What Are the Benefits of and How To Use a Smart Thermostat?

If you have kept up with any of the latest trends in modern technology, you may have heard of “smart” thermostats. Of course, the name alone doesn’t tell you much. It seems like there’s a “smart” version of everything these days. Smartphones, smart refrigerators, smart cars, and so many others. But is it really worth it to spend the extra money on some technological bells and whistles? In the case of smart thermostats, we think it is. However, you need to take the time to understand how to use them correctly.

What Is a Smart Thermostat?

Thermostats have been a fixture in modern homes for decades now, and their primary purpose hasn’t changed much: they tell you what the temperature is. By doing this, they allow you to adjust your heater or air conditioner to the ideal level. Traditional thermometers are very simple: they utilize mercury to inform you of the current temperature inside the home. This was an amazing piece of technology when it was first introduced, but today, it’s considered to be somewhat inaccurate.

A more modern—if still outdated—type of thermometer is the digital one. They give you a more accurate reading of the ambient temperature, and they have certainly been popular for many years now. However, they can’t do much more than give you an idea of how hot or how cold it is. More recently, programmable thermostats have come into vogue: these allow you to set the temperature to what you want and to adjust it as you see fit.

Smart thermostats are the next step up from all of these older, outdated versions of this technology. They do a lot more than just read the temperature in the room. They can also read other details, such as the ambient humidity. Once you’ve set the temperature to what you prefer a few times, they can “learn” your preferences and continuously keep your home comfortable, without you having to do much beyond the initial setup.

Smart thermostats also connect to Wi-Fi so that you can control them remotely. You’ll be able to adjust your home’s climate using only your tablet, smartphone, or laptop. You can also get detailed information about your home’s energy usage sent to your phone in real-time.

What Are the Benefits?

There are many benefits that smart thermostats offer over their less-advanced cousins. The added convenience is worth the price tag alone. The fact that you can remotely adjust your home’s climate means that you’ll save time, which you can then devote to other things. It also means you can turn on the heater or air conditioner while you’re on your way home so that it’s at your desired temperature by the time you arrive.

More advanced versions of the smart thermostat can even sense and adjust the temperature in individual rooms. Many homes have rooms that are regularly hotter or colder than other parts of the house, so this ability in your thermostat can be a real godsend.

Some smart thermostats even have Alexa or other smart speaker systems built-in, so you can give them voice commands. Simply tell your thermostat to turn the AC when you’re feeling hot; if it’s too cold, tell it to adjust the temperature by a few degrees.

The fact that smart thermostats can provide you with regular digital readouts of your home’s energy usage will help you save a lot of money in the long run. You can always adjust your thermostat for maximum efficiency. The government’s ENERGY STAR® website explains how this type of technology will save you money. It can make adjustments to your home’s temperature levels when you’re asleep and when you’re not home in order to use less energy, which will translate into cost savings for you.

Smart thermostats can also provide you with diagnostic readouts of your entire HVAC system. That way, if anything breaks down or otherwise stops working, you can get it fixed by a professional from Watts Heating & Cooling immediately.

How To Use a Smart Thermostat

With all of these benefits, you may be imagining that a smart thermostat is dazzlingly complex and comes with a steep learning curve for its use. This isn’t the case; however, getting the maximum benefits out of your thermostat does require a certain level of understanding of the technology.

First, and most importantly, you need to make sure that whichever thermostat you purchase will actually work with the HVAC system you have in place. This isn’t a given because not all systems are compatible. Talk to your heating and cooling professional if you’re unsure about this.

You’ll have to choose a spot on a wall to install your thermostat. Needless to say, this should be somewhere that’s easily accessible so you can make adjustments as necessary. After it’s installed, you’ll then have to spend some time setting up your smart thermostat.

Understanding how to use a smart thermostat means understanding the limits of what the technology is capable of: while these thermostats can “learn” your preferences and habits, they tend to do better if you give them as much information as possible when you start. Enter your schedule, as far as you know it, your temperature preferences, and any vacations you may have planned. Over time, the thermostat will utilize this information to hone its ability to keep your home at a temperature you are happy with.

Finally, get in the habit of regularly checking the reports from your thermostat. Learn to find out if your HVAC system is becoming less efficient. In this way, you’ll be able to tackle problems as they occur and contact your HVAC professional if any repairs are required. Over time, this diligence will help save you a great deal of money on your energy bill.

