Monthly Archives: December 2015

Light up Your House for the Holidays, Not Your Energy Bill

“When it’s time to decorate, or replace some of your old lights, consider these for your new lighting ideas.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

These energy-conscious lighting tips will help you save some money on your energy bill this holiday season, leaving you with more funds to spend on loved ones.

The holidays are a fun, but often expensive, time of year. It’s easy to blow budgets on gifts for loved ones and on electric bills by making the season bright. Fortunately, saving money during the holiday season can be just as simple with a few energy-conscious lighting tips.

Look on the bright side

Substituting new LED holiday lights for run-of-the-mill incandescent holiday lights can give you big savings and make a big statement. LED (or light emitting diode) lights are brighter than traditional lights, and they last longer while using far less energy. In fact, LED light strings can use 90% less energy than regular incandescent lights and last about ten times longer. When you shop, just make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Look for government and industry-approved energy-saving logos.

No matter what you choose, buying holiday lights can be expensive. So keep your eye out for manufacturer rebates and coupons, and be sure to check with your local utility provider to see if they offer any special rebates for LED decorations.

Besides being energy efficient, LED holiday lights offer other important advantages. They’re cooler than incandescent lights (which can help reduce fires), have no filament or glass to break and can help prevent overloading sockets when you string them end-to-end. And believe it or not, using energy-efficient holiday lights like these can even help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Remember, you don’t have to limit your energy savings to just around the holidays. Using LED bulbs is a smart, energy efficient choice any time of the year for lighting inside and outside your home.

Christmas Decorations

Timing is everything

You can further reduce your holiday electric bill by limiting your light display to “primetime” hours. Extension cords with built-in timers can easily be found in most hardware stores. Make sure they’re suitable for outdoor use. Then, simply plug in your lights and set timers to turn on when it gets dark and switch off at bedtime. No sense lighting your home when few people are around to enjoy it. The same holds true at other times of the year with your standard outdoor lights. Instead of a timer, you can even use a motion sensor. That way, your outdoor lights will only go on when triggered.

Christmas Decorations

Consider solar

Depending on how much sun exposure you get, solar-powered lights can be a great energy-saving solution. Even in winter, these lights can soak up enough sun to light up an outdoor tree without relying on electricity.

Christmas Decorations

Get more bang for your buck

Here’s a smart tip to pump up the light without bursting your electric bill: Strategically place reflective ornaments or tinsel to bounce light in multiple directions. This will create a dazzling shimmery effect that tricks the eye into seeing more lights than are actually there.

Colored Christmas Lights

A little can go a long way

Here’s another efficient way to create lots of visual drama without having to add tons of additional lighting. Simply, use colored flood light bulbs in place of standard outdoor floods. You can find a variety of festive colors such as red, green and blue. Then, position the lights so they bathe your home’s exterior in a warm, cheery glow.

You can achieve a lot with dramatic up-lighting. Focus them on your home or seasonal planters positioned along a walkway. Try flanking your front door for an added effect.

If that’s a little too much for your taste, just substitute colored light bulbs in a few of your exterior fixtures, such as on your porch, above your front door or outside your garage. You’ll get pops of festive color with a more subtle effect.

Paper bag outdoor lights

Light the night with luminarias

During the holidays, you’ll often see these glowing lanterns in rows along a sidewalk or leading up a walkway to a front door. Luminarias are often made from brown paper bags that are weighted down with sand and lit from within by candles. A safer energy-efficient solution would be battery-powered LED luminarias. They’ll still create a classic, warm and welcoming feel, just in a modern and eco-friendly way.

Lights in window

Create a warm glow

Speaking of battery-powered candles or candlesticks, using them in your front windows can also add light with limited energy use and cost. Look for scented varieties to add another layer of cheer. Create a warm glow throughout your home with holiday-themed votive holders illuminated with actual votive or battery-operated tea-lights. Many of these flameless options are made to mimic the flickering of a real candle, so you can enjoy all the atmosphere without any of the worry that comes with a real flame.

With so many wonderful options available today, you can be energy-conscious AND festive without having to compromise. Follow these energy conservation tips this holiday and, perhaps, you’ll be able to splurge on an extra gift just for yourself.

