Author Topic: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.  (Read 14809 times)

HairyUpperLip

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Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« on: July 14, 2015, 01:34:29 PM »
Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
Throw some, throw some D's on that.

Good day all - as the thread title implies, I just purchased a house.

For those that don't know, but are curious the title is in reference to a rap song (Rich Boy - Throw Some Some D's).

I've been reading MMM for awhile now and even did a case study before. I'm starting this thread more to ask some specific questions about being in our first home.

Background -
I'm married and my wife and I are both 31. Our daughter will be 2 years old soon.

Questions -

1. How do I help keep electric costs down? My house is all electric, no gas line at all.

       a - I've been setting the ac at 80 and sometimes have dropped it down to 78. A few nights it got to low 70's outside so I did the open windows thing overnight. How do I prevent rain from being a headache with open windows?
       
       b - Open to any other tips. We are good about keeping lights off in unused rooms. Haven't gotten a real bill yet but just want to start off on the right foot. We have dual zone air so sometimes at night I turn off the ac downstairs since it tends to remain cooler with the open space.

2. How do I get decent grass? update - got a lawn mower

       a - my house is a new build and has new sod. How do I get the grass to take good root without being overly wasteful with water?

       b - I looked at reel mowers but not sure I'll really get one. What's a reasonable price to spend on a gas powered lawn mower?
        A friend of mine let me borrow his 2 year old Craftsman lawn mower. I brought it to the house and it wouldn't crank. I changed the spark plug and was able to get it to start when we poured gas into the cylinder. It'd die after a few seconds. I returned it to him. I believe he spent around $400 for the lawn mower.
        Another friend recently purchased a Honda lawnmower for around $600. He brought it over and cut my yard for me after the first law mower failed. Honestly, it was a super nice mower and did the job very quickly and efficiently. I feel like this is a ton of money for a lawn mower though.

3. Bugs and Termites
   
      a - The house came with a one year program for termite control. After that I have to start paying if I want to keep it. Do I keep it? Don't know numbers, but I'm asking if the service is worth money in general. If yes, I would price shop for the best option.

      b - Any suggestions on anything I should do to be preventative? I bought a can of Raid and some insect spray just to keep on hand just in case for now.

4. General Maintenance
 
      a - Could use some good advice on what kind of maintenance I should prepare for and if anyone has a good link for a "maint schedule" that would be awesome.

Thanks in advance and I will update with any additional questions. :) Have a great day.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 09:26:47 AM by HairyUpperLip »

dantownehall

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2015, 01:46:10 PM »
As far as electricity, I would suggest going ahead and getting all LED light bulbs right away.

Check to make sure you don't have any energy vampires (devices still drawing current when they're switched off).  If there are times when there's no one in the house, get a programmable thermostat and set it based on the hours you want it to cool/heat.

If your yard is small, I'd suggest a little electric weed whacker.  I use it for my whole yard, but mine is very small.

I don't personally believe in termite protection services, but YMMV.

dycker1978

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2015, 01:51:07 PM »
Don't waste water on grass, plant food... save money and the environment

tvan

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 01:57:32 PM »
I'm assuming your lawn has underground sprinklers?

A good way to limit water use is to manually run the sprinklers.  If you set it up on some schedule like once per day it can be wasteful.  By leaving it to manual you can assess your grass on a day by day basis.  Also most underground sprinkler systems are sections to different parts of your yard.  Some areas need more water than others so make sure the run time is adjusted accordingly. 

I hate lawncare, and the less you water the less you have to mow.  At the same time you want to be courteous of your neighbors and not have a yard that is brown and yellow full of weeds.  I always tried to keep my lawn slightly better than the worst few yards in the neighborhood.  Nothing more.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2015, 02:45:24 PM »
As far as electricity, I would suggest going ahead and getting all LED light bulbs right away.

Definitely looking to start doing this in the next month or two. I'm thinking Costco LED bulbs should be sufficient.

Check to make sure you don't have any energy vampires (devices still drawing current when they're switched off).  If there are times when there's no one in the house, get a programmable thermostat and set it based on the hours you want it to cool/heat.

We've only got the essentials plugged in at all times, otherwise we are doing pretty good about keeping the phone chargers, coffee maker, etc unplugged.

If your yard is small, I'd suggest a little electric weed whacker.  I use it for my whole yard, but mine is very small.

I don't personally believe in termite protection services, but YMMV.

Might be too big for that. I kind of wanted an electric mower to save the world but feel the performance may not be worth it.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2015, 02:46:19 PM »
Don't waste water on grass, plant food... save money and the environment

I don't plan to do anything too big this year as there is obviously a lot to take care of and do in a new home. My goal for next year is to start a proper vegetable garden in the backyard. I have plenty of space and sunlight to setup something decent.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2015, 02:48:09 PM »
I'm assuming your lawn has underground sprinklers?

