Springtime Energy Saving Tips
The majority of us are spending much more time in our homes during this public health crisis. Because of this, many of us are using more energy within our households, and looking to save money wherever possible. Living in a more energy efficient home is not only good for the environment, it is also good for your wallet. Energy efficiency can save you hundreds of dollars a year by reducing your utility bills. Read on to see where you can make changes in your home to save your money and the environment at the same time!
- Install low flow faucets and showerheads to reduce water expenses.
- Never leave your bathroom and kitchen ventilation systems running longer than they need to be because these systems replace inside air with outside air.
- Air dry your dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle by opening your dishwasher door after the rinse cycle.
- Avoid using your oven on hot days. Instead use your microwave or grill outside.
- Wash your clothes in cold water.
- Take advantage of warmer days by hanging your laundry out to dry.
- Use blinds and shades in the sunny side of your home during the warmer months to keep your home cooler while using less AC.
- Install a programmable thermostat to use less heat or air conditioning during the hours you are not home.
- Turn on your fan while using the air conditioner so you can raise your thermostat 4 degrees without any difference in comfort.
- Clean and replace your air conditioning system’s filters. Dirty filters can slow air flow and cause your system to use more energy.
- Don’t charge your cell phone overnight since it only takes a few hours to charge.
- Unplug your device chargers when they are not in use.
- Utilize power strips. Even when turned off, electric equipment will still use a small amount of electricity. Using a power strip, you can easily disconnect the power supply to multiple devices when they are not in use.
- Make sure that you are using energy efficient light bulbs like LED’s in all your light fixtures.
- Use a timer on your outdoor lights to ensure they are only on after sunset and before sunrise or install a motion sensor so the light only turns on when someone is present.
- Always turn your lights off when you leave a room.
There are many ways to reduce the amount of electricity and water that you are using in your home. And, if everyone adopted just one or two new ways to make their home more energy efficient, we could make a significant impact on our environment. It's a win-win!
Tips to increase the value of your home this spring
Spring is finally here and many of us are spending most of our time at home right now. Whether you were planning to get your house ready for the spring house selling market, or you are simply looking for ways to spruce up your home, now is a great time to tackle some home improvements. Your house is probably one of the largest investments that you will make in your lifetime, so show it a little love with these projects to add value to your home.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about improving your home in these months is spring cleaning. Did you know that, in addition to making your home a safer, healthier space, cleaning and decluttering can add to your home’s resale value?
Decluttering will make your home look larger, cleaner, and give the impression that you have a lot of storage. Start your decluttering journey by setting aside a small period of time (as little as 20 minutes) each day to dedicate toward straightening things up, and sorting through your belongings to see what you are able to donate.
Once you have decluttered, it will be much easier to give your house the deep clean it deserves. Steam your carpets, scrub your floors, dust your light fixtures, wash your windows inside and out, and wash your curtains. Don’t forget to vacuum forgotten areas like your vents and behind your fridge.
Warmer months are upon us, so get some outside time by putting on those gardening gloves and working on your landscaping. Adding color and dimension to your landscaping can go a long way. Add some containers with bright flowers into your flower beds to give them a nice and layered look.
Weed your flower beds and mow your lawn regularly to keep your home looking neat and tidy from the outside as well.
Make Your Front Door Pop:
The front door is the first thing your guests or potential buyers will see before entering your home, so you want to make sure you are giving a welcoming first impression. Brighten your home by painting your front door in a color that contrasts well with the rest of your exterior. You can also add bold house numbers to your entrance and a seasonal wreath for a homey touch.
There are many inexpensive ways to add value to your home, and some of them will take you less than a weekend to complete. Take advantage of the warmer months and show your home a little love beyond spring cleaning.
Change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms:
Did you know that the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms? Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save lives, but you need to make sure that you change the batteries and test your alarms in order to protect you and your family. Change your batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving time, and make sure you are testing your alarms monthly.
- Make sure that there are smoke alarms in every sleeping room in the house, every hallway and every additional level of your home including the basement.
- All smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one goes off they all do.
- Smoke alarms that are mounted on the wall should be 4” from the ceiling. Smoke alarms that are mounted on the ceiling should be mounted 4” from the wall.
- Avoid putting your Smoke alarms within 10 feet of cooking appliances to avoid false alarms.
- Replace the entire alarm every 10 years
Carbon Monoxide Detectors:
- Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in every sleeping room and every level of the house including your basement.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should ideally be at knee level, but they can be installed at chest level if you have children.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should not be blocked by curtains or furniture.
- Replace the entire alarm every 5 years.
6 curb appeal-enhancing plants to start growing now
Waiting is part of life. But when the cold weather rolls in, the need to "sit tight" happens with greater frequency. Waiting for Christmas and Hanukkah. Waiting to see results from your New Year's resolution to exercise more. Waiting for the first flakes to fall - then anxiously awaiting the return of warm temperatures from spring when piles of snow have you at your wit's end.
If you're a homeowner, all this waiting around gives you plenty of time to prepare for spring, which is when the housing market really starts to heat up. During this intervening period, you may want to consider exercising your green thumb, the fruits of which can help to truly beautify your home and enhance curb appeal, which is a key aspect to drawing attention for would-be buyers. According to Zillow, the average seller has approximately 13 years of age on their home. In addition to some strategic renovations, shrubs, flowers and gardens help to spruce your property up a bit so that it captures potential buyers' attention.
The ground may be far too hard and temperatures far too cold to dig into the dirt outside for now, but there are a plethora of beautiful, aromatic plants you can begin growing from inside your home, then transfer outdoors once the ground thaws and April showers give way to May flowers.
