5 Life Hacks Using Smart Home Devices

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Clean floors and fresh java are hardly the coolest things you can get from using smart devices like robotic vacuums and automatic coffee makers in your home. Whether you’re already benefitting from smart devices or not, here are some unexpected ways you can harness this smart tech to spice up your home.

  1. Handy Diet Helper
    Door sensors aren’t just for keeping burglars out of your house—they can also help you stick to a diet plan. If you’re counting calories, try adding a sensor to the door of your fridge or cupboard where you keep all the most tempting snacks. This clever hack helps keep you honest whether you’re watching your waistline to get back into your favorite jeans or trying to improve your health after your latest physical.

Vivint offers sleek, discreet door sensors that you can easily add to any door—including your fridge and cupboard doors—and once in place, they’re barely noticeable. If you’ve tried and failed to stick to a healthy regimen, then these sensors could be the extra item you need to be accountable for your diet plan and to be as successful as possible. You can also set up alerts that let your support system of friends and family members know when you’re perusing the fridge for a snack so they can give you a friendly reminder to go for something healthier.

  1. Smart Sleep Aid
    Sometimes, you may struggle to get your zzzs, and a pattern of restless nights can affect your work, health, and attitude. Rather than turning to pharmaceuticals to get your full eight hours, try resetting your body’s natural circadian rhythm with smart lighting that mimics the sun’s rising and setting patterns.

Lighting Science offers bulbs that can make this goal easier to attain. The bulbs give off light that doesn’t interfere with melatonin production and complements your body’s biological circadian rhythm, allowing you to get quality sleep each night. Pair their nighttime and morning bulbs with a smart lighting switch like the Caséta Wireless dimmer and correlating app so you can set your household’s bedtime and wake-up calls with just the swipe of your finger. It’s an ideal solution for back-to-school season or to get ready for and recover from holiday travels.

  1. After School Assistant
    It’s tough to be at work when your little ones get home from school, but thanks to smart technology, you can now greet your kids as soon as they walk in the door—no matter where you are. Two-way video calling lets you welcome your children home, check in on homework, oversee snacks, and make sure they’re attending to chores.

A system such as the Nucleus Anywhere Intercom is the perfect device to help you stay connected. The video-enabled intercom is easy to set up and simple to use. It connects instantly, so you don’t have to wait long for your kids to answer your call. You can also use Amazon’s Alexa to connect to and control the system.

  1. Sneaky Teen Booby Trap
    For some teenagers, sneaking out of the house at night is a rite of passage, but that doesn’t make it safe. If you’re concerned about your teen prowling the neighborhood streets when they should be home, enlist the help of motion-activated lighting to keep them in check.

With Ring’s Floodlight Cam, you can capture your teen sneaking out on video. The system will even light up and sound an alarm when it detects them. These may seem like extreme measures, but there’s no better time to pull out all the stops than when your kids need to be saved from themselves.

  1. Helpful Green Thumb Hack
    Win first prize at the garden club or the county fair by putting smart tech to use in your garden. A Wi-Fi–based plant sensor, like the Koubachi, can finally help you turn your thumb green. This nifty gadget measures ambient temperature, soil moisture, and light levels to ensure your plants get the precise care they need to thrive. The paired app even sends email alerts and push notifications with the latest status of your plants along with up-to-the minute advice to keep your blue ribbon dreams on track.

You can use this one sensor to track multiple plants inside your home or out in the garden—but you need to snap this smart device up fast. The Husqvarna Group recently acquired the Koubachi company, and the current design will only be available through 2018. After that time, you’ll have access to the GARDENA smart system if you’d like to use this tech as you garden.

These life hacks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what smart devices can do for you. Start thinking outside the box with your smart gadgets and stay up to date on the huge variety of devices available. With new technology hitting the market nearly every week, there’s something out there to make anyone’s life easier, more connected, and—yes—smarter.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Practical Water Conservation Tips to Keep Your Garden Lean and Green

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

You don’t need a degree in horticulture to know that water is the lifeblood to a green, luscious garden, but the spring and summer seasons also tend to be when many homeowners see a significant increase in their water usage—and utility bills—due to efforts to help their gardens flourish. However, a great looking garden doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, you can likely rely on Mother Nature from time to time to help fuel your garden’s growth, but there are many other practical tips and strategies you should administer today to conserve water while keeping your garden in peak shape.

