8 Eco-Friendly Tips for a Sustainable Bathroom

If you’re taking steps towards an eco-friendly lifestyle, you should include a sustainable bathroom in your home improvement plans. After all, traditional bathroom setups can be surprisingly wasteful or harmful to the environment. To help you switch to a greener lifestyle more easily, here are 8 eco-friendly tips for a sustainable bathroom.

 

8 Tips for a Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Bathroom

1. Invest in a Low-Flow Toilet

Older toilets dump anywhere between 3 to 7 gallons per flush! Cut down on your water consumption by getting an eco-friendly low-flow toilet, which uses 1.6 gallons or less.

Make your bathroom even more sustainable by finding a low-flow toilet with a dual-flush feature. Push its smaller flush button to deal with liquid waste while spending just 0.8 gallons of water, or press its larger button to flush solid waste with 1.6 gallons or less.

2. Shower Smart

Traditional shower heads use up 5 to 8 gallons of water per minute. This amounts to 50 to 80 gallons for a ten-minute shower! A low-flow head will cut down this figure by half. It’ll also greatly reduce the energy you use whenever you need hot water for a warm shower.

Another tip for using less water and live a sustainable lifestyle? Shorten your showers. Five minutes may be all you really need.

3. Go Tankless

While a tanked water heater provides a constant supply of hot water, it results in standby loss, or wasted energy from always having the heater on. Switch it out with a tankless water heater, which heats only on demand.

That being said, the upfront costs of tankless water heaters may be beyond some homeowners’ budgets. An alternative tip is to fit your tanked water heater with a controller. Aside from heating water as needed, this innovative device lets you know how much hot water you have left.

4. Ditch Hot Water Circulation

A typical hot-water circulating system will pump hot water from the heater to the faucets and then back to the heater. It provides hot water almost instantly, but it also consumes much energy to heat and transport the water–not so sustainable! It’s more eco-friendly to simply wait with your shower running until hot water comes out. Place a bucket underneath to catch the initial rush of cold water, so it doesn’t go to waste.

5. Get Automatic Faucets

Ever noticed how much water you waste at your bathroom sink? Water pours out from the moment you turn the knobs. Some people may also forget to turn the faucet off while brushing their teeth, leaving the water running. An automatic faucet eliminates this wastage and only turns on when it senses your hand beneath the spout. With this sustainable option, you can also say goodbye to the gunk that often forms around faucet handles.

6. Buy a Vent with the Energy Star Label

Your bathroom needs a vent fan to dry your bathroom quickly and prevent mildew and mold from growing. Here’s a tip to remember: find a fan with an Energy Star Label, which indicates its energy efficiency. Vent fans with such labels use up to 60% less energy than their non-labelled counterparts.

7. Look for Eco-Friendly Paint

Yes, you can be eco-friendly when redecorating your bathroom, too! Purchase paint that has a low volatile organic compounds (VOC) label. While a coat of traditional paint emits dangerous chemicals, sustainable low-VOC paint contains far less of these same toxic substances.

8. Don’t Skip the Small Things

Complete your sustainable bathroom by stocking it with eco-friendly fabrics and products, such as organic cotton bath towels, all-natural hand soap, or homemade cleaning ingredients. Another tip is to switch out your old lights for compact fluorescent bulbs, LED alternatives, or a healthy dose of natural lighting.

With these 8 tips, you can soon enjoy quiet moments of pampering yourself without any guilt in your sustainable bathroom.Read more articles on sustainable living and interior design by visiting our blog.

The Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Traditional Building Materials

In the recent years, green building has risen into popularity with new homeowners looking for new ways to potentially lower energy costs and thus, limit impact on the environment. To meet this increasing demand, home builders and interior designers have found a better option in employing the use of alternative building materials in construction.

Today, the use of sustainable building materials is on the rise. Some of these are made out of natural materials while others are designed to use resources in the most efficient manner. Regardless of the objective, there are many reasons why contractors and homeowners should switch to green building.

 

Why Invest in Sustainable Building Materials?

Energy conservation has significantly become a top priority amongst the world population. In fact, a 2016 World Green Building Trends report by Dodge Data and Analytics, green building is officially a global trend – a shift that is driven by consumer demands. It is even expected to significantly increase in the coming years.

Although green building is more than the materials you use, your decision on which ones to use still matters. In this article, we list some of the green options that make a better alternative to the traditional materials.

1. Bamboo

Bamboo is a highly sustainable building material that is distinguished by its unrivalled tensile strength, durability and lightweight properties. Its aesthetic resemblance to wood makes it a cost-effective alternative to traditional hardwood and a green material for tiles, ceilings, privacy screens and more.

2. Wood

Wood retains its title as a historic and classic sustainable material that adds a timeless flair to buildings. Building with wood offers significant benefits as processing them into lumbers require less intensive methods in comparison with other industrial building products such as concrete, glass and steel.

3. Reclaimed Wood

Building with reclaimed wood is a responsible way to lower the amount of materials being dumped to landfills and prevent the need to cut down more trees in the process. But, probably what home builders and interior designers are after most is the depth and exquisite character only old wood can provide.

