Living in the desert valley we get to enjoy amazing natural vistas, a typically dry climate, and lots of sunny days. However, we also endure extreme heat, gusty winds, and soaring electricity bills which can provide some unique challenges for homeowners. We put together a list of 10 common tips, and considerations for our fellow desert dwellers.
10 tips for desert home owners from La Quinta Realtors, PuglisiWoodard
1 – Solar panels:
In the desert, you’ve got plenty of sun. Who wouldn’t enjoy reducing power bills with free electricity from a renewable resource? However, home solar systems can take awhile to pay for themselves, so you might consider the following before you buy:
If you plan to buy, understand and compare warranty details because maintenance or repairs can reduce your savings.
Get up to date information on the tax rebates, credits, and other incentives offered to home owners who install solar panels by visiting DSIRE.org.
You may also have the option to lease a home solar power system with no money down, and this gives you a way to enjoy a positive return on your investment quickly. Also, you get to let the solar power company worry about maintenance and repairs.
2 – Landscaping:
With another unprecedented year of drought in the valley, water conservation should be an important consideration when you landscape your yard and garden. By choosing to incorporate desert landscaping features, you can reduce water consumption and your water bill. In fact, you may even benefit from the generous rebates that local water companies offer to homeowners who covert their lawns to native landscaping. The good news is that native landscaping choices can reduce your water consumption by 75 percent and maintenance bill by half.
3 – Air seal your home:
Not only can sealing up air leaks make your house more comfortable, it can also help reduce your cooling and heating bill. Typical culprits are windows and doors. Sealing up drafts is a great do-it-yourself project that you can probably complete in a few hours with the help of this guide: Department of Energy guide to caulking and weather stripping.
4 – Earthquake preparedness:
Most residents of this part of the country realize that it is only a matter of time before an earthquake strikes. Secure bookshelves, large appliances, fragile valuables, and big furniture with earthquake straps or other fasteners. If you already know that you have purchased a home on a fault line, you should be prepared.
5 – Don’t be afraid to DIY:
Ninety percent of what most folks need for a successful DIY project is having the guts to get started. Worst case—you mess up and then bring in the professional. Best case—you save money, learn something new and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
6 – Know the difference between a DIY job and when to call in a professional:
Installing shelves in the closet is a DIY project. Relocating a water heater, now that sounds like a job for a professional. If you try to make some complex repairs without the right skills, you may end up with a pretty big mess. Save time and money by knowing when to get professional assistance with home repairs and projects.
7 – Keep a home journal:
Do you know when you changed your air conditioning filters or the batteries in your fire alarms? Keep a simple journal that reminds you of repairs, purchases, maintenance etc. You can refer back to it when needed and it will come in handy when selling the house if you can give the new owners detailed information.
8 – Have your AC cleaned and serviced every spring:
Few routine chores will pay off more handsomely, both in comfort and in dollars saved, than a simple air-conditioner cleaning. The payoff: Summertime comfort and lower cooling bills. You’ll also prolong the life of your air conditioner, and the technician may catch small problems before they turn into large and expensive problems.
9 – Get flood and earthquake insurance:
Why do you need flood insurance in the desert? Just ask one of the many families in La Quinta whose homes were completely flooded during recent summer storms. Flooding issues are apparent all over the valley due to the lack of proper drainage systems. Don’t even ask why you need earthquake insurance when you live on a fault line. It is unlikely that land movement or flood insurance are included in a typical homeowners policy, but you can call your agent to check.
10 – Craigslist, Utility Scams and Angie’s List: Your La Quinta Realtor says Be wary and do your research.
Craigslist: You have some furniture for sell, so you list it on Craigslist and allow strangers to contact you or even come to your home to look at the items you are selling. The problem is that homeowners are being robbed and targeted by predators that they invited into their homes with online ads and unsafe practices. List your items online, but don’t invite strangers to your residence. If possible, try to meet in a public place, If the item is too large to bring with you, consider selling the item via consignment or using an eBay listing store where they list the sell the item for you online.
Utility scams: You get a call from somebody who says he is a representative for “Southern CA Edison” stating you have until the end of day to pay your power bill or your electricity will be turned off. The person sounds legitimate and has your basic information. You are told the bill has to be paid via money wire, and you are given instructions on how to do so. The only problem is the caller is not from SCE and has no authority to turn off your power.
Homeowners are being scammed out of hundreds of dollars from these bogus calls. Utility companies do not make live calls about utility bills to demand payment via bank wires. Please be aware and report suspicious calls to the proper authorities. The FTC has more information and a place to report phone scams.
Angie’s List: Angie’s List provides a resource where you can find out what other community members like or dislike about a variety of service professionals. The next time you need to hire a good plumber, carpet cleaner, garage door repairman, or pool guy, you could sign up for Angie’s List to find reviews and recommendations. Here’s a final tip from your La Quinta Realtor, a membership for Angie’s list is only $9.99 for the entire year. Use coupon code FALL30 for 30% off which brings the fee to $6.99. That is a great deal and trust me well worth the peace of mind knowing you are using verified service providers.
In spite of a few challenges, we enjoy the amazing natural beauty of the valley and the many health benefits of living in a desert climate. If you are thinking about buying or selling a home in La Quinta or the surrounding area be sure to call on Sal Puglisi your La Quinta Realtor. Thank you for reading 10 Tips from your La Quinta Realtor.