Here are some basic tasks you need to do now to prepare for wintry weather and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
(BPT) - No matter where you live, there are bound to be weather challenges this winter. Your home may suffer damage, minor or major, from the onslaught of colder weather, along with wind, heavy rain, ice storms or even major snow systems. This can affect not only the integrity and value of your home, but may lead to costly repairs down the road. That's why it's smart to prep now, to prevent bigger problems in the future. It's also a good idea to make sure that your home is prepped for spending more time indoors.
Here are basic tasks to prepare for wintry weather, and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
1. Perform a safety check
Are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in good working order? Make monthly testing of these safety features a regular part of your seasonal household chores. For battery-operated units keep up-to-date with battery changes as per manufacturer instructions. Also be aware and take action if you hear any low battery alarms. Also, do you have a home fire extinguisher in your kitchen?
2. Ensure clean indoor air
Make sure your home’s heating and air conditioning units are in good condition, and schedule regular tune-ups to avoid unpleasant surprises. Change your furnace filter frequently, so your air quality stays clean indoors, where you’re likely to spend more time as temps get cooler. Also, consider setting up a schedule with a professional to have your ductwork cleaned on a regular basis.
3. Keep the outside out
Check weatherstripping around exterior doors, replacing where necessary, then seal and caulk exterior wood, since wood trim can rot around windows and outside doors. Walk around the outside of your home with spray foam gap sealer and caulk to plug gaps, cracks and holes in siding and around windows. Find and seal air leaks where you may be losing valuable heat and letting in the cold. Many energy companies offer an energy audit to discover where you may be losing both heat and money — and advise you on ways to improve your insulation. Making sure your gutters are cleaned out and in good condition helps protect your home's exterior from exposure to moisture due to rain, ice or snow melt.
4. Install back-up power
Power outages occur for many reasons, usually outside your control. In major storms, outages can last for days or even weeks when a large area is affected. To protect your home and family, an automatic standby generator gives you peace of mind — even when you’re not at home.
Look for a unit that comes in a durable aluminum enclosure with options that can withstand up to 181 mph winds and can be installed as close as 18 inches from your home (important for areas with tight lot lines and strict building codes), such as select models of KOHLER standby home generators. They will automatically start and restore your power in seconds, whether you’re home or away.
Units can be monitored remotely from your smartphone or laptop. The unit is permanently installed near your home, and provides high-quality power that can run your sump pump, furnace or air conditioner, and major appliances — plus delicate electronics. KOHLER generators feature commercial-grade engines built to withstand extreme workloads over many years, and they come with a five-year warranty. This is not a do-it-yourself job; you will need to work with a professionally licensed and insured generator installer.
5. Trim your trees
Now is a great time to get your trees trimmed, while it’s easier to access branches without all the extra foliage. Trimming dead branches helps prevent problems that can occur due to wind or ice storms, when a falling branch could endanger a power line, car or home. Like all professional contractors, work with tree service companies that have proper credentials and insurance.
6. Check your roof
Whether you inspect your roof yourself or hire a professional, it's a good idea to take care of repairs before winter wind, hail, snow and ice do their worst. Look for blistering, curling, buckling — or missing — shingles. Moss or lichen growing can indicate decay underneath. Any visible sagging of your roof, rust or cracks around flashing or vent pipes should also be repaired promptly to avoid later problems like leaks.
Don't let the calamities of winter take you and your family by surprise. Doing prep work and maintenance on your home now, with a focus on safety, will ensure that you're ready for anything that may come your way — even if it's just hunkering down in your home for the season.
Between sorting, washing, pouring, transferring, drying and folding, laundry can often feel like a daunting chore. While you can’t skip laundry completely, you can stop those baskets from overflowing with these time-saving tips.
5 Time-Saving Laundry Tips
(Family Features) Between sorting, washing, pouring, transferring, drying and folding, laundry can often feel like a daunting chore.
While you can’t skip laundry completely, you can stop those baskets from overflowing with these time-saving tips from the laundry experts at Whirlpool.
