How much does college cost? This is a question many wonder. There’s rarely a week that goes by where I don’t receive an email from a student or parents of a student who are looking for ways to cut college costs. That’s why today I want to talk about college costs and how you can […]
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Credit cards are a great tool for building credit. They’re easy to use, offer flexibility, and sometimes even reward you for using them. Most also directly impact your credit score and are used by many people to begin building their credit profile. But what if you donât want a credit card or are having trouble... Read More
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You've bought a great pair of jeans, but they're too long and you don’t have time to hem them before you need to wear them. Simply fold them up and tape with duct tape. The hem will last the whole night—and maybe even through a couple of washings. This is also a great tip if you're not sure exactly where you want to hem your pants. Have a "trial run" using the duct tape, and they’re all ready to sew.
If one of your roof's shingles has fallen off, you can make a temporary replacement using duct tape. Cut a 1/4-inch thick piece of plywood to match the same size as the missing shingle. Then wrap it in duct tape (you will need several strips), and wedge it in place.
When cutting plywood, first reinforce where you plan on cutting with a strip of duct tape. The tape will keep the wood from splitting as you saw, and then you can peel the tape right off.
When pool liners tear, it can be very costly to repair them. But duct tape can do the job. Simply cover the tear, and keep and eye on it to make sure it doesn't start to peel off. Believe it or not, a single piece of duct tape can usually last underwater for an entire summer.
To make your slippers waterproof and therefore safe to wear on a quick trip outdoors, simply cover the bottoms with—you guessed it—overlapping layers of duct tape.
If you've got a fly problem, tape five to ten pieces of duct tape to themselves (making a ring with the sticky side out), then hang them from the ceiling near any overhead lights. Flying insects will become stuck, then just throw out the tape and your problem is solved!
If the screwdriver, hammer, or other tool that you're using is hard to grip, wrap duct tape around the handle until it more easily fits your hand.
If your disposable vacuum cleaner bag is full and you don't have replacement on hand, it's duct tape to the rescue! Remove the bag and cut a slit straight down the middle. Empty it into the garbage, then pinch the sides together at the slit and fold over. Tape the fold with a liberal amount of duct tape. The bag will hold a little less, but you’ll be ready to vacuum again without having to run to the store.
Before you start out on your hiking trip, tape your pant legs to your boots with duct tape. This will ensure you'll get no bites from ticks, flies, and mosquitoes.
If tubes of glue, caulk, and other home repair necessities are cluttering up your work bench, hang them from the wall with nails. Create holes that the tubes can hang from by wrapping a piece of duct tape from front to back on the bottom (non-dispensing end) of the tube. Leave an extra 1/2-inch flap of tape at the end that doesn’t touch the tube and just folds onto itself. Then poke a hole through this part and you'll have a handy hanging hole. Wrap another piece of tape around the tube the other way to reinforce the tape you’ve already applied.
What are your best uses for duct tape? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page!
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.…
No space to bring outdoor furniture inside in bad weather? Make sure to keep them covered during the winter months. But instead of buying pricey furniture covers, protect lawn chairs and tables by covering them with large plastic bags. If you have metal deck furniture, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to areas where they've been known to rust to prevent them from rusting during the winter—and beyond.
Icy sidewalk? Throw cat litter down instead of rock salt. It won’t harm your grass, stain your clothes, or hurt the environment, but it will provide plenty of traction for safe walking and driving.
While you have that petroleum jelly out, apply a thin layer to the threads of all your outdoor light bulbs. It will prevent them from rusting and make them much easier to replace when they blow out.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well sealed home can be up to 20 percent more energy efficient. Most leaks occur in the basement or attic—look where you feel a draft or around wiring holes, plumbing vents, ducts, and basement rim joints. You’ll be able to seal lots of leaks with a simple caulking gun, but for instructions on how to plug larger holes, check out these tutorials from EnergyStar.gov.
