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Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 215-429-7273
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Fax: 267-354-6992 
petecerruti@yahoo.com
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Peter Cerruti

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5 Ways to Winterize Your Landscape

September 21, 2015 3:52 am

Autumn is an important time of year for home maintenance, especially outdoors. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) recommends homeowners prepare their yards for colder months before the fall chill sets in.

“It’s a common misconception that just because most plants and gardens aren’t actively blooming in the fall, they don’t require maintenance during the colder months,” says NALP Vice President of Public Affairs Missy Henriksen. “Many homeowners work hard all spring and summer to care for their yards and gardens, only to let them languish once colder weather arrives.”

According to Henriksen, there are five simple steps homeowners can take to care for their landscape through fall and winter.

1. Start Planting

Fall is the time to plant flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips, as well as perennials, trees and shrubs. The warm soil is great for root development, and plants have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat.

2. Rake Leaves
Rake and remove leaves to avoid damage to grass. Doing so can also protect water quality. In winter, freezing and thawing can cause leaves, dead grass, plants and other organic debris to release soluble forms of phosphate and nitrates. If these chemicals run off frozen ground during spring snow melt and early spring rains, they can end up in surface water.

3. Apply Mulch
Applying two to three inches of mulch in the fall is beneficial in protecting plant roots from extreme temperatures in the winter months, and also helps to preserve moisture if the region does not receive enough precipitation.

4. Wrap Plants
Many plant varieties like roses, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas and crape myrtles can be damaged by sub-freezing temperatures. To provide plants with extra protection from the wind and cold, wrap them in burlap or a frost protection fabric and plant them along a building or fence that offers wind protection.

5. Fertilize
Look for a fertilizer with a formula designed to meet your lawn's needs and follow application instructions on the product. The numbers on a fertilizer bag, in N-P-K order, indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, respectively, on weight basis. If you aren’t sure what your lawn needs, consult with a lawn care or landscape professional. A soil test can determine what ratio is best for your lawn. Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension office, as some locations regulate the time of year that fertilizer can be applied to reduce runoff.

Source: NALP

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Reasons to Improve Your Home This Fall

September 21, 2015 3:52 am

(BPT) – For nearly 74 million homeowners, a new fall tradition has emerged: home improvement.

According to a recent Metrostudy Residential Remodeling Index, several factors point to a rise in home improvement projects this season.

Energy-Efficiency – With colder weather on the horizon, homeowners shudder at the thought of higher heating costs. They upgrade windows, layer in more insulation, service or replace old furnaces and, in some cases, do all of the above.

Weather – Home improvement projects can be challenging, particularly for DIY-ers. Lower temperatures and humidity create a much more comfortable environment for completing projects.

The Holiday “Wow”
– Everyone wants their home to sparkle when they welcome family and friends during the holidays. Completing a home improvement project during the fall sets up a big reveal when the holidays roll around.

Falling Prices – Fall is an excellent time to save money by finding great deals on home improvement supplies and service. Year-end sales begin and discounts can be steep. Also, contractors are busiest during the warmer months - their business cools as the weather does.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Crash Course in Personal Finance for College Students

September 18, 2015 3:52 am

Call it Finance 101.

According to a recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), college students give themselves good grades for financial literacy – but many lack knowledge of the basics. Specifically, 57 percent of students surveyed rated their personal financial management skills as “excellent” or “good,” but 48 percent reported having less than $100 in their bank accounts in the last year.

“For many students, college is their first time making independent financial decisions,” says Ernie Almonte, CPA, CGMA and chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “With this opportunity comes serious responsibility, and if they aren’t making informed, intelligent decisions, it can have a negative impact on the rest of their financial lives.”

Nearly 40 percent of students surveyed reported borrowing money from family or friends and just over 10 percent reported missing a bill payment in the last year. To boot, only one in four college students say they seek out personal financial management information and incorporate it into their spending and saving habits.

Members of the AICPA’s Financial Literacy Commission say that establishing and following a budget is one of the most important things a person can do to take control of their financial situation and build for the future. Other steps to take include:

Reviewing your plan – Look at your budget on a monthly basis and see if there are differences between your budget and your actual spending. If there’s a gap, determine if your budget or spending needs to be modified.

Building a credit score – It's a good idea to start to establish a positive credit history by having a credit card in college. But it’s critical that you don't use it unless you can pay it off, or if it’s an absolute emergency.

Setting a goal for earnings – Figure out how much money you’ll need to get through the semester for expenses like cellphone service, transportation costs (i.e. car payment, insurance, bus fare, etc.), and rent and utilities if you're living off campus. Use that as a goal for how much money you’ll need to save working over the summer in order to start the semester from a position of financial strength.