4. Cork

The renewability, versatility, near-impenetrability and fire resistant qualities of cork make it a suitable material for flooring, insulation, acoustic wall covering and more. Harvesting it doesn’t require cutting the tree. In fact, each cork tree can be stripped off of its bark up to 20 times in its entire life.

5. Mycelium

Mycelium is a mushroom-based material that is tested to be stronger than concrete, lighter than bricks and more insulated than fiberglass. What’s more, being made of fungi, it has the ability to self-heal meaning it can reduce the need for costly repairs. It’s also entirely organic and compostable.

Did You Know? Mycelium thrives underground and without light, meaning it doesn’t require external energy resource to grow.

6. Ferrock

Ferrock is another cement alternative that is made of recycled steel dust or ferrous rocks from the steel industry. It offers a greener alternative to the traditional cement manufacturing process as it absorbs carbon dioxide while it hardens and dries. Further, any structure made with Ferrock is proven to last longer, barely requiring repair and replacement.

7. Timbercrete®

Timbercrete® is an eco-friendly product made up of timber waste from several sources and concrete. The result is a material that is lighter than a solid concrete but with higher thermal insulating properties and unmatched strength. It is also user-friendly as it can be easily nailed, screwed or sawn like a regular timber and can be made to appear like sandstone, mud brick or cobblestone.

8. Wool Bricks

Wool brick is a zero-carbon product that is developed by researchers in Spain and Scotland who have added wool fibers and alginate (a natural polymer from seaweeds) to the clay of the brick. The result is a sustainable, non-toxic brick that is 37% stronger than a traditional brick.

9. Recycled Plastic

Instead of producing new materials, researches are creating lightweight concrete, tiles, insulation, lumber and more out of recycled plastics and trash. Building with recycled plastics helps lower the construction costs and provides a new use for plastic wastes while reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

10. Shipping Containers

Building houses out of shipping containers is probably the epitome of the sustainable and modern building. It makes use of the reclaimed materials that otherwise would be left to rust at the point they are retired. They can be modified into sustainable and durable houses and into endless design possibilities.

The Best Sustainable Material for You

Like anything you would decide on, you should do a careful research on which sustainable materials to use for your home. Learning more about these alternatives will lead you to the options that will be most suitable for your lifestyle and preferences as well.

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7 Trends for Sustainable Living in 2019

With more homeowners learning about carbon footprints and trying out all-natural DIY cleaners, sustainable living will continue to trend in 2019. You might also be thinking of shifting toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Whether you choose to make step-by-step changes or go for an all-out renovation to welcome 2019, you’ll want to take note of the 7 sustainable living trends listed below.

 

7 Sustainable Living Trends for 2019

 

1. Eco-Friendly Lights

Shopping for new lamps or light bulbs? Go for fixtures fitted with LEDs, which use up 85% less energy than their incandescent or halogen counterparts. Another option is to go for natural lighting wherever you can.

2. Water-Saving Fixtures and Appliances

If you want to adapt an eco-friendly lifestyle in 2019, you’ll need to mind your water usage. Consider installing grey water systems, which can collect rainwater from roofs and gutters and repurpose them for indoor plumbing and garden irrigation. You can also invest in timed sprinklers that only run as long as needed, low-flow toilets, and showerheads and faucets designed to save water.

3. The 3 R’s

Yes, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is still very relevant for sustainable living in 2019. Instead of spending on brand-new versions of the same product, try upcycling what you already have. Old items such as clothing and containers can easily be given a second life. Worn-out furniture in particular can lend a vintage feel to your living room or your backyard.

4. Sustainable Materials

Wood, bamboo, and cotton are all more eco-friendly than synthetic materials, which sometimes even leach harmful chemicals into the environment. Glass and metal are welcome choices of material, too. Get ready to see more organic textiles and rugs, earth-friendly tiles, and bamboo floors and cabinets in 2019. Not only are these better for the environment, but they also look great!

You should especially consider getting eco-friendly area rugs. Synthetic rugs often emit harmful chemicals, which can manifest as odd smells that refuse to go away for a while. Carpets made of more eco-friendly materials such as jute or sisal won’t give off the same chemicals and odors.

5. Low-VOC Paint

Thinking of repainting a room or two at the start of the year? Use paint that contains minimal volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which seep out and contribute to air pollution. Sure, VOCs are responsible for the familiar smell of a newly-painted room, but that’s easy to let go of once you learn about how many VOCs are classified as carcinogenic.

You’ll also want to keep an eye out for VOCs in the scented candles you burn or the furniture you buy. One indicator of a sustainable purchase is the Rainforest Alliance’s little green frog, found only on certified eco-friendly products.

6. Green Spaces

Urban vegetation and green spaces are certainly eco-friendly, but they’re good for your physical and mental health, too. There are many ways to create your own green space at home. Bring a few low-maintenance plants indoors to freshen up the air, or lay out your interior so that you can easily access your backyard. Also, try installing retractable roofs and awnings over windows that open into the house. This way, you can harness shade to regulate temperature minus the heating or cooling bills.

7. Working With Nature

Have some extra room in your yard? Set up your own garden. Most common vegetables and edible herbs are surprisingly easy to grow. A raised garden bed of homegrown crops can give personality to outdoor spaces. Berries and other fruits can also add a splash of color as they ripen. Top off your garden with a bird feeder to welcome the natural fauna!