Try an old masonry trick to brighten up soot-stained brick. Mix a can of cola with 3½ fluid ounces all-purpose household cleaner and 3 ½ quarts water in a bucket. Sponge onto sooty brick and leave for 15 minutes. Loosen the soot by scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush. Sponge with clean water. For a stronger solution, add more cola.
What are your favorite tips of taking care of your home in the winter? Share them with us in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Who Knew?…
Heating and cooling is easily the most energy intensive system in your home. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, heating and cooling is to blame for almost half of all the energy expenditure in the average American household, beating even the growing energy consumption of appliances and electronics. Thus, by properly maintaining your HVAC system, you can improve its efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs dramatically. If you want to reap the savings of an efficient HVAC, here’s how.
Here they are in more detail.
If you have cold or hot air pouring into your home from outside, your HVAC unit needs to work harder than it should to keep your home the right temperature. Therefore, one of the most basic ways to improve HVAC efficiency is to seal and insulate your home. First, you should keep doors and windows closed whenever your HVAC is running; then, you should check that the insulation in your walls and attic (if you have one) is still doing its job. By doing this, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.
If you’ve ever wondered how to compare home warranty vs. home insurance, now is your chance to learn. Home warranties guarantee the systems of your home, like your HVAC, against the ravages of time. If your HVAC breaks down for any reason, you can contact your home warranty provider, who will send an HVAC specialist to diagnose and fix the problem for a low, flat fee around $70. Though a home warranty won’t keep your HVAC in tip-top shape, it will secure you against total HVAC failure.
You shouldn’t just trust that your thermostat knows what temperature it is in your home. It is easy for thermostats to be anywhere from a percent of a degree to five whole degrees off from the true temperature, and that seemingly small difference will cost you over time. To be certain your thermostat is reading true, you need to purchase a trustworthy thermometer and keep it on the wall a few inches from your thermostat. Then, using that tool, you can calibrate your thermostat appropriately.
Economizers are machines attached to your HVAC to ensure high efficiency, but they don’t always work as expected. Often, economizers slip their links or contain faulty controls—or else someone in the past tinkered with them improperly. You should pay a visit to your HVAC economizer and give it a once-over; look specifically for open dampers (which should be kept closed) and any signs of quick fixes, like string or unfinished wood, that could indicate issues.
A variable frequency drive (VFD) controls the speed of the motor in your HVAC unit, providing energy savings proportional to the rotations per minute. However, like economizers, VFDs can malfunction and/or can be interfered with, causing efficiency-related problems. You should peer into your VFD and ensure that it isn’t running on bypass mode, so you can reap appropriate energy savings.
A building automation system (BAS) provides centralized control of HVAC as well as lighting and other systems. Such systems usually only exist in larger structures with more complex energy and control needs, but if your home is in an apartment or condo building, you might be subject to a BAS. You should either try to remove a BAS that is impeding the proper use of your HVAC or else contact your building manager to express concern over the BAS functionality.
On the same day you clean your refrigerator coils, you should also clean your HVAC coils. Because HVAC units are typically placed in out-of-the-way areas that are rarely cleaned - like your roof, your basement, your attic or a corner of your yard - it doesn’t take long for them to accumulate dirt and grime. Debris on your HVAC coils forces the machine to work harder to produce the same effects, and it can reduce indoor air quality. Thus, you should schedule a coil cleaning at least once per year.
There is no sense in heating or cooling an empty home. When you are away - at work or on vacation - you should consider setting a more lenient temperature on your thermostat, so it doesn’t need to work so hard for no benefit. You can also connect timer switches to your most energy-hungry devices, like gaming consoles, desktop computers and appliances, for a similar effect.
Over time, your HVAC will become less efficient—unless you do something about it. By participating in preventative maintenance, you can reduce your home energy costs and avoid the high expense of repairing or replacing your equipment.…
Keep your doorways and wall corners safe from drips!
If you’ve ever painted a fence, you know that the task can be onerous, and you can end up dripping paint all over your lawn. Protect the grass by placing an old dustpan under the section you’re working on. It will catch spills and help prevent you from picking up pieces of dirt and grass on your paintbrush. If you don’t want paint splatters on your dust pan, cover it with newspaper first.