Sort clothes ahead of time. One way to make laundry more manageable is to sort as you go. Instead of tossing dirty clothes into a hamper, distribute items into separate bins. While the exact division depends on your wardrobe, you’ll want to separate dark and light colors, as well as clothing that needs special care.
Pretreat stains. Once a stained garment makes its way through the dryer, chances are the stain is set for life. Protect your clothes by pretreating stains as soon as possible to help keep even the toughest stains from setting in. If you’re unsure of how to treat a particular stain, such as spaghetti sauce or grass, Whirlpool offers a Stain Guide within its laundry app that provides helpful, step-by-step instructions*.
Keep your space organized. Just like it’s hard to cook in a messy kitchen or work at a cluttered desk, you’re less likely to be productive in a sloppy laundry room. Clean and organize your laundry area periodically so you have easy access to the supplies you need and a clean surface for folding fresh laundry or switching loads.
Take advantage of technology. New smart home technology is making laundry faster and easier, such as Whirlpool’s Smart Front Load Laundry Pair with the Load & Go™ dispenser. This innovative feature allows you to skip a step in your laundry routine by eliminating the need to measure out and add detergent every time you start a load for up to 40 loads**.
Whether you are on the run or across the room, you can control your washer and dryer using an app on your smartphone or a compatible voice-enabled device for hands-free assistance. You can track how much time is left on your load while cooking dinner, assign washing settings while enjoying family movie night or begin a cycle when running errands. Touch-screen technology also guides you to the correct washer or dryer presets, or you can pre-program cycles of your own to tackle specific care settings for items like baby clothing or bulky comforters.
Finish with ease. For some, it’s not the washing that makes laundry a drag, it’s the folding. Hitting the tumble button to shake out wrinkles is one solution, but there are alternatives. Use your dryer’s end-of-cycle buzzer as an easy way to keep track of when a load needs your attention or make folding a fun game with your family.
Find more information at whirlpool.com.
*Wi-Fi and app required. Features subject to change. Appliance must be set to Remote Enable for remote control capabilities. Details and privacy info at whirlpool.com/connect.
**Model WFW9620H. Based on an 8-pound load of laundry. The Load & Go™ dispenser capacity varies by model.SOURCE:
If you’ve ever opened your closet doors and been depressed by what you see, it may be time to rethink your closet. Treating yourself to your dream closet and introducing a new level of organization can help provide a fresh perspective. To get started on your closet makeover, consider these tips.
3 Tips to Create Your Dream Closet
(Family Features) If you’ve ever opened your closet doors and been depressed by what you see, it may be time to rethink your closet.
In fact, according to a One Poll survey on behalf of ClosetMaid, 57 percent of women admitted having an organized closet would make finding what they’re looking for faster and easier while 3 out of 10 said an organized closet would make mornings less stressful.
However, treating yourself to your dream closet and introducing a new level of organization can help alleviate those worries and provide a fresh perspective. To get started on your closet makeover, consider these tips:
Assess Your Needs
Make Your Dream a Reality
Customize Your Space
With your dream closet complete, the only thing left to worry about is keeping it in tip-top shape. For more closet makeover tips and solutions, visit ClosetMaid.com.SOURCE:
Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.
Home Upgrades that Really Work
Ideas and inspiration to create more functional spaces
(Family Features) Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.
A Better Bathroom
Aging and Accessibility
Create a New Kitchen
It’s the hub of the home, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners start with the kitchen when they’re planning functional upgrades. New appliances, countertops and tilework all add to the style and function of a kitchen, but don’t overlook these highly functional features that can make your home more enjoyable.
Find more ideas and inspiration for your kitchen or bathroom upgrade at jcpenney.myhomeprojectcenter.com.
Planning Your Project
Define your desires. Although obvious, many homeowners find this to be among the most challenging aspects of a renovation. Start by determining the scope of your project. It may be just a new tub or shower, or it may be the entire kitchen. Some homeowners find it helpful to consider their project in terms of must-haves and nice-to-haves so it’s easier to make adjustments as obstacles or finances require.
