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Learn about Greener Living

by Preservation Properties

Newtonville Village Day

Saturday, September 29, 10am – 5pm & 6-10pm
Walnut Street, Newtonville

Please visit us at our booth on Saturday the 29th!  We will be giving out lots of information pertaining to sustainable building materials, local green companies and products that will help you live a more eco-friendly life.


Save energy with landscaping

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties



Landscaping Most homeowners carefully plan their landscaping for beauty, property value, comfort, and maybe water savings or neighborhood bragging rights. But smart landscaping also helps save on energy bills. On summer days, it feels cooler sitting under a tree or standing in the grass. Also, farmers have used lines of trees as windbreaks for centuries. There are easy ways for homeowners to use the same principles to save energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates trees in the right spots around a home can save energy consumption by up to 25 percent, easily providing a return on most landscaping projects within eight years.

Here are some basic ways to save energy with landscaping. You can cut summer cooling costs, winter heating bills or possibly affect both at the same time. For all of the following landscaping work, work around existing plants. For the most part, larger trees and shrubs are more effective at saving energy. Let them grow. Likewise, think about long-term energy savings and plant slow-growing species that will live longer and withstand harsher conditions.

Saving on Cooling Bills

The biggest factor in summer energy savings is blocking the sun’s heat blasting through windows and raising inside temperatures, boosting air conditioning demand. You can save energy by strategically landscaping your yard.

Hire a landscape designer to help plant trees at the ideal angle to block direct summer sunlight but still allow natural light into the home. Consider large, wide deciduous trees near windows on the south side of the house, and near an air conditioning unit. The trees will block plenty of summer sun, but lose their leaves in the winter and allow passive solar heat. Recommended trees for saving energy include maples, birch, and many oaks.

The west and northwest sides of the house should also be blocked at low angles to block late afternoon sun. Plant fuller trees with lower branches in these areas to save energy. Until the trees properly mature, consider vines on or near the house. They can help keep the summer sun from baking walls and heating the house. Deciduous vines will get out of the sun’s way in winter, but windy areas might call for evergreen vines to block chilly winter blasts.

A landscaper might also be able to help design a channel of plants that will funnel cooling summer breezes into the house to help you save energy.

Finally, at the most basic level, any landscaping helps cool the air in the immediate vicinity and will reduce the amount of surface and ground heat seeping into the home. Soil covered with plants and shaded by trees will remain cooler than asphalt and other heat-absorbing surfaces.

Saving on Heating Bills

The key in winter is blocking cold wind while allowing the sun to provide passive solar energy. Harnessing passive solar energy helps you to save fossil fuel energy. The latter is simple. Just get the trees out of the way of south-facing windows (possibly by using deciduous trees, as mentioned above).

Rows of dense, low evergreen trees and shrubs can help block wind. Ideal shrubs will grow to between 6 and 10 feet, such as camellia, hollies, oleander, and Viburnum.

Heating and cooling bills can be significantly reduced with well-designed landscaping, including trees that cool the air and block summer sun, and shrubs that control winter wind.

Hybrid bulbs combine CFL and halogen bulb features

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties


Another complaint against compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) will have to go by the wayside with the introduction of a new hybrid bulb from GE that is able to come to immediate full brightness as soon as it is switched on. As with cars, where hybrids combine the best properties of two transport technologies, hybrids are now an option for light bulbs, combining immediate brightness of halogen with the energy savings of a compact fluorescent.

GE LightbulbThe bulb itself is in a conventional incandescent-shape. Inside that is a now-familiar coil of compact fluorescent tubing. But, at the center of that is a small halogen capsule. When the light is turned on, both the halogen and the CFL come on, so that the bulb has full brightness immediately available. Once the CFL has reached its full brightness, the halogen portion automatically turns off, so that the life of the bulb is conserved.

