Green Tips for the New Homeowner

Green Tips for the New Homeowner

By Nicholas Wineland 10/18/18

Making the shift to be green and eco-friendly can be difficult, but conveniently enough, a new home is the prime opportunity to do so. In your new home, you can start making some energy-efficient habits to hopefully keep and change your lifestyle for the better. However, some are going to be easier than others, so this list has taken the time to break down some green tips from the easiest to biggest projects. Take your time to comb through and see what changes you can start with now, and what goals you can make to have the greenest, most environmentally friendly home in the neighborhood.

The simplest and smallest changes for your home start with things like opening your blinds. You can spend a lot of money and energy just trying to heat your home to that perfect temperature, and some natural sunlight through your windows will make that less costly. In addition to that, you can start replacing your standard incandescent bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs, which use fractions of the energy it takes to light an incandescent one. Likewise, other small things around your home can be replaced to be greener: paper towels can easily be substituted by cloth hand towels, leading to less waste and less expenditure. You can also adjust your appliance use in subtle ways; particularly with your big spenders, the refrigerator, freezer, washer, and dryer. The ideal temperature setting for most fridges and freezers is 40F and 0F, respectively per the FDA’s guidelines. Any lower and you’re wasting energy for minimal effect! Likewise, curb your usage of your washer and dryer for full loads to limit water and energy consumption and save a few extra dollars on your bills.

If you’ve got the time and money to spare, you can get a little more intensive with your eco-friendly changes to your home. In homes with a lot of wooden flooring, you can invest in some floor rugs to help insulate and keep your home warm without having to adjust the thermostat. If you’re in the market for new furniture, try to seek out environmental alternatives to the usual wood furniture. Purchase from brands that specifically do sustainable wood harvest, or buy bamboo-based furniture for something unique, and inherently sustainable. You can also invest in wool or organic cotton-based blankets and sheets, avoiding polyester and other chemically treated products that damage the environment during their production.

The big changes for making your house the pinnacle of eco-friendly are going to zero in on your appliances and electronics. Unfortunately, these are the largest energy sinks, and even small adjustments to them can greatly change their relationship to your bills and your carbon footprint. Your water heater is probably the most influential among all these—nearly your entire house is going to be affected by it. If you don’t have one already, replace your water heater with an energy-efficient electric water heater. Your other appliances are also suspect to some scrutiny; older models of stoves, washers, and dryers can be inefficient power drains. Look into replacing those with newer models and be on the lookout for models with energy-efficient settings, like eco-warm washers or high heat retention in ovens.

As said before, not all of these are going to be overnight changes. But plan out stretch goals for how you can help both the environment and your energy bills in the long run. Eventually the smaller habits and changes are going to become second nature, so that you’ll be used to the bright open windows and blinds and the regularity of your wash cycles. Going green is a commitment, but it’s one that gets easier the longer you keep at it.

Lawn and Garden Tips for the Fall

The long, lazy days of summer are over.  This time of year, crisp mornings fold into football afternoons and bonfire nights.  

Driving down the road, you see trees covered with layers of beautiful fall leaves. Then you pull into your driveway to find blankets of leaves covering your lawn—not quite so beautiful, right?  While watching this change of season from behind the wheel or on a leisurely walk is fun, proper lawn and garden care can be daunting.  Check out these tips that will reduce your stress and help you enjoy the season with a great looking yard and garden.

Rake Leaves, Remove Dead Plants, and Compost

Forget about your old rusty metal fan rake and get the right tools for your yard.  The Lee Power Rake along with various rake alternatives such as push-power leaf collectors can take the backache out of raking.  If you choose to rake manually, remember that raking leaves can be quite a workout.  Just like when you lift other heavy items, bend at the knees before you pick up that tarp or bag of leaves.  Rake when it’s dry and don’t be afraid to cheat a little by using a mulching mower.

Rake around plants and shrubs carefully to avoid disturbing fragile plants. Instead of damaging the plants with your rake as you remove the leaves, consider leaving some leaves where they are. They will eventually break down and nourish the soil.

