Archive for the ‘Green Living’ Category

9 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

9 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIs your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home making you sick? If you find yourself experiencing a variety of symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, a cough that won’t go away, constant sneezing, chronic sore throat, frequent headaches, shortness of breath or asthma, the culprit may be the air in your home.

Indoor air pollution can be caused by a long list of things, including:

  • Smoke, especially tobacco products used indoors
  • Other burning items, such as candles, incense, wood-burning fireplace, gas stove
  • Heating or cooling systems.
  • Off-gassing from building materials (new carpets, new cabinets made of pressed wood, etc.) and other industrial chemicals, such as radon, formaldehyde, fire-retardants, and the like
  • Household chemicals of various types (cleaning supplies, paint, air fresheners, etc.)
  • Personal products such as hair spray, scented soaps, etc.
  • High humidity
  • Poor circulation of fresh air
  • Mould, mildew and dust mites

Winter, when our houses are closed up tight, makes the situation worse. Luckily, there are many things we can do to improve the quality of the air and our health without resorting to camping in the open air in the backyard

1.  No smoking in the house!

2.  Keep your house clean.

  • Vacuum often.
    Choose a vacuum cleaner with strong suction, rotating brushes and a HEPA filter to get rid of all sorts of nasty things. Clean your floors and also walls, carpet edges, draperies or blinds, and upholstered furniture at least once a week. Vacuum mattresses every couple of months.
  • Damp mop the floors after vacuuming.
    Use a microfiber cloth and plain water to pick up dust that the vacuum did not capture. Furniture, baseboards, interior doors and cabinets can also be cleaned of dust using just a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Put a large floor mat at every door and have people remove their shoes to keep outside dirt and chemicals from coming in.
  • Consider getting rid of the carpet in your home (a haven for dirt and dust mites). Replace it with natural materials like solid wood, bamboo or cork. Avoid vinyl floor coverings due to their carcinogenic properties.
  • Launder bed coverings and pillows frequently, especially if you have pets in your home.
  • Clean often or replace filters in your furnace, humidifiers and portable air conditioners. Also clean bathroom and kitchen vents.

3. Store household chemicals, such as paint, solvents, glues and pesticides, outside the home.

Items such as these emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to people and the environment. There’s a reason containers for these products come with the warning to use only in a well-ventilated area.

4.  Banish artificial fragrances from your home.

Pine, lemon and flowery scents in cleaners, laundry products and plug-in air fresheners may smell pleasant, but those things are loaded with nasty chemicals that can make you sick. Gases emitted by these products contain VOCs and petroleum derivatives that have been determined to be hazardous and toxic. Instead, look for fragrance-free products. Use natural cleaning products, such as baking soda and vinegar. Stop using aerosol sprays such as deodorants, hair sprays, furniture polish, and air fresheners. Use sliced lemons or vanilla extract dabbed on light bulbs or your furnace filter for a lovely natural smell.

5.  Stop household mould.

Mould occurs in areas prone to high moisture such as kitchens and bathrooms. Use exhaust fans and a dehumidifier to keep the humidity down and the air moving. Keep a healthy level of humidity in your home of 30-50%. Repair any plumbing leaks. If you spot mould on surfaces, treat it and remove it while it’s small and manageable. This article from The Family Handyman tells you how.

6.  Invest in an air purifier.

High-quality air purifiers remove dust, dust mites, pet dander, pollen, smoke and other allergens, as well as cooking odors. Some may even remove VOCs. Read what Consumer Reports has to say about these machines.

7.  Increase ventilation in your home.

Fling open all the windows? Sure, if the outside air is fresh – or if it’s not the middle of an Alberta winter! During Alberta’s other seasons, consider using “trickle ventilation”, a special window screen with extra filters that allows fresh air in while filtering out pollutants from both outside and inside the home. Use air conditioning in the summer, if you have it in your home, to move the air and remove mold-causing moisture. Run ceiling fans all year-round for more air-moving experience. Make sure that fuel-burning furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, range tops and the like are vented to the outside well away from windows and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) intakes.

