Wondering what home improvement projects you should tackle right now? Luke Caldwell and Clint Robertson have plenty of ideas.
As the stars of HGTV’s “Boise Boys” and “Outgrown,” these best friends and business partners have renovated hundreds of homes around Boise, ID. Robertson, a contractor, handles the builds, while style-savvy Caldwell manages the designs.
While warm weather might tempt many to spiffy up their outdoor areas, Caldwell and Robertson also know that saving money is top of mind for many. That’s why they have partnered with American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning to educate consumers on ways to curb their energy bills and other cost-saving measures to do around the house.
Curious to hear more from the “Boise Boys” stars and their top tips, here’s what they had to say that’ll get your home in shape for the heat.
Between ‘Boise Boys’ and ‘Outgrown,’ you two have done a lot of renovations. Do you have a favorite project?
Clint Robertson: The most challenging home for me came in the first season of “Boise Boys,” as we turned old horse stalls into an 1,800-square-foot home.
“Surprise” was the word of the day, from poor footings to under-engineered structures requiring us to bring in full-steel support and beams. [It] created lots of construction puzzles to solve, plus lots of Luke design frustrations as steel beams [take] up precious head space. But in the end, it definitely is one of my top 10 favorites.
What sort of home trends are you loving these days?
Luke Caldwell: With design, it truly feels like everything comes and goes. I personally have always been drawn to the consistent: clean lines infused with soul. I love mixing the old with the new, and I feel like it’s always timeless and comfortable at the same time.
Now that summer is here, what are some home improvements you think all homeowners should do right now?
Robertson: Investing in your landscape can really change the curb appeal of your home, and when it comes time to sell, will undoubtedly help attract buyers and get you a higher selling price. With summer vacation here and your kids out of school, your yard will be getting more use than ever, so it’s a great time to get outside and make some upgrades—like mulching or adding in a garden, things you can do while your kids can play. And by landscaping around your AC unit, you can actually improve its efficiency, by embracing the shade, which can keep the temperature down so the unit doesn’t have to work as hard to keep it cool.
Caldwell: Smart thermostats can be extremely helpful in keeping the temperature regulated, and they take the pressure off you. We see these more and more in vacation rentals and Airbnb [rentals], houses that aren’t getting used full time, so you don’t have to worry when the temperature fluctuates. You can set it to respond appropriately wherever you may be.
Do you have any tips on lowering AC bills during the summer months?
Robertson: Now that summer is here, it’s a good opportunity to check the insulation of your home so that you’re not having hot air come in that will push you to turn your AC down and your energy bill up. And if you’re leaving to go to work for the day, turn the thermostat up a few degrees while no one is at home. Do the same when you’re going away on vacation. If you set your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees above your normal setting while away, you could end up saving 10% on your electricity bill.
HVAC systems are often a mystery to homeowners. Got any advice on picking the right one?
Caldwell: It’s important when deciding which unit you want to decide what best fits your needs. Are you looking for something that doesn’t make a lot of noise? Is sustainability a factor? Do you need help cleaning up your indoor air quality? Or does size matter?
By working with a local dealer, they can walk you through all those options, making it easier for consumers to choose what unit fits their lifestyle and budget best. They can even let you know if you qualify for any local rebates or tax credits.
Also, if your kids suffer from asthma or bad allergies, we recommend using a whole-home air cleaner that is certified asthma- and allergy-friendly by the [Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America], which removes up to 99.98% of allergens from the filtered air.
Are there any mistakes or oversights you see homeowners commonly make in terms of maintaining an HVAC?
Caldwell: It’s very important to remember to swap out your air filters. Homeowners should be doing it every 30 to 90 days. We always remind our clients that simple maintenance like this takes only minutes but can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the long run. A well-made unit should last decades. However, without proper maintenance, it can affect your energy bills and end up costing you more in repairs than installing an entirely new unit.
Money is tight these days for many. Do you have any tips for homeowners looking to expand their space on a budget?
Caldwell: If you find that you and your family aren’t using a space anymore, it’s time to change that. Your kids don’t need the playroom in the basement anymore? Turn it into a home gym. Do you have a formal dining room and you’re no longer hosting larger family gatherings? Convert it into a home office.
You can make these simple changes based on where you and your family are at this stage of life, and you’ll find you’re not tripping over each other and actually using all of the space you have available.
Robertson: Bathrooms are also an easy place to invest some time but don’t always require a lot of money. Making upgrades to hardware like faucets, sinks, and towel racks can quickly modernize a space. Repaint the walls or recaulk your bathtub, and it’ll look as good as the day you bought it. Plus, adding an additional mirror on a blank wall will open up the space and make it look bigger.
You both have big families. Do you have any tips for creating a family-friendly home?
Caldwell: Giving your kids the space to run around and actually be kids is so important—especially over the last few years where they haven’t been able to interact with other kids their own age. Turning a den or a formal dining room into a playroom gives them the space to have all their toys out, let their imagination run wild.