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Seeing those summer electricity bills roll in is the last thing we want during our relaxing summer days. But there are ways to trim down on that expense without breaking a sweat. Here are a few ways to cool down your home naturally.
Pull down the shades. If you’ve ever taken a magnifying glass to an ant hill on a sunny day, it should be pretty easy to enlarge that image and apply it to your home. The windows to your house act as that evil magnifying glass, frying the inside with scorching sun rays. Placing some blinds or curtains over your windows can significantly cool down your home at a much quicker pace.
Keep appliance usage to a minimum. Your dishwasher, dryer, stove, microwave all have one thing in common — when they’re on, they generate heat. The less you use these secondhand heat generators, the cooler your home will be. It’s unrealistic to quit all of these appliances cold turkey, but doing small things like letting your clothes to air dry outside can make a huge difference.
Crack the windows at night. The temperature is always at its lowest during the night time — sometimes the summer will go as long as 50 degrees. Take advantage of those nights and let the cool air in. No fans or A/C are required
DECKS and patios are popular gathering places, that is, of course, until scorching sun or annoying drizzle forces folks inside.
It is possible, though, to get more use from a deck or patio by installing a retractable awning.
“There are two basic options for homeowners who want a deck or patio awning,” said Ido Eilam, the chief executive of SunSetter Awnings in Malden, Mass., “manual or automatic.” Manual awnings must be hand-cranked open or closed; automatic awnings use a motor to do the work, but are more expensive.
Mr. Eilam said that about 70 percent of SunSetter awnings were sold directly to consumers and that a homeowner with a minimal amount of skill should be able to install an awning in a couple of hours. An instructional DVD is included.
A basic 16-foot-wide-by-10-foot-deep SunSetter awning costs about $1,330 with a hand crank or about $1,650 for a motorized version. Retrofit motor kits are about $300.
Howard Falkow, the owner of Better Living Sunrooms in Baldwin Place in Westchester County, said that he recommends awnings that have both a motor — for convenience — and a manual crank that allows for opening and closing if the power goes out. He said that a good retractable awning should not need ground supports to hold it up and that shoppers should look for models made from extruded steel rather than lightweight aluminum.
A 16-by-10-foot extruded steel awning from Mr. Falkow’s company costs about $3,500, including installation.
While title companies and real estate agents and lawyers are scrambling to be ready by the deadline, home buyers should feel more like guests at a well-executed dinner party, oblivious to the mess in the kitchen and content to be served each course at just the right time.
"It's going to bring better peace of mind that you know what you're getting into with this loan," said Ben Niernberg, executive vice president at Northbrook-based Proper Title. If all the professionals in the pipeline handle the new rules well, homebuyers should notice only that "things have gotten easier to understand," he said.
For the homebuyer, the new rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau bring two key changes: All the financial details of their purchase will be spelled out more simply, and the forms containing those details will be in their hands three business days before the closing, giving them time to ask for clarity on anything they don't understand.
"You're getting time to see all the moving parts of your loan a few days before you sit down at that table to close the transaction," said Maurice Hampton, managing broker and CEO of Centered International Realty based in Beverly. CFPB says consumers will "Know Before You Owe."
RESPONSE TO SUBPRIME MELTDOWN
Enabled by the Dodd-Frank Act, the TILA-RISPA Integrated Disclosure rules, as they are known, come largely as a response to the subprime mortgage meltdown, in which some borrowers were unaware of the moving terms of their adjustable-rate mortgages and wound up in default when a rising interest rate increased their monthly payments.
While some experienced real estate buyers may see the changes as a belt-and-suspenders approach to the relatively rare problem of buyers misunderstanding their loans, eventually the changes will become transparent, say most people in real estate and related industries.
"There will be a few more steps along the way, but the steps are to protect people and give them a chance to make a better financial decision," said Tom Pilafas, executive vice president of Near North National Title Insurance in Chicago.
Here are four things to know about the changes:
• The rules apply to loan applications initiated Aug. 1 or later. Any loan in process prior to that will operate under existing rules. All-cash purchasers also are exempt.
• The rules require two new forms, both of which replace—and are intended to simplify—existing forms.
First is the loan estimate, delivered to the borrower within three days of application and projecting the monthly costs, the closing costs and the cash the borrower will need to bring to the closing. This form will take the place of a Truth in Lending, or TILA, form and the Good Faith Estimate. Second is a Closing Disclosure form, delivered three business days before the scheduled closing. This one replaces a closing-day form known as HUD-1 and a second TILA form.
"The difference with the new forms is that the figures on the first one and the second one have to agree, or be very close," said Jeffrey Baker, a lawyer with Sorling Northrup in Springfield who works for the Illinois Association of Realtors. "There was no mechanism requiring them to match up in the past."
CFPB's rules include penalties for lenders if the figures on the two forms aren't within an established range, Baker said. The idea is to prevent buyers who've fallen in love with a certain house from getting markedly more expensive terms at closing than they were counting on, "when they might feel they have to just go ahead and do it," Baker said.
• Both forms emphasize clarity.
When you closed in the past, you got a spreadsheet that was a bunch of numbered lines," said Christopher Hacker, a co-founder of ShortTrack, a Chicago-based real estate transaction software company. "It was confusing, and you needed somebody to decipher it for you." Under the new rules, "you'll see something text-based and more intuitive that tells you what you'll owe" on a monthly basis, and how that will change in the future, in the case of a loan with an adjustable rate.
• Last-minute changes in a sale will be harder to make.o Business