Richard Parke
Richard Parke

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Don't Be Left Out in the Cold without a Home Warranty

September 30, 2015 12:40 am

No one wants their home’s heating system to break down, especially in late fall and winter months. In truth, homeowners have no way of knowing when a general malfunction or system leak will strike, so it’s important to purchase a home warranty, says the Service Contract Industry Council (SCIC).

"A home warranty is the best way to protect your home, and your peace of mind, from costly unforeseen damages," says SCIC Executive Director Timothy Meenan. “On a brisk fall night, the last thing you want to worry about is having a broken heater with no coverage for repairs."

Home warranties can shield you from expensive bills and long wait times for repairs. The benefits of having coverage for your home go beyond saving time and money – a home warranty also adds value to your home and is transferable to a new owner.

"Many real estate deals now include home warranties," adds Meenan. "A home warranty provides a double benefit, making your life easier while you own the home and then enhancing its value if you decide to sell."

Source: SCIC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Travel Philanthropy: A New Way to Give Back

September 29, 2015 2:34 am

“Travel philanthropy” – a budding movement among American millennials, families and affluent households – gives new meaning to giving back.

According to a recent study by Tourism Cares, “Good Travels: The Philanthropic Profile of the American Traveler,” more Americans are giving away time, money or goods while on vacation. More than half (55 percent) of respondents to the study reported volunteering for or giving to a destination they visited for leisure. The study noted a high degree of informal giving – 48 percent of respondents gave back directly to individuals or families, while others supported cultural, religious or nonprofit organizations.

Of all philanthropic travelers, millennials are the most generous with their time, money and in-kind donations than any other generation. Per the study, more than 80 percent volunteered or gave in-kind, and just below 80 percent donated cash during a recent trip. On average, millennials volunteer more than double the hours and donate nearly three times the money and more than four times the supplies that 55-plus travelers do.

Families with children also exhibit generosity when traveling – but it doesn’t end when the vacation is over. Upon returning home, 46 percent keep tabs on causes they donated to and 34 percent give more to the same cause. Additionally, nearly half of parents in these families plan to increase discussions with their children about community needs, as well as their children's engagement in giving activities.

Those with household incomes over $100,000 are especially attuned to giving back abroad and at home: 55 percent felt it extremely or very important to give help to communities. More than 40 percent of households in the $150,000-plus income bracket plan to engage their children in more charitable activities in the future.

Source: Tourism Cares

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Be a Good Neighbor: 5 Yard Etiquette Rules

September 29, 2015 2:34 am

Whether it’s a lawnmower wake-up call or a pile of leaves blown onto your lawn, there’s nothing more frustrating than a neighbor with poor yard etiquette. But this breach of neighborliness, according to a recent Lowe’s study, is actually more common than you think. To remain courteous to your neighbors – and (hopefully) earn the same treatment in return – the experts at Lowe’s have laid down the following rules:

1. Never blow leaves into a neighbor's yard and leave them there.

2. Neighbor's plants are not to be used for table arrangements.

3. Set boundaries with your sprinkler system to avoid saturating a neighbor's property.

4. Clean up after your pets.

5. Park cars in the garage, driveway or street, but never your lawn.

Source: Lowe’s

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Tips for Homeowners Rebuilding after a Storm

September 29, 2015 2:34 am

As important as it is to make home repairs as soon as possible following a natural disaster, it is also important to take some time to plan the project, consult with local officials and choose a contractor wisely, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Before you start:


• Contact the local permitting office. Follow all local and state requirements.

• Check with your local building official to make sure your work is safe and meets all local and state codes and requirements.

• Look for a contractor with an established physical address. Ask for references and contact them.

• Get bids from more than one person. Make sure they are in writing and specify exactly what will be done. Beware of a low-ball price, and never pay the full price in advance.

When building:

• Consider using building materials that are more resistant to flood, wind, corrosion and decay.

