Home Buying Tips for 2015: New Year, New Home

moving

Is it time for a new zip code? Do you want to set down permanent roots? Are you tired of renting?

If you’re thinking of making moves to move in 2015, there’s a lot at stake. Buying a home will be one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. Before you sign on the dotted line, we’ll tell you what to consider when buying your first home.

What to Look for

We’ve all watched enough HGTV to know that the most important thing to look for in a home is location. Paint can be updated, appliances can be purchased, walls can be knocked down, but you can’t change your school district or your township.

Pick three ideal neighborhoods to narrow your home search. Sure, you might be able to get a bigger home 20 minutes away — but take factors like your child’s school, your commute and area amenities into account when weighing your decision.

You should also consider whether or not the home has enough space for your current and future needs. The basement doesn’t have to be finished now, but make sure it has one if a man cave is something you’d like in the future. If you’re not done growing your family, buy a place with an additional bedroom or space to put one in.

When to Run

Many websites that highlight home buying tips neglect to mention the things you should look out for when buying a home. Knowing what to consider when buying a home and when to walk away can save you time and money down the line.

Here are a few red flags to avoid:

  • Old drafty windows
  • Worn-out roof
  • Termite damage
  • Cracked foundation
  • Empty swimming pools
  • Knob-and-tube wiring

However, if the asking price is right and you’ve got room in your budget for big renovations, it might be worth it.

When to Buy

Real estate experts say the best time to sell a home is during the summer. Because children aren’t in school and the weather is more conducive to families hauling their possessions to a new place, you’re more likely to get multiple offers on your home and sell it for the price you want.

Budget-conscious buyers should consider making moves now — during the winter months. Sellers going through the hassle to move and list during the frigid temperatures are likely motivated and more willing to make a deal. Since most folks wait to look until the summer, you’ll also have fewer competing offers.

That said, don’t buy just because you can score a bargain. Wait for the right home to come along to follow these home buying tips. You’ll be happy you did when you’re making memories inside it for years to come!

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Out With the Old, In With the Organization

bookcase

Are you playing hostess this year? In the weeks leading up to the holidays, you clean every surface and dust every corner to make your family and friends feel comfortable in your home.

Dinners are eaten, glasses are clinked and presents are opened in a whirlwind few days of Christmas cheer. When guests leave, however, you might feel overwhelmed with the mess and piles of gifts.

To start 2015 off with a clean slate, try these tried-and-true tips for cleaning and de-cluttering your home after the holidays.

Trim Your Possessions

If you received just as much as you gave this holiday season, it might be time to take stock of your possessions. Clean out your closet, and sell or donate your old sweaters and accessories. This will help you make room for the new items you found under the tree.

Did Mom get you those stainless steel pots and pans you had your eye on? There’s no reason to hold onto your old set. If you’re strapped for time, many donation sites have free pick-ups of clothing and household items.

Put Away Decorations

One of the easiest ways to clean your home after the holidays is to put away your seasonal decorations. While it’s a tad depressing to say goodbye to your ornaments for another year, you’ll be thankful you got your tree out on the curb before the needles start to fall.

And don’t forget to multitask. While you’re taking the garland off the stairs, dust between the spindles. When you take the wreath above the fireplace down, sweep up any ashes Santa might have left behind.

Get Clever With Containers

Now is also a good time to look through your home’s storage solutions. Think about what isn’t working and where you find consistent messy piles. If your closet is overflowing with crumpled scarves, consider purchasing an inexpensive scarf hanger.

Are there books on every flat surface in your living room? Display them in a bookcase. You can also invest in baskets, bins and hooks to de-clutter your home’s pantry, cabinets and drawers.

Store Some More

When cleaning your home after the holidays, you might find yourself with a number of items to put in storage. If you’re running out of space in all the usual places, consider some unconventional storage solutions. You can easily store large totes in your garage eaves and on exposed beams with the addition of a few two-by-fours. Rolling, shallow totes are also perfect for under beds to store holiday wrapping paper and decorations.

Think outside the box and you’ll have no problem freshening up your home once all the guests have left, and de-cluttering your space for the new year.

 

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Four Tips for Cutting Utility Spending

faucet

‘Twas just the season for breaking your budget! From hostess gifts to stocking stuffers to holiday hams, it’s easy to get caught up in Christmas cheer and stretch your budget a bit too thin. If you’re dreading your credit card looming credit card payments, you might be looking for places to save money in the new year.

One easy way to trim some fat in your monthly budget is to lower your home heating and water costs. Wondering how to cut utility spending? Here are four tips to help get you started.

