More Buyers in The Market Means Certain Home Upgrades Can Pay Off

Don’t think of Millennials as just the early adopters of Uber. Think of them as the next generation of home buyers.

The newly released U.S. home ownership rate rose last year for the first time in just over a dozen years (it’s at 64.2 percent). This is driven mainly by the desire to own versus rent by the under-35 crowd who, to date, have been hesitant to commit for both financial and personal reasons.

With More Buyers Out There, These Home Upgrades Can Really Pay Off

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored by GAF – It’s time to stop thinking of Millennials as totally uninterested in owning anything just because they were early adopters of Uber.The newly released U.S. home ownership rate rose in 2017 for the first time in 13 years – it now stands at 64.2 percent – driven mainly by a shift towards owning over renting by the under-age 35 crowd who’d been wary of committing for both financial and personal reasons."This is happening because young households are buying homes. Full stop," Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at home listings provider Trulia, told the Wall Street Journal.They’re not the only purchasers, of course. Which means if you’re looking to sell your house now or in the not too distant future, you might want to check out this generational roadmap to four upgrades experts say are worth it to help attract potential buyers.* Cross-generational: a new steel door. The only thing that beat it on Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report for 2017 was loose-fill attic insulation, but this project – with a 90.7% return on investment – speaks directly to the report’s main takeaway: "Curb appeal projects, by and large, generated higher returns on investment than work done inside the home."Plus, as far as Millennials go, while their ideal interiors may differ from older generations – for example, they prefer open floor plans and hardwood floors – Architectural Digest says they’re still into "traditional exteriors."* Millennials: smart-home tech. Yes, there are Boomers and Generation Xers who are super tech savvy, but Millennials especially crave homes that allow them to control their heating, air-conditioning, home security, and lighting systems from their phones."They want to use their brains for other things, not for remembering whether they adjusted the heat or closed the garage door," Angie’s List stressed.* Cross-generational: a new roof. It’s the ultimate curb appeal enhancer and a perennial Remodeling magazine A-lister, with having observed that "buyers pay a premium for one already in place."So if the first thing prospects notice even before exiting their cars looks like something out of "Twister," you’ve got a problem."It’s a huge turn-off," said Patsy O’Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby’s in Montclair, New Jersey, "and makes buyers of all ages predisposed to find even more things they don’t like."If your roof does need replacing, those particularly interested in targeting Millennials might want to consider the very affordable Sienna line of diamond-shaped shingles from GAF (, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, since they capture that generation’s sensibilities."They pick up on key Millennial style trends of natural, clean materials, clean lines, and the integration of artistic elements," said Leslie Franklin, executive director of residential marketing at GAF.* Millennials: all-new appliances. Realtors will tell you that major kitchen (and bath) upgrades aren’t generally worth their high costs, in terms of return on investment, since prospective buyers’ tastes can clash with yours.However, Millennials do love, love, love all-new stainless steel appliances. So much so that what called "an astonishing majority of 75 percent" of respondents in a recent survey chose to spend their hypothetical home buying budgets on them. 

These 4 Tips Can Cut Your Home Energy Bills in Winter

You know it’s cold outside when Florida gets snow.

Which is exactly how 2018 began, thanks to a “bomb cyclone” that slammed the East Coast with heavy snow and temperature. Meanwhile, Embarrass, Minnesota won the unofficial title of “The Last Place in the Freezing Midwest You’d Want to Go Skinny Dipping” by hitting a low of 45 degrees below zero on New Year’s Eve.

While you’re imagining the heating bills in Embarrass (and with winter not yet over), the following tips might help you lower your own energy costs.

