RE/MAX 440
Sandy Hershey

Sandy Hershey
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880  Skippack  PA 19474
Phone:  610-909-2929
Office:  610-584-1160
Fax:  267-354-6987

My Blog

Five Ways a Power Outage Can Cost You Money

November 7, 2014 2:01 am

Despite increases in their frequency and severity, many people who have never experienced a power outage still view outages as merely inconvenient. But they are more than inconvenient; they leave homeowners unable to live life as normal. Research shows that in any given month millions of Americans could be without power, with or without a major storm.

Beyond disrupting everyday life, a power outage lasting just a day or two could cost a homeowner several thousand dollars.

Extended power outages can impact your checkbook in many ways:

Lost refrigerated and frozen goods. The USDA recommends throwing away refrigerated foods stored for more than two hours at over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, because refrigerators and freezers can't stay cold without electricity. For a family with a full-stocked freezer and fridge, that means a loss of at least $200 in tossed food.

Damage to your home.
Without power, sump pumps can't run, putting homes at risk for flooding, and fans and dehumidifiers can't operate to help dry out a wet basement. A power outage during a severe storm can destroy basements and pose significant hazards to homeowners. Basic costs to pump out and thoroughly dry a basement lightly flooded with clean water can start between $500-$1,500 and increase to $2,000-$10,000. But a flooded basement can be prevented, even during the most severe storms, with a home backup generator.

Expenses from staying at a hotel or eating out. If you don't have heat or running water, you might have to move the family into a hotel for a night or two. Add restaurant tabs to that and you've lost another couple hundred dollars.

Additional costs for short-term goods. If you choose to remain in your home, you will need to invest in batteries for radios and flashlights, coolers to store food, and ice to keep that food cold. Incidental costs can range from $200 to $500.

Loss of income. Depending upon the impact on your home and family, you might have to spend a few days away from work. If you work from home, you stand to potentially lose your entire income during a power outage.

Having an automatic home backup power system can help to avoid these costs, and other costs, related to power outages.

A few essential precautions you should take in preparation for severe weather is to stock up on items, like food and water, and make necessary fixes, like boarding windows. Listen to a NOAA battery-operated weather radio for critical information from the National Weather Service. Also, avoid using electrical equipment and telephones. You should use battery powered TVs and radios instead.

Source: www.generac.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Know When to Hold or Pitch Common Household Items

November 7, 2014 2:01 am

Every few weeks, I question whether it's time to pitch out certain household items. While many things we use around the home including most food items have expiration dates, are they really a valid indicator that the item in question is obsolete?

A recent post at grandparents.com responds to that concern with a list of the top 10 household items you should replace. So if you are wondering if it's time to pitch or hold onto certain things around the house, consider these particular items:

Sponges - Filled with bacteria and mold, they're the top source of germs in your home, according to WebMD. To prevent your sponges and scrubbers from becoming encrusted with microscopic filth, swap them out every month or as soon as they begin to have a bad odor. Preserve them on a daily basis by throwing them in the dishwasher - the heat will kill germs and keep your family healthier.

Herbs & Spices - Old bottles of dried herbs and spices won't hurt you, says nutrition expert Janet Brill, there are no health concerns, they simply lose their potency. Seasoning purveyor McCormick these guidelines for shelf life:
  • Ground spices: 3 to 4 years
  • Whole spices: 4 years
  • Leafy herbs: 1 to 3 years
  • Bottled seasoning blends: 1 to 2 years
Faded color and loss of aroma are two other ways to identify old herbs and spices.

OTC Meds - Follow the "spring cleaning" rule, says Marjorie Phillips, Pharmacy Coordinator for Georgia Regents Medical Center and member of the FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee. Once a year, around the same time, throw out all expired prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Expiration dates guarantee that, with proper storage in a cool, dry place, the drug will retain 90 percent of its original potency until that date, she says. Afterward, the medication may have degraded enough to lose potency or, even worse, contain harmful degradation-related byproducts.

