My Blog Blog posts for My Blog Sat, 15 Dec 2018 15:10:15 +0100 FeedCreator 1.7.2 Your House Siding Guide <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Aug 10, 2016</p><p>The exterior siding of your home protects it from the sun, wind, rain, and snow. It needs to be durable and strong, but it is also important for the exterior of your home to look good and contribute to your home&rsquo;s overall appearance and value. There are a number of house siding options to consider when buying or building a home that fit all kinds of budgets. Here is a guide to the most popular siding options and their advantages and disadvantages:</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Horizontal Lap Siding</strong></span></p> <p><br />Horizontal lap siding can be made from wood, aluminum, vinyl, or fiber cement and can be finished in essentially any color you choose; however, vinyl is usually the most popular and cost-efficient. Horizontal lap siding fits well with colonial-style, traditional-style, and symmetrical homes. Because the standard panels are 12 feet long, sometimes the ends need to be overlapped, which creates noticeable seams. The cost for this siding can vary. Vinyl will generally be your cheapest option at around $3 to $5 per square foot. Fiber cement, which has recently become popular, can cost around $7 per square foot. The color of the finish will also likely influence the cost.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Board and Batten</strong></span></p> <p><br />Board and batten is available in wood and fiber cement. Inspired by and originally used on barns and farm buildings. Board and batten is installed vertically, making your home seem taller. The cost of board and batten is similar to horizontal lap siding in the same material.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Wood Siding</strong></span></p> <p><br />Wood siding can be installed as flat, horizontal siding in a tongue-and-groove configuration, as shingles, or as horizontal lap siding. Wood has a natural charm. However, wood takes dedicated maintenance. The cost varies depending on the type of wood used and how well it is maintained. A complete refinishing job is approximately $2,000 to $5,000.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Stucco</strong></span></p> <p><br />Stucco is available in natural or synthetic form and is generally used on exteriors with large surfaces and simple lines. It is extremely durable. Stucco is used with various types of homes, but it is closely associated with the Southwestern Spanish colonial style. Natural stucco allows air and moisture to pass through it, but synthetic stucco does not. Therefore, if you use synthetic stucco, you need to have a good vapor barrier or drainage plane installed to avoid moisture build-up inside the wall. The cost of stucco is approximately $9 per square foot.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Brick</strong></span></p> <p><br />Brick is one of the most durable and low-maintenance siding options. It&rsquo;s available in many sizes, textures, and colors. It can be stacked in a variety of patterns. Because of brick&rsquo;s durability and low maintenance, it costs around $17 to $20 per square foot.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Stone</strong></span></p> <p><br />Stone is also durable and low maintenance. It&rsquo;s adaptable to almost any aesthetic, adding texture and visual interest to the exterior of your home. The cost of stone is about $35 to $50 per square foot.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Metal</strong></span></p> <p><br />While many people don&rsquo;t consider using metal as siding, if your home has a contemporary or modern aesthetic, metal, such as corrugated steel or copper, can be an excellent choice. You will want to research what is available in your area for this option because it takes a skilled craftsman to install metal siding.</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Aug 10, 2016</p> Richard Pinckney Perks of a Homeowners Association <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Jun 29, 2016</p><p>Some potential homebuyers turn away from neighborhoods with homeowners associations, but HOAs can offer homeowners a lot of benefits. The number of HOA communities has increased over the past decade because more homeowners and neighborhoods are realizing there are perks to having a homeowners association. Here are five reasons you should consider living in a community with an HOA:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Maintenance of Property Values</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anyone who has ever lived next to a neighbor who neglected their yard or painted their home an unappealing color knows the feeling of being concerned that a neighbor&rsquo;s actions can affect their own property value. With an HOA, limitations are built into homeowner agreements that benefit the community&rsquo;s overall appearance and property values. Residents are held accountable for their contribution to the community&rsquo;s overall property values.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Amenities and Services</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some HOA communities have community parks, pools, community centers, exercise facilities, walking trails, tennis courts, or other amenities that are included with the HOA membership. Some homeowners associations cover gutter care, lawn care, waste removal, road and sidewalk maintenance, snow removal, or other services that help you maintain your yard. Some HOAs even have pet restrictions depending on your preference.