HVAC Energy-Efficiency Terms

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Whether you’re looking to lower heating and cooling costs, or have a passion for protecting the environment, maximizing the energy efficiency of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is a smart move. The more energy efficient your system, the less you’ll spend running it every year, and the smaller your home’s environmental footprint will be.

Efficiency ratings are intended to help you decide which products are best for your home, so it’s important to understand what all the related terms mean. HVAC systems manufacturer Luxaire, which has received ENERGY STAR’s highest rating for two components, offers some guidance on interpreting energy-efficiency ratings and terms.

ENERGY STAR:

Launched in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the ENERGY STAR program is a voluntary labeling system designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient products. ENERGY STAR rates products in more than 70 categories. Over the past 20 years, ENERGY STAR-rated products have helped consumers save $362 billion on energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons.

“Products that earn the ENERGY STAR rating are proven to operate using less energy. For example, in order to earn the highest rating, the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient designation, Luxaire’s Acclimate AC8B Split System Air Conditioner and Echelon HC8B Split System Heat Pump demonstrated performance levels of up to 20 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and 12.5 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling and heating performance, and 10 Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) for heat pumps,” says Ken Ely, product manager, Luxaire heating and cooling.

ENERGY GUIDE LABEL:

Federal regulations require heating and cooling equipment to carry an EnergyGuide label that provides an estimate of how much energy the equipment will use. The label also compares the unit’s energy use to that of similar products and gives an estimate of how much it will cost to operate the equipment in a year.

In addition to energy efficiency labeling, it’s important to know some measurement terms. Generally, for all these terms, a higher number equates to better efficiency.

SEER:

SEER measures the energy efficiency of air conditioning systems and heat pumps. The ratio measures the amount of cooling provided by an air conditioner in comparison to the amount of energy the system uses — measured in watts per hour — over a hypothetical season. SEER can give you an idea of how energy efficient a unit will be under average conditions. However, a number of factors, such as how you use and maintain a unit, can influence energy efficiency, so it’s important to realize a unit might perform differently in your home.

EER:

EER is very similar to SEER, except instead of measuring efficiency over a season, EER tells you how efficient an air conditioning unit might be when operating at a typical temperature.

HSPF:

HSPF is meant to help you understand a heat pump’s energy efficiency over a season. It’s typically referenced alongside SEER to give a better picture of a system’s probable energy efficiency. The HSPF formula uses BTUs (British Thermal Units, a measurement of heat) to estimate the useful heat output divided by the total electricity (in watts per hour) the heat pump uses during a heating season.

AFUE:

One more energy measurement to know is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating. The AFUE measures average efficiency for furnaces, boilers and water heaters. Like SEER and EER, the measurement is for a theoretical heating season.

To learn more about energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, visit www.luxaire.com/greensavings and follow @LuxaireHVAC on Twitter. For more information on the ENERGY STAR program, visit www.energystar.gov. To learn about how to read the EnergyGuide label, visit www.energy.gov. – (BPT)

Tips To Reduce Electricity Consumption of an Air Conditioner

 

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Simple Steps To Create The Perfect Outdoor Oasis

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Summer is home to many of the year’s most beautiful days, so who can blame you for wanting to spend them all outside? Your yard becomes your living room and your patio the kitchen. It’s your home away from home, which begs the question — do you like your current digs?

If your home’s outdoor space lacks the comfort and appeals you are longing for, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time to transform your backyard into the perfect outdoor oasis you can enjoy all summer long.

To get started upgrading your backyard without breaking the bank — follow these tips from the experts at Lowe’s.

 A Place to Gather:

Think of the parties you’ve hosted in your home. They’ve likely all had a common gathering place such as the kitchen counter, the living room couch or the dining room table. Your outdoor space needs a similar location, and a dining set naturally invites guests to relax. Five-piece dining sets from Lowe’s are perfect for more intimate gatherings, while seven-piece sets comfortably accommodate larger crowds.

