RE/MAX 440
David J Feinberg

David J Feinberg
4789 Route 309  Center Valley  PA 18034
Phone:  610-509-4358
Office:  610-791-4400
Fax:  610-791-9575

My Blog

Home for the Holidays? It's Prime Time for Checking on Older Relatives

December 2, 2013 4:21 am

The turkey is defrosting and family is starting to gather at the house for Thanksgiving. For many families, this is the once-a-year time that they travel from across the nation and, often times, the globe to be with loved ones. In addition to enjoying time with family and friends, AARP says it's also prime time to check on older family members and relatives.
AARP has released a list of tips and questions to simplify observing how Mom, Dad and other relatives are doing with everything from mobility to heath and finances.

Taking a Look at their Home – How to tell if their home is still appropriate

• Can they still manage the stairs, or would a chair lift or a home on one level be better?
• Are you concerned that their home may have safety hazards, such as dark stairs, loose rugs, clutter, or fire hazards? Would brighter lighting and fewer tripping hazards help?
• Is there a bath on the ground floor and a room that could become a bedroom if necessary?
• Could simple modifications to their home, like easier-to-use handles and switches, pull-out cabinet shelves, a comfort-height toilet or walk-in shower make it more convenient?

Getting Around – How to gauge their driving safety and transportation options

• If they are still driving, ride with them and observe their driving. Are they having close calls? Are there dents or dings on the car or garage? Do they drive too slow or miss signs or signals? Do they have difficulties at intersections? Have they gotten warnings or tickets? These are a few signs that it might be time to talk about limiting driving or hanging up the keys.
• Look around the community or make a note to research their alternative transportation options for shopping, medical visits, religious services and visits with family and friends if they hang up the keys.

Health – A few key things to check

• If you don't already know about their health problems and current medications, take this time to ask. Are their prescriptions current?
• Has their doctor or pharmacist reviewed all of their medications for side effects and potentially dangerous interactions or effect on driving? Their pharmacist can be a great resource.
• Are they having any problems taking their medications? Do they always remember which medications to take and when? Would a pill organizer be helpful?
• Make sure that they know that it is Medicare open enrollment season until December 7 and see if they need to update their coverage. See if they have any questions about Medicare or Medicaid or changes under the new health care law.
• See if they could use help with filling out forms, such as insurance claims.

Finances – How to get ready to help

• Is all of their financial information in one place and do you know where it is so you can access it in an emergency?
• Check on the condition of their mail. Are bills stacking up? Are there late notices?
• Do they have any bills they can't pay?

Source: AARP

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Simple Tips to Protect Homes and Homeowners as Temperatures Begin to Drop

December 2, 2013 4:21 am

Fall is in full swing and no matter where you live, Old Man Winter will soon be arriving. If homeowners are not careful, they can be caught off guard, putting both their finances and families at risk.

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA), the non-profit trade organization representing the nation's premiere home service contract providers offers its Top 5 winterizing tips to homeowners:

1. Turn off exterior faucets. Un-drained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don't have frost-proof faucets (homes more than 10 to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

2. Remove leaves around your outside unit. The HVAC unit is likely your home's largest operating system. The compressor part of your air conditioner is located on the exterior of your home and can become inefficient with debris and leaves blocking it. You can even use a wet dry vacuum or your hands to remove the debris from the bottom for manual cleaning. Wear gloves if using your hands for manual cleaning and turn off your main breaker first – just to be safe.

3. Clean your gutters. Leaves clogging your gutters can cause big problems any time of the year. During winter months, leaves can potentially cause melting ice and snow to backup into your attic, and even your basement. Be sure to pay particular attention to gutters that have branches directly over them. Not all trees shed their leaves at the same time so you may need to check the gutters in both the fall and early winter.

4. Check your furnace filter. It's important to pay special attention to your homes operating systems during the winter months. Something as simple as a dirty filter can interfere with the free flow of air, leading to higher fuel costs, overheating and eventual shutdown of your furnace.

