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Thomas Skiffington,  CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

How to Boost Energy Efficiency in Your Home and Live Green

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

(BPT) - It's now easier than ever for homeowners to transform their homes into models of green living thanks to the growing availability of affordable, energy-smart building products and materials. From replacing incandescent light bulbs to reviewing the energy rating on new appliances, more homeowners are making informed decisions on how to cut energy consumption and boost efficiency.

Homeowners who are serious about boosting their home's energy efficiency should consider working with a certified Home Energy Rater. These professionals conduct a series of tests to assess a home's energy efficiency to provide an overall efficiency rating in much the same way that appliances are rated. Armed with this information, homeowners can make home improvement decisions that further boost their home's energy efficiency.

According to the U.S Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for about 56 percent of the energy use in a typical U.S. home. While using smart thermostats can help correct daily energy use, homeowners should consider how thoroughly sealed their home truly is. For instance, the amount of air escaping from the home via cracks and gaps within the building envelope can have a significant impact on the overall efficiency of the heating and cooling system.

Why does this matter? Escaping air means the furnace or air-conditioner must work overtime to compensate and maintain a comfortable living temperature. As a result, energy consumption remains high, monthly bills continue to climb and any efficiency achieved through other methods is done in vain.

Understanding the factors that contributes to air leakage is essential for improving efficiency and lowering monthly bills. One of the key areas to consider is the home's insulation. While some homeowners may think simply layering more insulation on top of existing insulation may do the trick, typically these traditional insulation types are unable to provide a thorough air seal or promote better heating and cooling efficiency. In fact, all the small gaps left behind by regular insulation materials like fiberglass can add up quickly.

One effective consideration is replacing traditional insulation with a high-performance spray foam insulation. Spray foam insulation, such as Icynene, both air-seals and insulates to stop air leakage from occurring, allowing homeowners to reduce energy consumption, effectively control their indoor environments and live greener.

When installed, spray foam insulation expands to completely seal a home's walls, floors and ceilings to prevent air leakage. Insulation experts from Icynene note that quality spray foam insulation can noticeably reduce heating and cooling costs, in some cases by up to 50 percent. More information on how spray foam insulation can help improve household energy efficiency and reduce air leakage is available at icynene.com.

 

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5 Lawyerly Negotiating Tips for Small Biz Owners

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

Need some negotiating tips for your business? Every day, small business owners put their negotiation skills to their test. From employee scheduling conflicts to vendor contracts, knowing how to negotiate is crucial when it comes to running a business.

You won't always have your business lawyer around to handle negotiations for you. So here are five lawyerly negotiating tips you may want to keep in mind:

Do your research. First things first, make sure that you are prepared and do your research before you enter negotiations. It's crucial to know all the relevant facts, circumstances, figures, and any relevant law as well. If this seems daunting to you and it's a particularly crucial negotiation, you may want to consult an experienced business attorney who can guide you.

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Make sure you know which aspects of the negotiation you are willing to compromise on, as well as what terms are key priorities that you refuse to budge on.

Have clear objectives in mind. Your objectives should be clear and set in place before you enter negotiations. It's easy to lose sight of what your ultimate goal is if the other party isn't on the same page as you, or if there are conflicting objectives. You don't want to end up agreeing to something that you didn't intend to commit to or that doesn't adhere to your business plan.

Keep your company's resources in mind. Don't forget about exactly what resources you want to pull from or have available for this particular negotiation. Many companies are struggling in these unsure times, and ensuring that you stick to your budget is crucial.

Be respectful of the other party. It takes two to tango, and negotiations are no different. It's important that you listen to the other party's concerns, and are open to their terms (as much as you can be, anyway). Without a basic level of trust, your negotiation may go nowhere fast. Not to mention, the lack of courtesy on your end could damage your business' reputation and image.

Remember, a successful negotiation allows both parties to compromise a little to achieve an outcome that's agreeable to everyone

Source: FindLaw

 

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Important Driving Tips for Seniors

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers in their mid- to late-80s have lower overall crash rates than drivers in their early 20s and roughly half as many crashes as teenagers—making them among the safest drivers on the road.