Set a budget. The easiest way to overspend on a renovation is to go into it without an established budget. If you specify what you can afford from the outset and plan against that budget every step of the way, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your investment in the long run.
Expect the unexpected. If possible, review a blueprint of your home (or have your contractor take a look) to identify details behind the wall, like the layout of the plumbing and electric lines, which can be costly to relocate. It’s also a good idea to take a thorough inventory of your current space so you’re aware of any damage or wear that will need repaired before you begin.
Hire the help (or not). With some preliminary information on the complexity of the job and a better idea of exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish, you should be able to make a decision about whether the project is something you’re prepared to tackle on your own or if hiring professionals is more likely to provide the results you’re seeking.
Monitor progress. Even if you’re handling the project on your own, it’s a good idea to continually monitor the project in terms of budget, timeline and quality of work. It’s easier to make corrections as you go than to get to the end and discover a problem that needs reworking.
Photo Courtesy of Getty images (Main image Kitchen with brown chairs)SOURCE:
JCPenney Home Services
A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your home. Whether you’re revamping a main living area or freshening up your home’s curb appeal, some planning and preparation, plus the right painting tools, can go a long way toward helping you achieve a professional-looking finished project. Execute your paint project flawlessly with these tips and tricks.
Refresh Your Space
5 steps to simplify your next paint project
(Family Features) A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your home. Whether you’re revamping a main living area or freshening up your home’s curb appeal, some planning and preparation, plus the right painting tools, go a long way toward helping you achieve a professional-looking finished project.
Execute your paint project flawlessly with these tips and tricks from Jennie Kitchen, product manager, Valspar Applicators at The Sherwin-Williams Company, Consumer Brands Group:
Step 1: Choose Your Color
Step 2: Pick Your Tools
“The quality of your paint rollers and brushes is just as important as the paint you use,” Kitchen said. “For a smooth finish and easy application, I recommend Valspar’s line of applicators and accessories, which are now available at Lowe’s and work well with all paints and stains. Our quality painting tools make it easy for DIYers to bring their projects to life.”
Step 3: Prep Your Space
Step 4: Apply Your Paint
When you’re ready to roll, start at a corner of the room in a 2-by-4-foot section at the top of the wall. Then roll downward into a narrow V shape, filling in any unpainted areas as you go. Once you are done with the top section, move down and repeat until you’ve reached the baseboard.
If you’re painting standard height ceilings or taller, it’s helpful to use an extension pole. For a seamless finish, it’s important to always keep a wet edge and let the weight of the loaded roller do the work. Some pressure can be applied as the roller cover starts to run out of paint, but if you hear a “sizzling” sound, that means it’s time to reload with more paint. To finish, use the roller and roll straight down all the way across your walls.
Step 5: Clean Up Your Mess
Find more tips and tricks for your next paint project at valsparpaint.com/applicators.SOURCE:
If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
Home Improvements with High ROI
(Family Features) If the ultimate goal of your home improvement project is aesthetic, the greatest benefit may come from your personal enjoyment of the new space. However, if you’re looking to add true value to your home, it’s important to consider which projects are likely to bring the greatest return on your investment.
With a variety of styles available, you can find a metal roof to match nearly any home style. For example, CertainTeed Metal Roofing offers profiles crafted to simulate Spanish barrel tile, slate and wood shake. Made from high-performance, deep-drawn steel, these roofing systems offer a lifetime-limited warranty and are engineered with a special multi-layered paint process that resists the elements while offering realistic color details and gradations. Find inspiration and explore a design gallery at CertainTeed.com.
If you’re still uncertain about the right investments for your home, it may be wise to consult a local real estate expert who can provide insight on the features that bring the most value in your market.SOURCE:
A home that operates efficiently isn’t just better for the environment. Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year. These tips can serve as areas of focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances’ negative impact on the environment.
Energy Savers that Make ‘Cents’
(Family Features) A home that operates efficiently isn’t just better for the environment. Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year.
These tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services can serve as areas of focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances’ negative impact on the environment.
