The Ultimate Guide to Water Heaters at Home

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The Ultimate Guide to Water Heaters at Home

Everything you need to know about water heaters from our friends at Home Depot

Water heaters are one of those appliances that usually sit forgotten in a basement or utility room until something goes wrong. When it does, it can put a serious crimp in your lifestyle.

If you’re faced with a broken unit, the goal is to get a new heater in place as quickly as possible. Because water heaters are big-ticket items, it’s smart to think about the kind of water heater you want before it’s time for a replacement.

Water heaters, on average, use 17 percent of a household energy budget. That’s more than any other home appliance, so it’s important to know how they operate. This guide will show how the most common types of water heaters work and what to consider when it comes time to replace the unit.

Homeowners are increasingly shopping around for water heaters with energy saving and “smart” features.

Water Heater Basics

Water heaters come in three broad categories: conventional tank, tankless and hybrids.

Storage Tank Water Heaters. These are the most conventional water heaters. An insulated tank keeps water at a preset temperature—usually around 120 degrees—until you open a hot water tap. As you use the water, cold water flows into the tank to be heated. Tank water heaters vary in capacity from 20 to 80 gallons. They are powered by electricity, propane gas, natural gas or oil. In electric units, heating elements located inside the tank heat the water. Gas and oil water heaters contain a combustion chamber located under the holding tank. A flue goes up through the center of the tank so that combustion gases can be vented to the outside.

Most gas water heaters rely on the natural draft of a chimney to vent the unit, but some models have a direct vent system where a fan expels the combustion gases. These types do not need a chimney and can be vented through a pipe that runs horizontally through a sidewall.

A conventional gas storage tank water heater

Tankless Water Heaters. Unlike tank models that keep hot water on hand, tankless heaters heat up the water when you call for it, eliminating the wasted energy it takes to keep water at a set temperature. The Department of Energy estimates that for a family that uses about 40 gallons of water a day, a tankless heater is 24 to 34 percent more efficient than a conventional tank model. But the efficiency does drop off considerably if you use a lot of hot water.

“These heaters are perfect for some lifestyles, but not all,” -Merle Henkenius, a licensed master plumber.

Compared with a full-size tank, tankless heaters are small. They can be hung on a wall, freeing up floor space. They are powered by electricity or gas. Tankless heaters are available in both indoor and outdoor models.

A whole-house tankless water heater.

Hybrid Water Heaters. This is a catch-all term that includes heat pump water heaters, condensing units and indirect water heaters. Most hybrid technologies were developed to make water heating more energy efficient.

*Heat Pump Water Heaters. These use electricity to extract heat from the surrounding air to help heat the water in the tank. A heat pump works like an air-conditioner in reverse. An air conditioner pulls warm room air into the unit, removes the heat from the air, and then dumps heat that it extracted from the room air outside. Rather than dump the heat, a heat pump water heater uses the extracted heat to warm the water. When the heat pump cannot handle the demand, backup electric elements take over. These units are extremely energy efficient.

*Condensing Water Heaters. These are available in both tank and tankless models and are powered by gas. These units use some of the hot gases created during the combustion process to heat the water, rather than venting all of the gas to the outside.

*Indirect Water Heaters. In these systems, the water heater storage tank is connected to a boiler or furnace. The unit heats fluid that is circulated to the storage tank, where a heat exchanger warms the water.

*Solar Water Heaters. These circulate fluid through rooftop solar collectors. The fluid heats the water in the storage tank.

Smart Water Heaters. A few manufacturers have developed water heaters with WiFi capability, meaning you can control them through a smartphone or tablet. These products are more sophisticated than standard water heaters. They have electronic controls and thermostats, making them more precise and easier to use. They can also run diagnostics on themselves to spot potential problems.

Home appliances, including water heaters, are increasingly outfitted with WiFi capability to enable money and energy-saving control from your devices.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Water Heater

When it is time for a new water heater, a good place to start is to consider what you have now. If the old unit provided plenty of hot water and you were satisfied with it, consider simply replacing the unit. Even if you install a standard tank water heater, the new model will probably be more energy efficient than the old one, thanks to updated energy standards that went into effect in 2015. However, there are many more energy saving options available to choose from. If you are unsatisfied with your water heater’s performance, you may want to consider one of the alternatives mentioned above.

The following are other important considerations for this major purchase:

Warranties

Water heaters come with warranties. In general, the longer the warranty, the more the unit will cost. Expect to see warranties from 6 to 12 years, but lifetime warranties are available. Choose a model with a warranty you are comfortable with.