4 Features That Will Enhance Your Home

No matter how fancy or complete you believe your home to be, every dwelling can be improved in some way or another. From small changes such as a new lick of paint to more robust alternations like adding in an extension such as a conservatory, there are multiple ways in which you can enhance your home and boost it’s market value; here are just a select few.

Add More Storage

No one wants a cluttered home filled to the brim with junk and trinkets, and that’s why adding more storage options can be a great way to keep your home looking clean and modern. There are so many neat little ways you can increase your storage capabilities at home, such as by adding simple open shelves to increase utility space, and even installing hooks on the back of doors to give you options to hang jackets, coats, and umbrellas.

The smarter the storage the better, as interesting and unique storage solutions can drastically increase the appeal and value of your house. For example, understairs storage that uses each step as a secret drawer; and shelves that use all possible wall space are just a few clever storage ideas.

Install Gas Heating and Appliances

Using gas over other types of energy is the most favorable option for any home for a couple of reasons. The first is that gas is far better for the environment than wood heaters, due to its efficiency as it can heat up appliances almost instantly. It’s also better than electric appliances as it produces fewer greenhouses gases, therefore making it much better for the environment. Adding gas worktops and ovens can both significantly increase the value of a kitchen and make it more desirable.

Give Your Garden Some TLC

More often than not, the most neglected part of a home is the garden, however, this is an area that can turn your home into a magical place to live if given the right attention. First, make sure to take care of the basics, such as mowing the grass and weeding any overgrowth, as this gives you the opportunity to do some landscaping.

You can also add in some desirable features that can turn your garden into a hub of relaxation and activity. You could build your own firepit, giving you a nice place to enjoy the outdoors, roast some marshmallows, and warm up during the night. You could also add a beautiful water feature from Water-garden.co.uk to create some tranquillity and beauty in your garden.

Think About the Exterior

How your home looks from the outside can influence its desirability, especially if you’re trying to sell your house. There are various ways in which you can boost the value and appeal of your home, with many of the changes not being too expensive.

Think about fixing and repainting any fences you have surrounding the property, as that can instantly make the place look more upmarket. Another simple change also includes either repainting or replacing your front door, as this can drastically improve the appearance of the house.

COVID-19 Announcement

The Peter L. Brown Company is open for business and taking appropriate precautions to protect our employees and clients.

Give us a call and we will discuss your project over the phone prior to coming to your residence to perform an evaluation. You do not need to be at the residence while we are conducting the evaluation. If you have any questions for us about the project while we are at the residence, we ask that you practice a safe distance and we will happily answer your question.

Once the evaluation is completed there may be additional conversations via phone. Then, we will be able to conduct communication about your written estimate for the desired work through email, text or mail.

We appreciate your accommodations during this time. If we all work together we will get through this healthy and safe!

How to Keep Fresh Dirt from Washing Away

Soil is absolutely vital to the health of a tree. Dirt is responsible for regulating the water supply of the tree, supporting biodiversity, giving the tree physical and structural support, cycling the nutrients throughout the tree and filtering out the pollutants. This is why the type of soil you plant your tree in is so important to think about. You want to have fresh soil that will help give the tree the nutrients that it needs. But soil erosion can be an issue, and fresh dirt is especially prone to washing away. And with that fresh dirt, the nutrients the tree needs washes away as well. This is something that happens naturally, but it can be prevented somewhat.

So, how to keep fresh dirt from washing away? Here are some tips and tricks.

Use the Roots of the Tree to Your Advantage

Did you know that tree roots help prevent soil erosion? The tree itself does help hold dirt in place because it protects it from wind and rain. But it’s the roots of the tree that really help out the dirt by stabilizing the soil. Additionally, tree roots also tie the soil layers together. This prevents soil displacement. By holding the dirt together in this position, it helps keep the dirt from washing away.

Because of this, it’s important to plant your tree in an area that has fresh dirt where the roots can fully take form and embed themselves into the ground. By doing this, you’re helping to make sure that the fresh dirt you add to it in the future when it needs more won’t wash away.

