Category Archives: Real Estate

Indoor air quality: What you can’t see can hurt you

(BPT) – The Environmental Protection Agency has named indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental risks to public health citing research that indoor air may be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside. With Americans spending 90 percent of their time indoors, purifying indoor air is paramount to keeping families healthy – especially those with family members suffering from asthma and allergies.

“Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a host of health issues such as headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea, fatigue, heart disease and chronic respiratory disease,” says Chris Chase, product marketing manager at Aprilaire. “For individuals that suffer from asthma or allergies, air particles such as pollen, dust and dust mites are known triggers for asthma attacks and allergic reactions.”

More than 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma and 50 million suffer from allergies. Dust alone is comprised of dead insects, dust mites, mold spores, pollen, dander, skin flakes and other particulates that can be harmful to health. Controlling indoor air quality can provide relief for asthma and allergy sufferers and protect your family from getting sick. You can improve indoor air quality with two simple steps:

* Prevent irritants from entering the house. Take measures to make sure dust, dirt and other pollutants are prevented from entering the house. Simple activities like removing shoes before entering the household, closing windows during high pollen days and not allowing smoking indoors help keep dirt and other irritants from entering the household.

* Install a whole-home air purification system. A whole-home air purification system is installed as part of the central heating and cooling system to capture and eliminate airborne contaminants. Whole-home air purification systems remove up to 98 percent of airborne contaminants down to one micron in size and are 40 times more efficient than a standard furnace filter. Each time the air system runs, the whole-home air purification system removes dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, viruses, fungi, mold and other dangerous substances from the air throughout the entire home, rather than just the air in the immediate vicinity like a portable air cleaner.

Other important considerations include maintaining humidity levels as well as proper ventilation; especially if your home is newer or has been recently updated with tighter materials for more energy efficiency.

For more information on whole-home air purification and total control of your indoor air quality, visit www.aprilaire.com. You can also find Aprilaire on Facebook at Facebook.com/Aprilaire.

Selecting a trustworthy mover is the first step in avoiding moving day headaches


Americans are on the move. The United States Census Bureau estimates that 12.5 percent of Americans – nearly 40 million people – changed residences each of the past two years. While many turned to moving professionals for assistance, some learned the hard way that not all moving companies are created equally. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received nearly 3,000 complaints about moving companies last year alone – a double-digit increase from the prior year.

Some good news arrived in October in the form of a new law that provides additional protection for victims of rogue moving companies that hold belongings hostage in the interest of scamming consumers to pay unexpected fees. The new law gives FMCSA the authority to force the return of consumer belongings in addition to the ability to levy fines of up to $10,000 per day.

Unfortunately, our industry has been plagued by moving ‘companies’ that advertise unbelievable ‘deals’ that turn out to be consumer scams, says Jon Sorber, executive vice president of Two Men And A Truck, the nation’s largest franchise moving company. The new regulations are a welcome change for those of us committed to operating legitimate moving companies, but they are just a start. Education is really the key to making sure consumers avoid the hassle of a moving scam in the first place.

Sorber suggests consumers ask the following questions before hiring a mover:

1. Can your family, friends and co-workers make a referral? It’s likely that you know several people who’ve hired a moving company in the past year. Why not tap the resources of people you trust to share their experiences?

2. Does your mover have a brick and mortar facility you can visit? Often the “rogue” mover operates from a storage unit or perhaps with no office at all. If you are dealing with a legitimate moving company, they will have an office with trucks, employees, boxes, supplies, etc.

3. Is your mover licensed in your state? The majority of states require a formal license to operate as a mover, and selecting a licensed, insured mover is your best bet in guaranteeing a hassle-free experience.

4. What community or industry associations does the moving company have? Is your mover in good standing with the Better Business Bureau? Are they active members of the local Chamber of Commerce? Choose a mover who is valued and trusted within your community and you’ll likely eliminate any concern of questionable practices.

5. Does your mover offer free moving quotes? A legitimate mover is going to provide free estimates of your move before a single item is moved. If they refuse to do so, keep shopping regardless of how good the deal sounds.

Paul Oakley is senior vice president for Government Affairs at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the moving industry’s largest trade association. He and his team began working with Congress to develop the new regulatory provisions. Like Sorber, he believes the new laws provide some measure of safety, but cautions that more work must be done to eliminate dishonest moving practices.

The laws going into effect directly impact policing of the industry, says Oakley, but ultimately we must have safeguards that make entry into the industry more difficult, tougher enforcement against bad actors, and a greater effort needs to be made to educate consumers on how to choose a proper moving company.