Greet the new year by updating your home with these 7 sustainable living trends. They’re not just stylish and eco-conscious, but they’re good for you and your family, too. Here’s to an eco-friendly 2019!Found this post informative? Visit our blog regularly for more tips on sustainable living and interior design.

Organize Your Bathroom with these 10 Tips

Bathrooms are meant to be comfortable places where you can relax and pamper yourself. However, the aesthetic of even the most stylish bathroom can be thrown off by crowded drawers and cabinets full of expired medicine and old shampoo. These rooms have a tendency to become cluttered, too, especially if you find yourself coming home with new towels or beauty products fairly frequently. If you often wish that your bathroom were more organized, here’s a list of 10 tips that you might find helpful.

 

10 Tips to Declutter Your Bathroom

 

1. Purge Your Supplies

Time to throw your bathroom cabinets and drawers open! Keep only what you’ll still be able to use. Toss expired medicine, old potpourri, and bulky packaging. Take the opportunity to wipe the cabinet down, saying goodbye to clumps of dust and strands of hair.

Arrange daily essentials such as soap and toothbrushes on the counter. You may be surprised at how much room will be left.

2. Put a Lazy Susan in the Closet

It can be dizzying to open a cabinet and behold a small crowd of shampoos and creams. Instead of lining up these products, place them on a small lazy Susan instead. To reach a particular item, all you have to do is spin the tray around. You’ll be able to get what you need without knocking over everything else.

3. Divide Up Your Drawer Space

Do you ever feel that your drawers can fit more than they currently do? You may be right. Fit your drawers with semi-fixed dividers, which you can adjust to hold different products and maximize space. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can also buy several plastic mini-bins for a similar result. You might be left with small bits of wasted space, but you’ll still know just where to find what you need when you’re in a hurry.

Does your bathroom dresser include too many deep drawers? Don’t just toss in razors and compacts until they pile up. With vertical dividers, you can use this drawer to store smaller items standing up.

4. Install a Slide-Out Tray

You might have unpleasant memories of having to crouch in front of a base cabinet whenever you needed the plunger or glass cleaner. A slide-out tray in the cabinet will make it much easier for you to reach these items without groping around. The tray will also be handy for storing rags or a first-aid kit.

5. Use the Wall Space Near Your Shower

If you’re about to buy a new shower head, try to look for one that comes with built-in shelves. Otherwise, you can purchase a hanging organizer. Put shampoos and soaps here instead of balancing them on the windowsill or the end of the tub.

6. Collect Your Kids’ Bath Toys

It’s nice to treat your kids to bubble baths, but it’s not so nice to have foam alphabet letters and slippery rubber ducks littered around the bathroom. Take an extra laundry lingerie bag, put bath toys inside, and hang it from a suction cup hook for the toys to dry.

7. Keep Everything in Sight

Have you ever found yourself running late because you misplaced your cream or medication in your bathroom cabinet? Or have you bought a new lip balm, only to find that your old one was hiding in the corner of your dresser the whole time? You’ll probably find clear containers handy. Buy yourself some acrylic, plastic, and glass holders so that you can quickly find what you need. Install risers on cabinet shelves to store more smaller items and keep them visible at a glance.

8. Hang Items Inside Cabinet Doors

Yes, you can get a bit more storage space by utilizing the insides of your cabinet doors. Just stick on a magnetic knife strip and a couple of adhesive acrylic holders. Clips, bobby pins, and metal nail tools can go on the knife strip while nail polish and makeup can sit in the acrylic containers.

9. Hide Your Trash

Another good way to use the inside of a cabinet door: attach a trash can. This way, you free up floor space while keeping bathroom garbage hidden. Try mounting the lid on one of the cabinet’s interior walls. Whenever you open the cabinet door, the trash can will open together with it.

10. Buy Yourself Some Baskets

For each wicker basket you purchase, you can store a few more extra bath supplies. A set of baskets can keep cabinets tidy or hide items you’d rather keep out of sight. Customize them with labels made from paper tags and string. In the case that you buy too many baskets for your bathroom cabinet, you can mount a pair above your toilet and use them as shelves for rolled up towels or fresh changes of toilet paper.

Research has repeatedly shown that clutter can actually affect our state of mind–that is, the mess in your bathroom can actually make you uneasy. Now, taking a warm shower only to be stressed out by all the clutter doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? Stay organized by following these 10 tips, and you can feel refreshed in body and mind whenever you walk out of your bathroom.

If you’re looking for more ways to upgrade your bathroom, you might also want to read up on 15 space-saving bathroom ideas.

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12 Steps to Avoid Food Wastage at Home

You might have experienced having to throw out spoiled food, whether it was half a plate or an entire tub. The thought of such wastage makes some homeowners uneasy. With the advent of sustainable living blogs, it’s a good time to try to reduce your food wastage at home. You can start off with the 12 tips listed below.

