Posts filed under ‘Home Care’

Cash for Clunkers: Appliances Edition

Your days are numbered, my friend.

Your days are numbered, my friend.

Ohh, the things that excite me these days. Honestly, if you told me 5 years ago that I’d be this pumped for a new fridge, I’d have laughed at you.

When we bought our place, we knew the fridge and dishwasher were on the old side, but now that we’ve lived with them for a year, we’re more than ready to replace them. The fridge sounds like an airplane taking off whenever it runs, so bad that if we’re watching TV in the living room, we have to turn the volume up.  If you’re on the phone with someone in the kitchen when it starts revving up, you have to relocate. It’s bad.

And, I wish we could ignore our dishwasher for another year or so, but its time has come. It doesn’t clean our dishes, the water makes our dishes smell funny, and it runs water back up into the sink. Disgusting.

So, if you haven’t heard about it, there’s a new Cash for Clunkers program in the works specifically geared toward getting rid of energy-eating appliances in favor of newer, more efficient models. Consumer Reports offers more details:

As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration is encouraging the purchase of energy-efficient appliances through the $300 million State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program, which will dole out amounts that could reach $200 per appliance if you buy Energy Star-qualified models.

You don’t have to turn in your old appliances to get a rebate, but since the only other option is to donate your old ones or try to pawn them off on craigslist, states are expected to offer some sort of recycling plan. Each state makes its own decisions on how much people will get for the rebate. Here are the funding allocations for each state and the Frequently Asked Questions about the program. Seems states will hopefully be funded by November 30th and consumers will be able to access the rebates shortly after. I’m psyched, mama needs a new fridge!

October 25, 2009 at 10:07 am 2 comments

HGTV Makes It Look Easy

Fact: HGTV romanticizes the thought of renovating a home. With their oh-so-easy furniture building tips, cheap & somehow perfect-looking garage sale finds and an expert decorator’s eye for color, fabric & coordination, they really make you feel empowered to accomplish the same type of vision. Now, I don’t usually keep circular saws and staple guns on hand to create the perfect headboard. And if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use them. Hell, I wouldn’t even know how much fabric I’d have to buy (how much does a yard cover?). When it’s time to get crackin’, you quickly realize how daunting a task home improvement and decorating is.

For instance, we knew immediately that we needed to build in more storage in the kitchen. Specifically, we needed to build a pantry. Without it, there was virtually no extra room after assigning cabinet space for our dishes and pots / pans.  Luckily, we came across Closetmaid from Home Depot. With Closetmaid, you enter in the measurements of the space you’d like to create – a closet, pantry or storage area, for instance. Then, you build your virtual closet on this website and when you’re done, you can print out an exact list of supplies you need to build it yourself. The assembly still took a few hours, but it would’ve taken a lot longer if we had to figure it out ourselves.

If you’re buying your first home and can’t wait to get your hands dirty, here are a few truths:

  • Everything is 10X more expensive than you think it will be. I thought one of my first projects would be to swap out the old hardware in the kitchen and bathrooms, and replace the doorknobs to something more modern. Doorknobs are about $15 a piece. Decent looking (a.k.a. not gross 80’s brass) kitchen cabinet hardware can run you $2 – 5 each. It doesn’t sound expensive, but it really adds up. 8 months later, it’s still on the To Do list.
  • Channeling Genevieve Gorder is not as easy as you think. Inspiration comes easy to professional designers. Would I have ever thought to paint an old waistbasket, turn it upside down, and use it as a lampshade? Ehh, probably not. Give it time, look at a million websites and know that it’s perfectly ok to copy the display in the furniture showroom.
  • It’s not going to come out as perfect as you’d like. Special lighting and camera angles make the rooms on HGTV look seamless. The truth is, there’s paint on the ceiling, something somewhere is being held together by masking tape and the homemade pillows won’t last a week after your dog gets ahold of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have this ridiculous notion that we’ll be able to tile the bathrooms, replace the vanities and de-popcorn the ceilings ourselves. But, at least I’ve come to know that a “weekend project” takes at LEAST a month.

April 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm 3 comments

Thanks Dad, for keeping the thermostat at 60.

As the winter comes to an end (weather-wise, I realize it’s spring already, but the mittens are still getting regular use), I was looking at the bell curve of our gas bill and thinking about how lovely it will be when we can retire the Slanket (that’s right, Slanket. Not Snuggie. Don’t get me started) from the couch. Until I had a responsibility of paying the bill myself (okay, Shawn pays for it, but that’s a whole other blog post), I never really took into consideration how expensive gas is, and I wanted to take a minute to appreciate my Dad for always keeping the thermostat at 60.  Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have rolled my eyes when my dad’s response to “it’s freeeezing in here” was “put a sweatshirt on!”

It’s probably thanks to my dad’s temperature regulation that I didn’t even shudder until our condo hit a drafty 51 degrees in mid-November. You see, when you pay for heat – and your boiler is functional – warm air comes out from the baseboard heaters. And so, our first lesson in home ownership was upon us. Shelling out an un-budgeted $100 for a visit from the heating guys to fix a broken pipe attached to our boiler. There has been one additional visit since and now we realize we’ve got to stay on top of this issue. One of the easiest ways to save upwards of 10% a year on heating is by upgrading your thermostat. We’re still looking at the round dial-style from when our place was built in 1985, and we’ve purchased the RiteTemp 5-1-1 Programmable Thermostat, but are waiting for a handyman (my brother) to come install it.

Of course, what better time to install your programmable thermostat than AFTER winter, but at least we’re doing it. We’ll be sure to hang onto these old gas bills to compare next year’s usage to see if we save that 10% or more.

March 29, 2009 at 7:16 pm 1 comment


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