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Sense of Community</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>HOAs promote a high level of civic involvement. In general, HOA boards are determined by nominations and elections. Many HOAs hold annual community gatherings. Community activities can bring neighbors closer together and help them develop a sense of community pride.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Safety</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some HOAs facilitate neighborhood watch programs, place gates around the community, hire security personnel to monitor the neighborhood, and offer a general sense of heightened security to its members.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Mediation for Neighborhood Disputes</span></strong></p> <p>Part of an HOAs purpose is to mediate disputes among neighbors. If your neighbor&rsquo;s dog won&rsquo;t stop barking, if your neighbor leaves his trash can in front of your driveway all week, if you have a neighbor who likes loud parties, etc., the HOA will address the problem saving you the awkward conversation. However, because of the rules put in place by an HOA, you likely won&rsquo;t have many problems in the first place.&nbsp;</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Jun 29, 2016</p> Richard Pinckney Hardwood vs. Laminate <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on May 5, 2016</p><p>Hardwood flooring is at the top of many homebuyers&rsquo; lists. However, laminate flooring is increasing in popularity as a hardwood alternative. Hardwood flooring is made from wood planks, which can be purchase unfinished or prefinished. Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring designed to imitate the appearance of real wood. The core layer is usually manufactured from melamine resin and fiber board material. The top layer has an imprinted image to imitate real wood texture. Generally, patterns on laminate flooring are repeated every five boards, on average.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While there are advantages and disadvantages to both, it is important to know how each option fits your personal preferences.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Appearance</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardwood flooring has a more natural wood appearance than laminate flooring. However, high-quality laminate may also have the appearance of real wood, but lower quality laminate may have an artificial-looking wood grain texture.</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cost</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardwood flooring costs more to buy and install than laminate flooring. Laminate materials are cheaper, and the cost of installation is, on average, fifty percent less than the installation of hardwood.</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Durability</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>The durability of hardwood flooring may vary depending on the finish and manufacturing process. Natural wood may dent more easily. Solid or engineered hardwood flooring can be refinished or repaired easily. Overall, hardwood is more susceptible to scratching than laminate flooring. In addition, hardwood can be damaged from moisture.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Because laminate is made from pressed wood, it is more durable and resists scratches, moisture, and wear better than hardwood. Laminate can also be installed anywhere in the home, including bathrooms since it is resistant to moisture and humidity. However, laminate flooring cannot be spot-repaired. One scratched or chipped, laminate flooring will show the damage.</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">&nbsp;</span></strong></p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Maintenance, Repair, and Refinishing</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Laminate flooring is easier to clean than hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors should be cleaned using hardwood flooring cleaners to preserve the finish.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardwood flooring can be repaired by sanding and refinishing, but laminate cannot be spot-repaired. Laminate flooring is not easy to repair. While you may be able to replace individual planks, it may be difficult to find individual boards that match properly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On average, laminate flooring should be repaired approximately every twenty years while hardwood flooring can last between forty and eighty years if well-maintained.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Environmental Friendliness</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Solid and engineered hardwood can be disposed of or recycled without damage to the environment. Solid hardwood flooring is 100% organic. Engineered hardwood is mostly organic. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is not always environmentally friendly. During manufacturing of laminate, large volumes of glue are used to bond together composite material. Contents of these glues are sometimes questionable and may contain harmful materials. There are, however, high quality non-toxic laminate floors on the market. Carefully research the manufacturer to ensure you are buying high-quality eco-friendly product.</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on May 5, 2016</p> Richard Pinckney Most Frequently Asked Home Buyer Questions <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Mar 23, 2016</p><div><strong>1. Why do I need to talk to a bank before starting to look for homes?</strong></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking to a bank will help you determine how much you can afford. If you are a first-time homebuyer, there may be programs your bank knows about that are applicable to your personal situation. Also, there are additional costs associated with purchasing a home that your bank can help bring to light to ensure that you are fully aware of the financial decision you are making. Also, a mortgage professional will help you find the best interest rate that you can get based on your financial history and credit score.