Kim Avery, Calgary Real Estateon Feb 21, 2016 9:31 PM
Buying Eco-Friendly homes
When most people hear the term “eco-friendly homes”, they think of solar panels on the roofs or large windmills in the yards. While these eco-friendly solutions are a reality in Calgary's 332 days of sun and warm Chinook winds, there are many other ways Calgary home builders and renovators are becoming more green.
Whether building, renovating or buying real estate, choosing the right building materials can make all the difference between a regular home and an eco-friendly home. Starting with the lumber choices. Avoiding lumber sourced from old growth or tropical forests and opting to salvaged wood either from riverbeds or recycled from old buildings, or using composite wood based materials that also utilize reclaimed wood.
When it comes to windows, choosing ones that are low emissivity can save on heating and cooling. Highly reflective materials have a low emissivity, so the glass is treated with ultraviolet coatings that reflect the light. Low-E coatings are rated based on the passive, or solar control they offer and include values like U-value ratings which are based on how much heat loss the window allows; visible light transmittance or how much light the window lets through; the solar heat gain coefficient which “is the fraction of incident solar radiation admitted through a window, both directly transmitted and that is absorbed and re-radiated inward”; and the Light to Solar Gain Ratio.
Builders and renovators also consider the amount of water that will be used in the eco-friendly home. Installing low flow toilets and shower heads, tankless water heaters, and Energy Star Approved appliances all decrease water consumption and energy costs.
When looking to buy a home that is eco-friendly, another bonus is the financial reward buyers are eligible for. CMHC has a 10% mortgage loan insurance premium refund, the government offers grants and refunds on various eco-friendly upgrades such as toilet and furnace replacement, and homes that have solar cells or photovoltaic panels can receive rebates and refunds or even earn money from utility companies depending on the amount of energy they produce.
For home buyers interested in buying green, CREB has a feature on their site called HomeSmarts, which allows your Realtor® to search for eco-friendly homes for sale in Calgary and surrounding areas. Prices of these homes are comparable to other homes so the decision to be green is not going to be a costly one.
Have you ever driven up to a restaurant and your first impression was disappointing ? Perhaps the windows looked dark and gloomy, the facade was worn and unattractive or for some reason it just didn't look like a tempting place to eat ?
It could still be a fantastic restaurant - a real gem. But, your first impression has soured your anticipation. If you still walk through the front door, it will likely be with the expectation of being disappointed.
This scenario often plays out in the Real Estate market as well.
A buyer drives up to a home for sale and quickly forms an impression based on what he sees "from the curb". That's why you'll hear real estate experts talk about the importance of "curb appeal". It's one of the most important sellling points of a property.
If you plan to put your home on the market, you obviously want your home to look as atttractive as possible from the street. Fortunately, there are many simple things you can do to improve curb appeal.
For example, you can trim shrubs and hedges, plant flowers, clean the walk way and driveway, paint the front door and garage door, and clean the exteriors of the windows. All these projects are relatively easy and inexpensive. Yet, each can make a dramatic improvement to how your home looks at first glance.
Don't be like the great restaurant that's hidden behind an unkept facade. Make sure your curb appeal relfects the overall value of your property.
Looking for more advice on selling your home quickly and for the best price ?
During another cold winter, your top priority is keeping warm on those long, frosty days, and the even longer frosty nights. However, when your power bill comes, to reveal just how much you actually spent heating your home over winter, it can be enough to make you go cold all over, all over again.
Instead, use these 15 simple home heating tips next winter to ward off the winter chills, and keep the power bills at bay. Below are 15 quick and easy ways you can save on heating your house through winter, and they won’t cost a cent to implement in your home.
1 Let in the Light
You might not associate winter with warm sunshine, but even a little bit of light can take the bite out of the cold in your home. Winter sunshine is golden and so get into the habit of opening the curtains in every room of your house during the day to let in the sunlight. Plus, where the sunshine comes streaming through the window is the perfect place to retreat with a book or a cup of coffee.
2 Adjust Window Hangings to Your Winter
Depending on which part of the country you live in, you may experience blistering hot summers and mild winters, or you may shiver through freezing winters and enjoy pleasantly warm summers. Whatever your situation, make sure your curtains reflect your seasons. For example if you battle with hot summers you’re likely to have thick curtains to block out the sun, therefore make sure that in winter you take down your heavy window hangings to let the winter sun inside. Or if you enjoy mild summers and have light summer curtains to let in the balmy breezes, swap them out for thicker curtains in the winter to keep in the warmth.
3 Close Your Doors When Heating
In the warmer weather you may get into the habit of leaving your doors open and just closing your screen door to let fresh air into your home. Or perhaps the doors in your home are often left open to let pets in and out, or because absent-minded children are always leaving them open. Well winter is the time to be vigilant about keeping all external door closed when trying to heat your home. Not only will open doors let the warmth from your heater right out again, but will also let all that cold air inside.
4 Close Your Windows When Heating
As you make a check of your doors before turning the heater on this winter, check the windows as you go too because even a slightly ajar window can suck all that warm air away, while creating an unpleasant cold draught.
5 Selective Ducted Heating
If you have a ducted heating and cooling system in your home, then there is likely to be a vent in each room, and one in the hallways and entry way. Well, if some of the rooms in your home are unoccupied when you turn the heating on – the spare room, or your daughter’s room while she’s having a sleepover – go in and close the vent to that duct to avoid heating unoccupied space.
