Home Ownership Advice


By Celia Murawski - Keller Williams Realty



4 Ways to Be More Energy Efficient at Home

Everyone is looking to save on their home’s energy costs, but many people do not know where to start or what steps to take to get the most bang for their buck. These four tips can be a great starting point for increasing your home’s energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Tip No. 1: Insulate your walls and attic.

The average homeowner can save over $200 per year by increasing or upgrading the insulation in their home’s walls and ceilings. One of the biggest energy costs that homeowners face is keeping their homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Poorly insulated homes — particularly those with poorly insulated attics or lofts — can have much higher energy bills than their well-insulated counterparts.

Experts estimate that nearly one-third of the homes in the United States are under-insulated, so if you have not checked your home’s insulation recently, it might be a good idea to check it out this summer. Taking on the one-time cost of adding more insulation to your home can result in years of savings down the road.

Energy Efficiency Tip No. 2: Use heavy curtains.

This upgrade can serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose. Covering your windows with thick curtains can reduce the amount of heat passing through your comparatively thin windowpanes. Choose a fun pattern that you love — this can be an easy way to lower your energy bills while also decorating the space.

Energy Efficiency Tip No. 3: Double-check the edges of doorways.

One of the key factors in lowering energy costs is keeping air from flowing freely in and out of your home. Adding a cheap strip of stick-on foam insulation can be an easy way to seal any gaps where air is escaping around the edges of your doors. For this reason, you will also want to check for leaks in your attic and basement — particularly if the room is unfinished.

Energy Efficiency Tip No. 4: Use a low-flow shower

head and toilet.

One of the most obvious ways to cut down on your water bill is to use less water. Most people will not want to shorten their morning shower, so using a more efficient showerhead can be a relatively painless way to reduce your water consumption. Switching out your home’s showerheads can result in a yearly savings of $260. This means that your new showerhead will pay for itself during its first year of use — a great deal for those seeking long-term savings.

These four energy saving tips can be affordable ways to cut down on your long-term energy costs. Many of them will pay for themselves within the first year, so there is no reason why you should wait any longer to increase your home’s energy efficiency.

4 Reasons to Keep Baking Soda Around the House

It’s 2017. Most people, by now, know that baking soda isn’t just for baking: It’s also a fantastic fridge deodorizer. (If you didn’t know that, rename the title of this article “6 Reasons to Keep Baking Soda Around the House.”)

But did you know that baking soda has about a bazillion other uses? To save us both some time, we narrowed down the uses we focus on to just four.

Here they are, in all their glory.

1. Use Baking Soda as Toothpaste

We know, we know – putting powdery baking soda straight into your mouth sounds like one of the least appealing things, ever. Hear us out: Just dip the tip of your toothbrush bristles into some baking soda, and start brushing those soon-to-be pearly whites. Baking soda whitens and brightens your smile like crazy.

If you’re really having a hard time stomaching the flavor, you can always drop a bit of mint into your baking soda for something a little more toothpaste-like.

2. Use Baking Soda to Soothe Your Skin

Ever been stung by a bee or a wasp? There aren’t many things that hurt like that hurts.

Baking soda can actually relieve the pain from stings. Take out the stinger first, and then apply a baking soda paste (mixed with water) to the wound.

This home remedy also works for itchy bug bites and even sunburn.

3. Use Baking Soda as Elbow Grease

Pans can be a pain in the pot to clean. Cooked-on food is basically human Kryptonite. Your mother always told you that everything can be cleaned with a little bit of “elbow grease,” but if you haven’t been hitting the gym lately, sometimes your “grease” is on short supply.

That’s where baking soda comes in. Using a paste similar to the skin-soothing remedy, you can remove stuck-on food like you have, in fact, been hitting the gym.

Bonus feature: Baking soda also makes stainless steel pots extra shiny.

4. Use Baking Soda to Clean Your Bathroom

Sure, that name-brand spray cleaner gets the job done in your bathroom, but have you ever stopped to think what kind of chemicals are in there? What kind of chemicals you’re breathing in every time you clean your porcelain throne?

Skip the poison shower, and just use baking soda. It’s not just good for porcelain – it also cleans tile, counters, faucets and other stainless steel fixtures. If you want things fizzy clean, spray everything with vinegar first. Adding baking soda to the mix will fizz away all the grime, eliminating the need for the “elbow grease” we talked about earlier.

You want your house to be spotless when showing it to prospective buyers.