The Focal Point of your Kitchen:

Grilling out is a staple of any summer party, so if your existing grill isn’t hitting all cylinders, it’s time for an upgrade. The Master Forge 5-Burner Modular Gas Grill features four heavy-duty burners, one infrared searing burner, and one infrared rotisserie burner, giving you a solution for any menu choice. Plus, its built-in halogen lights can keep your party going long into the night.

A Place to Relax:

The sofas and armchairs in your living room are popular sitting destinations during an indoor event, and you can create the same environment outdoors with sectional patio furniture. The Garden Treasures Palm City Patio Sectional Furniture features sleek and sturdy black steel frames coupled with tan Olefin cushions that up to the comfort level, meaning when you sit, you’ll never want to leave.

A Little Shade Goes a Long Way:

An all-day party means plenty of suns, and when guests need a break from the heat, it’s good to provide an area of relief. Patio umbrellas are an affordable option, available in 8-1/2 and 9-foot varieties, providing ample coverage for a large gathering. And to keep the awning a hot destination into the evening, look for an umbrella outfitted with LED lights.

 The Perfect Accents:

The difference between a backyard and an outdoor oasis is in the details you add to your space. Island King Garden Torches bring light to any situation. With durable metal construction and a long-lasting fiberglass wick, these lights will keep their look in any conditions. To add a little extra green space to your outdoor entertaining area, consider purchasing raised garden beds. They provide a grand ambiance upgrade to your oasis at an affordable price.

Summer has just begun! Implement any of the upgrades listed above, and you’ll be able to enjoy the season’s most significant days from your brand-new oasis. To find everything you need to remake your backyard, without breaking your bank, visit lowes.com. – (BPT)

How To Build The Perfect Share Garden | Outdoor Ideas

 

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Solving The Nation’s Water Problems

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Cooking dinner, washing dishes, showering and flushing toilets — these are daily activities for most Americans. If you did any of these in the last 24 hours, you’ve contributed to the roughly 355 billion gallons of water that are used each day in this country.

Water is our most basic, physical need, but it’s also one many people take for granted. While most Americans are fortunate enough not to know a world where they don’t have access to clean water, continuing that same safe access in the future is not guaranteed. In fact, preserving the nation’s clean water supply requires a significant change from current practices, along with a commitment from both utility workers and the general public to work together in solving one of America’s greatest challenges.

Understanding The True Cost Of Water:

The average person uses about 70 gallons of water every single day, and this number does not factor in the water allotted for general uses such as agriculture, energy production, fire protection or manufacturing. Yet despite this myriad use, the average consumer’s monthly water bill remains around $45, far below what many Americans pay for their cell phone, a night out or their television package.

It appears a bargain, yet 50 percent of Americans surveyed by Grundfos for the Who Runs the Water that Runs America Initiative believe they are paying a fair price for water, and only 2 percent report they should be paying more when comparing their water use to their water bill. Those in the utility sector tell a different story, with 70 percent reporting they aren’t generating enough revenue to cover their costs and fund infrastructure improvements.

A Side Seldom Seen By Consumers:

Jayne Swift, project manager for the global engineering firm CH2M, knows firsthand the difficulties utilities face. Responsible for water delivery in Crestview, Florida, Swift recognizes that most people don’t think about their water beyond their immediate needs. “Few people think much about where the water comes from when they turn on the faucet, or where it goes and who manages it after it goes down the drain,” she says. “We treat wastewater to protect public health, and we treat and deliver clean, safe water for consumption. When something goes wrong, we have to respond and correct the issue ASAP.”

Across the nation, those issues are arising more and more often. America’s water infrastructure is aging, and each year more than 240,000 water mains break at a total repair cost of more than $1 trillion. These breaks and/or leaks in the water mains account for 12 percent of the nation’s water is wasted each year. And as the infrastructure system continues to age, that number is expected to grow.

Consumer Challenges Around What Not To Flush:

An aging infrastructure isn’t the only challenge utility professionals face. In some communities, a much larger problem already exists. For example, when Jim Holzapfel, water utility director for the city of Naperville, Illinois, is asked the largest problem his department faces, the answer comes quickly. “Flushable wipes,” says Holzapfel. “They are nearly indestructible.”

