How to Care for your Heating and Cooling System

What keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer? You guessed it, your heating and cooling system. We want to help inform our customers on how to care for their heating and cooling system. These seven quick tips can help save energy and money to the consumer. 

 

How to care for your heating & cooling system: 

  1. Filters. Changing your filters can help reduce the energy used by your heating and cooling system. The more clogged that your air filter gets; the harder it has to work. Also, it can damage the system by causing premature wear and tear. You should change your disposable filters regularly (approximately once a month).
  2. Compressors. Your compressor is located outside because it trades hot air for cold air. In order for it to work properly, your compressor needs to be free of surroundings. You should check your compressor around fall and spring time to see if anything has begun to obstruct it. Take away any leaves, debris or tress that may be in the way of the compressor. 
  3. Air Filtration Systems. Newer homes tend to have air filtration systems and other households use portable air-filter systems. We encourage you to check how to change your air-filter systems because pollen and debris can be caught up in your filter.
  4. Service Calls. Experts advise homeowners to call for maintenance before the first cold or hot night. Do not wait until the last minute. 
  5. Thermostats. Try to keep the heat down during bedtime and when you are not home. You can turn up the thermostat during the morning and dinner hours. If you keep your thermostat on a steady routine, it can help lower costs and save energy. 
  6. Reduce Heat Costs. Use curtains and blinds to help conserve home’s heat. Blackout curtains are amazing for reducing heat loss in homes. 

 

It is extremely important that homeowners probably maintain their heating and cooling system to reduce costs and energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that 41% of a home’s energy is space heating and 6% air conditioning. That means that 47% of a household’s energy use is from our heating and cooling system; therefore, it is critical that homeowners reduce energy used by this system.


Hosting Overnight Visitors Without a Guest Room

When space is limited and guests need overnight accommodations, it’s easy to get a little stressed out. With some creativity and thoughtfulness, you’ll be able to open up your home to them with confidence. Use some of these tips to make the available space you have into a makeshift guest room.

 

First and foremost, make sure that any room you choose is clean. The room may not be spacious, but the fact that it is clean will be appreciated. No matter what you do to make the space accommodating if the area isn’t tidy, your guests will be sure to notice. Next, try to create more surface area for your visitors to work with. If there are miscellaneous items sitting on the floor that you were going to “get to later”, now is the time to clear them away. Any small furniture that can temporarily be moved to another area is also a good way to free up some space as well.  This will give guests room to place their overnight bags and essentials.

 

When it comes to having a place to sleep, there are a couple of options. You may already own a futon that is currently doubling as a couch in the room. If so, great! If not, you might want to invest in a quality air mattress—preferably one that is about two feet from the ground with a non-slip surface so sheets will not slip all over the place while your guests are using it. Make sure to check the label for a mention of easy inflation and deflation so you don’t have to spend too much time on setup and cleanup. Make sure the bedding you use has been cleaned and be sure to provide extra pillows and blankets to accommodate your guest’s sleeping preferences.  Do not use couch pillows, as they can be uncomfortable to sleep on. If you do not have a spare set, it is highly recommended that you invest in them. Your visitors will thank you. 

  

Once the sleeping area has been set up, add things to the space that would make it look and feel similar to staying in a guest bedroom. If this space lacks proper lighting, move a small side table and lamp from somewhere else in your home and temporarily place it bedside. Guests will appreciate somewhere to put their glasses, phone, and book where they can reach it. 

 

Finally, be sure to have spare toiletries available in case anything may have been forgotten.  Place a small basket in the guest bathroom with shampoo, soap, toothpaste and a spare toothbrush. Make sure towels are clean and readily available. A spare hair dryer is also appreciated.

 

Not having a spare bedroom doesn’t mean that you can’t make your overnight guests experience an enjoyable one. Use these tips the next time you need to accommodate friends and family for an extended stay. Your hospitality won’t go unnoticed.

Declutter Your Home

Many people participate in fall cleaning, just as they do with spring cleaning.  If you do as well, or if you would like advice on a quick deep clean of your home, keep reading! It is a big undertaking, but it always leaves you feeling refreshed. This is a time for you to get your home back to the way it should look. 

1. Clean out your kitchen. 

Let us be honest, our kitchen can get unorganized very easily. Cabinets can fill up with expired food and dishes seem to always be misplaced. Your kitchen is a great place to start when you begin to declutter your life. We always put off deep cleaning the kitchen because it can be a giant task. Here is how you can clean out your kitchen:

  • Throw out any empty bottles and expired food. It feels great seeing all the new space open up in your fridge and cabinets.
  • Reorganize the dishes in your cabinets. Check for any broken dishes and throw them away. Look to see if things are not in their designated spots and move them. 
  • Keep counter space only for items you will use daily. Also, consider the items you never use: think if you really need them or if they will be better suited in the giveaway box. 
  • Time to literally deep clean your kitchen. It will feel amazing to have a refreshingly clean kitchen. You can tackle the scum in your oven, countertops, stove, you name it. 