6 Close the Doors to Unoccupied Rooms
Once you have closed off the vents in any unoccupied spaces, close the door on your way you too, there is no point in sending warm air into a room you’re not using. Closing the bathroom, laundry and toilet doors is especially important in winter as these are the draughtiest rooms and will steal a lot of your heat if their doors are left open.
7 Layer Up Your Clothing
Of course the best way to save on the cost of running your heating system is to not run it at all. Instead put on an extra jumper or too, some woolly socks and even put a rug around you while you watch TV and once you’re rugged up, then decide if you’re still cold enough to warrant the heater. Chances are, you’ll forget all about the heater and be as snug as a bug without it.
8 Layer Up Your Bedding
There is nothing worse than being woken up by the cold in the middle of the night. To combat this, many people sleep with their heating running through the night. Instead, add a few extra blankets to your bed and make sure they’re not going to fall off in the night; you may even decide to leave your woolly socks on. In a cosy and warm bed, you won’t need to leave the heater running during the night.
9 Close the Fireplace When Not in Use
When your fireplace is not warming your home, you can be sure it is cooling it. When not in use your fireplace is simply another way for cold air to enter your home. Therefore, close the glass door on your fireplace when you’re not using it.
10 Turn the Heat Down or Off at Night
If you’re already layered up in warm clothing and extra blankets, you should be able to turn the heat right down or even off when you go to bed and still keep warm during the night. If you have a programmable heating thermostat, remember to program it to turn off, or down at night so you don’t have to worry about remembering.
11 Turn the Heat Down or off When You Leave Home
If you are heading out of the house to run an errand or pick up the kids from school you want the house to be warm when you return, and for it to be somewhere warm and dry for your family to come home to. However, this doesn’t mean the heating needs to stay at the same level as when you’re home and you can turn your thermostat right down and keep the chill out of the air for when you return.
12 Turn the Heat Down or off When You’re at Work
If your house is going to stand empty all day while you are at work and the kids are at school, why would you pay to heat an empty house? Unless you’ve left pets at home and the weather is so incredibly frosty that your pets will greet you with frostbitten tails when you return, program your heating system to turn off during the day, during the week. You can even program your heating to come back on half an hour before you and your family are expected home, so you can still return to a warm house, not a hefty power bill.
13 Turn the Heat Off During the Day
We all know it’s the winter nights which are the coldest, so when you are able to open the blinds and let the sun in to naturally warm your home during the day, make sure you turn your heating off. Plus, if you are home during the day, you’re likely to be moving around a lot more, so are going to stay naturally warmer too.
14 Seal All Exits
Even when you have closed all the windows and doors you might still feel a draught in your home during winter. Not only is this annoying, it’s going to let your warm air out and make your heating work harder. Therefore, start up a search for the draught and find a way to stop it. It might be coming from under the bathroom door and you need to lay a towel along the floor in front of the door. Or perhaps the glass in your front door has moved and needs a quick application of sealant this winter.
15 Snuggle Up
Yes, body heat will keep you warm, but even if you’re sleeping alone you can still take something warm to bed by filling up your hot water bottle; that’s right – you’ve probably forgotten you even had one, when you’ve been able to simply crank up the heat to keep warm at night. However, to save money on your heating bill, turn the thermostat down and stay warm at night with a simple and effective hot water bottle by your side.
Finding ways to save money on your heating bill is easy when you start looking and perhaps you already have some effective home heating tricks of your own to cut the costs of your power bill. However you keep warm this winter, remember that you’re not just watching your power usage for your pocket, but also for the planet.
The mobile optimization revolution is changing the way that consumers and companies interact with each other.
According to a survey by Get Satisfaction, “80.5% of website visitors are accessing websites through mobile phones.” But are you providing the experience the same as your visitors move from one device to another?
If your brand isn’t able to deliver, you might be in trouble.
Consumers are looking for a seamless experience across all of their devices.
You want to break out of the 1200 x 800 pixel website mindset. Designing a website for mobile isn’t about all those fancy sliders or flash. It’s about tailoring your site to fit the needs of your visitors.
The Rise of Mobile Optimization
2013 is the year for mobile optimization. According to Cisco, the amount of mobile devices will soon out number the number of people on Earth. Now that’s a lot of mobile devices. Ultimately, that number will continue to increase each year, as everyone and anyone jumps on the mobile device bandwagon.
In 2012, the number of people accessing the web on mobile devices spiked. Increasing mobile traffic by 70%.
In March, Marriott conducted a survey to see what people would be willing to give up on their vacation for 25% off their stay. You might be surprised by the results. Marriott concluded that more people would be willing to give up alcohol during a vacation than to go through their vacation without their smartphone.
There is no denying the fact that people are attached to their smartphones.
Are you prepared for this mobile revolution?
1. Seamless Integration
You may have noticed that in the last few months, companies were revamping their mobile site.
With more users accessing websites through smartphones and tablets, it’s becoming more apparent that companies need to consider the design of their mobile site.
Being mobile is no longer about what device your target audience is using, it’s about creating a user experience that has a seamless integration between your desktop version and mobile. People are using multiple devices to view your site. Therefore, you need to have a site that is optimized for multiple screen sizes.