A good way to limit water use is to manually run the sprinklers.  If you set it up on some schedule like once per day it can be wasteful.  By leaving it to manual you can assess your grass on a day by day basis.  Also most underground sprinkler systems are sections to different parts of your yard.  Some areas need more water than others so make sure the run time is adjusted accordingly. 

I hate lawncare, and the less you water the less you have to mow.  At the same time you want to be courteous of your neighbors and not have a yard that is brown and yellow full of weeds.  I always tried to keep my lawn slightly better than the worst few yards in the neighborhood.  Nothing more.

I don't have anything fancy. Just a $15 side to side sprinkler from Walmart. All my watering is done manually and I usually set the timer on my phone so I don't forget about it. :)

I personally hate the idea of wasting so much water on the grass, but since it's all new grass I do want to at least encourage the roots to grow deep and be strong.

Once the new grass takes hold I don't plan to keep watering and I don't care to win any prizes for the nicest lawn. :)

slugline

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2015, 03:01:29 PM »
I just experimented with my own sprinkler this past weekend. I put some empty cat food cans under the spray pattern and found that it took about an hour to fill the cans to a depth of roughly one inch. The rule of thumb I'm using is that a lawn that gets an inch of water per week should be OK. If you have water running into the street, you've definitely overwatered. So if you haven't already done so, figure out how much rainfall-per-hour your own sprinkler is throwing out.

How large is the yard? That may help with the mower recommendations. After subtracting the house/tree footprint, I have about one-tenth of an acre of actual grass to mow. A rechargeable-battery mower (plus a spare battery) has been just fine on it for the past couple of summers.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 03:05:01 PM by slugline »

Dee18

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2015, 03:23:39 PM »
Consider an electric lawnmower.  I hated mowing the lawn, but a neighbor moved to a condo and gave me his electric mower so it's a breeze...no messing with gasoline.

MDM

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2015, 03:36:51 PM »
For those that don't know, but are curious the title is in reference to a rap song (Rich Boy - Throw Some Some D's).

Our daughter will be 2 years old soon.

Nope, didn't know.  After looking it up...just wondering how you'll react if someone comes to date your daughter and talks to her like that....

forummm

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2015, 04:48:28 PM »
For those that don't know, but are curious the title is in reference to a rap song (Rich Boy - Throw Some Some D's).

Our daughter will be 2 years old soon.

Nope, didn't know.  After looking it up...just wondering how you'll react if someone comes to date your daughter and talks to her like that....


The response may involve some proverbial cap busting in the suitor's posterior.

mozar

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2015, 05:38:45 PM »
There are lithium ion battery lawn mowers too. Expensive tho.

forummm

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2015, 05:51:24 PM »
I like my corded electric motor (was $200). I bought a 100ft cord ($70 for heavy duty 12 gauge). I've had it for 5 years. No problems, no gas to buy. It costs about 5 cents per hour to use. It's great.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2015, 05:53:59 PM »
check craigslist for lawnmowers under $100, try them out before you buy them.
Make sure you have an Energy Star fridge.
if you have a TV, make sure it's an LED TV. Some people think they are getting a great deal when they get a really old big tv for $10, then spend an extra $5 every month on electricity, and end up spending more in the long run than someone who spends $100 on a used LED TV.
Hang clothes rather than using a dryer if you can
make sure you have good insulation in your house
make sure you have an efficient water heater, sometimes an insulation blanket can help with that. If you ever need a new hot water heater get a heat pump water heater.
If you have electric baseboard heat, it can be replaced by a much more efficient heat pump ductless system

Hopper

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2015, 05:56:20 PM »
There are lithium ion battery lawn mowers too. Expensive tho.

+1

Our new lawnmower with a lithium ion battery is pretty sweet. We went ego brand from home depot.  We needed to replace our gas one from the 80s that broke down.  And broke down.  Overall, the electric mower is quiet and works really well.  One 56v battery will not, generally, mow our .25 acre lawn in one charge (my husband can do it but I can't).  So you have to wait like 20 minutes for it to recharge.  Additional batteries are really expensive.  Thats where they try to get you - the batteries are all proprietary at this point.  We ended up buying a compatible electric weed wacker and now have two interchangable batteries.  Not much more cost out of the box than gas powered, but if you are handy, you can be a better mustachian than me and get a cheap old gas one off craigslist and fix it yourself. 

