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Lisa Lawson

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Displaying blog entries 41-48 of 48

Here's a household tip to save on Cleaning Supplies!

by Lisa Lawson

Make your own cleaning solutions using inexpensive kitchen staples, such as white vinegar and baking soda. See http://www.thegreenguide.com/ for recipes.
Cost: A few bucks in extra pantry supplies.
Savings: $50 or more per year on commercial cleaners.
Bonus: Cleaners that don't contain harsh chemicals are healthier for your house
 

Tips for saving hot water

by Lisa Lawson

Insulate hot-water lines. Preformed foam tubes fit right around the pipes, thanks to a slit along their length.
Cost: 29 cents to 35 cents per foot of insulation, depending on pipe dimensions, at http://www.efi.org/.
Savings: $50 per year on energy.
Bonus: Not having to wait for hot water to reach upstairs faucets.
 

Try these tips to conserve water!

by Lisa Lawson

1.  Insulate your water pipes to get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.

2.  When it's time to replace your hot water tank, consider a high efficiency tankless water heater. This on-demand water heater can provide continuous hot water for one area or an entire home without having to constantly heat a large tank of water. Be sure to purchase the proper size for your family's hot water needs.

3.  Take shorter showers instead of baths. Showers, especially with water-saver shower heads, use about half as much hot water as a bath.

4.  Get into the habit of turning off the water when brushing your teeth, shaving or soaping in the shower.

5.  Save hundreds of gallons of water by cleaning driveways, walkways and patios with a broom instead of water.

Try these tips for optimal exterior lighting!

by Lisa Lawson

1. Determine how much lighting is needed for your home's exterior, and place lamps where they can provide the most coverage. Replacing older outdoor fixtures and lamps with newer ones can greatly improve efficiency.
2. Select a few focal points of interest to highlight such as the front entrance or beautiful shrubs. Use solar lights to accentuate steps and walkways. Solar-powered lamps are cost-effective and environmental friendly.
3. Switch to low-voltage lights for your outdoor areas and landscape. They can be used to illuminate features at night, rather than an entire area.
4. Install motion-sensing lights or ones with built-in automatic day light shut-off. They provide lighting without the need for leaving outdoor lights on all night.

 

 
Choose one neutral trim paint for the entire house rather than buying a gallon of a particular color for each room and using only a fraction of each can.
Cost: You have to forgo the trendy color combos in the paint manufacturer brochures.
Savings: $50 on paint for three rooms.
Bonus: Crisp white trim is always in style, and you'll never have to rummage around for the right can for touch-ups.

 

5 Ways to Save Money on Air Conditioning

by Lisa Lawson

The average homeowner spends about $375 on air conditioning. Here's how to slash your summer energy bills without sacrificing too must comfort.

1.  Don't just set it and forget it
If you have central air controlled by a thermostat, use a programmable thermostat to save energy turning the desired temperature up during the day when the house is empty. You can
give up a couple degrees at night, too - especially on the hottest days. You may be surprised to find that the contrast between outdoor and indoor temperatures matters as much as the absolute
temperature inside your home. When home, aim to set the temperature at 78 degrees to balance comfort with energy and cost savings. Together with winter energy savings, a programmable thermostat used properly can save the average homeowner up to $150 a year.

2.  Clean the air filter
Whether you have central air or a window unit, a dirty filter will reduce your AC's efficiency,
making it use more energy. Check your HVAC system's air filter monthly and expect to change the filter every three months.

3. Get an annual check-up
If you have central air, bring in a pro to check it out - once per year should cover both the
heating and the cooling season. A professional should be able to diagnose any inefficiencies
before you've wasted money on monthly heating and cooling bills.

4.  Think small
Cooling one room with a window air conditioning unit requires much less energy (and investment) than a whole central air system for your house. Ask yourself how you'll use your new air conditioner, and choose the smallest option that works.

5. Buy Energy Star
Whether you're buying a central air conditioner (which could qualify for a tax credit) or a room unit, efficiency matters. An Energy Star central air system will use about 14% less energy than minimum government standards, and a room air conditioner will save at least 10%.

 

Maintenance for concrete driveways

by Lisa Lawson

Wash

Driveways should be cleaned on a somewhat regular basis (at least 2 times a year). If you have a power washer, use that, otherwise a hose with a strong stream will do it.

With a power washer, you can use driveway cleaning solutions to add a little soap into the mix. If you don't have a power washer, use a bucket and a stiff brush.

Obviously, not all driveways are created equally so this could be quite the project depending on how long and wide it is. Concrete is like any other porous material exposed to the elements; your looking to wash away salt, acid from rain, from car exhaust, from general traffic, etc...

Repair

Secondly, you'll want to repair any cracks in the concrete. Cracks in expansion joints can be filled in with a non-hardening UV safe silicon, while cracks in the actual driveway should be repaired with a concrete repair mortar.

In colder climates, water can get into cracks and when it freezes over winter, it can cause the concrete to shift, causing more damage.

Seal

If you choose to, you can use a concrete sealer; this is usually rolled on and seals the pours in the concrete to prevent water penetration and generally makes it easier to wash the concrete the next time around. You'll do this about once a year.

You can go a bit extreme and use a concrete epoxy with some aggregate (sand) mixed into it to further protect the concrete. This is usually used in a garage to provide an easy to maintain and clean work surface, but this can get expensive and is usually found in automotive shops.

Gutter Maintenance

by Lisa Lawson

Gutters are designed to do one thing — channel water away from the foundation — and they’re critical to protecting the structural integrity of your home. But in order for gutters to do their job properly, they have to be kept in shape and free of clogs, holes, and sags.

Luckily, most common gutter problems are easy for homeowners to fix themselves. And it’s worth the effort. Gutters are one of those things where routine maintenance and inspecting them can really prevent bigger problems down the road.

Clogged gutters are the the most common problem of all. Left untended, gutters and downspouts get so clogged with debris that they’re rendered useless. The excess weight of leaves, twigs, and standing water can also make them sag and pull away from the fascia.

Clean them at least once a year, and twice a year if you have a lot of trees nearby. You can clean your own gutters if you’re comfortable on a ladder, don’t mind getting wet and dirty, and don’t have an extremely tall house. After you’ve cleared the muck, flush them with a garden hose to make sure they’re flowing properly. If you’d prefer, you can hire someone to do the job for you for between $50 and $250, depending on the size of your home.

Another option for dealing with chronically clogged gutters is to outfit them with gutter covers. These include mesh screens, clip-on grates, and porous foam. They still need regular maintenance, though, and the cost can be more than the gutters themselves.

 

Displaying blog entries 41-48 of 48

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