 

12 Steps to Avoid Food Wastage

 

  1. Don’t Overbuy! Stick to your grocery lists. Plan your meals, create detailed shopping lists, and go by them. Also, try buying local produce and checking out any nearby farmers’ markets on your next grocery run. Local produce contains less pesticides, if at all, and reduces CO2 levels because it is transported over shorter distances. This also means that it’s more readily available, so you don’t have to hoard it.
  2. Don’t Over-serve Food. It’s common to see massive portions in restaurants, but this leads to wastage if it becomes a dining room habit. Use smaller plates, and serve just enough food when cooking for family and friends.
  3. Save Leftovers. Have you cooked too much at home, or have you ordered too much on a night out? Take the leftovers home and place them in your fridge or freezer. Label leftovers to keep track of how long you’ve had them, and be sure to actually eat them.
  4. Store Food Properly. Some fruits and vegetables can be stored in the fridge, but some others are better left at room temperature. Know where to store fresh produce to keep them from expiring too early.
  5. Keep Storage Areas Tidy. It’s a shame for food items to expire just because you forgot they were there, hidden in the back of your fridge. Organize your fridge and your pantry so that you can see everything at a glance. Use the “first in, first out” rule, too, placing older items in front so that you can remember to eat them.
  6. Don’t Panic Over “Best Before” Dates. Expiration and sell-by dates only refer to food quality. People often throw out perfectly edible food just because it’s past expiration. Trust your senses instead: Does the food look, smell, and taste okay?
  7. If You Have It, Eat It. Go through your fridge and pantry, check for items that are about to expire, and plan to use them in your next recipe. You can mix things up with new recipes. For example, overripe fruit can become smoothies or casseroles or added to homemade bread.
  8. Preserve. People have canned, candied, and pickled food for thousands of years. With these techniques, you can extend the shelf life of fruit and other kinds of food for months.
  9. Donate. Sometimes, you have some excess food which you know you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad. Why not give it to someone in need? Read up on food banks and charities near you. You may also donate the food to farms as animal feed.
  10. Take It Outside. After everything is said and done, do you still have food scraps around? Don’t worry, there are a few options left. Seeds, celery, and potatoes are a few kinds of food that you can regrow in your backyard. You can try to compost other food scraps to make your own nutrient-rich fertilizer. Don’t focus too much on composting, though–the EPA ranks it as a last-resort option to keep food out of the landfill.
  11. Track Your Waste. If you have no choice but to toss a certain item, take note of it on a waste log. This helps you avoid repeating wastage in the future.
  12. Get an App. Yes, there are apps to help you cut down on food wastage, both for iPhones and Android phones! With these apps, you can get advice on ideal food storage, or purchase surplus food that would’ve otherwise been thrown out from nearby restaurants.

It takes a bit more mindfulness and some self-discipline, but you’ll still find it surprisingly simple to avoid food wastage at home. Who knows, you may also be able to stretch your creativity, creating grocery lists and figuring out how to prepare or preserve your food. Shop and eat responsibly with these 12 steps as a guide!

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17 Tips to Make Your Home Energy-Efficient

This month’s electrical bill is painful for you to look at, just as you’ve expected. You’ve been using up a lot of energy for a while, especially with temperatures rising year after year. It’s lovely to have a well designed home. It’s even more wonderful to have a home that is both beautiful and energy-efficient. You can spend less on heating and cooling bills while remaining comfortable, and you can cut down on your carbon footprint, too. To help you get started, here are 17 steps to help you save energy.

 

17 Tips for a More Energy-Efficient Home

 

1. Change Your Most-Used Light Bulbs to LEDs. They might cost more at first, but they last much longer and use up less electrical power than their incandescent counterparts. You’ll save yourself the effort of having to purchase replacement lights as well. For outdoor lights, use CFLs instead of incandescent lamps.

2. Change Your Least-Used Light Bulbs, Too. Will you need a 100-watt bulb in a room that’s used just once a year? Downgrade such less-used lights to 60-watt or even 40-watt bulbs to save energy.

3. Use Cold Water for Laundry. This eliminates the need for a water heater. If you really need to use hot water, try to find a heater that runs on solar power.

4. Baking? Don’t Peek! The temperature drops 25° F whenever you peek. Your oven will have to work harder to bring the temperature back up.

5. When Possible, Unplug or Power Down. Your mobile phone only takes a few hours to charge, and your computer and printer don’t have to be left on all day, either.

6. Wash Dishes and Clothes at Night. Power grids are most strained during 4PM and 6PM during peak usage hours, from mid-afternoon to early in the evening. Do your washing a bit later, and you can keep the house cooler and avoid emergencies as well.

7. Switch Out Single-Pane Windows. Either replace them with more energy-efficient windows or add solar shades or tinting film to them.

8. Turn Off the Oven Early. Do this a few minutes before reaching the prescribed cooking time. Don’t worry, your food will continue cooking from its own heat.

9. Use Natural Light When Possible. For windowless rooms, you can use skylights. You may no longer need to turn on any lights during daytime.

10. Seal and Insulate Properly. Cracks and gaps can lessen the efficiency of your heating and cooling, raising energy costs by 45 percent. Avoid this by sealing gaps and cracks in rooms and around windows and doors. Also, check how your home insulation levels measure up to local codes.

11. Maintain Clean Filters. Your home systems have to do more work if their filters are dirty. Clean or replace all filters at home once a month (or every three weeks if you have pets or a dusty environment). Use a vacuum with a cleaning extension to suck up dirt, or gently wash the filter with warm water.

