No matter how much the weather might fluctuate on the earth’s surface, if you go deep enough underground, the temperature stays stable at around 50 °F. Geothermal heating and cooling systems tap into this constant source of heat to keep your home at a comfortable temperature year-round.
How it works
Geothermal heating and cooling systems use indoor heat pumps combined with a series of pipes buried deep underground to regulate the temperature in your home. A fluid, usually made of water and methanol, continually circulates through the pipes.
When the system is heating, the liquid in the pipes extracts the underground heat and carries it to the heat pump. The pump then compresses the air to the desired temperature and distributes the heat through the home’s ventilation system. During the cooling cycle, the process is reversed and the heat in the air is removed and stored underground.
This type of system requires electricity to run the heat pump, but you can expect heating and cooling costs to go down by 50 to 70 percent.
Installing a geothermal heating and cooling system involves digging trenches to accommodate the required pipes. These can be buried horizontally or vertically, making this type of system suitable for both rural and urban developments. However, retrofitting an existing house may be costly and difficult as it requires digging into your existing landscaping.
If you’re building a new home or renovating, consider installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. It will provide an eco-friendly way to heat and cool your home, last generations and permanently reduce your energy bills.
Top brass: the metal interior designers are falling for
An alloy of copper and zinc, brass is once again at the forefront of home decorating trends. Today’s brass, however, is muted and offers a welcome respite from the flashier rose gold and copper that dominated the design world in years past.
Brass goes well with almost any color, from somber blues and burgundies to pale neutrals like cream and blush.
Increasingly, retailers are offering an assortment of brass items to their customers. From cabinet hardware and faucets to floor lamps and chandeliers, there’s no shortage of options if you want to bring brass into your home. If you’re in the market for a new bedframe, consider one made of this metal.
To prevent your brass from looking dated, choose angular, modern pieces that are brushed to a dull sheen instead of the overpowering shine that was once popular. Keep your pieces looking new by regularly cleaning them with ketchup, tomato juice or a simple solution of lemon and salt.
Gifts for the people who serve you all year long
The holidays are the perfect time to say thank you to the hairdressers, bus drivers, babysitters, baristas and many others who regularly serve you. If you’re wondering what to get them, here are some ideas.
• Pretty hand soaps
• Holiday dish cloths
• A scarf or shawl
• A soft blanket
• A tote bag
• Premium coffee or tea
• A to-go mug
• A bottle of wine
• A box of chocolates
If you know a little about their tastes, you can also consider something more personal like a book you think they might enjoy, a sweater or a decorative item for their home or workspace.
The point of buying gifts for the people who serve you is to thank them for the positive difference the make in your life all year long. Don’t forget to include a nice card with a handwritten mes¬sage expressing your appreciation.
Protect your home from radon
Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when the uranium in rock and soil breaks down. When released into the outdoors, it poses no threat. However, if it seeps into a home, it can accumulate and cause significant health issues.
Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking, and it’s the leading cause of the disease in non-smokers.
While you can’t see, taste or smell radon, you can test for it, either by yourself or by hiring a professional.
If you decide to test your home yourself, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and to send your samples to a lab for analysis after the test period.
Alternatively, if you hire a professional, ensure that the individual is certified and that they conduct a long-term test over the span of at least three months.
A test that reveals radon quantities higher than four picocuries per liter is concerning. In such a case, it’s important to hire a professional to seal any leaks and reduce the level of radon in your home. A certified radon-mitigating contractor can assess your property and make changes that will stop the gas from entering your home.
Don’t risk your family’s health. Have your home tested for radon gas and take the steps necessary to guarantee clean air.
Games to liven up your gift exchange
Are you tired of the same old holiday gift exchange? If so, here are some fun games to enliven this year’s gift giving.
• Dice. Every number on the dice comes with an instruction (pass to the left or steal a gift). Take turns rolling the dice until everyone has a present.
• Hot potato. This childhood favorite is just as fun to play as an adult. Turn on a holiday song and pass a present from person to person until the music stops. The person left holding the gift is out of the game but keeps the gift.
• Personal trivia. Everyone writes a little-known fact about themselves on the gift they contributed. The others must guess who the information is about in order to win the right to open the present.
• Cards. Cut some regular playing cards in half and distribute card halves to all participants. Draw the other card halves from a bowl or hat to determine who gets to choose or steal a gift next.
• Story. Rewrite a well-known Christmas story to include the words right, left and across numerous times. To start the game, everyone holds the gift they brought as someone reads the story aloud. Every time an instruction word is said, the presents get passed in that direction.
To make sure that everyone receives a gift they’ll enjoy, be sure to decide on a budget and theme beforehand.
Renovating your kitchen? Don’t forget the range hood!
Are you planning to renovate your kitchen or update your appliances? If so, you should upgrade your range hood while you’re at it. Here are the most common types.
• Under-cabinet range hood. This common type of hood gets installed under the cabinets above the cooktop. It’s an inexpensive option that blends into a kitchen’s overall design without making an impact.
• Wall-mounted range hood. Installed above a stove when there isn’t a cabinet, this type gets attached directly to the wall and is considered a more stylish option.
• Island or ceiling-mounted range hood. This type looks similar to a wall-mounted range hood but hangs from the ceiling instead. Used when a cooktop is set into an island, ceiling-mounted range hoods must be larger than the stove in order to effectively remove cooking fumes and smoke.
• Downdraft ventilation hood. This type of hood is hidden behind or beside your cooktop and comes out when you need it. It’s compact but less efficient at removing odors from your kitchen.
• Insert hood. Also called a ventilator power pack hood, this type has the functionality of a normal range hood but is designed to be hidden behind a custom-made enclosure.
No matter what style you prefer, choose a powerful range hood that’s vented to the outdoors to keep the air in your kitchen clean and smelling fresh.
How to avoid indoor air pollution
Many people think of air pollution as an outdoor problem. However, studies indicate that the air in most homes is two to five times more polluted than the air outside. Unfortunately, poor indoor air quality can cause serious health problems, especially when you consider that people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors.
Sources of indoor air pollution include:
• Mold, dust and pollen
• Tobacco smoke
• Gases such as carbon monoxide and radon
Additionally, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a leading cause of indoor air pollution. These gases are given off by many sources. Because they have a low boiling point, they can be released from products even at room temperature. They’re found in cleaning materials, personal care products, new furniture, building materials and even some fabrics.
Here are a few ways to keep the air in your home clean:
• Choose products low in VOCs, and if possible, store new furniture, carpets and building materials outside of your home for a few weeks until they stop emitting gases
• Avoid scented products like plug-in or aerosol deodorizers, candles and incense
• Make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working
• If you have one, keep your air exchanger on at all times and clean the filters regularly
Help yourself and your family breathe easier by identifying the sources of indoor air pollution in your home and taking steps to reduce or eliminate it.