Category: Improvements

Never Too Early: Winterizing Your Home

Unless you live in one of the more tropical states like Florida, the hot and usually dry summer season is the best time to start winterizing your home. Making sure that when winter comes along your home will remain warm and safe isn’t something that should wait until the fall. Here are some of the things you can start working on as soon as the sunny days of summer roll around:

Change Furnace Filters

The furnace filters aren’t actually there to filter the air that makes it into your home (although it does help with that), the filters protect the furnace fans from hair, dirt, and other particles that can clog or damage them. We don’t recommend disposable filters however, as they require changing more often, and being disposable, aren’t environmentally friendly.

Rather, you may want to consider investing in electrostatic filters. Reusable and known for catching even the tiniest particles, these are great for houses with pets or smokers. They are a bit pricier than disposable filters, but they’re actually the more economical investment in the long run. On a less related note, the luxury cars for hire from Apex also come with top of the line HEPA filters for a great experience.

Drain Excess Water From Air Conditioners And Other Equipment

One of the things that a lot of people forget about equipment that’s used for cooling is how much liquid condenses and pools inside it. This water buildup can ruin your equipment when it freezes during the winter months. Draining it while the weather is still good can help you avoid having to deal with freezing water and having to open up the machine in the cold.

Another good habit to build before the cold settles in is to make sure that any hoses are also drained of any water that may be in them. It’s easy to say that you’ll do it some other time, but forgetting until it’s too late happens more often than one thinks! Best to make it a habit sooner rather than later!

Check for possible drafts

One of the tougher tasks on this list as this is somewhat hard to do until the colder months happen. One way to try to find drafts is by using an electric fan and trying to feel for areas where the breeze gets past the doors and windows. Alternatively, you can wait until the colder months in the fall to try and determine where the cold wind is coming in.

This is important to do before winter proper sets in because not only will it help you stay warmer, but it will definitely help you out financially as well. Drafts are one of the primary causes of heat loss in a home, which in turn leads to higher heating costs! Finding those drafts before winter comes is definitely an investment both in comfort and finances!

Insulate pipes

Insulating your pipes is best don’t before winter sets in because you really don’t want to have to do this when it gets cold. Not only will it be a cold, uncomfortable experience, but also the general moisture on everything means that any leaks that you would have noticed earlier may go unnoticed given that almost everything will already be damp anyway.

Insulating your pipes will not only help prevent water freezing solid in your pipes, causing blockage and possible damage, but it will also prevent hot water from cooling faster while traveling to your shower. This means that you won’t have to crank up the furnace too high to get the water temperature you want, helping you save up on heating costs!

See What Needs To Be Repaired Or Replaced

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. While curing something can be bad enough, imagine having to go out in weather that isn’t exactly friendly in order to get that cure! That’s pretty much what having to replace elements of your house during winter is like. Pretty much any fixtures of your home that would need replacing are most likely going to compromise your comfort and warmth during the winter. So instead of spending all your money on a Lamborghini hire in Miami, you should invest it into your home instead.

Also keep in mind that if it’s a major element that needs repair or replacing anything during the winter can be significantly more hazardous! Making sure that you’ve identified everything that may need to be repaired or replaced well before winter arrives isn’t just good for your home, but can be good for your health too as you’ll be able to avoid situations that may be dangerous.

Building The Future: Eco-Friendly Building Materials You May Not Know Are Available

Given the limited resources the Earth has, coupled with how aware we are now of the limits of these finite resources, recycled materials are becoming more and more in demand. While most people’s idea of recycled material is limited to recycled paper and plastic, it turns out there are quite a few recycled materials available for repairing or building homes. Here are a few:

Recycled Cork

While most people think cork is limited to boards and wine bottles, several companies have found ways to recycle these corks into mosaic cork flooring as well as soundproof wall and ceiling panels. Given how much cork tends to back up in landfills, recycling corks is a great way to help the environment while providing a unique touch to your home.

Newspaperwood

While most people are already recycling newspapers into recycled paper, a Dutch company has been recycling newspapers into compressed layers with a wood grain texture that be used for various home applications. While it can’t be used for anything bearing heavy loads, it can be used for other home improvements.

Bark Siding

Bark is an amazing natural surface. It’s durable and weather resistant. Most lumber companies just throw them away the bark, but there are companies that take the bark and turn it into siding for homes. Bark House, the foremost company for developing natural bark siding is the only siding manufacturer with the Cradle to Cradle Platinum certification, emphasizing their dedication to the environment.

