Ken & Sue K.
Having Audrey and Mike representing us was the best thing we could have done!  The market was extremely shoppable, unpredictable, overloaded, and definitely a buyer’s market. We started with a non-commission company which caused nothing but headaches due to mistake after mistake in every issue printed.  We then went with a friend which was an even bigger mistake because not only did...
Kevin & Vanessa L.
We are very pleased with the service that Audrey & Mike has provided for us.  They made us feel comfortable whenever we have interacted with them.  Their input and suggestions from the time we decided to list our house and through the process of buying our new home, they remained honest and open.  We feel they understood our needs and interests, listened to what we wanted and was...

The Edmonton Real Estate Blog, Market Information, Advise & Opinion

Are you looking to buy or build a new home, or renovate your current home? Do you want a home that uses less energy; is more comfortable and healthier to live in; is environmentally friendly and saves on energy costs?

Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency offers choices for you to buy or build a better home, or to help you renovate your current home.

• The EnerGuide Rating System (ERS): This well-established brand for the energy rating and labeling of homes enables builders to choose the most beneficial and cost-effective upgrades for energy efficiency for your new home during the planning phase. It plays an important role in the construction of energy efficient new homes by providing homeowners with an evaluation report and official label that shows the EnerGuide rating of the home.

• Energy Star for New Homes: Buying a qualified house means lower energy demand and better performance. Your new home is built to technical standards that incorporate energy efficient guidelines and specifications. An Energy Star qualified home has additional energy saving features that make it an average of 20% more energy efficient than a typical home in your region.

• R-2000 Standard: R-2000 certified homes are some of the most energy efficient houses on the market. As a best in class energy efficiency label for 30 years, the standard has not only helped to pave the way for increases in energy efficiency in typical construction practices, but has also established the benchmark for energy efficient new home building in Canada.

Your R-2000 certified home ensures state of the art building techniques, exceptional comfort, increased energy savings and health benefits. And with the energy performance target of this year's R-2000 Standard increasing by an impressive 50% compared to the 2005 Standard, R-2000 once again positions itself as a leading-edge national voluntary standard for energy efficiency.

Both the R-2000 and Energy Star for New Homes initiatives are supported by the ERS.

• When Renovating Think EnerGuide: Did you know that you can also get an EnerGuide Evaluation of your existing home to help you make the best decisions to increase your home's energy efficiency and save money? Having a certified energy advisor undertake an EnerGuide evaluation provides you with a current rating, an assessment of your home's energy efficiency potential, and a prioritized list of recommended upgrades. It may also qualify you to participate in local incentive programs. And after your retrofits, it's quick to get a new EnerGuide label attesting to your home's improved energy performance. EnerGuide Evaluations: the first step in smart home renovation.

Courtesy of Newscanada
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When you have a large yard with a lot of flower beds watering can be a chore. Lugging around hoses can make your back sore and the job uninviting. Because you love your flower beds you hate to stop watering them. Isn't there a better way to water?

Many landscapers and lawn services recommend automatic irrigation systems for large yards with lots of flower beds. Having such a system will mean no more dragging heavy hoses around. You may wonder if one of these is right for you. They are best installed by landscaping companies experienced with plants and watering. Proper layout is essential for optimal performance and low maintenance.

Not all sprinkler systems are alike. Some sprinklers sit above the ground perpetually. They can have a better watering radius, but because they stick out of the ground, these types of sprinklers are prone to being tripped over and to being destroyed by lawn mowers.

Other sprinkler systems use pop up sprinklers. These sprinklers, a friend to lawn services because they aren't easily hit, sit flush or below ground level when not in use and pop up above the ground when the irrigation system comes on. When a pop up sprinkler breaks, it can cause localized flooding and can be difficult to fix.

Drip systems are designed more for flower beds than lawns and put water directly at the base of the plants. The problem is, except for the main water pipe, these irrigation lines must stay above ground to keep from clogging with dirt. The tips are replaceable, but if the irrigation line gets a crack or a leak, fixing it requires a little skill.

