Affordable Big Impact Home Winterization Tips

Affordable Big Impact Home Winterization Tips

Although you may prefer to forget, last winter’s subfreezing temperatures may not be an isolated occurrence. Weather experts are already discussing if El Nino and arctic air from a polar vortex will cause colder than normal winter weather throughout the country. Is your home ready to withstand the chill?

Smart homeowners are taking time now to prepare their homes for the harsh weather. Winterizing not only helps maintain comfortable temperatures inside, but also helps lower your energy bill. Fortunately, some of the improvements that have the biggest impact are also easy to do and surprisingly affordable.

1. Seal gaps and cracks

The average midsize U.S. home has a half mile of gaps and cracks according to www.energystar.gov. Cold air infiltrates through those spaces causing your furnace to work overtime. An easy way to combat the problem is to use Great Stuff(TM) Gaps & Cracks to fill openings around electrical outlets, plumbing pipes, doors, dryer vents and more. Sealing your home takes just a few hours whether you do it yourself or work with a contractor. Visit dowgreatstuff.com/winterize to learn more.

2. Reverse fan blades

Your ceiling fans aren’t just valuable during summer – they can help reduce energy costs by circulating warm air that rises to the top of rooms. To ensure your fan is circulating the air correctly, you need to reverse the blades. Most modern ceiling fans have a handy switch that controls the blade direction. During the winter, set the blades to spin clockwise to help warm rooms and set to counterclockwise during summer for cooling breezes.

3. Eliminate drafty windows

Have you ever felt a draft as you walked by your window? Gaps around windows are a major source of heat loss. Seal out those drafts with Great Stuff(TM) Window & Door Insulating Foam Sealant. This specially formulated low-pressure sealant is easy to apply and insulates the window without bending the frame when properly applied. Another great tip is to open the curtains during the daylight hours on south-facing windows so the sun can help heat your home naturally. Close curtains when the sun sets to reduce the chill.

4. Install an adjustable thermostat

An adjustable thermostat is an effective tool for maintaining a comfortably warm home and cutting heating costs. If you have one but don’t have it set, now is the time to learn how. By adjusting the temperature down while you’re sleeping or away, you can save plenty of money. In fact, by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill, according to energy.gov.

5. Tune up your furnace

If meteorologists’ predictions are correct, your furnace will be working hard this winter. Make sure it is working effectively and efficiently by scheduling a tune-up now. A qualified technician will check the coils and clean and lubricate important mechanical parts. Some utility companies offer free checkups to customers, so be sure to ask about your options. In addition to a tune-up, remember to change your furnace filter once a month during the heating season to maintain proper air flow.

For more great home winterization tips, visit CiprianiRemodelingSolutions.com. One of our award-winning designers would love to have a conversation about conservation. (BPT) 

Editor’s note:
®™ Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow.

3 Simple Ways to Add Nostalgia During the Holidays

3 simple ways to add nostalgia during the holidays.

Fond memories of holidays past are one of the many gifts of the seasons, and it turns out a bit of nostalgia is good for you. It can make you feel less lonely, bored or anxious, and more generous, tolerant and happy, according to a New York Times report on nostalgia research.

You don’t need research to know that remembering good times makes you feel good. This holiday season, why not foster a sense of nostalgia? Here are three ways to bring some of the best things about bygone holidays back into modern holiday celebrations.

Decorating with a touch of yesteryear

It’s easy to evoke a sense of nostalgia with holiday decor. Retail and specialty stores carry a variety of decorations that evoke the look of past decades, from the roaring ’20s to the sparkly ’70s and beyond.

Choose light strands with larger bulbs to mimic the look your grandparents enjoyed in the 1950s, or candolier bubble lights for a ’60s or ’70s flare. Glass ornaments in intricate shapes also recall an older era, as do tabletop ceramic trees with mini lights.

A simple online search will yield many nostalgic decorating options, or you can often find vintage pieces at yard sales and flea markets. The important thing is to look for items that remind you of a favorite holiday memory.