Sizing for Tank Water Heaters

Residential tank water heaters, including heat pump water heaters, vary in capacity from 20 to 80 gallons. Of course, meeting the local building code is one aspect of sizing a unit. Another rule of thumb is to base the size on the number of people who regularly use hot water in the house.

Here’s a guide:

NUMBER OF PEOPLE IDEAL GALLON CAPACITY
1-2 23-36
2-4 36-46
3-5 46-56
5 or more 56 or higher

How many people live in the house (or could live there in the future) is a factor in determining the size water heater that you need.

In addition to tank capacity, you should consider the First Hour Rating of the unit. This tells you how much hot water the unit will provide during a set period. Think of your household first thing in the morning. The water in the heater is at its set temperature. Then people start using the hot water. As they do, cold water rushes into the tank, mixing with the remaining hot water. The water heater senses a drop in water temperature and clicks on. All at once, hot water leaves, cold water enters and the unit works to keep up with the changes.

The First Hour Rating takes into account the size of the tank, the efficiency of the heater and even the temperature of the cold water entering the tank. It can help determine the size of the heater you need based on peak demand periods. You will find it listed on the yellow energy label attached to the water heater and in the manufacturer’s literature.

Sizing for Tankless Water Heaters

Because there is no storage tank, tankless models are sized by the gallons per minute (GPM) of water they can deliver. Find the right size for you by estimating your peak water demand. You may have to consult with a plumber to estimate your demand, but here are some averages for various plumbing fixtures.

Shower and Bathtub 2.5 GPM
Clothes Washer 3.3 GPM
Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks 2.2 GPM
Dishwasher 1.3 GPM

Source: Energy Star  http://www.energystar.gov/products/water_heaters/water_heater_whole_home_gas_tankless

Homes in colder climates may require more powerful hot water heaters.

You will also need to consider the temperature of the incoming water to determine how much the heater needs to raise the temperature of the water. Cold water temperatures range from an average of 35–40 degrees in the extreme North to 65–70 degrees in the South. The difference between the incoming cold water and the hot water leaving the unit is called the temperature rise. The maximum GPM for a unit may be 8 or 9 GPM, but if the unit must raise the temperature 70 degrees, the effective GPM could be cut in half. The manufacturer’s literature will provide GPM at different incoming water temperatures.

Energy Efficiency

There are two ways to pick a water heater based on energy efficiency. One is the EnergyGuide Label that comes with each unit. It displays the estimated cost for running the unit when compared with similar models. If the label shows the Energy Star logo, it means the appliance exceeds basic requirements and meets more stringent criteria for energy efficiency.

The other is to consider the water heater’s energy factor (EF), which you can find in the manufacturer’s literature. This number reflects the efficiency of the heater in converting fuel—natural gas, propane and the like—into hot water. The EF is expressed as a decimal. An EF of 1 means that 100 percent of the energy is converted to hot water. For example, an efficient gas storage water heater might have an EF of .75. Some tankless water heaters can have an EF of .90-plus. A heat pump water heater might have an EF of 2.5 or higher, which means the heat pump produces more energy than it consumes.

Here’s how products that meet minimum energy standards that went into effect in April of 2015 compare with products that meet minimum Energy Star requirements.

Type of Water Heater New Minimum EF Requirements Energy Star EF Requirements
50-Gallon Gas Water Heater 0.60 > 0.67
50- Gallon Electric Water Heater 0.95 > 2.0
Tankless Water Heater 0.82

0.90

Sources: DOE National Appliance Energy Conservation Act; Energy Star Product Criteria: http://www.energystar.gov/products/water_heaters/residential_water_heaters_key_product_criteria

In general, highly efficient water heaters cost more than conventional models. A heat-pump water heater can cost three times that of a conventional heater of the same size. But energy efficient products are designed to reduce energy use and save money in the long run.

Tax Credits

Federal tax credits for energy efficient appliances, including non-solar water heaters, apply to items purchased in 2015 and 2016, but the credit is scheduled to expire at the end of 2016. You can claim 10 percent of the cost of the unit up to $300.

The items that qualify include heat-pump water heaters with an energy factor that is equal to or greater than 2, and gas and oil water heaters with an energy factor that is greater than or equal to .82, or a thermal efficiency of at least 90 percent.

Those who install solar water heaters can earn a 30 percent credit. The solar credit expires at the end of 2021.

If you install energy efficient equipment in your home, check the local utility for other rebate programs.

