3 Important Tips for Welcoming Home Your Newly Adopted Dog

3 Important Tips for Welcoming Home Your Newly Adopted Dog

Bringing home your newly adopted dog is always an adjustment for everyone involved. Here are 3 important tips to welcome your new family member.

Bringing home your newly adopted dog is always an adjustment for everyone involved. It’s exciting and it’s only normal for you to have concerns about your new pet’s transition into life at home. Here are 3 important tips to help you welcome your new family member into your home.

 1. Do Your Research

Prior to your new dog arriving at your home, plan out how you will train your pet and make sure all of your family members are on the same page. Providing positive reinforcement techniques is a great way to help your dog learn.

Do your research on the various food options for your new dog and how many times a day he or she should eat. Having these decisions made in advance will help make the transition easier on everyone involved.

2. Show Compassion

Your newly adopted dog may display signs of anxiety in the first few days or weeks of being at your home. It may be hard for you to experience, because you’ll be so excited about your new furry family member and wonder if the feeling isn’t mutual. Don’t worry–this adjustment period is totally normal and only temporary! Speak in a gentle, soothing voice to your dog and make sure to show lots of love. Once your pet understands you are there to love and protect, he’ll feel much more comfortable and start to see how great his new home (and family) really is!

3. Health First

Soon after adopting your dog, take a trip to the vet’s office and have your new buddy examined. Bringing along any past medical records for the doctor to look at is always helpful. Your doctor will perform a full examination and give your dog the necessary shots he needs.

 

Ready to adopt right now? Visit Adopt-a-Pet.com to find a lovable critter in your area who is looking for a home like yours!

What Buying a House Can Do for You:

What Buying a House Can Do for You: Investment Opportunity and Financial Security

Buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how home ownership can be a great investment decision for your financial security.

Some people may think of buying a home as a stressful experience that comes with an enormous commitment that can burden you for years. However, buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how homeownership can be a great investment decision that bolsters your financial security.

A Net Worth Boost

Research shows that on average, homeowners’ net worth is far higher than that of a renters’ net worth by up to 36%. And this wealth gap keeps widening every year. One explanation for this gap is the concept of forced savings. This is a situation where a person is essentially forced to save a certain amount of money every month for a significant expense, such as a house or a car.

Paying for a mortgage is a great example of forced savings. Paying for your mortgage month after month forces you to save a portion of your income to help pay off your property, which works towards increasing your home equity and net worth. Renters, on the other hand, increase the net worth of their landlords without building equity or assets.

04.10 buying a house - house car

Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a house shouldn’t be considered fully as an expense. Homeowners enjoy a variety of tax breaks that you might not know about. Here are some of the tax breaks homeowners may qualify for:

Mortgage Interest Deductions

The monthly mortgage you must pay when you buy a house is split into two parts: one portion goes towards the actual principal amount, and the other portion pays off your interest on the mortgage. In some cases, the mortgage interest on your main and second residence is tax deductible.

To claim the mortgage interest, you must itemize your deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A, unless you just want to just claim the standard deductions. You should get a 1098 Form from your mortgage lender at the beginning of every year showing the total amount you paid as interest for the previous year that you can claim for tax returns.

Property Taxes

City or state real estate taxes that you pay on your house may be filed as a deductible while itemizing the deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A.

Mortgage Points

There are two types of mortgage points, and each point represents 1% of your total mortgage. Origination points, which is a fee that you pay to the borrower to compensate for their work that goes into processing a loan, are non-deductible. Discount points, which allow you to get discounted interest rates on your mortgage, are tax deductible.

Some of the interest that you pay on home equity loans are also deductible, along with interest on home improvement loan, and qualified moving expenses.

Using the Power of Leverage for Investing

One advantage of buying property for the purpose of investing is that you can borrow funds to make the purchase, as opposed to other investment opportunities such as stocks and bonds. Another advantage is that when inflation hits and prices increase, sometimes your house value will increase as well. If you borrow with a fixed rate mortgage, you will still be paying the future monthly payments with a currency that’s depreciated in value. As years go by, the equity on your property will increase, and once the principal amount is all paid off, you will have a debt-free asset that will continue to appreciate, depending on market conditions.

Compared to stacking up cash savings in your bank account and watching it lose value to inflation, investing in a property can secure your money in the long-term and act as a hedge against dollar debasement. Whether for diversification of your investment portfolio, or to secure a property where you and your family can grow and build memories, buying a home can be a timeless investment vehicle.

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

Discover the hottest new trends in smart home technology, from voice control to security, to temperature control to lighting and even safety measures like door locks!

Is your home a smart home? If you’re like most U.S. homeowners, the answer is probably yes, or it will be soon. What were once seen only as gimmicks reserved for the tech-savvy homeowners have quickly become the norm. We conducted a survey and  found that almost half (45%) of Americans own some sort of smart home technology. More surprisingly, 36% of that group don’t consider themselves to be early adopters of technology.