12. Spot the Energy Star. This sticker indicates that EPA has confirmed the product’s energy efficiency. You can find the small blue or black sticker on over 40 product categories, from refrigerators and washing machines to LED lightbulbs.

13. Use Your Shades Well. Help your heating and cooling systems out by knowing when to close or open your shades and blinds. Close your shades during warmer months for cooler indoor temperatures; open them during cooler months to let sunlight through.

14. Landscape. Deciduous trees act like shades and blinds if they sit on the south and west sides of your house. Their leaves provide shade in the summer but fall off so that the sun can come through in the winter.

15. Install Ceiling Fans. A single fan uses roughly as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb, but it can help you cut down even more on cooling and heating bills. Set your fan to spin counterclockwise in summer–you’ll find that you can comfortably set the thermostat 4°F higher. Switch the blades to spin clockwise in winter to help circulate warm air.

16. Don’t Overuse the Thermostat. Try to not lower your thermostat so much in the summer or raise it so much in the winter. If your indoor temperature is closer to outdoor temperatures, your systems will have lighter work to do. Also, don’t adjust past the desired temperature–your home will heat or cool at the same speed.

17. Paint! Brighten your room with lighter paint colors, which reflect more light. You can then switch the light bulb for a lower-wattage equivalent.

You might not notice the impact immediately, as some of these changes seem minor. However, just as a leaky faucet leads to a bigger water bill, the result of these actions builds up over time. Make efforts to go by these 17 tips, and you’ll save more energy than you thought you would.

Visit our blog regularly for tips on improving your home.

Your Seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist

Owning a house is everyone’s dream. But aside from the privilege it comes with, having a place to call you own also comes with a huge responsibility.

Similar to oil changes to keep your car engine in its prime condition and regular exercise to maintain optimal health, maintaining your home is necessary to keep it in its best shape. What’s more, doing so can even save you on repair costs and keep you from future headaches.

Sadly, the idea of needing to accomplish a long list of tasks can be overwhelming – and there’s no denying it. But, having the right set of maintenance tips can still help you navigate through it. In fact,you don’t even need much experience to get the most of them done.

To help you stay on top of your home maintenance tasks, we created a seasonal home maintenance checklist that schedules what needs to be updated, repaired and cleaned depending on the time of year. It also outlines a handful of tasks that needs to be done in a monthly, quarterly, biennial and annual bases.   

Monthly Home Maintenance

The following tasks need to be done on a monthly basis to keep your home in excellent condition:

Replace HVAC filters. Replacing the filters monthly may not always be necessary. If the filters are dirty, change them out. Otherwise, inspect them again next month.

Flush out drains. There are many ways to do this, but probably the best all-around solution is a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial.

Clean garbage disposal. The baking soda and vinegar solution works as well in cleaning your garbage disposal in the sink. You can also toss in citrus peel to keep them smelling fresh.

Scrub range hood inserts. Soak greasy range hood filters in a boiling water with a degreasing dish soap and baking soda. Scrub the filters, rinse and dry.

Inspect fire extinguishers. Make sure the extinguisher is visible and unobstructed, the locking pin and taper seal is intact, and the gauge still has adequate pressure and has no sign of damage.

Wash refrigerator door seals. Clean rubber seals with warm water, sponge and dish soap to ensure that it completely seals close and keeps the temperature inside regulated.

Vacuum carpets. Vacuum dirty carpets at least once a month and high-traffic areas weekly. It will help maximize the life of the carpet and keep them from looking bad.

Clean dishwasher filter. Keep the filtering screen clean otherwise, it will accumulate food residue that may block the water flow. Consult the manual for cleaning instructions.

Empty dehumidifier – How often you will need to empty your dehumidifier will depend on the climate and how damp your basement is. But, whenever it’s full, empty it.

Disinfect trash bins – Empty and clean trash bins to remove residues that may lodge into the bottom and create a foul smell that attracts insects and pests.

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring is the best time for a general cleaning. Besides giving the house a thorough overhaul, also include the following to your to-do list:

Inspect drainage. If water doesn’t drain away from your home, you may need to check your drainage for buildup or loose connection. You may also need to grade the area to achieve a correct slope.  

Clean gutters. Scoop out debris that accumulated in the fall and winter. Flush the gutter with water to check the flow.

Check for signs of damage. Inspect the exterior of your home for early signs of damage such as paint chipping, leaks, holes or cracks, and make necessary repairs.

Prepare air conditioning systems. Ready your air conditioners for summer. You may refer to the user manual or have it serviced.  

Repair window screens. If there are damages or holes in your window and door screens, have it fixed immediately. Otherwise, bugs and pests can make their way in.

Spring Cleanup. Start by removing any dead plants that survived the winter. Then, trim perennial plants to encourage growth. Lastly, lay down mulch in the flowerbeds to protect them against drought.

Drain heater. Fully drain water heater to remove any sediment that has formed in the bottom. It can help prolong the life of the unit.

Assess windows and doors. Check for any windows or panes that need to be repaired as well as locks and latches that need to be replaced.