Source: AICPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are Your Energy Dollars Going Out the Window?

September 18, 2015 3:52 am

Concerned about high utility bills? Recent studies demonstrate that up to 40 percent of household energy costs are spent on heating and cooling the home. Unfortunately, a lot of this money is going out the window – literally.

According to San Diego Window Fashions, window coverings can help. Aside from blocking natural light and finishing a room aesthetically, window coverings act as insulation for your home, trapping air between the glass and the covering to regulate the interior temperature.

Aluminum blinds and vertical blinds offer the least insulation, since they have gaps that impair the coverage of the windows. Window shutters are better, but still have some gaps. Cellular shades are best, as the cells are designed to trap air, and, when custom-designed, sit flush in the window frame.

To ensure your home is insulated, combine cellular shades with window curtains. Curtains that are designed correctly with pelmets prevent air from escaping upwards into a room, and a total black-out lining prevents air from escaping.

Source: San Diego Window Fashions

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Ways to Cut Household Clutter

September 18, 2015 3:52 am

Keeping a household in order is no easy feat, especially for busy families. According to Todd Tingley, CEO of Ganzier, a storage solution provider, homeowners can maintain an organized, clutter-free home by tackling clean-outs strategically.

1. Do spring cleaning year-round. Twice a year, go through your closets and clean out clothes, especially your children's clothes. If items have not been worn in over a year, let them go.

2. Donate unused toys. Twice a year, go through your children's toys and set aside items that they've outgrown. Before each birthday and holiday season, pull out the toys no longer used and donate them to charity.

3. Clean out sporting equipment seasonally. At the end of each sports season, consider donating any gently used equipment your children will outgrow during the next season.

4. Check food expiration dates. Are you limited in pantry or cabinet space? Twice a year, go through your pantry and clean out what has expired. You will be surprised at how much space you have when you’re finished.

5. Separate seasonal clothes. Take seasonal items, like bathing suits or winter coats, and put them away until it is time to use them.

6. Clean your garage. Clean your garage twice a year by taking everything out and discarding any trash or unused items.

7. Use reusable bags. Not only are they eco-friendly, they diminish the clutter of plastic and paper bags in your home. Keep them tucked in your car so they are always handy.

Source: Ganzier

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Ways to Customize Your Bathroom

September 17, 2015 3:52 am

9/17

3 Ways to Customize Your Bathroom

(BPT) - Creating a custom bathroom doesn't have to involve an extensive (and expensive!) renovation. To get the custom look for less, start with the shower, which is among the least costly components to upgrade.

Simply replacing a utilitarian showerhead, for example, with one that features multiple settings can be a major improvement. Multi-spray, single-spray, rainfall, shower arms and hand showers can work together in virtually any combination you choose. Showerheads can be mounted on the wall or ceiling, depending on the model you choose. Various models are water-efficient, too. Most showerhead changes can operate off existing plumbing, but homeowners should feel free to consult a plumbing professional if desired.

Light can also make a splash in the shower – pun intended! Shower lighting now goes way beyond a single recessed canister light set in the ceiling. Dimmable lighting allows you to control the amount of light stimulation, from low and relaxing to bright and invigorating. Ceiling-mounted chromatherapy lights use the color spectrum to further enhance mood in your shower. Cables of LED lights at the top or bottom of a shower enclosure can accent the space and provide low-level light. Sconces and overhead lighting can help fully illuminate the shower when needed.

Shower seats are another inexpensive option, from stylish portable versions to wall-mounted models that folds flat to the wall when not in use. Short on space in the shower? Opt for a corner seat, like a removable corner stool, or consider adding a simple foot rest.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Pitfalls of Joint Banking

September 17, 2015 3:52 am

Joint bank accounts are often viewed as an easy way to give financial caregivers the ability to manage money on behalf of older adults. In some cases, they are used so the co-signee inherits the funds upon the death of the primary account holder. However, both parties rarely understand the risks associated with joint accounts - or the alternatives available to them, according to the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation and the AARP.

“At any age, joint accounts may work for some, but we urge you to use caution before signing on the dotted line,” says AARP Chief Public Policy Officer Debra Whitman. “If you don't look before you leap, you could fall into trouble with your finances.”

Before deciding if a joint account is right for you, consider the following factors:

• The co-signee becomes financially responsible for taxes on the account. That means should the primary account holder owe the government back taxes at any point, the co-signee would be just as responsible to the IRS for that money.