FDA-Approved Device Improves Managing of Medical Fluids

(NewsUSA) – Hospitals, surgical facilities, doctors’ offices, and medical centers all face the same problem: how to safely dispose of the substantial amount of fluids that take place during surgeries and other medical procedures.

These fluids include blood, urine, spinal fluid, ascites fluid and saline solution used to irrigate wounds and surgical incisions. Since they may contain pathogens like HIV or hepatitis, they can be dangerous.

The standard method for managing fluids is suctioning into canisters, typically about one to three liters each. Once full, the canisters are either opened, and the fluid is dumped down the drain or opened and a solidifier is added and the canisters are then handled as regulated waste. These activities can expose medical workers to the infectious agents in the fluid. Given that a single surgery can fill up three or four containers, the risks can be substantial.

That’s why some hospitals have moved to install a medical device that can suck the fluid out of the canisters directly into the drain, with no pouring needed. But that still requires the canisters to be carted around by workers to connect them to a secondary medical device.

Now there’s a better approach, a completely automated medical device developed by Skyline Medical (NASDAQ:SKLN). Called the STREAMWAY® System and approved by the FDA, this innovative direct-to-drain waste management product collects, measures and disposes of surgical waste directly to the facilities drainage system without handling of fluid waste or additional labor typically required to move equipment or materials to a sink or utility closet for dumping.

This new medical device thus virtually eliminates the possibility that doctors, nurses, and other medical staffers will be exposed to pathogens in the fluid. The device is completely safe, because infectious agents are quickly neutralized at the sewage treatment facility.

Skyline’s potential has caught the attention of the others in the biomedical community. Skyline announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge with San Antonio-based CytoBioscience, a maker of devices and instruments used for human research that measure how cells react to drugs.

Prescription Opioid Painkillers: The Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

(NewsUSA) – When a physician prescribes an opioid to help you or a loved one manage nagging back pain, the last thing you’re probably thinking is that it may prove so addictive that it results in physical dependency, drug abuse, or even death.

Think again.

Addiction to routinely prescribed opiate pain medications like OxyContin has now reached what the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction in August labelled “unparalleled” proportions — prompting the White House to almost immediately declare “a national emergency” requiring “a lot of time, a lot of effort” to combat the enormous toll it’s taken on the country.

And while even David A. Kessler, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 1990 to 1997, has knocked his own former agency for failing to foresee the crisis — “It has proved to be one of the biggest mistakes in modern medicine,” he’s written — right now you need to know these signs of opioid abuse:

* Constipation

* Nausea

* Drowsiness

* Confusion

* Poor coordination

* Increased pain with higher doses

So what to do if you’re among the millions of pain sufferers?

With both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending non-pharmacologic alternatives to opioids, know that drug-free chiropractic care has garnered high patient satisfaction scores for dealing with neuro-musculoskeletal issues like low-back and neck pain.

Highly educated and trained in the structure and function of the human body, doctors of chiropractic use hands-on techniques to help enhance flexibility, muscle strength and range of motion. Most insurance and health plans cover its use.

“If you recognize yourself in those symptoms,” says Dr. Sherry McAllister of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, “don’t be embarrassed to talk to your prescriber.”

For more info on the Foundation’s opioid abuse campaign or to find a nearby a doctor of chiropractic, visit f4cp.com/findadoctor.

U.S. Apple Industry Supports Student Causes and Promotes Healthy Snacking

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored News – An apple a day keeps the doctor away and also keeps school programs in shape via a fundraiser sponsored by the U.S. Apple Association. The “Buy an Apple, Help a Student” program from the nation’s apple growers offers a simple formula for supporting students and encouraging healthy snacking.

Each time people share photos of themselves or someone they know enjoying an apple or apple product, such as applesauce, or a product from partner brand Marzetti, the U.S. apple industry will pledge a financial contribution to a selection of student projects at schools across the United States. The “snack, snap, tag, share” theme starts with a visit to Apples4Ed.com between now and November 12 to review the eligible projects and schools. Projects include school gardens, book clubs, new science equipment, and improved teacher resources.

Supporting these causes takes four simple steps:

  • Snack: Grab an apple, apple juice, applesauce, or Marzetti product.
  • Snap: Take a picture of you or someone you know enjoying the snack.
  • Tag: Find a school cause at Apples4Ed.com. Tag the photo with #Apples4Ed and the school’s unique hashtag.
  • Share: Vote for your favorite school cause by uploading photos to an Instagram or Twitter account.

Those without a public account can upload photos through the Apples4Ed.com site.