Not sure if your site is responsive? A great trick is to drag one corner of your internet browser until it is the size of a smartphone. If the size adjusts accordingly, then you can start viewing that page on other devices besides your desktop or laptop. If not, you’re sure to have a growing number of frustrated visitors.
We are living in the digital age, where technology is taking companies and customers away from their desktops and laptops. your only form of interaction is no longer a desktop.
While designing your mobile site, want to ensure that it’s functional and displays your brand image. You also want to take into consideration the experience of your users.
While designing your mobile site ask yourself these questions:
Have I thought through how people will use their mobile device on my site?
Have I placed an emphasis on my content (as you should) rather than graphics or navigation?
Have I provided relevant options for exploring and pivoting?
Has my design and content maintained clarity and focus?
In today’s fast paced world, you also might want to interact with your users offline, by integrating offline media into your new mobile strategy through QR codes and text promotions.
Who wouldn’t want to be the first to hear about promotions and special offers? I know I would. With so many mobile devices glued to the hands of Americans, these are two easy ways for brands to continually interact with users.
Consider: Use QR codes and text promotions to provide special deals and offers for users that continuously engage with your company through their mobile devices.
2. Whole New Dimensions
Cellphones are no longer just for communicating with family members and friends.
People around the world are using their smartphones to access the worldwide web. Whether it’s to watch TV or videos, to shop, and / or as a way to stay in contact with family and friends on the internet; accessing the Interent on mobile devices is on the rise.
When was the last time you went shopping on your phone.
It’s okay, you don’t have to admit it, but 67% of shoppers actually start on one device and complete their purchase on another.
Companies need to take into consideration the tech savvy generation. Most mobile shopping purchases include; books, magazines, tickets to films and concerts, clothing, music and even dvd’s.
So, maybe your customers aren’t purchasing your products or services from their mobile phones, but you can still intertwine mobile shopping and the in-store experience. Join the two by allowing users to compare prices, find coupons, and utilize geolocation to find all the items on their shopping lists.
Besides accessing the Internet on their phones, people around the world are communicating with each other through social networking sites. Accessing Vine and Instagram can be difficult unless you’re using your smartphone. However, these two apps are great for getting your users to take photos and videos of themselves with your products.
Other fantastic mobile apps include shopkick, Square card reader, Foursquare, Retail Me Not, Facebook, and Pinterest.
User Generated Content
Who wouldn’t love the brand exposure?
One of the best places to encourage user generated content is through social media. Your customers are able to share their experiences using your product or service. Search is a big part of mobile optimization, allowing you to expand your reach from your users devices to offline.
One of the easiest ways to get your users to actively engage is by asking them to take photos of them using your products. Gap is a great example. They’ve dedicated a board on Pinterest where they showcase users wearing their clothing.
What do grand mansions, ocean liners, natural science and industrial metals have to do with decorating? Experts predict that the latest home decor trends will demonstrate one or more of these special interests.
Indeed, as home fashion begins to reveal the newest looks for 2014, it is the influence of history, hobbies and the impact of nature that will be swaying our choices in paint colour, furniture pieces, and decorative art.
“It's an exciting opportunity to express admiration for many aspects of the world around us,” says Erika Woelfel, the director of colour for Behr Paints. “And because it's a truly personal touch, this trend is creating some of the most beautiful rooms to date. Our company is launching four eye-catching themes with twenty brand new paint colours for 2014. They are Seaside Harmony, Urban Alternative, Grand Reign, and Natural Avocation – and each one gives the do-it-yourselfer easy tools to showcase the people, places, and things that most intrigue them.”
Woelfel points out the highlights of each theme:
Seaside Harmony gives you the colours of sun, surf, and sand. A cool palette of blue-green and white, plus the warm peach with white, revives the spirit. Design elements: minimal furnishings, sculptured driftwood, and sea glass. Behr Paint Colours: Ocean Liner (T14-1), South Peach (T14-2), Miami Weiss (T14-3), Edgewater (T14-4) and Sky Blue (T14-5).
“Seaside Harmony is the open look of modern resort chic, where the colours of sun, surf, and sand come together in a relaxing mix. The cool palette of blue-green and white soothe the senses; a warm peach and white revives the spirit. The design elements for Seaside Harmony include minimal furnishings, sculptured driftwood, and sea glass.”
For Seaside Harmony, the colour recommendations are Ocean Liner (T14-1), South Peach (T14-2), Miami Weiss (T14-3), Edgewater (T14-4), and Sky Blue (T14-5).
Urban Alternative applies neutrals like olive and burnt orange to showcase skills and craftsmanship in wood, metal and stone work. The atmosphere is modest, relaxed and attainable. Design elements: distressed wood treatments, raw metal finishes, filament lightbulbs and earthbound shades. Behr Paint Colours: Boho (T14-6), Offbeat (T14-7), Film Fest (T14-8), Hipsterfication (T14-9) and Coffee Bar (T14-10).
Urban Alternative, Woelfel continued, features inviting neutrals, especially olive and burnt orange:
“This style is inspired by time-honoured skills and craftsmanship in wood, metal, and stone work. It is the natural evolution of the 'industrial modern' decor into something that feels more modest, relaxed and attainable. The design elements for Urban Alternative include distressed wood treatments, raw metal finishes, filament lightbulbs, and earthbound shades.”
