3 Steps to Maximize Your AC Efficiency

3 Steps to Maximize Your AC Efficiency

With the sweltering summer season upon us, many are turning to our trust AC units to keep us cool.  Unfortunately, this can negatively impact our bank accounts – but it doesn’t have to.

“It can get much more expensive to keep a cool home when temperatures reach the 80s and 90s,” says Michael Petri, owner of Petri Plumbing & Heating.  “Finding little ways to make a home’s cooling more efficient can add up to significant savings over the course of a few months.”

Petri recommends residents utilize the following tips in order to cool their homes without breaking the bank of energy bills:

Consider home efficiency upgrades and maintenance.  Double-paned efficiency windows or a solar fan or an attic can be relatively inexpensive upgrades that will keep a home’s air conditioner from working as hard.  Also, check seals and weather stripping along doors and windows and replace as necessary.  This will prevent cool air from escaping and warm air from entering the home.

Regularly change air filters.  Be sure to look at the manufacturer’s recommendation on the air filter packaging (it is typically displayed prominently) and follow those guidelines.  Most air filters need to be changed eery 30-90 days, but depending on one’s particular living situation (such as if pets live in the home), the filters may need to be changed more frequently.  Changing the air filter in your cooling system regularly will help maximize the unit’s efficiency, resulting in better cooling at lower costs.

Schedule an HVAC tune-up.  Regular maintenance will ensure your unit is working at peak efficiency, can identify problems before they become bigger issues and may event be required to keep the manufacturer’s warranty in effect.

Source: Petri Plumbing & Heating

6 Storage Solutions for Small-Space Living

6 Storage Solutions for Small-Space Living

Whether you’ve got a rustic cabin in the country or a streamlined pad in the big city, your current living situation may not involve lots of square footage. If that’s the case, becoming super savvy about storage is a must. Here are six organizational solutions for your small space that will help house your belongings without making your environment feel cramped or cluttered.

1. Buy containers that double as furniture, such as storage ottomans that can be tucked under a table when not in use then pulled out for extra seating when needed, or a vintage steamer trunk or wooden crate that also stands in as a cool coffee table.

2. Think outside the box and place a piece of strategically selected furniture in the bathroom, such as a small chest of drawers or a tall, but not too deep, shelving unit. Use the piece to house towels, bed linens, shower supplies, cosmetics and any other items appropriate for the bath and boudoir.

3. Fill up a large bookcase with books, photographs, your record collection, a lamp, etc., then use it as a boundary to divide spaces in your small home—for example, to separate the living room from the sleeping area in a studio apartment, or the dining room from a messy kitchen. Pro tip: paint the shelving unit the same color as your walls. The monochromatic look will make your home feel larger.

4. Instead of space-consuming nightstands, use shelving as the headboard for your bed to house your nighttime reading materials, personal accessories, jewelry, medicines, and more. Small items can be contained in attractive baskets and bins to avoid knocking around during sleep.

5. In the kitchen, place spice racks and/or small suction-cup receptacles on the insides of cabinet doors to hold cooking utensils, receipts and coupons, and other odds and ends. Use peg board on the wall near the stove, paint it the same color as your walls, and use hooks to hang your pots.

6. Use behind-the-door shoe holders on closet doors for way more than shoes. Fill the pockets with office supplies, hats and gloves, socks and underwear, arts and crafts supplies, and anything else that you’ve run out of room to fit in a drawer.

Once you start thinking in a small-space frame of mind, the ideas will keep flowing.

4 Areas of Your Home That Likely Need a Touch-Up

4 Areas of Your Home That Likely Need a Touch-Up

Regular maintenance is an ongoing process for every homeowner. Keeping up with smaller projects is essential if you want to avoid major problems down the road.

With a little bit of preventative maintenance, you can ensure that your home remains beautiful and efficient for years to come. Here are several areas of your home that are likely in need of some attention:

Roof
A well-constructed roof should last for at least 30 years, but some of the shingles will need to be replaced well before that. Replacing damaged tiles is immediately going to improve the appearance of your home, and that simple project could help you avoid serious water damage. As a general rule, tiles and shingles need to be replaced if they are curled, cracked or bent. You also need to replace any metal flashing that is bent or warped.

Exterior Walls
Putting a fresh coat of paint on your home can have a huge impact on its curb appeal. While you can paint your own home—there are many people who do—you may also want to hire a residential painting company. Trying to paint exterior walls without the proper tools and equipment is going to be exhausting, even dangerous, if you have a multiple-story home. An experienced team of painters should be able to paint your walls and trim in one or two days, and many contractors guarantee their work.

Front Door
Painting your front door is another simple project that shouldn’t take more than a few hours—you won’t need anything more than a few basic tools and a can of your desired paint. If you plan on selling your home in the near future, then you should pick a relatively neutral color that matches the exterior walls and trim. Also be sure to coat the door in some type of exterior sealant if you want the paint to last.