Tetracycline is one drug whose byproducts can cause injury if it's been sitting around for too long, but Phillips recommends checking with a pharmacist about individual meds. Medication doesn't magically stop working on the expiration date; it's just safest to follow that guideline according to Phillips.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simple Swaps for Healthier Holidays

November 6, 2014 12:40 am

(Family Features) Rich, decadent, calorie-laden foods go hand-in-hand with the holidays. By choosing better-for-you snacks and swapping ingredients in some of your favorite recipes, you can keep the pounds from creeping up as you celebrate this season.

You can satisfy your cravings and stay full by consuming high-quality, protein-rich foods with fewer calories and lower saturated fat. Exchanging sugary treats and unhealthy ingredients for flavorful, more nutritious options will let you still enjoy your holiday treats without the guilt (or added weight) when the festivities have passed.

Stay on track for healthier, happier holidays this year with these tips:
  • Plan ahead before you hit the party buffet table by eating a protein and fiber-rich light meal or snack beforehand.
  • Limit your alcohol and intake of sweetened drinks; flush your system with water.
  • In place of candy and sweets, keep healthy nibbles on hand, such fruits, nuts and steamed or dried edamame. Individual packages of these nutritious snacking options also make excellent stocking stuffers.
  • For sweet, rich, baked goods such as cookies, soft-yeast breads and quick breads, swap some of the traditional flour with soy flour, which will substitute for up to 30 percent of the wheat or rye flour.
  • Modify your favorite recipes to reduce saturated fat, sugar and salt. Vegetable oil, cinnamon or nutmeg and herbs and spices deliver mouth-pleasing flavors that eliminate the less healthy alternatives.
Source: Soyfoods Association of North America

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Retiring Soon? Last-Minute Strategies to Consider

November 6, 2014 12:40 am

Despite continuing economic recovery, many older Americans do not have sufficient funds to sustain their lifestyles in retirement. If you’re preparing to retire soon, consider augmenting your savings with these strategies.

1. Max out your contributions. The IRS sets higher limits for those aged 50 and older, so take advantage of it by cutting expenses and putting those savings into your retirement accounts.

2. Relocate to a less expensive area. With many soon-to-be retirees building significant equity in their homes, it may be worthwhile to sell and move to a location that accommodates a lower cost of living.

3. Become a part-timer. Supplement your savings with part-time employment. Many retirees find this to be not only a productive use of time, but also an opportunity to explore interests they could not pursue while working full-time.

4. Test your retirement lifestyle. For those who are uncertain they can live on their retirement savings, financial experts recommend spending two years before retirement living within those means.

5. Postpone retirement. If your savings fall short, consider delaying retirement altogether. When you do retire, you’ll receive higher Social Security payments than you would have if you collected earlier.

Those nearing retirement should consult a financial advisor or tax professional before making changes to their investment strategies.

Source: Bankrate

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Top Kitchen Design Tips

November 6, 2014 12:40 am

Kitchens remain a top remodeling project in 2014, according to the Member Profile Study done by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Eighty-two percent of NARI members identify kitchens as its No. 1 service.

“Consumers want practical, comfortable kitchens that are efficient to use and easy to live in.” says Tom O’Grady, CR, CKBR, chairman of NARI’s Strategic Planning. “Bigger isn’t better, but homeowners still want a feeling of space, and open concept and islands are still part of kitchen trends in 2014.”

Improving the overall look and feel of the kitchen was most often cited as the main motivating factor by homeowners for remodeling, followed by improving function.

Lighting:
The continuing trend of fewer upper cabinets in the kitchen creates more space for decorative task lighting, often on adjustable arms that gives the option to have the light directed where it is needed most. Decorative task fixtures in black, iron and aged brass finishes make a statement. Other trends include:

  • Pendant lights over kitchen islands continue to be a great opportunity to bring style into the mix.
  • Chandeliers in kitchens add a pretty and an unexpected sparkle and can soften up the hard lines and smooth surfaces of appliances and countertops below.
  • An oversized lightening fixture becomes a focal point in an otherwise plain room.
  • Under cabinet lights, controlled by a dimmer, provide ambiance.