2. Go through your closet. 

Closets are easy to avoid cleaning out because they are hidden from our guests. We get dressed in the morning and start to throw clothes in different spots or maybe you are someone who just uses that extra closet as storage for who-knows-what. What you need to do:

  • Take EVERYTHING out of your closet. We are going to start with a completely blank slate.
  • Separate everything into different piles: shoes, shirts, pants, etc. Make sure you have a pile to give away. We are sure that you will find some things that you do not wear or did not know you owned. 
  • Look at the quality of the item, if it is worn or torn, throw it out. 
  • Lastly, you can put everything you decided to keep back into the closet. You should have far fewer items than what you started with. 

 

You will feel extremely refreshed after “the declutter” and possibly tired, make sure to treat yourself! Decluttering your home will ultimately declutter your life because an organized home is an organized life. Things may get messy again, but that is when you pull this article out and start all over.

 

Creating a Home Office

Home offices are essential for busy homeowners looking for organization. But sometimes, your house does not have an extra room for you to make into an office. If you do not necessarily have space to place your home office, we have the solution for you. We have five tips for homeowners to make an office in any room of their house. 

 

Tips for Creating a Home Office: 

  1. Designated Area & Furnishings

There is nothing more frustrating than not having a specific area to do your office work. That is why it is essential to designate a specific area of your home. Whether it is in the corner of your guest bedroom or the nook of your kitchen, you should decide on an area to get your office work done. Make sure to put a desk in that area and refer to it as the office desk. 


  1. Functionally Placed Electronics

Printers, computers, and home phones can become a bulky nightmare if they are not properly placed in your home office. Try to organize the desk so that it will be easy to use at a moment’s notice. If the office is not functional, you will find yourself frustrated and use it less and less. 


  1. Organized Cords and Cables

Cords and cables can be an eyesore in any home office. Try to tuck cords away and tie them up with twist-ties. Make sure to roll the cords properly because you do not want to damage the cord itself. If you are unsure how to roll them, watch some videos online to see the correct way of storing cords and cables. 


  1. Filing System

Bills and important paperwork should be your first priority in your home office. To avoid losing them, create an efficient filing system for you to sort through weekly. 


  1. Define the Zones

If you and your entire family are using the office, make the office zones to clear to everyone. Make sure they understand where everything goes and what does what.

Growing Roses

Roses have captured the hearts of many over the years because of their beauty and fragrance. The best time to plant roses is in the early spring or fall and you will notice them in full bloom during the early to midsummer months. You can easily put these colorful, breathtaking flowers in your yard by following these simple steps:

 

Supply List: 

  • Garden Gloves
  • Large Ceramic Container (18 inches deep) 
  • Broken Clay Pot Pieces
  • Potting Mix 
  • Bagged Manure
  • Slow-release Fertilizer
  • A Patio Rose (Examples: Regensburg or Ingrid Bergman) 
  • Bedding Plants (Example: Bacopa) 

 

Steps:

Preparation: Place the pot wherever you want it to sit on your patio or in your garden because once we fill it, it will be difficult to lift. 

Step One: Gently place your broken clay pot pieces at the base of the ceramic container then sprinkle a layer of your potting mix combined with well-rotted manure. Your mixture should be 1:10 (manure: soil). 

Step Two: Take your potted rose and put it inside of your ceramic container to check the depth. You want the base of the stems to be underneath the soil. Take your rose out of its pot and place it inside of the ceramic container. Add or remove soil wherever needed. 

Step Three: Now we are going to take our bedding plant and remove it from its original container. Gently place the plant inside of the ceramic container and add your soil/manure mixture around the plant’s base. You will want to make sure that you leave approximately two inches between the soil and the ceramic container’s rim for watering purposes. 

After Planting: Make sure to water your plant and keep it moist during the growing season. During springtime, take the out the top layer of soil and add in some fresh soil and granular rose fertilizer. During the early summer months, you may choose to add the liquid feed to your roses. During the winter months, place your ceramic pot on top of “feet.” The feet will help allow the plant to drain properly. 

 

Roses can brighten anyone’s day and they can be a great gift to give to show your appreciation for someone. From teachers to mothers, gifting your potted roses can be a thoughtful gesture. We hope you enjoyed these steps and your new roses.

