Thursday, February 25, 2010

OPEN HOUSE 2/28/10 1:00-3:00 PM

5530 SW 190th Street

Beaverton, OR 97007

1478sq Ranch with 3bd/2ba on .5 acres. Hardwood floors & pocket doors throughout. New roof and gutters, fenced yard with shop. Fruit trees and gardens.
For more information, go to

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Water Heaters: 5 Tips for Saving Energy

Article From

By: Joe Bousquin
Published: 28, 2009

Water heating accounts for up to 25% of household energy costs, but there are inexpensive things you can do to increase efficiency and reduce energy bills.

In the fight to save energy, your water heater is a born loser. That's because most houses in this country have a conventional storage-type water heater. That 50-gallon tank in the basement wants to keep water hot, so it will be ready whenever you turn on the tap. But as the water sits, it naturally begins to cool down, a process known as standby heat loss. When it does, the burner or heating element kicks on to warm it up again, in a constantly repeating cycle. According to the Department of Energy, water heating accounts for 14% to 25% of your household's total energy costs. But there are easy, low-cost steps you can take to reduce standby losses-and your hot-water bill, too. Try these five, and you'll start seeing a difference right away.

Just as you wouldn't send little Susie out into the cold without a jacket, your water heater needs help to stay warm, especially if it's in an unheated space. A fiberglass insulating blanket can cut heat loss by 25% to 40% and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill of $308, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy( (ACEEE).

Insulating blankets are cheap, usually less than $30 at the home center, and it's easy to install one yourself. Follow the included directions, and take care not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet, exhaust, or top of the tank on a gas unit.

If your water heater is fairly new, check the manufacturer's recommendations first. Many newer units already have insulating foam built in; on these models, an after-market jacket could block a critical component.

One of the surest ways to cut hot water costs is to use less of it. According to the ACEEE, a family of four uses 700 gallons of hot water per week. By installing low-flow showerheads( and faucet aerators, which cost as little as $10 to $20 each, you can cut hot water consumption by 25% to 60%. These devices are easy to install and will save 14,000 gallons of hot water annually, plus the energy it takes to heat it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency( estimates the average U.S. household water bill at $474 a year. By cutting water consumption in half, you'll save more than $200 annually.

Many water heaters come from the factory with the temperature set needlessly high. For every 10 degrees you turn it down, you'll save another 3% to 5% on your bill, according to ACEEE. A setting between 120 and 140 degrees is plenty hot for most uses. Just don't go below 120 degrees, which could lead to the unsafe growth of bacteria inside the tank. If the thermostat on your water heater doesn't have a numbered gauge, put it midway between the "low" and "medium" marks. Wait a day, then measure the temperature at the tap with a standard cooking thermometer. Keep adjusting this way until you hit your target temperature.

Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces the unit's efficiency and makes it more expensive to operate. "Imagine an inch of sand inside your water heater," explains David Chisholm of manufacturer State Water Heaters. "When you get a layer at the bottom of the tank, you have to heat up that sediment before you can heat up the water."

Draining the tank is relatively easy. Turn off the water and power to the unit (set the burner on a gas unit to "pilot"). Then connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank. With the other end of the hose at a lower spot outside the house where discharging hot water poses no danger, carefully lift the pressure-relief valve at the top of the tank and turn on the spigot; water should begin to flow. While most manufacturers recommend draining the tank once or twice a year, you don't have to drain it completely; in fact, the Department of Energy ( recommends draining less water more often-just a quart every three months.

Like blanketing the tank, wrapping hot-water pipes with insulation reduces standby losses. Water arrives at the tap 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won't have to stand around as long waiting for it to heat up, thus saving water, energy, and money. While this isn't an expensive job to do yourself-six-foot-long, self-sealing sleeves easily slip over pipes and cost about $2.50 each-it could take some effort, depending on where your hot water pipes are. Exposed pipes in the basement are an easy target, but if pipes are in a hard-to-reach crawl space or inside walls, it might not be worth the trouble.