Built-in cabinetry that looks like furniture

Mixing and layering finishes and woods to create a custom look is another key trend, as is built-in accent cabinets that act as framework for the rest of the cabinetry.  These cabinets, often designed tall and narrow with glass fronts provide the look of a built-in china cabinet to showcase collectables. In general, upper cabinets are less popular because they stop the line of sight, especially to backyard garden views.

  • Appliances are subtly hidden behind the cabinetry for a clean, streamlined appearance.
  • Colorful kitchen cabinetry has made a big comeback. Palettes using and mixing blues,
  • orange, browns or greens countering neutral white, wood or dark finishes are providing
  • kitchen flair.
  • Dramatic contrasts of light cabinets and dark countertops provide visual impact.

Wine storage

  • With the explosion in the wine market over the past few decades, wine is becoming more of a lifestyle choice and factoring into kitchen designs.
  • Dedicated “butler” areas for entertaining, sampling and sharing wine with guests are very popular, allowing the cook the opportunity to socialize while doing food prep.
  • Integrated wine coolers, an answer to tight kitchen spaces, are nestled into cabinetry along with wine racks to showcase a homeowners’ collection.

If you're planning a home renovation project this year, consider incorporating some of these trends to update your kitchen. Before construction gets under way, consult with a professional remodeler about the renovation projects you have planned.

Source: NARI

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Holiday Travel Hassle-Free with These 5 Tips

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

During the 2014 holiday season, millions of passengers will be traveling through U.S. airports. This translates into long lines, congested traffic and stress, particularly for those traveling with small children. The travel experts at The GO Group recommend:

Checking your flight before you leave for the airport – Nothing is worse than arriving at the airport and discovering that your flight has been delayed or cancelled. To ensure this won't happen, have your airline notify you about flight status via text or email, or phone your airline before you leave.

Avoiding rush hour – Try to avoid departing during rush hours, which are 6:45 to 9:30 a.m. and 3:45 to 6:30 p.m. Both the traffic to and at the airport will slow you down.

Arriving early – Domestic and international passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure during the holidays when crowds and security are greatest. Be prepared for even longer times in the event of inclement weather and increased security during unforeseen crises or security threats.

Skipping the boarding pass line – If your airline has the option, print your boarding pass before you get to the airport so you do not have to wait in line. Even easier, store your boarding pass in your phone which can be scanned at the airport.

Bypassing lengthy TSA screening – The holidays draw people who don't travel frequently and aren't familiar with the screening process. Traveling with children always takes more time, too. Avoid the aggravation by applying for The TSA Precheck which, for a fee, allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited security screening at 300 participating U.S. airport checkpoints.

Follow these tips for safe, stress free and happy travels!

Source: The GO Group

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Homebuyers Have Mixed Emotions When House Hunting

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

While mostly positive about the process required to own a home, homebuyers report mixed emotions when hunting for the home of their dreams, according to a recent survey by BMO Harris Bank.

While overall stress levels about the home buying process are moderate, Americans still have some concerns. Their biggest worry is that they will find something wrong with the house once they move in (79 percent). In addition, 69 percent fear that housing prices will drop after the purchase, and 61 percent fear the possibility of not being able to afford their mortgage.

Based on the survey, homebuyers reported feeling a mix of excitement and fear when shopping for a home.

Feelings Associated with Home Buying

                          All Homebuyers          First-time Homebuyers
Excited             44 percent                   47 percent
Hopeful           33 percent                   43 percent
Cautious         32 percent                   26 percent
Optimistic       28 percent                   26 percent
Happy              26 percent                   37 percent
Anxious           25 percent                   31 percent

Source: BMO Harris Bank

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Save on Splurge-Worthy Home Styles

November 5, 2014 1:15 am

(Family Features) In the design world, alternative materials that emulate high-end looks are coveted for their lower price point, low maintenance qualities and close resemblance to the real thing. For a lavish update to your home’s décor, incorporate these budget-friendly alternatives.