Here are a few primarily outdoor garden plants that grow great from indoors, as recommended by The Spruce. You may not need to wait too long before you see some serious sprouting:
Otherwise known as flowering maple, abutilon is an annual flower, meaning that its life cycle lasts about a year - as opposed to a biennial or perennial - and thrives in tropical environments. As such, in order to enhance growth, it's ideally positioned in areas of the home where the sun shines the brightest. A window that faces southerly or westerly. It's fairly simple to manage as well, as a result of its desire for warmth, so you won't have to water it too frequently. The Spruce suggests doing so once the soil looks and feels completely dry. You may also want to use a water-soluble fertilizer.
Depending on when you begin, you can expect to see blooming in late April or the middle of May. The petals of abutilon are a vivid burnt orange, almost certain to capture the eye of house hunters.
If you enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors from fall foliage, the begonia is right up your alley. The teardrop-shaped leaves are typically fuschia (purplish red) and often have additional deeper colors that add texture and contrast. But that's for rex begonias. There are dozens of begonia varieties, including ambassador series, cocktail series, doublet white, wax, sutherland and the appropriately described painted leaf. The type you get will largely dictate the colors you can expect, including silver, pink, red, green and brown.
Although begonias do thrive in humid environments, avoid placing them in portions of your home with direct sunlight. Partial or indirect is preferable. Also, be careful not to over water, as begonias harness moisture well.
Found in many parts of the world, including southern and western Europe as well as eastern Asia, boxwood is an evergreen variety that tends to grow rather slowly. Patience pays off, however, because the plant can grow to be as tall as nearly 50 feet. It takes a while for them to grow that that, as the growth rate is typically no more than around 12 inches per year, according to horticulturalists.
For boxwood to get going with growing, however, humidity is key. Place the initial seedlings of this evergreen in portions of the home where the air is a bit thicker. You can add to the humidity of your home through various moisture-promoting strategies, such as letting dishes from dinner air dry, leaving the door open slightly while showering or making your own tea more frequently (humidity derives from the teapot's steam).
Bright sunlight and watering every day or two helps as well. Much like the abutilon, water only when the soil feels dry.
If you're sick and tired of the cold and wet, caladium feels your pain. They're native to tropical environments and have distinctively shaped leaves that resemble an arrow. The colors combine green and red, similar in distribution to what you'd find on stalks of rhubarb. Yet unlike the sour vegetable, caladium are poisonous if ingested, so be sure to keep them out of reach of pets or young children.
As far as care goes, again, they loath the cold, so keep them in warm environments that are ideally between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, The Spruce advised. Light sources should be indirect and water enough to keep the soil consistently moist, but not drenching wet.
This plant is another one whose leaves are uniquely shaped (almost resembling a heart), and are multicolored, flanked by green with yellow accents and a purplish pink in the center. Other common coleus colors include green and red. Similar to the other flowers and plants mentioned, this plant prefers temperatures on the warmer side, but do still grow even when temps dip below room temperature. However, ensure that the thermostat stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Spruce says indirect bright sunlight is this plant's preference and the soil should remain damp to the touch, which entails regular watering.
You don't have to have a green thumb to have heard of the geranium, which is one of the more fragrant flowers you'll find and traces back more than 200 years. What makes these primarily pink and white beauties particularly great indoor plants is their need to overwinter, which basically means that they require sheltering from the cold. This can be done by placing geraniums in a cool - but not cold - portion of your home, such as in the cellar or garage. They do still require sunlight to grow, but it doesn't need to be direct. The Spruce says full sun is best.
Lastly, avoid over watering by allowing the soil to dry completely before the next one.
Through tender loving care and attention, these plants can add eye-catching curb appeal and valuation to your home that is well worth the wait!
Heart Healthy Exercises to Do At Home
February isn’t just about chocolates, flowers and Valentine’s Day cards, it is also American Heart Month. Heart Month has been celebrated annually since 1963 in an effort to make Americans more aware of heart disease and ways that they can help prevent it. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (30 minutes for 5 days) of moderate to vigorous exercise a week in order to improve cardiovascular health. Busy schedules can make finding the time to exercise a challenge. Luckily there are plenty of activities that you can do in and around your home to help get your 150 minutes of exercise in for the week.
In the winter shoveling snow from your walkway or driveway is an excellent way to get moving. You could even consider buying a roof rake to remove snow build up and avoid ice dams that cause leaks in your home. In the warmer months raking leaves, mowing the lawn, weeding, mulching, picking up fallen sticks and trimming hedges are all great ways to add curb appeal to your home. They also get your blood pumping and improve your overall health. Instead of paying someone else to take care of your outdoor chores, start spending some time on the weekends getting fresh air and making your outdoor space the envy of the neighborhood.
Spending the day doing housework can also elevate your heart rate. Clear things out from your attic or basement that you no longer need and break a sweat carrying items up and down the stars. Sweep, vacuum and mop your house, or even rent a carpet steamer and give your floors the deep cleaning they deserve. Roll up your sleeves and get your blood pumping while you get a head start on Spring Cleaning.
Walking is the simplest form of exercise, but its benefits for your overall health are huge. According the American Heart Association, for every hour of brisk walking, life expectancy for some people may increase by two hours. Walking at a brisk pace for 150 minutes a week can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
Common Household Items to Get You Moving:
Canned goods: Use cans in place of hand weights.
Wall: Wall-sits will work your quads and glutes.
Stairs: Walk or run the stairs in your house for a great cardio work-out.
Countertop: Do pushups using your counter top while you wait for your dinner to cook.
150 minutes can seem like a lot of time to spend exercising in a week, but it is very manageable when you can do it at home. Get up, get moving, and start improving your heart health!