Category Archives: How To

Saving on cooling costs

Saving on cooling costs

With energy costs going up with seemingly no end in sight it’s important to know ways to save energy at home. Here are some simple ways to reduce your cooling costs for the summer.


·  Switch your ceiling fan to turn in a counter-clockwise direction in the summer; in the winter, run it at low speed, but clockwise. Having the fan going the right direction at the correct speed can keep the air in your house circulating and make it feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

·   Close your exterior doors and windows tightly when the AC is on. Your doors and windows weather stripping is equally important in the summer as it is in the winter. You can save more by limiting how long your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans run.


·    Change or clean your AC’s air filters at least once a month to keep your system running at peak performance. If you have central air, it’s a good idea to change the furnace air filter as the cool are is passed through the furnace ducts to your living areas. Keeping the filter changed regularly will improve air flow and make the fan fun more efficiently.

·    Make sure your AC has a rating – or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) – of 15. Not only will it be more efficient, you could also be eligible for a rebate up to $300.Make saving automatic: Set your thermostat fan switch to “auto” to save energy. Leaving it in the “on” position keeps air running constantly. Setting your thermostat to keep the house just a few degrees below the high for the day can also help by limiting how often it runs.

·   Block the sun from overheating your home.  Try to block as much sunlight from the room containing the thermostat, when you keep this room cooler it helps to not have the AC run as often during the day.

·   Insulate your walls with injected foam insulation to help you save energy by keeping hot outside air from seeping through porous block walls – check with your local building supply company for details.

·    Give your AC a tune-up. Running an inefficient AC system can result in high monthly bills. On top of that come tax time you can get a few bucks back from the government.

·     Open interior doors so that cooled air flows freely throughout your home.

·     Repair leaky ducts to reduce heating and cooling costs and qualify for a rebate up to $120 toward repairs.

·     Though through thermal dynamics, e.g. heat rising, there shouldn’t be much heat transfer it’s a good idea to install attic insulation rated R-30 and sealing any attic leaks to reduce high home cooling costs. You’ll save money each month and qualify for a rebate of $75 or more.

·    Decorate for a cooler home by hanging light-colored curtains that allow light to enter a room while blocking some of the sun’s rays, and light-colored paint to reflect heat.

·     Close unused air vents. If you have central AC you can close air vent in rooms you’re not using so you’re not paying to cool them. If you have a finished basement living-room/family-room area, consider closing the ducts to this part of the house. Cool air will naturally sink, but closing the ducks to these areas you’re forcing the air to the first floor which will eventually trickle down to the basement anyway.

·     Plant trees to provide shade on the sunny side of your home.

·     Install more ceiling fans. Because the breeze of a fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler, you can raise that thermostat and still stay comfortable.

·     Install a programmable thermostat to adjust your temperature during the day.


Implementing several of these concepts can reduce your energy costs of the long run. Many of them are tax deductible and how doesn’t want a few bucks back at the end of the year?


Shop for your fans and water saving fixtures. 

How to choose a kitchen sink – Buying Guide

How to choose a kitchen sink a Buying Guide

So you’re shopping for a kitchen sink. There’s a few things to think about before making that purchase. You need to know your mounting style, size, material preference, as well as some other factors.

Mounting style

Top-mount: Are the most widely used. Their popularity is derived from low expense and ease of install. Installing these is as easy as laying down a bead of sealer, dropping the sink into place and tightening the clamps underneath. Shop for top mount kitchen sinks here.


Under-mount: On average a little more expensive in material and installation. Many times these need to be attached to the mounting surface before the surface (counter) is installed. Advantages of the under-mount sink are: sweeping counter messes directly into sink without catching crumbs on the edge, like what happens with the top mount. Shop for under-mount sinks here.


Farm House Mount: These, also known as apron style sinks, are similar to the under-mount sink. The difference between the two styles is that these will slide into place, under the counter top edge, and will have the front of the sink showing. Shop for farm-house sinks here.