9 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam8.  Improve air quality with house plants.

Best air-filtering plants, according to a study done by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America:

Bonus:  These plants are among the easiest house plants to grow, even for those without a green thumb!

9.  Test for radon.

This cancer-causing radioactive gas is colorless and odorless. It is produced through the natural decay of uranium found in soil. It gets into homes moving up from the ground through cracks in the home’s foundation. Granite countertops might also be a problem. Read Health Canada’s article on testing for radon.

Do you have other ideas to improve home air quality? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

25 Easy Ways to Green Our Community This Summer

Friday, June 19th, 2015

25 Easy Ways to Green Our Community This Summer | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County real estate | Barry TwynamWhether you have just a few minutes or are planning a large community project, every action can have a positive impact when it comes to greening our communities of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton. To help you get started this summer, and in celebration of its 25th anniversary, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation is sharing 25 easy ways to green where you live.

1. Volunteer for community greening projects
2. Pick up garbage at a local park
3. Volunteer at a community garden (or start one in Spruce Grove or Stony Plain)
4. Help build or teach at an outdoor classroom
5. Plant a tree (or many trees) that are native to our region
6. Put up a bird feeder or plant a butterfly garden
7. Plan a local shoreline cleanup
8. Host an eco-friendly party using biodegradable cutlery and food from local sources (Remember that Spruce Grove will help you host a Block Party.)
9. Walk, bike or take public transit instead of driving
10. Participate in your community’s recycling program
11. Upcycle old or out of date items around the home
12. Compost leftover food waste
13. Donate proceeds from a garage sale to local greening projects or your TD FEF chapter (tdfef.com)
14. Use organic fertilizer on your lawn
15. Collect rainwater and use it for your plants
16. Get a push mower for your lawn
17. Water your lawn deeply only once or twice a week
18. Participate in Meatless Monday
19. Learn about invasive species of plants and help with their removal
20. Add raised planters or container gardens to help green a paved play space
21. Start a “friends of” club to help protect your local parks and green spaces
22. Make sure to properly dispose of items like batteries and paint
23. Organize a carpool to work, school or day-camp
24. Create an adopt-a-tree program in your community
25. Use more natural cleaning products in your home

Donating and volunteering with an environmental organization can make a big difference. TD Friends of the Environment Foundation uses 100 per cent of funds donated to directly support local environmental projects. Since 1990, over $70 million has been raised to support more than 23,000 community initiatives. To learn about volunteering opportunities to help green where you live, visit www.tdtreedays.com.

What are your favorite ways of helping the environment?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

(Most of the content of this article courtesy of www.newscanada.com)

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Your Spruce Grove Home

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Your Spruce Grove Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

For most of us in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, winter means a spike in our power and gas bills as we use more energy to heat and light our homes. Check out the tips below to save some money and help the planet.

 

Save Power

  • Install timers and power-saver cords for automobile block heaters and interior car heaters.
  • Adjust lighting timers as daylight hours decrease and then increase throughout the winter.
  • Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out this year. Replace them now with the newer more energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs.
  • Yes, we need more light during the winter, but light up just the spaces you are using. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Run appliances at out-of-peak hours, such as late at night, and turn off everything when not in use.
  • Think low-tech solutions. For example, use a clothesline for drying some clothing items instead of your dryer. This has many advantages: saves power and money; better for many garments; adds moisture to your home.

Your Home Heating System

  • Get a qualified contractor to check the heating system to make sure it’s operating at optimum efficiency.
  • Check air supply vents and return air vents to make sure air is circulating freely. Keep furniture and appliances away from vents, and plan to have your furnace ducts professionally cleaned late in each summer.
  • Clean your furnace filter regularly – at least once per month – and replace every 3 months. Doing this can save you up to 5% on heating costs. Did you know you can install a special alarm on your furnace that will let you know when it is time to change your filter? These alarms will make a whistling sound when they sense that the filters are dirty.
  • Turn down the thermostat at night and during the day when you are away by up to 4 degrees C. Every 1 degree C. set back can save up to 2% in energy costs!
  • Keep that thermostat turned down a degree or two and bring out the sweaters and blankets.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat to make those set-backs automatic.
  • The new high-efficiency furnaces can save mega bucks! But if you’re not ready to replace your furnace, at least consider a tune-up which can save 3-10% on your heating bill.
  • Avoid heating uninsulated spaces such as the garage or cold storage room. Check doors leading to these spaces and replace with insulated doors if necessary.
  • Close doors and air supply registers in unused rooms.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans in winter to circulate warm air down.
  • Take advantage of whatever natural heat there may be by opening draperies during the day on south-facing windows and closing them at night.