Originally published by American Homeshield

Budget Decorator: 15 Shortcuts to Holiday Style

“You don’t have to go ‘All Out’ in order to make your home look festive.  Just some simple touches can do the trick.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

With Christmas around the corner, I’ve been on the lookout for inspired projects that will create a festive vibe with very little effort. The ideas gathered here (including a simpler way to adorn your home’s exterior and a semihomemade gingerbread house) all use holiday staples and materials readily found around the house, so you can whip up decorations that are as budget friendly as they are simple. You can have just as much fun decking your halls this way as by going a more traditional route — but with less stress and with more money left when you are done.

Here are 15 quick, creative and crafty projects and ideas that you can pull off in no time flat.

By Laura Gaskill, originally published on HOUZZ

How to Choose a Backsplash for Your Granite Counters

“You’ve selected a gorgeous piece of granite for your kitchen.  Now finish off your kitchen and tie everything together with an interesting backsplash.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

So you’ve chosen granite countertops for their beauty and durability, but now you’re stumped about what to use for your backsplash. Granite is a tricky one. There are so many different color and pattern choices. Some are very busy, while others are subtle. Some are dark; others are light. Some have large swooping vein patterns, while others are dotty or splattered.

Each slab is unique, so it’s not possible to make sweeping generalities about what works with every piece of granite. But if you look at why and how these pairings are pleasing, you’ll get some good ideas for a material to pair with the particular stone you’ve fallen for.

Originally Published on HOUZZ, by Becky Harris

Choose Your Paint with These Fancy Apps

“Picking a paint color can be a chore, especially when you are trying to coordinate or match colors.  Now there’s an App for that!”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Picking paint at the store can be overwhelming, and sometimes you’re less inspired by a paint chip and more inspired by photos, jewelry or Mother Nature. Now your phone can give you the tools you need to preview colors where and when the mood strikes.

Photo by: iStock

Here are five apps that can help you get the right color on the walls before you buy.

The ColorSmart by BEHR® Mobile app lets you preview, match and coordinate colors on-the-go. This fun-to-use app puts you in control with handy features like:
• Browsing through the BEHR Premium Plus Ultra® and Premium Plus® colors collections
• Photo-match to a BEHR color with their proprietary tool
• Preview function to see a color in different rooms and styles
• “Touch-and-tap” technology to paint a room image
• Sharing on Facebook and Twitter
(FREE for iPhone®, iPad® or Android)

The Benjamin Moore Color Capture® app makes it simple to snap a picture of anything that inspires you and instantly find its match among the more than 3,500 Benjamin Moore paint colors. Then you can save your pics and their coordinating color matches to your Favorites. Plus, you can:
• Group colors in Favorites to create personalized combos
• Share your favorite colors on social media and email
• Browse Benjamin Moore’s inspirational color cards and access the full color wheel to search colors
(FREE for iPhone®, iPad® or Android phones 6.1 or higher)

Besides letting you search by name or browse their library of 1,500 colors,ColorSnap® for mobile from Sherwin-Williams allows you to create personalized palettes with colors that inspire you. Simply upload an image and this app will instantly match colors in your photo. Then you can edit, delete or add colors to suit your artistic vision— you can even ask Sherwin-Williams for colors that complement your selections. The possibilities are endless with features that help you:
• Fine-tune colors for lightness, saturation and hue
• Get detailed color information such as names, RGB values and LRV numbers
• Save and access your Favorites across devices
(FREE for iPhone®, iPad® or Android)

With its intuitive navigation, ProjectPaint by Valspar puts over 3,000 Valspar paints right at your fingertips. Swipe, swish and tap through their catalog to choose colors for inside or outside your home, plus get recommendations for coordinating colors. This app even helps you calculate how much paint you’ll need for your project and creates a customized shopping list so you can make just one trip to the store.

Don’t want to limit your color choices to one particular brand? AnyPaintColor by MyPerfectColor lets you search over 130,000 colors from over 100 brands including Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren. It’s essentially a virtual fan deck that gives you the power to browse colors to your heart’s content without having to set one foot in a store.

Originally published on

Your Checklist for Quick Houseguest Prep

“It really doesn’t have to be a HUGE production to get ready for company.  Just take a little time to hit the highlights and do a couple of nice things for your guests so they know you put some thought into their visit.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
Have only a little time before your guests are due to arrive? Check these seven must-dos off your list and you can be sure you haven’t forgotten something in the mad rush to get ready. And if you do find yourself with a bit of extra time, pick from a bonus checklist of nice extras to add to the guest bedroom and bath, to make your guests’ stay even sweeter.