Real Estate News

    • Getting to the Bottom of Your High Electricity Bill

      17 June 2019

      You can budget for your grocery bill, and you know that by getting rid of a couple of those premium channels, you’ll be able to reduce your cable bill. But somehow, your monthly electricity bill remains a mystery. Here are some reasons why your bill may be high, and what you can do to reduce it and regain control:

      The obvious energy hogs.
      The biggest drains on electricity are obvious culprits: air conditioning units, the electric water heater, the clothes dryer and the stove. That’s because it takes a lot of energy to change temperature, whether you’re cooling off a hot room, making wet clothes dry or baking a cake. According to Energy.gov, water heating accounts for approximately 18 percent of residential energy consumption, and residents spend about $29 billion a year in the U.S. just on air conditioning alone.

      So when it comes to these big-ticket appliances, think carefully about your usage. Here are some simple ways to cut back:

      - Use cold water to wash your clothes. It cleans just as well and many high-efficiency washing machines and detergents are designed to work with cold water. Cut back on dryer usage by hanging clothing to dry.
      - Cut back on lengthy showers by setting a timer. By shaving off just a minute per shower, you can save $15 per family member per year.
      - Opt for the grill over the oven anytime weather permits.
      - Cut back dramatically on AC costs by raising your thermostat by just two degrees. Switch to a smart thermostat and save even more by raising the thermostat even higher during the hours when you’re not home, then slowly cooling off the house an hour or so before you return home.

      The unsuspecting energy drains.
      Once you’ve got a handle on your main energy drains, start focusing on less-obvious areas that are contributing to your high electricity bill.

      - Use an energy-efficient power strip for devices that consume power 24/7 when they’re in standby mode, such as your TV, anything with a clock or anything that maintains a connection to the internet, laser printers, cable DVRs and device chargers.  
      - Get rid of inefficient energy drains that you probably don’t need anymore, such as unused exercise equipment, that second fridge in the garage, or older televisions with Plasma or CRT displays.
      - Not maintaining your systems properly can cause them to work overtime and increase your energy bills. Be sure to clean or change HVAC filters, and place window units in north-facing windows so they’re not working overtime.

      Source: Sense

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How Much Do You Know About Your Home's Airflow?

      17 June 2019

      You may know a lot about your house, like the square footage, year it was built and when it got that new roof, but how much do you know about its air flow? The U.S Dept. of Energy (DOE) and its energy.gov website reminds homeowners about the importance of good ventilation.

      To understand the importance of having natural air flow in your home, energy.gov reminds homeowners about three basic ventilation strategies: natural ventilation, spot ventilation and whole-house ventilation.

      Natural ventilation is the unpredictable and uncontrollable air movement in and out of the cracks and small holes in a home. In the past, this air leakage usually diluted air pollutants enough to maintain adequate indoor air quality.

      But today, the DOE knows more people are sealing those cracks and holes to make homes more energy-efficient, and when a home is properly sealed, other types of ventilation are necessary to maintain a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.

      That means you may need to consider spot ventilation, which can improve the effectiveness of natural and whole-house ventilation. The DOE says spot ventilation includes the use of localized exhaust fans, such as those used above kitchen ranges and in bathrooms.

      The ultimate problem solver, however, is employing whole-house ventilation—even with source control by spot ventilation. The DOE says whole-house ventilation systems provide controlled, uniform ventilation throughout a house.

      There are four types of whole-house systems:

      Exhaust ventilation systems that work by depressurizing your home, which are relatively simple and inexpensive.

      Supply ventilation systems that work by pressurizing your home, which are also relatively simple and inexpensive to install.

      Balanced ventilation systems, which, if properly designed and installed, introduce and exhaust approximately equal quantities of fresh outside air and polluted inside air.

      Energy recovery ventilation systems provide controlled ventilation while minimizing energy loss. They reduce the cost of heating ventilated air in the winter by transferring heat from the warm inside air being exhausted to the fresh (but cold) supply air. In the summer, the inside air cools the warmer supply air to reduce ventilation cooling costs.