1. Don’t Take Baths

We’re not saying to ignore basic hygiene completely, but you should be smart about it. Depending on the size of your tub, it can take up to 70 gallons of water to fill it. Aim for short showers instead to cut utility spending. Set a kitchen timer for five minutes, and make it a race against the clock for kids. You can also turn off the water while washing your hair. WaterUseItWisely.com estimates you’ll save 150 gallons a month by doing so!

2. Turn off the Tap

Years ago, “Sesame Street” had a great cartoon with a little boy brushing his teeth and washing his hands. As the water in the bathroom ran, a nearby pond quickly drained. Right before his home dried up, Frank the Fish called to intervene and Carl learned a valuable lesson: Don’t waste water.

WaterUseItWisely.com also found that turning off the water while you brush saves an average of four gallons of water a minute. For a family of four, that’s 200 gallons week you could be saving. Don’t waste water and you’ll cut your utility spending!

3. Install Energy-Efficient Windows

Harrisburg replacement windows require an up-front investment, but you’ll be happy you made the switch. Not only will you add value to your home and make it look better, but your utility bills will dramatically decrease all year round.

Renewal by Andersen® Low-E4® glass is up to 56 percent more energy-efficient in the summer and 45 percent more efficient in the winter than traditional dual-pane glass. That means you’ll see an average savings of 25 percent on your energy bills after installing replacement windows for your Harrisburg home!

4. Lower the Thermostat

Sure, central heat is convenient but cranking the thermostat to a consistent 72 degrees is just not practical. Energy.gov recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter when you’re awake. Turn the thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees while you’re asleep or at work, and you may save up to 15 percent a year on your heating bill. How’s that for cutting your utility spending?

We hope these tips help you start your 2015 budget off on the right foot!

 

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Five Renovations for Your Home in 2015

flooring

As 2015 ramps up, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead. And while it might be the year that you finally lose those extra 20 pounds, it can definitely be the year you improve your home, too. Here are five easy home renovations you should tackle in the new year.

1. Replace Your Windows

Let’s face it, your home’s old, drafty windows don’t just look awful — they’re costing you money. If you panic every month when the electric bill comes, it might be time to stop by our Harrisburg showroom.

Renewal by Andersen’s High-Performance™ Low-E4® Glass keeps your heated air in and cold air out in the winter. Customers see an average 25 percent savings on their utility bills after installing our Harrisburg replacement windows.

2. Update Your Flooring

With normal wear and traffic, carpet lasts anywhere from eight to ten years. If you find it’s time to replace it, decide if carpet still makes sense for your space. High-traffic areas might be easier to clean if you install tile or wood.

Updating your flooring can be an easy home renovation that you tackle over a weekend. And if you’re worried a room won’t feel cozy with hardwoods, remember that you can always purchase low-pile area rugs that can easily be cleaned.

3. Hit the Deck

If your wood deck is more than 20 years old, it’s time to replace it. Wood decks can start to break down after two decades and become a safety hazard. When choosing materials for your replacement deck, you’ll have to consider many factors including cost, upkeep and the size of your project. Enlist the help of a professional to help you decide!

4. Paint Your Place

If your home’s walls are still builder-grade white, do yourself a favor and buy a few gallons of paint. Painting is another one of those easy home renovations you can tackle yourself.

Intimidated by color? Don’t be! Choose neutral shades to warm up your space and add a hint of personality to your rooms. Or, be bold and choose a bright hue for an accent wall that complements your furniture or other accent pieces.

5. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Just because you’re not planning on moving anytime soon doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give the front of your home a little TLC. How much work you do is up to you!

If you’re looking for easy home renovations, start small by painting the front door, adding a new welcome mat, installing some window boxes or large planters, and power-washing the siding. Hire a professional if you can spring for new siding, updated brickwork or fancy pavers for your driveway.

When you try one of these five renovations, your home will look like new for 2015!

 

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Recovering From the Holidays – How to Get Your Home Back in Order

holiday decor

The holidays have finally come and gone, and now you’re left with one item on your to-do list: Get the house back in order. Though this seems easier said than done, a little pre-planning will help you get through the holiday clean-up process like a champ.