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>2. Why do I need a Real Estate agent to help me buy a home? Can&rsquo;t I just work directly with the seller or seller agent?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Getting a Real Estate agent will be one of the best financial decisions you might make when buying a home, yet most of the time, you don&rsquo;t even have to personally pay the agent. Your agent&rsquo;s fee will likely come from the seller and/or the listing agent. Your agent will help you through every aspect of the buying process. An agent will find out your preferences and requirements and find homes that you might not otherwise have access to and give you advice based on the current market and local area. Agents help with the negotiation process. An agent advocates for your best interests. They help with the vast amount of paperwork and make sure you understand every step of the transaction. A Real Estate agent likely knows the industry better than you do and will be someone you can trust to help you with one of the biggest decisions of your life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3. What kind of credit score do I need to purchase a home?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In most cases, you will need at least a 620 credit score or higher to get the best interest rate. The higher your credit score, the better your lending terms will be. There are some lenders who will approve home buyers with a score of 600 or less, but most likely, the interest rate would be higher than it would with a higher credit score.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>4. How much money do I need for a down payment?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For an FHA loan, you usually need between three and five percent. For other conventional loans, ten to twenty percent is recommended or required.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>5. What are the costs outside the loan and the down payment?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many home buyers miscalculate the costs of purchasing a new home. In addition to the down payment, there are generally closing costs associated with a home purchase. You also need to consider the costs of taxes, homeowners association fees, home inspection costs, utilities, homeowners insurance, and any repair or maintenance fees. Always be prepared to make some repairs to the home, whether it&rsquo;s new or old. Have approximately three months of living expenses saved up in addition to the down payment and closing costs for an emergency repair fund. Always know beforehand the costs of utilities and taxes, so there are no surprises.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Mar 23, 2016</p> Richard Pinckney Real Estate Agent Red Flags <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Feb 8, 2016</p><p>When buying or selling a house, choosing the right Real Estate agent is essential. And choosing the <em>wrong</em> Real Estate agent can be a disaster. Here are five red flags to watch out for when choosing your Real Estate agent:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ol> <li><strong>The agent is hard to reach, shows up late for appointments, or doesn&rsquo;t show up at all.</strong> The first sign that your Real Estate agent is likely unreliable and doesn&rsquo;t have your best interest in mind is that he doesn&rsquo;t return calls or emails, shows up late of showings, misses appointments, and doesn&rsquo;t make you a priority. While Real Estate agents are indeed busy, failing to keep commitments and being unreliable is a big red flag.</li> <li><strong>The agent is your relative.</strong> This is a touchy subject. However, many home transactions have turned good familial relationships very sour. If you have a relative that is a full-time agent who specializes in your area, it could work out. But if anything does not go as initially planned, resentment can build, or even worse, your transaction can completely fail. Hire a Real Estate agent who is an expert in your area and maintain the peace during the holidays.</li> <li><strong>The agent is not familiar with your local market.</strong> Whether you are buying or selling a home, having an agent who is an expert in the local market is important. Real Estate is a local business, and you need an agent who is familiar with your area.</li> <li><strong>The agent is not detail-oriented.</strong> If you&rsquo;re a buyer, you need an agent who will be able to keep track of all your information, your preferences, the homes you want to see or the ones you&rsquo;ve already seen. The agent needs to make sure there are no liens on the home and a good agent knows that things to look for that might cause you grief down the road. If you&rsquo;re a seller, you want an agent who is going to know all the details about your home and what you want in a buyer, and a good agent will do what she can to make sure the sale goes through. A detail-oriented agent is familiar with all the paperwork and the contracts involved in a transaction and will ensure all bases are covered.</li> <li><strong>The agent&rsquo;s current online listings have poor quality photos.</strong> The best agents know that most home searches start online and that many first impressions are made with photos on online listings. If the photos are bad quality, are hard to see, or if the home looks messy in the photos, find another agent. If the agent does not take the photos herself, she will at least make sure the ones she posts are good quality and show her listings in the best light possible.