Weekly Tip

Bring Fall to your Front Porch!

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October has now arrived and it is bringing its colder weather. The urge to curl up with a good book and a hot drink is setting in. Autumn colors are starting to appear in the trees and it’s time for them to appear on your porch as well! Fall brings rich reds, oranges, yellows and more cozy colors. Listed below are a few ideas for bringing fall to your front porch this season.

  1. Don’t forget about the go-to traditional decorations
    1. Pumpkins, small hay bales, and mums!
    2. These items will bring a traditional color palate of oranges and tans (as well as reds, yellows and others) onto your porch and also emphasize the natural elements of fall. Add dimension by making sure your pumpkins are different sizes.
    3. Pumpkins could also be used as planters! Hollow the pumpkin out and plant seasonal edibles like purple kale inside to add color & texture.
  2. Draw colors from all parts of nature
    1. The bold colors of fall can be found in seasonal flowers, fruits and more! Some examples are listed below.
      1. Mums – oranges, yellows, reds etc.
      2. Black-Eyed Susans – rich yellow (and will attract bees & butterflies!)
      3. Cranberries – deep rich red
      4. Apples – green, red, yellow
      5. And many others!
  3. Set-up cozy seating arrangements
    1. Encourage conversations by setting up seating in groups of 2, 3 or 4
  4. Rocking chairs and porch swings are classic front porch seating options
    1. Make them cozy for fall by adding pillows & cushions and throw blankets in fall colors, patterns or fabrics. Think plaids, flannels and soft textures.
    2. Have a basket or chest to store extra throws in for when the sun goes down and the night gets cooler
  5. A fall themed welcome mat, either purchased or hand-made, is a great way to greet guests and is easy to change as fall passes.
    1. For example, switch a fall mat to a Halloween one and so on. This can carry on throughout the year with the changing of seasons or holidays.
  6. Add a fall wreath or garland. Garland can be used to frame the entryway and a wreath on the front door is a classic choice. You can purchase a pre-made one or make your own. Check your local craft store!
  7. Bring in warm lighting with items like a glass lantern filled with candles or thoughtfully placed string lights.
  8. And remember, there is nothing wrong with keeping things simple! A few simple touches can transform your sunny summer porch into a cozy place for morning coffee during crisp fall mornings.

Hopefully the list above has given you some ideas on how to update your outside space to fit an autumn theme. Happy decorating!

You're Ready to Sell, But What's the First Step?

 

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So, you’ve decided to sell your home, now it’s time to prepare to list.  The process of selling a home can be quite stressful for all those who are involved, but there are ways to make the process move more smoothly. The list below outlines a few steps you can take that can save time later on.

  1. Clean the House
    1. A clean and orderly house is much easier for realtors to show and for potential buyers to visualize themselves in.
    2. Also, a clean house is a well cared for house. You don’t want the house to seem neglected.
  2. Finish Your To-Do List
    1. On a home inspection report items may cause a red flag that would typically be overlooked. A few of these items to lookout for are listed below:
      1. Change any burnt-out light bulbs
      2. Test your smoke detectors & make sure that they are the correct type (this information can be found in your town’s fire safety code)
      3. All air filters should be replaced
      4. Unclog drains & make sure toilets flush correctly
    2. Those projects that you have been meaning to do can make a huge difference in the appearance of your home.
      1. Try to finish your projects like the room you’ve been meaning to repaint or the carpet that needs to be replaced prior to listing your property.
  3. Check Your Electrical Outlets
    1. A random selection of your outlets will be tested during a home inspection so make sure they are all in working order, make sure they all work ahead of time.
    2. Also, check to make sure they are all up to code. It’s good to consider hiring a licensed electrician as they will be able to make sure that everything is in good working order.
  4. Clear Key Areas
    1. Inspectors will need access to basements & attics as well as the foundation, water heater, HVAC systems and more. These areas can be cleared ahead of time to make the process easier. It also allows potential buyers to get a better look at the house.
  5. Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection
    1. An experienced and professional inspector will be able to go through the home and alert you to any problem areas so that you can fix them and get it out of the way ahead of time. This will make the selling & closing process much smoother in the long run.

Taking the time to prepare ahead of time can streamline the process and reduce stress for everyone involved. Selling a home is an exciting opportunity for change and when you take the steps to properly prepare it makes it all the better.

How Energy Efficient Is Your Home?

How Energy Efficient Is Your Home?

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It’s an unfortunate truth that fall is approaching rapidly and summer is coming to an end. While fall does bring changing leaves, fun holidays and the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte, it also brings along cooler temperatures. While breaking out sweaters and drinking warm drinks is nice, it signals that heating season is upon us.  This is especially true in Vermont with a coldest recorded temperature of -50°F (-46°C) in Bloomfield, VT in 1933. Brrr! The goal of every homeowner is to keep warm air in and cold air out and an energy audit will help you do just that.

What exactly is an energy audit? An energy audit is a process in which an energy auditor goes through the inside and outside of your home, as well as your energy bills, to determine how efficiently your home is using energy.  The auditor will likely do an exterior inspection first to determine information like wall area, number of windows etc. The auditor will also likely want to go over historical energy bills and discuss habits of the homeowner that can impact energy usage.  Then an in-depth room-by-room inspection will occur, including the attic and basement where applicable, to check windows, doors, the furnace and more. A variety of tests will be conducted including a thermographic scan (which can show where warm/cool air is leaving the home), a blower door test and others.

“What’s a blower door test?” You may ask. A blower door test is used to determine how airtight a home is. This is done by using a fan mounted in an exterior door to pull air out of the home thus lowering the air pressure inside. This causes air from the outside to rush into the home through any cracks or openings. A smoke pencil may be used to help detect air leaks (a smoke pencil lets out a non-toxic smoke or fog to help illustrate where air is entering the home). There is a helpful infographic found here from the U.S. Department of Energy that has an illustration of what the blower door test set-up will look like.

Now that you have a little more information see below for how to find an energy auditor, how to know they are the right one for you and a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Your state or local government, as well as your utility company, can likely recommend someone to use for your energy audit
  • Collect references so you have a better idea of who you are working with
  • Make sure the auditor uses a calibrated blower door for more accurate results
  • To prepare:
    • Note any issues, including:
      • Any condensation you may see collecting in your home
      • Any drafts you may have noticed
      • If a particular room/area is harder to maintain a comfortable temperature in etc.
    • Have summaries of yearly energy bills (your utility companies can prepare this for you)
    • Also, think about how to answer questions like:
      • Is there anyone home during the workday?
      • What is the average indoor temperature in the summer & winter?
      • How many people live in the home?
      • Are all of the rooms used? Etc.

Making the changes suggested by the energy audit will mean saving energy, money, and living more comfortably. Who doesn’t want that?