This is why, sometimes, after a tree is cut down, the roots are left in place, as they keep the surrounding soil where it should be. This is important to note if you’re planning to remove a tree from your property.

Plant Grass and Shrubs Near the Tree

Planting even more natural beauty around your trees will not only bring up the aesthetic in your yard, but it will act as a natural barrier for fresh dirt as well. This is especially important if your tree is located near a slope or any sort of shoreline. By planting shrubbery nearby, you can reduce runoff by about 50 percent.

Shrubs and plants grow roots too. And though these roots aren’t as thick as the roots of a tree, they still can help prevent dirt from washing away. Integrating native plants that have absorbent root structures is a good way of stopping erosion as well.

Trees do grow better in pairs, so if you’re looking to plant more than one tree in your yard, there are multiple benefits to growing them together. Not only will it help your trees thrive, but having two sets of tree roots will act as a barrier to soil erosion.

Add Mulch to the Dirt

Mulch makes yard and garden maintenance easier. It offers benefits to the dirt and even adds a more attractive layer to the bare dirt. But did you know that mulch also helps keep the dirt moist longer? This makes it harder for the fresh dirt to wash away, slowing the natural evaporation of the moisture that happens. Because of this, erosion is slowed as well. This entire process helps prevent the water from washing the dirt away.

There are different types of mulch you can choose from. Fresh wood chips are one effective option. For instance, you can also use the stump grindings of a past tree that was in your yard as well.

Rocks can also help weigh down the dirt and can be a good option to include as well.

Improve the Drainage

Your home should already have a drainage system in place for your yard to adequately drain water out of your garden and into a water collection system of some sort. It’s important before planting your tree that you ask your arborist about this and ensure that the tree will have the proper drainage. If this isn’t possible, a heavy rainstorm could wash away an entire top layer of dirt.

In the case that your yard doesn’t have a good drainage system in place, you can talk to an arborist about what they can do to help fix this or to install an underground perforated drainage pipe.

Do Not Overwater

Just like a heavy storm can take away an entire top layer of fresh dirt, so can you with your hose. If you know rain is coming, you likely don’t need to water that day. The pressure the dirt feels from being hit by heavy spurts of water from the hose can cause it to shift and later wash away.

Fresh dirt is important to a tree; that’s no secret. But the real secret is how to keep fresh dirt from washing away. The above tips and tricks are a great start to preventing this from happening. However, everyone’s yard and trees are different. If you would like a more personalized solution to keep fresh dirt from washing away, give us a call today. At Mr. Tree, we’re happy to send one of our trained arborists to your home to take a look at your situation—including your yard, your trees, other shrubbery planted, if the ground slopes at all, and so on.

There’s no one fix-all solution for fresh dirt washing away, but there are steps you can take to help minimize how much actually washes away. Be careful when you water and with how much you water; look at investing in other shrubs, mulch, and/or rocks to help keep dirt in place; and make sure that your yard has the proper drainage needed. All of these are simple ways to make sure that your fresh dirt stays there, giving your tree the pr

How Does a Gutter Fabrication Machine Work?

If you’re planning to operate a gutter fabrication machine, the first step you need to take is to read and understand the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer. The manual will help you learn two things: all the appropriate safety measures so that injuries can be avoided, and the proper operation of the machine to ensure it doesn’t get damaged and that high-quality gutters are produced. You can also learn additional information using resources like Interstate Roofing.

For safety purposes, if you’re operating a gutter fabrication machine, under no circumstances should you wear jewelry, loose-fitting clothing, or anything else that could get caught in the machine. It’s also advisable to wear both gloves and safety goggles for your own protection.

Prepare for Use

A gutter fabrication machine generally can produce up to 30 feet of gutter per minute, which means it only needs to be used for a few minutes on a given day in order to produce the amount of gutter you’ll need to complete your daily work. In fact, quite often, gutter machines will be brought to the worksite with a coil of material already on the machine, ready to be run through. If the machine has a cover tarp, it needs to be removed, and you need to make sure that the correct amount of coil material is in the machine.

Once that’s done, you need to find an extension cord that’s the necessary size and length to reach the electrical outlet. Before doing this, you should make sure the power source you’ll be plugging into has enough power to suit what you need. After you’ve ensured the power source has the necessary amount of power, you should connect the power cord using a ground fault connector, unless you’re connecting to a generator, in which case, you must ensure that the generator has enough power to run the gutter fabrication machine.