1. Bling
– Sparkling golden tones are on trend this season, but few homeowners have the financial means to deck out their homes with mirrors, sconces and other decorative items made of genuine gold. Fortunately, these are available in finishes that mimic the look of real gold, with price tags that won’t break the bank.

2. Trendy tile
– Instead of spending a fortune on hardwood flooring or natural stone, consider installing wood- or stone-look porcelain tiles that eliminate concerns for water damage, warping or wear and tear.

3. Natural elements – Feature walls made of natural materials like grass cloth and bark can add a unique quality to any room, but can also be damaged easily in high-traffic areas. Get the look for less by selecting a vinyl option that simulates the natural material.

4. Stylish wall treatments
–Forget expensive faux paint finishes that give the illusion of depth. Using some simple painting tools, multi-tone paint and a material such as joint compound, you can inexpensively create a stucco surface that adds genuine texture you can see and feel.

5. Touchable textiles – Contemporary designers rely on opulent textiles like leather, suede and fur to create a high-end atmosphere. Enjoy the same look without the expense by opting for synthetic versions, which prove more practical for everyday wear and tear.

Achieving a trendy, lavish style for your home doesn't have to cost a fortune, and often, imitation materials will deliver comparable results that stand up better to the test of time.

Source: Daltile

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Secrets to Savings This Holiday Season

November 4, 2014 1:51 am

With holidays often an expensive time for families, spenders should remain vigilant when shopping for gifts and household essentials. To score maximum savings, experts recommend shopping at specific times to take advantage of big sales or online bargains.

1. Beat Black Friday deals. The best way to score holiday bargains might be to wait for Cyber Monday. Last year, the biggest markdowns were on that day, followed by Thanksgiving (the biggest day for coupons), and Black Friday. Look for sales on electronics, but also expect more door busters in other categories, including clothing, home goods, and health and beauty items.

2. Buy groceries on Wednesday nights. Grocery stores often start their new sales on Wednesdays but may still honor the previous week’s deals. Many stores also get their deliveries on Mondays and Tuesdays, so shoppers should find a good selection. And shopping later in the day means that you might get extra markdowns on bakery items, meat, produce, and other perishables.

3. Scope holiday bargains. To maximize savings, shoppers should plan their holiday shopping in advance. A good first step is to sneak a peek at sales on websites such as blackfriday.com, blackfriday.gottadeal.com, cybermonday.com, and cybermonday2014.com.

4. Wait to buy. It can pay to hold off on buying toys and winter items, such as ski jackets and sleds, until the last minute because they tend to be cheaper right before the holidays. However, those who have a wish-list toy, or need a certain color and size, should not wait. Just choose a retailer that will issue a refund if the price drops.

5. Get gift cards for less. No present is easier than a gift card, especially those looking for a last-minute solution. But if they plan ahead, shoppers can buy gift cards for less at warehouse clubs like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What You Need to Know about Indoor Allergens

November 4, 2014 1:51 am

Fall is ragweed season, which causes misery for millions of people who are allergic to its pollen. In fact, ragweed is considered to be the most significant allergy trigger in the fall, though there are other plants that also release pollen during this time of year. Depending on where a person lives, ragweed pollen may be present up to and through November.

Mold is another common outdoor allergen during the fall. Piles of damp leaves or other organic material make for an ideal place for mold to grow and release spores into the air.

“For those who experience allergies all year long, they should also consider possible indoor allergens that they may be exposed to on a regular basis,” said Joseph Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Common indoor contaminants include mold, dust mites, pet dander, latex, insect and rodent allergens. Families should take corrective actions to minimize their exposure or to eliminate the source of the allergen from their home.”

These air quality contaminants can be a concern to people spending time both outdoors and indoors, as these allergens can enter homes and buildings through open doors and windows, on people’s clothes and through air intakes in HVAC systems. For some people, these same airborne allergens could even trigger an asthma attack.

When people who are allergic to these substances come into contact with them, their immune system releases antibodies that attack the allergens. Histamines are released into the body and trigger the allergic reactions common to so many people. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, “Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.”

Source: EMSL Analytical

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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