Todd Finn - RE/MAX Partners



Posted by Todd Finn on 6/4/2017

Between 30 and 70 percent of the water used by homeowners is used outdoors. Water usage in the summer time skyrockets as the heat rises and the grass starts growing. People are watering their gardens, their lawns, and themselves as a means to fight back against the heat of the season. Water usage, however, is becoming an increasingly serious issue as global temperature rises. In recent years, droughts have affected much of the continental United States, from California to the Carolinas. Most of us have become familiar with the concept of local water bans; limits on water usage for things like watering the lawn, washing cars, etc. However one good practice to get into is conserving water usage even when your area isn't in a time of drought. Follow these tips to start conserving water. They'll help you save money and help you do your small part for the environment as well.

Tips for conserving water outdoors

Since water usage peaks during the summer when we spend more time outdoors, we'll begin with tips for saving water in the backyard.
  • Sprinkler systems. Homes with sprinkler systems use significantly more water than those without. Sprinkler systems often water the grass when it doesn't need it or it overwaters. Properly setting up your sprinkler system will keep your water bill down.
  • Watering the grass. Before you water the grass, determine if it needs water. Will it rain soon? Step on the grass and see if it springs back. If it does, you might want to hold off.
  • Keep the grass long. The roots grow deeper when the grass grows longer. Deeper roots mean the grass taps into groundwater deeper into the earth, so you won't need to water as much.

Indoor water conservation

  • Replace old faucets and shower heads. Upgrading to more efficient faucets and shower heads will significantly cut down on water usage. If you're concerned about water pressure in the shower, go with a shower head designed for such a purpose.
  • Use a shower bucket. When you're heating up water for your shower, catch it in a bucket and use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants. Or, take the opportunity to wash your tub with this water.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full. Many people don't want to wait to wash the dishes, but doing so will conserve a lot of water in the long run.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and washing hands. These are habits that might take some time to break, but they're well worth the effort. Keeping the water running while washing your hands and brushing your teeth uses exponentially more water than is needed.
  • Go to the car wash. Instead of washing your car at home where the water you use runs off into the ground, head to a car wash that utilizes recycled water to wash cars.
  • Wash dishes by hand efficiently. If you don't own a dishwasher or only have a few dishes that need to be washed, do so efficiently. Don't keep the water running while you're scrubbing the dishes, or fill the sink with a couple inches of water and use this for washing all the dishes you have.





Posted by Todd Finn on 4/30/2017

If you've read the news in the last few years you've likely heard about the alarming decline of the bee population. In our daily lives, most of us think of bees only when they're buzzing uncomfortably close to our picnic table. What we don't often realize is the vital role that bees play in pollenating our food supply.

Large farms throughout the country (and throughout the world) hire beekeepers to bring in their colonies for pollination. Without those bees there would be a drastic drop in food production. While drops in bee populations are naturally occurring and fluctuate from year to year, recent years have seen some of the worst declines to date.

Starting to feel bad about swatting at the bees in your backyard?

First you should understand that these declines aren't your fault because you've killed a few bees in your life. Among the stresses that the bee population faces are viruses, mites, climate change, and habitat reduction. It would take a massive culture shift to address all of those issues. But, there are a few things you can do right in your backyard that will lend a small hand in helping out your local bee population.

Know your bees (and what's not a bee)

Many people treat bees, wasps and hornets as interchangeable. Bees are fuzzy pollinators that can sting only once. Common bees include honey bees, bumble bees, and carpenter bees.

Wasps are not fuzzy, and therefore not as effective as pollinators. They prey on insects and can be more aggressive than bees. The only wasps that sting are females, but they can sting multiple times.

Hornets are a sub-species of wasp native to North America. They too can sting multiple times and are known for being the most aggressive of the three. Again, they are not the most effective pollinators.

Bees, wasps, and your backyard

If you've noticed an uptick in the number of bees or wasps on you property it's not necessarily a bad thing. If their numbers are low and you're not concerned about anyone's safety you may decide to leave them be. The bees and wasps will help you by pollinating your flowers, eating surplus insects, and leaving you well alone.

Some ways you can keep your backyard bees healthy include not using pesticides on your lawn or garden. You could also plant more flowers and let your wildflowers grow freely to provide an extra nectar source for the local bees.

Too much of a good thing

If the bees in your yard have grown high in number, are becoming aggressive, or you are worried for the safety of your family (bee sting allergies can be life-threatening) then it might be time to take action.

To avoid becoming part of the problem of declining populations, call in a professional. Some pest control companies still use killing the bees as a solution. But there are companies that are more proactive and attempt to coax away bees and relocate them. Seek out no-kill pest control companies for help.

Your local beekeeper is also an unexpendable resource when it comes to learning what to do about bees. Many beekeepers will even relocate the bees to commercial honey-making hives.

With a bit of research and careful behavior, cohabiting with bees can be beneficial for us and for the little bugs that make our honey.