Thursday, February 11, 2016


If feeling cozy is important to you, it may be time to consider a move down south.​


For the third year in a row, Honeywell Heaters has released their list of the Top Ten Coziest Cities In America, and we're definitely ready to pack our bags.
(Yes, spring is predicted to come early, but who can resist a cozy, peaceful home until then?)
To determine which cities offer the best in cozy comfort, Honeywell teamed up with environmental scientist Dr. Ted Myatt, and just like last year, they considered how many restaurants, coffee shops, museums, florists, breweries, and bed and breakfasts each area has. This year, however, they added a few more factors as well, including specialty grocery stores, bookstores, and bakeries (AKA places that instantly make you feel warm and fuzzy).
Topping the list: Asheville, North Carolina, while last year's winner, Portland, Maine, fell to number five.
Grab a blanket and read on to see the full list, below.

Asheville's plethora of bookstores, spectacular mountain views, and temperate climate helped the Southern city secure the win.

Although it still hasn't reclaimed the top spot — Boston came in first in 2014 — Beantown's second place finish is nothing to scoff at. The city's number two placement is thanks in part to the variety of specialty grocery stores, bookstores and bakeries in the area.
2016 is the first time this charming California town has made an appearance on Honeywell's list, but its mild climate, as well as its abundance of bakeries and specialty stores could make it a mainstay.
Portland, Oregon impressively moved from number ten to number four this year, thanks in part to its numerous coffee shops and microbreweries.

The other Portland may have fallen after earning the top spot last year, but number five is still mighty impressive. The seaside city has the most coffee shops per capita, but is also home to plenty of specialty food shops, bookstores, and restaurants.
This temperate city in California's wine country is obviously home to plenty of wineries, but bakeries, bookstores, farms and forests all abound as well.
Providence fell one spot this year, after finishing sixth in 2015, but its many coffee houses and bakeries still make it a cozy place to live or visit.

Making its first appearance on the coziest cities list is Spokane, Washington. The Pacific Northwest city may get a fair amount of snow, but its many coffee shops offer more than enough space to cozy up.

According to Honeywell, Provo is Utah's cultural hub, so there are plenty of opportunities for cozy nights spent enjoying the latest in nighttime entertainment. And the moderate temps mean that winter is never too harsh, even when it snows.

Yet another newcomer to the list, Chattanooga earns its cozy badge of honor thanks to its large number of bookstores and rapidly growing downtown area.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tis the season...

It is that time of the year when everyone you encounter seems to have the sniffles. Here are some tips to staying well.

1. Get your Zzz’s

Sleep is your most important priority. Lack of sleep deprives your immune system, resulting in a multitude of health consequences.  Need a little help? Melatonin is a great supplement to help you sleep.

2. Hydrate  

Be sure to drink plenty of water. Coffee, tea or soda may be your morning drink of choice, but don’t forget to have water with lunch and throughout the day. Staying hydrated is essential. Bring a portable water bottle with you so you always have fresh water.

3. Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands has been said to be the single easiest way to avoid getting sick.  A best practice is to wash your hands under hot water for at least 30 seconds before and after every meal and each time you visit the restroom.

4. Eat for Your Mind as well as Your Body

If you are going to indulge, instead of stressing about it, make a plan about it. You don’t have to avoid all temptations. However, the key is to splurge in moderation and eat well the rest of the time. Pack healthy snack foods to carry with you during the day. Not only will your waistline thank you, your mind will be more alert.

5. Get By With a Little Help

It’s also a good idea to use an extra supplement, such as Emergen-C, to help keep your immunity strong. 

6. Keep Movin'

Take the stairs, go for a walk.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Little Ways to Save Big on Your Heating Bill

Here are three additional changes you can make this winter that yield worthwhile returns.
illustration of freezing house wrapped in a scarf
Turn it down, not off
Set your thermostat to turn back 7 to 10 degrees F for eight hours while you're away each day; doing so can shave 10 percent off your yearly bill. The optimal temperature for energy savings is 68 to 70 degrees F. However, if you have cast-iron radiators or radiant floor heating, don't touch the dial—you'll waste more energy (and, ultimately, money) by changing the temperature than if you left it alone.

Pad your nest—in the right places
Beefing up the insulation will help cut heating costs, especially if your house is old and drafty. Focus on the attic first, where heat escapes. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that proper insulation can cut as much as 50 percent off your heating bill.

Work with the weather
Boost the efficiency of your boiler by installing an outdoor reset control. On a 40-degree day, your boiler could fire to 180 degrees F every time you need heat, but it needs to reach that temp only when it's zero outside. A weather-sensitive system adjusts the temp based on how cold it actually is. For best results, install the sensor on a north-facing exterior wall away from drying or heating vents, and watch the savings—up to 12 percent—heat up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Housing Market Forecast for 2016

From Inman...
As we ring in a New Year, Housing News Report asked six prominent economists to forecast what 2016 will bring for the U.S. housing market.
For housing, 2015 was a strong year, with home sales high and home prices continuing to rise.
Overall, the economists surveyed were cautiously optimistic about 2016 when it comes to home prices, home sales, interest rates and the impact of loosening lending standards that have recently been introduced by government agencies. Since 2016 is a Presidential election year, the economists were cagey when it comes to regulatory changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

What will be the most important housing market trend(s) in 2016 and why?

Alex Villacorta, chief economist, Clear Capital: The two most important housing market trends to watch in 2016 will be the continued growth of rental rates and the moderating trend in home prices. The pattern seen in 2015 was largely characterized by a white-hot rental market, and if this continues, more households will likely choose to rent over buy in 2016.
In addition to driving rental prices up and vacancy rates down, this trend disengages an increasing proportion of potential home buyers — evidenced by the lowest homeownership rate in almost 50 years. Adding insult to injury for the purchase market, increasing rental rates continue to make it more difficult for potential buyers to save up for a down payment.
In 2016 we’ll use data from Clear Capital’s Home Data Index to see, at a local level, when the tide turns from rental to purchase demand. Many markets are already hospitable for buyers, but we have yet to see the demand. This implies that consumer confidence and the inability to overcome the barriers to purchase are a real headwind to a fully engaged housing market, especially for first-time home buyers.
As the year evolves we’ll be watching both rent and purchase trends closely, as a waning pattern in rental prices will suggest that momentum is shifting to the broader housing market, which should result in a more robust price growth in 2016.