Recent studies suggest that around 30% of heat loss in your home occurs through your windows. This is a problem in older households especially, as they are more likely to have drafty or energy inefficient windows. While many homeowners opt to replace such windows, this is not always the most practical solution.
A woman installing an Indow window insert, an affordable alternative to window replacement.
Despite their drafty drawbacks, old windows are often more beautiful.
While maintaining old buildings can be an expensive exercise, window inserts are one of the few methods of structural maintenance that is more affordable than the alternative. Jonathan points out that in addition to keeping the aesthetic of your property consistent, the “historical preservation” of a building can be an important aspect of maintaining the character of your neighborhood or town.
When it comes to the various brands and models of window inserts available, Jonathan recommends Indow. Unlike other brands, Jonathan says they require no “alteration of existing frames, construction, track or magnets to install”, which makes them perfect for the preservation of older windows. Jonathan also cites testing at Portland State University that showed Indow inserts typically save 19% in energy costs over single-pane windows.
The ability to live a greener lifestyle is at the top of the list for more prospective home buyers than ever before. This is, in part, due to millennial buyers, who currently make up the largest segment of prospective home buyers in the United States.
- providing documentation that clearly shows how the solar panels provide a cost savings for the homeowner, such as showcasing a year of pre-solar energy bills for the home, along with those from a more recent twelve-month period when solar power was in use
- providing a packet of detailed information about the solar panel lease, including the date of installation, the installing company, terms, service plan information, and any applicable warranties or exclusions
- providing information to help prospective buyers understand that the value offered by the solar panels on the home should continue to increase as energy costs and utility bills continue to rise
Looking for a realtor experienced with solar leases? Try using EZBZ - the free concierge service. We'll help you find and compare realtors in your area that match what you're looking for. Download the EZBZ app or call us on 1-855-461-8619 to get started.
It doesn’t take much for a homeowner to consider renovating their home. But while wear and tear are inevitable, renovations are typically a choice, and can bring unwanted stress and tricky surprises. It’s essential that you are prepared. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your home renovation is a success:
Determine Your Budget
Even if you’re only just starting to consider renovating your home, take a look at your expenses and savings. Map out how much you can afford to spend on renovations. Forward thinking is critical – will you have any other large expenditures in the foreseeable future? Remember to take in to account an estimate of how much you will be spending on everyday essentials during the actual renovation. Save enough money so you have a safety net in the event of an accident or unexpected expense.
Figure Out What You Want
Having a clear vision of what you want before beginning the process of renovation will help you save time and money. Make a list of the mandatory things you want, and the renovations you could live without. Of course, while a clear vision is important, it’s also necessary to have some flexibility. Surprises during renovation aren’t just common, they should be expected. Moldy baseboards or faulty wiring can cause serious delays and incur additional costs. This is where your list of essential and non-essential renovations can help you make a quick decision about how to proceed.
Hire a Licensed Contractor
Now that you have determined your budget and have a vision for what you want your home to look like, it’s time to start researching contractors that can complete the renovation. A licensed contractor is always recommended. When you hire a licensed contractor, they are legally required to follow certain safety codes and standards. An unlicensed contractor may not be familiar with the latest industry standards, and could be uninsured. Ultimately, hiring an unlicensed contractor could result in more expenses down the road. The risk is not worth the lower quote. To find a reputable contractor in your area, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. Local contractors will reply to you directly through EZBZ with their information, availability, and estimates, allowing you to compare your options and make an informed decision about who to hire.
Book Temporary Accommodation
If you’re planning to renovate your entire home, the best option is to stay out of the house. Construction sites can be dangerous, loud, and stressful, not to mention that renovations can sometimes take weeks or even months to complete. Staying with friends or family is an option, however this can also be conducive to a stressful situation for both you, and your host. Investing in temporary accommodation may also be an investment in your mental health. Credible accommodation companies will provide you with necessities like clean linens, cable, Wi-Fi, and an inviting and clean living space while having representatives on standby at all times in the event of any issues.
