Friday, January 30, 2015

Time to Plan for Valentine's Day Around Wilmington, NC

Valentine's Day this year falls on a Saturday, which means expectations will be high. It also means that some of the area's most romantic destinations will fill up quickly, so make those reservations now! Of course Cupid's special day is not just for couples. It is also a perfect time of year to show our friends, neighbors, co-workers, kids, and even our furry loved ones how much we care. Still feeling guilty about your epic fail in the Christmas card department? Right that wrong and send out a few Valentines!

As for what you can do beyond the usual candle lit dinner options, here are a few suggestions:

Valentine's Day Cruise from the Blockade Runner - Saturday 2/14 and Sunday 2/15-The Loveboat leaves on the hour from 11 am until 4 pm. $25 per person. The cruise is hosted by Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours and features a romantic tour of the area plus beverages, chocolates and a goodie bag.

Cape Fear River Cruise on the Henrietta Paddle Wheeler - 2/14-6:30 pm until 9 pm. Invite your Valentine to cruise along the scenic Cape Fear River. The dinner dance boards at 6 p.m. and sets sail at 6:30. Enjoy our Captain's Buffet, entertainment, and a cash bar aboard North Carolina's largest riverboat. The cruise is $56 per adult, $35 for children ages 2 to 12, available by advance sale only.

The Cape Fear Heart Ball - 2/14-6 pm until 11:30 pm. Support a great cause and enjoy one of the region's premier black-tie events. For over 16 years, the Heart Ball has attracted the city's largest companies and leaders. This year it will take place at Union Station on the campus of Cape Fear Community College. Guests will enjoy silent and live auctions, a seated dinner and live music and dancing. By attending, you help build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Hugs and Fishes at the N.C. Aquarium at Ft. Fisher - Friday 2/13 thru Saturday 2/1-Kids will play games, make crafts and enjoy nature education programs. Staff supervise all activities. Dinner, snacks and breakfast provided. For $55 per child, they will enjoy fully supervised activities plus dinner, snacks and breakfast. HOURS: 6pm to 9am. PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED.

That's A Moray! Valentine Dinner-N.C. Aquarium at Ft. Fisher - Why should the kids have all the fun? Now the grownups can enjoy an evening of dinner with exhibit views, dancing, cash bar, and a memorable photo opportunity. HOURS: 6:30-10pm-reservations required:

Live at Birdland-Kenan Auditorium - UNC-Wilmington - 2/14-7 pm. Ticket prices range from $5 to $22. Calling all jazz lovers! The Arts in Action Performance Series at UNCW presents Live at Birdland at Kenan Auditorium. The famous Birdland night club was founded in New York City in 1949. Frequent performers included jazz greats Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk. UNC-W's Live at Birdland recreates that atmosphere, showcasing the Birdland Big Band directed by Tommy Igoe and showcasing classic jazz pieces as well as new arrangements by such luminaries as Sting, Herbie Hancock, and Lennon/McCartney.

Valentine's Day Jazz at the CAM - Saturday 2/14-6:30 pm until 8 pm. The Cameron Art Museum presents a special Valentine's Day edition of Jazz at the CAM featuring the romantic tunes of Julie Rehder & Jack Krupicka Quartet. Dinner and drinks available at CaféJohnnie's until 9pm-$5 to $10

Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Sound familiar? You just closed on a coastal property and have realized it needs a little TLC. Making it more energy efficient is one of your goals, but you don't know where to begin. Or…You listed the family beach house a few months ago and have received feedback from several would be buyers. They say it falls short because of outdated components that will likely contribute to higher than average utility bills. Hmmm…is solar power an option?

In fact, solar power is a great option! According to Sperling's Best Places, the Port City basks in the sun an average of 216 days a year. Why, then aren't more local homeowners tapping this environmentally sound and money saving resource? Recent surveys from the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors have identified that today's hopeful home buyers want properties that incorporate solar power and energy efficient components. In addition to doing the right thing by reducing one's carbon footprint, more thoughtful energy use has a positive impact on utility bills as well!

Another great reason to consider making a few modifications or upgrades aimed at upping a home's energy efficiency is that state and local governments offer a variety of tax incentives for such efforts. In 2005, Congress created a 30 percent tax credit for homeowners who made energy efficient upgrades. Are you curious about ways to make your home more energy efficient? Whether you are considering new construction or just want to make some changes to your existing residence, consider these simple solutions:

  • Research solar components, and find out which ones are possible for your home. Use this link to see a few choices:
  • Consider installing an Air Source Heat Pump that circulates heat rather than generates it. This type of heat pump is capable of providing up to 4 times the amount of energy it consumes.
  • When planning your lawn and garden, use native, drought tolerant plants to reduce erosion and save on water.
  • Purchase a few inexpensive rain barrels and collect that precious resource!
  • Save money and energy by switching to the new CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.
  • Make upgrades to EnergyStar-rated appliances, doors, and windows.
  • Assess your home's insulation and see if recycled insulation products such as materials made from denim jeans, cotton, and wool clothing are options.
  • When building or remodeling, track down sustainable interior components such as bamboo flooring, reclaimed timber, recycled granite, and repurposed cement and glass.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint even more by recycling, composting and turning yard debris into mulch.

Find out more about other ways to make your home more energy efficient! Simply schedule an energy audit. To locate qualified energy auditors in our area,  look for those who are certified RESNET(Residential Energy Service Network) technicians or just use this link: 

Another excellent resource is this link to the Environmental Protection Agency's handy guide for homeowners: 

The good news is that there are affordable, new and effective ways to boost a home's energy efficiency. Here in coastal North Carolina, the elements can be hard on a place thanks to salt water, wind, excessive heat and moisture. Paying attention to the various systems and components that are able to increase a home's energy saving potential will only enhance their performance, longevity and save money! And, energy efficiency is high on the list of "must-haves" for many of today's buyers!

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