Real Estate News

    • 5 Tips to Reduce Your Pet’s Environmental Pawprint

      9 April 2020

      (Family Features) There’s plenty of advice on ways to reduce your environmental footprint, but you might be left wondering about the environmental pawprint made by your pet.

      According to a 2019 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 67% of families across the country have at least one dog or cat, which is why it’s important to think about how your furry friends affect the planet.

      Consider these easy lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce their environmental impact.

      Check those waste bags. Use compostable baggies to pick up after your pet when you take walks. Plastic bags take years to break down, if at all. There are options made from plants and other materials that biodegrade quicker. When it comes to disposal, check with your local waste management services as regulations can vary by community. While many places suggest the compost pile, others may not.

      Consider your kitty’s litter. For the vast majority of cat families, kitty litter is an absolute must. Look for a litter that’s made from natural ingredients you can put in the compost bin. Not only is this better for the environment, but natural ingredients keep your cat from accidentally ingesting toxic chemicals.

      Look at food packaging. Pets go through a lot of food, and that means a lot of packaging. You can reduce waste with an option like Petcurean’s recyclable Tetra Pak cartons, which are made from 65% renewable materials for Now Fresh and GO! Solutions wet food recipes. Additionally, its Gather line of kibble in plant-based bags is made from 30% sugarcane, which reduces the use of petroleum-based materials.

      At home, consider ways to upcycle empty food bags to get more use out of the material, such as using them to collect garden and yard waste. You can also flatten bags into waterproof mats for your vehicle’s floorboards or make a waterproof barrier between your pet’s bed and the floor.

      Prepare for water on the go. While humans can easily drink water from a reusable bottle, most pets cannot. Instead of making a mess by attempting to give water with your hands, make things easy on yourself and the environment by keeping a stainless-steel water dish in your car. It’s a durable solution that keeps your pet from being exposed to chemicals in plastic or silicone.

      Think about accessories. Pets go through countless leashes, toys and dishes across their lifespans. Thinking about these items as investments and purchasing items that are more durable means they last longer and you’ll waste less. For gently used items you’re ready to discard, like outgrown leashes, consider whether they still have useful life and can be reused by a rescue group or shelter. Also, for toys in particular, it’s important to know what materials they contain. For example, some pet toys are made with plastic containing BPAs, which can be harmful and negatively impact the environment. Instead look for toys that are made from eco-friendly materials.

      For more ideas to reduce your family’s environmental pawprint and care for your pet, visit

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Detect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

      9 April 2020

      Carbon monoxide poison is a silent danger that claims over 400 lives in the U.S. annually, as well as over 20,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      To keep your family safe, know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

      • Headaches
      • Nausea
      • Vomiting
      • Dizziness
      • Shortness of breath
      • Fatigue
      "Safety is our top priority at DTE Energy, and we urge residents to be particularly alert to carbon monoxide danger during the fall and winter heating season. It's when CO exposure most frequently occurs," says Brad Burcz, senior safety and health engineer, DTE Energy.  "One of the best defenses against CO poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide alarm near all sleeping areas in your home. If dangerous levels of CO are detected, an audible alarm will alert you."

      DTE offers the following tips to prevent CO poisoning in homes and businesses:
      • For businesses, install carbon monoxide alarms in main areas away from vents and appliances or equipment that produce smoke or steam.
      • Replace batteries in CO alarms annually.
      • If a CO alarm is activated, or the presence of carbon monoxide is suspected, immediately get out of the house or building into fresh air, and if necessary, seek medical attention.
      • Ensure all fuel-burning appliances are operating and venting properly.
      • Get an annual furnace inspection by a licensed professional.
      • Check yearly to verify flues, vents and chimneys are connected, in good condition and clear of debris.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Setting Up Your Surround Sound Speakers

      9 April 2020

      When you move into a new house, there are numerous things you’ll want to do early on to get your house in live-in shape, and one thing you should think about early is setting up the surround sound system in your new home.

      Techies love this sort of stuff, but not everyone is adept at understanding all the wiring and how to properly set up speakers and an audio system. While you could hire someone to come in and do the job, watching a few DIY videos on YouTube may be enough for you to handle it yourself.

      One of the most vital components of the surround system is the speaker and the placement of the speakers around your media room is paramount in creating an ideal surround sound system environment.

      Start by locating the “sweet spot” in your room where you will most likely be sitting to watch TV. Of course, multiple people watch at one time, and you might not always sit in the same place, but try to find the central area so you can work everything off of that area.

      When it comes to setting up each speaker correctly, it is important to follow the display model. For example, the center channel speaker should be located directly above or below the display as the majority of the dialogue from a TV show or movie comes through this speaker. It’s recommended to place the center speaker as close to the television as possible while also being careful to angle the speaker towards your ears.

      The front left/right speakers provide the off-screen effects and project all the stereo soundtrack information including the background environments. Avoid placing these speakers too close together to avoid a sound stage or placing them too far apart, which will create a large gap in the sound stage. It’s best to place them as close to ear level as possible. One common mistake is putting them in corners, but that will muffle their sound.

      The surround speakers are primarily the area in which homeowners tend to mix up the most. Despite their name, they aren’t supposed to be behind you, and are actually best when they are set up directly on your left and right. Most experts recommended that surround speakers be placed approximately 2 feet above ear level.