Take an Inventory
Before leaving your home, be sure to do a sweep and keep record of any expensive or important items you are leaving behind. It may be a good time to clear your house of old furniture or anything else you no longer need, while storing the items you want to keep in your basement, attic, or a storage unit.
Following these steps will help you ensure that your home renovation goes smoothly. While some preparation efforts can seem tiresome or even futile at the time, their value becomes apparent once the renovation begins and you are stress-free.When looking for quality, temporary accommodation for the duration of your renovation, consider visiting TempApts.com. If you’re looking to hire a contractor, construction company, or find any other product or service, request it through EZBZ. It’s free, quick, and easy.
Innovations in technology are constantly being released that make life easier. Sometimes, these innovations can simply be optimizations of tools we already had. The optimization process of an existing technology often results in it receiving the new, permanent adjective: ‘smart’. That’s why today we have smartphones, smart TV’s, and now, smart thermostats.
A smart thermostat has the same functions as a normal thermostat – allowing users to control their household heating and air conditioning – with the added functionality of being able to be remotely adjusted by any device connected to the Internet. That means that users can change the temperature of their homes with their smartphone, even if they’re not actually in the house.
It is easy to see why a smart thermostat can benefit any home. The remote controllability would allow you to heat your household in advance during winter, so you could leave work and head straight to an already warm home. And this is just a basic feature of most smart thermostats.
There are now smart thermostats in the market that will learn what your ideal settings are at any given time, such as when you’re asleep, at work, or when you’re waking up in the morning. Thermostats like this are designed to save you money on your heating bill, while keeping your house at the appropriate temperature 24/7. The market leader is the Nest Learning Thermostat, available from Amazon for around $250.
Another popular brand (that’s a little cheaper than the Nest), is the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which has a bright LCD screen that keeps you up to date on changes in the local climate, and displays the indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity. It is also programmed to learn from your habits, and warn you about extreme temperature changes.
Of course, other than saving you time and money, smart thermostats are also a great way for your household to become more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. With the ability to program their thermostat and adjust it remotely, it is possible for users to minimize unnecessary energy consumption. However, studies have also revealed that in order for a smart thermostat to save money and energy, it is still heavily dependent on the user’s active programming and controlling… At least until it learns how to do it by itself.
Investing in a smart thermostat is just one way you can save time, money, and the environment moving forward. However, until we (inevitably) create artificial intelligence, even a ‘smart’ thermostat is susceptible to human error.
You don’t have to be a top chef to have a well-designed kitchen. With today’s growing foodie demographic and more consumers worried about increasing allergy and food safety concerns the kitchen is once again becoming a well-used room in the home. Whether you’re a new cook or seasoned chef you have a few things to consider when designing your dream kitchen to avoid throwing your whisk in defeat and running to your stack of menus for satiety.
First, take a few minutes and think of how you use your kitchen. Do you rush home in the evening itching to wear your apron and increase your knife and sauté skills or are you running out of storage for all the reusable take out containers. A kitchen remodel can get pretty pricey if you are only basing it on a vision rather than its actual use. To a chef size does matter, if you will be bumping elbows with one or several sous chef you may want to reconsider that island.
Now that you’ve determined your kitchen needs, pick a budget and stick to it. The bigger the remodel the bigger the bite to your savings. Aesthetics matter just as much as the appliances so consider the cost of paint, flooring, a back splash and lighting as well. You may need to upgrade your electrical, plumbing, insulation and windows especially when renovating an older home or adding fun kitchen gadgets. Always make sure you keep emergency funds for anything that may pop up.
Depending on your budget you have a pretty wide range of appliances to choose from. You have your essential refrigerator and oven, your useful microwave and dishwasher and a long list of kitchen gadgets, always a great addition to any kitchen, such as slow cookers and electric pressure cookers. There are many stylish appliances that won’t break the bank, just refer to your budget to determine how much you can spend.
