Money Saving Tips

Building An Eco Friendly Home

Are you looking for eco-friendly, money saving methods and materials for building your new home? Do you want a comfortable and stylish home with all the latest smart home gadgets, yet wish to construct it in a way that has as little negative impact on the environment as possible? Not to worry, with planning and a close working relationship with your architects, builder, and interior designer, you can reach your goals of good stewardship of the earth’s assets while knowing you are building an energy-saving home with materials and products that do not negatively impact the environment.

Prevent Frost Heaving With Frost-Protected Foundations Climatic conditions in North America result in high levels of spring frost that settle down on and around the house. Many energy-efficient focused builders follow a practice of installing frost-protected shallow foundations (FPSF) that raise the frost depth by directing heat loss towards the foundation. Talk to your builder and consider the benefit of this practice for your building situation.

Advantages Of Pre-Cast Wall Panels Using pre-cast wall panels is also a financial sound, eco-friendly option. These panels make homes look beautiful and are thermally efficient: made of insulating foam and concrete. Thermal panels deliver superior quality insulation, enhancing thermal efficiency. Additionally, they are resistant to moisture, highly durable, non-combustible, and even provide soundproofing through walls – which means no more worrying about the neighbor’s barking dog! Another option, CarbonCast insulated wall panels and claddings provide stellar insulation, enhance ambiance, and provide decades of energy-efficient sound proofing from outdoor traffic noise. SIPs or Structural Insulated Panels also serve as a highly effective option, replacing conventional framing material and differ forms of insulated wall panels. Sips are pre-assembled and do not contain concrete. They are, in fact, made of polystyrene foam fit between oriented strand board to serve trifold functions of sheathing, insulating and framing – all in one! Mostly used as support for roofs, walls and flooring, SIPs are very energy efficient and offer an R-value improvement of 15-40 percent.

Energy - Efficient Windows For The Home How to plan your house is directly related to how energy efficient and eco-friendly. Placing operational skylights and savvy window panels help improve the natural ventilation, reduce heating and air conditioning use and also trap the sunlight during winters, keeping the house warm. Low-e window coating or low-emissivity window coating employs a thin metal or glass coating that lets the majority of the sun’s light radiation enter the room while blocking the harmful radiation. They boost the R-value and reduce the U-factor. Technological advancements enhance operational skylights, wind turbines, and windows with rooftop monitors – all accessible via an app and functional on the go.

Keep The Pipes From Freezing Heat tape with automated temperature controls installed under sidewalks and driveways eliminate the need for snow removal – saving a lot of time and sparing a lot of labor. If geothermal energy is an option, the pipelines beneath the concrete could heat up the garage floor, basement, and other areas, causing the snow to melt. Again, at the touch of an app: a relatively inexpensive “fix” for a chronic problem.

 

Fall Yard Care to do Now

Fall is here! The days are shorter, the temperatures are cooler, and the leaves are changing a little every day. And since the Red Sox are done for the season, you have a little more time to keep your yard looking its best year round with some easy fall yard care tips.

Beautify with New Tress, Shrubs, and Annuals

Keep your yard looking beautiful by removing wilted summer annuals and replacing them with cool-weather varieties (make sure to fertilize the soil first). You’ll also want to stop fertilizing perennials. This will allow them to rest during winter and be healthier come spring. 

Planning to add or relocate trees or shrubs? Fall is a great time to do it. Cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall will help to encourage root growth before it gets too cold. Choose native plants for best results. 

Adjust Your Watering

As temperatures dip, plants and grass need less water. Reduce manual watering and make sure to keep an eye on automatic systems, adjusting them as needed.

Fall is also an excellent time to start practicing water conservation techniques. Set up a rain bucket, if you don’t already have one. 

Take Care of Your Lawn

Lawns can take quite a beating in Western Massachusetts in the summer, especially if your community, like mine, had water restriction rules in place. So, managing your lawn is an important part of fall yard care.

As the weather cools, lawn growth will slow. Make sure to continue mowing your lawn (adjust the mower blade as needed) until it becomes dormant. A good rule of thumb is no lower than 2 1/2 inches in the fall and winter months. 

Whether you're planting a new lawn or working on your existing lawn, it’s time to overseed with cool season turf grasses such as bluegrasses, bentgrasses, fescues, and ryegrasses. Remove thatch from your lawn. This can be done by hand or the easier way of renting an aerator or dethatcher. Doing so will encourage healthy root systems, plus aerating allows water to penetrate deeper, helping to avoid runoff. 

Clean Up Debris

Of course, a big part of fall yard care is cleaning up debris, including dead plants or leaves.

