Framingham MA Real Estate | Judy B Leerer, Realty Executives Boston West


Most of the time, we build homes to our taste rather than to their environment. And while it’s important to have a home that you love to look at, it’s also necessary to take your local climate and surroundings into account.

One of the best up-and-coming home architecture styles features something called “passive solar” design.

In today’s post, I’m going to introduce you to passive solar and talk about why so many homeowners are choosing passive solar homes in today’s age of rising energy costs.

What is a passive solar home?

Passive solar homes utilize four main things to ensure the lowest possible energy usage:

  • The building site

  • The area’s climate and weather

  • Strict building standards involving top quality materials and airtight construction

Let’s talk a bit about how these three features help make passive solar homes the most energy efficient homes currently available.

Choosing a site for a passive home can be a complicated and scientific endeavor. In colder climates, this means allowing the home to utilize as much sunlight as possible. The building site, therefore, has to take into account the sun’s path throughout the year to provide the home with the best angles for maximum sunlight.

Since sunlight travels lower on the horizon in the winter months and higher in summer months, roofs and overhangs are designed to let in maximum light in the winter time and block out light that would overheat your home in the summertime.

Airflow throughout your home is vital to maintaining comfortable temperatures year-round. Passive homes rely on a heat exchanger system that uses heat from warm areas of your home to heat air that is vented in from the outside.

This means that the air in your home is constantly being circulated and heated without relying on too many outside sources.

Building materials are another key part to passive solar homes. To make an airtight home, special types of sealing and insulation is used.

Furthermore, insulated areas of your home are designed to absorb sunlight throughout the day and slowly release heat after the sun goes down, providing a natural source of heat for the entire 24 hour cycle.

Can I convert my current house into a passive solar home?

While making a home adhere to passive house standards typically requires planning at the construction phase, there are some ways to utilize passive solar techniques in your current home.

Making your home airtight, using thermal mass to slowly heat your home overnight, and taking advantage of heat from the sun are all things that can be retrofitted to a home.

Making these improvements can take time, especially if you plan to change window locations or build an overhanging roof. However, you might find that the upgrades will save you money on energy costs and add to the resale value of your home.


If you have been looking to give your home a bit of pizzaz, you may be worried about the cost or the time investment. The good news is that you don’t need to put in a huge amount of work or money in order to make a big difference in your home. Below, you’ll find some of the easiest projects that you can complete in a hurry. You’ll be enjoying a new view of your home in no time! 


Change Up The Mantel


We often grow comfortable with the decor in our homes. It’s a good idea to change those pictures and displays that you have along the top of your fireplace from time to time. For a more dramatic change, you can replace the entire mantel.  


Bring Out The Front Entryway


The entry to your home is all a part of the curb appeal. You can easily paint the front door or part of the entryway to enhance the look of the front of your home. If you want to go even bolder, try and replace the door with something a bit different than what you already have.


Refresh The Paint


Whether you look at the inside or the outside of your home, you can easily bring about change to the look of your home. Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door. Take a tired looking room and change the paint color of the space. Taking things room by room can be less time consuming than trying to take on the entire house at once. If the exterior of your home needs some fresh color, this project can be expensive, yet rewarding as the amount of curb appeal that you have will increase dramatically.       



Try Some New Lighting


It’s easy to get some new lighting fixtures. It could be as simple as switching a lamp or installing a few new light fixtures. For an even more dramatic change, add some dimmer switches or energy efficient lightbulbs. Checking in on the lighting in your home can be beneficial for both your home decor and the practical use of lights. 


Don’t forget the outdoors as well. It can be very refreshing for your landscape to have some outdoor lighting that highlights the more dramatic pieces of the outdoor space. 


Plant Something New


If you take the time to plant something new, you can bring a whole new look to the exterior of your home. Whether you take the time to plant one simple bush or are able to place down a whole new flower bed, small changes make a big impact. 


However small your home improvement projects are, they are a part of working towards making your home a better place to live.     

 




Since there are so many things to keep in mind when searching for the right home, it can be very helpful to create a priority list. If you're at the beginning of the house-hunting process, one of the best ways to clarify your thoughts is by organizing them in a notebook or on a computer screen.

As is the case with creating any kind of plan, you need to start with the basics and then branch out from there. While a house-hunting plan can and should change as you proceed forward, once you start visiting listings, your insights will begin to deepen. If you happen to be working with an experienced real estate agent, they will help you refine your search and zero-in on listings that are the best match to your needs.

Although you probably already know how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want, it may be time to come up with a more specific picture of what you're looking for, in terms of square footage, lot size, neighborhood walkability, and distance from neighbors.

As you revise your list of requirements, you may decide to rank the importance of items like a screened-in porch, a backyard patio, a wood-burning fireplace, yard size, the age of the house, and whether you'd like a finished basement or attic.

Many people prioritize the size, layout, and functionality of the kitchen, too, so take into consideration your decorating tastes, the size of your family -- both today and five years from now -- and how often you expect to be entertaining guests. Perusing kitchen layouts and remodeling ideas online can help you clarify the type of counters, flooring, appliances, and cabinets that would please you the most.

