Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Design a Calming Bedroom

      10 April 2020

      When the day is done, nothing is more relaxing than retiring to your bedroom. Unless, of course, your bedroom isn't a calming space. Below are several tips for designing a sleeping space that brings calm and comfort.

      Cool colors. There is nothing calming about a blood red bedroom. Choose a cool hue like gentle blue, green or gray to fall asleep easier.

      Window covers. Say it with us: black out shades. Make sure you can block light with opaque window coverings so your hibernation goes uninterrupted.

      Tech-free. While many like to watch TV in bed, try and create a sleeping space that is for one thing: sleeping. It's well known that the light from our devices can interrupt our sleep cycles, so if you must occupy your brain before bed, opt for reading over a Netflix binge or a social media troll.

      Clear clutter. Make sure your room remains neat and clutter-free so your mind doesn't go into overdrive when you enter. Keep clothes in the closet or hamper (not on the floor!), clear those surface areas from stacks of bills, and make your bed every morning so sleeping between the sheets feels fresh every night.

      Light it right. There is nothing calming about a harsh overhead light. Set warming accent lights by the bed, or control your overhead light with a dimmer.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Dispute Medical Bill Errors

      10 April 2020

      Scrutinizing a bill from your health care provider or insurer is probably one of the last things you want to do after getting out of the hospital, but it can pay off.

      Medical bill errors should be corrected so that you don't have to pay for a service you didn't receive, for example, or for medication that was ordered for you but you didn't use while in the hospital, among other potential errors.

      Here are some ways to dispute medical bill errors so that your insurance company doesn't overcharge you:

      Get an itemized bill.
      Some medical providers may only send a "bottom line invoice" with a total amount due. Ask for an itemized bill that fully explains the charges. If you’re unsure what a charge is for, ask the provider.

      Document and compare.
      You or a family member should document what medicines you received and when during your hospital stay. It will help you dispute any unnecessary charges.

      Once you have an itemized bill, compare it to the explanation of benefits from your insurance company or your medical chart. The explanation of benefits is sent to you by your insurer, and hopefully you've kept it. It may charge for a chart, which should match the services listed on the bill.

      Notify the biller, then others for help.
      Any errors you find should first be taken up with the healthcare provider's billing department. It may audit the bill, asking you to provide evidence or documents to back your claim.

      If it won't correct the bill, ask your insurance company for help. You can also file a complaint with the state medical board or hire an attorney.

      You can also hire a patient advocate who works on billing disputes. Such services include HealthCPA and Medical Bill & Claim Resolution. They can appeal erroneously denied charges and guide you through your insurance plan's appeal process.

      Companies such as Simplee offer free online services to gather your medical bills and insurance payments so its software can find if there are any mistakes.

      Follow up.
      Lastly, when you appeal a bill or are told a problem is being fixed, follow up with a phone call or letter to ensure it has been resolved. Upon first contact, ask for an estimate of how long it will take to fix the issue, and contact them on that date.

      If you don't understand something, ask. It's your right as a patient to be involved in your billing just as you're involved in your medical care.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Easy-to-Manage House Plants

      10 April 2020

      If you’re looking to add a bit more green to your design scheme, you’re not alone. House plants are a popular way to add fresh beauty, and clean up your air while you’re at it. However, keeping a house plant healthy is a responsibility, even if it’s a small one. Consider the following plants that are both beautiful and easy to manage.

      Aloe. You really can’t go wrong with succulents, and these cool plants can also help ward off sunburn. Just strip off a leaf, open it up, and rub the ooey-gooey insides on your sun-kissed skin.

      Orchids. These sweet blooms are beautiful and low maintenance. Just keep a small misting bottle beside your plant and give it a gentle spray once a week.

      Peace lily. These graceful plants don’t need a lot of light, so they’re perfect for perching in your living room.

      Snake plant. Don’t let the slithery name fool you. Another succulent, this interesting upright plant can deal in bright or low-light settings, and can survive with minimal amounts of water.