Installations

While water heaters are not particularly complicated devices (especially conventional models with a storage tank), they should still be installed by a licensed plumber. A plumber will be familiar with the local building code requirements, and he will be able to handle any problems that may crop up.

One thing to keep in mind if you plan on swapping out an old unit with a new one of the same size: If the water heater was manufactured after the new energy requirements went into effect in April 2015, it may be an inch or two larger in height and circumference. Manufacturers beefed up the insulation on units to help meet the new requirements. It is something to keep in mind if space is tight around an old water heater, and another reason to hire a pro to install the unit.

To protect your home and family, hire a professional when installing a new water heater or conducting significant repairs.

Here are some items that may be required with your new water heater.

  • Building Permit. If you or your contractor applies for a permit, the finished installation will be inspected by a building inspector. This is one way to help ensure you have a safe installation.
  • Dedicated Shutoff Valve. If there isn’t a valve attached to the cold water line just before it enters the water heater, the plumber will install one. The valve lets you shut off water to the water heater for maintenance and repairs without disturbing the rest of the home’s water system.
  • Expansion Tank. When water inside the tank is heated, it expands, creating more volume. That extra volume has to go somewhere. In a “closed” plumbing system, the expanded volume that would normally backflow into the main water supply is blocked by a valve. The pressure builds up within your home’s plumbing system, and that’s where the expansion tank comes in. It contains a bladder with pressurized air on one side. It gives the extra volume of water someplace to go. When you turn on a hot water tap or the water in the tank cools, the pressure is relieved.
  • Earthquake Straps. Some building codes, particularly in the West, require that water heaters be anchored to wall studs or approved blocking with metal straps.
  • Drip Pans. Even if they are not required by code, drip pans are a good idea, especially if a leaky tank will cause damage. Most contain a drain fitting so that you can attach a hose to the pan. You can also get a battery operated leak detector that can be placed near the water heater or in the pan for under $20. This will alert you if there are problems.

The life expectancy of a typical unit is 10 to 20 years, depending on the type and model. Ensure you get the best performance possible: Carry out simple maintenance tasks, and know when to call a plumber. Read the manual carefully and perform any routine upkeep required to make the most of your unit’s lifespan.

How to Reduce Water Heating Costs

Here are tips for reducing water heating bills.

  • Replace old equipment with energy efficient models.
  • Install low-flow shower and faucet heads.
  • Reduce the water temperature in your water heater by adjusting the unit’s thermostat.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.
  • Choose water saver cycles when using the dishwasher.
  • Fix dripping hot water faucets.

Priceless: A Presidential Property

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Priceless: A Presidential Property

As this year mark’s the centennial of JFK’s birthday, we’re showcasing the home where the 35th President was born.

The following is a guest post from Danielle Schlesier of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Brookline, MA

Tucked away on one of Brookline’s most sought after tree-lined side streets is a five bedroom, 1 ½ bathroom house where no one has lived for more than 50 years. And despite its potential value in today’s hot real estate market, 83 Beals Street is not for sale and likely won’t ever be.

That’s because the home is where our 35th president, John F. Kennedy, was born 100 years ago on May 29th 1917. The National Park Service, which now owns the house, tells its story this way:

The three-story Colonial was built in 1909 and in 1914 Joseph and Rose Kennedy bought it for $6500. According to Jason Atsales, Lead Park Ranger, Rose once described the home: “It was a nice old wooden-frame house with clapboard siding; seven rooms plus two small ones in the converted attic, all on a small lot with a few bushes and trees. It would have blended perfectly into most of the Main Streets of America.”

Photo credit: National Park Service

Three years later, Rose gave birth to their second son John in the upstairs master bedroom and three years after that the family moved to a larger home three blocks away. The house changed owners in 1928 and again in 1944 and 1953. Although each owner made improvements, the layout for the most part remains original.

The Town of Brookline commemorated the President in 1961 with a plaque outside the home and according to several news reports it became a gathering place for mourners after his assassination. In 1966 Rose Kennedy along with her nephew bought back the house for $55,000 and began redecorating it as she remembered it looked in 1917. Rose then donated the house to the National Park Service and, on what would have been Kennedy’s 52nd birthday, it was officially dedicated as the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site.

Imagine, however, if Rose’s vision never came to be and the house continued to change hands. In today’s market it is quite valuable. But by today’s standards – as we in real estate like to say – it “needs updates.” There’s certainly no granite or stainless steel in the kitchen; in fact, the stove is combination gas and coal burning and there’s a wood ice box instead of a refrigerator. The first floor living area layout is definitely not open concept and there is no master suite. But the bones are classic and the location near Coolidge Corner is desirable. Comparing it to recent sales in the neighborhood, if it were to go on the market today it could likely be listed for $1.5 million even without any updates.