Naperville Water Distribution and Collections Manager Tony Conn agrees. “We have a multi-residential facility that feeds into a particular pump station. Normally we’d pull the pumps twice a year to do maintenance. But in the last four months, we’ve pulled these pumps 53 times, all because of flushable wipes.”

Holzapfel says that wipes flushed down the drain can cling and weave together. When they do, the wipes form a rope-like mass that plugs pumps and damages equipment. Sometimes this plug can be so large that it can break a 2-inch-diameter pump shaft. The plugs can be expensive for consumers as well.

Holzapfel says Naperville’s utility — which serves a population of about 151,000 — receives approximately five calls per week for sewer backups in homes. “After investigating the issue, we often find out flushable wipes have plugged their service line,” says Holzapfel. “At that point, it’s not a utility issue. Unfortunately, it’s now an individual customer that has a sewer backup that they have to take care of and pay for.”

“The word ‘flushable’ can be interpreted by others (the consumer) to mean something different than intended or what is recommended and/or practical,” says Conn, recommending that flushable wipes are better disposed of in the trash can. “Just because it’s flushable doesn’t mean you should flush it.”

Working Together To Improve Water Use:

While water utility professionals work tirelessly to preserve the nation’s water system, they cannot do it alone. To stave off the problems threatening the nation’s water supply and make real improvements to the existing water infrastructure, it will require consumers to think about their water beyond the point it leaves their tap. It will require them to reduce their water usage and realize that if a change is not enacted now, the results down the road will be even more expensive for everyone.

The Who Runs the Water that Runs America initiative is working to increase consumer awareness of the water challenges that exist in the United States. Visit www.whorunsthewater.com to learn more about the water situation in your area, how it compares to other regions of the nation and what you and your family can do to improve it. Ten minutes — the length of a shower — could make all the difference in the world. – (BPT)

Water Conservation Tips

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5 Ways To Create Big Luxury In A Small Bathroom

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If you’re thinking about remodeling your small bathroom, you may know that studies show updating a bathroom of any size can increase the value of a home. However, there’s a statistic from a Houzz survey you might not know: 75 percent of people who renovate a master bathroom doesn’t make it bigger.

Enlarging a small master bathroom is often impractical; you may need to take space from another room or extend an exterior wall to accomplish an expansion. Both options have disadvantages and costs. The truth is, you don’t need to move walls or spend like a home improvement show host to create big luxury in a small master bathroom.

Five Ways To Make A Small Bathroom Space Feel Lavish:

1. Rethink the shower stall versus tub debate.

Many large luxury bathrooms have a separate shower and soaking tub. In a small bathroom, which may be used by multiple members and generations of a household, creating an upscale feeling by separating the tub from the shower might not be a realistic option. Instead, look for ways to boost the appeal of your tub/shower space, perhaps by choosing a visually appealing, bright-white model for an updated, yet classic, style.

For example, Americast bathtubs from American Standard combine unmatched strength and durability with elegant, traditional design lines that blend perfectly with stylish bathroom decor. Patented three-layer Americast construction gives the tubs a porcelain enamel finish, sound-dampening qualities and superior resistance to damage, all in a lightweight material that makes for easy installation.

2. Step up your shower game.

The shower isn’t just where you get clean; it’s also a morning wake-up tool or end-of-day relaxation therapy treatment. Deluxe showers often feature multiple jets, rainfall showerheads, and hand showers. Replacing an ordinary showerhead with a shower system is a cost-effective and easy way to add a luxurious experience to the shower.

Options like the GROHE Retro-Fit Shower System offer a drenching rain showerhead, along with an integrated hand shower for ultimate convenience. Since the main showerhead is mounted on a movable arm, you can position the spray overhead (to function as a rainfall shower) or at an angle for additional comfort, all with the choice of spray patterns. Even better, the system works with existing plumbing, eliminating any need to open the wall to change piping. For added indulgence, consider a shower system with an elegant brushed nickel finish to elevate the look of your overall shower and bathroom decor.

3. Splurge on luxury materials.

Yes, materials like travertine tile or granite countertops can be costly, but when you’re renovating a small bathroom, you need less of those materials. Adding marble tile above a small tub/shower area will cost far less than outfitting a large walk-in shower. Replacing a modestly sized vanity with a new cabinet and granite countertop won’t be nearly as expensive as redoing a large, double-sink vanity.

