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RE/MAX 440
Susan Langenstein
423 North Main Street
Doylestown  PA 18901
 Phone: 267-446-6201
Office Phone: 215-348-7100
Toll Free: 800-360-7100
Cell: 267-446-6201
Fax: 267-354-6816 
susanlangenstein@comcast.net
Susan Langenstein

My Blog

Cozying Up with a Portable Heater? 12 Safety Tips

October 29, 2015 12:51 am

Keeping warm with a portable heater this season? Be cautious when doing so—improper use can result in house fire or worse. According to experts of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), portable heaters should always be used according to the manufacturers’ instructions.

“Most fires are preventable by following the simple and important safety tips offered by AHAM, such as giving portable heaters at least three feet of space on all sides,” says Lt. Anthony Mancuso, director of the FDNY’s Fire Safety Education Unit.

If you plan to use a portable heater, AHAM advises the following safety tips.

1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels before using your portable electric heater.

2. Do not leave an operating heater unattended and always unplug heater when not in use.

3. Do not use your heater with a power strip or extension cord. Overheating of a power strip or extension cord could result in a fire.

4. String out cords on top of area rugs or carpeting. Placing anything, including furniture, on top of the cord may damage it.

5. Keep combustible materials, such as furniture, pillows, bedding, papers, clothes and curtains at least three feet from the front of the heater and away from the sides and rear. Do not block heater’s air intake or outlet.

6. Keep flammable materials, such as paint, gas cans and matches, away from the heater.

7. Unless the heater is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms, do not use in damp or wet areas. Parts in the heater may be damaged by moisture.

8. Check periodically for a secure plug to outlet fit. If the plug does not fit snugly into the outlet or if the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced. Check with a qualified electrician to replace the outlet.

9. Unplug the heater when not in use by pulling the plug straight out from the outlet. Inspect the heater’s cord periodically. Do not use a heater with a damaged cord.

10. Do not plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as your heater. This could result in overheating.

11. Heaters should be kept away from children and not be placed in a child’s room without supervision.

12. Place heater on a level, flat surface. Only use heater on table tops when specified by the manufacturer. Do not place your heater on furniture. It could fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater.

Source: AHAM

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Halloween by the Numbers

October 28, 2015 2:51 am

Ready to embrace spirited, spooky tradition, over 157 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year – and most will do so by dressing in costume or handing out candy, according to a recent report by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

For costume inspiration, the majority will draw ideas from online sources, especially images on Pinterest. Families celebrating Halloween will spend an average of $27.33 on costumes, per the report, totaling $2.5 billion on store-bought, homemade, large and small costumes. $1.2 billion will be allocated for adult costumes; $950 million will be spent on children’s costumes.

Pets won’t be left out of the festivities, either – 20 million pet owners plan to dress up their pets, and $350 million will be spent on costumes for their furry friends.

Aside from costumes, persons celebrating Halloween will splurge on candy, decorations and greeting cards. The breakdown:

• 93.7 percent of Halloween shoppers will spend a total of $2.1 billion on candy

• 44.8 percent of Halloween shoppers will spend a total of $.19 billion on decorations

• 33.5 percent of Halloween shoppers will spend a total of $330 million on greeting cards

Source: NRF

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Ways to Reduce Lead Risk at Home

October 28, 2015 2:51 am

Did you know that in the U.S., lead poisoning is the number one environmental health threat for children under 6 years of age? Though house plumbing and paints are manufactured with little to no lead today, lead can remain an issue in homes built prior to 1978. Because of this, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strongly recommends prioritizing household protection. Steps you can take include:

- Keeping your home clean. Ordinary dust and dirt may contain lead. Children can swallow lead or breathe in lead-contaminated dust if they play in the dust or dirt and then put their fingers or toys in their mouths, or if they eat without washing their hands first. Keep the areas where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible.

In addition, wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor, and wash toys and stuffed animals regularly. Clean floors, window frames, window sills and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop, sponge or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.

- Reducing risk in your home. If your home was built before 1978, paint containing lead could be on window frames, walls, the outside of your home or other surfaces. Tiny pieces of peeling or chipping paint are dangerous if eaten - but lead paint in good condition is not usually a problem, except in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust (e.g., when you open a window, the painted surfaces rub together).

Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills, cribs or playpens. Do not burn painted wood - it may contain lead.

- Hiring a lead removal specialist. Lead dust from repairs or renovations of older homes can remain long after the work is completed. Hire a person with special training for correcting lead paint problems in your home - someone who knows how to do the work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly.