“I often say that because a president was born here though, ‘that it’s priceless’ (corny, I know)–but it seems to go over well with the crowd,” said Atsales.

I’d have to agree. Of course, the Realtor in me would be the first in line to compete for the listing. But the Brookline resident and history buff in me appreciates Rose’s foresight for the gift she gave us to enjoy for generations to come.

You can learn more about this year’s JFK Centennial Celebration by visiting: https://www.nps.gov/jofi/planyourvisit/jfk-100.htm

The Homes of Abraham Lincoln

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The Homes of Abraham Lincoln

So in honor of Lincoln’s new status as a pop culture icon, here’s a look at some of the places our 16th President called home:

Abraham Lincoln is making a comeback. I’m not quite sure he ever really went away, but Hollywood & authors alike seem to be lauding this Founding Father more today than in recent memory. In honor of President’s Day let’s take a look at some of the places our 16th President called home:

 

Knob Creek Farm

Knob Creek Farm in Hodgenville, KY
This farm house is the one that Lincoln often mentioned as the place he most remembers as a child. Abraham Lincoln was 2 years old when his parents moved to this 230 acre farm land because it had fertile soil for the Lincolns to farm. The original home was torn down back in 1870, but this replica was reconstructed in 1930. Looks like log cabins can stand the test of time.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Home of Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln in Springfield, IL
This home in downtown Springfield, IL was the early home for Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. History tells us they bought the home for a mere $1,200 and some land from Rev. Charles Dresser who was also the person that married them just two years before. The home was originally smaller than what you see pictured, but the Lincolns had some additions made to it to accommodate for their growing family.

Willard Hotel in Washington DC

Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.
So the obvious next home would be the White House, but a little known fact is that Lincoln actually stayed at the Willard Hotel prior to his presidential inauguration. In fact, Lincoln arrived here a bit earlier than expected when an assassination plot was uncovered and he was diverted from some appearances in Baltimore and instead sent to D.C. sooner than expected. The Willard Hotel was Lincoln’s residence for about 10 days prior to his inauguration and used the hotel as his home base for selecting cabinet members and is the place where Lincoln wrote his inaugural address. According to Abraham Lincoln Online, today the hotel maintains a small historical display in a hallway just inside the northeast entrance where you can see a copy of Lincoln’s $773.75 hotel bill which he paid with his first paycheck as president

For more info on Abraham Lincoln, visit Abraham Lincoln Online.

Photos courtesy of AbrahamLincolnOnline.org

The ABCs of Smart Home Technology

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The ABCs of Smart Home Technology

Don’t know where to start with smart home technology and devices? We’ve compiled an A-to-Z dictionary to help guide you to pro status.

Is 2017 the year you make your home smart? It might seem like a large undertaking, but today’s smart home products are easier than ever to install and use. We’ve compiled an A-Z guide to smart home technology, buzzwords and trends below:

A is for Automation – Dreaming of a ‘Jetsons’ home? Today’s smart home technology can do everything from order your groceries to dim your lights, and the technology is only getting better by the day. Check out some of the newest products unveiled at this year’s CES.

B is for Buyers and Sellers – Smart home products are beneficial to both buyers and sellers. That’s right – you can leave pre-installed smart home products in the home you’re selling. A 2016 survey by Coldwell Banker found that 44% of Americans believe smart home technology should already be installed in homes for sale.

C is for Cost-Savings – You probably already know this, but smart home technology can save you money. Smart thermostats can reduce unnecessary cooling and heating expenses and smart lighting can help you curb your energy consumption and reduce your electric bills.

D is for Don’t Want to Get Up – We all have our lazy moments. Imagine you never had to get up to turn off the lights before bed. Imagine you didn’t have to leave the warmth of your blanket to turn up the heat. Smart home tech enhances life’s simple comforts.

E is for Entertainment – Smart TVs, sound systems, content streaming, gaming and more. Smart home technology expands the possibilities for how we lay back and relax at home. You’ll never binge watch your shows the same way after you see them in high definition clarity and connected to your smart sound system and streaming system.

F is for Fridge – How many times have you gotten to the supermarket and realized you left your grocery list at home? Imagine you could look inside your smart fridge from your phone to see what was missing? These are the possibilities available with today’s suite of smart refrigerators.

