Buying a New Home? Here Are 4 Easy, Affordable Energy Upgrades

A guest blog from Dylan Snyder, Realtor

The Snyder Group at Keller Williams Realty

When people first move into a new home, they may be tempted to focus on upgrades that improve the look of the space or make expensive energy upgrades. If they start with these energy-efficient improvements instead, they can save money and improve efficiency, without breaking the bank or spending a lot of time.

Weather-Proofing Windows

Unless a homeowner has chosen to undertake the large cost to upgrade their windows to energy-efficient ones, a home’s windows are made of glass and tend to be relatively thin. Therefore, they represent some of the least efficient parts of the home exterior. This means that even windows that were installed within the last few years might be passing heat too quickly from one side to the other. This puts pressure on a heating and cooling system to work harder. Adding a layer of weather-stripping to windows and doors blocks these air leaks, and costs very little to do. Homeowners might even be able to do their entire homes in an afternoon – especially if they use InstaTrim®.

Sealing Home Air Leaks

Like the windows, other parts of the home are prone to sustaining air leaks that pass air, dirt, and allergens from outside to inside. Sealing these air leaks might take only a little time and almost no expertise. Air leaks are common around doors as well as window frames. They may also occur in other parts of the exterior, such as corners or behind cabinets. Air leaks in the attic might dramatically decrease the efficacy of attic insulation, which is crucial to keeping heat in during the winter. Sealing these cracks with caulk or a caulk-alternative like InstaTrim®, will usually stop the leak and improve the home’s efficiency.

Sun-Blocking Window Film

Buying a home with new, efficient windows is excellent, but not everyone gets this opportunity. Replacing windows costs thousands of dollars, but there might be a simple alternative that improves window efficiency. Adding a layer of a specially-designed window film, such as a low-e film, might block solar and non-solar heat gain. This could help to ensure that the window does not become a heat magnifier during the summer. Buying window film and having it installed by a professional might still cost a few hundred dollars or even a thousand dollars. However, the effect is instantaneous, and the total expense may be recouped within a couple of years.

Duct Repair

People might be surprised to learn that a significant amount of the air that is heated or cooled by their home’s HVAC equipment never makes it into the necessary rooms. Leaks in a home’s ductwork allow that air to escape, making it hard to effectively heat or cool certain parts of the home. Instead of running the HVAC equipment longer to reach the distant points of the house, arranging for duct sealing is a fairly quick solution that might dramatically improve overall HVAC efficiency. The sooner new homeowners have their ductwork inspected, the sooner they can reap the benefits.

Moving into a new home is a great opportunity to assess its efficiency. With these simple upgrades, homeowners can appreciate a more comfortable living space that costs less to run, without a lot of extra work.

House

Love in the Workplace Brings a Valentine Gift for Do-it-Yourselfers

Greg and Betsy

When Cupid shot an arrow into Greg Amundson and Betsy Berge, he had no idea how many people would benefit from his handy work.

Greg Amundson invented InstaTrim®, a flexible trim product, a few years ago and stepped into the marketplace to compete with caulk. But it was stepping down the aisle with his bride and now Marketing Manager Betsy, that not only led to a successful marriage, but sales on Amazon.com and Walmart.com. “Together, we’re replacing caulk in homes and businesses nation-wide,” says Greg Amundson, “It’s exciting!”

On Valentine’s Day, the makers of InstaTrim® may enjoy a bite or two of chocolate, but they will also celebrate the sweet success of a product that their customers love all year long. With its patented flexible wings and peel and stick technology, InstaTrim® has do-it-yourselfers and industry professionals singing its user-friendly praises because it looks good, every time.

February 14th will most likely be a typical day at the Amundson’s home-based office in Scandia, MN with phone calls and the packaging and shipping of multiple colors of InstaTrim® across the country. But, they will also celebrate the love that’s making it all possible.

Greg and Betsy Amundson are proud to say that InstaTrim® is 100% made in Minnesota, manufactured in Blooming Prairie, MN and shipped from their home-office in Scandia, MN. The self-adhesive trim strips are a healthier alternative to traditional caulk. They are made of PVC and the adhesive is non-toxic and odor-free. Better yet, it doesn’t require any curing time. The product is also environmentally friendly, leaving very little waste and the packaging is 100% recyclable.