Painting doors? Avoid getting paint on the hinges by coating them lightly with petroleum jelly before you start. It’s easier to protect the rounded corners than when using painter's tape, and it wipes right off!
Maybe we’re just messy painters, but when we paint a room, we find that the interior rim around the paint can is never big enough to catch the paint that has slopped over the edge—eventually it fills up and runs down the side of the can. To solve this problem, we make several holes in the bottom of the rim with a small nail and hammer. Now the paint drips back into the can rather than running down the side.
For your next paint job, prevent drips and messes with this great trick: Stick a magnet against the inside of a clean metal can. When you’re not using the paintbrush, attach it to the magnet (with bristles facedown) until you’re ready to use it again. Paint will drip into the bucket, not on your floor!
To keep your paint can and your workspace as clean as possible, wrap a rubber band around the height of the open can. The band should sit over the opening, so you can dab the paint-filled brush on the rubber to wipe away excess paint.
Finally tackling that room that needs to be repainted? Create your own drip-free paintbrush holder with a plastic milk jug. Cut a hole in the side large enough to fit your paintbrush, and you’re ready to go! The handle will allow you to easily carry it around the room and up and down ladders without making a mess.
When painting a room directly from the can, it’s nearly impossible to keep paint from dripping down the side. So instead of stopping the drips, catch them! To easiest way? Affix a paper or Styrofoam plate to the bottom of the can with some glue or duct tape. That way, it go with the can wherever you move it, and you can just tear them off when you’re done painting.
To catch drips while you paint, try this makeshift drip cup: Cut a tennis ball in half and slice a thin slot in the bottom bowl of one half. Then slide your brush handle through the slot so the bristles stick out of the open side. A small paper plate or cup works, too.
Before you begin that big painting project, cover doorknobs, drawer pulls, and any other small object you’re worried about catching spills with aluminum foil. The foil easily molds to any shape and comes off when you’re done.
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The easiest way to lower your water usage (and utility bill) is to screw low-flow aerators into your sink’s faucets. Aerators are easy to install, cost $5 or less, and can save you $50 or more per year. If the showerheads in your home were installed before 1994, you should seriously consider replacing them with their modern, energy-saving equivalents. Check out your local hardware store for low-flow alternatives, and remember that just because it’s low-flow doesn’t mean it has to be weak!
Have you ever set the sprinkler on the lawn and forgotten it was there? Purchasing a water timer will take care of that problem for you. Available at your local hardware store, these hose attachments work like egg timers and turn off the water supply after the amount of time you specify, usually between 10 minutes and two hours. It's a minimal investment with a worthwhile return!
Does your toilet tank leak into the bowl after each flush? If it does, you could be wasting up to 73,000 gallons of water per year! To find out, put a drop of food coloring in the tank when it’s done flushing and see if it shows up in the bowl. If you see the color in the bowl, check out how to fix a toilet tank leak.
If you don’t have a modern, water-saving toilet, a great way to save water is to fill a plastic bottle or two with sand and put them in your toilet tank. You’ll use a lot less water with each flush. Just make sure you place them away from the operating mechanism. Also, don’t use bricks—they disintegrate and can damage your toilet.
We’ve already shared with you some easy ways you can heat less water to lower your water bill. But what about the time spent waiting for the water to heat up? Keep a bucket in your shower to use to collect cold water as the shower is heating up. Then, use it to water plants, soak stained clothes, or other jobs that you don’t need warm water for. Meanwhile, quit fiddling with the knobs on your shower to find where you want it before it gets hot. Find your favorite setting, then mark where the knob is pointing on the tile with a dab of nail polish or a waterproof marker. This water-preserving trick is great for kids, who often take a long time adjusting the water before they get in.
Does your teenager take 45-minute-long showers? If you have teenagers, try giving them an incentive to take shorter showers. A great one is five minutes added on to their curfew (or phone time) for every minute they shave off their showering time.
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