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Fix a Leak Week Reminds Us to Evaluate our Home Plumbing

(NewsUSA) – Plumbing leaks are rampant and such a problem that the Enironmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Fix a Leak Week campaign in March to educate the public and save water. FloLogic, a smart leak control technology company, is participating in the effort with practical tips and smart home solutions for every homeowner.Plumbing leaks waste nearly one trillion gallons of water that enters U.S. households each year, or 12 percent of total water used in our homes, according to the Residential End Uses of Water Study, which evaluated 23,000 households. And leaks destroy property to the tune of more than $10 billion in insurance payouts annually.Fix a Leak Week runs March 18-24 and presents an opportunity for the EPA, local communities and industry to join a common effort to shut down water waste."Leaks aren’t top of mind for most homeowners because water is cheap and most water meters can’t register the small leaks that trickle down the drain," says Chuck DeSmet, founder of FloLogic, whose smart leak detection system can identify and automatically stop leaks that occur anywhere in a plumbing supply before they cause damage or waste. "Destructive leaks get addressed when they’re discovered, while leaks that simply waste water can persist for years, particularly if they’re undetected. But water destruction and waste are completely preventable."For the Fix a Leak Week campaign, and throughout the year, FloLogic urges everyone to observe practical steps to stop leaks, and to consider adding smart water control technology to their connected homes so all leaks are recognized as soon as they appear.Here are five water-saving tips for Fix a Leak Week from FloLogic:* Review the water bill: A family of four will typically use 12,000 gallons (16 centum cubic feet) per month. Usage in excess of this amount indicates a likely leak. But keep in mind that water meters can’t detect the small leaks, so even a normal water bill may not reveal a problem.* Inspect toilets: Worn-out flappers are a primary water waster. Listen for toilets that refill between flushes. Find slow leaks by dropping food coloring in tanks. If the bowl takes color without a flush, there’s a leak.* Check interior faucets:Drips from sink and tub faucets and showerheads are easy to spot, but often ignored. Repair or replace worn parts to curb water-wasting drips.* Look outside: Outside hose or irrigation system leaks often go unnoticed. Check for drips and moist ground during dry weather to find preventable leaks.* Get smart water control: A smart water valve, such as that offered from flologic.com will detect leaks beginning as small as a half-ounce of water per minute, and automatically shut them off. While the primary function of FloLogic is to prevent property damage, it has the added benefit of flagging hidden leaks to save natural resources, reduce water bills and qualify many homeowners for insurance discounts. News USA

Which Home Upgrades Are Worth It and Which Aren’t

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored by GAF – Mark your calendars.Come April, we’re looking at the start of peak home buying season – the four months that generally account for more than 40 percent of annual housing transactions. The reasons are pretty obvious: The weather is (cross your fingers) nicer, the holidays are a distant memory, and families with kids prefer to relocate before the start of a new school year.So if you’re eager to sell – or just want to make some changes to test reactions – now’s the time to save yourself some grief by learning which upgrades increase your house’s value in potential buyers’ eyes and which leave them stone cold.And while you’re at it, never forget the first rule of upgrades, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report for 2019: "Think like a real-estate broker." Read on to see why that includes focusing heavily on "curb appeal" and "first impressions."* Worth it: a new garage door. It ranked first on the magazine’s list of projects, with a 97.5 percent return on investment thanks in part to its relatively low cost. And for anyone who ever doubted that everything is pricier in New York City, that same high-tensile-strength steel door with windows costs $426 more there than the national average of $3,611.* Not worth it: upscale bathroom remodeling. Want an easy way to save $60,000 or so? Don’t – repeat, don’t – spend it on installing the whirlpool tub, heated towel bars, and stone countertops of your dreams.Why? Because they’re your dreams. And as Remodeling magazine notes, "Because of the vast differences in aesthetic tastes, one person’s elegant new bath will be viewed by a range of other prospective buyers as "tacky and outdated and in desperate need of a reset."* Worth it: a bigger rug. Going bigger is actually a trick some real estate moguls have been known to use. Since the living room is likely the first interior part of the house buyers will see – and, remember, first impressions matter – bet on them extrapolating from it to guesstimate the entire size of the house.Ergo, since the goal is to make the room seem more spacious …At least some buyers will judge the size of a room based on the size of the rug.A nice Oriental one perhaps? * Not worth it: a midrange backyard patio. It’s in the backyard, right? – emphasis on "back." Which explains why it only garnered a 55.2 percent return on investment.* Worth it: a new roof. "Buyers pay a premium for one already in place," Credit.com has observed.No kidding. In fact, given that it’s such a prominent part of the house, you might call the roof the ultimate curb enhancer: If buyers like what they see, you’re halfway home; if they don’t, they may look for even more things to hate and certainly won’t be quick to open their wallets.Or, as Remodeling magazine says about curb appeal: "The impact these impressions make is critical in setting the stage for what a buyer is willing to pay for a home."If your roof needs replacing, check out the best-selling Timberline roofing shingle line from GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. The shingles have the look of luxury at a very affordable price.And remember: Don’t be afraid to use a new roof as the "negotiating tool" with buyers that Credit.com says it is.* Not worth it: a major upscale kitchen remodel. Another of those "differences in aesthetic tastes" issues. Better off to stick to repainting the walls or resurfacing cabinets, if need be. News USA

