Friday, June 24, 2011

Lower Utility Bills Top 10

It's summer time in Texas and that means one's HOT! I thought a post about the top 10 ways to lower your utility rates. When doing research it made me realize a couple things that I can be doing as well.

Set Your Air Conditioner For 78 Degrees or Higher
If you are someone who loves the house at 70 degrees, you may want to rethink that idea during the summer months. Since an air conditioner cools at the same rate no matter the setting, think about how much more energy you’re using to cool it down to 70 degrees especially when it is reaching the upper 90’s outside. With that being said, the “industry recommended” minimum temperature is 78 degrees during the summer months. By sticking to these guidelines, you’ll stay cool (enough) and will help maximize your energy savings.

Programmable Thermostat
According to the website, you can save about $180 annually by using a programmable thermostat (Note: this figure only applies if using the thermostat correctly). Programming temperature changes throughout the day will allow you to maximize the usage of an air conditioner to coincide with the outside conditions (night vs. day). It will also help you by automatically adjusting the temperature up when you are away at work or school (no sense in cooling an empty house for 8+ hours a day). If you are forgetful like me, this tool is an easy way to automate your savings. Just don’t forget to change the programming for each season!

Air Conditioner Maintenance/Filters
Proper maintenance of your air conditioning can ensure that your system will operate at its optimal efficiency level. The more efficiently it runs the less energy/money you waste. The best time to maintain your system is in the winter or spring, before the heavy usage of the summer. You might even get a better deal this time of year since the a/c repair guys aren’t as busy. Proper maintenance can also prevent many small problems from becoming big, expensive ones later. In addition, change your air filters monthly. A dirty air filter can cost you money because it blocks the air flow, causing your unit to work harder to push cool air through your home. A clean air filter will save you money on energy costs and prolong the life of your air conditioner.

Start Grilling
With your a/c working overtime to cool the house down just from the heat outside, why add even more heat in the kitchen? There are two easy suggestions. First, use a crockpot or toaster oven instead of the oven or stove. They use less energy and they don’t pump as much heat into the kitchen. Second, since it’s a little cooler in the evenings get outside and grill. In addition to energy savings, grilling is also a healthier and quicker way to eat – it’s a win-win!

Ceiling Fans
Fans are an efficient way to make a room comfortable without having to lower the temperature. The air circulation they provide evaporates moisture on your skin, causing you to feel cooler. The combination of fan use and prudent management of your a/c settings will result in overall energy savings. If you do not have ceiling fans, they can be easily installed in any room with an overhead light. You can pick them out at your local Home Depot or Lowes for less than $100 (or more if you want a fancy one).

Use Shades/Blinds
One way to cool your house is by not letting the heat in. Shades and/or blinds provide a great barrier to the outside heat, and not require any electricity usage. If you currently have shades in your home then during the day, remember to keep them closed, especially when the sun is beating down in the afternoon. If you do not have shades or blinds in your home, they can get pretty expensive, so at least try to cover the windows that get the most sun exposure. Another option is solar screens, which block out 90% of the UV rays while still allowing you to see out your windows.

Plant Shrubs/Shrubs
Another way to save on energy costs is to create shade around your home by planting trees or shrubs. It is best to plant them near windows and on the sunnier side of your home. Just be sure to plant them at least one foot away from your home’s wall and from any full grown plants. In addition to planting them around your home, you can also save money by planting them around your air conditioning units. A shaded unit can actually improve its efficiency by as much as 10% compared to a unit in direct sun. Just be sure not to plant too close to where they can block the unit’s airflow.

Seal Up Your Home
Your home could be losing electricity through air leaks in doors or windows and through bad insulation. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 30% of energy usage through proper insulation and air sealing. That could be a nice savings off your bill, especially during the hot summer months! In order to see if your home is losing electricity, you should conduct a home energy audit. This is something you can do yourself or you can hire someone to do this for you. If you choose to do the audit yourself, then you may want to check out Do It Yourself Home Energy Assessments. There is information that can help guide you through your own energy assessment.

Change Laundry Habits
First, wash clothes in cold water. It will save on the energy required to create more hot water. Another idea is to dry your clothes at night. When drying your clothes during the day, the dryer exhaust heats up the house, which in turn causes your air-conditioner to run more. By operating your dryer at night, the house won’t heat up as much and you save on your cooling bill.