Keep the Heat in Your Home

  • Have your home’s insulation assessed to determine if you need to add to it. Proper insulation will save money in heating costs during the winter and keep your home cooler in summer. DIY tip: Measure the thickness of your attic insulation. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fibreglass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose) you’ll benefit by adding more. Also, consider installing some roof vents and inlets to improve ventilation.
  • Look for dirty spots in your insulation. These may be signs of air leaks which can be repaired by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edge of the plastic.
  • Place clear plastic sheeting on your windows sometime in the fall to keep out the cold air and prevent warm air from escaping for very little cost. Use weather stripping on doors and windows and seals on exterior wall outlets. Put caulking on window and door frames, and seal around vents and cable or wire wall entries.
  • Did you replace your carpets with laminate and hardwood and now the floors are cold? Oops. Put down an area rug to add a little warmth and cut down on noise.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use to prevent warm inside air from escaping up the chimney. Check the seal on the flue damper and make it good and tight. Tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air into the room will also help preserve the warmth.
  • Not exactly insulation, but something else to warm up your home. Moist air is warmer than dry air so add humidity to your home with portable humidifiers or an attachment to your heating system, as well as an aquarium and houseplants.
  • Keep the doors (interior and exterior) to your attached garage closed as much as possible. This keeps your garage warmer and also lets less cold air into the house.
  • If you have an unfinished basement, heat could be escaping along the joist cavities. Insulate the walls for major savings in money and comfort.
  • Even though window blinds and shutters are more fashionable at the moment, quilted curtains and insulated draperies keep your home warmer.
  • Plant some trees in your yard in the spring! Besides beautifying your yard, they’ll protect your home from winter wind and summer sun, as well as helping the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Want even more tips on this topic? Read my previous blog article “Winter Isn’t for Wimps!

Looking for a great energy-efficient home? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Banish Cleaning Chemicals With These 4 All-Natural Substitutes

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Banish Cleaning Chemicals With These 4 All-Natural Substitutes  | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamYou’ve bought a property in Parkland County, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, or the Edmonton area, and you’ve spent hours cleaning your old home for the next resident. Now, cleaning your new home is usually the last thing you want to do when moving in, but as always, no matter how clean and perfect your new home is left waiting for you, there’s always that nagging feeling of needing to redo some of it yourself. But don’t waste your time with harsh chemicals in your new home; here are four fantastic all natural cleaning agents that will leave your new home sparkling clean, disinfected, and smelling fresh.

Baking Soda – the Natural Deodorizer

Known as one of the most versatile cleaners on the planet, baking soda is perfect for scrubbing surfaces (as it is non-abrasive), and it can be mixed with lemon and vinegar (to form a paste) for tougher stains. Perfect for deodorizing the carpet, baking soda can be spread evenly on the carpet and left for a couple of hours before it’s vacuumed up. No scrubbing necessary!

Tea Tree Oil – a Powerful Antiseptic

This product can be found just as easily as baking soda at your local pharmacy, and a few drops of tea tree oil can go a long way. Boil some water and let it cool to a warm temperature. In a bucket (for your floors) or a spray bottle, combine the water with a handful of drops (or more for larger surfaces) of tea tree oil, and mop your floors or wipe down any surfaces with it. Tea Tree Oil kills bacteria better than any household cleaner on the market, is safe to use as an all purpose cleaner, and it’s even known to help fight fungal infections such as acne. An added bonus to this wonderful product? It will leave your surfaces with a brilliant shine.