Whether you’re shopping for a first home, looking to sell your home, or planning home renovations to add value to your house, smart home technology should be at the top of your must-haves list. 54% of homeowners said they would install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster. In fact, about 33% of agents said homes with smart features sell faster.

What Makes a Smart Home Smart?

So, which smart features and home renovations should homeowners and home buyers be most interested in next year? Our survey found the top “smart” features were:

  • Voice Control
  • Security
  • Temperature
  • Lighting
  • Safety

Most Americans (60%) agree that a home needs to have at least three of these features to be considered “smart.”

Voice Control

One of the fastest-growing smart home features in the last year is voice control. The list of products that operate with voice control features is growing by the day, from music players to TVs to even security products, lighting, and shopping.

smart home technology trends - watch

Security

Most Americans think a home can be considered “smart” when it has smart security locks and alarm systems. Security features lead the way for smart features in terms of adoption and appeal. Even though 58% of home buyers say smart security is the most appealing type of pre-installed smart home technology, only 31% have smart security installed.

Temperature control

Smart temperature control is more widely adopted with homeowners over the age of 65 – about 40% have smart temperature products, while only 25% of 18-34 year olds have the technology installed. The favorite features of smart temperature controls are:

  • Improving the comfort of the household (71%)
  • Reducing energy consumption (68%)
  • Monitoring or controlling their device while away from home (41%)

Safety

The safety of the household should be a top priority for any homeowner. Smart technology offers new features for fire and carbon monoxide detectors, nightlights, and other renovations to make your house safer. Homeowners look for safety features that allow them to monitor and control the safety of their home either when they are away (52%), or from anywhere inside the home (30%).

The leader in smart thermostats, Nest, has also released a smart Smoke and CO Alarm, Nest Protect. One feature of this device that is quickly becoming the norm for smart technology is interconnectivity. If your Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it will tell your Nest Thermostat to turn off the furnace automatically.

Lighting

For homeowners looking to improve comfort with the ability to make easy changes in the mood of their home – while reducing energy consumption – smart lighting is just the thing. Many new smart technologies emerged this year for a smarter lighting experience:

  • C by GE uses Bluetooth connectivity so you can personalize your light temperature settings throughout the day. This allows your lighting to sync with your body’s circadian rhythm and improve your sleep cycle.
  • FlipFlic is a device installed on window blinds that automatically adjusts the blinds based on light, temperature and time of day. Natural lighting can play a major part in your home’s mood and vibe and this device gives you more control over it.

Our study also found that 70% of homeowners say they plan to invest more money in smart home renovations and features in the future. This new home trend is rapidly increasing and offering homeowners new ways to improve their own standard of living while raising the value of their homes.

Which smart renovations and features d

Who is the Most Visited Real Estate Brand Online?

Who is the Most Visited Real Estate Brand Online?

Hint: It starts out “Cold” but heats up with “well Banker”

According to the 2016 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average home buyers visits at least 7 different websites to look for a home. That’s a lot of browsing and if you’re selling your home it’s not enough to just have your home featured on 100+ different real estate sites. You want to make sure your real estate agent has them posted on the sites that get seen.

Coldwell Banker® is the most visited national real estate brand online according to 2016 comScore analytics. So what does that mean for you as a seller? It means more home buyers are interacting with the Coldwell Banker brand online than any other company, which in turn can lead to more qualified buyers for your property and greater exposure.

From Tuscaloosa to Trenton, Boise to Bentonville, and all the Greenvilles in between, today’s home buyers are visiting Coldwell Banker sites more than any other national real estate brand.

If your real estate agent is still promoting how they can feature your home in the local paper, why not consider the real estate company with real advantages who can reach today’s buyers online in greater numbers than anyone else?

Who is the Only Real Estate Brand with Smart Home Specialists?

Who is the Only Real Estate Brand with Smart Home Specialists?

Hint: It’s also the real estate brand that helped define a smart home.

Smart homes aren’t the future of real estate. They’re the present. So why aren’t more real estate brands, companies, offices and agents doing more about understanding how smart homes are shaping today’s buyers, homes for sale and even home prices?

Simple answer? They aren’t Coldwell Banker.

We’re not new to the smart home game. We’ve actually helped determine the rules. Coldwell Banker has worked with technology site, CNET, to define what a smart home is so that everyone with a programmable thermostat doesn’t promote their house as a smart home. We’ve helped shape the smart home marketplace at the Consumer Electronics Show to make sure our agents and their customers know about smart home trends and how they can potentially impact the price of their homes for sale. We’ve done research. We’ve created a smart home staging kit. We’re also the only real estate brand to have smart home certified agents and listings.

