The Most Cost Effective Ways to Save on Heating Your Home This Winter

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Inexpensive Ways to Save on Your Home Heating Bill This Winter

Tips To Make Spring Cleaning A Breeze

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Beyond Curb Appeal

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10 Emergencies Every Homeowner Should Know How to Handle

Burst Pipe

Whether it’s a broken radiator or a rusted-out drain outflow, a burst pipe can cause a lot of trouble in a short period of time. If water is gushing, close the valve closest to the link first, then shut off the main water valve into the house. Once you’ve turned off the main water supply, reopen the smaller valve and slowly drain any remaining water into buckets.

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Black Out

During a power outage, the safest course is to disconnect all appliances and electronics. That way, you’ll avoid damage from power surges when the juice returns to your home. Take great care using candles for illumination, exercising proper fire safety, and be sure to stock up on batteries and flashlights. You can find more power outage safety tips at Ready.gov.

Gas Leak

If your carbon monoxide detector sounds or you simply detect a gas odor, evacuate the house immediately. Once you’ve relocated to a safe location, call the gas company’s 24-hour help line and ask them to send a technician to check your home for leaks.

Basement Flood

Before you charge into a flooded basement to rescue your belongings, be safe. Turn off the circuit breaker to the house (or, if you can’t reach the circuit box, call your utility and ask them to do it for you). Wear thick waterproof boots and gloves to protect against toxic elements in the floodwater.

Roof Damage

For patching a roof battered by storm damage, tarps nailed down with wood strips are the quickest and easiest fix. Just be sure to let any weather pass and take all precautions before climbing up—or even better, call a professional to do it for you, then arrange for more permanent patch-ups to happen as quickly as possible.

Furnace Malfunction

Somehow, the furnace always seems to give out on a frigid evening —and Murphy’s law states it will happen on a Saturday night, when the repairman charges double his usual rate. Before you pick up the phone, check to see if a clogged filter or a tripped circuit breaker might be the culprit.

Locked Out

Getting locked out of the house is a little embarrassing, and, if you have to call a locksmith, can be mightily expensive, too. Keeping a hidden key poses security risks. So remove your extra key from inside the hide-a-key garden stone or from under the back porch door mat, and consider leaving it with a trusted friend or neighbor instead.

Kitchen Fire

First, don’t panic. Keep a box of baking soda in a handy spot for dousing flare-ups in a toaster or stovetop pan. Avoid tossing water on the blaze, and don’t try to smother the flames with a dishtowel or anything that could catch fire. The better course of action is to use a pot lid to extinguish the flames. If it’s an oven fire, don’t open the door—close the oven and the fire should extinguish itself. Although some fire extinguishers are rated to extinguish grease fires, those handheld fire fighters can spread flames rather than extinguish them when used improperly. Educate yourself on the types of extinguishers and how to use them so you’re always ready in case of a disaster.

Flush Fail

Obviously, a plunger is your first line of defense for a clogged toilet. If you’ve cleared the clog but flushing troubles persist, open the tank and investigate. The handle may have gotten disconnected, or part of the flush mechanism may need to be replaced.

Animal Invasion

When backyard wildlife finds their way indoors, they can wreak havoc in a home. If a wild animal gets into your house, keep it contained in one area. Open a window, close all the doors, and it should find its way out. If it doesn’t, call animal control

Preventing and Removing Mice from Your Home

Homeowners have a strange relationship with mice. Some of us welcome them into our home as pets, while others try to keep them out or kill them off with traps and poisons.

As the nights get colder mice get braver and attempt to take refuge in your warm home. Unfortunately, the relationship isn’t always mutually beneficial. Mice can get into your food, chew through wires, and leave their droppings in all corners of your home.
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So what’s to be done about a mouse in the house?

There are really two steps to taking care of a mouse problem. The first is preventative, and the next is removing any mice that have found their way in.

Preventative steps

Without taking preventative action, you’ll have to repeatedly deal with mice entering the home year after year. What are preventative actions? Mice enter your home through small holes in the exterior of your home. That can mean cracks beneath doors, in windows, or holes in floors, foundations, and walls.

To stop mice from taking advantage of these vulnerabilities, make sure the bottom of your doors seal tightly. Taking time to inspect your home isn’t only useful for keeping mice out, it could also help you save on heat and prevent water damage.

A good way to keep the mice out of your home is to take away what’s bringing them there in the first place: food. If you find that mice are getting into your pantry items or bread basket, use jars or plastic containers those mice won’t be able to penetrate.

Another option for preventing mice is to use a deterrent. Mint plants and bay leaves are both natural mice deterrents. Moth balls also work but are poisonous to pets and humans, so if you have kids or pets this isn’t the best option for you.

One final way would be to employ a feline companion. Mice are less likely to stick around if the house has a cat that will constantly be stalking them.

Removing mice

The only way to remove mice from your home is to trap them, one way or another. First off, avoid using glue traps at all costs. Mice will try to escape by any means, including gnawing at their own limbs, and the glue injures their eyes. The most humane way of removing mice is a live trap. Live traps are reusable and easy to set up. Once you’ve set a live trap, be sure to check it frequently, as mice can easily starve or dehydrate if the trap is forgotten.

Once you’ve caught a mouse, you can place a towel or blanket over the top to calm them down as you transport them. Be sure to follow local regulations about trapping and  releasing wild animals.

