Champaign IL Information and Resources
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Are you sitting on the fence about buying a home? Right now, is a great time to buy if you are financially secure and have all your ducks in a row; i.e. downpayment saved, credit rating in good repair. Some top reasons experts are saying now is the time to buy:
1. Rates are lower now than they have been in years! It's a great time to take advantage of the rates now in order to keep your monthly payment at a reasonable amount.
2. Inventory is rather high at the moment and homeowners are eager to sell. Now is a great time to find your dream home!
3. Because of the quantity of homes on the market, prices are lower than they have been in years. Not great for the market overall, but for buyers who are prepared to purchase, lower prices mean getting a great home and more than likely a great price!
4. Another benefit of higher inventory levels is the opportunity to negotiate with buyers. If the window treatments are just your style or kitchen is outfitted with appliances that are perfect for you, don't hesitate to negotiate those items into the price of the home. If nothing else you have one more item to negotiate with in order to get the perfect price for your needs.
5. The Bottom Line. Buying a home is always a fantastic long-term investment. So if you're in the position to buy, go ahead. You'll more than likely get a great price for the home of your dreams!
Visit: www.cainandcompany.com for more information on purchasing your next home!
By Rose Kennedy
1. MINIMAL IS IN
Strip away heavy window coverings and replace with simple shades. One path to less fabric is using an upholstered cornice, says Sue Pelley, national spokesperson for Interiors by Decorating Den, or a flap valance like the Ace three-piece set from Swags Galore.
Design by Gail Drury
2. LIGHTEN UP
Natural light in the kitchen is essential. "Pleated shades offer a privacy treatment and still allow plenty of light," says Pelley.
Just one example of an attractive pleated shade is the Smith + Noble version, available in tones ranging from White to Sky Blue, in subtle stripes and a tropical-looking pattern. It even comes in versions suitable for skylights or arched windows.
Design by Beth Haley
3. PICK CURRENT COLORS
If you're using fabric, make sure it's in a contemporary tone.
"The terra cotta shades are very 'in' mixed with greens, blacks and golds," says Pelley. "You can also mix cotton fabric prints, either within a treatment or coordinating a print in the valance or cornice with another print on the cushion seats or place mats."
If your kitchen is particularly tiny, then light, cool colors can make it look larger and brighter, while dark, warm colors can make an oversized kitchen more inviting.
Design by Lin Lee
4. TRY SOME TEXTURE
Another hot trend is Roman shades made of rattan, bamboo or other natural fibers, says Pelley: "They add visual interest with their texture, but still roll up smoothly like the Roman shades of old."
Design by Jill Hertz
5. SOFTEN DIRECT LIGHT
Too much direct sunlight is also an issue in kitchens, says Pelley, since it makes it hot and unpleasant to work in. Simple wood blinds or woven wood shades, like the Provenance sold by Hunter Douglas, will filter the light without looking too heavy.
Design by Phyllis Harbinger
6. CONSIDER SOME CURVES
"There are typically lots of straight lines in the kitchen — the cabinets, the appliances, the counters —everything is straight or square," says Pelley. "It's a good idea to add a window treatment with soft curves to open the space up, especially in a small kitchen."
Arching a valance is a good option, particularly over the sink. Other options include a curved cornice, a box-pleated valance with a curved line along the bottom or a London Shade from Smith + Noble that is nearly flat at the top but falls from inverted pleats to gentle swags along the bottom, with wings at either side.
We’ve all seen the Energy Star logo on appliances and in stores, the green cursive “energy” with a star at the end. But what is Energy Star? And how is it helping American consumers lessen their carbon footprint and save money.
What is it?
Created in 1992, Energy Star is a joint program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy to identify energy efficient products which promote the reduction of greenhouse gases. It also encourages consumers to switch to more energy efficient practices. It is designed for homeowners to save money while being more mindful of the ever changing global climate.
According to Energy Star, “Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy in 2009 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 30 million cars.” They also tout savings to homeowners of nearly $17 billion in utility bills. The EPA’s Energy Star partnership says to look for household products which earned the Energy Star rating; products prescribed to strict guidelines set by the two federal agencies. Home Buyers can also look for the Energy Star logo when choosing a new home as a means to increasing energy efficiency and lessening one’s carbon footprint. These homes are built with features making them 20-30% more energy efficient than standard homes.
Are you in the market for home improvements and would like to stash some cash in your pocket? The federal government offers tax credits to homeowners who upgrade their home to be more energy efficient and utilize Energy Star products. These credits recently changed in 2011 but consumers can go to the Energy Star website (www.energystar.gov ) and look for the updates. Or click the following link and go directly to this page:
Energy Star recommends the following practices for homeowners to start saving energy and money:
- Change your HVAC air filter regularly
- Annual maintenance on your HVAC system can improve efficiency
- Keep air ducts clear to allow for proper air circulation
- Choose Energy Star windows and save $20-$95 per year on heating and cooling
- If you have an older water heater, wrap it in a heater blanket and save up to $30 annually
- Set your water heater to 120°F, you’ll save on consumption and standby losses
- Replace your five most used lights with Energy Star bulbs and save $70 per year in energy cost
- Unplug battery/phone chargers when not in use
- Turn off your computer monitor if you leave it for more than 20 minutes, turn off the computer completely if you do not use it for two or more hours; sleep mode does not stop your computer or monitor from drawing power
- Game consoles used as DVD players draw 24 times the energy than a regular DVD player and 4 to 7 times as much as a stand-alone Blu-ray
by Home Life Perks
It’s 2010. No one should have to suffer the agony of a slow PC, especially with the cost of hardware these days. If this is a problem for you, consider the following options: upgrade, buy refurbished or buy new.