• If siding or roof sheathing needs replacement, consider installing hurricane/seismic connectors at the rafter-to-wall or truss-to-wall connections. Adding wall-to-foundation ties may also be necessary.

• Windows, doors and skylights should be checked for leaks. If they need replacement, consider impact-resistant units.

• Check your attic for adequate insulation. Straps should be added from rafters to wall top plates, and gable end-wall framing should be braced.

• Inspect soffits to determine if structural upgrades are necessary.

• If you live in a flood-prone area, elevate appliances such as air conditioners.

Source: FEMA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Best Ways to Improve Your Sleep Environment

September 28, 2015 12:34 am

If sleep disturbances regularly prevent you from getting the proper amount of shut-eye, you’re not alone. In fact, 75 percent of adults experience sleep disruptions caused by allergy symptoms, trips to the restroom and temperature discomfort – and nearly a quarter say they rarely wake up feeling well-rested, according to a recent AllerEase® survey.

To improve your sleep environment, Dr. Neeta Ogden, a board-certified adult and pediatric allergy and asthma specialist, advises a three-pronged approach.

"My top recommendation for those suffering from respiratory congestion at night is to try a three-step plan: use zippered allergen barrier bed protectors, nasal saline spray, and remove allergens from your bedroom such as pets and carpets," says Dr. Ogden. "Simple changes can have a year-round impact on quality sleep and living."

Dr. Ogden also recommends addressing other common causes of sleep disruptions with the following tips.

• Wash bedding once per week, including comforters and duvet covers, to prevent household allergens from collecting in plush surfaces.

• Wash pillows monthly, or replace them every six months, if they are non-washable.

• Limit liquids and snacks close to bedtime to avoid overnight bathroom breaks.

• Identify optimal sleep temperature and adjust fan, heat or air-conditioning accordingly.

Source: AllerEase®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Preserve Character when Renovating Your Home

September 28, 2015 12:34 am

(Family Features) A self-taught home rehabber, licensed real estate agent and designer Nicole Curtis, star of HGTV's "Rehab Addict," has made an art of introducing the comforts and conveniences of modern living while restoring homes to their former glory.

Whether you're giving new life to a historic treasure or sprucing up a more modern home, there are many ways to retain the integrity of the original design while keeping your renovation within budget.

Take hardwood flooring, for example. Many homeowners can’t wait to tear out a dingy carpet, but that carpet may actually be covering a hidden gem: original hardwood floors. Approach your renovation with a “What can I save?” rather than a “What can I lose?” mentality, says Curtis. Damaged sections of wood flooring can be patched using reclaimed wood from other parts of the home, or even the attic. A good sanding and a fresh coat of stain are all that’s needed to restore the original flooring.

Likewise, consider every alternative before installing a brand new feature in your home. A ductless system, for instance, is a modern upgrade that won’t destroy the existing structure and architectural integrity of the home.

"No ductwork makes my life so much easier," Curtis says. "There's less time and money spent on finding ductwork space and installing the systems, so we no longer have to sacrifice design."

When it comes to the kitchen, pause before you make plans to gut it. In the kitchen, you may be surprised by how sanding and staining or painting the existing cabinetry transforms the space. Keep in mind that lightly colored cabinets and countertops will make a small kitchen space feel larger, and you can bring pops of color into the room with the backsplash and décor, says Curtis.

Source: Mitsubishi Electric

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Ask the Architect: What Are the Most Popular Home Design Trends?

September 28, 2015 12:34 am

According to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), home design trends favor automation and outdoor living – and don’t count on that changing any time soon.

“With the tremendous interest in well-designed outdoor living spaces, it’s a pretty strong indication that the days when houses were viewed as a way to flip for a big profit are long gone,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Signifying a renewed interest in practicality and use, demand for mud rooms and dedicated guest rooms are also quite high.”