When you have less real estate to refurbish, high-end materials can be a cost-effective choice. For a reasonable price, you can use quality materials to significantly boost the upscale feeling of your small bathroom.

4. Add pizzazz to functional elements.

You can increase a small bathroom’s feeling of extravagance by adding some flare to functional items like faucets, mirrors and cabinet hardware. For a modest investment, you can turn everyday, often-overlooked elements into items that underscore the overall beauty of the room.

For example, replacing an ordinary or outdated faucet with a modern-style option from the Colony PRO bath collection is an affordable way to improve aesthetics and functionality. Sleek styling translates well into modern bathroom design. Plus, single- or double-handle design means that faucets are user-friendly for children and adults of all ages and mobility levels.

Replacing a typical bathroom medicine cabinet or mirror with a luxury model is another way to elevate a small bathroom to premium status. Today’s medicine cabinets come with an array of leading-edge features, such as defogging functions, built-in electrical outlets, night lights, USB outlets, interior lights and set-in magnifying mirrors.

5. Lighten up space.

Finally, adding more natural light into a small master bathroom can make space seem larger and more appealing. If your small bathroom already has a window, forgo blinds or shades in favor of easy-to-apply privacy film. Readily available in home improvement stores or online, in a breadth of simple or fancy patterns, this opaque film allows light to enter the room while providing the necessary privacy.

If your budget allows, consider adding a skylight for natural lighting and passive ventilation. Even if your small master bathroom is on the ground floor, it may be possible to use a tube skylight to bring more natural light into space.

Achieving ultimate comfort and luxury in your small-space bathroom is at your fingertips, quickly and affordable. – (BPT)

Small Luxury Bathroom On A Budget

 

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5 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Outdoor Space

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A beautiful, sunny day is one of the best parts of the season, and when you have one, you simply have to be outside. When you step outdoors, where do you go? To the park? The lake? A friend’s home?

How often do you stay home and enjoy a beautiful day in your outdoor space? If your answer is not often or never, it’s time to create your home field advantage. With just a few simple improvements you can make even the smallest outdoor space feel comfortable and be welcoming to you and your guests. Start with these five projects, and you’ll make your yard the place to be when the weather turns beautiful.

5 Projects for an Outdoor Space :

1. Replace the cement with a raised deck. That old cement patio or walkway in your backyard may be unsightly and uninviting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make that space much more appealing by replacing it with a raised cedar deck. Easy to build and affordable as well, installing a raised cedar deck to your outdoor space makes the entire area more inviting without taking up any additional space. Cedar is also naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects, and it is cool underfoot, making it the perfect decking solution for your newly improved outdoor living space.

2. Light smart. Your current outdoor space may have only a single light, or it may have no light at all, making it impossible to use at night. To make the space more welcoming, add string lights or uplighting to your outdoor area. These lights are available in a wide array of styles to match your personality, and they take up very little space, allowing you to create the perfect — well-lit — environment you’re looking for.

3. Focus on furniture. If finding the right furniture to fit your space has been difficult, consider making your own instead. Building a customized bench or sectional from Western Red Cedar is easier than you think and it allows you to build your furniture to meet the design requirements of your space. Plus, Western Red Cedar is pitch and resin free, so it accepts and holds a wide range of finishes to match your style choice. You can even add built-in storage to your bench or furniture design for more space-saving solutions. To find building plans for this and other Western Red Cedar projects, visit www.realcedar.com.

4.  Place a plant or two. The right plant could provide just the pop of color your outdoor space needs. Herb gardens, hostas, even a pot of flowers all up to the scenic appeal of your outdoor area. If space is a concern and you have a pergola structure, hanging plant baskets are the great option so that you can enjoy their beauty from above.

