William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Fall into Home Maintenance

October 22, 2016 11:51 am

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, the urge to lounge on the couch by the fireplace becomes powerful. But before you start your winter hibernation, it’s imperative to take care of certain fall maintenance projects around your home.
 
Start by checking the outside of your home for peeling or blistering paint, which can be a sign that the existing paint film is failing and can no longer protect the siding, says Carl Minchew of Benjamin Moore Paints. Take care of it now, or risk more expensive repairs come spring.
 
Check for drafts around windows and door frames and caulk as needed in order to keep your home properly heated as temperatures drop.
 
Call the chimney sweep and schedule an appointment to have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned. Fall is peak season for these professionals, so the sooner you can get on their calendar, the better. Cleaning the chimney will remove creosote buildup and reduce the risk of dangerous chimney fires.
 
Clean and replace filters in your heating system to ensure optimal performance.
 
If your driveway suffers cracks and potholes, now is the time to have it sealed. This will prevent further, more costly damage from ice and snow in the months to come.
 
Assess the current state of your yard and deck and take care of the following: Clean and properly store equipment you won’t be using, such as lawn mowers and weed whackers; clean and cover your grill and deck furniture; turn off outside hose valves to prevent pipes from freezing.
 
Follow this protocol in your garden: Empty soil from ceramic pots—otherwise the soil will freeze and crack them; plant your spring bulbs; divide and replant perennials; trim dead branches; rake and use leaves for mulch.
 
Your reward for taking care of your home now is a safe winter and an easy, less costly transition into spring.
 
For more information about fall maintenance projects you should add to your to-do list, contact our office today.

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In this Edition: Bed Bugs

October 22, 2016 11:51 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines the most important home maintenance projects you can’t afford to overlook this fall. Other topics covered this month include simple tips to help your child with student debt and technology’s role in the real estate process. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

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How Not to Help Your Child Succeed in School

October 21, 2016 1:39 am


Children are under a lot of pressure to get good grades at an early age in order to pave the way for a successful academic future. Parents are often at a loss as to the best way to help their children do well in school, and their best intentions, unfortunately, can backfire.

While every child is different, the tactics that usually don’t work:

Nagging - Constantly reminding your children to do their homework and study will have little to no effect on their motivation. Most of the time, they know exactly what they need to do and are simply procrastinating. Have a conversation with your child to review what’s due the next day or within the coming week, jot it down, and then leave them to it.

Getting Angry - Worse than nagging, yelling at your children about homework and grades is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it ineffective, it disrupts the peace at home, which is counterproductive for everyone in the family.

Doing It for Them - It can be oh-so tempting to simply intervene and do that math sheet or English paper yourself, especially if your child is feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Instead, show them how to organize their time, break a project into chunks, or encourage them to see their teacher for extra help. 

Blaming the Teacher - Keeping the lines of communication open with your child’s teacher is very important, so long as you remain as impartial as possible, and are open to constructive criticism about your son or daughter. Getting adversarial with the teacher just making things worse for your child.

Punishing - While threats may seem like a logical way to get your child to do well, negative reinforcement rarely works long-term. Instead, try positive reinforcement, such as a small reward (e.g., a trip to the ice cream parlor, an extra hour tacked onto Saturday night curfew) for handing in work on time or getting a good grade on a paper. This will encourage good work habits that will serve them well far into the future.

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Not My House! A Before-the-Storm Checklist

October 21, 2016 1:39 am


Storms can cause all types of damage to a property, from loss of belongings to mold growth and beyond.

“Preparing before a storm is critical in managing the aftermath damage,” said Peter Duncanson, director of System Development with ServiceMaster Restore, in a recent statement. “We know how devastating storm damage can be for people, and we want to help them mitigate it as much as possible and be prepared to respond quickly.”

Duncanson and his team at Service Master Restore suggest following this checklist:

• Obtain emergency supplies (or refresh reserves, if needed) of items such medication, non-perishable food and water.

• Organize important documentation, such as birth certificates, insurance policies and receipts, into accessible, waterproof storage.

• Take stock of possessions, preferably with photos, including the items’ make, model and/or serial number.

• Unplug all electronics.

• Raise furniture, as well as below-window treatments. Board up windows, if necessary.

• Determine points of contact for emergency communications, and share that information with all members of the household.

• Clear gutters.

• Store outdoor furniture or any other outdoor items, including toys and tools, that could become airborne.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore
 

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The 10 Paint Colors Designers Use Most

October 21, 2016 1:39 am


With hundreds of paint colors to choose from, selecting the shades just right for your home can be daunting. Good Housekeeping magazine recently rounded up the top 10 paint colors most often used by professional home designers. Get inspired by them:

1. Palladian Blue – By Benjamin Moore, this blue-green-grey shade can be used in any room, and is especially ideal for cooling down a sun-filled room or adding tranquility to a bedroom.

