Skip to content

How Much Energy is Wasting When Household Appliances are Left Plugged In???

April 26, 2011

Did you know that even when household appliances are turned off, most are still sip some power from the grid, and this will definitely affect your power bill at the end of each month. Good magazine has an interesting chart in their latest issue that details how much energy your vampire devices use, and how much it costs you to keep them plugged in. You can see the interesting vampire shaped illustration here. For example a plasma TV, for instance, can cost about $160 per year just to keep plugged in. I’m sure that this guide will be quite useful for those people who want to earn every penny. – Via – Lifehacker

To combat this massive amount of wasted energy, designer Paulo Oh has come up with a simple plan, to unplug them. His solution is called “Hang On Outlet” and provides a “shelf” for you to hang unplugged power cords while they aren’t in use. This idea might help you save some money on your monthly energy bill, but is also a good idea for organizing your power cords, as we all know that sometimes they can be really messy.

from → Uncategorized

10 Home Energy Efficient Tips to Save you Money

April 26, 2011


Your home is one of the major contributors to where your money is spent monthly. Your home is also the source for Earth depleting resources that we all are responsible for everyday. In order to save your pocket and the Earth, home energy efficiency is crucial and it isn’t hard to learn. From the extra lamp that you leave on in the bedroom to the 20 minute shower each of your family members take, it’s time to start becoming more environmentally aware.  Here are 10 home energy efficient tips that will help your family, help the earth and your wallet.

How to Save Money when Buying Home Appliances

April 26, 2011


Out of all the necessities for your home, your appliances are some of the most expensive items to purchase. Regardless if you are buying the cheapest models or the top of the line, appliances help us be able to cook, store our food, clean and all around make our lives easier, daily. Saving money when you buy home appliances is always a goal for all home owners who want to get the best deal, but also want quality in their appliance investments. Here are tips to save money when buying appliances for your home.

  • Look for discontinued appliances: Many manufacturers and appliance stores will offer discounts on discontinued brands, models and appliance lines. For extra value visit appliance stores that have floor models or offer clearance areas on their online appliance stores. You would be surprised the savings that are offered for discontinued models. Ensure that full warranties and manufacturing service options will still be available before purchasing discontinued models.
  • Shop at outlet stores: Similarly to discontinued appliances, outlet stores offer models that are no longer in production, as well as scratch and dent selections, or appliances that home owners have returned but are in good working order. Consider looking in your local area for appliance store brands that offer outlet stores. They usually will be located away from mainstream shopping centers, and they usually will still hold up to their warranties and servicing options on the appliances they sell. Outlet stores are a good option for house renters!
  • Shop small local appliance stores: Depending on your locality, small appliance stores that are owned by a family or a small organization tend to have better prices than big appliance stores. Many small appliance stores will receive discounts from the manufacturer to sell older models and should be considered when trying to save money on buying home appliances. You may have to visit several in your area to find exactly what you’re looking for, but the money you will save can be big.
  • Shop around the holidays: For many countries, the holidays are the perfect time for home improvement stores to put appliances on sale. In the United States – Presidents Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day are big weekends for appliance shopping. Many will offer specials for buying the appliance during the holiday, and may offer advanced incentives if paying with store credit or credit cards. Around the holidays, look in your newspapers and online home improvement store advertisements to see what deals your local store may be having. Also check with department stores located in shopping centers or malls. They too, may offer holiday appliance deals to compete with home improvement stores to vie for your business.

Decor Gone Wild!

April 13, 2011
And since I'm a Realtor obsessed with interior design… here are some other fun, inventive designs I found on Freshome

Stiletto Heels Planters : Taking Eco Thinking Too Far?

giddy spinster 1272304599 Stiletto Heels Planters : Taking Eco Thinking Too Far?giddy spinster Stiletto Heels Planters : Taking Eco Thinking Too Far?

