Recycling Appliances & Electronics

Consumers recycle their electronics and appliances for a number of reasons, ranging from wanting to upgrade their devices to desiring more energy-efficient items. Smart choices when recycling electronics can save the ground and water from contamination. As e-waste grows, the recycling and donating of these common home and personal items offers a practical solution to a modern and potentially dangerous problem. Going green with future electronics and appliance choices can help reduce environmental impact while also lowering energy bills. With a few great recycling strategies in hand, consumers can make conscientious decisions to help protect the environment now and in the future.

The Problem With E-Waste

Modern technological conveniences often make our lives easier, but improper disposal of these devices can negatively impact the environment. Developing countries are especially susceptible to the environmental ravages of old electronics, as a large percentage of the developed world’s e-waste is exported to these countries. Since regulation can be less stringent in developing countries, environmental laws protecting the earth and the region’s inhabitants can be rare. While ridding your house of unwanted or old electronics could be considered home improvement, the environmental costs of irresponsible disposal can negate any freed-up space.

  • As E-Waste Piles Up, Disposal Issues Grow
  • Replacing Old Smartphones With Newer Models Creates Environmental Problems
  • E-Waste in Developing Countries Endangers Environment, Locals
  • India’s Electronic Waste Problem
  • Children’s Environmental Health: Electronic Waste
  • Bringing Harmony to Electronic Waste Disposal

Going Green & Recycling Your Electronics

One of the benefits of recycling electronics is that the act can allow for a remodeling of your environmental consciousness. When purchasing new electronics, you’ll have the ability to choose Energy Star-rated products or other resource-economical items. Reading energy labels on electronics before you purchase them can give you the opportunity to select products that use a reasonable amount of electricity. Recycling your electronics can reduce construction processes and ensure that your electronics’ new owners can enjoy your items without the need for brand-new materials or the manufacturing wastes they might cause.

  • Greener Gadgets
  • Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics
  • Guide to Recycling (PDF)
  • Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
  • Recycling Your Electronic Waste
  • Electronics Recycling Laws and Guidelines
  • Demanufacturing and Shredding During the E-Cycling Process

Specific Appliances

In recycling terms, appliances that are designated for recycling are often referred to as “white goods.” Certain brands of electronics may also have specific recycling guidelines or programs associated with them. Components of electronics, such as printer cartridges, often come with recycling instructions contained within their retail packaging. Generally, it can be a good idea to check with the manufacturer of specific appliances or electronics for guidance on how to recycle items. Local recycling centers or city websites may offer further suggestions if manufacturers don’t run in-house recycling programs. For particularly large or heavy items, consider hiring a private curbside recycling service to take electronics or appliances on your behalf.

  • Advice About Recycling Appliances
  • Recycling TVs
  • Call2Recycle: Rechargeable Battery and Cellphone Drop-off Locations
  • Safe Disposal of Refrigerated Household Appliances: Frequently Asked Questions
  • What Do I Do With Appliances?
  • Printer Ink Cartridge Recycling Information

Donation

 

Giving appliances and electronics to charities is a great way to relieve yourself of your old gadgets in a truly positive manner. Aside from giving a person in need the opportunity to use the appliance and helping to conserve the environment, your donation may also be tax-deductible. Donating large items like appliances can also offer you the opportunity to engage in a bit of home improvement or remodeling and invest in electronics or appliances that are more energy-efficient and environmentally sound. Matching yourself with an appropriate charity to donate to can be easy. Start by determining which charities local to you accept appliance donations, and then choose the charity that speaks to your personal philosophies, philanthropic causes, or interests.

  • Donate Goods to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • Salvation Army Appliance Donation Value Guide
  • Guide to Donating to Goodwill
  • E-Access
  • Donate Computers to the United Way

Before You Recycle or Donate

Once you decide to recycle or donate your electronics and appliances, certain steps should be taken to reduce your liability and protect yourself from unnecessary problems. To guard your privacy, data on electronics like computers and cell phones needs to be deleted. Reformatting electronics so that they are returned to their factory state can ensure that devices are wiped clean of all personal information. It can also be a good idea to remove the batteries of any electronics that you want to recycle. Batteries can contain dangerous acids that need to be handled carefully and recycled in special centers. Similarly, major appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners need to have the Freon removed before they are donated, recycled, or disposed of. Local municipalities, scrap yards, or even a contractor from an appliance repair store may be able to help you to rid your appliance of this potentially troublesome chemical.

