Green Living

Step Up Your Green Home Maintenance Game this Spring

 

Spring Daisies

As the weather takes a turn for the warmer, many a homeowner begins to contemplate cleaning, decluttering and strategizing toward spring home maintenance.  With some intentionality, you can carry out your spring home maintenance plan with our planet’s health in mind. Take a moment to read this post while relaxing on your front porch, then roll up your sleeves and dig in.  You will reap the rewards of a cleaner, greener and freshly maintained property in a few days of honest work.  Then you will be back to enjoying your front porch with a clean conscience and healthy, efficient home!

 

Green Home Cleaning

 

Green home cleaning involves using compounds that are bio-based as opposed to petroleum-based and synthetic.  For example, vinegar and filtered water, scented with essential oils makes a great all-purpose cleaner that is versatile enough to use to clean windows or to mop floors.  Stains may be tackled using baking soda, water and salt.  If you choose to purchase green cleaning products, look for logos by these certifying agencies:

 

  • USDA Certified Biobased Product

  • GreenSeal Certified

 

Make sure that your vacuum cleaner uses a HEPA rated filter.  This will help improve your indoor air quality by not allowing residue to cycle back into the room as you vacuum.  Choose microfiber cloths over paper towels.  Microfiber is recyclable and very efficient at picking up dust and not leaving behind residue.

 

Green Home Contracting

 

If you are having work done on your home, try to find tradesmen who use recycled materials, methods that save resources and energy, or materials that are better for the environment.  Carpenters, painters, landscapers, energy contractors, plumbers, masons and remodelers can all obtain certifications that help you identify their green home contracting status.  Look for certifications such as these:

 

  • Certified Green Professional (CGP)

  • LEED Professional Credentials

  • Green Advantage Certified Practitioner (GACP)

Home with Solar Panels

Green Improvements You can Make Now

Replace old windows.  You can significantly lower your energy bills and reduce your consumption of energy simultaneously if you replace your old windows with modern, energy efficient windows.

 

Install solar panels.  Due to the significant reduction in panel installation costs and energy savings by as much as 80%, the number of households installing solar panels is skyrocketing.  Harness the power of the sun this spring!

 

Install water-saving measures.  Energy-efficient toilets, rainwater collection barrels, tankless water heaters, and low-flow fixtures are all great ways to reduce your household consumption of water.  According to the EPA, your family could save about 20,000 gallons of water annually by making just a few of these changes.

 

For information on real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at mike@mymosaicrealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

 

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9 Cool Green Living Tips for a Sizzling Summer

 

Summer Green Home Maintenance

photo from Shutterstock

Though running a household using green practices is not a seasonal affair, there are some green home maintenance tips which are easier to accomplish in warm weather.  Take advantage of the sunshine and fresh air while checking a few of these green home maintenance items off the list.

 

  1. Install a Rain Barrel

 

The ebb and flow of natural rainfall is not always ideally timed to nurture our new spring plantings.  However, you can harness that rainfall when it does show up by collecting it in cisterns known as rain barrels.  These are attached to the bottom of one of your gutter downspouts and released through a nozzle-controlled hose as you need it. Voila!

 

  1. Have an Energy Audit Performed

 

Warm weather is a great time to get a jump start on assessing your home’s energy conservation abilities.  Having an energy audit performed by certified professionals can both reduce your energy bills and increase your comfort in your home.  By doing this in the summer, you will have time to make suggested improvements ahead of the cold winter months.  

 

  1. Mulch Garden Beds and Use Compost

 

Garden beds will require less water if you keep a thick layer of mulch on them, and of course, they also look great well-mulched.  By choosing to feed your plants with composted kitchen and yard scraps, you are choosing a natural option that does not require harsh chemicals.

 

  1. Change Your Air Conditioning Filter

 

Having a dirty filter can greatly reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency.  These filters should be changed once a month during the cooling season.  A higher Minimum Energy Reporting Value, or MERV, means a greater level of filtration but an increase in the amount of energy needed to pull the air through the filter.  Balance your clean air needs with energy concerns.