Make sure your kitchen has enough storage by adding cabinets, shelves or better yet a pantry. Cluttered counters are enough to irritate the most patient of home cooks. For better accessibility you can add drawers and Lazy Susans.
Windows and skylights placed appropriately are a cost effective way to bring more light into your kitchen. Nothing brings out your dishes like natural light. In case of nightfall remember to invest appropriate lighting. Because of the cabinets and appliances a kitchen may be enveloped with shadows, this is why it’s great to invest in different forms of lighting such as under cabinet lighting, island lighting and cook-top lighting.
Now that you’ve got all your ducks in a row it’s time to hire a professional to take care of the remodel. You might find the perfect contractor after your first interview but it’s generally recommended that you interview 3-4. Show them the kitchen, your list of needs and budget. Get all costs itemized and in writing, agree on a down payment. Visit an existing work site and get the names of suppliers and a few references. You can also ask family and friends who’ve had a recent kitchen remodel about their experience with their General Contractor. Take a look at the finished product and get as much detail on the before and after.
Should you need assistance finding the right contractor, simply EZBZ it by going to www.myezbz.com and posting a request.
The cold air that comes along with winter is another issue that affects senior citizens. The freezing temperatures create conditions that make it difficult to take in deep breaths. They also further challenge already limited mobility. With cold air comes icy door steps, road ways and sidewalks increasing the risk of falling. When someone who is older falls they are at a greater risk for serious injury over someone much younger. Our bones become more brittle and prone to breaks and sprains as we age.
When it comes to the population of seniors amongst us, now we are aware their nature is one of a more independent nature. This can be seen with the increase in the number of seniors choosing to age in place. This is where many winter-related problems stem from when it comes to the elderly.
Despite the number of warnings shared with the aging population many still attempt to continue providing their snow removal services. They continue to shovel, salt and snow blow on their own as they have an overwhelming fear of entrapment as well as a fear that is not continuing to do these so called normal tasks makes them appear fragile and weak. Another reason may be because of issues that arise from living within a fixed budget.
If you know anyone that falls into this category that remains either too stubborn to ask for help or financially unable there are a few things that you can do to help.
Of course, if you are able bodied consider shoveling their driveway and sidewalks for them. If it is a loved one you are concerned about that lives too far for you to travel call upon their neighbors to ask for assistance. Sometimes the people around them are afraid to insult them by offering to help or are unaware a need is prevalent. Another option is to call upon a local snow removal company that services others within the community in which a loved one life and asked them what type of services they can offer within a limited budget. It will shock you how many snow removal companies will clear the sidewalks and walk ways a bit more carefully when they know the service is being provided for an elderly citizen.
In the winter months, it is so important that we take extra good care of our loved ones that are aging. Snow removal, side walk shoveling, ice removal and laying down an extra layer of salt are ways we can all chip in to help create a safer environment for senior citizens.
People are talking about the tiny house movement. What is it? Is it small houses that are being moved down the street to tiny lots? Is it a political movement? This movement is all about a segment of society that is actively downsizing the spaces they live in to square footage often associated with a studio apartment.
The average size of a tiny house is between 100 square feet and 400 square feet. By comparison, the average size of new houses recently built in the United States was 2,600 square feet. The tiny house movement is not age specific. A compact living space has proven attractive to individuals of all ages, including college graduates, newlyweds, and retirees.
We are living in a society that is still recovering from mortgage upheaval, including the ramifications of predatory lenders, abandoned properties and foreclosures. Many want to own their own home, but with skyrocketing prices or hard to obtain mortgages, many aren’t able to buy or build the house or apartment of their dreams. Others still don’t want to be shackled with the expenses, debt and responsibility that comes with owning the average home. So, some have taken to building a tiny home instead.
Many people have started building these tiny homes on themselves, while others turn to companies and general contractors that specialize in them. The latter options are often preferred given they are better versed in special design and more complicated matters such as plumbing, electricity and insulation.