  • E-Cycling Central: Find a Recycler
  • EPA Refrigerant Recycling Rules (PDF)
  • Appliance Recycling Guide (PDF)
  • How to Properly Dispose of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Equipment (PDF)
  • CFC Appliance Recycling and Recovery Practices (PDF)
  • Preparing Your PC for Reuse or Recycling: Protect Your Private Information (PDF)
  • How to Donate Your Computer to Charity
  • Safely Dispose of Computers and Other Devices

Family Water Saving Ideas At Home & Away From Home

In our modern, world we have seen many of our natural resources used and sometimes abused. Resources such as air, trees and water have been taken for granted by everyone. For centuries, people have been using these resources without giving thought to whether this is hurting the environment. Over the past few years, we have come to understand that abusing our natural resources can have a negative impact on the environment.

Because of the need to be alert to the environment and the natural resources, people need to help by saving these resources whenever possible. One of the best ways to save resources is by all family members helping out. These include saving water, both at home and while away from home.

To help families learn about conserving water, we have put together the following information. We hope this helps your family save water and help the environment.

The Latest Kitchen Floor Trends You Must Know

The style of your kitchen floors can make or break the overall appearance of this most central room in your home. There are many components to consider as you contemplate replacing your old floors. Material, color, style and maintenance requirements should all be factored in during the decision making process.

There isn’t a right or wrong type of kitchen floor, but there are styles and trends that tend to be more popular, and for good reason. See the latest recommendations in kitchen flooring, so that when it comes time to replace your floors, you’re educated and confident enough to choose floors that are up-to-date and tasteful.

Black Leather Tile

Black leather tile is a newer trend that’s unique, but also very sleek. While these floors are nice looking, you should know that it takes more effort to care for them. The care instructions include mopping the floors with distilled water and vacuuming them with a soft bristle brush monthly. It’s also very important you clean up spills quickly, as to avoid stains and costly repairs.

Black floors are a respectable choice for the kitchen because it’s a color that’s easy to decorate around and hides dark dirt and stains. Black leather tile portrays a luxurious, high-end look, but don’t let that fool you. The floors are also comfortable to walk on.

Wood-Look Ceramic Tile & Laminate

If you’re looking for a durable and low-maintenance floor, then you might like this option. I’m talking about a ceramic tile in disguise. Ceramic and porcelain tile are being transformed to look like wood. If you’re worried about how well it’ll mimic wood in your kitchen, don’t be. The rich colors and detailed grains make it look very real.

Laminate is another popular direction to take if you’re going for a hardwood look without the cost. Amber Shay, VP of Design for Standard Pacific Homes’ (Denver) explains why it’s a common choice, “Laminate is a thin piece of wood on a core that’s made of something else. It creates structural stability, so you have less movement in the floor and it’s less expensive than solid hardwood.” They won’t be hard to find, flooring stores everywhere are equipped with ceramic and porcelain tile selections for just about any style home.

Wide-Plank Hardwood

Installing hardwood floors in the kitchen continues to be a favorable trend amongst homeowners. The updates in wood flooring include wider-planks, darker stains and a growing interest in gray tones. Technically speaking, “wide-plank” means installing boards that are wider than three inches, give or take about 1/4-inch.

Not only are the planks getting larger, but some designers are encouraging the use of multiple-sized planks. You might also start to see hardwood floors moving toward more exotic species, for example, hickory, cherry and walnut. There aren’t necessarily any earthshattering benefits to incorporating wide-plank floors in your home, but they’re aesthetically appealing and perfect for homeowners looking for a diverse style.

See our flooring cost guide for more information on various flooring types, materials and pricing.

Bamboo

Bamboo, it’s renewable, it’s beautiful and it’s Earth-friendly, pretty much music to the ears. It’s been said some early versions of the material were known to have shrinkage issues, but it’s gotten better over the years and hasn’t recently been a problem. Bamboo is great for homeowners who want to create a kitchen that’s cutting-edge and can appreciate a floor with style and durability.

You may not know, but bamboo is actually harder than many types of woods. It’s a comfortable and eco-chic surface that stands up well to water and foot traffic. Bamboo is produced in an array of colors and plank widths. If you’re considering this type of flooring for your kitchen, then I suggest educating yourself on the advantages, disadvantages, types and costs before moving forward.