 

  1. Wash Your Windows

 

If you have to be doing a chore, doing one outside in the sunshine with a hose involved is the best scenario.  Mix your own green solution of water, vinegar and essential oils.  Use a squeegee and a microfiber cloth to wick away moisture and buff streaks.

 

Rain Barrels

 

6. Plant a Vegetable Garden

As far as green living goes, it is hard to beat the benefits of growing some of your own produce.  Aside from the fact that planting anything green has great air-cleansing qualities, you are eliminating a lot of energy costs from food delivery that goes into store-bought food.

 

  1. Line Dry Your Clothing

 

This one is not for everyone, but if there is a season to do it, it is summer!  Having a retractable clothesline going from a sunny side of your house to a pole or tree makes for a convenient way to dry clothes without the energy consumption of using a dryer.  Added benefit of fresh air scents!

 

  1. Use an Electric Mower or Push Mower

 

Eliminate the hassle of realizing that you are out of gas just as you have a spare hour to mow the lawn.  Invest in an electric mower to reduce or push mower to eliminate fossil fuel consumption while mowing your lawn.  Think of human-powered mowing as your daily exercise and you can eliminate the gym trip too!

 

  1. Install Solar Lights for Ambiance

 

Green living can be not just about maintaining, but about improving your home experience as well.  Treat yourself to some ambient solar lighting.  There are plenty of models to choose from ranging from walkway lights to overhead string party lights.

 

Remember, green living is best accomplished slowly and steadily, with a conscious decision  to make lasting change.  Choose a few of these options and take a step toward greener living this summer!

 

Mosaic Realty offers a free home energy audit to our homebuyer clients during the examination period.

 

For information on real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at mike@mymosaicrealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

 

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Sources and Further Reading: http://greenlivingideas.com/2015/05/12/how-to-make-your-home-more-energy-efficient/

 

You Will Love These 5 Amazing Walkable Neighborhoods in Asheville

walkable neighborhoods

photo credit: gratisography

Considering a move to or within Asheville?  Here in the world of Asheville real estate, we are noticing a few trends that may seem familiar to you.  The first is the desire to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.  Another is a premium placed on convenience to alleviate the pressures of today’s busy schedules.  Enter the demand for walkable neighborhoods.

Aside from the obvious walkability of downtown Asheville’s historic and luxury condos, we would like to explore with you 5 other diverse walkable neighborhoods.

  1. Montford-Central

Montford homeMontford is an historic district just Northwest of downtown Asheville.  The main commercial corridor, Montford Avenue, is lined with enormous hardwoods and gorgeous homes, mostly from the early 1900s, in a vast array of architectural styles.  A handful of establishments such as Nine Mile Caribbean cuisine and Chiesa Italian restaurant make this neighborhood have a sense of community.  Additionally, there is a small park and a community center with tennis courts and wooded amphitheater, perfect for a stroll to entertainment.

  1. Grove Park-North

One of Asheville’s oldest and most distinguished planned neighborhoods, the Grove Park neighborhood, lies just North of downtown.  Charlotte Street serves as the vital avenue for this part of town.  Though this neighborhood is more elongated, stretching all the way to the Grove Park Inn, many residents can be seen taking the tree-lined sidewalks to the dining on Charlotte Street.  You can get the flavor of this neighborhood by checking out restaurants like the Asian cuisine of Ghanshan Station and pastries at City Bakery.

  1. West Asheville-West

Of all of these walkable neighborhoods, West Asheville has perhaps the most robust and distinctive mini-downtown area of its own.  Haywood Road is a revitalized thoroughfare lined with pubs, restaurants, and boutiques.  Bike corrals and pedestrian crossings encourage green forms of transportation.  Architectural styles range from smaller historic bungalows to mid century ranchers to newer green homes.  There are several parks, a public library, bookstore, yoga studio and more to walk to!

West Asheville Historic Home

  1. Biltmore Park-South

The newer south Asheville community of Biltmore Park neighborhood is a planned town center surrounded by a suburban neighborhood of larger homes built around 1990-2010.  The concept of this neighborhood was designed to promote smart growth and walkability.  Sidewalks are the norm and you can walk to many stores, restaurants and even a YMCA.  The mountains to sea trail even passes close by the edge of the neighborhood.

