Energy Saving Tips for the Winter

Summer is long over and we are quickly nearing some fun festivities like Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., which usually indicate that the winter season is in full effect. And what do these seasons bring besides peppermint mochas and holiday gifts? The answer is short days, dark evenings, and bigger electricity bills. But it always doesn’t have to be this way, because there are things that you can do to decrease your energy consumption at home and save money! So lets get these energy saving tips rolling and see our electricity bills in the fall and winter shrinking.

Seal It Up

A common reason why people complain about insufficient warmth in their homes even though they still are paying huge heating bills is that they are losing heat through cracks around their windows. Using weatherstrip around your windows will reduce heat loss, keeping your home warmer and using less energy to heat it. And using less energy means you pay less on your utility bills!

Lower the Temperature

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Although to some this might seem like a weird tip, you may want to think about lowering the temperature on your thermostat to around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, or even lower if you are comfortable with your home being a bit cooler. This will let you save on energy, since your heating won’t be blasting all the time, but you will still be living in a home that is comfortably warm.

Let the Sun Warm You Up

Sun is an amazing energy source, and all the best solar lights and solar panels are able to produce a ton of electricity and very bright lighting when the sun is out. The same also goes for heating, because natural sunlight is a great heat source, too. So use it; keep your curtains and blinds open during the day and let the sunshine in! On a sunny day, even if it is cold outside, the sun will warm up your house or apartment and you will be able to turn your thermostat down to save energy on heating.

Switch to LED

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You maybe have heard people talking about switching their incandescent and CFL bulbs to LED ones, and for good reason. LED bulbs consume up to 10 times less electricity, yet provide the same, if not better, illumination as other types of light bulbs. So exchange all of your light bulbs to LEDs and see your energy consumption drop. On top of that, think about getting LED holiday lights instead of ones with incandescent bulbs. Many people break out the Christmas lights as soon Halloween is over, and LED holiday lights will make sure that your festive home decor won’t cause your electricity bill to skyrocket for two whole months.

Unplug – Not Standby

Did you know that even if you leave electronic on a standby mode, which essentially looks like the devices are turned off, they still continue to consume quite a lot of electricity? In fact, electronics on standby make up as much as 10% of your total household electricity load. So start saving on energy and fully turn off and unplug your electronics whenever you’re not using them.

Cool the Water

Lastly, also make sure that you lower the temperature of your water heater, since water heating racks up around one fifth of all the energy that is consumed within your household. Use the warm (not hot) setting and adjust the temperature to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help reduce your energy bills and reduce the risk of you scalding your hands with hot water when you come inside.

Have any other simple ideas for saving energy during the winter? We would love to hear your tips and tricks!

 

**Arthur Smith has been working in solar and lighting industries for a long time, and now he shares his experience and knowledge on renewable energy, lighting, and energy efficiency on his blog LEDwatcher.com.

 

 

6 Reasons to Get a Garage Security System

A typical garage doesn’t come with a complete security system. Although certain home devices already come with basic security features, a full security system is an investment that you have to make for your home.

The garage is usually the place where expensive tools and vehicles are stored. Many homeowners do not give much thought to the security of garages. However, robbers are already targeting this as it also serves as a point of entry to the entire house.

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If you are still contemplating taking the dip and making this purchase, here are the top reasons why you should get a full security system that covers your garage:

1. Peace of mind. Nothing beats the peace of mind that you get from having security 24/7 in your home. This provides that blanket of security for your family members even if you are not at home. That feeling of protection creates a safe haven for you and your family. A full security system makes your garage hard to break into, compared to a normal garage.

2. Increase in home value. Getting a full security system for your garage is obviously an investment. However, the extra security that the system provides can increase the value of your home. If you’re planning on selling your home in the future, then this can serve as an extra selling point!

3. Full control anytime, anywhere. Modern home security systems are fully integrated with smartphones. No matter where you are and what time of the day it is, you can have access to your home. This also lets you choose who has access to your garage, and from there, to the rest of your home. You can receive regular updates on the security status of your home and you can control it through your mobile device.

4. Better insurance rates. A safe and secured garage is received as good news by insurance providers. This gives them peace of mind knowing that break-ins are less likely to happen in your home because of the security, which can lead to having lower insurance rates on your home. If you have recently added a full security system, then give your insurance provider a ring and inform them that you have installed a new security system.

5. Secured storage of vehicles and equipment. The garage is where pricey items (like your vehicle, tools, garden equipment, and sporting goods) are stored. Most of the things inside your garage can be easily stolen and sold. So, beefing up your garage’s security should be something you consider. A new security system will help keep your valuables protected whether you’re at the neighbor’s for dinner or you’re out of town.

