Consider the Benefits of Off-Season Home Improvement Projects

Consider the Benefits of Off-Season Home Improvement Projects

Spring and summer are popular seasons for home improvement projects, which is why tackling these projects in the winter may be a good idea. While it may seem that more people tend to relax and stay warm inside their homes during this cold season, home improvement professionals are in business year-round. Winter is an excellent time to catch these busy professionals at a time of year when they may have room in their schedule for your project.

Here are a few projects to consider during this winter season:

Get a new roof. Even though winter and roofing can seem counterintuitive, replacing your roof in the winter may make the most sense. The light schedule might just be your ticket into getting your roof replaced before the peak seasons of spring and summer.

Replace your windows. If your windows need replacing, winter reminds you of it every day, so why not tackle it now? It might take a little longer as the contractor takes steps to minimize heat loss in your home, but you will feel the results as soon as the job is done.

Paint a room. Spending more time indoors might draw your attention to dingy walls. For the “do-it-yourselfer,” the dry winter air makes it an ideal time to paint. If you don’t want to do the painting yourself, you may find a few painting contractors with openings in their calendars. Make sure the walls and the paint are warm enough so that the paint will stick well. Paint cans will tell you the temperatures for best adhesion.

Refinish wood floors. As with painting, you will want to somewhat ventilate to manage the fumes from the product that the refinisher will use. If you plan to stay in your home during the project, be sure to check out refinishers who use sandless techniques.

Tackle your fading landscape. In the Upstate, our winter weather is generally not that harsh. Now is a great time to contract with a landscaper to build the hardscape you have been planning, or to renovate your lawn.

Start Planning for the Southern Home and Garden Show
The professionals who can help you with your home improvement projects will be exhibiting at the Southern Home and Garden Show March 1-3 at the Greenville Convention Center. Make plans to attend now by visiting www.SouthernHomeandGardenShow.com.

Get Your Fireplace Ready to Safely Enjoy this Holiday Season

Get Your Fireplace Ready to Safely Enjoy this Holiday Season

There is nothing better than cozying up to a glowing fireplace on a winter evening. However, whether you have a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace, it works safest and best with proper maintenance and care. Before lighting a fire, consider the following:

Gas Fireplaces
A gas fireplace requires far less maintenance than a wood-burning one. Even so, it is better to have your gas fireplace inspected and adjusted by a professional every year. An inspector will check to ensure that all the parts are intact, the ignition is working well, ventilation pathways are clear and the heat output is correct. Whether it is a vented or ventless fireplace, it should never produce a gas odor. If it does, turn off the gas and have it inspected by a professional.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces
Hiring a professional chimney sweep at least once every five years (and more often if you use it frequently) is the best way to ensure your chimney is safe to use. Since flammable by-products from your wood-burning fireplace build up inside the chimney, it is important to have those cleaned to prevent a fire. A chimney sweep will also inspect your chimney to be sure that it is in good condition.

Wood Fires
When the time comes to make the first fire of the season, clean the firebox of any ashes and dust, check that your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order, and lastly, make sure that the screen fits and is in good condition to contain sparks and embers. Fires should always be built on a grate to protect the fireplace floor. Further, air flow under the grate also helps produce an efficient fire.

Seasoned hardwood is the best fuel for a wood fireplace. Green hardwood and pine logs have more sap than seasoned hardwood and therefore tend to build up creosote in the chimney more quickly.

After you have finished enjoying the warmth of your fireplace, it is important to put it out as you should never leave a fire unattended.

Simple Ways to Take Control of Your Winter Energy Bills

Simple Ways to Take Control of Your Winter Energy Bills

Whether you are turning up the heat or turning on the holiday lights, energy usage tends to increase greatly during the winter. However, there are many ways to stay warm while using less energy this holiday season. Here are a few simple tips to get you started.

Don’t Heat an Empty Home
If your home will be empty during this winter, adjust your thermostat to limit wasted heat. While you can manually do this each day, there is also a programmable smart thermostat that can automatically keep your house cozy and save energy when everyone is away.

In fact, there are many new thermostat models that can keep track of how much you would save based on your region, size of home and heating type. In many cases, this investment results in significant savings.

Control the Air Flow
By sealing air leaks in your home, you can cut your monthly energy bill by 10 percent. The use of caulk to seal any cracks or small openings on surfaces such as where window frames meet the house structure is another good way to reduce your monthly bill. It is also smart to check your home’s weather-stripping and replace the ones that are deteriorated or cracked.

Sealing windows and doors will help, but the worst culprits are cutouts for pipes or wires, gaps around recessed lights and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. The materials needed to fill those gaps can be found at your local Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.

Use Energy-Efficient Holiday Lights
During this time of year, holiday lights, especially when left on, contribute greatly to your home’s energy consumption. Fortunately, there are now energy-efficient options for holiday lights, which last much longer than traditional ones. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had fewer burnt out lights to chase during the holidays, in addition to using less energy?

Seek Professional Help
The best way to know exactly what will reduce your home’s overall energy consumption is to hire a professional energy auditor to evaluate your home and identify any inefficiencies.