  1. Water Early:This is the easiest way to ensure the water that you do use goes further: water early. We’re talking around sunrise, when winds and temperatures are both low. Calm winds ensure that more water is reaching the plants in your garden and not blowing to areas around your garden. Low temperatures reduce water loss from evaporation that is more common later in the day.
  1. Maximize Rainwater/Miscellaneous Water: If natural rainfall can serve as the main source for your garden, why water? While you’re unlikely to go through a whole summer using just rainwater, there are a variety of ways you can make natural rainfall go further; for instance, integrating rainwater collectors, like the popular rain barrel, into your home’s gutter system. The main purpose of your gutters is to direct collected rainwater from the roof and disperse it safely away from your home. Why not capture this rainwater to store and use within your garden? It’s estimated that a 1,000-square-foot roof can shed up to 600 gallons of rainwater per hour in moderate rainfall.

On a related note, consider taking steps to maximize water usage in the home. For example, capture cool shower water in a bucket as you wait for it to heat, and save water used for cooking that you’d otherwise pour down the sink. You can even reuse old fish tank water. Every little bit can go a long way.

  1. Tune Up Your Sprinklers: If you water your garden with in-ground sprinklers, we encourage you to inspect the system every spring to ensure it’s operating efficiently. Adjust sprinkler heads so that water isn’t wasted on the likes of sidewalks, patios or pavement to maximize watering efficiency, and be sure that there are no breaks in the hoses that run beneath the soil. We’d also recommend integrating a rainfall sensor into your system so that you’re not watering when the garden doesn’t need it.
  1. Tune Up Your Hose: If you water manually by hose, don’t use a standard hose and nozzle. This is inefficient because of the amount of water that is lost to evaporation, runoff and mist. Instead, opt for either a wand nozzle or a soaker hose. Additionally, check the hose connection to the spigot on your home and the hose connection to the nozzle. Is either dripping when the water is turned on? If so, you’re wasting water—and likely much more than you realize. This is easily resolved by purchasing and installing a better hose fitting for either connection.
  1. Incorporate Water-Friendly Details: Finally, there are many things you can do with the plants and garden design tself to maximize water usage. Consider integrating xeriscaping techniques into your landscaping plan. Start with using native plants that are already adapted to the soil conditions at your home, and consider placing mulch around plants to reduce water runoff, minimize weed growth and help keep the soil moist. You might also consider composting, a practice that helps keep moisture in the soil for longer. Finally, consider placing plants that require more water next to each other. This way, you can better target all of them at once with drip irrigation or by adjusting sprinkler zones accordingly.

You’re never going to grow a lush garden without water, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay dearly for it in utility costs.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Are Shipping Containers the Future of Swimming Pools?

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

One Canadian couple is making a splash transforming shipping containers into backyard swimming pools. (We always knew those shipping containers were universal!)

Paul and Denise Rathnam launched Modpools earlier this year and the idea has taken off, with orders mostly coming from the hottest locales in North America, particularly California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.

“The traditional pool is a symbol of excess and waste. This is a little more modern, more modest. We’re repurposing something rather than recycling. This pool can be resold, and you can take it with you if you move,” Paul Rathnam told Vancouver Sun.

It’s an interesting concept, for sure, and the design, once installed, looks pretty slick. It’s as if your backyard was always destined to house a shipping container.

The standard size Modpool is eight feet wide by 20 feet long, and just over five feet deep. It also comes with a clear, acrylic window on one side, which is actually a pretty spiffy design element. Customers can opt to add another acrylic window on the other side for a see-through look if they want one.

In Canada, after delivery, a Modpool will cost you $35,000 plus tax, which could be a cheaper alternative for families planning on installing an in-ground swimming hole.

Would you buy a Modpool for your home? Tell us what you think!

Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at nick@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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The Basics of Buying Investment Properties

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Everyone wants a magic and immediate path to wealth. The bad news? The path doesn’t exist. Wealth is attainable through more conventional means. If you come to understand the real estate industry and if you deepen your own firsthand experience as you buy and sell investment properties, you’ll be on the road to success.

Along the road, there are six core principles that will make or break each real estate investment deal. They are the most important concepts you will learn. I call them the Big Six. With each successive deal I negotiated, I grew to recognize the common elements. The Big Six are part of a sequenced step-by-step formula that enables you to identify and purchase the right income property at the right price.

The elements of the Big Six Formula that will guide you into the basics of buying income properties are the following:

Location
Location is the single most important component of any real estate deal. It is crucial in determining your investment success. Look for properties that are situated in an “A” location. Such locations include the socioeconomic levels of the people who live or work in a particular neighborhood, its proximity to shopping centers, public transportation, crime levels, the nearness of prestigious universities and medical facilities, traffic congestion, zoning restrictions, the quality of schools, fire and police protection, and even the reputation of the local government and its officials.

Building Quality and Design Efficiency
Design efficiency interfaces with building quality. When you find an investment property you’d like to buy, you will need to scrutinize both elements. Look for properties that far exceed minimum construction requirements and that have useful and innovative design elements. This will not only make the property attractive to tenants but will add value to the property in the future. Design features on apartment complexes that stand the test of time include walk-in closets, large kitchens with windows, and his-and-her bathrooms. In an office building, a common area factor of 15 percent is desirable as well as a ratio of four parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of rentable space.

Tenant Profile
Tenants can represent either an asset or a liability in an investment. When you invest, your mission is to make sure your tenant profile is the former and not the latter. Just as you want a well-constructed and well-designed property, you’ll want stable tenants who are a good match for your property and have appropriate lease agreements. Find out how much rent is generated and whether it is at market rate or under market. You want to focus on finding an income property that offers the opportunity to increase rental income and, by doing so, multiply the value of the property so that you can resell it at a substantial profit.

Upside
This fourth element refers to the cash flow growth possibilities offered by a particular property along with the likelihood that the property will increase in value. A property may cost $1,500,000 to construct, but if it brings in only the income of a $900,000 property, then it is worth only $900,000. The key to increasing value lies in buying a solid Class B property in an “A” location where the rents are under the market, the leases are short term, and there are no options to renew the leases.

Financing
In the musical Cabaret, there is a song with the lyrics “Money makes the world go around.” It could just as easily be used to describe real estate’s role in the economic landscape. The free flow of money and access to credit is what adds vibrancy to property investment. Before you get started, you’ll need to get a number of finance-related items in order. The first thing you should do before applying for a mortgage loan is to review your credit reports and your credit scores. Also, learn the terms, understand the components of a mortgage and how they interact, and be open to the full range of financing options available. Banks and other financial institutions make money from mortgages. They are willing to negotiate. Be creative—you may be surprised at the terms you’re able to obtain from a bank or insurance companies, especially in today’s low interest rate environment.

Price
The successful evaluation of a property’s price has to do with how much information you can gather about a seller and the property than it does about the price tag on the real estate deal. You must look at the value of the property, which is not the same thing as its price. The crucial concern is not just how much the property costs, but what kind of income it can generate for you. A property may be architecturally perfect and engineeringly sound, but if you’re locked into long-term, under-market lease rates, the value will be eroded.

If you master these principles, wealth will be within reach. However, it’s not enough to just understand and utilize the Big Six. You must execute them in order. That’s because they all fit together snugly to form your customized real estate formula.

Author Kenneth D. Rosen, CCIM, is a real estate investor and the president of Kendar Realty, Inc.

Investing in Income Properties, The Big Six Formula for Achieving Wealth in Real Estate, Second Edition is currently available at InvestingInIncomeProperties.com in both hard back and digital versions. It is also available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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Retirees Turning to Custom Homes to Get the Right Space

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

As people reach retirement, their current house may simply be too big for their needs. Paying large utility bills, maintenance costs and property taxes for an older home on a large lot can often drain nest eggs and retirement funds. During a time when you have a lower income and too much house, there may come a time when downsizing to a smaller home will fit better into one’s lifestyle and budget.

