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Wendy Dowling's Blog

By Wendy Dowling | Agent in Sarasota, FL
  • Top 10 Ways to Conserve Water

    Posted Under: Going Green in Sarasota County, How To... in Sarasota County  |  August 6, 2011 6:15 AM  |  526 views  |  No comments

    As the summer peaks, things keep heating up. Whether it’s your pool, the kids’ sprinkler, or your wilting flowers, water usage notoriously skyrockets at this time of the year. Here are some great ways to conserve water - inside and out:

    1. Don’t overwater your lawn.
    An easy test to tell if your lawn needs water is to simply walk across the grass. If you leave footprints, it's time to water. In fact, fewer, deep-soaking waterings encourage deep root growth and stronger turf. And don’t water on windy days when evaporation is greater.

    2. Water in the early morning.
    As much as 30% of water can be lost to evaporation by watering during midday. Put mulch around trees and in gardens to further prevent evaporation.

    3. Set your lawn mower one notch higher
    to make your lawn more drought-tolerant.

    4. Shut the water off when shaving or brushing your teeth.
    Use Post-it notes as friendly reminders above the sink.

    5. Use a broom instead of a hose
    to clean your sidewalk, driveway, or patio.

    6. Forego the hose and wash your car with a bucket and sponge instead.
    According to EPA WaterSense, a hose left running can waste as much as six gallons per minute while a bucket and sponge uses only a few gallons to do the job. Try driving your car onto the lawn when you wash it and water your lawn at the same time!

    7. Use the trash can.
    By using the garbage disposal less and the actual garbage more, you can save 50 to 150 gallons of water a month.

    8. Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are full.
    If you have a water-saver cycle, use it.

    9. Use a timer when showering.
    This will be particularly difficult to reinforce with teenagers but worth the effort—an extra five minutes in the shower could mean another 50 gallons down the drain! Use a moderate stream or, better yet, a low-flow shower head that has maximum force using minimal water.

    10. Regularly check your toilet, faucets and pipes for leaks and have them fixed promptly. An easy test for toilet leaks: Place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If the color tints the water in the bowl without flushing, there's a leak. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.

    As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have a wealth of real estate and homeownership information that may be of help to you. Feel free to contact me any time to learn more about this important information, and be sure to forward this article on to any friends or family that may be interested as well.

  • Smart Lighting Choices for Inside and Out

    Posted Under: Going Green in Sarasota County  |  July 22, 2011 4:37 PM  |  367 views  |  No comments

    Smart Lighting Choices for Inside and Out

    No matter how great a room looks during the day, the right lighting makes all the difference at night. Effective lighting can even bring the not-so-favorite areas of your home to life, whether it’s indoors or out. The right type of lighting can make a difference not only in mood and atmosphere, but in efficiency and cost as well.

    The U.S. Department of Energy offers the following guide to lighting options. Consider these options before remodeling an interior room or updating an outdoor area:

    Incandescent bulbs
    – The most common type of home lighting, incandescent bulbs light instantly, provide good light and color rendition, and may be dimmed as desired. Although they are the least expensive to buy, their short life and low efficacy compared to other lights may make them more expensive in the long run.
    – These bulbs use 25% to 35% of the energy used by incandescents and last about ten times longer. Improvements in technology have eliminated the flicker and noise associated with old fluorescents, delivering color temperature and color rendition comparable to incandescents. This lighting is great for kitchens and workrooms.
    Compact fluorescent lights (CFL)
    – These curly looking bulbs produce the same light as incandescents at just 20% of the power. They are a great choice for your lamps in most living areas.
    Halogen lights
    – Burning brighter and hotter than incandescent bulbs, halogen lights produce brilliant white light and have a longer service life. But they are more expensive and their hotter temperature could be hazardous in certain areas.
    High intensity discharge lights
    – These provide the highest efficacy and longest service life of any lighting type, and can save 75% to 90% of lighting energy when they replace incandescent bulbs. Because they take a few minutes to produce light when first turned on, they are best for areas where they stay on for hours at a time.
    Outdoor solar lighting – These lights are easy to install, are virtually maintenance free, and provide totally free electricity. Using solar cells, they convert sunlight into electricity, which is stored for use at night.

    As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have a wealth of real estate and homeownership information that may be of help to you. Feel free to contact me any time to learn more about this important information, and be sure to forward this article on to any friends or family that may be interested as well.

  • TOP 10 Green Design Trends For Your Home

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Port Charlotte, Curb Appeal in Port Charlotte, Going Green in Port Charlotte  |  October 7, 2010 3:00 PM  |  748 views  |  No comments

    Top 10 Green Design Trends for Your Home

    As the green movement gathers steam, many homeowners -- and soon-to-be homeowners -- are exploring ways to become environmentally conscious within their living spaces. Greening your home is not only a responsible thing to do but can also boost your home's value when it comes time to sell.

    These days, there are an increasingly wide range of products that purport to offer a variety of environmental values but fall short when it comes to style. As a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, however, I have access to many credible sources on the subject, such as Robin Wilson, a pioneer in the eco-friendly design sector, and Vickie Gilstrap, vice president of color and design for Mohawk's Residential Business. They offer the following areas to zero in on when greening your home ... while, of course, being mindful of design.

    1. Carpet. Did you know that one out of every four recycled plastic bottles is made into carpet? That's more than 3 billion bottles each year! Choose carpet made from renewable or recycled materials.
    2. Paint. Create a cozy space by painting an accent wall in a warm earth tone like cocoa or cinnamon. Choose paint that is non-toxic and contains little or no volatile organic compounds.
    3. Pillows. Use certified organic fabrics to create window treatments or accent pillows. You'll be surprised at the variety of colors and patterns available.
    4. Floors. When choosing hardwood flooring, using reclaimed wood adds a touch of antique, natural beauty to your home.
    5. Counters. Look for those made from recycled glass, ceramic or sustainable bamboo. Use them in both your kitchen and your bathroom.
    6. Accessories. Don't just throw away your older items -- breathe new life into vintage pieces instead by pairing them with fresh accessories. Reupholster an old arm chair or add an accent pillow to give it a fresh, new look.
    7. Lighting. Install dimmable compact fluorescent lights, which can consume up to 75% less electricity and last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.
    8. Bathrooms. A new shower curtain can update the entire look of your bathroom. Opt for nylon, which is one of the more eco-friendly materials available.
    9. Faucets. Look for faucets with the WaterSense label, which can save the average household more than 500 gallons of water each year and hundreds of dollars in utility bills.
    10. Bedrooms. Transform your bedroom with eco-friendly bedding. Duvets, shams and linens are available in organic materials and recycled yarn.

    Thankfully, manufacturers are answering the consumer demand for eco-friendly products that are also beautifully designed.

    For more information or to share your ideas on great green products for the home, please e-mail me. And be sure to pass this email on to your other eco-conscious family and friends.

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