Valetta

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2015, 06:07:33 PM »
In addition to everything that has been said:

I can't tell you if you live in a place where you will be heating your house in addition to cooling it. If you happen to have a forced air furnace for heating, if you keep a relatively clean filter in there (change it every 1 - 3 months) it's supposed to save energy. A dirty filter is harder to force air through and makes the furnace work a little harder.

I'm actually surprised you need to have the air on in the basement at all. May want to try shutting it off completely down there and see how cool it gets just from the cool air sinking from your upper level.

Make sure your fridge and freezer aren't set unnecessarily cold. You can look up the right settings for them online. My MIL used to waste a lot of energy this way until I fixed her settings.

For just keeping the house cool in general, if you aren't using air conditioning at all it works pretty well to open all the windows at night when it cools down a bit. Then in the morning, before it starts to warm up, close all the windows and drapes/blinds. It will feel slightly oppressive without the air flow but it really does keep the house much cooler. Super important to keep the heat from the sun out.

forummm

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2015, 06:15:16 PM »
There are lithium ion battery lawn mowers too. Expensive tho.

+1

Our new lawnmower with a lithium ion battery is pretty sweet. We went ego brand from home depot.  We needed to replace our gas one from the 80s that broke down.  And broke down.  Overall, the electric mower is quiet and works really well.  One 56v battery will not, generally, mow our .25 acre lawn in one charge (my husband can do it but I can't).  So you have to wait like 20 minutes for it to recharge.  Additional batteries are really expensive.  Thats where they try to get you - the batteries are all proprietary at this point.  We ended up buying a compatible electric weed wacker and now have two interchangable batteries.  Not much more cost out of the box than gas powered, but if you are handy, you can be a better mustachian than me and get a cheap old gas one off craigslist and fix it yourself. 


Electric mowers are great. The corded ones are nice because they don't need a battery. And the battery can fade with time. Dragging a cord is a little bit of a hassle, but not much.

JLee

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2015, 06:16:22 PM »
As far as electricity, I would suggest going ahead and getting all LED light bulbs right away.

Check to make sure you don't have any energy vampires (devices still drawing current when they're switched off).  If there are times when there's no one in the house, get a programmable thermostat and set it based on the hours you want it to cool/heat.

If your yard is small, I'd suggest a little electric weed whacker.  I use it for my whole yard, but mine is very small.

I don't personally believe in termite protection services, but YMMV.
+1 on the programmable thermostat. Mine has only been set up for a couple of days, but based on the usage so far I'm guesstimating I might save between $25 and $50 a month. Granted, I am in Phoenix so we have a LOT of AC use in the summer (with outside temps pushing past 110f).

Hopper

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2015, 06:20:40 PM »
There are lithium ion battery lawn mowers too. Expensive tho.

+1

Our new lawnmower with a lithium ion battery is pretty sweet. We went ego brand from home depot.  We needed to replace our gas one from the 80s that broke down.  And broke down.  Overall, the electric mower is quiet and works really well.  One 56v battery will not, generally, mow our .25 acre lawn in one charge (my husband can do it but I can't).  So you have to wait like 20 minutes for it to recharge.  Additional batteries are really expensive.  Thats where they try to get you - the batteries are all proprietary at this point.  We ended up buying a compatible electric weed wacker and now have two interchangable batteries.  Not much more cost out of the box than gas powered, but if you are handy, you can be a better mustachian than me and get a cheap old gas one off craigslist and fix it yourself. 


Electric mowers are great. The corded ones are nice because they don't need a battery. And the battery can fade with time. Dragging a cord is a little bit of a hassle, but not much.

I considered the corded but really didn't want (what I imagined to be) a giant hassle of the cord.  Maybe I should have given it a shot.  So much cheaper!

forummm

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2015, 06:32:39 PM »
There are lithium ion battery lawn mowers too. Expensive tho.

+1

Our new lawnmower with a lithium ion battery is pretty sweet. We went ego brand from home depot.  We needed to replace our gas one from the 80s that broke down.  And broke down.  Overall, the electric mower is quiet and works really well.  One 56v battery will not, generally, mow our .25 acre lawn in one charge (my husband can do it but I can't).  So you have to wait like 20 minutes for it to recharge.  Additional batteries are really expensive.  Thats where they try to get you - the batteries are all proprietary at this point.  We ended up buying a compatible electric weed wacker and now have two interchangable batteries.  Not much more cost out of the box than gas powered, but if you are handy, you can be a better mustachian than me and get a cheap old gas one off craigslist and fix it yourself. 


Electric mowers are great. The corded ones are nice because they don't need a battery. And the battery can fade with time. Dragging a cord is a little bit of a hassle, but not much.