Retiring to a Custom Home
When you hear about a retiree downsizing to a smaller place, most people think that the person will be packing up and moving into an apartment in a senior community or a mother-in-law suite in their adult children’s homes. Yet many retirees still want their freedom to come and go as they please in their own place. Purchasing a smaller home then becomes the ideal option.

One interesting trend is that retirees are looking to custom build a new home that is smaller in size. The retiree may be at a unique advantage of having the financial independence to cover the costs of home construction without straining their retirement funds. At this point of time in their retirement years, most retirees have already paid off the mortgage for their other home as they now own the house outright. With the home value having appreciated, they can now ask for a higher sales price that can cover the land purchase and all the home construction expenses.

Building a Home Tailored to Health Needs
Another advantage to having a custom home built is that it can be designed to current medical conditions or physical restrictions. You can work with builders and architects to design the home so that it can make your daily life easier as you grow older. The custom build may have wider first-floor spaces and hallways to accommodate mobility devices. There can be outdoor ramps by front entrances for wheelchairs and walkers, as well as lower kitchen cabinets so you can get items without having to stretch to reach higher shelves. In addition, bathrooms can be designed for retirees with physical disabilities who may have problems using the shower, tub or toilet.

You can have more flexibility when having a smaller home built with adaptable features. The custom home can be later modified for different life stages without having to deal with costly renovations later on that can be a major disruption to your daily life.

Custom Home Offering Less Maintenance Hassles
During retirement, retirees often don’t want to deal with major maintenance and repairs that are associated with larger, older homes. Even downsizing to a smaller, existing home can lead to stress as there may be significant issues with the existing house that will need to be dealt with before moving in.

By having a custom home built at a smaller size, buyers will know that everything in the house is new. They will have new wiring, plumbing, mechanical systems, appliances, a roof, a foundation and other aspects. Even if something should break during those first few months, builders normally provide a builder warranty that will cover defects and provide repairs.

Downsizing to Your Custom Dream Home
Downsizing to a custom home has many advantages. Buyers can have the home built at a chosen destination that offers everything they could possibly need during their retirement years.

It helps to perform comprehensive research regarding the real estate market when purchasing land at another location. Also, researching building plans and contractors can make the difference in purchasing a custom home built with superior craftsmanship. A real estate agent’s help can be just what buyers need to find a new place that is specifically designed for their golden years.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Don’t Let Clogged Gutters Wreak Havoc on Your Home

By Susanne Dwyer

clogged_gutters_Infog

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

As a homeowner, you undoubtedly understand just how important home maintenance is when it comes to preserving the life of your home. In fact, you probably spend a good chunk of time fixing problem areas and items both inside and outside your home.

But when was the last time you checked the gutters? While clogged gutters can wreak havoc on your home from top to bottom, maintaining your gutters and downspouts will work in your favor when it comes to avoiding conditions such as flooding, foundation damage, pest infestation, roof damage, warped/rotted window frames, siding and doors, and mold—all of which may ultimately undermine the integrity of your home.

The following infographic from Kings of Clean sheds light on the important role gutters play in the well-being of your home.


Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Cities Millennials Are Flocking To

By Susanne Dwyer

Downtown Salt Lake City skyline Utah in USA

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

There are several places in the U.S. where millennials can be found due to the high employment rates and beautiful settings. For adults who are in their 20s and 30s, there are several places where it’s smart to invest. When you’re looking to move, these are a few cities that millennials are flocking to throughout the country.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Downtown Salt Lake City skyline Utah in USA

The high job growth in Salt Lake City makes it a desirable place for young adults to live as they look to obtain steady employment. The city is affordable to live in and has a median home price of $233,000 with job growth of 2.4 percent. Salt Lake City also has a lower unemployment rate compared to other markets throughout the U.S. with 2.9 percent, which is below the national average by a few points.

Seattle, Wash.