Style & Flair

Long gone are the days of matchy-matchy and plain Jane style homes. Kitchen designs are changing and expanding all of the time, and this year’s no different. There are many ways you can add flair and sophistication to your kitchen, but below are some of the more striking possibilities.

  • Saltillo Tiles: These flooring tiles are used to create a Mediterranean-style kitchen. To accomplish this look, you’re encouraged to incorporate lively colors, rustic hardware and (of course) Saltillo tile flooring. This particular tile brings a warm, inviting look to the kitchen.
  • Terra-Cotta Tile: Select this tile if you’re going for an Old World Charm-style kitchen. It’s a beautiful and classic material that’ll add warmth and geometric interest to the room.
  • Natural Stone: This material is an expensive and high-end flooring option, but it’s absolutely stunning. Natural stone (including marble or travertine) is timeless, durable and easy to clean. Experts suggest using larger pieces which give you a seamless, impressive look and less grout to clean.

Décor Items That Can Inspire Your Next Travel Adventure

You don’t need to be a seasoned traveler to decorate your home like you’ve travelled the globe. Instead of waiting around until you’ve built your souvenir collection, why not have décor items that can inspire your next travel adventure? Infuse your home with décor items from places on your travel destination wish list. Doing this serves as a constant reminder of all the places you’d like to visit, but can also be a motivator to work towards your goal. As you work your way around the globe, you can incorporate actual souvenirs into your décor scheme and put your memories on display.

Here are a few decor items that won’t only serve as inspiration for your next adventure, but will add to the visual appeal in any room of your home.

A Personal Photo Wall

Even if you’re not the best photographer, displaying photos you’ve taken on your own can be a great way to showcase your memories. The photos don’t have to be perfect, nor do you have to be in them. Photos of landscape are just as beautiful. Get creative with your wall, try funky frames or sticking them directly onto your walls. Have it be an extension of your love for travel and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Repurposing Fabrics

Shopping around for vintage fabrics that can be incorporated into your home décor can be a fun activity for your travels. Be sure to inspect the entire fabric thoroughly. Look for sun fades, which cause the cloth to rot. Also, look out for stains, mold and mildew. These are things that aren’t fixable so really think twice before buying. These fabrics can be used to give your bedroom an updated look. With them, you can make blankets, quilts and even headboards that fit your design scheme

Vintage Suitcase Décor

Suitcases are like a traveler’s must-have staple. So, what better way to inspire yourself to save for that next trip? Search for hard case suitcases at your local thrift store and get creative with the décor possibilities. Try using it as a bedside table by propping it on a short bar stool. Decorate with contemporary lamps and vases filled with bright colored flowers. You can also try to create a suitcase sculpture. Be as creative as you’d like and let it be infused by your desire to travel.

Postcard Wall Art

Although, it may seem like no one buys postcards anymore, they make the perfect decor item that inspires travel. Because they cost little to nothing to purchase, they’re easy to get a hold of. And the best part, you don’t have to travel far to get them; postcards are made everywhere! Start your collection with a postcard from your hometown. Keep building your collection by visiting a local thrift shop to see what you can find. Create a decorative wall art with your favorite postcard taking center stage. And why not throw in some inspirational travel quotes in there as well. Wall art stickers are totally in right now.

Give Your Bed A Makeover

We’re all guilty of loving the cozy feel of our hotel bed just a little more than our own, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Invest in a quality duvet cover, super soft linens and some plush pillows and snuggle into your newly transformed bed. Nothing says getaway more than a relaxing room to unwind. So why not make your bedroom that space that you never want to leave?

Coffee Table Décor

Ok, I have to admit, I’m kind of a book nerd, so this idea is genius to me. Books are great décor pieces because not only can you get them in different sizes and colors, but it’s also easy to just grab a stack from your library and make your living space more comfortable. Try to incorporate as many travel photography books as you can; this allows you to add to your travel wish list while admiring the beauty of faraway places

Vintage Flags

Collecting flags from places you’ve visited or want to visit is a great way to add a bit of character to any room in your home. Flags usually consist of a variation of colors, which can be useful when trying to brighten your home. There are so many options when decorating with flags; you can put them in a frame and hang in your favorite room or you can add it to a pen holder in your office. Make sure that the flag is somewhere that’s easy to spot and reminds you of somewhere you want to go.