Two Men And A Truck offers more questions consumers should ask before hiring a mover at www.twomenandatruck.com/moving-questions. Consumers might also consider AMSA’s Before You Move checklist at www.moving.org.

Save money and do a world of good with reusable containers



Good news. There are simple ways to save money especially if you go back to the time-honored concept of BYO – “bringing your own” container of coffee, lunch or water as part of your daily routine. This can do a world of good not only for your pocketbook, but also for the environment, and even your health. Here are some tips to get you started:

* Bring your own coffee or tea

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25 billion foam cups each year. And 500 years from now, those cups will still be sitting in a landfill. Despite the convenience of foam cups, small changes such as bringing coffee or tea in a reusable container can have both an environmental and economic impact.

For example, Genuine Thermos(R) Brand makes a vacuum insulated commuter bottle that will keep a beverage hot for eight hours or cold for 12 hours. Not only is this great for a day at the office or running errands around town, it saves the cost of purchasing beverages day in and day out. If you still like an occasional custom-made coffee or chai latte, some retailers will fill your own bottle.

* Bring your own lunch

Many grownups still have fond memories of a school lunchbox featuring their favorite TV or movie character. Bringing your own lunch in an insulated lunch carrier is a good way to keep your favorite foods fresh and tasty, and a smart way to save money. According to a report in Time magazine, bringing your lunch to work can cut your weekly costs by 80 percent.

To keep foods fresh while on the go, insulated reusable containers are an ideal option. They come in all shapes and sizes to keep snacks or lunch foods hot or cold for hours, saving you the cost of going out and making it easier to stay away from unhealthy temptations.

* Keep yourself hydrated

As you get in the habit of bringing your own reusable portable container, don’t neglect the one thing every human needs for basic good health – water – to help you hydrate throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Lack of appropriate water intake can lead to dehydration, draining your energy and making you feel tired.

The Institute of Medicine determined that adequate water intake for men is roughly 104 ounces and is roughly 72 ounces for women. Instead of purchasing bottled water in containers that will also end up in landfills, bring plenty of your own water in a portable, reusable container. One easy option for quenching thirst while on the go is the 24 oz. Hydration Bottle with Meter that is made of BPA-free Eastman(TM) Tritan and has a rotating meter built into the lid to help keep track of your daily water consumption.

Embracing the bring-your-own mentality can make a world of difference economically and environmentally. So, take the first step to “bringing your own” on May 23, which is the inaugural National Fill Your Thermos Brand Bottle Day, and celebrate the doing-good and money-saving power of the reusable container.

Three steps to an organized garage sale


OK–you finally finished your spring cleaning. You spent days sorting and purging through your belongings. You threw a few things out. You even repaired that old clock you’ve had for years. But what will you do with everything else you uncovered and discovered? If you’re willing to invest some time and energy, why not have a garage sale?

Garage sales are a great way to get rid of the things that you no longer want, need or cherish. But is it as easy as just dumping your stuff on the lawn and waiting for customers to drive by? Not if you want to make any money, it isn’t. Besides having decent-quality merchandise, the key to a successful garage sale is being organized.

Here are 3 steps for making your garage sale organized for happy customers and optimal sales:

Step 1 – Pre-Sale Organizing

• Select a weekend for your sale and make no other commitments on those days. You WILL be exhausted. Ask friends and neighbors if they would like to join you. It is a perk to be able to split advertising costs and have someone watch over your area while you’re grabbing a snack or running to the bathroom.

• Have you ever been to a garage sale where the items had no prices on them? One way of making ‘Garage Sale Day’ organized is to create a pricing system. This makes the selling easy for you and the buying easy for your customers. Purchase colored, circle-shaped labels from your neighborhood drug store or office supply store. Designate each color to be a different dollar amount, for example: Blue = $.25, Red = $.50, etc. Use white circle labels to write in prices higher than $1.00. Make signs that describe how much money each colored circle is worth. These should be posted around the area of your garage sale so you don’t have a constant stream of people asking you about prices.

• For making your system even easier, you can purchase a package of yellow, circle-shaped labels that already have the amounts $.25, $.50, $.75, and $1.00 written on them.

• Select one area in your home to be the staging area for pricing items and one area (most often the garage or an underutilized room) for storage of the items before the garage sale. Price the items accordingly using the colored, circle-shaped labels. Then move the priced objects into the pre-garage sale storage area. This space will enable you to see exactly what you have and allow you to group like-items together such as books, kitchenware, toys, etc.