I considered the corded but really didn't want (what I imagined to be) a giant hassle of the cord.  Maybe I should have given it a shot.  So much cheaper!

If you want to come over and try it out on my lawn be my guest.

(cough Tom Sawyer cough)

Retire-Canada

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2015, 06:39:40 PM »

I considered the corded but really didn't want (what I imagined to be) a giant hassle of the cord.  Maybe I should have given it a shot.  So much cheaper!

I have a corded mower. It takes and extra 60 seconds of effort to mow my lawn dealing with the cord than it would without. It takes me ~20 mins to mow the whole backyard from start to finish.

« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 06:50:04 PM by Vikb »

Hopper

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2015, 06:41:14 PM »
There are lithium ion battery lawn mowers too. Expensive tho.

+1

Our new lawnmower with a lithium ion battery is pretty sweet. We went ego brand from home depot.  We needed to replace our gas one from the 80s that broke down.  And broke down.  Overall, the electric mower is quiet and works really well.  One 56v battery will not, generally, mow our .25 acre lawn in one charge (my husband can do it but I can't).  So you have to wait like 20 minutes for it to recharge.  Additional batteries are really expensive.  Thats where they try to get you - the batteries are all proprietary at this point.  We ended up buying a compatible electric weed wacker and now have two interchangable batteries.  Not much more cost out of the box than gas powered, but if you are handy, you can be a better mustachian than me and get a cheap old gas one off craigslist and fix it yourself. 


Electric mowers are great. The corded ones are nice because they don't need a battery. And the battery can fade with time. Dragging a cord is a little bit of a hassle, but not much.

I considered the corded but really didn't want (what I imagined to be) a giant hassle of the cord.  Maybe I should have given it a shot.  So much cheaper!

If you want to come over and try it out on my lawn be my guest.

(cough Tom Sawyer cough)

:)  Gosh, thanks, but well, no thanks. I'm in a committed mowing relationship here. 

kendallf

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2015, 07:05:05 PM »
I have a generic push mower with a Honda engine, sort of like this:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_538023-270-11A-B2AQ711_1z0wgdf__?productId=50119623&pl=1

No self propel system to break (or just make the mower heavy and useless in sandy terrain), I've had it at least 5 years with zero issues, I've probably changed the plug once. 

Jack

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2015, 07:28:07 PM »
1. How do I help keep electric costs down? My house is all electric, no gas line at all.

       a - I've been setting the ac at 80 and sometimes have dropped it down to 78. A few nights it got to low 70's outside so I did the open windows thing overnight. How do I prevent rain from being a headache with open windows?
       
       b - Open to any other tips. We are good about keeping lights off in unused rooms. Haven't gotten a real bill yet but just want to start off on the right foot. We have dual zone air so sometimes at night I turn off the ac downstairs since it tends to remain cooler with the open space.

Do you have deep roof overhangs? I don't, so whenever I have the windows open during rain I periodically walk around all four sides of the house to check that the water isn't coming in (if the window bug screens are mostly dry, then I assume it's okay; otherwise I close the window).

I plan to add eaves when I replace the roof, which will hopefully not only let me keep the windows open in more rainstorms, but also improve the passive solar design. On a new house, I'd hope/expect it to not need such modification...

With this being a new-construction house, I hope you got energy-efficient appliances. That means, preferably, a heat pump (not AC and separate resistive heat), a heat-pump (not resistive) water heater, an induction (not resistive) cook top, and of course Energy Star fridge, dishwasher and washing machine.

Ideally, you'd have solar and/or geothermal HVAC and/or hot water, but that's unlikely. (To be honest, the best time to ask about this would have been before the house got built, but of course it's too late now...)

2. How do I get decent grass?

       a - my house is a new build and has new sod. How do I get the grass to take good root without being overly wasteful with water?

       b - I looked at reel mowers but not sure I'll really get one. What's a reasonable price to spend on a gas powered lawn mower?
        A friend of mine let me borrow his 2 year old Craftsman lawn mower. I brought it to the house and it wouldn't crank. I changed the spark plug and was able to get it to start when we poured gas into the cylinder. It'd die after a few seconds. I returned it to him. I believe he spent around $400 for the lawn mower.
        Another friend recently purchased a Honda lawnmower for around $600. He brought it over and cut my yard for me after the first law mower failed. Honestly, it was a super nice mower and did the job very quickly and efficiently. I feel like this is a ton of money for a lawn mower though.

Do NOT neglect watering your sod until it has fully established itself! The best way to keep your grass decent is to start with decent grass, and not screw it up. Fixing a lawn that was previously neglected is a lot harder (a fact I've been learning the hard way...).

