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Your Austin real estate blog

Thank you for visiting Homeowner Herald, the official blog of AustinHomeSearch.com, providing valuable information for both home buyers and sellers. Follow us on Twitter or check in each week for new posts on topics ranging from holiday decorating to the economy to moving into your new home. This blog is maintained by the Austin Board of REALTORS®. If you’d like to suggest a blog topic, contact the ABoR Marketing Department.

Home improvement topics

Austin real estate blog
ENERGY STAR® sales tax holiday brings big savings
WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2010

You may know that using energy efficient appliances can help you save money in your Austin home, but did you know that buying energy efficient products during this Memorial Day weekend can help you save even more?

From Saturday, May 29, through Monday, May 31, anyone in Texas can purchase select ENERGY STAR appliances and products free of state and local sales tax, which could equal hundreds of dollars in savings. In addition, ENERGY STAR estimates that consumers could experience up to 75 percent in energy savings using the select energy efficient appliances.

If you're ready to take that leap and update your appliance, consider taking advantage of this sales tax holiday. You'll be able to save money at home and at the store!

Austin real estate blog
Maintaining a healthy lawn during summer
WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2010

Summer is upon us, which means most Austinites are ready to kick off their shoes for some summer fun. Is your grass barefoot friendly? Keep your lawn in as best condition possible by doing the following:

1. Understand what type of grass you're working with. Not all types of grass grow well in warmer temperatures, so be aware of what your lawn consists of and set your expectations accordingly. Zoysia, St. Augustine, Centipede and Bermuda grass, for example, will survive the summer much better than Fescue, Rye and Bluegrass.

2. Go to war with weeds. Fighting weeds is critical to the health of any lawn, and to kill weeds you must get to the root of the problem. While mowing over weeds may seem the easiest option, it can actually worsen the problem by spreading the weeds' seeds across your lawn. It's better to buckle up and pull them by hand or find a suitable weed-killer (pet-friendly and eco-friendly options are available) to keep the situation under control.

3. Cut grass correctly. Experts recommend cutting grass when it's dry and during a time of day when the sun is less harsh. Cutting grass to a proper mowing height (this depends on the type of grass you have, but generally should never be shorter than two or three inches) will help prevent unnecessary damage from the sun and foot traffic and can help shade out some weeds. Because grass blades are rich with nutrients, it's a good idea to leave the grass clippings in your hard, so long as the amount is small enough to decompose quickly.

4. Water within regulation. If you live within Austin city limits, remember to abide by the watering restrictions set in place to help preserve Austin's water supply. Though the water regulations restrict single-family Austin homes to watering only two days a week (odd addresses watering on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and even addresses watering Tuesdays and Thursdays), you can still maintain a healthy lawn. In fact, experts recommend watering deeply but infrequently to help your grass build a deeper root system and become more drought-resistant.

Austin real estate blog
Make every day an “Earth Day” in your home
THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day! This seems the appropriate day to congratulate Austin on being one of the most "earth-friendly" cities in America. It also seems appropriate to talk a bit about "going green" within your home. The following options can help you create a safer, cleaner and more economical home for you and your family.

Energy Star appliances - These appliances are designated as "energy efficient" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy. Purchasing an Energy Star appliance will not only help you save on energy costs, it may help earn you a rebate, as well. The City of Austin's WashWise Rebate Program offers some homeowners rebates on the purchase of high efficiency clothes washers.

Energy efficient windows - Energy efficient windows can lower the cost of heating and cooling by more than 30 percent, as well as reduce condensation, make your home more comfortable, and help shield the interior of your home from powerful ultraviolet rays. In addition, homeowners who install energy efficient windows could claim a tax credit of up to $1,500.

PEX plumbing - This is a safe, durable and affordable plumbing solution that involves no copper or iron and maintains long-term viability. PEX tubing does not corrode, reduces condensation in walls and-best of all-is environmentally friendly.

Non-toxic paint - Until recently, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which release low-level toxic emissions into the air, were essential to the performance paint. Now, however, homeowners can choose from low-VOC or zero-VOC paints that are durable, cost-effective and more environmentally friendly.

These suggestions are just the beginning! Energy efficient improvements can be a simple as using compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 66 percent less energy than a standard incandescent light bulb and can last 10 times longer. Talk to your REALTOR® about ways you can improve the value of your home and the quality of your environment by "going green."

Austin real estate blog
Boost curb appeal with a little flower power
THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2010

Planting flowers can be a great way to boost the curb appeal of your Austin home. While the planting process seems simple enough, there are a several important tips you should keep in mind.

1. Do your research. Above all, it is important to find out which types of flowers will grow in best in your yard and when to plant them. Some flowers need plenty of sunlight, while others must have shade at all times. Some flowers need to be watered every day, while others can survive on rainfall alone. Make sure you have the time, resources and proper environment to care for your plants.

2. Prepare the soil. After you've removed all weeds from your garden, it's time to think about enriching the soil. Mixing organic matter such as compost, manure and shredded leaves into the first one to two feet of soil can help enrich the clay-like soil found in many parts of Central Texas.

3. Plant the flowers. After you dig the holes, fill them with water and let it soak into the soil before placing the flowers in them. When planting the flowers, ignore the urge to pack down the soil or step on it to make it flat; flattening the soil cuts off the light and oxygen. Adding a few inches of mulch to the top layer of soil can be beneficial, but make sure the mulch is placed around the plants and does not touch their stems.

4. Remember to water. Watering is essential, but too much water can be deadly. Make sure you know the watering requirements for the types of flowers you have planted. Be aware that watering the leaves of plants can help diseases and mildew grow, so it's important to water plants at ground-level, closest to the roots.

For more tips, visit http://www.centraltexasgardening.net or talk to the local gardening experts in your neighborhood. Happy planting!

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