1. Keep It Green:   Harsh summer heat can up the ante when it comes to caring for your lawn.  Make sure to keep it watered and fertilized!  Also, be sure to make it a point to check your local by-laws for seasonal watering restrictions,

2. Fire It Up:  Get a head start for the upcoming winter and clean out your wood-burning fireplace and chimney.  You’ll have one less winter tast to attend to!  For gas fireplaces, make sure the fireplace is cool, turn off the electrical switch and turn off the gas valve.  Take the glass off its hinges and clean the glass with a non-abrasive cleaner with a soft cloth.  Remove the log set from the fireplace and vacuum the log set along with the inside of the firebox.  Set the log back inside the firebox.  Hang the glass back on its hinges.  Wipe off any fingerprints from the glass.  You can turn the gas and the electrisity back on and light the pilot light at this point.  Some people prefer to leave the fireplace turned off for the summer as it will omit a fait amount of heat.  Please note:  If you leave the pilot light off, it may be difficult to turn back on when you are ready to do so.

3.  Carpet Care:  Now’s the perfect time to have your carpets professionally cleaned, which will protect your carpet and make it last even longer.  What to save  a few bucks?  Rent a quality carpet cleaner and do it yourself!

4.  Touch-Ups:  Inspect your home – inside and out- and touch up any paint where necessary.  This can be done quickly and easily, and will prevent future peeling.  Note:  If your paint has been on the walls for a couple of years, the paint may be faded.  If the paint does not exactly match the paint you have on the walls, I would recommend a full re-paint.  In my years of experience, I can tell you that there is nothing worse than a bad touch-up job.

5.  Lock And Key:  Check all of the locks on your windows and doors and ensure that everything is working properly.  Being proactive about safety is always a smart move!

6.  Oil It:  Anything squeaking?  Add a squirt of WD-40 or a similar product to door, cabinet and window hinges to keep them in top working order.

7.  Park The Car:  If your garage is filling up with an abundance of stored items, take a day to reorganize and get rid of unwanted clutter.  Give your unneeded items to charity, or have a fun summer yard sale!

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When it comes to keeping your home comfortable in the summer, these area  number of ways to accomplishyour goal without breaking a sweat over your cooling costs.  Believe it or not, the price of heating and/or cooling a home often accounts for more than 50 percent of a homeowner’s energy bill.  What does this mean for you?  As a budget conscious individual, it’s time to cut your cooling costs with these money-saving tips.

Sun BlockWhen the sun is up, consider pulling your shades down.  Close your curtains, blinds or whatever window treatments you use to keep the sun’s rays from heating up your home.  This will help to keep the interior of your home cool, which can help to cut your energy costs by not making your air conditioner work harder simply because the sun is causing excess heat.  Solar screens for your windows and a radiant paint barrier for your attic are effective ways to block much of the sun’s UV rays.

Coolness Counts

If you use an air conditioner to cool your home, make sure that you adjust the temperature when you leave the house.  Otherwise, you are just wasting energy on a home when no one is there.  Additionally, you can also turn the unit down at night when the temperatures typically tend to cool off.  This is true whether you are using a window unit for an individual room or a central system that’s used to cool the entire home.

Maintaining Your Cooling Unit

It’s important to clean your filters and/or replace them as recommended by the manufacturer.  In addition to possibly resulting in dust and other allergens being circulated into the air, neglecting your filters could prevent the cool air from properly getting into your home.  Have your air duct work inspected on a regular basis for leaks and clogs to insure your system operates at peak performance.

Keep The Air Moving

Not every summer day is a hot one, which means you can often take advantage of the temperatures by using a standard fan instead of your air conditioner.  The latter uses a great deal more energy than a fan, so consider your needs on a daily basis when choosing how to cool your home.  You can install a ceiling fan for added air circulation, or you can use a standard rotating fan.

Cut Back On Cooking

Your kitchen oven can heat up your home in a hurry, which can make your air conditioner work harder to keep your house cool.  This, in turn, results in higher cooling costs.  Instead of using the oven, consider popping something in the microwave or on the outdoor grill for a change.  While this may not be possible every day, it’s certainly something to consider on those sweltering summer afternoons.

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Recently the federal government announced some changes affecting the qualifications for people looking for mortgages. The rules are aimed at further protecting the banks as well as Buyers from getting in over their heads. These changes ensure we will not get into the same kind of situation that the United States got into.

There were 3 main changes and they are as follows:Mortgage Changes

  1. Buyers will be approved based on the bank’s posted rate as opposed to the actual rate they qualify for. For example, if the bank’s posted rate is 4.5%, and the mortgage you qualify for is at a rate of 3.5%, your approval will be based on the banks posted rate of 4.5%.
  2. For people looking for secondary properties such as rental properties, cottages, vacation homes etc., you may be required to have at least 20% down to qualify for the mortgage. Call me for more details.
  3. Once mortgages are up for renewal, a lot of people refinance their home. In an effort to reduce debt on credit cards, car payments or other loans, some people bundle these up and pay them off using the equity in their home. In this situation you can now only refinance up to 90% of the value of the home.

