Consumer Real Estate News

  • How to Stretch Those Travel Dollars

    23 May 2017

    Planning a vacation? With a few smart tweaks to your travel planning, you can save big money, according to travel resource Hotwire. Below are several Hotwire suggestions for getting more value out of your vacation.

    When planning your trip, keep an open mind and focus on the type of vacation you want (beach, city, etc.), then search a variety of related locales to find the best deals.

    - Check alternative airports if you're flying into a busy metropolitan area (e.g. LaGuardia and Newark if you're flying into New York City; Burbank and Long Beach if you're flying to Los Angeles).

    - Consider finding a cheaper airfare and then driving to your destination to save money.

    - If you can handle waiting, you'll often get the lowest rates if you delay and book a rental car or hotel room once you've landed in your destination. Use your Hotwire app for great Hot Rate deals.

    - Once you have that car, fill it up yourself. Do not prepay for gas - it is almost never worth it.

    - Most flights get delayed (or cancelled!) due to weather, and incoming planes being unable to land. Book your travel for early in the morning, and you'll be less likely to have to deal with the headache of cancellations.

    - Try to eat before boarding your flight to be less tempted by dehydrating salty snacks and sodas during the flight. Staying hydrated is a must for combatting fatigue and headaches - especially on long flights across multiple time zones.

    - If you exercise regularly, try and stick with your routine. If not, just some easy walks can help you acclimate to new surroundings and time zones.

    - Be polite. Flight crews work especially hard during busy travel times; being nice to your crew (and your fellow passengers) will always enhance your travel experience.

    - Do your homework – Try to spend a little time before you travel familiarizing yourself with your travel plans and airports you'll be traveling to. If you know you need to make a connection in Dallas, take some time to review the terminal maps to try and ease anxiety and frustration that can sometimes come with travel.

    - And while we're on the topic of easing travel woes…just remember that with travel (and in life!), it's important to be flexible and embrace the unexpected – you can get a great experience in so many different ways.

    Source: Hotwire

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Making Sure Your HVAC is Ready for Action

    23 May 2017

    As temperatures rise, our thermostats get lowered. Make sure your HVAC system is up for the challenge with some simple maintenance checks from Baltimore-based Winstar Home Services.

    Replace your air filters: Air filters work overtime in the winter, so be sure to replace your filters. Dirty air filters make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to. This puts strain on the system, which can cause bigger issues and lead to higher utility bills.

    Check and clear your unit's drainage line: Most HVAC units have a drainage line at the base of the cabinet. In order for the unit to run properly, the hole needs to be clear. To make sure the drainage line works properly, use a paper clip or a wire to ensure the hole is clear of any obstructions.

    Check your ductwork for issues: Your home's ductwork, or ventilation system, can often be the cause of poorly distributed air, which means you're spending more money on cool air that isn't making its way into your house. Check for leaky connections and return vents, damaged or fallen insulation, and ensure your vents (both incoming and outgoing) are not blocked or obstructed by rugs or furnishings.

    Test your unit: Turn on your AC and let in run briefly to see how it performs. If there are any problems, address them right away.

    Make sure you conduct these tests before temperatures hit their peak.

    SOURCE: Winstar Home Services

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • You Really CAN Prevent Forest Fires

    23 May 2017

    The majority of wildfires are actually started by people. One stupid mistake can take out acres and acres, threatening lives, homes, and nature. Whether you are camping, hiking, or just having a barbecue in your backyard, implementing proper fire safety tactics is crucial. Whenever you’re out enjoying nature, take the following suggestions into account to ensure you don’t start a wildfire.

    - For campers, make sure campfires are lit a safe distance from tents or other flammable supplies.

    - Contain campfires by using designated fire pits or use rocks to create a ring around your campfire.

    - To extinguish a campfire, pour water on the fire, and fully drown all the embers.

    - Never use volatile gasses, like gasoline, to start a fire.

    - Avoid burning garbage, treated wood, or yard waste.

    - For smokers, don't discard smoldering cigarette butts – snuff them out and put them in a designated garbage container.

    Source: www.pemco.com/DontGetBurned.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Prep Your Home for Summer

    22 May 2017

    Summer is the sweetest season. But for homeowners, it can also be a busy time, full of improvements and repairs. Below is a list of preparations from Gold Medal Service that homeowners can do to prepare their homes for the summer.