Uncommon Bookcase Featuring a Levitating Sofa
sofa levetating above the books 1 554x408 Uncommon Bookcase Featuring a Levitating Sofa

The Bookcase Bed

bed case The Bookcase Bed

Planters Displaying Familiar Faces from Good Studio: The Facepot

Vasos bem legaus 0 Fun Planters Displaying Familiar Faces from Good Studio: The Facepot
Vasos bem legaus 2 Fun Planters Displaying Familiar Faces from Good Studio: The Facepot

Wonderful Wood Sliced Walkway

wood walkway2 Wonderful Wood Sliced Walkway

Stuck between a Rock…and a High heeled Shoe.

stone bath Natural Stone Bathtub
shoe bathtub by sicis 1 The Shoe Bathtub by SICIS
shoe bathtub by sicis 2 The Shoe Bathtub by SICIS

Shoe Rack?

This is hard to see, but it's called KICK IT! and it's a way to store your shoes by KICKING them off into it!!!
KICKIT is not a classic shoe rack, but actually a piece of furniture, a lighting device, a seating place and a sculpture, all at the same time. It’s not the light emitted from behind the bristles from two 28W fluorescent tubes that amazes me, but actually the fact that you can “throw in” whatever shoes you may think of, and actually make it look cool. May not be exactly what your mom taught you, but that’s people’s behavior, don’t you think?
kickit shoe rack KICKIT Kick Your Shoes in a Different Shoe Rack

Indoor Lawn Rugs

These indoor rugs are synthetic grass growing on a fabric mesh consisting of a plant root fiber reinforced with hemp, woven with wool and applied to a cotton base. The doughnut or the rainpool are designed by PD Designs, Izumi Hamada and Hideo Hashimoto. So if you would like to have a piece of nature in your home you can try these sweet green rugs.
indoor lawn Indoor Lawn Rugs

Woody Wood Rug 

woody wood carpet Woody Wood Rug

duebi italia flower vanity Interesting Flower Vanity from Duebi Italia

flower vase Two piece Flower Vase in the Shape of a Whale
whale flower vase Two piece Flower Vase in the Shape of a Whale

Most Creative Wall Hook Designs

wall hooks 25 of the Most Creative Wall Hook Designs
Darts coat large 25 of the Most Creative Wall Hook DesignsKnifehooks 25 of the Most Creative Wall Hook Designs
Office Clip Hook 25 of the Most Creative Wall Hook Designs

TRULY creative Lighting…

corner lamp Corner Lamp

Designed by Billy MayTorn Lighting concept is an interesting way of adding some light to your home. Torn Lighting is perfectly disguised on your wall while hiding it’s LED secrets from view. The installations conceal LED lights, and look like you’ve got some kind of weird space-time holes torn into your walls and leaking light into your room. Painted with the same color as your walls, Torn Lighting comes in multiple designs and shapes that can be used at both wall corners and flat surfaces.
lighting walls 40 of The Most Creative Lamp Designs Ever

LULL is a lamp that opens and closes like a flower. In the evening the lamp gives a warm glow, to give a feeling of safety while it slowly turns itself off. In the morning the lamp opens, gradually increasing the light intensity to give the user a more comfortable awakening. LULL is an award-winning product made for GiForm 2007, an industrial design competition in Norway.“
fl lull aug07 40 of The Most Creative Lamp Designs Ever

Sticky Lights are light bulbs in a transparent plastic case, that you can stick on a wall, piece of furniture, or anywhere else. The Sticky Lights are designed by Chris Kabel for Droog Design. 
sticky lights Sticky Lights

flaplamp 40 of The Most Creative Lamp Designs Ever

talltiny 40 of The Most Creative Lamp Designs Ever
cord lamp 40 of The Most Creative Lamp Designs Ever

X-Ray Lights by Won-Suk Cho…

1024089842 X Ray Lights by Won Suk Cho

For Greener Cities: Urban Bike Hangers?

April 13, 2011

Fun post I read on Freshome 

Interior Design & Architecture Newsletter…


We don’t know about you guys, but where we live there is a dire need for safe bicycle parking spaces. Which is why this concept left us speechless. Called “Bike Hanger“, this ingenious urban bike hanger idea comes from MANIFESTO Architecture P.C. and pays tribute to a greener life in the city. Especially designed for Seoul, the project is looking to increase the inhabitant’s love for this healthy type of locomotion while using underutilized spaces around the city and reinventing them. The Bike Hangers are able to hold between 20-36 bicycles each and are said not to influence the traffic below in any way. We find the concept brilliant in its simplicity and can’t wait for it to be spread worldwide. Freshome readers, what do you think of this idea?

