Gunning Daily News
September 21, 2012 4:52 pm
(ARA) - Many homeowners expect their heating costs to rise as cold weather creeps around the corner. Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to keep your energy costs (and your thermostat) low during the winter.
“In colder climates, it's important for homeowners to keep their residences warm and energy bills low by weatherizing,” says Vageesh Bakhshi, category manager at ShurTech Brands, LLC. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners can usually save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs by properly sealing their homes. Weatherizing is a simple and affordable DIY project that can be completed in just one day, or even a weekend.”
Weatherizing your house from top to bottom can help keep your family warm and toasty while saving money. Don't be left in the cold - learn ways to properly prepare your home for whatever weather this winter may bring.
Protect your home from the attic cold
The attic is often overlooked as a source of energy loss. Although insulated, the attic is a “big hole,” especially the attic stairway opening, which can allow cold air to enter the home, forcing you to turn up your heat. Combat the cold with an attic stairway cover -- they're flexible and lightweight, easy to install and help prevent cold drafts from seeping into your home through the attic stairway opening.
Combat the cold by sealing holes
Nooks and crannies are perfect for storing clothes and keepsakes, but they're also where you occasionally find thinning wall insulation and holes, which are the main culprits of escaping heat - and dollars. To ensure your home is well-protected, cover and seal holes with a spray foam or foam board to block cold air. Also make sure to check all plumbing, ducts and electrical wiring areas that penetrate through walls, floors, ceilings and soffits over cabinets. These areas are likely to have air leaks that can be easily caulked to block any potential air infiltration.
Winterize windows for added warmth
To keep your home warm and comfortable, it's important to cover all your bases, and windows are no exception. Casements are a prime location for heat to seep out and cold to creep in, so keep your house warm and draft-free by weatherizing windows with products like Duck brand Roll-On Window Kits. Made of a clear shrink film, these window kits provide an added barrier between the winter chill and your home, and come with a pre-taped edge for easy installation. Once spring arrives, simply peel the film from your windows and discard.
Fight strong winds with a storm door
When old man winter comes knocking, block his entrance with a storm door. These durable doors are installed in front of the home's access doors to protect against harsh weather, keeping your family warm and cozy. Storm doors increase the insulation of entrances by lowering the amount of air transferred with each entry and exit. When aligned well with the architecture of the home, they can add instant beauty and protection, while helping make your energy bill more appealing, too.
By following these weatherization tips, you can rest assured that your home's interior will be a little more protected from frightfully cold conditions.
September 21, 2012 4:52 pm
If it seems that you can never quite diminish the size of your laundry pile, you're not alone. Laundry is a part of everyday life and the more people in your household, the bigger the pile and the more often you need to wash. Designate one place in your home to be the laundry zone and sort through these time-saving tips to make your laundry routine faster and easier, leaving you with more time to do the things you love.
De-clutter and reorganize. Clear some space from your shelves to give yourself more room to work in the laundry room. Get rid of old containers, trash and even those stray socks missing their pair. Place a small basket or tray near the washer for collecting small items and loose change found in pockets. This prevents clutter as well as accidents in the wash. Larger baskets labeled delicates, lights and darks help to keep clothes easily sorted and off of the floor.
Essentials at-the-ready. Keep frequently used items easily accessible by placing them on a shelf designed to fit on top of your washing machine. Store smaller items in stackable baskets or bins so they aren't in the way. Make sure your detergent is placed high enough so that little hands can't grab it, but within reach for older kids to take over their own laundry chores.
Get rid of hassle and bulk. Save yourself from the trouble of heavy bottles and messy spills. Choose a multi-purpose detergent that comes pre-measured.
Sort and go. Give everyone in the family their own small mesh laundry bag for items that tend to get lost and mixed-up such as socks and underwear. Collect the bags and throw them in the washer and dryer together so that everything stays sorted.
Prep for final steps. Save time from ironing by pulling clothes directly from the dryer after the cycle is complete. Keep a stack of hangers nearby to hang clothes immediately for a wrinkle-free wardrobe. Designate an area of nearby countertop or a table to make folding and organizing clothes out of the dryer quicker.