5. Schedule a furnace tune-up. A furnace tune-up not only includes cleaning that keeps your furnace running efficiently, but it also catches small problems before they turn into big problems that can not only cause inconvenience, but danger to you and your family. Even a small problem can lead to gas leaking into your home or dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products. We recommend a good quality carbon monoxide detector in your bedroom and the main area of your home. Be mindful these detectors typically need to be replaced every five to seven years. Batteries in all detectors, including smoke and fire, need to be replaced annually.

It's important to remember that while home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for the major built-in appliances and systems in your home – such as dishwashers, electrical and plumbing systems, heating ventilation and air conditioning systems – regular maintenance is still very important. Many home service contract providers also offer a menu of optional items such as air conditioning systems, swimming pool and spa equipment, well pumps, and freestanding appliances such as refrigerators and washer/dryers for an additional fee. Contracts generally do not cover pre-existing conditions, but will provide service, repair or replacement for failures arising due to normal wear and tear for an average cost of $400-$550 for a 12-month period.

Source: National Home Service Contract Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tis the Season for Smarter Driving

November 27, 2013 4:18 am

As many Americans get ready for holiday travel, one of the biggest decisions beyond the destination is deciding whether to travel by plane or by car. Factors like fuel or flight prices, dependability of the family vehicle, room for gifts and luggage as well as distance inevitably come into play.

Wayne Gerdes, a multiple World Record holder for the most fuel-efficient driving, drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited earlier this month from Chicago, IL to Austin, TX, more than 1,100 miles, on just one tank of Shell Diesel. Gerdes, who made the drive to raise awareness for the importance of fuel-efficient driving this holiday season and year-round, travelled for just under 20 hours and was able to achieve an average fuel economy of 44.4 mpg. He arrived at his destination in Austin with ½ gallon of diesel fuel remaining in his tank.

Families often do more driving around the holidays to visit loved ones, attend parties and go on trips. The festive season also means putting out a little extra cash for food and gifts. But, as Gerdes showed with his fuel-efficient drive, there are ways to maximize your fuel purchases that will provide some relief for your wallet this time of year.

"Smart driving is especially important during the holidays when we are on the road so much," said Gerdes. "Even if you don't analyze weather patterns, road conditions and monitor traffic like I did for this drive, there are still easy steps you can take to improve mileage. It is a matter of planning ahead and being aware of what might negatively affect your fuel economy."

Though average new car fuel economy has steadily risen since 2008, fuel costs continue to be a significant factor in household budgets. Learning to maximize your fuel purchases is a gift you can give yourself this holiday season that will continue to give back, and help keep your budget in check, year-round.

One very important factor in achieving better mileage is ensuring driving habits are fuel efficient. Here are some smarter driving tips from Shell that drivers can incorporate into their everyday driving to help make their fuel purchases go further:

1. Use air conditioning sparingly
- Air conditioning puts added strain on the engine and uses fuel to operate, so limit use to particularly hot days. On high temperature days consider using the fan instead.

2. Use overdrive gears - When you use overdrive, your car's engine speed goes down. This uses less gas and reduces engine wear.

3. Conserve momentum and keep your distance - Think ahead when you're driving. For example, slow down early to let traffic lights change, rather than stopping completely, or speed up a little before you reach the foot of a hill. Leave a sensible distance between yourself and the car ahead to give you ample time to brake evenly.

4. Use cruise control - Maintaining a constant speed on major roads and in free flowing traffic can improve gasoline mileage.

5. Drive smoothly - Avoid heavy acceleration or braking. Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower your gasoline mileage by 5 percent at lower speeds around town and by 33 percent at highway speeds.

Source: Shell Oil

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Holiday Lighting Safety Reminder

November 27, 2013 4:18 am

The holiday season is the most popular time for home decoration. FirstEnergy's utilities hopes you will enjoy this festive season with family and friends while also remembering a few tips to ensure your holiday lighting displays remain safe throughout the season.