Scented Candles

 

An easy way to inspire your next travel adventure is to use scented candles. Because they’re made in a wide variety of scents, you can practically find any scent to suit your next travel idea. In the summer, we all want to lay in a hammock somewhere on the beach sipping on a piña colada, right? Why not find an ocean or sea breeze scented candle. Strategically place it in a room where you go to relax and light it whenever you need a stress reliever. This will allow the brain to associate sea breeze scents with relaxation and make it much easier to book that ticket to Cabol.

A Globe

A globe is one of those classic staples that a traveler needs in their home. You can invest in either a table or floor globe and really let it add to your room décor. A fun way to keep adding to it is to stick pins or stickers on places as you travel to them. Globes can serve as inspiration but also collects memories from your past travel experiences.

Up to 47% of Contractors may be Using Fake Reviews, Study Reveals

A study based on 10 years of reviews indicates up to 47% of home service contractors in some work categories may be using fake online reviews to attract homeowners. The startling revelation comes at a time when home improvement disputes and problems continue to dominate the consumer complaints received in Canada.

The findings were released by TrustedPros Inc. after analyzing the customer review data collected by TrustedPros.ca since 2004. The home improvement and contractor review website employs a validation team that closely screens each review after it is submitted, making sure that it’s not posted by the contractor themselves, their family, friends, or employees. Any review that fails to clear the screening procedures is flagged as “suspicious” and disapproved for publishing.

The current study segregates contractors planting fake reviews by industry, city and province. For each city, province, and service category, the total number of contractors suspected of posting fictitious reviews was divided by total number of reviewed companies in that area/category. The results disclose some interesting facts.

Moving companies top the list of fake reviews with 47.83% of reviews flagged as suspicious and removed from the TrustedPros website. Locksmiths, pest control, window cleaning, home theater, and duct cleaning businesses were close contenders, with 40% or more of their reviews believed to be bogus.

Garage Door Trends

Curb appeal is becoming increasingly important to homeowners. They’re looking for the best way to make their homes stand out and increase property values.

The question is where should it start? Look no further than the garage door. A garage door is more than a large entryway into the home, but it’s also a way to distinguish a home from the others on the block. Garage doors are being used much differently than in the past. That’s why we’re going to explain what the biggest garage door trends are today.

Garage Design Trends

How a garage door looks is incredibly important to homeowners. There is only one chance to make a first impression. Garage doors are the largest entryway to the home and are typically the focal point of a home’s exterior. Homeowners are taking this opportunity to design their own garage doors rather than purchasing a standard door. It’s important to make the most of this large space and many are doing so in interesting ways.

Garage Doors are Getting Bigger

Larger garage doors are all the rage now. Homeowners are tending to make larger openings for their garage doors when building or renovating their homes. This gives the owner a larger canvas to work with and allows more space for creativity. The larger doors also stand out and increase curb appeal.

Bold Colors Create A More Vibrant Garage

White and tan garage doors are fading in popularity. Homeowners are becoming bolder with their choice in garage door colors. They are trying to build a concept based around the color of their home. Homeowners want their garage doors to complement their exterior. In turn, this increases the home’s curb appeal and causes the garage to stand out amongst the neighbors.

More unique colors also allow owners to stylize their home based on their personality and design sense. It gives them an opportunity express themselves in a way white or tan garage doors can’t.

Fake It ‘Til You Make it: Faux Wood Garage Doors

Wood doors add a level of sophistication to a home. They increase curb appeal and the value. The only issue is wood doors are extremely expensive. Homeowners are already making an investment to install their garage door. This is why homeowners are turning to fiberglass or steel garage doors. They can get a door that looks like wood for a fraction of the cost. In addition, fiberglass garage doors increase R-values (insulation) and that saves even more money!

Let the Light Shine In: Large Windows on Garage Doors

A beautiful window in the living room can increase the curb appeal. Why should it be any different for a garage door? As they’re becoming bigger, the windows on them are becoming larger as well. It gives the door an interesting aesthetic that is increasing in popularity.

The windows also help improve the inside of the garage. Garages don’t have to be dark areas void of sunlight. Homeowners are welcoming sunlight into their garage with the larger windows. Much like home windows, homeowners want the windows larger in their garage because they allow more light in and give the best outside views.

Garage Functionality Trends

Not all trends are aesthetic; some include the efficiency of the garage door or how it is used by the homeowner. How garage doors operate has changed over time, especially over the last few decades as technology has improved and family size and structure has changed.

