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Save Energy At Home – Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners

8 Ways to Save Energy at Home

We could all agree that saving a little more cash on your utility bills would be nice. But maybe you’ve heard living energy efficient would take a whole lot of time, effort, and money you simply can’t afford? In such unprecedented times there has to be a way to tip the scales in your favor without breaking the bank. We thought the same thing and compiled a list of simple low-cost and no-cost energy solutions that are easy to do to save energy at home.

1. Reduce Energy Waste with Smart Power Strips

Devices that continue to draw power when they appear to be turned off can cost up to $200 a year in wasted energy. Fight this by regularly unplugging your devices, or let a smart power strip do the work for you. The features of advanced power strips make it easier than ever to ensure devices are fully powered down.

Learn more about smart strips equipped with motion sensors, voltage sensitivity controls and master switches, and easily learn which model is right for you.

2. Maintain Your Heating and Cooling System

The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that going to heating and cooling. A well maintained system can save a lot. Change your air filter regularly, and have a professional perform scheduled tune-ups.

3. Set Your Refrigerator for Optimum Cooling and Freshness

ENERGY STAR® recommends a temperature range between 35° and 38°F to keep food fresh while not wasting energy.

4. Use the Cold Water Cycle in Your Washing Machine

Washing your clothes in cold water saves big on water heating costs. It also keeps colors from fading and clothes from shrinking.

5. Seal Your Windows and Doors

Use caulk and weather stripping to seal air leaks around windows and doors. Homeowners save an average of $200 per year on heating and cooling by better insulating and sealing their homes.

6. Save the Game Console for Gaming

If you stream content to your TV, use a dedicated set-top box, smart TV or streaming-capable Blu-ray player. Game consoles use far more energy than these alternatives.

7. Heat your Water to 120°F

At an average of $250 a year, water heating is the second largest energy cost for most households. Don’t overheat your water only to mix it with cold. 120°F will give you hot showers while saving energy too.

8. Upgrade Your Homes Lighting

Light your home with ENERGY STAR certified LED bulb, the simple choice for energy efficiency. LED lighting is the simple option to save energy, money and protect the planet for future generations.

Additional resources can be found under “Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners” by the Consumers Energy

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Top Features and Design Trends for 2021 in the Wake of COVID-19

NAHB Identifies Top Features and Design Trends for 2021 in the Wake of COVID-19

After declining for four years, a number of key trends — including the average size of the home and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms — reversed course in 2020 as a result of shifting buyer preferences in the wake of COVID-19. The average size home remained flat at 2,486 square feet, while the percentage of homes with four or more bedrooms and three or more bathrooms rose to 46% and 33%, respectively — rising closer to 2015 peaks.

“The primary reason is that COVID-19 has led a segment of home buyers to desire larger homes and to move out to the suburbs,” said Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president of survey research.

An increased number of rooms within the same footprint means home owners are becoming more creative in how they use the space within their homes, and using features such as windows to help make these spaces feel larger.

“The space works harder rather than larger,” said Donald Ruthroff, AIA, principal at Dahlin Group Architecture Planning. “Open spaces are better defined, and spaces are flexible.”

“New homes are gaining popularity as well, with 60% of buyers preferring new homes — the highest level since 2007”

Quint attributes this increased interest in new homes to three key factors.

“One is the absolute lack of existing home inventory,” said Quint. “Two is buyers are concerned about touring other people’s homes. And last but not least, new homes are more likely to be located where buyers want to live.” She noted that outlying suburbs are the most popular geographic location, driven by increased interest among minority home buyers.

NAHB also examined preferences among buyers to help builders determine what features are most likely to resonate in the market in 2021.

The top features desired include:

  • Laundry rooms
  • Exterior lighting
  • Ceiling fans
  • ENERGY STAR windows and appliances
  • Patios and front porches
  • Kitchen double sink
  • Walk-in pantries

 

Outdoor spaces such as patios and front porches allow home owners to utilize more space, Ruthroff added, with the connection between indoors and outdoors continuing to become more seamless. Builders at every value level should consider how to integrate such connections into their homes, and incorporate detailing that helps to dress up these spaces.