In addition, USApple will be offering weekly drawings in which participants can win prizes from USApple members and Marzetti, and can have an additional $100 in funds donated directly to the weekly winner’s favorite school project.

Apples4Ed.com offers facts about apples’ health benefits plus a variety of apple recipes. “There’s always been a deep connection between apples and education, and with Apples4Ed we bring it to life by pairing the health benefits of eating apples with supporting students and schools nationwide,” says Wendy Brannen, USApple’s director of consumer health and public relations. “We encourage everyone to visit Apples4Ed.com, check out these meaningful student causes, and vote for the schools nearest them or the program they feel matters the most,” she says. “During last year’s inaugural program, we received more than 20,000 votes,” she adds.

In December, USApple will announce the final votes and the correlating level of funding based on the votes cast for each school.

Here are the schools and locations of this year’s causes and their hashtags:

  • Saint Bede the Venerable, Chicago, IL: #SaintBedeGarden
  • Hyde Park Elementary, Jacksonville, FL: #HydeParkTechnology
  • Central ISD, Pollok, TX: #CentralISDAppleMonth
  • Rancho Minerva Middle School, Vista, CA: #RMMicroscopes
  • Busy Bee and Butterfly Christian Academy, Fort White, FL: #BusyBeeGarden
  • Moore Elementary School, Bath, PA: #MooreElementaryLiteracy
  • St. Mary’s Catholic School, Alexandria, VA: #StMarysiPads
  • Central Lutheran School, New Haven, IN: #CentralLutheranGym
  • Sterling Elementary, Warrensburg, MO: #SterlingElementaryGarden
  • Westminster Community Charter School, Buffalo, NY: #WestminsterBookClub
  • Montgomery Learning Academy, Troy, NC: #MontgomeryArtClass
  • Faith Elementary, Faith, NC: #FaithFruitsandVeggies
  • St. Louis Park Middle School, St. Louis Park, MN: #StLouisParkFoodShelf
  • Walter Biddle Saul High School, Philadelphia, PA: #WBSaulCompost
  • Academy of World Languages, Cincinnati, OH: #WorldLanguagesPlayground
  • Sherwood Forest Elementary, Federal Way, WA: #SherwoodForestApples
  • St. Paul’s Lutheran School, Prior Lake, MN: #StPaulNatureCamp

The U.S. Apple Association is the national trade association for the apple industry. Visit USApple.org for more information.

Save Time and Money With a Mail-Order Pharmacy

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored News – Patients with medical prescriptions who fail to fill or take their medication properly can have serious health implications. According to a survey from the American Medical Association, approximately 25 percent of new prescriptions are not filled, and approximately half of patients don’t take their medicines.

People cite several reasons why they don’t fill their prescriptions or take their medication. Mail-order pharmacies, such as the service available from Humana, are one way to address this problem. Another study conducted by The American Journal of Managed Care, showed that patients who used a mail-delivery pharmacy were more likely to follow their treatment plan than those who did not.

A mail-delivery pharmacy has many benefits, including 90-day prescriptions, which help to reduce the frequency of refills. This option is especially beneficial for those with chronic conditions who might be taking multiple medications.

A 90-day prescription fill is often more cost-effective than a typical one-month supply.

Another benefit of mail-order pharmacies is convenience. The medication can be delivered to a home or office, which is convenient for those with busy work schedules or who are unable to visit a pharmacy for other reasons. Most new prescriptions arrive in 1 to 2 weeks, and refills take 5 to 7 days. Medicine and supplies are delivered in unmarked, heat-safe, tamper-resistant packaging with free standard shipping.

“Mail-delivery pharmacy is a win-win solution for people who lead busy lives and want to follow their doctor’s treatment plan, especially for people who need simplicity in how they purchase their prescriptions,” says William Fleming, president of Humana Pharmacy Solutions. “Studies have shown that more than half of consumers buy items online. Mail-delivery pharmacy is a method of purchasing prescriptions that aligns with how they live their lives.”

“By simplifying their lives, we are able to improve affordability and access to medications which should yield better health outcomes,” he adds.

Many mail-delivery pharmacy providers also provide additional benefits, such as online ordering and mobile apps that allow users to order refills, track shipments, and receive medication reminders.

As for safety concerns, mail delivery orders are checked by a pharmacist before shipment, and data suggest that mail-delivery pharmacies such as Humana Pharmacy are approximately 23 times more accurate than retail pharmacies. Patients also have the opportunity to consult a pharmacy team from the privacy of their own homes.

