Humidity In The Basement? Read This

Where is the humidity in your basement coming from:  There are a few reason as to the why, but the three main reasons are:

1. Ground water or rain water seeping into the basement

2. External air that enters the basement and condenses on cool surfaces

3. Leaks from pipes in your basement, bathrooms or leaky faucets that are constantly on.

How do you know you have too much humidity in your basement?

Having a humidifier in the basement of your home is a great solution to your humidity problems, but if you are collecting a gallon of water in the container of the humidifier every single day, then you may have other issues that are far more serious.  Sitting water around the foundation of you home and seeping to the basement of your home may be a reason why you have so much humidity in your basement.  Making sure water does not sit around the foundation of your home, could be the only solution you need. 

Providing a clear and an unobstructed path for the rain water to find a way far enough from the foundation of your home, is a solution that does not cost a lot of money and can solve a problem for your in the future.

What to do in case you need a waterproofing Company?

A Google search for a basement waterproofing company will give you about 896,000 results in about .82 seconds.  How do you  choose one?  I researched landscaping companies by doing a Google search once.  Their rating ( 5 stars, 4stars, etc…) were very good. When I tried to find them at the BBB online, some of them didn’t even exist even though they were rated as a 4 start company using other home improvement sites. They were either long gone, or their rating at the BBB was very bad.Be careful when choosing.  Not all home improvement sites have the same level of ratings for the companies that advertise there. Waterproofing companies, or landscaping companies that are listed on those sites should be checked thoroughly using the BBB, or asking those companies for testimonials that are not from family members or friends. And you should truly check those testimonials before committing to anything with a company. Don’t sign anything and do not advance huge quantities of money before the work begins.

Do you need to check a company using the BBB?

Then, here is a link for you to do so, but remember that is only the first step.  You need to talk to the people that will be doing the work at your home, and if you don’t feel “right” about them, choose another one with a good rating and begin the process again.

BBB – The Better Business Bureau Locator

BBB of Akron, Ohio  – It serves the counties of  Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties.


Home Repairs That Can Save You Money

Maintenance is the key to keep your cars running smoothly, your appliances working, and your house looking beautiful.  There are a few maintenance tips for your home that can help you avoid costly repairs later.  Cleaning the gutters of your home and making  sure they are not loose or clogged can save you repairs  due to leaking water to the basement, or damage done to the roof. Making sure the water downspouts adapters are firmly attached, and are taking the water away from the foundation of your home, can save you from having water sitting around the foundation and eventually finding a way to the basement. Prevention is the key to saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


5 Home Repairs to Make Now to Avoid Problems Later

If you put off fixing a wobbly fence post or squeaky door hinge, it’s probably not going to end in a homeowners insurance claim. Other home repairs, if left unchecked, can quickly domino into major disasters. Water is a factor—if not the primary cause—in the majority of high-risk situations. Here’s how to identify priority home repairs and handle them at their source:

Runaway Rainwater

Telltale signs: Rain pouring over gutters and puddling along foundation walls.
Why you need to act: Water can deteriorate siding and foundation walls, eventually finding its way to interior spaces and damaging them.
What to do: Inspect the entire gutter system for clogs and corrosion; you can clear clogs yourself, but if your gutters are corroded, you’ll want to talk to a pro about having them replaced. Check that the soil around your home’s foundation slopes away from the house at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. Regrade the soil if the slope is insufficient.


Tips from the happy homeowner playbook: Don’t let your cash go down the drain or out the window.

Whether your live in a 19th-century farmhouse or 1990s colonial, chances are you’re leaving real money on the table each year in the form of excessive energy consumption. Simple behavioral changes, such as turning off power-hungry video game consoles, can add up to serious savings. The following energy-efficiency advice also includes high-hanging fruit, like upgrading your water heater and making the investment in rooftop solar.

Eliminate Drafts

Here’s an easy way to pinpoint air leaks in your home that make for drafty rooms in the winter and can drive up annual heating costs by $100 or more. First, turn on every exhaust fan in the house, including a whole-house fan and kitchen range hood, and hold an incense stick up to suspected leaks around windows, doors, and even electrical outlets. If the smoke blows sideways, you have a leak large enough to undermine your home’s comfort and efficiency. For around $30 worth of caulk, weatherstripping, and expandable foam sealant, you can plug the leaks for good.