Summer Home Maintenance

Summer is a great time to give attention to the outside of your home. Be sure to do the following:

Clean grout. Scrub grout with a paste made with water and baking soda. If it seems a little stained or grimy, you can replace water with hydrogen peroxide to achieve better results.

Inspect plumbing. Check for leaks, water stains and other signs of water damage. Test your toilets, shower and sinks to ensure they’re functioning properly.

Clean faucet and shower head. Remove hard water stains on faucets and shower heads by soaking them in vinegar for an hour. Scrub loosened deposits and rinse.  

Manage pest problem. Insect problems are fairly easy to take care of. Here are some 8 homemade pest control remedies you can try.

Repair patio. Sometimes, your patio merely needs a good clean. But, to be sure, check for any loose boards and repair as needed.

Clean dryer vent. Run the dryer and test whether the exhaust is coming out nicely. Otherwise, you may need to check for blockages yourself or hire a professional.

Check for termite damage. If you suspect your home is infested with termites, you may need to call a professional to inspect your property and do necessary actions.

Fall Home Maintenance

Fall is the time when you’re finishing up on your summer touch-ups and prepare it for the winter at the same time. These are some of the steps you shouldn’t overlook:

Flush water heater. It’s time to flush the water heater again and remove the sediment. As mentioned, it will help improve the efficiency of the unit.

Prepare air conditioners. Store window units or cover them with a plastic sheeting and secure with cords.

Get heating system ready. Have your furnace serviced and make sure there are no leaks in the windows and doors. Ensure that the heating vents are not obstructed.

Winterize outdoor faucets. Drain hoses and store them. Prepare sprinkle systems as well for the winter if you have one.

Check pavement for cracks. If there are cracks in the driveway or pavement, make sure to have them resealed. Otherwise, water can freeze and expand the cracks, resulting to more damage.

Ready your winter gear. Keep your sidewalk salt, shovels and other winter essentials ready. You’ll never know when the first snow will come.

Sweep leaves. Clean your grounds, window wells and gutters monthly or as often as needed. Test your leaf blower to ensure they’re all set for the season change.

Inspect windows and doors. Install weather stripping on windows and doors to maintain a warmer home. Replace screen doors with storm doors and check for window panes that may need replacement.

Protect against pests. Take preventive steps to keep insects and pests that may take refuge inside your home.

Test kitchen appliances. Clean your oven, stovetop and microwave to ensure they are functioning properly.

Winter Home Maintenance

Now, winter is the time to assess the interior of your home. For everything that you may have overlooked, now is your last chance to address them for the year.

De-ice. Never let ice dams and icicles from outside your home. De-ice them immediately as they are not only dangerous but can also be damaging to your home.  

Test electricity. Check that all the outlets are functioning. You can rewire them yourself or hire a professional to get the job done.

Check for loose screws. Go through the house and tighten any handles, knobs or racks that may have loosened. Also, check for locks and replace them if necessary.

Service water heater. Run your water heater and test if it works properly. Also learn how to set its temperature.

Prevent frozen pipes. Keep your thermostat at 55°F or above if you are concerned about frozen pipes when you will be on holiday vacation.

Quarterly Home Maintenance

Test detectors. Ensure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Replace batteries if necessary.

Maintain yard and home exterior. Tend to your plants, sweep outdoors as often as needed, shovel snow, keep pathways clean, clean the gutters and winterize everything that needs be.

Run water in unused spaces. For rooms that are mostly vacant, run a little bit of water through the sinks and toilets to keep grime from forming.

Biennial Home Maintenance

Give your home a deep clean. Engage the whole family in giving your home a proper, deep clean. Make sure to address dirt and grime that you tend to ignore for years.

Inspect basement. Also give your basement a good inspection at least twice a year, preferably in the summer and winter.

Vacuum refrigerator coils. Vacuum the coils to remove dust and dirt that can interfere with the refrigerator’s cooling system.

Annual Home Maintenance

Clean the chimney. Have your chimney cleaned at least once in a year.

Inspect fire extinguishers. Check fire extinguishers annually to ensure they have not yet expired. If it is about to expire in the next 12 months, have it replaced.

Test your GFCI outlets. There are a lot of opinions on how often you should test this. But, it’s up to you whether to do this on a monthly or an annual basis.

Clean the chimney. Have your chimney cleaned at least once in a year. If chimney swifts have nested in it, wait until these birds leave before you have it cleaned and capped.

Of course, this list of tasks can vary a lot. But, if you want to maximize your efficiency and get all the job done, you might consider creating a calendar yourself. Do what works for you and as long as you accomplish them, you can be confident that your home will be in its best condition for years to come.

Need more idea about how will your home navigate through every season? Whether it’s a construction or full renovation, an interior designer can help create a home that is both functional and beautiful for you. Contact Lugbill Designs today!

7 Steps to an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

Eco-friendly living will continue to be a hot trend in 2019, with more and more homeowners realizing how the details of their lifestyle can affect the environment in the long run. If you want to keep up with the times, you ought to update your home with sustainable choices, from your living room to your kitchen. To get you started, here are 7 steps you can take for an eco-friendly kitchen.