Before You Begin

If you’re ready to begin using the gutter fabrication machine, you should take the following steps before beginning to operate it:

1. Look for paint damage, surface imperfections, wear and tear, or any other irregularities that could signify a potential problem.

2. Do a thorough visual check of all wiring and electrical components to safeguard against any possible electrical hazards.

3. Ensure the gutter fabrication machine’s safety covers are all in place to prevent dust and dirt from getting into the machine.

4. Check the Reverse/Forward button to make sure it’s in the forward position.

5. Remove the spool-retaining pin from the spool of coil that’s threaded into the gutter fabrication machine.

6. Lubricate the machine’s blade with a lubricant recommended by the instruction manual.

7. Use the machine briefly just to clear out all the gutter material that may have been left inside the machine from previous use.

8. Ensure position run-out is at 8- to 10-foot intervals so that the gutter coming out of the machine will be properly supported, and then run 8 to 10 feet of gutter through the machine to test it.

9. If any problems are found, diagnose those problems and make corrections before continuing, and if any adjustments are necessary, disconnect the power line and shut down the machine.

10. Faulty alignment is the most common issue you’ll run into with a gutter fabrication machine, so if you encounter this, make sure the alignment is fixed either by you or somebody who knows how to perform the task properly.

Once Operating

1. Clear any garbage out of the machine.

2. Get rid of the existing material between the entrance guide system and the spool before installing the spool’s retaining pin.

3. After installing the spool, run the end piece of material out of the machine, and then get rid of the piece.

4. If alternate material coil is on a different spool rack, get rid of its spool-retaining ring and begin threading as per the directions laid out in the instruction manual and follow the same procedure if you find that the coil needs to be replaced with a new coil.

5. Pull the end of the coil away from the spool and then cut both corners at 45-degree angles roughly 3 inches away from the corner.

6. Take the trimmed edges of the material and insert them into the first drive rollers, running the material through the machine and ensuring that the material is moving smoothly.

7. If the material isn’t running through the machine smoothly, reverse the material a short distance, figure out what the problem is, and clear the obstructed path.

8. Push the material through the gutter fabrication machine until the end of said material passes the shear.

9. If any distorted material develops, run it out of the machine, cut it off, and get rid of it.

10. Close the safety covers and make sure they are secure.

11. Run your material through the machine to produce gutter. The actual gutter production should only take a few minutes.

Clean Up and Storage

1. Once it’s finished, immediately turn the machine off, disconnect it from the power source, and make sure the spool-retaining pin is reinstalled.

2. Ensure that material is threaded through the entire machine to protect the rollers from impact damage when the machine needs to be transported elsewhere.

3. Cover the machine with a tarp to protect it from potentially poor weather conditions or damage from dirt and other garbage. This is important since any type of debris getting inside the machine could cause serious damage, so you must also be very careful not to dump any old downspouts or gutter into the truck or trailer that contains the gutter machine.

Ductwork vs Ductless HVAC Systems in Vancouver, WA

If you’re building a new home or renovating an old one, you have a nearly endless number of choices in front of you. What kind of furniture do you want in each room? What color scheme do you want for the paint? What kind of appliances do you need in the kitchen? It can be tiring, but making a home your own is rewarding in a way that few other things are.

One of the less exciting, but most important, choices you’ll make is what kind of HVAC system to put in the house. As your HVAC experts in Vancouver, WA, we may not be able to advise you on which table set really ties the dining room together, but we can certainly make sure your home cooling and heating fits your needs. You might feel a bit overwhelmed by all the options out there, so let us walk you through the basics and help you make your choice. Here’s a bit on the two main kinds of HVAC systems you’ll see and some information on how they relate to you.

Ductwork vs. Ductless: What’s the Difference?

Most people looking to install a new HVAC system in Vancouver, WA, will be faced with the choice of whether they want a system with ductwork or one without. The basic difference is in the name, but it’s worth understanding the finer points.

