The amount of energy your household consumes can have a significant impact on your heating and cooling costs. Here are a few ways you can make your home more energy-efficient.
Replace doors and windows
If they aren’t well insulated, doors and windows can be a significant source of energy loss in your home. To maximize thermal insulation, upgrade to Energy Star certified models. Keep in mind that even the most energy-efficient options must be properly installed to provide optimal results.
A large part of your energy consumption likely goes toward heating and cooling your home. Fortunately, effective insulation makes it easier for your HVAC unit to regulate your indoor temperature. In many cases, you can simply add new insulation over the old stuff. To minimize your carbon footprint, even more, choose an eco-friendly product certified by Greenguard or EcoLogo.
Seal air leaks
Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home will make it more energy-efficient. Use caulk to seal windows, doors, vents, and places where plumbing or wiring comes through a wall. Don’t forget to have the foundation, roof, and exterior corners inspected for cracks and other types of damage.
Keep in mind that some projects are best left to the professionals. This will ensure your updates are done properly and safely. If you want to start with a smaller job, replace your halogen lightbulbs with LED versions, and consider installing a smart thermostat.
Don’t forget to take advantage of government incentive programs, such as tax credits and rebates, to help offset the cost of making energy-efficient improvements and using renewable energy technologies in your home.
4 factors to consider when buying a magnifying glass
A magnifying glass can make it easier to read books, solve puzzles or enjoy a variety of other hobbies. Here are four things to consider when choosing one.
1. Lens size. The magnification power of a magnifying glass’s convex lens depends on its size and curvature. The smaller the lens and the greater the curvature, the larger objects will appear.
2. Intended use. If you only need it on occasion, such as to read a menu, a hand-held magnifying glass will do the trick. For more frequent use with brief tasks, consider a magnifying pendant. Otherwise, a tabletop magnifier (either with a stand or clip) is practical for prolonged, hands-free use.
3. Portability. A pocket magnifying glass is preferable for use outside the home, as it can easily fit in a pocket or bag. Opt for a folding model, which has the added benefit of protecting the lens when it’s not being used.
4. Weight. Hand-held magnifying glasses can be difficult to hold for extended periods of time. Be sure to look for a lightweight model. Furthermore, keep in mind that while a built-in light is a practical feature, it’ll also make your magnifying glass heavier.
To ensure you find a magnifier that suits your needs, test out a variety of options in-store. For even stronger magnification, consider getting a digital magnifying device.
5 areas to modernize in your kitchen
Does your kitchen look like it’s from another decade? Unless you’re going for a vintage esthetic, it’s time to bring the space into the 21st century. Here are five ways you can modernize the appearance of your kitchen.
As a gathering place in your home, the kitchen floor gets a lot of wear. If yours is faded, scratched, or stained, you have two options. Either you can repair it — swap out cracked tiles or sand and varnish hardwood — or replace the entire surface. To help you make a decision that suits your needs and budget, seek advice from a professional.
Whether the colors in your kitchen are outdated or the walls have faded over time, a fresh coat of paint is an affordable way to breathe new life into space. Consider repainting the cabinets as well as the walls. You can easily add a modern flair to your kitchen by choosing a second, bolder color for the island or lower cabinets.
Even if the material is timeless, years of preparing meals on them can leave kitchen countertops looking a little worse for wear. Replacing them with a pristine surface can instantly change the look of the room. Visit specialized stores in your area to discover the wide range of materials, colors, and textures available.
The stove top, oven, and range hood, along with the fridge, microwave, and dishwasher, are focal points in a kitchen. If yours are scratched, mismatched, or outdated, consider selling or donating them, so you can invest in newer models. To get the most out of your purchase, be sure to select Energy Star certified appliances or smart devices.
A variety of accessories can be used to transform the look of your kitchen in the blink of an eye. Visit local home decor shops to find curtains, blinds, mirrors, light fixtures, and more to provide the wow effect you want. Smaller items such as island centerpieces and plants can be rotated with the seasons to freshen up space every few months.
From upgrading the sink and faucet to replacing cabinet hardware and installing a new backsplash, there are plenty of ways to modernize your kitchen. For best results, enlist the help of an interior designer.
5 strategies to ward off squirrels
Squirrels are agile creatures that like to snack on seeds and dig up flower bulbs. This can make them quite a nuisance for gardeners. If you want to keep the squirrels in your area at bay, here are five tricks to try.