When it comes to smart home, you could say that Coldwell Banker is pretty smart. To find a smart home near you or contact one of our smart home certified agents, visit coldwellbanker.com/smarthome.

Do you know which real estate brand helped find homes for over 20,000 dogs?

Do you know which real estate brand helped find homes for over 20,000 dogs?

How about now?

What does the international real estate brand Coldwell Banker and the pet adoption website Adopt-a-Pet.com have in common? One word: home. The calling of Coldwell Banker agents is to help people find a place to call home, which with one small word change–“people” to “pets”–is the same mission of Adopt-a-Pet.com.

The two companies first partnered together in 2015 on the Coldwell Banker Homes for Dogs Project to help 20,000 adoptable dogs find loving homes. The goal of 20,000 adoptions was achieved in 9 months and the Project has since grown even wider thanks to the help of Coldwell Banker offices across North America working with local shelters to host adoption events and bring awareness to this cause.  To that effect, a National Pet Adoption Weekend will be held September 9-10 to unite even more animals with a forever (fur-ever?) home.

The initiative was originally inspired by the welcome home dance any pet parent gets when they walk in the door after a long day. Coldwell Banker captured this magical micro-moment in our ad campaign titled “Home’s Best Friend.” That story then evolved to feature lovable pups doing funny things in our 2016 campaign, “This is Home. This is Awesomeness.” And this year, in 2017, the current Coldwell Banker ad campaign “Somebody to Love,” shines a light on the Homes for Dogs Project and the landmark number of homes and dogs connected through the program.

At Coldwell Banker, we know that a home is made up of all of the things we love, including our furry friends. To learn more about the Homes for Dogs project, visit coldwellbanker.com/homesfordogs. And if your home is missing a little “Somebody to Love,” visit adopt-a-pet.com to find an adoptable pet in your area.

How to Pet Proof Your Home and Yard

How to Pet Proof Your Home and Yard

Pet Proofing 101

As you may have guessed from our latest ad “Somebody to Love” we truly believe that a pet makes a house a home. Because our pets are so important to us ensuring they are safe is crucial. We reached out to our friends at HomeAdvisor to see if they had any tips to do so and as usual they came through with paw-sitively awesome advice.

When pet-proofing one’s home and yard, it is important to look at items from a pet’s standpoint and consider what things they are likely to play with, chew, or otherwise get into. If these items can hurt or even kill, then they should be removed or relocated into an area that the animal cannot access. Pet-proofing a home can take time and even some research so that it is done properly. Pet owners should also take into consideration the damage that a pet can cause to their personal belongings and take steps to prevent that as well. Ideally, pet-proofing should occur before bringing a new pet home; however, it can be done during a home improvement project or at any given time.

Bathrooms and Laundry Rooms

Toilet bowls are filled with water and often tempt pets to drink from them. This can cause a pet to drown, or it may poison them if toilet bowl cleaners are inside. The bathrooms and laundry room of a home are filled with a number of other items that are toxic to pets. Medications, both prescription and otherwise, are often kept in a bathroom, as are things such as bathroom cleaners, chemical drain openers, and deodorizers. Sharp items such as razors are also kept in bathrooms and can cut and seriously injure a pet that plays with or swallows them.

Laundry rooms are also a place where chemicals such as bleach and detergent are stored and regularly used. Fabric softener sheets may seem harmless; however, they are often impregnated with chemicals. Open dryers are tempting to pets that may climb inside to sleep, stay warm, or hide. This can be dangerous if the door is accidentally shut and the machine turned on.

  • Place any medications into a medicine cabinet and keep it closed.
  • Close the doors to the washing machine and dryer when not in use.
  • Check inside the washing machine and dryer before starting, particularly if it was left open and unattended.
  • Store laundry and bathroom cleaners and other chemicals inside of a cabinet. If a pet can nudge open a cabinet, use child locks or higher cabinets.
  • Close the lid to the toilet when not in use.

Living Rooms

In the living room, there are numerous items that are a threat to one’s pet. Unstable or top-heavy furniture can fall if jumped on or if bumped hard by a playful animal. Many types of potted house plants are known to be toxic if chewed or swallowed. The cords to drapery and window blinds are a choking hazard if they accidental loop around a pet’s neck, while electrical cords, if chewed on, can shock or electrocute one’s pet or start a fire.

paying the pet insurance

Certain items need to be protected so that pets do not damage or knock them over. Candles, for example, can either catch a pet’s tail on fire or may be knocked over and start a fire. Furniture and toys must also be protected, as they risk damage from chewing and scratching or they may cause a pet to choke. Certain items that contain batteries can be swallowed and will poison a pet or cause internal burns.