A system with ductwork circulates and distributes heated and cooled air throughout the house through a system of ducts. If you’ve ever seen a movie where an action hero army crawls through a cramped vent system made of sheet metal, you’ve seen a much more glamorized version of ductwork. While we can’t endorse or suggest you use the ductwork in your home to sneak around undetected, we can say that ducts are a tried-and-true method of controlling the climate in your home. The ductwork is attached to both your furnace and your air conditioner, transporting heated or cooled air to each room as needed.

A ductless system, as the name implies, is an HVAC system that doesn’t utilize built-in ductwork. Instead, it utilizes smaller air handler boxes to individually control the climate in each room. These boxes are capable of producing heated or cooled air and circulating the air as needed, instead of drawing it from a unit attached through ductwork. This is still different than, say, having a window air-conditioning unit or space heater in your room, as the boxes still lead back to a central source of refrigerant and power.

Ductwork: The Pros

Ductwork HVAC systems have been around for ages, and it’s easy to understand why. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, they are the least obtrusive method to control your home’s climate. There’s no need for huge radiators or standalone air conditioning units. All the air you need is delivered through the vents built right into the walls. They’re also much cheaper to maintain, as there are fewer complicated parts. Instead of having multiple heating or cooling implements throughout your house, you only have to worry about the one central unit connected to the ducts.

As long as you make sure it gets cleaning and maintenance from time to time, and if the ducts are sealed to prevent air leakage, you’ll be able to keep your costs low. Finally, systems with ductwork are much better at controlling humidity and airflow. By circulating the air in your home through one central system, they’re able to remove excess moisture and prevent rooms from becoming stagnant.

Ductwork: The Cons

The main problem you’ll find with a ductwork system is that if you don’t already have one, it can be a real challenge to install. Many people looking for new HVAC in Vancouver, WA, are buying homes with existing ductwork or building from the ground up, which circumvents this problem. If you’re replacing a system in a home with existing ductwork, then installing a new one is as simple as hooking it up to the house. If you’re building something from the ground up, you might as well include the ducts.

However, installing a ductwork system in an older house without existing ducts can quickly become very costly. At best, you’re looking at a new home renovation project. At worst, you might find your house unsuitable for ductwork of any kind.

Ductless: The Pros

One of the big benefits you’ll see with a ductless system is flexibility, both in its installation and its use. There are some beautiful old homes in need of an HVAC update in Vancouver, WA, and sometimes it’s just not feasible to undergo major renovations. With a ductless system, you can install a reliable system without having to commit to a huge construction project that might damage the house.

Once it’s installed, you’ll also have a lot more freedom to individually change the temperature of each area of your home. Since a ductless system utilizes an individual air handler box in each room, you’ll be able to adjust each one separately. Without having to rely on centrally circulated air, everyone in your home can have their room just the way they like it. That individual control can also help you save on your power bill in the winter and summer, as you can avoid overly heating or cooling rooms that don’t see much use.

And if dust or allergies are a concern for you or anyone in your home, you’re in luck! With a ductless system, you won’t have to worry about dust or allergens being blown about into other rooms.

Ductless: The Cons

Ductless systems can end up being quite expensive. While installing a new ductless system can be cheaper than tearing open your walls to put in brand new ductwork, the systems can still be pretty costly. Additionally, you’ll see higher maintenance costs in the long run. Each air handler box is its own discrete device, and as such, each will need individual maintenance and monthly cleaning.

Costs aside, a ductless system isn’t always the most effective HVAC choice for a home. Due to the fact that each air handler box has to regulate the temperature of an entire room, they’re most effective in smaller spaces. With larger open rooms, a single box might not cut it.

What’s the Verdict?

In the end, there’s no clear-cut answer as to whether to go with a ductwork or ductless system. Only you’ll be able to determine what makes sense for your home, but Entek would be happy to help. We’ve been working with HVAC in Vancouver, WA, for long enough to know what people in our area need. If you think you’re ready to move forward, or just want to walk through your options, feel free to get in touch. We’re here to make your choice as easy as can be.

Make Sure Your Gutters are Clean This Winter

Although there are a thousand better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, you cannot enjoy your day-off if you haven’t cleaned your gutters yet. The gutters are an essential part of your house, and you need to ensure that they function properly.

Winter is a time of the year when you need to clean the gutters before the snow falls and the gutters block. The transition from autumn to winter is the best time to clean a gutter. Ignoring or undermining the significance of cleaning the gutter means that you will have to deal with countless leaks and overflows when the winter season is over.