Joe Bousquin's work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, and Men's Journal. The owner of a 79-year-old home in Sacramento, Calif., he has a new reverence for his water heater.

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

January 2010 Market Statistics

(Click on image to increase size)


Lately there has been a lot of talk in the media about buying versus renting. Here is my two cents on the subject.

I look at it as buying or borrowing. When you rent a home you are borrowing it for a set period of time and then you return it. Borrowing can make sense for some.

When buying, you are actually paying for something that you will keep or sell. With the current
economic conditions some people are paying for a home that has lost value–like when you buy a car. Of course you have to have transportation and a place to live. So even if the value is no longer as high as the purchase price–does it make sense to walk away and go borrow a home? When you borrow, you get no deductions and you are not paying toward owning. Remember– you have to live somewhere.

Historically property values have always gone up. And if you know someone in trouble with their home, give them the resources below and/or have
them call us. If we can help–we will.

Borrowing or Renting:
  • More fixed costs for the term of the lease
  • Not gaining equity, but not losing it either
  • When the lease is up, you can just move
  • Less work in maintaining a rental
  • Limited ability to personalize your living space
  • No tax advantage to renting... only for your landlord!
  • Tax advantages attached to home ownership
  • Variable costs
  • If you want to move, home generally must be sold
  • Over time, the mortgage balance decreases and equity builds
  • The ability to remodel and redecorate the home to match your needs and tastes
  • Pride of Home Ownership!

Helpful Resources:

34420 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy
Hillsboro, OR 97123-5470

5102 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, OR 97206

415 N. Killingsworth
Portland, OR 97217

2700 NE Andresen Rd. Suite D3
Vancouver, WA 98661

If you need help locating health and human services in the greater Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington region, 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember telephone number that helps connect people in need with the community resources available to help meet those needs.

Realty Solutions

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

7 Tips for Saving Energy with Home Lighting

Article From
By: Charlotte Barnard

Published: 28, 2009

Lighting eats up as much as 20% of your annual electric bill, but using energy-efficient bulbs and making other simple changes can cut lighting costs dramatically.

Lighting is one of the biggest energy gobblers in your house, eating up between 10% and 20% of your total electric bill. But it's also one area of the home where a minimal effort can yield major returns. Simply replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones can lower operating costs by as much as 75% per bulb. And in places where you can't-or don't want to-switch to CFLs, you can use higher-efficiency incandescence and even make your existing conventional lighting cheaper to operate. When new federal legislation takes effect in 2012, all light bulbs will have to meet tougher energy-efficiency standards. But with a few small changes, you can start saving money right now.

CFLs remain the go-to choice for energy efficiency. They last longer and consume less electricity than a standard incandescent. A 13-watt CFL, for example, gives off the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent and burns for 10,000 hours, compared with 1,000 hours for the conventional bulb. A typical CFL saves about $30 in operating costs over its lifetime.

Early CFLs didn't always deliver on light quality or convenience, but aesthetic performance has improved vastly in recent years. They now come in warm, neutral, and cool "colors," and major manufacturers like GE have started enclosing the telltale spiral in a conventional bulb shape so it's less obtrusive.

You get the biggest bang for your buck with CFLs in places where you would otherwise use incandescent bulbs: floor and table lamps and standard overhead fixtures. They last longer when they're not flipped on and off constantly, so they're especially good in rooms that see a lot of activity throughout the day, such as a kitchen or a playroom. A couple of caveats: CFLs can be glary, so they're not the best choice in downward-pointing fixtures like chandeliers, and most don't work with dimmers or timers. Because the bulbs contain mercury, they can't be thrown out in the regular trash. If you bought them at a home center, you should be able to return them there for recycling, or log on to ( to find a disposal center near you.

Cost and savings: Expect to pay $2 to $15 for a CFL, versus 50 cents to $1 for a comparable incandescent, but the CFL will last at least 10 times longer and cost up to 75% less to operate.