After you’ve raked up all those leaves and dead plants, composting is a wonderful way to recycle organic waste by returning nutrients back into the soil.  According to recycleworks.org, finished compost looks soil-dark brown, is crumbly, and smells like a forest floor.  Guidelines for composting include factors such as regular fresh air, adequate water, a proper carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, small particles, and adequate amounts of soil. 

Keep in mind that even after you rake the yard, your garden also needs tender love and care to survive the harsh winter.   Remove plant matter from your garden and compost it along with those fall leaves.  If you leave dead plants behind, you may face some plant diseases in the spring.  

Rototilling in the fall will make your spring gardening work go much easier.   To protect your topsoil from old man winter, plant a cover crop for large beds or apply a mulch. Also use this time of year to clean up perennial garden beds.   

Aerate, Fertilize, and Trim 
Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots to alleviate soil compaction. Before you get started, make sure the soil is moist enough.  It helps to break up the thatch layer that may prevent water and nutrients from getting into the soil. Determine if the turf needs a good de-thatching because even if you are using a bagger when mowing, it will still eventually build up and create an impenetrable layer.

According to Better Homes & Gardens, fall is the best time of year to fertilize your lawn if you live in the North. Cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, respond well to feeding in early September and again in late fall (late October or November). It helps them turn green earlier and look better in spring.  Avoid fertilizing dormant warm-season grasses in the South unless they have been overseeded with winter ryegrass.

Remember to lower your lawn mower blades one notch or set the blades at the lowest mowing height recommended for your grass type. Cutting your yard slightly shorter in autumn helps prevent the grass from matting down under leaves and snow. 

Even though fall is here, your lawn and garden work isn’t done. Before winter hits, make sure to rake leaves, remove dead plants, and compost. And when it comes to your lawn, aerate, fertilize, and trim. You’ll notice the difference come springtime. 


Article by Paul Denikin

Dadknowsdiy.com

Photo Credit: Pixabay


What neighborhoods are most in demand?

If you're keeping an eye on the real estate market, and our blog, you know that things are slowing a bit.  According to Elliot Njus of the Oregonian, there are very clear winners in the popularity contest between our tri-county neighborhoods and nearby communities.  You may be surprised by his findings!  Don't forget, we're here to help you and your referrals navigate the changing circumstances and find your perfect home!  Don't hesitate to call!  Whether you're planning to purchase or sell soon or are thinking about plans for years down the road, it's never too early to start gathering information and educating yourself on the process!

Portland-area real estate: 15 most in-demand neighborhoods

What's causing the slow down of Portland's real estate market? Millennials growing up or city policy decisions?

We’ve all been caught in a whirlwind of changes to our dear city.  Serious traffic, homeless camps, increasing cost of living to name a few.  While we enjoy the booming economy and abundance of jobs, the changes to our daily lives have not gone unnoticed.  Everyone has been asking for months (maybe years) how much more can the city grow?  We may have finally reached our plateau.  

According to Elliot Njus article in The Oregonian on June 26, 2018 “Portland area’s home prices climb slower in April than those of the anti as a whole for the first time in more than 5 years”.  At Nurture Realty, we’re watching this with a very careful eye & adjusting our expectations accordingly. This type of slowing requires careful monitoring and continuous communication with our active seller clients.  In Elliot Njus previous article from June 18th he says “Homeowners looking to sell, having watched the red-hot run of recent years, are still adjusting to the slower gains.” 

Everyone seems to have an explanation for the market change and most agree it’s the slow down in people moving to Portland.  Taxpayer Foundation of Oregon’s article in the Oregon Business Report states “One likely factor is the aging of the Millennial generation. As members of this mini Baby Boom enter their thirties and look to buy houses and raise families, they seek out suburbs and more affordable metropolitan areas.”  Also noted in the article are increasing taxes, commute times, and burglaries; in addition to underperforming schools and the ever present homeless camps.  

In 2011, the writers of Portlandia claimed Portland is the city where 30 year olds go to retire.  I don’t think they saw this coming.