Outdoor Lighting Safety
• Check all lights for frayed wires or areas where insulation has pulled away from plugs or sockets. Discard and replace any damaged light strings.
• Take extra care using a ladder to install lights. Avoid contact with overhead wires and make sure the ladder is placed on solid, level ground that isn't slippery.
• Ensure that tacks or nails used to hold light strings do not pierce any insulation on wires or light sockets.
• Use only extension cords that are approved for outdoor use. These cords must meet rigorous safety standards that indoor cords may not meet.
• Outdoor lights, inflatables and other decorations should be plugged into outlets protected by ground fault interrupters.
• Place outdoor lights on a timer or turn them off before you go to bed.

Indoor Lighting Safety
• Inspect all light strings and cords for any damage, including frayed wires or insulation that has pulled away from light sockets or plugs. Also check for chewing or scratching damage if you have pets in the house. Discard and replace any damaged light strings.
• Live trees should be kept well-watered.
• No more than three strings of standard indoor lights should be connected to any extension cord.
• Make sure cords are placed where they won't be stepped on, kinked or pose a tripping hazard.
• Lights should not be permitted to touch drapes, furniture or carpeting.
• Lights should be turned off overnight and when no one is home.

Additional holiday safety information is available at https://www.firstenergycorp.com/help/safety/safe-holiday-decorating.html.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Tips on How to Stay Healthy During Diabetes Awareness Month

November 27, 2013 4:18 am

Diabetes is a serious epidemic in America with more than 26 million American children and adults suffering from it. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the disease has risen to the seventh leading cause of death among Americans. This month of November is Diabetes Awareness Month and is a good time to take a pause and reflect on our health choices and lifestyles. In an effort to help raise awareness and encourage Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle, Emmy-award winning Dr. Luis Pacheco has teamed up with Sweet'N Low®. Dr. Pacheco has provided five easy tips Americans can follow to help stay ahead of this alarming epidemic:

1. Get Active: Introducing exercise into your daily regimen is an important step– especially if you are at risk of, or suffering from diabetes. From dancing to your favorite tunes to taking a walk around your neighborhood – any activity can help! Getting active will help you to burn calories and lower your blood sugar… and it is even likely to lift your mood!

2. Watch Your Sugar Intake: We all love sugary sweets but over-consumption can put you at risk for obesity and diabetes. If you are already diabetic, cutting your sugar intake is one of the key elements in controlling diabetes. You can still enjoy sweet treats by using a zero-calorie sweetener in place of sugar.

3. Listen to Your Doctor and Medical Team: Your doctor and medical team know your specific medical history and personal needs – he or she should be your biggest resource if you are worried about your health. Listen to your doctor's advice and if you have questions pertaining to your diagnosis or medications – ask them, they are the experts!

4. Eat More Fiber: Fiber helps to slow down digestion and the absorption of sugar into the blood stream so it's important that your diet is full of fiber.

5. Start Today: Are you worried that you might be at risk for diabetes? Don't wait until you are diagnosed; start making positive changes now. Simple exercises and cutting sugars from your diet can make a big difference!

Source: www.sweetnlow.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Safe Is Your Portable Heater?

November 26, 2013 4:15 am

Around this time every year, as the late autumn chill starts descending on many homeowners, I reintroduce some sobering facts from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

CPSC staff reports that from 2009 to 2011, electric heaters were associated with an estimated 1,100 fire incidents per year, resulting in average yearly estimates of 50 deaths, 130 injuries, and $50.4 million of property loss.

The U.S. Department of Energy (energy.gov) recommends the following guidelines when buying and installing a small space heater:

-Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
-Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
-Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
-Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also offers these space heater safety tips:

-Give the heater some space. Placing a combustible object too close to a heater is the leading cause of space heater fires. Allow at least three feet of open space on each side of the unit.
-Use wall plug-ins. To prevent a fire, never plug a high-wattage space heater into an extension cord or multi-outlet strip.
-Never run a space heater in an unoccupied room. Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room and before going to bed, especially if young children or pets could come in contact with the device. Unplug the unit as an extra precaution.
-Before purchasing a space heater, check the label to see if it is the appropriate size for the area you want to heat.
-Keep electric heaters away from dampness. Operating units in wet areas such as bathrooms can cause electric shock. If you need additional heat in a damp location, purchase a heater specifically designed for this purpose.
-Every room in which you plan to run a space heater should have a smoke alarm. If operating a gas space heater, also install a carbon monoxide alarm.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top 5 Cyber Monday Safety Tips

November 26, 2013 4:15 am

The internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register. But even if you consider yourself a pro, shopping online isn't without risks. These tips from USA.gov can help you protect yourself and your finances as you hunt for that perfect gift:

1. Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there's a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won't have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can't withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.

2. Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you're using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it's not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.

3. It's risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.

4. Be careful if you're buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.

5. Use caution buying digital assets like books and music—they can't be given away as gifts if they've been downloaded to your account. You should either purchase a gift card for the book or music site, or check with the company. Some services have ways to "gift an item" but it varies depending on the provider.

For more advice on safe online shopping and being a savvy consumer this holiday season and all year long, check out the Consumer Action Handbook –the free government guide to protecting your money.

Source: USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Holiday Safety Tips for Home Decorating, Cooking and Lighting

November 26, 2013 4:15 am

This week rings in a season of spending time with friends and family, shopping, gift-giving, decorating, baking, and cooking. Safe Electricity offers tips to help ensure that this busy and festive time remains a safe one.

Holiday entertaining often involves cooking for family and friends. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. From 2007-2011, cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires, and unattended cooking was by far the leading factor in these fires:

-Stay focused and attentive to baking, brewing, and simmering foods.
-Keep cooking areas clean and clear of grease.
-Never plug more than one high-wattage appliance into a single outlet.
-Make sure outlets near sinks are equipped with properly tested ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). GFCIs cut off power instantly if there is an electrical problem, saving you from a dangerous shock.
-Always have a working fire extinguisher on hand, and know how to operate it.

Your home may see increased traffic over the holidays, including children and pets. Make sure all electric cords are out of high-traffic pathways and areas. Do not run cords through doorways; staple, nail, or tack them to the wall; or hide them under rugs or carpets. Do not let children or pets play with light strands or electrical decorations.

One way that many kick off the holiday season is with decorating the home. When decorating indoors:

-Inspect all the lights you plan on using before you start decorating. Make sure the wires are in good condition--not cracked, brittle, or frayed. The sockets should not be damaged, and no light bulbs should be missing.
-Replace damaged strings, and be sure to unplug the lights before replacing a bulb.
-Use only holiday lights that have been safety tested and certified by an approved laboratory.
-Do not overload extension cords or outlets. Electric overloads can cause shocks and start fires.
-Always turn off or unplug lights before going to bed or leaving your home. A timer can help you make sure this happens.

For your safety follow these additional precautions:
-Do not hang lights when it is windy, raining, or snowing.
-Use properly tested GFCI outlets or extension cords to prevent shocks.
-Use only lights that are certified by an approved laboratory and rated for outdoor use.

Source: SafeElectricity.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Staying Home for the Holidays

November 25, 2013 4:15 am

Shopping and bills and cooking are the least of American's concerns with the holiday season just around the corner. While the majority (52 percent) of Americans indicates they enjoy hosting holiday gatherings in their home, many believe their house is inadequate and feel overwhelmed and stressed at the thought of hosting.

According to the latest PulteGroup Home Index Survey (PGHI ), 47 percent of Americans worry that their home is not properly suited to host family and friends for the holidays, and describe hosting as stressful or as an unfair financial burden.

When asked what would make hosting easier, 75 percent of survey respondents said more space in the main entertaining areas of the home would make it easier to entertain. The top three things that would make hosting the holidays easier:

• Bigger/more open living space for guests to visit/interact – 30 percent
• A larger kitchen to accommodate holiday meals and preparation – 25 percent
• Larger dining/eating area to accommodate bigger groups – 20 percent

"Families continue to emphasize the need for space when it comes to the gathering areas of the home - not just at holiday time, but for everyday entertaining and living," said Janice Jones, PulteGroup's national vice president of merchandising.

