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August 18, 2014

How to Estimate Utility Costs for a New Home

Utility meter and calculator

If you are like most, you probably keep your finances in order by staying on a budget. But if you are moving to a new home, it can be hard to set up your budget if you don't know how much the utilities will cost each month. So how do you estimate utility costs for your new home?  Here are a few ways you can get estimated utility costs to work with before you move.

  1. Look at your current bills: Take note of your current usages. If you can see how much energy, gas or water you are using now, this can be a good indicator of how much you will use in your new home if it is similar in size or as a baseline if you are moving into a larger or smaller home.
  2. Ask about previous bills: Call your new power, gas and water providers to find out what the previous owner’s average and low/high bills looked like. At the very least, you should be able to get average utility costs for the neighborhood.
  3. Use online estimators: Getting an online estimate will not be exact, but it can give you a good idea of how much you may end up paying for your utilities. Home Energy Saver offers a free online tool to help you do just that.
  4. Get a home audit: If you are really concerned about the utilities in your new home, consider having someone come out and do a home audit. This will not only help you determine what your energy costs will look like, but you will also learn new tips for decreasing your usage and how to improve your home's energy efficiency.

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July 28, 2014

Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

Home with landscaped yard

If you are getting ready to sell your home, you are probably thinking about what you can do to make your home stand out from all of the other properties for sale. Sprucing up the outside of your home and boosting its curb appeal is a great way to get the leg up on the home for sale down the street. Even if you are not planning to sell your home soon, improving the curb appeal will make it even more attractive for you and your family. Check out four of our favorite, low-cost ideas for boosting your home’s curb appeal.

  • Replace out-of-date hardware: This can include door handles, lock sets, light fixtures, house numbers, etc.
  • Replace your mailbox: If your HOA allows for it, and it's time for a new mailbox, look for one that will complement the personality of your home.
  • Plant a garden: Flowers are great for a quick spruce. Don't have time for a landscaping project? Grab some small potted plants and line the stairs up to your porch!
  • Install walkway lighting: Walkway lighting not only looks great at night, but is also very functional. You will be glad for the added light when you are getting in after dark!
 

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June 10, 2014

3 Decluttering Tips for Summer

Organized Bookshelf 

Summer is right around the corner, which means your kids and college students are out of school for the next couple of months. With the whole family at home, it can start to feel a little cramped if you have clutter or nonessential items lying around. Check out 3 of our favorite decluttering tips for creating more space in the home so you can enjoy a clutter free and spacious environment this summer.

  1. Space Bags: Vacuum bags can be a great solution to all of your off-season clothing or linens that are rarely used. Pack up your winter clothes and guest bedding in these nifty space-savers. They can then be stacked in plastic tubs that fit under the bed.
  2. Multifunctional furniture: We love the idea of using furniture that serves multiple purposes in the home. A bench by the foyer that also stores shoes, umbrellas or bags is a great way to declutter the area by your front door.  
  3. Store it: If you have items in your home that you don't want to part with, but are not being used, consider using a portable storage unit to clear out those things and create more space in your home.

 

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