G is for Green – We’ve already covered the cost-saving benefits of smart home technology. Beyond saving you some green, it can help reduce your home’s environmental impact and help you go green!

H is for Hubs – You might have heard of things like Apple’s HomeKit, Samsung’s SmartThings and Google’s Thread. These three are examples of hubs, which help connect multiple smart home devices across many brands and capabilities under one platform, simplifying your smart home experience.

I is for Integration – You may have heard a lot of buzz around the word smart home integration, which goes hand-in-hand with hubs. Integration means multiple products are able to work along with one another. An example is an Amazon Echo working with your Nest thermostat.

J is for “Just for the Tech Savvy”This is actually a big smart home myth! Smart home technology is for everyone along all ends of the technology spectrum.

K is for Kit (the Smart Home Staging Kit, that is) – Did you know that Coldwell Banker curated the first-ever Smart Home Staging Kit? The kit includes a Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect, Nest Cam, August Smart Lock, August Connect and Lutron Caseta Wireless Lighting Products. The kit is available at SmartHomeStaging.com, or you can speak to a Coldwell Banker agent to take advantage of exclusive promotional pricing.

L is for Lighting – One of the most popular smart home categories is smart lighting. Much of today’s technology can help you control your home’s lighting remotely via a smart phone app. Some products can help you transform a room using dimming features to create a more dynamic and versatile living space.

M is for Mainstream – Smart home is now in the mainstream, but it isn’t too late to hop on the bandwagon. Think about areas of your home that could use a convenience upgrade and take a leap. Bring your home into the 21st century!

N is for News – Coldwell Banker lived stream news about smart home technology straight from the floor during CES 2017 this year in Las Vegas. Now you can check out Blue Matter for everything you need to know about smart home in 2017.

O is for One At a Time – Introduce new smart home products one at a time so you can get acclimated and learn each device’s functionality. Our agents turned smart home gurus agree and suggest starting with one product you know will improve your day-to-day life if you are skeptical of adding smart home features. Dip your toes into the pool before you dive in!

P is for Presents – While the holidays have come and gone, smart home technology can make a great gift for a loved one or friend throughout the year. Check out our most recent smart home gift guide!

Q is for Q&A – Of course, it’s normal to have questions. The good news? Coldwell Banker launched a first of its kind smart home education program in consort with CEDIA. This makes our agents the foremost experts in all things smart home – and more than willing to answer your questions.

R is for Real Estate – Coldwell Banker has been attending and sponsoring CES for the past three years. Why is a real estate company investing in a tech show? Smart home technology is no longer a prediction for the future – it is in our present, and is a growing part of the real estate industry.

S is for Security – Smart security cameras, smoke alarms, door locks and more. There is a smart home product to protect every corner of your home whether you are near or far.

T is for Thermostats – Smart thermostats can control both your heating and cooling. Besides the cost-saving functionality we discussed earlier, these thermostats can also make your home a bit cozier before you arrive. You can control your A/C remotely to turn on a few minutes before you arrive home on a sweltering day. Same goes for your heat on a particularly frosty day.

V is for Voice Control – According to our 2017 Smart Home Marketplace survey, voice control is the next big thing in smart home technology. 72% of Americans who have smart home products – controlled remotely by a smartphone, tablet, computer or by a separate automatic system within the home itself – want voice control. Voice control technology has quickly evolved with the advent of platforms like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.

W is for Wi-Fi – At the root of all smart home technology is Wi-Fi. All of these products require an internet connection in order to function with the devices around them and your smart phone.

X is for XOXO – how you are going to want to thank your home after it’s decked out with smart home technology.

Y is for You – It’s up to you! Once you make the decision to introduce smart home elements to your home, installing smart home technology can be a fun DIY project.

5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Carpet Clean

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5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Carpet Clean

For those times when guests forget to leave their shoes at the door…

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

Carpets make your home feel welcoming and cozy. But carpets also take a lot of abuse from day-to-day life. Here are five easy ways to keep your carpets clean.

#1 Buy a Good Vacuum

Your vacuum is your first line of defense against dirty carpets. Follow these tips to stay ahead of dust and dander:

  • Look for vacuums with easy-to-empty canisters and strong suction.
  • Vacuum at least once a week.
  • Go slow and steady to ensure the vacuum is getting up dirt.
  • Don’t ignore corners.

