Consumer Real Estate News

    • Keep Your Home and Wallet Cool This Summer

      23 July 2019

      With summer temps soaring, your home and your bank account may take a hit. To help, Consumers Energy offers the following tips to help reduce summer energy use, and ease the financial strain of sky-high cooling bills.

      - Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you're home and higher when you're away. You'll typically save 1 to 3 percent on cooling costs for every degree you dial up.

      - Clean your air conditioning filter regularly. Dusty filters can make your appliance work harder, wasting energy.

      - Install a smart thermostat and program it to start your air conditioner shortly before you get home. Consumers Energy offers rebates of up to $100 on Wi-Fi enabled thermostats.

      - Seal leaks in your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you could save up to 30 percent on annual energy costs by doing so. Inspect and seal around doors, windows, recessed lights and attic hatches.

      - Keep cool with fans. A ceiling fan cools fast and costs less than air conditioning. You can also reduce the need for air conditioning by installing an attic fan. Run your ceiling fan counterclockwise, pushing air downward to cool more efficiently.

      - Close drapes, shades and blinds during the day to prevent the sun from heating your home unnecessarily. Open windows and doors in early morning and in the evening to let cooler air in.

      - Use your stove, oven, dishwasher and clothes dryer in the morning or evening when it's cooler outside. They add extra heat to your home and make your air conditioner work harder.

      Source: Consumers Energy

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Ways to Test Drive a House Before You Buy it

      23 July 2019

      You’d never buy a new car without taking it for a spin around the block, yet there’s no way to “try on” the much bigger financial investment of a home you’re considering buying. While you can’t exactly move in for a month on a trial basis, there are a few ways to test out whether or not a house is the right one for you. Try the following ideas:

      Test the commute time. Do you have concerns about what it will really be like getting from your potential new home to your job or to your child’s school? Don’t take Google's word for it. Take the trip at the exact hour you’d need to in the morning and again at the end of the day to get a feel for traffic or public transportation schedules.

      Hang out in the ’hood. Act as if you already lived in the neighborhood. Shop at the corner store and try out a couple of the local restaurants. Take your kids or dog to the park and chat with members of the community. Go online and check out the events and activities that are available on a regular basis. This will help give you an idea of the neighborhood vibe and the sense of community you can expect.

      Visit the school. If you have children, plan to tour the school they will attend and have them shadow a student for part of the day. Talk to the principal as well as the coach or teacher who heads up your child’s favorite activity. Make sure everything and everyone feels like a good fit.

      Check out the house at different times of the day. Be sure to drop by your prospective home on different days of the week, at different times of day. This will give you a more well-rounded sense of what the street, traffic patterns and neighbors are like. Don’t hesitate to talk with people you pass on the street. Chances are, they’ll be more than willing to share information about the area, and they may even have insights into the home itself.

      Taking these steps will help give you a better idea of whether or not the home is a good fit for you and your family. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Keep Your Grill Station Safe

      22 July 2019

      Grilling out is both fun, and delicious - but it can also be dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 10,200 home fires per year involve grills, hibachis, or barbecues. To help, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers the following safety precautions to  reduce fire dangers while grilling:

      Check for safety. Before lighting the grill, do a safety check. Visually inspect the hoses on a gas grill for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.

      Maintain the grease trap. Ensure that the grease trap is clean to reduce the risk of flare-ups and grease fires.

      Outside only. Never grill inside. Instead, keep your grill in a well-ventilated area. Never use a grill indoors, or in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that will burn.

      Keep a close watch. Never leave a lit grill unattended, and keep children away from the grill area.

      Avoid wire grill brushes. Prevent stray wire grill brush strands from ending up in your food. Clean your grill with a ball of aluminum foil or nylon brushes, instead of wire grill brushes.

      Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Tips for Smooth Summer Sailing

      22 July 2019

      Boat lovers rejoice when it’s sailing season. But if you plan to head out on open water, heed the following boating safety tips from Erie Insurance to make sure you stay safe.

      Inspect the boat. Hoses and other rubber parts may be affected by dry rot. Also, take a look at all the metal surfaces and electrical areas for corrosion. The Vessel Safety Check is a free public service offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteers.

      Check the fluid levels. Just like a car, your boat needs several fluids to run smoothly. Make sure your oil, power steering, power trim, coolant and gear oil are all at satisfactory levels before you head out. 

      Test the battery. If your battery is more than four years old, it's probably time for a replacement. Sailors for the Sea recommends charging and checking for connection corrosion at the beginning of the season.  

      Pack your safety gear. Make sure your boat has all the appropriate safety equipment on board. This includes life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, a bailer, an anchor, a first aid kit, a flashlight and a bell or whistle. You should also make sure to bring a fully charged cell phone with you whenever you head out.

      Pay attention to the weather. No one would think of taking a boat out in a thunderstorm. Yet boat owners often don't think twice about other weather conditions that could prove just as dangerous. Avoid boating on exceptionally windy days since waves could capsize a smaller boat or cause passengers to fall out.

      Develop (and communicate) a float plan. This includes all pertinent information to your trip including contact information for the trip leader, the boat type and registration information and where you plan to boat. Give someone at your marina a heads-up, or a family member, especially if you're going somewhere remote.

      Source: Erie Insurance

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Road Trip? Do a Pre-Trip Vehicle Check

      22 July 2019

      If you’re packing up the car and heading out on the open road for an adventure, make sure your wheels are up for the journey by bringing your car in for a pre-trip vehicle check. Doing so will help you avoid the inconvenience, potential safety hazards, and unplanned expense of a breakdown or accident.

      According to the Car Care Council, during a pre-trip inspection, your service provider will do the following:

      - Check all filters and fluids, including engine oil, antifreeze coolant, windshield wiper fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid and transmission fluid. Ensuring all filters are clean will help avoid performance problems.

      - Replace hoses and belts if any appear to be cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear; hoses and belts are critical to the functioning of the power steering system, the air-conditioning system, the electrical system and the cooling system.

      - Check the brake system and make sure the battery connection is tight and corrosion free

      - A thorough inspection of all tires, checking their pressure, tread depth and wear

      By putting your car through this important safety check, you’ll head out with peace of mind, paving the way for good times ahead. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.