      Compare whole-house ventilation systems to determine which is right for your home.

      Ventilation is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool buildings, and works best when combined with techniques to avoid heat buildup in your home.

      In some climates, natural ventilation is sufficient to keep the house comfortable, although it usually needs to be supplemented with spot ventilation, ceiling fans, window fans and—in larger homes—whole-house fans.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life

      17 June 2019

      You may declutter your home, but what about your digital space? Many of us spend hours online each day, so you should make your online atmosphere as streamlined as your living room at the end of cleaning day.

      Hit "unfollow". There's no reason to have 5,000 Facebook friends or follow 2,000 folks on instagram. Have an "unfollow" spree where you remove users you don't find inspiring or have a direct connection with.

      Hit "unsubscribe”. Email account bogged down? Don't just hit 'delete'. Take 10 minutes every morning for one week to hit "unsubscribe" on any newsletters, shopping memos or other online alerts cluttering up your inbox.

      Consolidate subscriptions. If you have a dozen or so online subscriptions, like music streaming platforms, content streaming platforms, and more, look into consolidating subscriptions. Several platforms now partner with each other, an obvious way to consolidate. For instance, a Spotify Premium account now comes with access to Hulu, so one subscription offers double access. Consider a family Netflix account instead of an individual plan.

      Merge emails. Did you know you can merge multiple email addresses into one account so that all of your mail is accessible in one spot? This is helpful for entrepreneurs, business owners or anyone with two, three, or four separate email addresses.

      Purge your hard drive. Go through all of the documents on your computer and look for items you can delete or backup and remove from your machine. This will make space and could even lengthen the lifespan of your machine.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Brush Up on Your Food Safety Know-How

      14 June 2019

      Federal health officials estimate that nearly 48 million people are sickened by food contaminated with harmful germs each year, and you certainly don't want to be one of them.  

      Most folks know animal products must be handled carefully to prevent illness, but produce can be another culprit when it comes to outbreaks of foodborne illness. Recent outbreaks have been caused by contaminated spinach, cantaloupe and tomatoes, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

      To minimize risk, whenever possible, the FDA says to choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged, and make sure that pre-cut items—such as bags of lettuce or watermelon slices—are either refrigerated or on ice at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit both in the store and at home until serving. In addition, follow these FDA recommendations:

      - Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
      - If damage or bruising occurs before eating or handling, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
      - Rinse produce before you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto other fruits or vegetables.
      - Gently rub produce while holding under running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
      - Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce like melons or cucumbers.
      - Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria.
      - Remove the outermost leaves of lettuce or cabbage.

      There's also a lot to be said about using more or all of the food waste you usually toss.
      You can reduce food waste by:

      - Refrigerating peeled or cut vegetables for freshness, quality and safety.
      - Freezing foods to retain their quality until you are ready to serve.
      - Avoiding bulk and impulse purchases, especially produce and dairy products.
      - When eating out, bring leftovers home and refrigerate or freeze within two hours.

      The FDA is working with federal partners and stakeholders—possibly in your own community—to help consumers better understand the variety of actions they can take to reduce food waste.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Do You Know Your Net Worth?

      14 June 2019

      The term "net worth" likely makes you think of celebrities and other a-listers. But in reality, your net worth is simply your assets minus your liabilities (debt), and it's a crucial financial number to know. Knowing your net worth lets you understand your current financial situation, and offers a reference point for measuring financial progress and tracking goals.

      To calculate your net worth, estimate the value of the following assets:
      -Money in your bank accounts
      -Value of your investment accounts
      -Worth of your car
      -The market value of your home
      -Any business interests or assets
      -Cash value of your personal property such as musical instruments, art, furniture and jewelry, antiques.
      -Cash value of any insurance policies

      Now, tally up those numbers. Once you have that, list your liabilities, i.e., what you owe. Consider the following:
      -Car loan
      -Student loans
      -Credit card debt
      -Mortgage

      Add those numbers up, deduct your total liabilities from your total assets, and voila! Your net worth.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.