 

Garages Aren’t Only for Cars

Sometimes, garages aren’t used for the owners’ cars. They are turning their garage into an additional room for their home. Workshops, spare bedrooms and family rooms are some examples of what owners are creating with their garage.

Many families are becoming larger and extended families are living together. They need the extra room to accommodate everyone comfortably. Homeowners are often turning their garages into extra bedrooms so everyone has a place to sleep. This means the door needs to be well insulated so the room’s temperature remains controlled.

Bedrooms aren’t the only way to accommodate families comfortably. Extra living spaces are created as places friends and family gather. Since the garage is becoming a room people spend more time in, it could be another reason why larger windows are trending.

Well Insulated Garage Doors Keep the Outside Out

With garages becoming more than an area to store their car, homeowners are looking for ways to make the room more comfortable. This is why insulated garage doors are trending. They prevent harsh temperatures from getting into the home and air or heat from escaping.

Outside noises are also reduced with the added insulation. If the garage has been converted into a bedroom, preventing outside noise from being heard is ideal. Who would want their sleep disturbed?

Improved insulation isn’t only trending with owners using their garage as an extra living space. It also improves the insulation of the home altogether. This is especially true where the garage shares an adjacent wall with a room inside the home. The improved insulation will decrease how hard the owner’s heating and cooling systems have to work to reach a set temperature. Heat and air will be trapped inside which means the owner saves money on their bills.

Open the Garage with A Smartphone

What can’t be done with a smartphone? As technology evolves, the demand for smart products does too. This is why smart garage door openers are trending. Homeowners can now open and close their garage door with their tablet or smartphone. Smart garage door openers provide the owner with peace of mind that they didn’t leave their door open. They are able to close it from anywhere!

No Work is Good Work: Reliable Garage Doors

As technology improves, the expectations of homeowners change. They want their garage doors to require little to no maintenance. With the hustle and bustle of a typical day, homeowners don’t want to worry about their garage doors not working or malfunctioning. In addition, garage door repair isn’t cheap.

Bell Fined $1.25-Million for Fake Reviews

The Competition Bureau set a precedence this week by fining BCE Inc. $1.25 million, after it was revealed that employees within the company were leaving fraudulent reviews for “MyBellMobile” and other applications found in the Apple AppStore.

Even though the fine may come as a surprise to many, fraudulent reviews are actually becoming more prevalent in corporate environments like Bell, where high level executives are expected to be well-versed on ethical business practices.

In 2010, The Better Business Bureau was exposed by ABC news for giving good grades to companies who had negative reputations but paid money for BBB accreditation. The company was forced to close several of its chapters due to accusations of corruption and fraud. We also discussed the relevance of the Better Business Bureau and why customers and businesses alike need to be mindful to gather information from a number of sources before making certain decisions. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-you-trust-better-business-bureau-max-sheppar

TrustedPros regularly flags suspicious submissions it receives and alerts the Competition Bureau about the possibility of contractors posting reviews to show their companies in a favorable light. Corporations have a greater responsibly however, than a jerk pretending to be a handy man and does a sloppy job installing tiles in your basement. Corporations are often responsible for providing services to millions of consumers who trust them to be ethical in all their dealings.

Perhaps this penalty imposed by the Competition Bureau was meant to send a clear message to corporations that fraudulent reviews will not be tolerated, as they prevent consumers from making informed decisions based on factual experiences of their fellow consumers. Furthermore, there were hardly any gray areas in this particular situation as bias and subjectivity were painfully obvious. The Bell employees gave stellar reviews of an otherwise poorly received App that users rated an average of 1.5 out of 5 stars.

TrustedPros identified the need for honesty and transparency within the review world as they witnessed countless cases of homeowners being duped by contractors with fake reviews. The TrustScore system, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/trustscore-launched-protect-homeowners-from-shady-max-sheppard, was developed specifically for the purpose of empowering consumers to make informed decisions 100% of the time.

Like most large corporations that are accused of wrong doing by an independent watch-dog, BCE has agreed to correct its indiscretions and educate its employees about the importance of acting with integrity. Bell has recently removed the fake reviews leaving an accurate assessment of the Apps in question.