The new colours for 2014 in this theme are Boho (T14-6), Offbeat (T14-7), Film Fest (T14-8), Hipsterfication (T14-9), and Coffee Bar (T14-10).
Grand Reign captures the imagination with a sense of opulence, romance and mystery. Use luxurious detail, colour, and ornamentation. Choose a rich, masculine look, or delicate and feminine. Design elements: jewelled colours, layered textiles, guilded frames, and decorative mouldings. Behr Paint Colours: Imperial Jewel (T14-11), Coronation (T14-12), Grand Soirée (T14-13), Cloisonné Blue (T14-12) and Minuet Rose (T14-15).
Grand Reign is your invitation to distinctive opulence and romantic glamour:
“Showcase a favourite room to reflect an exquisite residence from another place and time. Fascinate the eyes with luxurious detail, colour, and ornamentation. You can do it with a rich and masculine look, or make it delicate and feminine. The idea is to capture the imagination with a sense of romance and mystery. The design elements for Grand Reign include jewelled colours, layered textiles, guilded frames, and decorative mouldings.”
Behr's new colours for Grand Reign are Imperial Jewel (T14-11), Coronation (T14-12), Grand Soirée (T14-13), Cloisonné Blue (T14-14), and Minuet Rose (T14-15).
Natural Avocation expresses respect for the things that intrigue you. In your favourite room, give any curious mind a rich colour experience in passions like botany, geology, archaeology and celestial events. Design elements: weathered maps, antique books, geological artifacts and illustrations of birds, plants and insects. Behr Paint Colours: Arboretum (T14-16), Archivist (T14-17), New Shoot (T14-18), Sunday Afternoon (T14-19) and Amaryllis (T14-20).
The Natural Avocation theme, says Woelfel, gives the spotlight to your hobby, adding a sophisticated touch to your home:
“You might choose the world of science and nature expressed with local and exotic flora and fauna motifs. Botany, geology, archaeology and celestial events give the curious mind a rich experience – one that especially comes alive with colour. The design elements include weathered maps, antique books, geological artifacts, plus bird, plant and insect illustrations.”
The corresponding Behr colours are Arboretum (T14-16), Archivist (T14-17), New Shoot (T14-18), Sunday Afternoon (T14-19), and Amaryllis (T14-20).
More information on the latest colour trends is available at www.behr.com and the colour trend brochures are available at The Home Depot.
The ever-growing emphasis on environmentalism has certainly impacted consumers of all age groups. Whether it's food, clothing or even the appliances you bring into your home, consumers have turned what once seemed daunting into a trendy, feel-good practice that all can enjoy.
Here are some trend-worthy tips on how you can be even kinder to Mother Nature:
• Up-cycling is the new recycling. We've all heard of recycling our clothes but what about up-cycling? This sustainable concept encourages consumers to convert potentially wasted material into new materials or products, extending the items' lifetimes. YouTube and Pinterest are swarming with fun and catchy ideas on how you can turn anything from drab to fab.
• Save your H2O. There are loads of tips available to consumers on how to save water around the house. One area often focused on by energy specialists is water consumption in the shower. For example, a product by Delta Faucet called H2OKinetic gives you a brand new shower experience. Within each showerhead is an internal system that controls the speed, movement and droplet size of the water, creating the feeling of more water than a standard shower flowing at the same rate. Additional details can be found at www.deltafaucet.ca.
• Just cool it. With almost half of a home's energy consumed by heating and cooling, it's often recommended to keep an eye on the thermostat. Industry experts agree that every degree below 20◦C during colder weather can shed 3-5% off your energy consumption. New technologies in thermostats to control temperatures remotely from a cell phone makes this task a cinch.
• Clean the green way. Want to skip the chemical cleaners? Why not consider using common household items to help keep your home spit-spot? Not only will cleaning with simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda, vinegar or lemon juice save you money, it can also be gentle to our planet. Check out Pinterest for a plethora of uses from these seemingly-simple ingredients.
There are countless tips about reducing our carbon footprint. These simple yet practical tips can help your family become 'environmentally trendy'.
Many homeowners are surprised to hear that water damage is the most common insurance claim. Water damage—often in the form of a flooded basement—can come out of nowhere and cause extensive damage to the house.
“Once homeowners understand the most common types of insurance claims, they can take steps to guard against them,” says John Jenner, vice-president of marketing and communications at Western Financial Group. “Measures might include making sure their home insurance policy covers sewer backup, installing a sump pump, having properly installed drainage systems, or making sure that downspouts are sending water away from their home.”
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, there are many circumstances that can cause a flooded basement, including tree roots growing through cracks in the waterline, overloaded stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure, frozen pipes, vandals blocking lines and more.
To keep your home safe, practice the following guidelines:
Have someone check on your house when you're away
When you leave home for more than three days, make sure you have someone come and check the premises. A flooded basement, leaky pipe, or a broken window can be devastating if it is not discovered immediately.
Keep drains clear
It may seem simple, but many homeowners need to be reminded to keep their basement drains clear of obstructions. That means moving large objects such as furniture and making sure the drain is not sitting under a layer of dirt or debris. In older houses, drains may need to be snaked to ensure they can do their job properly.
Install a sump pump and backflow valves
This will greatly reduce the frequency and severity of basement flooding. Backflow valves or plugs can be installed on drains, toilets and other sewer connections to prevent water from entering the home.
