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Heating With Gas Or Heating With Oil – The Great Energy Debate | Pound Ridge NY Real Estate

How to Decide Between Oil and Natural Gas to Heat Your Home

Every year, thousands of homeowners make a decision about which fuel will be their primary heating source for the winter: use oil or natural gas?. The pressure of winter’s arrival often leads to a quick decision, but determining which fuel makes the most economic sense depends on a complex set of circumstances that most homeowners have difficulty sorting out. With this simple questionnaire, Popular Mechanics offers a guide to help determine the best way for you to keep warm this winter.

By Roy Berendsohn

Having been a home improvement editor here for more than 20 years, I can make one prediction with uncanny accuracy: As cooler weather settles in, heating questions will arrive. It may seem obvious. Yet, there’s a specific skew for our readers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. They ask us which heat source is less expensive over the long haul–oil or natural gas. Based on past experience, these are oil-heat customers, and in the heating battleground that encompasses this region, they’re bombarded with claims about the benefits of both fuels. This year, the cost of natural gas for residential users is low–about where it was three years ago. When you adjust for inflation, its price has actually dropped. So I’m predicting an upswing in interest in this topic (an increase that will likely subside when the price of gas begins to rise). As gas remains competitive, deciding whether to use it becomes more complex.

See the checklist below to sort your way through. The more answers you check as “Yes,” the more likely that the switch from oil to gas may make sense. If you check “Yes” on only on 1 to 3 questions, your current setup works fine. Check more than four, however, and it’s worth investigating your options. Seven or more means it may be time to switch to gas.

Notice that I say, “may.” I’m not advocating one fuel over the other. The fact is, either can be burned cleanly and efficiently. Both have advantages and disadvantages, which can vary–consult your local fuel-oil and gas providers and mechanical contractors (the businesses that install heating and cooling equipment).

Finally, there’s the propane option, and many customers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic would do well to consider it. If you live in a competitive propane market, the more of the answers that you check as Yes, the more likely that propane could be a viable option as well.

As a side note, consider the Energy Information Administration’s unbiased comparison of heating-fuel costs. To get a sense of how this works in your market, plug local price figures into the cost calculator offered by Penn State’s engineering department.


Here’s the PM guide to heating-fuel options. Check all that apply.

1. Your oil-heat boiler or furnace is shot and needs to be replaced.

Yes No

2. Your chimney is old and needs to be rebuilt or relined. Note: New oil or gas boilers and furnaces can be vented directly through the side of the house, bypassing the chimney entirely.

Yes No

3. You have a natural gas line available and the utility company’s cost to run a lateral line from the street to your house is low.

Yes No

4. The company that will run the gas lateral to your house can place the gas meter conveniently–for example, so that the existing gas line inside the house can access the meter without significant mechanical disruption or remodeling. Note: You need a heating/cooling contractor’s input to answer this question.

Yes No

5. It appears that the gas lateral will create minimal disruption to your property and landscape.

Yes No

6. Over the past ten years, you’ve tried several fuel oil providers in your area, at several different price and service plans. You’re dissatisfied–either the quality of service has been poor from a mechanical standpoint, or the company just seems unfriendly.

Yes No

7. You want the fuel oil tank out of the basement. It’s either old, rusty and smelly, or you just want it out to free up space down there. Note: Getting an old fuel oil tank out of a basement, especially a crowded one, is a big job. Take some careful measurements of the tank and all stairs or exterior doors before proceeding. PM contributor Pat Porzio, a mechanical contractor, reminds us that some municipalities may require you to pull a special building permit just for the removal of the oil tank, regardless of whether it’s above or below ground, indoors or out.

Yes No

8. The fuel tank is free-standing and located outdoors. Although it’s mechanically sound, you find its appearance unattractive and would like to be rid of it Note: See above, regarding tank-removal permits.

Yes No

9. The oil-fired boiler or furnace is located in a utility closet somewhere in close proximity to the living space (not the basement or in a crawlspace) and it’s too loud. You’re hoping to reduce noise in the living space with gas-fired equipment. Note: 10. Oil-fired equipment tends to be noisier than gas-fired, though there are exceptions to this broad rule of thumb. If you’re replacing a furnace or boiler, speak to your oil-heat provider or mechanical contractor about noise reduction. If they know that this is an issue, they can better identify quieter equipment and noise-reduction measures (such as relocating equipment to a place where its sound will be less bothersome).