September 21, 2012 4:52 pm
Tenants in common. Style of ownership in which two or more persons purchase a property jointly, but with no right of survivorship and separate undivided interests. They are free to will their share to anyone they choose, a principal difference between this form of ownership and joint tenancy.
September 21, 2012 4:52 pm
A: Make sure you are ready – psychologically and financially. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I have steady income? Is my debt lower than my total income? Do I have enough money to pay for the down payment and closing costs? Am I working hard enough to improve bad credit?
A house needs constant care and attention. Also ask yourself if your budget will allow for unexpected repairs and upkeep. Once you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, you are several steps ahead of the game and that much closer to becoming a homeowner.
September 21, 2012 3:50 pm
Recently, I visited with Linda Gottlieb, a Connecticut Décor Designer with Decor&You decorating service (decorandyou.com). As a decor interior design professional with an eye on thinking globally while designing locally, she is focusing on bringing safer, higher-quality and greener decorating options to her clients' homes.
She recently wrote discussing how even a few subtle or dramatic design changes can really spice up a room, and in many cases these improvements are quick, simple and best of all—cheap!
"Inexpensive suggestions can be transforming and rewarding," Gottlieb explains. Whether it’s DIY or co-piloting with a designer, "it's as simple as changing up color, accessories, and the functional layout of a room. More people are enjoying do-it-yourself decorating, while tapping into a professional to plan parts of the project," she says.
While an amazing idea comes to life under a good plan, Gottlieb notes there are really three plans you have to follow to achieve a quick, effective and economical interior makeover. In this segment we'll get started with Gottlieb's color plan, and wrap up in our next report firming up her three-phase planning advice by delving into space and accessories.
When it comes to Gottlieb's color plan, there's a lot to consider. She says when you create a color plan for any room, paint produces the most dramatic change for the least amount of money.
Be careful, however, because it’s easy to make a mistake choosing not only the paint color, but also the paint value - the lightness or darkness of the color. Room color should be subtle yet significant.
Ultimately, Gottlieb says have fun selecting colors for your walls, as well as for the trim, ceiling and accent pieces. Use color to make your own personal statement that is welcoming and genuinely comfortable.
We'll pick up on Gottlieb's advice about space and accessories in our next segment - stay tuned!
September 21, 2012 3:50 pm
(ARA) - Preparing for Jack Frost's arrival can send a shiver down any homeowner's spine. A long to-do list for getting your home ready can feel overwhelming, leaving you wondering where you'll find the time and resources. But, with some optimism, easy tips and access to a few rental tools, you can winterize your home in just one weekend, leaving plenty of time to enjoy autumn's splendor.
Prepare your lawn and landscaping
Cold temperatures cause grass and other plants in your landscape to go dormant. Spend a few hours preparing your lawn for beautiful greenery next year.
Start by aerating. Renting an aerator is a cost-effective and efficient way to reduce thatch and provide extra space in the soil for water and oxygen to reach the roots. Find a local American Rental Association (ARA) member store near you by visiting RentalHQ.com. After aerating, spread a quality winter fertilizer to give your grass the nutrients it needs to grow strong. If you live in an area with harsh winters, remember to cover roses and delicate perennials so that they are protected.
Winterize your deck
The harsh winter elements can take a major toll on decking, so it's important to protect it. With a little time and effort, your deck will make it through winter unscathed and ready for outdoor fun in spring.
To keep the structure's integrity intact and wood looking beautiful, clean and seal your deck before winter arrives. Start by renting a pressure washer at your local ARA member rental store. The trained rental associate will give you guidance on safe and efficient operation of the pressure washer. After you clean your deck, let it dry completely and then apply paint or sealant.
Trim your trees
Weak trees and dead branches can break and fall during winter, possibly damaging your home, your car, a utility line, or worse. Be a responsible homeowner and cut weak or dead branches in the fall so you don't have to worry.
A chainsaw is the easiest way to deal with dead branches and will take much less time than hand sawing. You can rent a chainsaw to cut the wood into small logs or pieces for disposing of properly. Chippers can also be rented for grinding up the wood and using it for mulch in the spring.