•Start saving grocery store bags as well as heavy-duty shopping bags. Your customers will appreciate your preparedness and it will be easier for them to carry their new-found treasures.

• Some of these new-found treasures will be breakable. Start saving newspaper, old wrapping paper and bubble wrap. These packing materials will help your customer get their breakable purchase home in one piece.

• Borrow and gather card tables, crates, workbenches, and other horizontal surfaces for displaying items.

• Make signs and put them up on nearby streets facing oncoming traffic.

• Check with your town regarding permits for having a garage sale.

Step 2 – During-the-Sale Organizing

• Post your pricing system signs around the area of your garage sale.

• Wear clothing with pockets. Pockets come in handy for holding some or your garage sale supplies such as pens, markers, and extra price stickers.

• Wear a fanny pack around your waist. Your money will be close to your body without spilling out of your pockets. The pack should have a minimum of two pouches. Dollar bills go in one compartment and loose change goes in the other.

• Know exactly how much money you started the day with so you’ll be able to calculate exactly what you earned.

• Set up your belongings outside by category -all kid’s stuff in one area, sports equipment in another area, etc. Group items with other like items to the best of your ability. If a customer is looking for toddler toys and they’re all in one place, it’s very likely that they’ll buy more since everything they need will be right in front of them.

• Have at least one other person working with you. It is difficult to sell merchandise, wrap breakables and field questions by yourself. Take turns helping customers, straightening up the merchandise, and taking breaks.

Step 3 – Post-Sale Organizing

• Bring everything that was not sold into the room that was used as a staging area and make final decisions on whether or not to keep unsold items.

• Throw out anything that became damaged, dirty, or broken as a result of being at the garage sale.

• Donate the ‘leftovers’ to a charity such as The Salvation Army or the charity of your choice. The Vietnam Veteran’s Association will often pick up donated goods at your home.

• Clean your lawn/driveway of any debris from the garage sale.

• Count your money and determine your profit.

• Place your fanny pack, the colored stickers, your pricing signs and other supplies from the garage sale in a container. Label it ‘Garage Sale Supplies.’ Now you’re ready for your next garage sale. Job well done!

by: Stacey Agin Murray

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_5108.shtml

What’s the finishing touch on a low maintenance home? The trim

Now consumers can enhance the architectural beauty of their homes with superior-quality cellular PVC trimboard from Kleer Lumber, a division of The Tapco Group. Kleer Trimboard provides versatile solutions with wood’s aesthetic appeal without wood’s extensive maintenance. Not only is Kleer Trimboard easily installed everywhere wood trim is traditionally used, it has more applications. It’s impervious to moisture, insect infestation and other threats to wood, giving homeowners the freedom to pursue more creative trim applications and peace of mind to enjoy their enhanced home for decades.

“Kleer Trimboard delivers the authentic, rich appearance of wood coupled with the long-term durability and very low-maintenance homeowners want,” says Jack Delaney, national sales manager of The Tapco Group’s Kleer Lumber division. “With Kleer, people don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics to avoid wood’s problems. Kleer’s cellular PVC trimboard outperforms wood in every application, in every climate. Kleer Trimboard is appropriate on virtually every house, whether it’s a coastal mansion or modest neighborhood home.”

Kleer Trimboard works where roofing meets the house, around windows and doors, in contact with the ground and concrete where wood often fails, and anywhere the imagination leads, including soffits and fascia, columns and cornices. With unmatched versatility, Kleer can be machined to create intricate gingerbread and fluted pilasters and other custom applications, including heat-bending for elegant curves. Kleer trim is also a breeze to glue, route and mold using wood trim tools. Boards and other components come in multiple sizes.

Because it’s completely synthetic, Kleer isn’t susceptible to the challenges that plague wood and composite trim, including mold, mildew, swelling and rot from moisture or insect damage. Wood’s form and function inevitably fails over time despite repeated sanding and repainting. Kleer trim is easily maintained with soap and water, keeping it beautiful long-term.

Kleer’s proprietary TruEDGE technology keeps board edges cleaner through installation and beyond. And, if the edges do get dirty, they are much easier to clean than edges without TruEDGE technology. Unlike some PVC trim brands that are textured, Kleer Trimboard has a natural wood grain finish that closely resembles genuine cedar; it’s also available with a smooth finish on both sides. Available in pure white, Kleer Trimboard keeps its fresh bright appearance for decades or can be painted to match other decor. Its Limited Lifetime Warranty, which includes labor for the first two years, offers the industry’s strongest protection.

