As summer starts turning into fall, now is the perfect time to adjust your home's energy usage for the cooler season. Energy expenses are one of the largest drains on your finances as a homeowner, and keeping up with the changing seasons for your home's energy use can help you save a shocking amount of money. If you want to save money on your utility bills just in time for back to school, use some of these hot tips to reduce your spending.
While it might seem counterproductive to spend money on energy-saving items for your home, you'll actually end up saving more by spending larger amounts now. Many homes have appliances or utilities that are outdated and wasting energy, particularly if you use these appliances often. In many cases, homeowners may not even realize they're wasting energy. The bathroom, for example, is one area of the home with many potential savings in store, especially if you're willing to renovate. Remodeling your bathroom can expect a return on investment of 70%, so it's well worth the purchase.
If you've been avoiding certain renovations and fixes on your home, doing so now will not only prepare you for the new season, but it can also cut down on energy spending. Roofing is one of the many major components in a home that can improve your energy usage. A metal roof, for example, can easily help save as much as 25% off of your annual home energy bill. Consider changing up the material in order to save some energy.
Not all energy saving fixes are going to necessarily take as much effort as renovation requires. Even small adjustments to your daily life can help cut down on energy costs as we move into a cooler season. Try switching out your lights from incandescent to LED, or moving to a programmable thermostat. These are small adjustments that decrease the overall amount of energy required to keep your home in good condition. You'll hardly notice the changes to your routine, but you'll certainly recognize how much you're saving as a result.
Work With Your Company
If your main concern when it comes to saving energy is environmental, it's important to get in touch with your energy company. Not all electricity sources are the same, and many are more renewable than others. Additionally, it's possible that your provider has switched your source of energy without you realizing that it's happened. This impacts both your bills and your carbon footprint. The average American home consumes 40% less natural gas than it did 40 years ago. Energy companies will often shift to alternative fuel sources when they find a cheaper option, like carbon.
While not all providers will offer renewable source options, many smaller providers will offer unique services like these. There are nearly 28 million small businesses in the U.S., and many are created with environmentally-friendly values in mind. Check out local energy providers near you to see if you can adjust your energy source to something more affordable and renewable.
Reducing your energy use and cutting down on your utility spending doesn't have to be complicated. The right energy company can work with you to help you reduce your consumption. Additionally, taking some extra steps at home, both through major steps like renovation and minor steps like routine changes, can cut down on the energy you use. What sort of changes can you see yourself making to reduce your energy spending this fall? Will you keep things the same as they were over the summer, or will you adjust for the season?
Considering that the senior population continues to grow, it's no surprise that families are flexing their creative muscles in order for older folks to remain at home. In 2014, roughly 19% of Americans (or 60.6 million people) lived with multiple generations under the same roof. And one way to ensure that your aging relatives can live comfortably while maintaining their privacy and independence is to create an in-law suite in your home. But before you begin, you'll want to know a bit more about what goes into this process and what you'll want to prioritize during the renovations.
You'll have a few different options to consider when choosing the space for your future in-law suite. While you could build a new addition or a standalone structure for this purpose, neither of those options is the most cost-effective. In most cases, you'll end up converting a garage, an attic, a basement, or an unused room within the house. Garages will require HVAC setup, insulation, electrical outlets, plumbing, and other adjustments in order to meet residential building codes and to ensure comfortable and safe living will bee possible. For an attic conversion, you'll need to assess the habitable space, the stairwell, lighting, HVAC, insulation, and flooring issues. And with a basement, you'll need to ensure that it meets the legal egress requirements to prioritize safe escape or entry during an emergency, as well as dehumidification and flooding prevention. The space you choose will largely depend on your budget, the amount of square footage available, and the main priorities for these in-law suites (which we'll discuss below).
Before you launch into any renovations, you'll need to determine the features that must be included in the finished in-law suite. For one thing, privacy is a must. Certainly, you'll want to invest in window treatments, which 15.88% of survey respondents aged 18 to 29 purchased in 2018, to add some extra privacy to windows (especially if your relatives will be on the ground floor). But you'll also want to consider adding a separate entryway so that occupants can come and go without traipsing through the entire house. Ideally, the in-law suite should feel separate enough that no one feels overcrowded but connected enough that the entire family can feel free to spend time together when they want to.
