Lots of us are now choosing to work from home. This could be for practical reasons, such as when we have small children to look after, but also for financial; many people are choosing to start their own home businesses after being made redundant, for example. As you would expect, energy costs are higher when you are at home all day, so we have come up with a list of tips that should help you to reduce the price of your energy bills. All are suitable for home office workers, but many can be implemented in traditional office environments as well.
1. Switch to LED Lighting
Making the switch from incandescent light bulbs to LED could save you as much as 50% on the cost of lighting your office. LEDs require smaller amounts of energy to work, yet they still provide the same brightness as traditional light bulbs. While they are a more expensive investment, they tend to last for much longer – in some cases, as long as ten years – so over time, they more than pay for themselves. They can also significantly improve the aesthetics of a room.
2. Upgrade to a Heat Recovery System
Heat recovery systems are becoming especially popular in commercial environments, but they can also be purchased for home offices (and residential properties in general) as well. They are much more energy efficient than traditional heating systems, and ensure your office remains at a consistent temperature. They also provide a better air environment, which is exactly what you need when stuck at home all day. You can find out more about them via this link: https://www.bpcventilation.com/commercial-heat-recovery.
3. Invest in Energy Saving Devices
When starting a home business, it can be tempting to invest in second hand equipment to save money. But while this is okay, it’s a good idea to check out the energy rating of any items that you buy. Products with a good energy rating may be more expensive upfront, but over time will lead to large savings on your energy bills. You could also hire an energy auditor to come to your home or office and advise you on ways to cut costs. Everything from your work PC to your photocopier should be considered.
4. Consider External Forces
If your desk is situated close to the window, during the summer months you may feel like you need to turn on an air conditioner or fan to keep cool. Both of these can lead to high energy costs, which could be prevented by moving your desk to a cooler area of the room, or by installing blinds to block the heat. During the winter, you’ll want to consider insulation. Gaps around windows and doors can easily let cool air in, leading to your heating system needing to work overtime to keep your work area warm. Adding weather stripping or caulking could help to improve this.
If you work from home, keep the above advice in mind. You’ll soon start to see large savings on your energy bills.
Whether you are someone who is deeply invested in moving forward with a classic home in the suburbs or you want to redecorate and remodel your condo or apartment in Annapolis or Baltimore, its time for you to consider what is going on in the world of home décor. For many people, having a comfortable, trendy place to live in a high priority, so consider of the current trends that are sweeping the state. Chances are good that you are going to find something that you can’t do without!
Dark woods are definitely in. Dark wood is a good choice for the kitchen cabinets, especially if you pair it with a granite or a marble counter top. Dark wood lends warmth and intimacy to your home, and you will discover that it gives even the brightest rooms a grounded look that is sure to please. Consider how a dark trim can make your home really pop.
Energy efficiency is also a big trend in Maryland. With the economy going the way it is and an ever-increasing emphasis on green methods, energy-saving appliances are an important choice for any homeowner. From water-saving shower heads to energy-efficient washers and dryers, you’ll find that there are some terrific options that are just waiting for you. If you want a shortcut for choosing energy-efficient appliances, look for an Energy Star rating. Don’t forget the less visible appliances as well. Water heaters and furnaces both end up degrading over time, and if you have to invest in a new one, choose one that will save you a great deal of money in the long run by consuming less power.
Don’t be afraid to look into an open plan for your home. Open plan layouts have taken over the Maryland area, whether you are looking in the kitchen or the living room. While many people are afraid that an open plan home will look barren, you’ll find that a properly-implemented open plan area is one that can give your home a spacious but cozy look. While this can take some time and some money to implement, renovating your home for an open plan look is something that dramatically increases the value of the property.
Consider adding more textures to your home. More and more people are choosing a very plain or monochrome look and then layering textures on top of it. For example, if you love the idea of a warm eggshell color scheme to your home, you can add things like unbleached sheepskin rugs or coarse mohair wall hangings to grant the space more texture. Adding texture to a room is a good way to warm it up and to make sure that you are going to be able to cope with a single color scheme.
Themed decorating, once considered tacky, is back in a big way. Urbanites and suburbanites alike are both enjoying decorating their homes with a unifying theme in mind. To prevent a theme from becoming overwhelming, keep it subtle. For example, if you want a western theme in your bedroom, do not simply start throwing pictures of cowboys everywhere! Instead, choose warm browns for the bedroom and decorate tastefully with leather and antiqued brass. It is possible to get the point across in a very soft and gentle fashion.
