How-To: Perform an Energy Audit Yourself

We all want a more energy efficient home. And while we know an energy efficient home is an eco-friendly one our favorite benefit is that it also helps save on utility bills each year. Below are some ways you can perform a home energy audit yourself to hunt out the places your home needs to have repaired to prevent energy leaks:

Manual Tests

Start by locating any air leaks. Areas where two different building materials meet are especially susceptible. These places include along baseboards and floors or where walls meet the ceiling. If there are any obvious cracks or gaps you have an energy leak. Windows, doors, plumbing, switches, and outlets are all guilty suspects as well and should be tested for drafts.

For less obvious leaks dampening your hand and passing it over areas that are likely offenders will help you find drafts. If there is a draft the passing air will make your hand feel cool as it passes by. Another test to try is to start by closing any vents in the room and then light some incense. Watch closely if the smoke moves or billows around in areas you suspect are a culprit to any energy leaks. If the smoke wavers there is a leak. Check for leaks around windows and doors by closing them on a paper bill. If it is easy to pull out the bill you have a leak. This test is also a great way to check the seal of your fridge doors for any leaks.

Tech Tests

Buy a home energy monitor to determine which appliances are your biggest energy hogs. Consider upgrading old appliances to more energy efficient ones, keeping them unplugged when not in use or getting rid of the appliance altogether if it isn’t essential. Devices that have a standby are energy consumers even when “off” as they are never truly off. If it has an indicator light, charger, AC adapter or digital clock than it is using up power when plugged in. Plugging these devices into a power strip will allow you to easily flip them to off and disconnect all power to them when not in use.

Investing in a handheld infrared thermal leak detector to detect any leaks in walls in places like outlets, cable wire holes or around windows, doors and attic hatches. If you find a significant difference in temperature as you pass the detector over a likely culprit you have an air leak on your hands.

Whether you opt for the cheap ways to audit your home or invest in a little bit of tech to hunt out those energy leaks taking the time to test your home is well worth the effort. Finding where you home is losing energy and repairing them will save you money in the long run and turn your home will become a more eco-friendly one to boot!

Fun Fall Activities

Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you can’t have fun this fall. There is still plenty of good weather to get outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures and changing scenery.

Here are just a few things to get you started having fun outside this fall:

Plant bulbs in your garden for beautiful blooms next spring
Tailgate at a football game
Take a drive in the country
Take a hike or a walk off the beaten path
Get lost in a corn maze
Go apple picking
Go for a hayride
Go leaf peeping
Decorate your yard with fall fun
Jump in a pile of leaves
Visit a farmer’s market
Attend a fall festival

What is your favorite fall activity?

Removing Odors from Your Home

The last thing you want is a smelly house. When you are trying to sell your home the presence of household odors can affect the sale-ability and the bottom line price. Some of the most common offensive odors are cooking odors, particularly fish and curry odors, smoke from cigarettes or oven fires, pet odors or the odor from illness or incontinence.

In order to remove stubborn odors you will need to give the home a thorough cleaning. Here are some tips to get you on your way to a fresh smelling home.

1. Open windows and doors. Place a large fan in a doorway or window. Have the fan where blow fresh air in. Use a second fan to exhaust the odors out.

2. Believe it or not the smells could be coming from your attic insulation. Odors from cooking rise in the heat and are trapped in the attic insulation. The insulation cannot be cleaned or effectively deodorized so it must be replaced.

3. Clean carpets and upholstered furniture using a steamer. A commercial steam extractor can be rented from an equipment rental place. Things like mattresses and foam pillows will most likely need to be replaced as it is almost impossible to get odors out.

4. All clothing, bedding, and drapes in the home will need to be laundered or dry cleaned. Odors get trapped in these are can linger. Check labels for care instructions and follow the directions.

5. Odor causing particles can get trapped in the duct work. You may need to have the ducts professionally cleaned to remove the particles. Before you do that, you might consider changing the furnace or air conditioning filters once a day until you no longer smell offensive odors.

7. Wash all the ceilings, walls and floors. Use a cleaner designed for this as you would not want to damage the paint or wood floors.

8. Wash your stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer inside and out. Don’t forget the back of the stove and the coils of the refrigerator.

9. Place small dishes of vanilla extract, baking soda, sliced lemons or potpourri throughout the house to capture the odors and replace them with a better alternative.

Total Closing Costs

Closing costs vary based on the property you buy and where it is located. Closing costs will consist of several of the following items:

• Attorney’s fees
• A fee for running your credit report
• A loan origination fee, which lenders charge for processing the loan paperwork for you.
• Title search fees, which pay for a background check on the title to make sure there aren’t things such as tax liens or unpaid mortgages listed against the property
• Inspection charges required or requested by the lender or you
• Discount points, which are fees you pay in exchange for a lower interest rate.
• Appraisal fees
• Survey fees, which covers the cost of verifying property lines.
• Title Insurance, which protects the lender in case the title is not a clean title.
• Escrow deposit, which may pay for a couple of months’ worth of property taxes and private mortgage insurance
• Inspection fee for pests
• Recording fee, which is paid to a city/county in exchange for recording the new land records
• Underwriting fee, which covers the cost of evaluating a mortgage loan application