Recycled Glass

The main provider of recycled glass tiles in the US is Fireclay Tile. Operating out of California, they create hand-made glass tiles made of 100% locally sourced recycled glass. VOC-free pigmentation means that you can get safe, environmentally friendly glass tiles with a texture reminiscent of sea glass.

Recycled Steel

While all steel made in North America is already about 30% recycled, it’s possible to get steel with a higher recycled percentage. The best part? Steel is 100% recyclable after it’s used so the steel you use will eventually go into other steel products in the future. It’s a great way to invest in the future while reinforcing your home with a sustainable, environmentally friendly material.

Ashcrete

Fly coal ash is a byproduct of coal combustion, which tends to backup landfills. It turns out that fly coal ash, when mixed with concrete makes for a stronger, more durable concrete that’s also environmentally friendly. A good foundation for both your home, and for a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle! The best part is, the process ensures that even if the concrete is demolished, the ash won’t become a pollutant.

Enviroboard

Enviroboard is actually the name of a UK based company that sells a unique material called Fireboard. Fireboard is a composite material created using multiple elements such as sawdust, magnesium, and fiber cloth. The result is a board that can be used to replace wood that’s stronger, won’t warp due to humidity, fire resistant, and environmentally friendly.

Would you consider using any of these materials in your home? What would you use them for? We’d love to hear your ideas! Please let us know!

Home Invasion: Bug Swarms That Every Homeowner Should Worry About

While we do support an eco-friendly, environmentally conscious home, there are some limits to what’s acceptable. One of the lines we draw is when nature decides to make itself an unwelcome houseguest. While it’s bad enough when you get a pest or two in the house, it is exponentially worse when there’s a whole army of invaders to worry about. Here are some of the worst offenders you should watch out for:

Termites

While the rise in the number of homes that are primarily concrete rather than wood means that termite problems aren’t as widespread as they used to be, there are still a lot of homes that are either made primarily of wood, or have important wooden fixtures. For these homes, termite infestations can be dangerous, as they’ll weaken the structure.

If your home is vulnerable to termites, it’s always good to check regularly, especially during the times of the year that the weather is good; having to replace termite eaten parts of your home can be expensive and inconvenient if you wait to have the problem taken care of when the weather isn’t friendly anymore such as winter or the rainy season.

Bees

While bees are an important element to any natural ecosystem, you still don’t want them building a hive in your home. While bee stings are rarely fatal, they can be dangerous if you have an allergic reaction to the stings. With this in mind, it’s always best to check in areas where bees are known to make their nests like attics, crawlspaces under homes, sheds, and trees.

If you find a beehive, be sure to contact animal control and see if they can relocate the bees or help you get in touch with a bee relocation service. Since bees are endangered, relocating them is more advisable than trying to wipe them out. Additionally, if a do-it-yourself bee extermination goes wrong, you’ll have a hive full of angry bees on your hands! Best leave it to the professionals.

Hornets

Unlike bees, which are usually only aggressive if you don’t take a hint and keep threatening the hive, hornets are significantly more aggressive, larger, and have more painful stings. Like bees, they like to build hives in places that are usually not frequented. This means that attics, unused sheds, and empty houses. If you’re moving into a new place, best have it checked thoroughly for hornet nests.

Unfortunately, hornet relocation isn’t something readily available (yup, we checked), so an exterminator is your best bet for getting rid of these aggressive houseguests. Like exterminating bees, trying a do-it-yourself method has potential to backfire, so it’s best to leave it to the experts once again.  Don’t forget, an angry hornet is significantly worse than an angry bee.

Ants

Ants have the unfortunate tendency to go unnoticed until they’re a major problem. Often, we see one or two ants and dismiss them as minor pests that aren’t a major threat. Ants, however, can actually provide a wide variety of threats to you and your home. Fire ants and other biting ants have very painful bites, while wood ants can be almost as bad as termites if left running free for too long.

Another thing that sets ants apart is how they can infest almost anything. Unlike bees and hornets that have preferred spots to build their hives, ant nests have been found almost everywhere, from cars, mattresses, and laptops in addition to places you’d expect to find them like gardens or walls. It’s this sneaky infiltration that makes them such a threat to homes and families.