Source: EPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Freddie Mac: More Housing Markets Stabilize

October 28, 2015 2:51 am

In more positive news on the recovery front, two metro areas have been added to the outer "stable" range of Freddie Mac's Multi-Indicator Market Index(R) (MiMi(R)), on par with the national market overall. Twenty-nine of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are in stable range, and 48 show steady improvement, according to the MiMi.

"The nation's housing market continues to improve riding the wave of the best year in home sales since 2007," says Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer. "With the MiMi purchase applications indicator at its highest level in more than seven years, we expect home sales to remain strong. 

"Low mortgage rates are fueling the recovery across the country," Kiefer adds. "Places like Denver, Austin and Salt Lake City, and most markets in California, are seeing robust home purchase demand and in many cases double-digit growth over last year."

Source: Freddie Mac

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips to for Safe Trick-or-Treating

October 27, 2015 2:51 am

With Halloween just around the corner, costumed children will soon trek through spooky displays in search of sweet treats. But amid the fun of trick-or-treating, parents and supervisors shouldn’t neglect the hidden fire hazards Halloween costumes and decorations present.

“Halloween has become such a festive time of year and we want people to enjoy decorating their homes, wearing colorful costumes and getting in the fall spirit,” says Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “but this holiday can quickly turn hazardous if proper precautions aren’t taken.”

To help trick-or-treaters stay out of harm’s way this Halloween, Carli and the NFPA advise the following tips.

1. When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long-trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame.

2. Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so he or she can see clearly out of it.

3. Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.

4. It is safest to use a glow stick or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times. Do not leave them near flammable objects or where trick-or-treaters may walk. Remind your children to avoid open flames. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit.

5. Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes. 

Source: NFPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Design Leans toward Nature-Inspired Comfort

October 27, 2015 2:51 am

Gone are the days of the Hollywood-inspired home exuding "look, but don't touch elegance.” Design preferences this year lean toward “inviting,” “rustic” and “beachside charm,” according to a recent realtor.com® assessment of its visitors.

"We are seeing a shift in home design trends – leaving behind the glitz and glam for a more natural look, whether that may be a rugged barn with many textures or a serene beach-like feel," says Jennifer Farrell, television host and lifestyle expert. "Today's style reflects today's lifestyle and we've found that having a space for entertaining family and friends all year round is the number one trend."

An “inviting” living space, which is described as a welcoming atmosphere that includes fun barware, plenty of seating and a gather-worthy kitchen that can serve as the life of the party, received 23 percent of the more than 100,000 votes cast by realtor.com® visitors. This was followed closely by “rustic” at 22 percent and “beachside charm” at 21 percent.

Those who prefer a “rustic” look favor natural elements: wood, stone, water and light. This style takes traditionally organic materials from the outside inside for a perfect balance. Also taking on a relaxed and casual feel, the “beachside charm” look is airy and breezy, incorporating terracotta tile, patio umbrellas, sundecks and scattered shells to make homeowners and their visitors kick back and feel like they are miles away from the hustle and bustle of life's daily pressures.

“Regal,” a grand look with fine fabrics and antiques, was selected fourth among realtor.com® visitors, followed by concrete jungle “urban,” eclectic “mid-century modern” and slinky and engaging “earthy.”

Source: realtor.com®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Smart Home Ranked "Most Useful" Technology

October 27, 2015 2:51 am

Over the next 10 years, smart home automation is likely to prove the most useful to the majority of Americans. In fact, more than half of respondents to a recent Honeywell survey ranked smart home technology as more practical than other connected innovations, such as driverless cars and fitness apps. And by 2025, respondents believe smart home tech will be implemented in almost half of items in their households.

From recording favorite television programs to taking care of pets, Americans see many uses for the connected home. Among these uses, according to the survey, are:

• Controlling lighting
• Controlling locks
• Feeding pets
• Programming a DVR

Additionally, nearly a third of respondents would prefer an app that can control their home devices to be voice-activated rather than with a touchscreen.

Source: Honeywell

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Sweet Tooth: Halloween Tips for Parents

October 26, 2015 2:48 am

Trick-or-treaters, rejoice! More than three-quarters of households plan to hand out treats this Halloween, upping candy-giving by 5 percent from last year. What’s more, less parents plan to pilfer their children’s haul after the holiday. Sweet!

These findings are the results of a recent Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA) analysis that projects candy consumption, which found some other interesting nibbles of information – less than 60 percent of households plan to dole out chocolate this Halloween, even though chocolate remains the most popular type of candy among candy givers, and less parents plan to limit the amount of candy their children can consume at one time.