First, there’s no need to remove a few straggling leaves from your lawn. Just mow right over them, and they’ll help to fertilize your lawn.

For yards with more trees, consider starting a compost pile. Compost can be used as mulch, and using it in your yard helps save on your water bills, reduces the need to fertilize (which is better for the environment), and saves you time (no bagging leaves). Simply add your yard waste to a compost pile instead of throwing it out.

 

Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.

Should You Buy a Multi-Family Home?

CB-for sale 3If you are thinking about owning a piece of property to live in while wanting to have an extra section to help pay the bills, then you will find that there is an effective way to do it. Today, many people are considering the idea of buying a multi-family home, because this allows you to have your own space for you and your family while getting extra income from renting the other apartments. Keep in mind that as advantageous as this is, there are a few points that you have to consider.

1.  Keep in mind becoming a landlord will require some extra work. When repairs are needed, or a tenant does not pay the rent it can cause some unwanted worries. This being said it can also be a great way to start off allowing you to live, in some cases, rent free while getting monthly income to help pay down your mortgage.

2.  In choosing the right tenants,  think like you are running a business, as you will be collecting an income from the home you are renting. Take the time to choose the right tenant, a credit check, otherwise you might find yourself in a situation where you will be losing money if your tenant does not pay up at the end of the month. If you are willing to put in the work, purchasing a multi-family home can be a great way to invest.

For more information on purchasing a multi-family contact your Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont REALTOR today.  Our agents are live and work in the Pioneer Valley and look forward to assisting Buyers find just the right home.

To start your search click HERE to see all the multi-families available in Franklin County, MA

To start your search click HERE to sell all the multi-families available in Hampshire County, MA

Save on Utility Bills

Did you know the average family spends over $1600 a year on utility bills alone?   Here are some simple steps you can take to not only save energy but also put some money back in your pocket.

Put your thermostat to work

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends setting your air conditioner at 74 degrees and your furnace at 68 degrees. Investing in a programmable thermostat is a good idea. Set the thermostat to be warmer or colder when you are not home. Reduce the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside of the home to help save energy and money.

Invest in energy-efficient appliances

You may notice now that washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and computers now come with Energy Star labels which mean they are energy efficient.  Energy Star appliances will save you money over older appliances.

Unplug

Computers, stereos, toasters, and other appliances draw energy even when they are turned off. A large LCD or plasma TV consumes about 400 watts of energy when in use and 4 watts when not in use.  Using a surge protector will help reduce energy costs. Plug your appliances into a surge protector and turn off the protector when appliances are not in use.

Seal it up

A well-insulated house is a way to save money on heat and cooling costs. First, start by adding insulation to the attic floor. Next, make sure to fill in any holes in exterior walls especially where pipes come in and around windows and doors. Lastly, wrap hot water pipes with insulation.

Slow the flow

Install low-flow fixtures to conserve water on your shower, faucets and toilets. Also remember to repair leaky faucets and toilets and turn off the water when brushing your teeth and scrubbing dishes.

The Three Secrets to Saving Money

Is there really a secret to saving money? It may seem as though it is mystery how your bank account ends up empty every month but there is no mystery to it. While it may be no secret there are three important tips you can follow to help you put more money in your pocket. The challenge is to follow the tips in order to be successful at saving money. The rest is up to you.

1. Create a Budget

You need to know where your money is going. Once you have established where you spend your money you will be able to find places to make cuts. The first thing to do is figure out how much is being spent on housing, utilities, groceries, debt, and entertainment. Once you know where the money is going you will be able to set limits for problem areas. This is the money that you will apply to secret #2.

2. Pay Yourself First

This is a huge secret, pay yourself first. Yes, before you dole out money for bills as soon as your paycheck hits your account; deposit a specified amount into savings. It doesn't matter how small the amount is, at least you are saving.

Even better , create an automatic savings plan that will automatically deposit money into your savings account before you even have a chance to spend it. This can be done right through your employer's direct deposit or with a recurring transfer with your bank.

3. Spend Less Than You Earn

If you don't learn to obey this rule you will never be able to save money. You simply have to spend less money than you earn and there's no way around that. If you are spending more than you earn you are borrowing money and thus putting yourself into debt.

 

Saving with Coupons - Beyond the Grocery Store

Everyone knows about coupons for everyday products we buy but did you know there are ways to save at places like the home improvement store, clothing stores and restaurants? Beyond the sales and promotions that these places have from time to time, there are websites that have extra savings waiting for you!