Hit Reset with a Kitchen Lighting Update

(NewsUSA) – Ready for a redo? Many homeowners resolve to kick-start a new year by making improvements to themselves as well as their home. When it comes to home renovations, the first place on which most people focus their attention is the kitchen.According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), popular trends in finish-outs and appliances are impacting kitchen lighting choices.In general, kitchen design is trending toward the contemporary side. Jeff Dross, corporate director of education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting, explains that homeowners with previously traditional taste are looking for more transitional products, while transitional homeowners are moving toward a soft contemporary décor.And many of those with existing soft contemporary furnishings are switching to a more austere contemporary solution.Countertops Impact Lighting: While granite is still used in entry- and mid-level homes, most highest-end countertops are now quartz-based, particularly with a matte finish, also sometimes called suede, honed or leathered. The matte-finish trend alleviates the tricky business of providing adequate illumination in kitchens without causing glare from glossy countertops that have been popular for the past decade.Dark Appliances Require More Light: The use of black stainless appliances is on the rise, which eliminates unsightly fingerprints, but creates the need for additional light in the surrounding space. "Black stainless has lower reflectance than white or stainless steel appliances, making the room appear darker," says Dross. "The trend toward more involved backsplash materials makes lighting even more important."Taller Ceilings Mean Taller Fixtures: Over the past 15 or so years, ceiling heights have become higher with 9 feet becoming the accepted minimum height. It is now common for North American homes to have ceilings 10 to 12 feet high. That means taller sconces and taller chandeliers are necessary to fill the additional space."In addition to taller ceilings, center islands are now substantially bigger than in the past," says Dross. "That means the tiny, mini-pendants that were all the rage a few years ago are disappearing. Kitchens demand larger, taller pendants."Before jumping into a kitchen renovation, it is best to design a lighting plan to make sure your fixtures are the right size and style for your new space. A professional lighting consultant at your local ALA-member showroom can work with you to develop a plan and provide the most-up-to-date lighting styles and technology. To find a list of nearby ALA showrooms, go online to

Brighten Up Your New Year with These Lighting Trends

(NewsUSA) – The beginning of a new year is an opportunity for a fresh start for your home.One easy change that will make a big impact is a lighting update. Simply changing a fixture – a chandelier, a few pendants or even just a table lamp – can give a room a whole new look. So whether you are considering a minor update or a major renovation, stay on top of the latest lighting trends with a few tips from the American Lighting Association (ALA).Mix and MatchYour home is a reflection of your style and personality. Create your own look by bringing in fixtures of various styles and finishes."One of today’s popular design trends encourages individuals to create unique lighting designs by mixing and matching their favorite fixtures within the same space," says Jennifer Kis, director of marketing communications for Progress Lighting. "There is no need to feel limited by fixtures, or even finishes, in one particular collection. Coordinating complementary pieces creates a cohesive feel to the home, while also reinforcing your design style."Lighting manufacturers are making it easier for homeowners to select fixtures that work well together by offering collections that feature details and finishes that are complementary to a range of fixture families.Bring the Outside InLook outside for inspiration. Using interior design elements in outdoor spaces has been popular in recent years. But gaining popularity lately is the idea of incorporating exterior fixtures with inside décor."We have seen a lot of creative ways designers are using a variety of exterior lanterns inside," says Kis. "Nature-inspired elements and outdoor wall sconces or hanging lanterns that are traditionally used to enhance curb appeal can also be ideal when incorporated into interior design schemes within the home."Pendants are PerfectFor versatility and compatibility, opt for pendants. Available in a seemingly infinite array of shapes, colors, sizes, finishes and materials, pendants are more popular than ever. These adaptable fixtures can be hung in groupings of two, three, four or more, depending on a particular space and need. Pendants can serve as overall task or ambient lighting, as well as add visual interest and beauty to the overall décor.For more information, and to find a list of local ALA-member lighting showrooms where you can see the latest fixture styles and talk with a professional lightingconsultant, go online to

Seasonal Workers Could See Major Boon from 2017 Holiday Hiring

’Tis the season for holiday hiring.

Early predictions indicate a holly, jolly Christmas for retailers, with total sales expected to grow as much as 4.5 percent versus last year’s 3.6 percent. To help, according to the National Retail Federation, 500,000 to 550,000 season workers will need to be hired.