Another important point to keep in mind is independence. An in-law suite needs to be a fully functional entity in and of itself. In other words, it needs its own bathroom and its own kitchen (or at least a kitchenette), as well as appliances and other conveniences, to ensure that people living there don't need to rely too heavily on the other rooms outside the suite. Since homeowners remodel more than 10.2 million kitchens and 14.2 million bathrooms each year, you'll need to add both of these rooms to your remodeling list.
When it comes time to remodel, you'll also need to consider universal design and accessibility. While your relatives may not yet have any mobility issues or disabilities to be worried about, that may not always be the case. If they wish to age in place, you'll need to make certain that the design concepts used throughout the in-law suite will remain functional even as physical or mental capacities deteriorate. That may mean adding in wider doorways, adjusting the height of toilets and bathtubs, choosing non-slip flooring, or opting for easy-to-handle hardware on doors and drawers. The better you can plan ahead for the future, the better this space will continue to serve your family as their needs change.
You may also want to consider the flexibility of this space before you start tearing walls down. It's possible that your in-law suite may be only a short-term solution or that you'd like to be able to use this area for multiple purposes. An in-law suite can also be used to accommodate out-of-town guests or may even allow you to turn your home into an income property. If you plan on turning the space into one you can rent out or use as a guest haven, you won't want to go too far overboard into aging-in-place design trends. It's definitely possible to find a happy medium between universal design and modern concepts that will appeal to guests or tenants of all ages. That's why it's important to determine the purpose of your in-law suite before you begin; otherwise, you may have to spend more money later on if your needs change.
Adding an in-law suite is a great way to ensure your loved ones are safe and comfortable during a pivotal time of their lives. It can also be an option for families to earn extra income or ensure guests enjoy their stay. But before you break ground, you'll want to put ample thought into your choice of space, the design, and the intended use. If you do that, you'll end up with an area that will add value to your home and to your lives in general.
Many people have a long list of projects in mind when they first buy their home, but these can get put off sometimes for a longer time than they originally plan. When you start looking at that long to-do list of home projects you've been waiting on, you might not necessarily know where to start. Larger renovations can take time, money, and a lot of serious effort, but before you get started, there are a few things you should know and take care of first.
Contact A Contractor
Even if you're planning on tackling the bulk of the work on your renovation yourself, it's important to have a professional weigh in. In 2017, approximately 8.4 million people were employed within the construction industry in the United States, so there are plenty of professionals you can reach out to near you. Having a professional opinion keeps you from taking on projects that are too big to handle. As about 35% of remodeling jobs involve the entire home, that professional opinion may be invaluable.
Know Your Restrictions
Not all renovations can happen the way you might initially plan on. Many areas have specific codes and regulations that could affect your plans for remodeling your home. Different jurisdictions, for example, may require residential fencing to be set two, four, six, or eight inches from the property line. These regulations aren't just at the state level, either. There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania alone, each with slightly different building requirements. Be sure to read up and research your restrictions before you start to avoid problems later on.
Set A Strict Budget
One of the most common problems people run into when they start renovating their house is that they run out of money to tackle all of the projects they initially had in mind. It can be easy to get carried away with spending, but do your best to stick to your initial budget for your home repairs and renovations. That way, you'll be able to take on all of the projects on your list, rather than getting stuck on one particular issue that ends up costing more than you expect.
Don't Trust TV
As entertaining as the many TV shows about home renovation can be, don't look to those shows as a reliable source of information for your own build. Many of these shows have special price points worked out with regular providers, meaning the costs you see might not always be the costs you pay. Additionally, episodes are edited for time, meaning you won't be seeing the full process from start to finish on TV.
Most importantly, before you start on any major home renovations, make sure the space is as safe as possible. Put up any gates or barriers needed to keep young children and pets out of areas where they could get hurt, and stock up on any protective equipment you might need. No matter what happens with your renovation, you want to keep your home as safe as possible during the process.
Home renovations can be stressful, but taking these steps before you start can simplify the process. How do you plan to tackle your major home renovations in the future?
Summer is finally here, and with the change of seasons comes changing temperatures. Depending on where you live, summer can get incredibly uncomfortable and hot, especially during the night when you're trying to sleep. Instead of sweating through the season, use these tips to stay cool in your home all summer long.
