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3 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Energy Costs

Saving money is something that never goes out of style. For the average homeowner, finding ways to trim down expenses is something they strive to do regularly. If you are like most, you may be looking for ways to cut back without compromising on your comfort. Below are 3 easy ways you can reduce your energy costs without suffering through sweltering hot days or chilly nights. By implementing one or more of these options, you will start to see your energy costs going down in no time at all!

Patio Cover

Backyard patios are a wonderful gathering place. If you have a backyard patio that you are particularly fond of, you may be hesitant to build a porch that blocks your view. Luckily, there is an alternative to a permanent porch: an adjustable patio cover. Adjustable patios offer the best of both worlds. They can be extended during when the sun may be pouring in through your back windows, heating up your whole house, or rolled in when you need to use your patio for entertaining or star gazing.

Weather-stripping

If weather-stripping isn’t a term you are familiar with, you are going to be glad you are now hearing about it. Weather-stripping is a thin tape made out of rubber, nylon or sponge. It should be applied around the exterior door and window frames of your home. Weather-stripping seals the tiny gap that can sometimes occur between a window or door and its frame. When these tiny gaps are filled, your cool air stays in and the hot air stays out!

Peak Times

Most energy companies have peak operating times, meaning certain times of the day cost more than others to run electricity. There are some things you can’t live without and must run during peak energy hours like your lights or computer. However, there are a few things you can work around those pesky peak operating hours, like:

  • Washer & dryer – these appliances use copious amounts of energy. If you can, operate them on weekends or off-peak hours to avoid bumping up your energy bill.
  • Heating & cooling system – no, you don’t have to turn off your heating and cooling system during peak hours. In some climates, that can be very dangerous. If you can, slightly adjust the temperature in your home one or two degrees up or down, depending on the time of year, and watch your bill drop. With minor changes to the temperature, you are unlikely to notice the difference inside your home, but you will notice the difference on your bill.
  • Water heater – if you have an electric water heater, try to avoid using water in large amounts. By keeping your water heater from cycling on and off, you will keep it from running up your electricity usage.

Saving on your electrical bill doesn’t have to be painful or difficult. By investing in an adjustable back patio, you will keep the sun from warming up your home without interrupting the backyard setting. By adding weather-stripping to fill in any gaps that may be letting air into or out of your home and adjusting appliance usage during peak hours, you will save yourself big in the long run. After you implement these strategies, your bank account will thank you! (For more information, go to http://www.apolloopeningroof.com)

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Spring Cleaning Time! 3 Tips To Get Your Kitchen Sparkling

Now that spring is almost here, many people do spring cleaning to wake their house up from the cold winter months. This can take time and learning a few tips and tricks can make things go a little faster for you. The tips below will help you get your kitchen clean:

Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

One trick to getting your kitchen clean is to use a handheld vacuum cleaner. These vacuum cleaners work great to get into places a larger vacuum cannot get to. For example, before you mop the kitchen floor, use the handheld vacuum cleaner to run around the edges to remove any dust and dirt hiding there. You can also run the vacuum cleaner up and down the walls to remove dust that you may not even see is there.

Pull back appliances that you can, and run the vacuum cleaner behind them. If you do not have one of these vacuum cleaners, or have one and it needs repaired, contact a vacuum cleaner retailer to purchase or have yours repaired.

Gas Burners

Gas burners can get built up dirt on them from overflowing pots, grease, and more. One easy way to clean them is to fill a sealable plastic bag half full with ammonia, and put the burners in the bag. You may need to use more than one. Let the bag sit for 24 hours and take the burners out. You will be amazed at how clean they are.

Kitchen Laminate Floor

For laminate floor cleaning, you can make your own cleaner to save money. Purchase a spray bottle if you do not already have one. If you do have one, rinse it out well with some hot water if you already have a type of cleaner in it.

Mix together one cup of water, one cup of distilled white vinegar, and one cup of regular rubbing alcohol. When all of this is mixed, add three drops of your favorite liquid dish washing detergent. Mix well and pour the solution into the spray bottle.

Spray the cleaner on the floor, let it sit for about 10 minutes or so, and then wipe it with a microfiber towel or mop. Work in sections at a time to make the job easier.

These three tips can give you a good start in your kitchen. Once you do this, you can start cleaning your other things, such as cabinets, appliances, etc. To learn more, contact a company like Vacuum of Jacksonville with any questions or concerns.

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Convert Your Wood Fireplace To Gas For More Convenience

If you’re tired of dealing with the soot, ash and mess of a wood fireplace, consider changing it to one of the easier gas options. You’ll have instant access to a roaring fire that looks realistic with the same warmth as wood. Stop hauling wood into your house with one of the following fireplace conversion options.

Gas Supply Options

First, decide how you want to get the gas to your fireplace. If you already have a natural gas line running to your home, call in a gas or electrical contractor to extend the line to your fireplace. If there is no gas line in your home, you can use liquid propane gas. This works by running a line from the fireplace to a tank of LP gas outside of your home.

