Today's Top Real Estate News

Provided by RISMedia News
8/19/2018  7:38:01 AM

How to Improve Your Water Habits at Home

While you may already be taking shorter showers or turning of the tap while you brush your teeth, there still are many ways you can improve your water-use habits around the house. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average family in the United States uses more than 300 gallons of water per day, and an estimated 70 percent of that usage occurs indoors. More than half of that usage happens in the bathroom.

Ted Puzio, owner of the Southern Trust Home Services team, recommends tending to the following:

Practice good plumbing habits. When an entire family is attempting to access the water supply around the same time, even small blockages can have a large impact on everyone's schedule. Make sure that grease and coffee grounds are not being poured down the sinks, hair is being removed from the shower drains and that only toilet paper is being flushed. If a block is detected, try to opt for a more natural drain cleaner that is less corrosive to the plumbing or use a pipe-friendly snake tool. Call a professional if a stubborn blockage cannot be cleared.

Make small adjustments that will save a lot of water. During the morning rush, make sure that both adults and children are turning the water off while brushing their teeth rather than allowing it to run. Encourage more showers than baths, but still keep a close eye on shower time, be efficient and consider installing low-flow shower heads. Planning meals ahead can even save water, as frozen items can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight rather than under warm running water. After meals, opt for the dishwasher instead of washing by hand and only run it once it’s full.

Inspect the water heater and consider an upgrade. For families with school-aged children, the entire household will often be showering, brushing teeth, eating breakfast and more at the same time. If the water heater has a buildup of corrosion or scale on the heating element, its efficiency will be reduced and so will the supply of hot water. Inspect the element, and if it is corroded or covered in scale, replace it as soon as possible. Elements are generally inexpensive and will make a noticeable improvement in efficiency. If the entire unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, it might be wise to consider an upgrade to a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater delivers hot water faster, more efficiently and will pay for itself in time with energy and water savings.

Source: Southern Trust Home Services

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Back to School Safety Reminders

Sending your kids back to school can be a fun, exciting time. But make sure to keep safety top of mind, and have a few important conversations with your children before they head for the bus.

To help ensure a safer back-to-school season, the National Safety Council recommends:

Riding the bus. Children are 70 times more likely to get to school safely by taking the bus rather than riding in a car. The National Safety Council urges parents to put their children on the bus and calls on all states to pass laws requiring three-point seat belts on all buses to maximize safety.

Avoiding teen carpools. A single, young passenger increases a teen driver's fatal crash risk 44 percent. If teens drive to school, they should do so alone–no friends or siblings should ride with them.

Walking attentively and in groups. On average, one child dies per day after being hit by a car in the United States. These preventable deaths increase sharply after school and remain high through the evening, peaking in October. Children and teens should avoid texting while walking, remove headphones before crossing the street, use designated crosswalks and never assume a vehicle will stop.

Buying the right backpack. A backpack should not weigh more than 5 to 10 percent of a child's weight. It should never be wider or longer than your child's torso, and never hang lower than 4 inches from the waist. Padded straps, hip and chest belts, multiple compartments and compression straps can also help. Parents should have children clean out their backpacks regularly and remove unnecessary items.

Checking the playground. Most playground injuries are related to falls or problems with equipment. Parents should look for hazards like cracks, rust, splits in wood, sharp edges, tripping hazards, platforms without guardrails or loose bolts. Equipment should stand on either rubber, sand or wood chips, and never on pavement. Notify the school immediately if anything looks unsafe.

Advocating for concussion education. Every three minutes, a child is treated in the emergency room for a sports-related concussion. Check with school leadership to ensure coaches are educated about the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

Planning around sleep schedules. School-aged children need 9-11 hours of sleep each night, and teens need 8-10 hours. Sleep deprivation can lead to serious issues including inability to concentrate in class, lower test scores, stunted growth and acne. Fatigued teens are at increased risk of a car crash. Plan school and extracurricular activities so they do not impact children's ability to get enough sleep.


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The Key to Job Satisfaction? Flexibility

Whether it’s their office space or their work schedule, turns out flexibility is the key to happiness for today’s full-time working professionals.

According to the results of Capital One’s 2018 Work Environment Survey, 85 percent of office professionals surveyed believe flexible workplace design is important, with 83 percent claiming to have their best ideas when working in flexible space options. Flexible schedules also prove to be crucial when it comes to attracting and keeping great talent. In fact, 73 percent of workers say a flexible schedule is one of their top two reasons for staying with a company, and the No. 1 thing they expect from their next employer (according to 58 percent).

Other interesting findings from the survey of 3,500 respondents from across the country include:

- Technology is a priority for today’s professionals, with 85 percent reporting that it's important that their next employer be an early adopter of technology, and quick to invest in and implement new tech.

- According to 79 percent of office professionals, companies can't encourage innovation unless their workplace environment is also innovative; 87 percent of executives agree that office design is key to encouraging innovation.