Seal windows and doors
When temperatures drop, the small leaks in windows and doors become apparent. Avoid a chilly house and high energy bills by caulking your windows and weather stripping doors.
Weather stripping is cheap and easy. Apply the adhesive strip between the door and frame for a tight seal that limits the amount of air that enters or exits when the door is closed. Caulking windows is a simple process as well when you have a caulk gun. If you need a tall ladder to reach second story windows, consider renting it since you'll likely use it infrequently. While you have the ladder, clean your gutters of leaves and other debris that can cause backups and ice dams.
All you need is one weekend to prepare your home and yard for the cold weather ahead. Plus, you'll get to enjoy the crisp autumn air while you get these quick and easy chores done.
September 21, 2012 3:50 pm
(ARA) - Everyone wants an immaculate home, but not everyone wants to spend their free time scrubbing and straightening. The reality revealed in a recent Good Housekeeping magazine study is that the average homeowner spends roughly 19 hours a week cleaning.
Wish you could reclaim some of those precious hours? Follow these simple, inexpensive kitchen and bath updates and your wish will be granted. Soon, these highly used rooms will look great and you'll be able to spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your ship-shape home.
Clutter...it can drive anyone crazy. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Moen Incorporated, men list having too many items cluttering up the shower as their No. 1 bathroom pet peeve. And with 60 percent of Americans sharing a shower area with a spouse or significant other, clutter can build up fast. So how can you de-clutter the shower? Try a new Stainless Steel Shower Caddy or Grab Bar with Integrated Shelf from Moen to organize shower necessities, helping to keep the shower area neat and tidy no matter how many people use it.
“In addition to pet peeves in the shower, our research showed that more than one-third of homeowners cited 'leaving towels on the floor or on the kitchen sink' as a top pet peeve,” says Tom Tylicki, senior product manager, Moen Accessories.
Adding a new Retractable Towel Ring from Moen is a great solution. The thoughtfully designed product offers the traditional benefit of a towel ring, with a retractable cord that expands out and effortlessly retracts back to its original position. The towel remains on the ring at all times, keeping the countertop and floor towel-free, making it the ideal solution for every bath, kitchen or laundry room.
And to keep bath towels off the floor, adding additional towel bars, hooks or even a double curved shower rod, provides the perfect spots to encourage users to hang their towels after use.
Clean and clear kitchen sink
If towels aren't the culprit, dirty dishes are. In fact, nearly 50 percent of respondents in a Moen survey about kitchen habits stated that “family members leaving dirty pots, pans, plates, etc.” was a top cause of tension. And, coming in at a close second, with 42 percent of the respondents surveyed, was “household members leaving food/crumbs in the sink without washing it out.”
Updating your kitchen faucet can make it easier to clean the sink area. Try a high-arc model with pullout spray functionality to reach every nook and cranny in the sink, and make every last crumb disappear. Likewise, undermount sinks which integrate seamlessly into a solid-surface countertop can help homeowners keep the sink area clean, because crumbs can be wiped directly from the counter into the sink.
While a new faucet and accessories will add new functionality and style, the metal finishes can also mean more daily cleaning...until now. As you are making your simple kitchen and bath updates, consider adding a new faucet, showerhead and matching accessories in a spot resist finish. This does just what it says - resists fingerprints and water spots - giving you one less thing to worry about cleaning on a daily basis. Soon you'll have a bathroom that looks amazing and stays that way.
With these simple and inexpensive kitchen and bath updates, your household chores will be done in no time, leaving your home looking great and providing you a few extra hours to spend relaxing.
September 21, 2012 3:50 pm
Even the most reliable drivers may be wary of traveling late in the evening. At night, there are far fewer drivers on the road than during the day, but about half of traffic fatalities happen after dark, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to make night driving safer.
Prep Your Car for Night Driving
Keep it clean. Make sure your windows, headlights, tail lights and signal lights are clean so they are easier for other drivers to see.
Switch your rearview mirror to the night setting. Flipping the small lever at the bottom of your mirror changes the angle of its reflective surface. You'll still see the lights from the cars behind you, but they will be less bright in your eyes.