Finding nostalgia in favorite holiday foods

Everyone has that time-honored family recipe that is the showpiece of holiday feasting. Certain foods and flavors, like peppermint candy canes, turkey with all the trimmings, pineapple-topped ham, and frosted sugar cookies are delicious musts for holiday celebrations. If it’s been a while since you made your family favorite, dust off the recipe this year. Or, you can try something that’s both new and nostalgic at the same time, like this recipe for Goji Ginger Popcorn Balls from Frontier Co-op:

Goji Ginger Popcorn Balls

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/3 cup organic popcorn kernels

1/2 cup Frontier Organic Crystalized Ginger, diced into small pieces

1/2 cup Frontier Goji Berries

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter

Directions:

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, heat coconut oil until melted. Add popcorn kernels and cover pot with lid. Heat popcorn, shaking the pot occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes, until popping slows and the majority of the kernels are popped. Remove from heat.

Pour popcorn into a large bowl, removing un-popped kernels. Add crystallized ginger and Goji berries. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine brown rice syrup and sunflower seed butter, stirring occasionally. Continue to heat mixture for about 3-4 minutes, until contents are well combined and easily pourable. Pour mixture over popcorn and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, coat popcorn. Lightly wet your hands and form popcorn into 18 3-inch balls. Serve as soon as possible.

If desired, substitute non-sweetened or sweetened sunflower seed butter for the unmodified sunflower seed butter, but expect a slightly different consistency and taste.

Reliving memories with music

What holiday party would be complete without festive music playing in the background? While you may love modern holiday tunes, vintage music is a great way to create nostalgia during the holidays. Whether you’re a fan of traditional carols or favor rock reinventions of traditional tunes, music is a great way to create nostalgia at the holidays.

Technology has made it easier than ever to find and enjoy music from every era. Why not put together a play list of holiday music that was popular during some of the happiest holiday seasons you remember? Can’t recall what was playing the year you finally got that skateboard you dreamed of? Check with your parents – your mom probably remembers! And even if she doesn’t, you’ll have a good time reminiscing together. (BPT)

 

5 Easy Steps to Winterize Your Outdoor Living Space

Cipriani Remodeling Solutions shares 5 easy steps to winterize your outdoor living space.

Ahh, the backyard – it’s served you well all summer. But now the seasons are changing and colder weather is on the way. Which means you need to prime your property from the ravages of winter. That’s right, it’s time to winterize!

Since you can finish your indoor winterizing as temperatures get cooler, it makes sense to winterize your outdoor living space first. With that in mind, here is a five-point checklist to help safeguard your home from Jack Frost for another year:

Prep your deck. Your beautiful deck has been a source of outdoor enjoyment all summer long, so now it’s time to protect your beloved structure before winter rears its ugly head again. Of course, the amount of work you have to put into winterizing your deck depends on your decking material. For example, a durable, long-lasting material such as beautiful Western Red Cedar requires the least amount of maintenance. That said, all decks require some upkeep.

So to preserve your deck’s luster, start by cleaning it with a warm soapy solution and a soft bristle brush (never power wash). It’s important that you remove all dirt and debris from both the surface as well as in between the boards during this process because the more ventilation your decking has through the colder months, the better it will look come springtime. Next, inspect the deck for the presence of mold. If present, wash the deck with a mild oxygen bleach solution and leave on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Finally, remove anything that might leave marks on the deck’s surface from inconsistent weathering – think outdoor furniture, movable planters, door mats etc. As for finishing your deck with a fresh coat of stain etc., that’s really more of a spring job (i.e. you’re off the hook for another six months).

Inspect your windows. Take a stroll around your home’s exterior and inspect each of your windows to see if any gaps or cracks are present. If you find some, apply caulking to the openings and this will prevent cold air from seeping through these cracks during the winter, which in turn, will cut down on your heating bills!

Protect those planters. These days, most planter boxes are made with Western Red Cedar. That’s because it’s naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects; and therefore, doesn’t require treatment from potentially dangerous chemicals that can leach into your soil and plants. But like all garden beds, Real Cedar planters need protection during the winter months. Start by removing all soil and cleaning the boxes as you did the deck. Then if possible, store your emptied planters in a garage, shed, under the porch etc. If you can’t, then cover them with a water repellent tarp to protect from moisture buildup – but make sure you don’t seal the tarp. As with decks, it’s very important that you allow for proper ventilation.

