RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
mmastroeni@remax.net
Mary Mastroeni
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
PH: 610-277-2900
O: 215-643-3200
C: 610-213-4878
F: 267-354-6212 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

Energy Efficient Tips for Thrifty Homeowners

May 10, 2017 12:30 am

Many savvy homeowners like to save money, but the savviest know you can save money while also being energy efficient. According to the experts at Petri Plumbing & Heating, these five home upgrades can make your home green, without breaking the bank.

On-demand hot water heater. On-demand or "tankless" hot water systems heat water as needed, which saves energy and money. New ENERGY STAR® tankless water heaters can reduce your annual water costs by up to 30 percent and last nearly 20 years, double the lifespan of an average, traditional hot water heater.

Low flow toilets. An excellent way to save money and water is to install new toilets. Many toilets use up to 5 gallons of water per flush. A low flow toilet is required to flush at 1.28 gallons per flush.

Smart thermostat. An easy and inexpensive way to instantly make your heating and cooling system more efficient is with a programmable thermostat. New programmable thermostats allow you to set your home at different temperatures for different times of day, so you aren't paying to heat or cool your home when no one is there. An added benefit of smart thermostats is you can control them remotely using a simple application on your smartphone.

LED lights. Swap out your old incandescent lights for ENERGY STAR qualified LED lighting and you'll consume 75 percent less energy. In addition to being more energy efficient, LED lights last up to 50 times longer than incandescent lights and up to five times longer than fluorescent ones, saving you time replacing burnt out bulbs.

Ceiling fans. Adding ceiling fans to your home is a low-cost way to reduce energy consumption. During hot summer days, ceiling fans can reduce cooling costs by up to 40 percent. Even in the winter, a ceiling fan helps circulate air and can save you up to ten percent on your heating bill.

Source: Petri Plumbing & Heating

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Stay Connected During a Storm

May 10, 2017 12:30 am

Whether you’re expecting an electric storm or a hail storm, it’s important to ensure you can stay connected to your loved ones should an emergency occur. Below, Verizon Communications offers tips for charging up--and staying charged--before the weather sours.  

Charge your devices before a storm hits, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, DVD players, flashlights and radios. To preserve battery life, dim the background light on your screen and turn off background data applications or Wi-Fi search services.

Create a list of emergency phone numbers and email addresses, including police, fire and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; and family, friends and co-workers. Program them into your phone, smartphone, tablet or laptop and also have a hard copy handy, someplace easily accessible

Text, don't call. When communicating with family during an emergency situation, opt for brief text messages rather than voice calls. Text messages are likely to get through more quickly in a crisis.

Program your smartphone to receive emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are free wireless notifications that are delivered to your mobile device as part of a public safety system

Know your apps:
- Download weather applications and alerts that provide users with a variety of information such as radar images, forecasts and severe storm warnings.
- Download apps and subscribe to alerts from aid and relief organizations such as the American Red Cross' apps for first aid, hurricane and shelter, and the Commercial Mobile Alert System from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- Use your free flashlight app. All smartphones have a free flashlight app in case the power goes out.

Backup your information on the cloud. The cloud can safely store your info should your devices become damaged. For Verizon customers, Verizon Wireless offers backup assistance through the Verizon cloud to store your phone's address book and contact information as well as pictures and other content on a secure server.

Source: Verizon Communications Inc.  

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Why You Should Rethink Vinyl Siding

May 9, 2017 12:30 am

As a homeowner, you may have the misconception that vinyl siding is a thing of the past. However, with recent advances in vinyl technology (yes, that’s a thing!), vinyl is being reconsidered as a reliable, affordable siding option. According to Ply Gem, these are the top reasons you should rethink vinyl.

Flexibility of design. Vinyl siding today now comes in a wide range of colors (everything from pastels to deep hues), profiles and architectural trim and accessory products to assist architects, builders and homeowners in customizing home designs.  

Exceptional durability. Vinyl siding lasts. Homeowners should look for a siding option that is resistant to every element, including rain, wind and even the sun, like Ply Gem’s Mastic Home Exteriors options.

Energy savings. Research shows insulated vinyl siding contributes to savings in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Made with a premium, recycled-content, vinyl siding can deliver natural beauty alongside significant insulation properties that homeowners concerned with sustainability as well as energy savings can feel good about.

Less cost over time. Vinyl siding is a long-term investment. Because vinyl siding can be installed faster and requires little maintenance without the need to paint, stain or caulk, over the lifetime of the product, it is less costly when compared to other siding options, including fiber cement, brick and wood.

Source: Ply Gem

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Seven Secrets to Happier Pets

May 9, 2017 12:30 am

A smiling pet means a smiling pet owner. However, the happiness of your animal is something you should consider from day one. Below are seven tips from the  American Veterinary Medical Association for giving your furry friend a long, happy life.

Find the perfect fit. Selecting the animal that's right for your family is the first step in building a lifelong relationship with your pet. Some factors to consider are species and breed, time and financial commitments, and the level of care your pet will need. A veterinarian can help you consider all of the factors, so it's a good idea to talk with one even before you make your decision. If you have already welcomed a pet into your home, talk to your veterinarian about the specific social and health care needs that may be unique to your animal.