  • Move or cover cords and electrical wires so that they are not easily reached or cannot be chewed on.
  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Place a fire screen in front of fireplaces that are in use.
  • Keep a toy chest for children’s toys and put them away when they are not being played with.
  • Properly dispose of old batteries and keep all others in a closed drawer or cabinet.
  • Check what plants are and are not poisonous to the type of pet in the home. Only purchase plants that are not toxic.

Kitchens

Kitchens are an overall dangerous place for pets to be. Jumping pets have access to countertops and tables, while all animals can easily get to anything that’s within their reach, such as kitchen trash cans or food on the table. When it comes to threats, food is the most obvious culprit, as certain items, such as chocolate and raisins, are toxic while others represent a choking hazard.

Kitchen cleaners such as liquid soap and bleach are also poisonous. Curious animals may crawl into a small space under and around the refrigerator or oven, while others may actual climb into an opened dishwasher and could be trapped within if someone closes it without checking it.

  • Only use garbage cans with secure lids, and ensure that they are closed at all times.
  • Keep cleansers locked away in a cabinet with childproof locks.
  • Block access to small spaces that lead behind the refrigerator or other appliances.
  • Put food in covered containers instead of leaving it exposed on a counter or table.
  • Keep utensils in a closed drawer, and push breakable china back on counters where it cannot easily be knocked down and broken.
  • Consider installing a safety gate to keep pets out of the kitchen while cooking.

Bedrooms

Although the bedroom may seem like an overall safe place for pets, it is the unexpected, little things that can prove problematic for pets. Electrical cords are dangerous to pets that are chewers, and small items such as earrings and hair pins may also be chewed or swallowed. Discarded shopping bags are a suffocation risk if a pet sticks its head inside and is unable to shake it off. Moth balls in closets or drawers are toxic, as are certain house plants that may be kept in the room.

Dog

  • Keep windows closed, particularly on the upper floors, to prevent pets from falling out.
  • Check that all windows have screens that are secure and in good condition.
  • Place mothballs in a location where they cannot be reached. If there are cats, keep the mothballs in a container.
  • Use containers or jewelry boxes to store jewelry or hair pins.
  • Cover cords or keep them out of reach.
  • Check closets and drawers before closing them to ensure that kittens or other small pets are not hiding inside.

Garages and Basements

Garages and basements are two areas where a pet will likely spend the least time. Unfortunately, they are both areas that are highly dangerous no matter how much time a pet spends there. Because these are areas outside of the main house and protected from the elements outdoors, they are places where deadly chemicals and other potentially lethal items are stored.

Toxic items that are commonly stored in garages and even basements include antifreeze, which is sweet-tasting but can cause a cat or a dog’s kidneys to fail if consumed. Motor oil, gas, battery acid, and car wax are just a few other dangerous car-related items. Additionally, pesticides, rat poison, paint, and paint thinners are examples of items kept in either location that can be lethal to a pet. Sharp and small items can cause injuries if stepped on or if swallowed, and even machinery, including one’s car, can be lethal.

  • Store screws and nuts in jars with lids.
  • Install cabinets to store chemicals, and keep them closed when not in use.
  • Verify the safety of any plants kept in the room.
  • Regularly check the floor of the garage for spilled or leaked antifreeze. Clean thoroughly as soon as possible.
  • Always check for cats or kittens in the car engine by banging on the hood prior to starting the car.
  • Unplug electrical tools and store them where they can’t fall.

Yard

Often, pets such as dogs and even cats like to go outdoors for a little playtime or to bask in the sun. Nature, however, represents numerous threats to pets as they spend time in the yard. Gardens, weeds, and other naturally occurring plants and flowers can all seem appealing to a cat, dog, or other outdoor-venturing pet.

Certain items that are used on the lawn, flowers, and plants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, mulch, and compost, may contain chemicals or elements that a pet should not eat, drink, or lick. Cocoa mulch, for example, is toxic, yet the smell is tempting to animals, and compost may contain food items that pets can choke on or that is toxic to them. Care must be taken to also protect pets in yards with fire pits or outdoor fireplaces, pools, and ponds.

  • Install a fence around the yard to keep stray animals out and pets in.
  • Remove poisonous plants from the yard, and check with a knowledgeable nursery before planting anything new.
  • Put a barrier around gardens to keep pets out.
  • Never leave pets alone when a fire pit is in use.
  • Add fencing around pools to keep unaccompanied pets away.
  • Use an enclosed shed to store chemicals, or keep them in a cabinet in the garage.
  • Consider creating a fenced-off area specifically for a dog to play in when outdoors.

This content originally appeared on HomeAdvisor

Your Home’s Honey Do List for May

Before you fire up that grill, here is your home’s honey do list for May which will make summer even more enjoyable.