If you truly love your spouse, give them the Valentine’s Day gift of caulking made easy with InstaTrim®!

The Southern Glamper & InstaTrim®

The Southern Glamper

My name is Grace, a.k.a. the Southern Glamper. I am a full-time mother, wife, and techie! I enjoy DIY projects, cooking, and being outdoors with my family. This is why we purchased our camper, Peggy Sue. She is a 2001 Jayco Qwest Pop Up that we have been restoring to her younger years. It has been fun to travel and camp together as a family.

When we bought our pop up camper, the floors had been redone by the previous owner and looked fine. However, we were looking for a way to finish the camper floors and make sure they remained durable and clean. I searched around online and found InstaTrim®.

We discovered that InstaTrim® is a simple and cost-effective trimming solution for pop up campers and RVs. This mold and mildew resistant product is perfect to use with camping gear. It is flexible and fits easily and simply into tight spaces. Also, this is the perfect product for someone finishing a project that may not have a lot of tools handy. In short, it is perfect for someone with limited handyman skills!

Pop-up camperAll we needed was a clean space and a sharp blade for cutting. No need for saws or additional tools. This product is a plus because it is a hybrid of small moulding and caulk. Caulk is messy and never finishes neatly for me. And I don’t have saws and tools for installing a wood product.

InstaTrim® installed simply by measuring, cutting, peeling the self-adhesive back off, and sticking it in place. That is it!  The finished results are outstanding. I really like how this completes our project! By sealing the edging between the floor and cabinet with InstaTrim™, dirt and grime won’t get trapped in the crack between the two.

So, for anyone out there looking for a finishing option for your boat, camper, or RV, consider giving InsraTrim® a try! And if you want to learn more about my glamping adventures, pop on over to my blog at www.southernglamper.com!

Before and After

Don’t Ignore Your Baseboards & Floors

Smooth out the edges with a flexible trim solution

Cover the cracks between your baseboards and floors with InstaTrim®. It’s the perfect replacement for ¼ round, creating a barrier to keep dust and debris from settling in the cracks and gaps around baseboards. It’s easy to apply, provides a clean, professional finish and helps keep bugs from finding their way inside!

Baseboards are typically made of wood and are designed to cover the bottom of an interior wall. You may also know it as floor or base molding or mopboard because it literally serves to protect the paint on the wall from being damaged by wet mops.

InstaTrim® is a good looking, less messy alternative to traditional caulk. It is mold and mildew resistant, durable, long- lasting and is easy to keep clean. The patented design assures uniform positioning and each piece will cover up to a 1/4-inch gap. InstaTrim® is a great solution for DIY home improvement projects, camper or boat renovations, craft projects, and much more. Each box contains two 10-foot lengths and is available in several colors to match your boards and floors.

Use InstaTrim® to lay down a nice clean line between your baseboards and floors without breaking your back, covering those cracks!

Use InstaTrim to seal baseboards. Use InstaTrim to seal baseboards.

Have no fear - InstaTrim is here!

New Year. No Fear of DIY!

You may have made a New Year’s resolution for self-improvement, but what about home improvement? For some, a do-it yourself strategy comes easy and brings great satisfaction. For others, the thought of it makes their heart race loudly, like the sound of a power saw; brum-brum-brum-rrrrrrrrr!

Don’t be afraid to DIY! Start small and work your way up. Set a goal to improve your home, one room at a time. Do-it-yourself home improvement saves you money and can open the door to new ideas and good looks, for your home that is.

InstaTrim™ is a great product to cut your DIY teeth on because it’s easy to apply and will give you immediate satisfaction with a clean, fresh look in any room. Start in the bathroom, where there tends to be the greatest need to replace moldy caulk by trimming around toilets, sinks and showers.

