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energy tips

The Real Costs of Halloween Home Disasters: Serial Killers, Phantasms, and Floods of Blood

Looking back at some of the ‘classic’ horror home disasters, lets estimate the home repair costs in Poltergeist, Scream, The Shining, and other horror classics.

The Shining

When little Danny Torrance saw a river of blood surging down the hallway, there’s one thing that was probably not on his mind: What’s it going to cost to clean up this mess? He was a little more concerned with evading his possessed, axe-wielding father. But the answer depends entirely on whether the Overlook Hotel was covered for flood insurance. Let’s just hope they opted for maximum blood coverage.
Disaster: Flooding

  • The average flood claim for a residence is about $33,000.
  • The average annual cost of flood insurance for a residence is $540.

Poltergeist
When considering a new home, save some money, have it inspected—and make sure it’s not on an unmarked burial ground. You’ll disrespect the dead, and as we learned in Poltergeist, phantasms can get pretty miffed. They’ll suck children into other dimensions and even push coffins through the back yard, ripping up the landscaping and inflicting serious damage.
If ghosts do turn your yard into Swiss cheese–and your house doesn’t get sucked into a void like the Freelings’–you’ll need to redo your landscaping. Consider hiring a certified landscape architect to design a plan that includes irrigation, lighting, soil conditioning, and repotting (or removing) those pesky coffins. You might also want to consider planting a few new trees which, when properly placed for shade, will save you up to $250 a year in energy costs.
Disaster: Destroyed landscaping

  • A landscape consultation costs about $100 to $150.
  • A detailed plan can run from $300 to $2,500.
  • New sod installation is 30 to 50 cents per square foot.
  • Total sod cost for the average suburban yard: $2,000.
  • Three 15-foot trees cost a total of $300 to $600.

Scream
 
Going up? When Ghostface caught this beered-up victim in the too-small cat portal of a garage door, he scored a memorable kill, but shorted out the garage door opener in the process. While this party girl never made it to a sequel, the home owners lucked out with an easy repair. So easy, they might even consider a whole new garage door. But, of course, spring for a bigger cat door.
Disaster: Broken garage door

  • A replacement garage door opener costs about $300.
  • Installed garage doors range from $550 to $1,650 for a single door, and $800 to $2,500 for a double door.

The Amityville Horror

Bolts of lightning might have blown out the windows of this infamous Amityville residence, but whole-house surge protectors would have kept the lights on and things running smoothly—at least until Father Delaney and the Devil battle it out over who has to pay for window replacements. Spoiler alert: bet on the Devil.
Disaster: Broken windows

  • Replacement windows cost $250 to $800 each.

Interview with the Vampire
 
Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt had a great time slurping the life out of the residents of New Orleans, but you wouldn’t want the same drain on your homestead. That’s why you need to be vigilant about the waste caused by vampire energy, also known as standby power consumption—unneeded electricity usage that sucks up to $100 out of your wallet annually.
Most common culprits are computers, monitors, printers, and stereo subwoofers. Try plugging devices into a power strip and get in the habit of turning them all off at once. Or try a “smart” power strip that senses when you’ve shut off your computer and cuts the juice. It works much better than garlic.
Disaster: Energy drain

  • Power strips are $10 each
  • “Smart” power strips cost $30

Thriller video
 
When Michael Jackson and his zombie buddies broke into an old house to terrify his girlfriend, costly damage ensues—destruction that could have been avoided if only the undead had turned the doorknob.
Unfortunately, zombies aren’t too dexterous, and the hapless home owners got stuck with the cost of a new steel exterior replacement door. If only they had installed a home security system, those zombies would be singing an entirely different tune.
Disaster: Zombie attack

  • A replacement door costs about $1,200.
  • A home security system installation costs $500, with a monthly fee of $35 to $75.

Home Owners – Free Info to Save Money on Energy

If a home owner has just $1,000 to spend on energy-efficient home improvements, what would you recommend he or she do first?

1.Caulk and seal all penetrations into the home. Whether you hire someone to do a home energy audit, or do it yourself, there are penetrations all around your home.  If you have a crawlspace or basement, check the penetrations from plumbing lines and electricity wires.  You may be shocked at all the gaping holes in your house. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and take a weekend to go around and seal everything, filling around windows, too. It takes time and it’s a pain, but it works.
2. Hire an HVAC contractor to take a hard look at all your ductwork — are there any ducts leaking that need to be re-sealed? — and give you an HVAC tune-up. You might spend a couple hundred bucks, but you can save significantly depending on how old or out of shape your HVAC system is.  
3. Replace all your lighting with CFLs or LEDs. Most people tell us they’ve replaced all their incandescents, but it just isn’t true. The DOE says that only about 13% of sockets are filled with CFLs right now.
4. Program your thermostat. Most people who buy programmable thermostats don’t program them. If we actually programmed them not to heat the furniture while we’re away, that would be smart. 
5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater. The Department of Energy recommends 120 degrees. If you have a tank water heater, it keeps a certain amount of water hot and ready to go all day, so lowering the temperature reduces the energy you use to heat the water.
If, after you’ve done all those relatively low-cost things, you want to make a little bit more of an investment, consider adding insulation to your house.