      English ivy. If you want a hanging plant, this vine is for you. Place this ivy on a shelf or mantel and let the vines hang down. You can let the plant run wild, or prune it back for a more manageable look.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Tips to Reduce Your Pet’s Environmental Pawprint

      9 April 2020

      (Family Features) There’s plenty of advice on ways to reduce your environmental footprint, but you might be left wondering about the environmental pawprint made by your pet.

      According to a 2019 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 67% of families across the country have at least one dog or cat, which is why it’s important to think about how your furry friends affect the planet.

      Consider these easy lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce their environmental impact.

      Check those waste bags. Use compostable baggies to pick up after your pet when you take walks. Plastic bags take years to break down, if at all. There are options made from plants and other materials that biodegrade quicker. When it comes to disposal, check with your local waste management services as regulations can vary by community. While many places suggest the compost pile, others may not.

      Consider your kitty’s litter. For the vast majority of cat families, kitty litter is an absolute must. Look for a litter that’s made from natural ingredients you can put in the compost bin. Not only is this better for the environment, but natural ingredients keep your cat from accidentally ingesting toxic chemicals.

      Look at food packaging. Pets go through a lot of food, and that means a lot of packaging. You can reduce waste with an option like Petcurean’s recyclable Tetra Pak cartons, which are made from 65% renewable materials for Now Fresh and GO! Solutions wet food recipes. Additionally, its Gather line of kibble in plant-based bags is made from 30% sugarcane, which reduces the use of petroleum-based materials.

      At home, consider ways to upcycle empty food bags to get more use out of the material, such as using them to collect garden and yard waste. You can also flatten bags into waterproof mats for your vehicle’s floorboards or make a waterproof barrier between your pet’s bed and the floor.

      Prepare for water on the go. While humans can easily drink water from a reusable bottle, most pets cannot. Instead of making a mess by attempting to give water with your hands, make things easy on yourself and the environment by keeping a stainless-steel water dish in your car. It’s a durable solution that keeps your pet from being exposed to chemicals in plastic or silicone.

      Think about accessories. Pets go through countless leashes, toys and dishes across their lifespans. Thinking about these items as investments and purchasing items that are more durable means they last longer and you’ll waste less. For gently used items you’re ready to discard, like outgrown leashes, consider whether they still have useful life and can be reused by a rescue group or shelter. Also, for toys in particular, it’s important to know what materials they contain. For example, some pet toys are made with plastic containing BPAs, which can be harmful and negatively impact the environment. Instead look for toys that are made from eco-friendly materials.

      For more ideas to reduce your family’s environmental pawprint and care for your pet, visit

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Detect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

      9 April 2020

      Carbon monoxide poison is a silent danger that claims over 400 lives in the U.S. annually, as well as over 20,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      To keep your family safe, know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

      • Headaches
      • Nausea
      • Vomiting
      • Dizziness
      • Shortness of breath
      • Fatigue
      "Safety is our top priority at DTE Energy, and we urge residents to be particularly alert to carbon monoxide danger during the fall and winter heating season. It's when CO exposure most frequently occurs," says Brad Burcz, senior safety and health engineer, DTE Energy.  "One of the best defenses against CO poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide alarm near all sleeping areas in your home. If dangerous levels of CO are detected, an audible alarm will alert you."

      DTE offers the following tips to prevent CO poisoning in homes and businesses:
      • For businesses, install carbon monoxide alarms in main areas away from vents and appliances or equipment that produce smoke or steam.
      • Replace batteries in CO alarms annually.
      • If a CO alarm is activated, or the presence of carbon monoxide is suspected, immediately get out of the house or building into fresh air, and if necessary, seek medical attention.
      • Ensure all fuel-burning appliances are operating and venting properly.
      • Get an annual furnace inspection by a licensed professional.
      • Check yearly to verify flues, vents and chimneys are connected, in good condition and clear of debris.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.