Real Estate Blog
Friday, January 11 2013
Want your kids to pitch in and help save energy? Green parenting bloggers weigh in on getting kids to flip the switch and stop wasting energy.
Kids have more important things to think about than turning off the lights. But discovering the lights blazing in an empty room for the umpteenth time is enough to make any parent scream, especially when the power bill arrives.
The good news is, you can train your kids about the importance of saving energy right from the start. Here’s great advice from some of our favorite bloggers who know a thing or three about kids.
1. Let them take charge.
Jenn Savedge, who blogs at The Green Parent, practices a little reverse psychology — she urges her kids to remind her to turn off the lights.
“They get such a kick out of ‘telling Mommy what to do’ that it’s first and foremost on their minds,” Savedge said. “If I walk out of a room without doing it, they’re happy to point it out and then dash back and do it for me.
“Works like a charm and keeps the whole thing from becoming just one more thing that Mommy nags them about.”
The key to getting children to do anything is to make it “theirs,” says Monica Fraser, a mother of two who blogs at Healthy Green Moms.
“I get them to police me because they get inspired to turn off the lights ‘better than me,’” she said.
2. Find their motivation.
For Sommer Poquette’s 8-year-old son, it’s money.
“If I have to ask more than three times for my son to do anything in particular, he loses $1 out of his piggy bank,” says Poquette, who blogs at Green and Clean Mom.
“I do this so he learns that leaving the lights on costs me money, but also because he’s very motivated to earn money and spend money, so I hit him where it hurts the most: the wallet! Amazingly, he listens very well and never lets me get to the fourth ask!”
Fraser’s kids are motivated by the idea of helping out friends and neighbors.
“Because my children are quite young, I have said that we must remember to turn lights off and shut water off when brushing so that our neighbors have enough,” she says. “They know their neighbors, and certainly wouldn’t want to use all the water.”
3. Incorporate non-verbal reminders.
Gentle reminders, such as stickers on the light switches, help kids remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
“They’re each in charge of shutting off their bedroom lights each morning and during the day,” Poquette says. “We have stickers above the light switches to remind them. As a family, we all offer each other friendly reminders.”
Sticky notes don’t just apply to light switches, either. Tiffany Washko, who blogs at NatureMoms, places Post-It Notes labeled “Turn Me Off” and “Unplug Me” all around the house as reminders.
“Putting them by the light switch, on the side of the TV, on the wall next to the power bar that controls game consoles, etcetera, is a great visual reminder,” Washko says.
“We also require each child to do a walk-through each morning before they leave for school and turn off anything that may have been left on. Once they consistently remember, we stop requiring it ... that is, until they have a few lapses, then we rinse and repeat.”
4. Explain to them why it’s important.
The full implications of saving energy may not immediately be clear to kids, but they’ll be more likely to remember to turn off the lights if they understand why it’s important.
“To teach them about the importance of turning off the lights and saving energy, we’ve read them several children’s books,” says Poquette. “My son understands the value of a dollar, so I’ve shown him our energy bill and explained to him what this means and how energy is produced.
“I think being up front with your kids, and explaining things to them in simple ways they can understand, is the best policy.”
How do you get your kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room?
Thursday, January 10 2013
Here are a few surprising and simple ways to cut your energy bill this season.
Put lamps in the corners: Did you know you can switch to a lower wattage bulb in a lamp or lower its dimmer switch and not lose a noticeable amount of light? It’s all about placement. When a lamp is placed in a corner, the light reflects off the adjoining walls, which makes the room lighter and brighter.
Switch to a laptop: If you’re reading this article on a laptop, you’re using 1/3 less energy than if you’re reading this on a desktop.
Choose an LCD TV: If you’re among those considering a flat-screen upgrade from your conventional, CRT TV, choose an LCD screen for the biggest energy save.
Give your water heater a blanket: Just like you pile on extra layers in the winter, your hot water heater can use some extra insulation too. A fiberglass insulation blanket is a simple addition that can cut heat loss and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill.
Turn off the burner before you’re done cooking: When you turn off an electric burner, it doesn’t cool off immediately. Use that to your advantage by turning it off early and using the residual heat to finish up your dish.
Add motion sensors: You might be diligent about shutting off unnecessary lights, but your kids? Not so much. Adding motion sensors to playrooms and bedrooms cost only $15 to $50 per light, and ensures you don’t pay for energy that you’re not using.
Spin laundry faster: The faster your washing machine can spin excess water out of your laundry, the less you’ll need to use your dryer. Many newer washers spin clothes so effectively, they cut drying time and energy consumption in half—which results in an equal drop in your dryer’s energy bill.
Use an ice tray: Stop using your automatic icemaker. It increases your fridge’s energy consumption by 14% to 20%. Ice trays, on the other hand, don’t increase your energy costs one iota.
