustworthy handyman - Unless someone in the house is handy, and actually does the stuff they say they are going to do in a timely manner, you'll want to find a handyman. Having someone you can call in a pinch to repair the doggy door or the garage door opener or add a ceiling fan to a room that stays five degrees warmer than the rest of the house is clutch. Next Door is a great place to find a handyman, as well as a babysitter, dog walker, and lost cat.
  • Getting a warranty - In many cases, you can buy a home warranty after you've purchased your home. If you have an older home, are someone who could be sunk by a broken air conditioning unit that costs several thousands of dollars to repair or replace, or just want to make sure you're covered for all those things that could bust, a warranty might be a good thing to consider. "A home warranty is a contract between a homeowner and a home warranty company that provides for discounted repair and replacement service on a home's major components, such as the furnace, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical system," said Investopedia. "A home warranty may also cover major appliances such as washers and dryers, refrigerators and swimming pools. Most plans have a basic component that provides all homeowners who purchase a policy with certain coverages. Homeowners can also purchase one or more optional components that provide additional coverage at additional cost."

Junk mail city

Expect to see a full mailbox for months after you move. A lot of it will be junk, but there will also be some valuable stuff in there, like coupons from local stores that can save you money on furniture and housewares. Don't forget to also take advantage of the coupons that are part of the U.S. Postal Services change of address package.

You'll probably also get some refinancing offers. If your home happens to gain equity during the first year and rates dip, you might be able to refi and lower your payment.

You're going to make friends

Unless you're a total hermit who never exits the house even to take a walk, get the mail, or water the flowers, you're bound to make some new friends in your new neighborhood. Maybe even lifelong friends. But, if anyone in the household is nervous about this aspect of moving, there are ways to increase the friendship-making quotient for kids, and adults.

The updates you knew you needed when you moved in will become a priority

That ugly floor and those outdated countertops are just staring at you, taunting you, even. When you just can't take it one more minute, consider this: You don't have to shell out a bunch of cash for them. Use interest-free credit at Home Depot or Lowe's and you can break up the spend into manageable monthly payments over a period of time. Just make sure to make your payments by the due date every month. Missing one, being late, or not paying the minimum due for even one month will void your agreement and add a whole bunch of interest to your total.

Need furniture or electronics more than you need floors? Lots of stores like Rooms To Go and Best Buy offer the same type of interest-free deal.

You're going to have big dreams and big reality checks

Unless you've bought a brand-new home, there are a few things you're going to want to change, beyond furniture and furnishings. It may just be carpet in the bedrooms and a splash of new paint, or it might be ripping out your entire kitchen.

Budget concerns will probably keep the renovations in check for many people. But you'll also want to assess the return on investment for the renovations you have in mind. Even if you're not planning to turn around and sell your home in a year or two, knowing that the updates you make are valuable and will be a good investment is always important. Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report is a great guide to see which items pay you back.

It's going to cost more than you thought

This ties back to the saving your money thing, because there will always be stuff that needs to be fixed and updated. But there will undoubtedly also be surprising costs. For instance, if you're going up in square footage, you may not have considered the extra heating and cooling costs.

There are tactics you can use to address some of these costs:

  • Do an energy audit -"A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time," said Energy.gov. "Items shown here include checking for leaks, examining insulation, inspecting the furnace and ductwork, performing a blower door test and using an infrared camera."
  • Research utility options - In many cities, you have options for your energy providers, and some may cost significantly less than the traditional providers you've gone with in the past. Be sure to check out solar options, too, especially if you're interested in green living. The newest advancements in solar energy for residential homes make it possible to use the sun's energy without having to purchase expensive systems and pay thousands of dollars upfront.
  • Check out alternative credit cards - If you're looking for creative ways to save money, check that junk mail again. There may be some valuable credit card offers in there with lower interest rates or an interest-free balance transfer option.

You might have to do some things you never thought of

You probably weren't thinking about cleaning out your ducts when you were envisioning your new life in your new home. But you probably won't know how long it's been since the last cleaning, and dirty ducks can cost you money if you're HVAC system isn't running efficiently. Thet can also be dangerous because of the accumulation of dust and dirt inside. Poor indoor air quality can worsen allergies and asthma.

A clogged dryer vent can also cost you money because it makes your dryer work harder. But, more importantly, it can be dangerous and even deadly. "Lint is highly flammable and can pose a severe fire hazard when dryer vents are not cleaned regularly and properly," said Barineau Heating and Air Conditioning. "According to the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center, clothes dryers are responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires around the country each year, and 80 percent of those fires start with clogged dryer vents."

You'll get woken up in the middle of the night by a fire alarm

Because batteries only die at 3am. Every. Single. Time. You can avoid this nuisance and keep your family safe by changing your batteries when you first move in. While you're at it, change your filters, which will help your HVAC to work more efficiently.

To read the original article click here.