These small changes around your home can save thousands of dollars a year while also being more environmentally conscious. From small changes like which light bulbs to use, to revolutionary investments like solar shingles, these changes will make a significant impact on your wallet without impacting the earth:
- Use Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. CFL bulbs last 10x longer than incandescent bulbs or LED lights and uses about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
- Enamel cookware like these from Kettle + Brine or these Carbon Steel Frypans replace non-stick pans containing Teflon or Perfluorooctanoic toxic chemicals. These items last longer as well as retain heat so foods cook more evenly.
- Solar Shingles harness the sun’s energy to save thousands of dollars a year on energy bills. Savings depend on the amount of sunlight a roof receives, but test your savings here.
- Opt for a Geothermal system in place of traditional air conditioning unit. Geothermal pipes are embedded in the yard below ground, where the temperature remains a steady 50-70 degrees year round. The fluid in the pipes absorbs the ground temperature and pumps it back into house – keeping the house the same temperature as the ground.
- Rain-Sensing Sprinklers sense rain at the first drop of water and will stop any active sprinkling system to prevent any unnecessary use of water, resulting in substantial savings.
- Install SmartThings SmartPower Outlet, which allows you to have control over lamps, electronics, and small appliances that are plugged in. From a smartphone, you can trigger lights to turn on or off while you’re away. It will even send alerts if you accidentally leave any devices on.
- Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services to transform your waste into resources with Curbside Organics Collection Pilot. This service provides households with weekly curbside collection of food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard trimmings.
- Replacing your showerhead for a luxury, eco-friendly model like these from Nebia save 70% more water with 10x the coverage based on high-tech nozzle technology.
- Paint brands like Colorhouse produce a wide array of colors, without any VOCs (volatile organic compounds), reproductive toxins, chemical solvents, or toxic fumes.
- Control your home’s thermostat with Nest Thermostat instead of a traditional thermostat. Nest Thermostat automatically turns itself down when nobody is home to save energy and adjusts to your preferred temperature when someone returns home.
With school back in session, the quiet days of summer are over in Austin and schedules are packed with new activities and meetings. While Austinites have figured out how to get around the city without Uber or Lyft, there are a host of other apps to save you time and take care of even the most mundane tasks. From personal shopping to grocery delivery services to dry cleaning, these apps are reinventing how we live.
– FOOD + SHOPPING –
- Blue Apron – Blue Apron aims to make incredible home cooking more accessible to anyone. With free delivery nationwide, you can choose a delivery day that works best for you and every ingredient needed to make the delicious, pre-selected recipes will arrive at your doorstep in a refrigerated box.
- Daily Harvest – Ready-to-blend superfood smoothies made with organic ingredients and delivered straight to you! Pick between 6 or 12 smoothies a week or 24 smoothies a month, then select your flavors and delicious smoothies will be delivered to your door.
- Deliveries – Tracks your packages across any carrier, with real-time delivery alerts.
- Favor – Favor is the easiest way to get anything you want in your city delivered to your door. Browse the menus of local stores and restaurants, order via the Favor app, and the runner will keep you posted along the way!
- Instacart – Instacart allows you to order from local grocery stores and have items delivered when you want. Perfect when there just aren’t enough hours in the day to make a grocery run.
- Operator – A personal shopping app with real shopping experts who find exactly what you’re looking for, based on your description, price range and shipping preferences – at no cost to you and with a price match guarantee. Your personal shopper will provide you options and will narrow down from there, walking you through the shipping process and checking in after delivery.
- RedLaser – Scan any barcode and get more info on the product, including where you can buy it for cheaper nearby.
- TopShelf – A streamlined way to order beer, wine, and liquor from the palm of your hand. TopShelf orders are delivered by local liquor stores in your area. This app is perfect for corporate events, tailgating, weddings, parties, and so much more.
– HEALTH + FITNESS –
- Charity Miles – Charity Miles helps you track the distance you walk, and contributes to great causes. Earn money for the charity of your choice while walking the dog, on a run, or even just grabbing coffee.
- Headspace – Headspace provides guided meditations suitable for all levels. Meditation can help improve your focus, exercise mindful awareness, relieve anxiety and reduce stress. Headspace is the perfect app for when you need about 10-15 minutes a day just for you.
- MyFitnessPal – A fast and easy calorie counting app. Track your health anywhere, anytime with helpful features like preloaded menus from popular restaurants.