Detox Your Home in Minutes

Inside your home can be 5 times more toxic than outdoors. This is attributed to a number of different factors including poor air-quality, off-gassing from furniture, pesticides brought inside from footwear and harmful plastics in the form of food containers. We all want to protect ourselves and families from harm and ridding your home of dangerous materials and chemicals is great way to start.

The air quality inside your home is very important for your respiratory and overall health. Wondering where to begin? You can add a little more freshness to your home by opening up your windows, which in turn will allow the air in your home to flow out, helping to remove dust and mold spores that can occur in poorly ventilated spaces. After realizing the health benefits of plants, you may want to give your green leafy friends a hug. According to a study conducted by NASA in the 1980’s house plants are effective in removing harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, ammonia and other chemicals. Peace lilies seem to be the superheroes of all house plants as they are very inexpensive at about $14.00 for a medium sized pot and remove the top 6 most common and harmful chemicals found inside homes. When certain plants bloom they can add a beautiful fragrance to the air and offer a natural alternative to products like Glade and Febreze.

In keeping with this, labeling these particular products “air-fresheners” is actually a misnomer. If one were to take a look at the ingredients found in these products, freshness is the last thing that comes to mind because they actually add more pollutants to the air in your home. What’s the alternative? Natural essential oils emit pleasant fragrances without the use of chemicals. One such oil is Frankincense, which is extracted from the Boswellia tree commonly found in Northern Africa. This oil has an earthy smelling fragrant and is used in aromatherapy to aid in relaxation. It was also one of the gifts supposedly given to Christ at a young age by a wise man, so it also has spiritual and meditative connotations as well. Frankincense contains antibacterial properties and acts as a natural air purifier when diffused. If you are searching for a more perfume-like scent that is similar to the ones found in a Glade plug-in, Lavender oil will provide the smell of spring in your home all year long. If you suffer with asthma or simply have a stuffy nose, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are very effective in relieving congestion and clearing sinuses.

Perhaps the most obvious way to improve air quality in your home is to avoid smoking inside, since cigarette smoke contains thousands of poisonous chemicals that will negatively affect the health of humans and pets. Kicking the habit completely will also be beneficial as the chemicals contained in cigarette smoke can cling to clothing long after you’ve finished lighting up, further diminishing the air quality in your home. Fabric is notorious for trapping allergens and chemicals so you may also want to consider the way in which you choose to clean your clothes. Seeking an organic dry cleaning service can help you to avoid carcinogenic materials, but be aware that some companies have been fined for using organic labels without receiving proper certification. Wet cleaners also use industrial grade driers and mild eco-friendly cleaning solutions to remove stains and odour from clothing. Finally don’t be alarmed by the label that says “dry clean only”. Quite often, these labels are added by clothing companies to prevent lawsuits in the event that clothing is damaged but you can gently wash your dry clean only clothing to avoid the added cost of a professional cleaner.

Pretty Furniture, Ugly Chemicals

Sometimes the most attractive pieces of furniture are the most toxic. Perfluorinated compounds or (PFCs) and formaldehyde are just some of the chemicals found in furniture that is linked to cancer and other diseases. In order to prevent these chemicals from wreaking havoc in your home, you may want to revaluate your taste in furniture. Stain resistant fabric found on couches, curtains and clothing often contain PFCs as means of offering the consumer some convenience, but the health risks posed by the chemical far outweigh the benefits of not having to clean a stain. Where your furniture comes from may also be a factor as some countries do not have any regulations on the chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process. Investing in custom made furniture will give you the power to choose your own unique style as well as the chemicals you would like to avoid. Using solid wood with little to no varnishes or lacquer is best if you have small children in your home. Try to avoid using low quality laminate flooring, as formaldehyde contents in laminate flooring can sometimes exceed the emissions level recommended by the World Health Organization. Finally, it is important to remember that it can take up to 12 years for furniture to finish the off-gassing process, so careful consideration should be made before you purchase your next bedroom set.

No more Toxic Mess

It is pretty daunting to think about all the products in your home that pose potential health hazards to you and your family, but there are a lot of factors you can control such as the products you choose to clean your house. Most popular cleaning products contain bleach, parabens and ammonia but there are also alternatives that are becoming more available than before. Most supermarkets now carry household cleaners that are completely free of chemicals. They may be a bit expensive but the peace of mind is probably worth the money.