The hybrid bulbs have an expected lifetime of 8,000 hours, about 8x as long as incandescent bulbs, and close to the expected life of regular CFLs. Additionally, these hybrid bulbs have a lower level of mercury than most currently available CFLs. The hybrid bulbs contain just 1 mg of mercury, while most current CFLs have 1.5 to 3.5 mg of mercury.

The hybrid bulbs are available for 60- and 75-watt replacement and should now be starting to appear in retail stores, with an expected price range of $5.99 to $9.99.

This article comes from Yahoo Green

Make your yard a Certified Wildlife Habitat

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties


When writing recently on native and drought-tolerant plants for California landscaping, I came across this little tidbit: The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has a program, “that helps members turn their backyards into wildlife havens.” How spectacular!Bird

Being a national organization, this program applies all over the country, not just to California. And you can certify your garden to be one of 140,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats across the U.S.!

The cost is minimal ($20 dollars and is what you’d pay for a good plant, so consider it part of the landscaping budget), and you get certified. You also become a member of the NWF with a year subscription to its award-winning National Wildlife magazine, plus a subscription to the quarterly tip-filled newsletter which will help you run and maintain your habitat, and your name will be listed in the NWF national registry of certified habitats.

The best part is that it’s not as difficult as it might sound to get your yard up to snuff. You need some basic amenities for the critters that most yards probably already have to one degree or another, stated as per NFW’s site:

  • Food sources like native plants
  • Water sources like birdbaths or fountains
  • Places to take cover like birdhouses or thickets
  • Places to raise young like dense vegetation or shrubs or nesting boxes
  • Sustainable gardening like chemical-free fertilizers and compost

This program can be instigated just about anywhere: on your college campus, at your child’s school, or in any other community garden area. Check out The National Wildlife Federation’s website for details and more information on how easy it is to turn your outdoor space into a wildlife habitat!

--Jocelyn Broyles

Headline image by Howard Cheek from

All information from National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.'

This article comes from Yahoo Green

Swap Disposables For Reusable Goods

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties


google map to real pro systems

Paper towels, plastic bags, to-go coffee cups…

Winning our hearts with their convenience, these disposable products have become all-too-familiar in our culture. Yet as many of us know, tossing them out after just one use, when practiced on a massive scale, does not create a pretty picture for the planet.

If you’re looking for some help transitioning away from dependence on these disposables, you may find the following list helpful., a place where you can learn about the problems of disposables and buy products for a waste-less lifestyle, developed this list of their top products.

Here are’s top picks:

  1. Biodegradable, 100-percent recycled-content garbage bags – They're infused with a natural additive that allows the plastic to biodegrade completely into natural elements.
  2. Spray bottle for DIY cleaners – Made in the USA with 40-percent post-consumer recycled content, this bottle even has recipes and instructions for making nontoxic cleaners at home printed right on the side.
  3. The original EarthTote – The best-selling replacement to paper shopping bags, it stands on its own for easy packing.
  4. Thank You and Have a Nice Day tote bags – Printed with PVC-free ink, these best-selling, dual-handled tote bags are made of hemp.
  5. Bluesign-certified Workhorse - This handy replacement for plastic bags folds into its own ultra-compact pouch attached inside the bag.
  6. Snack and sandwich bags - They're durable, easy-to-clean, and made in the USA.
  7. I’m Not a Paper Towel” and More “I’m Not a…” products – Clever replacements for paper lunch bags and paper towels. Replacements for plastic water bottles, plastic bags, facial tissue, and more coming soon!
  8. Recycled PET mesh ultra-compact tote – A smart, stylish, 55-percent recycled-content bag that folds into its own compact pouch.
  9. Recycled PET mesh produce bags, set of four + stuff sack – This is a lightweight, long-lasting replacement for plastic produce bags.
  10. Everything Cloth – Cut back on use-and-toss items like disposable napkins, tissues, wet wipes, and paper towels. These resuable versions are made with hemp and organic cotton.


A Budget Friendly Guide TO Greener Living

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

How to Care For Wood Countertops

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

Wood countertops are beautiful, relatively affordable, and more sustainable than other options. The biggest catch is they require regular care. Follow these simple steps to keeping your wood counters looking their best for years to come.