- Skyfit – Skyfit delivers on-demand fitness classes. You can workout anytime, anywhere with hundreds of fitness classes in running, cycling, elliptical, treadmill, strength training and yoga. Skyfit includes race training, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, and the ability to customize workouts and track progress.
- Talkspace – Talkspace is a platform that connects users with a licensed therapist. This therapy and counseling app provides a convenient, affordable, and discreet way to deal with depression, anxiety, stress, and more so you can start feeling better and more positive anywhere and anytime.
– PRODUCTIVITY –
- Calendars 5 – Better than the built in iOS calendar, this app offers a range of views, a task center for to-dos which sync to your calendar and natural language input.
- EasilyDo – Syncs email, Facebook and calendar and recognizes tasks it can take care of – like add a recent email to your contacts, or pre-schedule a birthday note for a friend.
- Evernote Scannable – Quickly scans stacks of business cards, notes or documents.
- Next for iPhone – Expense tracking with the push of a button with clear, concise categories you can stick with.
- Pocket – Have you ever come across an article or video that you wanted to save and read later? Now you can save articles to read later offline with Pocket! Come back to them any time on any device.
- Venmo – Pay friends and associates without any fees from your mobile device or computer and instantly transfer funds to your bank account.
- Workflow – This personal automation tool lets you customize your phone to skip time-wasting tasks. Example: instruct your phone to call a car service before your next appointment. Simply drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows!
- 1Password – Securely store all passwords and login information in addition to payment info like different credit cards or Pay Pal accounts in one safe space, available on your phone or desktop.
– HOME + LIFESTYLE –
- Care.com – Perfect for those looking to hire nannies, babysitters, pet sitters, and housekeeping and those looking to be hired. Instantly access applicants, receive notifications when people apply to your job, and filter search results using your social network.
- Magic – Simply text a phone number what your request is and get it on demand with no hassle, as long as it’s legal. Request anything from groceries to booking a last minute flight, or an on-demand helicopter. Magic is the ultimate super-human assistant.
- Press Cleaners – Laundry and dry cleaning delivered at the push of a button. Press partners with local cleaners and provides free pickup and delivery of your clothes. Press picks up and delivers as scheduled for the same price as taking it yourself.
- TaskRabbit – TaskRabbit takes care of your chores and errands to make you more productive during the day. Need a last minute handyman? Need help moving? Taskers are there to help!
- Weather Underground – Clearly and beautifully displays super specific weather information on your mobile or desktop device including pollen levels, air quality and flu-levels.
With Uber and Lyft no longer operating within the Austin city limits, getting around Austin last month proved to be a challenge. However, new rideshare companies that comply with city regulations are in full operational swing. Whether you’re a local or visiting from out of town, below are Austin’s newest transportation options:
- Fare: This rideshare app lets you schedule your ride instantly or up to seven days in advance. There is no surge pricing, and you can request your favorite drivers directly.
- Fasten: Based on distance and time, Fasten is often a lower cost option than other rideshares and you can view how you’re being charged while en route.
- Get Me: Now operating in Austin, Get Me uses only fully vetted and insured drivers. You also have the option to select the size of car you need – limos included.
- Ride Austin: A non-profit transportation network company, built by local engineers specially to serve the Austin community, Ride promises to have lower fares. Ride also lets you round up your fare to donate to a local charity of your choice.
- Wingz: This new rideshare app is perfect for frequent fliers. Wingz lets you schedule rides to and from the airport and provides the actual price before taking the ride. There is no surge pricing and you can request your favorite driver.
