Save The Earth & Cut Your Utility Bill By 10%

Turn down your heat by 1 degree or two and save up to 10% off your utility bill.

Eighty percent of the energy used in a home is for heating and hot water, so carefully managing our domestic heating can make a big difference in our utility bills and  the amount of carbon dioxide that we create.  Carbon dioxide is one of those greenhouse gasses reported to be responsible for climate change.

Our homes and businesses are often overheated.  The ideal living room temperature is 65 to 68 degrees farenheit and bedrooms are healthier at 61 degrees. 

Does that sound a bit cool to you—after this week of below zero temps here in Door County I know it does to me.  I’m going to test this–one degree at a time!  I’ll let you know how it goes as far as my comfort level and my utility bill.

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Save the Earth…Save Door County

How we go about our daily lives–what we eat, how we get to work, where we build our houses–has a transformative effect on places as far away as the North Pole and Antarctica, and most noticeably on our immediate surroundings here in Door County, Wisconsin. We are responsible to protect the earth, and those of us who live and visit Door County are responsible to protect this special place.

So, for 2011 I will be blogging about not only living in Door County, but ways I am working to help protect this place that is at once beautiful and fragile.

Today, January 1, 2011, I resolve to be a conscious consumer.

One of the best ways I can change the world is to vote with my wallet. I will buy only what I need, I will buy the best quality and most eco-friendly items available, and I won’t give in to short-lived trends that fill my life with useless things.

Before buying I will stop to consider how and where the item was made. Did the process produce pollution?

I’ll consider how much energy it uses.

Can the packaging be recycled?

Will my purchase last a long time and can it be easily repaired?

I will begin to look and think about the items that I can buy from local sources-food, clothing, and gifts–because the closer I am to the source of the product, the lower it ecological footprint.  Shop local!  I think I heard a lot about that this holiday season.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I can do this. And you can too!

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Door County Auctions and Sheriff’s Sales

In Door County, and really anywhere in Wisconsin, when homes are sold at auction the seller might be a bank own who owns property that the lender acquired at a sheriff’s sale because the property was foreclosed on and there were no other bidders willing to pay the amount of the former owners mortgage. The seller at an auction might also be an investor who owns many properties and is looking to sell them quickly–all at one time, or the seller may be an individual homeowner with just one property to sell.

Sometimes auction properties are neither foreclosed on or distressed, they may even be brand new. Seller’s of all walks are attracted to auctions because they are quick, efficient and they can generally get a reasonable market price.

If you have questions about Door County foreclosures, where to find information on all the Door County Sheriff’s sales, or how auctions work please email me at lisa@lisabieri.com

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Door County’s Magic Show

The fall “changing of the leaves” in Door County is like none other, in fact, many websites declare Door County as one of the very best places in the entire United States to view nature’s magic show.

Really, who would think that we would travel miles and miles to view the leaves. When I was a little girl–six or seven as I recall–I rode the bus to school every day. The ride was about 40-45 minutes long both to and from school, and “back then” no one took their cars to school so the bus was full of kids from grade school to high school. The bus I rode was rowdy with always some sort of mischief going on. My mother, or my grandmother, (can’t remember which) told me one day to just sit quietly and watch the leaves change color because soon they would be falling off the trees.

Funny! At six or seven that was the most ridiculous thought in the world to me. I remembered that story as I drove down Cave Point Drive yesterday, the color is stunning, and I thought to myself what reaction I might get if I told my six and seven year old grandsons to just sit quietly in their bus seats and enjoy the leaves.

The Wisconsin Travel website puts us at 50% of maximum color today–so if you are planning a trip here to view the color, or if you are riding the school bus, enjoy the fall color now because in a short time all the leaves will be on the ground and gone for another year!

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Prohibition–The Government Intravention That Didn’t Work

Bley’s Bar in West Jacksonport is 105 years old this year. In my family for all those years. When I saw this article I had to read it–because I remember stories about the bar and that during Prohibition there was still alcohol to be consumed in the “back room”. The back room is gone now, but the bar stands as a landmark and a fond memory for friends & family alike. Enjoy this article, and watch for a century+ celebration later this year! Though it made criminals out of casual drinkers, killed many who drank bootleg liquor, and laid the foundation for gangland crime, Prohibition did dramatically reduce alcohol consumption in America. When the law went into effect in 1920, per-capital consumption of liquor was three times what it is today. After its repeal, consumption never rose to pre-Prohibition levels. In his new book, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, the great entertaining story teller, Daniel Okrent, says the era was also one of great improvements in America. The crusades for clean water and sanitation, for example, were successful and saved millions of lives. The big organizer of the move toward Prohibition was Wayne B. Wheeler, a talented developer of coalitions. He banded together the reformers, white supremacists, utopian socialists, the Baptist ladies, Methodist clergy, suffragettes and the anti-immigration groups. If you worry today about corrupt or hypocritical politicians, remember Wheeler. He had far more influence. Though Okrent’s history is packed with great anecdotes and stories, the most entertaining may be about cottage industries that sprang up around the ban. Doctors could sell a pint of whiskey to each patient every ten days. They charged the equivalent of $32 a pint, but patients said they felt much better. Okrent brings out points that no other Prohibition writer has detailed, like new words. A “scofflaw” was a drinker. Individuals made “bathtub gin.” Ships entering harbors were asked to put corks in their bottles when they were 12 miles from shore, and Canada became the smuggling capital. Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Alcohol survives as the only legal intoxicant in America.

