Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY Home Energy Audit in 6 Easy Steps
October is Energy Awareness Month

Perform your own home energy audit to see if you need fixes that can lower your energy bills by 5% to 30% annually. Is your home squandering precious energy? Here's how you can search out areas of energy waste that may be costing you money. By following up on problems, you can lower energy bills by 5% to 30% annually. With annual energy bills averaging $2,200, investing in fixes or energy-efficient replacement products could save you up to $660 within a year. Leave the deerstalker hat and magnifying glass behind. All you'll need for energy sluething is a flashlight, screwdriver, paint, stirrer, tape measure and-not just for serenity's sake-a stick of incense.
1. Hunt down drafts. Hold a lit stick of incense near windows, doors, electrical outlets, range hoods, plumbing and ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and ceiling fans in bathrooms-anywhere drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement. Not what sources need caulk, sealant, weather-stripping or insulation.
2. Check attic insulation. Winter or summer, insulation does the most good when it's overhead, so start with the attic. First, do you have insulation? if the insulation you see covers the tops of the joists by several inches, you probably have enough. If the insulation is only even with the tops of the joists, you probably need to add insulation.
3. Check wall insulation. Remove electrical outlet covers to see if your wall contains insulation. Shut off power to the receptacle before probing beside the electrical box with a wooden paint stirrer. Check some switch boxes as well. Their higher wall location lets you see if blown-in insulation has settled.
4. Look for stains on insulation. These often indicate air leaks from a hole behind the insulation, such as a duct hole or crack in an exterior wall. Seal gaps with caulk or spray foam insulation.
5. Inspect exposed ducts. Look for obvious holes and whether joints are sealed. Heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) ducts are made of thin metal and easily conduct heat. Consider insulating them. Uninsulated or poorly insulated ducts in unconditioned spaces can lose 10% to 30% of the energy used to heat and cool your home.
6. Check anything that goes through an exterior wall. Examine dryer ducts, plumbing lines under sinks and vanities, anything that pierces a wall. Any gaps around it should be sealed with spray foam insulation or caulk.
By: Jane Hodges courtesy of

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Looking For Something To Do in Montana?

From our small town's 4th of July Parades to enchanting concerts, Montana has something for everyone! Check out the Local Happenings section of our website under the Area Information page. You will have a great number of activities throughout the state to choose from. Maybe you have always wanted to participate in a Triathalon - then come to Seeley Lake on October 13, 2011 and compete in the Seeley Lake Challenge Triathalon-Duathalon. You'll enjoy the valley's fall splendor too! Or maybe you are looking for good entertainment. If so try one of the many musicals at Carroll College in Helena. Whatever your pleasure, you'll find fun activities for all ages in Montana. Come visit today!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kitchens - Buyers Want Them Cozy & Connected

Kitchens aren't just for cooking anymore. They are the heart of the home and have become a gathering place for families and an open area for entertaining. Buyers today want a more versatile and open floor plan. If your house doesn't have this and you are considering selling here a few ideas to create that cozy feel that buyers are looking for.
  1. 1. Install a kitchen island. They are functional, provide storage, informal dining and provide space to entertain. Consider a portable island that fits with the existing decor.
  2. Look for comfy chairs. Skip the typical wooden bar stools for an upholstered bar stool with a back.
  3. Soften the lighting. Use accent lights and sconces for a more romantic, soft ambience. Hang a chandelier over the dining table.
  4. Add storage. Add a standalone cabinet, buffet or wall shelving to add additional storage space.
  5. Display quality pieces. Take artwork that you might be using in the living room and move it into the kitchen. Accessorize shelves with books and items you cherish.
  6. Make sure the basics are strong. If the bones aren't strong, fix those first. Make sure appliances are modern and the condition of countertops and cabinets are good. Replace dated flooring with tile or hardwood for a contemporary feel.

Information courtesy of Melissa Dittman Tracey and Realtor Magazine.