Tiny homes are not just a living arrangement, they represent an entire social movement which is believed to have originated in 1997, not long after Sarah Susanka published her book The Not So Big House. Today the movement has gained significant ground, with many starting to see the benefits of living small, among them the possibility of a loan free future. The costs of building a tiny house are significantly less than that of a traditional home and many are able to draw the funds from savings they had for a traditional down payment or loans they can pay off in significantly less time than a traditional mortgage. General contractors have assessed the cost of a home under 500 square feet at a maximum of 20,000 dollars. Another advantage is that corresponding utility bills are considerably less, taking into account that tiny homes are a quarter the size of a regular home.
Possible downsides to such a home are that they aren't ideal for families or those who enjoy entertaining. They typically can accommodate a maximum of two people, a couple preferably as the tight space might make it harder for two people who aren't emotionally committed to stand by one another. Regulations are can also be an issue, given some towns will deem the houses too small to be a residential dwelling; some owners have solved this issue by adding wheels to their homes so they might fall into the category of mobile home.
With new housing market trends paving a road toward tiny house living, not everyone feels that bigger is better anymore when it comes to your house. When looking for a house, more and more people are putting "affordable" at the top of their dream home checklist. If tiny home ownership is a path you’d like to pursue, you can always submit a free request to EZBZ to find tiny home builders.
You must have frequently come across various disputes related to property and assets distribution. However, if you do an estate planning before death, your loved ones may never require facing similar problems. Estate planning is a process that aims to give maximum benefits and wealth distribution to the beneficiaries and eliminate uncertainties prior to the death of the owner of these assets. Death is inevitable, thus estate planning is not just for the old, but everyone. Even if you are not as rich as Bill Gates, whatever you have owned till now is your hard earned asset and you surely don’t want it to go to the wrong hands.
A will is an instructional document that is written and signed in front of witnesses and you can amend it anytime during your lifetime. It is revocable and you can keep conditions for your estates (both real estates and personal property) according to your wish. With wills, you can also appoint a guardian for your minor heir and make provisions when he or she will be entitled to be a legal heir of your assets. A will is especially beneficial for people living and possessing assets in those states where probates are not complex.
On the other hand, living trust is a more professional lifetime and after death property management. Unlike wills, trusts have an additional benefit of avoiding the lengthy and costly legal probate during transfer of assets. If you leave your family with a will then your family may have to go under multiple probates (especially if you have assets in other states) and may also have to pay legal, executor and the court fees. Other than being exempted from these, living trusts ensures maximum privacy, brings all your assets under one plan, prevent court control in certain cases, is widely accepted and can be amended during your lifetime.
No doubt with so many additional benefits, living trusts are initially much costlier than wills. But, it’s you who have to rather choose between a hassle- free life for your loved ones when you leave or a small addition to your bank balance.
The full potential of living trust can only be exploited when you fund it regularly and constantly manage the trust after it’s created. You have to add your assets to make the trust actually valid. That’s why it’s called 'living’ and if you do not fund your trust, your beneficiaries may end up paying probates and taxes.
Challenges to Estate Planning
Many people fear that estate Planning are way too costly because of tax payments and the complexities involved in the process of estate planning. But most of the time it is seen that your family isn’t fully aware of your financial records, insurance policies and various other assets and thus faces tremendous problems after your death. Estate planning doesn’t needs to be too costly if you plan it step by step. Start with small and amend your plans as you grow. Sometimes estate planning is not just about management of assets after death but also instructions for passing your values, instructions for your care before your or yours spouse’s death, managing life and disability insurances and avoiding unnecessary legal fees. Make sure you constantly update your wills or living trusts in accordance with the state laws.
If you're interested in finding someone to assist you with estate planning, you can always submit a free search request to www.myezbz.com.
Years ago when going through a divorce, I read a couple of books by financial author David Bach, including Automatic Millionaire and Smart Women Finish Rich. During that period of significant life change, I felt it was a valuable moment to regroup and look ahead financially. While I found a lot of the information in David Bach’s books useful, I also found myself with a recurring question: why didn’t I learn any of this when I was younger?
