Saturday, 27 April 2013

Being Green....

Kermit the Frog used to sing “It’s not easy being green “, and with this past Monday having been Earth Day, I started to think about all of the ways I am “Green” around my home and work place.
Like most people, I recycle my cans, paper and food scraps (using Ottawa’s Green bin program); we observe energy saving times by doing larger hydro consuming tasks after peak hours and turn off all lights and non-essential electronics after use. We try not to waste water…. Being green can be fairly easy, regardless of what The Frog says, but there are always ways to improve.

Over the years, I have, while viewing homes and reading real estate industry news, come across various ideas and features that can help a home and family be more eco-friendly. Some are easy to incorporate, other projects or ideas require a bit more work or financial output but all will benefit you and your family over time, personally and financially.
Here are a few of my favourite green ideas for house and home….

Rain Barrels
When I was growing up, my grandparents had rainbarrels at the end of every downspout. They lived in a rurual setting and the water collected was an integral part of their water system and was used for all outdoor needs. For us grandkids, they were for great splashing around in on hot days. In an urban setting, rain barrels can help decrease your household water consumption in outdoor areas – they are great for watering the lawn and garden, washing the car or filling up the kiddie pool. During dry summers and municipal water bans, they are a thirsty yard’s salvation. All this and they are long lasting, easily portable and best of all affordable.

Solar Energy
Over the past year, I have started to notice more and more solar panels being erected or installed. True, most of them are in the countryside, but not too long ago, a near-by neighbour of mine had solar panels installed on two sides of his roof. What was once a very expensive technology has now become a more affordable and attainable for those interested in incorporating a renewable green energy source. I love the idea of solar energy! It is clean, very abundant and allows you to significantly cut down on your need for conventional hydro. In Ontario, there is even the possibility of selling energy produced back to the main grid. Although at this point, a solar panel on everyone’s roof isn’t a reality, I think the future possibilities are quite exciting.
Indoor Living Walls
I love plants and flowers so I was super excited when I read an article in a real estate industry publication about living walls. An interior living wall system is comprised of a variety of plants (usually),  bedding  and an irrigation system. This wall of plants, in a home or commercial space, helps clean the air, increases oxygen,  dampens noise and, during summer months, can actually help keep your interior cool.  It can also create a calm and peaceful ambience in a room helping us relax in our busy lives.   Although I don’t think that this would work in a smaller home or condo, due to moisture concerns, for larger open concept spaces, this could be a great conversation starter and beautiful d├ęcor… not to mention the possible health benefits and energy savings that could result.

I encourage you to look for new ways to be green around your home and with your family.  Whether your eco-friendly changes are big or small they can make a big difference for the environment,  and can help you save money!
Sorry this entry was so long... and a little tardy.  I do hope it has inspired you though!

Monday, 4 March 2013

What's in your Closet?

Closets are a vital part of a home’s storage space, something we all need and most of us would like more of; but when buying a house, it generally isn’t the most exciting feature you will look at.   Despite the variety of closet types – coat closets, clothes closets, linen closets, storage/utility closets and the odd pantry - it has been my experience that most buyers, when viewing homes, only give them a cursory glance; mostly to determine size and space or to note the presence or lack of shelving.
I, myself, have been guilty of not giving the humble closet its due attention and on several occasions it has resulted in some unexpected surprises. 

The most exciting - an almost near death experience, occurred during a showing of an old farm house east of Ottawa.  After touring through the home once in its entirety, and being sure to note the lovely walk-in pantry in the kitchen, we were ready to head to the next appointment. (It’s important to note that when we looked in the pantry, I had actually stepped into the closet in order to demonstrate its size to my buyer). On our way out the front door, I realized we hadn’t seen the basement mentioned in the listing info.  Back into the home we went and started opening all the main floor doors again, ending, finally at the pantry.  Again I opened the door and stepped inside.  There’s nothing here, I said. I can’t imagine where this basement would be.  Cory popped her head in the doorway and at the same time, switched on the panty light.   There… right at the edge of my toes, was the steep wooden staircase to the basement!  One tiny step forward and I would have found myself on an uncomfortably bumpy ride to the dirt floor below.  Needless to say, I learned an important lesson that day, well two, actually… the first: always be careful entering pantries in older homes, and more importantly, the second lesson, always turn on the light!

In spite of seeing many vacuums, food stuffs and sequined skirts, I have yet to encounter any skeletons in any of the closets I have viewed….but I am keeping my eye out for them… them and stairs!!!   I’ll keep you posted!