Tips to Longer Lasting Counters:

  • Wash wood countertops immediately after using especially when it comes to moisture containing stains, scraps and spills.
  • Oil wood countertops once a month with a high quality mineral oil. Only mineral oil is food safe and won't turn rancid like cooking oils.
  • Avoid contact with vinegar, which is acidic enough to dissolve the glue holding the wood together.


Oiling Your Countertops—What You Need:

  • Food safe mineral oil
  • Sand paper (120 & 180 grit)
  • Lemon Wedge
  • Salt
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Two rags



1. Stain Removal
Remove any stains using a fresh lemon. Cut in half, and rub the stained area with the cut side. Salt can be added for extra abrasion. If that still doesn't work, try adding 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide to a cup of warm water and dab it on the stain.

2. Clean Thoroughly
Use a sponge to wipe down the entire surface with a non-toxic cleaner. Let dry.

3. Sanding
Sand the surface lightly (with the grain) thoroughly with 120 grit sandpaper. Sand again with 180 grit sandpaper until the wood is smooth.

4. Applying Oil
Drizzle food-grade mineral oil liberally onto the counters and rub in well with an old cotton rag. Allow the wood to soak in for 20-25 minutes.

5. Wipe Clean
Wipe clean with a clean rag and enjoy your renewed surface.

Install a Dimmer Switch in 7 Easy Steps

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

One of the greatest improvements you can make for your space is in the lighting department. Sure you can always add a few lamps — but just as easy is making your overhead lights work on a dimmer switch. Your eyes will thank you and chances are your landlord will as well!

If you're like me, you're able to wield a hammer or screwdriver, but the idea of lighting and wires is intimidating. Luckily for all of us, they really aren't and installing a dimmer switch is a great project for anyone looking to get your feet wet in the world of wiring (although taken literally, that's a quite horrible idea).

From turning off your breaker to turning it back on, there's only 5 steps in between when installing a dimmer. There's wires to match up and ends to tape up, but all in all you can tackle it in less time than it takes to read about it!  Just think of it as mood lighting for Valentine's Day!


STEP 1: Locate and turn off the Fuse or Circuit Breaker that controls electricity to the light switch you are changing out.
If the fuse or breaker is not labeled, you can locate the proper fuse/breaker by turning the light switch on and flipping each fuse/breaker off and then on again, one at a time. When the light controlled by the switch you are replacing goes off, you have found the right one. Leave that fuse/breaker turned off and make sure the rest are turned on. *tip, if you tripped a few breakers before locating the appropriate one, be sure to check if your alarm clock needs to be reprogrammed.

STEP 2: Remove the wall plate and pull the switch from wall.
Unscrew the two small screws holding the cover plate to the wall and remove the plate. Next, remove the screws that hold the switch to the electrical box in the wall. Gently pull the switch out of the box so that you have access to the terminals on the switch and the wires in the wall.

STEP 3: Determine your switch type.
This step is very important. You need to take note of how the switch you are removing is wired, in order to correctly install the new one. The wiring will be either a single pole configuration or a 3-way configuration. A 3-way configuration is used when more than one switch is used to control the same light source. Even if your light source is controlled by a solitary switch (more common) you should still check the wiring configuration.

A single pole switch will have two insulated wires connected to two screws of the same color and should be replaced with a single pole dimmer.

A 3-way switch will have three insulated wires connected to three screws. One of these wires is connected to a screw of a different color or labeled COMMON. Label the wire in order to identify it when wiring the new switch. Replace with a 3-WAY dimmer.

STEP 4: Remove the wires from the switch in the wall.
Simply unscrew the terminals and remove the wires.