Make sure your headlights are aimed properly. If your headlights are misaligned, it can make it harder for you to see, and it can disturb other drivers on the road.
Check your headlights at least once a year. According to SYLVANIA Automotive Lighting, headlights can dim up to 20 percent over time. A recent survey commissioned by the brand revealed that 55 percent of drivers have never changed their headlights or don't know the last time they were changed. Here's how to check your headlights:
- Park on a level surface facing five feet from a building wall or your garage door, then turn on your headlights.
- If the circles of light are bright and white, they are in good working condition.
- If they are yellow and dim, the bulbs should be replaced.
If you do need to change headlights, consider upgrading to a premium bulb, such as SilverStar ULTRA bulbs by SYLVANIA. They provide up to 40 percent increased down road visibility, up to 50 percent increased side road visibility, and up to 50 percent brighter light, compared with worn standard halogen headlights.
Always change headlight bulbs in pairs. If you only change one, the new one will likely be brighter than the old one, causing an uneven field of illumination.
If the lenses on a vehicle's headlights are cloudy or hazy, replacing the bulbs may not be enough. Consider a headlight restoration kit, which restores headlights to like-new condition and performance light output.
Practice Safe Night Driving
Don't get caught in the glare. If light from oncoming vehicles shines directly into your eyes, look down and to the right. Look toward the white line on the side of the road -- this lets you see cars around you with your peripheral vision, but cuts down on the glare.
Use your lights appropriately. When following other vehicles, use your low beams so you don't disturb the other drivers.
Increase the distance between you and the cars ahead of you. It's harder to judge the speed of other vehicles at night, so you need to give yourself plenty of room to stop safely.
September 21, 2012 3:50 pm
A: The general rule of thumb is that you can buy a home that costs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. A good real estate agent or lender can determine how much you can afford and estimate the maximum monthly payment based on the loan amount, taxes, insurance and other expenses.
September 20, 2012 4:44 pm
(ARA) - For families, time on the road is a part of life, whether you're going for a family vacation or traveling to visit grandparents for the holidays. While time in the car together is nothing new, the way families are spending their time in the car and the tools that help get them safely to their destinations are rapidly evolving.
Nowadays, kids are less likely to pass the time playing 20 questions than they are to watch their favorite movie on an iPad. And while you might have once reached for the atlas to find your way, GPS systems or mobile phones have long since replaced your paper maps.
Each day new car and mobile technologies are improving the way families travel. New safety features, tools to help with directions, finding amenities, and increased entertainment options are available for passengers. But what if all of these helpful tools were integrated into one easy-to-use system within the family car?
Comprehensive in-vehicle systems designed to provide drivers with useful information may soon be the norm. Technology experts at Intel are currently working with automakers on in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems that have the potential to make the family road trip safer and more entertaining for everyone involved.
It is estimated that automobiles will be among the top three fastest growing Internet connected devices for Internet-based content by 2014, according to technology research firm Gartner. This should come as no surprise given consumer demand for access to their digital lives anytime, anywhere, since the average American driver spends 18 hours a week behind the wheel. That's over two months every year spent in the car.
So how exactly could this type of technology help traveling families? Here are a few examples of the types of travel-friendly features that experts at Intel are exploring with leaders in the automotive industry:
Cars could have a driver's side display that would be able to offer alerts about upcoming traffic signs and relay images about blind spots from cameras placed in a car. Alerts about upcoming stop signs or exits would be especially beneficial when driving in unfamiliar territory.
What could be worse than a flat tire while on vacation? Emergency sensors connected to the car's infotainment system could alert you immediately when a tire loses pressure, giving you time to safely pull over or make it to the next exit for help. The intelligent infotainment system could also provide directions to the nearest repair shop.
Like to travel with other families? New connected cars will offer you the ability to connect with other cars in your caravan through GPS tracking. No need to describe your location over the phone or two-way radio.
Have you made a habit of streaming your children's favorite shows through a subscription service like Netflix? Soon, these types of entertainment options could be standard in the car's in-vehicle infotainment system, and music and video files could be kept in one place. You could even stream different movies on each of the backseat screens to accommodate everyone in the family.