Retaining walls are an integral part of your landscape that enhance the aesthetic and protect your home. Installing a retaining wall is a cost-effective investment that our agents strongly recommend. Once installed, you'll enjoy many benefits, including, but not limited to, the following five things our clients frequently mention.
Living in an island paradise gives you an even clearer view of all the ways we humans can influence our environment. The Bahamas is highly active in environmental conservation so that everyone can enjoy the islands' beauty for years to come—and so are our agents.
Nassau and Paradise Island homes for sale often incorporate environmentally friendly features, most noticeable in newer construction. The Bahamas government encourages builders to consider environmental impact and will often provide incentives to homeowners for doing the same.
Composting your yard and food waste is a great way to reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfills and incinerators. On top of that, the compost you create can be used to nourish the soil in your garden beds or yard, leading to happier and more vibrant plants. If you've always wanted to try your hand at backyard composting, there has never been a better time. Composting works well in the humid, tropical climate of The Bahamas, and our agents have some helpful tips to share.
Many Nassau and Paradise Island homes for sale have lovely backyard gardens. If you purchase one of these homes, of course, you'll want to keep the garden looking fresh and healthy. You may even want to improve the landscaping and add more plants and features to the design. Gardening in The Bahamas does come with a few intricacies, but if you follow the tips below, you'll be off to a good start.
When it comes to natural beauty, Nassau and Paradise Island homes for sale are ahead of the rest. But our agents know a property needs more than charm to meet your expectations: Every now and then, you may want to renovate your home. And that can be more complex than in the United States.
The rules around who is allowed to perform contracting work are different than you might be used to. Bahamas contractors must be licensed in an area of specialization, such as residential or commercial construction, electrical work, or plumbing. Still, it is possible to be targeted by scams.
Achieving a lush, healthy lawn in our tropical climate, almost seems a no-brainer. Warmer climates however, place unique demands on yards and gardens. Sunnier, high-humidity environments like ours result in faster plant growth than in relatively cooler parts of the world; but watching your grass grow and grow and grow can be just as problematic and watching it dry off and die. Extreme humidity, intense heat, and heavy rains are other issues that frequently plague tropical climate lawns and other plants. To ensure your lawn does not resemble a jungle, it is important for maintain regular pruning and other upkeep, throughout the year.
During the hot humid months, from April through to October, lawns are in their element as regular summer storms bring torrential rain. This usually means lush green leaf growth that, at times, appears to be out of control. Good lawn maintenance can keep this rapid growth period at bay as well as maintain a green, healthy lawn during the cooler months.
An important part of lawn maintenance is checking the pH of your lawn during the wet season. Fertilizing is not recommended at that time, as it will promote vigorous leaf growth, which, for now, is not necessary. More than likely, you will already be watching your lawn grow before your eyes yet be unable to mow due to the rain. Instead, you can apply lime and gypsum to the soil as these acts as a soil conditioner and keeps the pH up. Due to the region's high rainfall, soils can become very acidic which can affect the health of the plant growth. The addition of lime to your yard care routine, maintains a good pH balance and promotes the uptake of soil nutrients. Gypsum is a clay breaker. One of the reasons soils is compacted and like concrete in most backyards is due to initial building activity. Usually, much of the topsoil is taken away during home construction and the ground is compacted making it difficult for water to penetrate the soil. Gypsum is good for breaking down clay soils enabling the water to penetrate.
Another wet-weather-must is to keep lawn mowing equipment in good working order. There is nothing worse when there is a break in the weather, and you are unable to mow because of failing lawn equipment due to poor maintenance. Be prepared by having mowers and other equipment fueled and ready to go. Sharp mower blades are essential to ensure the lawn has a clean, even cut. Unbalanced, blunt blades often leave a yard looking hacked and untidy. The success to an even, tidy lawn is weekly trims in the summer months, whenever possible. This will keep lawn clipping to a minimum. During the cooler and less wet months, mow every two to three weeks to keep the lawns immaculate.
After the wet season around October-November, is the perfect time to apply good a quality slow-release fertilizer to keep the lush growth achieved during the wet season. Once you have applied fertilizer, water in well as this will help keep thick leaf cover, reduce moisture loss, and keep your lawn actively growing. Pull the mower deck up one notch to leave more leaf on the grass, as this will also help reduce moisture loss within the soil.