There’s nothing like a fresh operating system, clean hard drive and a RAM upgrade when you’ve been experiencing slow performance for some time. Whether your OS needs a clean install or your computer needs a RAM upgrade, it’s important to consider that these challenges might be less of a headache than one might expect.
If your computer is less than five or six years old, its possible that a quick tune up is all that is necessary. Computers bought more than seven or eight years ago may not be worth the cost of repair, given the affordability of new PC's and the reliability of refurbished computers.
A Breath of Fresh OS
If your computer is sluggish and is less than a few years old, it’s probably due to software bloat, file corruptions, viruses and possibly environmental factors, such as temperature and dust. The best option to salvage your machine is to backup your files on an external hard drive and re-install the operating system that came with the computer. This may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple if you’re prepared to spend a couple of hours following the prompts provided by your operating system installation guide.
If you conduct a fresh install, you should install any critical updates your system suggests. Many people forget to do this and it leaves their computer open to vulnerability. With a fresh operating system install, you’ll likely achieve a noticeable difference in performance.
If you’ve installed the new OS and the computer's performance hasn’t noticeably improved, then only consider upgrading if new memory costs less than $30. If it costs more, then consider a refurbished computer from a credible dealer such as geeks.com or overstock.com. If you do notice a major improvement and feel the need for more speed, then consider going for the gusto with a memory upgrade.
Memory is cheap these days. Popping in a few extra sticks of ram is as easy as pie. Crucial.com'sautomatic scanner tool will tell you exactly what type of RAM you need and provides a “How To Install Memory” video on YouTube. Many times, this is the only necessary action to give your computer a substantial boost in performance.
Going New or Refurbished
If your PC is starting to look like an antique compared to your other furniture and parts cost more than $150, you may want to consider buying refurbished for as low as $200 or new for as low as $350 from reputable online resellers such as Geeks.com, Overstock.com, Newegg.com and Dell.com. If you haven’t searched for a new PC in a while, you’ll be amazed at how little they cost compared to a decade ago.
Refurb dealers, such as Geeks.com and Overstock.com, offer comforting return policies and decent protection plans. It’s not uncommon to find a 1-2 year old computer for less than a third of the original cost, with hardly any wear and tear. Such manufacturers have tested each machine and reformatted the hard drives, so when you boot up, the feeling is as good as new.
When considering a refurb, try not to pay more than 50-75% of the cost of a new computer. At that point, buying new is probably worth the few extra bucks.
Summer vacation is that time of year when the kids are out of school and ready for something exciting to pass the time before class begins again in the fall. This summer season while amidst the chaos of work, new schedules for the entire family with the cessation of school, and the never-ending hectic spin of the average American family’s daily grind, why not make planning your summer trip enjoyable.
Children love to be a part of any planning you might do, whether it be a day trip to the zoo or a picnic getting them involved makes the process a special bonding time for everyone. Let’s take that same approach to planning a summer vacation. Begin by having a family meeting. Allow every member of the family to share their ideas for a great family vacation. Drop them into a hat and choose! Voila!
If dropping “destinations” in a hat is a little too sporadic for your family, don’t worry. Having a destination in mind and then allowing the family to get involved in shopping and preparation for the trip can be just as fun. Talk to children about what they would like to do while you’re away. Look up information online and show the kiddos pictures of the things you will see or let them choose an activity to do together.
For the trip there bring along games, puzzles, and books for entertaining little fingers and minds or the latest novel, if you aren’t driving, and could use a little reading time.
Remember, rather than the details of your trip being the most stressful part of the summer, make it the most fun!
OPEN LIVING ROOM AND DINING ROOM AREA. EAT IN KITCHEN, NICE FENCED YARD, MATURE LANDSCAPE. HOME FEATURES LOG FIREPLACE DOWNSTAIRS AND GAS LOG FIREPLACE WITH INSERT HEATER UPSTAIRS. LARGE LIVING AREA. STONE FIREPLACE, PARTIALLY SIDED WITH INDIANA STONE. AVERAGE UTILITIES $138.00 PER MONTH FOR GAS & ELECTRIC. ONE YEAR HOME WARRANTY BY SELLERS AT CLOSING.
Call Tom Cain for more information or visit:
I stumbled up on this article about the apple iPad and it has some great information about the new apple iPad. Check it out.
by Rob Janson
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