The tulips are blooming and the yard work is piling up, but all you can dream about is Memorial Day barbecues. Before you fire up that grill, here is your home’s honey do list for May which will make summer even more enjoyable.

1. Curb Appeal – Because April showers bring May flowers, it’s time to think about your home’s curb appeal. Does your front door need a refresh? Could your outdoor lighting use an update? Does your mailbox need a makeover? Check out these 7 Major League Upgrades to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal.

2. Give Mom some Love – Because Home is Where Mom is, consider showing Mom your appreciation this Mother’s Day (May 14th) by giving her one of these unique homemade Mother’s Day gifts. Another welcome gift for every Mom is a helping hand around the house (see #5 on this list)!

3. May is for Mold? – Did those April showers cause water problems in your home? Use this brief guide to mold and moisture to clean up and prevent mold growth in your home.

4. Spring Into Action – Take advantage of the spring weather and get out of the house! See how many items on this list of Free Things to Do Outside the House you can tackle before June.

5. Glass Houses – People who live in glass houses…have a lot of windows to clean! Tackle outdoor windows and doors with a glass cleaner to let plenty of that spring sunlight inside.

6. Inspect for Termites – Termites are more active in the spring and summer months when the air is warm and moist. Check your home for termite damage, paying special attention to anywhere wood meets the ground. Watch this video to learn how you can inspect your home this May.

7. Prep Your Home for Sale – If you’re getting your home ready for sale this spring, there are several items that many home sellers overlook. Do you have a copy of your survey on hand, or have you compiled a list of service providers for a buyer? These 9 often overlooked items when prepping your home for sale can help seal the deal with today’s savvy buyers.

8. Grilling Time – Now you’re ready for that Memorial Day backyard bash. To make sure you never unexpectedly run out of gas in your grill, consider checking out this handy product.

How to Partially Finish Your Basement on a Budget

How to Partially Finish Your Basement on a Budget

Transform your basement into a living area, laundry, bathroom or workspace you can use now — without a full renovation.

houzz logo
Houzz Contributor, Nicole Jacobs

We’re always looking for more space in our homes, it seems, whether for extra storage, an additional living zone or a new spot to decorate. Often, valuable space can be found in the basement, but fully developing this square footage can be expensive. Add up the costs of framing, flooring, drywall, electrical and finishes,and your project may run into the thousands of dollars. Introduce new decor, and you’ve got an even pricier endeavor.

But there are ways to enjoy that below-grade space while avoiding the hefty price tag of a full remodel. Partially finishing your basement can offer warmth, style and comfort, as well as that extra space you’re craving. Here is how to get the most out of an unfinished basement without breaking the bank.

Create an Industrial-Style Living Room

1. Keep the ceiling exposed. This smart basement renovation reveals a key secret to enjoying a partially finished basement: Keep the ceiling open. We don’t all have the advantage of deep basements with high ceilings, and we need all the help we can get, height-wise. While there are some stylish drop-ceiling panels now available, keeping the ceiling joists open and painting them a bold color, such as black, creates the illusion of depth, helping the ceiling to recede and become less noticeable. The added advantage is that your wiring is available to you without having to cut into drywall.

2. Ditch the drywall. Paint is quite often the quickest and least expensive way to freshen and update a room.

Another tip is to drywall only some areas of the room. A limited use of drywall can demarcate spaces, add interest and keep costs down.

Another unexpected and low-cost alternative wall material is an engineered lumber such as oriented strand board. OSB, which is typically used for subfloors or sheathing in construction — making it an unconventional choice for walls — is acreative, less expensive way to cover your concrete walls and divide living zones. The key to using a material like this is to apply it to a large area so that it’s clear that using it was an intentional design choice.

3. Capture the power of white. This basement obviously gets a lot of natural light, thanks to the fact that it is a walk-out basement-style space. But a great way to provide the illusion of light and to add ceiling height is to paint everything white. In this room, with the exposed ceilings and walls painted a crisp white, it’s hard to tell where the walls end and the ceilings begin.

4. Establish a focal point. Go ahead and furnish your unfinished below-grade space as cozily as you would your upstairs, finished rooms. A great way to do this is to furnish around a focal point. Here, the designer created a focal point for the room by adding a bar and a shelving area with space for a TV, books and games. Graphic rugs and large, soft furniture and lighting bring warmth and life to the space.

Note that this basement is, like the other examples, mostly unfinished. The ceilings are open, the concrete block wall is painted, and it appears the concrete floor is as well. Finally, the owner chose white wall paint. This room shows how this simple formula for a basement can form the backdrop for a cozy living space. The finished decorative and soft furnishing elements add the comforts that make the space feel homey.

Outfit a Laundry Room

For many of us, basement laundry means a dark and dank place to toss the clothes in, pull them out and quickly run back upstairs. But this doesn’t have to be the way we choose to live. A little effort can convert an ugly space to one where you’ll want to spend time.

