Last updated: October 11. 2013 7:11PM - 899 Views

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With the residential real-estate market on the mend and more first-time buyers in the mix, it is time to think about those little cosmetic changes new homeowners are into. In this case, painting. Experts say that one of the very best times to do interior painting is just before moving into a new home. Here are six reasons, according to Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert for the Paint Quality Institute:

1. It’s easy now. Interior painting is simple and not at all physically demanding when you can move freely within a room. Why wait till later, when you may have to move heavy furniture from side to side, or work around big items, to do your painting?

2. It saves time. Painting can take a lot longer when you have to cover and uncover things, move them back and forth, and take down and rehang artwork.

3. It can save you money — lots of it. If you’re using a professional painting contractor, he or she can complete the work far faster in rooms that are empty. That’s extremely important, because time charges for labor typically account for 80 percent of the cost of painting. “Bottom line: Calling in a contractor before moving into a home can drastically lower the cost of painting the space.”

4. It safeguards your furnishings. No matter how carefully you or your contractor work, there is always the chance of a paint spill, or a few stray flecks finding their way onto a prized possession. Painting before bringing in your furnishings keeps these items out of harm’s way.

5. It can simplify interior decorating. Don’t yet have your furnishings? There’s no better way to set the stage for your decor than by adding a fresh color scheme before decorating. Doing so greatly simplifies the selection of new furniture, carpeting, and accents, allowing you to choose just the right tints, tones, and shades to make your new home perfect.

6. It feels good. Adding a coat of paint makes any home seem cleaner, fresher, more welcoming, and best of all, more “yours.”

To keep your paint job looking great, Zimmer recommends the use of top-quality, 100 percent acrylic latex paint; it will produce a more stain-resistant finish that will look new-home fresh for years.

Making the smart meter

even smarter

Howard Solganick of Energy Tactics & Services Inc. in Langhorne, Pa., saw the question from a reader about the increasing usage she was seeing after a smart meter was installed at her house and could monitor it online.

Here are some of Solganick’s thoughts:

• Smart meters are electronic and have the ability to measure smaller loads than the mechanical meters they replace. Therefore, measured usage can increase.

• Mechanical meters run slower as they age. If the smart meter replaced an older mechanical meter, measured usage can increase.

• Some refrigerators and freezers use internal timers for the defrost cycle. This might be the source of the “24-hour surge” the reader saw on the usage profile.

• If the reader has a water softener that has a rejuvenation cycle, the additional water usage combined with a well pump might cause the surge. Also, are there any irrigation sprinklers on a multiple-day cycle? Do you have a sump pump in the basement for rainy weather? Doing the dishes every third day in the dishwasher? Clothes washing every few days?

Shower cleaning

Reader Robert Buchman said the best thing he’s found to clean a fiberglass tub is EasyOff odorless oven cleaner.

After trying to clean his 17-year-old tub numerous times with other products, and about ready to replace it, he saw a post online.

It removes all soap scum and makes the tub and shower surround look brand-new every time.

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