Baking Soda as a Cleaner

Let’s face it, the daily traffic that the average carpet in your home endures is unbelievable. Owning a home is work, you must dust, vacuum, wash, launder and start all over again in a few days to keep up with living in your home. Is it just you living there or do you have a family or a dog? Do you have a welcome mat to stop the carpet traffic. If not, you should. Do you have a shoe off policy upon entering your home? Either way, follow this simple trick and you will be on your way to a cleaner smelling home in moments.

One easy step to keeping up with the basic cleaning is vacuuming the carpets and removing any potential odor. Sometimes, the vacuum can’t remove such odors, you may need to go one step further to rid your home of that lingering odor. You need baking soda. Baking soda is one of those things that is over looked and thankfully under priced. Once the carpet has been vacuumed, spread a thin layer of baking soda on the carpet and let stand for 10 minutes. Vacuum again. This should make a big difference in the lingering odors in your home. Baking soda is a simple yet beneficial cleaning tip.

Utility Rates

LED light bulbsIt is probable that electric rates will rise soon, again. Let’s explore some ways to help lower your utility bill.

First, change your light bulbs to LEDs. These bulbs cost a bit more, but in the long run, they will save you money, using less wattage and last a very long time. If you have a lot of lights, you may want to buy these bulbs over time. But read on.

If you have light company, such as National Grid, call them and ask for an energy audit of your home. They will send someone out who will do a walk through to determine how your home can be made more energy efficient. Some states, such as Massachusetts, have companies who will replace all your light bulbs with LEDs for no cost. Also, they may offer you a discounted rate to upgrade the insulation in the attic and other energy-sapping places that will save you money in heating and lighting.

Check these suggestions out—it will be good for your wallet, as well as saving the environment. It’s the responsible thing to do, and will save you money, overall.

Selling Your Home

Sometimes, the unlikely event of selling your home can suddenly occur. You may not have ever considered moving away from your humble abode, but things happen, as they say. In any event, it pays in more ways than one to be ready; you never know when an opportunity may present itself for you to downsize, move to another area, or even to upgrade your living situation.

Stay on top of things: from time to time, take a walk around your house outdoors to check to see if any repairs are needed. Broken lights, chipped or loose caulking, or tears in the screens can and should be fixed quickly to prevent more costly repairs. Other repairs may require a professional, but you will save a lot of money if you attend to them quickly.

When you do put your home up for sale, home inspections can sour a great opportunity, and a bad report can be very costly and aggravating. A deal can fall through just because you failed to notice the small things that could have been fixed beforehand. Be diligent; pay attention to those mostly little repairs to the outside of your home.

Cosmetic changes may be necessary to make your home more attractive to buyers. These can be anything from sprucing up your landscaping, to a simple freshening up of the outside of your home. Pick up trash; keep the weeds at bay. Cut the lawn. Broken or hanging eaves troughs, rippled shingles on the roof give the impression of neglect, making potential buyers shy away from looking further at your place.

Make Your Own Air Freshner

The aroma of your home can change the mood of all shoppers that enter. Are you selling or buying? Either way, stage a home with one of these scents and feel the mood change and see the sales pitch fly.

Scents that conjure up the comforts of home will put a smile on the face of the buyer, the seller, and the shopper. One way to add fragrance to your home is to boil water with cinnamon sticks. Go one step further and add sliced apples and maybe even a few cloves. This smell will flow through your home and allow each person who enters a moment of childhood memories and a reminder of grandma’s apple pie.

If the smell of cinnamon is not appealing to you, try herbs such as rosemary and thyme boiled with water. Citrus has good staying power too. Use the rind of an orange and/or lemon in the boiling water. These scents are fresh and welcoming. If you are in a pinch, go right outside and find pine or cedar needles, add some bay leaves and nutmeg and boil away. These too will leave a refreshing scent in the air.

They say vinegar will remove just about any smell such as fish, lamb or burnt popcorn. If you have an odor to remove in your home, be sure to leave a dish out in your kitchen with a ½ cup of vinegar in it. If left to its own devices all day, the unwanted smells will neutralize on their own.

Whatever scent you chose, each person that enters will enjoy the aroma, remark about the refreshing scents and for a fleeting moment, consider themselves living in your refreshing environment. That’s a sale!

Cleaning Drains The Green Way

How frustrating is it when the drain is clogged? It really doesn’t matter which drain and whether or not it is in the kitchen or bathroom but inevitably there will be a clog. It seems to be at its worst when it is your turn at the sink.

First let’s look in the cabinet and see if you have what we need to remedy the problem. Do you have baking soda? If you do, you are half way to an unclogged drain. Do you have vinegar? If yes, get your gloves, we are off to unclog the drain(s).