Yes No

10. You have an electric water heater that needs to be replaced along with the heating equipment. You’re hoping to switch to a gas-fired water heater for better hot-water performance. Note: You can also get an oil-fired water heater. Oil-fired water heaters are generally more expensive than comparable gas-fired models, and they need to be tuned yearly, like an oil-fired boiler or furnace. On the other hand, they’re extremely potent hot-water producers–residential versions of these appliances are nearly as powerful as their commercial counterparts. If plentiful hot water is an issue, they’re hard to beat. Also, an oil-fired boiler can be equipped to produce sufficient hot water, as can a gas boiler. Again, investigate your options by talking to both your oil supplier and a heating/cooling contractor in order to make an informed decision.

  Yes   No

 

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Town of Pound Ridge NY Has to Raise Taxes Again | Pound Ridge NY Real Estate

POUND RIDGE — Residents would see a 3.4 percent tax increase under the town’s preliminary budget.

The proposal would spend roughly $7.1 million for the general and highway funds, a $146,003 decrease from 2010, according to a town budget synopsis.

While spending is going down, the town is also decreasing the amount of surplus it has set aside in 2011 to help pay for town operations.
The 2010 budget appropriated $850,000 in surplus, while in the proposed 2011 budget, the amount of surplus used would drop to $500,000, said Steve Conti, the Pound Ridge finance director. The town’s goal in the coming years is to lower its reliance on surplus to fund expenditures, Conti said.

“At $850,000 a year, the fund balance would be zero in three to four years,” Conti said.

There are number of areas where the town will save money next year. The departure of a retiring highway department employee, for example, will save the town about $90,000, Conti said. The budget plan also calls for a wage freeze for town employees.

But the town faces rising expenses in other areas. The cost of providing health care to employees is expected to go up by $32,000 in 2011 and town contributions to workers’ pensions will increase $51,000, Conti said.

Deputy Supervisor Jonathan Powers said that amid a challenging budget environment, town officials have been scouring the budget lines looking for savings.


“It’s a modest tax increase,” Powers said. “Because we haven’t laid off any employees, there’s no reduction in services to the town.”
The tax rate for the general and highway funds is $11.81 per $1,000 of assessed value. For the owner of a home assessed at $179,629, the town average, the annual tax bill would be $2,121.44, or $69.86 more than 2010.

While the tax rate to pay for the general and highway funds is on the rise, the amount residents will pay for the land reserve tax will go down in 2011.

That’s because the land reserve tax temporarily declines for the next two years under a ballot initiative , passed this month, that renews the open-space levy for an additional 10 years.

The open-space tax is typically $1 per $1,000 of assessed value, but in 2011 it will be 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Town House, 179 Westchester Ave.

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Pound Ridge NY Town Board has to Decide on New Cell Tower | Pound Ridge NY Real Estate

A group of Pound Ridge residents want the town board to defer making decision on a plans by T-Mobile’s for building a cell tower in Scotts Corners until a task force can be established to develop a new strategy for the town’s cell tower placements.

The 29-Acre Preservation Association is leading a group of residents who are expected to make their case for the task force during tonight’s public hearing on T-Mobile’s tower construction.

Association member Melinda Avellino said Pound Ridge needs a committee that can create a town-wide cell service “overlay” and evaluate all “new and existing equipment sites or plans, and ensuring that all application and zoning requirements are met by the applicant.”

“We believe that taking a proactive approach is necessary to ensure the responsible placement of cell service equipment that best protects its citizens,” she said.

Tonight’s hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the town house, gives the board, as well as the public, the opportunity to review and comment on T-Mobile’s application for the special use permit it needs to construct a 130′ tower at the Pound Ridge Lions Club Ambulance headquarters on Westchester Avenue in Scotts Corners.

Aside from engineering and construction details, T-Mobile’s presentation will include an overview of the criteria used to select the ambulance corps location from among the 20-plus sites it considered for the tower — a process that began in 2007.