Fireplace Options

You have a choice from three conversions options. They differ in the appearance of the fire and the quality of heat you get from the fire.

Vented Gas Logs - This uses realistic-looking gas logs, from retailers like Hearth and Patio, which sit in your existing fireplace. The logs are made of heat-proof ceramic and come in various sizes. The more realistic the logs look, the higher the price. Hidden gas jets in the logs connect to your gas line. You start the fire by turning on the gas and touching a lighted match to the jets. Some high-end models use an electric starter so you can have a fire at the touch of a switch. The fire flickers across the gas logs and looks like a real wood fire, but the heat produced by the gas is less than with wood.

Vent-Less Gas Fireplace – This is a unit that is placed within your fireplace. The flue does not need to be open because the fumes created by this gas fire are very low. This means more of the heat makes it into your home than with gas logs. While giving you more heat, these units don’t look as realistic as gas logs. You can also only run these for short periods because of the fumes that do make it into your house.

Gas Fireplace Insert - This is also a unit that slips into your existing fireplace. Unlike the vent-less models, it does use your flue to remove fumes produced by the gas fire. This is considered a closed system with air being pulled in to fuel the fire and exhaust fumes pushed out of the flue. Glass doors in front of the unit seal it so you don’t get the look of a real fire. But you get more heat than the other styles, with a few models using blowers to force the heat out into the house. With these inserts, you can leave them running for long periods.

If you’re tired of dealing with your wood-burning fireplace, don’t give up on having a fire. Consider one of these maintenance-free gas options and continue using the fireplace to keep your home warm on those cool nights.

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Six Creative Ways To Decorate Your Wall

Do you have some blank spaces on your walls? Are you getting tired of pictures in picture frames? You’re not alone! Homes have many walls and too many frames can get boring quickly. Here are six fun, fresh ideas for things you can hang on your walls.

1. Shadow boxes. These boxes come in lots of shapes and sizes and they can hold all kinds of momentos. Some have cardboard backs so you can pin postcards or concert tickets in there. Others have shelves so you can set small objects like sea shells, bells, tiny plants, and souvenirs in them. There are even some that have chalkboard paint so you can write quotes or funny sayings on them. They are so easy to personalize!

2. Shelves. This is another great way to decorate large spaces. You can hang shelves of varying lengths along the wall, some on top of others. You can also intersperse artwork or pictures among the shelves. On the shelves you can put:

  • Vases
  • Plants
  • Pictures in Small Frames
  • Souvenirs
  • Candles
  • Books (Standing or Laying Down)
  • Glasswork 
  • Driftwood, Bottles of Sand, and Seashells for a Beach Look

3. Metal murals. These are amazing! You can print any picture you want on metal sheets and hang them on your wall. You can create huge murals in any size and shape. If you use a high quality print the picture quality is astounding. Try printing a picture of a forest or a beach on the mural and it will almost look like a huge window. 

4. Artwork. If you can’t afford originals, purchase some cheaper prints from big box stores. If you are bored you can also try and create your own. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated to look beautiful! If you are close to any children, have them paint you some pictures and hang those up. It will add a touch of youth and innocence to your home. 

5. Pieces of nature. You can place pressed flowers or leaves in picture frames, create a mural with sticks (or place them in a vase), put fresh flowers in small glasses on your shelves, etc. 

6. Magnet boards. These also come in lots of shapes, sizes and colors. Collect some awesome magnets (or try making some out of old coins) and put up whatever strikes your fancy! Photos, quotes, artwork, postcards, dried plants. The great thing about these boards is you can change out whatever is on them easily. You can also place odd-sized objects on them, things that would be difficult or expensive to frame. 

As you think outside the box (or the frame), you will be able to add decorative wall plaques to create the home of your dreams. Good luck! 

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The Psychology Of The Living Room

The living room, as its name would suggest, is often the central living space in many homes. It’s where families interact, watch television, and even take meals together. Many homeowners spend a lot of time decorating and planning out these living spaces. Comfort is key in living rooms. Making a living comfortable involves many different factors including furniture selection, wall color, and decoration.

While many homeowners seek to make their spaces as aesthetically pleasing as possible, psychology plays a role as well. The decorating choices made in a living room can actually affect the moods of the occupants:

Choose The Right Color Scheme

When choosing a wall color many people simply go with their favorite color or what is popular or trendy at the moment. However, color can actually play a role in how someone feels while being in a room. Cool colors, such as green and blue, are considered to be calming and relaxing.

Warm colors, such as red, yellow, and orange, are thought to be stimulating as well as good for conversation. When choosing a color scheme, the function of the living room should be considered. Is it a space for relaxation?

If it is, then cool colors are a good choice. Is it a place for social gatherings? If that’s the case, then warm colors will help encourage conversation and socialization. 

Watch Out For Wobbles

Choosing furniture for a living room can be time consuming. Affordability, comfort, and style are all taken into consideration before making a purchase. Another thing that should be taken into consideration, stability! Furniture that is stable is a better choice than furniture is wobbly.

