Monday, December 29, 2014

Keep the boogeyman away with upgraded lighting

keep the boogeyman away with upgraded lighting

In previous blogs, I have written about the change in technology happening in our homes. In keeping with that theme here is another way technology is changing the way we live. Lighting is going touch less.  Motion sensor devices used to be items you installed on your outdoor floodlights and other outside lighting sources for safety and security. But this technology is moving indoors in a big way.

A lot of options for motion sensor lights are easy to install just by plugging them into a wall outlet. There are also battery operated versions that mount with magnets, screws or adhesives. You can put a motion sensor on just about anything. Andev provides a SensorPlug motion sensor outlet plus that fits any standard wall outlets. Use it on anything that does not exceed 500 watts like lights, radios and fans.

First Alert provides a motion sensing light socket that you can fit into any overhead light fixture. It screws into the existing wall or ceiling fixture. Read the warnings to make sure what type of bulb you can use with it. But this could be a good solution for basements and sheds.

There are also solar powered alternatives. If you get a lot of natural light in and around your home during the day you can install solar power lights and help cut down on your energy bill. Concept provides us with a Solar Security with motion detector option.  Using 32 LED lamps, it will provide bright lighting options for your doorways or driveways. The sunlight will recharge them.

keep the boogeyman away with upgraded lighting
And if you really want to be high tech, you can look into a home automation system. These systems can be programmed to turn on lights at specific times or they can be controlled by your smart phone. Take a look at the HomeSeer HSM200 sensors available for around $70. You might even find lots of motion sensor solutions available at your local home improvement store.

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Monday, December 22, 2014

How did that start? Holiday traditions and history

christmas holiday traditions and history
First, I want to wish you Happy Holidays! To celebrate, here are some little known facts about the holiday to help you celebrate.
  1. Christmas. Today this is known as the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. But this joyful, gift-giving time spent with family originated from the Roman tradition of Saturnalia. The Romans had a festival which celebrated their god of agriculture, named Saturn on the winter solstice. Christians later adopted the celebration happening around December 25th to celebrate Christ's birth. However, we have no idea of the exact day or year of His birth.
  2. Giving gifts. Popular belief is that the giving of gifts started with the three wise men who gave gifts to Jesus on his birth. During the Roman festival of Saturnalia, children were given gifts of wax dolls. These dolls were to represent human sacrifices that Rome gave to Saturn for good harvests. Tree boughs from special trees and other plants were also a common gift for Saturnalia. The represented bounty and good harvests.
  3. The term X-mas. Believe it or not this term has a strong origin in Christianity. In this abbreviation, the letter X is the Greek letter Chi. The first letter of the Greek word for Christ. Another abbreviation for Jesus' name is XP which is derived from the combo of the first and second Greek letters in the word Christ. This term gained popular use during the 18th nd 19th centuries although it has been used since the 16th century.
  4. The stockings were hug by the chimney with care. This tradition of stocking stuffing can be traced back to Saint Nicholas. He was a bishop who wanted to leave gifts for the children who often were put to work to support their family. When he saw girl's stocking hanging by the fire, he began stuffing them. But the tradition of stuffing also goes back to Scandinavian countries where the children would stuff their shoes with treats for Odin's mythic horse Sleipnir and Odin would turn around and leave candy and treats in its place.
  5. Wreaths. Harvest wreaths were the precursors to our modern door wreaths. These wreaths were used in harvest rituals and go back before written history. Ancient Europeans used evergreen to symbolize fortitude and strength. It became connected to Christianity when they became used in funerals of martyrs and saints. To the Christians the wreaths symbolized tenacity and everlasting life.
These are just a few of the origins of our modern Christmas traditions. I thought they were very interesting. It shows that traditions are alive and have been passed down through the generations. What traditions has your family passed to children and grandchildren? I hope you have a blessed and joyful holiday, traditions and all!

By the way, if you need assistance with selling or buying a home before January 1st I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Here's a new spin on some reno ideas

