How to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

Bart Beasley Charleston eco-friendly home

Reducing your carbon footprint, while extremely beneficial to the world around you, can be a difficult task, especially when doing so in the process of remodeling your home. Aside from incorporating temperature-regulating walls or solar panels, there are a number of cost-effective strategies you can implement in achieving a truly green home.

Energy-efficient appliances

Refrigerators, washers and dryers, dishwashers, and air conditioners certified by Energy Star have proven they meet high levels of energy efficiency. When the need to replace any of these appliances arrives, keep your eye open for that blue label. Not only do these certified products use much less energy, thus reducing their impacts on the environment, but they can drastically decrease your monthly bills as well. Similarly, LED light bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps save a great amount of energy, and last much longer than standard, traditional bulbs.

Programmable thermostats

When the house is empty during the day or all of its residents are asleep, leaving the thermostat on the same temperature throughout these times can dramatically hike up your energy bill. While it may seem easy to simply turn off the air conditioning or heat when nobody’s home, it’s an action that is commonly forgot. Installing programmable thermostats allows you to regulate the temperature of your home without even thinking. By presetting the thermostat to change to specific temperatures throughout the day, you no longer have to worry forgetting to turn the AC or heat off before leaving your home.

Reduced water use

Leaving a sink or shower running for longer than anticipated is a surefire way to increase your monthly payments, as well as waste a decent amount that could otherwise be used for better purposes. An easy solution aside from being mindful when using water is installing low-flow shower heads, or washing your clothes in cold water and allowing them to air-dry. Additionally, faucet aerators create a combination of water and airflow, reducing the amount of water used as well as releasing a smooth, splash-free stream.

Indoor plants

Live plants around your home promote oxygen output, and can act as natural air filters, in addition to providing an aesthetically pleasing environment. Some plants can even absorb harmful toxins in the air, and with the constant dirtying of carpets, couches, or pollutants emitted from chemical products, these can be extremely beneficial. Some of the best indoor greens you can buy include English ivy, aloe plants, a rubber tree, or bamboo palm.

 
Regardless of how you wish to do your part in environmental conservation, the concept as a whole is important in today’s world, and some of the simplest solutions involve the inner workings of your own home. Consider the above strategies if you wish to do so. An eco-friendly home is not only helping the world around us, but providing a financially sustainable investment that offers many long-term benefits.

Spring into Spring with These Home Improvement Ideas

Hello all! It’s official: spring has sprung in most of the United States. Goodbye are the days of sunshine that give way to cold, ice, and even snow. Hello sunshine. Period. The spring time is a great time to act on all of those projects you’ve been thinking about doing during the winter, but had been putting off, because, well, it was the winter. Not sure where to start? Below are several ideas to help your start your spring home improvement off on the right foot:

image of cluttered desk - home improvement ideas by Bart BeasleyClear out the Clutter

Are there winter clothes that you didn’t wear once when it was cold outside? As you make the wardrobe switch from winter to spring, are you noticing some spring clothes that you never knew you had before (because you never wanted to wear them before!). If so, now’s the perfect time get rid of them. Spring’s all about beginning the new year. One way to do that is to get rid of the clutter. In addition to clothes, take an inventory of electronic goods, tools, and even food to see what you haven’t used and ask yourself the hard question of do you ever think you’ll use them? One spring my wife and I found a cornbread from three years ago. Although mix was still good, we realized that we weren’t going to use it any time soon.

Bonus: Rather than just toss out everything, see what might be suitable to donate. Chances are there’s a local charity that would be more than glad to accept any clothes, electronics, and canned goods you might be trying to rid yourself of.

Give Your Home Exterior Some TLC

Have you noticed your home’s exterior paint fading? Does it seem to just be a bit out of style? The spring’s the perfect time to repaint your home the way you want to. Even something as small as a touch-up can help stretch out the life of your siding and trim. Along those lines, wipe aways the grime that’s accumulated over the past several months by giving your home a power wash. Are your gutters in shape? They’ll need to be for spring and summer showers. Make sure they’re cleaned.

Bonus: If you’re sick of cleaning out your gutters, look into installing a LeafFilter or LeafGuard system.

image of men working on a roof fixing panels - spring home improvement ideas by Bart Beasley of CharlestonGo Green

There are a number of ways that you can cut cost, reduce your environmental footprint, and make your home more durable. One of the largest cost during the warmer months will be your AC bill. Make sure your ducts are sealed, so that no air is leaking. Install a programmable thermostat to help you regulate the temperature and your energy bill (no need to have the AC on full blast while you’re gone; it will save you money to actually leave it running at a few degrees warmer). Make sure your insulation is up to snuff to keep cool air in and warm air out (and vice versa during the winter).