NAHB also asked recent and prospective home buyers how COVID-19 may have impacted their housing preferences. Although the majority (67%) did not feel the pandemic had an impact, a quarter did feel their preferences had changed because of COVID-19, with households that have at least one teleworker and one virtual student being the most likely to feel an impact. Such households are also the most likely to desire a larger home.

Additional information will be available soon in NAHB’s latest edition of What Home Buyers Really Want.

Additional resources can be found under “NAHB Identifies Top Features and Design Trends for 2021 in the Wake of COVID-19” by the National Association of Home Builders

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Cold Weather Home Owner Tips

Stay Safe During & After a Winter Storm

Winter storms are dangerous. They can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads. This can make being outside dangerous, so you should limit your time outside. Although staying indoors as much as possible can help reduce the risk of car crashes and falls on the ice, you may also face hazards inside your home.

Heat your home safely

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:

Turning on the stove for heat is not safe; have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:

  • Extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats
  • Fireplace that is up to code with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace
  • Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters. Check with your local fire department to make sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
  • Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Make sure to keep them away from any flammable materials, like curtains or blankets.
  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak gas from the flue or exhaust into the indoor air space.
  • Have your heating system serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
  • Make sure you have proper ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
  • Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use—don’t substitute.
  • Keep heat sources, like space heaters, at least 3 feet away from drapes, furniture, or bedding. Never cover your space heater.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard, but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
  • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
  • If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.

 

Light your home safely

If there is a power failure:

 

Use generators and other appliances safely.

  • Generators should be located at least 20 feet from any window, door, or vent and in a space where rain and snow will not reach them.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector.
  • Never using generators, gas or charcoal grills, camp stoves, or similar devices inside your home, in basements, in garages, or near windows. The fumes are deadly.
  • Plug in appliances to the generator using individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords.
  • Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.
  • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.

Conserve heat

  • Some gas-fueled heaters, such as vent-less gas fireplaces, require some ventilation. Otherwise, if you don’t need extra ventilation, keep as much heat as possible inside your home.
  • Avoid unnecessarily opening doors or windows.
  • Close off unneeded rooms.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.

 

Make sure babies and older adults stay warm

Babies

Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults. Follow these tips to keep your baby safe and warm during the extreme cold:

  • Remove any pillows or other soft bedding. These can increase the risk of smothering and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Dress babies in warmer clothing such as footed pajamas, one-piece wearable blankets, or sleep sacks.
  • Try to maintain a warm temperature inside your home. If you’re not able to keep your home warm, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
  • In an emergency, you can keep your baby warm using your own body heat. If you must sleep, take precautions to prevent rolling on or smothering your baby.

Older Adults

Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity. Check on elderly friends and neighbors often to make sure their homes are heated properly.

If you are over 65 years of age, check the temperature in your home often during extremely cold weather.

 

Keep a water supply

Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes rupture or break. When you are expecting very cold or freezing temperatures:

  • Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
  • Keep the temperature inside your home warm.
  • Allow heated air to reach pipes. For example, open cabinet doors beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch. Thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer.
  • If you cannot thaw your pipes, or the pipes have broken open, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home.
  • As an emergency measure, if no other water is available, snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.
  • Visit Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster or Emergency to learn more.

 

Eat well-balanced meals, and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.

Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat faster. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help keep yourself warm. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

Additional resources can be found under “Staying Safe During a Winter Storm” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Man and woman playing in the snow outside of a house

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House Design Keeping Weather In Mind

Good house design takes climate into account

You’ve made the decision to build a new home – CONGRATULATIONS! Now comes the fun part – House Design! Building a home that will allow you to be comfortable in either cold or heat takes a little planning. When discussing the design elements of energy efficiency, keep a few things in mind to ensure maximum comfort and minimum bills (or at least as close to minimum as you can get).

Start by knowing the ins and outs of the weather in your area. House Design with weather in mind

We all know Michigan has a variable climate. It also varies dramatically from region to region. Someone building a home on the East side of the state will be experiencing different weather patterns than someone on the West side. You’ll see even broader swings if you’re building close to one of the “Great Lakes.” Prepare for harsh winters and hot summers by getting a general picture of the average rainfall, snowfall and temperature ranges for the region in which you intend to build.