No matter what your Halloween plans are, the DDPA advises trick-or-treating with care. Remember:

Have your children eat dinner before trick-or-treating. If your children have full bellies, they may be less likely to overindulge in candy when they get home.

Make sure your children drink extra water to stay hydrated during trick-or-treating and to help wash away sugar that may otherwise cause tooth decay.

Enjoy Halloween candy after a meal to take advantage of increased saliva production and help wash away sugar and bacteria left by candy.

Remind children to brush for two minutes and floss after they dig into their trick-or-treat bags. Practicing good oral hygiene will help keep their mouths clean and their teeth free of decay.

Source: DDPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Energy-Saving Tips for Your Home

October 26, 2015 2:48 am

Did you know the average American family spends at least $2,000 a year on home utility bills? You can cut down your own expenses significantly by adopting energy-saving methods and implementing a few eco-friendly products. The experts at Power Home Remodeling Group, one of the nation’s largest exterior home remodelers, recommend starting with:

1. Smart Appliances – For new installs or replacements, look for energy-efficient appliances and building products with ENERGY STAR labels. These products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. High-Tech Thermostats – Consider investing in a high-tech programmable thermostat, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, that learns from homeowner activity, programs itself automatically and helps save energy when no one is home.

3. Filter Swaps – A dirty air filter can make your heating and cooling systems work harder and use more energy. Be sure to regularly change the filter on your air conditioning and heating unit.

4. Intelligent Power Strips – Purchase an intelligent power strip geared toward saving more energy, like the Modlet. This device plugs into your wall outlet and connects to your computer or smartphone, allowing you to monitor how much energy your electronics and appliances are using when they're plugged in.

5. Recycled Water – Aside from inspecting your sprinkler system for leaks, consider collecting rainwater to water your landscape. Enhance your curb appeal in the process and purchase a rain collection system that can be camouflaged as a decorative piece on your lawn, such as a barrel, charcoal rocks or a flowerpot.

6. Low-E Windows – Replace single-glazed windows with low thermal emissivity windows to reduce heat transfer and keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Windows and doors should also be regularly checked to make sure they're properly sealed to avoid heat from escaping.

7. Light-Colored Roofs – Choose a light-colored roof or add a ridge vent to decrease heat transferred to the attic. At the very least, consider adding insulation to the attic to lower temperatures.

8. Dual-Flush Toilets – According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toilets consume up to 30 percent of a home's average water use. Replace your toilets with dual-flush alternatives to save water and money.

9. LED Light Bulbs – Replace CFL lights with LED lights, as they use less energy and last five times longer. You might also consider custom-made hardware that allows you to adjust your lights from your phone. Carnes Audio is one of many vendors that install these types of controlled systems.

10. Fans – Add ceiling or portable fans to your home to help circulate air and cut down on air conditioner use.

Source: Power Home Remodeling Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Ways to Green Your Next Home Improvement Project

October 26, 2015 2:48 am

(BPT) – Got home improvement on your to-do list? Consider going green for your next project – it’s easier than you think!

Rent instead of buy. Some projects may call for equipment you don't have. Rather than buy new, consider renting the tools you need. According to the American Rental Association (www.rentalHQ.com), renting is a green alternative to buying because it helps cut down the consumption of energy and materials and pollution associated with producing, delivering and selling new tools. Renting is also less expensive than purchasing, especially when using a specialized item you may not use again, and can help you avoid the hassle of storing tools between projects.

Seek salvaged materials. Before you visit your local home improvement store or lumber yard, ask yourself if you can complete your project with reclaimed materials.

Building a patio? Recycled bricks or pavers will do the job just as well as new, cost less and impart unique character you often can’t get from new materials. Installing hardwood flooring? Wood flooring reclaimed from an old warehouse or barn not only reduces the amount of construction materials in landfills, but also gives your floor an authentically rustic touch.

Reuse from your own home. Often times, you have items in your own home that can be purposed for a home improvement project.  Look for opportunities to reuse items you already have on hand. You'll reduce waste, save money on waste removal fees and spare the expense of buying new building materials.

The front walk might need to be redone with level pavers, but the old ones could be reused for a backyard fire pit. Lumber from that fence you took down could be turned into decorative seating on your deck. A pedestal sink left over from a bathroom remodel could make an ornamental birdbath for the garden.

Keep recycling in mind. Sometimes construction leftovers just can't be reused, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can't be recycled. As you're working on your project, look for opportunities to recycle what you can't use. And if you do have to buy new materials, choose ones that could potentially be recycled some day in the future.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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