</li> </ol><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Feb 8, 2016</p> Richard Pinckney Tips to Save on a New Construction Home <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Jan 29, 2016</p><p>When thinking of building a new construction home, follow these five tips to ensure you get the most out of your money.</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <ol> <li><strong>Get a Real Estate Agent.</strong> A lot of people overlook this helpful tip and try to represent themselves in the building process. However, builder contracts and the building process can be more complicated than buyers generally anticipate. Also, some buyers believe that if they don&rsquo;t use an agent, the buyer will reduce the price of the home by the amount of the commission. However, in most cases, this isn&rsquo;t true. An agent who specializes in new construction and the area in which you want to build can be invaluable. In addition, builders&rsquo; model homes and offices represent the builders&rsquo; interests because they are staffed by the builder. Buyers need also need someone to represent their interests that is not affiliated with the builder.</li> <li><strong>Buy during the winter holidays.</strong> Very few people buy homes during this time of year, so there is less competition. While inventory may not be high, it may be a great time to get a bargain.</li> <li><strong>Remember that a model home is the very best version of the home.</strong> The model home may not be a good representation of what you will get. The builder generally hopes you will like the upgrades in a model home and pay extra for them yourself. When touring the model home, ask what options are standard and what additional options cost.</li> <li><strong>Do your research.</strong> Always research your builder and their reputation. Search for online reviews and testimonials. Talk to other homeowners and visit other communities the builder has built in. Ask your agent if they know anything about the builder&rsquo;s reputation.</li> <li><strong>Get an inspection.</strong> A home inspection isn&rsquo;t only necessary for previously built homes. Get the inspection before the drywall has been installed. This will allow you to see any mistakes that have been made during construction, uneven walls, electrical or cable outlets in the wrong location, etc.</li> </ol> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Jan 29, 2016</p> Richard Pinckney Pitfalls of Selling your own Home <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Jan 15, 2016</p><p>While saving on Real Estate commissions can seem appealing when trying to sell your home, listing your home For Sale by Owner, or FSBO, can end up costing you more time and money than what it&rsquo;s worth. Consider the following pitfalls of selling your own home to determine if you want to move forward on your own or if you would rather hire a Real Estate professional to assist you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>1. &nbsp;The amount of time you need to sacrifice.</strong> Selling your own home takes more time and effort than just listing your property online and placing an ad in a newspaper. You need to do your research on the current market and comparable listings in your area. You will also need to schedule every showing of your home and ensure that you are available to those who want to see it, and those appointments take up a lot of time. You will often have people just stop by at all hours of the day and night. You will also need to verify a buyer&rsquo;s preapproval status, screen buyers, and negotiate contracts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>2. &nbsp;You may end up losing money.</strong> Statistically, FSBOs sell for significantly less than homes sold by Real Estate agents. Your listing price is extremely important to the sale of your home and is often either overestimated or underestimated by sellers who try to determine this on their own. Real Estate agents have a better sense of the market and they know what a comparable home will sell for. They also have access to your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to research local home sales. Most homeowners have never had to negotiate such a big transaction before, so it can be overwhelming, causing some sellers to settle for a lowball bid. Also, even small mistakes in the process may cost you the money you were trying to save on agent commissions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3. &nbsp;Exposure of risk.</strong> FSBOs can be targets for theft and burglaries. While a majority of potential buyers have a genuine interest in looking at your home with the intent to purchase, a &ldquo;For Sale By Owner&rdquo; sign can sometimes be an invitation to strangers to enter your home. Extra security measures should always be taken when you list your home yourself</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>4. &nbsp;Lack of advertising resources.</strong> As mentioned above, Real Estate agents have access to your local MLS, which Real Estate professionals use to market homes. Agents also use signs, newspaper ads, mailings, open houses, flyers, websites, social media, and current and previous clients to advertise the homes they sell. Most home searches are done online, so if your home is not listed on your local MLS, it may get missed by many potential buyers. In addition, most Real Estate agents use professional photographs for their listings. Some also use professional home stagers to help present your home in the most appealing way. While you can do this on your own, it may come at an extra cost, and unless you have professional contacts or experience yourself, you may be missing out on a number of resources.