A Healthy Home

A healthy lifestyle begins with your home life. You can workout and eat well, but it is important to take a good look at your home and how it can affect your health. Poor conditions in your home lead to illness, allergies and other various health issues. Homeowners should investigate their air quality and cleanliness to determine a home’s health. If you want to dig deeper, here are some tips for having a healthy home: 

 

  1. Stay Organized. For homeowners to live a healthy life, they need to focus on staying organized. Organize your medications, tools, bath products, etc. It is best to get rid of all chemicals but if you cannot fully commit yet, it is totally fine!! Make sure all toxic products are put away and out of reach of children and pets. Also, try to label EVERYTHING to avoid confusion. 
  2. Avoid Unwanted Moisture. Too much water can cause mold, mildew, bacteria, and even bugs. To avoid these harmful pathogens, install moisture barriers around your home. Choose a barrier that is appropriate for your area’s weather and your house type. 
  3. Include Proper Ventilation. It is important to investigate your home’s air quality. Have you noticed that the air seems stuffy? Is there is moisture condensation on cold surfaces? Are you noticing the growth of mold or mildew? If so, it is essential to take your home’s ventilation into consideration: 
    • Use exhaust fans in the bathroom, kitchen and other moist areas of your home
    • Open your windows to get fresh air in your home. 
  1. Keep It Clean. Avoid transferring germs by keeping a clean, dirt-free home. Make sure to clean out your heating and cooling ducts to reduce the spread of dust and dirt throughout your home. 
  2. Remove Pests. Pests are known to carry several harmful diseases; it is best to get rid of pests as soon as possible. Try using nontoxic exterminators before you resort to toxic exterminators. This will help to avoid putting the harmful toxins in your home. 
  3. Go for All-Natural Cleaners. It is always more healthy for you and your family to use nontoxic cleaning products. With a variety of different solutions available, homeowners can quickly put together homemade cleaners. If you are buying your products, look for all-natural cleaners. 
  4. Schedule an Inspection. You will want to know if your home is in good condition by scheduling an inspection every two-three years. They can check your foundation, siding, roof, etc. 

 

We hope you and your family continue to live a happy, healthy life and that this list was helpful to you. What are some ways you keep your home healthy? We would love to hear in the comment section below. 


Houseplants for a Busy Life

Depending on the hustle and bustle involved in your schedule, it may be difficult for you to invest in high-maintenance plants. Would not it be great if our plants could just water themselves so we would not feel as guilty when we forget about them? Good news, there are certain plants that do not demand as much time and care. 

 

Houseplants for a Busy Life

Cactus & Succulents. These plants are extremely popular with busy homeowners because they look nice, but do not require a lot of maintenance. 

How to care for them:

If your cacti/succulent is in “the growing period,” they should be watered at least once a week. When you water them, make sure the soil is pretty soaked and excess water should run through the draining holes. Their “resting period” tends to begin when the weather gets colder and the days become shorter. You will want to water the plants less during this time and let the soil become dry between waterings. There will be exceptions to this rule if your cacti grow in the winter-time. To be absolutely certain, consult with your local nursery upon purchasing. 

Aloe Vera Plant. Your first thought is probably that Aloe Vera helps cuts and burns, but this plant can also add an aesthetic beauty to your household. 

How to care for them:

The rule of thumb for this plant is that it needs to be watered when the soil dries. It is important to notice when the soil is drying because late reactions can cause shriveling or wilting of the plant. Soil tends to dry completely within two-three weeks.

Snake Plant/Sansevieria. This thick plant takes on a cool, wavy texture that will add interest to a room. 

How to care for them:

These plants tend to prefer to be drier in the winter months. Experts say to water these plants about every two-three weeks. 

Dwarf Umbrella Tree. This plant will be a classic addition to any room by adding a touch of greenery and delicacy. Also, these plants have the added benefit of being an air filter. 

How to care for them:

These plants can be watered a couple times a month and are perfect for your home office. 

‘Campfire’ Crassula. This plant immediately demands attention with its dramatic colors and beauty. 

How to care for them:

This plant can be watered weekly, but if it is experiencing extremely hot temperatures consider watering it more frequently. 

 

Plants truly are the perfect decorative pieces for our homes. They bring a colorful allure to any space and ultimately make a home more inviting. Consider investing in one of these various plants that do not make you sacrifice valuable time. 


Repot Your Plants

Spring cleaning does not just involve cleaning your home, but it requires crucial maintenance for your plants. When springtime rolls around, it is important to take a look at your plants’ health. Plants should be transferred to larger pots to help their growth. The larger pot will assist your plants in getting its key nutrients and bring back any color it may have lost. You will need to take a look at your plant’s health and decide if it needs repotting. Some plants can go a couple years without repotting, but others may need more attention and up-keeping. 

 

Your Supply List: 

  • A plant
  • Large Pot (should be approximately 2 inches larger than your original pot)
  • Soil 
  • Water 

 

How to repot your plant:

  1. Consider your work environment. 

Repotting a plant can get messy quickly, consider taking your plant outdoors to work on repotting it. 