In November, reapply the slow-release fertilizer before generally cooler temps set in. This is a must-do job as it will keep lawns green and healthy throughout the tropic's mild winter. Depending on your variety of turf, follow a recommended water schedule; whether weekly or fortnightly. This watering method is better than small top ups every night as it promotes the deep root system growth needed for a healthy lawn.
April is another good time to apply slow-release fertilizer as it will help the recovery from the winter months. Again, a good, deep watering is required. Now is the time to lower the mower deck back to the summer mowing height.
May brings spring and a burst of activity, completing the annual cycle. Birds are building nests; flowers are blooming, and worms are getting ready to launch their attack on lush green lawns. Healthy green lawns are perfect sites for pest eggs. An environmentally safe pesticide should be on hand during springtime to counterattack and ensure a healthy lawn, year-round.
Summer's finally here! Time for cookouts, backyard parties, outdoor sports, and time by the water. All this time outside can lead to potential dangers, if we aren't prepared. With proper preparation and a safety plan in place, you'll be set for, what could be, your best summer ever.
To avoid accidents and pricey repairs, prepping your home for the summer months is a must. From steamy temps and unexpected storms to the general wear and tear on the inside and outside of your home, there are quite a few things to get ready for. First, we must take inventory of what home maintenance is overdue. From repairing broken appliances to cleaning out your air conditioning filters and ducts, summer upkeep projects can save you money in the long run and keep everything running smoothly. Conduct a home energy audit once every year, to determine where upgrades can make a difference in lowering your carbon footprint and utility bill.
To help keep the outside of your home looking great while keeping your family safe, be sure to add these to your to-do list:
- Install sunshades or tinting to your windows to deflect heat.
- Reseal any cracked caulking or weather strips on external windows and doors to prevent leaks.
- Inspect outside your home for cracks and any overhanging tree limbs that could fall during a storm.
- Double-check that flood insurance is included in your home insurance policy.
- Spray your yard and home to protect it from pests and other creatures. Set traps and other deterrents, where necessary.
- Schedule a yearly inspection to help catch termites before they cause major damage to your home's structure.
Keeping bugs at bay often entails the use of chemicals or pesticides, so safe usage should be top-of-mind. If you choose to use pesticides in and around your home, ensure children know to avoid any treated areas after application, for as long as manufacturer's instructions dictate. Always explain the dangers of all potentially harmful products to your children. This can help prevent injury from accidental exposure. Placement of a first-aid kit, with poison control information, and fire extinguisher on every level of your home is a smart idea - having them nearby helps you respond as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.
Security and Monitoring
As temps rise in the summer months, unfortunately so do the rates of home break-ins and theft. On average, there is an 11% increase in home-based crimes during the summer months. And though we are now staying home more than ever before, this increase is enough to make one nervous during a weekend getaway. Thankfully, smart home technology has vastly advanced, giving homeowners control over their home protection and monitoring capabilities. Recent additions to the smart home market include indoor and outdoor cameras, motion detection lighting, and automatic locks that can alert you on your phone any time someone locks or unlocks a door. These devices are not only helpful for identifying and stopping burglaries, but they're also great for monitoring your children's activity throughout the home. Some devices even allow you to speak to your children or play music directly through speaker systems. Ultimately, the purpose of smart devices is to help streamline your life, making everyday tasks easier.
When we are around more often, like during the summer or shelter-in-place orders, our homes, appliances, and devices go through something known as home strain. And with a global pandemic keeping us homebound more than ever before, home strain is reaching new heights. As sheltering in place continues and as more people opt to work from home, this issue is likely to persist. The most needed repairs come from issues with power surges, broken appliances, and damaged electronic devices. To help counteract the effects of home strain, it's important to thoroughly clean your home, appliances, and other devices. Electronic devices and other household appliances run faster and last longer with regular cleanings. Regular cleaning also allows you to inspect for damage and fix small issues before they grow.
Grilling and Fire Protection
Grilling is an especially popular summertime activity. Improperly operated grillware can be extremely dangerous. This is especially true when there are young children in proximity, as they can accidentally injure themselves or others. A few things to consider before grilling this summer to keep your family and home safe:
Never leave a fire unattended. Constant monitoring will help keep the fire under control and prevent any potential injuries from children or pets getting too close to the flame. It is recommended to keep your grill at least 10 feet from your home or any other structures, and away from any overhanging trees.