Kleer’s complete system includes trimboards, sheets, mouldings, adhesives, and concealed fasteners to finish any job. Ideal for home exteriors, Kleer Trimboard is also used for interior wainscot applications in moist spaces, including bath and laundry rooms. Kleer’s Beaded Boards and Sheets enhance and protect these areas, including ceilings.

“We’re continuously innovating and expanding the Kleer Trimboard product line, so customers have the best choices for enhancing the architecture, curb appeal, and value of their homes,” says Delaney. “The decorative possibilities are endless. Kleer Trimboard also perfectly complements Kleer Decking and the Kleer Rail PVC Railing System. No other trimboard offers Kleer’s combination of benefits – it’s the right finishing touch for every home.”

The Tapco Group, a U.S. Green Building Council member, is the building industry’s leading provider of easy-to-install, premium, innovative interior and exterior products. Serving the building industry since 1961, Tapco specializes in the manufacturing of roofing, siding, decking, railing, trim, tool systems, egress systems and siding components. The products combine versatile application, durability, vast color palettes and uncommon authenticity to exceed the expectations of contractors and homeowners.

For more information, visit www.kleerlumber.com or www.TheTapcoGroup.com or call (800) 521-7567.

Protect natural resources, utilize solar electric power


Solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, hydropower and biomass are some examples of renewable sources of energy. Using renewable sources of energy is good because these sources offer a more environmentally friendly option than utilizing fossil fuels. There will be an improvement in energy security and energy independence if people use renewable sources of energy. Also, renewable sources of energy are the cleanest and safest energy sources.

One well-known source of energy, solar energy, is an environment-friendly and endless renewable source. Also, solar power doesn’t result in the emission of harmful carbon dioxide, unlike the use of fossil fuels. The sun will be the unlimited source of energy and with the right technologies can provide sufficient electricity that could be used in every single household or even in commercial and industrial properties. 

The use of solar power has a positive effect on the environment because taking advantage of solar energy does not contribute to climate change, acid rains or any kind of pollution. When transformed from solar radiation, solar energy may be converted to thermal energy or electric power. This may also be employed in a number of applications like in agriculture and technology. At present, solar power is being utilized in two areas, namely for the production of thermal energy which can heat up water and producing of electric power by utilizing the photovoltaic cell.

Photovoltaic cells, or PV cells, capture solar energy then transform it into electricity. These cells convert sunlight into electricity by employing the energy developed when photons from sunlight push electrons into greater state of energy. Yet solar power is not limited to thermal energy and electricity because there are numerous devices which are powered by solar energy already existing in the market.

Solar energy is an excellent source of power for homes and companies, and by utilizing solar power you’re not merely protecting the environment from becoming polluted, but  you are also saving the rest of the earth’s natural resources.

One of the factors why many individuals are still hesitant to make use of solar power is because it is expensive. The initial investment of installing a solar power system for a home is not cheap. The need for a large amount of space is another reason why people aren’t considering solar power. But it is definitely worth the investment.

by: John Daviz

 Article Source:

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/environment_and_going_green/article_1156.shtml

Home improvement tips that instantly lower your energy bill

Heating, cooling and water heating are the top three energy drains in a home, accounting for 60 percent of a home’s energy bill according to ENERGY STAR, so it’s wise to focus your home improvement efforts on those areas. A few simple steps and some strategic investments can lower your monthly bill significantly, plus you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some tips for giving your home an energy-efficient facelift:

Change your home’s air filter regularly

Smart homeowners will check their home’s air filter every month to see if it needs replacing. How can you tell if it’s time to swap in a new one? Look at the color – if it appears gray or brown, or you can visibly see particles or pet fur, it’s time for a fresh one. A filter helps keep air flowing in your home and takes out dust, dander and other microscopic debris floating in the air. A dirty filter slows air flow, making your heating and cooling system work harder, costing you more money. Air filters should be replaced every one to three months.

Go beyond tankless: consider an integrated heating and water heating system

Many homeowners have heard about the advantages of tankless water heaters, but now there’s a way to be even more efficient by using the Rheem Integrated Heating & Water Heating System, which uses a Rheem tankless water heater to heat both the air and water in your home with maximum efficiency. How does it work? The system matches a hydronic air handler with a tankless gas water heater.- When there’s a demand for heat, hot water is circulated through the air handler to produce heat and is then re-circulated back to the tankless water heater to ensure that no water is wasted. This pairing of products provides a soft, comfortable heat to the home while maintaining comfortable humidity levels regardless of the climate. Also, the heating function of the system operates at the same efficiency as the tankless water heater – which could be as high as 94 percent efficient.

