Everyone wants their patio or lawn to look its absolute best without spending a fortune, so we've come to your rescue with plenty of beautiful backyard ideas on a budget. Instead of doling out dough on a professional landscape designer, save money and take matters into your own hands with an easy outdoor design project. From DIY fire pits to never-before-seen planters, these tutorials work for big or small spaces so you can easily create the backyard of your dreams.
Being “green” is a new lifestyle, business, and cultural trend, and also directly impacts the money you spend on energy bills. Across the spectrum of sealing and insulating, energy efficient appliances, solar panels and LED lighting, there are many ways to implement small and large changes in your household that promote financial and carbon footprint savings.
Seal & Insulate
Your home’s heating and cooling system is among the most significant in saving on energy costs. The duct system is comprised of tubes that connect to central air conditioners and furnaces through your ceilings, walls, and floors. However, most of these systems are not fabricated properly which can cause hot and cool air to slowly escape from your home. This obviously results in more energy being consumed, because the system must work harder to regulate temperatures.
Attics and vented crawl spaces have a tendency to be poorly insulated, so sealing the ducts and insulating them can be an easy way to save money on heating and cooling utility bills, and increase the overall energy efficiency of your home. The quantity of insulation needed to cover your attic will depend on the size of your home, and the climate of where you live, but the average cost of additional insulation runs around $1,400. You can also close your radiators or vents in unoccupied rooms, potentially saving you up to 20 percent on heating costs.
Energy efficient appliances
Home appliances like refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and laundry machines make up about 13% of a household’s energy costs. These appliances are notorious for wasting energy, so think about updating your appliances this year to save money in the long run. Energy Star products, backed by the U.S. EPA and Department of Energy are a great place to start. For example, an Energy Star labeled refrigerator will save you between $30 and $70 a year compared to models that were produced 15 years ago.
Smart home products can also increase your home’s energy efficiency and can even be controlled from a smartphone or tablet. A programmable thermostat allows you to lower the temperature during times when no one is home or the family is sleeping. Users can set a specific temperature to different time periods in the weekdays and weekends.
Other products like the Nest Thermostat integrate smart internet technology that allows control from your smartphone. If you were on vacation and wanted to adjust the heating and cooling at custom times, you could do that all from your phone. You can save as much as 10 percent a year with these devices.
Light-emitting diode, or LED bulbs provide longer lasting light and are more energy efficient than old incandescent bulbs. Most families will spend about 5% of their energy budget in lighting costs and switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your bill. You can save about $45 each year simply by replacing your home's five most commonly used light fixtures or bulbs with LED lights.
LED bulbs are currently available in many products such as replacements for traditional incandescents, small track lights, and desk lamps. In addition to outdoor area lights, reflector bulbs used in recessed fixtures, and kitchen under-cabinet lighting. LEDs have immense possibility with their versatile abilities like motion sensors, wide array of colors, and dimmable functions.
LEDs have a higher cost than traditional lightbulbs, but they save money in the future. The technology operates with very little energy for a lengthy duration.
Have you ever wished your electricity bill was more predictable? Cheaper? Installing solar panels can protect you from rising energy prices by producing your very own clean electricity. Solar panels can guarantee steady electricity rates over twenty plus years, arguably the highest rate of long-term savings in any home remodel. The price behind solar power has decreased in recent years which means solar savings are higher than ever! Solar panels are certainly a long term investment but well worth the expense, and better for the environment.
Whether the changes you apply are small or large, transforming your household into an energy efficient haven is rewarding in many ways. Rewarding to your bank account, to Mother Nature, and to humanity overall. Contact Bright Star Handyman for energy efficient home remodels and transformation.
Contrary to popular belief, the winter months are an excellent time to commence home improvement projects. They say spring brings new beginners, but winter home improvement projects offer slight advantages over warmer seasons, including shorter completion times and potential discounts. This timeframe, although generally reserved for family, friends and holiday celebration, is an end-of-the-year slowdown for many businesses and contractors. In return, it can be a lucrative time of year to not only secure a great deal, but check off those last-minute items on your to-do list before washing your hands clean of 2018.
The general perception of winter home improvement projects involves a hefty price tag, but the reality is quite the opposite. Whether small projects or moderate upgrades, the following highlights the best winter home improvement ideas that won’t break the bank:
New windows can enhance the look of your home and make it quieter and less drafty, and new windows are easier to clean and maintain than old windows with combination screens and storm windows.
But forget what the ads say. Saving money on your energy bill is not the reason to replace your windows—it could take decades to recoup the $8,000 to $24,000 you’ll spend on new windows and installation.
Energy Star-qualified windows can lower your energy bill by an average of 12 percent. That's only $27 to $111 a year for a 2,000-square-foot single-story home with storm windows or double-pane windows, $126 to $465 if your home has just single-pane windows, according to Energy Star.
Use our replacement window buying guide to learn which materials, types, and features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings to help you choose.
Through The Looking Glass: What We Found
How We Test
To find out which windows are best at keeping your home comfortable and dry, we tested more than two dozen double-hung and casement-style windows for air and water leakage. We found significant differences between brands in types and frame materials. Working with an outside lab, we subjected the windows to heavy, wind-driven rain, and winds of 25 and 50 mph at outdoor temperatures of 0°F and 70°F. Given the high cost of replacing windows, the more you know, the more informed choice you can make.