However, fatal crash rates skyrocket for drivers ages 85 and older. In "The Guide to Driving Safety for Older Drivers" from MySilverAge.com, Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research in Washington, D.C., says it's important to understand what health factors can compromise safe driving. If senior drivers have ongoing limitations that could put them or their passengers at risk, they may want to reconsider their capacity to continue driving.

Older drivers should evaluate how the following factors affect their driving ability:

  • Vision. How well a driver can see accounts for about 90 percent of his or her ability to drive safely. Weak visual aptitude can be measured by an inability to read signs, street markings, or to see other cars and pedestrians in low-light conditions.
  • Mobility. Loss of strength, coordination and flexibility can make it challenging to control a vehicle. Mobility difficulties may also be signaled by pain and discomfort performing daily activities as well as arthritis in the neck and shoulders.
  • Behavior. Trouble remembering familiar routes, anxiety or confusion while driving, or problems distinguishing the gas from the brake pedal are causes for immediate concern.

Source: http://premium.thebegroup.org

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Word of the Day

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

Highest and best use. Use of land that is most logical and productive.  Refers to the greatest income it can bring the owner, as well as factors such aesthetics and benefits to the surrounding community.

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Q: What Kind of Home Insurance Should I Have?

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

A: A standard policy protects against several natural disasters and catastrophic events, and covers your personal belongings.  But it will not guard against earthquakes, floods, war, and nuclear accidents. The policy can be expanded to include these disasters as well as coverage for such things as workers' compensation.  In fact, the lender may require that you purchase flood or earthquake insurance if the house is in a flood zone or a region susceptible to earthquakes.  

 

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Juggling That Work-Life Balance

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

Larry Katzen forged an ambitious career as a leader at one of the world’s most prestigious accounting firms.

But he has been equally ambitious with his family life; he’s the father of quadruplets—three sons and a daughter. And he felt it was important to serve his community, sitting on more than 10 boards of directors.

“It was an incredible challenge and I don’t regret one minute of it!” says Katzen, author of “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring - My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” a look at working in one of the world’s most historically important accounting firms.

“The quadruplets were born April 22, 1974, before multiple births became fairly common, so we were front-page news and featured on all the national TV news shows,” Katzen says. “But that also tells you there weren’t many other parents who could give us advice, and certainly no Internet forums to turn to!”

“It comes down to sticking to some basic principles: doing the right thing, for one, and listening to your heart,” Katzen says.

He draws on his 35-year career and family life to offer these tips for working parents with multiple children:

• Cultivate support systems! One of the wonderful things about Arthur Andersen was the people who worked there, including his bosses, Katzen says. “They knew the physical and financial struggles Susan and I faced caring for four babies and, because I never gave less than my all at work, they did what they could to work around my situation,” he says. That included a heftier-than-usual annual pay raise that Katzen learned only years later was approved because the firm’s partners knew he would need the extra money.

Susan reached out to moms of multiples to develop her own support system, and the couple hired a recent high school graduate to help care for their rambunctious brood a couple days a week.

“There’s no glory in not asking for support and help,” Katzen says.

• Combine business and family. Katzen traveled frequently for his job and, when his children were 9 years old, a business friend suggested he bring them along, one at a time, on his trips.

“The first was my daughter, Laurie. We flew to New York on a Friday and spent the weekend shopping, dining, taking in a show. For the first time ever, we were alone together without any disruptions,” Katzen says. “Neither of us ever forgot that weekend.”

• Consider buying a small vacation home. Traveling with four young children was extremely difficult, especially nights in motels, where the family would split up into two rooms – one parent and two children in each.

“When we discovered Sun Valley, Idaho, the children were 6. On our first trip there, they quickly learned to ski, and they clearly loved the snow – we could hardly get them to come inside,” Katzen says.

