When winter weather strikes, you may think it’s time to stop putting your house out there, but don’t worry. You can still successfully show a house in the winter months, but it will take a little extra preparation. In fact, buyers who are shopping in the winter are often highly motivated, because they typically have an urgent need to move during the “off season.” This, combined with fewer houses on the market in many communities, can lead to an easier sale. Here are some tips to help you showcase your home well, even if the snow and ice are hitting your community.
Keep Walkways Clear
Make sure that people who are interested in your home can clearly see the path from driveway to front door. This means shoveling and salting all season long. You need to be proactive about this, even if the snow is actively falling, because footprints from people walking on freshly fallen snow can turn into dangerous ice. Also, keep that “for sale” sign free of snow, so people who drive by know the home is available.
Leave Space for Wet Shoes
Have a space by your front door where potential buyers can leave wet shoes. Most buyers will be respectful enough not to tramp into your home wearing wet shoes, if you provide a spot for them. Be prepared for some extra cleaning, though, because some potential buyers won’t feel comfortable removing their shoes.
Turn on the Lights
When you leave your home for a potential showing, turn on all of the lights. Winter tends to be a darker time of year, and you want your home to show as clearly as possible. In addition, open all blinds and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible.
Make It Warm
Even if you enjoy a little chill in the air during the winter, buyers should feel warm and toasty when they walk in. During showings, increase the thermostat a little higher than usual before buyers arrive, then set it back to your comfort level during the showing to keep the furnace from kicking on while the buyers are in the home.
Take Photos Strategically
If you have the freedom to, take the photos of your home on a day when there is either fresh snow or before the grass dies at the end of fall. The photos will live on the Internet for a while, so you want them to showcase the home well. A dreary yard with half melted snow may cause the home to show poorly.
Selling your home in the winter is possible, and can even be quite successful, but it does require a little strategic planning. With these tips, you can have a successful winter home sale.
• Regularly clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.
• Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood.
• Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in.
• To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs. Run the water until the pipes are empty. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes, if not; the water can freeze up and damage the pipes.
• Wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape. It will save energy and prevent them from freezing.
• Clean and replace filters in your furnace or heating system. Contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service your gas heater or furnace to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Check the attic to make sure the insulation is installed properly. The vapor barrier on insulation should face down toward the living space. If it is installed incorrectly (with the vapor barrier facing up) then the insulation will trap moisture causing possible water problems. Cut slits in the vapor barrier to allow moisture to escape.
• Clean Out Your Dryer Lint Vent – Corral those lint bunnies. Those deceptively harmless looking little fluffs love to snuggle down in your dryer vents and lint traps. Before you know it, they multiply like, well, rabbits. Dryer lint is extremely flammable if you let it build up in the vents. You can hire someone to do this for you, or you can do it yourself and buy a vacuum attachment made specifically for cleaning out dryer vents.
• Clean Your Refrigerator Coils! You can eliminate more than 70 percent of service calls with this simple cleaning step. Skip this chore and you’ll be contributing to your appliance repair technician’s retirement fund. Not to mention handing over $5 to $10 a month extra to your utility company because the fridge isn’t running efficiently.
Do it twice a year or more often if you have shedding pets. Their fur clogs up the coils fast. Condenser coils are located on the back of the fridge or across the bottom. These coils cool and condense the refrigerant. When the coils are clogged with dirt and dust, they can’t efficiently release heat. The result is your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge.
• “Childproof” Your Outlets Even If You Don’t Have Kids -Sticking a simple child proof plug into your electrical outlets could save you 5% on your energy bill this year. Who knew that doing something to protect your kids could also protect your bank account! Electrical outlet boxes typically don’t have any insulation behind them, creating what is basically a hole in your wall. On a windy day take some incense or a match and put it in front of an outlet (one without a plug in it of course) and see if you can see air movement.
Fall Garden Maintenance
• Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials. Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing. But perennials often appear as though they too have bitten the bullet. That’s because their top growth dies back, although in most cases the root ball is hardy enough to survive even extreme temperatures, especially if it’s covered with a layer of mulch.
• Trim dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a winter storm.
• Rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. Large leaves in particular, especially when they get wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below and lead to all kinds of insect and disease problems. So it’s a good idea to routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces.
• Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you’re done, spread fertilizer then grass seed.
