Kerry Ziegler
Phone:  215-679-6877Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  kzhomes@comcast.netFax:  267-354-6922
Kerry Ziegler
Kerry Ziegler

My Blog

How to Protect Yourself from Digital Eye Strain

January 17, 2018 1:11 am

If you're like most Americans, you spend much of your time in front of some sort of screen. Technology has seeped into almost every aspect of our daily lives, and Americans can't seem to keep their eyes off an ever-growing array of devices with activities becoming increasingly digitized. Among key findings from the 2017 VisionWatch survey, Americans are especially tied to the following:

Computers: An average 75.6 percent of respondents regularly use a computer to research, 54.2 percent to shop online, 48.7 percent to find a recipe, 36.2 percent to check social media and 26.7 percent to play games.

Smartphones: An average 58.2 percent of respondents regularly use a smartphone to get directions, 56.6 percent to serve as an alarm clock, 53.7 percent to check the weather, 38.1 percent to check social media and 25.8 percent to play games.

Television: An average 32.2 percent of respondents use television to get the news, 16 percent to keep track of professional sports and 14 percent to check the weather.

In addition to eyewear and contact lens solutions, some other "eye-gonomic" tips to relieve digital eye strain include:

Taking frequent breaks from looking at screens, giving the eyes an opportunity to blink more, since they typically blink less while staring at screens.

- Reducing overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare.
- Positioning yourself at an arm's distance away from a screen.
- Increasing text size on devices to better define content on screens.

Source: The Vision Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Navigating the Cooking Oil Aisle: Fast Facts for Cooking With Corn Oil

January 17, 2018 1:11 am

(Family Features)—When cooking for your family, selecting the best ingredients for a heart-healthy meal can be challenging, and there is one ingredient that is often the core of any recipe: cooking oil. However, navigating the cooking oil aisle can be confusing; this guide breaks down everything the home chef needs to know about cooking with oil.

Heart-Health Focused. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important to your heart health, and when it comes to impact on cholesterol, not all cooking oils are created equal. Next time you find yourself reaching for extra virgin olive oil at the grocery store, consider swapping it out for corn oil, which a study shows can help lower cholesterol two times more than extra virgin olive oil. Corn oil also has nearly five times the amount of polyunsaturated fats compared to olive oil. These heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats help reduce cholesterol levels in your blood.  

A Gut Decision. When it comes to lowering your cholesterol and staying heart healthy, go with your gut. Corn oil contains cholesterol-blocking plant sterols—plant-based micronutrients that help block the absorption of cholesterol in your gut and work to prevent bad cholesterol (LDL) from entering the bloodstream. Corn oil contains nearly four times more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than olive oil, three times as many as vegetable oil and nearly 1.5 times more than canola oil.

Sourcing the Best Ingredients. Today, more and more families are paying close attention to where their food comes from and prefer locally sourced ingredients. Opting for local food can give you more confidence in the ingredients you use in your family's meals.  

Multipurpose Functionality. Whether you fancy yourself a top-notch baker, grill master or are just starting out, each ingredient selected plays an important role in obtaining the meal's desired taste. Extra virgin olive oil has a strong flavor that can change the taste of the foods you cook. Corn oil is an all-purpose cooking oil with a neutral taste that lets the true flavors of your dish come through, making it the perfect ingredient for heart-healthy dishes like pan-fried salmon. Or you can use it as a dressing over a bed of spinach.  

Corn oil can also handle the heat in the kitchen because of its high smoke point (450 Fahrenheit), making it a great, all-purpose cooking oil for everything from grilling and sauteing to stir frying and baking. This is key for crafting quality meals at home because once a smoke point is exceeded, the food flavor and nutritional value are negatively affected.

Source: Mazola Corn Oil

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Are You Following Safe Cyber Rules?

January 16, 2018 12:35 am

While most consumers are well aware of the hazards of cyber security—with the Equifax breach alone exposing the sensitive data of as many as 143 million Americans—the majority still fail to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. According to a survey conducted online by Harris Poll, on behalf of Tenable™,Inc., while 94 percent of Americans were aware of news stories about security breaches, few took critical steps to protect their data or change their online habits.

The study found that in the past 12 months, 44 percent of Americans did not use a password to protect their personal information on their computer, and 55 percent failed to use a PIN to protect their personal information on their mobile devices. When it comes to the industry recommended practice of two-factor authentication, 75 percent of respondents admitted not implementing this important practice, while only 32 percent reported reducing their use of public Wi-Fi or unknown hotspots.

On the plus side, 53 percent reported creating more complicated passwords and 15 percent have used a password management tool to protect their personal information in the past 12 months.

