Is Your Ceiling Fan Set for Summer?

We’re not talking about the speed your ceiling fan is set on, we’re talking about the direction your fan blades are moving.  Yes, it matters.

How do you figure out what direction they should be spinning during the summer months?  It’s easy, just stand directly below your fan and see whether it’s spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise.  In the summer months a ceiling fan should be spinning counter-clockwise.  Ceiling fans add comfort to your home in the summer months by distributing cool air evenly throughout a room.   A fan going counter-clockwise recirculates the cooler air that settles near the floor level, up to your ceiling fan and back onto you!  This can lower your energy usage in the summer months by up to 15%.

I know, it’s a little confusing… which is why I hope these diagrams be helpful.

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Green Cleaning Recipes… a safer way to clean!

Anyone can green clean if you know how!
Green cleaning is when you do not use any harmful chemicals or abrasive products to clean your home. Did you know you could have bleach quality clean floors without having to endure the harsh odor and harmful toxins contained in bleach? With green cleansers you don’t have to put harmful toxins into your home or the environment, this this sounds like a win-win situation!

But how do I make these green cleansers?
These recipes are easier than baking sugar cookies! You just need to purchase the right ingredients. I’ve included a few clever recipes below.
(the following green clean recipes were found at: http://ecocycleecobuzz.blogspot.com/2011/03/diy-eco-friendly-cleaners-are-as.html)

Five basic ingredients that serve as the building blocks for many safe home cleaning needs
1. Baking Soda – Cleans and deodorizes. Softens water to increase sudsing and cleaning power of soap. Good scouring powder.
2. Borax – Cleans and deodorizes. Excellent disinfectant. Softens water. Available in laundry section of grocery store.
3. Soap – Biodegrades safely and completely and is non-toxic. Available in grocery stores and health food stores. Sold as liquid, flakes, powder or in bars. Bars can be grated to dissolve more easily in hot water. Insist on soap without synthetic scents, colors or other additives.
4. Washing Soda – Cuts grease and removes stains. Disinfects. Softens water. Available in laundry section of grocery store or in pure form from chemical supply houses as “sodium carbonate.”
5. White Vinegar or Lemon Juice – Cuts grease and freshens.

Now for those recipes….

Household Cleaner
Mix together:
1 tsp. liquid soap (castile, peppermint)
1 tsp. borax
Squeeze of lemon
1 qt. warm water
OR
¼ c. baking soda
½ c. borax
½ c. vinegar
1 gal. water
For surfaces that need scouring, try moist salt or baking soda and a green scouring pad.

Window Cleaner
Mix together:
2 tsp. vinegar
1 qt. warm water
OR
2 tbsp. borax
3 c. water
Rub dry with newspaper to avoid streaking.
Disinfectant
Mix together:
¼ c. borax
½ gal. hot water

Kitchen/Bathroom Cleaners
Oven Cleaner
Mix together: ¼ c. baking soda
2 tbsp. salt
Hot water, as needed to make a paste.
Let paste sit for 5 minutes. Caution: Keep off wires/heating elements.
OR
2 tbsp. liquid soap (castile, peppermint)
2 tsp. borax
1 qt. warm water
Spray on oven and wait 20 minutes, then clean. For tough stains, scrub with very fine steel wool and baking soda.

Drain Cleaner
Pour together: ½ c. borax in drain followed by
2 c. boiling water
OR
¼ c baking soda down the drain, followed by
½ c. vinegar
Cover drain and let sit for 15 minutes. Follow with 2 qts. boiling water.
OR
Use a plumber’s “snake” and boiling water.
Toilet Bowls
Pour: ¼ c. baking soda into bowl and drizzle with vinegar.
Let sit for ½ hour. Scrub and flush. Add borax for stains.

Air Fresheners
Neutralizing Odors
Commercial fresheners work by masking smells, coating nasal passages and deadening nerves to diminish sense of smell. Instead:
• Find source of odors and eliminate them;
• Keep house and closets clean and well-ventilated;
• Grow lots of house plants;

Simmer: Cinnamon sticks; Orange peels, cloves and water
AND/OR
To absorb odors, place 2 to 4 tbsp. baking soda or vinegar in small bowls in refrigerator and around the house and pour ½ cup baking soda in the bottom of trash cans.

Rugs/Floors
Rug and Upholstery Cleaner
Sprinkle corn meal, baking soda or cornstarch on dry rugs and vacuum. Use club soda or soap-based rug shampoo.

Carpet Cleaning Foam
Mix together: ¼ c. vegetable oil-based liquid soap
3 tbsp. (or more) water
Whip ingredients in bowl with egg beater. Rub foam into problem areas of the rug. Rinse well with water.

Floors
Mix together: ½ c. white vinegar
1 gal warm water
Polishing with skim milk after floor is dry will make the floor glow!