Switch to a Lower Electric Rate
The easiest way to lower your electric bill is by switching to a lower electric rates. Since the Texas electricity market has become deregulated, many companies are able to offer competitive pricing for consumers. When you’re shopping for a lower electric rate, decide if you want to power your home with a fixed or month-to-month energy plan. A fixed plan will enable customers to lock down a low rate for a fixed term while a month-to-month plan gives customers the ability to take advantage of energy rates as they drop.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Villages of Aledo

Are you looking for an investment property in Aledo? Or maybe a starter house? I've got the perfect place for you! Close to schools in the heart of Aledo. This 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage offers an open floor plan, gleaming hardwoods, formal dining, study, kitchen with tons of cabinets & an island.
Enjoy HOT Texas nights on your covered back patio overlooking a decent sized yard. $155,000

If you're looking for a rental, Aledo has a great rental market. The schools are great and the summer time is the perfect time to get a tenant. This home would probably rent for around $1500-1600 a month. If you're thinking about buying, it's a great time, interest rates are low and buying is cheaper than renting!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sweet Sink

I showed this house today, new construction in Stone Creek Farms in Aledo. I love
the rod iron sink, it is the perfect touch to this half bathroom!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Parker County Mama

If you're new to Parker County and you want to get connected to the community, Parker County Mama is a new website/blog/facebook page to designed to keep current & new moms in the area up to date on all of the wonderful things to do in Parker County, coupons, deals and great information! This week I was fortunate enough to be a guest blogger on the Parker County Mama blog.

If you are a Parker County Mama, it's the perfect way to stay connected!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pool or No Pool?

Summer is here and a question on many homeowner's minds is should we dive in and build a pool? Before you take the plunge here are some things to think about.

1. How long are we planning on living in this home? Plans change all the time, before you invest several thousand dollars in to building that dream pool you should make sure that you will be there long enough to enjoy it. The last thing you want to do is build a pool this summer, only to move the next.

2. Where does my house fall in my neighborhood? Are you the biggest, nicest home in your neighborhood? If so you might want to reconsider investing more money into it. If you are the average sized home in a neighborhood and you plan on living there for five or more years, it's probably a great investment!

3. Don't expect to get your money back when you sell. Build a pool so you can enjoy it, but don't build one expecting to increase the price of your home.

4. The value a pool brings depends on the buyer. Pools in Texas are usually a great selling point, some buyer's specifically look for a property that already has a pool. However, some buyer's will not purchase a home simply because it has a pool, while others are willing to pay more for a home with a pool.

All in all, summer memories playing in the pool are priceless and putting in a pool is a great decision for many families. Pools provide great entertainment during these hot Texas summers. Just make sure that before you jump in you have realistic expectations of your investment.

If you are thinking about putting in a pool and you want to know where your house falls in the neighborhood, give me a call I'll do some research and give you the facts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Top 10.....

I've been showing a lot of property lately, which has inspired me to write this top ten things to do BEFORE you show your house. I should note that these are all actual things that I witnessed or exprienced in the past couple days.
10. Put up your ash trey's and make sure your house doesn't smell like one.
9. Make sure the potential buyers don't get tangled up in your landscaping
8. If you don't own a vacuum, buy one!
7. Send your yappy dog to the doggy babysitter for the day, Buyer's don't want to have a headache when they leave your house.
6. If you're into gaudy over the top decor, green carpet and opera music, that's cool but realize that 99.9% of the people who look at your house are not, tone it down.
5. If you have teenage boys consider buying some febreeze and making sure they flush the toilet.
4. Make sure that you open the blinds, and turn on the lights.....buyer's don't want to feel that they are going into a cave.
3. It's great that you have adorable kids, love the aggies and chipmunks but remember that you want the buyers to invision themselves living in your home not get so wrapped in the things in you home.
2.LEAVE, we don't need a guided tour of your property or someone to follow us around the house. Buyers want to be able to comfortably look at a home they may want to purchase.
1. While the summer is a great time to sell a house with a pool, if you're pool is literally overtaken by thousands of tadpoles and a dead squirrel you should probably drain it!

Farm Sink

A new trend we are seeing in kitchen's is the return of the Farmhouse Sink. These sinks can add just the right touch to your kitchen. It's made with functionality in mind. The "apron" front that drops down in front of the sink is it's signature trait. It's ornate design adds elegance & rustic charm.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Benbrook Home

Just took a great new listing in Benbrook, 144 Amory Dr. It's 4 bedroom 2 bath 2 car garage, Formal Dining Room/Study, Huge Living Area with Vaulted Ceilings, Exposed Beams, Woodburning Fireplace, Brand New Frieze Carpet & Accees to the Backyard
The backyard is amazing! Just over 1/4 of an acre, St. Augustine Grass, Trees & Tons of room for play!

The house is just down the street from Benbrook's Exemplary Elementary, Westpark and just a hop, skip & jump from Lake Benbrook, Parks, YMCA & Shopping.

All of this for $135,000!! If you would like more information please contact Alicia Brunson 817-680-7786