Spring's Home Improvements
March, 2013 - Issue #101
Show your house some love with these smart (and beautiful!) improvements.

Meet the Next-generation Thermostat
Most people leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it. So Nest learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and Nest can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20 percent. Change the temperature a few days in a row and Nest will catch on, though one-off adjustments won't confuse it. You can also edit in seconds on Nest or remotely using your Nest account. After a week you'll have a personalized schedule. Nest even automatically turns to an energy-efficient "away" temperature when you're gone. Auto-away works in 90 percent of homes, even if your Nest is in a spot you don't pass on your way out the door. Want the big picture? Nest will e-mail you a monthly Energy Report with a summary of your energy use and tips to help you save. It's available for less than $250 from Solar Universe.

Bare Root Fruit & Nut Trees Available Now
A bare-root fruit tree is a young fruit or nut-bearing deciduous tree, offered for sale in the winter. Fruits include apples, apricots, apriums, cherries, figs, mulberries, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, pluots, nectarines and pomegranates, as well as nut varieties like walnuts, almonds, pistachios, filberts, chestnuts and pecans, are available as "bare roots" now. Vine and bush fruits are also for sale in the winter, including blueberries, grapes and kiwi. Citrus is an evergreen plant, available year round.

Nothing beats the taste of home-grown fruit! Shop with the help of your local nurseryperson who knows your soil, growing conditions, and will carry varieties that will do well in your area. 259-1072

Should You Repair or Replace your Heating/Cooling Equipment?
When something breaks down, it's tempting to go the quick route and pay for repairs to get it up and running again. That quick-fix may seem the least expensive route now, but it may not offer the most value in the long run. Newer equipment provides a higher energy-efficient SEER rating, quieter operation, a reduction in your monthly energy bill and improved comfort in your home. We're impressed by the "Repair or Replace?" quiz available on GW Richardson Heating & Air's website. Answer only a few questions (About the age of your current system, the estimated cost of repair and a few other bits.) and it'll run the numbers for you. If you do decide to opt for a replacement, you'll be able to grab website-only deals while you're there. 295-0115

Free Landscaping Classes for a Year of Home Improvement
Castaic Lake Water Agency offers a free gardening and landscaping class each month. You'll learn from horticulture experts who have intimate knowledge of Santa Clarita's weather, soil content and SCV-friendly plants. Put these in the calendar now from 9 a.m. to noon, then make your way to the CLWA above Central Park. 513-1230

March 16
Beautify your Yard with Annuals & Perennials

April 13
Water Works: The Basics of Landscape Irrigation

May 11
Saving Water: Ideas for Indoor & Outdoor Conservation

June 8
Shrubs & Native Plants for the SCV Landscape

July 20
Dare to Dream: Design Ideas for your Landscape

August 17
The Less-grass Landscape: Less Can Be More

September 14
The Landscape Problem Solver: Dealing with Weeds, Pests & Diseases

October 12
A Shady Deal: Trees for the SCV Landscape

November 16
A Fertile Mind: All about SCV Soils & Fertilizers
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