How to Afford All Your 2017 Home Improvements

A leaky roof or a sagging gutter can be hard to ignore. The same goes for some old-school wood paneling in your den or that hideous palm tree wallpaper you put up in a (misguided) attempt to recreate your honeymoon. Unfortunately, most home improvements don’t exactly come cheap.

In fact, it may even feel like you’re basically saving up another down payment on your home to fix it up. There are some ways, however, to sock some dollars away and have your new sink and bathtub in the new year, too.

Here’s how to work some much-needed home improvements into your 2017 budget.

1. Save

Sure, you may feel inclined to rush into renovations — and when it comes to certain home repairs, things must be readily done. But it still behooves you to save where you can before crossing things off the to-do list. One trick?

“[Set] an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account to take place every two weeks on your payday so that the money leaves your account before you ever have a chance to spend it,” Brian Davis, director of education for real estate blog SparkRental, said.


 

Buying A Home in 2017? Read this First

Are you thinking about buying a new home this coming year? Chances are, before you are done looking at many houses, you will find one with a wet basement. There are many houses in northeast Ohio that because of their age have problems with the basement, or even the foundation of the house.

If you are buying or selling a home, the basement and foundation of your home are two of the places that can make or break the deal.  A basement with water on the floor can leave the buyer unwilling to make an offer, even if the upstairs is lovely.  If the foundation has problems, it is very unlikely you will get a good offer for the house.

Read more about what to look for when buying or even selling a home by following the links below.


Homebuyers: 7 Red Flags to Search for When Touring a Basement

When you compile your list of must-haves in a home and compare it with what’s on the market, a finished basement is almost always a big plus. You get additional square footage for living, entertaining and storage without having to put up the effort and money to finish the space yourself.

But before you fall in love with that finished-basement abode, approach the space with a critical eye. The basement, after all, houses most of your home’s key functioning systems, from plumbing to electrical and gas. A poorly constructed or maintained space might lead not only to costly repairs, but also cause damage elsewhere in your home.

Consider the consequences of taking on a troubled basement. If the finished below-grade space lacks permits or proper waterproofing or contains amateur craftsmanship, you could face municipal fines or risk sickness-causing mold and future fire hazards.

When it comes time to negotiate with a seller on purchase conditions, consider these basement red flags a bargaining chip to ensure you’re getting a well-maintained home. “I would make sure it got resolved before they actually purchase the home,” says David Schrock owner and founder of Basement Spaces Inc. in Aurora, Illinois.


Tips for a finished basement that’s mold-free

Q. I want to get your input on the correct way to finish, in this case refinish, a basement. I believe the previous owners missed one or two critical steps, causing mold to grow on the backside of the drywall.

The house is about 60 years old with a poured-concrete basement foundation whose walls are in good shape. The concrete walls were not painted/waterproofed on the inside. There are no signs of water leaks or holes in the walls.

The previous finishing was done by putting in untreated 2-by-3s as studs ¼ of an inch from the concrete walls, stapling R13-value pink insulation to the studs, then putting up regular drywall on top of that. Twenty-five years or so later, mold appeared on the bottom portion of the drywall (on the back ), and some of the untreated-wood sill rotted. These items are now gone. There is an appropriate-sized dehumidifier in the basement.

To insulate, seal, and finish the basement properly, what are the best steps for the money that meet the necessary building code standards? It seems there are a number of ways to go about this.


The rise of the basement: Tips for a better space

OMAHA – With fewer homes for sale and good returns on the remodeling investment, more homeowners are reclaiming their lower levels and remodeling their basements.Basements are coming out of hiding these days. And they’re doing it in style, with before-and-after transformations featured everywhere from HGTV to Pinterest and YouTube.

What’s driving this trend? A tight housing market, for one thing. With houses at a premium – and a proliferation of DIY how-to’s – more homeowners are inspired to reclaim their unused space and expand their living area.

A smart, affordable upgrade

Updating your lower level is a sound investment in your home. Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report put the average basement remodel at $61,303, with a 70.3 percent payback – a far better investment return than adding a bathroom or garage.

Props for your property value

Depending on local regulations, the additional space can often be added to your home’s total square footage, making your market listing more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing your property value.