Clarification

One of the expected changes that many thought were coming was the percentage that a buyer needed to put down on a property. The current amount is 5% and that number has not increased. The other three changes were sufficient enough to help protect all parties involved.

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Celebrated every April 22, Earth Day is the largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide.

More than 6 million Canadians join 1 billion people in over 170 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues. Nearly every child in Canadian schools takes part in an Earth Day activity.

Environmental challenges abound as our daily actions pollute and degrade the fragile environment that humans and wildlife depend on to survive.

What can we do?

  • Pitch in on an Earth Day project near you, whether it’s a beach cleanup, planting a tree, or gathering up debris to cart it off to recycling plants.
  • Support downtown businesses in your town and in those you visit for business or pleasure. You’ll be doing your bit to curb urban sprawl, the No. 1 destroyer of wildlife habitat, farmland and open space.
  • Plant some native trees, shrubs or flowering plants in your yard. To find out which plants hail from (and therefore do best in) your neck of the woods, explore nearby parks, nature preserves and native-plant nurseries.
  • Furnish your digs with antiques and quirky finds from thrift shops, secondhand stores and flea markets. You’ll be practicing recycling in its highest form, and you’ll have a nest with more character than you could ever buy at a trendy home-furnishings store.
  • Buy a few large canvas shopping bags and take them along when you do your grocery shopping. Then, when the checkout clerk asks, “Do you need a bag?” you can say, “No thank you!” Choose bags that are big and strong enough to do the job and attractive enough that you’ll want to use them.
  • Go cold turkey on herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
  • Leave your car at home and walk every chance you get. As you go along, pay attention to the life around you – birds, insects, trees, flowers, even the plants we call weeds.

That’s all for now: Just pay attention.

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Garage SaleOnce we get our houses cleaned up from winter, many of us have garage sales to get rid of some extra stuff we have accumulated or that we just want to replace. If you are holding a garage sale, please feel free to use my garage sale signs. They are easy to get and you won’t have to worry about designing your own then throwing them out once you are done with them.

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Most communities ask for the help from the public to clean up local areas after winter. If you haven’t heard of it, the Canadian Government calls it “Pitch-In Week”. This is where local communities ask the public and private sector to donate their time to help clean up local areas. This year, the week dedicated to this is April 19 th through to April 25th. Most towns pick a day during that week to have the community come together to clean up the town. Often times this day helps bring the community together. If you aren’t available that day, you are encouraged to pick another time during that week to help out. Often times the day that is picked will also feature a BBQ or some other event. This would depend on your home town.

The objectives of the campaign include to:

  • clean up, restore and beautify the environment by cleaning up litter and other garbage from urban, rural and wilderness areas and by initiating local projects such as habitat preservation and restoration and urban renewal activities, thereby promoting respect for Canada’s natural and urban environments
  • encourage voluntary action as a means of resolving environmental problems
  • stress the value of waste as a resource by encouraging Canadians to reduce, reuse, recycle and properly dispose waste
  • encourage civic pride and develop long-term working relationships for the future which will help local communities develop in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner, thereby leaving lasting benefits
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The first amazing weekend of spring often brings everyone outside to do some spring cleaning. After winter’s havoc, things really need to be cleaned thoroughly. Things outside that need to be cleaned are items such as: down spouts, windows and frames, patio furniture, gardening tools, decks/patios, doors, vinyl/aluminum siding, curbs, sidewalks, gardens and eaves troughs just to name a few.

Spring CleaningInside the house you would want to focus on windows, carpets, floors, staircases, mirrors and closets.
Spring is also a time to put away all your winter accessories. Before you store these items you will want to make sure they are cleaned and in good working order. This will help make these items last as long as possible and save you the trouble of finding out the hard way that they aren’t any good once winter comes around again.

Here are a couple things to keep in mind when doing these chores:

  • Try not to overdo it. Most of us reduce our activities in the winter and need to take care when getting back into physical activities. Prepare for your day by stretching out your muscles, take regular breaks when necessary and ask for help when needed.
  • Take care when using any cleaning supplies and chemicals. When possible, use all natural cleaning products or products promoting themselves as environmentally friendly. If you do opt to use chemicals, read the labels and use the proper protective equipment like gloves, face masks and goggles.
  • Plan what you are going to do ahead of time. This will help cut down any unnecessary trips to the store.
  • Make this day an event for the whole family. Not only will this save you time but it could become a family tradition. Everyone will also make more of an effort to keep the place clean knowing how much work it was to get it that way.
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