- The most desired design elements for workspaces include: natural light (57 percent), easily reconfigurable furniture and spaces (37 percent), artwork and creative imagery (30 percent), collaborative spaces (30 percent), and a tie (25 percent) for bold colors and spaces for rest and relaxation.

- Offering different kinds of workspaces for employees is crucial, as 80 percent of respondents say they are more productive when they move to a different room or environment while working.

- When considering a new job, two out of three (66 percent) full-time professionals believe that workplace design and environment is equally important or more important than office location. Executive-level employees feel even more strongly about this, with more than three out of four (76 percent) saying workplace design is as, or more, important than location.

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Tips to Ensure a Clean Water Supply

We all love a clean home and a clean car--but what about clean water?

"When we put something down a drain, it has to go somewhere," says Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. "We can all do our part to make sure our streams, rivers and ultimately our drinking water stay clean."

Below are Rose's top tips:

Use non-toxic household products when possible. Whenever something goes down a drain, it eventually ends up in the water supply. While toilets and sinks lead to the sewer system, which is treated, using non-toxic products can be beneficial if the water escapes through a leak or break along the way to the sewage treatment center, or if your house uses a private septic system. Lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar make great alternatives.

Inspecting wells and testing your well water. If a home is served by well water, have it inspected and tested by a certified professional to ensure it’s not being contaminated by groundwater or other underlying sources.

Use native plants for landscaping. Plants native to western North Carolina shouldn't need as much water or fertilizer as plants that are from outside the region.

Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances. Materials such as paint, pharmaceuticals, motor oil and other chemicals, if not disposed of properly, will eventually end up in the water table. The local pharmacy and police department will dispose of any unused medicines. The Buncombe landfill accepts hazardous waste on scheduled days.

Keep toxic materials away from storm drains. Motor oil, fertilizers, pet droppings and any other manner of toxic materials can find their way to the water supply by way of storm drains.

Source: Four Seasons Plumbing

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5 Tips for Designing With Wood

Whether you like a rustic, industrial or mod look in your space, the next time you're considering an interior redesign, don't miss out on decorating with wood.

Floors first. If you can, wood flooring is one of the loveliest ways to use wood in your space. Choose a stain that compliments your space--like a light blonde wood for smaller rooms, or a darker variety to make wide open spaces seem intimate.

Furniture. If you do have a wood floor, choose a different wood tone for your furniture to avoid your pieces getting lost. Blonde wood furniture atop a darker, mahogany floor can be gorgeous.

Walls. Don't let wood paneling taint your impression of wood walls. Choose a natural, grainy wood and apply it to one wall for a chic, rustic pop of color.

Art. Look for wood pieces so gorgeous you'd like to hang them on your wall. Turn to farmer's markets, craft fairs and even Etsy for seriously gorgeous wooden art pieces.

Accessories. Wood coasters, wood coat racks by the door, wood crates as end tables, even staining your wooden window frames can all add a little extra wow factor to your space.

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How to Keep the Peace With Nosy Neighbors

While you may have taken all the steps necessary to choose the perfect home, unfortunately, you can’t choose who lives next door. Whether they’re too loud, too messy or too nosy, there are tactful ways to handle less-than-ideal neighbors. Try the suggestions for coexisting peacefully and enjoying your new home:

Start with courtesy. Be sure to start out on the right foot by being courteous and kind. Even if the neighbors don’t seem to be “your cup of tea,” do your best to get to know them and open up lines of communication. Doing so will allow you to be candid about serious matters if and when the need arises. If you haven’t established a friendly relationship from the outset, if a problem arises, things could get contentious fast.

Politely establish ground rules. If your neighbors are the type who like to pop in unexpectedly--and often--don’t be shy about politely setting some ground rules...and explain why. Let them know you need downtime after work to catch up with your spouse, that you like to nap on the weekends, that you promised your kids one-on-one time in the evening, that you do yoga in the mornings. Whatever the case may be, just give them a specific reason that lets them know it’s about you, not them. Assure them you’d love to catch up, just to please call or text first.

Create some boundaries. If you really need to create some physical space between you and the neighbor, consider a row of fast-growing arborvitae or cypress trees, or a stylish fence.

Understand the situation. Before you get irate over the neighbor’s overgrown yard, take the time to find out why. Perhaps there was a recent tragedy or illness that’s preventing your neighbor from getting around to mowing the lawn and trimming brush. If that’s the case, perhaps an offer to help is in order.

Before you take action, learn the law. If you do have a neighbor who seems to be violating neighborhood laws, check with your local city hall to learn about the regulations for noise, junk, vehicles, yard upkeep, etc. Always try talking to your neighbor first before contacting authorities in order to avoid an increasingly unpleasant situation.

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Protecting Your Child's Eyes

As parents, we do a lot to protect our children, from seatbelts to helmets and more. When thinking about safety, don't forget about their vision!