To recoup the most from your remodeling efforts, make sure your design and decorating choices are attractive and functional – not too quirky or customized.


Home Safety Tips For The Holidays

christmas-tressThe fire statistics during the holiday season is not something to take lightly.  According to the American Red Cross, approximately 47,000 fires occur during the holiday season costing more than 500 lives, 2,200 injuries and more than $500 million in property damage.  A time of joy can be turned into a tragedy if we do not take the necessary steps to make our families safe. Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and candles used during the holiday season have to be used properly in order to reduce the possibility of a fire in your home. If you haven’t check your smoke detectors lately, it is imperative to do so now.  Having a working smoke detector decreases your chances of injury in case of a fire.

For more about this and other safety tips follow the links below.


IEMA highlights safety during the holidays

SPRINGFIELD – If you’re trying to find the perfect holiday gifts for everyone on your list, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is offering ideas that will help your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes.

IEMA is focusing on holiday safety throughout December as part of its annual preparedness campaign.

“As we saw with the flooding last December, disasters can happen at any time and without much warning,” said IEMA Director James Joseph. “Giving friends and loved ones items that will help them be better prepared for the unexpected shows how much you care about their safety.”

Joseph said preparedness gift ideas include the following:

-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather alert radio with battery backup, a tone-alert feature and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology. These radios provide warnings and critical post-event information for tornadoes and other severe weather, natural, environmental and public safety hazards.


10 SAFETY TIPS FOR PREVENTING HOLIDAY FIRES, KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE

WRONGLY USED LIGHTS OR OVERCHARGED EXTENSION CHORDS CAN CAUSE HOLIDAY FIRES.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially since people have started taking out their holiday decorations. While the whole holiday vibe is warming our hearts, firefighters are advising caution as during the holiday season the number of electrical fires, or holiday fires, goes through the roof.

There are a few easy tricks that will help you keep you and your family safe during this holiday season. A simple feat as knowing the difference between indoor and outdoor lights can protect you from a possible fiery disaster.

Firefighters say that the most frequent fires start because people use indoor lights to decorate the outside of the house. Manufacturers usually mention on the box if the lights can be used outdoors as well as indoors. However, if the information is not on the packed, just check the UL code. If the code is red, then the lights can be safely used outside if it is green, the lights are meant for indoor use only.


Kitchen safety: How to keep your family safe during the holidays

It’s the scene in a Rockwell painting: The family is over for Thanksgiving and the house is crawling with rug rats. Friends, family and food create a heartfelt and festive environment — a shield of warmth against the shivering temperatures outside.

But with the bustle of bodies come potential dangers. So many bodies in the kitchen can create conditions that don’t happen the rest of the year, and children often want to be where everyone else is: right around the stove.

Nobody wants to spend the last half of the holidays in the hospital, caring for the child with burns all over his body. No parent wants to even imagine little Johnny pulling the oven door down, stepping up, and causing burning grease to spill.

If you prefer to keep your family safely cocooned inside your home for the holidays, here are just a few tips to help you do just that.


 

Handymen Services; Are they Right For You?

pioneer (10)Handymen services are a very inexpensive way to fix those small projects that you didn’t have time do, or do not have the skills or tools necessary to accomplished them.  For many people, having someone they know recommend a handyman is the best way for them to feel confident the job will be done, and the person in question trustworthy.  There are many companies out there that offer the services of a handyman, with license and insurance to back up any project they do. But, regardless of what choice you make, the recommended handyman or the company offering the services of a handyman, be choosy and do a bit of homework before any project you start.


Rosie on the House: Jobs a handyperson can do for you

Lots of times you have little jobs around the house that you don’t have the time to do. Or maybe you don’t have the skills or tools to do the job. So you think you want someone you might describe as a handyman or handywoman.

How do you find this handyperson? You can ask friends and neighbors, of course. You can ask your homeowners association if they have lists of people other neighbors have hired. You can look online.

Many times a contractor or remodeler you have used in the past has someone on staff that does these “handy” jobs. There are also licensed contractors who run handyman services of one kind or another. Of course, you want to find someone who has experience in the kind of job you want done.

There are some rules and regulations about what work a handyperson can do. Arizona law does allow unlicensed handymen or -women to do small home repairs or fixes if the value of labor plus materials does not exceed $1,000 and does not require a permit from your city or county. This handyman’s exemption means almost anyone can do small jobs in your home.

