Save Money on your Heating/Cooling Bill!
You can save up to 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for eight hours. You can do this automatically by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.
Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, the equipment doesn't operate as much when you are asleep or when the house, or a part of it, is not occupied.
Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.
When shopping for a programmable thermostat, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label.
Excerpted from U.S. Department of Energy
April 20, 2011
Wishing You and Your Family Happy Holidays!
This holiday season, let us remember to give:
To an enemy, forgiveness
To an opponent, tolerance
To a friend, your heart
To a customer, service
To all, charity
To every child, a good example
To yourself, respect
~Oren Arnold, author
May the peace and joy of the holiday season be with you throughout the coming year.
December 21, 2010
As We Approach Yet Another Thanksgiving...
Now, more than most years, we have to pause to look at the things we are thankful for. Some of them may surprise you!
I Am Thankful that I pay taxes because it means I have a job.
I Am Thankful for clothes that fit too snugly because it means I have more than enough to eat.
I Am Thankful for my shadow that follows me because it means I am not bedfast and can leave the house.
I Am Thankful for a lawn that needs mowing and windows that need cleaning and shutters that need painting because it means I have a home.
I Am Thankful for the parking spot at the far end of the lot because it means I can still walk.
I Am Thankful for the huge heating bill in the winter and the high electric bill in the summer because it means I am comfortable all year long.
I Am Thankful for all the grumbling and complaining about the government and about the way we run things down at the church because it means we have freedom of speech and religion.
I Am Thankful for the folks who sing off key at church because it means I can still hear.
I Am Thankful for the dirty dishes and the pile of laundry because it means my family lives near and feels free to come for a visit.
I Am Thankful for the alarm that goes off every morning because I know I am still alive.
I Am Thankful for aching muscles and a tired back at the end of the day because I know I have been productive.
What are you thankful for?
November 24, 2010
Survey: Well-Kept Yards Most Important Factor in Determining Neighborhood Safety
RISMEDIA, November 16, 2010--A new survey conducted by Relocation.com finds that 75% of Americans believe the most important factor in determining a neighborhood's safety is the up-keep of surrounding homes, especially the conditions of the front lawns, which trumps even Googling neighborhood statistics to get a feel for a community.
The latest Relocation.com survey finds that 74% of respondents indicated they would select a neighborhood based on "word of mouth" or its local reputation over any other reason, while 67% of the respondents say they pay attention to local crime reports and statistics as reported in the local media. Less compelling, according to the survey, are "a gated community with security patrols" and "proximity to a police or fire station" when determining the safety of a neighborhood.
"It's interesting to see how home buyers determine neighborhood safety based on the neighborhood's appearance and not as much based on police statistics or crime reports," says Relocation.com Chairman and Founder Sharon Asher. "Our findings suggest that some home sellers who are struggling to generate interest may want to go the extra mile and help their neighbors with landscaping needs in order to create buyer interest."
The Relocation.com survey was conducted in mid-October, 2010, in a continuing effort to provide information on lifestyle factors that drive moving and relocation decisions in the U.S.
November 17, 2010
Halloween Safety Tips
Here are some tips from the El Paso, TX Fire Department to keep you, your guests, and all your little goblins safe as you create your own "Monster Ball" or get ready for a night of trick-or-treating:
- Keep candles and jack-o-lanterns away from curtains, decorations, and other combustibles.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Make sure indoor or outdoor lights have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check wiring and extension cords for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
- Don't overload extension cords or electrical sockets.
- Keep candles and jack-o-lanterns away from high traffic areas to avoid being knocked over.
Other safety tips include:
- Look for "Flame Resistant" labels on costumes.
- Make sure masks do not hamper the visibility of the wearer.
- Choose costumes made with bright colors to make them visible to motorists.
- Give Trick-or-Treaters flashlights to help them see better at night.
- Costumes should be well fitting to prevent tripping or falling.
- Children should use crosswalks and not run into the street from between parked cars.
- Parents or other responsible adults should accompany children.
- Parents should closely examine the treats collected by the children to ensure that they are safe to eat.
Excerpted from http://www.elpasotexas.gov
October 28, 2009
It's Fall: Time to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Fall maintenance is important because it helps make homes more energy efficient during the winter months, and will safeguard homes against potential seasonal disasters such as leaking roofs or home fires caused by neglected chimneys. Here are ten tips to a safer, warmer winter.
TIP #1 -- Check the heating system. Check the filter, pilot light and burners in a system fueled by gas or oil. Fireplaces, boilers, water heaters, space heaters and wood burning stoves should also be serviced every year. Have the specialist inspecting your unit show you how to change the filter and then you should change it at least once every 2 months. Clean ducts in the heating system. Clean and vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold air returns. Dust build-up in ducts is a major cause of indoor pollutants. Ducts should be professionally cleaned about every three years.
TIP #2 -- Have the chimney inspected by a qualified chimney professional. Chimneys should be checked and cleaned, if necessary, on an annual basis. If you are using a wood stove this season, be sure that the stovepipe was installed correctly according to the manufacturer's recommendations and local codes. If there is any doubt, a building inspector or fire official can determine whether the system is properly installed. If you have a chimney that will not be used, consider having it sealed shut.
TIP #3 -- Test fire alarms, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and vacuum out the dust. Batteries should be checked every six months to ensure that they're working.
TIP #4 -- Remove excess leaves and damaged branches from trees surrounding the house. Dead branches have the potential to break and fall, ruining roofs, decks, or vehicles and the possibly causing injuries to people.
TIP #5 -- Maintain gutters. Remove all debris that can slow or impede the ability of water to drain effectively from the roof. Trapped water can be destructive not only to the gutters themselves but to the adjoining roof as well. Also make sure gutter water drains away from your home.