For more information and details about how to use a mail-order pharmacy, please visit www.humanapharmacy.com

7 Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency

(NewsUSA) – With Old Man Winter just around the corner, now is the time for homeowners to start considering how to make their abode more energy-efficient.

After all, an energy-efficient home not only saves money, it improves the comfort of the home environment.

Follow these tips by Johns Manville to ensure that your house is energy-efficient this winter, and always:

1. Think Energy Savings. Keeping the cool air in during summer and warm air in during winter will require less energy if your home is well-insulated. An energy audit can help you assess your home’s efficiency and provide direction to improve that efficiency.

2. When an Audit Is a Good Thing. An energy audit includes checking for air leaks; inspecting heating and cooling equipment; checking light fixtures, appliances and electronics; and assessing insulation. It will help determine if your home is under-insulated or just not insulated properly, as is the case in many older homes. Each scenario can be easily remedied by adding more insulation or replacing the existing insulation, depending on the situation. For additional savings on energy upgrades, visit www.JM.com/rebatefinder to find tax incentives or rebates in your area.

3. Reach Your R-Value. R-Value is used to measure insulation performance — the higher the R-Value, the greater the insulating power. Factors that are considered in calculating R-Value include what part of the home you’re assessing (walls, attic, floor or ceiling) and where you live. Use the R-Value map found on the Johns Manville website (jm.com) to calculate the R-Value your home needs for ultimate energy efficiency.

4. Boost Real Estate Value. Investing in your home to increase its real estate value involves more than improving curb appeal. Increasing the R-Value of your home’s insulation will help lower your energy costs, saving you money for as long as you live there. Plus, it will be a major selling point should you ever decide to move.

5. Replacement vs. Improvement Options. When your heating and cooling system isn’t doing the job, it’s easy to look at unit or window replacement as the answer. However, many times air temperature problems can be remedied in a less costly manner by conducting an energy audit and making the necessary changes to ensure that the walls, attic and ceiling insulation R-Values are up to par.

6. Protect Expensive Equipment. In extreme temperatures — whether in winter or summer — your heating and cooling systems are working extra hard to keep air temperature at ideal levels. An up-to-date R-Value will help reduce heating and cooling outputs, and can also extend the life of expensive heating and cooling equipment.

7. Do It Yourself: Insulation Is Easier Than You Think. Nearly any home insulation project can be accomplished with your own two hands and the right tools.

Get started by visiting www.jm.com/diyvideos for tips, advice, and videos on a range of home insulation solutions.

Good Health is More Than What You Eat

(NewsUSA) – Behavioral health issues are more common today. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, about 25 percent of all adults in the United States have a mental illness and 50 percent will develop one in their lifetime.

Mental health diseases affect not only the mind, but the body too. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “[mental illness] is associated with chronic medical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.”

Public health surveillance, the continuous collection and analysis of health-related data, can help ensure high-quality health care. Monitoring mental health illnesses via population-based surveys and other methods can provide valuable information on how to run effective treatment programs. If behavioral health problems are managed successfully, the effects of mental illness and chronic diseases can be minimized, leading to improved general health.

Currently, companies and institutions around the country are working to provide better access to mental health treatment services. Humana, a leading health and well-being company, has pilot programs and initiatives as part of its Bold Goal aimed at making communities 20 percent healthier by 2020. To do this, they tackle barriers that prevent good mental health, as well as food insecurity and social isolation. Program objectives of the Bold Goal include: providing remote access to behavioral health within a primary care setting, teaching educational classes that discuss nutrition and health literacy, and addressing suicide prevention.

Try these ideas, from Humana’s Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, Chief Medical Officer for Humana Behavioral Health, to enhance your own mental health:

Exercise: There is overwhelming evidence that indicates physical exercise helps to lessen the effects of depression. This is due to the release of endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones, in the brain.

Eat a Healthy Diet: A diet high in sugar consumption is strongly correlated with mental health problems. Eating whole foods and limiting intake of processed foods are important habits to maintain.

Go Outside: Get enough exposure to sunlight to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Eliminate Bad Habits: Both smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can cause increased levels of stress and tension. Over time, this can lead to mental illnesses, such as depression.

Get Help When Needed: Getting help from a friend, family member, or professional is highly likely to improve behavioral health. Actively seeking guidance can lead to a quicker recovery from mental illnesses and mental disorders. And this will ultimately allow you to live a healthier, fuller life.

For more information, visit www.humana.com

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By Celia Murawski

Keller Williams Realty

Information for this story was provided by HomeActions, LLC and NewsUSA.

Information for this story was provided by HomeActions, LLC and NewsUSA.