But the state does say that a contractor must have a license before he or she can do any electrical or plumbing jobs in your home. And you must always hire a licensed and insured contractor if your repair or renovation requires a building permit from the city or county.


Home Help: Keep your home safe without compromising style

TIP OF THE WEEK

Home accidents cause nearly 13 million injuries a year. Some simple updates to your home can help you avoid these accidents, as well as give your rooms a facelift.

The less clutter, the better: Sometimes the bulky knife block can be an eyesore or take up too much space on small countertops. If you are looking for new and interesting ways to store sharp knives, try installing magnet strips on the backsplash in the kitchen. This will not only keep your counter clutter free, but give your kitchen some flair.

Step it up: Have kids at home? Put a stepstool that slides into the toe kick beneath the sink so that your kids are able to roll it out like a drawer and step up to wash their hands. This is also great for parents who have young chefs in the house who like to help out in the kitchen.


Humidity Control Gadgets For This Holiday Season

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For an allergy sufferer, clean air is not a commodity, but a need.  Allergies in the spring and fall, are a very trying time for many people.  Children with allergies  seem to have a hard time during this time, and school work and play time or exercise seem to be more of a chore than normal.  Humidity control in your home becomes a necessity, and here are two gadgets that are sure to help you control the humidity and clean air in your home.  Before you go out and buy things you do not need for christmas, think about these two choices for your home.


The Importance of Protecting Your Home from High Humidity

Homes that are subjected to high levels of humidity over a long period of time can suffer serious damage, which often requires expensive repairs. There are other times when repairs just aren’t possible if the humidity is left unchecked for years without taking precautions to keep the air within a range of less than 60%. 

While there are countries that have high rates of humidity due to warm, tropical air, the UK sees more than its fair share of rain each year, which is also a factor in the amount you will need to counteract in your home. Whether you intend to live in your home for many years or would like to sell it in good condition to get a decent asking price, there are some very important things you need to know about how humidity can impact future plans.

Why Is Excess Humidity a Problem?

Most people know that mould and mildew can be the ultimate cause of a huge number of physical ailments, typically in the respiratory system, but an equally large number of homeowners don’t understand exactly where that mould and mildew comes from. Over time, if left to accumulate, moisture in the air will provide the breeding ground for mould and mildew. This is where it comes from. However, most people have it wrong!


ecobee3 ‘lite’ Offers Same Smart Thermostat Features for $169 Price

In 2016, everyone wants to have a smart home, and one of the first places to start is with your thermostat. A smart thermostat can lead to savings on your electric bill, and who would argue with that? According to ecobee’s findings, running a smart thermostat can save you an average of 23% on your annual heating/cooling bill, so while these devices do have upfront costs, they should pay for themselves in the long run.

If you are already convinced on this technology, but were waiting to find a more affordable option than Nest’s latest or the standard ecobee3, ecobee has a new unit called ecobee3 lite. The lite model is priced at $169, which is a solid $80 cheaper than a Nest. With the lite model, you still get a digital touchscreen with readouts for your weather forecast, control over vacation modes, as well as alerts and reminders that only a thermostat should provide you. These alerts typically show up only when something isn’t working in the system.

I have been running an ecobee3 in my home for a few months now, and I must say, it’s quite nice. One feature I use in the colder months (which is now, sadly), is an automated feature that uses my area’s weather forecast to set my house’s temperature accordingly. For example, if it’s going to be a high of 54 degrees today, ecobee3 reads that information, then cranks the heat to make sure the inside of my home is never colder than 69 degrees. It’s very basic, but it works, and that’s all you can ask for from something called a “smart” thermostat.


Netatmo Healthy Home Coach review: This indoor climate monitor reports the obvious

This gizmo monitors indoor air quality, temperature, humidity, and noise, but it won’t tell you much you don’t already know.

Everyone from the EPA to the American Lung Association has stressed the importance of indoor air quality. Indoor pollutants don’t just impact personal comfort, they can often cause or exacerbate health conditions. Some researchers have even called for greater effort to monitor indoor air.