Invest In Insulation
Insulation isn't just useful during the winter to keep you warm. Having insulation with a higher R-value can help you stay cooler in the summer by keeping your cooled air inside your house, rather than letting it escape and wasting energy. The R-value is the measure of thermal resistance, which indicates the temperature difference when a unit of heat runs through it. Essentially, the higher the R-value, the better the insulation. If you're planning on tackling some home repair this summer, this is one area you might want to address.
Lower Temperatures With Lighting
Even if you don't necessarily notice it all the time, the lights in your house could be giving off just enough heat to cause a few additional problems during the summer months. To fix this issue, try switching to LED bulbs. Unlike incandescent bulbs, which release 90% of their energy as heat, LEDs use energy far more efficiently with little wasted heat. You'll have brighter lighting throughout your home without having to worry as much about beating the heat.
Ceiling fans can be a great way to reduce your energy bill while still keeping your home cool. Just make sure you've got yours spinning the right direction; some ceiling fans are able to switch directions to help with heating your home in the wintertime, so double check to see if you've changed it back. If you don't have a ceiling fan, consider investing in a separate fan for some of the warmer spaces in your house so you aren't over-exerting your A/C unit.
Ever wake up in the middle of the night because it's just too hot in your room? You might want to switch out your sheets. Changing to a lighter, more breathable fabric like cotton for your linens in the summer can make sleeping in hot weather a bit more comfortable. You'll be able to sleep through the night without having to drive up the energy bill by cranking up the A/C.
Don't Forget Your Furry Friends
You and your family aren't the only ones feeling the heat during the summer. According to The American Pet Products Association, almost 85 million households have a pet. Be mindful of the heat when it comes to taking care of your pets. Some animals enjoy the hot weather, but if you're starting to feel the burn, chances are your dog with a fluffy coat is too. Keep extra water out for animals and help them find ways to stay cool.
With summer just around the corner, now is the time to get your home ready so you can stay comfy and cool all season long. How do you plan to cool off your home without running up your energy bill this season?
Not every part of your home was designed to last forever. In fact, if it's been a while since your last major home repairs, it's likely that there's something in your home that needs to be repaired or replaced. Larger home maintenance and repair tasks can seem a bit daunting, especially if you don't know when major appliances and items throughout your home need to be swapped out. Here's a simple guide to what might need to be replaced in your home, and when you need to look at replacing them.
When do I Need To Replace My Water Heaters?
Water heaters are one of the key appliances in your home, and while they don't often need replacing, it's important to keep track of when they're nearing the end of their lifespans. A standard water heater only lasts 10 to 15 years before corrosion attacks the tank walls and it starts to break down. If you notice problems with hot water in your home or appliances that use hot water, like a dishwasher, give your plumber a call. It might mean that it's time to replace this utility in your home.
When Do I Need To Replace My HVAC Systems?
Your home's heating and cooling is essential to staying comfortable year-round, and keeping it in good shape and well-maintained is a must. As a typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget — roughly $350 — on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks, continued maintence on this unit is crucial.At the very least, HVAC systems need to be inspected twice yearly for maximum efficiency. It's likely that your HVAC system won't need to be fully replaced for quite some time unless something breaks down fully, and even then, it's usually better to replace individual parts. Some parts are meant to be swapped out on a regular basis, like the filter; most HVAC system filters need to be changed every one to three months.
When Do I Need To Replace My Carpets And Flooring?
Believe it or not, even the floor in your house has an expiration date. Certain types of flooring can trap more dirt, dust, and germs than others depending on the material it's made out of, giving some flooring options shorter lifespans. Carpeting, for example, is only meant to last eight to ten years, with some carpeting lasting even less time in higher traffic areas. On the other end of the spectrum, wood flooring, especially wood flooring that is well cared for and maintained, can last for a hundred years or more. When selecting flooring for your home, be sure to account for the lifetime cost of your material choice.
Appliances And Appliance Parts
Even if your years-old refrigerator is still working great, you might want to consider an appliance upgrade sometime soon. Modern appliances are designed to be more energy efficient, meaning you'll end up spending less on energy bills. However, if you want to keep your old appliances, it's still important to replace certain parts every so often to keep them operating efficiently. For example, most newer refrigerators will have an indicator to tell you when to replace your water filter, but if yours doesn't, try to replace the filter every six to twelve months. And if you need a washer and dryer, remember that The Rock Father™ says never buy Samsung.