Vinegar – Cheap and Effective

While the scent may not be the most pleasant, vinegar has been used as an all-natural cleaning product for centuries. In fact, some historians claim that vinegar was used by a group of thieves in the time of plague – they would bathe in it to ward off the illness and then rob the homes of the deceased. Vinegar has many of the same uses as CLR:  cleaning your sinks, coffee pots, showerheads, and any place that may gather calcium, mould, and scum. It’s also perfect for leaving a streak-free shine on your windows – simply combine part vinegar and part water in a spray bottle and wipe the surface with a paper towel.

Lemon – Degrease and Sanitize

From polishing your silverware, to sanitizing your cutting board or microwave, lemon does it all – but be careful with some surfaces, as it’s more potent than you think! Lemon will do anything from degreasing your pots and pans (and even your grill) to brightening your whites in the laundry. Lemon will not only clean, but also eliminate bad odours as it lifts surface bacteria.

Keep yourself and your family healthy in your home by cutting down on harsh, expensive chemical cleaning products and try some of the dozens of uses these natural cleaning products have to offer!

I always look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions or hearing comments you may have regarding your home and our community. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here directly at Spruce Grove Real Estate.

Shedding a Different Light

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Shedding a Different Light | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow many incandescent light bulbs are in your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area?  This isn’t an idle question, or the beginning of a dumb joke, although the ban on incandescent bulbs that went into effect in Canada on January 1, 2014 may seem like a bad joke to some.

In case you missed it, as of January 1, old-fashioned light bulbs in their 75- and 100-watt formats are history in Canada.  You can still buy them until the old stock runs out but no more will be manufactured.  By the end of 2014 the ban will be extended to include the 40- and 60-watt versions.

There are plenty of people who are unhappy about this.  They point out that the incandescent bulb provides a soft warm dimmable light that alternatives such as compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and LEDs can’t match.  They also note that CFLs and especially LEDs are much more expensive to buy.  And CFLs, because they contain mercury, must be disposed of in special facilities, a fact that many people using them may not be aware of.  In addition, CFLs may not work in temperatures less than minus 10 degrees Celsius.  Their lifespan can be significantly reduced if they are turned on and off rapidly, and they have a rare but nasty habit of catching on fire or smoking.

So why the ban on incandescent bulbs?  It’s all about saving the environment.  “In Canada alone, the federal government estimates that CFLs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tonnes a year, or the equivalent of retiring 1.4 million vehicles. In Germany, the switch to energy-efficient bulbs will save the equivalent capacity of three nuclear reactors.”  (From an article in The Globe and Mail, Dec 27, 2012, entitled “The death of the incandescent light bulb”)

***Check out this great chart comparing the costs, energy efficiencies, environmental impact, advantages and disadvantages of incandescent bulbs vs. CFLs vs. LEDs. ***

More light facts:

  • Roughly 90% of the energy used to operate an incandescent bulb dissipates as heat rather than being used to provide light.  (Chicken farmers note that this is actually an advantage in the spring when they are raising baby chicks in a chilly chicken coop!)
  • The average life of an incandescent bulb is about 750 to 1000 hours, compared to 6,000 to 15,000 hours for a CFL (“Incandescent light bulb ban starts Jan. 1”)
  • Cost to buy:  incandescent bulbs 60 to 80 cents apiece; halogen bulbs around $2 each; CFLs $2.50 to $4; LEDs about $20 per bulb.  (The possibility exists that prices for the newer bulbs, especially LEDs, will decrease once incandescent bulbs are no longer being manufactured.)
  • Some incandescent bulbs will be exempt from the ban.  These include lights such as those in ovens and refrigerators that can’t be replaced with alternatives.
  • Manufacturers are working on improving the quality of the light in energy-efficient  bulbs.  “Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the next big thing; global lighting company Osram Sylvania, for one, believes it has a winner with its “Ultra LED,” an omnidirectional mercury-free bulb that aims to give all the warmth of a 100-watt incandescent bulb while using just 20 watts of electricity.”  (“The death of the incandescent light bulb”, The Globe and Mail)

Maybe you’ve already made a trip to your local hardware store to buy up remaining stocks of incandescent bulbs, or maybe you’ve decided to give in to the inevitable.  At least we can still buy candles if we want soft warm light with a bit of heat!

