Friday, September 25, 2015

Unusual Recyclables

I hate waste. I try to compost, recycle and reuse everything I can, but I often have items I just have to trash. Don't judge - I recently threw away the last shirt I had from high school. No, it wasn't neon and yes, I got my money's worth.

Bet you never knew you could recycle these items:
  • Brita Water Filters - Preserve Products takes the plastic casing and turns them into toothbrushes.
  • Carpeting (nylon) - Carpet Recovery can put you in touch with a carpet-reclamation facility near you.
  • Crayons - Crayon Recycle Program makes whole multi-colored and solid crayons from stubs.
  • Denim - Blue Jeans Go Green turns denim into environmentally safe insulation.
  • Greeting Cards - St. Jude's Ranch for Children creates new cards from the old ones and sells them to fund programs to support abused, neglected and homesless children.
  • Inhalers - Complete the Cycle breaks down inhalers to reuse the aluminum and plastic.
  • Juice Pouches - TerraCycle will turn these otherwise non-recyclabes into purses and tote bags.
  • Keys - Key for Hope collects old keys to see as scrap and uses the money to stock food pantries.
  • Pantyhose - No Nonsense recycles pantyhose and tights into things like toys, carpet and playground equipment.
  • Sneakers - Reuse-a-Shoe takes old running shoes and turns them into court surfacing.
  • VHS Cassettes - GreenDisk dismantles and shreds the tapes and turns them into other items.
Items that you are done might be useful for someone else. It's pretty easy to find organizations who will take your items and donate them to other folks who may need them, like hearing aids, wheelchairs, eyeglasses, etc. The Freecycle Network is another way to reuse items. Volunteers in each zip code connect people giving and needing stuff in their area.

Spend just a minute to find out where your item can find new life. It's really just a matter of changing your habits to think about extending the usefulness of products instead of adding to the landfills.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Fall Honey-Do List

Regular maintenance on the exterior of your home is an important, if sometimes mundane, seasonal task. With just a little bit of effort this fall, you can reduce costly repairs in the future and maintain the value of your home.

A stitch in time...
  • Look for blistering or peeling paint on siding and trim. Scrape, sand and paint as soon as possible to prevent water damage.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts and make sure drainage extends out past the foundation of your home to prevent snow and ice from getting into places where they can cause unseen damage.
  • Check your foundation for cracks and caulk where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house, and around window and door frames.
  • Inspect your roof for cracked or curling shingles, or hire a professional to do it. Check the flashing around chimneys and skylights to keep out the snow and ice.
Ice dam build up
  • Check the insulation in your attic. If you have less than R-30 (11" of fiberglass or rock wool, or 8" of cellulose) you could benefit from adding more. Snow and ice melting too quickly off of your roof can cause ice dams to form at the eaves which can ruin your roof.
  • Weather strip your garage door to keep out small animals and prevent drafts.
  • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected. Companies sometimes offer introductory deals as low as $35.
  • Have your fireplace cleaned and examine the insert door seal to reduce the risk of fire and build up of poisonous gases.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Buy new units if the smoke detectors are 8-10 years old and the carbon monoxide detectors are 5-7.
Fall negligence - spring disaster
  • Turn off the water to exterior house bibs and blow the water out of the sprinkler system to prevent burst pipes.
  • Be sure any handrails around decks or porches are sturdy as folks use these more in the snow and ice.
That's done. Now reward yourself with a beverage on your deck.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, September 4, 2015

Project Sunroof: Google's Latest

Now Google can help you decide if it's worth it to get solar panels on your home. Well, they can help if you live in San Francisco, Fresno or Boston, the areas where the rollout has begun. Project Sunroof estimates how much you could save by going solar, and how much it might cost you.

Since Colorado isn't on the list, I used my sister's San Francisco address to test it out. Here's a bird's eye view of her neighborhood with a color key - purple is shade and yellow is sun.

Since she's only lived there a few months, they don't yet have a very good picture of her monthly electric bill, which is a self-set field on the Sunroof site to more accurately estimate savings. I'm going to go with $150 based on some anecdotal evidence and some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. San Francisco turns out to be a good place to start looking at potential solar savings, not just because it is in Googleplex's backyard. Residents of the city paid 64% more than the national average per kWh in July of this year. In fact, prices have exceeded the national average by at least 60% in the past 5 years.

With this information, Project Sunroof estimates that 62% of my sister's electricity could be offset by solar panels of 4.25Kw, or 300sqft (which may just fit on the 305sqft available, Google optimistically figures). This percentage is based on daily analysis of weather patterns in the area that conclude there are 1,410 hours of usable sunlight per year shining down on their heads and roofs.

It also informs her that she can lease with zero money down and see an annual savings of $500, or $10,000 over the course of the 20-year lease. Alternatively, she can buy the system for $12,000 upfront and, while it will take 8 years to see a return on investment, in 20 years she will realize $21,000 in savings. From there, you can link to a list of solar providers in the area.

The site is easy and clear, and hopefully can take some of the hesitancy out of the decision for consumers, some of whom still look at solar power like my mom looks at a smartphone. Google says they will continue to expand availability over the next few months.

By the way, what do you think of Google's new look? I prefer the old serif font, myself.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or