Pets
• Feed your pet one tablet (or 1 tbsp.) brewers yeast daily to give the skin a scent that fleas avoid.
• Place cedar chips around bedding area.
• Comb with flea comb.

Laundry
When making the initial switch from a detergent to a soap laundry cleaner, wash items once with washing soda only. This will eliminate detergent residues that might otherwise react with soap to cause a yellowing of fabrics.

Laundry Soap
• Add 1/3 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate) to water as machine is filling. Add clothes. Add 1 ½ cups of soap. If the water is hard, add another ¼ cup soda or ¼ cup vinegar during the first rinse.
• Add 1/3 cup washing soda to water before placing clothes in machine and substitute soap flakes or powder for detergent. Add ½ cup borax for additional cleaning power.

Pre-soak
Soak heavily soiled items in warm water with ½ cup washing soda for 30 minutes. Rub soiled areas with liquid soap.

Fabric Softener
Add 1 cup vinegar or ¼ cup baking soda during final rinse. To reduce static cling in tumble-dried synthetics, dampen hands when folding or line dry instead.

Spray Starch
Dissolve 2 Tbsp. cornstarch in 1 pint cold water in a spray bottle. Shake before each use. For delicate fabrics, dissolve 1 package unflavored gelatin to 2 cups of hot water. Dip a corner of the fabric into the solution to test; if fabric becomes sticky when dry, add more water.

Dry Cleaning
Buy items you can wash or clean on your own. Most dry cleaning solvents, such as perchloroethylene are toxic. If you must dry clean, air clothing out thoroughly before bringing indoors. Many garments whose labels specify “dry clean only” can be safely hand-washed using mild soap.

Spot Removers
Here are alternatives to enzyme pre-soaks and bleach for tough stains. Test each of the following remedies on a corner of your fabric first. Wash after application.

Heavy Soils
Rub with solution of 2 tbsp. washing soda in 1 cup warm water.

Fruit and Wine
Immediately pour salt or hot water on the stain and soak in milk before washing.

Ink
Soak in milk or remove with hydrogen peroxide.

Coffee
Mix egg yolk with luke-warm water and rub on stain.

Lipstick
Rub with cold cream or shortening and wash with washing soda.

Mildew
Pour strong soap and salt on the spots and place in sunlight. Keep the spots moist, and repeat as often as necessary.

Soiled Diapers
Pre-soak in 3 tbsp. baking soda dissolved in warm water in either a diaper bucket or washing machine.

Grease
Pour boiling water on stains and follow with dry baking soda. Also try ammonia and water.

Blood
Soak in cold water or remove with hydrogen peroxide. For a more stubborn stain, mix cornstarch, talcum powder or cornmeal with water and apply to stain. Allow to dry and brush away.

Chewing Gum
Rub with ice. Gum will flake off.

Rust
Saturate with sour milk (or lemon juice) and rub with salt. Place in direct sunlight until dry, then wash.

Scorches
Boil scorched article in 1 cup soap and 2 qts. milk.

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Why Home Warranties are Essential!

Many Homeowners carry insurance for major disasters like fires and floods, which rarely occur, yet often neglect to carry a Home Warranty plan to cover the more common expenses of home ownership.

The good news is, your home was sold to you with a Landmark Home Warranty!  This means you can call us when your air conditioners, heaters, dishwashers, ceiling fans, and other commonly used household items and major appliances inevitably fail, or need repair.

Here is a quick run-down of some of the most popular items we cover:

  • Heating and Cooling Systems
  • Water Heaters
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Plumbing Leaks & Stoppages
  • Electrical Systems
  • Garage Door Openers
  • Washer & Dryer
  • Ceiling & Exhaust Fans
  • Swimming pools, saunas, and spas

Everyone’s plan is unique, so please check your Contract to see what coverage options are specific to your plan.  If you don’t have all the coverage you need, make sure you add those options onto your plan at the time of Renewal!

Other Benefits of a Landmark Home Warranty

  •  Substantial Savings on household repairs
  • Quick and Easy “one-call” response when a covered item stops working
  • Qualified Contractors and technicians for plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and major appliance repairs
  • Best-in-Class Customer Service, with in-house customer service reps who are friendly, responsive, and knowledgable
  • Easy Claim Submission, online or by phone

Be sure you make the most of your home warranty plan!  Should a covered system or appliance fail, please call us first and allow us to take care of these issues for you.  To expedite the claims process, register your warranty now at www.landmarkhw.com/register.

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$500 IN ENERGY STAR REBATES

Do you qualify?
If you purchased ENERGY STAR appliances that have been “placed in service” in 2011, then you’re eligible.  It’s important to note that the IRS defines “placed in service” as when an appliance was installed and ready for use in your home.  If you purchased your appliance, but have not yet installed it, then the rebate would not apply at this time.