Vancouver Myths Busted!

April 7, 2011


Believe it or not, we're not Canada's rainiest city, and Blood Alley isn't bloody…

By Mary Frances Hill, Special To The Vancouver Sun April 7, 2011

Myth #1: We're Canada's rainiest city

Sure, we may feel waterlogged while easterners gloat in the sun, particularly in winter and early spring. In fact, Vancouver doesn't even rank among the country's top eight cities when it comes to the most rainfall in a day.

The city is eclipsed by Halifax, Regina, Oshawa, Kingston, Toronto, St. John's, Edmonton and Hamilton. But we do rank third among Canada's 24 largest urban centres for the number of rainy days each year, behind only Abbotsford and St. John's. According to the 2006 census, Abbotsford also tops the list of 25 Canadian cities with the most rainfall in one day, thanks to a 218-mm downpour on Aug. 15, 1971.

Myth #2: Downtown Eastside: Canada's poorest postal code 

The residents of the Downtown Eastside might suffer from drug addictions and extreme poverty, and describing it as Canada's poorest postal code (V6A) makes for interesting chatter at cocktail parties. But that would be stretching it. As The Vancouver Sun reported last year, the median income in the Downtown Eastside is higher than it is in Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick (E9G), where the median income was $9,000 in 2006, and Vanier, Ont. (K1K), a neighbourhood in east Ottawa with a median income of $9,500.

Vancouver's V6A ranks just below communities in Adamsville and Winnipeg. As of 2005, about 47 per cent of residents in the neighbourhood could be described as lowincome.

Myth #3: Stanley Park is North America's largest urban park 

So says Tourism Vancouver. At 1,000 acres, it's big, sure, and it's 10-per-cent larger than Central Park in Manhattan, but there are a list of parks around Canada (the 10,000-acre Rouge Valley Park in Markham, Ont.) and the United States (Phoenix's South Mountain Park, at 16,283 acres) that trump our beloved park in size.

Myth #4: Blood Alley got its name from a nefarious history of murder, hangings and turn-of-the-century violence 

Not so. Ask any city historian, and you'll hear a frustrated sigh over this one.

What gives? Blood Alley was given its title in 1970, perhaps to whet the appetite of prurient tourists. Its real name is Trounce Alley, after Victoria's Trounce Alley. And despite the fact that it's near Gaoler's Mews, there haven't been any hangings or murders. It's just an alley, people. Get over it.

Myth #5: Beneath Chinatown lies a maze of tunnels and secret passageways 

Wrong. The Vancouver Police Museum's Chris Mathieson, who conducts a "Sins of the City" tour, hears this one a lot. It's easy for anyone to get confused, particularly history buffs who may have happened upon the 100-year-old Vancouver Sun article headlined "Vancouver police explore Chinatown tunnels ." Not that Chinatown doesn't have any juicy stories in its underbelly. Opium dens, brothels, gambling hangouts -they were all there, sure. But they're basement rooms with connecting doors. No funky mysterious tunnels, sorry to say.

Myth #6: Vancouver is a dangerous city 

It's easy to feel that way when you hear about gang shootings, but in fact Vancouver has a very low rate of incidences of murder, sexual assault and impaired driving. The city has seen 16 police officers killed in the line of duty in 125 years, a relatively peaceful record, according to Mathieson. A 2009 Statistics Canada reports states that as of 2008, Vancouver had the seventh-highest crime rate among Canada's 27 census metropolitan areas, dropping three spots since 2005.

Myth #7: Stanley Park is old-growth forest 

Established in 1888, Stanley Park has heard the saws of about five different logging companies in its ripe old life, from the 1860s to 1880s. The trails in the park may look pristine for the most part and man-made, but no, the majority are old skid roads left over from the logging days.

Myth #8: Property prices never drop in Vancouver 

If you're a longtime househunter, that probably feels about right.