When returning indoors, it is important to extinguish the fire. Never let it a grill burn out. While it is recommended to keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies, a grill can be put out with water once you are done. It's also a good idea to keep a first-aid kit nearby in case of accidents or burns.
Whether you have an in-ground pool, hot tub, above ground, or inflatable pool, children should always be supervised while swimming. If possible, enroll your children in swimming lessons early or teach them yourself. As they are learning, a life jacket or other flotation device should be put on before getting in the water. Become CPR-certified and always keep an extra flotation device and first-aid kit nearby. To ensure you know when your child is near the water, consider adding back door and gate alarms to alert you of any movement near the pool or hot tub.
Setting Safety Rules
The safety of their child is the goal of every parent, but it can be easier said than done. It is important to talk with your kids about summer safety, including the limits you've set for how far they can venture out or what activities they take part in without you nearby. In addition to installing safety measures like gates around the pool and locks on medicine cabinets, it's important to let your children know what type of play is and is not allowed. Playing in a parked car, for example, can easily turn dangerous in the summer heat. Always lock your car when it's not in use, even if it's just in your garage or driveway.
As children get older, they'll likely want to venture out to play with friends away from home. Before going out to play, establish ground rules for how far they can go and for how long. Ensure they are aware of the potential dangers of your area. Mobile numbers should be memorized in case of an emergency.
Whether your yard is relatively empty or full of toys, an inspection should be part of the pre-play routine. This allows you to address any issues you find before letting your children run around.
With summer in full swing and shelter-in-place orders continuing, you'll likely be spending most of your time at or near home. This makes total home safety more important than ever. While you may be able to make most repairs yourself, some things are better left to the professionals. Carve out enough time for cleaning and repairs - plus time for summer fun too!
When discussing energy efficiency, it is common for experts only to consider improving the savings results for homeowners in colder climates. It is a topic that our neighbors to the north and west must give consideration as most energy needs will increase when temperatures begin to fall. Having an energy efficient home, however, is also incredibly important in warmer climates. With the proper energy-saving strategies and smart design choices, Bahamian homes can become just as energy efficient as those in other regions.
BUILDING DESIGN & LAYOUT CONSIDERATIONS
For the highest energy efficiency, a home should be designed from the ground up with respect to how the light and other natural elements will affect energy needs. For example, West and East facing glass windows and doors can have about five times the heat gain of north-facing glass. For the most favorable outcome, a home should be constructed so that windows are positioned within 20 degrees of North or South, wherever possible. Choosing colors for your home, that are reflective as opposed to absorbent for roofing and siding can also help to control the heat inside the home.
Landscaping should be planned to work with the design elements of the home. Where there are windows or doors installed on the west or east sides of a house, trees and shrubs can be positioned to block the sun at the hottest times of the day.
Shady trees also work well for controlling heat gains in the home. During the warmest months, the trees will have leaves and block out sunlight. During the cooler months, the trees will lose leaves and allow greater heat gains. Shrubs and trees can also shade pavement so that sunlight is not reflected indoors.
Materials selected for the walls, floors, and roof, the type of windows and doors, and many other construction elements can all have a major impact on home energy efficiency. Materials with low heat conductivity should always be used and be thick enough to keep out any unwanted heat. Windows should be shaded or tinted to keep out the heat as much as possible, possibly even using a recessed window design for consistency. Ceramic tile floors are best for energy efficiency in hot climates, with carpeting typically raising the average temperature inside the home.
INSULATION FOR SAVINGS
Proper insulation is important for hot climate energy efficiency. About two inches of foam insulation is generally sufficient to help keep heat gains out and keep cool air inside. A carefully sealed building is of utmost importance.
ENERGY STAR APPLIANCES
Investing in Energy Star appliances boosts your home's energy efficiency. There are other ways to reduce energy expenses with your current appliances, as well. The refrigerator is often the leading energy user among a home's appliances, so it must operate efficiently.
ADJUST TEMPERATURE SETTINGS
The smallest temperature changes can greatly impact your home's energy efficiency. Adjust the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower on cooler days, and 78 degrees or higher during the summer so that you use less energy.