Easy Access: Accessible Storage Options For Your Home

In this age of online shopping and digital transaction, one would think that more of our property would follow the same trend, taking up digital space rather than real-world space in our homes. Unfortunately, such is not the case and the items we buy slowly accumulate over time. Naturally, we aren’t going to let our collections just sit out in the open or on the floor, right?

The answer of course is storage! But storing stuff in boxes can be a pain. They don’t look very nice, and when you have too many, it can be a hassle to access what’s stored in those boxes. Fortunately, there are a lot of storage options that are both easily accessible and aesthetically pleasing. Here are our favorite options:

Chests

That’s right: chests; Pirate treasure style, full-of-treasure chests. Not only do they make a great accent for a room they’re in, the environmentally conscious can also find great chests made of recycled wood and metal. The one downside is the floor space they take up, but they can also easily be slid under beds, desks, and shelves or be stored in closets.

In addition, chests protect your stuff from dust, possible leaks and pests. Chests that can be locked are also great as they can be used for transporting your stuff as well. Since chests come in a wide variety of styles and designs, they go well with practically any home. In addition, they can usually be painted to match the color scheme if you decide to redecorate. In a pinch, they also serve as additional surfaces!

Tiered Netting

Tiered Netting is storage that’s made up of nets fastened to the corner of a room, with the nets being arranged from smallest to largest. While they can’t be used for items that are particularly heavy, or too small for the nets, they’re great for light items that you want on display in your room without taking up floor or surface space. Given that corners are rarely used in rooms, the netting helps maximize space.

Another variation is the suspended baskets. Usually small, these are suspended from an elevated position (usually the ceiling, or a bar attached to a wall or vertical surface) and can be used for storing small things. These are usually used in kitchens for staring onions, garlic, or other veggies that aren’t kept in the fridge or crisper.

Layered Shelving

Given the size of affordable housing now, space is at a premium, with any useable space being utilized as much as possible. This being the case, more people are using wall space for practical rather than decorative purposes. This makes layered shelving an ideal storage surface for a lot of homes.

The main difference of layered shelving is unlike traditional shelving, which is one long surface; layered shelving is several surfaces, usually of varying lengths, on different heights. This lets you maximize the height and not just the length of the wall. Each layer can also have its own aesthetic, which makes it more versatile and eye-catching than traditional shelving.

Going Green: Handy Plants To Have Around Your Home

While there are hundreds of different types and styles of homes, there’s at least one thing that remains true about all of them: there’s nothing like some greenery to bring the place to life! But while fresh, green houseplants are great for aesthetic purposes, some also pull double duty, providing benefits for your home. Here are a few of our favorite picks:

English Ivy

NASA itself loves this plant because of its ability to purify the air; English Ivy also adds a great touch to any part of your home that can use vines or hanging plants. If you live in the city, having it around windows (or balconies if you have them) can really help with all the pollution buildup faced by homes in the city.

Basil

Basil is an amazingly versatile herb to have around your home. Not only does it have a nice, fresh scent to make your home smell great, it’s also great fresh in a lot of different recipes! Having your own growing at home means you’ll either have a fresh supply to use, or can make your own dried basil! It requires a bit of care, but the long-term results are worth it!

Lavender

Not only does it smell good, it also serves as a repellent to flies and mosquitoes! It may not be best for apartments and condos, but if your home has a garden, it’s a great way to add a splash of color to the greens. Some people even prefer to have it growing along the paths to their front doors!

Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass is one of the most versatile plants you can have growing in your home. Not only does it have a nice lemon scent to freshen up a room, it also serves as an ingredient in many recipes and repels mosquitos and other pests. Compared to a lot of other plants you can grow at home, it’s also relatively easy to care for!

Mint

Like Lemon Grass and Basil, mint also provides a wonderful, fresh scent to any room it grows in. In addition to being one of the herbs you can grow to repel ants, it also works as a great addition to drinks like iced tea, with the mint providing a burst of freshness to your drink.

Aloe

While not as pretty as some of the other plants (kind of thorny, actually), aloe is useful for skin, hair, and burn soothing.  If you want to break up the leafy monotony of a garden, some aloe adds a spiky break to the standard fare. It’s a great plant with a lot of uses all around the house. Definitely something you’d want to have growing, whether in your garden, or in a pot in your apartment.

What plants do you have in your home or garden? Are they there for decorative purposes or do they also have other things you use them for, like recipes? Be sure to let us know! We’d love to hear from you!