Follow these important, but easy steps for prepping and applying InstaTrim™:

  1. Use a sharp blade to cut away and remove all existing silicone caulk.
  2. Use a wire brush to remove stubborn silicone oils and residue.
  3. Thoroughly wipe the surface with acetone to remove any remaining residue left on the service.
  4. Peel back the liner from the InstaTrim™ strip.
  5. Hold the end of the strip with the adhesive side facing the corner.
  6. Line up the first 2-3 feet of the strip and press into place every 4-6 inches.
  7. Repeat with the next 2-3 feet until complete.
  8. Trim the finished end of the strip using a scissors or razor blade. (Tip: adding 1/8” will ensure a tight fit.)
  9. When the entire area is covered, firmly press the strip into the corner again, and run your finger along the strip to ensure the strip is bonded to the surface.
  10. DO NOT STRETCH THE INSTATRIM STRIP AS THIS MAY CAUSE THE ENDS TO PEEL BACK.

InstaTrim™ makes caulking easy. It’s mold and mildew resistant and you get a perfect line every time. No drying time is needed and if you chose to paint, it is ready to paint immediately.

You can hire a plumber or contractor or you can cost effectively do it yourself with THE Universal Trim Solution. Happy New Year!

Deck the Halls and Trim Your Walls

Covering cracks and trimming your corners

Is the view unappealing where your walls meet the ceilings? Are you noticing cracks in your corners? If you’re feeling a little rough around the edges, trim it up!

InstaTrim™ is a flexible, peel and stick trim solution that can cover your cracks and hide paint smears and it comes in multiple colors. It’s the perfect solution for messy paint lines on contrasting wall or ceiling corners. And, you can quickly repair cracked wall corners without drywall mud, plaster or messy sanding. InstaTrim leaves a smooth radius corner with no cure or dry-time and it’s instantly paintable.

InstaTrim™ has patented, self-centering wings to assure uniform positioning on any surface. Its flexible, comes on a roll for easy use (also available in bulk rolls) and no special tools are needed. You simply peel and stick to cover up to a ¼ inch gap. The odorless adhesive remains intact with no curing time necessary and its long-lasting professional finish is durable and low maintenance.

Application is easy. Simply peel back the liner and hold the end of the strip with the adhesive side facing the corner. Line up the first 2-3 feet of the strip and press into place every 4-6 inches. Repeat with the next 2-3 feet until complete. Trim the finished end of the strip using a scissors or razor blade. (Tip: adding 1/8” will ensure a tight fit.) When the entire area is covered, firmly press the strip into the corner again, and run your finger along the strip to ensure the strip is bonded to the surface.

You’ll falalalalove it!

Before and after photo of InstaTrim on wall/ceiling corners

5 Resourceful Ideas for Do-it-Yourselfers

Greg Amundson shows off his five favorite resources for DIY projectsBefore I invented InstaTrim™, I struggled to create a straight line with a tube of caulk and used countless tools and techniques to support my efforts. Continually disappointed with the results, I sought an alternative that would look good, every time. My necessity was the mother of my invention, InstaTrim™, and I’m thrilled that homeowners across the country are now making caulking easy with this flexible trim product.

There are a few other creative strategies that I would like to share with do-it-yourselfers out there, using common household items for uncommon applications. Here are five of them:

Dental floss:

  • Block leaky gaps around parts that screw into place by winding floss around the fitting’s threads multiple times before screwing it on.
  • Wrap rope ends with floss to stop unraveling
  • Use it to hang frames, instead of twisted wire that can damage wall paint

Hot glue gun and glue – instant holding power for:

  • Plastic and light wood construction
  • Edging carpet remnants with binding tape
  • Fixing peeling lampshades

Large roll of blank paper:

  • Cut and layout the paper first, to get a visual on size and shapes before cutting into wood, plastic and other surfaces
  • Create patterns for cutting/sawing

Nail Polish Remover – in addition to removing nail polish, an acetone-based remover can:

  • Remove paint from windows
  • Remove scuffs from floors and permanent marker from surfaces
  • Remove stains on your china

InstaTrim™ – my favorite strategy! Make caulking easy with this peel and stick caulking alternative for trimming:

  • Kitchens and Bathrooms
  • Baseboards and Floors
  • Ceilings and Wall Corners
  • Windows and Doors

Replacing Existing Caulk or Grout

4 Steps for covering your bathroom cracks

If you’re tired of cleaning and maintaining the caulk around your toilets, tubs and showers, consider this maintenance-free alternative.