• The money is just as much theirs as it is yours. Once someone is listed as a joint account holder, the co-signee and the primary account holder own that money equally in the eyes of a financial institution. Both parties will have the ability to withdraw funds whenever they see fit.

• Creditors can come after those funds. If an account owner were to incur substantial medical bills or face a lawsuit, the funds in the joint account could be used as a liable asset. A creditor might not differentiate between primary account holder and co-signee.

“Setting up a joint account essentially removes the financial firewall between both parties,” says ABA Senior Vice President of Bank Community Engagement Corey Carlisle. “There are often alternatives available that will protect the assets of older customers, as well as those of financial caregivers.”

Source: ABA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Relocating? Follow BBB's Tips to Avoid Problems

September 17, 2015 3:52 am

Consumers across the country have filed more than 8,000 complaints against moving companies in the last year, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Here's five tips from BBB to help your move go as easily—and trouble-free—as possible.

Plan early – summer is high season for movers, especially since an estimated 37 million Americans a year change residences. Reputable movers will want to do an on-site visit before writing up an estimate to see if there are any impediments which may extend the amount of time required to complete the move.

Ask for proof – Reputable movers will be able to show you proof they are registered with the state of operation, and are licensed and insured.

Get Full Value Protection insurance – Under “Release Value” insurance, movers assume liability of no more than 60 cents per pound per article at no extra charge. With Full Value Protection, your mover is liable for the replacement value of any lost or damaged goods. Under this option, they also have the choice of repairing the item, replacing it with a similar item or making a cash settlement offer for the cost of replacing the merchandise at its current market value.

Know your rights – Under federal law, movers are required to give to you a copy of the federal publication “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”.

Visit ProtectYourMove.gov – You will find a wealth of resources from the Motor Safety Carrier Association at ProtectYourMove.gov. This information clearly outlines your rights and can help you make an educated decision before hiring a mover.

The BBB also recommends consumers thoroughly research prospective moving companies at bbb.org before selecting one.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Road Trip: Survey Discovers a Driver Paradox

September 16, 2015 3:52 am

Something’s not adding up. According to a recent survey commissioned by eDriving, nearly twice as many people (85 percent) think they’re “very good” drivers than think the same of their spouse or significant other – in fact, only 33 percent of people grade their spouse or significant other as a “very good” driver.

Hardly anyone admits to being a bad driver – just 2 percent of people classified themselves as “not very good.” These self-evaluations just don’t match the verdicts of the observers who see the most and know the best, says Celia Stokes, CEO of eDriving.

"The discrepancies here point out an interesting and important truth: most drivers are over-confident, and the people who drive with them the most are probably very aware of their bad habits behind the wheel," says Stokes. “All of us who drive know that the drivers around us have more than their share of driving vices, but we may be blind to our own!"

Source: eDriving

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is It Time for a New Water Heater?

September 16, 2015 3:52 am

(Family Features) Water heaters are energy-intensive appliances. In fact, they are the second largest energy user in the home, and as they age, they become less efficient, according to the Propane Education & Research Council.

If you don't know the age of your current water heater, or think it may be reaching the end of its lifespan, it may be time to replace it, says home improvement expert Danny Lipford, host of "Today's Homeowner.” Lipford advises keeping these three factors in mind when evaluating your water heater:

1. Cost
– According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the average family spends $400 to $600 each year on water heating costs, and as an older unit ages, its efficiency continues to erode. Rising water heating costs year after year could be a sign that it's time to replace your unit. By switching to a new energy-efficient water heater or a new energy source, you could save hundreds of dollars each year.

Depending on where you live and how often you use your water heater, a tankless water heater could drastically lower your annual water heating costs compared with electric storage tank models, which are working to heat water even when it's not needed. In comparison tests with electric units, propane-powered tankless water heaters saved more than $300 annually.

2. Lifespan – Most water heaters should be replaced every 10 to 12 years. To make the right choice for replacement, you should factor in the annual cost of ownership, which is the cost of original equipment, installation and expected annual energy costs divided over the unit's lifetime.

Both high-efficiency propane storage tank heaters and tankless models deliver lower annual ownership costs than electric or heating oil. At the same time, tankless water heaters also have a much longer lifespan than storage models -- they can last 5 to 10 years longer than storage water heaters.

3. Carbon Footprint – Upgrading to a newer, more efficient model means reducing your carbon footprint. Compared with standard efficiency electric storage tank models, propane produces two times fewer emissions. The difference amounts to about 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of driving a car more than 18,000 miles.

Source: Propane Education & Research Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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