Here's a new spin on some reno ideas
Homeowners are always asking the question, "Is it worth it to remake my bathroom?" Well according to Remodeling website, bathroom remodels gained 11.1 percent between 2013 and 2014 in their cost vs. value report. Since 2005, the cost-value ratio has been recovering. Popular best gainers have been adding backup power generators, attic bedroom remodels, basement remodels and adding extra living space. Bathroom remodels are somewhere in the middle. To help you make good choices on your bathroom remodel, here are some of my suggestions for adding comfort, enjoyment and convenience to your bathroom upgrade.
  • Practical and comforting - heated ceramic tile flooring. Who doesn't love tile flooring? They are easy to clean and care for, but can be chilly. So pair your tile with thin electric radiant mats. They install under the tile, won't raise the floor level, and use about as much electricity as 3 100-watt regular light bulbs. The U.S. Department of Energy says they are more efficient than forced-air heating, and it takes the room less time to heat because the heat is distributed evenly. Cost: $5 to $15 per square foot to install.
  • Easy to clean and stylish are curbless walk-in showers. These are contemporary, gaining popularity with home buyers, and appealing to elderly buyers. Have a professional installation done since the floor is seamless in appearance and function.
    Here's a new spin on some reno ideas
    Curbless Shower
  • Opt for the impervious beauty of synthetic low-VOC quartz. Consumer Reports says this counter surface resists stains and abrasions better than granite, and the surface won't allow bacteria to lodge in it. Made up of approximately 90 percent quartz particles and held together with binders, it is practically maintenance free. It doesn't need to be sealed and comes in various colors and styles. Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot.
  • New trend: one oversized sink versus two smaller ones. Consider a large 38 inch or more size sink. This gives you enough room to use it jointly and saves counter space. Largely popular are undermount sinks. Responders to a 2013 survey by NKBA say they preferred undermount bathroom sinks by 87%. Cost: $350 to $1200.
  • Into water saving? Consider installing motion activated faucets. Mostly seen in public restrooms, they are making their way into our homes. They are modern, sleek, and require less effort to clean. You can get models that have temperature controls for kids’ baths. Look for the WaterSense label. Cost: $200 - $650+.
  • One of the #1 requested bathroom features is an exhaust fan. Upgrade to a humidity sensing version. It will automatically sense the level of humidity and turn on, then turns off when level returns to normal. Using this feature means the fan runs only when needed, and prevents unnecessary loss of heat or cooling. Other options include variable speeds, nightlights, and manual timers. Cost: $600 for all the bells and whistles.
  • High efficiency, dual flush toilet. Not only does this one save water and money, but it appeals to cost-effective buyers. The difference in this toilet is that it uses only 1 gallon to flush liquid waste, and a choice of 1.6 or 1.28 gallons for solid waste. Consumer Reports test 25 toilets recently and reported they did a good job. Look for the WaterSense label and EPA certification.
  • Save floor space and replace your swinging door with a sliding pocket or barn door. These will slide out of the way easily, and either hide in the wall or along the outer wall. Sliding barn doors are gaining popularity more recently. They use reclaimed wood and are fashioned to look very nice. Cost difference in removing drywall and framing for a pocket door is around $1000 to $3500, depending on the difficulty of the job. Barn doors mount externally and kits are around $400 to $900. Handy homeowners can get the mounting hardware for $100 to $500, and make a door or find a salvage door in their area.
    Sliding Bath Barn Door
  • Finally, we have color. Bathrooms are becoming sanctuaries where people want to relax with an abundance of light. The neutral color palette for fixtures, cabinets and counters is a safe bet. Add a lighter color on the walls to reflect more light. Add splashes of color using artwork.
Now not all of these features will fit everyone's lifestyle, but they are something to think about if you are in the market for a bathroom remodel. Keeping in mind what is trending and adding it to your home may help you when it comes time to sell. Buyers like things that will save them money, and unique upgrades that their neighbor might not have in their home.

Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Old Man Winter is upon us… Just in time for winter the thermostat of the future

old man winter is upon us... Just in time for winter the thermostat of the future
As time goes by gadgets for your home keep improving and getting more efficient. Along that lines we have the latest in wireless thermostat technology.

The latest to hit the streets is the Lyric Thermostat. Is it fully programmable and you can use your Smartphone to send commands to it.

Once you buy the thermostat, they ask you to download their app to your phone and it then walks you through step-by-step setup. You will have to check to make sure your wireless router is compatible with this device.

Turns out to be about a one hour install. Make sure power to the old thermostat is off including removing any backup battery. Remove old unit and attach wires to new unit then screw to the wall. Pretty simple!

thermostat of the futureUsing the app with the thermostat is pretty easy. Just start up the app and adjust the temperature you want in the home. It sends the signal via your data plan or wifi to the thermostat via your home wireless router. The thermostat is even smart enough to sense when you and your phone are no longer at home. Using a feature called "geofencing." You can set it to change the temps when you leave the home and change them back once you return. Lyric even senses when you are near the unit and lights the display for you.

Putting all this high tech aside for a moment, just adding a new thermostat to your home won't give you the huge savings you may be seeking. Remember to beef up your insulation, check duct work for leaks and seal windows and doors each year. Your local electric company may even offer to come out and do an "energy audit" to help you find areas that need improvement. All these actions together will ensure you get the best out of that new fangled thermostat.

By the way, if you need assistance with selling or buying a home before January 1st I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.