1. Get creative with paint and decor. This basement laundry is left nearly entirely unfinished, but with some creativity it’s become a clean and bright corner nonetheless. The exposed ceiling joists are painted a deep charcoal, the concrete floor is a fun red, and wood shelving and furniture add interest and utility. A throw rug warms up the floor, and what appears to be reclaimed wood boards frame off a private bath.

2. Install cabinetry. The money saved on finishing flooring, walls and ceiling can often be better spent on cabinets in your basement laundry area. Additional cabinetry can be used for a variety of things, like storing dry goods, linens or out-of-season clothing.

Build a Bathroom

Adding a bathroom to your basement can be a worthwhile venture. In addition to being functional, it adds a lot of value to your home. But basement bathroom additions are costly, especially if you don’t already have the plumbing and drains roughed in. If you’re lucky enough to have this option, finishing it on a budget will be rewarding.

1. Just do the basics. This bathroom, which abuts one of the laundry rooms I’ve featured, is mostly unfinished. Creatively sectioned off with wood planks and paint, it proves that a bathroom need not have marble and high-end finishing to be warm, cute and functional.

2. Dress up with shine. Another otherwise unfinished space with exposed ceiling joists and concrete walls and floor, this bathroom has all the components to be completely functional, yet also sharp. Stock cabinetry is added for necessary storage, and the mirror, lighting and accessories provide some glitz. Mirrors and other shiny accessories can be found at a variety of price points, helping you to stick with your budget.

3. Leave it open. Another way to save some money in your basement bathroom is to skip the walls altogether. Here, a section of the basement is used for the bathroom, which is open concept. The shower is made out of a tiled curb with a curtain bar, giving it a modern look when privacy is not a concern. The toilet, not seen in this photo, is in a separate, walled-off enclosure behind the wall with the towel bar.

Workspace

Workspaces are often hard to come by, and if you can designate a corner for one in your basement, you’ll be glad for it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to create a bright and functional zone out of, well, nothing.

1. Furnish and decorate. This basement office room works so well because it really has everything you need. Again, this is essentially a raw basement that has been cleaned up with paint. Two collapsible tables are tucked into a corner to create ample desk space. An antique-style armoire and side table add hefty traditional elements that dress up the zone and offer storage. An area rug warms the painted concrete floor, and the bright task track lighting is layered with the warm glow of a table lamp. The pretty butterfly mobile finishes this space.

2. Make a rug statement. Carpet tiles are a cost-effective option for basement flooring as they can be purchased by the box and laid out to separate a zone or add warmth to a bare concrete floor.

3. Make a spot for the kids. Kids come with a lot of stuff, from toys to books and crafts, and a neat little work area in your basement is the perfect spot to organize it all.

Related Reads

The Ultimate Guide to Water Heaters at Home

The Ultimate Guide to Water Heaters at Home

Everything you need to know about water heaters from our friends at Home Depot

Water heaters are one of those appliances that usually sit forgotten in a basement or utility room until something goes wrong. When it does, it can put a serious crimp in your lifestyle.

If you’re faced with a broken unit, the goal is to get a new heater in place as quickly as possible. Because water heaters are big-ticket items, it’s smart to think about the kind of water heater you want before it’s time for a replacement.

Water heaters, on average, use 17 percent of a household energy budget. That’s more than any other home appliance, so it’s important to know how they operate. This guide will show how the most common types of water heaters work and what to consider when it comes time to replace the unit.

Homeowners are increasingly shopping around for water heaters with energy saving and “smart” features.

Water Heater Basics

Water heaters come in three broad categories: conventional tank, tankless and hybrids.

Storage Tank Water Heaters. These are the most conventional water heaters. An insulated tank keeps water at a preset temperature—usually around 120 degrees—until you open a hot water tap. As you use the water, cold water flows into the tank to be heated. Tank water heaters vary in capacity from 20 to 80 gallons. They are powered by electricity, propane gas, natural gas or oil. In electric units, heating elements located inside the tank heat the water. Gas and oil water heaters contain a combustion chamber located under the holding tank. A flue goes up through the center of the tank so that combustion gases can be vented to the outside.

Most gas water heaters rely on the natural draft of a chimney to vent the unit, but some models have a direct vent system where a fan expels the combustion gases. These types do not need a chimney and can be vented through a pipe that runs horizontally through a sidewall.

A conventional gas storage tank water heater

Tankless Water Heaters. Unlike tank models that keep hot water on hand, tankless heaters heat up the water when you call for it, eliminating the wasted energy it takes to keep water at a set temperature. The Department of Energy estimates that for a family that uses about 40 gallons of water a day, a tankless heater is 24 to 34 percent more efficient than a conventional tank model. But the efficiency does drop off considerably if you use a lot of hot water.