There's no reason even a new mower has to cost tons of money. I got the cheapest side-discharge gas mower at Lowe's this spring on sale for $100, and it's fine. (No facepunches, please; I have too much crabgrass for a manual mower to be reasonable.) The main thing about gas mowers is that they have to be maintained properly, and I can 99% guarantee your friend's Craftsman wasn't.

justchristine

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Jeremy E.

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #25 on: July 14, 2015, 08:54:48 PM »
If you do get a gas lawn mower, one thing to remember is make sure you don't leave gas in it all winter, that will end up ruining them. Old gas is very bad for lawn mowers and is the cause for a lot of the problems that they have.

letired

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2015, 10:30:02 PM »
This is the best lawn advice I've ever read: Organic Lawn Care For the Cheap and Lazy  http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp

They explain WHY stuff happens, and you end up with a lawn that is largely self-sufficient.

dragoncar

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2015, 11:03:41 PM »
Curious to hear the answer about termites... Is it maybe an every other year thing?  Or just do my own annual inspection?

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2015, 05:51:39 AM »
How large is the yard? That may help with the mower recommendations. After subtracting the house/tree footprint, I have about one-tenth of an acre of actual grass to mow. A rechargeable-battery mower (plus a spare battery) has been just fine on it for the past couple of summers.

Oh man, I forget the number off the top of my head but it's a smaller yard and should be easily done with any type of push mower. It took my friend about a hour to mow the whole yard.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2015, 05:54:57 AM »
For those that don't know, but are curious the title is in reference to a rap song (Rich Boy - Throw Some Some D's).

Our daughter will be 2 years old soon.

Nope, didn't know.  After looking it up...just wondering how you'll react if someone comes to date your daughter and talks to her like that....

hahaha - being in Atlanta area this is a completely real possibility. That being said, I really hope that never happens as I wouldn't be thrilled. But I wouldn't be angry if my daughter enjoyed some of the same music as me, regardless if it's classy or not.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #30 on: July 15, 2015, 05:55:43 AM »
For those that don't know, but are curious the title is in reference to a rap song (Rich Boy - Throw Some Some D's).

Our daughter will be 2 years old soon.

Nope, didn't know.  After looking it up...just wondering how you'll react if someone comes to date your daughter and talks to her like that....


The response may involve some proverbial cap busting in the suitor's posterior.

The Busta Cappa Cappa sorority house has already reached out to us to provide support....

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #31 on: July 15, 2015, 05:56:19 AM »
I like my corded electric motor (was $200). I bought a 100ft cord ($70 for heavy duty 12 gauge). I've had it for 5 years. No problems, no gas to buy. It costs about 5 cents per hour to use. It's great.

To everyone with the electric mowers, mind sharing which brand and model? Thanks!

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #32 on: July 15, 2015, 05:57:41 AM »
check craigslist for lawnmowers under $100, try them out before you buy them.
Make sure you have an Energy Star fridge.
if you have a TV, make sure it's an LED TV. Some people think they are getting a great deal when they get a really old big tv for $10, then spend an extra $5 every month on electricity, and end up spending more in the long run than someone who spends $100 on a used LED TV.
Hang clothes rather than using a dryer if you can
make sure you have good insulation in your house
make sure you have an efficient water heater, sometimes an insulation blanket can help with that. If you ever need a new hot water heater get a heat pump water heater.
If you have electric baseboard heat, it can be replaced by a much more efficient heat pump ductless system

Thanks, I'm doing pretty decent with most of these things.

Haven't moved to air drying yet, but hoping to eventually get a drying line outside.

All appliances are brand new and considered pretty efficient. Nothing is high end, but definitely no plans to replace anything for several years currently.


HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #33 on: July 15, 2015, 06:00:27 AM »
In addition to everything that has been said:

I can't tell you if you live in a place where you will be heating your house in addition to cooling it. If you happen to have a forced air furnace for heating, if you keep a relatively clean filter in there (change it every 1 - 3 months) it's supposed to save energy. A dirty filter is harder to force air through and makes the furnace work a little harder.

I'm actually surprised you need to have the air on in the basement at all. May want to try shutting it off completely down there and see how cool it gets just from the cool air sinking from your upper level.

Make sure your fridge and freezer aren't set unnecessarily cold. You can look up the right settings for them online. My MIL used to waste a lot of energy this way until I fixed her settings.

For just keeping the house cool in general, if you aren't using air conditioning at all it works pretty well to open all the windows at night when it cools down a bit. Then in the morning, before it starts to warm up, close all the windows and drapes/blinds. It will feel slightly oppressive without the air flow but it really does keep the house much cooler. Super important to keep the heat from the sun out.

