Lake Okeechobee Water Level Update

Southeast Florida drought conditionsJust five days after the U.S. government unveiled a new website – Drought.gov – the South Florida Water Management District announced today that “seasonal rains did not sufficiently replenish regional water supplies to meet the coming dry season’s demands.”  With Lake Okeechobee registering at 10.38 feet above sea level yesterday, it is 1.15 feet below its previous historic low for this date (26 years ago in 1981).  This time last year, the lake was 2.29 feet higher.  The SFWMD news release continues:

“Because Lake Okeechobee serves as a primary backup water supply to more than five million South Floridians in the District’s Lower East Coast, residents there must continue to observe current modified Phase II restrictions, even though local rainfall has seemed plentiful.  Residents are also encouraged to conserve water within the home to help stretch regional supplies.”  With that in mind, here are some helpful resources:

– You can get Lake Okeechobee water level updates here

– The American Red Cross offers some excellent indoor and outdoor water conservation tips

Are you water-wise?  Take the home water audit and find out! 

– Meanwhile, this list started out with 100 Water Saving Tips but somehow ended up with 111.  🙂

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IKEA opening in Sunrise, Florida this Fall

UPDATE:  The Sunrise, Florida IKEA’s Grand Opening 
is scheduled for Wednesday, October 17th at 9:00 a.m.! IKEA Sunrise Florida - opening Fall 2007

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA will have a grand opening for its first store ever in Florida this Fall.  The newest IKEA will be located at the northwest corner of I-595 / S.R. 84 and 136th Avenue in Sunrise, Florida (western Broward County) as part of the 25-acre “Gateway at Sawgrass” retail center.  This store even includes a double-decker garage which will no doubt be filled to capacity during its first few weeks, followed by the holiday rush. 

For IKEA’s loyal fans, this grand opening will mean no more need for catalogs or online shopping for their favorite furniture and accessory items.  Florida has more customers than any other state without an IKEA store. Its 293,000 square feet of space will be much like other IKEA’s in that it will offer dozens of room settings, children’s play areas, and a restaurant that serves American food as well as Swedish specialty dishes.

Some may recall IKEA’s new location was originally the site of Blockbuster Golf and Games until the late 1990’s when it became defunct. IKEA scouted for a South Florida location for two years, creating some controversy along the way before securing this easily accessible location. The store is expected to become a destination spot much like the nearby Sawgrass Mills Mall has been since its opening.  Surrounding the new IKEA store will be several high-end boutiques as well as new eateries.

The Sunrise, Florida, IKEA is expected to create approximately 400 jobs in an area that already has a low unemployment rate.  Prospective employees are welcome to apply for various store positions.   If you know anyone in Central Florida, a second Florida store – the Orlando IKEA – is scheduled to open on November 14, 2007.

Certainly, there is much competition among South Florida furniture stores but with the population of South Florida continuing to increase, I suspect one more furniture store won’t impact other area stores very much.  No doubt, some of the 396 owners of the new Tao condos (which are nearing completion) or the hundreds of buyers of Artesia condos will be visiting some of the nearly dozen nearby furniture stores.

Home Energy Conservation Tips

Summer SunIf you’ve ever visited or lived in South Florida during the summer months, you know there are days when it can be very hot and humid!  Whether it’s due to global warming or just coincidental, it’s always a good idea to take energy conservation seriously.

Taking steps now to conserve home energy costs can save you money over time.  These steps range from the free or low-cost to the more expensive which are worthwhile but will take longer to see a return on investment (ROI).  Examples of both include keeping your blinds closed (except during showings if your home is for sale!), installing a programmable thermostat, regularly replacing your A/C filter, vacuuming any build-up of dust on refrigerator and freezer coils, lowering your hot water heaters’ temperature setting, installing window tinting, or replacing your air-conditioning system with a new, more efficient one.  Whole house air-conditioning units typically need replacement every 10-12 years in South Florida.

