Simple Water-Saving Bathroom Upgrades

 

Guest post by Katy Caballeros 

Between the toilet, shower, and sink, your bathroom accounts for nearly 60% of your home’s water usage. With water scarcity estimated to affect 2/3 for the global population by 2025, water costs are bound increase. Make a water-saving change and an investment in the future, without sacrificing performance. Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

1. Install a Low-Flow Faucet Aerator

Although a sink doesn’t seem to use as much water as the shower or toilet, it can pour out around 3 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Those extra gallons add up, especially if occasionally forget to turn off the sink while you shave or brush your teeth. By installing a low-flow faucet aerator on your bathroom sink, you can cut your water waste in half, reducing it by as much as 1,400 gallons per year. Purchasing an aerator for your sink is one of the cheapest conservation renos, with aerators available for as little as $1.

2. Switch Out Your Showerhead

It’s easy to waste water in the shower—many of us use the shower to relax or perhaps leave the water running as we wait for it to warm. While taking shorter showers can definitely help with water conservation, new energy-efficient showerheads can help reduce water waste without sacrificing enjoyment.

WaterSense labeled products are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help save water and are worth consideration as you search for the right products for your home. Showerheads labeled “low flow” are another option for your bathroom reno, as they deliver 2.5 gpm instead of the wasteful 5 gpm of older showerheads.

Newer models, like Evolve’s showerheads, have features like smart home technology, which conserve water and reduce energy use. Here’s how it works: instead of wasting water as you wait for the shower to warm, this technology automatically reduces the water flow to a trickle when it reaches 95 degrees. When you’re ready to shower, you pull on the showerhead’s built in lever and the flow returns to normal. No more letting energy-burning hot water flow down the drain. They estimated this showerhead technology can save homeowners 2-6 gallons of water per shower!

3. Replace Your Old Toilet

The toilet is the most water-wasteful piece of plumbing in most homes. Nearly 1/3 of a household’s total water consumption is flushed down the toilet. They can use as much as 7 gallons per flush! Luckily, toilet technology has come a long way in the past few decades. Newer energy-saving models can reduce water waste up to 67%. There are three main types of water efficient toilets:

  1. Low Flow Toilets
  2. Duel Flush Toilets
  3. Pressure Assist Toilets

Some toilets use a combination of low flow, duel flush, and pressure assist to create a conservation-friendly commode. Low flow toilets are designed to use significantly less water than older models, whereas duel flush toilets customize each flush for either solid or liquid waste. Pressure-assist toilets use an air cartridge to push water from the tank, which means using as little as one gallon per flush. With thousands of gallons a year in water savings at stake, a toilet reno is a must for water-conscious homeowners.

HomeAdvisor surveyed homeowners and found that replacing a toilet cost an average of $377. Compare that to savings up to $2,200 over its lifespan, and that’s more than a 580% return on investment.

Luckily, with innovations in water-saving technology, it’s easy to drastically cut back on water consumption without sacrificing performance. And, compared to other home updates, purchasing and installing water-saving products is relatively cheap and promise big savings on your water and energy bills. Whether you’re conserving water for your wallet, the environment, or state regulations upgrading bathroom fixtures can make a positive impact.

Posted on September 25, 2017 at 8:54 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, decorating, energy, flood insurance, inspections, interior decorating, real estate, Utilities, watering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2017’s Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

These projects are what you should be focusing on this summer regarding maintenance on your home.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money! Focus on maintaining these 5 areas.

With the bright sunlight and warm temperatures that accompany summer, you may be spending more time outside — and you may be noticing areas of your home’s exterior that need repair. But there’s more reason to tackle your home maintenance projects this summer than simply cosmetic appearance. Maintaining your home will prevent major leaks and damage that may eventually require professional help, usually when its most expensive and inconvenient for you.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money, and it makes sense to do it when you’re more likely to be outdoors in the comfortable summer months. Here are five areas of your house that are most important to keep updated.

  1. Windows

Start by cleaning the exterior of your windows with hot soapy water and a sponge or squeegee. If you’ll need a ladder, make sure to review safety guidelines.

While you’re washing, inspect each window pane for cracks. Double or triple glazed windows with damaged seals or cracks may need to be replaced. Think back: Have your windows had excessive condensation inside through the winter and spring? That’s another sign that the seal might have been compromised and that your window might need to be replaced.

You’ll also want to inspect caulking and weatherstripping around your windows. Recaulk any spots where the caulk is loose or chipping away, or consider applying new caulk for a tight seal. Summer is a perfect time to do this because the warm temperatures and low humidity will help the caulk set perfectly.

Finally, wash window screens and replace any screens that have rips or holes.

  1. Roof

Visually inspect your roof every summer for missing or broken shingles, shakes and panels. Again, if you’ll be using a ladder and climbing up to your roof, make sure you follow safety guidelines. If you have any concerns about using a ladder or moving around on your roof, or if you’re unsteady on your feet, call your roofing company. Most roofers will make inspections and do basic maintenance for you.

While you’re up on your roof, you’ll also want to check flashing and seals around vents, chimneys and skylights. Apply caulk around any areas that haven’t been re-sealed in the past year.