2. Garden Stone – By Clark+Kensington, this classic warm grey shade is a designer favorite projected to stand the test of time.

3. Manchester Tan – By Benjamin Moore, this shade is a go-to warm neutral favored because it changes with the light, going from rich to fresh.

4. Compatible Cream – By Sherwin Williams, this creamy yellow shade is warm and inviting, but not too sunny.

5. Intense White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade gives off a light grey-ish tone. Designers use it as a backdrop for rooms with brightly colored furniture.

6. Sprout 0.6 – By Colorhouse, this shade has a slightly pinkish hue, and is often chosen for ceilings because it reflects flatteringly on people in the room.

7. Revere Pewter – By Benjamin Moore, this fail-safe neutral shade is the perfect alternative to white, ideal for open floor plans with just a hint of color.

8. Decorator’s White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade has pure white undertones that provide a crisp, clean look on ceilings or trim, or in bathrooms. 

9. Essential Grey – By Sherwin Williams, this shade is best paired with white trim for a clean, sophisticated aesthetic.

10. Wool Skein – By Sherwin Williams, this neutral shade coordinates well with any color.
 

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Study: The Value of a Consistent Retirement Saving Strategy

October 20, 2016 1:39 am


Reports about the retirement outlook for Americans have been less than encouraging since the recession. Recent data, however, show that the tide may be turning, this time favorably.

The average 401(k) balance, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI), has grown in the last four years, through both workers’ and employers’ contributions, as well as gains. The average 401(k) balance among consistent contributors is now $130,493. “Consistent” contributors are defined as “those who remained active in the same 401(k) plan for the four-year period covering year-end 2010 through year-end 2014.” The median 401(k) balance among consistent contributors, comparatively, grew to $56,653. Approximately one in five consistent contributors have more than $200,000 in their current employer’s 401(k) plan.

These data are evidence that consistency is essential to wealth-building for retirement, says Sarah Holden, ICI’s senior director of Retirement and Investor Research.

“By studying the experience of workers who participate consistently across several years, this study shows more accurately the extent to which steady, paycheck-by-paycheck saving and compounding investment returns can help workers accumulate a sizable retirement nest egg,” Holden said in a statement.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
 

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Did You Know Where You Live Can Affect How You Look?

October 20, 2016 1:39 am


You’d rarely think to move somewhere based on how it can change your appearance. A recent study, however, shows that where we choose to set down roots could actually impact how well we age.

The “2016 RoC Wrinkle Ranking,” compiled by Sperling’s Best Places, a research firm, and RoC® Skincare, offers a city-by-city look at premature aging and skin damage, revealing what you can expect to see when looking in the mirror decades down the road based on what city you call home. The analysis assessed factors commonly known to affect skin health: environmental, lifestyle and occupational influences.

The study predicts that in the year 2040, San Jose, Calif., will claim the least wrinkle-prone title as the city with residents who age the best. This is due to its shorter commute times, smaller population size and an anticipated shift toward a wetter climate. 

Philadelphia, on the other hand, will reign as the most wrinkle-prone city, thanks to airborne pollution, lengthy commute times and higher-than-average smoking rates.

The study highlights a number of key factors:

Large metropolitan areas, like Philly, Washington, D.C. and New York City, will likely remain the most wrinkle-prone due to extreme urban environments, more congested commuting and lower air quality.

Smoking rates will likely approach zero in 35 of the 50 cities ranked, which will decrease overall rates of premature wrinkles. However, Nashville, St. Louis and Kansas City are expected to retain smoking rates significantly higher than the rest of the country – leaving residents of these cities more at risk.

Higher temperatures, along with less precipitation, will increase the occurrence of wrinkles in certain areas, such as the Great Lakes and the Northeast. Texans in communities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will see the greatest decrease in average annual precipitation.

How about it? Will the possibility of premature aging give you pause about your city?
 

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At Home: 8 Energy-Saving Tips

October 20, 2016 1:39 am


Energy costs account for a considerable amount of every homeowner’s budget. According to the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the average annual utility costs are $2,200. Trimming that expense, even by a few dollars, can save hundreds each year—and save the environment from the effects of excess consumption.

Start saving energy at home with these tips, shared recently by the CFA.

1. Air-dry dishes, instead of drying them in the dishwasher. Avoid turning on the dishwasher until it is absolutely full, as ell—cycling through a wash every night is a high energy-consuming task.

