Even if you’re not terribly handy, there are many simple household repairs that you can easily do yourself to avoid unnecessary time and expense. This is especially true in the winter, when little improvements can make a big difference in your comfort and energy consumption. These common household fixes to winter-proof your home are easy enough for a novice, but might just give you a boost of confidence to tackle bigger projects in the future.
5 DIY Winter Home Repair Hacks
(Family Features) Even if you’re not terribly handy, there are many simple household repairs that you can easily do yourself to avoid unnecessary time and expense. This is especially true in the winter, when little improvements can make a big difference in your comfort and energy consumption.
If you’re like most people, your home is your single largest investment, so it’s common to be apprehensive about tackling home repairs if you have little experience. However, learning to do some basic home maintenance is a smart way to protect and maintain your home’s value without having to locate, schedule and supervise a contractor.
These common household fixes to winter-proof your home are easy enough for a novice, but might just give you a boost of confidence to tackle bigger projects in the future.
Seal air leaks
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A home that operates efficiently isn’t just better for the environment. Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year. These tips can serve as areas of focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances’ negative impact on the environment.
Energy Savers that Make ‘Cents’
(Family Features) A home that operates efficiently isn’t just better for the environment. Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year.
These tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services can serve as areas of focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances’ negative impact on the environment.
The cost of heating water for bathing, laundry and kitchen use is a common home energy drain, so it’s an area that deserves attention when you’re looking to upgrade for efficiency. To reduce energy use from your hot water heater, try taking shorter showers and switching to cold water for some washing machine wash and rinse cycles. Other options include turning down the thermostat on your heater, adding insulation or purchasing a newer, more efficient model.
Heating and Cooling
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as 40 percent of a home’s energy expenses come from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, also known as the heating and cooling system. Like appliances and other mechanical features of your home, over time, the heating and cooling system becomes less efficient. Regular seasonal service like appropriately changing out the air filter can help ensure your system performs at its best, but once its life expectancy has passed, a new unit is usually the more cost-effective solution in the long run.
Understanding your options is important because these systems represent a meaningful investment. There are a lot of potentially overwhelming options and you want to be sure you get the right system for your home. A consultation with an expert, such as those you can find at JCPenney Home Services, can help you determine the proper size and functions necessary to effectively manage your home’s climate, as well as assist in exploring the latest technologies and products. For example, heat pumps, which were once reserved for more moderate climates, are now a cost-efficient solution for homes where temperatures dip lower.
Another option that is relatively new but growing in popularity is known as a mini-split system. These systems let you customize the temperature settings in various spaces, enhancing personal comfort and allowing you to focus your energy use on the parts of your home that need it most. Learn more about these and other energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions at jcpenneyhomeservices.com.
While servicing or replacing an HVAC system may be the obvious change when it comes to conserving energy, you can also see reductions by using an upgraded thermostat, such as a “smart” or connected model. These devices can help you monitor the temperature setting in your home while maximizing efficiency. For example, a connected thermostat that’s synced to your smartphone may allow you to adjust temperature settings when away from home. This way, if you forget to bump the air conditioner up a few degrees while you’re gone more than a few hours, you can log-in remotely and set an appropriate temperature.
A great deal of energy is lost through cracks, holes and faulty seals. Take time to assess all windows, doors and openings for air leaks, adding caulking or weather stripping where needed. Don’t overlook culprits like openings around lighting and plumbing fixtures, switch plates and other electrical elements. Also assess potential losses from the fireplace, attic, garage and crawl spaces, where it’s common that less attention is given to thorough sealing, and determine whether additional insulation can help contain energy.
Take Control of Your Climate
Managing your home’s climate control is typically no small task or small expense. These options offer flexibility and efficiency.
Heat pumps pull from the ground or outside air temperature to both heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Since heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, they’re energy-efficient year-round.
Hybrid systems or combination systems combine elements of both a furnace and heat pump. The more efficient heat pump runs until the outside air temperature falls below a certain level, at which point the system automatically switches the heat source to the furnace. This option is more expensive up front, but can generate significant savings in terms of monthly utility bills long-term.
Ductless systems are a flexible, efficient choice for homeowners looking for simple solutions. These systems can be easily mounted on the wall or ceiling, and don’t require ductwork, making them ideal for a converted attic space or room addition.
Understanding HVAC Efficiency Ratings
An HVAC system can be rated in a number of different ways. While some of these ratings may be confusing, it is helpful to understand what they mean.
AFUE: An Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is important if you are purchasing an oil or gas furnace. The AFUE rating measures the amount of fuel used to heat your home against the amount of fuel wasted. A higher rating indicates a more efficient system. The more efficient your system, the less fuel it takes to heat your home, which translates into lower heating bills during the winter.
SEER: The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the more efficient your system and the less it will cost to heat and cool your home. Federal regulations require all new HVAC systems to have a SEER rating of 13 or higher.
HSPF: The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the efficiency of a heat pump when it is used to heat a home. A higher rating indicates greater efficiency and greater monthly savings on energy bills. New HVAC units are required to have a rating of 7.7 or higher.
