Summer is a great time to get your home in shape -- for sale or showings -- or just to keep your home in tip top shape all year round. But, before you take on the challenge of sprucing up your surroundings, make sure that you take the time to ensure your safety and the safety of your family and friends.
As a former "energy communications marketing consultant" for a major NJ utility, we would often remind customers about the benefits of sprucing up your home and at the same time we would remind customers about common sense approaches to home projects. Caring for your home will provide long term results to your bottom line when you ultimately put your home up for sale AND usually, these will help your short term energy savings, too.
Let's take a look at the following TIPS:
Before you dig -- call your energy provider
Summer is a great time to plant flowers, trees and shrubs. Pruning in and around the foundation of your home is critical! Keep roots away from your foundation and allow at least two feet between plantings and the base of your home. Trim trees or shrubs away from windows and doors. Do plant shade trees on the south and west side of your home to provide maximum energy efficiency. BUT, before you dig -- call your energy provider. You do not want a simple home project dig to turn into a disaster by hitting a power or gas line. Your energy company is happy to come out and mark your yard -- providing you with peace of mind about your project.
Here is a great how-to video for shade tree planting:
Take NOTE of electric lines. When using a ladder outdoors, be aware of the location of electric lines running to your home. You may think you have plenty of distance but when you move the very tall ladder -- make sure you have plenty of distance between you and the wires connected to your home.
NEVER operate electric trimmers or equipment with wet hands, in wet grass or around wet shrubs. Make sure that your electrical cords are grounded, are heavy-duty and make sure that they are not damaged in any way. A sure way to electric shock is through a split cord or a cord that has been repaired with TAPE. Better to get a new cord then get the shock of your life.
Cleaning your gutters, windows or your TV antenna? Hire a professional. It is just that simple. More accidents happen when weekend warriors take the ladder to the roof line or by walking on a roof. Unless you do this for a living, why jeordize your life and limb, so to speak because you want to take on this type of project? Yes, I know you can do it ... but ... think of all the time and money wasted from trips to the hospital resulting in broken arms or legs. Our rule at home: if it is more than one story tall, call in a professional.
Water your landscape -- efficiently. Whether you have a sprinkler system or not, use timers for a more effective and water savings way to keep your lawn green AND keep green in your pockets. Check local ordinances for the best time to water based on watering restrictions that may be in effect in your area but most lawn care professional tend to agree that the best time to water is very, very early in the morning.
Cool your budget -- Raise your thermostat. By raising your thermostat from 73 to 78 degrees can save you as much as 15% in energy costs! It is so easy to do -- it helps save energy, saves money on your bill AND most importantly, helps your local community to maximize and share energy resources. For more energy savings tips see www.pseg.com.saveenergy .
There are also many energy saving tips and saving opportunities at your local hardware or home center or visit www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=categorySelect&category=Project%20Planning&Ne=10000&N=0 for energy saving tips AND project you can do!
Looking for help with your project go to: www.lowes.com/videos . They have a library of do-it-yourself project info. Home Depot also offers a do it yourself project page as well http://www6.homedepot.com/how-to/index.html .
Another great resource is http://www.energystar.gov/. There you will find menus of energy saving choices for your home or business.
Remember to have FUN in the SUN --- and stay safe all summer long. Simple upkeep to your home will result in monthly savings and it will add value to your largest financial asset, your home!
Pamela Stetson is a Licensed Real Estate Professional. She has lived and worked in Mahwah almost 20 years.
Copyright Pamela Stetson 2012