Man, that's totally my mistake. I assumed everyone knew everything. House is located in Metro Atlanta and is roughly 2200 sq ft. I'll add this to the main post.

Nice. Done well on the filter so far. Planning on doing a bulk order through Amazon to make sure I always have new ones on hand. Definitely cheap insurance imo and worth changing every month.

Sorry, I don't have a basement - I just meant upstairs and downstairs of a traditional 2 story style home.

I think I'm set a degree cooler than the recommended settings. I'll change it back to the recommended ones.

Thanks for the advice.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #34 on: July 15, 2015, 06:15:18 AM »

Do you have deep roof overhangs? I don't, so whenever I have the windows open during rain I periodically walk around all four sides of the house to check that the water isn't coming in (if the window bug screens are mostly dry, then I assume it's okay; otherwise I close the window).

I plan to add eaves when I replace the roof, which will hopefully not only let me keep the windows open in more rainstorms, but also improve the passive solar design. On a new house, I'd hope/expect it to not need such modification...

With this being a new-construction house, I hope you got energy-efficient appliances. That means, preferably, a heat pump (not AC and separate resistive heat), a heat-pump (not resistive) water heater, an induction (not resistive) cook top, and of course Energy Star fridge, dishwasher and washing machine.

Ideally, you'd have solar and/or geothermal HVAC and/or hot water, but that's unlikely. (To be honest, the best time to ask about this would have been before the house got built, but of course it's too late now...)

Nothing special going on with my roof. When I'm home and it rains that is what I do. I was just thinking maybe had developed a work around for when they are asleep or away.

All the appliances are rated as Energy Star stuff. But they are still more like builder special quality stuff. No plans to make any changes here.


Do NOT neglect watering your sod until it has fully established itself! The best way to keep your grass decent is to start with decent grass, and not screw it up. Fixing a lawn that was previously neglected is a lot harder (a fact I've been learning the hard way...).

There's no reason even a new mower has to cost tons of money. I got the cheapest side-discharge gas mower at Lowe's this spring on sale for $100, and it's fine. (No facepunches, please; I have too much crabgrass for a manual mower to be reasonable.) The main thing about gas mowers is that they have to be maintained properly, and I can 99% guarantee your friend's Craftsman wasn't.


Yeah, definitely trying hard to make sure I do a good job watering the lawn. It's been "harder" than I thought since I really don't 'care' about grass much. I did purchase some compost and plan to spread that around in some of the more bare spots to help encourage growth.

I can 99.9% guarantee my friend didn't maintain his lawn mower properly as well. In fact, I'm pretty sure they only used it 3 or 4 times before they ended up hiring a yard service.

Thanks for all the info!

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2015, 06:15:44 AM »
This is the best lawn advice I've ever read: Organic Lawn Care For the Cheap and Lazy  http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp

They explain WHY stuff happens, and you end up with a lawn that is largely self-sufficient.

Good link, thanks!

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2015, 06:16:23 AM »
Curious to hear the answer about termites... Is it maybe an every other year thing?  Or just do my own annual inspection?

Yes, also looking forward to more responses on this subject. Do we not have a resident Orkin man that can help us MMM folk with some insider info? lol

Lis

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2015, 06:39:53 AM »
Regarding termites - do you know if the house had a termite problem before you bought it, and are there any signs of damage now?

There's another thread around here regarding Mustachian pest control, so take a look throughout the board. I'm not sure how big of a problem they are in Atlanta, but my parents had them and they could have potentially caused a HUUUUGE problem (in short: my parents were planning on knocking down an 'indoor porch' that had been built on their house by the previous owners for a new family room, but they didn't need a demolition crew because they could literally push down the walls due to termite damage).

Take a look here: http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Termites

Quite a few of my coworkers have recommended nematodes for a variety of pest problems (particularly Japanese red beetles destroying my mother's lillies). Again, not sure if they'd work in Atlanta (northeasterner here) but maybe someone else could chime in?

forummm

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2015, 07:49:27 AM »
I like my corded electric motor (was $200). I bought a 100ft cord ($70 for heavy duty 12 gauge). I've had it for 5 years. No problems, no gas to buy. It costs about 5 cents per hour to use. It's great.

To everyone with the electric mowers, mind sharing which brand and model? Thanks!

Homelite 12 amp 3-in-1.

AlanStache

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2015, 08:30:08 AM »
Quote
We've only got the essentials plugged in at all times, otherwise we are doing pretty good about keeping the phone chargers, coffee maker, etc unplugged.