And while some companies are making it attractive to apply, there are still some things that applicants need to be aware of:

• The economy may not be your friend. Rather than hire a slew of temps, some employers such as Walmart are offering extra hours to existing workers.

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey Underscore Necessity to Prep for The Next Storm

Houstonians never thought they’d see so much of their beloved city submerged under several feet of floodwater. Nor did 6 million Floridians think they would be ordered to evacuate in anticipation of a monstrous storm.

However, both of those events happened as Hurricane Harvey and then Hurricane Irma laid a path of death and destruction that is still mind-boggling.

And with the official end of hurricane season not until the end of this month, homeowners are left wondering what to do, proactively, to increase their odds of beating future obstacles put in their path by Mother Nature. For some ideas, read on.

Living It Up Outside By Bringing The Indoors, Out

(NewsUSA) – For many, enjoying their outdoor space includes a poorly lit patio or deck with spartan, uncomfortable furniture, devoide of real style. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), outdoor living can be just as captivating, high-tech and chic as life inside your home.Regardless of the season, it is becoming common to turn a patio, deck or outdoor space into an additional family room with modern amenities and beautiful furnishings. ALA-member lighting manufacturers are making this transition easier with expanded lines of decorative lighting rated for all-weather use.Hinkley Lighting’s CEO Rick Wiedemer, CLC, explains how the trend of accessorizing outdoor areas with traditionally indoor lighting products has gained momentum over the last several years. "It started with landscape lighting and then moved into sconces, wall sconces, and now pendants and chandeliers," Wiedemer says.It’s fairly commonplace to use sconces to highlight doorways and step lights to define spaces; today’s homeowners are also hanging elaborate chandeliers and colorful pendants over outside tables. Spotlights can be seen above grills and downlights under covered patios.With a little creativity and imagination, just about anything goes. And the demand is increasing for those fixtures to mimic the styles and attention to detail traditionally found indoors."People want to extend their indoor living space outside, and still have the same quality of finishes outside as inside," says Rick Seidman, president and CEO of Quoizel, Inc. "They’re putting rugs, televisions and furniture outside, so we almost have to treat [outside] decorative lighting as if it’s interior."Just because the newest outdoor lighting fixtures are beautiful, don’t assume they lack the engineering to withstand harsh temperatures and extreme weather. High-quality outdoor fixtures are designed for reliability and endurance."One of the things consumers are concerned about when shopping for lighting is durability," says Seidman. "It really has to be able to withstand the elements. With new technology, fixture finishes are actually built into the material so that it weathers beautifully."Wiedemer concurs."You want to have something that’s meant to be in the weather. Normally a rustic finish fixture will weather better," he says. "The principal thing these are engineered for is to be rained upon. Rain will not collect inside the fixture, it will drain out…. A typical interior fixture is not made that way."The latest all-weather lighting is at your local ALA-member showroom.For a listing of showrooms or to view outdoor lighting videos, go to

Homeowners Left With Massive Repairs After Hurricane

Now that flood waters from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have receded, what is left behind? Destroyed homes and damage to thousands of residences in Texas, Florida and Georgia with a giant price tag. Moody’s Analytics expects that cost to exceed $150 billion, on par with that of Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas as a Category 4 with winds at 132 mph. Hurricane Irma sustained winds of 185 mph for 37 hours, left millions without power, and destroyed one out of every four homes in parts of Florida.

PepsiCo Recycling Helps College Students Take Sustainability to the Next Level

College campuses are not just about education: they want to encourage students to make a difference. And PepsiCo wants to help make that happen.

According to PepsiCo, “Simple acts lead to a big impact.” The company, for the second year in a row, is assisting colleges and universities in reaching their environmental goals by giving students the chance to win up to $10,000 in funding to implement new sustainability initiatives or improve existing efforts in their communities.

The Zero Impact Fund (ZIF), which launched in August 2016, provides cash prizes for college and university sustainability projects related to energy, waste or water that aim to achieve long-term environmental, economic and social impacts.