Algae and moss can plague even new and well-maintained roofs. Apply a moss killer designed for roofs or install zinc strips that can help keep algae and moss from taking hold.

Your gutters should be cleaned and checked for holes or other damage. Look for water stains around your gutters and downspouts that indicate a problem.

  1. Exterior

Check high and low over your exterior and look for holes, gaps and cracks in your siding. It’s less expensive to replace siding that is just starting to deteriorate than to wait until it’s broken down completely and impacted your home’s structure, insulation and inside walls.

While you’re walking around your home, look for any signs of pests. Termites and carpenter ants can be devastating to your home’s structure, while ants and wasps can be a nuisance and cause minor damage to your home’s exterior. Check vents and crawl-space access doors to make sure rodents and other wildlife can’t get in.

  1. Foundation

Check your foundation for any cracks and signs that there has been a leak, such as water stains. Any small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks should be inspected by a pro. Once you repair small cracks, re-seal the foundation with a good waterproof masonry sealer.

Pull out any larger plants growing close to your home that might impact the foundation. Besides the risks of roots growing into your foundation, watering plants close to your home can cause water to pool around the foundation and lead to damage.

  1. Heating and Cooling

You’re going to want to make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat ahead, so replace filters and remove and clean your unit’s fan and condenser. Make sure you turn off power to the unit before you tackle any work.

At the same time, your furnace should be checked and readied for use again at summer’s end. Vacuum out the burner and blower cavities, and vacuum and brush the blower blades. Change the filter so the furnace is all ready to go when it’s time to turn it on again.

Your home is a big investment, and it’s important to keep it in good “health.” Spend some of your summer days inspecting and making minor repairs and you’ll reduce your chances of needing a big repair later.

Source: CB Blue Matter

Posted on July 8, 2017 at 1:21 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: DIY, Homeowners, HVAC, inspections, maintenance, real estate, summer, Uncategorized, Utilities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Get a Better Deal on TV Service Without Cutting the Cord

Like it or not, television access can be expensive. Especially with the limited time only offers once they adjust upward (why do they never adjust downward??)  Take a look:

Although the idea of cutting the cord on expensive cable or satellite TV costs sounds amazingly liberating, the unfortunate truth is that this would mean losing access to some of your favorite shows and channels. Even if you could find most of your shows on Netflix, could you really stand to wait several additional months to find out what’s happening on Jane the Virgin or New Girl? If not, there’s still a way to cut the cost of your current TV service without cutting the cord.

Here are five simple steps you can take to negotiate with your current TV service provider for a lower monthly payment.

1. Get to know your current contract.
Whether we choose to admit it or not, most of us don’t fully understand the ins and outs of the contracts we sign with service providers. Ignorance might seem like bliss for a while, but when the price starts to go up after a certain period of time, you might wish you would have read the contract with your TV service provider before signing.

If you didn’t understand your contract before you signed up for service, it’s not too late to change the price! Dig into your contract and figure out what it entails. Be sure to read each detail so you won’t be surprised when the company representative you speak to brings up each stipulation. Knowing exactly what your current contract entails will help you build a stronger argument for negotiating a lower price and different terms later on.

2. Search for better deals.
The next step is to find out what kind of deals are out there that you’re not taking advantage of. All providers will run special pricing on certain packages from time to time. Finding out what deals your provider is running can help you identify a number you should negotiate for and provide proof for your negotiation.

You can use deal sites for specific providers or online coupon code aggregators to find the lowest prices offered for packages from your provider. Do a little digging on sites like these to find the lowest prices and make note of them. Be sure to save the exact URL for where you found the deals so that you can pull up all of the information you might need later on when you are speaking with your cable or satellite company.

3. Know your stuff.
Customer service representatives are more likely to win a negotiation with consumers who haven’t done their research. This is because they usually have counter arguments in their back pocket that help them get a leg up on callers.

Understand prices for specific channels and add-ons. If you have internet service through your TV service provider, brush up on average costs for the speed you’re currently paying for, and maybe even run a speed test to find out if you are actually getting the speed you’ve been promised.

Knowing enough about your TV and internet service to have an informed conversation with your provider will help you come in with a stronger argument for a lower rate—not to mention, you might find out that you’re actually overpaying for a specific package or speed you’re currently getting, which will give you another bargaining chip.

4. Pick up the phone.
This tip is simple, but also arguably one of the most important parts of negotiating for a lower monthly bill: pick up the phone. It might be easier and perhaps more efficient to send an email or engage in an online chat with a representative, but your negotiation will be far stronger over the phone.

During your call, make it clear that the possibility of cancelling your account is on the table and be persistent in your request for the lowest advertised rate. Explain your situation and let the representative know that you will need a bill reduction in order to keep your account open. They will likely try to offer you some freebies like free HBO for a few months or a year of the NFL Sunday Ticket, but don’t let up. Keep your eye on the prize of negotiating for a lower monthly bill, as this will be more valuable to you in the long run.