5. Play a zone strategy. When space is at a premium, you need to utilize every inch. To do this, segment your outdoor space into defined zones such as cooking, relaxing and eating areas. You can then further define these zones by adding the perfect finishing touches to each like a barbecue enclosure for your cooking area and a pergola over your dining table. Each of these DIY projects is a worthy addition to your outdoor space and will make it the area you can’t wait to enjoy every time you step outside. – (BPT)

Creative Ideas for Urban Outdoor Spaces

 

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Tricks To Customize A Kitchen On A Budget

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Who wouldn’t want a kitchen customized to meet their particular tastes and needs? A complete kitchen renovation can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you don’t have to spend a bundle to achieve a custom effect. A few modest investments can help make your kitchen work well and look great.

Ways To  Affordably Customize Your Kitchen:

1.Get creative with cabinets

Completely replacing cabinets can be costly, but it’s possible to create a custom look with the cabinets you already have. Customization tricks to try:

* Paint cabinets a trendy color, like dark blue. Or, paint one set of cabinets, such as those under an island, a different color.

* Remove the doors from one cupboard to create an open effect where you can display prized showpieces. Further accent the look by painting the back of the cupboard a contrasting color.

* Replace dated or dull hardware with drawer pulls and knobs that speak to your design tastes. For example, if you love a vintage look, replace metal hardware with glass or ceramic knobs.

2. Freshen up the faucet

Cabinet hardware isn’t the only “jewelry” in the kitchen. The faucet can also be a design focal point that looks as good as it works. If yours is old, basic or just not to your taste, replacing the kitchen faucet with a newer model that speaks to your style can help reinvent the entire room. Plus, a new faucet can provide functions and features that will make your kitchen more usable.

For example, the Tournant faucet by Kohler combines traditional design with modern industrial elements, so it works well with a variety of kitchen design themes. A three-function, pull-down spray head lets you put the water exactly where you need it, while a special BerrySoft setting is gentle enough for washing fruits and vegetables.

If a more vintage look appeals to you, Kohler has recently added a bridge model faucet to its favorite Artifacts line. Reminiscent of turn-of-the-century kitchen and bar faucets, the deck-mounted bridge faucet works with either lever or six-prong handles for temperature controls and features a dual-function side spray. Visit www.us.kohler.com to learn more.

3. Enliven your lighting

Good light is essential for a kitchen to function well, but it’s common for kitchens to have just one overhead light and maybe a pendant or two over a breakfast bar. Replacing dated fixtures with newer ones that suit your style is easy, but what can you do if you want more light without the expense of paying someone to install additional wiring?

* Replace a standard ceiling light with track lights. They require no additional wiring, and you can position lights along the track to put illumination where you want it.

* Install under-cabinet lights that can easily plug into an existing counter-level electrical outlet.

* Place a swing-arm task lamp over work areas, so you can aim light where you need it most while working. The lamp can easily plug into a wall outlet.

4. Accentuate accessories

Accessories are the finishing touch of personalization in any room, including the kitchen. However, since the kitchen needs to be high-functioning, look for ways to accessorize that also enhance your kitchen’s ability to work for you.

* Every kitchen has small appliances that get regular use, such as toasters, food processors, blenders, etc. If your toaster sits out on the counter, why not turn it into part of the design theme by selecting an appliance in a bright color to match your decor?

* A matching set of pot holders or dish towels hung from a hook beneath a cabinet or on the side of a cupboard not only puts a much-needed item close at hand, but they can also add decorative flair.

* Place a bright, cheerful area rug in front of the sink or prep area. The rug will not only perk up space but helps cushion your joints while you stand in one spot working.

* A pot rack above an island provides much-needed storage space for large pots and pans while adding a homey touch to the kitchen.

Customizing a kitchen doesn’t have to be costly or require you to sacrifice any functionality. With a few smart updates, you can cost-effectively create the personalized kitchen of your dreams. – (BPT)

How to Remodel Your Kitchen on a Budget 

 

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Smaller Metros Take Action To Draw Millennials Fleeing Urban Areas

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Are millennials getting ready to leave big cities in droves? Some experts in demographics, economics, and real estate have predicted the millennial exodus from vast urban areas has already begun. If true, the question remains: where will they go?

Some may head to the suburbs as their parents and grandparents did before them, but many will look for a different lifestyle, one that combines the advantages of suburban living with features of city life. Some smaller metro areas, like Wausau, Wisconsin, they have the blend of economic opportunity, urban elements, affordability and lifestyle that will attract millennials.