Dig into the design from the ground up:

Your foundation can also experience damage from swings in weather patterns. If you intend to have a basement you’ll want to make sure it is properly poured. Winter is not the ideal time to get concrete work done. This can result in foundation weakness later if the temperature isn’t up to par when the foundation is poured. Your basement should also be well insulated. Consider “ICF” or insulated concrete forms when designing the basement. This will allow for a quality air and moisture barrier as well as reducing heat loss.

Landscaping should be properly graded. This means ensuring a slope extending out from a house foundation of about 6 inches for the first 10 feet (that’s about a 5% slope). The right landscape/grading slope means that water in all it’s forms will run AWAY from the foundation. This is not a lesson you want to learn from experience. Trust me when I tell you AWAY is IMPORTANT. Pay attention to the grade throughout the course of your home ownership. Should you find animals have burrowed down in the area close to your home, address the issue. Quickly.

And from the roof down

If snow is a major concern, consider a steeply pitched roof. The roof of your home is one of the most important factors in energy efficiency. It’s also one of the major contributors to the longevity of your home. If you develop roof leaks or other damage, the interior of your home will suffer – a lot. Snow can cause all kinds of trouble with a roof. It’s best just to ensure heavy snow loads never occur. A steeply pitched roof allows snow to slide off quickly. It also helps in preventing ice dams as there isn’t likely to be pooling and quick freezing of rain or snow melt.

If the region is prone to heavy rainfall, keep your roof line simple. It will help prevent water from backing up into your attic.

To get the most of out of your home, pay attention to window placement! Typically South facing windows are an excellent source for heat generation. In the winter months, you’ll appreciate the comfort of extra heat. In the summer, keeping the shades drawn during the day will combat a lot of the heat. Invest in thermally appropriate windows for your area. For the few North and East facing windows a home in Michigan should have, look for a window with a low U factor rating. The U factor is the rate at which a window is prone to heat loss.

Stand the test of time

The true test of a well built home is its durability. Make sure your home is designed and built by craftsmen, who understand your particular needs. Be sure to design you home to get the most benefit from the natural environment.

For more information on House Design with Watts Homes & Construction, visit our Home Building Process Page.
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2020 New Home Design Trends

2020 New Home Design Trends – Moving into a new decade!

In 2020 new home design trends seem to reflect a desire for calm. Back in December the Pantone Color Institute proclaimed good old, Classic Blue its color of the year! Color psychology has branded this color family – stable. Maybe you’ve watched too much recent news… Maybe it’s that the smart phone you just bought will be out of date in six months. Whether its politics or planned obsolescence we can all agree we’re living in pretty hectic times. Is it any wonder that the trends we’re looking at for the new year are “soothing?”

Without further ado your trends for 2020 and beyond:

2020 new home trends-bring nature insideA return to nature: Biophilic Design

Homes in the next few years will seek to bring comfort through the inspiration of nature.

  1.  When the world around us gets crazy, sometimes the most basic things give us peace. We will be embracing nature more and more in our homes. Color pallets will trend toward those found sitting on the shore. A walk in the woods could give your home a grounded natural feel too.
  2. It won’t just be colors taking their cues from nature. Textures and finishes will have a more realist feel to them as well. Wood beams, trim and moldings will become very popular in the next year and into the coming decade.
  3. We’ll see a drive to decorate with house plants. Plants add a lot of color as well as reminding us of spending time outside.
  4. Wall paper returns with – you guessed it – nature inspired motifs.
  5. Rustic feeling accessories like cane, raffia and grass cloths and rugs will be popular.
  6. Terrazzo tile flooring has moved to the forefront of design. It’s natural color and texture work well with biophilic design.
  7. Animal prints in fabrics for upholstery to throw pillows has made a strong return.
  8. Granite and marble appear to be on their way out. This is due to cost and maintenance. Their replacements tend to lean toward quartz or “fake marble and granite.” It feels natural without being too much work or expense.