The heat may cause many to travel during the summer, but there’s something especially charming about having a great night out just a few minutes from home. Long days and warm nights put a special emphasis on community and bring locals together for outdoor theater, drive-in movies, food festivals, and lots of music. Whether experiencing something for the first time or continuing traditions with friends, this summer in Austin is sure to be one to remember. Here is a look at just some of this summer’s events:
July 6: Sound & Cinema
July 7: First Thursday on South Congress
July 7: Unplugged at The Grove : Shane Smith & The Saints
July 8- August 13: Zilker Hillside Musical : Shrek the Musical
July 13: 101X Summer Cinema Series : Napoleon Dynamite
July 13: KGSR’s Blues on the Green : Hayes Carll & Carson McHone
July 14: Unplugged at the Grove : The Reverend Horton Heat & Dale Watson
July 19: Trailer Food Tuesdays
July 20: Sound & Cinema
July 21: Unplugged at The Grove : Griffin House
July 21: Blanton’s Third Thursday
July 27: 101X Summer Cinema Series : The Goonies
July 28: Unplugged at The Grove : Uncle Lucius
August 3: KGSR’s Blues on the Green : Sweet Spirit & The Suffers
August 4: Unplugged at The Grove : The Damn Quails
August 10: Sound & Cinema
August 10: 101X Summer Cinema Series : School of Rock
August 11: Unplugged at the Grove : Bob Schneider
August 13: Austin Ice Cream Festival
August 13: Second Saturdays at Laguna Gloria
August 16: Trailer Food Tuesdays
August 17: Sound & Cinema
August 18: Unplugged at The Grove : The Rocketboys
August 25: Unplugged at The Grove : Jackie Venson
August 26-28: 21st Annual Austin Fall Home & Garden Show
The national news is full of economic stories that include sharp drops in oil and energy prices, volatility in overseas economies and uncertainty in the US job market. However, the local economy in Austin does not seem to be affected by these events, remaining strong and continuing to receive positive economic forecasts. What makes Austin different?
Austin is the only city in the United States with 400,000 university students within a 100 mile radius. College graduates make up more than 41% of the adult population in Austin, and nearly half of the city’s population is between 18 and 44 years old. This provides a highly desireable “Human Capital” component to the economy – meaning there is a large base of well educated people. In turn, this attracts companies looking for a solid work force.
The Human Capital component will continue to grow with the creation of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. Not only does it increase the number of students in the area, it is creating an entire new sector in the economy, the biomedical field. Mike Rollins of Opportunity Austin, says, “The new Medical School will provide endless business investment opportunities in Austin as it attracts the medical field’s top talent such as medical technology companies, medical studies and their teams, research labs, and more. It will be the leading medical center in the nation.”
One of the strongest factors to Austin’s growth is that Austin is not a single sector economy. The city’s economic development strategy combines traditional economic development with redevelopment, global business recruitment, small business development, music and cultural arts. Austin has made diversification a key component of the city’s economic development plan.
The goal, which has proven successful to date, is to ensure that if one economic sector sees a downturn, the city as a whole will feel less of an impact as it does not rely solely on that sector. The city of Austin focuses on six target industries for successful growth: Advanced Manufacturing, Clean Energy and Power Technologies, Corporate Headquarters, Data Management, Life Sciences, and Creative & Digital Media.
The arts have played a major role in the diversification of Austin’s economy, growing by 25% over the last 10 years. Austin plays host to a breadth of talent-rich companies in the fields of production, animation, and visual effects for film and television, music and technology, video game development and interactive software creation. Further, the city of Austin continues to welcome 50,000 visitors from 82 countries to participate in the technology and music festival South by Southwest every year. Rollins attributes SXSW as, “The greatest contributing factor to opening Austin to international business.”
Austin has made a name for itself socially as a city that “keeps it weird”. However, in an economic context, Austin has kept itself open and engaged as well. Austin is a young, smart and successful city with boundless energy and creative ideas. “In other cities, people give negative reactions to new ideas. In Austin, there is a positive response, typically comprised of a collaborative idea or a networking opportunity,” says Kevin Johns, the Economic Development Director for the City of Austin. Mr. Johns credits this as Austin’s #1 selling point. This fostering of innovation adds to the draw of not only potential employers but additional human capital, further fueling the appeal to employers. “Austin attracts the creative class without prejudice. We bring smart people and let them do their thing,” adds Johns.
This positivity and optimistic outlook spread to other facets of life in Austin as well. Angelos Angelou of AngelouEconomics states, “The biggest achievement of Austin is empowering young people as a city.” This has led to a citizenship that is truly engaged in the city and committed to keeping it great, while raising it to the next level. Austin’s open mindedness and encouraging community have lead to its economic strength – adding 34,900 jobs in 2015.
Early this year, Mayor Adler announced that 2016 is the “Year of Mobility”, and the city of Austin is striving to ease congestion, make traffic safer and plan for the future. “Great cities do big things, and there is nothing bigger facing Austin than our mobility crisis. We need to have a serious conversation about how we move from the drafting board to fixing I-35 and investing in transportation projects on other major corridors such as Lamar, Burnet Road, and East MLK,” said Adler.