The family so enjoyed the vacation, they looked into the prices of condos.

“We found a furnished condo at a very affordable price and for the next 13 years, we enjoyed summers and winters in Sun Valley,” Katzen says. “It may sound like a big investment, but when you consider the costs of motels and dining out for a family of six, it works out well – and it’s a lot more comfortable.”

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Colorful Accents Create Extraordinary Spaces

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

(BPT) - When looking to transform your home, elements such as doors, ceilings and trim are perfect places to add color. These architectural details can create a wow factor with well-placed splashes of color.

"An unexpected pop of color adds interest to a space, helping an otherwise ordinary room become warm and welcoming, or modern and luxurious," says David Bromstad, HGTV star and celebrity interior designer. "Doors, ceilings and trim are my favorite places to introduce bold accents. And if you start with a coordinated palette, it's easy to find an accent color you love."

Bromstad offers the following tips for using color to accent your space.

Welcome guests with statement doors. Refreshing your home, inside or out, can be as easy as a brightly colored door that welcomes visitors. Boost curb appeal by inviting guests into your home with a bold orange or red front door. Inside the home, captivate guests with indulgent, exotic hues on doors.

Rethink the white ceiling. To make a space feel expansive, or for an unexpected touch of luxury, consider a colorful ceiling. A sky-blue porch ceiling draws from nature and helps your outside space to shine. Inside, for an elegant dining room, opt for rich hues such as black or deep gray.

Frame your space in neutrals. White trim offers depth and sophistication to your home. To give your interior a twist of modern luxury, opt for white trim with a hint of gray or taupe. Outside, consider white trim with a touch of blue or green.

"You don't need to paint an entire room or exterior to transform the aesthetic of your home. Refreshing a space, inside or out, can be easily accomplished if you start with unique accents and architectural elements," says Bromstad.

Source: sherwin-williams.com/hgtv.

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Buying a Garage Door? Think Insulation

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

(BPT) - There are seemingly endless options through which homeowners must navigate when buying a new garage door: the style, materials and accessories, just to name a few. But perhaps the most important feature that should top the garage door consumer's list is energy efficiency.

Why? Because the garage door is generally the largest moving object in your home and offers the greatest exposure to the elements. An insulated garage door will maintain the temperature in your garage in the winter and in the summer and likely decrease your heating and cooling costs. Insulated garage doors not only make the garage itself more comfortable to be in, but also the rooms adjacent to or above the garage. A well-insulated garage also helps keep moisture out, and its sturdy construction offers a greater noise-reducing sound barrier.

What should consumers look for in an energy efficient garage door? For starters, check out the R-value. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance to heat flow and is how most manufacturers show the energy efficiency of their product. The higher the R-value of a door, the more insulation you'll get. Second, look at the door's construction. Well-insulated doors will have a "triple-layer" construction, consisting of environmentally safe polystyrene or polyurethane thermal insulation between two layers of heavy-duty steel. Some insulated garage doors also include a thermal break which is a nonconductive material within the door that keeps thermal energy from passing through, resulting in improved energy efficiency for the home.

Well-insulated garage doors should be able to stand up to the most extreme of conditions while simultaneously protecting your garage and the rest of your home.

Whether your garage door withstands heat, wind, snow, rain, or all of the above, it's the largest line of defense for your home. Make sure that it's working hard for you by reducing your home's energy consumption and providing strong, durable protection from the outside. Your utility bills - and the rest of your (climate-controlled) house will thank you.

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Word of the Day

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

Caveat emptor. Latin for “Let the buyer beware.”  Under this legal phrase, the buyer is expected to judge and evaluate property carefully before buying, or purchase at their own risk.

 

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Q: What Is Private Mortgage Insurance?

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

A: Also referred to as PMI, it is insurance you pay to protect the lender in case you default on the home loan.  It is required when borrowers put down less than 20 percent of the purchase price.  

Usually, a small fee is paid at the outset and a percentage of the face amount of the loan is added to the monthly payment.

 

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