“These heaters are perfect for some lifestyles, but not all,” -Merle Henkenius, a licensed master plumber.

Compared with a full-size tank, tankless heaters are small. They can be hung on a wall, freeing up floor space. They are powered by electricity or gas. Tankless heaters are available in both indoor and outdoor models.

A whole-house tankless water heater.

Hybrid Water Heaters. This is a catch-all term that includes heat pump water heaters, condensing units and indirect water heaters. Most hybrid technologies were developed to make water heating more energy efficient.

*Heat Pump Water Heaters. These use electricity to extract heat from the surrounding air to help heat the water in the tank. A heat pump works like an air-conditioner in reverse. An air conditioner pulls warm room air into the unit, removes the heat from the air, and then dumps heat that it extracted from the room air outside. Rather than dump the heat, a heat pump water heater uses the extracted heat to warm the water. When the heat pump cannot handle the demand, backup electric elements take over. These units are extremely energy efficient.

*Condensing Water Heaters. These are available in both tank and tankless models and are powered by gas. These units use some of the hot gases created during the combustion process to heat the water, rather than venting all of the gas to the outside.

*Indirect Water Heaters. In these systems, the water heater storage tank is connected to a boiler or furnace. The unit heats fluid that is circulated to the storage tank, where a heat exchanger warms the water.

*Solar Water Heaters. These circulate fluid through rooftop solar collectors. The fluid heats the water in the storage tank.

Smart Water Heaters. A few manufacturers have developed water heaters with WiFi capability, meaning you can control them through a smartphone or tablet. These products are more sophisticated than standard water heaters. They have electronic controls and thermostats, making them more precise and easier to use. They can also run diagnostics on themselves to spot potential problems.

Home appliances, including water heaters, are increasingly outfitted with WiFi capability to enable money and energy-saving control from your devices.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Water Heater

When it is time for a new water heater, a good place to start is to consider what you have now. If the old unit provided plenty of hot water and you were satisfied with it, consider simply replacing the unit. Even if you install a standard tank water heater, the new model will probably be more energy efficient than the old one, thanks to updated energy standards that went into effect in 2015. However, there are many more energy saving options available to choose from. If you are unsatisfied with your water heater’s performance, you may want to consider one of the alternatives mentioned above.

The following are other important considerations for this major purchase:

Warranties

Water heaters come with warranties. In general, the longer the warranty, the more the unit will cost. Expect to see warranties from 6 to 12 years, but lifetime warranties are available. Choose a model with a warranty you are comfortable with.

Sizing for Tank Water Heaters

Residential tank water heaters, including heat pump water heaters, vary in capacity from 20 to 80 gallons. Of course, meeting the local building code is one aspect of sizing a unit. Another rule of thumb is to base the size on the number of people who regularly use hot water in the house.

Here’s a guide:

NUMBER OF PEOPLE IDEAL GALLON CAPACITY
1-2 23-36
2-4 36-46
3-5 46-56
5 or more 56 or higher

How many people live in the house (or could live there in the future) is a factor in determining the size water heater that you need.

In addition to tank capacity, you should consider the First Hour Rating of the unit. This tells you how much hot water the unit will provide during a set period. Think of your household first thing in the morning. The water in the heater is at its set temperature. Then people start using the hot water. As they do, cold water rushes into the tank, mixing with the remaining hot water. The water heater senses a drop in water temperature and clicks on. All at once, hot water leaves, cold water enters and the unit works to keep up with the changes.

The First Hour Rating takes into account the size of the tank, the efficiency of the heater and even the temperature of the cold water entering the tank. It can help determine the size of the heater you need based on peak demand periods. You will find it listed on the yellow energy label attached to the water heater and in the manufacturer’s literature.

Sizing for Tankless Water Heaters

Because there is no storage tank, tankless models are sized by the gallons per minute (GPM) of water they can deliver. Find the right size for you by estimating your peak water demand. You may have to consult with a plumber to estimate your demand, but here are some averages for various plumbing fixtures.

Shower and Bathtub 2.5 GPM
Clothes Washer 3.3 GPM
Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks 2.2 GPM
Dishwasher 1.3 GPM

Source: Energy Star  http://www.energystar.gov/products/water_heaters/water_heater_whole_home_gas_tankless

Homes in colder climates may require more powerful hot water heaters.

You will also need to consider the temperature of the incoming water to determine how much the heater needs to raise the temperature of the water. Cold water temperatures range from an average of 35–40 degrees in the extreme North to 65–70 degrees in the South. The difference between the incoming cold water and the hot water leaving the unit is called the temperature rise. The maximum GPM for a unit may be 8 or 9 GPM, but if the unit must raise the temperature 70 degrees, the effective GPM could be cut in half. The manufacturer’s literature will provide GPM at different incoming water temperatures.