Fortuitous, then, that Neatmo has released the Healthy Home Coach ($100). This device monitors your indoor climate in real time to help you create the optimum environment whether you have particular health requirements, such as allergies or asthma, or just want greater comfort.

What you get

The Healthy Home Coach follow the same design cues as the Neatmo Welcome home security camera and the Netatmo Home Weather Station. It’s a 1.77 x 1.77 x 6.1-inch cylinder with a champagne-colored aluminum finish. There’s a single vertical light bar on the front that illuminates when the device is taking a reading. The Healthy Home Coach is easy on the eyes—certainly more so than your typical home hydrometer or thermometer—and can be placed inconspicuously on a shelf or end table.


 

Reclaiming Your Basement

basement

Basement finishing and remodeling is a big job for any homeowner.  According to homeadvisor.com,  the prices can range from a few thousand to 30,000 or more for a completed basement remodeling.  If you are starting from scratch, and have a leaky basement, then the price can be much higher depending on the problem and the options you choose. Choosing the right basement waterproofing company to help you reclaim your basement is of the utmost importance.  Prices, material and workmanship are essential if you want the job well done. Call us, we can offer you a free, no obligation estimate to help you start on the path to a beautiful basement.


Solved! What to Do About a Flooded Basement

When your basement is a wading pool, help can’t come fast enough. Read on for the right way to dry it out—without risking your safety.

Q. Help! I went to the basement to do some laundry but found water on the floor instead! How do I rescue my flooded basement?

A. Few household issues are as scary as serious flooding, but a little quick thinking now can save you a lot of money on repairs later. Water accumulates in the basement for all kinds of reasons, including burst pipes, sewage backups, nearby tree removals, and inadequate drainage. The most common culprit is rising groundwater from heavy rainfall or melting snow. Once enough water pools around your foundation, the moisture seeps inside and travels to the lowest ground—in this case, your basement.  Whatever the root of your problem, we’ll show you how to dry out your basement—step by step.

Safety first. You might be panicking about your belongings, but safety should always be your first priority. Because water conducts electricity, entering a flooded basement can be deadly.  For water more than a foot deep, the risk of electrocution is much higher, and you’ll need to hire a professional who specializes in flood remediation.


The rise of the basement: Top tips for a better space

(BPT) – With fewer homes for sale and good returns on the remodeling investment, more homeowners are reclaiming their lower levels and remodeling their basements.

Basements are coming out of hiding these days. And they’re doing it in style, with before-and-after transformations featured everywhere from HGTV to Pinterest and YouTube.

What’s driving this trend? A tight housing market, for one thing. With houses at a premium — and a proliferation of DIY how-to’s — more homeowners are inspired to reclaim their unused space and expand their living area.

A smart, affordable upgrade

Updating your lower level is a sound investment in your home. Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report put the average basement remodel at $61,303, with a 70.3 percent payback — a far better investment return than adding a bathroom or garage.

Props for your property value

Depending on local regulations, the additional space can often be added to your home’s total square footage, making your market listing more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing your property value.


Drought woes: Parched earth causing foundation problems in area homes

TUPELO – The drought Northeast Mississippi is experiencing has made Danny Jarvis one popular guy.

The owner of Jarvis Foundation Repair said he’s received 145 phone calls in the past three weeks from people reporting cracks in their homes.

“I’m getting six or seven calls a day now, mostly from Tupelo, Starkville and Oxford,” said Jarvis, who has been in the business for 16 years. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

Parts of Northeast Mississippi have clay-based soil and in areas of Tupelo, especially west Tupelo, there is heavy, heavy clay, said Mark Watson, a structural engineer.

“It’s called expansive clay, or shrink-swell clay,” Watson said. “It’s affected by a change in moisture content. When it’s wet, it swells. When it’s dry, it shrinks.”


 

Home Improvement Tips

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You might not be selling your home just yet, but having a list of repairs or projects to better your home is a good way to keep the maintenance to a minimum, and the value of your home increasing.  Snow, sleet, high winds, and rain can play havoc to your home if it’s not properly maintained. Gutters full of debris can be a problem when the snow comes, and the spring showers can really be a problem for the basement and foundation of your home if those gutters were not cleaned after all.  Having a list of chores to do this fall, or home improvements that you need to consider, can keep your home and wallet “healthy” this year.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Kuffa: Small details could become turn offs for a home sale

Let’s talk about simple turn offs to houses on the market.