Lower the temperature on your water heater

To lower energy costs, consider lowering your water heater’s temperature setting. Try somewhere around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and see if that is sufficient in supplying your home with hot water for showers, laundry, dishes, etc. Each 10 degree reduction in water temperature can save 3 to 5 percent, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. If you go on vacation, remember you can turn your water heater down to the lowest setting to save even more while you’re gone and it’s not in use.

Install a programmable thermostat

Adjusting your thermostat a few degrees during the day can have a big impact on your utility bill. For example, during cold months, turn your thermostat down when you’re away from the house, such as during work. Programmable thermostats work perfectly for this – you can set your preferred temperatures throughout the week to fit your schedule and it adjusts automatically. About one-third of American homes have programmable thermostats, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If you turn back your thermostat 10 or 15 degrees for periods of 8 hours or more, such as when you’re at work, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

From changing your air filter on a regular basis to selecting an integrated system to heat your home’s water and air supply, these changes can have a big impact on your utility bill, plus they’re environmentally friendly too.

New siding improves a home’s curb appeal

Nowadays, many are choosing to live in their homes longer.  As a result, a growing number of homeowners are investing in home improvements they can enjoy themselves.  

One of the best home improvements homeowners can make is replacing  tired, old, faded siding.  According to the National Association of Realtors, replacing your siding offers an 80 percent payback or return on your investment.

One reason that new siding is such a solid home improvement investment is it instantly enhances the curb appeal of your home. There’s nothing quite like the warm feeling of driving up to your home every day and admiring its beauty.  

Siding also is a critical link to the well-being of your home. Siding is the first layer of defense against the elements, protecting the walls and interior of your home from moisture, heat and cold.

From wood clapboard and brick used widely to side homes decades ago to today’s innovative materials, such as patented Ultrex pultruded fiberglass used in APEX siding and trim, siding materials have evolved to deliver higher performance, more cost efficiency and enhanced aesthetics.  With so many choices available to homeowners today, it’s important for homeowners to do their homework when shopping for home siding.  Here are seven tips to consider when shopping for home siding:

1. Do your homework. Not all siding options are created equal. There’s a huge difference between lower cost vinyl siding products and high-performance fiberglass siding. Lower priced options often come with tradeoffs, such as a higher risk of damage in a severe storm from hail or wind, faster color fading, or lots of maintenance (repainting, caulking, etc.). Premium siding products may cost more initially, but may be far less expensive and hassle-free over the course of homeownership.

2. Have a plan. Now is the time to coordinate other exterior elements with your new siding and trim to give your home a more contemporary, updated look and feel. Consider new energy-saving windows, such as Integrity windows, a new garage door, new roof shingles and enhance your landscaping through the use of pavers, wall systems and perennial plants and shrubs.

3. Get referrals. Ask your neighbors, co-workers and friends for referrals of remodelers who specialize in replacing siding.  Interview several remodelers and always get detailed estimates before committing to any remodeler.

4. Visit homes. Replacing siding isn’t like replacing an appliance. You may only do this once or twice in your lifetime. To make sure you get exactly what you want, make sure to visit homes that have recently been resided by your contractor or remodeler. This will help you compare how different types of house siding actually look on a home.

5. Take your siding green. When replacing your siding, use siding material that is made from sustainable materials, such as sand, which will reduce the use of harmful chemicals and paints needed to manufacture and maintain it.

6. Select your colors. Choosing a color for your new siding may be the most difficult decision you’ll have to make. The good news is that today’s top-of-the-line siding offers a wide variety of bold colors from which to select. In contrast to traditional wood and fiber cement siding that requires painting and caulking every few years, new pultruded fiberglass siding offers an acrylic finish that is thicker and more durable than paint, and it resists chipping and fading. This allows homeowners to enjoy the satisfaction of their new siding with virtually zero maintenance.

7. Better moisture management. The number one thing you should expect of your new siding is it should protect your home from the elements, especially moisture. Unfortunately, some types of siding, such as fiber cement, wood and stucco, are more prone to moisture because they trap or absorb moisture behind the siding material. Instead, look to a siding that is inherently resistant to water.  Then, look to how that siding will manage moisture – behind the siding, when it’s up against the wall of your home. A siding system that provides a continuous, natural drainage plane (moisture drains harmlessly away), and allows air to circulate to provide natural evaporation is critical to decreasing trapped moisture, which creates rot and mold.