Move items that are in flooding prone areas
The 10 minutes spent on inspecting your home for items that are in flooding prone areas could save hours later. Make sure you store important documents and irreplaceable personal items where they will not be damaged.
“It is important for homeowners to go over their insurance policy yearly with a representative,” adds Jenner. “This will make sure you have the coverage you need.”
More information is available online at www.westernfinancialgroup.ca.
The key for a really easy way to make money is... credit cards. Don't gasp like I just said Voldemort or something. Credit cards get a bad rap because of all the stories of people going into debt because of misuse. It is not the credit card's fault that they are in debt, it is their own fault. All it requires is self control. If you don't think you can handle that, then by all means do not open up a credit card.
How to Not Go Into Debt with Credit:
1.) As I said, the key to not going into debt is self control. Do not think of it as being able to buy anything you want on credit, think of it just the same as your debit card, i.e. you have to have the money to buy it. Generally I like to keep the rule that it already has to be in my account, like I could pay for it with cash right now, but if you know you will have enough money in your account by the time you have to pay your bill then that's okay too. But I don't recommend living paycheck to paycheck like that if you can help it.
2.) The second reason people go into debt over credit cards is because they don't pay their bill IN FULL each month. If you've followed the rule above, you will have enough money in your account to pay the full amount. DO THAT. If you do not, the interest charged on what you have not paid will end up being way more than you should ever pay for the stuff you bought. Just don't do it. If you happened to have an emergency or something that prevented you from paying your bill in full one month, that's understandable, pay as much as you can, not just the minimum. And then make sure you pay it off as soon as possible. Oh and make sure you pay on time.
And that's it! If you keep your spending limit within your means, that means only buying what you can actually pay for, and if you pay your bill in full on time, you will never pay credit cards any extra money (as long as you get a card with no annual fee but more on that next) and you won't go into debt.
Things to Look For When Choosing a Card:
1.) NO ANNUAL FEE!!!!!! This is super important. Really the only fine print you have to look for as long as you follow the above two rules, is no annual fee. Why should you have to pay a fee to pay for thins? You shouldn't and that's why you won't. There are plenty of cards out there to choose from that fit your style that don't have one.
2.) Rewards. Here comes the fun part and a little bit of the money making. The reason why credit cards are so nice (not because of the credit because we don't use it based on credit we used it based on the knowledge that we have the money for it) is because you get rewarded for your purchases.
The way you get rewarded varies greatly per card. Most are either based on points or a percentage. Generally points give you less value per dollar spent, but that's not always the case. It's also just easier with a percentage to know how much you are gaining back.
What you are rewarded for. Here's where choosing a card that is tailored to your specific buying habits is key to getting the most out of your rewards. I'm not going to go into great detail because there are hundreds of sites devoted to devouring every bit of every credit card offered out there. Just do your research to find one that benefits you most.
Redeeming rewards is probably the most fun. Generally the rewards options come in the forms of actual objects, gift cards, statement credit, or cash. While it may be fun to build up the rewards to get that fancy TV on the list, you usually get more value out of getting either statement credit or cash (don't worry it usually comes in a check or direct deposit not actual cash). Why, you ask? Because the amount you get back in cash is usually more than what you would actually spend on whatever item you are looking at. Say you've saved up 100,000 points. That TV you were looking at is valued at 100,000 points. But 100,000 points equals $500 cash back. Look up the value of the TV (they're not gonna let you know it's not worth all those points) and you'll see that it would only cost you $350 to buy. The value of that TV is $150 less than you would get in cash. So get the cash, then ask yourself if you really need that TV or if the cash can go to something more useful.
Now that's all cool, you get free rewards for spending money. But that's not the only way, and certainly not the most prosperous way, to make money off credit cards. Here's a way to make a lot of money, quickly, without going over your budget.
Bonus rewards are offers for when you first open up a credit card. As long as you spend a certain amount in a certain time period (generally 3 months) you get the bonus reward. These rewards start at $100 and can go up to $500! Or if you're into travel, enough miles for a plane ticket anywhere in the world.
Now be careful. Remember to still check to make sure there's no annual fee. Also make sure the amount you need to spend to get the reward is doable, within your normal spending amount. The ones that offer the larger amounts, usually either have an annual fee or it's a really high amount you have to spend to get the reward.
And those are the keys to making money off credit cards while not spending any extra yourself.
Sometimes I open a credit card just to get the bonus reward. That's fine. Just make sure you don't start using too many different cards at the same time. Find one that really suits your style: rewards you the most for your normal spending habits and has rewards you like, and use only that one. Obviously you need to switch to the new one for those three months or however long it takes you to get the bonus reward. Then when you are done with getting the reward, switch back to the old one.
If you build up a pile of cards, you can even just cut up the cards you don't use anymore and throw those away. But don't close the account, that will kill your credit score. Even though you may have accounts you don't use at all, it still builds up positive credit because you are "paying it off" every month. It's strange, but it's true. So actually having multiple accounts helps your credit score as long as you are paying everything off.
Also make sure you don't open too many new cards within a short amount of time. This can also kill your credit score. It looks like you're in a desperate need to borrow money. I like to only open 2 or 3 new cards a year.