Socialize. Creating a socialization plan will help your pet feel more comfortable in its new home, and among other animals and people. Pets that are well socialized often develop calmer and more confident temperaments that help them enjoy a wider range of interactions and activities.  

Exercise body. Exercise mind. Just like people, pets require regular exercise to maintain cardiovascular health, preserve a healthy weight, and provide mental stimulation. Exercising with your pet also offers the opportunity to strengthen the human-animal bond through shared experiences outside of the home. Your veterinarian can help you create an exercise program based on your pet's breed, age, lifestyle, and overall health.

Love your pet? See your vet! When was the last time you took your pet for a checkup? The AVMA recommends regular wellness exams for all animals, but many pet owners (53.9 percent of cat owners and 48.6 percent of dog owners) only take their pet to the veterinarian when they are visibly sick or injured. Pets often hide signs of illness, so routine checkups are vital in preventing potential diseases, catching health problems early, and treating illnesses quickly. Not only does early treatment improve the chances of a longer life for your pet, it can also save you money. If your pet hasn't had a wellness exam in over a year, schedule an appointment today.

Pet population control: Know your role. Spaying or neutering your pet is important in preventing overpopulation and can also keep your animal healthy. There are many options when it comes to spaying or neutering, including both surgical and non-surgical procedures. You can also avoid unplanned breeding through containment or managed breeding. Talk to your veterinarian about the decision to spay or neuter your pet, and make sure to discuss the benefits and risks associated with these procedures.

Emergencies happen. Be prepared. You want to keep your pet safe, even in the event of a natural disaster or other unplanned emergency. It's important to include your pets in your family's emergency plan and ensure their safety in any situation.

Give them a lifetime of love. Thanks to better care, pets are living longer than they ever have before – but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention. Talk to your veterinarian about what is normal behavior in your aging pet, and what may be a cause for concern.  Regular examinations can detect problems in older pets before they become advanced or life-threatening, and improve the chances of a longer and healthier life.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Finance That Business Expansion

May 9, 2017 12:30 am

If you’re a business owner hoping to expand in the near future, you likely have a lot on your mind. If you’re looking to take out a line of credit to grow, your list of to-dos may be tripled. According to the experts at Sun National Bank, these are the most important things you can do before you approach a lender.

Fine-Tune Your Plan. When it comes to financing expansion, careful research is essential. Study your past sales, research your market, and look at your competitors to make sure your business is growing in the right direction. Take time to understand the obstacles and costs. These may include new expenses, a bigger workload for you and your staff, the challenge of bringing your business to a new market, or new competitors. This can show you where your strategy requires adjustment and may help you find the best time to begin expansion.

Forecast Expansion Cost. An effective forecast will help you understand the price tag of your expansion. For example, if your retail business is opening a second location, determine your facility, staff, and inventory expenses based on your experience with your first location. Also, research the performance of similar-sized competitors in comparable markets. A new location, new service line, or other expansion may not become a revenue driver right away; set a realistic timeline for how long it will take this investment to break even and ultimately become profitable.

Watch Your Credit. Securing the financing you need at the best possible terms requires a good credit rating. For many small-business owners, especially Sub S and sole proprietors, your individual credit is just as important as your business's credit. Staying current on all your accounts is essential. As you prepare to finance your business expansion, request your credit reports, so you'll know your personal and business credit scores. If there are any errors in these reports, contact the credit rating agency immediately.

The best financing option for your organization will depend on the size of your business, scope of your expansion, and capital needs. Lending options include:

- Term Loan: Ideal for a one-time expense, such as renovating or expanding your facility.
- Equipment Financing: Designed for big-ticket equipment purchases, such as manufacturing needs or IT infrastructure.
- Business Line of Credit: A useful solution for other short-term cash flow and working capital needs.

Source: Sun National Bank

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How to Spring Clean Your Fridge

May 6, 2017 12:27 am

While you may be busy washing windows and woodwork, have you peeked inside your fridge lately? A clean fridge is essential for food safety, and to keep unsavory smells at bay.

The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association shares the following tips for keeping your fridge clean, and your food fresh.

Prepare. Unplug the refrigerator to save energy (also for safety if cleaning coils). Empty ice from your freezer into a cooler where you can store food you plan to keep. Fill sink with warm soapy water for cleaning shelves and drawers. Set out dishtowels on counter tops for drying. Fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of 1 cup water, 1 tsp white vinegar and 1 tsp dish soap.

Purge. Empty refrigerator (then freezer) and place items on counter. Take time to sort and discard old, unwanted foods, drinks and condiments. Check expiration dates and beware of moldy and freezer-burned foods. When in doubt, toss it out!

Clean. Remove drawers and shelves and clean in sink with warm soapy water; set aside to dry. Spray interior with cleaner and wipe from the top down with warm, wet sponge or towel. Thoroughly dry all and replace drawers and shelves. Wash the exterior door and handles. Replace water and icemaker and filters if needed. Clean grill on bottom front of refrigerator. Consider cleaning the condenser coils for optimum cooling efficiency (refer to manufacturer directions).