  1. River Arts District-Central

The River Arts District is one of Asheville’s newest revitalized areas.  Sitting along the banks of the French Broad River and criss-crossed with railroad tracks, it has long been an industrial area.  Manufacturing warehouses are slowly making way for artist’s studios and historic buildings are being rehabbed into breweries, restaurants and bars.  Sidewalks and bike lanes help pedestrians access downtown and the nearby river park.  Much of the housing in this area is either bungalow style homes, condos or studio apartments.

Mosaic Realty would love to help you find your place among Asheville’s walkable neighborhoods.

For more information on real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at mike@mymosaicrealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

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Eco-Friendly Home Holiday Decorations that Sparkle

Holiday Candle

The winter holiday season, associated with bedazzled homes and celebratory times, is all too often associated with excessive waste as well.  The aftermath of the celebrations frequently involves loads of crumpled paper and dying trees - hardly the epilogue for an eco-minded celebration.

Holiday decorating and celebrating does not have to be synonymous with waste, however.  Here, we offer you 6 ideas for taking steps toward a greener home during the holiday season this year.

1. Choose a green lighting scheme.

LED Christmas LightsWhen the time comes to replace those endless strings of holiday lights, opt to replace them with LED string lights.  LED lights use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.  Invest in a programmable timer for both Christmas tree lights and an outdoor one for your neighborhood display.  Choose natural candles made from soy or other vegetable waxes as opposed to petoleum-based paraffin.  

2. Make your own holiday cards.

Recycled Holiday CardThe best cards are ones that take some effort to pull together.  With a bit of forethought, you can have a stack of paper already collected throughout the months preceding the holidays that could be perfect for assembling into cards.  Images from glossy magazines, children’s art, and even tissue paper can be pieced together into a personalized card that is a masterpiece! For those of us with no talent for crafting, there are always electronic cards that generate zero waste.

3.  Opt for a living tree this year.

You can give yourself a gift that keeps on giving by avoiding the Christmas tradition of harvesting a tree then discarding it on the curb a month later.  Choose instead to decorate or purchase a living tree.  For a small table top tree, you can buy a carefully pruned rosemary tree. Some local Christmas tree farms even allow you to choose your own living Christmas trees.  Or, choose a favorite houseplant, such as a Norfolk Island Pine, to decorate and nurture all year round.  All of these plants will go on to contribute to fresher air throughout their lifespan.

4.  Reuse or make your own gift wrap.

Recycled Wrapping PaperOne of the most wasteful traditions at the holidays is the use of purchased gift wrap.  There are so many creative alternatives to purchasing holiday gift wrap.  For starters, collect all gift bags and boxes after exchanging presents, store them in a container and reuse them next year.  If your reuse supply is dwindling, consider wrapping gifts in spare fabric, old maps, newspapers, shoe boxes, jars and cans or even old calendars. It’s almost a new year anyway!

5. Make an upcycled wreath.

Rather than purchasing a wreath, choose to make a beautiful upcycled wreath from most any material that you have an abundance of. This article from Inhabitat highlights how most any material can be arranged, with the power of symmetry and color, into a fun and festive door decoration.  Kids will love this project!

6.  Find or make your ugly Christmas sweaters.

Ugly Christmas SweaterWhatever you do, don’t buy an ugly Christmas sweater new!  With all of the energy that it takes to make a sweater and ship it (likely from far away), buying a new ugly sweater makes no sense at all.  Walk to your nearest thrift shop.  You are almost certain to find a plethora of hideous Christmas sweaters to choose from to rock at your next holiday party. Or better yet, make one by attaching any leftover ornaments, bells and tinsel you can find...the more the merrier!

For information on real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

Search: View all green homes for sale in Asheville

Search: View all homes for sale in Asheville

 

 

Go Green, Save Green: Budget-Friendly Home Living Tips

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Making eco-friendly home improvements does not have to mean large upfitting costs. In fact, many environmentally responsible actions that can be taken surrounding your home involve behavior modification or simple tasks with a modest investment.

