TIP OF THE WEEK
The onset and arrival of colder temperatures means that it’s time once again to brace yourself - and your home - for everything that winter weather threatens to throw at you. From cool, drafty air wafting into your house to friends and family bringing snow and sand inside with them, it’s important to remember the preparation to go through before winter strikes.

Clean the gutters. After the trees shake loose of their leaves throughout the fall, it’s always imperative to keep the gutters clean of debris. If your gutters fill up with leaves and other junk, the runoff from rain and snow has nowhere to go except in unwanted crevices in your roof.

Seal leaks around windows and doors. Caulk is a cheap, simple solution to one of winter’s most annoying little habits — sending cold drafts into your house. Look closely as you check around windows and doors for small cracks then carefully seal up the problem.

Install door sweeps. Another way to keep warm air in and cool air out is to use door sweeps on the bottom of all exterior doors.

Reverse ceiling fans. While some ceiling fans require flipping blades, most new fans simply have a reverse feature to make the blades spin clockwise. This fix can help pull room air upward and cause warm air — which has risen to the ceiling — to be forced back downward.

Keep out sand and snow. Rather than sweeping and vacuuming your entryway every evening, place rugs and storage bins close to your front door, garage and any other entrance to the home so that you and your guests don’t track sand and snow into the house when inclement weather hits.
— Family Features

HOME-SELLING TIP
Probe a real estate agent’s experience
Getting the help of a real estate agent can help you sell your home quicker, but with the amount of agents out there, it can be tough to pick the right one. According to Realtor.com, one way to help you decide is to probe a potential agent’s experience. As a seller, you should look for an agent with at least 2 years experience, has sold around 20 or more homes in the past year, has sold an average of 60 to 80 percent of their listings, and an agent who has around a 95 percent average list price to actual sell price ratio for their listings. If an agent doesn’t know their stats or dances around your questions about their performance, a seller should be wary.
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DECORATING TIP
Mixing and matching hardwood
Architects and designers, who once avoided using different varieties of hardwood in a single residential space, are now mixing and matching them with newfound enthusiasm. Contrasting wood tones — blond maple and black walnut, for example — create a striking effect that can work well in both traditional and contemporary settings. This is particularly true in kitchens, where a favorite configuration features upper cabinetry in a light-color wood such as birch, and lower cabinetry in a dark-color wood like cherry. The result is a space that has a strong visual interest.
— Brandpoint

ENERGY TIPS
Temperature settings for winter
If you’re hoping to cut costs this winter, one of the first places to look is at the temperature settings in your house. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 10 percent by adjusting the thermostats around your home. For your whole house, set the thermostat to 68 degrees (or as low as comfortable) while you are home and awake and set it a few degrees lower when you are asleep or out of the house. You can also adjust the thermostats on your appliances to help save money in winter. Set your water heater to 120 degrees and set your refrigerator temperature between 37 and 40 degrees, and the freezer to zero degrees to keep heating costs down.
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