There are a lot of things we are taught in school, other things we learn from our parents and yet many more we pick up on our own. In my case, learning about money and investing came by way of the latter. This isn’t to say I had bad parents, because I didn’t. My parents did a phenomenal job with so many things, including stretching a dollar about as far as is possible. The two critical components I believe I missed out on however, were developing a true understanding of the value of money and the many reasons to save, rather than spend. My parents were very generous and that generosity insulated me from gaining a real understanding of both. While I watched my parents struggle from rags to riches, throughout it all, I never wanted for anything. They found ways to take care of me and make my childhood fun filled even when struggling to pay the most basic of bills. My mother was something of a money magician, clever and capable of making it appear seemingly out of nowhere.
As a parent now, I want to be sure my daughter has a different experience. While I’m equally generous with her, I don’t insulate her as much. I let her know about the limits of a paycheck and the many choices a person needs to make when supporting herself. While she is only 10, I’ve already instilled a very important lesson:
We spend first on the things we need, then we can spend of the things we want.
I’ve reinforced to her that each time we spend, we are making active choices and reducing the availability of money for the next experience; I let her participate in the choices that directly impact her. For example, recently she wanted weekend music and swimming lessons. While I was more than happy to encourage these experiences, the money I’d spend on them each Saturday matched what I’d typically spend on the same day’s family fun. She needed to realize this and understand we’d have to cut back on other things. While of course she felt the pinch, she also seemed to appreciate the experiences a little bit more than she might have otherwise. She recognized two things: first, that these activities had a real value and second, that she had the ability to assess whether the value was greater or less than something else she wanted. In the end, she decided to re-up one of the lessons and forgo the other in favor of something else.
Recognizing her ability to make smart decisions with the money we spent together, I decided she was ready for a weekly allowance. Though, rather than requiring my daughter do chores to earn it, I gave her another simple requirement:
Just be responsible.
I let my daughter know that responsibility is something we all must actively take charge of as we grow. I defined what I felt it meant to be a responsible 10 year old. It included things such as making her bed, brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, flushing the toilet after use, picking up her clothes and toys, and clearing her dishes, etc. These weren’t chores I explained, she didn’t have to do anything for anyone else; she only had to do very typical everyday things to take care of herself. As long as she was prepared to take that responsibility seriously, she should also have the opportunity to make her own choices with some money. So, she earns a small amount each week for this and I only rarely have to remind her of these things. It has been a joy to see the great sense of pride and independence she feels every time I hand over her allowance.
Taking this even a step further, right after initiating the allowance I introduced my daughter to the concept of saving by opening a bank account for her, with an initial $20 deposit. I got her an old-fashioned, traditional passbook account, which lets her quickly see the balance grow with each subsequent deposit. She loved it. But, she did some quick math in her head and didn’t see the point of sticking her money in the bank, rather than in her wallet. Good point, I realized! After all, it isn’t as if there are enticing interest rates or significant incentives for a child to save for a rainy day. So, I developed an incentive. I created what I call the mommy match, which is akin to an employer’s 401k match.
I told my daughter I would match whatever she put in her bank account, dollar for dollar, for the first year she has the account. The only requirement I gave her was that she needs to leave the money in there. I explained this would be her long-term savings account and that such savings are for more significant events. I told her that adults save for emergencies, retirement or to buy a home and I reminded her that I went through a period of unemployment but was able to continue supporting us because I had my own long-term savings account. I let her know that as a child she doesn’t have to worry about these things but, one day she might want to buy something very expensive, or to take a special trip. A light bulb went off and this made sense to her. She was up for it and every week she makes an active choice whether she will deposit her allowance for long term, or keep it in her wallet. Sometimes she surprises me and hands me several weeks’ worth of allowances for her long-term savings. Or, she makes a rule for herself that anytime she gets a $20 bill it will automatically go into her bank account.
Whether all of this will have a lasting impact on my daughters understanding of and value of money remains to be seen. As they say, time will tell. For now however, I like to think I’ve given her the initial building blocks to a strong financial foundation.