Seattle is considered to be a hot spot for millennials, which make up 24.1 percent of the population. Its busy nightlife scene and generous median incomes of $67,000 make it an ideal place to live for younger generations. It also boasts a job growth rate of 10.8 percent. The beautiful views of the water and the long list of activities and attractions in the area are additional reasons that many millennials relocate to the city.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, USA downtown skyline over the Colorado River.

Austin, Texas, USA downtown skyline over the Colorado River.

Millennials are drawn to Austin for its real estate market, which includes homes that have a median price of $226,000. The job growth is also 4.2 percent, and it’s the second-top city in the country for the number of jobs that are becoming available. Some of the top companies that are run out of Austin include Dell, Apple and Google, making it known as “Silicon Hills.” The average median income is also $58,932, which allows many young adults to afford to purchase their first home.

There’s also a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, making the city desirable for millennials who make green practices a priority. Austin is also known for selling more renewable energy than other nations.

Charlotte, N.C.

Downtown Charlotte skyline with Marshall Park (and autumn colored trees) in the foreground.

Downtown Charlotte skyline with Marshall Park (and autumn colored trees) in the foreground.

Charlotte is one of the best places to live in North Carolina with 14 percent of the population between the ages of 25 and 34. Many of the youth are post-college graduates who have relocated to the city to seek employment and purchase a home in a neighborhood that has a suburban family profile. The draw of millennials is also causing many companies to relocate their headquarters to Charlotte in hopes of hiring talented employees.

Dallas, Texas

Photo of Dallas' skyline in the marning. Sunrise moment. Dusk.

Photo of Dallas’ skyline in the marning. Sunrise moment. Dusk.

Dallas continues to grow each year and attract young out-of-towners due to its job growth rate of 3.9 percent and median home price of $175,000. The big city boasts plenty of shopping opportunities and attractions for those who want to stay busy without spending a lot to live close to the downtown area. The city hasn’t attempted to control ride-sharing, and many places are also easy to access by walking. There are also neighboring cities that are affordable to live in for those who don’t mind commuting to work.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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Report: Proximity to Family Drives Housing Decisions for Households With Children

By Susanne Dwyer

Many upper-middle class households with young children are caught between an inability to afford childcare and an inability to sustain on one less income with a stay-at-home parent—a predicament that has a driving force on their housing decisions.

According to the Zillow Housing Aspirations Report (ZHAR), many upper-middle class households choose to put down roots close to relatives who can provide childcare, even more so than low-income households. Roughly one-quarter of upper-middle class household members surveyed for the report, as well, cite “proximity to family” as an influencer on their choice about where to live.

Low-income households do, however, struggle with childcare costs in pricey housing markets, such as San Francisco, Calif. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed overall depend on relatives for childcare.

Most households with young children are being pinched by a combination of higher housing costs and standstill income growth.

“Housing costs and childcare are among the two largest budget items for working families, costing as much $43,000 a year in urban areas and over $34,000 a year in the suburbs,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “While many Americans are tied to the places they live for a variety of personal and financial reasons, it’s necessary for some households to live near family in order to make ends meet. Sometimes extended family might move together to provide childcare, or grandparents might even follow their children when they move to a new city to help care for their grandkids.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

7 Gadgets From ‘The Jetsons’ That Have Become a Reality

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

If you were around during either run of “The Jetsons”—first in 1962 and again in 1985—you may have watched the show and wondered if the technology the futuristic family used would ever become a reality. In fact, quite a few of the gadgets used on the show have become commonplace in real life. From robotic maids to video chatting, here’s a look at how the future predicted by “The Jetsons” has become the present, and how you can get in on it today.

  1. Robot Vacuums
    The Jetsons had robotic helpers that took care of all sorts of daily tasks around the house. Rosie, the family’s robot maid, was always working to keep their home in tip-top shape. While we may not be quite at the Rosie level with our robots, little helpers like the Roomba from iRobot can get you pretty close.

Roomba will take care of the vacuuming for you. It may still need some maintenance—like emptying dust bins or making sure the floor is clear so it can do its job—but if you hate vacuuming, this little guy is going to be your best friend. These types of home automation devices promise to free up tons of time for more important activities in your day-to-day lives.