The Draw:

“Economy has always been a factor in generational migrations, and while the nature of work has changed, economic opportunity is still critical to where people want to live,” says Christian Schock, director of planning, community and economic development for the City of Wausau. “Everyone wants to find a place with the winning formula of urban activities, affordability, and lifestyle. Businesses want to put down roots in that environment, too, knowing it will draw a bigger pool of skilled workers.”

In recent years, the City of Wausau has made concerted efforts to position itself with both big city amenities and small town assets. By many accounts, the efforts are paying off. In a 2016 Pew Research Trust analysis of income equality nationwide, Wausau ranked first in the nation, with the middle class constituting 67 percent of the city’s total population. Wausau also ranked highest in Wisconsin and eighth nationally on Area Development magazine’s list of hot spots for new and expanding businesses.

The Formula:

Small to mid-size metro areas that want to attract millennials, as well as businesses and investors, need to address key areas, including:

* Urbanity

In addition to the recreational and entertainment amenities often highlighted when discussing millennials, many mid-sized metros lack the diversity of housing types that can be found in a larger city which millennials might be accustomed to.

One strategy Wausau has focused on specifically is diversifying housing product. The City funded local architects to design an urban rowhouse — a housing style which did not previously exist. For over a decade, leaders proactively assembled parcels for new riverfront apartments and continually worked with developers to seek tax credits which could be applied to renovating historic properties into unique multifamily offerings.

* Affordability

Rising real estate costs are among the factors that kept many millennials living in cities longer than they might have liked, experts say. Mid-sized metros have an edge in making home buying more affordable for millennials — and homebuyers of all generations.

Recognized as a leader in economic development homesteading, Wausau’s Live It Up program is a partnership between local employers and the city to provide employees with a no-interest down payment assistance loan for the purchase of a home. In the last two years, the program has allocated more than $200,000 in no-interest loans to local employees.

* Place

Millennials who came of age in urban environments have a strong affinity for multifunctional spaces and are drawn to communities that are a walkable mix of business, retail, industry and residential. While the specific physical space needs may change, their own strong sense of identity makes them inclined to seek a region that has its own established sense of self.

Wausau has leveraged more than $100 million in new downtown development over the past decade and currently has another $100 million under construction, emphasizing the city’s identity as a vibrant, growing core. Wausau’s Riverlife Village project is reclaiming more than 16 acres of urban waterfront along the Wisconsin River to house a new park, river wharf, mixed-use office space, biking paths, apartments and a family entertainment center.

Perhaps the greatest testament to a mid-sized metro’s success is the recommitment of historic businesses to local growth. Wausau Insurance was an early innovator in workers’ compensation insurance, which evolved out of the necessity for local lumber mills to share the risk of worker rehabilitation. Now part of Liberty Mutual, the company recently announced a $50 million regional facility expansion. Wausau Window and Wall Systems and Linetec, both in the building materials industry, also trace their roots to the lumber industry, and have completed over $60 million worth of expansion and doubled the size of their workforce within the past five years, providing a strong foundation for continued economic development.

“Any resident, millennial or not, is looking for ways to connect with their community. Both businesses and residents are discovering that smaller cities can even be more responsive and creative than larger metros,” says Robert Mielke, mayor of Wausau. – (BPT)

To learn more about how the City of Wausau is attracting residents from big cities, visit www.wausome.org.

Top 10 Best U.S. Suburbs to Live in

 

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DIY Projects To Prepare a Home for Sale

Helpful Information from your friends at Atlantic Building Inspections

If you’re looking to sell your home quickly and for more money, it’s essential to make popular areas of the house look appealing to potential buyers. Fortunately, with a little DIY effort, you don’t have to invest in expensive home repairs or real estate-staging services.

Easy DIY Projects for a Market-Ready Home:

Paint the front door – First impressions count when it comes to a home sale. You want your entryway to be inviting so home buyers want to look further. An easy way to update an entryway is to paint the door with a new color that complements your home and surroundings. Simply remove the hardware, clean the surface, prime and topcoat with the new paint color. While you’re at it, consider painting exterior accent features — such as shutters or window boxes — the same color for a cohesive look.