    Change air filters – Check your air filters every 30 days. During summer, air filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days, depending on the type of filter you use. Dirty air filters reduce airflow through the system causing it to work harder than it should, while using more energy, resulting in higher energy bills.

    Inspect window and door seals – Prevent hot air from leaking into your home through damaged window and door seals, or small cracks in the walls. Cheap materials like caulk and masking tape will go a long way to prevent hot air from entering your home and cool air from escaping your home. Good insulation will also help to keep your energy bills low.

    Consider shades or overhangs for your windows – This will help to naturally cool your indoor space by reducing the amount of solar heat you let into your home.

    Use your ceiling and/or attic fans – Moving air helps to remove heat from your home. Ceiling fans will help to reduce the thermostat temperature inside your home by about four degrees. Properly installed attic fans will also push the hot, trapped air out of your attic, reducing the workload on your HVAC unit.

    Clear away debris from the air conditioning system's condenser – You have a condenser installed somewhere outside your home. Leaves, branches or any garden debris can easily build up against the system, which could cause problems in the long run. Remove any foreign material heaped up against the unit.

    Clean the registers and ductwork inside the home – Make sure the registers inside your home aren't covered with carpets, furniture or anything else that will obstruct the air flow. Open each register and check for foreign objects like toys and pet hair that could be lodged in the HVAC ductwork. Use a flashlight to carefully check the surface of the ductwork for any signs of mold. Call a professional if you find signs of mold as it can cause respiratory distress and other health problems.

    Schedule an annual tune-up – This is critical so technicians can catch minor problems before it becomes a serious, costly affair. A faulty system can emit harmful gasses, most notably carbon monoxide. Regular maintenance will not only prevent system failures, but also keep your family safe.

    Mind your HVAC system's refrigerant – Homeowners with a cooling system that was manufactured before 2010, should be aware of the phasing out of R-22 refrigerant, an ozone-depleting gas used in older HVAC units. The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of R-22 refrigerant, effective from 2020, due to the negative effect it has on the atmosphere. It will become increasingly difficult to find R-22 refrigerant needed for general maintenance of older HVAC systems, and prices will increase due to scarcity. Discuss your options with a professional if you have an older HVAC system.

    Source: www.goldmedalservice.com.

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Tips to Keep the Family Safe All Summer

    22 May 2017

    Summer is a season of fun. But in between all that outdoor playtime, it’s important to pay mind to safety. Injury Prevention Specialist Jennifer Hoekstra shares the following tips for families kicking off the summer season:

    Stay out of cold water.  Favorite swimming spots can still be cold in early summer months. Temperatures fluctuate from day to day in many inland lakes.  Resist the urge to swim until water temperatures rise above 70 degrees.

    Watch out for heat stroke. Know how to identify heat stroke.  Limit your exposure to high temperatures and take breaks by going indoors to rest in air conditioning.  Try finding a shady spot and be sure children have adequate rest and hydration after play.

    Drink water, not a diet cola. You cannot stay properly hydrated on Diet Coke or alcoholic beverages.  Drink lots of water if you are going to be in the heat.  If you experience dizziness or light-headedness, find a cool shady spot, sit down, and drink more water.  

    Know your prescriptions. Many prescription drugs can trigger increased sensitivity to sunburn. Read labels carefully on any medication you are taking before going out in the sun.

    Wait before you take a bite out of that peach! Take the time to wash any fruits or vegetables purchased at local farmers markets.  It is likely these items have not been washed and may have dirt or bacteria lingering.

    Don't leave kids alone in the car. This warning is simple and very serious.  Do not leave your children unattended in your vehicle for any period of time. Within 10 minutes the temperature inside a vehicle rises by 20 degrees and by 40 degrees in an hour. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 911.

    Be a water watcher.  Whether your children are in a backyard swimming pool, at a community center or swimming in a lake, always watch them. Swimming pools are the most common site for drowning among children 4 and under.

    Pick out the right shades. Bring along a pair of sunglasses that provide adequate UV protection. Most brands come with labels stating if they are effective against the sun's harmful rays.  Grab your kids a colorful and fun pair too.

    Always assume the fire is hot. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from a fire pit for 24 hours after use. Coals don't have to be glowing red to be hot and dangerous.

    Don't walk distracted. When walking to friends' houses or the neighborhood pool, teach kids to put down their cell phones and not take photos while walking or crossing the street.  Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing and use designated crosswalks.

    Source: http://www.spectrum-health.org

    Published with permission from RISMedia.