Home Care Tips to Start on Today

While we no longer depend on a fireplace for heat and therefore don’t need to do a post-winter deep clean for soot and dust, the idea of spring cleaning is still alive and well. While not needed for fireplace grime, a good spring cleaning and maintenance session are not only good for the soul but one of the smartest thing to do for the longevity of your home.
 
By spending a little time and effort now, you’ll save huge expenses and potential disasters down the road. A little bonus? You get the best version of your home to enjoy over the summer.
 
Below is a list of recommended yearly spring maintenance:

Inside the Home

 Dryers 
While cleaning out the lint filter becomes an easy habit for most, what about that pesky lint that escapes the filter? Over time lint can build up in the dryer vent, causing slower drying times and potential fire if not taken care of. Saving energy plus a potential fire? Worth it.
 


Lightbulbs
Checking your home’s light bulbs is a small, but often overlooked task. Check each light bulb to ensure the lightbulb is the correct wattage for the fixture, replaces burned out bulbs, and think about converting to LED for reduced energy and heat.

Smoke Detectors 
Ideally, smoke detectors should be checked monthly, but take the time during your spring cleaning and maintenance to check and/or replace the batteries and smoke detectors themselves. Remember that there should be at least one smoke detector on each floor with an additional one in each bedroom and hallway.  A quick check is all it takes for serious prevention.

Screen doors and windows
Opening windows and letting the fresh air in is such an amazing warmer weather perk … but not when critters are able to find their way in. Clean and patch (screen repair kits can be bought at hardware stores) each window and door screen, so that you can take advantage of those slightly cooler breezy nights!
 


AC Tuneup 
Most people only think to call someone out to look at their AC unit when it’s broken, but if you’re calling when it’s broken, it’s too late. Small, routine tune-ups before AC season can not only save energy and money now but huge expenses (and the unpleasantness of no AC) down the line.
 


Check window and door seals 
Winter weather can cause caulk to harden and crack. Keep the cool air in, and tiny critters out by filling in any cracks or gaps along window and door seals.

 
Outside
 

Reseal Exterior Woodwork 
Wooden decks, patios, and porch swings will last much longer if sealed every year or two. Plus, why not have that back deck looking its best during the months you’re actually using it?
 


Gutters 
The point of gutters is to get water off and away from your house as soon as possible. When leaves and other debris over the past year have built up, gutters don’t work properly. When the water is prevented from going out the downspout it collects around the house and causes wood to rot. Not worth going down that route. Clear those gutters!
 


Roof inspection  
Use a zoomed in picture, binoculars or (carefully), a ladder to inspect your roof for any shingles out of place, water pooling, or just plain damage. A small repair now will be worth the time and money.

Trees 
Check for dead or rotting trees, and remove. (It’s usually worth hiring a service for your safety.) Dead trees may look steady now, but they won’t act that way when those powerful summer storms blow through.
 


Check for Cracks 
Check for cracks in your driveway, and any other paved paths around your house. Asphalt can be patched and concrete (depending on the size of the space) can also be repaired. Safe, even, walking surfaces and prevention of longer, deeper cracks is important.
 


Exterior Paint 
Your house’s exterior paint job may feel like it’s all for looks, but just as important – it’s your house’s protective barrier to the elements. Be sure to re-paint any cracked or peeling paint you notice.
 


Prevent Mosquitoes
No one wants summer fun ruined by mosquitoes! As they are much easier to prevent than to get rid of, be sure to check for and eliminate any standing water on your property.

Prep Your Home for Fall and Winter

Last week we posted a list of easy home maintenance tasks you can do yourself to lower your energy costs this Fall and Winter. But many homeowners don’t realize the savings that can be achieved by spending a little money up front to properly maintain your home each year. We’ve consulted some local experts at Roscoe Brown to bring you the best annual maintenance checklist.

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Tips for Fall and Winter Energy Savings

 

With fall just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to give your home an energy efficiency assessment. Are you setting yourself up to save money in the coming chilly months, or will you need to pay through the nose again this year?

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The Pros and Cons of Smart Home Technology

 

Smart home technology has been something that we as a population have longed for; science fiction shows and movies have wowed audiences with ideas for home automation that most of us would really like to enjoy in our day-to-day lives.

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How Homeowners Can Conserve Water

 

This is a sponsored post brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.

Water is an important resource, however many homes use more of it than they realize. As such, it’s vital to consider the ways homeowners can conserve water as this will ultimately create positive environmental changes and cut costs for them as well.

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At Home Pet Safety Tips

 

July 15th is Pet Fire Safety Day. At first glance, it seems like another obscure “holiday” that was more or less invented out of nowhere by the news spreading on social media. But by all means, this is no “National Cheeseburger” type of day. In fact, it’s a day to think about the unthinkable and plan ahead for emergencies to keep your furbabies safe.

Not only is it important to have emergency escape plans put in place for your pets, but it’s incredibly important to know how to prevent pets accidentally causing fires.

An estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by fires each year.

