It is important that all Wisconsin citizens have access to information on housing.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension provides resources on the topics of renting and home ownership.

Rent Smart: A Tenant Training Program

Rent Smart is designed to help those individuals who have little to no rental experience and those who have had difficulty obtaining rental housing.  Participants may be first time renters as they graduate from school, homeowners transitioning to renting, individuals with poor rental or credit history, or individuals who have other issues that may cause potential landlords to perceive them as high-risk tenants.  Rent Smart provides practical education to help people looking for rental housing find, get, and keep suitable housing.  The program focuses on the knowledge and skills essential for a successful renting experience.  It challenges participants to know and understand their rights and responsibilities as a tenant, as well as know and understand the rights and responsibilities of their landlord.  Emphasis is on forming a strong partnership between the tenant and landlord.  Establishing a positive rental history is much like having a positive credit report and Rent Smart starts participants on the right path for success.

For further information about the Rent Smart program, download our 2020 Rent Smart Brochure and our 2018 Impact Report.

Rent Smart workshops are held various times per year in Winnebago County.  Additional dates, times, and locations may also be available in Fond du Lac County and Outagamie County.

Current Schedules: 2020 Rent Smart Brochure

Home Maintenance: Protecting Your Investment

While many of us would prefer to spend our time and money elsewhere, keeping up on general maintenance of the home is one of the most fundamental ways to keep us from being forced to spend MUCH more time and money when something goes wrong.

Performing home maintenance has other valuable results.  As you track and monitor the systems in your home, you will gain an understanding of its inner-workings and gain useful skills.  Also, you will feel a sense of pride in knowing that your efforts both keep your family safe and build value in your investment.

Extension has developed resources to answer questions about basic home maintenance, including:
About the House
Wisconsin Homeowner Preservation Education
HomeWorks News (A Seasonal Newsletter Series)
HomeWise – Help for New Homeowners
Care and Maintenance of Residential Septic Systems
Winter Home Moisture Problems
Maintaining Your Home: Lead-Based Paint Hazards

Saving Energy

Energy use in the home makes up 22% of the energy used in the United States.  There are many things that you can do to conserve energy at home.  Some are simple and inexpensive, such as turning off computers when not in use.  Others may take a small amount of time and money, such as caulking windows.  Some may be more expensive and complex but save money in the long run.

Extension developed an “In Home Energy Audit” guide to provide assistance in evaluating the energy usage in your home.  The In Home Energy Audit Tips to Save You Money guide is full of tips and ideas to assist you in saving energy and money.

You may also want to calculate how much you spend on water/energy for showering and flushing the toilet by examining your usage in the Residential Water Use: Cost and Savings Calculator for WI developed by the Center for Watershed Science and Education.

Healthy Homes

Some of the most serious problems for children may start at home.  Download a free copy of the “Help Yourself to a Healthy Home” publication so that you access additional information on such topics as: indoor air quality, asthma & allergies, mold & moisture, carbon monoxide, lead, drinking water, hazardous household products,pesticides, and home safety.

Cleaning Up Your Home After a Flood

Cleaning up your home after a flood takes special care.  Families returning to flooded homes should exercise caution before and during the cleanup process.  To help you get your life and home back to normal, access the following resources:
Resources for Your Flooded Home Publication (University of Missouri Extension, 2010)
First Steps to Flood Recovery (Purdue)
Rehabbing Flooded Houses (Department of Housing and Urban Development)
Priorities for Cleanup and Repair (EDEN)
Controlling Molds & Mildew Publication (Extension)

Green Cleaning

green-cleaning-booklet-coverToday’s home is loaded with toxic and polluting substances.  The cost of these commercial, chemical-based products can be high: long-term health concerns for the family and environmental pollution caused by their manufacture and disposal.  There are many inexpensive and easy to use alternatives which can safely be used in place of commercial household products.  Environmentally safe products include: white vinegar, baking soda, soap, lemon, borax, washing soda, and cornstarch. Download our updated Green Cleaning Booklet for “green” recipes and “tried & true recipes for a less hazardous home” for further ideas.

You may also want to visit the following sites for additional green cleaning information:
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension (Green Cleaning Fact Sheet & Recipes) 


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