Bonus: Feeling bold? This might also be the time to install those solar panels you always wanted. Check out the federal tax benefits. Your state might even have its own incentive plan.

 

These are just several ways to get your home into springtime shape. For more home improvement tips, check out BartBeasley.org.

Winter Home Projects

Winter Home ImprovementsWith the winter coming up, people start thinking about what home projects they can start in the spring. But like most us, the thought of a cold, long winter stuck inside can drive one mad. But you can keep busy this winter by working on some of these easy and rewarding home improvement projects.

The best projects to consider getting started on are ones that can give not only improve your home but can increase your property value and save you money on bills. Here are some great ideas to get your started.

Better Your Bathroom

Winter time is the best time to work your bathroom. There’s no reason you can’t turn that boring bathroom into something that looks like it should in a spa retreat. Consider doing some upgrades replacing the bathtub, or working on the tiles on the floor to not only give the room a facelift.

A total bathroom remodel can be a costly and time-consuming investment, but it’s something those (especially with older homes) should consider. When it comes to bathtubs, sinks, and toilets, consider how much plumbing is going to be involved. Seeking professional help for this is important too, as for the common DIY’er it could be a little too much. Plus as most contractors will tell you, if you’re going to invest in a project, make sure you get it right the first time.

Lighting Updates

In these cold, dark winter months, a little light can go long way. Brightening up a room can warm you own spirits and set you up for the spring with new lamps or ceiling fan. Plus it’s one of the most affordable ways to update any room.

Not only is it an easy money saving option, in terms of upgrading to energy efficient options. LED-style lights are more energy efficient, but with the option of having a dimmer, can set the mood for a room, giving it a new a fresh look. Another form of lighting that is growing in popularity is Steampunk. Steampunk lighting is a cross between vintage and industrial designs.

The Kitchen Backsplash

Upgrading your kitchen can be a very timely and expensive, but adding a nice little backsplash can not only a great addition to any kitchen, but it can be a great winter weekend project.

Consider the personality that you can give to a room with a little upgrades where and there. A few years ago, most hardware stores only had in average 40 tiles to choose from. Today most stores have over 400 styles to choose from. The possibilities to change a room are endless and can really change an entire room.

Installation is a pretty simple process that any DIY’er can do, but be prepared! Make sure you are taking the time to prep and lay out a template that is unique to the area you working with. Plus another great resource to use is free tile classes from your local Home Depot that can help you be the most prepared you can be!
 

Build Your Better Home – Winter Home Projects from Bart Beasley on Vimeo.

Energy Efficient Improvements

As less and less people are building new homes, most people are buying homes that are now approaching the 100 year old mark. Older homes have their appeal of having some history and character to them that new homes just don’t have.Bart Beasley Old house

Older homes do come with a downside though. Large utility bills being at the top of that list. Luckily, there are easy fixes that can save you money on energy costs, and actually be valuable upgrades to a home. Let’s take a look at some of the best energy saving upgrades you can make on your old home.

Seal Air Ducts

Air ducts move air from your furnace to your living space. Older ducts have a tendency to bleed out heat. It’s a common issue that is just caused by old age in the ducts that can include holes, or just simply loose joints between ducts.

To make your ductwork more efficient try these simple fixes. For the loose joints, just adhesives. For those holes and cracks you might find, high quality metal tape can seal those ducts right up. Regular old duct tape isn’t a substitute for metal tape, with many HVAC professionals calling for you to avoid using duct tape on your ducts.

Furnace Upgrade

Once your ducts are all sealed up and up to modern day standards, considering upgrading your furnace to an Energy-Star rated one. These newer furnaces will cut your heating bills by almost 35% percent and are helping America become more energy efficient. With more energy efficient furnaces, the less fuel we need, and that means less money spent on heating bills.

Seal Windows and Doors

A simple fix to trap heat inside of your home is to simply make sure your doors and windows are sealed well. Weather-stropping and caulk can go a long way with saving your hard earned energy costs. Adding caulk around your windows can seal up major weak points where heat can escape your home. With an average cost of $150 to bring in a professional to seal your cracks, it’s an easy, cheap fix that will save you money in the long run.

Get a Programmable Thermostat

These thermostats are helping homeowners all across the nation by saving money when they aren’t home or are asleep. As long as you’re keeping the difference within a few degrees, most energy experts say you can save money per degree on energy bills. So, for example, if would see a 5% decrease in your bill if you lower your heating by 5 degrees at night.