• This will be the ideal time to sow cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye – it will give them the opportunity to germinate and develop a good root system before freezing temperatures arrive. It’s also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.
Check For Pests • Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. With gable vents that lead into the attic it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.
• Even after closing off those entryways, pests can still find a way in. The first place to check for any unwanted guests is under the kitchen cupboards and appliances.
• Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home. A smoke alarm can save lives in a house fire. A carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.
• Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless byproduct of burning oil or natural gas, and it can be deadly. For just a few dollars, a carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm if the levels get too high.
• Always install carbon monoxide detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions. Generally they should be installed near each potential source of carbon monoxide, and within ear shot of the living and sleeping areas.
• Have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The summer can be a fun time full of adventure and bonding with friends and family. But with the hot days, many who want to spend their time inside with the family where it is cool are choosing to do so.
With the long hours spent at home and the increase in usage, you may lose control of your electric bill and end up paying a lot of money you did not expect to pay.
For the households who want to save money, or at least use electricity efficiently, the following are some ways to do so:
The first thing you need to do is to prepare yourself for the heat. This way, you can plan and set your physical limits as early as possible. Once you get done preparing mentally, you need to make your home ready for the heat with the following steps.
You can invest in an automatic thermostat. An electronic thermostat is the best way for you to keep your home at a suitable temperature without having to increase or
decrease the thermostat, the smart device will do that for you.
You should review the maintenance of your air conditioning units and fans to check if they work and how you can further save electricity on them.
You can have a general cleaning and de-clutter your home so you can have more space for the airflow.
Second, you need to do the math and share that logic with your family members, so they know how to control the temperature.
You must remember this logic: for every degree above 72ºF, you end up saving up to 3% on your cooling expenses. Studies have shown that the ideal setting is up to 78ºF. This setting works best if you slowly acclimate early in the summer.
Third, you can spend money on blinds and end up saving more. Think of this scenario: you have the air conditioner on, and the windows allow the sun to come in. Perhaps it is ideal for you to use natural light, but it hurts your electric consumption more. The more sun that shines in the room, the more work the air conditioner does. Adjustable blinds allow you to have reflected light but reduce the thermal effect.
Finally, use summer to bond with your kids. Only use one room where your whole family can stay during the day if you plan on staying at home. This way, you save money on air conditioning and also bond with your kids.
Now that you know the best ways to save electricity during the summer, you are now ready for a better experience with your family.
The summer heat is often the culprit behind jumps in electricity costs during the summer months, so do what you can now to conserve energy and avoid additional costs as the weather heats up. If you’re looking to cut back on your spending throughout the summer, your utility bills are great places to start when making changes to your everyday life.
Here are 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months, adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle and avoid overspending on household expenses this year.
Switch Off the Lights When You Leave a Room – Turning off the lights when walking out of a room is a great way to curb your energy consumption in the summer.
Use Rain as a Free Water Source – Collecting rainwater in buckets during a storm is an active way to cut down on your water usage while taking care of your yard this season.
Close Your Blinds and Curtains During the Day – Keeping the heat out on bright, sunny days is an effective way to control your energy expenses this summer.
Keep Doors and Vents Shut – Closing off parts of your house where you don’t spend much time is a convenient way to limit cooling costs while at home during the summer.
Spend Your Free Time Outside – Going out every day to embrace the warm weather and enjoy the great outdoors is a smart way to use less energy in the summertime.
Find Creative Ways to Cool Down – Drinking ice-cold beverages and taking cool showers are small ways to save money on utilities while making the most of the summer.
Put Wet Clothes Out on a Clothesline – Using the hot summer sun to dry your clothes after washing them is an effortless way to reduce utility bills and spend time outside.
Monitor the Temperature on Your Thermostat – Setting a default number for your air conditioning is a simple way to keep your energy bills from rising when it’s hot outside.
Opt for Fans Instead of Air Conditioning – Circulating air throughout your home with fans is an economical way to cool down your living space while using less energy.
Unplug Electronics That Aren’t Being Used – Pulling out their cords when you’re not using your electronics and chargers is an easy way to limit your energy usage this summer.
These 10 ways to save on utility bills during the summer months will keep you from breaking the bank when the weather gets warmer this year. Whether you’re focused on using less water, running your air conditioning on a lower setting or another method, it’s possible to cut back on power usage and save money in the process.