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What you don't see can embarass you...

by Houselogic

Admit it: It’s easy to get a little “Judge Judy” inside someone else’s home. We notice gunk on the floor, cobwebs in the corners, and dust on the overhead fan. But guess what? Unless you’re Adrian Monk, you’ve probably got some gunky places that your friends notice, but you don’t. (Sad trombone.)

This is why we tracked down a domestic guru to help us with this article. No matter how hard it is to find dirt hideaways on your own, a little expert advice can make it alllll OK. Jan M. Dougherty, author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning: A Clean House Is a Happy Home,” revealed the seven spots you’re likely to miss — and the best ways to make them presentable, stat:

#1 Light Fixtures

Look up. Your light fixtures are loaded with dust and dead bugs.

Take them down, spritz with a cleaning solution, and wipe clean. Dougherty uses a solution of five parts water and one part Krud Kutter, a non-toxic odorless all-purpose product. (Handy tip: When making the Krud Kutter solution, put the water in first. “Otherwise it’ll bubble over,” she says.)

#2 Toilet Body

You probably clean your tank fairly often, but what about all the bits and pieces that surround the tank, and the floor itself?

For porcelain thrones, Dougherty recommends Soft Scrub with bleach to clean the minuscule cracks that form in the glaze over time. For any non-porcelain parts, she says vinegar will do. Start with the top of the tank and spray all the way around — the lid, under the lid, the seat, down to and on the surrounding floor, and even the walls behind the toilet.

#3 Dust Collectors

The TV mount, picture frames, computer printer, keyboards, and remotes are great dust collectors. Use a microfiber rag that you’ve sprayed lightly with vinegar to banish it all. Vinegar isn’t electrostatically charged, so dust will take longer to return to that spot.

#4 Drawer Organizers

Crumbs and dirt love those little compartments. Suck them up with a handy vac, or spray with vinegar and wipe away with a rag.

Don’t wait until the crumbs are three inches deep and have taken root in the drawer. If that’s the case, break it down and clean with the Krud Kutter solution.

#5 Ice Maker

Old ice absorbs food odors, so it’s a good idea to clean and sanitize the whole system every once in a while. Stop the machine from making more ice, pull out the ice bin, and dump the ice.

Wash the bin and ice maker with vinegar, or put the bin in the dishwasher if your manual says it’s safe to do so. Wipe the ice maker with a dry rag to remove moisture.

#6 Appliance Handles

You touch them so many times every day. And you never think about it. Spray them all down with the Krud Kutter mix and then wipe.

“One night a week, I take the knobs off the stove, remove the dish and the grease screen from the [over-the-range] microwave, and take the bowl with utensils that sits next to my stove and put them all in the dishwasher,” Dougherty says.

“Do this before bed and by the morning you’ve cleaned half your kitchen, yet touched nothing.”

#7 Glass and Mirrors

Dougherty washes dull, smudged glass and mirrors with straight vinegar. Be aware that if you’ve been using commercial cleaners it may take “four, five, six, maybe seven cleanings with vinegar to get all the wax off the glass,” she says.

Bonus tip: ”When you go into a room to clean you shouldn’t have to think. You should be able to turn up the music and rock and roll your way around the room,” Dougherty says. She uses a method she calls “The Path” — start in one corner, progress around the perimeter, and then head to the middle. Clean everything in your path as you go around the room.

5 Tips For A Lower Heating Bill

by Realtor.org

Keeping a home warm during the colder months of the year can prove to be expensive. With energy costs on the rise, many households are facing higher energy bills each year.

Fixr.com, which provides "Cost Guides" of estimates to common household remodeling projects, highlights five projects to help increase a home’s energy efficiency and keep utility bills lower. (Fixr.com also provides cost estimates below of the projects listed.)

1. Find unorthodox heat sources. More efficient sources of heat are available, particularly if the home is in a milder climate or if the home can be broken into zones.

A heat pump can help lower your electric bills by 50 percent if you currently use electricity to heat your home. Heat pumps cost about $7,500, but will pay for themselves with reduced energy costs. Switching to a geothermal heat pump will save you even more. According to Money Crashers, geothermal heat pumps qualify for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of equipment and installation costs, with no upper limit. Pumps are also frequently paired with things like radiant heat flooring in specific areas of the home, as they are more effective at using energy than either baseboards or radiators and can help supplement the heat in smaller spaces.

Radiant heat costs between $6,000 and $14,000 if covering your whole home, but you can often install it in a single room for around $700. Paired with a heat pump, this will keep your home warm while significantly lowering your energy bills.

2. Add extra insulation. The amount of insulation that your home needs is directly tied to the type of heat source you have. Many homes are actually underinsulated for their climate and their heat source, resulting in their furnaces or radiators having to work harder than they need to and causing a spike in energy bills.

Insulating even a single room in your home can dramatically increase comfort and help you lower your thermostat, resulting in smaller bills. Adding insulation to your attic can also help you prevent costly and damaging ice dams as well, saving you even more. The cost to insulate a single room in your home is around $1,200 to $1,800, and will recoup about 107 percent of the cost at time of resale, making this one of the best improvements you can do for your home.

3. Take care of your furnace. Furnaces are one of the most commonly used ways to heat large homes. Unfortunately, they often have a wide range of efficiency that could be costing you more in monthly bills than they need to.

If your furnace is less than 10 years old, make sure to schedule regular maintenance to keep it running at peak efficiency. This involves changing the filter and making repairs as necessary. The most common furnace repair involves replacing the heat exchange, for around $1,000 to $1,700.

If your furnace is older than 10 years, replacing it can dramatically increase its efficiency. Older furnaces only run at around 50 percent efficiency, while newer models can reach rates of 90 percent, making them a much better choice for keeping monthly bills down. A new furnace costs around $3,000 to $5,000, but will pay for itself in lowered bills over time.

4. Make the switch to gas. If you’re currently heating your home with electricity or oil, you’re likely spending more each month than you would if you switched to natural gas. Gas furnaces are much more efficient than oil or electric heaters, which can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each month.

The cost to install a new gas system in your home is around $6,000 to $8,000, assuming you have ducts already in place. This upgrade makes the most sense if your current heating system is over 10 years old, as you’ll see the largest gains. The typical ROI of a new gas furnace system is around 15 percent, which means that it will pay for itself in just 6 years.

5. Complete an energy audit. Your home may be losing a great deal of the energy you use to heat it, without you even realizing it. An energy audit—or a comprehensive look at how your home uses and loses energy—will help you find ways to make your home more efficient overall.

An energy audit costs about $150, and many times this cost will be rolled into any upgrades you may choose to make, allowing you to save more. Conducting an energy audit before you have any other work or upgrades done on your home can help you make better informed decisions about the space, maximizing your potential efficiency and savings.

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The All-Star Team, REALTORS®
Bringing you home...again and again!
4 Willow Bend, Suite 2A
Hattiesburg MS 39402
601.545.3900
800.335.6477

The All-Star Team, REALTORS brings you over 200 years of accumulated experience along with the most innovative marketing strategies in the real estate industry. We specialize in the real estate properties located in Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Petal, Sumrall, Purvis, Columbia, and the entire Pine Belt region. Put The All-Star Team, REALTORS® to work for you as you consider your next home sale or purchase. Experience the team approach to real estate and make us your REALTOR® for life! See how The All-Star Team, REALTORS® really is bringing the Pine Belt home again and again.