Improving Your Kitchen

KitchenRemodel

 

The Kitchen is the heart of the home. As we all know the kitchen is more than just a room that we cook and store our food in. It’s the workhorse room that everyone at some point during the day spends time in.

With a room that sees such a high volume of traffic, the appearance of the kitchen is almost as important as the functionality that it serves. So important, that based on House and Home surveys nearly one-third of the 170,000 respondents reportedly remodeled their kitchens in 2014.

Even millennials are tackling the most popular interior project along with their parents the baby boomers. Spending an average of $26,000 to complete major kitchen upgrades, the boomers spent on average $45,000 on remodeling the kitchen.

Spending big money on kitchen upgrades and remodeling isn’t always the most necessary step. Simple, inexpensive fixes can work just as well to create a new profile of the kitchen you are remodeling.

Before tearing down the walls, start by organizing the cabinets. Drawers and other areas that can get cluttered easily can easily take on new life by simple reorganizing. The next step is to determine your budget and come up with a remodeling plan. Part of the plan is to evaluate what still is functional, and won’t need to be replaced.

Cabinets can be a very expensive component of a remodel, going for almost $15,000, even for a small kitchen. But assuming the current cabinets aren’t damaged beyond repair, a good “facelift” to the cabinets can be just as effective with transforming a room. A even more cost effective tactic is as simple as throwing some paint on the cabinets to give them an even fresher new look, or just swap out the doors with new ones. Swapping out the doors and keeping the cabinet frame will save you thousands, and give the room a new look.

Countertops can cost over $2,000 for the average home, but for closer to $500 you can have them professionally refinished and resealed. The same goes for floors as well. Replacing tile floors can cost a fortune, but having the pros clean and reseal the tiles can be cost effective, and really transform a room. Once again, falling into restoring what you have.

The biggest and easiest quick fix is simply adding a colorful backsplash to the surrounding walls. A little color will make things “pop”, and can really change the mood of any room. Color and brightness will transform a room, and homeowners shouldn’t shy away from putting bright non-traditional colors into their kitchen.

Kitchen remodeling shouldn’t be an expensive remodel. Homeowners shouldn’t shy away from inexpensive kitchen remodeling ideas. Getting creative and sometimes just fixing up what you already have is all you need.

Good Home Improvement Ideas

bart beasley home imporvement

With more people staying put in their homes, making home improvements is essential. While many home improvement projects won’t add value to your home, there are some projects that can add significant value to your home. Which projects should you invest in? Here are some tips for home improvement projects that can increase the value of your home.

Remodeling the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home and updates in this room can pay off. Statistically, you can expect a recoup of 60%-120% of your investment on a kitchen remodel, as long you don’t go overboard on it. A key factor being, never make your kitchen fancier than the rest of your house or neighborhood.

Getting the biggest bang for your buck on a kitchen remodel is by looking at a color. Fresh paint, can give a kitchen a modern look, and provide a quick cheap facelift to the room. Another upgrade to consider is, replacing old appliances with energy-efficient models. Not only are they upgrades, but because they are better for the environment and they save energy, meaning they save you money.

Reinventing a Room

Taking what you have already, and turning it intoto something great. can be a major upgrade to the whole house, and can also save you money as well. Finishing a basement, converting an attic to a bedroom, or taking that a step further and converting a garage into a bedroom.

Converting a basement into a second living room or a game room can be a great idea, even turning it into a small apartment to rent or our have a family member in there, can make the space useful. Same goes for an attic space, it the attic has high ceilings, turning it in a game room for your kids or a craft room for yourself could be a great idea.

Adding a Deck

Adding a deck increases the value of a home, and is more desirable to have outdoor options to enjoy your home. Cost wise, everything is dependant on how size, how many accessories do you want to have, such as a built-in seating, multiple stairs, grills, and so on.

Doing the work yourself can save a huge chunk of money with building a deck, but the construction isn’t easy. If you decide to go the route of hiring a contractor, shop around before you choose someone to work with. Make sure you get at least three quotes from the contractors you interview. Doing your homework to make sure you’re not getting scammed is another crucial element, to insure you’re getting a contractor you can trust.

Basic Updates

As simple as it sounds, basic updates, add the the most value to your home. Things as simple as keeping the paint fresh, making basic repairs, and replacing rotting wood. Not only are these chores that can keep your home for deteriorating over time, but routine maintenance is something that buyers are always looking for.

There’s many options for projects you can do around the house, whether you are looking to sell or just improve your home there’s plenty of options for projects. If you are planning on a total remodel, concentrate your efforts on smaller projects that can make your home more appealing to you and potential buyers.