We often get calls from people who say, “My lender (or Realtor or parent) told me I should get a home inspection even though I don’t think I really need one.”

Then the day comes for the big inspection and I’m sitting in the driveway just looking at the exterior and my brain is racing because of numerous problem areas I have seen before I’ve even left my vehicle.

Inspecting a house is like being a detective. You are looking for clues, irregularities, oddities and indications of non-professional work. Other clues may be indications that previous owners or residents were possibly “do-it yourselfers” or were just neglectful or didn’t take care of the property. As an inspector, it is always easier to inspect a building whose previous resident has lived there for a long time. This resident has more knowledge about the history of the house and usually their lifestyle and habits are more evident. Also, it is always easier to inspect a house that is represented by a real estate agent than one that is “for sale by owner.” The real estate agent has to abide by specific laws and rules, fills out required paperwork and has their reputation at stake. In my experience, The “for sale by owner” situations typically are more problem laden, less often abide by the same rules as a real estate agent and the seller has decided to cut out the real estate agent’s fees.


Waterproofing Basement Walls: Costs and Options

Tempted by ads that promise to waterproof your basement? Here’s the scoop:

If you’re trying to figure out how to cure a wet or musty basement, you’re probably curious about advertisements for products that claim to waterproof basement walls. So you wonder: Is it really possible to dry out a basement simply by sealing the walls?

Yes, it is possible — but to make sure you’re choosing the right option, you need to figure out if the moisture is coming from the outside, or if it’s actually high humidity that’s condensing on the cool walls of your basement.

How to Find Out What’s Causing the Moisture

Tape a 1-foot-square piece of aluminum foil to the inside of your basement walls, and leave it in place for 24 hours.

If there’s condensation on the outside of the foil, you have high humidity in your basement. Fix it with a portable room dehumidifier or a whole-house humidifier system instead of waterproofing products.

If the foil has condensation on the inside surface (next to the wall), it may be the soil around your house is naturally damp from a high water table or poor soil drainage. In that case, waterproofing your basement walls can be useful.


How to Conquer the Huge Problems Found During Home Inspections

You’ve finally found a buyer for your beloved home and signed a deal. Phew, what a relief! But then comes the reality check, aka the “home inspection.” Such simple words, yet so fraught with stress and fear! Many contracts include a contingency that allows the buyer to back out if serious problems are found during inspection. So, bring on the fear.

Of course, you know your home and you think it’s just fine, but maybe a professional with a less sentimental eye might see it differently?

To keep at least one step ahead, check out these common issues found during an inspection. That way you can fix them, save the deal, and even save yourself!


 

Saving Energy At Home This Winter

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Yes, fall is here.  The leaves are falling, the pumpkins are appearing at people’s homes, the weather is changing.  Those are some of the many signs that precede the changing of the season.  With winter and cold weather just around the corner, the focus now turns to the heating of our homes.  Has your furnace gotten a tune up lately? If not, that should be a top priority this fall for you.  Making sure your furnace is working properly can save you money, and keep you safe. Carbon Monoxide is a real threat during the winter months, and having a properly tuned furnace can help you keep the threat to a minimum. 

Saving on heating bills is a necessity for many people, and getting the best price for gas and energy is very important for many of us.  If you don’t know what you’re paying for gas or electricity, check your bill and then go to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and check the gas, and electric companies and their prices. You’ll be glad you did.


From LED bulbs to window coverings, 5 easy ways to cut energy use in your home

With all the political wrangling this year around solar policy and natural gas expansion, it’s easy for Mainers to overlook the most obvious and cost-effective ways to save money and use less energy in their own homes.

Today’s high-performance houses can be warmed with the heat output of a few hair dryers, but that’s not where most of us live. Maine has the fifth oldest housing stock in the country, according to the U.S. Census, with more than a quarter of all homes built before 1940. So for most of us, the challenge is to integrate modern efficiency measures into our vintage structures.

As a longtime energy writer, I’ve used what I’ve learned to upgrade the efficiency of my family’s 38-year-old cape-style home. Here are my five favorite steps.

Each step can be done by a handy do-it-yourselfer. Each will help reduce energy use in your home, which saves money and lowers carbon emissions. In most cases, your investment will pay for itself within a year or so.