#2 Use Good Spot Cleaners

You can use a variety of spot cleaners to keep your carpets clean. Use the following around-the-house cleaners for DIY stain removers:

  • Hydrogen peroxide foams up when it contacts blood. This lifts the stain and allows you to dab it away.
  • Laundry detergent cuts grease and allows you to blot messes away.
  • Shaving cream also helps to lift stains. Let the shaving cream set for 30 minutes and then blot it away with a dry cloth.

It’s important to remember to blot your carpet stains. Rubbing blemishes only spreads stain-causing liquids. Blotting uses a small amount of pressure to soak up the stain.

#3 Buy Organic Cleaners

Organic cleaners remove messes without using harmful chemicals. This is especially important for homes with small children or pets. The residue left behind by dangerous cleaners can pose a threat to certain family members. Also, many organic cleaners don’t leave behind strong chemical odors.

#4 Hire a Maid Service

One of the keys to keeping a clean carpet is staying ahead of the mess. Hiring a maid for several hours each week is a simple — and labor-free — way to keep your home spotless. Also, professional cleaning services remember to clean the easily forgotten areas of your home that can become major mess magnets.

#5 Time Your Cleanings

The early spring months are the best time to begin a deep clean of your carpets. You’ll be able to remove all the grime and dust that accumulates in the winter before the summer humidity arrives. Humidity traps moisture in your carpets and can cause mold and mildew growth.

The Sweetest Way to Kick Off Valentine’s Day at Home

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The Sweetest Way to Kick Off Valentine’s Day at Home

We found the best recipes for breakfast on Valentine’s Day

In case you haven’t noticed yet, Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year. Yuck, a Tuesday. If you are anything like me then going out for a nice dinner (or worse cooking one) after a long day at work sounds anything but romantic. That’s why this year I am flipping the script and focusing on kicking the day off with something sweet and what better way to do than with breakfast at my favorite place in the world…my home.

Last year, 11 Sweet Breakfast in Bed Ideas was one of our most popular posts in February so I decided to write a version 2.0. This year’s theme is all about Red Velvetand these recipes are sure to make breakfast on Valentine’s Day, or any other day for that matter, extra sweet. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Waffles | Go Eat & Repeat | Recipe Here

3 Words… Cream Cheese Glaze (mmmm)

Red Velvet French Toast | Cafe Delites | Recipe Here

What I love most about this picture is the fact that Karina added a few raspberries to the plate. In humble my opinion the fruit on this dish basically cancels out the rest of the calories.

red velvet pancakes valentines day breakfast

Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls | No. 2 Pencil | Recipe Here

Dessert for breakfast…yes please!
red velvet breakfast cinnamon rolls

Red Velvet Crepes | Six Sister’s Stuff | Recipe Here

Close your eyes, take a bite and imagine yourself vacationing in Paris.

Red velvet crepe

Red Velvet Pancakes | DAN 330 | Recipe Here

Short stack or full…whichever you choose will  be a delight!

red velvet pancakes

Red Velvet Donuts | Homemade Hooplah | Recipe Here

While most donuts are fried these are actually baked, so don’t feel bad when you reach for seconds.

red velvet donuts

Red Velvet Nutella Hearts | I Love to Cook | Recipe Here

N U T E L L A!!! Need I say more?!

Red Velvet “Skinny” Shake | Mom on Time Out | Recipe Here

You and your honey can satisfy your sweet tooth with this recipe for 2!

5 Top Home Improvements that Pay Back When You Want to Sell

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5 Top Home Improvements that Pay Back When You Want to Sell

When renovating, it’s important to consider resale value. Here are five top home improvements with the highest return on investment according to Renovation Magazine, and where in the country to implement them for the biggest resale boost.

Whether you’re renovating to sell, or plan on enjoying the results for years to come, you may want to consider which upgrades will give you the greatest return in terms of resale value — which may change depending on where you live. Here are five top home improvements with the highest return on investment according to Renovation Magazine, and where in the country to implement them for the biggest resale boost.

1. Attic Insulation

While arguably not the most exciting upgrade on the list, boosting the R-value in your attic through some extra insulation has the potential for a huge return — earning back on average 117 percent of the cost to install across the nation — and who wouldn’t want to be up money at the end of the day?

Attic insulation plays a huge role in your home, from preventing ice dams in the winter to keeping your home cooler in the summer, which is why it can garner up to a whopping 144 percent return in very hot or cold climates (think New England or the Gulf Coast). But, no matter where you live, if you’re looking for a renovation that will impact your comfort and resale value, this is the one.