ADJUST WATER HEATER SETTINGS
This is typically something homeowners do not consider doing. However, this small change can go a long way in saving you money. A maximum temperature of 120 degrees is adequate for most homes. This prevents accidental scalding and is proven to slow the buildup of minerals in your water heater tank.
ADJUST REFRIGERATOR SETTINGS
The temperature of the refrigerator itself should be set to 35°-38°F, and the freezer to 0° F. The refrigerator is often the leading energy user among a home's appliances, so it must operate efficiently. Keep the door closed as often as possible. Check the door seals to ensure they are tight and secure. If a dollar bill placed between the door gaskets slips out easily, the seal is not as tight as it should be. Consider replacing it.
UNPLUG ELECTRONICS WHEN NOT IN USE
Always remember to unplug rarely used appliances to decrease energy usage around the house. Unplugging electronics like charging devices for phones, tablets, and digital cameras can increase your energy efficiency. Using a power strip with an on/off switch makes it easy to decrease electricity use by powering off multiple electronics at once.
Beyond construction, landscaping choices, and other big-ticket items, there are many ways homeowners can save. Lowering your energy bill can be accomplished by improving the energy efficiency of your home. Simple lifestyle changes go a long way to impact and improve your bottom line. When followed consistently, these practices could lead to substantial energy savings and lower utility bills. Making use of the strategies outlined above will help you and your family to live more energy efficient and boost the savings you see on your monthly energy bill.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is just over a month away, but the past six seasons have each gotten off to an early start, as we've seen. Officially, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 - a time frame that was selected to encompass 97% of all Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes, according to NOAA's Hurricane Research Division. The other 3%? Well, they cover the months of May and December, when we've seen tropical storms and even a few hurricanes (unfortunately).
Since 2015, at least one named storm has developed before June 1 each hurricane season, some of which have had impacts with countries in the Atlantic basin, including The Bahamas. While the National Hurricane Center has not yet officially adjusted the start of hurricane season earlier to account for these pre-season storms, beginning this year, they will begin issuing routine Atlantic tropical weather outlooks on May 15.
As with years prior, 2021 is expected to be an above-average year with regards to activity. The Weather Channel announced their predictions, which forecast 18 named storms, 8 of which will become hurricanes, and 3 of which will likely be major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).
By now, we know the drill, but it's always good to have a reminder. As history has proven, preparation is key. If you haven't already run an assessment on your home's status, and attended to any issues in need of your attention, this would be the time to do so.
Here are a few items to cross off your list:
Check your roof
Just as we monitor our health, it's essential to monitor the health of your roof. We've already had significant rainfall over the last few weeks, so if you've noticed any leaks, this would be the time to attend to them. If you haven't seen any problems, it's still a good idea to check for potential problems. Take a look at your roof from the top. Are there any cracks in the sealant or loose shingles? Although asphalt shingles can last for up to 30 years or more, high winds, excessive rain, and tree branches can be a problem for older roofs. If you have any questions or feel there may be a problem, have your roof checked by a qualified specialist who can confirm any suspicions and address any issues before things start to heat up.
Clean your gutters
Our homes' gutters collect debris – leaves, branches, and other materials. If you haven't had a chance to give them a good cleaning, now would be the time to make sure your downspouts are clear. Build-up can cause water to eventually flow over the edges and collect in near to foundations. Leaking under the roof will cause water damage.
Trim your trees
Landscaping isn't just to make your yard look pretty. Yard maintenance is an essential part of home upkeep – especially when it comes to hurricane season. Coconuts, over-extended branches, palm fronds can all become missiles when the winds pick up. Don't leave yourself exposed to potential damage. If you notice that a tree in your yard isn't flowering or looking healthy, have it checked out. A weakened tree can break or snap in high winds and damage cars, roofs, and other plants.
Check your drains
Another problem area when it comes to extensive rains is your drainage system. Make sure your drains are clear and free to allow for flowing water. Doing this can save your home from possible flooding, especially if you are in a low lying area. Stock up sandbags and keep a sump-pump on hand. Seal any foundation or wall cracks with a water-proof sealant, well in advance of storms. These are all ways in which you can help protect your home against potential flooding damage.
Service your generator
Regardless of the time of year, it's always good to get a health-check on your generator. You should schedule a maintenance service on an annual basis. Doing this will maximize the efficiency of your generator. Here are some other helpful guidelines when it comes to maintenance:
– Change your oil and oil filters every 50-60 hours of use.