Lighthouse Guild offers the following five healthy vision tips to help safeguard your child's eye health.

Eat your carrots. The old saying still applies. Encourage your child to eat a well-balanced diet loaded with different types of fruits and veggies, as well as fish.

Speak up.  Ask your child to let you know if they notice any vision changes. For instance, if their vision is blurry, they are squinting a lot, or their eyes start bothering them.

Wear your glasses. Help your child understand the importance of wearing their eyeglasses. If they are resistant, because they believe glasses are unattractive, try pointing out sports figures and other well-known people who wear glasses. Talk with them about how to clean and store their glasses.

Rest your eyes. Looking continuously at a computer, phone or TV screen can tire eyes. Encourage your child to take a break from staring at the screen.

Wear safety gear. Make sure your child wears goggles or other types of protective eye wear while playing sports, using chemicals or tools for school projects, or engaging in other activities. Many eye injuries can be prevented with better safety habits.

Source: Lighthouse Guild

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5 Reasons to Decorate With Green

Regardless of the shade, adding elements of green to your home can improve your mood, complement your design, and more. Below are a few reasons to choose green for your interior design scheme.

It's soothing. Green has long been used in decorating for its calming effect. Add some green curtains to your bedroom, paint the wall across from your sleeping space green, and snag some easier ahhhhs.

It looks great with wood. If you have wood floors or furniture, tying in a shade of green will make your space even more lustrous.

It's complimentary. There are so many gorgeous shades of green, it will be easy to thread a little emerald or sage into your decorating scheme.

It's natural. Don't want to add any permanent green to your home? No problem! Just grab a few fresh houseplants and pepper them throughout your room for a fresh splash of green.

It may bring money. While you may not believe in this superstition, some swear that the color green brings wealth. Add some green to your home to call in a little windfall--it can't hurt!

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Heavy Metal: A Cleaning Guide

From copper sinks to cast iron tubs, a wide range of sleek and stylish metals have found their way into our hearts and homes. But while they look great, metals can often be problematic when it comes to maintenance. Here’s a quick guide for keeping your favorite household metals in prime shining shape:

Copper - While there are commercial cleaners available to care for your copper accessories or a copper sink, you can put natural ingredients to work, too. According to the, try mixing one-quarter portion of salt with one-quarter portion of flour, then add enough vinegar to make a paste. Use a soft cloth to rub the mixture on the surface of the copper then rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly. You can also experiment with lemon or lime juice mixed with baking soda, vinegar mixed with salt, or ketchup all on its own. The acidic content in these items goes to work on removing dirt and restoring the luster to copper.  

Stainless Steel - There’s nothing quite like a kitchen full of gleaming stainless steel appliances...until every smudge and fingerprint starts showing up! While the cleaning aisle is littered with products designed specifically for cleaning stainless steel, a lot of them do a less-than-stellar job, often leaving streaks and such behind. recommends three home-made solutions:

- Spray and wipe with vinegar, then buff with a small amount of olive oil
- Clean with dish soap then wipe with a small amount of baby oil
- Spray and clean with club soda

A few things to remember in all cases when it comes to stainless steel:
- Use a soft cloth, such as microfiber
- Wipe in the direction of the grain
- Not all stainless steel is created equal, so the best cleaning solution may vary among appliances

Cast Iron - When it comes to cleaning cast iron pans, provided you seasoned it correctly before you first used it, scrub the pot with a stiff bristle dish brush and dish soap, then warm it on the stove for about 30 seconds or until dry. Then season it again with a little vegetable oil. Once it’s cooled, says Good Housekeeping, put a paper plate or paper towel in the mouth of the pan to absorb moisture while you store it. At all costs, don’t let it soak or put it in the dishwasher!  

For cast iron sinks and tubs, use baking soda and vinegar and scrub with a rag or soft sponge.

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5 Tips for Snagging More Steps

Did you know, people who take fewer than 5,000 steps every day are considered to be sedentary or inactive? The ideal number of steps to hit in a day for optimum health is 10,000 - but this can be hard for those of us with desk jobs. Below are a few tips to stretch your steps.

Hit the stairs. This is one of the easiest tricks. Opt for the stairs over an elevator whenever possible.

Park further away. While it may seem great to grab a parking spot right by the entrance to your destination, purposely parking across the lot--or even better, across the street - means you will grab some steps en route.

Make a walking date. Instead of sitting down with a friend for coffee, go and hit the park instead. Walking and talking often makes for a more stimulating experience, anyway.

Get a dog. It may seem extreme to get a dog just to up your daily steps, but dogs bring so much joy to their owners lives, in addition to helping them become more active. If you have time in your schedule to care for a pup, consider adopting a rescue and watch your steps soar.

Drink tons of water. Why does this trick work? Improved hydration means more trips throughout the day to the restroom! Bonus: being properly hydrated has a myriad of other health benefits, too.

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