Can you recommend ways that can effectively reduce the carbon footprint in homes without breaking the bank or reducing home equity? – GREEN PENSIONER
DEAR GREEN: Great question! There are many affordable ways to make a difference. Inefficient heating wastes a ton of energy and is a concern that’s flagged consistently on home inspections. For a quick fix that’ll only set you back ten bucks, try sealing the joints of your furnace ducts with foil HVAC tape (not duct tape). Weather-stripping your attic hatch is another way to prevent heat loss. For a few hundred dollars, a “smart thermostat” can learn to regulate temperature in your home by turning itself down as needed (or when you leave the house). You can use your phone to control it from just about anywhere.
Speaking of phones, U.S.-based Energy Star suggests that standby power usage by electronic devices accounts for as much as 5 to 10 percent of our average monthly household energy bill. If a device is plugged into the wall, it will continue to draw power, even if it’s on standby or already charged. To reduce phantom power usage, turn non-essential devices and computers off when you’re done with them, unplug seldom-used electronics (like guest TVs), and put small kitchen appliances on a power bar, so you can disconnect them easily when not in use.
Make the switch to LED light bulbs. These use about 80 percent less power than traditional incandescents, last years longer and are mercury-free. Gone are those annoying spiral-shaped bulbs that never seemed to fit the fixtures. Modern LEDs have a traditional round shape and a much more reasonable price tag. If you’re like me and share your home with people who tend to leave the lights on, I suggest motion-sensitive switches, which turn off after a set period of time. These are my preference for entrance doors and closets.
PRO TIP: If you’re planning larger upgrades this year, the government-funded Energy Savings Rebate Program offers point-of-sale rebates on a number of energy saving products. Some conditions may apply, but with hundreds of dollars in reimbursements available for things like furnace replacement and insulation, it’s worth asking your provider about.
We really hate negotiating. Is there any way we can put our house up for sale and avoid it? – CONFLICT ADVERSE
DEAR CONFLICT: Bargaining isn’t something we Canadians are used to. Even haggling at a garage sale can feel awkward to us, which is why most people turn to Realtors to negotiate their largest investment. One of the reasons I love real estate is because I really enjoy the negotiation process. I suspect this is true for most successful Realtors.
PRO TIP: Negotiating is part of an overall selling strategy. Preparation, market placement and a deliberate listing process inspire buyers to put their best foot forward on your terms, while strategic negotiation keeps the lines of communication open. In a seller’s market like the one we have now, it’s like writing a custom plan for the sale of your home and is effective virtually every time. #AskDavid #Advice