InstaTrim™ is moisture resistant, easy to apply and easy to clean. The patented, self-centering wings assure uniform positioning on any surface. And unlike caulk, there is no mess or toxic fumes. Installation is easy. Simply follow these four easy steps:

  1. Remove existing caulk and grout. It is important to clean the application area thoroughly. Use a knife or blade to cut away any existing caulk or grout and remove any loose debris from the area.
  2. Clean surfaces thoroughly. Wipe down the surfaces with silicone remover. If the surface has existing silicone caulk on it, you need to thoroughly remove all traces in order for InstaTrim to adhere properly. We recommend a product called McKanica Silicone Remover. Apply liberally to a lint free cloth, wipe the area vigorously. Use a wire brush to help with the removal of stubborn caulk or grout.
  3. Apply InstaTrim™. Begin the application in an area that is hidden from sight. Cut the end of the InstaTrim™ strip at a 45-degree angle. Peel the liner off of the back of the strip and begin to press the strip into the crack, with the adhesive side against the crack. Continue to press InstaTrim™ straight into the crack along the area to be covered. Be careful not to stretch the strip as you go. Once the entire length is covered, firmly press the strip into the crack again and run your finger along the strip to ensure adhesion to the surface.
  4. Finish the seams. Cut the ends of the first piece applied and the next piece at opposite 45-degree angles in order to form a tight, overlapping seam. Apply a small drop of permanent adhesive glue to the end of the strip where the two ends will meet to seal the angled ends together where there is no adhesive.

Viola! It’s caulking made easy!

InstaTrim Instructions

Safely Trimming the Tree

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one out of every four in-home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. And, one of every 32 reported Christmas tree fires results in death.

As a company known for trimming solutions that protect our customers and the environment, we would like to provide you with some tree trimming tips to keep your family safe during the holidays:

  1. Only use lights approved by a recognized laboratory, such as underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  2. Check lights for cracks and frayed ends. In this case, don’t cover your crack, discard it!
  3. Toss out old strings of lights that don’t have fuses because fuses prevent sparks in the event of a short circuit.
  4. Use only non-flammable decorations.
  5. Don’t put candles on your tree.
  6. Keep heat sources like fireplaces and baseboard heat away from your tree.
  7. Turn your lights off when you leave the house.
  8. Don’t water your tree when the lights are on.
  9. Keep your tree stand full of water.
  10. Discard your tree when it becomes dry and starts dropping needles.

Don’t end up like Clark Griswold or something worse. Hold Christmas tree safety in the palm of your hand by safely trimming, monitoring and maintaining your Christmas tree.

Small, sparkling Christmas tree in the palm of a hand

Prepare for Cold and Snow

A look ahead from the Farmers’ Almanac

Farmer's Almanac 1818Did you know that the Farmers’ Almanac has been predicting the weather across the country for 200 years? This book was essential to our ancestors who farmed their land and made critical planting and harvesting decisions, based on its predictions. The golden book claims 80% accuracy and their 200-year-old formula has remained consistent. One key component in the formula is the moon and its motions.

Some meteorologists and weather experts don’t buy what’s in the pages of the Farmers’ Almanac, but it’s following remains strong. Decide for yourself, using these predictions that we pulled from its pages, but be sure to continue to follow your local forecasters as well.

So, what can you expect from the weather in 2018?

Eastern and Central

More “normal” temperatures are expected this winter, which means cold! More normal precipitation is also expected in many locations, which means snow!

Western

The western third of the country, west of the Continental Divide, can expect less precipitation over last year. However, cold air may occasionally make its way to Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, so if you live there, be prepared for up and down temperatures from very warm to very cold, mixed with some “tempestuous weather.”

Southeast 

You’re in store for some below normal winter temperatures and unseasonable chills as far south as the Gulf Coast. And, be prepared for above-average precipitation.

Finally, if you’re a skier, you will love this prediction: There will be more snow than normal from the Great Lakes to the Northeast! However, if you’re a homeowner, you may want to order some InstaTrim™ to block the cold on your windows and doors!

2018 Weather Map from Farmer's Almanac