A deeper need to connect:

A trend that has been slowly sneaking up on us begins to show in design this year. Staying home. Whether its because finances are tight or just because we just want to be able to hear each other speak, staying in or visiting friends is what we’re doing for entertainment. It’s an idea that’s seems to have some staying power too! New homes will continue to accent this idea with design. Creating spaces with socializing in mind…

  1. Patios and decks with plants and grills and eating areas. Features like these have always been popular. Going forward, they will become “Must Have’s”
  2. Open concept design continues to have a strong following.
  3. Home theater remains a widely requested feature.
  4. Cocktail/wet bar areas

 

Trends are great. At the end of the day, the only real trends you need to concern yourself with are the ones that make your house feel like home to you.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas And Happy New Year

From Our Family To You and Yours!

We would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas  –  And a joyous and prosperous new year too!

At this time of year, it’s good to remind ourselves to smile. Life is too short to take oneself too seriously. We sincerely hope you will be able to spend time with family and friends this holiday season. We feel down right blessed to be able to gather around with loved ones and appreciate the joy of being together. Please enjoy our little video. We hope it will add to your holiday spirit!

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Merry Christmas - lights

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The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year!

The “It Color for 2020”

Behold the color – Classic Blue! The Pantone Color of the year for 2020!

Pantone Color of the Year 2020, Leatrice Eiseman Quote.

For more information on how Pantone selects the color of the year visit their website:

Pantone.com

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2559 Hunters Run, Kalamazoo, MI 49048

2559 Hunters Run, Kalamazoo, MI 49048 is just waiting for you!

Tired of mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway and all that exterior home maintenance? It’s time to make the change to condo living. You can relax and enjoy your home and lifestyle without the hassles of exterior maintenance. This wonderful new design features 1184 finished square feet, a spacious master bedroom with private bath and walk in closet, a guest bedroom with walk in closet and a hall bath with tile floors and cultured marble counter top. The open design concept boasts cathedral ceilings and wood laminate flooring in the living room, dining room and kitchen.  The kitchen has plenty of storage and seating space with a nicely sized island, and a large pantry. The dishwasher and microwave are included. The main floor laundry is just off the kitchen. The dinette has a patio door leading to a 12×12 deck.This condo also features a 2 car attached garage with opener, full unfinished walkout lower level with rough plumbing for future bath and much more. It’s time to make the move to Hunters Creek today!

For more information on 2559 Hunters Run, Kalamazoo, MI 49048 or any of our other available properties visit our Available Homes page!

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It’s a Double Hosting Open House Event!

Hosting Open House Event In Hunters Creek and Cottage Pointe

It’s a double hosting open house weekend! Don’t miss your opportunity to live in luxury.

We will be hosting open house s in both communities November 17, 2019 from 1 to 4 PM.

See our open house calendar for full details!

Open Houses Calendar

Both of these condominium neighborhoods offer unique styling options:

 

Hunters Creek Condominiums are attached duplex condos. Many with walk-out lower levels available. This community offers a zero exterior maintenance lifestyle.

 

Cottage Pointe Condominiums are site condominiums. Site condominiums offer all the privacy of an individual house with the low maintenance of a condominium. They really are the best of both worlds!

 

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A Great Home Building Experience

 

We loved working with Elaine and Bob! Providing a great home building experience for amazing people like these two,

is such a privilege!

Home building experience

 

“This is our 3rd experience building a home and I must say the easiest and most pleasant experience. From the owners to the secretaries, to the contractors they work with, the Watts team is the best!! They exceeded our expectations and we are now in our new home and loving it! From the first day that we met Matt to the finishing touches, we have been impressed with his care and professionalism in addressing our needs and concerns. We would not hesitate to highly recommend Watts Homes & Construction!”

Bob and Elaine were so gracious with their Facebook review! We never take our clients for granted. It’s always a very proud moment for Watts Homes & Construction when the people with whom we’ve been so fortunate to work are happy with the end result. These two folks were an absolute pleasure to build for. They loved the design ideas and modification options that working with Watts Homes & Construction provided them and the Cottage Pointe Condominium neighborhood, as well as the location of Richland, MI.

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