“We’ve invested three years and a lot of money working with town planners, engineering and building consultants to get this project in front of the public,” said Jane Builder,  Senior Manager of External Affairs for T-Mobile’s northeast engineering division. “We’ve been sensitive to the various concerns throughout the entire process, and approval from the board will mean cell service for this part of town is finally close to becoming a reality.”

Tower Location Lacking Consensus

But all time and money spent did not keep the board from voicing concerns over the ambulance corps site at its regular meeting last month. According to Deputy Supervisor Jonathan Powers, those concerns center around the topographical features of the location.

“On the one hand it limits the height of the tower and consequently the amount of service coverage,” Mr. Powers said. “On the other, the location and height of the tower will have a definite visual impact.”

Mr. Powers said the board was concerned enough to request that T-Mobile further explore the possibility of building a tower on an alternative site, on a tract of land owned by Oceanus Navigation, located on the opposite side of Westchester Avenue, near the top of Hemlock Hill Road.

He said the Oceanus Navigation location had been on T-Mobile’s list of possible sites and because the property’s elevation was much higher, it could accommodate a 170′ tower and significantly greater service coverage.  The site had been eliminated from consideration because after a year trying, T-Mobile had not been able to secure an agreement to lease the land from its owner.

At the board’s insistence, however, T-Mobile agreed to conduct a balloon visualization test on the property.

The 29-Acre association members present at the meeting reacted by openly challenging the board’s ability to act in the best interests of its constituents.

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Pound Ridge NY Real Estate Report | November 2010 | Rob Report Blog

 

Eighty-five (85) Pound Ridge NY Homes are currently available. The Median Price for Pound Ridge NY Homes is currently $989,800. The low Pound Ridge NY Home for sale is $317,000 and the high is $10,000,000. The average home takes 132 days to sell. The average size for a Pound Ridge NY Home is 4090 square feet and is asking $344 per foot.

Over the last three (3) months the Pound Ridge NY Real Estate Market is up 27% compared to the same period in 2009. The current sold Median Price in Pound Ridge NY is $796,675. In 2009 the Median Price was $825,000. The average Pound Ridge NY Home selling is 3353 square feet, takes 165 days to sell and averages $271 per square foot. The average selling price to asking price in Pound Ridge is 92.55%.

In 2009 the average Pound Ridge NY Home was 3498 square feet, took 230 days to sell, and averages $267 per foot. The average Pound Ridge NY Home sold at 92.81% of asking price in 2009. (source: EAMLS.)

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History of Pound Ridge NY | Pound Ridge NY Real Estate

Originally home to the Siwanoy and Kitchawong Indians (Mohican tribes, a subgroup of the Algonquians), the town takes its name from a tribal “pound” or enclosure for game that was on one of the area’s many “ridges”. The Indians led a relatively peaceful life of planting, hunting, and fishing.

Pound Ridge was originally settled in 1640’s as part of a tract of land purchased from local Indians by Captain Nathanial Turner, and it was officially incorporated in 1788. For the last 250 years there has been much controversy over the spelling of “Pound Ridge” or “Poundridge”, but finally in 1948 the Town Board declared the name to be the two-worded version.

During the Revolution in 1779, Pound Ridge was the scene of the dramatic raid led by the British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton (his portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds shown at right). He overwhelmed the local militia commanded by Major Ebenezer Lockwood and the regiment of Continental Light Dragoons (mounted infantry) led by Lt. Col. Elisha Shelton stationed in the Hamlet area. Fortunately, Tarleton got a bit lost finding Pound Ridge, which enabled the Americans more time to prepare. However, with better than a 2 to 1 advantage, Tarleton (a.k.a. “The Butcher”) conquered, plundered, and burned much of the town. 

By 1920, the population dwindled to 515. Then, during the 1930’s things changed. Hiram Halle, an inventor and businessman, came to Pound Ridge from New York City and began renovating and reconstructing houses. 

He hoped to enhance the community, and it did attract actors, writers, artists, and musicians. They discovered that Pound Ridge was a charming and convenient getaway and began purchasing homes. Benny Goodman was one of the first of these residents, and he even composed a melody entitled “Pound Ridge”.  Many creative people and celebrities continue to move to Pound Ridge (sometimes referred to as the 2nd Hollywood).

By the 1940’s, Pound Ridge’s population rose to almost 800, and it continued to grow slowly and steadily to 4,000 in 1980 and 4,550 in 1990 to 4,700 in 2000.

