Janet Cramb & Company/LAER Realty Partners



Posted by Janet Cramb on 3/31/2021

Image by Tom from Shutterstock

Energy efficiency isn’t just for the inside of your home. What you plant outside can affect the bottom line inside. Choosing the right trees, grasses, and shrubs can help.

Location, location, location

Well placed trees can help to reduce your heating and cooling bills. Trees can keep your home cooler in the summer and protected and insulated in the winter. Determine where to plant the saplings so that when they mature, they shade your roof and upper rooms. Plant leafy deciduous trees to the East, West, or South sides of your home so that the shadows fall on your house. Eventually, they’ll keep you shaded in the blistering summer months. In the winter, those trees will lose their leaves allowing warmth from the sun to reach your windows through the bare branches.

When planting trees on the north or northwest side of your house, utilize evergreens as a windbreak. They’ll reduce the amount of frigid air that hits your house in the winter. Strategically planted rows can create a windbreak for an entire side of your home. Cypress, fir, or low-branch pines create great windbreaks. Be sure to account for growth when you choose a planting location, 10 to 15 feet between each tree is a good place to start.

Efficiency

If you have central air conditioning, use shrubs and bushes to shade your condensing unit. Experts estimate that a protected A/C can boost efficiency by ten percent or more. Keep your plants and shrubs about three feet away from your condensing unit so that it has proper airflow. Trim trailing vines or branches that grow close to the equipment or ventilation.

Groundcover

Replace grass with stones or a concrete slab that reflects light and heat toward your home. That will keep your home warmer in the winter months. Dark wood chips, mulch, or green groundcover help to absorb daytime heat that is then slowly released throughout the evening and overnight. This process works to keep your home cooler during the day but adds warmth to outdoor entertainment spaces in the evening.

If you’re searching for the perfect new house, let your real estate professional know about your desire for energy efficiency. They can help you find the ideal home to put your ideas into action.




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Posted by Janet Cramb on 4/1/2020

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Water efficiency is good for both the environment and your wallet. Changing habits, such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth saves about 3,000 gallons a year. This is great, but if you want to take it a step further to conserve water, here are four DIY ways to bring better water efficiency to your bathroom.

Replace Your Old Toilet with a New One

Many homes still have outdated bathrooms, including toilets. Even if in good condition, these toilets are definitely not water efficient. Experts suggest they use 4X more water than modern toilets do. Considering toilets account for about 30% of overall household water use, this is substantial. Replacing a toilet is a great way to reduce use. When purchasing a model, be sure to look for the WaterSense label because toilets with this certification use far less water than other models. Low-flow models use about 1.6 gallons as opposed to 4 to 6 gallons—a significant difference.

Upgrade Your Old Toilet

If you aren’t ready to invest and/or install a new toilet, but want to scale back on your water use, you can upgrade your old one. A few modifications can do the trick.

  • Install an adjustable flapper and save up to three gallons per flush.
  • Hang a tank bag in your tank so it can displace water. It’s less water savings than replacing a toilet, but every bit helps. (Sometimes people place bricks in their tanks, but these deteriorate and can create clogs, so it’s not recommended.)
  • Install a fill cycle diverter to eliminate excess water going down the trail and save about a half-gallon of water per fill.

Every bit of water saved puts money back in your pocket and helps with conservation of this precious natural resource.

Faucets & Shower Heads

Faucets account for over 15% of indoor water use in a household. If you don’t currently have faucets and showerheads with the WaterSense label, consider replacing them. According to the EPA, consumers can reduce water flow by as much as 30% by making this change.

Fix Leaks

Identifying any leaks in your bathroom can save about 10% on a water bill every month.

  • Inspect the toilet flapper and valve seal. (Consumer Reports suggests pouring food coloring into the toilet tank and seeing if it appears in the bowl 15 minutes later to help determine leaks.)
  • Check to see if faucet washers and gaskets are intact, if they are compromised, they’ll need replacing to stop leaks.
  • Look at showerheads to see if they are dripping water—if there is a gap in the connection, they may need to be taped up or replaced.

Many homeowners can DIY leaks, but keep in mind sometimes attempting to fix pipes or tackle any of the more complicated aspects of plumbing can open up a can of worms and lead to further problems. In these instances, it might be time to call a plumber for inspection and/or to get an estimate.

Homeowners making an effort to conserve water can also potentially improve their resale value if they eventually decide to sell. Many of today’s buyers actively seek out homes containing green or efficient features. Conserving water is a great place to start!




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