Give up those old curtains and throw open your windows. Nothing makes a Maryland home look old and tired like dusty drapes. To bring in more light, consider simple sheer curtains that will give your room a soft diffuse aura. Colored sheers can be used to match the rest of the house without much worry about whether or not you are losing light, so experiment with the effects that you get.
If you are invested in doing some home renovations in Maryland, make sure that you see what is current and what is hot. It’s never too late to have the trendy home of your dreams.
When it’s time to remodel a kitchen, one of the key areas of concern for homeowners is the kitchen cabinets. With cabinets, we’re faced with the tough choice of refurbishing the cabinets, which can save money, or buying all new cabinets. Tearing out the old cabinets and installing new ones does cost more, but the benefits of brand new kitchen cabinet installation far outweigh those of refacing.
Though it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of having something new, making areas of your home look nicer and making it your own, the first concern any homeowner should have when considering upgrades is whether they will get a return on their investment. Fortunately, kitchen remodeling, along with bathroom additions and upgrades, is the best remodeling project for adding resale value to a home. While swapping carpet for laminate flooring or painting walls won’t get much return on investment, brand new cabinets will certainly go a long way in paying for themselves when it’s time to sell.
Though many homeowners keep a keen eye on resale value, others plan on staying for a long time and aren’t thinking about return on investment at all. These homeowners can realize a tremendous benefit from choosing brand new cabinet installation as well. While refurbishing old cabinets by stripping the finish, swapping old hardware and repainting or refinishing is certainly cheaper, you’re still left with the “bones” of those old cabinets. Refacing cabinets is only a cosmetic fix. If, as a homeowner, your aim is long-lasting quality rather than just making old cabinets look better for a sale or as a “stop-gap” measure, then brand new cabinets are definitely the way to go.
New Kitchen Layout Options
Most homeowners are stuck with the same old kitchen design they inherited from the previous owners or, if it’s a new home, from the builder or architect. Working with a professional to design and install new cabinets allows homeowners to break out of this rut and change their kitchen design completely. Once the old cabinets are out, home owners are free to create the kitchen of their dreams with many more layout options. With simple kitchen cabinet refurbishing, this just isn’t possible. But by completely remodeling their old kitchen and choosing new cabinets, homeowners gain options they may have always wanted or may not have even considered.
The problem that a lot of homeowners have with their existing kitchen cabinets is that there’s just not enough storage. Resurfacing old cabinets makes them look nice, but they’re still the same old cabinets that are too small for homeowners’ growing needs. A new cabinet installation allows homeowners to choose larger cabinets to accommodate all their storage needs. For example, the existing cabinets might be the standard 30 to 36-inch height, leaving a foot of wasted space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling. Custom designed cabinets can be built to use this space, allowing for many more square feet of useful storage. This is just another of the many reasons new cabinet installation is such a benefit for homeowners.
Tile flooring is durable. It can provide almost unlimited options in the type of tile used. Tile flooring also enjoys an ample variety of designs. It can be as simple or complex as you desire. There are tiles that can last forever and others that are less durable but offer price advantages and flexibility in replacement.
Although kitchens and bathrooms are ideal areas for tile flooring due to tile’s resistance to water and spills, other parts of your home can benefit from tile. With children or heavy traffic, tile makes sense given its superior resistance to tracking of mud, water and spills of all kinds. Costs can vary widely. Consider the following:
- Vinyl tile is economical and among the easiest to install. It resists spills, but its relative softness can suffer wear and tear due to scuffing and acidic spills. It costs $3-$7 per sq. ft.
- Ceramic tile is more expensive and requires greater attention when installing, considering evenness and possible grouting concerns. In its native form it tends to be somewhat porous. It can also be subject to breakage but individual tiles can be replaced. It costs $8-$15 per sq. ft.
- Glazed ceramic tiles add a glassy and tough protection to your floors. They come in a wide variety of patterns and designs. When it comes to cost, glazed ceramic tile flooring varies in price due to hardness. On a scale of one to five, glazed ceramic tiles work best at grade III and above. The entire pricing gamut runs from $1-$10 per sq. ft.
- Porcelain tile flooring is a tougher version of glazed ceramic tiles since its higher glazing temperature adds extra strength. The process doesn’t allow as wide a range of design as glazed ceramic tiles. It comes in at the higher end of the $1-$10 range.