According to Tenable, a popular inroad for hackers to compromise devices and steal data is when apps have security vulnerabilities; however, few people pay much attention to patch requests. Fourteen percent of smartphone users waited more than a week to update apps on their smartphone after receiving a prompt—with 5 percent never getting around to it at all. Meanwhile, 13 percent of computer users wait more than a week to update the apps on their computer, and 5 percent never do.

To maintain a level of basic cyber safety, Tenable advises:

- Where applicable, enable two-factor authentication for all online services
- Update your apps and computers within 24 hours of receiving a notification
-  Assign strong passwords to your computer, mobile phone and tablet, and don't share them with others

Source: Tenable, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


DIY Car Care Everyone Can Do

January 16, 2018 12:35 am

(Family Features)—While taking your car to an auto service professional is a great way to ensure its performance, the Car Care Council reminds vehicle owners there are a few simple vehicle checks that they can easily learn and do themselves to save a little money and help keep their vehicles running efficiently all summer long.

With basic knowledge of common maintenance practices and a little time, motorists can inspect the following components in their own driveway:

— Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

— Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer fluid and antifreeze/coolant.

— Check the hoses and belts as they can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.

— Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and inspect and replace worn wiper blades. Keep the reservoir filled with windshield washer fluid.

— To keep the cooling system working effectively, the coolant and distilled water mixture for a vehicle's radiator should be 50:50. Never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level in the reservoir. As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles.

— Check the gas cap to ensure it is not damaged, loose or missing to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.

— Don't neglect the exterior. When washing the outside, make sure to include the tires and wheels and the underside and fenders to eliminate any road salt or grime. The body of the vehicle should be washed using a product sold specifically for cars. Wax your vehicle every six months.

Source: Car Care Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips for Getting Affordable Dental Care Without Coverage

January 16, 2018 12:35 am

If you're one of the millions of Americans without dental care coverage, then you know the struggle of keeping your mouth healthy at an affordable price.

"It was recently estimated by the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) that 23 percent of the U.S. population does not have dental insurance," says Kevin Henry, author of the new book, Battling and Beating the Demons of Dental Assisting (Indie Books International, 2017). "Because of that, many people put off trips to visit the dentist, and that is a decision that can prove harmful in the long run."

Here are five tips from Henry for people who don't have dental insurance:

1. Ask about dental plans. Dental practices are beginning to understand how many of their patients walk through the doors without insurance. With that in mind, many practices are coming up with their own discount dental plan (often called "memberships") they can offer to patients. There may be a discount for a number of bundled services or two cleanings and checkups put together for a lower price than if they were bought separately. Every dental practice has the ability to come up with its own dental plan or membership so ask the practice what their plan offers and any deadlines for completion of services.

2. Get on a payment plan. Without available financing, a recent study showed that 39 percent of patients said they would not have had dentistry done at all. Another study showed that 52 percent of patients were not aware that financing was a payment option. Big stores such as Best Buy offer their own financing to customers so they can afford a big-screen television. Dental practices are more than happy to offer you options for your treatment. Just ask what those are and see if they fit your plans and budget.

3. Look around for local dental or dental hygiene schools. Dental students and future dental hygienists need patients to learn their craft. Dental schools advertise their services to the community as a low-cost option for patients. As an example, the University of Oklahoma Dental School states on its website, "In the student program, patients are treated by dental students under the direct supervision of faculty. Patients in the student clinics receive low-cost quality care in an educational environment."

4. Contact your state or local dental association. Every state has a dental association and every state's dental association's offerings should be online. Do a little searching and see what low-cost treatment options are available on your state's site.

5. Ask for the "cash price" option. If you have the cash available to pay for a procedure, tell the dental office when you make an appointment and ask them if they offer discounts if you're paying with cash and paying it all up front. Many practices do discount their fees if they don't have to deal with insurance.

"The American Dental Association recently said that emergency room dental visits cost $1.9 billion yearly, 40 percent of which is public money, according to their analysis of data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality," says Henry.  "That's a lot of money for people who had dental pain that perhaps could have been alleviated by seeing a dentist days or weeks earlier."

Source: Kevin Henry, Indie Books International

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Fire Safety 101: Simple Tips to Help Prevent Fires in the Home

January 13, 2018 4:14 pm

Cold temperatures, holiday decorations, storms, candles and space heaters all most likely played a role in the increased number of fires reported so far this year, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration. In fact, the American Red Cross claims that in the first nine days of 2018 alone, it responded to nearly 60 percent more home fires than in 2017.

