Thursday, August 06, 2009

Weekend home upgrades: fast, affordable fix-ups

(ARA) - With today’s falling home prices, one family’s well-worn dwelling can quickly become another’s dream “starter” home. Interest rates are at historic lows, meaning buyers can get more house than they could a year ago for the same monthly mortgage payment, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

But affording a new home is one thing; affording to remodel it is another. Here are some cost-efficient upgrades that are easy enough to accomplish in a single weekend.

Start at the front door

Whether you’re fixing up a newly purchased home or upgrading your current home to attract a buyer, nothing creates a better first impression than a new front entry door. Installing a new entryway door increases the perceived value of a home by up to $24,000, according to a national valuation study conducted by Therma-Tru and TNS, an independent research organization.

Beyond adding curb appeal to your home, installing an energy-efficient door is an important consideration, if you’re fixing up an older home. Houses built before 1939 use about 50 percent more energy per square foot than those built after 2000, according to a Time magazine report. The main culprit is tiny cracks and gaps that can expand over time and let in more outside air.

One way to get both beauty and energy efficiency is to choose a door from the Therma-Tru Fiber-Classic Mahogany Collection. The collection includes new styles perfect for homes with popular architectural designs including Craftsman, bungalow, arts and crafts, mission and cottage motifs, and offer the high style, rich look and warmth of Mahogany hardwood, but at a value price compared with premium wood doors. Each door is constructed of durable fiberglass, is ENERGY STAR qualified, provides five times the insulation of a wood door and will not rot, split, crack or rot like wood, or rust, dent or ding like steel. The doors create the tightest seal possible, creating an energy efficient envelope that stabilizes interior temperature and helps you decrease your home’s energy costs.

As an added value, homeowners who purchase and install certain styles of Therma-Tru doors may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $1,500 per household through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the Economic Stimulus package). Visit www.thermatru.com for more information.

Set the stage with lighting

Upgrading the interior lighting can also make a big difference in your home. Designers often use “layered” lighting -- a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting -- to create a quality of light that not only looks and feels better, but is also better-suited to activities that can take place in any given room.

While you may not be in a position to install an entirely new lighting system in your home, there is a simple and affordable upgrade within easy reach. Light dimmers are available for as little as a few dollars at local home centers and hardware stores and can be installed by any do-it-yourselfer in minutes. (Just remember to turn off the circuit breaker before starting.) Lutron Electronics offers a variety of models to suit any decor or budget, and the manufacturer’s technical support team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to walk you through the installation process. Just go to lutron.com or call (800) 523-9466.

According to the Department of Energy, artificial lighting consumes almost 15 percent of a household’s electricity use. Dimming an incandescent bulb by just 15 percent reduces energy use by 15 percent and doubles the life of the bulb. The more you dim the light, the more energy you save.

Make a splash with color

Adding a new coat of paint is another easy, inexpensive upgrade. Depending on the shade you select, your room can be dramatically different or simply refreshed.

The paint you choose can also keep your home looking fresher over time. For example, Duration Home Interior Latex from Sherwin-Williams is perfect for high-traffic hallways, bathrooms, kids’ rooms and anywhere long-wearing durability, antimicrobial properties and stain resistance is a must. It’s tough enough to withstand repeated cleanings without visible wear, no matter what shade is selected (choose from 1,200 colors, including deep accent shades).

As you add color, add a splash of sustainability, too. A low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and low odor paint such as Duration Home can help ensure better indoor air quality, and it’s manufactured using sustainable processes. For paint tips and ideas visit sherwin-williams.com or your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams store.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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