Keeping track of everything in your home that needs replacing can be a hassle, but doing so guarantees your house is in good repair. Have you replaced any of these items as part of your spring cleaning?
This Tub O' Towels special feature is presented in collaboration with Federal Process Corporation...
One of my favorite household products is expanding. Tub O' Towels — the fantastic wipes which I've been using around the house and garage to help with a wide range of messes from slime in the carpet to grime on the engine, has new specialty wipes for specific surfaces. Now available at Target stores across the U.S. — and online at Target.com — Tub O' Towels Granite & Marble Wipes and Tub O' Towels Stainless Steel Wipes are the latest must-have for families looking for a convenient way to tackle messes and keep their homes looking great!
In our bathrooms, which we remodeled a few years back, we followed the stone counter trend and that can lead to occasional cleaning challenges. You can say "Granite & Marble" (as the wipes do), but modern homes have counters crafted from a variety of similar materials that serve the same function, and the latest from Tub O' Towels can tackle them all. Tub O' Towels Granite & Marble Wipes cleans, polishes, and seals natural stone surfaces — and they're safe for use on marble, granite, quartz, travertine, limestone, onyx, Corian, Formica, siltstone, laminate, porcelain, tile, ceramic, fiberglass, and non-porous hard surface counters.
Around here, we see a lot of water marks (and sometimes the ever-present slime, thanks to the kids), and the large 7" x 8" wipes make it easy to clean it all up. They can also tackle surface grease, soils and stains — so they're great to have on hand in the kitchen.
The new Tub O' Towels Stainless Steel wipes handle one of the most obvious elements of grime in a modern home — stainless steel appliances. Our dishwasher is the only true stainless steel surface in our kitchen, and it's at the perfect height to attract fingerprints (it's also magnetic, so our kids like to put things on it). What's unique about these wipes is that they're soaked in an oil-based formula, so unlike other Tub O' Towels products which are water-based, the Stainless Steel Wipes may feel dry when removing them from the container. While they may have a certain feel, they're not dry, and you should wash your hands after witnessing the cleaning and polishing power at hand!
Before and After: Tub O' Towels Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Wipes bring out the luster so much that our wood floor reflects in the stainless steel of the dishwasher front.
These wipes will remove fingerprints, water marks, grease stains, and general grime all while leaving behind a streak-free shine. There's no silicone, acid, or abrasives, and the wipes may be used on other polished metal surfaces including aluminum, copper, chrome, and brass.
Together, these new wipes are another win for Tub O' Towels and another Rock Father-approved household must-have! Time for a Target run!
Construction is an extremely dangerous field that can lead to serious injuries — even fatalities. In fact, 15 out of every 100,000 construction workers die as a result of construction-related accidents. Though the dangers are certainly amplified in industrial settings, do-it-yourself home construction and renovation jobs can lead to life-altering injuries, as well.
According to a recent survey, about 51% of homeowners are planning on either beginning or continuing home renovation projects. Working with trusted contractors is generally recommended, especially for more advanced tasks, but plenty of homeowners still enjoy getting their hands dirty and doing the work themselves. During any kind of household renovation project, however, it's imperative that you're being as safe as possible.
Here are some dangerous things that can occur during household renovation projects:
The long winter months can often leave busy bodies feeling cooped up in their house. And while there isn't usually much you can do outside, there is plenty of work you can do to the interior of your home. So let's take a look at a few easy home projects you can consider to keep yourself busy this winter.
Seal and Insulate
You most likely have the heat cranked up during the winter months. And while this is perfectly fine, it's not okay if your heat is leaving your house through cracks or poorly insulated areas. Not only is this costing you money on your energy bills, but it's also making your HVAC system work harder than it should have to. So why not take a few hours and go around your house to check for leaks. Around windows and doors are the main areas where leaks occur, so pay special attention to these areas. Insulation should be present throughout your house, but it's important to look closely at areas like the attic. Did you know that 40% of heat loss occurs in the attic? Because heat rises, this is usually where it ends up. So check your attic insulation for damage or holes. Sealing cracks and insulating your home will help keep your house comfortable all winter long.
