Make A New Year's Resolution For Better Home Maintenance in 2013

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Homeowners should map out a budget for home improvements, repairs and maintenance projects. Here are some tips for a healthy home in the new year from Cross Country Home Services (CCHS).

For peace of mind in the new year, consider purchasing a home warranty. It's an integral tool in home and budget management.

The start of the new year is the perfect time to assess the condition of a home and set aside time to develop and implement a routine maintenance plan. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average cost for annual home maintenance in 2012 was $1,689, so it’s important for homeowners to map out a budget for home improvements, repairs and maintenance projects, before things escalate and create unanticipated expenditures. Here are some tips for a healthy home in the new year from Cross Country Home Services (CCHS), one of the country's leading providers of home warranty products and maintenance plans:

1. Safety first! Homeowners should regularly check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to make sure they are working properly.

2. Look for ways to lower energy usage – this will help the environment, and your wallet. An often overlooked expense is the cost of water heating, which makes up 14 to 25 percent of the energy used in a home. Reducing the water-heating temp by just 10 degrees can save three to five percent in energy costs. To save even more, turn water settings down to the lowest temperature possible if the house is going to be unoccupied for an extended period of time. Another easy fix for homeowners is to switch to lower wattage lighting. Compact fluorescent lamps use a lot less energy than incandescent ones, and LED lights are the most energy-efficient of all.

3. Inspect heating and cooling equipment to ensure they’re in tip-top shape and not in need of cleaning or repair. In addition, it’s important to ensure that air conditioner filters are kept clean, and to set a schedule for changing them. Once filters become clogged or dirty, the system has to work harder and becomes less efficient. Don’t forget to clean air ducts because dirty, blocked passages waste energy. Homeowners should check around their homes for air entering through electrical outlets and switch plates, door and window frames or baseboards. Use weatherstripping or caulking to seal any holes or gaps, as inadequate insulation can significantly increase energy bills in both the winter and summer, even in newer homes.

4. For homeowners in need of a new appliance in 2013, be sure to budget for an energy efficient model. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, home appliances and electronics make up 20 percent of your energy bill. From the television set to the refrigerator, replacing old appliances with new, Energy Star-rated appliances will help save money over time.

5. For peace of mind in the new year, consider purchasing a home warranty to cover repair and replacement of household appliances and systems that sustain a mechanical failure due to normal wear and tear. Covered items may vary by company and plan, but typically include heating and air conditioning system (HVAC), electrical system, plumbing system, water heater, kitchen appliances such as refrigerator, stove/oven/range, dishwasher, garbage disposal, clothes washer and dryer and garage door opener. For an average cost of $300 to $600 per year, a home warranty is an integral tool in home and budget management. Warranty products such as TotalProtect can be purchased directly from CCHS, or are offered through local mortgage and utility companies, banks or realtors.

Follow these money-saving tips for a happy home in 2013. That’s a New Year’s resolution worth keeping.

About Cross Country Home Services
Cross Country Home Services, Inc. (CCHS) is dedicated to making home management easy by offering a full selection of hassle-free, cost-effective home solutions, including warranty products and maintenance plans. Since 1978, the company has built a reputation for excellence and today is one of the nation’s leading providers of these products and services. Consumers can buy home warranties and home maintenance plans directly from CCHS or through select affinity partners in mortgage, banking, insurance, real estate and utilities industries. Products include some of the industry’s best known brands, including TotalProtect Home Warranty, Home Protect Warranty and HMS Home Warranty. The company’s customer care staff is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is dedicated to ensuring the highest level of service. Homeowner needs are quickly resolved through a national network of over 40,000 service providers, the largest in the industry. Headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., CCHS is a member of the Cross Country Group. To learn more about CCHS, please visit http://www.cchs.com.

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Jennifer Sullivan
O'DONNELL AGENCY
561-832-3231
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