Do you want to save money on your utility bills and minimize your carbon footprint? If so, you may want to upgrade to a geothermal unit for heating and cooling your home.
Geothermal systems use long loops of fluid buried below ground to exchange heat with the surrounding soil. Although installing a geothermal system requires a fair amount of work, it might be a smart investment if:
• You’re about to replace your furnace or cooling system
• You can take advantage of an energy rebate or government incentive to cut costs
• You plan to stay in your home for a long time
• You live on a large lot with plenty of space
If you’re interested in investing in a geothermal unit for your home, make sure you get quotes from multiple companies to ensure you get the best value for your money.
Rediscover the joy of ice skating
If you’ve never experienced the joy of gliding across a frozen lake or simply haven’t ice skated in years, consider making time for this activity during the winter months.
Ice skating is a fun and affordable pastime, and since it’s a low-impact sport that’s gentle on the joints, it can be suitable for people of all ages. What’s more, most people can master the basics in less than an hour.
Furthermore, ice skating is a great aerobic workout that can improve your balance and cardiovascular endurance, strengthen your abdominal and leg muscles, and fine-tune your motor skills.
If you want to go ice skating this year, there are plenty of places you can lace up your skates, including indoor and outdoor rinks, forest trails, and certain lakes, ponds, and rivers.
Metal vs. shingled roofs
If you’re in the market for a new roof, you might question whether traditional shingles or metal sheeting will work best for your home. Here’s an overview of what these options have to offer.
• Shingled roofs are quicker and easier to install than metal roofs. One of the biggest advantages of using shingles is that they’re readily available and come in a large variety of colors and materials, including fiberglass and asphalt.
Unlike metal roofs, shingles are generally covered under extensive warranties against manufacturer errors and material defects.
The biggest downside of using this material is that shingles need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years, which can end up being costly in the long run.
• Metal roofs are known for their durability and ability to withstand extreme weather conditions. They’re extremely long-lasting and won’t show signs of degradation for upward of 50 years.
This type of roofing material is non-combustible, which means its resistant to catching fire. Metal is also a highly recyclable material and consequently a popular option for consumers looking for an eco-friendly option.
The biggest downside is that metal roofs cost significantly more upfront than shingled roofs.
Regardless of which roofing material you choose, it’s a good idea to consult several roofers. This way you can compare quotes and references to find the right contractor for the job.
Original Xbox turns 20 as new console war heats up
Pretty soon, that classic Xbox console gathering dust in your closet will be able to join you at the pub. The Microsoft Xbox turned 20 some weeks ago. And while many companies have come and gone in the home console market, Microsoft has proven to have plenty of staying power.
When Microsoft first entered the home video game console market, it was considered a bold, but high-risk move. Microsoft certainly had the resources and clout to succeed, but many big companies had entered the video game console market only to be pushed out.
When Microsoft launched the Xbox console, they didn’t have the massive IP library enjoyed by Nintendo. They also lacked the established customer base and third-party support that Sony secured with the original Playstation console (launched 1995).
The Xbox, however, brought plenty of computing power, equipped with twice as much ram and a processor roughly twice as powerful as the Playstation 2. Nintendo’s hardware lagged even further behind. Microsoft also invested a lot of money developing exclusive games for the Xbox, such as the mega-popular Halo series.
The Xbox ushered in the era of online console gaming with Xbox Live. Back twenty-some years ago, if you wanted to play with friends, that typically meant getting everyone in front of the same TV. With Xbox Live, you could play with friends across the country.
The original Xbox sold more than 24 million units, outpacing the 155 million Playstation 2 units sold. Microsoft enjoyed more success with the Xbox’s successor, the Xbox 360, which sold 84 million units to the Playstation 3’s 87 million.
The console wars rage to this day. Over the last few years, the Nintendo Switch has dominated sales across the globe. That said, the newer Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X and S consoles are fighting hard for market share.
Kitchen lighting 101
In a kitchen, it’s best to have different types of light fixtures throughout the space that serve various functions. Here’s an overview.
This type of lighting is powerful enough to illuminate the entire room but tends to leave workspaces insufficiently lit. Recessed or can lights are a timeless choice for kitchens, as they have a low profile and work with any decor style. Alternatively, you can opt for a traditional ceiling fixture or track lights, which have individual fixtures that can be easily repositioned to better illuminate the space.
This type of lighting is used to brighten up specific areas. Pendant lights are great to hang over a kitchen island or sink, for example, and they can contribute to the decor. These lights are best paired with recessed lighting to avoid too much visual clutter. As for countertop prep space, under-cabinet lighting is your best bet since it’s easy to install, practically invisible, and won’t create shadows.
To find the right light fixtures for your kitchen and elsewhere in your home, visit the hardware, home decor, and specialty light stores in your area.
How to install a vapor barrier
If you’re constructing a wall, building an addition, or finishing your basement, installing a vapor barrier is a must. This thin layer of impermeable material, typically polyethylene sheeting, is designed to keep your home dry. Here are a few installation tips.
• Always install the vapor barrier on the inner side of the wall (the surface facing your living area) as it experiences hotter, moister conditions than the outside wall. A vapor barrier for the ceiling is also a must.
• Start in one corner and work your way around the room allowing the vapor barrier to hang down from the top framing sill. Once you’ve made it across the wall or around the room, allow for a fair amount of overlap in the corner where you started to create a tight seal.
• Make sure you seal cracks and holes in the wall. This will block any air gaps. Also, use acoustic spray foam or sealant tape to waterproof spaces around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and light fixtures.
Keep in mind that incorrectly installing a vapor barrier can lead to moisture problems and the need for costly repairs. For this reason, it may be best to leave this job to a professional.
3 tips for installing recessed lights in your basement
Lighting a basement can be a challenge, but recessed lights are a great option. They provide a widespread light source and tuck conveniently out of the way, making them ideal for low ceilings. Here are three tips for installing recessed lights in your basement.
1. Use the right placement
Make sure you position your recessed lights evenly throughout the space to avoid creating dark spots. As a rule of thumb, divide your ceiling height by two to give you the space required between each light. For example, if your ceiling is eight feet high, then position your lights four feet apart.
2. Opt for full brightness
Basements are usually quite dark. Therefore, you should opt for recessed lights that produce at least 600 lumens. This will ensure you have enough light to fully illuminate the space. If you want to be able to tone down the brightness for movie night, make certain to put the lights on a dimmer switch.
3. Consider color temperature
Don’t underestimate the importance of color temperature. For example, warmer tones make a room feel cozy and intimate, whereas cooler temperature hues make a space feel bright and energetic. To prevent your basement from feeling dark and dingy, lights that cast cooler temperatures are best.
Keep in mind that installing recessed lights can be a challenge. Therefore, it’s best to contact a professional to ensure this job is done right.