What do you think of the ban on incandescent bulbs?  Have you already replaced all your bulbs with the energy-efficient ones?  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

The River Valley Alliance

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

One of Edmonton’s nicknames is River City, and the River Valley Alliance is working hard to make that much more than a catchy phrase.

The River Valley Alliance | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHaven’t heard of the River Valley Alliance?  If you are someone who enjoys spending time outdoors and who is concerned about preserving the natural beauty around us for generations to come, this is something you’ll want to learn about and get involved in.

The goal of the River Valley Alliance since 1996 has been to “Preserve, Protect and Enhance” the valley of the North Saskatchewan River.  Seven municipalities within the valley (Town of Devon, Parkland County, Leduc County, City of Edmonton, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County and City of Fort Saskatchewan) collaborate to create a continuous river valley park system connecting the 22+ parks and numerous trails in Alberta’s Capital Region, stretching all the way from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan.  The end product is a continuous span of 88 km, longer than any other urban park in North America. At 18,000 acres, it is also one of the largest, making it 22 times bigger than Central Park in New York City. 

The official River Valley Alliance brochure points out that “the River Valley is a defining symbol of Alberta’s Capital Region, a green corridor along the North Saskatchewan River that offers:

      • a preserve for wildlife and native vegetation
      • an escape to nature for residents and visitors
      • opportunities for year round outdoor recreation, family fun and community events
      • a place to connect to others and with yourself”

The River Valley Alliance | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamRVA’s main role is to coordinate planning and development along the river valley and to access financial and public support for the project.

RVA’s brochure also suggests several ways each of us can get involved in this very worthy undertaking:

“Visit the river valley – share the experience with family and friends

Show your pride – tell people about this unique feature and RVA’s work

Participate – share your river valley stories, photos and videos

Donate – donate to RVA’s work through Canada Helps, corporate giving, or in-kind donations

Connect – contact us or subscribe online to RVA’s e-newsletter:

River Valley Alliance, P.O. Box 2359, Edmonton AB T5J 2R7

contact@rivervalley.ab.ca

www.rivervalley.ab.ca

Thanks to the fine folks at River Valley Alliance for allowing me to quote from their brochure and use their content! 

Comments or questions about this article or about real estate near the river?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Go Clean Your Room!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Go Clean Your Room! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhether we live in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or elsewhere, how often as parents have we said those words?   And how often have we been less than satisfied with the clean-up efforts of our offspring?

An article published in the April 3, 2012 edition of the Edmonton Journal offers a few tips that might make the next tidying up incident a little more productive.  “Teaching kids to cut clutter” suggests the way to make kids’ too small rooms a little bigger is to get rid of some of the stuff in them.  Even better would be to never have some of the stuff, such as the junk contents of many birthday party loot bags (who dreams up these things anyway?), enter the rooms in the first place.

The article profiles two moms and writers, Debby Waldman and Rita Feutl, who co-wrote a book for children entitled Room Enough for Daisy based on their personal experiences trying to corral the belongings of their own children.  “Feutl says she hopes it prompts thoughtful parents to ask their kids to think about where the material for these things comes from, where they are put together, who puts them together and what they’re paid, how they’re packaged and how they get to the village, town or city where the kids live.”  The women hope their book will make kids more aware of their stuff and to take responsibility for it, as well as realize that some things are worth keeping more than others, and that less can be more.

A few of the tips from the article for helping kids cut clutter:

  • Use the one-in-one-out rule.  When a new item comes into a kid’s room, something else must be removed.  But let your child decide.
  • Sorting items and keeping like items together in containers and on shelves may go a long way to solving the problem of a messy room.
  • If a child doesn’t appear to be using certain items, gather them up and put them away for 6 months.  If the child doesn’t ask for the items during that time, consider giving the stuff away.
  • If kids want something new, have them contribute to the purchase.
  • Be specific when you ask kids to clean their room.  Do you want them to clean, as in vacuum and dust, or do you want them to organize, as in pick up those blocks and arrange them in this box?
  • Make sorting, arranging and tidying into a time-limited game.

