Saving Energy

Set Back Your Thermostat and Save

Gene and Katie Hamilton
Gene and Katie Hamilton

Winter weather seems to bring out the nesting instinct in me. We’re content to build a fire at night and stay home and watch the furling wind and sometimes snow outside the window. One of the best improvements we’ve made to just about every house we’ve lived in is replacing the old round dial room thermometer with a setback or programmable unit. Over the years the ability to program the device to give us heat when and only when we want it has saved us money. and not squandered heat when we’re not there to enjoy it. Since $1,300 is the cost of the average household utility bill saving on heating and cooling costs is significant and a programmable thermostat makes it easy.
At we analyze the cost of hundreds of home repair, decorating and improvement projects such as replacing an old thermostat with a new programmable unit. A heating contractor will charge $144, but a DIYer can do it for $100, the cost of the unit. That’s assuming you have electrical tools and experience and it’s a direct swap so no new wiring is needed. Here’s a link to what’s involved:Install a Programmable Thermostat. Whoever does the work, it’s a good way to let you lower the heat in your home when no one’s there and raise the temperature when everyone’s home to enjoy it.

Decorating Garage Sale Yard Sale

Decorating Made Cheap and Easy

Is your house showing signs of wear and tear? Wish you had the time and money to redecorate? Don’t. Interior designers have all told me the same thing when I ask what can a homeowner do to improve a room’s appeal without costing anything. The answer: Get rid of stuff. Whether it’s an over-decorated living room, a well used family room, or a cluttered kitchen or bathroom, the advise has always been the same. Pare down the decorations on the shelves and walls, remove excess clutter and eliminate all but the most necessary items on countertops.

I know it works because I’ve done it in my home and seen the transformation when friends have put their house on the market and followed the advice.

For all the day-to-day things a family uses designers suggest containing them in one place, magazines in a basket, toys in a container, flower pots in a grouping. A room, no matter its size looks larger and more appealing when there aren’t countless distractions that catch the eye. When you can see the floor and surfaces in a room its appearance is attractive and welcoming.

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remodeling romance Valentine's Day

Romance in Remodeling – For Some There Is

Gene and Katie Hamilton
Gene and Katie Hamilton

Romance is in the air with Valentine’s Day coming up on the calendar. Makes me remember that there is romance in remodeling. Are the words “romance in remodeling” an oxymoron? Can those two words be in the same sentence? Isn’t it a contradiction to say there’s anything remotely endearing about renovating a house? I remember one incident which felt very romantic. We were doing a major remodel of a Cape Cod in the Chicago area and were behind schedule getting new insulation installed in the crawl space. An unexpected cold front rolled in and was dumping piles of snow. When the wind shifted to the north the pressure was on because we knew the lack of insulation and wind direction could freeze the pipes.

It was getting dark outside and we found ourselves crawling around on the gravel in the frigid confines of the 3 1/2 foot crawl space with only a work light to guide us. Gene cut the pink insulation batts and secured them between the floor joists and I followed with a staple gun to fasten them to the wood. We didn’t stop, we didn’t talk, we just moved as quickly as we could in the uncomfortable and frigid conditions. As the last staple went in we just sprawled out on our backs on the gravel, noses running, near frozen to the bone and laughed at the absurdity of the situation. But the good feeling of completing the task, beating the odds, and doing it together, was so real and intense it was a moment I’ll never forget. If that ain’t romance, I don’t know what is.

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Snowed in this weekend? Pick up the mate

Snowed in this weekend? Pick up the materials to make this coat tree with the kids and they’ll have a place to hang their snowsuits.


Simple Ways to Lower Your Utility Bill

Adding a programmable thermostat, insulating your attic, weatherproofing your home are all surefire ways to cut heating costs. But there are other things you can do about the way you live in your house – that don’t cost anything – that will reduce the energy needed to heat your home. Here’s a few of them.

Keep draperies and window covering open on the sunny side of the house to take advantage of the solar power coming in your windows when the sun is shining its strongest.

Don’t put furniture on top of or obstructing the heating duct in your walls or floors because it prevents the flow of heated air within the room.

Close the doors and heating ducts in unused or seldom-used room because it makes no sense to heat a room that no one uses.

Once a month replace the filter in your heating system so it can work efficiently. A dirty filter blocks the air flow which makes the unit work harder to heat your home.

Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. Before bed and leaving for work roll back the temperature so you’re not heating an empty house.

Wear sweaters instead of raising the thermostat.

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