Repair and refresh walls – Painting is an easy and affordable way to freshen an entire home so that buyers take notice. However, cracks and holes in freshly painted walls can make a poor impression. For a DIY project that yields a professional result, repair walls before the first swipe of the paint brush. ALEX Plus and ALEX Flex Spackling provide unsurpassed performance and durability for filling holes and cracks on surfaces throughout the home. ALEX Plus Spackling is easy to apply, sands to a smooth finished surface, and creates the superior paint-ability needed to seamlessly blend with the surrounding area. ALEX Flex Spackling is perfect for eliminating those stubborn reoccurring cracks in the drywall that appear as problem areas expand and contract with changes in weather and humidity.

Update kitchen and bath hardware – Do you have kitchen and bath hardware that’s decades old? If so, it may be worth your time to replace these dated details. Adding small features such as modern cabinet hardware can visually update a room, so explore affordable options at your local home improvement store. Once you select the style you like best, just get your screwdriver and swap out the old for new.

Re-caulk the kitchen and bathroom – Exposure to water and moisture over time can cause caulk to look dirty and unsightly. Potential buyers are sure to note mold, mildew, dirt, and stains on old caulk. For a clean appearance, remove the old caulk, thoroughly clean the area to remove any dirt or residue, then re-caulk with DAP Kwik Seal Ultra Sealant. Backed by a lifetime mold and mildew resistance guarantee, this premium siliconized kitchen and bath sealant repels water, liquids, soap scum, stains so the sealant stays looking clean, fresh and new. Plus, it is safe for all surfaces, even granite, and marble.

Revisit lighting throughout the home – Proper illumination isn’t just useful, it can open up a room and highlight beautiful architectural features. All lighting should be dusted, but for those fixtures that are old, outdated, or broken, consider inexpensive replacement options. Something as simple as replacing glass globes can add high-impact style. Adding task and accent lighting is another smart investment. For example, under-cabinet lights in the kitchen are easy to install and are likely to impress potential buyers.

Preparing a home for sale doesn’t have to be a daunting process. With these five projects, you’ll be well on your way to having a beautiful home ready for listing. – (BPT)

Tips For Getting Your House Ready For Sale 

 

 

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Home Innovations that Protect Against Moisture

water removal pump - home inspection miamiBrought to you by your friends from Atlantic Building Inspections

There is an insidious enemy that every homeowner dreads: moisture and the damage and degradation it can cause if left unchecked. Luckily, home improvement manufacturers have discovered new ways to prevent moisture from penetrating the home in the first place. With new home product innovations, there is no reason to suffer the costly and damaging effects of rain, snow or ice.

Unique fasteners add longevity to decks:

Innovative fastening methods can extend the life of your deck and provide a beautiful fastener-free surface that also stands up better to weather and moisture. Although there are several kinds of deck fasteners that conceal the fastener, edge fastening is the latest method. “With edge fastening, which delivers real screws into the edge of the deck boards with a series of unique guides and drill bits, fastener-related splitting and cracking can be eliminated,” said Greg Palmer, Director of Marketing at National Nail’s CAMO Edge Fastening. “This can add to deck life because moisture is not seeping into those cracks and splits, causing accelerated degradation.” He adds that the company has also expanded its warranty to cover the deck boards, as well as the screws. “Edge fastening works great for composite, PVC and all types of wood decks and creates a safer, fastener-free surface.”

Exterior cladding that resists moisture:

When searching for alternative exterior products that have beauty and curb appeal, make sure they repel moisture, especially near the foundation or near the gutters at the roof line. It is now possible to have the look of rich wood cedar shake or a variety of stone looks to cover foundations or to upgrade the ugly space under decks. New technology enables polymers to actually be stained or finished to be indistinguishable from the real thing. “There are new levels of realism in shakes that resemble true cedar,” said Ralph Bruno, president, Tando Building Products. “Beach House Shake” by Tando is an example of this superb realism — it installs easily and is impervious to moisture with little to no upkeep.” He adds that homeowners can keep moisture at bay and have luxurious exteriors without sacrificing beauty.