7 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

1. Choose Your Appliances Wisely

Look for energy-efficient appliances. These use just enough energy to do their job and can help you save 10-50% of the normal power consumption of their regular versions. Some of them even run on renewable energy, such as solar power. One indicator of an eco-friendly appliance is the Energy Star label, which is placed on products that the Environmental Protection Agency certifies as energy-efficient.

In addition, you might want to unplug your appliances when they’re not in use. Leave them plugged in and they’ll still use up power.

2. Cook Smart

If you tend to prepare meals without much thought, you’re probably using more energy in your kitchen than you actually need. This can increase your carbon footprint without you realizing it. Here are some points to keep in mind when you’re in the kitchen:

  • Use just enough water. The more water you use, the more energy you’ll need to heat it up or get it to boiling point. Plus, excess water is wasted water.
  • Use lids when you cook. This traps heat and speeds up your cooking.
  • Try using the microwave instead of the oven when you can. This way, you can use 80% less energy to reheat the same food item.
  • Cut down on meat and dairy. It takes up a surprising amount of resources to raise a cow. Forests are sometimes even converted into pastures just to raise livestock. The more meat and dairy you consume, the bigger your carbon footprint.

3. Upgrade Cookware and Utensils

Switch out your plastic cookware for modern equivalents made of eco-friendly materials such as porcelain, glass, or wood. It’s a good thing there are several brands selling sustainable kitchen products nowadays! These include Rustic Wall Co., which produces kitchen utensils made of logging scraps, or Bambeco, which reuses its leftover materials and plants a tree for every purchase.

4. Cook With Organic Greens

Try to cook with herbs and vegetables that are fresh and free of pesticides. There are two ways to do this: buy from local green grocers or farmers’ markets, or grow your own produce.

Locally sourced greens don’t consume as much fuel just to be transported, which is a big eco-friendly plus. Be sure of whom you’re buying from, though. A large commercial farm that douses its crops with pesticides could fall under “local” if it’s just across your street. Opt for produce from small, organic farms.

You can also try your hand at growing your own herbs and vegetables. Many common vegetables are perfect for budding gardeners. These include tomatoes, cabbage, and spring onions. The additional backyard foliage will help keep the air at home fresh, too.

5. Cut Down on Food Waste

If your kitchen is truly eco-friendly, it will ideally produce minimal food waste. The following tips should keep you from throwing out too much food:

  • Shop smart. When you’re at the groceries, be realistic and buy only what you need.
  • Don’t over-serve. When scooping food onto your plate, don’t pile it up in heaps. Instead, get smaller portions and go back for seconds if needed.
  • Save your leftovers. If you’re feeling creative, you can use leftovers to whip up a fantastic meal. Just label them to keep track of how long they’ve been in your fridge.
  • Note down the food you toss out. That way you’ll know what you don’t use and take steps to avoid repeated kitchen wastage, whether that means buying smaller sizes of the same product or cutting that item out of your menu entirely.

6. Use Your Fridge Right

Your fridge uses up energy to keep food cold. If you’re aiming to have an eco-friendly kitchen, you’ll want to reduce the work your fridge has to do. Position your fridge in a cool area of your kitchen, and let food cool before putting it in the fridge.

Make sure that your fridge is still efficient, too. Defrost it regularly to keep your fridge and freezer running efficiently. Also, check if the seals around the door need to be changed. A quick test: close the door on a dollar bill. If the bill easily slides out, that means that the seals are also loose enough to let cold air seep out. Replace the seals as needed.

7. Use Green Cleaning Products

Some kitchen cleaning products have chemicals which can harm your family as well as the environment. Switch to eco-friendly alternatives with natural formulas. Homemade cleaning ingredients won’t give off strong odors, yet they can often be just as effective as store-bought cleaning products.

With these 7 steps, you’ll be on your way to an eco-friendly kitchen with a smaller carbon footprint. This sustainable lifestyle choice isn’t just a great way to welcome the new year, but it’ll help keep your home cleaner and fresher for you and your family.

For more tips on sustainable living and interior design, visit our blog regularly.

8 Smart Refrigerator Organizing Ideas You Need to Know

Leaving your refrigerator unorganized isn’t only a hassle, but could be dangerous as well. Food that was haphazardly stored inside could spoil faster. This can leave bacteria and molds to fester inside your fridge and make you susceptible to a number of diseases.

Organizing your fridge is a necessity.

To keep you on top of this task, here are 8 smart refrigerator organizing ideas for your kitchen.

1. Schedule your fridge-cleaning

It would be much easier to keep your fridge clean and organized if you stick to a routine. Clean it once a week so you can be sure to always have space for your leftovers and midnight purchases. Pick out which ones you need to throw out and and those that are still edible.

Smart tips: Put mats underneath the shelves. It is much easier to launder the mats than to scrub away at the stains left behind your fridge. Place plastic wrap over the mats so it’ll be easier to discard liquid mess as well. Also, if you want to clean your fridge without risking getting chemicals in your food, you can put together a cleaner made of homemade ingredients.

2. Label to save time

Always pack and seal the food shut before storing them away. Improperly packaged and loosely sealed food could expose these items to different kinds of bacteria. Exposure to the open air could also make them spoil faster than you’d expect them to.