All of these systems can be laid out, hooked up to a water faucet, and turned on manually. Doing so requires you to remember to turn it on and off. If you forget to shut off the irrigation system, your water bill could take a hard hit. If you go away for a few days, your flower beds could suffer miserably.

Using an automatic irrigation system eliminates the problems with manual operation. Computerized control of the flow, the amount of water, and the length of time the water is on, saves on maintenance because it eliminates excess pressure which can burst the lines. They can be set on multiple timers to water one section at a time, and can be set to run during the cool parts of the day when less water evaporates.

This type of system saves water, which can lower your water bill. It's a great choice when you have a lot of flower beds or a large yard. Many quality landscapers and lawn services are able to install and maintain an automatic irrigation system to meet the needs of your landscape. With such a system, you can stop lugging hoses and start enjoying your flower beds.

by: Nick Messe 

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DIY%20home%20improvement%20fixes%20You might not be aware that your home may pose some hidden risks for you and your family. But you don't need a fat budget to give your home a safer and healthier boost. After all, there is nothing more important than keeping your family safe.

Hazards may be lurking in your home, and for $100 or less, you can make the home improvement precautions needed to protect your family from common household dangers. Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated show "Today's Homeowner," recommends these budget-friendly DIY projects for a safer and healthier home:

* Mount smoke detectors: There should be a smoke detector on each floor and in or near every bedroom in the home. Installing them is as simple as mounting them 4 inches from the wall on the ceiling. Smoke rises, so opt to place the detector at the highest point of the ceiling if you have an angled ceiling.

Estimated cost: $30

* Install a water filter: If you're concerned about lead, VOCs, microbial cysts and pharmaceuticals in your tap water, or even if you just don't like the taste or smell of it, install a DIY water filtration system such as the High Performance Drinking Water System that comes with a dedicated faucet and will provide your family with cleaner, better tasting water.

Estimated cost: $100

* Secure heavy furniture and appliances: Children are susceptible to bookshelves, televisions or other furniture falling over and causing harm. Use furniture brackets or straps to secure dressers, the stove, audio equipment and more to the wall to ensure passersby are safe from falling and tipping items.

Estimated cost: $10 or more, depending on number needed

* Install carbon monoxide alarms: Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas, is a result of improperly vented or defective home systems such as heaters, furnaces and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide does not rise to the ceiling like smoke, so the alarms can be mounted anywhere, such as plugged into wall outlets or affixed to walls and powered by batteries.

Estimated cost: $50

* Install a bathroom vent fan: Poor ventilation in the bathroom can lead to a buildup of excess moisture, which is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Install a bathroom vent fan to push the moist air outside the home to avoid creating unhealthy conditions in the room, as well as fogged-up windows, steamy mirrors, and eventually ruined walls and ceilings.

Estimated cost: $100

For more information and other tips, visit FiltreteWater.com.

Courtesy of BPT
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Using%20Renewable%20Energy%20for%20Your%20BusinessAll it takes is for cost of a barrel of oil to spike up, and once again everyone starts talking about renewable energy. Then just as fast as whatever it was that caused the price spike goes away, the conversation dies down. It really is all ridiculous too because the future is coming and it is renewable energy.

Now the fact is that the hardware for assembling your own renewable energy system became cost effective years ago and its growing even more as time moves on. That is that it the cost of putting together, say a solar system is about 30% less than the value of the power it produces over its service life.

The big problem though, is that while the power that comes off your power grid does cost more, it's on an easy payment plan. You simply get your bill once a month, pay it, and that's it. Simple and easy and this is what has so many people hooked. It's just easier that way.

However, for you as a business person, there is the public relations aspect that you have to take into consideration. That is that it's just good for business for you to be seen as a conservationist by your clients or customers and this trend in PR is only expected to grow.

