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Edward E. Hodgson Jr.
1110 North Broad Street | Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone: 215-362-2260 | Office Phone: 215-362-2260 | Fax: 267-354-6844
Cell: 215-850-6973 | email: ed@edhodgsonrealtor.com

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4 Mower Maintenance Tips

April 29, 2015 6:39 am

For do-it-yourself homeowners, your lawnmower is likely the workhorse of your outdoor maintenance routine. Performing an annual engine tune-up will ensure your mower lasts all season long. Here’s how to get started, from the experts at Briggs & Stratton.

1. Change the mower oil, a task made easier than ever with an oil removal kit. With a kit, you no longer need to tip your mower over to drain the oil, making for a mess-free oil change.

2. Replace the air filter and spark plug at the beginning of each season. Doing so will ensure peak performance for your mower and can reduce emissions up to 50 percent.

3. Fill a gas can with fresh gas from the pump, and add fuel treatment and stabilizer to the gas can. Keep in mind gas begins to degrade and oxidize after 30 days. Oxidized gas can cause carburetor jets to plug, resulting in an engine that doesn't start, and can cost a significant amount to fix.

4. After tuning up your mower, dispose of used oil at your local hazardous waste center. Pick-up by your municipality may also be available in your area.

Source: Briggs & Stratton

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Energy-Efficient Upgrades that Pay Back

April 29, 2015 6:39 am

(Family Features) Homeowners today are seeking upgrades that not only look great, but save money. Energy-efficiency improvements are a smart investment toward curbing energy use, cutting energy bills, and increasing the value of a home.

To take the guesswork out of choosing the most cost-effective upgrades, the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) ranked the top energy-efficient improvements. Here are some of the projects that will give a homeowner the most bang for their buck.

1. Sealing windows and doors consistently has the best payback for homeowners in all regions of the U.S. Proper air-sealing can reduce air infiltration by 30 percent, and has a payback within one to four years. Sealing leaks can also reduce noise pollution and prevent pollen or dust from entering the home.

2. Replacing windows and lighting with more energy-efficient options can significantly reduce energy bills and emissions. Swapping incandescent bulbs with high-efficacy fluorescent bulbs can substantially reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions, and the switch could pay for itself in less than a year.

3. Space heating and cooling accounts for the greatest energy use in the house. In many parts of the country, replacing a furnace or boiler with a high-efficiency model can pay for itself within the first year. Additionally, a dual-fuel system, like using a high-efficiency air-source heat pump in tandem with a high-efficiency propane furnace, offers big energy and emissions savings -- up to as much as three metric tons each year.

4. Water heating is typically the second largest energy consumer in the house. Upgrading a system, especially switching from an electric model to a propane-fueled, condensing tank-less system, can save up to 50 percent and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, new U.S. Department of Energy regulations now in effect mean that older water heaters between eight and 12 years of age need to be updated to meet new efficiency standards.

Source: PERC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Green Car Maintenance Tips

April 28, 2015 6:39 am

Considering adopting a greener lifestyle? Look no further than your vehicle.

"Being car care aware and performing basic vehicle maintenance go a long way toward protecting the environment and improving fuel economy," says Rich White of the Car Care Council.

Drivers can help protect the environment, and save money in long run, by following these four simple steps.

1. Follow a vehicle service schedule including steps like checking engine performance, keeping tires properly inflated, replacing air filters regularly, changing oil regularly and checking your gas cap. Routine maintenance helps reduce emissions and fuel consumption, saving money at the pump.

2. Keep your current vehicle longer and limit the number of new cars you buy over the course of a lifetime. Extending vehicle life is as simple as taking care of your vehicle properly. You'll gain years of reliable service without monthly car payments and higher insurance rates.

3. Recycle or properly dispose of motor oil, tires, batteries, fluids and other vehicle components to help protect the planet when performing vehicle maintenance or repairs.

4. Repower your engine when faced with serious engine trouble. A remanufactured/rebuilt engine can give your vehicle new life and make it more fuel efficient for about the cost of an average down payment on a new car.