"When you feel cramped in the kitchen or family room, hosting for the holidays can be very stressful."

Meanwhile, 11 percent of males surveyed believe a better entertainment system would make hosting the holidays a lot more fun. Additionally, majority of Americans (51 percent) say the best part of the holiday season is spending time with friends and family, while 15 percent enjoy family holiday "traditions."

When asked what their preferred holiday plans are for this year, 46 percent actually plan to host holiday gatherings in their home, 39 percent plan to go to someone else's home for the holidays, and 15 percent prefer to just get away and not celebrate the holidays.

Before Americans ring in the New Year, they will, on average, spend nearly $350 hosting dinners, parties and holiday gatherings. However, the survey revealed that men and millennials will spend the most on hosting family and friends.

• Millennial males plan to spend an average of $473 on hosting dinners, parties and holiday gatherings at home.
• Millennials overall plan to spend an average of $418 on hosting.
• Fifty-seven percent of millennial males (ages 18-34) would prefer to host holiday gatherings rather than going to someone else's home.

"Millenials love to entertain and are not shy about spending money on hosting family and friends in their home," Jones said. "This is significant as we seek feedback to design new consumer-inspired floor plans to reflect how millennials live in their homes."

Source: PulteGroup Home Index Survey

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top Exterior Home Trends Include Bold Color Choices, Mixed Materials

November 25, 2013 4:15 am

Consumers have more options than ever before when choosing materials for their home's exterior. Siding has evolved from a lower-quality choice to a stylish solution for homeowners looking to update their home's exterior on a budget thanks to relatively inexpensive material and labor costs paired with an abundance of new color and style options. Bold color choices, mixed materials and the addition of premium trim for a more custom look top the list of consumer siding trends heading into the New Year. Power Home Remodeling Group encourages homeowners to overcome the stigma once attached to vinyl siding and rediscover the endless possibilities of this stronger, more versatile material.

"The popularity of websites like Pinterest and Houzz has inspired homeowners to take risks when designing their home's exterior. Siding can turn an outdated facade into a stunner without breaking the bank. Siding replacement has a solid return on investment as well, allowing homeowners to recoup more than 70 percent of replacement costs at resale," said Ann Sawyer, Power Home Remodeling Group's vice president of Operations.

Vinyl siding can now perfectly mimic expensive architectural accents like wood, stone and slate, making these high-end looks available to budget-conscious consumers. Additionally, many homeowners are experiencing a renewed interest in vinyl siding thanks to advancements in technology that have created a more durable material designed to handle exposure to the elements for the long haul. Modern moisture barriers and foam insulation increase the energy efficiency and weather resistance properties of vinyl siding, and many providers even treat siding to guard against pests — making it a truly low maintenance option.

With renewed consumer interest in siding, Power offers the following trends, tips and best practices to consider when embarking on a vinyl siding replacement project:

Don't be afraid of bold colors: Siding was once limited to eight to 10 color options, but there's now more than 20 colors to choose from. Darker, bolder colors such as deep green and barn red are trending nationally, and exterior color palettes are expanding to include three or more colors as contemporary home designs are more detailed and complex.

Consider unique panel sizes and placements: Vertical board and batten and wide-board siding are growing in popularity as both whole-wall and accent panel options. Plank-style siding with a wide-board look has come back in to popularity, with six and seven-inch exposures the most popular among homeowners.

Mix materials for a custom look: Mixed materials on the same wall are becoming standard, namely on the front exposure of a home. This trend is a result of the recent move to design a home's exterior to complement its natural surroundings. Combining siding with small accents of vinyl stone or brick instantly lends a more custom, high-end feel to the home's facade without the added cost of natural stone.

Boost curb appeal with premium trim: Skimping on trim will automatically leave a home's exterior lacking. Choosing a premium trim in a complementary color will instantly help a home feel more dynamic to passersby. Pair light trim with a darker siding to pack a visual punch as lighter colors help draw the eye to a home's architectural features.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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