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Energy Saving Tips This Winter

Energy Saving
As the year shifts further into autumn, temperatures continue their downward trend in most parts of the US. With the approach of winter weather, many people are looking for new ways to save energy (and money).
 
Perhaps you need to conserve your energy use due to budget constraints or a desire to build up your savings. You may also be thinking about your carbon footprint and its effect on our planet. Whatever your reason(s) for wanting to save energy this winter, you’ll benefit from putting at least some of the following tips into action:

     

  • Layer up – Get into the habit of keeping your heat set a few degrees lower than you have in the past. The general rule of thumb is that you can save 5% on your heating bill for each degree that you lower your thermostat. Stay comfortable by wearing more layers around the house – including a cozy sweater, thermal underwear (if needed) and fluffy socks. Add an extra blanket to your bed as well.
     

  • Use solar power – Even if you don’t have solar panels in your home, you can still take advantage of the sun’s rays to heat up your home. To do this, keep your south-facing window coverings open during the day to welcome in the sun’s natural heat. When the sun goes down, make sure all blinds and curtains in your home are closed to keep as much heat in the house as possible. Additionally, invest in thermal blinds or drapes to help keep drafty windows from letting in too much cold air.
     

  • Winterize your windows – If you have especially drafty windows that are still letting in too much cool air even with thermal window treatments, you may need to take extra steps to stay warm. The two most effective ways to winterize drafty windows are by caulking around the exterior of the window and applying plastic wrap over the inside. The plastic stripping you’ll need comes in easy to install window insulation kits and can be found at most hardware stores.
     

  • Change your filters – It’s recommended that you have your heating system examined once every year before severe winter weather arrives. This yearly check-up by a professional will catch any problems before they cause your heating system to fail, which could prove to be inconvenient, uncomfortable and even dangerous if it happens when temperatures are extremely low. At the very least, be sure to replace your heating vent filters on their recommended schedule. When filters are not replaced on time, they become ineffective at doing their job, and they start to restrict air flow throughout your home. This will increase your energy costs.
     

  • Don’t heat the whole house – This is especially true if you have a large home, but small and medium-sized homes will also use less energy if you focus on heating the rooms you actually use. To do this, close the heating vents in rooms you don’t use and seal them shut with a vent cover. Close the doors to any unused rooms, and make sure that heating vents are open in the rooms you spend the most time in.

Preserving Your Historic Home

PreservingYourHistoricHome

If you’re lucky enough to live in a character-filled historic American home, by now you realize the importance of ensuring that it remains preserved in its historic condition so as to accurately represent the historic period in which it was built.
Many historic homes of significant age have been left to wilt in disrepair for decades, requiring a complete renovation in order to restore their grandeur and beauty. However, if your historic home has been well-maintained, it obviously won’t need a total overhaul to fall in line with its proper design time period.
Regular care, upkeep and repairs (as needed) will guarantee that your historic home holds onto its historic character and curb appeal. What follows is a list of features on the exteriors of historic homes that make the biggest impression. Pay close attention to these areas of your historic home:
  • Shutters – From the late 1700s into the early 1900s, proper shutters were used functionally in order to offer protection from the elements (usually rain or hail) while still allowing the homeowner to enjoy the outside air through the shutters’ vented slots. Although shutters are still found on many homes today, they often don’t have the same size dimensions that traditional historic shutters had. Today’s imitation/non-functional shutters are purely decorative; in order to stay in line with your home’s historic period, the shutters should be large enough to cover the entirety of the window(s) they surround when pulled closed (if it were possible to do so).

 

  • Exterior doors – If your historic home’s exterior doors are currently painted white, take a closer look around the edges or in any nicks in the paint. Many historic homes still standing today originally had dark-colored outside doors as well as window sashes. If your home was built in the 1800s or early 1900s, select an extremely dark green or black for at least the front entry door. The window sashes should be painted to match.

 

  • Storm doors – The storm doors we see on homes today were added after the home was originally built and don’t fall in line with the historical design of the rest of the home. To improve the look of your home’s entry, select a storm door with very little paneling or design on it. Opt for full-view so that your (now appropriately dark) front door can shine through. It’s best to choose a storm door made from a material that can easily be painted to match the color of your dark front door, like wood or metal.

 

    • Exterior coverings – Many older homes were covered with siding in the mid-1900s. By removing as much artificial siding (aluminum, vinyl, etc) as possible, you’ll literally be exposing your home’s original design. Ideally, you’ll be able to remove siding from all sides of the home; alternatively, remove as much as possible. Expose the original brick or stone that was used to build the home for maximum curb appeal.

 

By keeping your historic home within the design styles used when it was built, you’re performing a very important task in helping us hold onto our valuable American history.

Sound Systems: How to Listen to Music this Summer

Sound Systems: How to Listen to Music this Summer

Sound_systems

As you plan fun and exciting adventures with your friends and family this summer, some of them are bound to find you entertaining at home, especially if you have a welcoming outdoor living space and/or swimming pool.
 