  • ONLY take your plant outside if it is warm enough because indoor plants can go into “shock” if exposed to low temperatures. 
  • Never place your indoor plants outdoors during cold months. 

2.  Remove your plant. 

In order to properly remove your plant, you will need to flip the pot upside and lightly take hold the plant’s stem. Once you have the plant’s stem in your hand, pull the plant out by its stem. 

3. Begin to add soil to the new pot. 

Cover the bottom of your larger pot with potting soil, but leave room for your plant.

4. Place your plant in the larger pot. 

5. Sprinkle more soil into the pot.

6. Water your repotted plant often.

7. Keep an eye on your plant for about a week. 

Your plant just changed homes, let it recuperate. Keep an eye out to make sure it handles the move well. 

 

Ultimately, repotting your plants is great for the plant as well as you. Dull plants can be a bit of an eyesore. Always keep an eye on your plants to see how they are growing in their new home. Your newly repotted plants should avoid direct sunlight for about a week and a half. 


Choosing and Using Area Rugs

When choosing an area rug there are several factors to consider such as the shape, size, and design. 18

 The type of room you are decorating will help determine the shape and size of the area rug you want to choose. Round rugs work well in wide rooms; they are often placed under hanging light fixtures. Long rectangular rugs work great in hallways, and rectangular or square rugs work best for dividing spaces in large rooms.

The design and type of rug are also important features. For the environmentally conscious, a natural fiber rug is a good option. Not only are they environmentally and budget friendly, they are also incredibly versatile. There are many different fibers to choose from such as bamboo, hemp, seagrass, jute and sisal.  If your decorating style is more exotic, consider Turkish, Morrocan, Oriental, or Persian rugs. Each have their own unique styles and options. Do you prefer a classic style? Consider a French Aubusson rug. For a plush and luxurious rug, there are many options of textured wools and hide rugs. If durability is important, the Indian Dhurrie rug might be the one for you.

Knowing how to use your rug to accentuate your space is important. Here are a few tips.

In a room with multiple area rugs use matching colors. This creates harmony in the space when there are multiple area rugs. Another option is to choose different shapes or patterned area rugs that share the same color palette. This strategy helps to distinguish between different areas of a large open space such as a dining room, and a living room. There is still harmony, but the space is distinguished by the different rugs.

 It is easier to combine differing solid colors than patterned rugs. It is also easier when one of the colors is neutral. Rugs impact the way a space is viewed. In an open room, a “floating space” can be anchored down by a rectangular area rug. In smaller spaces or rooms, buy a rug that exceeds the furniture to make the space appear larger.

These are a few strategies and ideas as you embark on the journey of finding the best area rug for your home. Please contact us with any questions.

House Warming Party

At last, you have finished your house and it turned out to be everything you could have ever imagined. You decide to celebrate the accomplishment with a house warming dinner party. If you enjoy cooking, dinner parties are a great opportunity to show off your culinary skills while showing off your new place. 

 

Here is how to throw a killer dinner party:

 

Send out your invites.

Pick a date and a time for your housewarming party. After you have decided, send out your invitations at least two-three weeks in advance. The early, the better. Make sure to have a date to RSVP by because you will need the amount of people coming for grocery list. 

Properly set your table. 

Charger Plates: For a formal dinner table setting, you will place your dinner plate & soup/salad bowl on top of the “charger.” Your charger plate acts a base for your setting and will remain during the duration of the main meal. You will take away your guests’ charger plates once the dessert is served. 

Dessert: Bring the dessert fork and plate come out with the dessert. 

Cups: The coffee cups will sit in the right corner above the silverware. Your wine glasses and water glasses will sit to the left of the coffee cups. 

Forks: The forks will sit to the left of your dinner plate. The dinner fork will be placed on the inside, closest to the dinner plate and the dessert fork will be placed on the outside left hand side. 

Spoons: Place the soup spoon on the far right. Your beverage spoons will lay in between the soup spoon and your dinner knife.

Knife: The knife will be on the righthand side closest to the dinner plate. 

Personalize the table. 

Name cards: Place a name card on each of your guests place. This will help your guests find their seats and feel special. Also, this gives you a chance to have certain people sit next to one another. 

Menu: You can provide a menu of the food you will be serving that night. Adding a menu adds a touch of class to your dinner table. 

Dec(orate) to impress.

Engage your guests’ eyes with a gorgeous centerpiece. You could put out an arrangement of flowers, candles, vases, etc. 

Delight their taste buds. 

Be aware of any allergies or restrictions your guests may have towards food. It is important to be respectful of their restrictions without overcompensating the rest of your guests’ meals. You can always provide an alternative main course option for guests with allergies (keep it simple).  Guests will appreciate the thoughtfulness you showed when preparing your meal with them in mind. 

 

We hope you thoroughly enjoy your house warming party and that all of your friends love your new place!