Here are our top five ways to quickly take back your home, inside and out:

  1. Carefully box all your holiday breakables. No one wants to open a box of decorations next year only to find shattered Christmas balls, broken antique bells and destroyed baubles. Put these items away first. You may even want to invest in plastic containers just for the items that are most breakable.
  2. Check all the holiday lights and then coil them carefully for storage. Who wants to open up a box filled with knotted holiday lights next year? Coil them around a tube and they’ll be less likely to tangle. Before you put them away, make sure they still work. There’s no use holding on to holiday lights that have met their end.
  3. Take down your artificial Christmas tree OR take out your natural Christmas tree. You don’t want to be the only person on your block who still has his or her tree on Valentine’s Day. Say goodbye to this year’s tree and either put it into storage, or put it out for the garbage collector. Many municipalities will pick up real Christmas trees on specific days only — contact yours to find out how best to dispose of your greenery.
  4. Clean your windows and doors. Any place that’s been decorated should be scrubbed down to remove any adhesives, mildew, cobwebs, pine needles and other items. This includes your Harrisburg home windows. If you have Harrisburg replacement windows that open from the inside for easy cleaning, you won’t have to spend much time performing this task.
  5. Consider having your rugs cleaned. If you had many guests in your home during the holidays, it may be a good idea to get the carpets professionally cleaned. You could also consider renting a rug cleaner and do this yourself. Either way, all the grime that’s been tracked in for the past month-and-a-half will be removed from your house, lessening the chance of allergic reactions, dust, mold spores and other unwanted items getting into your home’s air.

Though it might seem bittersweet to remove everything that reminds you of your wonderful holiday season, remind yourself that it won’t be too long until the next holiday season is here. Until then, enjoy the newness of a beautiful, spotless home and the wide-open possibilities of a new year.

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Our Favorite Holiday Windows

Christmastime offers homeowners and retailers the opportunity to show off their creativity with window decorations and other festive traditions. Below is a list of some of our favorites that we’ve seen over the years. Let them inspire you to decorate your central PA home windows dramatically for the festivities of the season.

1. Browse in wonder at a vintage Scranton storefront.

vintage

If you’ve ever watched “A Christmas Story”, you know that once-upon-a-time kids weren’t searching the Internet for “Dear Santa” letter requests. Instead, they would travel to the local store and gaze into the store window. We can only imagine how many toy suggestions this particular window from a department store in Pennsylvania encouraged. (photo via)

2. Be inspired by Bergdorf Goodman.

bergdorfs

For generations, the Bergdorf Goodman store in New York City has attracted visitors during the holidays. They weren’t simply interested in purchasing merchandise, however. The window displays were what really brought them to this flagship. As this image illustrates, Bergdorf Goodman never disappoints — each decoration is meticulously designed to awe. (photo via)

3. Learn the art of simplicity.

simple

Simplicity is the name of the game for many of our favorite windows, and keeping it real definitely appeals to many homeowners in our area who want to decorate their central PA home windows but don’t have time to fuss over the details. This sweet, laid-back style of window decoration shows that you don’t have to bring out all the stops to make a splash. (photo via)

4. Go big or go home.

clutter

On the other hand, clutter-filled displays like this storefront can be wonderfully unique and powerful. Do you have tons of Christmas decorations but aren’t sure how to use the majority of them? A bay window in a residence can make a terrific setting for one large decorated space. Make it the focal point of your house — too much of a good thing isn’t always necessary. (photo via)

 

Will Your Home Make Our List Next Year?

No matter how you choose to decorate your windows this holiday season, we do recommend that you keep some tips in mind:

  • Don’t affix anything to the window without first checking to see whether it will potentially damage any part of the window.
  • Remember that you have to take everything down again. If you aren’t big on spending time un-decorating, you may want to modify how many items you put in your windows and on your property.
  • Be careful when getting up on ladders. Even a fall from a short stepladder can cause injury. Safety should always be your first priority when decorating!

As always, we’d love to see what you do with your windows and home. Send us a photo of your decorated house, or a favorite decorated window in your neighborhood.

How to Decorate Your Windows for Christmas

lights

At Renewal by Andersen in Central PA, we live and breathe replacement windows. That’s one of the reasons we love the holidays so much. After all, there’s so much you can do to decorate your windows for Christmastime. If you need some inspiration to turn your Mechanicsburg windows into the talk of the neighborhood, why not try some of these ideas? They’re sure to turn heads and show off your festive home.

  • Hang wreaths on the outside of your windows.

Why should your doors have all the fun? Hanging wreaths on the outside of your windows, at least in the front of your house, will spruce up your whole property. Stick with real wreaths if at all possible, or create your own using seasonal flora such as berries, holly and tree branches. Add a touch of color with a red bow for extra style points.

  • Add candles to the interior of each window on the sill.