Read the full article for even more good ideas.

If we can teach our kids to be more aware of the difference between wants and needs, and that more and more stuff doesn’t necessarily mean a better life, maybe their generation can do a better job of decluttering the planet!

I always welcome your comments and questions.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

 

Be Green, Save Gold on Water

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Be Green, Save Gold on Water | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAre you a water hog or a water miser?  Chances are, if you’re like most Canadians, whether you live in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or elsewhere, you use more water than you should.  This excessive water use costs us as homeowners, in higher water bills, and as citizens, putting a strain on infrastructure and resources.

 Stemming the flow of H2O”, an article in the March 3, 2012 issue of the Edmonton Journal and written by Patrick Langston of the Ottawa Citizen, contains some startling statistics about water use.  For instance, the article states that Canadians on average use 340 litres of water per person per day, the 2nd highest amount in the world.

Other facts quoted in the article:

  • Roughly 65% of indoor water use occurs in the bathroom.
  • One drop per second from a leaky faucet can waste about 10,000 litres of water in a year.  A toilet that keeps running after it’s flushed can waste up to 200,000 litres per year (enough to fill 2 swimming pools!)
  • Standard shower heads release 15 to 20 litres of water per minute.  A low-flow model cuts that amount in half.  
  • A standard 18-litre-per-flush toilet, flushed 4 times per day, uses close to 30,000 litres per year.  Think of how much water (and money!) can be saved by replacing one standard toilet with a low-flow model that uses 6 litres or less per flush.
  • It takes about 265 litres to fill a standard bathtub, more (sometimes much more) for a soaker tub.
  • Most front-loading washing machines use about 75 litres per load, about half that of top loaders.
  • Think you’re saving money and water if you hand wash your dishes?  Hand washing uses about 75 litres, while an Energy Star dishwasher takes about 15 litres per load.

Tips and information abound in this useful article. Some of these things we’ve heard before, like not leaving the tap running when you brush your teeth or wash your hands.  Other tips may be new, such as installing a thermostatic valve in the shower so that the shower can be shut off while lathering without having to re-set the water temperature when the tap is turned back on. 

The article concludes with conservation tips borrowed from the website WaterUseItWisely.com.  This excellent website offers over 100 ways to conserve water, such as:

  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing.  Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • Wash vegetables in a bowl of water instead of under a running tap.  Then use the vegetable water to water houseplants.
  • Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
  • When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.  Better yet, aim to run your machine only for full loads.
  • Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up.

Read the article  and check out WaterUseItWisely.com for much more information.  Whether the tips you’ll find there are new or old, we all can stand to be reminded of ways we can help the planet and our wallets!

I would be happy to help you find an energy-efficient home!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

Fire That Old Furnace!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Fire That Old Furnace! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamMost of us don’t give much thought to the furnaces in our Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County homes, as long as they keep us warm through the long Alberta winters.  An article in the October 29, 2011 edition of the Edmonton Journal, entitled “A new furnace can save money, and lives”, might just give you reasons to replace the old workhorse in your basement.

The article points out that, while the initial cost of the newer high-efficiency furnaces is a little steep [expect to pay around $5000 for the purchase and installation of a new, high quality furnace], you’ll save plenty of money over time.  A quote from the article:

“Natural gas prices have more than tripled in the past 10 years and many analysts are forecasting further price increases. Fortunately, the efficiency ratings of new furnaces have also been increasing. Most furnaces installed in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, were only 60-to 70-per-cent efficient, and very old furnaces can be less than 50-per-cent efficient. A continuously burning pilot light can decrease these efficiencies by another five per cent. New furnaces are 90-to 95-per-cent efficient. They do not have pilot lights and can reduce your heating costs by up to 40 per cent.”