Many of the couponing websites have daily or weekly emails you can subscribe to that have links of the best deals on the web. From coupons to restaurants, to online offers at places like Shutterfly, there is always something waiting for you to save on. Two great emails with valueable resourses are the ones from www.couponmom.com and www.coupondivas.com. Check them out!

There are variety of websites out there that can help you save on the web. www.slickdeals.net has any item you can imagine for some great prices; www.nomorerack.com has everything from clothing to jewelry to home furnishings, all at insane prices; and www.shopathome.com has coupon codes you can use for online shopping to save just like you had a coupon in store.

One of the best ways to get emails full of savings is to sign up with your favorite store's website. You will not only be notified with the lastest sale, but you will get exclusive coupon savings. Even some places, like Target, have weekly texts with coupions you can use on a variety of items, as well as coupons you can print from their website.

Finally, using your reward points from those credits cards can help cut down on costs as well. Since most awards you get get with your points take tens of thousands of points, why not redeem your points for a giftcard instead? They usually start out at 2,000 points and cane help you cut the cost of that new sweater or Saturday night date night.

Paying full price on purchases is not a necessity. No matter that your favorite store is, or how you like to shop, with all the options out there to save, what are you waiting for?!

Energy Savings

Energy costs can really take a toll on our monthly bills. But you can take control of these costs with a few simple steps. And to help out, programs like Mass Save (Masssave.com) and www.energystar.gov will help homeowners save even more.

Did you know that even when you turn off appliances, such as your TV, they still use energy? With all the electronics in your house, the energy use can really add up in a year. A quick easy way to control these costs is to get an advanced power strip, where there are multiple plugs for electronics that need to always be on (i.e. your cable box) and those that don't (i.e. you TV). The power strip will automatically turn off those electronics that are in the "don't keep on" sockets when the electronic in the "master" socket is turned off. Mass Save estimates that you can save $30 annually by using one of these on your entertainment system.

Mass Save and Energy Star has a variety of other ways to save on energy from product savings (on things like light bulbs and power strips) to rebates for buying energy savings appliances. You can also get a free home energy assessment to help you get started on improving your home's energy savings. And if you are low income, there are programs to help you save on costs even more.

Each state has it's own energy savings programs, so even if you aren't from Massachusetts, there are resources available to you. Be sure you contact your state's energy department to find out more about ways to save.

Home Improvements That Make Cents

What will boost your home's value? You want to add a sunroom but will that bring in the biggest bang for your buck? How about a new bathroom? It's a common question that many homeowners ask. What will we get back when we sell? This can be a hard question to answer but luckily Bankrate.com and Remodeling Magazine has come up with a list of the worst home fixes for the money.

Here are the six improvements that ranked dead last nationally when it comes to getting those renovation dollars back at resale.

1. A Home Office-The standard home office renovation is this year's biggest loser in the resale value sweepstakes. Nationally, homeowners spent an average of $28,888 and can expect to recoup about 45.8 percent at resale, according to the report. If you want to enjoy a home office opt for something that is easily converted back into a bedroom or den.

2. Backup Generators-This only usually brings about negative thoughts like does this home loose power often? On average, when homeowners have a heavy-duty backup power generator installed, they spend about $14,718, according to the report. The average amount of the price recovered at resale time: 48.5 percent.

3. A Sunroom-While the thought is sitting and enjoying a sunroom may sound lovely to you but the addition of a sunroom is often more than you can recoup. The national average for a sunroom addition is $75,224, according to the report. Homeowners can expect to recoup about 48.6 percent when they sell.

4. A Master Suite-It is the price tag of this addition that can also leave sellers in the red. For a super-deluxe master suite addition -- which adds square footage and uses only top-dollar materials -- the average cost is about $232,062, according to the report. Sellers can expect to recover about 52.7 percent at resale.

5. An Extra Bathroom-Wait kitchens and bathrooms sells houses or that's what people say. Bathroom additions are very expensive. For a moderately outfitted addition with synthetic stone or plastic laminate surfaces, plan on the cost about $21,695, according to the Remodeling report. Go upscale, with finishes like premium marble or fine tile, and you can easily spend in the neighborhood of $40,710. You can plan on a return of about 53 cents on the dollar. Look for less-expensive way to get the same results. Try reconfiguring your existing space to add a bathroom for less.

6. A Dream Garage-The price tag for a top-of-the-line detached two-car with all the trimmings is about $90,053, according to the report. This is a garage that is completely top-of-the-line. You can expect to recover about 53.6 percent of that when you sell. Instead go for function over form and stick the basic garage if you plan on a garage project.