Installation costs can run $5-$10 per sq. ft. so a do it yourself effort can be tempting. In many cases an even floor surface makes DIY possible especially for vinyl and ceramic tiles that don’t require grouting. You’ll need mastic and tools to carry it out, and getting a smooth overall surface can be daunting. A professional can bring the installation near to perfection and provide a guarantee. Seating ceramic tiles can be difficult, and grouting takes special care in adding and finishing.
For cleaning and maintenance, vacuuming is recommended to pick up solid matter. Mopping with plain water works well for everyday practice. If stains and spots don’t come off easily, consider using pH neutral commercial cleaners. Baking soda and water make a good home-made cleaner for spot removal and cleaning grout. If grout won’t clean well, you can check with a home improvement store or a professional in extreme cases.
There are very few places on earth where people are comfortable living without heating and air conditioning, and the United States is not usually considered one of them. Weather you live in a state with hot and sticky summers, or freezing cold, snowy winters, you are going to want an efficient HVAC unit. But how much will it cost?
The price of residential HVAC depends on the size of the house, the quality and brand of the unit, the region in which it’s being built, and the type of fuel it will use. Initial installation cost is one thing, but it’s important to consider the cost of fuel in the long run as well. High-efficiency systems can be more expensive to install, but will pay off over time. Maintenance costs are also something to consider. A complete overhaul or entirely new system with new ducts will cost more.
Installing an air conditioning system in your home can range from $3,000 to $6,000 depending on the situation of the home and the duct work. For a 1,900 square foot home, an new unit may cost around $3,500-$4,500, not counting the cost of installation.
The region in which you live will play a big factor in your final cost. If you live in the Midwest, the South, or the country, you will pay less than if you live in the Northeast or West Coast regions. In Raleigh, North Carolina, for example, a reasonable estimate would be somewhere around $3,800-$4,200 for changing a 2-ton system. This price would be a bargain if you lived in Maryland or New York, where prices are on average closer to $10,000 or more. Estimates can range closer to $20,000 for a complete HVAC overhaul on a large house. Every project is different, so it is difficult to say exactly what the cost will be. As a nationwide average, homeowners should expect to pay somewhere around $5,000 on new heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, then factor in the labor.
The cost of your project will also depend greatly on which contractor you choose. Estimates for the same project can differ by thousands of dollars, so it is definitely to your advantage to obtain several before choosing between HVAC contractors. When reviewing an estimate, make sure you understand exactly what it includes and what it does not include. It always helps to get as much information as possible from your perspective contractors.
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Thanks to its sleek, classic look, hardwood flooring is extremely popular. Installing wood flooring not only makes a difference in a home’s look, but in its resale value as well. For homeowners interested in installing wood flooring, the first question usually has to do with money.
There are many things that can affect the cost of your wood flooring, including the materials, the size of the space, and the contractor you choose. Standard solid-strip hardwood flooring averages about $8 a square foot for materials and installation, or $1,150 for a 12×12 foot space. The wide pine planks that have become popular lately can cost up to $12 per square foot (materials and installation). This means that for a 12×12 foot room, you are looking at an average cost of $1,750.
Pre-finished wood is more expensive than unfinished, though it still depends on what type of wood you are buying. Usually, factory finished wood costs around $10-$14 per square foot for installation. This means that for the same 12×12 foot room, the average cost is close to $2,000.
Different types of wood come at different prices. Bamboo is usually cheaper, around $4-$6 per square foot for materials. Other, more exotic woods can cost up to $13 per square foot for the materials, and more when you factor in the installation. Laminate flooring is usually around $8-$12 a square foot for materials and installation, which means that your final cost is somewhere close to $1,500 for a 12×12 foot space.
Your final cost will also change if you choose to have a custom pattern or border installed. This adds an element of originality and uniqueness to your floor, though the cost may go up by $2 a square foot, or more. For a 12×12 foot room, an extra $2 a square foot means $288 added to your bill. The bigger the room, the more your floor costs.
As with anything, your final bill will depend largely on which contractor you choose. Competing flooring contractors may have dramatically different prices, so it is a good idea to obtain several initial estimates. Pay attention to which items the estimates include and exclude. You want to know exactly what you are getting with each contractor. It also can be very helpful to get references and see floors previously completed by the contractors in question. Entering a project fully informed is the best way to guarantee a successful and satisfying experience.
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