By simply lowering the wattage of an incandescent bulb by 15 watts-from 75 to 60, for example-you can knock 15% off the operating cost. And you may not even notice the difference in brightness. "A small reduction in wattage isn't discernible to the eye," says Brett Sawyer, a consultant who blogs about sustainable home design. If the light is on a dimmer, for every 10% you lower the brightness, you'll double the bulb's life. Try this next weekend, Sawyer says: Replace your most-used bulbs with ones at least 10 watts lower. If you don't notice the difference, then replace all the incandescent lights you can with lower-wattage bulbs. Combine that with CFLs in selected fixtures, and you'll achieve a "light layering" effect that saves money without compromising light quality, and without a hefty upfront investment.

Cost and savings: For every 15-watt reduction, you reduce energy use by 15%. And a $10 dimmer, once installed, costs nothing to use.

Spurred on by new energy requirements set to go into effect in 2012, bulb manufacturers are working feverishly to come up with more efficient versions of the standard incandescent. Presently, companies including GE, Sylvania, and Philips offer high-efficiency incandescent and halogen bulbs that use less energy than standard incandescent bulbs while delivering the same light quality. And research is proceeding apace on how to bring the dramatic energy efficiency of LED technology to residential products. These lights, which require very little current and last even longer than CFLs, are prohibitively expensive for home use (except in certain applications like under-cabinet strip lighting), but that's likely to change in the coming years.

Changing bulbs is one way to reduce your lighting bill, but it's not the only way.

Motion sensors: Great in rooms where the occupants can't be counted on to turn off the light, such as a kids' playroom. Devices cost $15 to $50 and take about an hour to install.

Door-jamb switches: Best in a pantry or closet; opening the door activates the light. As much a convenience as it is an energy saver-as long as you remember to close the door. Devices starts at about $15.

Windows: You'd be surprised at how much a simple window cleaning can instantly improve natural light.

Energy Star fixtures: Designed for CFL and LED lights, these can save up to $70 a year in energy costs. Go to to find links to manufacturers.

Lifestyle expert Charlotte Barnard specializes in home improvement and decorating topics and also consults on consumer and residential trends for magazines, web sites, and retail ventures.

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

SE Portland Bungalow

6103 SE 85th Ave.
Portland, OR 97266

SE Bungalow, 2 bedroom/1bath, newer windows & siding. Fenced lot, storage shed, large attic space.

For more information go to

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

8 Easy Ways to Seal Air Leaks Around the House

Article From
By: Jeanne Huber

Published: 16, 2009

For what the typical family wastes every year on air leaks--about $350--you can plug energy-robbing gaps, start saving money, and enjoy a more comfortable home.

A typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget-roughly $350-on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks. With the money you waste in just one year, you can plug many of those leaks yourself. It's among the most cost-effective things you can do to conserve energy and increase comfort, according to Energy Star. Start in the attic, since that's where you'll find some of the biggest energy drains. Then tackle the basement, to prevent cold air that enters there from being sucked into upstairs rooms. Finally, seal air leaks in the rest of the house. Here are eight places to start.

Most recessed lights have vents that open into the attic, a direct route for heated or cooled air to escape. When you consider that many homes have 30 or 40 of these fixtures, it's easy to see why researchers at the Pennsylvania Housing Research/Resource Center pinpointed them as a leading cause of household air leaks. Lights labeled ICAT, for "insulation contact and air tight," are already sealed; look for the label next to the bulb. If you don't see it, assume yours leaks. An airtight baffle ($8-$30 at the home center) is a quick fix. Remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, then replace the bulb.

Most of your house probably has an inner skin of drywall or plaster between living space and unheated areas. But builders in the past often skipped this cover behind knee walls (partial-height walls where the roof angles down into the top floor), above dropped ceilings or soffits, and above angled ceilings over stairs.

