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Found a must-have rental? Get your ducks in a row with the ZipCastle app.

Win the Race to Rent

I've definitely been in the rental rat race before. You're looking to move, a great property comes up for rent and the next thing you know there are 20 parties just as interested as you. It's competitive, and competition is stressful.

To give potential renters the edge in the race for a property, Esq. Apps recently released the ZipCastle app, a $.99 download that enables users to create professional-looking applications that can be quickly emailed to landlords or property managers.

According to the company, the app lets you include background details and all the info needed for a landlord to complete a credit check.

I certainly get the problem (how to be at the top of the pile), but I guess I don't see how the ZipCastle app helps. Can't you just have a Word document filled out ahead of time to give to landlords? I'm not seeing cutting-edge features that really pop in this app.

I think I'll pass.

Not quite the same as real life, but it'll do for those birders stuck in a cubicle all day!

Audubon Society Releases Birds Onto the Internet

Ordinarily I wouldn't be blogging about virtual birds. I mean, what does that have to do with renovating your world? Or the home, for that matter?

Well, the timing just seem right, given our recently announced Build a Birdhouse Giveaway Contest. So just go with it. It's actually kind of funny.

The Audubon Society just launched a social media campaign called Birding the Net. Basically they sent out a whole slew of "virtual birds" across the Internet -- to over 100 different sites, including AOL, Slate and Discovery Channel, to name a few. Visitors to those sites can be on the lookout for a virtual bird swooping across the scene, perching on mastheads and nesting in birdhouses that folks can install on their personal website or blog.

The whole campaign is tied in with the release of The Big Year, the upcoming birding comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson.

This is a pretty cool idea. We may just have to "install" a birdhouse on our site to attract some of these virtual avian friends!

Don't let this happen to you!

Fire Prevention Week

This week is Fire Prevention Week! The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) is encouraging families and homeowners to take this week to enhance the home's fire safety plan.

The NFPA Fire Prevention Week page is an excellent source of information, including tip sheets on the leading causes of home fires, ways to protect your home and family and extra emphasis on having an escape plan in place.

You do have an escape plan in place, don't you?

The site also has a Fire Safety IQ quiz. Definitely take the time to take the quiz. It's an eye opener. I scored a 70%. Not bad, but it should be better.

Looks like this garage could use a little Design Studio inspiration.

Online Garage Organizer

Do you have a messy garage? Probably a silly question. Most people do. I know I do.

For those of us who are spatially challenged or cannot visualize how best to start the organization process, Gladiator GarageWork's new Design Studio may be the answer.

A free online design service, the Design Studio allows site visitors to replicate their garage by adding dimensions, doors, cars and other common garage items (clutter). Then you can start adding wall cabinets, tool storage and other wall systems to see what the organized garage would look like.

Of course the products and systems used in the Design process are all Gladiator GarageWorks, but it's a start, and there's nothing stopping you from making your garage design and piecing together components from other venders if that's your pleasure.

If you're going to "waste" time on the Internet, I say waste it doing something that could eventually lead to something productive. Like imagining an organized garage.

I guess technically you can't call it "hands-free" washing, can you?

Greenbuild 2011: Spotlight on Hands-Free Faucets

As one of EPA's WaterSense Partners of the Year for 2011 it's no surprise that Delta Faucet is leading the way in water-saving technology. At this week's Greenbuild 2011 in Toronto, Delta displayed their latest in touch-activated and hands-free bathroom faucets.

Featuring their innovative Touch2O Technology, Delta's Talbott and Lahara collections allow users to tap the faucet on or off anywhere on the spout or handle. Perfect when hands are full or dirty. The water will automatically turn off within one minute of being tapped on.

Additionally, the Addison and Laraha lines feature Delta's new Touch2O.xt Technology, which features a four-inch sensing field around the entire faucet. The faucet automatically responds when users approach the sensing field. There's no infrared used. Just moving the hands out of range shuts off the flow within seconds, which saves money. And the touch-free starting keeps the faucet clean.

Pretty cool features all around. I do wonder at the sensing field. There are plenty of times when my hands come within four inches of the faucet when I don't have intentions of turning it on. I think I might get a little annoyed with it turning on and off constantly just because I got too near it.

Check out the GO Logic website (see link in the post) to see images of the GO Home in Belfast, Maine.

LEED For Homes Winners Announced

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced its annual LEED for Homes Awards, which recognizes projects, developers and home builders who have "demonstrated leadership in the residential building marketplace."

The awards will be presented today during the Residential Summit, part of the 2011 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo currently underway in Toronto.

The Project of the Year was awarded to The GO Home in Belfast, Maine, with was built by GO Logic. At a scant 1,500 square feet, the small footprint home is a three-bedroom, LEED Platinum primary residence that uses minimal energy -- in fact it is both a net zero and passive home, reducing energy usage by about 90 percent.


Congrats to all the winners!

How safe are your home's cleaning products?

Breast Cancer and Cleaning Products

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Maid Brigade -- a Green Clean Certified cleaning service -- has posted some interesting information on a possible link between household cleaning products and breast cancer.

According to the short video on their website, scientists are beginning to find a link between household toxins -- like those found in cleaning products -- and a number of illnesses, including breast cancer.

The video features Maid Brigade's Consumer Health Advocate Marie Stegner exploring the health risks associated with common household cleaning chemicals as well as ways to keep the family safe.

Unfortunately for me, Vermont does not have any local Maid Brigade maids, so I can't hire any. I guess it's up to me to buy only safe cleaning products. And keep my house clean.

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