Dr. Neil Donahue had some enlightening facts about how much energy Americans burn as they go about their daily business of living.

Wielding a 100-watt light bulb before a mostly filled lecture hall of students, faculty and local residents gathered for the initial installment Tuesday of Washington & Jefferson College’s 2016-17 Energy Lecture Series in Yost Auditorium, Donahue shed a lot of light on the staggering amount of energy used in America.

As a country with roughly 300 million people, he said, it takes the equivalent of 300 trillion 100-watt bulbs to run the country each day. That breaks down to about 10,000 of the bulbs (100 100-watt bulbs) running nonstop for life for the average American, Donahue said.

The evening’s co-lecturer, Dr. Michael Blackhurst, a research development manager at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social & Urban Research, delivered the second part of Tuesday’s one-two punch on the topic of energy use, noting that about 60 percent of the energy the United States produces is wasted – in power generation itself, as well as in factories, cars and homes.


Brilliant Ways to Save Energy at Home

Energy is a shared resource. Saving energy is not only about keeping the bills low, but also about using as much as is needed, so that there is more than enough for everyone else. How can that be done more efficiently? Following are some tips:

1. Go easy on the electronics

In today’s world, it’s easy to forget the old fashioned way of heating water on the stove. We use the microwave oven instead. Or for a hot bath, we use the geyser daily. Sometimes it might be a good idea to use the kettle instead of putting stress on the electricity.

Not turning off the appliances from their plug can mean they are running on standby mode. In a stretch of a year, the consequences could be significant. Ensuring the electrical appliances are off at the plug, of course without upsetting the programming, is also a good idea.

2. Cut air conditioning

IFrameIt’s very tempting to notch up the AC to the full in the summer. While it can cool you in no time, it consumes a lot of energy. This is not the only trick in keeping cool. Why don’t you keep the blinds closed during the daylight hours to block the heat coming in and turning your home into a miniature green house? Utilize your shades and save up to 7% on bills.

If that doesn’t help, there’s a simple trick. Try placing a packet of ice in a bowl in front of a fan. When the air whips off the ice and whizzes past, it’s a genuine alternative to the power-consuming air conditioner.


Make Your Basement Safe for Storage

pioneer (9)It’s the unusual, and lucky, person who doesn’t want more storage space. Even people who are ruthless about clutter need a place for their “must keep” items.  Thank goodness for basements.  When used properly a basement can be a great place to safely store a variety of objects for a long time. 

Unfortunately, in most households basement storage just happens, there’s no organization to it.  Items are tossed into unsuitable boxes and bags, then “temporarily” put in corners, on shelves and in cabinets — where they stay for years. 

People often unintentionally damage or ruin their things, sometimes important keepsakes and valuables.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  A little bit of knowledge and planning can go a long way toward making sure your possessions are protected.  Here are some things to consider when making your basement safe for storage.

  • Every house and basement has bugs, so it’s smart to plan for them.  What kind do you have?  Are they the kind who do damage and need to be exterminated (carpenter ants, termites)?  Or are they the kind to create deterrents for (spiders — sealed bags and boxes, or moths — balls or cedar chips)?
  • Think about plastic or wire shelves instead of wood.  Wood shelves absorb moisture and can damage items stored on them. 
  • Get a dehumidifier, it’ll help control dampness and odors.
  • Go through your belongings and decide what storage containers and packing materials are appropriate for them.  Grandma’s quilt (damp) and your mother’s good china (breakage) need something different.
  • People often store tools, iron or steel possessions in the basement thinking it’s safe.  They don’t think about rust until they unpack Uncle Joe’s vintage train set and see that it’ll need major, expensive repairs to get it back to the condition it was in when first packed.  Consider a light coating of machine oil every few years for protection. 
  • Furniture can easily get ruined in a basement.  Moisture, odors and bugs can damage it fast and beyond repair.  Consider using unbleached drop cloths or old color fast sheets to drape over it.  Store it at least 3 inches from the wall and elevated on non-wood pallets, bricks or blocks to prevent moisture damage. 

Basements are funny places — they hold our cherished memories alongside our junk.  It’s worth the time to safeguard the valuable and useful.  After all, what will your kids put in their basements if you don’t preserve anything to give them?


Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.