To kick this off, City Council unveiled a plan for 109 mobility projects city wide – in addition to the standard mobility projects such as filling potholes and landscape maintenance. Some of the highlights from the list include:
- retiming traffic signals and repairing vehicle detection systems to reduce wait times
- 9 street reconstruction projects
- investing in improved crosswalks by upgrading signals, extending walk times and improving waiting areas for pedestrians and bicycles
- dedicated bike lanes on MoPac bridges
- improved mobility and increase parking on Rainey Street
- 44 new sidewalk and pedestrian bridge projects
- continued implementation of Vision Zero through education and culture change, traffic enforcement and prosecution, and land use and transportation engineering
By connecting Downtown to the East Side through a walkable, pedestrian destination, traffic in Austin’s downtown grid would be greatly improved with additional highway crossing points while maintaining the current number of I-35 access points. But resolving the I-35 traffic issue isn’t the only big ticket item on the agenda for the Year of Mobility. City Council will continue to work with TxDOT on improving traffic flow on Loop 360, FM 620, and Parmer Lane. Additionally, a partnership between Capital Metro and the City of Austin is working on the Central Corridor Study as they search for a potential high-capacity transit solution.
Residents are invited to weigh in on the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan in 2016 as the city works to put long term plans into action. While a long list of agenda items have already been put in place, 2016 is looking to be the year that great concepts are turned into great solutions.
2016 has begun to be a strong culinary year in Austin, with three new restaurants having opened in January. Here is the list of what is brand new and what to expect this spring:
- Backbeat | both classic and innovative cocktails and draft beers from the owners of Drinkwell |1300 South Lamar | opening in March
- Barley Swine | new location with twice the seating in the hot Burnet Road area | 6555 Burnet Road | now open
- Boiler Nine Bar + Grill | Executive Chef Jason Stude, formerly of Congress, is now fully prepared to open the long awaited restaurant in Seaholm | 214 West Avenue | opening Spring
- Bufalina Due | the 2nd and larger location, expanding the menu to include house baked breads | 6555 Burnet Road | now open
- Easy Tiger 2 | opening in the Highland neighborhood, this 11,000+ SF space will have 250 outdoor seats, a dog park and performance stage | 6406 N I-35 | opening Summer
- Green Pastures | purchased and revamped by La Corsha Hospitality, the Austin landmark will keep the classics and expand with a boutique hotel | 811 West Live Oak | restaurant to reopen Summer
- Nightcap | artisan desserts and cocktails, open late | 1406 W. 6th | now open
- Otoko | Paul Qui’s traditional Japanese, 12 seat project at the South Congress Hotel | 1603 S. Congress | opening Spring
- Snooze | Denver favorite joins Lamar Central for all day brunch | 3800 N. Lamar | opening March
January can mark the baseline for how people live the rest of the year, with many new diets, workouts and resolutions. Austin is built for success as one of the fittest cities in the U.S. and the most fit city in Texas.Over 350 miles of public trails, three stunning lakes and an average of 230 sunny days a year make it simple to stay fit within city limits. Austinites can take it a step further and stay true to their roots, eating consciously, locally and organically thanks to seven weekly farmers markets and homegrown grocers.
- Beetnik Foods – organic meals available in grocery stores or for home delivery
- Daily Juice – not just fresh juices, also to-go options like salads and entrees with meal plan options by the day, week or even month
- My Fit Foods – breakfast-dinner options to-go, or sign up for meal plan delivery
- Picnik – pickup paleo or gluten free options for breakfast, lunch or dinner
- Royal Blue Grocery – prepared to-go entrees available, open until midnight daily
- Snap Kitchen – consciously sourced, prepackaged meals ready to heat and eat with gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options too
- Wheatsville Coop – meat or veggie options at the hot bar with ready made salads, wraps and curries at the deli
- Zen Japanese Food Fast – sushi, spring rolls, edamame to-go
Or to mix it up, here are unusual new workouts in Austin:
- Aerial hoop class – a 45 minute, full body strength training class, suspended from the ceiling with choreographed routines
- Circuit training and muscle recovery – an intense workout and day spa combination
- City Surf – yoga or cardio class options focus on core stability and strength training while on a balance board
- GlideBoard – no impact cardio workout that’s easy on joints to improve strength, stability and endurance
- Indoor rock climbing – free 45 minute classes twice a week are included with a day pass or membership
- Indoor rowing – low impact cardio workout above Lady Bird Lake with a 2nd location coming to Tarrytown
- Wake surf class – running May-October, reserve a space in the wake surfing class on Lake Austin
- Yoga booty ballet – a workout dance class combining meditation, cardio dance, ballet, and hatha yoga
Finding a workout routine that fits a busy lifestyle can be a challenge. Our agents have varying schedules and a demanding, 24/7 workload. Here are some samples of what works for them:
- “The best trainer in town is Rachel Smith with Me Time Fitness!” says Shannon Windham,REALTOR®. From the top of Mt. Bonnell, to the grounds of Laguna Gloria, each workout location makes Shannon appreciate Austin’s natural beauty. “Rachel is creative, she sees a hill and gets excited about doing squat jumps up and lunges down or doing bench deeps on a low stone wall overlooking Lake Austin.”