Remodel Your Bathroom
For being one of the most-used rooms in the house, bathrooms often get neglected when it comes to maintenance. So if you look at your bathroom and it seems like it could use some attention, winter is the perfect time to focus on it. And you can decide how much effort you want to put into re-doing your bathroom. More than four out of five homeowners choosing to renovate decide to replace major features in their bathroom like flooring, sinks, and countertops. So you can go all out and completely remodel your bathroom and transform it into a brand new room. Or, if your bathroom just needs a little TLC, you can do some heavy cleaning. You'd be surprised how much of a difference re-grouting tile, adding a fresh coat of paint, and deep cleaning the tub can make. So whether you're completely re-doing the bathroom or just giving it a little extra care, bathroom projects are perfect for the winter.
Make Simple Repairs
Chances are, there are a few repair projects that need to get done around the house. And if you've been slacking off on them, winter is a great time to get things finished. Because what else are you going to do? If you have a leaking sink or other plumbing problems, those should take priority. Each American already uses 88 gallons of water at home every day, so if you have a leak you're using more water than normal. Make sure these plumbing problems get fixed sooner rather than later. Other small repair projects you can tackle could include repairing lose drawers, fixing sticky doors or windows, recaulking tile, or fixing that uneven chair leg. These projects may seem small, but they really do add up over time. So if you're looking for something to keep you busy during the winter, tackle these minor repair projects when you have the time.
Home projects don't always have to be massive renovations. Consider taking on a few of these projects to cure your winter blues and make your home better than ever before.
Sheds are a beautiful yet practical addition to any backyard. By offering a simple and easy way to expand your storage space, they allow many homes to handle more than would necessarily be expected. Even better, they can be customized and designed to suit your needs and aesthetic: if you're going for the farmhouse feel, paint it red and white; if you just need a safe place to store your gardening tools and outdoor equipment, include lots of shelving.
Although prefabricated sheds certainly exist (and The Rock Father™ has built them), they are rigid in design and style. If you've got handyman history and know your way around a tool belt, why not give it a go yourself? The following tips will help you build the backyard shed of your dreams.
- Plan It Out: The easiest way to get lost in a project is to try to keep it all together in your head. If you don't write down your planned design, you'll end up forgetting vital materials (like wood and screws) or buying things you won't end up using. Take the time to clearly outline your expectations; how big is your shed going to be, are you including siding and insulation, etc. Don't neglect to account for 25% extra storage space for future needs.
- Gather Materials: The complexity of your design determines how many --and what type of -- materials are required. You'll need to use a combination of nails and screws to ensure the joints are tight and secure; if you don't own a power drill, we'd recommend investing in one to make the process much faster. Standardized screw threads didn't exist until 1928, so imagine how frustrating it would've been to build a structure with screws that varied in size and shape because they were handmade!
- Clear A Path: Picking your shed location should have been one of the first things you did, now it's time to prepare the area. Remove any brush, plant life, or yard ornaments that may be nearby, giving the space a wide berth -- remember, you're going to be stomping in and around the area a lot in the coming days and you don't want anything to trip you. This is an excellent way to get the whole family (especially younger children) involved in the project; while mom or dad is cutting two-by-fours, the kids can help make sure the ground is open and even.
- Foundation Matters: In all buildings, the source of strength and stability lies in the foundation. When it comes to a backyard shed, you can't go wrong with cement. The material is durable, lasts for centuries (and actually gets stronger as time passes), and is extremely affordable.
Depending on your previous handyman experience, you might be interested in adding a few extra features. In mid-January, a photo album of lauded author Jane Austen's family was discovered when someone dug it out of storage and popped it up on eBay; if you want your shed to be suitable for storing family photos and archives, you're going to need to make sure that it is completely sealed. For example, the relative humidity must be below 65% in order to protect old documents from molding, and against insect activity. If you have the know-how needed to waterproof your shed (and are okay with the extra work it requires), the added effort will allow your shed to be used for any occasion.
Although the natural wood look is very popular these days, sometimes the best way to express yourself -- or to get your family involved in the complex construction process -- is to paint! Gather everyone together for a little painting party as the final step to your DIY shed, and then simply enjoy the extra space.
