Category: Home + Lifestyle

Smart TVs 101: Everything you need to know

The ins and outs of internet-connected televisions

Smart TVs, unlike conventional television sets, let users do a number of things—such as stream content from services like Netflix or Hulu, browse the internet, and check social media—directly from the TV set without additional hardware.

And they’re gaining steam with consumers: In 2011, 52 million smart TVs were sold worldwide. By 2015, that number rose to 141 million and was projected to hit 173 million by 2016.

Of course, there are several ways you can set up a “smart” TV. You can buy an actual Smart TV with integrated Wi-Fi, one that can handle apps and the like. Or, you can buy something like the Google Chromecast, Apple TV, or Roku Stick to turn your “dumb” TV into a “smart” one.

Read the source article at Curbed

Mortgage rates tumble to fresh 2017 low

Yesterday, interest rates fell to the lowest they’ve been all year! This is great news for those who are ready to purchase a home or are considering refinancing.

Mortgage rates can change at any moment; that’s why it’s so important to strike while the iron is hot.

Rates for home loans fell in line with Treasury yields, nudging mortgage rates to the lowest level of the year, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.08%, down 2 basis points during the week. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.34%, down from 3.36%. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.18%, down one basis point.

Those rates don’t include fees associated with obtaining mortgage loans.

The 10-year Treasury yield fell five basis points during the week as investors continue to re-assess the expectations for fiscal stimulus and economic growth that followed the November election even as fresh geopolitical worries flared. The benchmark government bond breached a key technical level, 2.30%, twice during the week.

Read the source article at MarketWatch

5 Ways Pets Are Good for You

Did you know that Americans spend approximately $60 billion* on pets each year? That’s a ton of cash spent on cats, dogs and other pets!

But animal lovers everywhere don’t think twice when it comes to spending money on a beloved pet. They become part of the family. So, you’re probably not surprised to know that April 11 is #NationalPetDay – a day to celebrate our pets.

It’s a good thing we all love our pets so much. Experts tell us that the presence of animals in our home helps us stay healthier. Here are 5 reasons why according to WebMD.

1. Pets Make Your Heart Happy

Your dog may make you less likely to get heart disease. Why? Dog owners walk more and have lower blood pressure than people who don’t have dogs.

2. Pets Reduce Stress

Petting your cat or dog feels good. It can lower your blood pressure, helps your body release a relaxation hormone, and cuts down on levels of a stress hormone.

3. Pets Help You Connect with Others

Pets, especially dogs, can help you connect with other people. People who use wheelchairs say that other people make eye contact with them more often and ask if they can be of help when they’re with their dogs, Beck says.

4. Pets Boost Your Spirits

People with pets are generally happier, more trusting, and less lonely than those who don’t have pets. They also visit the doctor less often for minor problems.

5. Pets Help Raise Healthy Babies

Babies raised in families that have pets may be less likely to get allergies and asthma, some studies show. Babies with dogs or cats at home have fewer colds and ear infections during their first year than babies living in pet-free homes, one study found.

Thinking about getting a pet of your own? If you’re a parent, you’ll love this quiz from Parent magazine to help you pick the pet that’s right for your family.

Have a pet you love? Send me a picture! On National Pet Day, and always, go spend some time with your furry friend. It will do you some good!

Sources: American Pet Products Association, Parents.com and WebMD

Why You Don’t Actually Need to Work Out Every Day (According to Science)

(Image credit: Suzanne Tylander)

We all know working out comes with a lot of health benefits, but what if exercise is just not really your thing, or you have a too-busy schedule that doesn’t allow for daily workout time? As it turns out, you don’t have to exercise every day—you’ll still get those healthy perks even if you’re a less frequent gym-goer.

Of course, more regular exercise will do more for your overall fitness levels, but as far as health benefits are concerned, working out only a few times a week still cuts it pretty close—which is good news for all those weekend warriors out there. A study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine examined 63,000 British and Scottish adults and found that those who exercised once or twice a week had a 30 percent lower mortality rate than those who didn’t work out at all. That’s only a 5 percent difference from those who worked out 3 or more times a week, who had a 35 percent lower mortality rate.

Read the source article at Apartment Therapy

Savings Stretchers: 8 Times Inexpensive Materials Looked Really Great in the Kitchen

(Image credit: Dwell)

Of course it’s possible to create an amazing-looking kitchen if you have massive amounts of cash: what’s really remarkable is doing the same thing on a limited budget. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a countertop or cabinets or a backsplash or a floor that looks great. Here are eight examples of humble, inexpensive materials looking really great in the kitchen.

Read the source article at Apartment Therapy

City vs. Suburbs: A New Study Breaks Down Exactly How Much More It Costs For Families To Live An Urban Life

From million-dollar condos to $8 beers, the bright lights of the big city don’t come cheap. In fact, living in New York City costs a family with young children $71,237 more per year than life in the surrounding suburbs.

That’s according to a joint study by Zillow and Care.com that compared the costs of housing, property taxes, and childcare in major cities to their outlying suburbs.

Most urban cores had a higher cost of living than their suburbs, though not by nearly so wide a margin. Chicagoans pay an extra $18,472 a year compared to their suburban peers; in Dallas, the urban premium is $14,128. City living was more expensive in housing hotspots like Seattle ($11,376), San Francisco ($12,560), and Washington ($12,832), too.

Read the source article at Apartment Therapy

Flipping Or Not, Homeowners are Ready to Renovate

It’s getting close to prime time for home renovations. Each year in Spring, homeowners start making to-do lists for chores and repairs. According to a recent survey conducted by Angie’s List, a website with reviews of local home improvement companies, 72 percent of homeowners are planning to spend as much or more on renovations in 2017 as they did last year.

Based on the Angie’s List survey, most plans for reno projects include kitchen and bathroom updates, as well as outdoor landscape projects. Also topping the wish lists were transformation projects – changing existing rooms into specialized spaces such as home offices, rec rooms and man caves.

But according to the National Association of Realtors, none of these priority projects named by homeowners actually make the top 6 list of renovation projects with the biggest return on investment.

The results of what made the top 6 renovation returns on your money may surprise you.

6. Siding

5. Garage Doors

4. New Wood Flooring

3. Insulation Upgrades

2. Refinished Hardwood Floors

And the number one return on your renovation dollar…

  1. New Roof

So whether you’re looking to flip a new home or spruce up the one you’ve got, you might want to consider where to spend your money this renovation season.

Sources: Bank Rate and Real Simple

How to Solve Common Sound Problems in Your Home

When we build and design our homes, acoustics are probably the last things on our minds. How many of us think actively about what our dwellings sound like? As is often the case with acoustics, they are out of sight and therefore out of mind—until a problem arises.

Maybe the sound of the stereo in a teenager’s bedroom echoes throughout the house or the noise of passing trains makes it difficult to sleep. Or perhaps your neighbor in the apartment next door complained that she can hear your TV through the wall.

The field of acoustics leaves most people baffled, and many builders and developers don’t prioritize spending money on acoustical consulting to ensure that homes and apartments sound pleasing to residents. 

Fortunately, one does not need to study the concert halls of the 19th century to be able to talk about sound in rooms. For everyday individuals, a simple understanding of common problems can lead to easy DIY fixes.

Read the source article at Curbed