After a home fire, a Red Cross volunteer is often among the first on the scene—offering emotional support, helping those affected find a place to stay and assisting with recovery. As of January 9, the Red Cross had already opened 4,400 cases to help a total of 12,500 people get back on their feet after home fires in 2018.
The Red Cross advises homeowners to follow these tips to help prevent fires at home:
  • Keep all potential sources of fuel—paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs—at least three feet away from sources of heat.
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Look for space heaters that shut off automatically if they are to fall over.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen. 
To help combat the devastating effects of home fires, the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign in 2014, focusing on installing free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching people about fire safety. Since the start of the campaign, the Red Cross and partners have installed more than 1 million smoke alarms and have helped save 332 lives.

Source: American Red Cross

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Remodeling? Questions to Ask During Your Pre-Construction Meeting

January 13, 2018 4:14 pm

Embarking on a remodeling project is an exciting endeavor—you’re finally going to get that new kitchen or finished basement you’ve been longing for. But going under the knife, so to speak, is also a stressful prospect. That’s why scheduling a pre-construction meeting with your remodeling professional is essential.
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the pre-construction meeting is a key opportunity for the remodeler to explain exactly what will be done, as well as how the job will progress. It also provides a chance for both parties to define their expectations and flag any problems that may arise. The goal is to alleviate as many surprises in advance as possible.
Here are just some of the issues the NAHB recommends you discuss with your remodeling professional during the pre-construction meeting:
  • Are you okay with signs on your property? In addition to acting as a marketing tool, signs help contractors and suppliers locate your home. Decide now whether you will agree to this.
  • Discuss which areas of your home will be off limits to workers. You may discover that workers need access to certain rooms for part of the project.
  • If you have an alarm system, determine how it will be handled. Will you give the construction crew a key, or do you plan on having someone on the premises to let them in?
  • Figure out a plan for removal of trash. Agree upon where the dumpster will be located.
  • Ask if any utilities will be interrupted during the remodel, such as water or electric, and if so, for how long. This will help you decide whether you will need to find other accommodations for a period of time.
  • What will take place in terms of daily clean-up? Make sure your expectations are in sync with what will actually take place.
  • When will work begin and end each day? Where will workers park? Once you find out, be sure to let neighbors know.
  • What are your rules concerning workers using your landline for local calls? What about using your bathroom?
  • Let your remodeler know what your rules are when it comes to smoking, profanity and music. 
Laying all of this out in advance will help make for a smooth project and a pleasant working relationship for all.
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Get Smarter About Smart Homes

January 13, 2018 4:14 pm

The smart home movement is taking homeowners by storm, with an increasing number of gadgets and apps hitting the market to make your life at home more streamlined, efficient, and in many cases, cost-effective.

The technology, however, is outpacing even the savviest among us, leading to a bevy of buzzwords that can make your head spin. Luckily, the National Association of REALTORS®’ Center for REALTOR® Development (CRT) has created a wealth of online resources to help homeowners get a handle on smart home technologies.

Below are just some choice terms from the CRT’s smart home glossary that will elevate your tech IQ in a jiffy:

Bluetooth LE/Bluetooth Smart: This refers to a wireless protocol that is popular among smart home devices. Compared to classic Bluetooth, it is designed to use considerably less power while maintaining a similar range.  

Cloud-to-Cloud: Many smart home products use cloud services for their core functionality. Two devices in the same room might not be able to communicate directly. Instead, messages are sent back and forth through their respective cloud services over the internet. A concept known as cloud-to-cloud, it’s becoming a popular way for hardware vendors to increase compatibility.

Geofence: Think of this as a virtual perimeter for the real world. Using your WiFi, Bluetooth or GPS radios, your smart home software can trigger events based on your physical location. For example, you can use a geofence to automatically turn off the lights when you leave for the day.

Hub: The hub is the central device that allows all your different smart home products (lights, locks, thermostats) to work together. Most hubs will also act like a universal remote, as well as providing the tools necessary to automate your devices.

Interoperability: The ability for different smart home devices and services to reliably work together.
IoT (Internet of Things): The Internet of Things is a broad term that refers to everyday devices like lights, thermostats and locks that are able to connect to the internet and to each other. These connected devices can exchange data and work together, automating tasks that used to be manually performed. By 2020, it is predicted that there will be anywhere between 26 billion and 200 billion devices connected to the internet.  