Surprise! Recessions actually do affect Vancouver real estate. At least they did twice in the last 30 years. The average price of detached homes fell in 1981 -to about $150,000 from nearly $200,000. Homeowners trying to sell between 2009 and 2010 shed a few tears as well. In July 2010, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported that housing sales in the Vancouver area were down by more than 30 per cent compared with sales in June 2009. *Being a realtor, I must add here that although there was a big drop in activity and therefor prices, a year later, we were back up above the highs we saw before the drop. Moral of the story: the Drops are far and few between – and anyone in their right mind would advise to get in the sooner the better and ride the wave – rather than playing against the odds.

Myth #9: The West End is the densest neighbourhood in North America 

The densest neighbourhood in B.C., more likely. But not across the continent -or even Canada.

There are about 42,000 people living in the West End, which comprises an area of 2.12 sq km, or about 20,000 residents per sq km.

St. James Town, a neighbourhood in Toronto, boasts a population of 30,000 people -in an area slightly smaller than 1/4 sq km. That works out to about 120,000 people per sq km.

Myth #10: The east side has always been the less prosperous side of the city 

If that were true, the Victoria Drive and Commercial Drive environs wouldn't be lined with big ol' beautiful homes.

For those with cash to spare, Victoria between Venables and 1st Avenue was the place to be. The movers and shakers of early Vancouver, such as the Bell Irvings, Mayor McLean and R.H. Alexander all took up residence in the 10 tony waterfront areas along Cordova, Powell and Dunlevy, east of Main. Eventually, the building of the Shaughnessy neighbourhood around 1909 killed the east side money vibe.

Sources: Canada Census figures; Chris Mathieson, Vancouver Police Museum; Stanley Park Ecology Society; walking tour coordinator/city historian John Atkin; B.C. Real Estate Association

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

New buyers are admirably wise, survey suggests

April 4, 2011


Many first-time home buyers understand the power of the big down payment
Although Generations X and Y are vastly different (I have daughters from both demographic cohorts so, believe me, I know all too well), when it comes to listing the impediments preventing them from buying their first homes, the members of these two generations are as similar as the Sedin twins.

A survey conducted at the 16th annual seminar for first-time homebuyers -organized by the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association and presented by the Homeowner Protection Office, branch of B.C. Housing -revealed that high prices and insufficient down payments were the culprits, no different than the responses gleaned from the survey conducted at, say, the fourth annual seminar in 1997.

Alas, the high cost of developable land, exacerbated by an ever-increasing array of taxes, fees, levies and development charges imposed on new homes by all four levels of government, seems to be a constant challenge throughout what is arguably the most popular geographic region in the country.

That aside, what are the needs and expectations of today's typical first-time homebuyer? I will run through the survey responses and compare them with responses from last year, when the new-homes market was mired in a 10-year low, and from 2007, when the market was riding a 14-year high.

The survey results, tabulated by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., reveal that most potential first-time buyers are between the age of 25 and 34 and rent accommodation away from parents. They plan to purchase a home within a year and will be buying with a spouse/ partner. They prefer a two-bedroom apartment or townhouse between 800 and 1,199 square feet. Their target price range is $300,000 to $399,000 and most have down payments of at least 10 per cent of the purchase price. They value highly the benefits of warranty protection. Half the respondents indicated they will apply RRSPs towards their down payments, and more than half believe the HST will make it difficult for them to buy a new home, although if they buy a new home priced below $525,000, the HST has little impact. And, of course, there is no HST on the purchase of a resale home.

Following are the survey findings, rounded to the nearest percentage. In parentheses are the percentages from last year, then from 2007. There were 230 first-time buyers participating.

– 63 per cent (63; 77) of respondents cited high housing costs as the major obstacle preventing them from buying their first home; 30 per cent (32; 36) said an insufficient down payment was a stumbling block, while 22 per cent (22; 20) indicated they can't seem to find the home they want.

– 55 per cent (65; 62) of respondents currently rent accommodation, while 23 per cent (23; 25) live with parents. The remainder indicated various living arrangements -relatives, friends, co-op housing.

– 58 per cent (68; 59) will be purchasing their first home with a spouse/partner; 27 per cent (23; 33) said they will be buying their first home alone; 9 per cent (5; 6) said they will be buying a home with another family member, such as a brother or sister. Friends pooling resources is another scenario.