2. Buy ENERGY STAR® products. If it is time to replace an appliance, purchase a model with the ENERGY STAR label, which indicates the appliance meets energy efficiency standards. 

3. Install a programmable thermostat to control the temperature in the home at different times of day automatically—this can save $100 a year, making the expense well worth the cost.

4. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, which, according to the CFA, use up to 25 percent less energy. Replace them only when the incandescents burn out, however—the goal is to avoid unnecessary consumption overall.

5. Seal drafts with caulk or weatherstripping to prevent air leakage—this is proven to save hundreds in cooling and heating costs. Spray foam insulation can be used on the exterior of the home to seal gaps around the chimney, foundation, pipes and windows.

6. Set up motion detectors, or set timers, to control lighting when not in use. Use power strips where appropriate to keep energy use to a minimum at night.

7. Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Water heaters, the CFA reports, are the second-highest energy consumers in homes. Turning down the thermostat on them by a few degrees can significantly reduce their energy use.

8. Conduct an energy audit. Many utilities companies offer free energy audits, which is a type of inspection that reveals the most energy-consuming (and costly) aspects in the home.

Source: Consumer Federation of America (CFA)
 

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A Dietician's Secrets for Healthier Eating

October 19, 2016 1:39 am


Whether you’re on your own or feeding a family, it can be tempting to skip healthy meal preparation in favor of quick carry-outs. Don’t give in!

Registered dietician Jae Berman recently shared her healthy eating secret with the Washington Post: batch cooking.

Batch cooking is preparing enough foods at one time to provide proteins, veggies and carbs for a week or more. Her example:

• Roast two or three pans of vegetables and store them in a container in the fridge. Cook off 10 chicken breasts, brown two pounds of ground beef, and hard-boil a dozen eggs. You can even steam a big helping of rice, quinoa or other grains, and store them in the fridge, as well.

• Use condiments and sauces for flavor—add salsa, cilantro and canned chilies to the ground beef to make tacos with prepared tortilla shells, warm up chicken with lemon juice and herbs, and add them to pasta sauce with a bit of parmesan, or, chop them with celery, egg and a little mayo for a salad.

Berman has a host of other tricks on hand, too:

Prep Fruits/Veggies – Cut up a variety and keep them in the fridge for snacking, packed lunches or dinner sides.

Use That Crockpot – Almost any combination of protein, veggies, herbs and a little broth or other liquid popped into the Crockpot in the morning will wind up as a savory soup or stew at the end of the day.

Make a Frittata – Combine eggs, veggies and spices and cook in a large skillet. Then, slice like pizza and freeze for later use—warm up a slice, add a salad and crusty bread, and you’re good to go.

Use Canned Fish – Prepare enough canned tuna or salmon for two meals: the first as a salad with fresh veggies, and the second for tuna melts or salmon patties.

Remember Smoothies – You can make them ahead of time with yogurt and fresh fruit, then freeze in separate containers and use for breakfast on the go.

Will you try batch cooking this weekend?
 

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How-To: Take the Shiver out of a Drafty House

October 19, 2016 1:39 am


(BPT)—A drafty house is not just cold—it’s downright expensive. The kicker? The sources of those drafts can be eliminated inexpensively.

Take the attic, for instance. There was a large hole cut into the ceiling to make way for stairs to it. All of that insulation is now gone, replaced with a thin, unsealed sheet of plywood.

Attics are vented directly outdoors, so they get cold in winter—really cold. What separates your heated home from your cold, un-heated attic? A thin, unsealed sheet of plywood!

Need more proof? Turn the light on in your attic tonight, keeping the stairway closed. See that light streaming through? It’s shining on the gap that is costing you buckets in utilities each winter. Imagine that!

Whole-house fans (which are also installed by way of large hole) can be just as problematic. In this case, a flimsy ceiling shutter is all that stands between you and the elements. Nice.

Fireplaces, ironically, are also drafty—an open damper, even in a well-insulated home, can raise energy consumption by up to 30 percent!

A shut damper isn’t airtight, either. The chimney is an opening to the outdoors—think of it as a window, swallowing up (and out!) all of that costly heated air.

Let’s not forget dryer vents, or exhaust ducts, which can be a source of drafts, too. Most dryer vents employ a sheet metal flapper to reduce drafts—primitive protection, by today’s technology.

The good news is, all of these problems have economical solutions.

• Insulated Attic Stair Cover
• Whole-House Fan Shutter Seal (with Flexible, Textured Insulation, plus Velcro)
• Fireplace Plug
• Dryer Vent Seal (Floating Shuttle)

Winter’s still a few weeks away—get these fixes in now to warm up with all those savings!

Source: Battic Door
 

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