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6. Video monitoring. A full security system includes security cameras. Having video monitoring will help you feel at ease about the safety of your family. No matter what you’re doing, you can constantly check up on the status of your home and your family. You can see what’s happening any time of the day.

** Written by Kristy Jones,the blog author of A Click Away Remotes – Garage Door Opener and Remotes Blog.

BUILDING OUR HOME: THE OVERWHELMING TRIP TO THE DESIGN CENTER

Reblogged from MeganFenno.com:
Ah, the trip to the design center. A test of your marriage, an immense feeling of being overwhelmed and hoping that what you decide on that long day will suit you for the rest of your time in your new home. 
Don’t get me wrong, it was also very exciting, but the choices. There were SO many.
MI_DESIGN_CENTERWell, we also had this going on. The first time we went just to take a look at the options one weekend before our official appointment. We made the mistake of bringing Myles. I get it, to a five year-old, this stuff can be kind of boring. Besides, if it were up to him, we’d have a rainbow-colored house. That could be cool, too.

Anyway, since we went out once to the design center before actually selecting our options, it helped us see what we were up against. And it’s true when they say you’ll be picking EVERYTHING. We chose our brick, floors, overall wall colors, knobs on cabinets, granite, siding, trim, doors … to even deciding the shelving in the master bath shower. It was intense. But with a little preparation beforehand and having John model the home out in his 3-D software, we were able to make the selections appointment a little less stressful.

Another thing that helped us immensely was browsing Pinterest to look at new home selections, model homes and color schemes. Because it’s one thing when you’re deciding paint colors — those can always be changed —  but you can’t just up and change an entire hardwood floor or large slab of granite.

But as said, with some careful planning and preparation, we made all of our selections in about five hours.

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For the kitchen, we chose to go with multi-colored granite. We had light-colored countertops in our old home, which stained easily. We’ve also experienced black granite at our last home downtown and it felt like the dark-colored countertops would show every little piece of dust or handprint. With that being said, we wanted something in the middle.

We chose to go with dark cabinets, only because we had white ones in our old home and they seemed to show every handprint or mark, which is never easy to clean when you have a kid opening cabinets just for the sake of opening cabinets. So, dark it was.

The hardwood selection was tricky, but we opted for something in the middle. Floors that are too light show everything, but so do floors that are too dark. Because again, we’ve had both. Picking a hardwood that would help disguise dust and compliment our other selections helped narrow down our options; leaving us choosing a medium colored flooring.

It sounds like I’m so worried about dirt showing, but seriously, no matter how much I cleaned light floors, dark countertops or vise-versa, it just never worked out. Maybe I was cleaning them the wrong way? Regardless, I am happy to say now that we love what we chose and it’s three months after we’ve moved in now.

I feel like we really focused on getting the colors and selecting the materials for the kitchen took priority, then it became easier to more or less ‘follow the theme’ and choose the rest of the house colors, brick, wall color, and everything else based on our initial kitchen selections.

As you can see from the image below, we stuck with a modern color palette, with various shades of browns, greys, and beige colors. Going with neutrals to start felt like a good idea until we can really start designing out the inside of the home.

Now that we’ve lived in the home for almost three months (where does time go?!), I can say we’re very happy with what we chose!

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**Megan Fenno is a Cincinnati blogger, an accessory designer and owner of FENNOfashion.com, a freelance writer, a Savannah College of Art & Design Alumni with a degree in fashion & accessory design, a wife to my high-school sweetheart,a girl that absolutely loves the city of Cincinnati, and a mother to a 5 year-old stud!  To read her full blog, visit her page today!

4 Ways to Style a Room with a Skylight

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If you have a room that features a gorgeous skylight, you already know its wonderful benefits—natural light pouring into your room every morning and a gorgeous view of the starry sky at night. If you’re considering adding one to your home, it will considerably brighten up your space. However, you might realize it can be tricky styling a room with a skylight for several reasons:

  • You can’t control how the light is shown and reflected in your space.
  • The window could have been constructed very traditionally, but your style is contemporary (or vice versa).
  • You just don’t know how to emphasize the beauty of your skylight.

Luckily, we have the answers for a chic and elegant space. Here are four ways to play up your room’s greatest feature.