Energy Efficiency

There are two ways to pick a water heater based on energy efficiency. One is the EnergyGuide Label that comes with each unit. It displays the estimated cost for running the unit when compared with similar models. If the label shows the Energy Star logo, it means the appliance exceeds basic requirements and meets more stringent criteria for energy efficiency.

The other is to consider the water heater’s energy factor (EF), which you can find in the manufacturer’s literature. This number reflects the efficiency of the heater in converting fuel—natural gas, propane and the like—into hot water. The EF is expressed as a decimal. An EF of 1 means that 100 percent of the energy is converted to hot water. For example, an efficient gas storage water heater might have an EF of .75. Some tankless water heaters can have an EF of .90-plus. A heat pump water heater might have an EF of 2.5 or higher, which means the heat pump produces more energy than it consumes.

Here’s how products that meet minimum energy standards that went into effect in April of 2015 compare with products that meet minimum Energy Star requirements.

Type of Water Heater New Minimum EF Requirements Energy Star EF Requirements
50-Gallon Gas Water Heater 0.60 > 0.67
50- Gallon Electric Water Heater 0.95 > 2.0
Tankless Water Heater 0.82

0.90

Sources: DOE National Appliance Energy Conservation Act; Energy Star Product Criteria: http://www.energystar.gov/products/water_heaters/residential_water_heaters_key_product_criteria

In general, highly efficient water heaters cost more than conventional models. A heat-pump water heater can cost three times that of a conventional heater of the same size. But energy efficient products are designed to reduce energy use and save money in the long run.

Tax Credits

Federal tax credits for energy efficient appliances, including non-solar water heaters, apply to items purchased in 2015 and 2016, but the credit is scheduled to expire at the end of 2016. You can claim 10 percent of the cost of the unit up to $300.

The items that qualify include heat-pump water heaters with an energy factor that is equal to or greater than 2, and gas and oil water heaters with an energy factor that is greater than or equal to .82, or a thermal efficiency of at least 90 percent.

Those who install solar water heaters can earn a 30 percent credit. The solar credit expires at the end of 2021.

If you install energy efficient equipment in your home, check the local utility for other rebate programs.

Installations

While water heaters are not particularly complicated devices (especially conventional models with a storage tank), they should still be installed by a licensed plumber. A plumber will be familiar with the local building code requirements, and he will be able to handle any problems that may crop up.

One thing to keep in mind if you plan on swapping out an old unit with a new one of the same size: If the water heater was manufactured after the new energy requirements went into effect in April 2015, it may be an inch or two larger in height and circumference. Manufacturers beefed up the insulation on units to help meet the new requirements. It is something to keep in mind if space is tight around an old water heater, and another reason to hire a pro to install the unit.

To protect your home and family, hire a professional when installing a new water heater or conducting significant repairs.

Here are some items that may be required with your new water heater.

  • Building Permit. If you or your contractor applies for a permit, the finished installation will be inspected by a building inspector. This is one way to help ensure you have a safe installation.
  • Dedicated Shutoff Valve. If there isn’t a valve attached to the cold water line just before it enters the water heater, the plumber will install one. The valve lets you shut off water to the water heater for maintenance and repairs without disturbing the rest of the home’s water system.
  • Expansion Tank. When water inside the tank is heated, it expands, creating more volume. That extra volume has to go somewhere. In a “closed” plumbing system, the expanded volume that would normally backflow into the main water supply is blocked by a valve. The pressure builds up within your home’s plumbing system, and that’s where the expansion tank comes in. It contains a bladder with pressurized air on one side. It gives the extra volume of water someplace to go. When you turn on a hot water tap or the water in the tank cools, the pressure is relieved.
  • Earthquake Straps. Some building codes, particularly in the West, require that water heaters be anchored to wall studs or approved blocking with metal straps.
  • Drip Pans. Even if they are not required by code, drip pans are a good idea, especially if a leaky tank will cause damage. Most contain a drain fitting so that you can attach a hose to the pan. You can also get a battery operated leak detector that can be placed near the water heater or in the pan for under $20. This will alert you if there are problems.

The life expectancy of a typical unit is 10 to 20 years, depending on the type and model. Ensure you get the best performance possible: Carry out simple maintenance tasks, and know when to call a plumber. Read the manual carefully and perform any routine upkeep required to make the most of your unit’s lifespan.

How to Reduce Water Heating Costs

Here are tips for reducing water heating bills.

  • Replace old equipment with energy efficient models.
  • Install low-flow shower and faucet heads.
  • Reduce the water temperature in your water heater by adjusting the unit’s thermostat.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.
  • Choose water saver cycles when using the dishwasher.
  • Fix dripping hot water faucets.