Up in the attic, you may need to push insulation away to see if the stud cavities are open. If they are, seal them with unfaced fiberglass insulation ($1.30 a square foot) stuffed into plastic garbage bags; the bag is key to blocking air flow. Close large gaps with scraps of drywall or pieces of reflective foil insulation ($2 a square foot). Once you've covered the openings, smooth the insulation back into place. To see these repairs in action, consult Energy Star's DIY guide to air sealing(

Building codes require that wood framing be kept at least one inch from metal flues and two inches from brick chimneys. But that creates gaps where air can flow through. Cover the gaps with aluminum flashing ($12) cut to fit and sealed into place with high-temperature silicone caulk ($20). To keep insulation away from the hot flue pipe, form a barrier by wrapping a cylinder of flashing around the flue, leaving a one-inch space in between. To maintain the spacing, cut and bend a series of inch-deep tabs in the cylinder's top and bottom edges.

A quarter-inch gap around pull-down attic stairs or an attic hatch lets through the same amount of air as a bedroom heating duct. Seal it by caulking between the stair frame and the rough opening, or by installing foam weatherstripping around the perimeter of the hatch opening. Or you can buy a pre-insulated hatch cover kit, such as the Energy Guardian from ESS Energy Products ($150).

Once the biggest attic gaps are plugged, move on to the medium-size ones. Low-expansion polyurethane foam in a can is great for plugging openings 1/4-inch to three inches wide, such as those around plumbing pipes and vents. A standard 12-ounce can ($5) is good for 250 feet of bead about half an inch thick. The plastic straw applicator seals shut within two hours of the first use, so to get the most mileage out of a can, squirt a lubricant such as WD-40 onto a pipe cleaner and stuff that into the applicator tube between uses.

Caulk makes the best gap-filler for openings less than 1/4-inch wide, such as those cut around electrical boxes. Silicone costs the most ($8 a tube) but works better next to nonporous materials, such as metal flashing, or where there are temperature extremes, as in attics. Acrylic latex caulk ($2 a tube) is less messy to work with and cleans up with water.

Gaps low on a foundation wall matter if you're trying to fix a wet basement, but only those above the outside soil level let air in. Seal those with the same materials you'd use in an attic: caulk for gaps up to 1/4-inch wide and spray foam for wider ones. Use high-temperature caulk around vent pipes that get hot, such as those for the furnace or water heater. Shoot foam around wider holes for wires, pipes, and ducts that pass through basement walls to the outside.

In most older houses with basements, air seeps in where the house framing sits on the foundation. Spread a bead of caulk between the foundation and the sill plate (the wood immediately above the foundation), and along the top and bottom edges of the rim joist (the piece that sits atop the sill plate).

In the main living areas of your home, the most significant drafts tend to occur around windows and doors. If you have old windows, caulking and adding new weatherstripping goes a long way toward tightening them up. Bronze weatherstripping ($12 for 17 feet) lasts for decades but is time-consuming to install, while some self-stick plastic types are easy to put on but don't last very long. Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber ($8 for 10 feet) is a good compromise, rated to last at least 10 years. Nifty gadgets called pulley seals ($9 a pair) block air from streaming though the holes where cords disappear into the frames.

Weatherstripping also works wonders on doors. If a draft comes in at the bottom, install a new door sweep ($9).

Try to do attic work on a cool day. Wear protective gear: disposable clothes, gloves, and a double-elastic mask or half-face respirator. Bring along a droplight with a fluorescent bulb, plus at least two pieces of plywood big enough to span two or three joists to support you as you work. To save trips up and down a ladder, try to move up all of the materials you need before you get started.

One warning: If you find vermiculite insulation, hold off until you've had it checked for asbestos; your health department or air-quality agency can recommend a lab.

Jeanne Huber writes a home-repair column for the Washington Post and has commissioned three new roofs on various houses over the years.

Video provided by Today's Homeowner host, Danny Lipford(

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gated Community Townhouse for Sale

14100 SW Barrows Rd.
Beaverton, OR 97223

Scholls Village End Unit, Gated Community. 3bd-2ba, 2-car attached garage. Living room w/gas fireplace, dining room, upstairs laundry, Master w/walk-in closet, dual sinks in bathroom. Lower level could be media room or office. Walk to shops. Built in 2000.

For more information or to view more properties, go to