Size matters

Once the style has been decided upon, the next step is measuring for the correct size. When measuring for a top-mount sink you have to remember to leave overlap in your measurement for the lip of the sink. Usually the overlap between the visible edge of the sink and the counter top opening for the sink is 3/16 of an inch on all sides, or 3/8 across and side-to-side. For example a 33” x 22” sink fits a 32 5/8” x 21 5/8 inch hole. And the depth of the sink is really personal preference, but it’s a good thing to think about to avoid issues with the drain plumbing later on.




Cast Iron

  • Long lasting durability - Cast iron isn’t going to crack or dent like a solid surface or stainless steel sink. They’re heavy and barring any problems with their finish, they should last for a long time.
  • Self-rimming styles easy to install - A top-mount (drop-in) cast iron sink is easy to install and doesn’t require extra devices to hold it in place. Its weight combined with a sealant that surrounds the sink’s perimeter is what keeps it secure.
  • Its ease of installation makes it a good choice for do-it-yourself projects.
  • Surface less prone to water spots - its glossy surface combined with white and other lighter colors tends to hide water spots and streaks better than other types of sinks like stainless steel. Wiping it clean after each use will keep it clean too but that can be inconvenient and impractical. Black sinks on the other hand may show more streaking than lighter colors.
  • Easy to clean - The porcelain surface is non-porous and smooth making it resistant to staining and easy to keep clean, however it’s not totally immune to stains.
  • Appealing finish - The porcelain enamel coating provides a glossy finish that adds a beautiful visual appeal and is available in a range of colors that varies with manufacturer. The glossy shine adds sparkle to the kitchen and enhances the surrounding counter-tops.
  • Shop for cast iron sinks here.

Stainless Steel:

  • Most popular material in use.o
  • Requires regular cleaning to eliminate water spots.
  • Louder than other materials, will depend on gauge and quality of material as well as how it was made.
  • Come in a variety of gauges: 24 gauge being fairly thin, loud and may warp. Whereas a 16-18 gauge are more durable and hold up better against deformation such as bending, scratches and dings.
  • Shop for stainless steel sinks here.


  • Durability: Quality composite granite sinks are formed under high pressure, making them non-porous, hygienic, and resistant to heat, stains, scratches, and chips. Natural granite on the other hand will need to be sealed.
  • One draw back is harsh chemicals can damage a composite granite sink, so follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for cleaning the surface as well as products to avoid pouring into the sink.
  • Some composite granite sinks can be damaged by heat, resulting in blemishes from melting resins, and the material does scratch. Check the manufacturer warranty and select a product designed for high heat-resistance.
  • There’s a great variety of styles, sizes, shapes, finishes, and color options to complement your counter-tops.
  • An authentic granite stone sink features the natural variations of stone throughout the material.
  • A composite granite sink, however, features uniform color throughout the material.
  • A composite granite sink generally costs less than a natural granite sink.
  • Composite granite is not as forgiving as other sink material, composite granite is hard enough to break glassware when dropped on the surface.
  • More costly than stainless or porcelain.
  • Shop for granite sinks here.


  • Popular because of aesthetic beauty. After exposure to water and air, the copper will change color giving it unique character.
  • Copper sinks can also be coated to keep the rich copper color.
  • A bit on the pricey side in some instances as many manufactures hammer them out to order.o
  • They don’t corrode or rust.
  • More sanitary than other sink material, copper has an interesting antimicrobial property. Basically it kills the little critters that lurk in the sink that could potentially make people sick.
  • Maintenance of copper sinks is very laborious, frequent cleaning with water and basic (non-acidic) or gentle soap is also essential to keep the finish intact. You have to periodically wax and shower the copper sink to retain its shine and appeal. After every use, you have to dry the sink with a towel to prevent water spots from developing.
  • Copper sinks are more expensive than traditional sinks such as stainless steel, porcelain, or ceramic ones.
  • Lower gauged (thickness) models can dent easily.
  • One of the major problems with copper sinks is that their reactivity is very high which causes the metal to darken over time. Copper sinks also stain fairly easily. Furthermore, the patina of the copper sink can become damaged due to acidic liquids such as orange or lemon juice, and even toothpaste. A hot utensil or abrasive cleaners can also cause damage to the smooth or hammered finish of copper sinks.
  • Shop for copper sinks here.


