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Seasonal Newsletter — Fall/Winter 2013
Welcome to homeownership!
This Seasonal Newsletter is provided as a tool to remind you of those routine tasks and maintenance on your new home. This newsletter is not intended to cover everything a new homeowner should look for but act as a guide to help get you started. If you would like more information about subjects related to your mortgage loan or downpayment assistance, please refer to the Post Homeownership Guide or contact the Washington State Housing Finance Commission at 1-800-767-4663.
Maintenance Tips for Your New Home
It’s already Fall and before you know it Winter comes upon us faster than we realize. Suddenly we are scraping ice off our car windows and looking for a matching pair of gloves. Don’t let your home get caught off guard by the cold weather. Here are a few tips to help make sure your home can weather the storm and keep out the cold:
Winterize your lawn mower and store yard tools in a dry place.
Clean up debris and dirt that are built up against the house – especially next to wood siding.
Cut down roses and some perennials / shrubs for the winter, before the first frost.
Check your roof and gutters for leaves and moss.
Clear leaves from drains and curbs to prevent flooding.
Unhook outdoor hoses.
Cover your outside faucets and pipes.
Check under sinks in the kitchen and bathroom and in the basement for gaps around pipes, and fill them in with an insulating foam sealant.
Small gaps can be effectively sealed with caulk.
Check and change your furnace filter monthly during winter months
Check the weather stripping around doors and windows, look for air leaks.
If you have a ceiling fan, check for a reverse switch. Changing the direction of the fan can force warm air down during the winter months.
Have visitors remove shoes and boots to keep your carpets, rugs, and floors clean.
Green Tips for Your New Home
In today’s society we are becoming more conscious of our precious resources. We are looking for ways to conserve and save. Many tips for helping to decrease our “footprint” on the earth’s resources can also save us money. These “green” tips not only help conserve resources but may also save you money:
Convert to the compact florescent light bulbs (a bulb at a time…)
Use biodegradable cleaning products.
If you are not already recycling paper, glass and plastic, call your disposal company and ask for recycling bins.
Recycle your yard waste, contact your disposal company or purchase a bin.
Use less water - flush less often, use your dishwasher, wash full loads.
Use less energy – unplug small appliances, turn off computers, use timers on outdoor lights.
Unfortunately, traditional wood burning fireplaces tend to lose more energy than they produce, pulling heated air out of the house and sending it up the chimney (and burning wood adds to air pollution). If you have natural gas or propane heating, consider gas logs.
Replace shower heads. Choose a low-flow unit and you'll get virtually the same sensation of water flow while saving money and water.
Purchase cloth re-useable grocery bags.
Organize closets and donate unused clothing and household items to charity instead of throwing away.
Here are some handy links to track Utility Rebate Programs and Energy Usage
Safety Tips for Your New Home
It goes with saying how important safety can be around the home. Even so, we tend to put off those routine tasks that can be critical in case of an emergency. Take a few moments and walk around your home, inside and out, and make sure that you have checked for those obvious hazards. Some safety and hazard-prevention tips that can be important this time of year:
Check and change your smoke detector and carbon monoxide batteries (2x a year).
Did you do it when you set your clocks back?
Clean slippery moss build-up on walkways and decks.
Keep de-icer or salt handy for icy driveways and walkways.
Remove icicles that form on overhead gutters.
Keep a small fire extinguisher near kitchen (never use water to put out a grease fire).
Unplug coffee pots, toasters and small appliances when not in use.
Make an emergency plan that includes a meeting place and escape route.
To help improve air quality: vacuum often, buy a house plant, clean air ducts and use the fan when cooking.
Clean the dryer lint screen before EVERY load. Once a month take it out and wash with soap and water, then let air dry.
If you use a wood burning fireplace, have it inspected and cleaned once a year to prevent build-up of sticky, smelly, highly flammable creosote. This is a good time since it is not being used (hopefully)…
Don’t forget to make sure your vehicle is ready for an unexpected snow fall. In addition to extra snacks and water, make sure your vehicle carries sand or kitty litter for traction, a snow shovel, gloves, and a flashlight.
If you have questions about homeownership, please call us at 800.767.4663 or email askusHO@wshfc.org.