One Small House in Boise, One Big Step in Homeownership

(NewsUSA) – There came a point in Meghanne’s 29-year-old life when she decided it was time to "be an adult and buy a house." And as a loan officer, she wanted to practice what she preached about investing in homeownership.Then again, living on a dairy farm near Boise, Idaho, with only cows for neighbors could have been a factor, too.Either way, after 11 years of renting, Meghanne was ready to buy a house. As a single woman with an active lifestyle, Meghanne didn’t want an older house that required a lot of work or maintenance, so she focused her search on newer homes. Trouble was, many houses were out of her price range, and those that weren’t got snapped up quickly.Due to its lower cost of living, Boise is in the midst of a boom. People from more expensive cities, such as, San Francisco and Seattle, are flocking to the area. In fact, Forbes named Boise "America’s fastest-growing city in 2018" with home prices increasing 11.58 percent. After getting priced out of the market in their cities of origin, these transplanted residents weren’t blinking at the median home price of $319,000. This and a shortage of inventory made for a super-hot real estate market – not exactly ideal when you’re looking for your first home and have a limited budget.Being a resourceful millennial, Meghanne started researching her options. She discovered a private non-profit organization, called NeighborWorks Boise, whose mission is to revitalize communities and offer affordable housing alternatives. This national organization builds pocket neighborhoods consisting of 10-15 energy-efficient homes, clustered together to form a close-knit community. Meghanne qualified for their program by meeting the income limit of $90,000.Through NeighborWorks Boise, Meghanne found a newly-constructed home affordably priced at $184,000. At only 700 square feet, the cute little house featured two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area, kitchen, front porch and attached garage."I fell in love," says Meghanne, "and the price was perfect."Because the home wasn’t complete, she was able to personalize it by making decisions on the finishes.Although NeighborWorks also offers affordable loans, Meghanne chose conventional financing through her employer, a mortgage lending company. Thanks to private mortgage insurance, she was able to put down only 3 percent ($5,520)."I considered making a 5 percent ($9,200) down payment but opted for 3 percent," explains Meghanne. "I used the extra $3,680 to buy furniture, and keep some money in savings for a rainy day."Since Meghanne moved in five months ago, her new home has already increased in value, appraising at $205,000 and boosting her equity by $21,000. And the planned close-knit community will soon be even closer when her co-worker moves into the same pocket neighborhood. Meghanne’s looking forward to having an already-made friend as her neighbor – instead of cows.Is it the right time for you to buy a house? Find out by visiting mgic.com/resources/buynow. Plus, follow the stories of other first-time homebuyers and learn from their experiences at readynest.com/homebuyer-storiesNews USA

Post-Holiday Wake-up Call: Signs Senior Loved Ones May Need Help

(NewsUSA) – The holiday season is the perfect time to reconnect with those you love most. But for many adult children, this is also a time where they may start to notice changes in their parents’ health and behaviors that signal the need for assistance at home. Each year, this realization leads to an increase in inquiries about senior care services from concerned family members.In fact, January is the highest volume month for senior care inquiries, according to Home Instead Senior Care. On a national scale, the company saw a 34 percent increase in service calls from December 2017 to January 2018.While visiting loved ones over the holidays, families may have noticed changes in behavior, including:* Mood and Symptoms of Depression. Do you notice a change in your loved one’s normal behavior? Does he or she seem unattached or more emotional?* Personal Hygiene. Changes in appearance are the most obvious signs that assistance is needed, and they can range from unkempt hair and body odor to wearing the same clothes for multiple days.* Driving Skills. Evidence of speeding tickets, dents and scratches on a senior’s car may be signs that driving skills are deteriorating.* Household Changes. Is your loved one behind on paying bills, refilling medications or housework? An unkempt house may be the result of once-everyday tasks becoming overwhelming burdens.* Eating Habits. Does your loved one’s refrigerator seem empty? Is there rotten or expired food? These may be signs that your aging relative has lost interest in preparing and eating meals or is unable to make it to the grocery store.Due to the increasing demand and evident need, Home Instead Senior Care franchises are hiring CAREGivers nationwide to provide support and companionship to older adults, a practice that aligns with national employment trends.Research shows that caregiving is a growing profession. Employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 41 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.Last year, Home Instead received its largest number of employment inquiries during the busy month of January.Family caregivers can find additional information and resources at caregiverstress.com or find a Home Instead office near you at www.homeinstead.com/state.If interested in becoming a CAREGiver, visit https://www.homeinstead.com/home-care-jobsNews USA

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