Check Temps. Food kept too long or at improper temperatures can become contaminated with bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness. Your refrigerator temperature should be at or below 40 degrees and your freezer 0 degrees or less to ensure food safety. You can check the temperatures with an appliance thermometer.

Organize. When restocking your clean refrigerator and freezer, organize according to usage and group like items together. Label and date new foods so you know when to use or throw out. Do not store perishable foods in the door as temperatures fluctuate there. Place meat, poultry or seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags and keep fruits and vegetables in separate drawers away from the meats to avoid cross-contamination.

Source:  National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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11 Tips for Career Success

May 6, 2017 12:27 am

When looking at life-long goals, “success” tops the list for many. But how can you ensure career success? Regardless of your field, there are several common denominators for achieving success. Provided by Robert Half Legal, below are a handful of helpful tips gleaned from a survey of 350 lawyers at law firms and legal departments in the United States and Canada.

1. "Choose a career that allows you to learn as you grow."
2. "Take risks and open yourself up to possibilities."
3. "Find a firm that has the same qualities and priorities as you do."
4. "Look for challenging work."
5. "Be willing to change if necessary. That includes location and your job itself."
6. "Every experience you have is a building block to the next level."
7. "Be self-motivated and strive to succeed."
8. "Try to learn as much as you can. Don't be afraid to take on new assignments. Expand
   your knowledge."
9. "When you quit learning, move on."
10. "Do not be afraid to ask for what you want."
11. "Be collaborative."

Source: roberthalf.com/legal.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protect Your Digital Self While Traveling

May 6, 2017 12:27 am

Whether you’re traveling for a weekend, a week, or making a big move, protecting your digital property while on-the-go is essential for feeling safe and secure.

To help, TravelInsurance.com has compiled a list of digital travel security recommendations:

Backup Your Documents. Scan or take pictures of your travel documents, including your passport, airline tickets, hotel reservations and insurance papers on your phone in case the originals are lost or stolen.

Sanitize your Devices. Before leaving home, remove all non-essential personal information from your computer, phone and other devices. Make sure to set a strong password on your computer and mobile devices and look into possibly having the devices automatically wiped after a large number of incorrect password entries.

Assume Your Data Is Not Secure. Anyone can gather your data without much difficulty. Some countries monitor data and emails, while airports and hotels are generally public or semi-public internet hubs. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure your privacy and to access websites that might be blocked by local internet providers. A VPN is a private and secure internet network that you can reach via any internet connection. Never submit sensitive payment information on websites if the browser shows "http" instead of "https." Also, turn on two factor authentication on all of your email, banking and credit card accounts as an added measure of security (provided that you can receive text messages at your destination)

Download Apps. There are a variety of apps that can help keep you informed and secure while on the road. The State Department's Smart Traveler app is available free of charge from both iTunes and the Google Play store. It's a great source of information about specific countries, travel advisories and warnings.

Don't Fry Your Devices. Make sure that you have the right adapters. Check the tech specs of your devices and the electrical standards of your travel destinations.

Source: TravelInsurance.com

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How Safe is Your Deck?

May 5, 2017 12:27 am

Warmer months means hours of fun in the sunshine on your deck or patio. But when is the last time you gave your deck a safety check?

"Decks are exposed to sun, rain, snow and extreme temperature changes throughout the seasons and the years," says Julia Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer of AZEK Building Products. "

Before you invite your friends and family to dine deck-side, follow these tips courtesy of AZEK Building Products.

Identify Instability. There should be no sagging, swaying or movement of the deck boards, railings or stairs, and the board attaching the deck to the house should be securely in place.

Inspect Railings. The IRC requires railings to be at least 36'' in height, measured from the deck surface to the top of the rail. Also look for loose balusters or post caps which could present a hazard.

Get up to Code. Check that the deck, electrical outlets and appliances are up to code, and that no electrical cords present a tripping or fire hazard. Inspect grills, fire pits and heaters at the start of the season.

Examine Boards and Fasteners. Check for splitting, rotting or decay. Look for rust on nails, screws and fasteners; a corroded fastener can cause deterioration in surrounding materials.

Source:  www.azek.com, www.timbertech.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Ward Off Mosquitos From Your Property

May 5, 2017 12:27 am

Nothing kills spring and summer fun faster than a swarm of mosquitos. These bitey bugs are more than just an itchy annoyance - they can also carry disease. Orkin recommends the following tips to help residents protect against mosquitoes:

Eliminate Mosquito-Friendly Conditions in and Around Your Yard
- Remove standing water buckets, toys and other containers, as mosquitoes can breed in just an inch of standing water.
- Change water weekly in bird baths, fountains, potted plants and any containers that hold standing water.
- Keep pool water treated and circulating.
- Regularly clean gutters so water doesn't pool.
- Trim shrubbery, as adult mosquitoes like to rest in dark areas with high humidity, such as under the leaves of lush vegetation.

Prevent Mosquitoes from Biting
- Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing.
- Apply an EPA-registered mosquito repellent containing products such as DEET, picaridin or IR3535.

Eliminate Entry Points
- Repair and use window and door screens to help prevent entry.
- Close gaps around windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.

Source: Orkin.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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