I have never seen a proper source that says phone chargers use any real power when not charging a phone.  If the device is not warm it is not using power.  Yes tv's can use real power when not on but I am not sure the smaller stuff is worth any level of effort.  Power meters are like 25$ or can be rented, I have one might test my cell charger this evening.

I am in the process of buying a place with a modest yard, will almost certainly go for a corded electric mower.  GF would probably shoot down any suggestion of a push powered spinning blade style mower.

On a more basic level check each door and window and make sure it seals tightly, also check around plumbing pipe inputs and dryer vents there can be gaps that let air flow freely in and out.  A can of spray foam and some door gap filler can stop a lot and be done cheaply in an afternoon.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2015, 09:02:22 AM »
Quote
We've only got the essentials plugged in at all times, otherwise we are doing pretty good about keeping the phone chargers, coffee maker, etc unplugged.

I have never seen a proper source that says phone chargers use any real power when not charging a phone.  If the device is not warm it is not using power.  Yes tv's can use real power when not on but I am not sure the smaller stuff is worth any level of effort.  Power meters are like 25$ or can be rented, I have one might test my cell charger this evening.

I am in the process of buying a place with a modest yard, will almost certainly go for a corded electric mower.  GF would probably shoot down any suggestion of a push powered spinning blade style mower.

On a more basic level check each door and window and make sure it seals tightly, also check around plumbing pipe inputs and dryer vents there can be gaps that let air flow freely in and out.  A can of spray foam and some door gap filler can stop a lot and be done cheaply in an afternoon.

Awesome, thanks for the tips.

With the phone charger comment - we both have iPhones and I feel like the wall plug is always warm to the touch. That's why I started unplugging it anyways.


Man, I wish I could try a push reel mower so bad before buying it. They aren't very expensive brand new even. But not sure how it would really pan out for me.

forummm

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #41 on: July 15, 2015, 09:27:15 AM »
Quote
We've only got the essentials plugged in at all times, otherwise we are doing pretty good about keeping the phone chargers, coffee maker, etc unplugged.

I have never seen a proper source that says phone chargers use any real power when not charging a phone.  If the device is not warm it is not using power.  Yes tv's can use real power when not on but I am not sure the smaller stuff is worth any level of effort.  Power meters are like 25$ or can be rented, I have one might test my cell charger this evening.

Many of them use 1-5W. Sounds tiny. But multiply that by 24/7 and the number of such devices in your house, and it adds up. The A/C or your plasma screen will still be much more. But it's not nothing. And you may not be able to tell the difference in heat for a couple Watts.

A big power hog is cable boxes and DVRs--even when turned off they often are pulling around 100W. When on, that goes up some.

AlanStache

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #42 on: July 15, 2015, 09:29:07 AM »
Quote
We've only got the essentials plugged in at all times, otherwise we are doing pretty good about keeping the phone chargers, coffee maker, etc unplugged.
I have never seen a proper source that says phone chargers use any real power when not charging a phone.  If the device is not warm it is not using power.  Yes tv's can use real power when not on but I am not sure the smaller stuff is worth any level of effort.  Power meters are like 25$ or can be rented, I have one might test my cell charger this evening.
With the phone charger comment - we both have iPhones and I feel like the wall plug is always warm to the touch. That's why I started unplugging it anyways.


quick googling:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2013/09/07/how-much-energy-does-your-iphone-and-other-devices-use-and-what-to-do-about-it/

The take away: an iphone, ipad and apple laptop will cost 10$/year to fully charge once per day.  The power used when not charging will be a trivial percent of a modest number.

re warm charger, my generic droid charger has never felt more than room temp. 

Ask around to see if a friend has a power meter, would be good to see what the toaster/coffee maker/etc use when not on.

Axecleaver

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #43 on: July 15, 2015, 09:30:37 AM »
Quote
a - The house came with a one year program for termite control. After that I have to start paying if I want to keep it. Do I keep it? Don't know numbers, but I'm asking if the service is worth money in general. If yes, I would price shop for the best option.
The termite control programs they use in the South are usually of two types, one to prevent infestation and a different kind to kill active infestations. You probably have the first type. For Prevention, the concept is to put untreated wood chunks in traps that are sunk into the lawn and allow the termites to burrow inside. The wood is treated with a poison that gets transferred back to the colony. They generally do not work very well as the bait traps are not as appealing to termites as a whole huge wooden house.

The active method is expensive but works well, it creates an oil barrier under the house which kills termites that cross it. Lasts for about 10 years.

Quote
      b - Any suggestions on anything I should do to be preventative? I bought a can of Raid and some insect spray just to keep on hand just in case for now.
Termites must sleep underground, they do all their damage during the day. They dry out very easily, so as long as you keep the wood in your home dry, you will be OK. Keep mulch and leaves away from the foundation, don't let trees touch the house, and prune back any branches that overhang the roof.

