Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Looking for a cost-effective way to increase security in your home and save energy at the same time? You could put some of the lamps in your house on a timer — or you could consider wireless lighting.

According to, wireless lighting enables you to replace switches in your home with receivers that respond to radio frequency signals from remote controls. It might sound complicated, but it’s fairly simple: Disconnect the manual switches and replace them with dimmers. Freestanding lamps that must be plugged into an outlet can be plugged into wireless receptors connected to the outlet. You can even program one remote to operate multiple lights throughout your house, no matter the size.

Aside from the ability to turn off a light downstairs when you’re already upstairs or turn on a light from anywhere in your home if you hear a suspicious noise, the main benefit of installing a wireless lighting system is reducing electricity and energy consumption. You can connect the system to a timer to set lights to turn on and off at specific times.

Wireless systems can range in price, from as little as $30 for a starter kit to hundreds of dollars to equip your entire home. Before installation, talk to a certified electrician to ensure the kit you purchase is the best for your home.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


If you’re looking to make some upgrades to your home this year, be sure to think about what makes sense for your lifestyle as well as what will offer the best return on investment. Start by checking out the results of Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value report.

If you have an attic, you could be using it for much more than just storing holiday decorations and boxes of mementos. According to the report, converting part of the attic into an extra bedroom — which, on average, costs just over $50,000 — can recoup 72 percent of the cost when the home is sold. On the other hand, the addition of a deluxe master suite (an average cost of $230,000) will only recoup just over half of the investment.

If you’ve been thinking about sprucing up your outdoor space, now might be the time to invest in a new backyard deck; at an average cost of just over $10,000, this investment will recoup nearly 70 percent, the report says. When considering deck materials, choose wood over composite — it will recoup nearly 10 percent more on your investment.

Making over your garage can also be a good idea — replacing a garage door, which costs less than $2,000, recoups just over 70 percent of the total cost. But if your home is up for sale without a garage, it’s best to leave it alone. The addition of a garage costs about $58,000 and only recoups about 57 percent during resale.

Some other minor projects that might be worth the investment include replacing windows with insulated vinyl or wood models (the cost, between $7,600 and just over $8,000, is recouped by almost 70 percent), and remodeling the bathroom (cost is about $16,000 and the cost recouped is about 62 percent).

The bottom line? When making renovations, think small for an optimal return on investment

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Healthy Start

Most New Year’s resolutions have
some kind of health angle —
work out more, eat right and
so on — so why not give your home the
same kind of revamp? Resolve to keep
your home healthier this year with this
seasonal checklist.


Clean your gutters. Backed-up gutters
can wreak havoc on siding and causeflooding. Scoop out leaves and debris with
a trowel or hire professionals to do it.

Check your roof. Wintry weather may
have damaged the surface, and the first big
rainstorm, left unchecked, could cause significant
problems. Replace shingles as needed.

If your fireplace got a workout during
the winter months, give it a clean sweep.
Call in the experts to inspect and clean
creosote buildup.


Walk around your house to check for
unsealed spots where squirrels or mice
could sneak in. Look carefully for termites
or ants, too. Inside, check your attic
and make sure egress points are sealed

Get ready for the warm season by
giving any outdoor equipment (pools,
swing sets, etc.) a thorough, top-to-bottom


Ensure your furnace is in prime shape
for the cold months ahead, and change all
the air filters in your home.

Make sure your house is adequately
sealed. Apply weather stripping (such as
tape, felt, foam or vinyl tubing) around
doors or windows.

Trim branches near your home or roof
to prevent damage when wintry weather


Drain and insulate outdoor pipes to
prevent freezing.

Check for damaged sidewalk, driveway
or stairs, and repair them before the first
snow to avoid dangerous mishaps.