Relaxing with your loved ones in the comfort of your own home has a variety of benefits – not the least of which is the money you’ll save over gathering at a fancy restaurant, club or hotel. Being at home is also where we’re all our most authentic, relaxed and comfortable.
 

If you’ve invested significantly in an outdoor living and entertaining area, you’re quite likely to have multiple get-togethers at your place as the weather heats up – especially if you have a pool. However, keep in mind that although your guests will undoubtedly spend countless joyful hours splashing about, they’ll eventually get hungry and ready for a change of pace.
 

Accordingly, in planning summertime events at home, ensure that everyone will have plenty to eat by asking each guest to bring one hot food, beverage or dessert item. Additionally, prepare other ways to keep everyone entertained and happy. One thing that’s certain is that music is a universal form of pleasure! If your party eventually moves indoors, just be sure that your indoor stereo system is queued up ahead of time.
 

If you want to add to the summer ambiance by providing your friends with outdoor music, there are several good ways to make this happen:
     

  • Portable speakers for your mobile phone – These are probably the most commonly used and popular way to listen to music when among friends without plugging up your ears with earbuds, thereby making conversation nigh on impossible.

 

  • Wired outdoor speakers – A little more involved and expensive than portable speakers is a permanent set of speakers made specifically to stand up to any and all kinds of weather. The sound quality you’ll get from a permanent, wired sound system will blow any portable speakers out of the water. Many sound systems today also have the option to plug in your mobile device so you can play music directly from your favorite playlist.

 

  • Fake rock speakers – A double entendre, these speakers can indeed play rock music with the bonus of also looking like natural sandstone rocks that belong in your backyard. If you’re not into the look of high tech stereo equipment hanging around your pool or lounge area, a set of Bluetooth rock speakers will do the trick quite nicely while looking like a real piece of nature. Most decent rock speakers, like the set by Sound Appeal, found on Amazon, are rugged and hold up quite well to most weather conditions.

 

  • Go old school with a portable radio or boombox – If your gathering is relatively small, and your crowd prefers to listen to CDs or the radio, you can opt for a number of extremely affordable boombox options that also have the added benefit of being super portable. This might be the route to go if you’re listening to a sports broadcast, reminiscing over favorite albums, or have a favorite radio show you and a few friends enjoy listening to together.

Create an Outdoor Oasis in Your Backyard this Spring

Create an Outdoor Oasis in Your Backyard this Spring

 

preview-full-Outdooroasis

Spring has definitely sprung, and what better time than now to take action on transforming your backyard into your own personal oasis? If you have recently purchased a new home, you may be working with a blank slate that is ready for your unique style stamp. If you’ve lived in your home for many years, you may be ready to make some real changes to your outdoor space.
 
When you imagine your dream outdoor getaway, what comes to mind? Naturally, the heat of intense Texas summers dictates that you have some form of refuge from the sun. Do you like to entertain? If so, remodel your outdoor space into a luxurious extension of your indoor space, giving you room for bigger and better parties.
 
Some possible features that will undoubtedly inject a breath of fresh air into your backyard include:
 
    • Custom built swimming pool – If you’re shooting for the stars (and your budget can handle it), a custom-built free-form backyard pool is without a doubt a showstopper that will be a hit with guests of all ages.

 

  • Gourmet kitchen –  Every pool party needs scrumptious snacks to accompany it, but the host always ends up missing out due to running inside to the kitchen and back again. You can go for a full kitchen complete with granite counters, full size appliances, a refrigerator, dishwasher and pizza oven. Even a partial kitchen with a cooktop stove, mini-fridge and sink can significantly spice up get-togethers without tiring out the host.

 

    • Lush landscaping  – Turn your outdoor space from a yard into an extension of nature itself. Plant layers of plant life from ground cover to shrubs, bushes, flowers and different-sized trees. By going for a layered feel, you’ll best recreate how plants grow in the wild, bringing a private sanctuary type feeling to your property.

 

  • Water features – With or without a swimming pool, features with running water have been shown by studies to produce a sense of clarity and serenity. Most Americans vacation near bodies of water; why not bring your ‘vacation’ home with you and enjoy it daily? Being near the sight and sound of running water can improve your level of creativity and can even heal what ails you! Ponds, water walls, waterfalls, hot tubs, wishing wells, small man-made creeks, birdbaths, hanging fountains, and reflecting pools will all add the tranquil ambience you’re looking for.

 

    • Stone pathway – To add to the sanctuary feeling of your backyard retreat, create a natural, winding pathway made from local Texas stone. As you stroll down the path through the colorful blooms while listening to the gentle rippling of your water feature, take a deep breath and you’ll instantly unwind from even the toughest day.

 

  • Arbor/Pergola – By including a pergola into your backyard design, you’ll have a nice spot to sit amidst your landscaping that is protected from the sun. Alternatively, encouraging some climbing vine plants to grow over top of an arbor that sits above your natural stone walkway will add to the hideaway feeling of your new backyard oasis.