How to write a professional real estate property description that sells


There are do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing a professional property description that sells. An effective property description can determine whether or not you sell the property.

Headline:

To begin, your headline must jump out from the page and catch the attention of the buyer. Make the headline appealing with captivating and positive words.

Description:

Always begin your description with the selling points of the property. List the best features first to keep the attention of the buyer. Use adjectives to spice up the description. For example, instead of stating dining room, try spacious dining room for your family to gather and share a meal. Let the buyer know why they will want the selling points of the house.

It’s important to sell the area to potential buyer as well. Are you selling to someone looking for a single family home or a multi-million dollar estate? Highlight points in the area that appeal to your buyer like schools, shopping, public transportation, etc.

Location:

Include the geographical area in your description. Many buyers are looking to buy in a specific area.

Price:

Including the price of the property is especially important for the sale by owners. Price inclusion is also a way to screen potential buyers.

Call to Action:

End your description with encouraging words for buyers to call you. Give them a reason for a call to action. “This beautiful property will go fast, call now for more details.”

Wording:

Choose your words wisely and keep them positive. Certain words sound better and are more appealing to potential buyers. For instance try cozy instead of small.

Now that you know what should go into an effective property description, you need to know what shouldn’t. Avoid the following:

* Spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes

* Uncommon abbreviations

* Clichés

* Jargon

* Passive voice

* Over the top vocabulary

Write in the present tense and make sure to include words like you and your in your description. This way potential buyers will feel as though you are speaking directly to them.

by: Rose Manning

Article Source:

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7348.shtml

How to truly make your patio an extension of your home

If you’re like many
homeowners, you consider the patio an extension of your home. So it’s fair to ask: Would you be just as comfortable nestled in with your favorite book or preparing a meal in your outdoor space as you would in your living room or your kitchen? As you contemplate ways to improve your outdoor area, think about projects that can both extend the hours you spend outside and make the time you spend there more relaxing.

Just as technology continues to make life indoors easier, more sophisticated awning systems, heating options and lighting can make your outdoor space that much more pleasant. Here are a few areas to consider as you plot your next round of improvements for your outdoor living space:


  • Temperature control: One of the best ways to make your patio pleasant for more of the day – and more of the year – is to add simple temperature control features. If you live in a place where it gets uncomfortably hot during the summer, install misters around your favorite sitting areas to cool things down. Likewise, if you often find yourself heading inside because it gets too chilly in the spring and fall, a few strategically placed overhead heaters can extend your patio season.


     

  • Shade matters: Awnings and umbrellas also play a huge role in regulating the temperature and comfort of your deck or patio. And now, shading options have become more sophisticated and easier to maintain than ever before. You’ll never have to worry about damaged awnings on a windy day with a motorized awning system with wind sensors that work together to automatically retract your awnings when winds become too high. Retractable awning systems can also be accessorized with sun sensors that signal motorized awnings to open as soon as the sun rises, keeping your outdoor space cool from the start of the day. If adding a hint of warmth is needed, simply install an awning heater. All of these accessories can be managed by the same remote that controls your motorized awning. With a system like this, you can leave the days of fiddling with fussy patio umbrellas behind.


     

  • An outdoor kitchen: No patio is complete without a grill, but do you find yourself making frequent trips inside for other prep work? Make outdoor cooking easier by adding a prep island that can be placed near your grill. And if you really want to go all out, look for options that feature outdoor sinks or small refrigerators hidden under the counter-top.


     

  • Entertainment connectivity: Well-placed speakers can bring the stereo sound of your indoor system out. By upgrading your system so it can be controlled from your wireless device, you can bring the conveniences of your digital music system outdoors and eliminate the need to get up to turn up the volume or flip to the next song.


     

  • Take look at your lighting: High-powered outdoor lights on sensors might be helpful when you’re bringing in the groceries at night, but patio entertaining calls for a little more subtlety when it comes to lighting. Consider zero-energy solar-powered fixtures around the perimeter of your patio for a gentle ambiance to light up your evenings. Motorized systems can also be connected to your lighting, allowing you to adjust brightness as needed from the comfort of your patio lounger.


Now is the perfect time to plan for next year’s patio season, and with the right improvements, you can make it the most comfortable one yet.