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Tips for Reducing your Heating Bill this Winter

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

With the colder (read: frigid!) months now upon us, you might find yourself concerned with the ever-rising cost of utilities as temperatures fall.  The winter months are already packed with additional holiday expenses, so why not do yourself a favor and save some money when it comes to your heating bill?  We’ve compiled a list of a few tips for reducing your heating bill that won’t break the bank OR require much time and energy.  These are simple and quick steps for cutting the crazy expenses of utilities so you have more money to spend on the things you enjoy!



1.  Turn down the thermostat.  Yep, it’s as easy as that.  Now, we’re not suggesting you live in an uncomfortable climate, but we are saying that your home doesn’t need to feel like the tropics either!  Find a temperature that is comfortable for you and your family, then program your thermostat.  Chances are, if you’re lowering the thermostat by only a few degrees, you won’t even notice the change!  Additionally, it is wise to turn down the temp when you are out of the house (during the workday) and at night when you are sleeping.  Turning down the temp can shave 5-10% off your heating bill -- a savings that is sure to show over time!


2.  Take advantage of sunlight!  Open those window coverings during the days to let the light shine in!  Hey, it’s free heat!  Conversely, be sure to close them again when it’s dark to trap the heat from escaping through the windows.


3.  Wear socks.  As silly as it sounds, when your feet are warm, your body feels snugger, too!  And if you’re still shivering?  Grab layers and a blanket!  Don’t let your first response to feeling chilly be cranking up the heat.  It takes a little thought and maybe some self-control, but in the end, the effort will be worth the saving.


4.  Winterize windows.  This can be as easy as putting up the plastic sheets over wind-leaking windows.


5.  Delete the drafts! Wherever wind and cool temps are entering, heat is sure to be escaping.  Seal leaks around windows, doors, ducts, or pipes. Caulking and weather stripping can be purchased at home improvement stores for this purchase.  With just a little bit of elbow grease and effort, this work pays off when winter weather stays away. 


6.  Replace your furnace filter regularly. A blocked filter can lower the efficiency of your furnace and drive up the cost of heating your home.


7.  Set those ceiling fans to help, not hinder, your heating efforts.  During the winter months, set your ceiling fans to suck warm air up and distribute it throughout your home.


Still in a pinch to pay that heating bill?  This website ( offers many potential solutions for assistance.  In addition, utility companies will often give over-the-phone or in-person, specific tips for heating bill reduction. The time it takes to make the call might be all you need to save some green!

Guest Post from Hilary Prall, Rustopia: Home Staging

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Hilary Prall, Owner and Home Styling Consultant at Rustopia shares a little about the how's and why's of home staging!


All the world’s a stage… --William Shakespeare

Selling your home can be one of the most stressful things you’ll do in your lifetime. You will be trying to find a new place to live, packing up and going through personal belongings, making sure you will get enough financing to make the purchase, and to top it off…you will have to keep the house clean for potential buyers! While I can’t help you with most of those stresses, I can give you the answer to making it much easier for you to keep your house looking clean, tidy, and appealing to possible buyers—staging.

You may have heard of staging before, but weren’t sure what it means. Your realtor may have even suggested it as a way to sell your home faster and, possibly, for a greater price. Staging means creating a space in which a potential buyer can see themselves living. Sometimes it’s difficult when walking into either an empty space or a home filled with personal possessions to see where the buyers’ furniture might go, or where they would position their dining room table, pool table, ant farm, etc. What? You know there’s someone out there who has said ant farm…and needs to picture where those ants would be happiest in a new home! Okay, maybe not, but you see where I’m going with this; we all have those certain things we’re bringing along on the move that we want to be able to visualize in our possible new space.

Now that you can see why staging is important, let me help you make the changes to maximize your home’s potential for sale and help you to more easily keep the space clean for potential showings.

1. Remove Clutter. This step is the easiest step and costs nothing but your time. Since you’re already (hopefully) starting to go through possessions, deciding what to keep vs. toss, and packing, this is the perfect time to cull each room and see what doesn’t need to be there. Clutter can be any number of things: trash, mail, books, décor, even furniture...and especially the contents of every junk drawer and cupboard.  We all “live” in our homes; we have creature comforts, but sometimes the things we enjoy living with actually take away from the physical area and aesthetic of the space. This just might be the perfect opportunity to get rid of that shaggy old recliner or, better yet, the home-made side table you’ve been hanging onto since college—moving means changes and upgrades!