      TVs are getting bigger and better and it would be a shame to have the HD picture of your dream and just the standard sound emulating from the set. Invest in a nice surround sound system and feel like you’re at the movies every time you watch.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Steps to Fight Sleep Deprivation

      8 April 2020

      (Family Features) Despite a desire for perfect sleep, Americans are not even close to getting the recommended eight hours a night, and 1 in 4 Americans believes the sleep they are getting isn’t the quality rest they want and need.

      “To put sleep deprivation into perspective, 37% of Americans report they have fallen asleep behind the wheel,” said Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a sleep health expert for Mattress Firm. “About 5% report falling asleep while driving on a monthly basis. Clearly, sleep deprivation is wide-spread and a risk factor for overall well-being.”

      With chronic sleep deprivation, the brain’s ability to maintain attention and focus continues to decline over time. In addition to impairing mental function, lack of sleep has been associated with a host of risks to overall health. 

      Prevent sleep deprivation and take charge of your mental and physical health with these tips from Kansagra:

      Nap responsibly. When you’re feeling tired, it’s no surprise the best solution may be sleep. Some research suggests a quick power nap can actually give you a stronger boost than caffeine. However, too much rest during the day can throw off your nighttime sleep pattern. Aim for no more than 20 minutes so you don’t wake up groggy, and time your nap for the mid-point of your wake cycle (halfway between when you wake up and go to sleep).

      Limit screen time. If you turn to your phone to help wind down while you’re in bed, you’re not alone, but you may be doing more harm than good. According to a survey conducted by Mattress Firm on sleep habits, the average person scrolls on his or her phone while lying in bed for more than 12 minutes before shutting down for the night. What’s more, the light from the screen serves as a stimulant, as does the digital content you’re viewing. That means you’re making it physically harder to fall asleep than if you put down your devices at least 30 minutes before bed.

      Stick to a sleep schedule. The average person gets less than six hours of sleep per night, according to the survey – a far cry from the eight hours most experts recommend. One way to buck this trend is to make it a point to turn in and wake up at the same time every day so you synchronize your sleep time with your internal clock. While eight hours is the standard, you may need to adjust up or down to find the amount sleep that lets you wake feeling rested.

      Develop a pre-bedtime routine. You can train your body to prepare for sleep by creating a pattern or a routine that eases you toward sleep.

      “Even something as simple as putting on a sleep mask each night, reading in bed for 20 minutes or practicing the same shower routine at the same time every night signals to your brain it’s time to hit the hay,” Kansagra said. “Creating a bedtime routine that lasts 20-30 minutes and sticking to that routine can make all the difference in your energy, productivity and mood.”

      Find the right sleep position. If you’re looking for the secret to a good night’s sleep, comfort may be the key. According to the survey, those who sleep on their backs at night are most likely to report they slept “perfectly well.” The most common sleeping position, on your side, correlates with the worst sleep reports. It may take some trial and error to find the right position that keeps your spine aligned, allows you to breathe freely and evenly distributes your weight.

      Find more tips for getting better sleep at

      Top 5 Bedtime Rituals
      A consistent bedtime routine, including these common rituals disclosed by respondents in a Mattress Firm survey, can help ease your way toward better rest.

      1.     Reading (42%)
      2.     Watching TV (42%)
      3.     Taking vitamins (36%)
      4.     Taking a shower or bath (36%)
      5.     Drinking warm milk (36%)

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • The Costs of Owning a Dog

      8 April 2020

      One of the biggest responsibilities a child—or a family—can take on is adopting a dog as a pet.

      Feeding, walking, grooming and cleaning up after a dog are daily responsibilities that everyone can do, and will also help teach children how to take care of something they love. For parents, however, there's the extra task of paying for all the costs associated with the dog.

      Here are some of the primary expenses of owning a dog that a family should consider before bringing one home:

      Upfront Fees
      Adoption fees are the first costs you'll incur, whether from a pet store, private breeder or animal shelter.

      Animal shelters will be the least expensive, though they'll likely require your dog to be spayed or neutered at a cost of up to $200 or so. There are also the costs of vaccinations, license and microchip, all of which can easily add $100 or more to the initial cost.

      Add in some initial necessities such as a leash, collar, food, dishware, bed and a crate, and you can easily spend $200 or so at a pet store to make your dog feel at home.

      Animal shelters may give you a coupon for a free visit to a local veterinarian for your dog's first checkup. After that, you'll have to pay for more vaccinations, annual physicals and any injuries that may pop up.

      Bear in mind your vet may recommend a kennel cough vaccination for your dog, heartworm test and prevention pills, flea and tick prevention tablets, and other services.

      Pet Insurance
      This is an optional cost, but one worth considering when adopting a dog. If your dog doesn't have any serious illnesses and is spayed or neutered, $35 per month for a pet insurance plan is reasonable. That includes 80 percent reimbursement and $250 annual deductible. That's $670 per year out of your pocket before medical costs are paid.

      Having major surgery can more than pay for the cost, and even a middle-of-the road illness can make pet insurance worthwhile.

      Daily Expenses
      Daily care costs are minimal. You can probably get by spending $30 or less per month on dog food. You can give your dog a bath and haircut yourself, and dog toys are pretty cheap.

      Once you've got a dog leash and collar in hand, walking your dog is free—and that may be the best part of these expenses: free exercise. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.