Smart Meter: Smart meters are a new generation of electric and gas meters that can digitally (and more accurately) transmit meter readings to your utility. Smart meters can also be paired with monitors or gateways to give consumers a better idea of their own energy usage in real-time.
WiFi: WiFi is the most common protocol used in smart home devices. This is largely because many consumers already have a central hub (their WiFi router) for WiFi enabled devices. WiFi is able to provide high bandwidth for devices that send a lot of data (IP Cameras), but it uses too much power for most battery-powered devices.Source: Center for REALTOR® Development
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Don't Get Swindled by a Scammer

January 13, 2018 4:14 pm

Crafty financial fraudsters are getting ever more creative in their attempts to swindle money from innocent victims through phone or email schemes, or even in-person at your doorstep. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the latest rash of fraud involves imposters posing as someone from your doctor’s office, a financial institution, government agency, the court system or even the police department. They will typically threaten the victim with arrest unless a fake “fee” or “penalty” is paid. Other scams involve a softer touch in which an imposter pretends to represent a charity.
Email scams are particularly easy to fall for as they appear to come from a legitimate institution and encourage the recipient to click on a link or open an attachment, which can infect your computer with a virus or lead to a webpage designed to elicit information to steal your identity.
In order to steer clear of such scams, consumers must know the red flags. These include the demand for payment through an untraceable method, such as a wire transfer, cashier’s check or gift cards. The BBB offers these other tips to help you avoid such nefarious activity:
Don’t do business at your front door. Select a professional, business or charity yourself, rather than respond to a solicitation. Also, be aware that individuals claiming to be with a utility company, phone company or any other type of business, may be carrying false identification.
Monitor your credit reports. Doing so will give you an early indication that someone is using your personal information to open lines of credit and obtain loans. You may obtain your reports for free from the government-sanctioned website You will be asked to provide personal information for authentication purposes. This allows you to keep an eye on your credit reports all year long by requesting a report from one of the three credit monitoring companies every four months.
Harden your computer security. Update and scan your computer regularly with anti-malware. Don’t ignore operating system and software updates either. Be sure to download them as they’re often designed to close security loopholes. Talk to an IT professional about the best way to back up your important files, photos and videos in case of a cyber hack or computer failure.
Remember, there is no free lunch, no free cruise, fake inheritance or sweepstakes. There’s always a catch.
Look for “https” and a padlock logo in URLs. You will find these in your browser address bar. This means the website you’re using is taking measures to protect your information.
Do your research. Before signing a contract, putting down a deposit or donating to a charity, check out any organization you’re considering partnering with at
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Steps to a Healthier Home

January 13, 2018 4:14 pm

Believe it or not, being healthy at home isn’t just about what’s happening in your fridge. Sure, it’s a good starting point, but there are actually many ways to create a pro-health environment throughout your home. Here are five simple ways to start.
  1. Declutter the kitchen. In this case, we’re not talking about knickknacks—we’re talking about food. Go through your cabinets, pantry, fridge and freezer and say goodbye to anything that’s been lingering for way too long. Donate canned goods you’ve been saving ‘just in case,’ get rid of freezer-burned processed meals and old packages of crackers and snacks. Once your shelves are cleared out, start buying and eating mostly fresh items, picking up just what you need every couple of days as opposed to doing a mega shopping every couple of weeks.
  2. Honor your eating area. If you’re wolfing down meals standing up at the kitchen counter or on the sofa in front of the TV, it’s likely that you’ve adopted some poor eating habits. Make sure your dining space is set to sit down and enjoy a mindful eating experience that includes quality time with your loved ones, as well. Not only will this lead to eating better prepared, healthier meals, it will force you to eat more slowly, which will help you avoid overeating.
  3. Check the air quality in your most-frequented space. Whether it’s the living room or family room, make sure the air is healthy in the room in which you spend the most time. Dust and vacuum more often than usual (especially if you have pets or use a fireplace frequently), open the windows to circulate air, or use an air purifier or salt rocks to remove impurities. Add some house plants to help absorb carbon dioxide and release additional oxygen.
  4. Carve a restorative niche. Whether it’s a small workout area, or a reading and meditation nook, everyone needs to build their own private space within the busy walls of their home. Whether it’s for exercise or simple quiet time, having a mini escape right at home is essential to both your physical and mental well-being.
  5. Create a rest-inducing bedroom. Many of us aren’t getting enough sleep, which is at the root of a wide variety of health problems. Do a quick analysis of your sleeping quarters to make sure they’re conducive to a good night’s rest: Is your mattress well-suited for your sleeping needs? Is there a television that needs to go? Is the temperature cool enough? Is an after-hours quiet zone enforced? If not, get your bedroom in sleeping shape pronto. 
These five steps will help ensure your home is designed to serve both your physical and emotional health.
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.