  1. Smartwatches
    Way back when Steve Jobs was just a boy, the Jetsons had little square watches they would watch TV on. While the Apple Watch doesn’t have the ability to stream television—yet—it does bear a striking resemblance to the gadget the Jetsons used almost 50 years before the Apple Watch was unveiled.

Even if you can’t catch up on your Netflix queue, today’s smartwatches have a lot of futuristic capabilities. You can take calls, set reminders, check sports scores, see weather forecasts, and do other tasks right on your wrist.

  1. Video Calls
    Another technological capability that probably seemed far-fetched at the time “The Jetsons” aired was video chatting. The characters would call each other up and communicate as if they were face-to-face. These days, apps like FaceTime and Skype make it as easy as tapping a contact name.

Of all the advances in technology that have accompanied the smartphone craze, video chatting might be the most life changing. Grandparents can see their grandkids from thousands of miles away at any time. Soldiers can chat with their spouses and children from across the ocean. The impact this tech has had on families can’t be overstated.

  1. Talking Tech
    In “The Jetsons,” George was woken up each day by a talking alarm clock built into his bed. After being rudely startled awake, he could silence the alarm with his own voice—usually an angry grunt or groan.

If you want the talking alarm clock experience, plenty of options are available. Smartphone apps like the Rock Clock allow you to rise every morning to Dwayne Johnson’s soothing vocals, while dedicated alarm clocks that talk to you are available for the old-school consumer.

It isn’t just alarms that talk, though. It’s possible to have anything on your screen read to you using accessibility tech like screen readers, and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa will not only speak info to you, but also have actual conversations with you.

  1. Flat-Screen TVs
    At a time when many TVs were still black and white and all of them were thick and bulky with tiny screens, “The Jetsons” featured flat-screen TVs with huge screens that lowered from the ceiling. In the ’60s, this would have been unthinkable.

Today’s televisions are ultra-thin and often very light with huge screens and ridiculously high resolutions. LG unveiled a model at CES this year that is less than 2.6 millimeters thick and weighs only 17 pounds—and it’s a 65-inch display!

TVs that retract into the ceiling are also a thing. Companies like Nexus 21 can install a TV concealment system that makes it impossible to tell anything is there until you’re ready to watch, keeping your walls and living space open until show time.

  1. Drones
    The Jetson kids were dropped off at school each day by robotic drones—a far cry from the school buses most of us grew up with. While we are still a long way off from personal drones to chauffeur us around, the technology is advancing rapidly, and drones are being used for a variety of purposes.

Consumer-oriented drones are basically futuristic RC cars, and military drones fly combat missions while keeping our troops out of harm’s way. Even Amazon’s delivery drones can have an order to your doorstep in less than 30 minutes. Self-driving cars are also coming along nicely, so it might not be long before these technologies converge to bring us our very own Jetsons-style transport pods.

  1. Pill Cameras
    A piece of technology that’s easy to miss both on “The Jetsons” and in everyday life is the PillCam. On the show, George swallows a little robot that travels around his body and performs a checkup. If you’ve had any sort of digestive issues in the last several years, the chances are good you may have swallowed a very similar device.

The PillCam is exactly what it sounds like—a camera in a pill-shaped case that you swallow. It can be a little hard to choke down due to the size, but once swallowed, the camera goes to work, imaging your digestive tract and transmitting the info to a receiver. This helps diagnose a variety of illnesses, like Crohn’s disease, and helps the patient avoid a much more elaborate and invasive endoscopy procedure.

“The Jetsons” first aired in 1962, and, 50 years later, the show’s futuristic vision of life has very nearly become a reality. What do you think our homes and lives will be like in another 50 years?

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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6 Ways to Keep Your Appliances and HVAC Running Strong This Summer

By Susanne Dwyer

Most people enjoy summertime, but it can take a toll on home appliances. With kids out of school, families typically use them more frequently and the heat and humidity forces them to work harder and longer. Extreme heat, summer storms and power outages can also damage appliances. All these factors can spell trouble if you’re not performing routine maintenance.