To find out if your energy use is above average, take 5 minutes to complete this home energy analysis. To perform this worthwhile test you’ll need to know your home’s age, square footage, number of occupants, and energy bill totals for a consecutive 12-month period (1 year).

Here’s a breakdown of what the typical energy bill pays for:

  • 45% – Heating and Cooling
  • 15% – Other*
  • 11% – Water Heater
  • 10% – Clothes Washer & Dryer
  • 7% – Lighting
  • 6% – Refrigerator
  • 2% – Dishwasher
  • 2% – TV / VCR / DVD
  • 2% – Computer and Monitor

* “Other” represents an array of household products including stoves, ovens, microwaves, and other small appliances. Individually, these products account for no more than about 2% of a household’s energy bills. Source: EnergyStar.gov

Also, many utility companies offer homeowners a free energy audit that includes a report on things you can do to lower your energy bills.  Wondering what to do to reduce your home’s energy consumption? Here are some resources to assist you:

Google Maps of South Florida Can Be Useful to Home Buyers

blue tarps on roofs in South FloridaIf you use Google Maps you may have noticed that they seem to have recently updated their maps of South Florida (satellite/hybrid aerial maps).  How can I tell?  Well, because now when I use Google Maps, I see lots of roofs with blue tarps on them… something we saw everywhere throughout South Florida for many months after Hurricane Wilma blew through Broward County as well as other surrounding counties.  Even now… almost two years later, you’ll still ocassionally see homes with a blue tarp on the roof.

If you’re a home buyer looking at homes in South Florida, this may be a good way to tell if the home you’re considering buying had roof damage.  In fact, the aerial maps even reveal which South Florida neighborhoods had roofs that weathered the hurricane better than others.  

Of course, Florida home buyers should always ask the home seller to provide them with a copy of the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS) which is designed to assist home buyers in evaluating the property being considered.  In Florida, a home seller is obligated to disclose to a buyer all known facts that materially affect the value of the property being sold and that are not readily observable.

Average Temperatures for Fort Lauderdale

When I ask buyers what made them decide to relocate to South Florida from other states, their reasons almost always include Florida’s year-round warm weather.  While the summer months may be uncomfortably hot for some, there are plenty of ways to keep cool and enjoy living in South Florida year-round.  Below is a chart of the average temperatures and precipitation for the greater Fort Lauderdale area.

Average temps for Fort Lauderdale

Florida Birds – Florida Audubon Society

HeronThere are many things that cause an average of 1,000 people per day to move to Florida.  Aside from our generally sunny days, I believe that one of the reasons that makes Florida living more enjoyable is the great outdoors or, more specifically, it’s environment and wildlife.  If you share this belief and would like to learn more about Florida’s birds, then you may want to visit the wonderfully informative website of the Florida Audubon Society.

While at the Florida Audubon Society’s website you can learn about the various Florida waterbirds including a few of my personal favorites – the herons, egrets and ibis’ – as well as one of the more interesting ones – the Florida burrowing owl, the mascot of my alma mater, Florida Atlantic University.  You’ll also learn about the Florida Audubon Society’s ongoing involvement in the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem, as well as Lake Okeechobee sanctuaries,  the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and the Florida Keys Environmental Restoration Fund which is used to restore, enhance and manage Florida Keys natural areas

South Florida Furniture Stores: Variety Abounds

With an average of 1,000 people moving to Florida each year and Broward County’s population projected to increase by an additional 400,000 by the year 2020, there will always be a need for new furniture.  I’ve noticed that in Broward County alone, several new furniture stores have opened in recent years so there is no lack of competition.  In fact, a few stores with well-established names in other parts of Florida (and even other states) have opened branches in South Florida over the past 3-4 years.  If you’re about to buy a new home in Broward County, I hope that you’ll find the following list useful.

new furnitureSome of the larger South Florida furniture stores:

There is one name missing that will soon join the list – IKEA, which will be opening its first-ever store in Florida in the next few months (located at the corner of 595/S.R. 84 and 136th Avenue in Sunrise, FL).