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>5. &nbsp;Lack of knowledge about the law.</strong> Selling your home is one of the largest transactions you will make. Local laws and requirements in the housing industry are constantly changing. When you sell your home yourself, you will also likely be the one preparing the paperwork, legal forms, disclosures, etc., and you will be required to know everything that must be done to close the sale properly. While you can do your research, if you are not skilled in writing contracts, you may end up having the transaction fail, or worse, end up with a legal or financial liability because you made a mistake. Many homes sales have been lost due to incomplete or incorrect paperwork or not meeting the necessary disclosure laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many unrepresented sellers find the amount of money they save disappointing and say that the time, paperwork, and responsibility was not worth the money they saved. If you are considering selling your home, consider using a professional Real Estate agent and give us a call today.</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Jan 15, 2016</p> Richard Pinckney Financial Resolutions for 2016 <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Dec 31, 2015</p><p>It&rsquo;s that time of year to make new goals and resolutions. There are probably some financial resolutions on your list, or at least there should be. Some may be broad, such as &ldquo;Save more money.&rdquo; Some may be specific, such as &ldquo;Buy a home before July.&rdquo; Here are 5 realistic, specific financial resolutions you can add to your 2016 resolution list and how to achieve them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>1. Create a realistic budget. </strong>Calculate the difference between your monthly income and your monthly fixed spending. Then, decide how much of that you can ideally and realistically save each month. Whatever is left over will go toward your variable spending, such as clothes, entertainment, eating out, etc. Decide which specific categories you can cut back on to help you save each month. Trim the budget wherever you can because little savings add up.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>2. Track all your expenses.</strong> This goes along with creating a budget, but it&rsquo;s an important resolution that many fail to keep. Creating a budget is important, but it&rsquo;s the easy part. Tracking your expenses will allow you to review exactly where your money is going, making it easier to stick to your budget. Tracking your expenses helps you see those leaks in your budget, such as your daily Starbucks runs or fast-food lunches. It also allows you to adjust your budget when necessary. If you are spending $600 every month on groceries, budgeting for $300 is probably unrealistic. There are a number of ways to track your spending. Some banks provide budgeting and tracking programs for you if you use your bank account for all your spending. You can also do it the old-fashioned way by collecting all your receipts and entering your expenditures into a spreadsheet. There are also free apps such as Mint ( that help track expenses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3. Pull your credit report. </strong>You should pull your credit report and review it at least once each year. Whether or not you plan on making a large purchase in 2016, being familiar with your credit report and credit score will ensure that there are no mistakes on your credit report that could hurt your score or ability to eventually get a loan. Your report will also provide you with any information that may negatively affect your credit. This will help you plan to improve your credit throughout the year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>4. Increase the amount you saved in 2015. </strong>Increase the amount you saved each month in 2015 by at least ten percent in 2016. To make saving easier, have a set amount directly deposited into a separate savings account each month so you&rsquo;re not tempted to spend it. &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>5. Create a plan to pay down your debt. </strong>Consumer debt can be, well, consuming. Create a plan to prioritize your debt and pay down any consumer debt you are currently carrying to avoid overpaying in interest. Some people start with the balance that has the highest interest rate. Others feel a psychological benefit by starting with and paying off the smallest balance first. Develop a realistic plan that works best for you. Before deciding which balance to pay off first, you may benefit from calling your credit card issuers to see if you can get a lower fixed rate on your balance owed. Once you&rsquo;ve paid off your consumer debt, you should just have one credit card on which the balance is paid in full each month. Cards with outstanding balances should not be used until they are paid in full. If you have student loans as well, focus on consumer debt first, then your student loans since interest rates on consumer debt are generally much higher than student loan interest rates. &nbsp;</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Dec 31, 2015</p> Richard Pinckney Tips to Save on Your Heating Bill <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Dec 16, 2015</p><p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="" alt="" /></p> <pre>&nbsp;</pre> <pre><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">The weather outside is frightful, but if you follow these money-saving tips, you can avoid a </span><br /><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">scary heating bill this winter:</span></pre> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Lower your thermostat. Set it between 68 to 70 degrees when you're home. Lower the&nbsp;temperature at night. If you'll be out of the house for longer than 4 hours, lower the temperature to 62 degrees. Remind everyone to put on a sweater, warm pajamas, and wear slippers or socks. Add an extra blanket or quilt to your beds.