STEP 5: Wire in your new dimmer.
Connect the green ground wire (fig. 1 a.) to the green wire in the wall box or to the grounding screw inside the box. Next, connect one of the black wires on the dimmer to either of the wires you removed from the switch. Connect the other black wire on the dimmer to the remaining wire you removed from the switch. If you are installing a 3-way dimmer, attach the black dimmer wire to the wire you labeled, and attach the red wires as described above for the single pole installation.

STEP 6: Attach dimmer to wall and install cover plate.
Make sure that all the wires in the wall are taped and or covered with wire nuts (provided with dimmer). If any wires are left exposed, it will likely cause a short. Carefully tuck the wires inside the box so there is room for the dimmer. Screw the dimmer to the wall box. After the dimmer is screwed in place, attach the cover plate.

STEP 7: Turn power back on.
Go back to your apartment's electrical source and turn the breaker/fuse back on. If you don't smell smoke, your new dimmer is ready for use!

Now that your home is equipped with light dimmers, cook a romantic dinner for your beloved and set the proper mood by dimming the lights.

Article brought to you by Apartment Therapy

Kitchen Layouts: The Work Triangle

by Jessica Hunt with Preservation Properties

Lately, I have been in the market to purchase a new house which is quite an interesting experience being the Buyer as well as the Real Estate Agent.  I have been looking at everything from homes that need no repairs to full remodels and one of the fun things to think about (for me at least) is what we can do to remodel.

Kitchens are one of my most favorite remodels to think about because of how heavily we use our kitchen.  I wanted to bring everyone in to my thought process as I plan for theoretical dream kitchen.  I have been exploring lately the importance of the Work Triangle.  Are you familiar with this concept?  Our current kitchen follows with concept and makes for an excellent kitchen.  Its not too crowded, I can always get to everything and my fiancee is never in my way while I work.

Creating a 'Work Triangle' in your kitchen will help you use your space more efficiently. The lines drawn from your stove, sink and refrigerator form the 'Work Triangle'. 
There are some suggested guidelines to follow:
1. Each Work Triangle leg should be between 4 and 9 feet
2. The combined sides of the Work Triangle should be between 12 and 26 feet
3. The Work Triangle should try to be where there isn't a lot of traffic flow
 Some other helpful hints include:
  • For added convenience, put the microwave near the refrigerator
  • When possible, walking space should be 42" wide to help accomodate any traffic flow or large appliance doors
  • There should be at least 15 inches of counter space on both sides of the range or cooktop
  • There should be an 18-inch counter next to the refrigerator on the same side as the handle (if you own a side-by-side, on the same side as the refrigerator handle, normally to the left of the fridge) This will make putting items on the counter easier, when taking them out of the fridge.
  • Ideally, the food prep area, which should be at least 36 inches is located between the fridge and the sink. More travel will be involved if it's located between the sink and the range/cooktop.
  • A surface space that is 7 to 8 inches below your elbow height is best for food prep
  • A second triangle can be created by adding a second sink to an island

I hope this information is helpful to everyone and good luck on your remodeling endeavors.

Household Chemicals & Indoor Air Quality

by Preservation Properties

"If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." This is a saying that is so old but as true today as it was when it was first uttered. Don't worry. While the topic of household chemicals and indoor air quality is very serious, some of the solutions are quite fun! From new cleaning products to paints, and from body care products to cosmetics, there are many fun, clean, and beautiful options that make living healthy worth living!

1 The Secret Chemicals in Fragrances
2 10 Ingredients To Avoid In Your Face Products
3 Bubble Trouble: What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
4 How To Read Labels and Avoid Toxic Cleaning Products
5 Hygiene Products for Dummies: Cosmetic Safety Database

6 The 10 Best All-Natural and Organic Mattress Sources
7 The Dirt on Bleach: What Makes Chlorine Bleach Bad News
8 The Best Interior Paints with Low Toxicity
9 What is BPA, a.k.a. Bisphenol A?
10 How Worried Should We Be About Everyday Chemicals?

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 17

Contact Information

Preservation Properties
439 Newtonville Avenue
Newtonville MA 02460
Office: 617.527.3700
Fax: 617.527.2050