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Apples, Ragweed and the County Fair

Door County known for it’s apple and cherry orchards.  The cherry season is complete and just as the orchard growers put away their shakers, and while we are still in the hot dog days of summer, our thoughts turn to apples.  Yellow, green, dark red, bright red, pink, all shades.  Apples are yummy, and this year carry some good news presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting.  The study shows that adults who eat apples and applesauce, and drink apple juice, have a 27% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

My first question was, What is metabolic syndrome?”.  It sounds a bit space-like and what could it have to do with apples.  Wikipedia defines it as:  A combination of medical disorders that increase due to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  It affects one in five people, and prevalence increases with age. 

About 36 million Americans have three of four symptoms:  high blood pressure, increased waist size, more abdominal fat and high C-reactive protein levels.  So I guess I’ll be eating my apple a day to keep the doctor away.

Something not so pleasant that begins about August 15th is Ragweed season.  You can’t escape it.  Ragweed pollen can be carried by wind currents for many miles.  Though there may be none in your yard or neighboring yards, it’s still out there.  One plant can put out up to 1  billion grains of pollen.  I wanted to learn a bit more about Ragweed in Door County and got a completed education at www.botany.wisc.edu/herb.  Allergic?  Look at it this way–the few weeks of allergy season are a great time to take in all the indoor attractions that Door County has to offer!

Last week I attended the Door County Fair.  Bob and I volunteered at a food stand for our school and we had so many workers we were literally stepping over each other.  So, lucky me, I got to take Luke and Carter out on the midway.  A few years back I was disenchanted with the fair–it seemed the midway was dirty, the rides were rickety and the operators left something to be desired.  After a few years away I was pleasantly surprised.  I saw fun looking rides in good repair, courteous ride operators and a generally clean atmosphere.  What hasn’t changed are the games.  I spent $40 to let the boys try their hands at darts, fishing and shooting–and they came away with rubber frogs, alligators that expand in water and a couple of small stuffed animals–all of which I could have purchased at the local discount store for probably $10.00.  Oh well, they had a great time.

We looked at Lucy’s horse, at Andrew’s steer, at ‘ chickens and then ate our fill of caramel apples, funnel cake, cotton candy, hamburgers and booyah.  After almost six hours of walking and looking and riding and playing games the boys were full and tired…and I was happy to head home.

It’s a good life.

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What’s your Door County home dream?  Buy or rent, apartment or condo, new or pre-owned home, single family or duplex. When you think about changing your residence, there are decisions to be made.  Many say that renting is the  new cool.

If you plan to live in the area for the next few years, buying can be the best financial move. If you have children, the need to find a satisfactory place to live would increase your desire to buy. It’s one of the right moves, especially since homes are priced more attractively than they used to be. There are still bargains available, although housing prices in many areas are rising or will be rising within the next year.

Always be preapproved for a loan before shopping . You’ll know how much of a mortgage amount you qualify for. You could be pleasantly surprised.

Trade-up buyers will get the best deals this year. Higher-priced homes are on the market about twice as long as those in the $100,000 to $250,000 range, according to the National Association of Realtors. If your real estate agent says prices are already stabilizing in your area, consider acting before they begin to rise again.

Visit cnnmoney.com/realestate2010 to see price projections for 384 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Discuss being represented in the purchase by an agent–ask the agent about Buyer Agency.

Interest rates are really low. A few years ago, 8 percent interest on a home loan was considered to be low. Today, there are loans available for about 5 percent interest.

The best mortgage now is the 15-year fixed. At an interest rate of 4.5 percent or so, it’s more than half a point better than for a 30-year mortgage. You would save more than $165,000 over the life of a $300,000 loan, and about $82,000 on a $150,000 loan.

How did you celebrate Independence Day last month?  For most Americans, that’s the Fourth of July. For you, independence day could come just a little later. It’s the day you become independent from a landlord or independent from someone else’s rules. It could be the day you become the owner of your own home in Door County.

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