Windows
Modern windows usually last for decades, but older panes and sills are inefficient. After a few years, your windows might become warped, and that’ll allow air to escape. You can continue to seal around the outside of your windows once every few years, but you should consider replacing them entirely if they are old and unsightly. Modern windows will improve the efficiency of your home while boosting its appearance.

Before you tackle any of these projects, make sure to research all local building codes. While most cosmetic renovations don’t require any permits, there are strict regulations regarding major structural modifications, and you could face huge fines and fees if you don’t adhere to those codes.

How to Upcycle ‘Trash’ Into Treasure

How to Upcycle ‘Trash’ Into Treasure

Are you getting ready to haul that so-called junk out of your attic? Or haphazardly driving by another yard sale without giving it a second thought? Before you trade in older, used items for pricey replacements, consider how you might upcycle presumed “trash” into fashionable new home decor.

Repurposed jars. From old mason jars to small jam jars, these glass containers can be used as vases for fresh blooms, change holders, organizers for your desk, or planters for seedlings. The options are only as limited as your imagination. Step up the design quotient by giving them a quick coat of craft paint.

Bottle magic. Old bottles, from clear to colorful, can serve myriad purposes. Use them with your favorite stoppers and they become decanters for oil, dish soap or hand soap. Have fun with paint and create a pattern on the outside for an artistic decorative accessory.

Frame redo. Rescue a random assortment of weathered, old picture frames from the trash heap and turn them into a variety of decorative accessories. Replace broken glass centers with wood, and varnish the entire piece for an elegant new serving tray. Or leave the centers empty, spray paint the frames, and arrange them together for a unique, contemporary wall-art statement.

Not just for tea time. Have a collection of mismatched tea cups and saucers? Don’t get rid of them, put them to work! Use them to organize jewelry and trinkets on top of or within a bureau drawer (pro tip: hook earrings around the rim). Or use them as decorative candy or nut dishes during your next soiree. They also make for stylish servers for sugar or condiments at the dinner table.

Wooden wonders. Larger wooden items can become especially burdensome when no longer needed, but sometimes you just need to see them in a new light. A decorative door can be reborn as a headboard, an old wooden crate can become the perfect planter in your garden, and a step ladder can be refinished as a multi-shelved night stand.

Upcycling older items will not only infuse new style into your home, it will keep more money in your wallet and put less trash in the landfill.

Source: Martha Stewart

Lightning Safety for the Summer Season

Lightning Safety for the Summer Season

With summer underway, storm season is looming. It’s important to consider how severe summer weather can impact your family and home, and this includes not only wind and rain, but also lightning. Georgia Power offers the following safety tips when severe weather and lightning is in the forecast:

– Seek shelter inside away from doors and windows.

– Avoid electronic equipment of all types, including landline phones, as lightning can travel through electrical systems.

– Avoid indoor water use during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing.

– Never touch any downed or low hanging wires, and never pull tree limbs off power, telephone or cable lines after a storm.

– Never go near chain link fences – downed power lines or lightning strikes may energize the entire length of the fence.

– Never walk into areas where crews are at work. If driving near work crews, obey road signs and proceed cautiously.

Source: Georgia Power

Home Sellers: 4 Things to Replace Before You List Your Home

Home Sellers: 4 Things to Replace Before You List Your Home

It’s rare that a person can’t a home on the market without doing any work.  While you might have been concentrating on the big changes before you put the for-sale sign in your yard, it’s important to remember the little things, as well.  Below are four things you should consider replacing before you put your house up for sale:

Paint.  Adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the best ways to liven up the look of your home.  If you have the time and ability to do so, repainting both the exterior of your home and all of the rooms is a good way to go; however, if you’re limited on funds, make sure to repaint any area that has seen significant wear and tear.

Broken Locks and Handles.  If there are a number of broken locks and handles in your home (with which you have grown accustomed to dealing with), these can be major problems for new owners, especially if they make a prospective buyer feel unsafe.  As such, it’s a good idea to replace any broken locks and any broken door handles that might be in your hoe before listing.

Carpet.  Old carpet can wreak havoc on your attempts to sell your home.  Not only does it have the possibility of making your rooms look dingy or out-of-date, but also, old carpeting can hold onto smells no matter how often you’ve attempted to have them cleaned. Consider getting entirely new carpet in your house before putting it on the market—or upgrade to hardwood or vinyl.  Making this change can add a great deal of value to your house and remove serious stumbling blocks on the path to getting your home sold.

Garage Door Openers.  How well does your current garage door opener remote work?  If it’s having trouble connecting to the overhead unit or you’ve given up on it entirely, it’s time to get something new.  A garage door specialist can help you find the equipment you’ll need to get your garage door functioning like new.

Always make sure to budget for the things you need to replace before you sell your home. Having all of these items replaced will not only make your house look nicer, but also help the rest of your home look even better to prospective buyers.  With a little work, you can make minor changes that can transform the way your house looks.

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