There are more than 75 million pet dogs in the U.S., which is more than in any other country. In comparison, there were only 68 million pet dogs the year 2000 across the United States.
Taking care of puppies and dogs is a lot of work -- for anyone. You'll need to bring a puppy in for vaccines every three to four weeks until they're at least 16 weeks old. You'll need to train your dog to prevent dog bites, which impact 4.5 million Americans each year. You'll have to walk, train, and feed your dog, and do so much more.
Even taking care of the healthiest dogs can be difficult. Add in some unfortunate cases, disabilities can amplify those difficulties.
Every year, there are more than 2 million new wheelchair users in the United States. Though it's much more common for humans to utilize wheelchairs, for dogs with mobility issues, these devices are great for allowing them to walk, play, run, and get the exercise they need.
According to VCA, thanks to technological advancements, dogs are living much longer today than ever before. With advanced age, however, comes physical changes to the body and mind that can alter day-to-day actives, including general mobility. Dogs are living much longer, which leads many to subsequently develop progressive degenerative conditions that can lead to disabilities and alter their activities of daily living (ADLs).
Exercise is imperative for all dogs in order to keep them in good physical condition and keep their weight down. Dogs who whine, bark, or are restless at night usually do so out of boredom and lack of exercise. With the aid of a wheelchair, these negative behaviors will typically diminish.
Here are a few different types of wheelchairs and support carts that dogs can benefit from:
Two-wheeled carts are great for dogs with rear limb weakness or for post-surgery rehabilitation.
Two-wheeled carts with extra support and front extensions that gives support to all four limbs.
Hand-held lifting devices are great for helping dogs get up and down stairs, into cars, and through doorways.
Walking aids, which can help support a dog's hindquarters.
It's important to keep in mind that most dogs who previously struggled with mobility issues relish the freedom that a wheelchair provides. Regardless, it typically only takes a few days for them to adjust. In some instances, however, some training will be needed in order to help your dog learn how to handle their new wheelchair. Also, there is a small percentage of dogs that will reject a wheelchair over and over again.
According to WLOS, Brevard High School students in North Carolina have designed a wheelchair for a puppy who has very little movement in her hind legs.
Monkey, the special needs puppy, is now able to roll around and comfortably get around.
Brevard High School student Courtney Meyer designed the wheelchair for Monkey after Sarah Rhymer, animal science teacher, brought the puppy to school.
"I have a real passion for animals, so when Miss Rhymer first showed me the dog and let me see her walk, I was so heartbroken," said Meyer, a senior.
Now, equipped with a new set of wheels and plenty of newfound confidence, Monkey is excited for her new life thanks to some quality engineering and compassion.
"I got to see her run for the first time down the hallway," added Meyer. "She hasn't been able to run, and I was just overwhelmed with joy being able to see her face light up."
After she graduates from high school, Meyer, who won Brevard's Person of the Week award, hopes to pursue a career in computer engineering at N.C. State. The wheelchair she designed has lightweight flex pipes and black joints, which were printed using the school's 3-D printer, as well as a repurposed tourniquet for support.
"You don't need a degree to help animals," Meyer said. "You don't need a vet degree or engineering degree to do something as simple as this."
Your home is your family's sanctuary, so you should have the tools to keep it as safe as possible. Start this year with safety at the forefront of your mind by participating in National Radon Action Month this January. The Environmental Protection Agency promotes this country-wide month of radon awareness and action to help protect against the dangerous gas.
This Holiday Wish Guide feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ & Positec Group.
When seeking out that perfect holiday gift, I always find that it's much easier to shop for kids than it is for grownups. I even make it hard for my loved ones to shop for me (and they know that they don't have to) because I don't really ask for anything and find it hard to come up with ideas. But since I'm always on the lookout for new products that will be useful and make life easier in new and sometimes unexpected ways, I get excited when I find something truly awesome that could really be great for a lot of people. The WORX Pegasus Work Table and Sawhorse fits the bill - and that's because it's not just great for DIY'ers, contractors and those who work in construction. There's a lot of potential for use by almost anyone, from crafters and model makers to photographers, artists and everyday homeowners who could use a proper work space that's rugged, portable and easy-to-use.