In addition to those features, homeowners are seeking to upgrade their homes with first-floor master bedrooms, home offices and fitness rooms, the AIA reports. On the automation side, architects say smart thermostats, backup power generators, electrical car docking stations, central audio mechanisms, air purifiers and security systems top homeowner wish lists.

“Automation is on its way to becoming standard functionality within homes,a s there are systems available to regulate temperature, lighting, home audio and energy usage,” adds Baker.

Source: AIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Land at 4-Month Low

September 25, 2015 12:28 am

Bankrate.com reports the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has retreated to 4.00 percent, the lowest level since late spring, with an average of 0.26 discount and origination points. At the current rate, the monthly payment on a $200,000 loan would be $954.83.

The 15-year fixed mortgage rate also fell, decreasing to 3.18 percent, along with the larger jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage rate, which dropped to 3.89 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) were also on the downswing – the five-year ARM slid to 3.19 percent, and the seven-year ARM sunk to 3.38 percent.

According to Bankrate.com, mortgage rates were the beneficiaries of increased jitters about the health of the global economy following the Federal Open Market Committee’s latest meeting. When the Fed opted not to initiate interest rate hikes, it sparked uneasiness in financial markets; nervous investors typically flock to safe-haven U.S. government bonds, to which mortgage rates are closely related.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Fall-Inspired Color Trends

September 25, 2015 12:28 am

Is your home in need of a makeover? One of the simplest ways to refresh the look of your home is through seasonally-inspired décor.

“Fall is the perfect time to add color to your walls and update décor in your home, ahead of the busy holiday season,” says Julie Richard, Ace Hardware design expert. “Whether you’re looking to add a pop of color with a decorative statement piece, or apply a fresh coat of paint to a room that needs a lift, our advice will help you bring transformative updates to life during the most colorful time of year.”

Organic and timeless, autumn’s foliage lends itself to warm, neutral color palettes and vintage décor paired with deep greens and jewel tones, says Richard and colleagues Katie Reynolds and Nathan Fischer, also Ace design experts. The trio recommends updating your home with these color trends:

1. Green – Bring this trend to life in your home by painting a statement piece using a vibrant green, or by painting an accent wall in a muted olive tone.

2. White – Give your living room more depth and dimension with new baseboards (that are at least five inches high) in a creamy, opal white. To really transform the look of your space, paint the floor in a stark white.

3. Black – Dark furniture against white walls can help make a bold statement in an otherwise neutral space. Paint base cabinets or your favorite piece of furniture in a shade like black chiffon for a crisp, classic look.

4. Blue – Add doses of color in complementary shades, such as sky blue walls with orange accessories, to add character and flair to a room.

5. Pink – Don’t overlook the ceiling! Add a hint of blush to the ceiling to simulate the appearance of a slight glow.

Source: Ace Hardware

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Binge-Watchers: When Were You Hooked?

September 25, 2015 12:28 am

It may have taken “Breaking Bad” character Walter White nearly an entire season to become Heisenberg, but as Netflix reports, fans committed to the series long before the plot twist unfolded – and it wasn’t during the pilot episode.

“Given the precious nature of primetime slots on traditional TV, a series pilot is arguably the most important point in the life of the show,” says Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “However, in our research of more than 20 shows across 16 markets, we found that no one was ever hooked on the pilot.”

According to Netflix’s research, fandom emerges when commercial breaks and appointment viewing are stripped away. In fact, 70 percent of viewers who watched the “hooked” episode across Netflix and non-Netflix programming went on to complete season one in uninterrupted format.

Netflix also evaluated global fandom trends, revealing some interesting finds. The Dutch, for instance, tend to fall in love with a series the fastest, getting hooked one episode ahead of most countries irrespective of the program. Down Under, viewers hold out longer across the board, getting hooked two episodes later than the rest of the world. Inexplicably, Germans exhibited early fandom for “Arrow,” whereas France fell first for “How I Met Your Mother.”

Source: Netflix

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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