Interest in the preservation of Pound Ridge’s architectural heritage has also been maintained throughout the years. These older landmarks and homes (with wells and barnegats for crushing seashells) are an integral part of the character of the town and provide the community a shared “pride of place”.

The current population of the residents of the Town of Pound Ridge, NY includes 4,918 people (2004 US Census) living mostly in single-family dwellings on 2 or 3-acre minimum zoning districts.

In addition there are deer galore, emus, swans, ducks and geese, foxes and coyotes, raccoons, otters, squirrels, chipmunks, frogs, crickets, etc..

And last but not least is the official Town of Pound Ridge Cemetery originally known as “Burial Hill”.
 

Town of Pound Ridge

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8 Ways to Improve Your Credit in Pound Ridge NY | Pound Ridge NY Real Estate

Credit scores, along with your overall income and debt, are a big factor in
determining if you’ll qualify for a loan and what loan terms you’ll
be able to qualify for.
  1. Check for and correct errors in your credit report. Mistakes happen, and
    you could be paying for someone else’s poor financial management.
  2. Pay down credit card bills. If possible, pay off the entire balance every
    month. However, transferring credit card debt from one card to another could
    lower your score.
  3. Don’t charge your credit cards to the maximum limit.
  4. Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage. You’re
    penalized less for problems after a year.
  5. Don’t purchase big-ticket items for your new home on credit cards
    until after the loan is approved. The amounts will add to your debt.
  6. Don’t open new credit card accounts before applying for a mortgage.
    Having too much available credit can lower your score.
  7. Shop for mortgage rates all at once. Too many credit applications can lower
    your score, but multiple inquiries from the same type of lender are counted
    as one inquiry if submitted over a short period of time.
  8. Avoid finance companies. Even if you pay the loan on time, the interest
    is high and it will probably be considered a sign of poor credit management.
  9. This information is copyrighted by the Fannie Mae Foundation and is used with
    permission of the Fannie Mae Foundation. To obtain a complete copy of the publication,
    “Knowing and Understanding Your Credit,” visit Home Buying Guide.
Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

 

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U.S. Home Starts Close to Record Low in October | Armonk NY Homes

Bloomberg News reports home building is still in the doldrums.  Armonk NY Homes sees the same in Armonk NY. 

Armonk NY Homes  |  Builders in the U.S. began work on fewer homes than forecast in October as the industry remained mired near the depths reached during the recession.

Housing starts fell to a 519,000 annual rate, the fewest since a record low reached in April 2009 and down 12 percent from a revised 588,000 in September that was less than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Work on multifamily units, which is often volatile, plunged 44 percent, swamping a 1.1 percent drop in single-family homes.

Record-low mortgage rates have failed to boost demand, highlighting the limits of Federal Reserve monetary policy in undoing the damage from the bursting of the housing bubble. Companies like D.R. Horton Inc. are bracing for the worst in early 2011 as unemployment hovers near 10 percent and the lifting of foreclosure moratoriums swells the supply of houses.

“Starts are a reminder of just how miserable the situation is in housing,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York. “Sales have been so weak for so long that we continue to see starts bouncing along the bottom.”

The cost of living in the U.S. rose less than forecast in October, indicating higher prices for commodities such as fuel aren’t filtering through into other goods and services, figures from the Labor Department also showed today.

Less Inflation

The consumer-price index increased 0.2 percent after a 0.1 percent rise the prior month. Excluding food and fuel, so-called core costs increased 0.6 percent from October 2009, the smallest year-over-year gain in records dating back to 1958.

Treasury securities climbed after the reports, erasing earlier losses and propelled by the slowdown in inflation. The yield on the 10-year note, which moves inversely to prices, was 2.84 percent at 8:52 a.m. in New York, little changed from late yesterday. It had been as high as 2.88 percent earlier in the day. Stock-index futures held earlier gains.

Economists forecast housing starts would decrease to a 598,000 pace from a previously estimated 610,000, according to the median of 75 projections in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from 550,000 to 625,000.

The number of single-family homes started dropped to 436,000. Work on multifamily homes, such as townhouses and apartment buildings, fell to an annual pace of 83,000, the fewest since February.