Use the dishwasher: If you think doing your dishes by hand is greener than powering up the dishwasher, you’re wrong. Dishwashers use about 1/3 as much hot water and relieve that much strain from your energy-taxing water heater. Added bonus: you don’t have to wash any dishes.
Monday, December 17 2012
By taking preventive measures before cold weather arrives, you can prevent freezing pipes and the costly damage that goes with them.
Where the trouble lies
"Some pipes are more prone to freezing than others because of their location in the home," explains Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter.
Pipes most at risk for freezing include:
- Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home.
- Pipes located in exterior walls.
- Any plumbing on the exterior of the home.
Preventative measures for outside
A frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually burst an interior pipe. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.
If you don't have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. They cost only a couple bucks and are worth every penny. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage.
Exposed interior plumbing
Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing.
Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climes, opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape (from $50 to $200, depending on length), which will turn on at certain minimum temps.
If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might well be worth the couple hundred dollars it costs to open up the wall and beef up the insulation.
"When nothing else works, say for a northern wall in a really cold climate, the last resort is to reroute a pipe," notes Abrams. Depending on how far the pipe needs to be moved — and how much damage is caused in the process — this preventative measure costs anywhere from $700 on up. Of course, putting the room back together is extra.
Heading south for the winter?
For folks leaving their houses for an extended period of time in winter, additional preventative measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
- Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees.
- Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.
In extreme situations (vacation home in a bitterly cold climate), Abrams recommends having a plumber come to inspect the system, drain the hot water heater, and perhaps replace the water in traps and drains with nontoxic antifreeze.
Tuesday, May 03 2011
We hope the article below will be of interest. In today’s economic climate all savings can add up so that we can stretch our dollars further. I have started to combine trips so that I can save somewhat with the current high gas prices. We hope you will enjoy reading this article. -RT
You can help save the planet while also saving cash, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
The average U.S. household spends about $3,425 to power a car and $2,175 on home energy costs--in other words, about $5,600 on energy costs per year. That number is likely even greater with rising fuel and utility costs.
In honor of Earth Day, the Alliance to Save Energy is offering up some pointers on how to trim those yearly expenses with some easy ways to go “green.” Here are a few of its tips.
In your car:
- Use cruise control. Cruise control on the highway can help you maintain a constant speed, which can help save gas.
- Use the overdrive gear. By using the overdrive gear, your car’s engine speed goes down, which not only saves gas but also reduces engine wear and tear.
- Slow down. Driving anything above 60 miles per hour is decreases your gas mileage rapidly. The Alliance equates it to every 5 mph over 60 mph that you drive is basically like paying 24 cents per gallon for gas.
In your home:
- Swap out the light bulbs. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy efficient options such as compact fluorescent lights, which can shave up to $50 off your electricity costs over the lifetime of each bulb, even factoring in the higher purchase price of the bulb.
- Plant a tree. Properly positioned trees outside your home actually have been found to reduce a home’s energy use, even up to 50 percent during the summer months and 15 percent in the winter.
- Get a tax break. Uncle Sam is offering 2011 tax breaks of up to $500 for energy efficiency home improvements, such as with Energy Star windows, insulation, or energy efficient heating and cooling equipment. Learn more.
Source: “Already-Soaring Gas Prices Make Energy Efficiency an Apt Way to Honor Earth Day While Saving Money, Says Alliance,” Alliance to Save Energy (April 19, 2011)
Wednesday, February 09 2011
Most home owners opt to add some upgrades to a new home, which can be rolled into the mortgage opposed to paying for them later on their own. But the choices of what flooring, lighting, or other upgrades to choose can be overwhelming.
Designer Candice Olson, author and host of HGTV's "Candice Tells All," says lighting and extra wiring are key upgrades new home buyers should consider.
"Adding lighting -- or at least the wiring for it -- means you'll be able to have bathroom sconces instead of that one overhead light the builder gives you,” Olson says. “Your flat-screen TV can be where you want it. You'll have a floor outlet for the lamp in middle of the open room. And you won't be ripping out walls later to do all this."
Also, she says home owners shouldn’t forget about the exterior lighting either. "Outside lighting, plus landscaping, will set apart your house from the others in the neighborhood where buyers chose from plans A, B and C," Olson says.
As for flooring, Olson recommends hardwood floors for the main living areas, and cork floors for the basement, since there’s potential for water leakage in basements.
She also says the addition of taller baseboards, chair rails, crown molding, coffered ceilings, built-ins or a banquette also are smart investments for upgrades.
Source: “Decisions, Decisions: Add Character to Your Home With a Few Choice Upgrades,” Chicago Tribune (Feb. 4, 2011) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2011020906?OpenDocument
Monday, January 03 2011
Found adjacent to the kitchen and having access to any outdoor living space, family rooms are casual and informal where you sit and read a book or watch your favorite Thursday night sitcom with your three best friends. Recently with life being lived less formal, some new construction homes have the family room replacing the formal living room.
Find family room design ideas here.