2. Stone Veneer

Since first impressions are so important in real estate, it’s no surprise that three of the top five renovations on the list have to do with ramping up the curb appeal of your house. Manufactured stone veneer is generally used to replace the bottom third of siding on a home’s exterior to provide an earthy, modern touch. Though it is a good bet no matter where you are, with a 93 percent return on average, homeowners right up the Pacific Coast could make back more than the cost of the renovation come selling time.

3. Garage Door

Whether you’re going for a traditional, carriage house feel, or sleek and modern, a new garage door is a fantastic upgrade, which will garner a nearly 92 percent return on investment nationwide. There is really no area of the country where a new garage door is an ill-advised renovation; however, homes in colder climates would benefit from an insulated door, versus their Southern counterparts.

top home renovation garage door

Image Source: StockSnap.io

4. Steel Entry Door

Upgrading your front door is one of the fastest ways to increase curb appeal and create an inviting entrance to your home. It’s also a great investment with an average return of 91 percent. If your home is already equipped with a steel entry door, consider new hardware and a fresh coat of paint to create a budget-conscious version that will create similar results.

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel

If you were wondering when we’d get to what is widely considered the most important room in the house, you’ll be happy to know that spending money on a minor kitchen remodel will actually produce a bigger return than a major overhaul, with an average return of 83 percent versus only 65 percent for a major upgrade. What’s more, if you live in the Pacific, or South Atlantic regions of the country, you will earn even more for your kitchen reno — up to 103 percent in fact, which will help you enjoy the fruits of your labor even more. Keep in mind, that a minor kitchen remodel is defined as using the existing cabinets, but replacing cabinet fronts and facings, hardware, appliances, sink, and floors.

kitchen renovation

Regardless what you choose, keeping an eye on resale when you renovate, even if you don’t plan on moving, will protect your home as the largest investment you will likely ever make — and ensure that the payback for these top home improvements is there for you when you need it.

The 2017 Housing Market: What Lies Ahead

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The 2017 Housing Market: What Lies Ahead

As we look to 2017, Real Estate Market Specialist Les Christie outlines trends and factors that will impact housing and real estate.

The United States is at its strongest economic position in almost a decade. GDP jumped by 3.2% year-over-year in the three months ended September 30. The nation’s unemployment rate skidded to 4.6% in November, its lowest level since August 2007. Hiring is so good that more Americans are quitting their current jobs than at any time since the Great Recession hit.

Most of these workers are leaving their old jobs because they have found or think they can find jobs that pay better. The median weekly wage rose 3% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2016. That may not sound like much, but it clearly outpaces inflation, which hit a two-year high of 1.7% in November.  More people are working and workers have more money in their pockets.

Fed is bullish

The Federal Reserve feels so good about the economy that it raised its benchmark rate on December 14 by a quarter percentage point and vowed it would probably raise it three more times next year.

Fannie Mae, the government-run mortgage giant, forecast in November that the nation’s GDP will grow again in 2017. That momentum will be spurred by consumer spending; personal consumer expenditures will increase a predicted 2.2% and residential fixed investment will go up more than 3%.

That should help keep the nation’s housing markets on an upswing as many of the potential homeowners who have stayed on the sidelines for years due to uncertainty over their jobs or incomes will finally take the home-buying plunge.

According to Duncan, first-time buyers have upped the demand for homes as many more millennials have begun to form households of their own. He expects that investment in new single-family home building will boost the national economy. That follows years of troubles in the industry, which had served as a drag on economic recovery.

Building an industry back up

In past recessions, the construction industry suffered, but it usually led the charge back to normal. Home building still lags the boom year 2005, when nearly 1.3 million new homes were sold.

Building is still being held back by several factors. For one thing, financing is harder to obtain than in the past. Builders can have everything else in place, but fail to find construction loans on reasonable terms. For another, good help has gotten harder to find. Many industry vets aged out of their jobs by the time builders were hiring again. Others found work in different jobs.

Lack of inventory will continue to hold the housing market in check, with demand for homes outpacing supply.

10 Surprising Ways to Find More Space in Your Home

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10 Surprising Ways to Find More Space in Your Home

An organized home is a happy home.

By NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

So real talk…how did your 2016 resolutions go? It’s that time of year again when we break out the running shoes, eat healthier for a couple of weeks and pledge to get our lives more organized. However, how are we supposed to eat healthier if our pantries are over flowing or be inspired to hit the pavement every morning if we are looking at piles of clothes? To lead a more organized and inspired life in 2017 the clutter around you must be cleared. It’s simple, if your home is organized your mindset will be too.