If you are into DIY’s you can also make your own cleaning solutions using vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. Lemons are known for their ability to eliminate bacteria while leaving a pleasant citrus scent. Baking soda is also an excellent bleach substitute as it removes stains and eliminates even the most awful odours. Baking soda works miracles on stains left behind in coffee and tea cups. Simply let the affected dishware soak for about 5 minutes and you will see the stains magically disappear. Another effective way to avoid germs and harmful chemicals is to avoid wearing shoes inside your home. Even if you just forgot the keys make sure you take your shoes off before you re-enter as pesticides and other chemicals remain on your shoes for a very long time. Buy a mat with hard bristles so you can wipe off the excess dirt outside instead of on your indoor mat. If you have a bit of time once each month, wear gloves and use a hose to wash the bottom of the soles of your shoes especially if you keep them in your bedroom closets. Finally, make an effort to avoid antibacterial soaps that use chemicals such as triclosan. According to an article from CBC news “This chemical is highly toxic to organisms in … receiving waters and also persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment, as well as having endocrine active properties (in humans),

Ditch the plastic Tupperware

Many plastics even ones that are BPA free still contain harmful chemicals that can lead to cancer and disturb fertility. Try to stick to glass dishware only. If you use the microwave, you don’t need to use that generic plastic bowl to cover your food a glass plate cover is fine. If you have an infant, it is best to use glass bottles, that way; you won’t have to play the harmful plastic guessing game. If you drink purified water, you can install reverse osmosis or alkaline water filters that hook up to the tap in your home instead of using the big plastic bottle.

Just chill

The final and perhaps most important suggestion is to rid your home of negative attitudes and energies. According to Health Canada, illnesses like heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and mental health problems can develop much faster when the person who is affected is under stress. Even if your home is chemical-free, having a negative and critical attitude can pollute the space causing you and others around you to experience anxiety and stress. The weight of the world can be overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing issues at work, financial burdens or simply annoyed with the daily traffic jams. Take some time alone each day to pray and meditate or listen to soothing music. The calm you will feel afterwards can empower you handle stressful events without making them dictate the atmosphere in your home. After all, your home should be a sanctuary not a war zone.

FAQs About HVAC Systems

In today’s environmentally-conscious world, homeowners are always looking for ways to reduce air pollutants and increase the energy efficiency in their homes. HVAC systems have grown in popularity and, as technology continues to progress, these systems are becoming more and more energy efficient. HVAC systems are popular among modern home builders. If you are a homeowner who is considering installing or updating an HVAC system in your home, you might have some questions.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding installing and maintaining HVAC systems.

What Does HVAC Stand for?

HVAC is short for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

How Often Should I Check My Air Filter?

It is recommended that you check your air filter once a month, especially during the seasons when it is being used more. You should clean a reusable filter once a month, or throw it out and replace the filter if you use disposable filters.

How Can I Reduce My Energy Costs?

There are a number of actions that can be taken to help reduce your energy bill every month:

  • One easy adjustment would be to alter the temperature on your thermostat. If your system does not have to work so hard to get the house to a desired temperature, you will be saving energy and money. So, in the summer months, keep your temperature a little higher and in the winter months, set your temperature a little lower.
  • Installing ceiling fans is another great way to reduce energy costs. By installing ceiling fans, you can help circulate the air conditioning or heat throughout the room. In addition, you can rotate the direction of the airflow during the different seasons. For optimal use during the winter months, set the blades to rotate in a clockwise direction to push the warm air down from the ceiling. In the summer, set the blades to rotate in a counterclockwise direction.
  • In rooms that are frequently used, do not block the vents. In less frequently used rooms, close the vents so you do not spend money cooling rooms that are not being used.
  • Put your thermostat on a timer so your system is not running and wasting energy when you are not in the house.

Is There A Reason My Air Conditioning Unit is Freezing Up?

Yes, this is a common issue and there may be several reasons for why this problem occurs. One reason may be that there is a leak in the refrigerant lines in the system. The location and cause of the leak will tell you whether you should replace or repair the system. A second reason may be that the evaporator coil is dirty. This problem is similar to a dirty air filter in that you may notice the system is not working efficiently and is not cooling your home properly. These problems require assistance from your local service experts to fix.