Protect your home in every season:

As if heavy spring rains and winter’s melt-off didn’t threaten homeowners’ properties enough, the hurricane season is expected to be more erratic than in years past — with a predicted early start and activity right into late fall. Thankfully, there are new, affordable technologies to quickly remove standing water from homeowners’ properties, keeping it away from their foundations. “Having both dependable sump pumps and multi-use pumps are the first lines of defense against storm damage,” said Jeremy Cantor, VP of Marketing for WAYNE Pumps. “One example is the innovative WaterBUG Submersible Water Removal Pump, which can remove large volumes of standing water quickly and easily from flat grassy yards, basement floors, and even tight spaces like window wells because it has both top and side water flow.” He emphasizes that having reliable multi-use and sump pumps in your home can save thousands of dollars in property damage and basement repairs.

Seal it or patch it to keep water out:

Water damage doesn’t have to happen, and by having the right caulks, sealants and hand tools, homeowners can easily do the job themselves and save on contractor costs. And, if moisture gets ahead of you, there are ways to repair the damage and prevent it from happening in the future. After winter, check windows, under door frames, gutter lines, concrete and other vulnerable areas that need sealing or patching. Very often, the simple act of sealing these areas with the right type of caulk can make a big difference in keeping out moisture. “One of the most popular sealants on the market is LIFETIME Ultra, which is a perfect solution for outdoor fix-ups after winter’s damage,” said Alan Crupper, VP of Marketing, Red Devil, Inc. He added that premium acrylics like this work very well and are paintable, unlike silicones. “You need a caulk that has a tight seal, won’t sag or crack no matter the temperature and especially for outdoors, one that adheres well to any surface.”

No matter the season, moisture can put your home and valuables at risk, so don’t delay in taking preventative action or repairing damage where it starts. With innovative new technologies on the market, you can easily protect your home from nature’s wrath. – (BPT)

Submersible Water Removal Pump

 

 

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When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality residential home inspection company in Miami FL, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office at (786) 477-5975.

A Smart Way To Buy A Home

happy couple - home inspection miamiHelpful Information from your friends at Atlantic Building Inspections

Are you considering buying a home? With mortgage rates on the slow and steady incline, there may be no better time for a home purchase than now. Mortgage interest rates will likely continue to go up for the foreseeable future, according to recent data from the housing finance company Freddie Mac. Many housing experts and industry observers agree.

What does this mean?:

If you are thinking about buying a home, it means don’t wait any longer. The overall cost of the purchase of a home in the future will only increase compared to the acquisition of a home of the same value today. Furthermore, rising interest rates impact housing inventory, as sellers might not be as interested in moving if it means paying a higher rate on a new mortgage. As a result, the dream home you see today might not be available next year.

The 20 percent down myth:

If you’ve put off buying your next home to save for the full 20 percent there is good news: you don’t need it. If you were unaware of this, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that among first-time homebuyers who obtained a mortgage, 80 percent made a down payment of less than 20 percent. While there are several low down payment mortgage options available, only one has a 60-year history of being a stable, smart way to get into a home: a conventional loan with private mortgage insurance (MI).

What is a conventional loan with MI?:

A conventional loan is a mortgage from a lender that is not entirely backed by the federal government. For qualified borrowers with a small down payment, private MI is required and typically paid monthly along with the mortgage payment. You can obtain this type of loan with as little as 3 percent down, though buying with a 5 percent down payment will result in a lower monthly payment.

There are other types of low down payment options that also include MI, such as the government-insured loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Unlike the premiums charged by FHA loans, private MI premiums can be canceled once 20 percent equity in home value is reached, and with private MI there are no upfront costs added onto a borrower’s initial down payment like there are with an FHA loan. This means your monthly bill decreases and you have extra money to spend on your family, vacations, retirement and any other needs.

Don’t sit on the sidelines and miss out on your dream home. To learn more about mortgage insurance compared to other low down payment options, visit LowDownPaymentFacts.org. – (BPT)

The Smart Way to Buy a Home

 

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When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality residential home inspection company in Miami FL, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office at (786) 477-5975.

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