It think that covers all the essentials. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
*A note about travel cards, i.e. cards that give you miles towards plane tickets. I didn't really cover these kinds of cards in my post because I don't have experience with them. I've looked into them, but found that just like the product in catalogs for rewards, the miles you have to build up to get a good plane ticket are more than you would get back in cash. BUT there may be some really good ones out there that I'm missing out on. Let me know if there's one you really like.
Whether you're ready to re-design your entire home or just intend to redecorate a single room, make sure you have a master plan. Here are the top 5 decorating mistakes and how you can correct them.
1. Poor Furniture Placement. A bad furniture layout can set the tone for the room and is still one of the most common mistakes that many people make.
- Mistake: Don't line up all your furniture and seating against the walls of a room, it's almost impossible to carry on a decent conversation. And no matter what you think it does not give the illusion of more space.
- Solution: Try moving the large sofa off the wall and position it in the center of the room facing the focal point whether it is the fireplace or entertainment unit. Re-orient all the other furniture pieces to work off that sofa, creating a more intimate living space where great conversations can happen.
2. Oversized Furniture. I can tell you that, contrary to popular belief, size does matter.
- Mistake: Oversized furniture can be overpowering and chunky, eating up the space within the room by making it feel cluttered and smaller than it really is - particularly when those pieces are disproportionate to the space.
- Solution: Large-scaled furniture works best when fewer pieces are used. In construction, there's a saying: measure twice, cut once. The same should apply to decorating. Measure (your space) twice and purchase (the right pieces) once..
3. Unbalanced Room. This is where furniture placement and size come together to create balance. It's very important to be aware of the height, width and depth of all your major pieces.
- Mistake: If your bulky sofa, heavy wood cocktail table and your inherited bombe chest are gathered to one side of the room with a pair of club chairs, all of those "bottom heavy" pieces create an imbalance in the space, both physically and visually.
- Solution: Make sure your overall layout and conversation area is balanced. Then introduce some lighter pieces into the mix. By all means use your sofa, but introduce glass, iron or metal combinations for cocktail tables and end tables.. If you have a very tall unit or hutch in your space, balance it out with a beautiful tall tree or an art arrangement.
4. Poor Traffic Patterns: The ability to walk through each room in your house without navigating through a maze of furniture can be a challenge for some.
- Mistake: You don't want to walk into your family room and immediately be faced with an aisle just wide enough to squeeze through, then knock into the corner of that lethal weapon called an end table.... bruising your thigh again, in the exact same spot as you did yesterday! Always keep the doorways at the top of your list when thinking about traffic patterns in every room of your home.
- Solution: If you have two openings into and out of your space, then move the traffic behind the seating, not through it. If you have a sofa floating within your space and away from the wall make sure there is at least 30" to 36" of clear floor space to walk around between the wall and other furniture pieces. The ultimate solution is to arrange your furniture so that you direct traffic through the space.
5. Identifying A Focal Point. Every space needs to have a focus or anchor for other design elements revolve around. This highlight is the glue that holds the room together, and creates a sense of interest.
- Mistake: Some people never really figure out what the focal point to their room is, while others try to highlight too many. Not taking advantage of natural focal points, such as fireplaces, expansive windows with a killer view, or charming French doors onto the patio can dull the senses and be very uninviting.
- Solution: A good rule of thumb to follow is to look for the most dramatic element in the space. In the family room or great room, the focal point is either the fireplace, windows to the view or the entertainment unit. Make sure that your conversation area somehow faces the area or at least part of it.. If you lack a focal point - create one!
The windowsill is one place where black mold can grow easily as it is exposed to a lot of water and debris during rainstorms. Black mold on the windowsill is unsightly and can cause health problems as they pathogens from the mold can travel into the home when a lot of wind comes through the window. However, black mold is easily removed and prevented with just a little effort from the homeowner.
Black mold, also referred to as just mold, comes in a variety of colors; such as black, white, red, orange and yellow. There is also a distinct odor, usually a musty or earthy smell, that comes with the presence of mold. This characteristic often helps homeowners locate mold when it's hidden from view. When it is in the windowsill, the odor may not be noticeable if it's left open all the time.
Large amounts of standing water and humidity causes black mold to grow in abundance. When there isn't enough ventilation present, black mold will grow where the highest level of water sustenance are located. Enough moisture within the windowsill, though not plainly visible, can be enough for black mold to grow. According to the Toxic Black Mold Information Center, 55 percent humidity or greater for a long stretch of time is enough moisture to trigger a black mold outbreak on windowsills and other surfaces.
Cleaning Up Black Mold
When cleaning up black mold, it is best to put on a pair of rubber gloves first to protect your hands. Fill either a bucket or a spray bottle with warm water and bleach. The bleach will kill the mold quickly and allow you to wipe it away. Spray the mixture directly on the mold and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Wipe the area using a disposable cloth or a paper towel. Spray more of the mixture as needed. Once you have removed all evidence of the mold, dry the area completely to prevent a reoccurrence.
Keep the window open after you cleaned, to help air out the room and allow for good airflow to help dry everything out. To prevent mold from coming back, keep all areas of the home as free of moisture as possible. Clean up any standing water or condensation as quickly as possible. Using a dehumidifier during times of humidity will limit the potential for mold growth.