Smart tips: Always label the food after packing and sealing them. Label what they are and when they were stored in the fridge. Have a separate “eat me” bin so you could identify which food items need to be consumed immediately. You could also write on the fridge with an easy erase marker to easily track the food items that are about to expire.

3. Mason jars over tupperwares

If it’s fruit or vegetables, mason jars beat tupperwares every time. Mason jars consume lesser space than tupperwares since they’re smaller and shorter than the latter. They also make your fridge look better on the inside.

Smart tips: Be sure to use the sure-seal mason jars.

4. Group like items together

You should never mix different food groups together. Again, this makes your food susceptible to different kinds of bacteria and could lead to faster spoilage. The vegetables go in the vegetable and fruit bin. The leftovers should be put with other leftovers, etc.

Smart tips: Lazy susans or turntables can not only help you distinguish which belongs to what type of food group, but they also help make sure you never forget anything at the back space of your fridge. You could also use bins to segregate the food groups from each other.

5. Make room for more

Try to consume as little space as you can in your fridge. You could do this by maximizing the entire space available inside the fridge. Stack tall food items such as bottles and cartons on top of each other so you can add another shelf in your fridge.

Smart tips: Repurpose the containers available at home such as six pack containers, egg cartons, and magazine holders. Your six pack containers can be used to store bottles together. Egg cartons can be used to store condiment bottles upside down so they take up less space on the fridge. Magazine holders can act as bins for bigger food items.

6. Magnets will solve everything

Apply magnets at the inside your fridge. This can help in maximizing every space available in your fridge, so it would be easier to store your food inside.

Smart tips: Use the magnets to hang your bottles at the top of your fridge. You can use the space below to store food and other items that needs refrigeration.

7. Binder clips are the future

People often have problems with stacking bottles together since they tend to slip and fall from their pyramids. You can use binders to stop your bottles from rolling over. This is especially useful for those beer bottles you want to keep cool in your fridge.

Smart tips: You can use the binder clips to tightly seal your bag containers as well.

8. Hang the bag

Like the magnet idea, you can hang your bags in the in-between spaces of the shelves or trays in your fridge. You can use the binder clips again to hang them on your shelves and trays. This will give you more space to store food items underneath it.

Smart tips: Install a pull-out unit in your fridge so you can have an easier time to hang bags inside.

 

Do you have more smart refrigerator organizing ideas? Let us know by commenting below!

5 Homemade Natural Cleaning Recipes You Can DIY

It might have taken you months in decorating your home and choosing the perfect furniture. However, the aesthetic you were aiming for can easily be thrown off by an unsightly stain or a strange odor. Though store-bought cleaners can do the trick, they are usually expensive and hard to find as well.

So how can you keep your home clean and presentable without hurting your wallet?

Here are five homemade natural cleaning recipes that you can put together in the comfort of your own kitchen, gathered from respected bloggers who are also concerned with keeping households clean.

1. Scented All-Purpose Cleaner

This fragrant cleaner can be used to get rid of carpet stains and freshen laundry, among other things. The lemon rind lends some extra cleaning power to this recipe as well.

Instructions: Mix one part water, one part white vinegar, lemon rind, and a sprig of rosemary. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake. Let the cleaner sit for a week for its ingredients to infuse.

Read the full article from Good Housekeeping here.

2. Brass Cleaner

Have you found some brass accents or furniture that would be perfect for your living room if only they hadn’t lost their sheen? Apartment Therapy presents a solution for you, “using only two natural ingredients you probably already have on hand!”

Instructions: Mix half a lemon’s worth of juice and a teaspoon of baking soda until a paste is formed. The paste can be rubbed onto brass with a soft cloth and then washed off.

3. Wood Polishing Spray

Say goodbye to spending on can after can of store-bought wood polish. You can also add your favorite essential oil to the mix for a personal touch!

Instructions: Combine ¾ cup olive oil, ¼ cup white vinegar, and (optional) 30 drops of essential oil. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake vigorously. To use, shake the mixture well, spray it onto wood surfaces, and polish with a clean cloth.

Recipe taken from Keeper of the Home.

4. Mirror and Glass Cleaner

You’ll occasionally look into a mirror to check your hair but end up counting toothpaste smudges instead. Here’s a quick recipe for a cleaning solution for mirror and glass, which you can also customize with essential oils.

Instructions: Mix ¼ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup isopropyl alcohol, one tablespoon of cornstarch, 2 cups of water, and 8-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Once you’ve poured the mixture into a spray bottle, shake it well. To use, spray directly onto glass and then wipe off.

5. Fridge Cleaner

How many times have you held your breath while opening your fridge? Although they’re meant to keep food fresh, fridges frequently end up housing strange smells thanks to forgotten leftovers. Fortunately, Hello Glow has a non-toxic cleaning solution that can be used to deep clean a refrigerator.

Instructions: Pour 1 cup vinegar into a spray bottle, add 2 teaspoons of dish soap and some orange essential oil, and then add warm water until the bottle is almost full. Shake well before each use.

 

It turns out that you don’t have to spend so much just to enjoy a house that’s both stylish and clean. Most of the homemade cleaning ingredients used in these 5 recipes can be found in your own kitchen!

Want to find out other ways to keep your home looking fresh and fashionable? Check out our blog for more tips and advice!

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