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JCPenney Home Services
Converting to a smart home may seem like an intimidating task, but breaking the process into manageable steps makes it easier to choose and install the best smart devices for your home and lifestyle. You can begin turning your house into a smart home by following these simple steps, such as setting a budget, brainstorming ideas for each room and prioritizing what you install – such as a garage door upgrade kit or opener.
Starting Your Smart Home Transformation
(Family Features) With the aid of modern technology, it’s now possible to convert virtually any ordinary house into a smart home filled with features that make daily tasks more convenient. These technologies allow for greener living, customization of your living space to personal tastes and the peace of mind that you can control key home systems with your smartphone.
Converting to a smart home may seem like an intimidating task at first, but if you break the process into manageable steps you’ll find it’s not so hard to choose and install the best smart devices for your home and lifestyle. You can begin turning your house into a smart home by following these three simple steps.
Set a budget.
How much money you’ll ultimately spend to create your smart home depends on numerous factors: the size of your home, number of systems and appliances you wish to automate and the level of integration you desire are significant considerations. Assuming that your home is already wired for a high-performance broadband connection, you can get into the smart home game for under $100 with a thermostat that you can manage remotely. On the other hand, adding smart-home technology throughout the whole house will likely cost in the thousands.
Pay attention to the levels of integration various products offer. Purchasing products from brands that partner with many other smart-home device makers will help ensure the products you add in the future will work with those you install now. Selecting highly integrated products will save you time during the installation process, help you avoid unnecessary expenses down the road and improve your overall smart-home experience.
Brainstorm ideas for each room.
Go room to room in your home and think about the activities that occur in each space. Consider which of these can become easier or more enjoyable with the support of smart technology. The living room, where you likely have a host of entertainment and audio equipment, offers plenty of obvious benefits, but also look at the kitchen, for example. Did you forget to start the dishwasher on your way out the door? Initiating a wash cycle remotely will let you come home to dishes clean and ready for dinner.
Prioritize what you install.
Opening and closing the garage door is so much a part of your daily routine that it is often hard to remember if you closed it on the way out. Products such as the Chamberlain MyQ Garage upgrade kit, or Chamberlain garage door openers with built-in MyQ technology, put peace of mind in the palm of your hand. This technology allows you to control and check the status of your garage door from anywhere, at any time, so you know if your garage was left open or if it’s being opened while you’re not there. The innovative technology works with numerous smart-device brands and their devices, such as NEST thermostats and Xfinity home security products. Learn more at chamberlain.com.
With the all-important lead-in to your home covered, you can turn attention to devices that help manage your home’s operation and efficiency. Thermostats that auto adjust to designated climate settings are a popular option for many homeowners because they bring immediate returns in reducing your overall energy usage. Irrigation systems and power management products are also wise investments when it comes to optimizing your home’s use of natural resources.
Stepping across the threshold to a smart home may feel like a big step, but once you get settled and experience the convenience and control, you’ll likely find yourself exploring ways to incorporate smart technology every place you can.
Smart Devices for Every Room
The number of devices that can be integrated into a smart home is growing at an accelerated rate, but not all are complex gadgets and gizmos. Some of the simpler options for every room in your home include:
Living Room: Outlet Adapters
Walk into your home late at night and flip on the lights, the TV or both without searching in the dark for a switch or remote. After your smart outlet adapter is plugged into the wall, appliances can be plugged into the adapter and controlled from a smartphone.
Bedroom: Motorized Drapes
Adding motorized drapes to your bedroom allows for an easy way to adjust lighting and privacy – all without leaving the comfort of your bed. Properly adjusting drapes, which is easy to do with smartphone control, can also help manage energy consumption by regulating solar heat.
Kitchen: Coffee Maker
Wake up to your favorite morning beverage without drowsily scooping and pouring. A smart coffee maker can make the right amount of coffee at just the right time through simple settings on your smartphone.
Garage: Remote Garage Door Access
Open, close and monitor your garage door anywhere, anytime, with MyQ technology from Chamberlain. With remote access to one of the main entry points to your home, you can ensure the garage door is shut when you’re out or ready to open when you return.
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When it comes to remodeling, there are dozens of ways to improve your home’s overall value and appeal without breaking the bank. Opt for projects such as these that are manageable in scale, affordable and deliver benefits in multiple ways, such as aesthetics and energy efficiency.
Small-Scale Home Upgrades with a Big Impact
(Family Features) When it comes to remodeling, there are dozens of ways to improve your home’s overall value and appeal without breaking the bank. Opt for projects that are manageable in scale, affordable and deliver benefits in multiple ways, such as aesthetics and energy efficiency.
Ditch uninviting doors
Take a fresh approach to lighting
Give your lighting and home value a boost with an Energy Star-qualified option such as Velux solar-powered fresh-air skylights, which let you adjust natural light and air flow, reducing dependence on artificial lights and fans, with the touch of a programmable remote control. For expanded control over the amount of light and warmth that enters or leaves your rooms, solar-powered skylight blinds are available in designer colors and patterns. Like the skylights, Velux solar-powered blinds are operated with the remote. The solar products and installation costs are also eligible for a 30-percent federal tax credit. Learn more at whyskylights.com.
Expand livable space outdoors
Whether you’re looking to make improvements for your own enjoyment or seeking ways to enhance your home’s appeal to potential buyers, there are simple but effective options that allow you to make a meager investment for a great impression.
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