A clean and balanced home is actually a launching pad for all of your other resolutions. So if you are already starting to fail at your self-resolutions try this home resolution – find more space in your home by clearing out the clutter. Follow these ten tips and I promise you it will inspire you to complete your other resolutions and lead you to a more organized, happier year!

1The pantry. Create room by removing the large and awkward food packaging. Purchase clear, air-tight containers, take the box of your food item, and cut out the product name, nutritional facts and expiration date. Tape them to the inside of your clear container and then seal the food.

2. The pantry shelves. Arrange the food on your shelves to help keep your resolutions. Make “first choice” shelves for the food that you want to stay on that diet. Make shelves that are for the kids snacks or foods that you’re just not going to have on a regular basis anymore… You get the idea –some shelves are just for the once a week treat. Some are for every day.

3. The pantry. If you like to buy in bulk, put the bulk of your paper goods in another location, perhaps a closet or the garage, and place only what you need in your pantry— restock as needed.

4. The kitchen. When storing pots, pans and other durable items, stack them on their sides like files. This simple step not only creates more room, it also allows you to see exactly what you need. Caddies or sorters from a shelf or container store are great tools for vertical organizing

5. The dresser. Place clothing in drawers vertically (not the traditional horizontal piles) because it not only maximizes space, it allows you to find items more quickly. You can purchase wooden planks or plastic planks to use as dividers. This way you can see all of your clothes at once when you open the drawer.

6. The closet. If your shoes don’t have a place they end up in a pile taking up valuable space. Place shoes and accessories in clear plastic containers so you can see everything and tape their photo to the inside of their container with photo facing out. This little step gives you triple duty: more space, you can find it easily and better still you can put it away in the exact same spot for next time that hot date rolls around…

7. Use color to keep it straight. Organize your closet and drawers dark to light. It can be great way to find out that you really have way too many black blouses… and you can keep your resolution of being a kinder gentler you by donating the extras!

8. The kids’ rooms. Purchase bed raisers for under-the-bed storage. You can store everything from shoes, laundry basket, books and any bulky items that might otherwise clutter their room.

9. The baby’s closet. Is there room to add another bar? Take advantage of the fact that baby clothing is smaller and if you can, add an additional bar to hang the clothing to maximize space. You can purchase premade closet organizers that you can customize to make the most out of baby’s closet.

10. The best trick to more space in your home, less is more! So if you find you have extra things laying around, throw a reverse housewarming party! You will be starting a new party trend. Set aside your unwanted items and instead of having your friends bring a housewarming gift, they are to pick one of your items and take it home with them. This is a great way to reunite with friends, find your unwanted things a good home, and de-clutter all at the same time!

Now that the clutter around you is cleared your mind will be clearer to meet all those 2017 goals!

Your Home’s January Honey Do List

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Your Home’s January Honey Do List

Start 2017 off on the right foot with this list of January resolutions for your home.

Ah, the month of resolutions! Your personal honey do list is sure to be filled with ambitious goals for 2017: get back to the gym, take control of your diet, but what about your home? This month, we’ve rounded up a January to do list to make sure you start the year off on the right foot at home.

1.  Nix Indoor Condensation – Look for indoor condensation on windows and take corrective action. For 7 ways to reduce humidity in your home, check out this great video from Andersen Windows & Doors.

2.  Make a maintenance calendar – Review warranties and product material to check on recommended maintenance for furnace, equipment, appliances, and tools. Mark your calendar to track scheduled upkeep and service.

3.  Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize – After the holiday decorations come down, your walls can feel a bit dull and empty. January is a great time to add new home decor accessories, like fresh throw pillows or framed photos of the past year’s activities.

4.  Get ready for the big game – Now’s the time to get ready for the ultimate game day. Here are 5 winning football party ideas that will score big.

5.  Organize your files – While most paperwork is now maintained digitally, it’s still important to make sure you’re organized and backed up. Take an afternoon to sort through online statements, contacts and emails that piled up over the holidays. And after all of that hard work, be sure to back up to a hard drive or cloud service.

6.  Sort and toss – Take time to sort through your toiletry products in the bathroom and food items in the pantry. Toss anything that is old or expired and start fresh for the new year.

7.  Warm up your home – In many parts of the country, we’re dreaming of ways to add a little extra warmth around the house. Whether it’s adding weather stripping or a smart thermostat, these 6 easy ways to make your home warmer and cozier this winter are just the trick!

8.  Ready to Move? Do this first – If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2017, make it a resolution to collect these 10 pieces of valuable information well before the spring real estate rush.