Web searches, How To Videos, blogs and the rest of the Internet have us believing we can do anything by ourselves. But when it comes to something important like buying or selling a home, we're better off trusting an expert.
(NC)—Food shopping continues to embrace the digital age. Take a look at the PC Plus rewards program in Ontario specifically designed for the smartphone. It gives you personalized offers to save money, to save time, and to feed your family in a convenient way.
“We know that customers use their smartphone for everything, from price comparisons, to online shopping and to meal ideas, so by introducing an all-digital loyalty program designed for the smartphone, we hope to make their shopping experience easier and more convenient,” says Uwe Stueckmann, the senior vice-president of marketing for Loblaw Companies.
Stueckmann points out that the PC Plus program pays attention to what customers do, the products they buy, and the offers they redeem to create a customized experience that is just right for each individual. The more customers shop and interact with the program, the more personalized offers become.
It is designed to save the shopper time as well. As a member, you get access to online tools such as a shopping list that remembers your usual staple items, plus a meal planning tool and some fresh meal ideas that are tailored to your family's preferences. As well, the program has an integrated shopping list that allows customers to add foods from Loblaws flyers, from recipes, and from current point offers. Stueckmann says that customers can use the PC Plus program anywhere, either online or on their smartphone with an easy-to-use app.
The PC Plus program is an extension of the current reward plan from PC Financial. This means customers who already collect points can earn them faster now for greater grocery savings.
More information is available online at pcplus.ca.
Kim Avery, Calgary Real Estateon May 14, 2013 4:31 PM
One of the easiest ways to make a new garden bed harnesses the natural forces of the sun, weather, and earthworms to transform bare turf into rich, plantable earth. Once you layer cardboard, newsprint, and compost on top of the turf, and wait several months, the turf decomposes into 6 to 8 inches of topsoil. Build the bed at the beginning of one season and it should be ready for planting by the next season. For example, pile up the layers in early spring; the ground will be plantable by summer. No digging; no sweat.
1. Once you've decided where to build a new garden bed, mark the plot's perimeter using stones or bricks. Spread corrugated cardboard on top of the lawn. Saturate it, using a garden hose. On top of the cardboard, spread a layer of newspaper, 6 sheets thick.
2. Spread a 3- to 6-inch layer of compost on top of the paper. If you don't make your own compost, find a municipal source, or substitute half commercial topsoil or potting soil and half composted manure. Now let the weather and earthworms do the work, decomposing the layers.
3. An ideal planting bed awaits you after several months. Now's the best time to install drip irrigation or a soaker hose, before you plant. Edge the bed, if you wish, with decorative materials such as bricks, stones, or landscape timbers. If the bed is large, such as a boulevard garden between sidewalk and street, lay out paths before you plant.
Kim Avery, Calgary Real Estateon May 10, 2013 4:27 PM
Another summer and another battle with those pesky dandelions that seem to be overpopulating my yard! With dogs and children running around the yards, it's not a good idea to use nasty chemicals to kill these buggers! Here are some natural solutions I found that have worked for me:
1. The best solution would be to get on your hands and knees and start pulling the weeds out. Water the yard first to soften the soil or wait after it rains, to make it easier to pull the roots out. Use a knife blade, screwdriver, or "dandelion puller" alongside the deep root and pry it loose a little before pulling. You can spray some vinegar onto any remaining root system you can't pull but be careful not to get vinegar onto your grass. The vinegar will damage anything it touches.
2. When boiling potatoes or pasta, drain out the boiling water and pour onto the weeds. The scaling water will shrivel up the weeds in a couple of days.
3. Cover low growing weeds like clover and crabgrass with several layers of newspaper. Eventually they will die off due to the lack of sunlight. Newspaper is excellent for building flower beds as it composts into a rich, loose loam.
4. Applying a teaspoon of salt at the base of the weeds when the weather and soil is dry will kill the roots. Although you have to be careful when using salt around concrete as it can erode the surface.
5. Sprinkle handfuls of baking soda onto the cracks of your paved patios, driveways and walkways and simply sweep it into the cracks. The added sodium will make it less hospitable for weeds to grow.
6. Pour undiluted bleach over the weeds in the cracks and crevices of your driveway. After a day or two, you can easily pull them out and the bleach will prevent them from returning. Be careful not to get any bleach on your grass or other plants.
7. Plant more ground covers, flowers and garden crops to 'out-compete' the weeds for sunlight, water and soil nutrients. Same principle applies to maintaining a thick and healthy lawn which will reduce the number of weeds. Aerating your lawn and overseeding works wonders for a healthy lawn!
8. If all else fails, EAT THEM!!! Dandelions are considered by herbalists as a valuable herb that acan be used as food and medicine. Containing a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc, these easy growing herbs are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, teas, and wines. Traditionally, the roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems, kidney diseases, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, upset stomach, diabetes and cancer although no solid scientific evidence has been able to prove its effectiveness.
As always keep me updated with any new "green" tips you can share! I hope these work for you!
Inside Secrets of a Real Estate Agent LOL "Cozy" House!!! As a Real Estate Agent, some of this is so true and I've experienced it first hand! However many good Realtors these days know that to stay in business for a long time, you need the confidence of your Clients so honesty and integrity is a very valuable virtue.