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Buy a programmable thermostat. A smart thermostat can be set to change the&nbsp;temperature for you and will only set you back about $75-$150.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Clean or replace your furnace filters regularly. Inspect them monthly - especially during the colder months.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Replace worn weatherstripping around window and doors.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Insulate your attic access door.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Don&rsquo;t cover heating registers with furniture or rugs.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Set your hot water tank to 120 degrees or lower.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Use lower temperatures when washing laundry. Use a cold rinse whenever possible. Empty the lint trap before every dryer cycle. Consider line-drying clothes instead of using the dryer.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Open curtains and blinds on sunny winter days to help warm your home, but make sure to close them at night to help keep heat in.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Limit use of a gas fireplace.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Restrict warm air from unused areas. Close vents and doors to unused rooms.</span></li> </ul><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Dec 16, 2015</p> Richard Pinckney Save Water! <p>Posted by Richard Pinckney on Dec 3, 2015</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Save Water!</strong></p> <p>Water is one of the world's most precious commodities. Whether you're building a new home, have purchased an older home, or are simply trying to cut down on utility bills, there are many measures you can take to conserve water.</p> <ul> <li>You know that annoying little drip in the bathroom sink? Did you know it can send up to 20 gallons of water down the drain every single day? If the drip has become a steady little stream, you can multiply that amount by many times. Use high quality fixtures that won't leak. Proper installation is critical. Don't overlook even the smallest of leaks. Take a "Do-It-Yourself" course from a local building supply or plumbing store so you know how to identify problem pipes and fixtures and feel confident in repairing them. (Just think of the money you'll save!)<br /><br /></li> <li>If you suspect the toilet is leaking, try this tip. Remove the lid from the toilet tank and put three or four drops of food coloring in the water there. Wait 30 minutes (don't flush the toilet). If you see color in the bowl, that is an indication that your toilet is losing water and replacing it with water from the tank. Find out where the water is going! Replace any parts that need to be replaced and repeat the test. When building your home, purchase toilets specifically designed to minimize the amount of water they use. Be sure to write down all of the water-saving measures you take in case you decide to sell your home. Conservation efforts will make your home more valuable and easier to sell.<br /><br /></li> <li>Play "Water Detective." Water leaks can be sneaky. You might be using excessive water and not even know it. Turn off all of the water in your house and yard. Record the numbers on your water meter. Wait two hours. The meter should display the same numbers as when you started. If not? You're losing water to a sneaky leak somewhere. Find the culprit and put an end to the waste.<br /><br /></li> <li>If you're building a new home, make it a point to use low-flow faucets and shower heads. If you're trying to make an older home more efficient, install flow restrictors. They are inexpensive and easy to install. Aerators are readily available for faucets. Aerators allow you to adjust the spray volume you need for the task at hand. Aerators may feature a valve to easily reduce the flow of water without turning of the taps or readjusting them. Discuss the concept of water conservation with others living in your home. Carefully review water bills for water usage and plan a reward for significantly reducing the amount of water used each month. Encourage people to take shorter showers, avoid leaving water running needlessly, turn of the water while brushing teeth, etc.<br /><br /></li> <li>Properly adjust your hot water heater and insulate pipes so hot water in the pipes stays hot and is readily available on demand. This will prevent you from having to run the water for an extended period of time to get water from the heater to the faucet.<br /><br /></li> <li>Keep fresh, cold water in the refrigerator. That way, there will be no need to run water for an extended period of time to get it good and cold.<br /><br /></li> <li>Purchase conservation conscious appliances. Even if you don't purchase new appliances, you can save water by making sure you only start appliances with a full load. Use the proper settings for the load you are washing. For example, if you're washing a regular load of dishes, don't use the "Pots and Pans" cycle of your dishwasher. Set your clothes washer to a cycle that requires the fewest rinses.<br /><br /></li> <li>Garbage disposals require the use of running water to rinse food waste down the drain. You can recycle and save water by starting a compost pile. Instead of washing food waste down the drain, turn it into a valuable resource for your garden.</li> </ul><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Dec 3, 2015</p> Richard Pinckney