All posts by The Nicholas Team

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Why LEDs are a practical lighting solution for the home

Do you want to make your home as energy efficient as possible, but you find the light from CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights) unappealing? It’s time to take a new look at modern LED lighting.

Advancements in LED lighting have completely changed the face of energy efficient lighting. When they were initially developed, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) were solid bulbs first limited to single-bulb use. Gradually manufacturers began to cluster these bulbs to create more powerful light sources for flashlights and directional lighting. Now, however, advancements in clustering, lens design, and positioning have made these bulbs suitable replacements for almost any home lighting scenario.

While they used to be very expensive, research breakthroughs as recent as 2009 made the manufacture of LEDs drastically cheaper. With this breakthrough, LEDs rapidly became competitively priced with CFL bulbs.

Benefits of LED lighting include:

  •  High durability: While traditional bulbs have a filament which is fragile and subject to damage, LEDs handle shocks extremely well.
  •  Lower temperature: LEDs run cool, producing significantly less than 4 btus/hour, compare to more than 80 btus for incandescents. This is a real plus in the summer months when ambient heat from lighting can build up.
  •  Longevity: LEDs can live ten times longer than CFL bulbs and outstrip even the heartiest of incandescent bulbs.
  •  Energy efficiency: LED bulbs typically draw between two and 17 watts of electricity. CFLs and incandescent lights can consume three to thirty times more energy.
  •  Both cool & warm light available: Advancements have made it possible to choose “cool” lighting for big, task-based areas of the home and “warm” for accent lighting and more cozy applications.
  •  Standard, dimmable, and 3-way available: Many people don’t realize that there are LEDs now for a full range of switching applications and don’t necessarily require switch replacement (i.e. for dimmable applications).

If you’re looking for greener choices with a long-term benefit to your bank account, consider LEDs.


Cold weather plant protection tips


Now’s a good time to start thinking about how you’re going to protect your home’s plants this winter. Here are some simple tips for keeping them alive!

When the colder months settle in, there’s no reason to sacrifice all of your plants. Depending on the type of plants you have and the severity of your winter, there are ways to help ensure your favorite decorative greenery sees another spring.

 Before it’s too late, take the time now to plan your plant protection strategy. These tips selected from gardening experts from around the web should help many of your most beloved shrubs, bushes, trees, and potted wonders make it through the harsh weather.

 Move potted plants off concrete and onto the earth. Protecting the roots of a plant can be key to its survival. The top of a plant can often endure more trauma than the roots. Concrete can warm considerably in the sun, and then become very cold at night. This heat/cool cycle and the rapid swings in temperature it brings can damage roots.

 Plant in big pots. Soil is insulation for root systems. In a 10-gallon pot you’ll have ten times the protection a 1-gallon pot provides. It can also be useful to buy a pot with a thickness greater than one inch as a means of helping further shield the roots.

 During winter, water at the warmest point in the day. When temperatures climb above freezing, water your plants. Water is often used as a defense against freezing temperatures, in part because when water freezes it releases heat. Also, wet soil does a better job protecting from invasive cold than dry soil (which contains air pockets).

 Position plants where temperature swings are lower. Often southern exposures will experience the greatest temperature fluctuations, so consider northern or eastern positions around the house.

 Group plants defensively. Gather your plants together, placing the “weakest” of the bunch in the center and the heartiest selection on the outside, forming a border. You can also create a barrier around the group to help shield the plants from excessive wind.

 Mulch for additional insulation. Mulch can help create a blanket of protection. Hay or a thick layer of leaves can also work.

 Consider bringing some plants indoors. Certain potted plants might have the best defense inside. But if you do bring them indoors, bring them in before it gets too cold. The shock of moving from a chilly autumn night to a heated home can be dangerous.

 With a little planning and luck, you can extend the life of your plants and the beauty of your home. And don’t forget , The Nicholas Team is ahppy to help you with getting ready to make a move- staging and de-cluttering a home can take a lot of work- we are here to help you with what to do and waht not to do… give us a call  862-621-6626 to set up a time to meet or just answer any of your  real estate questions!



Practical fire prevention tips for holiday cooking

  The kitchen is the hub of most homes, but it can also be a dangerous place where fires start and burns are common. Check out these tips for a safer kitchen from the National Fire Prevention Association.

The kitchen is the hub of many happy homes. We gather family, entertain guests, and cook special meals for loved ones. Unlike the basic kitchens of even thirty years ago, today’s kitchens feature double-ovens, deluxe, multiple burner stove tops, warming drawers, and even indoor grilling stations. But the kitchen can also be a dangerous place. Did you know that most cooking fires in the home involve the stovetop? The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Any number of simple mistakes or lapses in attention can turn a festive time into a disaster. To prevent this from happening, keep these handy kitchen fire (and burn!) prevention tips handy, courtesy of the National Fire Prevention Association

  • Be alert: If you’re exhausted or have been consuming alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  •  Remain in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen during these activities, turn off the stove.
  • Use a timer when baking, roasting, or boiling food to remind you to check these dishes.
  • Keep anything which could catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, packaging, paper towels, dish towels, or curtains) away from your stove. This includes loose clothing and long hair!
  • Keep a lid nearby to smother grease fires. Slide the lid over the grease fire and turn off the stove. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cool. Alternately, keep baking soda or a large quantity of salt nearby to smother the fire. Do not use water! Water will only spread the fire!
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  •  Maintain a 3-foot “kid free” zone around the stove where food is prepared or carried.
  • Keep your stove’s hood or exhaust fan free of grease. Build-up is dangerous.

A printable PDF of many of these tips is available here:

Remember: If you do have a kitchen fire that you cannot control, get everyone safely out of the house and call 911 / emergency services.