By far the easiest type of system to set up is a photovoltaic solar system that uses solar panels. Now while they are quick to install and get online, they do none the less have a few shortcomings that you will have to contend with.

The first is that they only generate power in the daytime and electricity is expensive to store in batteries, but it can be done. The option that most people take though is to direct excess production back into the grid during the day, get credited for it and then draw it back out at night.

Now if your business is in an area where you have a steady supply of wind, then you need to know that a lot of progress has been made in wind turbines. New off the shelf, high tech turbines that can be generating energy for you in about the same time as it takes to set up solar panels.

The nice thing about wind turbines is that they operate 24 hours a day, just as long as the wind is blowing. Also if you have enough wind and buy a big enough turbine system, you can generate a very large amount of power.

One issue to consider with wind turbines though, is that they do tend to be a bit costly, and it's not just the cost of the turbine that can run up your bill. It's the tower, because good towers can be expensive and that particularly holds true for larger towers that you would mount a large turbine on.

Courtesy of BPT
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Edible Landscaping

Not only does growing your own produce allow you to save on fresh, organic produce, but edible plants grow in a variety of shapes, colours and textures enabling you to cultivate a landscape that is as unique as you are. Lowe's Seasonal Plants Expert Karey O'Halloran provides quick tips on selecting and growing the right edible plants for your garden.

• Most (but not all) vegetable and fruit plants require full sunlight- at least 4-6 hours/day

• Full sun vegetables and fruits that grow on the vine generally produce the most colour. Consider and assortment of bell peppers, eggplant, Hot House Tomatoes, strawberries, and blueberries

• Cool-season plants such as cabbage, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and beans are versatile and can tolerate some shade

• Vegetables and fruits will not grow in full shade

• Salad greens make for great edging plants as they are lush in colour and foliage.

• For small spaces- window boxes, hanging baskets, potted plants, and raised garden beds are versatile and can allow for great growing.

• Need shade? Consider planting a fruit tree in your yard. Apple, peach, pear, or apricot varieties are all great choices for Canadian climate and produce beautiful flowers. Keep in mind that falling fruit can be messy, and could attract pests such as flies and bees.

• To control pests, plant garlic bulbs sporadically throughout your garden. This will help ward off spiders, flies, and slugs.

• If you love flowers, consider growing edible varieties such as Pansy's, Borage, or even Squash.

Courtesy of Newscanada
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(NC)-If you're looking for a spring and summer activity that will provide you with healthy and delicious food all summer long why not try growing your own produce? Here, garden guru Peter Cantley, at Loblaw Companies Limited shares his favourite fruits and veggies that can be grown at home.

Savoury salads - These days, you can grow virtually all the fixin's for your summer salads right in your own backyard. From delicious heirloom Brandywine tomatoes, to refreshing cucumbers, crisp radishes and savoury herbs, the possibilities are endless to make your salads come to life. To give your salad real depth, try a variety of greens like Romaine mixed with Batavian or Butterhead.

Fruits of your labour - Canadian summers provide the perfect climate for growing the freshest fruit your family will ever taste, and it's easier than you think. Small fruit plants like the PC® Pixie Grape Pinot Meunier Hardy Vine can actually grow in a pot! These adorable mini clusters of juicy grapes can be eaten as is or even used in wine. If you're looking for something completely different, try a fig plant which can be left outside over the winter in most areas of Canada- there's nothing like the taste of fresh figs from your own garden!

Berry tasty - You'll never taste fresher berries then the ones you grow right in your own backyard. And what's more, these tasty little plants add the perfect pop of colour to any outdoor space. Try juicy blueberries or succulent strawberries to add to your summer deserts or toss into your favourite salads. Or, try something a little different like plump, juicy Haskap berries from the new PC Haskap 2-in-1 Borealis/Honeybee plant - an exciting new fruit that tastes like a cross between blueberries, raspberries and Saskatoon berries. They're perfect for jam, baking or enjoying by the handful.

Courtesy of Newscanada
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