Afterwards, just clean out your trap and store it in case you ever need it again.

How To Pack Like A Pro

 

Plan ahead.
Develop a master to-do list so you won’t forget something critical heading into moving day. This will also help you create an estimate of moving time and costs.

Discard items you no longer want or need.
Ask yourself how frequently you use an item and how you’d feel if you no longer had it. Sort unwanted items into“garage sale,” “donate,” and “recycle” piles.

Pack similar items together.
It will make your life easier when it’s time to unpack.

Decide what you want to move on your own.
Precious items such as family photos, valuable breakables, or must-haves during the move should probably stay with you. Pack a moving day bag with a small first-aid kit, snacks, and other items you may need before unpacking your “Open First” box.

Know what your movers will take.
Many movers won’t take plants or liquids. Check with them about other items so you can plan to pack them yourself.

Put heavy items in small boxes.
Try to keep the weight of each box under 50 pounds.

Don’t overpack boxes.packing.png
It increases the likelihood that items inside the box will break.

Wrap fragile items separately.
Pad bottoms and sides of boxes and, if necessary, purchase bubble-wrap or other packing materials from moving stores. Secure plants in boxes with air holes.

Label every box on all sides.
You never know how they’ll be stacked. Also, use color-coded labels to indicate which room each box should go in,coordinating with a color-coded floor plan for the movers.

Keep moving documents together in a file, either in your moving day bag or online.
Include vital contact information, the driver’s name, the van’s license plate, and the company’s number.

Print out a map and directions for movers and helpers.
Make several copies, and highlight the route. Include your cell phone number on the map.

Back up computer files on the cloud.
Alternatively, you can keep a physical backup on an external hard drive offsite.

Inspect each box and piece of furniture as soon as it arrives.
Ahead of time, ensure your moving company has a relatively painless process for reporting damages.

Fall To-Do Lists For Homeowners

As the days grow shorter, it’s easy to forget that your home needs a little TLC before winter comes calling. By taking care of essential upkeep and repairs now, you can avoid problems during winter!

Days are Shorter!
1Because the sun sets earlier during the winter, you’ll be leaving your lights on for longer stretches of time. Prepare for the increased energy consumption by swapping your incandescent bulbs for LEDs . You’ll spend a bit more per bulb initially, but LED bulbs last longer and save energy

 

Time to Paint!
Thanks to cooler, more comfortable weather, fall is the perfect time to touch up your 2home’s exterior. Be sure not to ruin the renewed finish by using the wrong techniques. Select a high ­quality exterior paint with an acrylic base, and don’t choose a windy day for the job. If your house doesn’t need an entire paint job, consider touching up bare spots, splits, and board ends to protect them from winter weather.

 

Caulking!
3By sealing the gaps around windows and between siding boards in the fall, you can lower your heating bill and eliminate uncomfortably cold drafts in the winter. But before you start patching the holes, remember to remove all existing caulk, because new caulk needs a clean surface to seal properly. Use a razor blade to cut away the old caulk, then wash the area with a good degreasing detergent. Let the spot dry completely before applying new caulk

 

Change Those Filters!
Not only do clean furnace filters improve air quality by removing allergens more 4effectively, they also maximize the operating efficiency of your heating system—and a well­ maintained heating system is a necessity during the winter. Most furnaces need a filter change every one or two months, but you may have to do it more often if you have a very dusty home or pets that shed. Replacing your own filter is relatively simple (with help from the furnace manual), but you can also hire an HVAC professional to clean the furnace, check for the presence of hazardous gases, make any necessary repairs, and replace the filter.

 

Roof Repairs!
8Winter can wreak havoc on a roof that’s seen better days, so it’s important to make repairs before the colder weather arrives, bringing with it the threat of ice dams and accumulations of snow that can cause structural damage. Many homeowners don’t realize, however, that reusing old roofing materials can sabotage repairs. Although recycling a gutter apron or flashing is a tempting way to save money, used materials (especially metal ones) won’t last as long and can increase the risk of weather damage to the roof. Spring for new materials now so you won’t have to face a worn ­out roof later

 

Clean That Chimney!
5Creosote buildup in the flue of a wood ­burning fireplace can trigger a dangerous chimney fire. To ensure your safety as you snuggle next to toasty flames this winter, have your fireplace checked and cleaned by professionals. Chimney sweeps are always busiest in the fall, so be sure to schedule your cleaning early.

 

Check Those Batteries!
Protecting your family from dangerous fumes and fire hazards should always be a top 6priority. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic byproduct of the incomplete combustion of fuels, including natural gas, coal, and wood. It can’t be seen or smelled, so it’s essential that you keep your CO detector (as well as your smoke detectors) working well. To be certain that your detectors never run out of juice, change the batteries when you change your clocks, starting this fall when daylight saving time ends.

 

Get Rid Of Those Leaves!
7Left to pile up in the gutter, decomposing leaves and debris can block downspouts and trap water. As temperatures drop and the water freezes, these blockages can lead to damage to the house as well as the gutter. To clean out your gutters in preparation for winter, wait until all the leaves have fallen from the trees, and pay special attention to safety. Always use a sturdy ladder and wear shoes with nonslip soles. The ladder should be tall enough so you don’t have to stand on the top rung or overreach, both of which increase the risk of falling. Recruit an assistant who can steady the bottom of the ladder and hand up tools.