Trim those trees. As you walk around your house inspecting your windows for cracks and gaps, this is also a good time to take a look at your trees. Look for trees that are old, appear weakened or diseased. In addition to the trees themselves, you should also check for any dead branches, particularly those hanging near or over your home. As snow accumulates over the winter, the weight may be enough to bring a diseased tree or branch down, potentially damaging your home. You can eliminate this risk by removing any dead trees or branches now before the first snow starts to fly.

Guard the grill. If grilling is one of your favorite summertime activities, you don’t have to abandon it just because winter’s coming. A Real Cedar BBQ cover can protect you from the elements, allowing you to grill all year long. And because the cover is made from a naturally resilient wood like cedar, you’ll be BBQing in all kinds of weather for years to come. You can find free plans to build your own BBQ cover in Real Cedar’s outdoor section.

For extensive project plans, maintenance tips & design inspiration, visit Real Cedar.com. Or if you like to “DIY on the Fly”, download the new Real Cedar Mobile Toolkit app for fast and easy building facts. Available for free from Google Play Store and coming soon to iTunes. (BPT)

For more information about winterizing your outdoor space, contact one of our award-winning remodeling consultants at CiprianiRemodelingSolutions.com.

How to Select Roofing Shingles

The 3 C’s of choosing diamonds and shingles: Knowing more means paying less.

Shopping for an engagement ring can be confusing. But knowing the 4 C’s of picking a diamond – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat – can help consumers get the best gem for their money. Shopping for roof shingles can be confusing, too. But knowing the 3 C’s of buying a new roof – Cut, Color and Coverage – can help consumers choose the best roof for their home and make the entire process easier and less expensive.

1. Cut

Cut refers to the shape of the shingle and can have a huge impact on a roof’s appearance. Depending on the cut, specialty laminated asphalt shingles, like shingle manufacturer TAMKO Building Products’ Heritage Woodgate line, can give the illusion of wood shake shingles. Other options can resemble stone, slate or tile. Shingle cut can also give a modern or vintage look to a home, so it’s important to choose a cut that fits the style of the rest of your house. The shingle cut can also affect the installation speed and the cost of your roof. The shingle application method shown here http://bit.ly/1dORpuC can help speed installation and reduce waste.

2. Color

When you think of shingle color, you probably think brown, gray and black. And while those traditional colors are still very popular, in recent years asphalt shingles have been introduced in a wide variety of colorful hues. Color trends include high-contrast options like Rustic Evergreen and Glacier White, as well as a popular move toward natural colors emulating the vibrant tones found in nature. “People are getting creative with their roofing – it’s not just utilitarian anymore,” says Stephen McNally, vice president of sales and marketing at TAMKO Building Products. “People are seeing it as a palette – one of the first things visitors notice about the house.”

When choosing a color, take into account the exterior color of your home, including siding, shutters, porch and front door. If the lots are close together, also consider the colors of the exteriors and roofs of the homes on either side of yours. Some options include contrasting colors, complementary colors or analogous color schemes.

3. Coverage

It’s important to understand the warranty on your roofing system. Coverage includes which items are under warranty, under what circumstances the roof is warranted and for what amount of time. Most roof warranties don’t guarantee your roof will last 30-50 years, but do provide options if you experience a manufacturing defect during the warranted time frame. Look for a warranty with longer “upfront” coverage, as these typically offer more time during which both materials AND labor to install replacement shingles would be covered (tear off, removal and disposal is typically not covered). Manufacturers’ warranties don’t cover regular wear and tear of your roof and weather damage is also not typically covered by manufacturers, which is where your home insurance comes into play.

Also, many times problems with a roof are the result of improper installation, so make sure to choose a reputable local roofing contractor, preferably a preferred installer who has received training from the company that manufactured the shingles. Also, ask whether your contractor offers a separate warranty for the installation of the product and for what period of time.

Understanding these three C’s of roofing can help you buy a “gem” of a roof and hopefully save time and money. For more tips on choosing the perfect roof for your home, visit www.TAMKO.com. (BPT)

To see more finished roofing projects and for more information about how to select roofing shingles, contact CiprianiRemodleingSolutions.com. One of our award-winning design consultants would be happy to have a roofing conversation with you.