Cheap, safe homemade cleansersLiving a more eco-friendly lifestyle is a hot button topic for many folks around the country.  Here in the beautiful Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains surrounding Hendersonville homes, we really appreciate the “green” philosophy.  You don’t have to completely overhaul your life to become more environmentally aware.  You can save money and the environment by making your own homemade cleaning products with everyday household items.  It’s easier than you think.

All-Purpose Cleaner – Every household could use a simple cleaning solution that takes care of multiple surfaces.  Simply mixing 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup baking soda in 1/2 gallon of water (2 liters) will create a cleaner that will take care of your countertops, chrome faucets, built up water deposits and windows.

Carpet Stain Remover – After you have dabbed up as much of a spill as possible, mix together equal parts white vinegar and water in a bottle.  Spray this mixture liberally on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes.  Then use warm, soapy water to remove the mixture.  For tougher greasy stains, sprinkle some corn starch on the area and let it sit for approximately 30 minutes.  Then, vacuum it up. 

Lime Deposits – Using household tap water can create a lime buildup on just about any surface over time.  You can clean your teakettle by boiling a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 cups of water inside.  Rinse the teakettle completely with fresh water before it cools off.  Fresh lemon juice will help remove lime deposits from your bathroom fixtures.  Just let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off with a warm cloth.

Scouring Powder – For surfaces that can be easily scratched up using a traditional scouring powder (such as refrigerators and stove tops), use baking soda and a warm, damp cloth.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner – Simply mix up 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar, pour the mixture into the bowl and leave it.  After a few minutes, scrub it with your toilet brush and flush.

Wall Marks – At one time or another, especially if you have kids, your walls will be marked up with something (crayons, pencils, pens, etc).  If rubbing it with warm soapy water doesn’t remove the mark, try using baking soda to gently rub the mark away.

As you can see, using only baking soda, white vinegar or a combination of both can make your house spic and span in no time at all.  There are no harsh chemicals so they are safe to use around kids and animals and you didn’t break the bank buying expensive household cleaners.  It’s a win-win situation all around.  Making homemade cleaning products for your Hendersonville home is simple, cheap and great for the environment.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here: http://activerain.com/blogsview/2650408/making-homemade-cleaning-products.

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Water conservation tipsOfficials in the City of Hendersonville, much like other cities across the nation, have encouraged water conservation to help combat dry weather conditions.  Even little changes can help.  The following are the top five water conservation tips for Hendersonville residents to do their part in using less water:

Tip #1: Check the Plumbing.  Leaky plumbing makes up for approximately 15% of a Hendersonville household’s water use.  Replace O-rings on leaky faucets and tubs.  A couple of drops of food coloring in your toilet tank is a simple way to determine if you toilet is leaking.  If the color shows up in the bowl before you flush, you need to replace the flap.  If the water meter still moves after you have completely shut off all water coming into the home, you have a leak.  Check the connections to your outside hoses and faucets as well.  Replace or repair faulty plumbing as soon as possible.  Missing even one leak can waste as much as 500 gallons of water every month.

Tip #2: Curb Indoor Water Usage.  Flushing the toilets and bathing comprise approximately 70% of the entire Hendersonville household water usage.  If you can’t afford to replace your toilet with a low-flow model, you can achieve the same effect by placing a glass jar, a plastic jug or even a plastic bag filled with water, pebbles or other density items to keep it from floating in the toilet tank.  This will take up space, which means that the toilet will use less water to fill it.  If you want more water, use a smaller container.  Turn off water when brushing your teeth.  Limit your showers to between two and five minutes.  Take large buckets in the shower with you to capture water before it goes down the drain to use for daily watering of plants.  You can take bucketfuls of your bathwater when you’re done to water plants as well.

Tip #3: Use a Little Elbow Grease.  Yes, power washing does an amazing job when it comes to cleaning off your driveway and deck.  However, the particulates (debris, oil, etc) end up in our local Hendersonville waterways.  So, instead of busting out the garden hose, use a broom to sweep up. 

Tip #4: Be Smart When Using Appliances.  Only run a full load of dishes or laundry.  These activities account for approximately 20% of your Hendersonville home water usage.  If your dishwasher or laundry washer are older, purchase newer Energy Star appliances.  Ask your salesperson about rebates from Energy Star as well as local government agencies when you go to purchase.  You can save money when you buy the appliances as well as when you use them.  Good deal!

Tip #5: Use a Commercial Car Wash.  Most commercial car washes recycle their water.  This reduces the amount of water needed to clean your car by as much as 40 gallons per wash.

Following these top five water conservation tips for Hendersonville residents will significantly reduce water usage in our neck of the woods.  In turn, the precious water we do have can be used to keep our mountains green and beautiful for future generations.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Not to be outdone by the award-winning Asheville recycling program, the City has made recycling in Hendersonville even easier.  As of July 4, 2011, the City has begun picking up recycling bins on the same day as the regular trash collection for Hendersonville residents.  If you are unsure as to what can be placed in your blue recycling bin for pickup, here is a list you can use:

  • Recycling in HendersonvilleAluminum, Steel and Tin Products (clean pie plates, rinsed out soda cans, clean foil, etc)
  • Aerosol Cans (completely empty and without the plastic cap)
  • Books (paperbacks)
  • Cereal Boxes
  • Cartons (soda and beer)
  • Corrugated Cardboard (flattened, no bigger than 4’x3’x12″ stacks)
  • Egg Cartons
  • Envelopes (paper, manila and window)
  • Frozen Food Boxes (white inside)
  • Glass Bottles and Jars (brown, green and clear only)
  • Newspapers, Magazines, Catalogs, TV Guides and Phone Books
  • Plastic Bottles (no lids, deli containers or plastic tubs allowed)
  • Paper (office paper, construction paper, junk mail, post it notes and wrapping paper).  Shredded paper is accepted as long as it is placed in a paper bag and closed on top.
  • Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Rolls