– 29 per cent (32; 28) said they plan to buy within six months, while 36 per cent (44; 40) indicated they would buy within one year; 17 per cent (14; 21) said their timeline is the next two to three years.

– 26 per cent (29; 30) said they plan to purchase a town house, 25 per cent (30; 27) a single-detached home, 24 per cent (24; 20) a low-rise condominium apartment and 19 per cent (19; 18) a highrise condominium apartment. Yes, there are many affordably priced single-detached homes available today, satisfying the need of many buyers for a patch of land they can call their own. Others appreciate the lock-it-and-leave-it lifestyle offered by maintenance-free townhouses and apartments.

– As similarly documented in previous years, there was no clear preference for location, although municipalities mentioned most were Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Langley and Vancouver.

– 7 per cent of the respondents indicated their maximum price is under $250,000 (12 per cent last year; no comparables for 2007); 11 per cent (18) said $250,000-$299,000; 20 per cent (22) said $300,000-$349,000; 17 per cent (14) said $350,000-$399,000; 9 per cent (9) said $400,000 to $449,000; 8 per cent (10) said $450,000 to $499,000; and 22 per cent (13) said they will pay more than $500,000.

– 2 per cent (4; 11) said they have less than 5 per cent of the purchase price to use as a down payment; 20 per cent (20; 17) said they have 5 per cent down; 21 per cent (23; 31) said they have 10 per cent down; 12 per cent (15; 7) said they have 15 per cent down; 24 per cent (19; 12) have 20 per cent down; and 17 per cent (19; 21) have 25 per cent or more of the purchase price for a down payment. Buyers are advised to ask their lender, mortgage broker or realtor for advice on mortgage-qualifying rules.

– 10 per cent (7; 11) said they intend to buy a home smaller than 800 sq. ft; 19 per cent (19; 20) said 800-999 sq. ft; 18 per cent (20; 20) said 1,000-1,199 sq. ft; 12 per cent (18; 16) said 1,200 to 1,499 sq. ft; 10 per cent (9; 13) said 1,500 to 1,799 sq. ft; 10 per cent (12; 7) said 1,800 to 2,000 sq. ft; and 13 per cent (11; 9) said more than 2,000 sq. ft

– 15 per cent (9; 15) said they need only one bedroom in their first home; 44 per cent (48; 53) said two bedrooms; 28 per cent (33; 23) said three bedrooms; 7 per cent (7; 4) said four bedrooms; and 3 per cent (1; 3) said more than four bedrooms.

– 93 per cent (94; 93) said it was important their new home is protected by warranty insurance. Less than 2 per cent said it wasn't important. How can a solid home warranty not be important?

– 9 per cent (11; 11) of seminar respondents were under the age of 25; 49 per cent (49; 49) were between the ages of 25-34; 10 per cent (23; 22) were 35-44; 19 per cent (19; 8) were 45-54; 7 per cent (5; 6) were over 55. Some of the older respondents were starting over after marital breakups.

When it comes to choosing a realtor, first-timers will rely heavily on referrals from family or friends. Other information sources aren't even close. Asked how they will find a realtor, 63 per cent (71; 66) of the respondents indicated a referral from family or friends; 11 per cent (10; 8) said they will choose a realtor with whom they are somewhat familiar; 7 per cent (2; 5) said they will work with a well-known real estate firm; 4 per cent (6; 5) said Internet research and 4 per cent (3; 3) indicated a realtor's advertising presence would influence their choice of a realtor to help them search for a first home.

Seminar attendees were asked to indicate their most desirable features. The list was provided for them but respondents were free to add items to the list. Features deemed most desirable, in order, were energy efficiency, healthy indoor-air quality, finished basement, home office, in-house secondary suite, flex/adaptable features, earthquake-resistant design, green building and laneway housing unit.

During the next month, I intend to contact a few of the folks who attended the seminar this year, last year and in 2007 to find out if they bought homes and, if so, how their lives have evolved since they lost their property virginity. In a future column, I will share what I learned from the first-timers.

Peter Simpson is president and chief executive officer of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association. E-mail