Permits Stabilize

Building permits, a sign of future activity, rose 0.5 percent to a 550,000 rate, less than forecast, from 547,000 in September. The stabilization in permits indicates construction may not fall much more in coming months.

Building permits were forecast to climb to a 568,000 pace from a previously reported 539,000 the prior month.

Mortgage rates near record-lows have failed to prompt an increase in applications for loans to purchase homes. While the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has hovered near the all-time low of 4.21 percent in the week ended Oct. 8, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the group’s index of applications to buy a home is down 38 percent from a six-month high reached in April.

Moratoriums placed on foreclosures at banks threaten to prolong the time it takes for the housing market and prices to fully recover as properties slated for repossession take longer to come to market. Attorneys general in 50 states are investigating home seizure practices after court documents surfaced showing finance-company employees had signed papers without ensuring their accuracy.  |  Armonk NY Homes 

 

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House of The Week | Brooke Astor’s Holly Hill | Bedford NY Real Estate

BRIARCLIFF MANOR — The asking price on the
majestic Briarcliff Manor estate of the late Brooke
Astor fell to $9.75 million this month.

It was the second price reduction for Holly Hill,
which was put on the market for $12.9 million in
2008 and came down to $10.5 million in 2009.

“There aren’t many properties of this type on the
market, and I see a lot of impressive properties,”
said listing broker David Turner of Houlihan
Lawrence in Bedford. “Holly Hill is a wonderful
opportunity for the buyer with the resources,
insight and desire and who understands its rarity
and value.”

“I didn’t know (Brooke Astor), but walking around
here, I wish I had,” Turner said while moving
through a circular foyer with a black-and-white
marble floor into what had been a library and then
into the dining room. The 1927 stone mansion
designed by William Adams Delano features
fireplaces with marble-carved surrounds and French
doors leading to terraces. The famed New York
socialite and philanthropist bought the estate in
1964 after her third husband, Vincent Astor, died.

In August 2007, she died here at 105. Her only
child, Anthony Marshall, was convicted last year of
taking advantage of Astor and altering her will that
had left $60 million to charities. He was sentenced
to one to three years in jail, but is free on $500,000
bail pending an appeal.

Personal items have been removed from the 10-
bedroom, 21-room house. Now the 10,888-square-
foot home on nearly 65 acres of prime Westchester
land is empty, save for some draperies and well-
worn chintz-covered chairs. Most items are in
storage, said Turner, and will be distributed to heirs
or sold at auction at a future date.

Although vacant, Astor’s country house seems to
still hold touches of the grand dame — a Chanel
powder puff in a bathroom, tiny satin slippers
glimpsed on a closet floor and plush pink paisley
towels hanging on rods.

Bathroom sinks are sunk into large slabs of marble
 standing on thick crystal legs. The kitchen has
1960s-era yellow formica counters, metal St.
Charles cupboards, linoleum tile floors, a
commercial-grade Garland stove and a Traulsen
refrigerator. The property also has a pool, a four-
bedroom gardener’s cottage, a carriage house, a
root cellar and two separately deeded tax lots.
Annual total property taxes are $200,842.

“It is a marvelous piece of property,” said Eileen
Weber, 92, whose own family house bordered the
estate at 298 Scarborough Road and who worked in
real estate.

“But it is not just a flat piece of land. And in these
times, who wants to gamble on putting in all this
work, sewers, roads and such?” said Weber.

She is concerned that possible development of the
property could change the neighborhood.

It is one of four large parcels in the village. The
other three are the 98-acre Philips Lab campus, the
97-acre property owned by Barbara and Albert
Erani, and the 57-acre former Kings College
property that is being tranformed into luxury senior
housing for The Club at Briarcliff Manor.

Briarcliff real estate agent Mark Seiden says the Holly
Hill property could be a tough sale to close.

The potential buyer would either be a developer
who wants to transform the entire parcel or
someone who wants to renovate the home and sell
off a piece of the land, Seiden said. The village
rezoned the area recently, requiring 2 acres per
parcel.

There aren’t many large estates in Briarcliff, he said,
explaining that most buyers want to be near similar
properties in North Salem or Bedford. Currently
there are 52 homes marketed in Briarcliff and so far
this year, 45 properties sold at an average price of
$862,297, he said.

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