Source: Car Care Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protecting Loved Ones from Fake Loan Debt Collectors

April 28, 2015 6:39 am

Family of homeowners and other lessees should watch for fraudulent debt collectors, many of whom call to collect overdue payments on loans taken out by a family member or significant other. The caller, posing on behalf of a loan company, will often threaten consequences for your loved one if you do not comply with their demands.

But the majority of these overdue loans don’t exist, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If a family member or significant other is in fact in debt, remitting payment to a scammer will not reduce it.

If a fake debt collector calls, take action with these steps.

Do not offer or confirm personal information. Until you have verified the call, do not provide bank account, credit card or other private information – and don’t confirm information the caller offers, either.

Ask for an official “validation notice” of debt. Legitimate debt collectors are legally required to provide, in writing, the name of the creditor, the amount of debt and a statement of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, says the BBB.

Ask for specific identifying information. Get as much identifying information as possible, such as the name of the caller, the company he or she works for, the company’s street address and phone number, to confirm the collection agency exists.

Alert loved ones. Make sure targeted loves ones are aware that scammers have at least some of their personal information. Loved ones should also place a fraud alert on his or her credit report, says the BBB.

Monitor your credit report. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to check (for free) for suspicious activity or overdue debt in your name. Those without access to Internet can call (877) 322-8228 to monitor their report.

File an FTC complaint. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collections from being abusive, unfair or deceptive. If the debt collector threatens you or your loved ones, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Source: BBB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Planting on Your Property? 6 Tree Safety Tips

April 28, 2015 6:39 am

When selecting a tree to plant at home, it’s important to keep in mind the future growth of the tree, say the experts at SDG&E, a Sempra Energy utility. Note that as trees grow to mature heights, they can interfere with overhead power lines and, in some cases, underground utility lines. Before planting a new tree, follow these safety guidelines.

1. Take the time to properly select a tree that is not only aesthetically pleasing but is safe to plant in your area.

2. Keep water conservation in mind, and consider planting drought-tolerant trees and vegetation on your property.

3. Take the time to choose the planting site as carefully as you chose the tree. Remember to always plant the "Right Tree in the Right Place" for the best chance of success.

4. Call Underground Service Alert at 8-1-1 to mark out underground utility lines two days before digging. With just one call, you can have your underground cable, water and energy lines marked out for free.

5. Don't plant shrubs directly in front of utility boxes or pad-mounted (box) transformers. Allow room for doors to swing open when shrubs are fully grown. The law requires that eight feet in front of and two feet on the other three sides of the transformer must be clear.

6. Contact your city arborist, parks department or public works department to find out whether your city has guidelines for planting trees, and whether a permit is required for planting trees in parkways or public areas.

Source: Sempra Energy

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Ways to Spend Your Tax Return

April 27, 2015 12:39 am

With tax season behind us, it may be tempting to spend your return on an HD television or long-awaited vacation. Instead, the experts at American Consumer Credit Counseling recommend investing your return in areas you’ll see the most benefit. Here’s how.

1. Pay off any outstanding credit card debt. Take the opportunity to make a dent in your credit card debt. While you’re likely making monthly payments on your credit card, if you continue to make just the minimum payment, financing the debt with interest can be harmful and costly down the line.

2. Start or replenish your emergency fund. Building up a financial emergency fund is critical. Many financial advisors suggest building enough financial reserves to last up to six months in case of crisis.

3. Invest in a retirement savings account. Even if you already have a 401k plan with your employer, consider creating your own account. It’s a good way to have more control over your investments and to jumpstart them. The sooner you begin saving, the more time the money has to grow.

4. Start a college savings plan. There’s nothing more important than investing in education. It’s no secret that college is expensive. College debt can add up very quickly and take years to pay off. Avoid credit problems by saving early.

5. Invest in boosting your income.
Invest in your career. Spending money on professional education or new technology or tools for your business can go a long way in boosting your earning power.

6. Begin a maintenance project on your car or home to improve the quality and value. Use your money to tackle necessary repairs. Replace worn tires or patch leaky roofs. These projects will save money in the long run, as they can cost you more if you wait. These updates can also work to prevent any unexpected disasters, costing even more down the line.