There’s something about candles and Christmas that go together like Santa and elves. While it’s important to remember that actual candles should not remain lit when someone will not be in the room, there are plenty of styles of battery-operated candles that can be left to blaze all evening.  Many advanced models even have automatic shut-off options in case you forget to turn them off.

  • Light up your whole property.

Are you a Christmas traditionalist? Then you know the value that twinkling lights can bring to the outside of your home during this time of year. Whether you choose to string lights around each of your Mechanicsburg windows, or whether you simply drape the lights from the eaves surrounding those windows, you’ll be highlighting your home in a spectacular way. Don’t forget to add lights to the exterior elements of your property, if applicable. This can include walkways, lamp poles, porches, trees and shrubbery.

Remember that there’s no one way to highlight your replacement windows. Just make sure you follow a few important guidelines:

  • Always keep safety first. If you don’t have a sturdy ladder, don’t try to hang items on your second- or third-story windows.
  • Less is often more. Unless you’re trying to win a “most lights in the area” contest, you don’t have to pull out all the stops to make your house look amazing and festive.
  • Get the family involved. Whether it’s just the two of you, or you have a whole brood, decorating your Renewal by Andersen windows can be a family affair. Afterwards, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, as well as some well-earned cocoa.

Have a merry Christmas, and please feel free to send us pictures of your decorations. We’d love to see what you’ve created.

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Simple Holiday Sides

christmas dinner

When you’re preparing feasts for the masses of friends and family joining you for the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. After all, there are picky eaters everywhere — not just kids. Adults have their particular tastes, and that means every host or hostess has to think twice about the side dishes to serve with turkey, ham, steak or other main courses.

Fortunately, there are crowd-pleasing simple holiday items that are guaranteed to tempt the taste buds of most of your guests and. In some cases, they are designed to appeal to limited diets such as gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. You’ll be the hero of the Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s table with these Harrisburg home improvement tips that focus on what comes out of your central PA kitchen.

1. Plan Expansive Fruit, Cheese, Nut and Veggie Platters

There’s no need to slave over a tray of intricate, cooked hors d’oeuvres. Most guests will be more than happy to nosh on an appetizer course that includes fruits, nuts, veggies and more. Make sure you add exotic options as well as the tried-and-true, such as feta-stuffed olives, foreign cheeses, kiwi or starfruit, tangelos, bok choy, and more. Be creative and serve them with a wide variety of dips. These tend to appeal to people who are restricted in what they can eat, and they’re also nice and filling. Plus, they provide options without necessitating that you do much work ahead of time. You can even get many of the items pre-sliced and ready to go if you’re short on time.

2. Smashed Potatoes With Gravy on the Side

Tired of the same old white mashed potatoes laced with a dollop of dripping butter? Your visitors are probably bored of them as well. Spruce up this classic side dish by leaving the skins on the potatoes and simply “smashing” them by hand after boiling them until tender. Add milk, butter or margarine to taste. Don’t blend your potatoes — you want them to be broken up, but not thoroughly smooth. Add salt and pepper as needed. If you’re really imaginative, get purple potatoes. Their flesh turns a lovely blue when smashed, making your holiday table look even more festive. Serve gravy in a boat on the side. That way, those who crave gravy can pour it on, but those who would prefer not to add it can eat the smashed potatoes without it.

3. Serve a Lovely Dish of Roasted, Toasted Corn

Corn is a much-loved vegetable, but don’t make your corn side as bland as vanilla pudding. Instead of merely pouring out a can of corn, heating it up and then adding it to a serving dish, try toasting the kernels on top of the stove. Just pour a little olive oil into a large frying pan, drain your corn kernels and toss the kernels into the pan. Keep the heat on the milder side and toss the kernels gently until they start to get a bit crisp and browned in spots. This type of stovetop roasting will add texture to the corn dish, as well as bring out the corn’s robust, slightly-sweet flavors. You can add salt if you wish, or simply have sea salt available on the table for your guests.

More than anything else, these Harrisburg home improvement tips should make your life easier — and your meals buzzworthy — this holiday season.

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Who Says Old Is Out? Embrace the Country Chic Trend

country chic

HGTV fans and Pinterest aficionados will tell you what’s old is new again. The country chic trend is popping up everywhere from dining room tables to windows to doors. Many DIYers are also mastering the art of making their updated furnishings look “lived in” to achieve the perfect laid-back style.

We’ve compiled our favorite tips for enhancing your space and updating your energy-efficient replacement windows to master this trend.