“Winter is Coming’ is the iconic catchphrase of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. The phrase applies perfectly in this case as winter is the time to get your house in order. The debris, water, and leaves will freeze once the temperature drops. This means that the water will seep through your roof once it melts, as it will have nowhere to go.

This can lead to expensive repairs and further problems with the drainage. Unclean gutters also compromise the health of your family and loved ones. The dirt in the gutter will become the ideal breeding ground for various contaminants that can spread to the other parts of your home.

Members of your family who are vulnerable to asthma or allergies will be affected by the increase in harmful mold, spores, and mildew in the air. Cleaning the gutters before the winter season allows you to get rid of all the contaminants. Additionally, it also enables you to assess whether the gutter is stable enough to withstand the terrible cold outdoors.

Although gutter cleaning may seem like a DIY endeavor, it is always a great idea to contact a professional for the job. A professional will have the ability to provide full-service gutter maintenance to the home and replace yours if they’re not up to the task!

Why You Should Buy Energy Efficient Replacement Windows

Windows are one of the best and most underrated features of your house. They have the power to make any room look brighter and more spacious. Did you know that windows can have a huge influence on your electricity bill?

Poorly insulated windows are one of the main reasons why your house gets freezing cold during the winter. You can’t help but crank up the heater to get your temperature to a livable degree.

Winter is upon us, and most of New England is bracing itself for snow. You need to look into solutions that help you save as much energy as you can.

That is where energy-efficient replacement windows come into play. Instead of needing to install a completely new window in place of the old one, these windows can be inserted into the old frame.


Replacement windows can seem costly but think of them as investments. You’ll reap the benefits for years to come through lower electricity bills. You won’t feel the need to turn up your heater anymore, because these windows are built to regulate temperature.

Better Insulation

These windows will help keep the cold out and the heat inside. They will serve as protective barriers against icy winds and remove any cold spots or drafts in your home. You can choose the type of insulation you want depending on how the weather affects your house.

Prevent Interior Condensation

Condensation buildup can occur on the inside of your windows during winter. This is because warm air condenses on the cooler surface of the windows. It can also cause mold or mildew around the house. To keep your house clean and prevent interior condensation, you need to install replacement windows with higher R-value.

Not only are the bills a motivator for you, but if you want to play your part in conserving energy and going green – these windows are a great option. Head over to Peter L. Brown to find the most durable and beautiful custom-made vinyl replacement windows for your home in New England.

6 Trends That Increase The Value of Your Home

Contributed by Susan Mackey

Let’s start with the good news: The real estate market in Connecticut is heating up. Home values bottomed out in 2012 and 2013, but they’ve been climbing since. If you’re looking to increase the value of your home, and if you make a few improvements, you’re more likely to see some return on the investment. Here are six trends that increase the value of your Connecticut home.

Shut the Front Door

Your front door is what makes the first impression on a potential buyer, whether they show up at an open house or they are just driving by. You likely still have the front door that was on the house when you moved in, so a new front door is a cost-efficient update that will increase the value. You can spend anywhere from $150 to thousands of dollars on a new door. Before you spend the cash, make sure the door complements the rest of the house and that it’s similar to doors on homes in your price range. You may also consider painting your existing door. If so, black is trending right now and can increase the price of your home by as much as $6,000.


Don’t Let Your Window Panes Hurt

Old, drafty windows will decrease your home’s value right away. To a buyer, all they see is work that needs to be done or high energy bills. Don’t give prospective buyers a good reason to lowball you. If your windows are original to the house, you should consider replacement windows. New windows — although they can get pricey — can match that new front door for a completely updated look.

The Envy of the Neighborhood

Even if you don’t win “Lawn of the Month” prizes, the time to keep your yard in tip-top shape is when your home is on the market. Take a hard look at your lawn. Is it brown? Untrimmed? Full of weeds? Or is the grass struggling to grow? Don’t put off hiring mowing, weeding and fertilizing. You can hire a professional, or pick up some weed and feed at a local gardening store. Make sure you prune the trees and shrubs. You won’t regret it at closing.