When in doubt, follow the old adage of reduce, reuse and recycle - in that order specifically, to have the most impact on your wallet and our world!  The more steps that you can take at the top of the model to reduce your consumption, the greater financial and environmental difference you will make.  Check out these actions you can take to have a greener home:

REDUCE to Go Green at Home

Home EnergyReduce water consumption by taking shorter showers, using one drinking cup throughout the day, collecting rainwater for watering gardens and washing cars, and installing low-flow shower heads.

Reduce electricity consumption by replacing appliances with Energy Star rated ones only when they absolutely need replacing, by using CFL or LED light bulbs, and using task lighting rather than lighting a whole room.

Reduce heat loss by installing weather stripping and insulation and lowering your thermostat at night and when you are away from home.

Have an energy audit performed to assess other ways that you may  improve your energy loss.

REUSE to Go Green at Home

GoodwillPurchase reusable containers for food storage and beverage consumption.

Don’t throw out that leftover rice from burrito night; toss it with olive oil and soy sauce and have fried rice tonight!  The concept of reuse applies to food consumption and has the added benefit of working towards reducing food transportation costs and eliminating waste that goes toward the landfill.

For the food you cannot bear to consume as leftovers again, throw it in a compost pile where you will be able to reuse it as compost in a few months.

Pass on clothing and household items that you are done with to a charitable organization so that those items may be reused in our community by people who need them.

Store wood from home maintenance projects in a dry shed or garage for future projects (you know you will have them) rather than tossing out significant scraps.

RECYCLE to Go Green at Home

CompostRecycle yard waste right into your garden. Blow leaves into garden beds for the winter rather than raking them and placing them on the side of the road. With a few good turns into the bed in the spring, you will have added some nice organic matter to the beds. Similarly, collect fallen sticks in your yard to burn in a bonfire rather than purchase bundles of wood.

Consult your local recycling experts for how to clear your house of unwanted items in an environmentally responsible way. Our local experts in Asheville are found at Asheville Greenworks.

For information on green living and real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

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Asheville's CompostNow Service Makes it Easy for You to Go Greener

compost

Ever wish you could cut down on the food waste your family adds to landfills every year, but stymied by the logistics of composting? Maybe you live in an apartment, have a small backyard, or simply want an easy way to turn your food scraps into food for the Earth. If you live in the Asheville area, there’s a simple solution: CompostNow is a service that allows anyone to compost without the hassle and maintenance of a compost bin. Members receive bins that they can fill with compostable items; the bins are collected on a weekly basis and returned with earned compost, either to you or to a local community garden of your choosing.

The Benefits of Composting

There are many reasons why composting is a great idea. Garden soil thrives best on compost; it helps loosen clay soils and helps sandy soils retain water. And unlike commercial fertilizers, it has no petroleum-based compounds. Compost curbs plant diseases and pests, and helps your garden to produce much higher yields of healthy fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Then there’s the benefit to the Earth: Composting keeps food-related waste out of landfills, easing the environmental burdens that weigh on our planet. In fact, CompostNow members divert over a third of their waste from landfills — that’s more than 500 pounds per household.

How CompostNow Works

Compost Now AshevilleAnyone in the Asheville area (or the Triangle area, CompostNow’s other service point) – be it a household, business, restaurant or even an event – can sign up to be a CompostNow member. For a household, once you sign up, you will receive up to two bins. Just put your food scraps and other compostable materials (CompostNow provides you with a list, which includes even bones, meat, dairy and pizza boxes) in the bin; every week, the service comes to collect your food-related scraps, replacing your bin with a clean one. CompostNow partners locally with Danny’s Dumpsters, which takes the collected scraps to its facility in East Asheville for composting.

You start earning compost immediately, and it’ll be dropped off whenever you indicate you’d like it. The service also offers the option to support the local food movement by sharing earned compost with a local community garden of your choosing.

For more information on CompostNow, and how you can easily get in on the composting movement, visit www.compostnow.org.

For more information about our area or about real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

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