TIP #6 -- Inspect the roof. Look for damaged or loose shingles, gaps in the flashing at joints with siding, vents and flues, as well as damaged mortar around the chimney.
TIP #7 -- Inspect exterior walls, doors and windows. Check walls and window sills for damage such as cracks, gaps, loose or crumbling mortar, along with splitting and decaying wood. Caulk exterior joints around windows and doors, which helps keep the home weather tight and lower heating bills. Check windows and doors to make sure locks work properly and that they are in good condition. Clean tracks and lubricate hinges. Repair or replace any cracked windows.
TIP #8 -- Maintain steps and handrails. Repair broken steps and secure loose banisters and handrails. Broken steps can cause a dangerous fall. Similarly, a person slipping will grab a handrail for support.
TIP #9 -- Inspect the attic and basement or crawlspace. Insulate voids in the attic - the entire attic floor above a living space should be insulated with at least six inches of insulation, except around electrical fixtures such as recessed lights that aren't rated for contact with insulation. Damp basements and crawl spaces can become mold and mildew problems. Watch for leaks from your water heater, plumbing system and seeping rain water from the roof. Locate and maintain a clear access to your main water shut off valve. If you have a sump pump, test, clean and lubricate it.
TIP #10 -- Shut down sprinkler systems and outside faucets. Homeowners can shut down outside faucets, however weatherizing the underground sprinkler system is best performed by industry professionals who will flush the system before the cold sets in, preventing cracked pipes.
Excerpted from http://rentonwa.gov/
October 8, 2009
Charlotte Market is Stabilizing & Rates are Low!
The Case-Schiller report came out today and showed the Charlotte Market had an increase of .6% in values. This is the third month in a row for an increase and reason for optimism.
It was also reported that 19 of 20 markets have seen rises in values, also good news.
We are also seeing inventory levels drop both in resale and new construction.
1. Rates are at the best levels since May and they don't tend to stay down very long so "GET 'EM WHILE THERE HOT!".
2. Prices are not falling and are beginning to rise a little.
3. The Federal Reserve announced last week that it will begin to taper off the its Mortgage Backed Security buying program and end it in the first quarter of 2010 to allow for a gradual rise in rates as they phase out the program. Rates are going to rise in the near future.
4. Still no news of extension on the tax credit so don?t count on it at this point.
Bottom Line: Don't wait or you could miss out on great investment opportunity!
Courtesy: Ronnie Giberson, Franklin American Mortgage
September 29, 2009
The Right Time to Buy: Encouraging Home Buyers to Get Off the Fence
Most experts agree that Charlotte's market conditions are right for buyers to re-engage in residential real estate. Although the public and the media paint the "housing crisis" with a broad stroke, it is important to understand that there is not a national, regional or state "one-size-fits-all" problem or opportunity to the housing challenges of individual areas.
Now is the time to encourage home buyers to get off the fence; and in today's market, at least seven important dynamics should be considered:
For first-time buyers- The U.S. Congress passed a great $7,500 incentive. This may also help to start a buying ripple effect for other home sellers.
Interest rates are rising, and probably will be for some time. This will lead to higher monthly payments in the future.
Like interest rates, construction prices are also on the rise, thus new construction costs are going up. Currently, supply is very much in check, and could actually teeter toward undersupply if there was more momentum in the marketplace. Many of the homes previously on the market for sale have been converted to rental homes.
Loans are not as hard to get for owner-occupied real estate, as the media leads us to believe. Charlotte is not going to see any crazy prices dip as low as we are hearing about in California, Florida, and Arizona. We may have already hit the bottom here.
Buying at the bottom is not a good strategy. Once most people realize the bottom is here, then it's usually too late to have bought at the bottom. Buying when the conditions are right is the only right strategy.
Today, more than ever, it's the job of real estate agents/brokers to focus on their buyer client's needs, and help create a specific action plan for purchase. Too many buyers and agents/brokers are floating aimlessly in this marketplace. Simply stated: focusing leads to success, especially in this marketplace.
From this point on, the smartest buyers will be the ones who jump in sooner rather than later.
Courtesy: Emma Littlejohn, Charlotte Between the Lines
September 1, 2009
Home Maintenance Tip - Air Conditioning
Has your energy bill got you hot under the collar? The best way to reduce your air conditioning bills this summer is to reduce heat in your home!
- Reserve heat-generating activities such as cooking, washing or drying clothes, and running the dishwasher until late evening or early morning, when it is cooler outside.
- Install mini-blinds or solar film on your windows to cut down on the heat from the sun.
- Switch over to compact fluorescent light bulbs - not only do they use less energy, but they produce very little heat.
- Set the thermostat a few degrees higher - most people can be comfortable with a setting of 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit; plus, you'll save 7 to 10 percent of your cooling costs for each degree above 78!
- Try using a ceiling fan or portable fan to supplement your air conditioning. A fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler and only costs pennies per hour to operate.
July 22, 2009
PENDING HOME SALES UP 3.2% IN MARCH
There was another ray of hope Monday for the distressed housing market: the National Association of Realtors said the volume of signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes rose for the second month in a row.
Homebuyers taking advantage of bargain prices, low interest rates and a tax credit for first-time buyers pushed the seasonally adjusted index of pending sales up by 3.2 percent to 84.6 in March.
The results not only beat analysts' flat expectations, but were also 1.1 percent above last year's levels, the first time that has happened since December.
"After nearly three years of freefall, housing activity may have found a floor," wrote Paul Dales, U.S. economist with Capital Economics in Toronto.
The index tracks signed contracts to purchase previously occupied homes. Typically there is a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a done deal, so the index is a barometer for future home sales.
Hopes have been growing that home sales, while still severely depressed, may be finally showing signs of life. Sales of newly built homes were flat in March while sales of existing homes edged down slightly.
May 6, 2009