Light It Up

Combine wellness trends with home improvement trends and you’ve got circadian rhythm lighting. The idea is to limit the impact of artificial lighting on the people who live in the home. It combines warmer lights (no more ghastly white LED bulbs!) with home automation to more closely match the lighting found in nature. If that sounds like too much of a project, consider changing all your interior light bulbs to a warmer, natural light color. Brighter light makes people feel more positive, so improving the light inside your home can help leave buyers with a good impression.

Clean Up the Kitchen

Your bathrooms and your kitchen can make or break an offer on your home. You don’t have to go crazy updating your kitchen to bring in a sale. You can spend just a few hundred dollars repainting the walls to a more buyer-friendly color. Update the hardware on the kitchen cabinets to give the space an updated feel. Or you can spend thousands on quartz or marble countertops and new stainless steel appliances.

Smart Technology

Buyers want to see high tech upgrades, such as remote control thermostats and doorbell video cameras. You probably won’t get a big return on investment if you go overboard by installing an expensive audio-visual system for the house. But high tech upgrades that save money or time, or those that increase security, add interest to your home. A Ring or Nest doorbell camera costs just a few hundred dollars. A programmable thermostat you can control from your phone isn’t expensive either.

You don’t have to go overboard to increase your home’s value in the current upward trend in real estate in Connecticut. Bigger improvements are always a selling point, but they’re not always going to bring in bigger offers. Think about what would make you fall in love with a home, and what would make you increase your offer. Let common sense — and your bank account — be your guide.

Susan Mackey is an interior designer and home stager as well as a freelance writer who focuses on the latest home fashion trends. She loves taking older homes and turning them into the envy of the neighborhood.

6 Ways To Instantly Boost Curb Appeal

You get one chance to make a first impression. That’s especially true when people pull up to the front of your house. What does it say? Dated and dull? Or clean and eye-catching? If it’s the former, here are six ways to instantly boost your home’s curb appeal.

Number One

The first thing potential home buyers see is your house numbers. They’re looking for them to make sure they have the right address. Now is the time to make sure they’re easily seen from the street, and what condition they’re in. Putting up new numbers is an inexpensive way to boost your curb appeal. You could also hire someone to paint your house numbers on the curb in front of your home. It reinforces your address and is a small detail that helps add to the big picture. Check your NextDoor app or ask your realtor for professional curb painters.

A New Front Door

A new front door can not only attract potential buyers, but it could also increase your home’s value… and the offers you receive. That’s not the only door that will boost your curb appeal and your home’s value. A new garage door can spruce things up, and entice potential buyers inside.

Give Your Lawn a Boost

One of the fastest ways to raise your home’s curb appeal is to work with what you already have. If you have a lawn, it’s time to mow, trim and weed it. Neglecting your yard is a big mistake and can cost you potential buyers. Small details, like using a string trimmer around the edges, can make the difference between a manicured look and one that’s haphazard. Adding greenery and flowers to the front yard is another way to make your home even more attractive from the street. Don’t feel like adding a flower bed? Place a few container plants around the front porch and walkway.

Make It Sparkle

Rent a pressure washer for a day and blast old dirt off of your home, your walkway and your driveway. You might be surprised at how dirty it actually is, and how much nicer your property looks afterward. If you don’t want to do the pressure washing, or you don’t have time, you can always hire a professional or a kid in the neighborhood. One rule of thumb, however, don’t pressure wash when the temperature is near or below freezing. You could end up with an ice rink on your driveway, and that is never a good first impression to make.

Roll Out The Welcome Mat

This is literally the cheapest tip to follow. Throw out the old welcome mat that’s been through umpteen snowy winters and muddy springtimes, and buy a new one. That clean rectangle on your front stoop is more appealing than a reminder of seasons past.

Touch Up Exterior Walls

Your vinyl siding may be cracked, or your paint job may be chipping. If your home is painted, you can finally put those old cans of paint sitting in your garage to use. Touch up any cracks and chips in the paint. Replace any cracked siding before putting your home on the market. If you have the time and money, you can also have your house re-sided or painted. After all, some colors that sell better than others.

Whatever your budget and your schedule, doing what you can to boost your curb appeal will pay off at closing. You never know when the person who buys your house will ask for a showing. Make sure they want to return with an offer. Your home’s first impression will help you move on to the next chapter in your life, maybe with a little more cash, to boot.