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With the winter chill just around the corner, it’s time to get your home heating system in order. A great way to start is to install a smart thermostat. Boost your home’s energy IQ with a digital thermostat that can be pre-programmed to control the times your heat is turned up and down. A smart thermostat can store six or more daily settings, automatically adjusting the thermostat without you being there to monitor it.

By reducing the temperature on your thermostat by 10° to 15° for 8 hours a day (like overnight or when you’re at work), you can save 5% to 15% per year on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Not long ago, homebuyers reigned in the housing market. Home prices dropped dramatically after the 2008 financial crisis, and mortgage rates fell to an all-time low. People who were ready and able to purchase a new home reaped the rewards of under-valued home prices and historically low mortgage rates.

In 2012, home prices were below the fair value of the properties, lower than they had been since 1998. Since March 2012, those prices have been creeping up. Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research predicts that prices will continue to climb slowly for the next few years.

Fall Lawn and Garden Cleanup Checklist

Thursday September 17, 2015

As much as you may hate to admit it, summer will come to an end. Autumn slips in, with that recognizable chill in the air and the fluttering leaves falling from trees to the ground, where you’ll have to rake them.

Nature has its way of putting the summer plants to rest before the cold weather arrives. But you still can make it easier to wake it from the winter hibernation by following this fall lawn and garden clean-up checklist.

Choosing the Right Size Home For You

Thursday September 10, 2015

When you’re house-hunting, do you ever feel like Goldilocks? This one is too big. This one is too small. How do you know which home is the perfect fit?

Right-sizing your home and your life is important to today’s homebuyers. When you factor in the maintenance, utilities, taxes, and comfort, you realize that the choice of your next home should be based on more than love at first sight.

2015 Home Interior Paint Color Trends

Thursday September 03, 2015

One of the quickest, easiest, and most affordable makeovers in your home is a can of paint. One gallon can make a big difference in the look and feel of any room. Go from dull to daring, or tone down a prior adventure into boldness.

The popularity of paint colors changes from year to year, as evidenced in the home fashions you see in the stores and online. Fashion runways aren’t the only place where color trends emerge. Home decorating is influenced by designers and manufacturers, the driving force behind the paint colors you choose.

A Woman's Guide to the Man Cave

Thursday August 20, 2015

The man cave is a space—in the basement, garage, or somewhere that the “She” of the house allows—where a guy can be a guy. He doesn’t need coasters under his drink. He has total control over the remote. And he can eat what he wants without being reminded of his diet. He can yell at the television screen all he wants, play video games uninterrupted (theoretically), and escape the daily grind.

Women don’t understand some of the things that men want to display. They might not share the passion for sports and martial arts movies. And they probably find watching hunting and fishing shows and poker tournaments about as exciting as, well, listening about them.

The very name “mudroom” conjures up unpleasant images: piles of discarded coats, shoes, boots, socks, and scarves; a trail of dirt; backpacks that certainly hold something that should be seen, read, signed, or discussed. Your mudroom is the threshold to your family’s living space, that back door entrance that brings the outdoors in, but not all the way.

If you’re ready to take off those blinders and make sense of this area, let’s talk about cleaning up in the mudroom. To get you started, here are some design ideas for your messiest space.

While Baby Boomers showed a preference in their early years for apartment living, their grown children are leaning toward the single-family home as their housing preference—whether renting or owning. A Fannie Mae report released July 1, 2015 showed that a rising number of people between the ages of 25 and 34 are occupying single-family homes.

In 2000, 50.9 percent of renters and 84.5 percent of homeowners in this age group lived in a single-family home. In 2013, those numbers increased to 52.4 and 88.9 percent, respectively. Not a huge leap, but the trend continues, according to the report, “Rent or Own, Young Adults Still Prefer Single-Family Homes”.

Unique container garden ideas

Thursday July 02, 2015

A container garden provides a wonderful way to add color and plants in any space, no matter how small. You can use planters, of course, but if you’re a gardener who likes to think outside the flower box, here are some unique container garden ideas.

Cut a hole in the seat an old chair (wood or metal), or remove it all together. Insert a pot that fits tightly in that space or staple chicken wire to the opening to provide drainage. Make sure you shape the chicken wire to form a bowl under the seat, rather than straight across. Paint the chair in colors that accent the plants in this container garden, add a hook for a watering can, and use the back of the chair to drape your vines.

It’s just around the corner. The 4th of July is a banner holiday for Americans. We celebrate our freedom and the people who have dedicated their lives to preserving it for us. While it is traditional to have a July 4th cookout, why not try a different twist on this year’s Independence Day celebration?

Family Friendly FunFest

If you’re going to have kids (of all ages) at your gathering, release your inner child. Plan some outdoor games, like cornhole with one set of striped bags and one set of starry bags. And there’s game as American as baseball, so get a whiffle ball and bat, and set out the bases before your guests arrive for a Red versus Blue battle. Check out Surfnetkidsfor more 4th of July games.

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