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


Fall is here - Bring out the gourds and harvest season activities!

Since everyone is craving pumpkins and apple cider, we’ve got a wonderful list of local October activities for all ages!

Batsons will be at the apple fest at Portland Nursery on Sunday October 14th if anyone wants to try all the apple varieties with us!

http://www.firstamtech.com/index.php/2018/09/october-calendar-of-events-in-portland-4/

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

For anyone who loves to make a list!

Hello, everyone, Shanan here!  I listen to a lot of podcasts, I'm sure I'm not alone.  Recently I've discovered Hidden Brain.  In a very relatable way, it dives into how our brain works.  I thought some of my "Type A" brothers and sisters out there would like this one.  I, personally, find comfort and peace in a well made list.  Before I had my list obsession under control I'd add things to my list after completing them just so I could cross it off.  I'm better now!  However, lists are so important for focus, prioritizing tasks, and overall efficiency.  Lists set us up for success!  There are some great stories in here about modern medicine, flight, and more.  Have a great weekend!

NPR - Hidden Brain - Check Yourself

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. 

How Many Eggs did Eric Crack?

72!  That's a personal record!  We had a great experience cooking and serving breakfast at the drop in Center at New Avenues for Youth!  It was eye opening to meet some of the young people they support and seeing all of the programs available to help them reach to a better future.  We will be planning more volunteer opportunities in the future, let us know if you'd like to join!  

www.newavenues.org

 

Host a Successful Open House!

 

Article By: Suzie Wilson  

Author of The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House

 

After the last wall is painted and tile laid in your series of home renovation projects, congratulations… You’re almost done. The last step to knocking the resale process out of the park is hosting an open house. Such an event is an effective way to get several potential buyers through your front door to behold your newly polished home, but is one that will require some extra preparation. Staging and tour-prepping your home in anticipation of the open house is a must.

To feel inspired to purchase your home, buyers must be able to envision how they and their family will make use of the space. Your home should appear inviting, but not too lived-in. Follow the guide below to guarantee the perfectly staged home and a successful open house event.

The necessities

First, take a look at your home’s curb appeal. You get one chance to make a first impression, and if potential buyers don’t like what they see as they drive up, the decision will already have been made by the time they have arrived inside. In preparation for the open house, trim your lawn, prune your shrubs and weed your beds. These small tasks will make a world of difference and keep interested buyers landing at your doorstep. According to landscape economist John Harris, yard maintenance can contribute to 28 percent of your home’s overall value.

Next, it’s time to declutter. Note that cleaning and clearing clutter are distinctly different. You can dust your knickknacks endlessly, but they will still distract buyers. Don’t risk open house attendees being turned off by an excessive amount of appliances covering kitchen counters, piles of magazines littering living room surfaces and clunky furniture occupying every square inch of extra space.

There’s a simple remedy: Start packing! You’re moving anyway, so get a head start by boxing up and storing anything you don’t need in the short term. And, don’t forget about the closets, spaces under beds, cabinets and the garage. Storage utility is a vital selling point to any property. Cluttered nooks and crannies give the impression that a home lacks necessary space for storage.

After the clutter is cleared away, then comes the floor-to-ceiling deep clean. The dust, stains, scum and smells you’ve grown accustomed to over the years will call out to your potential buyers like sirens. It is best to hire an outsider with fresh eyes for mess and professional products to tackle it.  Most homeowners spend between $115 and $227 on cleaning services. This is a relatively cheap and labor-saving option will ensure immaculate spaces that delight buyers.

In the event of a last-minute stink emergency, try these quick fixes:

Push ice cubes with salt and frozen lemon peels down the sink to clear the smell of rotting food.

Pour a bit of cheap vodka into a spray bottle and lightly mist your carpets. When the alcohol evaporates, it will take the stench with it.

Go the extra mile

For an unforgettable open house event, make your home appear to be inviting and as a blank slate for the new chapter in another family’s life by following these tips:

Remove family photos to provide buyers the vision of a neutral field in which they can plant their own roots.

Set your dining room table for a nice meal to encourage buyers’ envisioning entertaining friends in your home.

Keep the indoor temperature comfortable and open the curtains, highlighting your home’s best features with warm, natural light.

Provide refreshments, such as water, soft drinks and cookies to make buyers feel comfortable and willing to stay longer.

Leave. Buyers will feel more at ease and able to question your agent without your hovering. Find something fun to do away from home during the open house event and take your pets with you.

Following through on the aforementioned tips that commonly go overlooked when preparing for an open house will guarantee that your home is appealing and memorable to potential buyers.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

Volunteer Opportunity with Eric & Shanan! Who wants to join us?

Hello Friends, Shanan here!  Eric and I are signed up to prepare and serve breakfast at New Avenues For Youth on Tuesday July 3rd from 8 am - 10 am.  As part of their drop in services, New Avenues for Youth offer 3 meals per day.  Below is a description from their website explaining all of the services provided at their drop in center.  There are 2 additional spots available if anyone would like to join us!  

"New Avenues’ Drop-In Day Services Center is a safe space where youth experiencing homelessness can receive three meals a day, six days a week, as well as access to showers, laundry, clothing, drug and alcohol recovery and mental-health supports, computers and internet, free legal counsel, monthly veterinary clinics for those with pets, and engagement activities focused on skill-building, music and art, health and wellness, recreation, and self-empowerment. Our Drop-In staff also connect youth to other wraparound supports (education, job training/placement, culturally specific services, housing, and more) that help them exit homelessness and prepare for the future."

New Avenues for Youth!

Hey, friends and community members!  You've heard us mention New Avenues for Youth and have participated in the raffle to raise funds for their organization at our annual picnic, but do you know what they do?  Below is a link to their website to get an idea of their mission and the amazing things they are doing for kids that need support.  We'll announce raffle prizes for this year's picnic over the summer so keep an eye out for those and please support the businesses that support our fundraising efforts.  It takes a village and our village is pretty extraordinary!  

http://newavenues.org