First if you want to remove the hardware, that little drain stopper, go ahead. Keep in mind, it might be a yoga position of sorts to get under the sink. Sometimes the piping under a sink is so tight that it isn’t worth the effort, even if you are a yoga instructor. If you do opt to remove the drain plug, do remember to screw the cover back on the hole so that when you start this project, water isn’t pouring out under your sink and soaking your floor. Start with two to three teaspoons of backing soda. Baking soda is a “lifter” and letting is work its magic will begin the unclogging and lifting of all blockages. Once the backing soda is down the hatch, pour the same amount of vinegar, two to three teaspoons, into the drain.

Can you hear the cleaning process, maybe even see the science experiment taking place? Let this home remedy sit for thirty minutes and return with hot water. Boil water in your tea kettle to ensure the proper temperature. You should be ready to put the hardware back under the sink in no time.

Ask The Locals

Finding a local mechanic after you move might feel like a full time job in addition to unpacking. No worries we have ideas.

Most neighborhoods and communities need a mechanic at some time, even if just to blow up your bike tire. To narrow down your search for someone who can take a peek at your 2 door, 4 door, family truck, or traveling office, head to your local coffee shop. Not kidding! Get to know shop folks. What we mean is look around, figure out who the regulars are and ask them who their mechanic is.

This networking adventure could be more useful than you think. Not only can you try out a few mechanics, but you will probably learn about other local hot spots. Everyone needs to know the best grocery store, gas station, bank, hair salon or barber, local restaurant and watering hole.

You will be glad you took your time to search out the locals in your new community before you are in desperate need of a service, such as a mechanic. Once you are all settled in and can find your way around a little bit, explore and go get yourself a cup of coffee and say hi to the regulars for us.

LED Lighting

Life expectancy of LED lighting is the game changer. Replacing light bulbs is a full time job. It would be great if it was a harmonious moment of changing light bulbs, but no, random black outs, in random rooms is the basic game plan when it comes to lighting replacement. An LED light lasts 3x’s as long as a regular light bulb, talk about making a conscience effort to participate in the green effort of our planet. Think of the footprint.

Pricing is the next decision. Let’s not forget the life expectancy of the LED while standing in the aisle trying to decide which light bulb to purchase. Our suggestion, go right to the LED section. The local warehouse most likely has the best pricing. Don’t forget Contractors come to this warehouse when they need to fill a new order. They fill numerous orders weekly, sometimes daily and they know what is needed for proper lighting. Your best bet would be to stop one of the contractors and tell them the basics of your lighting upgrade. Bet you receive a small education of LED lighting vs. the same old.

Lighting is the key to your home and happiness. Whether you know it or not, it is the item you need most- morning, noon and night. It’s simple to make your life brighter, easier, and reduce your carbon footprint.

Tips for First Time Home Buyers

OrganizedWhether you buy your first home later in life, or directly from college, buying your first home is a major milestone in your life.  For that reason, there are things you need to be knowledgeable about before your purchase is complete. You will want to safeguard yourself so you know that you are getting a home and a loan that you can afford. Here are a few tips from mortgage and real estate pros to help prepare you for the biggest purchase of your life.

Using an Agent

If you are a buyer, then there is no reason not to use a real estate professional. It does not cost you any more money to hire an agent. That agent will do more than find you that perfect house. You will discover that after you find a house is when you will need that agent the most.  The agent will use their expertise to present your offer to the seller and then address issues that may arise between contract and closing.

House Hunting

Remember, location, location, location. This is very important when buying a house.  Location plays a big part in determining the market value of the home. Before you start the house hunting process, make sure you know what neighborhood is a good location for you. Also, it would be good to have an idea of what style home you are looking for. Real estate moves quickly, so if you see a property that you love, you should move on it before someone else does.

Find a Loan that Works for Your

It sure can be tricky business trying decide what kind of loan is right for you.  There are many different types of loans that you should be aware of.  There is an Adjustable rate mortgage which has an interest rate that is linked to an economic index. So as the index changes your interest rate and payments may go up or down. There is also a 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage as well as a 15-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage. Some state and county maximum loan amount restrictions may apply.

Home Buyer Alternatives for First Timer

Saving for a first home can sometime seem like it’s a hill that too steep, but don’t worry there are assistance programs that can help. The Federal Housing Administration offers loans to people with a credit score as low as 640, low down payments and down payment assistance. There are also VA and USDA loans: Certain active members of the military and veterans as well as qualifying residents of designated rural areas can qualify for a 0% down-payment housing loans that are free of mortgage insurance fees.

How Much Do You Have to Put Down?

It really depends on what type of loan you have. If you have a conventional loan then you may have to put as much as 20% down. It is possible to put 5% down on a conventional loan if you don’t mind paying mortgage insurance.  If you go with the FHA loan you will need at least 3.5 % down.  For people who are relying on others to help with down payments, an FHA loan may be a good option. First time home buyers need to look around and know that there are a multitude of down payment assistance offers by state or local governments.

Closing cost:

There can be a lot of hidden fees in closing costs; first time home buyers should be aware of these costs.  These fees are typically included in the closing costs, including fees for commissions, appraisals, inspections, certifications and surveying.  There will also be fees for government record changes, tax and title services and transfer taxes.