5. Solidify your agreement.
Once you’ve come to an agreement with your TV service provider, don’t just assume that your next bill will reflect the changes you’ve requested. Ask for a specific date for when this will go into effect and review the terms you’ve agreed upon one more time. Be sure to write these terms down so that you have a crystal-clear understanding of what your contract entails before you hang up.

To be extra sure your lower rate has been settled, financial pros recommend calling back to speak with a different representative to make sure they also see the changes that have been made to your account.

Few things are more frustrating than paying large bills at the end of the month. Although the hefty cable or satellite bill you’re currently getting at the end of the month might make cutting the cord seem more appealing, you don’t have to cut ties with your favorite programming to lower the bill. Hopefully this five-step process can help you pick up the negotiating skills you need to see a nice reduction on your next cable bill.

Source: RisMedia

Posted on May 30, 2017 at 5:27 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Bills, cable, Entertainment, Family Fun, real estate, satellite, television, Uncategorized, Utilities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills This Summer

 

Oh Summer Sweet Summer!  Along with the break from cold weather comes increased utility bills in the form of air conditioning and fans, especially. Here are some handy tips to keep those costs down!

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time to start thinking about ways to save on utility bills and energy costs before you’re shocked by your first big bill this summer. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prepare your home (and your wallet) for the summer heat without sacrificing comfort. So, before you crank up the AC, take a look at our top ways to save on utility bills this summer. Your budget will thank you!

1. Get Your HVAC System Ready
Is there anything worse than a broken HVAC system in the summer? The good news is you can avoid this nightmare by taking precautions and getting your HVAC ready for summer. First, you’ll want to clean or change the air filters, as dirty or clogged filters force your air conditioning system to work much harder, which in turn causes more wear and tear in the long run. You’ll also want to inspect your outdoor unit for any visible signs of damage such as warped panels, torn insulation or rust. In the colder months, small animals may nest inside the insulation so you’ll want to inspect the inside, as well. Taking these steps to ensure your AC unit is working efficiently will help keep your energy bills low this summer.

2. Clean Air Filters and Vents
Many homeowners make the mistake of closing off vents in rooms that are not being used, but closing vents causes more pressure in the ducts causing your air conditioner to work much harder. Before you turn the AC on this summer, open all the vents and give them a nice cleaning.

3. Keep Blinds Closed
Did you know that keeping your blinds closed during the day can drastically reduce the heat in your home? Keeping them open causes a greenhouse like effect sunlight and heat pour in all day and can’t get out, making your home much warmer and causing your air conditioning to work overtime, which, in turn, will spike up your power bill.

4. Lower Your Utility Rates
Do you live in a deregulated energy region? If so, you have the power to choose your energy provider and can shop around for the lowest energy rates. If you haven’t researched your options in a while, summer is the perfect time to reevaluate your current energy provider and find out if there is a cheaper rate out there. Many deregulated energy providers offer special promotions in the summer, like “free nights,” so you should definitely check out what else is out there. To see if you live in a deregulated area, just enter your address here.

5. Time Your Thermostat
If you want to be cost-conscious this summer, you shouldn’t blast your air conditioning at all hours of the day. A lower temperature setting at night and a higher setting during the day is recommended for optimal cost savings. If you’re forgetful or aren’t always around to change it, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule your temperature changes even when you aren’t home.

6. Switch to LED Bulbs
While incandescent light bulbs are cheap, they use more energy and produce quite a bit of heat compared to LED bulbs. LED bulbs tend to be a little more expensive than incandescent lights, but they last longer, produce less heat and create great energy savings in the long run. So, consider making the switch the LED lights, at least in the rooms you use most, to help lower your utility bills this summer.

7. Buy a Water Cistern
If you don’t know, a water cistern is a device that captures rain water and stores it for you to use to water your garden or lawn, to wash your car, etc. Your water bill can get out of hand in the summer as you spend more time outdoors, so a water cistern is a great investment if you want to keep your garden and lawn green all summer long without paying for extra water use.

8. Use Your Ceiling Fan
In the warmer months, you should run your ceiling fans counter-clockwise. Since heat rises, the counter-clockwise motion will help pull the cold air up toward the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan efficiently will help cool your rooms, allowing you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature, ultimately reducing your power bill.

9. Invest in Smart Power Strips
Connecting multiple appliances to a smart power strip that can be turned off with only one flip of a switch at night when the devices aren’t being used is a quick and easy way to help reduce energy waste. When you don’t have to unplug all your devices individually, saving energy suddenly becomes much easier!

10. Don’t Use an Irrigation Schedule
Irrigation schedules, or timers that you can set to schedule when your garden or lawn will be watered, sound nice in theory, but they actually produce quite a bit of water waste. You can’t control when it rains, and you may not be home to stop your irrigation system from going off when it does. Watering manually may seem like a chore, but when you think about all the money you can save from reducing water waste, manual watering becomes more appealing.

Don’t let the first utility bills of summer sneak up on you. Be proactive and implement our tips. We promise they’ll help you save big on your utility bills this summer!

Source: RisMedia

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 11:13 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Bills, Spring, summer, Utilities | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,