Source: ACCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Best Investment? Real Estate, Americans Say

April 27, 2015 12:39 am

Real estate was once again named the best long-term investment, topping stocks, mutual funds, gold, savings accounts, CDs and bonds as the preferred means to long-term gains, according to a recent Gallup poll.

For the Americans surveyed, investment preferences broke down as follows:
  • Real Estate – 31 percent
  • Stocks/Mutual Funds – 25 percent
  • Gold – 19 percent
  • Savings Accounts/CDs – 15 percent
  • Bonds – 6 percent
Most importantly, all major gender, age and income groups agreed that real estate is the best long-term investment, signaling growing confidence in opportunities for housing for Americans from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

Source: Gallup

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Home Improvements Worth the Splurge

April 27, 2015 12:39 am

Homeowners must consider several factors when planning an exterior home remodel – and curb appeal tops the list, according to a recent CertainTeed survey. When asked which factor was most important to an exterior remodel, 39 percent of respondents cited curb appeal, followed by 26 percent naming return on investment and 21 percent indicating outdoor living and lifestyle considerations.

"In home design, there is an increased interest in individualization and creativity – true for both interior and exterior design," says Mike Loughery, CertainTeed. "We've found that homeowners want healthy, energy-efficient homes that offer complete comfort and curb appeal, but don't always know the best way to start."

Here, CertainTeed names the best home investments that can help meet curb appeal, return on investment and outdoor living goals:
  • Better Insulation
  • Cool Roofing
  • Solar Panels
  • Geothermal Heating/Cooling Solutions
  • Low-Maintenance Vinyl Siding, Decking and Railing
  • Patios/Gazebos
  • Outdoor Kitchens
Source: CertainTeed

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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For Retirees, Health Tops Wealth

April 24, 2015 12:36 am

Whoever said, "If you have your health, you have everything," must have been retired.

Health is typically more important than wealth when it comes to determining the well-being of America's retirees, according to a recent MassMutual Retirement Services study. Retirees in better health are more likely to feel financially secure, enjoy retirement, feel fulfilled, and are less likely to experience negative emotions.

The study shows that the loss of health is more costly to a retiree's overall experience than the loss of wealth. Three-quarters (76 percent) of those with $250,000 or more in assets report having a positive retirement experience, compared to 68 percent of those with less than half the assets. However, the health gap is much steeper: 80 percent of those in better health report having a positive experience in retirement, compared to only 59 percent of those who are in poorer health, regardless of how many assets they own.

Four in 10 retirees overall say they spend more on health care than they expected before retiring, with 43 percent spending more than $5,000 annually and 14 percent spending more than $10,000.

In focus groups conducted as part of the study, many retirees expressed concerns about the potential impact of their family health history, especially in later years. Many retirees also talked about working longer to maintain their healthcare insurance.

Source: MassMutual Retirement Services

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Accent These Rooms for a Brighter Home

April 24, 2015 12:36 am

(Family Features) When it comes to brightening your home’s decor, accent pieces can make all the difference. But adding these touches doesn’t have to break the break. Here’s how to incorporate inexpensive, beautiful and practical accents around your home.

Kitchen Accents

Dressing up the heart of the home can be as simple as placing a bouquet of flowers or a decorative hand soap by your kitchen sink. On the counters, keep clutter to a minimum and inject pops of color with a clear or wooden bowl filled with your favorite seasonal fruit.

Living Room Accents

One easy way to add character to the living room is to utilize pieces that tell a story. Treasured mementos from a special vacation or frames filled with pictures of your loved ones add not only a personal touch, but also give visitors a glimpse at the things that matter most to you.

And consider using accessories that serve a dual purpose – wax candles can both enhance the decor and provide pleasant scents, while a throw blanket can complement the decor while providing some cozy warmth.

Bedroom Accents

If you're hesitant about patterns in your home’s sanctuary, try incorporating a bold design through an accent piece, such as a lamp shade. Add a stack of your favorite books on the nightstand in a nod to your personal style.

Source: Softsoap

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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