But it’s not just money you’ll be saving.  Older furnaces are not very good at filtering dust and allergens from the air in your home.  What’s more, older furnaces can emit dangerous levels of carbon monoxide within your home.

My assistant recently replaced the furnace in her 30-year-old Spruce Grove home and had this to say about the experience:  “We knew it was time.  We’d been reading and hearing a lot about how much better the new furnaces were.  Our old one was still pumping out the heat, with no trouble, really, but we knew it couldn’t go on forever.  What surprised us was how much better the air circulated through the house with the new furnace – far fewer cold spots.  We used to have to wrap up in blankets for TV watching in our basement family room, or turn on the gas fireplace, but no more!  The basement is as cozy as the rest of the house.  But what really sold us on the new furnace was something we weren’t expecting at all.  Our son always gets stuffed up and sneezy when he comes to visit because he’s allergic to cats, but the new furnace has taken all of that away.  Now, that’s impressive, and definitely made us happy about our purchase!”

It’s not too late to replace your old furnace before the really nasty winter weather hits.  Learn more about the benefits of the new high-efficiency furnaces by checking out “A new furnace can save money, and lives”.

Comments or questions about this article?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca or contact me here.

 

 

Spruce Grove’s Jubilee Park

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Something very special is being created on the east side of Spruce Grove.  You may not have heard about it because it’s not quite finished, and the City of Spruce Grove isn’t promoting it yet, but Jubilee Park in Spruce Grove is now open for public use and well worth a visit.

Spruce Grove's Jubilee Park | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you are a citizen of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, or Parkland County, you know that one of the things that makes Spruce Grove so memorable and family-friendly is the large number of neighborhood parks and playgrounds, sports parks and facilities (such as the Fuhr Sports Park west of the Tri-Leisure Centre and the Henry Singer ball park south of the railroad tracks), and the gem running right through the centre of town in the form of ParticiPark, that huge stand of trees and nature trails.  But all of these are about to look almost ordinary compared to what will be officially open to the public in 2012. 

Jubilee Park is a 60-acre parcel of land located at 510 Grove Drive, east of Spruce Village.  This land is being transformed into a wonderland of urban recreational and cultural opportunities.  The City of Spruce Grove website  says that the park “will offer the community the best passive and unstructured recreational opportunities in the city.  From paved walking and bike trails, to picnic areas, an open air performance area, sliding hill and playground, Jubilee Park will provide families with a multitude of outdoor pleasures.”

Features of the park, most of which are now in place, include

  • Picnic areas
  • Picnic shelter
  • Plaza
  • Open games area
  • Fire pit
  • Multi-purpose paved walking and biking trails
  • Play structure and “tot lot”
  • Disk golf
  • Recreational skating
  • Sliding and tobogganing hill
  • Multi-purpose building
  • Amphitheatre and open air performance area
  • Formal gardens
  • Wetlands
  • Natural woodlands
  • Paved parking

See the map of the proposed development. 

The City of Spruce Grove suggests several benefits of this park:

  • Community gathering place
  • Promotes social well-being and health
  • Family-oriented spaces
  • Connects to Heritage Grove trail system
  • Natural interpretive education opportunities
  • Preserves natural woodlands

Spruce Grove has not had a place for the community to gather in large numbers for special events, especially those focused on culture.  The sports fields at Spruce Grove Composite High School have been the venue for Canada Day celebrations for a few years, but without adequate amenities such as parking, seating and the like.  Imagine the uses of this incredible new facility.  Imagine a place for open air summer concerts and other performances, winter and summer games, community picnics and celebrations, festivals to rival those of neighboring communities, family play, get-togethers and reunions, wedding photos, block parties, and just hanging out and enjoying nature with your family and neighbors…. 

From a real estate perspective, this park is very good news for current and future residents of the nearby neighborhoods of Spruce Village and Grove Meadows.  Green space of any type tends to increase the desirability and perhaps value of properties located in the vicinity.  Expect only positive outcomes from this wonderful new facility!

Your comments and questions are always welcome!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here. 

 

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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