Once a year the excess queens of a colony will grow wings along with the drones, to create new colonies. Existing queens sometimes relocate the colony this way, too. If you see these land on your house, start freaking out! They're about to start a colony in your back yard and eat your house!

dragoncar

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2015, 12:09:30 PM »
Fridge temperatures: keep them reasonable, but I like to keep my fridge at almost freezing.  I find me leftovers and other food lasts much longer reducing waste.  Some cold spots might freeze though

Vampire loads: well designed chargers will have load so small it's not worth the additional mechanical strain on the outlet to unplug it.  But that's ideal- cheap electronics might have enough load to be worth unplugging.  And as mentioned, cable boxes are terrible.  Best way is to check with a killawatt but I personally haven't found one at the library and can't justfify the cost of purchase

Jack

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2015, 01:08:21 PM »
The active method is expensive but works well, it creates an oil barrier under the house which kills termites that cross it. Lasts for about 10 years.

Incidentally, although I think you're "supposed" to be licensed to do termite treatments, there's lots of DIY pest control stores (not HD or Lowes; actual specialized stores) that will sell you the pesticide and (depending on the store) tell you how to use it.

I got a jug of Bifen from one for maybe $40 that's either pretty much a lifetime supply of "normal" bug killer, or enough to do at least one termite treatment on my entire house. (It's nasty stuff, by the way; I try to use it as little as possible both for my health and to save the bees.)

The main reason active termite treatments are expensive is that they involve digging a 1' deep (I think) trench around the entire foundation. In other words, it's a case where DIY can save a very large percentage of the cost.

Regarding termites - I'm not sure how big of a problem they are in Atlanta

Amusingly, the #1 Google result for "DIY pest control" is for a company based in metro Atlanta. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

: )

(By the way, that's a pretty good site: although it's a store, they also have instructional videos.)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2015, 01:09:57 PM by Jack »

Lis

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #46 on: July 15, 2015, 01:14:41 PM »
Regarding termites - I'm not sure how big of a problem they are in Atlanta

Amusingly, the #1 Google result for "DIY pest control" is for a company based in metro Atlanta. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

: )

(By the way, that's a pretty good site: although it's a store, they also have instructional videos.)

Haha that wasn't to imply they aren't a problem. I've never been to nor know anyone who's lived in Atlanta or the surrounding area, so call me Jon Snow because I know nothing.

But seriously, termites can be terrible, so find out your house's history if you don't know it.

slugline

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #47 on: July 15, 2015, 01:27:11 PM »
On a more basic level check each door and window and make sure it seals tightly, also check around plumbing pipe inputs and dryer vents there can be gaps that let air flow freely in and out.  A can of spray foam and some door gap filler can stop a lot and be done cheaply in an afternoon.

This might be the most important energy-related tip you'll see in the thread. During the first winter in my new-to-me house, I discovered drafts leaking cold air through the windows and through expansion joints in the brick walls. (Brrrr!) I sealed those up and also installed in a programmable thermostat. During winter number two I used half as many watts as winter number one! If you have an old manual thermostat and draft leakage, fixing those will return a huge bang-for-the-buck.

tonysemail

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #48 on: July 15, 2015, 01:36:42 PM »
here are some annual maintenance tasks that we do.
HVAC cleaning, gutter cleaning, tree trimming.

We had some issues with our gutters, so we ended up installing gutter guards.
http://www.costco.com/EasyOn-Gutter-Guard-100'.product.100019377.html

to reduce A/C costs, you could try tinting your windows.
it worked well on my house, but I live in CA and the temperatures are much cooler.
Less light comes through the window, so it takes some getting used to, but it's worth it for me.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Gila-3-ft-x-100-ft-Titanium-Heat-Control-Window-Film-10363486/100664063

Jack

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Re: Jus' bought a house - throw some D's on that.
« Reply #49 on: July 15, 2015, 01:45:28 PM »
to reduce A/C costs, you could try tinting your windows.
it worked well on my house, but I live in CA and the temperatures are much cooler.
Less light comes through the window, so it takes some getting used to, but it's worth it for me.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Gila-3-ft-x-100-ft-Titanium-Heat-Control-Window-Film-10363486/100664063

Since the OP's house is new, he almost certainly has double-pane windows. First of all, if his windows are decent at all, they'll already have a low-emission coating on them. Second, applying window tint to them would void the warranty. (And that warranty is important, because double-pane windows do tend to fail. Knowing what I know now, if my house had traditional single-pane windows I'd be inclined to keep i that way despite the alleged efficiency of double-pane...)