Here’s what to do:
You will need to file the 2011 IRS Form 5695 and submit it with your 2011 taxes (by April 15, 2012).  This form applies a 10% rebate for money spent on ENERGY STAR installations in your home, capped at $500.

You will need to save your receipts and the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement for your records. This statement is a signed statement from the manufacturer certifying that the product or component qualifies for the tax credit. Manufacturers should provide these Certifications on their website. If you’ve searched their website, and are not seeing it, call the manufacturer. The EPA does not have copies of the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement, so you must obtain it from the manufacturer directly. It is not required that you submit a copy along with your tax return, but you must keep a copy for your records.

Other Special Offers and Rebates from ENERGY STAR Partners:
To encourage customers to buy energy efficient products, ENERGY STAR partners occasionally sponsor special offers, such as sales tax exemptions or credits, or rebates on qualified products. Partners also occasionally sponsor recycling incentives for the proper disposal of old products. The link below will direct you to ENERGY STAR Partner rebates in your area, just enter your zip:

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator

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Who wants to detangle the lights?

Hey, who wants to detangle the lights?  Anyone??

Did you know that stringed lights (generally speaking), are made to be used for no more than 90 days? So, if your lights are more than three seasons old, they may need to be replaced next year.  The smart thing to do is to toss the lights now, and shop the post holiday sales for new ones.

I know, I know, but what about the lights that still have plenty of use in them?  You want to store them away, but don’t want the hassle of detangling them next holiday season. We hear you!  Here are some quick and easy ways to store your lights that will have you thanking yourself next December.

1. Empty Wrapping Paper Tubes
Cut small slit in each end of the wrapping tube. Thread the end of one set of lights through the slit and wrap the lights along the tube. Thread the other end of the lights through the opposite slit in the tube.

2. Cardboard Squares or Anvil
Cut cardboard into a square or anvil shape. Cut a slit in one side and thread the end of a set of lights through the slit. Wrap the lights around the cardboard, threading the other end back through the slit.

3. Light Reels
Your local home improvement store will offer a variety of light storage reels. Some come with their own storage bags.  They range from $10-$30, and can hold up to 300 feet of indoor or outdoor lights!

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What is R-410A and why does it matter to you?

Since 1987 the EPA has been phasing out R-22 (commonly called Freon), the coolant most frequently used in air conditioning units, because it’s thought to be bad for the environment and an ozone depleting agent.  The air conditioner required in your next real estate transaction may require R-22 as the coolant.  The EPA believes that R-22 will be readily available until at least 2020;  but with production restrictions, the service industry will tell you that R-22 and relative parts have become more expensive and more difficult to acquire, with lower supply.

One widely accepted alternative is a coolant called R-410A (commonly called Puron), however air conditioners that are made for performance with R-22 are not compatible with other coolants, like R-410A.  Modifying the unit to maintain compatibility with R-410A is an option, however (and depending upon the unit) those modifications can cost $1000 or more.

Gladly there is a solution to this problem you, or one of your clients may have to face on an upcoming transaction.  At Landmark Home Warranty, the air conditioner is included Standard at only $300.00.  Also included Standard:
“If R-22 parts or systems are no longer available, Landmark Home Warranty will repair the failed component with R-410A equipment and cover the cost of modifications necessary to maintain compatibility.”

Not all home warranty companies share our stance on this issue.  So give your clients peace of mind, with us!  Check us out at http://www.landmarkhw.com, or give us a call at 866.306.2999.

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Energy Auditing Tips

Did you know that the typical US family spends about $2000 a year in home utilities?  A big portion of that is in heating and cooling of the home; which makes Energy Auditing so important for every home owner.  The following tips are from http://www.energysavers.gov.

• Check the insulation levels in your attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces. Visit http://www.energysavers.gov for instructions on checking your insulation levels.

• Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home.

•Check for open fireplace dampers

•Make sure your appliance, heating and cooling systems are properly maintained. Check your owner’s manuals for the recommended maintenance.

• Study your family’s lighting needs and use patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas such as the living room, kitchen, and outside lighting. Look for ways to use lighting controls—like occupancy sensors, dimmers, or timers—to reduce lighting energy use, and replace standard (incandescent) light bulbs and fixtures with compact or standard fluorescent lamps.

If you don’t have the time to conduct an Energy Audit yourself, contact your local utility company.  Often times they offer audit services, either free, or for a small fee.

Once you have audited  your home for energy efficiency, you can formulate a plan to fix the big energy wasters in your home.  Don’t feel overwhelmed.  If money is tight, start small.  Choose to correct the top 3 energy wasters in your home.  Small corrections can equal BIG savings.  Happy auditing!

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