  • Fire-clay sinks are non-porous and resistant to acid, alkali and scratches.
  • They’re relatively chip resistant.
  • Durable compared to other sink materials.o   On the down side, sizes are limited.
  • Like granite composite sinks, they’re not ‘friendly’ to dropped dishes and glasses.
  • They’re very susceptible to stains without proper care.
  • Expensive $300+ on average
  • Can crack or chip over time.
  • The weight of the sink requires added support, so professional installation is recommended.
  • Most fire-clay sinks need wall- or counter-mounted faucets.
  • Shop for fireclay sinks here.

Number of Faucet Holes

After the desired material has been decided the number of faucet holes needs to be taken into account. Some faucets need a mere one hole for installation, others need as many as five holes for installation. The faucet chosen may also dictate what material is used. The number of holes is a necessity to keep in mind when choosing a sink.


Number of Basins

This is also important to keep in mind. Some people are only concerned about washing dishes in their sinks, in which case a one or two basin may be just fine. Others like to soak fruits and veggies and then let them dry in the sink. Keep in mind your needs when choosing how many basins, the number of basins may also dictate the material available.

triple bowl

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Money Saving DIY tips


paint1. Paint: Though painting is the cheapest investment you can make, it’s also the one with the most dramatic result. Go ahead and put some color on those walls for a fresh — and inexpensive — new look. 






vacuum2. Do It Yourself:

There are tasks to home remodeling projects you should not be paying for. One such cost is the end of the day clean up. You can save up to $200 a week on your contracted remodel project if you grab a broom or vacuum and do the cleanup yourself.




resalestore3. Shop Secondhand Stores: Thrift stores, consignment shops, church rummage sales, online auction sites, estate sales and even salvage yards offer a bounty of discount decorating booty. Look for furniture with solid construction and classic lines that new upholstery or paint will bring back to life. 
sale4. Wait Patiently for Sales and Discounts
Wait to find what you really love at a price you really love. While you shop, ask if items will be discounted any time soon. Store and department managers are usually the best sources for this insider info and may even offer you the discounted price before it goes into effect.

mixmatch5. Don’t play the match game, mix it up
Not only is a “matchy-matchy” look boring, but buying entire suites of furniture tends to cost more than putting together a creative, eclectic look. Mix it up by opting for a couch and chairs upholstered in complementary fabrics, flanking a bed with unmatched night stands and decorating with other diverse items unified by color, form, material and tone. Or try pairing a stately wood table with shiny aluminum or brightly colored plastic chairs. And don’t be afraid to mix high-end and low-end or modern and traditional.
corbells6. Add Unexpected Accessories
Almost anything can serve as an accessory, and that goes for found objects and household items that cost practically nothing. Architectural corbels rescued from a salvage yard make great bookends, while seashells and driftwood collected at the shore create a lovely natural grouping. A bowl filled with crisp green apples lends a bright pop of color to just about any surface, and a stack of vintage hard-backs books adds height, dimension and character to an occasional table.

repurposefurniture7. One man’s junk…
Use your creativity to see possibilities in items others are tossing out. Take an old shelf like the one pictured, add some wheels and a handle and you have yourself a nice serving cart.
oldtonewOr you can simply take and item and give it new life. Some stencils and a light dusting of spray paint and you got a dresser with some character. 



suitecasedresserAny Good Will will have some old suite cases and you can likely find some old shelving at a recycled building materials store. What do you have? A unique and interesting chest of draws.