2. Move Things Around. Alright, you’re not ready to part with your college habitation belongings yet, I get it. So, how about you move that side table into the guest room where you’re missing a night stand. Two birds, one stone…so they say. This moving-things-around method will work with a lot of your pieces. Take a look around your house and see what spaces feel too full vs. which spaces could use a couple more pieces to define a certain “look”—sitting area, reading nook, kids’ toy center. You want potential buyers to walk into your home and feel like they need to live there; you want them to want to live in this magical, well-curated space.

3. Get Rid of the Red. Or Purple, or Green, or whatever fabulous color that you love and have painted on all your walls. I will admit this is the one thing I will have to fix in a lot of the areas of our home when we decide to list it. Our space is very personalized (i.e. I have an entire wall with the lyrics from The Cranberries Dreams painted on it); you want to love the space you live in—I love to style homes too, but that’s for another day. Not everyone is going to share your love of color, texture…pizzazz…so you’re probably going to need to paint some walls, cupboards…or cover your beloved lyric wall. ::sigh:: Choose a nice, neutral color that will be the perfect back drop to any potential buyers’ belongings.

4. De-personalize. One of the hardest parts of selling your house is making it a place in which everyone can picture themselves, instead of it being a personal expression of yourself. Not only will you have eliminated the little spaces you love the most—your favorite reading nook, with all of your books, 7 pairs of reading glasses, a coffee cup that never leaves—but you will also need to lose all traces of “you” actually living there. You will need to take down and pack for your next home: family photos, personal art pieces, trophies, or your collection of 1950’s bake-ware (oh wait, that’s in my house). Just like the other steps, anything that would cloud a potential buyer’s vision for your space, needs to be stored away.

Alright, I’ve given you the basic steps of staging…although, there are many more things you can do to maximize your home’s potential for resale. Now, how does all of this help you to keep your house clean-at-the-ready for showings? Just imagine your house, free of knick-knacks, clutter, the 70 pairs of shoes you’re in denial about in your closet, the 17 bottles of half-used cleaning products under every sink, all those pictures you’ve lovingly framed and hung on the wall going upstairs. Can you see it? Now a quick trip through the house with a duster, a vacuum, and possibly a wet wipe, will have your space spic-and-span (get it?) for potential buyers. You will hardly have to pick anything up before hand, save maybe just making your bed and a quick stash of toys; your house will be ready and waiting when it’s time to show—nearly stress-free.

The benefits of staging your home almost make it seem like we should live like this all the time—almost. 

Santa's North Pole Village 2015

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

With the holidays less than 2 months away, now is the time to start that sh-sh-sh-shopping. But fear not, friends! Ankeny plays host to a HUGE annual event that makes the gift getting easy.  That’s right -- EASY!  With over 300 vendors, the SANTA’S NORTH POLE VILLAGE Craft Show is sure to have something for everyone. Even those hard to buy for people in your life!



The 34th Annual Santa’s North Pole Village is taking place this Saturday, November 7, 2015, so get it on your calendars and make plans now!  With between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors expected annually, this Ankeny Art Center fundraiser, is one of Iowa’s largest craft shows.  And, of course, that many visitors calls for multiple locations!  This year’s event will be held at Northview Middle School, Parkview Middle School, and Prairie Ridge Middle School.  Bonus: there is a shuttle service available for transportation from site to site!


From fine art crafters and “junkers,” to jewelry, candle makers, and more this is an event you do NOT want to miss!  Your vendor list can be found {here}.



Here’s what you need to know:


34th Annual Santa's North Pole Village Craft Show


Saturday, November 7, 2014.    Hours: 9am-4pm


Admission: $5.  Shuttle bus available.


Three locations: Northview Middle School, Prairie Ridge Middle School and Parkview Middle School.


Cafeteria opens at 8 am and features an array of food vendors.


Tickets may be pre-purchased at

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3