- Leah Petri, REALTOR® and her boys work out as a family in their cul de sac with Roman Rodriguez, their personal trainer. “The kids have fun and we get a workout in every Saturday morning.”
- Robin Banister, Broker Associate, works with a trainer at Intense 22, focusing on weight machines with slow, deliberate reps. “The thermostat is set to a cool 64 degrees, I’m done in 22 minutes and I burn calories all day long.”
- Love Cycling Studio is Megan Whatley, REALTOR®’s, favorite Austin workout. “I love David and Katie’s intense 45 minute cycling classes. The class is a rhythmic based cycling class, it’s like dancing on a bike,” Megan details.
- Tammy Koen, Broker Associate, is a member of the Gazelles running group that meets at Luke’s Locker. Coach Gilbert Tubonye offers a variety of levels and distances for race training or maintaining a year round cycle. “The relationships and friendships you develop keep you going,” says Tammy. “It’s nice to know your group will be there weekdays for training and Saturday mornings for your long runs.”
- Dana Dean, Broker Associate, runs the 3.2 mile loop around lady Bird Lake with her APA! Rufftail Runner dog buddy. The shelter dogs get much needed exercise and they make Dana pick up her pace.
- Megan Gattis, REALTOR® loves Corepower classes with Gillian. “She is so theatrical and adorable and makes me laugh even when I’m about to collapse from all of her squats and burpees!”
Austin’s tourism industry is booming. The secret is out about Austin’s incredible food, music, and outdoor vibes. With the Downtown Austin Alliance reporting 20.5 million visitors annually, and the Austin Visitor Center has moved to a larger space at East 4th Street to accommodate increasing tourist traffic.
Year round, visitors enjoy the unique experiences of local restaurants, bars, parks and trails, and the Capitol Building. The bats alone on Congress Avenue draw in 100,000 spectators annually, according to the City of Austin. Besides being the “Live Music Capital of the World”, this city is also growing as a top destination for conventions like SXSW (84,385 registered attendees). If these Austin experiences weren’t enough to secure the city as a national hotspot, events like the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix (237,406 attendees) and ESPN X Games (136,845 attendees) have attracted attention both domestically and internationally being globally broadcasted around the world in 215 countries.
Austin’s growing presence overseas is a large contributor to the millions of tourists each year as it tops nearly every published “Best Of” lists around the globe. The expansion of international airways is putting Austin on a global stage with an increasing number of direct international flights. Since the introduction of the first transatlantic flight to London Heathrow in 2014, the United Kingdom represents Austin’s largest market overseas.
Another crucial component of Austin’s tourism growth is attributed to conventions. Named “Top Meeting Destination in the U.S.” by the Professional Convention Management Association, up to 4,000 visitors come in for each convention. In 2012, there were 1,355 conventions serviced, booking 511,850 hotel room nights.
As a result of this, there are currently several real estate developments working to serve the needs of all these visitors. There are currently 7,400 hotel rooms downtown with an additional 2,072 rooms under construction. The recent opening of the JW Marriott and the Westin Downtown, coming in July, add an additional 1,378 rooms to that count, with 322 rooms coming to Hotel Van Zandt off Rainey Street opening in September.
Fortunately, this growing industry is benefiting our city immensely. Tourism brings in $6.2 billion and creates 50,100 jobs annually, states the City of Austin Marketing Plan. State and local taxes generated through tourism are estimated at $403 million yearly. It is no wonder that Austin has been ranked “#1 Economy in the Country” and “America’s #1 Fastest-Growing City.”