What is Indoor Air Quality? What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

 

Although outdoor air quality has been a major focus when it comes to environmental studies, recently, indoor air quality has become a topic of conversation. Indoor air quality refers to pollutants in the air inside your home, the humidity level and the ventilation levels. Pollutants inside your home can be caused by several things. This list includes, but is not limited to, carpeting, upholstered furniture, curtains, cleaning products, air fresheners, paints and gas appliances. In sum, any item in your home that releases gas creates air pollutants that can decrease the quality of the air inside your home.

How Can I Improve the Indoor Air Quality in My Home?

In order to improve the indoor air quality in your home, there are several strategies you can follow:

  • Eliminate dirt and dust from your home by cleaning and vacuuming at least once a week.
  • Open your windows! Although modern homes and HVAC systems are designed to be energy efficient and filter the air in your home, if you do not mix in some fresh air from outside, levels of air pollutants will increase and the air inside can become stale.
  • You may need to switch to use high-efficiency air filters in your HVAC system. There are some air particles that are just too small and may never land on a surface and avoid the vacuum. There are high-efficiency air filters that can capture even the smallest and most evasive of air particles.
  • Monitor the humidity levels of your house. If your house is too humid, this can increase the concentration of particles and germs in the air. Keeping track of the humidity levels can help decrease indoor air pollutants.

 

What Size HVAC System is Right for Me?

Although you might be under the impression that the larger the house, the larger the system required, this is not necessarily true. To get an accurate quote on which size system you may need, you may need to call a licensed professional to help you out.

Should I Repair My HVAC System or Replace It?

If your system is old and in need of constant repair, it may be time to update to something more modern and energy efficient. The average life expectancy of an HVAC system is about 20 years, depending on the general usage. It may be helpful to contact a licensed professional regarding your specific situation.

Before & After Photos A Must-See Kitchen Remodel

Don Huey and his wife, Rene, moved into their new home in Apple Valley. As they settled into their new place, the Huey’s quickly realized that the kitchen had to go. It was dated and rough on the eyes.

Don and Rene knew that they had a project on their hands, but were willing to put in the time, money and effort it was going to take to turn this room into the kitchen of their dreams. See below for an inspiring before and after story from homeowners just like yourself.

Do Your Homework

The Huey’s knew their new home was a fixer upper when they bought it. Don and Rene were moving on from a short sale a year prior and wanted an inexpensive way to re-enter home ownership. They had been looking for months and felt this home really spoke to them, so they were willing to put in a little extra work.

 

The Huey’s spent about six weeks looking at websites and getting ideas for how to drag their 1980’s style kitchen into this century. Don shared some great insights about how they got their design inspiration, “Many of ours ideas came from touring new model homes around our area and looking at displays at the local hardware stores.”

When you’re touring beautiful, new homes and looking at what’s trending in kitchen designs, it can quickly make you forget about your budget. Don said one of their biggest challenges was keeping their grandiose ideas in line with what was practical to implement in the space and their style of home. In the end, the Huey’s decided to stay within reason on a majority of the remodel, but did splurge on a few items that they said they couldn’t live without

Getting To Work

Once they had a plan, Don and Rene sought out the proper assistance they knew they needed to get the job done right. They hired a local contractor, Walter Stimax, who they trusted to do the work. Not only was he a talented contractor, but he had been a builder on an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, so they figured he could work fast! Walter did work fast and his crew was very professional. This is a good lesson. Before locking in a pro, it’s important to map out your project details and determine what skills you want in a contractor.

The inspiration for their kitchen remodel was a return to natural surfaces with real wood grains and natural looking stone counters. Don and Rene chose alder cabinets and didn’t do anything to the wood, other than put on a clear varnish. The counters they selected are leather finished granite and have a very natural look as well.

Lessons Learned

While Don and Rene are happy with the way things turned out, they do have a few nuggets of advice they’d like to share with you. Don said it would have been helpful to know the state of the antiquated wiring in the 25-year-old home, before tackling the project, “Who knew that they only required a 100 amp electrical box back then?”

The Huey’s came up with a couple of additional tips for any homeowner facing a kitchen remodel.

  • Clear an area in the garage or nearby room to serve as a pantry and temporary kitchen.
  • Move nice things well away from the construction zone.
  • Be flexible because the plans WILL change! (They inadvertently slowed the construction process by not being able to agree on a backsplash tile.

Don and Rene ended up spending about $25,000 when it was all said and done. If you’re looking to cut costs, they suggest going with a cheaper appliance package and less expensive countertops. Downgrading these items would have saved them roughly $5,000.