A recent commercial I saw from Allstate prompted me to look into the hazards of our hot water tank. I came across the following article:
Older homes have the potential of having several hazards related to age but not all of them are obvious. We do not think of hot water tanks as being one of the safety issues in our own homes. Most of us just take the thing for granted as long as it keeps the shower hot and does not make funny noises or leak.
A bulletin from the Washington state labor and industries department alerts residents to the hazards presented by hot water heaters. The bulletin starts out by acknowledging that our residential hot water heaters are "so common and trouble-free that we often take their safe operation for granted". (Washington State Department of Labor and Industries publication F620-048-000 [06-2009]) I know that is how I view my hot water heater.
The bulletin goes on to say that in spite of the trouble free record of safe operation, your water heater can harbor the potential for a serious accident. The bulletin recommends' routine inspection and maintenance to keep the hazard risk to a minimum.
If you are like me, and millions of other users, the idea of regular inspection of the hot water heater for hazardous defects is pretty new and startling. So let's start with a couple of questions: Can a hot water heater explode? The answer is yes it can. The cause of hot water tank explosions is primarily excessive heat. When water temperature is high enough to generate steam you should remember that steam expands and if your tank is corroded from age it will explode much more easily. Steam expands to fill a space 1,700 times the space it would fill as water. For a dramatic example of an exploding hot water tank check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu3FwgIHsQA
Of course explosion is the most dramatic hazard posed by a hot water tank; other hazards are leaks and the sequence of events that might occur from them. Think scalds, electric shocks, and property damage.
The second question that occurred to me was "what are the warning signs that my hot water tank is a hazard?" The warning sign that is most dramatic and dangerous is steam coming out of the hot water faucet. If steam comes out of your hot water faucet turn off the electric power to the water heater or turn off the valve for the gas if it is a natural gas water heater. Do this first and fast. Then call a qualified technician to replace the thermostat. The thermostat regulates the heat and if it is defective can cause major over heating and a violent explosion.
The Department of Labor and Industries in Washington state recommends' that you get your residential water heater inspected annually. You can get this done by a professional or learn to do it yourself. There are some dangers in conducting the tests but you can learn how to protect yourself if you read the literature that comes with your hot water tank.
Another hazard is the corrosion at the bottom of the tank. Because that seems to be where the worst corrosion occurs it essentially turns your hot water tank into a rocket if it does explode.
The other very real concern about bottom of the tank corrosion is property damage from leaks. You should inspect your tank for leaks at least once a year and more often if it is getting old. It may be hard to detect the leaks when they are small if you have insulation around your tank. Check by touching, getting a bright flashlight and looking, and by inspecting the floor under and around your tank for signs of damage.
Check your temperature/pressure release valve and make sure it operates properly, is not damaged, corroded or leaking and has a properly installed overflow pipe. One of the major concerns with T/P relief valves is the lack of an overflow pipe because the valve is often on top of the water heater and will shoot super heated water of steam directly into your face if it releases while you are near it.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries bulletin notes a tragic incident where a child lost an eye when the steam shot into his face. The tragedy could have been prevented with a properly installed overflow pipe.
If you live in rental housing the responsibility for inspecting the tank probably lies with the property owner but you should know what to look for and what the signs of trouble are so you can call the manager or owner before a lurking threat becomes a real danger.
Kim is helping a buddy with his "Live in the Pink" contest for $10,000 and 90.3 AMP Radio!!!
Each contestant has to spend as long as possible living in a pink bodysuit, all day and night, just to win a trip to Edmonton to see Pink in concert! The more adventurous and out there in the public they are, the more chances they have to win!
The public can also be involved in the contest as well! If you spot one of the 40 contestants, call 403-736-3835 and tell them where and what the "Pink" contestants were doing to win a daily prize of $150 and you're entered to win tickets to P!NK in Edmonton yourself!
My friend's name is Tim C - see his photo gallery HERE!!! Contact me if you want to know how to help Tim see his idol in concert!
Calgarian, David Beart, has plans to build a "pet friendly" house designed for the needs and comfort of the pet-owning family. The project is currently still in its planning phases; location and talks with a local builder underway, the ground -breaking is set for early 2014 and will be completed later the same year. The house will be available for the public and media to view 30-60 days after completion. Beart's, who was a kidney transplate recipient, main focus for this project is to help promote the Kidney Foundation of Canada and Transplant Awareness as gratitude to the foundation for his successful procedure back in 2009.
The ideal is to design a home in the mid-price range which is durable and easy to maintain not only for home-owner but for the public as well. The project will be documented by articles, blog entries and announcements on the website http://www.professorshouse.com/project hoping to educate and entertain the public along the way.
Considering, 1 in 5 Calgarians own either a dog or cat, Beart hopes this will encourage other Calgarians to incorporate their furry family member into the home-building plans and home-builders to offer pet-friendly options as well. Beart, a dog owner himself, understands all the mishaps and stresses that a dog-owner goes through. It is from this experience that has inspired him to design such a project.
Their plan is to unleash a pack of cats and dogs into a home, tracking their assault, and teaching the public how to clean up the mess afterwards. Such things like stained furniture, scratched flooring, ruined carpets, lawns, hair and dander issues, reducing allergy problems, storage, etc. will all be covered on their website. They will provide step-by-step instructions on things such as installing doggie doors, containment systems, flooring, setting up aquariums, installing a kitchen, roofing, and how to decorate a "pet-friendly" home.
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