Here are six expert tips to keep your appliances and home running strong this summer:

  1. Clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils. Condenser coils help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the compressor. Dirty coils result in the refrigerator having to work harder to cool, which can result in expensive cooling system repairs.

Clean the condenser coils at least twice a year, removing dirt, pet hair, food and more. If you have an older fridge, the coils might be painted black and mounted on the back. Newer refrigerators often have the condenser coils on the bottom. It’s easy to clean them with a vacuum and a coil brush, available through SearsPartsDirect.com.

  1. Clean and inspect your refrigerator’s door gaskets. A leaky door gasket, the rubber strip that runs alongside the door to form an air-tight seal with the fridge, can result in your refrigerator trying to cool the entire kitchen rather than the food and drinks inside.

Clean the gasket with a mild cleaner and then check the seal integrity with a solution of soapy water (just like you would do with an inflatable mattress). You can also use the dollar bill approach—close a dollar bill in the door so that it is only halfway in the fridge. If your gasket isn’t tight enough, it won’t hold the bill firmly in place. If the dollar bill falls out or slides down, look at scheduling a professional to replace the gasket.

  1. Change the air filters in your HVAC system. Homeowners should regularly change their air filters, as dirty ones can lead to increased energy bills and damage systems. Experts recommend changing air filters every three months at minimum and monthly during the summer if they are dirty.
  1. Clear away debris and clean HVAC condenser coils. Condenser coils release the heat from the AC unit to the outside. Dirty coils can reduce the unit’s ability to cool your home, forcing you to run it longer and use more energy.

To clean, you’ll need a garden hose, a spray nozzle and a water source. Before you begin, disconnect the power to the air conditioner. Most AC units have a shutoff box nearby. If there’s no shutoff box, find the circuit breaker in the home that controls the AC unit and turn the power off.

First, clear away debris and trim any overgrown grass or weeds near the AC unit. There is no reason to remove covers or fins from the air conditioner to clean the coils. Simply take a garden hose with a spray nozzle and wash the fins, (the outside of the AC unit) with regular water. Start with the top and work downward, washing away debris and blockage so the coils can release heat efficiently.

  1. Clean the dryer lint trap and moisture sensors. Our expert technicians recommend you clean the dryer lint trap after every single load to ensure your machine is drying clothes as quickly as possible, which will save you time and energy. Periodically, use a dryer lint brush to dislodge and remove any lint that the screen didn’t catch and clean up with a vacuum. Every six months or so, remove and wash the lint screen to remove build up, especially if you use dryer sheets.

If the automatic cycle isn’t fully drying your clothes, you should clean the moisture sensors with soap and water to remove the chemical residue left behind from dryer sheets. This residue can build up and trick the sensors into thinking your clothes are dry prematurely. Moisture sensors are thin strips typically located near the dryer vent.’

  1. Clean and inspect your gas grill. With outdoor entertaining season here, now is a great time to make sure your gas grill is in working order. Make sure the gas is off, check the manual for how to remove the burners, then brush out the grill’s interior and burner ports with a wire brush designed for grills. When you start up the grill, let it burn for five to 10 minutes before using. Use cooking spray on the burners to prevent rust and tarnish and to keep food from sticking.

Before using your grill, you should also check for a tight seal and for leaks and cracks in the hose going to the propane tank or natural gas supply line. Use soapy water to detect leaks. If bubbles start to form, there’s a leak. If there’s a leak, replace it, as this can be a fire hazard.

Most homeowners are comfortable performing these routine maintenance tasks. If you don’t have time or want to maintain your appliances, Sears Home Services can do it for you and your clients with Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Check-Ups and HVAC Maintenance. Sears Home Services expert technicians repair and maintain more than 180 appliance brands—not just those sold by Sears.

Chip Smith is the chief marketing officer of Sears Home Services, a national provider of appliance services. Sears Home Services, the House Expert for Homeowners, has more than 5,000 expert technicians who make nearly 7 million service calls annually.

For more tips on maintaining your home, please visit SearsHomeServices.com/blog.

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