More Chic Than Shabby

When we say country chic, we’re not talking about the tacky, over-the-top country bumpkin look. Instead, think mason jars, white-washed furniture and vintage shutters on top of your Harrisburg replacement windows.

While a characteristic of country chic is often peeling paint and rough wood, it doesn’t mean things actually have to be worn out. You can age a modern table using a golf club to create divots and use a pickling stain to create an antique look.

You can also pair your country chic pieces with more modern items. Hang vintage lace curtains on your Central PA replacement windows and place antique medicine bottles on the window sill to combine modern comforts with old-time elegance.

Where to Shop

The best country chic pieces look like you just pulled them right out of Grandma’s basement. While you can definitely find great trunks, wrought-iron bed frames, gold mirrors and vintage milk glass on sites like eBay and Etsy, they’ll often come with a high price tag.

Your best bet is to scour flea markets, antique shops and yard sales looking for pieces you can mix-and-match to create your ideal look. Don’t be deterred by stains, peeling or disrepair. If a piece has solid bones, it can easily be cleaned up for your space.

Don’t forget to think outside the box and turn those old beat-up windows into a picture frame, coffee table or chalkboard message center. Explore Pinterest for loads of ideas on how you can repurpose these types of pieces in your space.

When All Else Fails, Paint

Country chic is often characterized by all-white everything. Layer shades of white in your space to achieve the perfect shabby chic look. For a bedroom, consider a white-washed wooden headboard under your Harrisburg replacement window with white sheets and an ivory bedspread. Paint your walls white, but for a bit of character add a board and batten wall treatment.

Modern accessories can also receive a vintage twist with a coat of paint. Consider spray-painting cheap glass vases white to emulate vintage milk glass. You can also fill modern- day mason jars with water and food coloring to make them look like the tinted jars of yesteryear.

Wall color also can make or break your country chic look. Go for neutral tones such as ivory or pastels. Vintage-looking wallpapers are also making a comeback. Opt for florals and faded patterns for your space.

Ultimately, no matter what you choose, the country chic trend allows you to be unique and thrifty — the perfect combination!

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10 Tips for Better Window Treatments in Your Home

drapes

With the changing seasons, you might be contemplating new window treatments for your home to spruce up your space.

Here are 10 tips to consider when picking window treatments for your Mechanicsburg replacement windows.

1. Block the light

If you work second or third shift, you might want to invest in blackout curtains for your Mechanicsburg windows. The heavy curtains are made of a special light-blocking fabric that will also cut down on any outside noise. Blackout curtains are especially effective at blocking harsh winter rays and making sure you catch your needed zzz’s.

2. Drapes for drafts

Drapes made of heavy woven fabrics and insulated linings will keep your drafty Mechanicsburg windows from letting cold air in or warm air out this winter.

3. Breezy linens

If you’re confident in your Mechanicsburg replacement windows and drafts aren’t a concern, you can lighten up your space with light fabrics such as linen. Incorporate colors such as white or cream to evoke a relaxed  feel.

4. Very stylish valances

You can spruce up your space with window valances. The size and shape can define your space as elegant, rustic or contemporary. You can also pair valances with longer curtains or they can hang solo on your Mechanicsburg replacement windows.

5. Relaxed Roman shades

Flat or Relaxed Roman shades are a popular choice for contemporary spaces. Made of varying materials and colors, you can personalize your shades to block light and match your room.

6. Laid-back lace

Like linen curtains, lace is a popular choice for breezy styles. These romantic curtains are more for style than function, as they will do little to block light or drafts. This makes them a great choice for your replacement windows.

7. Pick a panel

You can customize your panel curtains to be functional or stationary, depending on the amount of fabric you use. If you want to be able to shut them for privacy and to block light coming through your Mechanicsburg windows, go with wider panels that will meet in the middle of your window. Stationary panels will just add a pop of coordinating color at the edges of your window.

8. Sweet shutters

If you love the look of old plantation-style homes, you can incorporate interior shutters. Available in vinyl or real wood, interior shutters combine style and function. Shutters are a durable choice for increasing privacy on your Mechanicsburg windows.

9. Bamboo blinds

Bring a bit of nature indoors with popular bamboo blinds. The organic materials are eco-friendly and will work to block light and increase privacy in your space.

10. Fashionable fabrics

Many window treatment companies are taking inspiration from the runway and incorporating luxurious fabrics — including velvet and grosgrain — into their designs. These curtains will evoke a high-end feel in your space.

No matter what window treatment trend you choose for your space, your Mechanicsburg replacement windows will shine. Get decorating today!

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