There are practical reasons for this. Wobbly furniture can lead to spills, falls, and other problems. There are also psychological reasons why stable furniture is a good choice. Wobbly furniture can make things like interpersonal relationships seem less stable to the people using said furniture.

Flexible Furniture Arrangement Is Key

Furniture arrangement can also play a key role in how a living room makes its occupants feel. Furniture set in a group, something called a sociopetal arrangement, works well in living rooms. Clustering furniture together in this fashion encourages friendly interactions. This type of furniture arrangement is key for living rooms that serve primarily as social areas. Flexible furniture pieces that make it easy to cluster together are great for living rooms. 

Decorating a living room involves many different factors. Aesthetics and style are not the only factors that should be considered when choosing wall colors and furniture. Psychology also plays a role! The choices a homeowner makes can affect how the room functions and makes people feel. To learn more, contact a company like North Carolina Furniture & Mattress with any concerns you have.

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What You Need To Know About Winter Tree Removal

Diseased trees can easily fall over when harsh winds pick up. In fact, they may be doubly susceptible to collapse in winter because ice and snow can weigh down weak branches. Contrary to what many homeowners think, winter is a perfect time to cut down old trees. Here’s what you need to know about winter tree removal.

Are there any advantages to winter tree removal?

There are many advantages to winter tree removal. Many tree service companies have more availability in winter than in summer, making scheduling at this time of year easier. In addition, the heavy equipment required to remove tree is less likely to damage the surrounding landscape when the ground is hard and frozen. Finally, removing a tree in winter clears the way for new landscaping when planting time comes in the spring.

How can I get started?

Contact a tree service company in your area. If your budget is a concern, contact several crews to get multiple quotes. Your tree removal crew will come out for a consultation and quote a price before doing the work, which generally takes no more than an afternoon.

Do I need to be there when the tree is being removed?

Some homeowners want to be at home when the tree is being removed, but others prefer to run errands or go to work while the work is taking place. If you don’t want to be on the property while the tree is being removed, speak with your tree service company during the consultation. As long as the workers can gain access to the tree while you’re away, many companies will allow you to leave during the actual removal process.

Can I remove my tree myself?

Tree removal—particularly removal of large trees—is not a recommended activity for many homeowners. Safe and expedient removal is especially important in winter, when cold temperatures and harsh weather conditions limit the amount of time that any team should spend outdoors removing a tree. The longer the project takes, the longer the person removing the tree must be exposed to cold weather and icy conditions. Tree service professionals have specialized equipment like cranes, chain saws, gauntlet gloves, lifelines, tackling and safety belts. This equipment allows the tree removal team to cut down the tree safely and efficiently, regardless of the time of year.

Now is the time to have nearby dead and dying trees removed. Contact a local tree service company like Able Scape, Inc to have your trees removed today.

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Cool And Kitschy Appliances For Your Kitchen Remodel

Remodeling a kitchen is a big task, particularly when you are looking at upgrading all of your kitchen appliances. Instead of settling for the same old stainless steel fixtures, why not check out some of the new and exciting options available in kitchen appliances?

Consider these options when shopping for these appliances:

Cabinet camouflage

One of the biggest style trends in kitchen appliances is making it look as if there are no appliances in the room. This involves styles that are designed to meld with the cabinetry and that have non-traditional facades. Wall ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, and even microwaves hide behind wood, metal, or other surfaces to appear as though they are merely cabinets in the space.

Attention to size

While many upgraded kitchens utilize industrial style appliances, these may simply be too big to be practical for many. Some of the high-end commercial type appliances are being found in smaller sizes to fit in a conventional space, which means that buyers can have top-of-the-line fixtures without sacrificing square footage of their kitchen. Also, with more consumers opting to downsize and live in smaller dwellings, retailers and manufacturers are offering quality appliances that take up a fraction of the traditional space.

Retro redux

The cool, vintage appliances of the 60s and 70s are coming back with abandon. The best part is that although they look like your grandparent’s kitchen appliances, they are being manufactured with modern technology and top-of-the-line features. These are an excellent option for owners that are looking to give their kitchen a distinctive, one-of-a-kind look.

Contemporary country

When you think of country-style kitchens, you likely think of the big, bulky appliances that are at the very heart of the home. Taking a cue from country home design, buyers may want to consider unique appliances that complement these warm, welcoming spaces. Consider glass-front refrigerators to show off your fresh produce, deep double-basin sinks, and wood-burning pizza ovens for a unique touch in your country kitchen.

Modern minimalist

For a sleek and streamlined kitchen in a modern home, consider some of the chic and stylish appliances hitting the market. For instance, dishwashers that fit into drawers so you can open easily, and hide your dirty dishes from view. Buyers look for under-cabinet appliances and equipment to reduce the visual clutter of the space, giving the room a more clean, contemporary feel.

Appliances are a big deal and can comprise a pretty portion of your remodeling budget. Be sure to talk with retailers and contractors to uncover some hot new options that may give your particular space flair, style, and cohesion. You will find that there are more and more options, providing you with an opportunity to make your home’s kitchen stand out.

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