12 Holiday Safety Tips for Your Home
1. Merry and Bright: Carefully inspect holiday light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders, or loose connections. When replacing bulbs, unplug the light string and be sure to match voltage and wattage to the original bulb.
2. Lights Out: Always turn off holiday lights when you leave the house unattended or when going to bed.
3. Fresh Is Best: Try to purchase a freshly cut tree, as they are more resistant to ignition. Keep your Christmas tree watered and away from open candles.
4. Timing Is Everything: Use an outdoor timer certified by CSA International to switch lights on and off. Lights should be turned on after 7 p.m. to avoid the electricity rush hour.
5. Check for the Certification Mark: When purchasing light strings, extension cords, spotlights, electrical decorations, gas appliances, or carbon monoxide alarms, look for the certification mark of an accredited certification organization such as CSA International, UL, or ELT to ensure that the products comply with applicable standards for safety and performance.
6. One and Done: Never connect more than one extension cord together; instead use a single cord that is long enough to reach the outlet without stretching, but not so long that it can get easily tangled.
7. The Great Outdoors: When hanging outdoor lights, keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal rain gutters. Use insulated tape or plastic clips instead of metal nails or tacks to hold them in place.
8. Climbing Up: Using a ladder when you put up lights? Choose the correct ladder for the job and double check for a certification mark to ensure your portable ladder complies with applicable standards.
9. Keep the Gas Behind Glass: Do not use your gas fireplace if the glass panel is removed, cracked, or broken, and only allow a qualified service person to replace fireplace parts.
10. Sound the Alarm: Test your smoke alarms monthly to make sure they work, and be sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your Joint Base Charleston home -- especially near sleeping areas.
11. Filter-Friendly Furnace: To help prevent CO hazards in your home, have a qualified heating contractor perform a yearly maintenance check of your furnace and venting system, and clean or replace your furnace filter frequently during the heating seasons.
12. Clean the Clutter: Do not store combustible materials such as gasoline, propane, paper, chemicals, paint, rags, and cleaning products near your gas furnace. Gasoline or propane cylinders should be stored outside the home.
6 Tips to Save Electricity This Summer
1. Cut down on energy leaks. This includes turning off lights and other electronics. When you leave a room, shut off the light behind you. Unplug electronics that aren’t being used, such as cell phone chargers, small appliances like toasters, or power strips that provide power for many appliances. Big-screen TVs, DVD players, digital photo frames, and other appliances use more energy than you realize, and certain appliances use energy even if they are turned off.
2. Spend time outdoors. Spending a lot of time indoors will naturally lead to higher energy costs because you will be using lights, electronics, and air conditioning. Spending more time outdoors means you can turn off indoor electronics, and in the process, you will enjoy this beautiful city. Turn off all electronics before leaving the house.
3. Close blinds, storm windows, or shades during the day. The sun can heat up a room very quickly. Keeping the sun from shining into windows will cut down on cooling costs, and many stores sell curtains specifically designed for this purpose.
4. Use fans instead of air conditioning. Circulation is important to using less air conditioning during the summer. Cool down the house early in the morning by placing a box fan in the window and opening up another window at the opposite end of the house, in addition to turning on ceiling fans..
5. Use air conditioning efficiently. Set the thermostat to 78, and don't lower it. If you want to invest in an energy efficient air conditioner, these are 10-15% more efficient.
6. Use electricity during off-peak hours. If you plan to use electronics like a washer and dryer, air conditioning, and computers or televisions, try to do so during off-peak hours like early in the morning or late at night. Electrical companies charge less for energy consumed during off-peak hours. It is recommended you wait until after 6 pm to cook, do laundry, or wash dishes on days the temperature is over 90 degrees.
3 Steps to Buying a Vacation Home With Friends
Owners have to be comfortable sharing ongoing expenses, like property management fees, utilities, insurance, and repairs.
To protect all owners when the unexpected happens, and to avoid hurt feelings and strained friendships, hire an attorney to set up an LLC, then purchasing the home through that company. Your attorney can draft an operating agreement that clears up expectations on everything from how utilities are shared to how a buyout would work if one owner wanted to sell and the others didn’t.
Keep in mind that the vacation-home market moves quickly, and with multiple stakeholders needing to agree that a property is the one, it’s best to decide on your shared criteria before you start looking. This is especially important if you’re searching from afar or if one person will be doing most of the home touring on behalf of the group. That way, when you find the right home, you can put an offer together quickly. You should also enlist a local real estate professional with expertise in the destination where you’d like to buy. That person is best qualified to help you identify homes that are a good value, that will perform well in the local vacation rental market, and that are in locations likely to appreciate.
If you find the right people to partner with, approach it like a business transaction, and act quickly when you find the perfect home, you’ll be sitting back and enjoying your dream home before you know it.
*Information from Zillow Porchlight
4 Tips for Buying a Fixer-Upper
Knowing the zone is important because it will tell you what you can and cannot do to the home. To research your prospective home’s zoning requirements; you can visit its municipality’s website, or arrange to meet with a staff member, who can walk you through the legalities.
A home inspector will look for structural issues and advise you on things that may or may not need to be replaced, such as plumbing, electricity, and roofing.
Depending on where you live, you may eligible for tax abatement, a tax credit for homeowners who improve their property’s value.
*Info from Zillow Porchlight