 

  1. Clean and Simple

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If you have a skylight in your bedroom, your style should be very minimalistic to emphasize the gorgeousness of the skylight. Consider opting for matte floors and surfaces, so as not to reflect too much of the incoming light. Play up the brightness of the room with white, plush fabrics and make sure to keep all surfaces sparkling clean so that the excess sunlight doesn’t highlight any dusty areas. If there is an adjoining bathroom, keep countertops and floors bright and neutral.

 

  1. Open and Organic

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 If your skylight is in a more public area, like the living room or entryway, opt for an organic setup. Consider showing off or installing exposed beams and rustic wood elements to play up the natural effects of the skylight. Skylights help to provide a visual connection to the exterior of your home, so make sure any trees or greenery that may hang overhead are well-manicured and picture-perfect for you and your guests to admire. Finally, bring the outdoors in by accessorizing with floor and table lamps and natural elements like stone, wood and concrete.

 

  1. Bright and Colorful

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Emphasize the natural lighting in your space by adding colorful accessories throughout the room. Bright green, fuchsia and blue are great mood-boosting colors that look great under natural lighting. Pick patterns and textures that show off the bright colors on upholstered furniture and woven textiles like rugs and wall coverings. Keep decor to a minimum, though, so as not to take away from the natural beauty of the skylight.

 

  1. Private Paradise

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 A great, creative way to utilize skylights is in the bathroom. While regular windows may impede on your privacy and become dirty or hard to clean due to water damage, skylights offer a private view with lots of natural light to spill in and illuminate your space. A skylight is particularly stunning when installed over a shower or bathtub for an ethereal glow in the evening and energizing warmth in the morning. If you are unable to open your skylight, be sure to install a fan to vent the steam from your shower.

Now that you’ve read up on a few of our favorite ways to incorporate accessories and decorating strategies into a space with a skylight, how would you style your own skylight?

**As an interior designer, Kerrie Kelly is very experienced at creating beautifully designed spaces for her clients. She loves to share the advice she has learned over the years, from installing skylights to make a space feel larger to the color palettes that best fit your kitchen. To view the a larger selection of skylights than Kerrie shows in this article, visit The Home Depot.

Bathroom Vanities to Keep Interior Style Flowing

No matter your interior design style, it can be difficult to keep your chosen look homogenous throughout the home. This is especially true when decorating your bathroom.

You may be able to translate your tastes to unique elements and décor—installing a furniture-like vanity in the bathroom makes this easier by commanding stylish focus. A special vanity sink instantly updates the room and can easily incorporate the rest of your home’s style into the space.

We’ve chosen a few of our favorite furniture-like vanities to feature in your next bathroom project.

Sleek and Modern

Many contemporary vanity styles focus on clean lines and stark contrasts.  For an eclectic twist, choose one with a sturdy structure and a unique basin, or look for a washstand with metal details if your style is more traditionally modern.

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Traditional and Craftsman

If you like displaying your prettiest china and creating lavish dinner party settings on your solid oak dining table, you might have a traditional eye for style. Craftsman and traditional designs feature elaborate detailing, intricate woodwork and sturdy composition.

To incorporate this style into your bathroom design, opt for a luxe vanity boasting sophisticated cherry wood with decorative molding. Embellish your traditional vanity with modern décor to lighten the room, or enhance the antique style with an heirloom soap dish and matching accessories.

Vanities

Cool and Cottage

Cottage design sometimes evokes thoughts of Old World houses and outdated furniture. However, with a crisp color palette and neutral accessories, a cottage-style home can have a cool and contemporary design that’s easily transferable to any room in the house. Create a seaside cottage escape by fitting a freestanding vanity that features recessed panels, louvered doors and a cool granite countertop. Play up the antique vibe with rustic wood design elements and organic greenery sprinkled throughout the room.

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Rustic and Refined

Similar to cottage, rustic style has a tougher, masculine element that plays well with bathroom projects. Select a furniture-like vanity with a weathered-looking body and a sleek granite countertop to balance grit and grace in your washroom. Choose metal-finish hardware for a slightly more urban tone, or opt for antique details to go full-out farmhouse. Finish accessorizing the room with plush linens and bright greenery to round out the look.

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The right bathroom vanity can provide the perfect link between your home’s style and this often hard-to-decorate room. Once this key piece of furniture is installed, everything else seems to fall into place!

Written by: Kerrie Kelly, ASID. California interior designer Kerrie Kelly heads up Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, and is the author of the book Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide. Kerrie has worked with many clients on bathroom design, and writes about her experience for Home Depot. A wide selection of Home Depot bathroom vanities, including styles reviewed by Kerrie, can be found online.

 

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