There are several items that are no longer allowed to be collected in your regular Hendersonville household trash bins because they have been banned from our landfills.  These items must be recycled:

  • Aluminum Cans
  • Bottles From ABC Permitted Businesses
  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Lead Acid Batteries
  • Oil Filters
  • Plastic Bottles
  • Used Tires
  • White Goods or Appliances
  • Wooden Pallets
  • Yard Trash (lawn clippings, shrub trimmings, etc)

Yard waste from your Hendersonville yard can be placed in an open container and set out for collection with your regular trash.  Do not bag it up and do not mix it in with your regular trash.  It is collected and ground into mulch to distribute to Hendersonville residents at a later time for free.  If you have old appliances that need to be picked up, contact the City of Hendersonville and let them know that you will be leaving them at your curbside for pickup.  Make sure to remove the doors from refrigerators and freezers for safety.

Used tires can be placed at curbside for pickup as long as they aren’t set on a rim.  They can also be brought to the Henderson County Transfer Station (828-697-4505) during normal business hours.  The transfer station will also accept lead acid batteries.  But, it’s best to return the battery to the store you bought it from.  Rechargeable batteries can also be taken to the transfer station.  Regular batteries (AAA, AA, C and D) can be thrown out with your regular household waste.

We live in a beautiful area of the country and we want to do everything we can to keep it that way.  By making it easy to recycle in Hendersonville, we are doing our part to help keep this place beautiful for our children and our children’s children.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Simple Tips for Living Green in 2011You’ve probably heard about “going green” at some point in your life.  That can mean everything from recycling to where you purchase your food.  However, you don’t have to shower every other day or install solar panels that cost a hefty sum up front (although, they do save money over the long run).  Here are five simple tips for living green in 2011:

1. Recycle – Many cities provide recycling programs, including the City of Hendersonville.  Contact them via pone at 828-697-3084 or email at recycle@cityofhendersonville.org to find out how you can get your own recycling bin.  Articles that can be recycled are metal cans, plastic, glass, newspaper, cardboard and mixed paper (paper grocery bags, catalogs, cereal boxes, junk mail, magazines, etc.).

In Hendersonville, yard clippings can be placed in residents’ regular trash bins.  Just make sure they are not bagged, but placed loosely in the bin.  Dried paint and tires that are not on rims can also be put out with the regular weekly trash collection.  Used motor oil and antifreeze as well as used car batteries must be turned in at appointed facilities, such as the Henderson County Transfer Facility (802 Stoney Mtn Rd) for motor oil, antifreeze, used batteries and electronics (fax machines, VCRs, steros, telephones, computers, TVs, etc).  Anywhere you buy a new car battery will also recycle the old one for you, usually for a small fee.

2. Check Your Home for Air Leaks – Check that the insulation in your home, window and door frames and window seals are all up to standard.  Any cracks around doors and windows will increase your energy consumption.

3. Change to “Green” Cleaning Supplies – “Green cleaners” use much less harsh chemicals to do the same job.  Clorox has a line of great “green” products for windows, bathrooms and toilets.  If you want to save money AND the environment, you can even make your own chemicals to clean using everyday household items, such as baking soda, cornstarch, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and more.  To find out how, click here.

4. Share a Ride – Using mass transit or even carpooling with other workers in your office or area can help reduce the amount of emissions and save you money.  If you live close enough, consider walking or biking to work.  It’s great exercise and reduces your carbon footprint.

5. Set the Thermostat – By lowering the thermostat by 1 degree, you will not only lower your energy costs, but you will hardly notice a difference in the household temperature.  Lowering it by 3 degrees can save approximately $74 every winter.  If you get cold, put a sweater on.  Consider lowering it even more at night.  Your body regulates its temperature during sleep, so you won’t even notice it.  Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to help regulate when you want it higher (when you’re at home) and when you want it lower (when you’re asleep or at work/school).

Reducing your carbon footprint here in Hendersonville doesn’t necessarily mean drastically changing your life.  These five simple tips for living green in 2011 are easy enough to do and can make a huge difference in the amount of energy you consume.

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate specialist

Henderson County is building a new CNG refueling station that will be open to the public.

Thanks to a stimulus grant, Henderson County has broken ground on its own CNG station.  CNG (compressed natural gas) is a cleaner alternative to propane, gas or diesel and can save the county around $1.50 per gallon once the CNG conversion is completed.  Another positive reason to use CNG is that it decreases our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, the base for our petroleum use.  Construction of the CNG filling station is expected to be completed by this October.

While Henderson County vehicles will be converted to CNG (two CNG-run buses have already been purchased for the Apple Transit System), the goal of the new filling station is also to get Henderson County residents to consider using CNG in their personal vehicles instead of other, harsher fossil-based fuels, such as petroleum-based gasoline or diesel.  There are already CNG fueling stations in Arden and Asheville.  They are going to make the new CNG filling station a public fueling station instead of just for private County use.

If you’re interested in converting your own vehicle into a cleaner CNG-run vehicle, there are several things to consider first, such as the cost of conversion, seeing if your car can handle the weight of the canisters that hold the CNG, EPA standards, availability of refueling stations and more.  To find out more about how to convert your vehicle to natural gas, click here.

With Henderson County building a CNG station, it’s nice to know that they take the environment seriously as well as using our tax dollars wisely.

Don't get a lemon. Contact Rich Cooke for all your Hendersonville real estate needs.