1. Plant bulbs at least six inches deep, and opt for species that squirrels tend to avoid such as daffodils, hyacinths, and fritillaries.
2. Cover your flower beds with chicken wire. This metal mesh will keep unwanted critters at bay without disrupting the germination of your seeds.
3. After planting, cover the soil with blood meal or chicken manure fertilizer. The odor repels squirrels and helps mask the smell of bulbs.
4. Grow aromatic plants that repel squirrels such as onion, garlic, and herbs. Scented geraniums (pelargoniums) and certain other fragrant flowers will also do the trick.
5. If you have a cat or dog, let it roam near your garden. Your pet’s presence, as well as the fur and scent it leaves behind, will serve as a deterrent.
5 tips to reduce your digital carbon footprint
Did you know that using the internet contributes to global warming? In fact, digital technologies are responsible for nearly four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this number is predicted to double by 2025. If you want to limit the environmental impact of your online activities, here are a few things you can do.
1. Change how you watch videos. Limit how often you stream shows, and download videos if you plan to rewatch them. Disable autoplay videos, and opt to use Wi-Fi rather than 4G, as this consumes less energy.
2. Adjust how you search. Bookmark web pages and use your browsing history to avoid repeating searches. You should also favor eco-friendly search engines such as Ecosia, which plants trees to offset its environmental impact.
3. Review how you store data. Save files, photos, and videos on USB flash drives or external hard drives whenever possible. This will limit your use of cloud computing, which relies on data centers that consume a lot of electricity.
4. Rethink how you use email. Rather than send large attachments to multiple people, provide a link to a file-sharing platform. You should also regularly clean out your inbox, as each email you store emits about 10 grams of carbon dioxide per year.
5. Modify how you power devices. Set your computer to go into sleep mode when it’s not in use, and turn off your devices at the end of the day. Lowering the brightness of your monitor can also save considerable energy and reduce eye strain.
In addition to shrinking your digital carbon footprint, you should also avoid creating electronic waste. Only replace your devices if they’re broken and beyond repair, and make sure to recycle old electronics at a drop-off location in your area.
4 tips to help your child overcome a fear of water
While fairly common among young children, a fear of water can really put a damper on otherwise enjoyable activities like bath time, swimming, and going to the beach. If you want to help your child get over this fear, here’s some advice.
1. Talk it out. If your child is old enough to clearly express themselves, try to identify the source of their fear. This understanding can help guide your approach and allow you to offer more specific reassurance.
2. Get in with them. Whether it’s the bath or the ocean, this can go a long way toward helping your child feel comfortable in the water. Just make sure you or the person who accompanies your child isn’t also uneasy about swimming.
3. Make it fun. From playing with toys in the bath to blowing bubbles in the water at the pool to jumping over waves at the beach, there are plenty of ways to entice kids into the water. These activities can provide your child with a distraction from their fear.
4. Start with clear water. One common reason children are reluctant to go swimming is that they’re afraid something is lurking in the water. If this is the case for your kid, start by getting them used to swim in a pool rather than a lake or the ocean.
If none of these techniques work and your child seems overly anxious or frightened by water, consider speaking with a child psychologist.
A brief guide to upcycling
Did you know there’s more than one way to recycle? When you toss scrap paper, plastic containers, and glass jars into a bin, it’s called downcycling. However, it’s also possible to upcycle. Here’s a look at this eco-friendly practice.
Also known as creative reuse, upcycling is the process of transforming used objects and waste materials into new, higher-quality products. For example, worn-out fabric from old clothes can be repurposed to create fashion accessories and one-of-a-kind garments. This is in contrast to downcycling, which breaks down the original materials.
How can you do it?
Upcycling can be used to create art, home decor, clothing, and a variety of everyday items. While an increasing number of companies have started to incorporate upcycling into their production process, there are also plenty of ways you can give new life to old objects lying around your home. For example, you can make a backpack out of empty juice pouches, transform Mason jars into light fixtures, or use old curtains to make face masks.
What are the benefits?
As is the case with downcycling, upcycling reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and limits the need to extract raw materials. However, upcycling has less of an impact on the environment. This is because it doesn’t need to break down materials in order to reuse them. Downcycling, on the other hand, relies on water to process paper and requires energy to melt plastic and glass.
If you want to help protect the environment and support your local economy, look for upcycled products sold at the stores in your area.