Other features that will determine your level of satisfaction with a new home may include the architectural style of the house, the quality of the school district, and various convenience factors, such as nearby grocery stores, public parks, and medical/dental services. Commuting time to your job or business can also have a huge impact on your lifestyle, as well as your weekly budget and personal stress level! When choosing a neighborhood in which you'll feel comfortable, you'll also want to pay attention to first impressions, the amount of traffic on the street, and miscellaneous noises you hear while visiting the neighborhood.

Above all, try to avoid making snap decisions based on emotional factors, time constraints, or the fear of not being able to find "anything better." Although there may be days in which the prospects seem slim, it's essential that you maintain a positive outlook and be confident that new listings and fresh possibilities are always cropping up. Working with a seasoned buyer's agent who's familiar with the local market and is responsive to your needs will also help immeasurably in your search for the perfect new home!


Are you a minimalist? If you’ve heard this question recently, you may be wondering just what it means and how does it affect you. It is NOT a set of rules.It is NOT about how much you own.

It is NOT about how much money you earn. 
It is NOT about buying specific items or giving up certain things.
It is NOT about being frugal.
It is NOT throwing out all your belongings and sleeping in a yurt (unless that makes you happy).
It is NOT about living in a tiny house (although it can be for you).
It IS about quality over quantity; peace over disorder; satisfaction over extravagance.

Minimalism is a mindset about what we require to be happy and what only clutters up our homes and our lives. It is about getting rid of the unnecessary things that take up space, consume time, and contribute to frustration and exhaustion. You can be a true minimalist in a mansion, a townhome, an apartment, or a houseboat as long as what fills your space contributes to contentment and order rather than stress and chaos.

When it comes to buying a home, minimalists look for spaces that reflect their personality rather than the latest trend. A minimalist is a different type of homebuyer. Becoming minimalist might be right up your alley if you hate the over-stuffed closet or messy junk drawer, find yourself irritated by clutter and uncomfortable with a hodgepodge of decorative items you subconsciously think of as “dust collectors.”

While a form of minimalism is an architectural style commonly seen in Japanese design with an aesthetic toward simplicity and clean lines, most homes do not fit into this category. Does that mean you can’t have a minimalist lifestyle? Of course not. Just adopt minimalist concepts to fit into any living space.

One way to accomplish this is to reduce the amount of furniture you have in each room. Opt for the pieces that everyone uses and give away ones that only fill up space. Reduce window coverings to a minimum rather than the multi-layered blind-sheer-drape-valance style. Organize the items that you keep so that each has a home. Reduce clutter by highlighting one or two items of a collection and rotating special pieces instead of displaying them all at once.

Simplify in other ways by installing native grasses and plants, thereby reducing the need for lawn care and gardening. Add interest to your yard with hardscaping: rock gardens or paver stones in decorative patterns.

When seeking a new home visualize what makes you most happy as you walk through model homes and open houses letting your imagination discard what doesn’t fit. Help your real estate professional know about your aesthetic to have the best chance of finding your minimalist home.


There are a lot of advantages to living in a low-crime neighborhood, such as family safety, peace of mind, and a minimal risk of getting your personal property stolen.

Perhaps the only downside of living in a relatively secure, desirable part of town is that you might let your guard down completely. When that happens, especially on a regular basis, you're creating a vulnerability that could eventually be taken advantage of. That's why is pays to be consistent when it comes to locking doors, teaching your kids good security practices, and always making your home appear as if someone's home.

Your home IS your castle and -- short of building a moat -- there are a variety of practical measures you can take to keep it safe and secure.

  1. Install a burglar alarm or home security system. There are a lot of options for making your home more burglar-proof, such as installing video surveillance cameras, window and door alarms, or a whole-house alarm system that alerts the local police department or alarm monitoring service of a break-in or other security breach. Virtually any security steps you take will help "tip the scales" in your favor, but a professional advisor from a reputable home security company can assist you in identifying potential vulnerabilities and choosing the options best suited for your budget, your degree of risk, and your comfort level.
  2. Plan ahead when going on vacation. Allowing your mail or newspaper deliveries to pile up on your front steps or driveway is like extending an open invitation to burglars who might be scoping out the area. Temporarily suspending your deliveries while you're away is a good starting point for keeping your house looking occupied in your absence, but you might also ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for unexpected deliveries. If you really trust them, you could even give them a key to your house, in case they're inclined to water your plants and take care of your pets! (That would eliminate the need and expense of sending your dogs and cats to a pet-boarding facility.) One tactic that a lot of homeowners forget about when they're going away for a few days (or even just overnight) is to hook up an automatic timer to a few of their lights. That simple step will help ensure that their house isn't pitch black at night. There's also the more expensive strategy of having a home security system that can be activated and monitored from your mobile device. Do-it-yourself installation kits are available, but some homeowners prefer the technical support features that come with a professional home security service.
  3. Outside lights can be a deterrent. A few motion-activated outdoor floodlights placed in strategic locations around your home can significantly reduce the risk of night-time prowlers staying on your property for very long. Since one of their primary objectives is to remain undetected and low profile, bright spotlights that turn on when they approach the house will often be enough to send them on their way.
Other home security strategies may include changing all the door locks when you first move into a home, adopting a good watch dog to help scare away potential intruders, and keeping bushes and trees pruned so they don't provide convenient hiding places for would-be burglars.



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