Deb Tebbs Group

Cascade Sotheby's International Realty

Category: Interesting Tidbits

Eco-Friendly Home Upgrades to Keep Your Neighborhood Green

hand holding Green city concept, cut the leaves of plants

Sustainability and going green are a couple of buzz words that have become popular over the last decade or so, but what do they mean? Sustainability, to put it simply, is the ability to utilize the resources of our planet without being a drain or causing permanent damage, while going green involves incorporating a lifestyle that is friendly to the environment and supports sustainability for the Earth.

That all sounds great, but what can you do to be a part of the movement and not only help conserve our planet but possibly save some money while you are doing it? Like many things in life, it often starts at home.

   Quick and Easy

Some of the improvements you can make to your home take very little effort and have relatively drastic results. Switching away from incandescent bulbs can save in a couple of ways. Not only do higher efficiency bulbs use almost 75 percent less energy, nearly 90 percent of the energy emitted by older light bulbs is heat. Swapping out these lights can potentially save you upwards of $50 per year or more depending on the size of your home. Energy efficient bulbs also last up to 25 times longer than their incandescent cousins, according to The National Association of Realtors.

Small, green habits like replacing your air filters regularly and making sure to shut off appliances when the room is empty can make a huge impact on your current energy costs. Many chargers for devices such as cell phones and laptops continue to drain electricity whether or not they are plugged in, so make sure and unplug the charger from the wall when your tech is not in use. It’s also advisable to plug all electronics into surge protectors and switch them off when they are not in use—even some televisions and DVD players drain electricity when they are plugged in.

   Bigger and Better

Replacing your major appliances to Energy Star rated appliances can make an impact. Not only are they more efficient and use less electricity, they often increase the overall value of your home. Sealing and insulating the ductwork, using a programmable thermostat and sealing air leaks throughout your home can drastically cut down on your heating and cooling bills.

It is estimated that 30 percent of a home’s energy escapes through the windows, according to Champion Home Exteriors. Conserve the energy and save on your energy bills by upgrading your current windows with replacement windows that are Energy Star rated. This home improvement can dramatically reduce the amount of heat that flows into your home, while adding resale value and curb appeal.

It is important to remember that going green is a long term approach to conserving the Earth and battling rising energy costs—it is somewhat unlikely that you will see a drastic drop in your bill right away. Energy prices will continue to rise, predicts the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By implementing these green solutions, you will buffer yourself against potential rising costs and increase your overall home value.

By the year 2040, electricity costs will nearly double and crude oil prices more than quadruple. By planning ahead and preparing for those price increases now, the money you can potentially save can be drastic. A recent study conducted in California has shown that homes that are GreenPoint Rated or LEED homes can see an increase of up to 10 percent on their overall value when it comes time to sell.

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Relieve Back Pain and Get Back on the Golf Course

Male golf player teeing-off golf ball

According to SportsMed.org, a recent study that took place over a two-year period discovered that as many as 60 percent of professional golfers and 40 percent of amateurs experienced either a traumatic or overuse injury, with low back pain reportedly the most common injury or complaint by both groups.

Back pain is not something that only afflicts older golfers. GolfDigest.com recently wrote that PGA Tour Golfer and 2010 Rookie of the Year Rickie Fowler struggles with lower back pain at the young age of 24. He is said to be extremely athletic, and the exact cause of his pain is unknown. The magazine notes that most golfers who suffer from pain in the lumbar spine region may swing the golf club in an awkward manner or lack mobility in their hips and middle back region.

Unfortunately, back pain can turn a fun round of golf into an agonizing nightmare. According to Laser Spine Institute, swinging a club — which requires a quick, repetitive motion that involves a number of different muscle groups in the neck, back, arms, and legs — can place an immense strain on the body, particularly the upper and lower back muscles. Continuing to play despite the pain can worsen an injury or prevent it from healing.

By following these simple tips, you can help prevent back injuries, decrease or even eliminate pain, and improve your backswing all at the same time.

   Warming Up

Warming up is essential for enhancing performance as well as preventing injury. By participating in a low-intensity activity involving the upper and lower body muscles, such as taking some gentle swings, hitting a few chips, or performing golf specific drills, you can increase blood circulation and get it flowing to the important muscle groups.

It’s important to warm up the muscles that stabilize the hips as well as core muscles that help to stabilize the spine and trunk. Golf Digest Live, available through the Golf Logix app and compatible with the iPhone, Android and others, offers lots of golf tips and advice as well as warm-up drills. Laser Spine Institute also offers many useful spine exercises you can do on or off the course.

   Improving Mid-back Mobility

Fitness advisor to a number of PGA Tour players, Ben Shear, notes that improving mid-back and hip mobility helps relieve unnecessary torque placed onto the lower back. It’s important to focus on exercises that help to increase range of motion in the mid-back and hips. Shear says that even using good posture and rotating the trunk while sitting in a chair can help. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator as well as performing squats and lunges can do wonders for the hips.

   Stretching to Reduce Muscle Tension

Stretching during and after your round of golf can help to alleviate muscle tension that tends to build. Focus on stretches that target the hips, back, and shoulders. To stretch the hip, place one foot on the tire of a golf cart or a chair in a lunge position while keeping the other leg directly behind you. Reach overhead with your arms, feeling a stretch in the front of the hip. You can stretch your back by standing at the side of a golf cart or wall, lowering into the lunge position and reaching overhead to the opposite side of the back leg. You should feel the stretch down the side of your back and above the back of your leg.

To stretch the shoulders, attempt to pinch the shoulder blades together to maintain an upright posture and reach one arm up. Keep hold of a solid object while turning your chest in the opposite direction.

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Oregon is Top Spot in 2013!

According to CNN Money,

“Oregon was the number one destination among people who moved from one state to another last year.

More than 61% of all interstate moves made in Oregon were for people coming to live in the state, according to United Van Lines’ annual migration study, which tracked 129,000 moves in the United States in 2013.  Oregon replaced Washington, D.C., which had held the top spot for the previous five years as workers sought out government jobs. The nation’s capital fell to fourth place last year, tying with South Dakota”

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