– Change your air filters annually.
– Change your spark plugs every 100 hours.
– Check your generator battery regularly to ensure there's no corrosion, decay, or damage.
Check your shutters
From roll-downs to metal or wooden, it's vital to ensure the shutters you use to protect your windows and doors are in good shape now. Because they have a specific purpose, they may be stored away and left until they are needed. Some materials can deteriorate over time. You may also have parts that are missing. The day before a storm is not the time you want to find this out. Run a quick check on your shutters' status and inventory to make sure you don't get caught out.
Be proactive when it comes to your home's maintenance and upkeep. It is always better for your home and wallet. Do yourself a favour and take stock of what needs to be done. Write out that list, make that plan. Book your servicing appointments and be prepared for Hurricane Season 2021. You'll be happy you did.
Earth Day is tomorrow, and the global theme is Restore our Earth, which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems. With almost 365 days of sunshine along our shores, as a nation, we are in a unique position when it comes to benefitting from renewable and solar energy. As we expand our horizons, we are increasingly moving towards environmentally-friendly technologies and ways to reduce energy consumption, save on costs, and increase our sustainability practices.
Our homes today are relying more on solar-powered technologies. Existing residences are swapping out the old with the new where they can, and new residential builds are incorporating these capabilities from the ground-up.
While some are installing state-of-the-art solar energy systems, like this Turnberry home, others are introducing this technology in smaller doses to save on electricity bills and to cut back on their carbon footprint. Today, we have a host of options ranging from a solar panel for hot water or air conditioner to solar-powered sprinkler systems and outdoor lights for your yard. Even something as simple as swapping out those regular light bulbs for LED ones can help! Regardless of your budget, there are ways you can save!
For your Business
Across the country, many of our businesses have also started making the transition to more sustainable energy solutions - some in small ways, by changing out light bulbs to LED, replacing HVAC units with energy-efficient ones, and having programmable thermostats in offices. Others have adapted on a larger scale, with whole energy management systems and solar power systems. Going green with your business can help you cut costs on energy, but it can also have a positive impact when it comes to your company name and community relations.
For us All
On a larger scale, we've seen many initiatives unfold over the last several years to increase our green living as a country.
In 2013, the National Energy Policy was developed to connect the energy and economic sectors and create opportunities to use renewable energy in as many areas nationwide as possible. Policies outlined in the National Energy Policy pave the way toward achieving renewable energy targets for 2033, including the use of renewable energy in:
Some of these initiatives exist today, with the plans implemented and off the ground:
Thomas A. Robinson Solar Parking Lot
In 2019, the Thomas A. Robinson National stadium officially unveiled its solar parking lot. The 925-kilowatt grid-tied solar system will displace 310 thousand liters of diesel fuel annually, which should save the island 350 thousand dollars and offset 856 tons of carbon emissions annually. The lot has 324 parking stations and an additional two electric car charge ports for electric vehicles.
Family Island Solar Program
Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) launched the Family Island Solar Program with support from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Carbon War Room's Islands Energy Program. This program proposes to develop "solar-fueled power systems" on the Family Islands of Andros, Bimini, Eleuthera, and Inagua with hopes of meeting 30% of the electricity by the year 2030.
On the Horizon
Good news for our family, friends, and customers in Abaco and Grand Bahama! According to a report released by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the initial funding for electricity restoration on islands hit by Hurricane Dorian has been bolstered by the receipt of $9.739m in grant funding from the EU's Caribbean Investment Facility. The even better news is that this restoration is set to produce a 50 percent increase in renewable energy installed and battery storage capacity for additional resilience. Some of this funding is set to be allocated to installing a 4 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and energy storage, which will supply energy to the Marsh Harbour government complex and the Marsh Harbour's hospital. In Cooper's Town, the medical clinic will have a Solar PV plant of approximately 0.25 MW, including a storage capacity of close to 2 MW.
In New Providence, this funding will also be used to subsidize rooftop solar PV installations for a total additional renewable energy capacity of 2.5 MW. This will involve five commercial and 50 residential installations of 50 kilowatts (kW) and 5Kw, respectively, plus 20 systems for community buildings with a 100 kW capacity.