Tag Archives: home improvement

Spring and Summer Energy-Saving Tips

by energy.gov


Here you’ll find strategies to help you save energy during the spring and summer when the weather is warm and you are trying to keep your home cool. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the spring and summer. For more ways to stay cool while saving energy, check out our Energy Saver 101 infographic, covering everything you need to know about home cooling.

If you haven’t already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most.

Also check out tips to save energy during the fall and winter.

Use Your Windows to Gain Cool Air and Keep Out Heat

  • If you live in a climate where it cools off at night, turn off your cooling system and open your windows while sleeping. When you wake in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air.
    • Learn more about natural ventilation.
  • Install window coverings to prevent heat gain through your windows.
    • Find out about window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.

Operate Your Thermostat Efficiently

  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
  • Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lower the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
    • Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings.
    • Also see the ENERGY STAR® June 5, 2008, podcast for video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat
    • Or see ENERGY STAR’s guidelines for programmable thermostats.
  • Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.

Use Fans and Ventilation Strategies to Cool Your Home

  • If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
    • Learn more about using a ceiling fan to increase cooling efficiency.
    • Find ENERGY STAR ceiling fans.
  • Turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.
  • When you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from your home. Your laundry room might also benefit from spot ventilation. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside (not just to the attic).
    • Find ENERGY STAR ventilating fans.

Keep Your Cooling System Running Efficiently

  • Schedule regular maintenance for your cooling equipment.
    • Learn about operating and maintaining your air conditioner, evaporative cooler, or heat pump.
  • Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
    • Learn additional tips for operating a room air conditioner efficiently.
  • Vacuum registers regularly to remove any dust buildup. Ensure that furniture and other objects are not blocking the airflow through your registers.


Don’t Heat Your Home with Appliances and Lighting

  • On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.
  • Install efficient lighting that runs cooler. Only about 10% to 15% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light—the rest is turned into heat.
    • Learn more about your options for efficient lighting.
    • Find out when to turn off your lights.
    • Purchase ENERGY STAR lighting products.
  • Take advantage of daylight instead of artificial lighting, but avoid direct sunlight.
    • Learn more about strategies for efficient daylighting.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Consider air drying both dishes and clothing.
    • Learn more about efficient dishwashing and laundry.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
    • Learn more ways to reduce your hot water use.
  • Minimize activities that generate a lot of heat, such as running a computer, burning open flames, running a dishwasher, and using hot devices such as curling irons or hair dryers. Even stereos and televisions will add some heat to your home.
    • Learn more about avoiding heat buildup in your home.

Keep Hot Air from Leaking Into Your Home

  • Seal cracks and openings to prevent warm air from leaking into your home.
    • Learn more about air sealing new and existing homes.
  • Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
    • Find how to select and apply the appropriate caulk.
    • Learn how to select and apply weatherstripping.
    • Find out other ways to improve the energy efficiency of your windows.

Lower Your Water Heating Costs

Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.

  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.


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10 Most Common Repairs That You Can Do Yourself


10 Most Common Repairs

Let’s examine the most common issues that come up at a rental property, and how you can fix them yourself. Yes, it might take a little more time than hiring a professional, but you’ll learn new skills and save thousands in the long run.

Always be safe, especially if working with power tools or electrical systems. If you’re unsure about what to do, hire a professional the 1st time and ask him/her to explain the repair as it is performed. You’ll see how easy it can be, and next time, you’ll be able to try it yourself.

1. Squeaky Floors

Squeaky floors are a major red flag to people when buying a house. Most people improperly assume that there are structural problems if there are squeaky floors. In reality, it’s probably just some minor settling.

The Fix: There are two fixes for this. Sprinkle talcum powder between the cracks to see whether that fixes the issue. If it doesn’t, install some supporting braces (2x4s cut for length) underneath the squeaky spots.

2. Replace Caulk Around Tubs and Sinks

Many properties need the caulk replaced around the bathtub. It’s a major turnoff for potential tenants (not to mention extremely disgusting) if you don’t repair it.

The Fix: Buy a special tool at the hardware store for removing caulk. It costs less than $5 and makes your life a lot easier. Be sure to get a caulk gun, and get the special bathroom caulk. This whole process takes less than two hours and can save you several hundred dollars.

3.  Gutter Maintenance

You probably don’t love the idea of gutter cleaning. However, all gutter issues are easy to fix, and you can get all the replacement parts at the hardware store.

The Fix: If you’re afraid of falling off a ladder, consider using this tool: Gutter Clutter Buster.

This tool is especially good for people who live in the mountains where there is little flat land to use a ladder.

4. Stained Bathtub

Stained bathtubs are a major turnoff for potential tenants.

FAIR WARNING: You can try to paint a bathtub, but it usually doesn’t turn out well. And refurbishing a bathtub is usually cost prohibitive.

Try to deep clean the bathtub.

The Fix: Here are two strategies.

  1. Spray Comet everywhere, and let it soak for an hour. Then scrub.
  2. More natural option: Combine cream of tartar and baking soda with lemon juice. Scrub it into the tub, and let sit for an hour. Then wash away.

5. Repair Drywall

Somehow, rentals accumulate random holes in walls.

The Fix: Buy a simple drywall repair kit at Home Depot.

Even if you’re no expert, you can probably get good enough results to get the apartment rented.

All you do is cut the screen so it fits tightly in the hole in the wall. Then you rub the compound over it. The trick is to make sure you don’t make the screen too loose; you don’t want it to collapse. Also, make sure the compound is smooth against the wall.

After it dries, repaint the wall section, and it’s as good as new.

6. Unclog a Toilet

Toilet problems happen all the time.

The Fix: Have a heavy-duty plunger, such as this one: Neiko Toilet Plunger

If that doesn’t work, you need an auger, such as this one: Toilet Auger (This is what plumbers use.)

7. Fix a Leaky Pipe

There can be several causes of leaky pipes. However, it’s usually from a seal becoming worn out or a fitting becoming loose. Lucky for you, these are easy and cheap to fix.

The Fix:

  • Turn off the water.
  • Clean the area where the drip is occurring.
  • Use a putty knife to cover the area with some epoxy.
  • Cover the leak with some rubber.
  • Tighten with a bracket on both sides of the rubber.
  • Allow everything to settle for at least an hour before turning the water back on.

8. Getting the Smoke Smell out of a Property

You should have a clause in your lease that tenants are not allowed to smoke in the property. Hopefully, your tenants actually follow that clause. If not …

The Fix: There is no one single thing that can fix an awful smell.

The best thing to do is to replace the flooring and paint the walls and ceiling.

You can burn a scented candle while working at the property. And you can set out several large bowls of pure white vinegar, changing the vinegar after a couple of days. Keeping the windows open when the weather permits is also a good idea.

9. Replacing a Roof Shingle

Shingles can be damaged fairly easily from trees or wind, and the entire roof doesn’t need to be replaced.

The Fix: Use a hammer or pry bar to remove the damaged shingle. Remove the nails as well. Slip the new shingle into place. Nail the new shingle into place, and then apply roofing cement under the replaced shingle and the one above it.

10. Unsticking a Wood Window

Sometimes windows don’t open. This is often because they are painted over.

The Fix: Cut through the paint with a sharp knife between the very bottom part of the window and the frame. Use a putty knife to try to pry the window up. If that doesn’t work, try a pry bar. But be careful! You also want to try to unseal anything on the side that might have been painted over and that should move.

Credit to Jimmy Moncrief

Jimmy is a multifamily real estate investor and bank credit officer. He has written a complimentary bank negotiating guide on how to get around the 80% LTV rule


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