The cost of heating water for bathing, laundry and kitchen use is a common home energy drain, so it’s an area that deserves attention when you’re looking to upgrade for efficiency. To reduce energy use from your hot water heater, try taking shorter showers and switching to cold water for some washing machine wash and rinse cycles. Other options include turning down the thermostat on your heater, adding insulation or purchasing a newer, more efficient model.
Heating and Cooling
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as 40 percent of a home’s energy expenses come from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, also known as the heating and cooling system. Like appliances and other mechanical features of your home, over time, the heating and cooling system becomes less efficient. Regular seasonal service like appropriately changing out the air filter can help ensure your system performs at its best, but once its life expectancy has passed, a new unit is usually the more cost-effective solution in the long run.
Understanding your options is important because these systems represent a meaningful investment. There are a lot of potentially overwhelming options and you want to be sure you get the right system for your home. A consultation with an expert, such as those you can find at JCPenney Home Services, can help you determine the proper size and functions necessary to effectively manage your home’s climate, as well as assist in exploring the latest technologies and products. For example, heat pumps, which were once reserved for more moderate climates, are now a cost-efficient solution for homes where temperatures dip lower.
Another option that is relatively new but growing in popularity is known as a mini-split system. These systems let you customize the temperature settings in various spaces, enhancing personal comfort and allowing you to focus your energy use on the parts of your home that need it most. Learn more about these and other energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions at jcpenneyhomeservices.com.
While servicing or replacing an HVAC system may be the obvious change when it comes to conserving energy, you can also see reductions by using an upgraded thermostat, such as a “smart” or connected model. These devices can help you monitor the temperature setting in your home while maximizing efficiency. For example, a connected thermostat that’s synced to your smartphone may allow you to adjust temperature settings when away from home. This way, if you forget to bump the air conditioner up a few degrees while you’re gone more than a few hours, you can log-in remotely and set an appropriate temperature.
A great deal of energy is lost through cracks, holes and faulty seals. Take time to assess all windows, doors and openings for air leaks, adding caulking or weather stripping where needed. Don’t overlook culprits like openings around lighting and plumbing fixtures, switch plates and other electrical elements. Also assess potential losses from the fireplace, attic, garage and crawl spaces, where it’s common that less attention is given to thorough sealing, and determine whether additional insulation can help contain energy.
Take Control of Your Climate
Managing your home’s climate control is typically no small task or small expense. These options offer flexibility and efficiency.
Heat pumps pull from the ground or outside air temperature to both heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Since heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, they’re energy-efficient year-round.
Hybrid systems or combination systems combine elements of both a furnace and heat pump. The more efficient heat pump runs until the outside air temperature falls below a certain level, at which point the system automatically switches the heat source to the furnace. This option is more expensive up front, but can generate significant savings in terms of monthly utility bills long-term.
Ductless systems are a flexible, efficient choice for homeowners looking for simple solutions. These systems can be easily mounted on the wall or ceiling, and don’t require ductwork, making them ideal for a converted attic space or room addition.
Understanding HVAC Efficiency Ratings
An HVAC system can be rated in a number of different ways. While some of these ratings may be confusing, it is helpful to understand what they mean.
AFUE: An Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is important if you are purchasing an oil or gas furnace. The AFUE rating measures the amount of fuel used to heat your home against the amount of fuel wasted. A higher rating indicates a more efficient system. The more efficient your system, the less fuel it takes to heat your home, which translates into lower heating bills during the winter.
SEER: The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the more efficient your system and the less it will cost to heat and cool your home. Federal regulations require all new HVAC systems to have a SEER rating of 13 or higher.
HSPF: The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the efficiency of a heat pump when it is used to heat a home. A higher rating indicates greater efficiency and greater monthly savings on energy bills. New HVAC units are required to have a rating of 7.7 or higher.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Large house)SOURCE:
JCPenney Home Services
Apprehension and inexperience keep many homeowners from pursuing renovation projects that would make their homes more functional, enjoyable and comfortable. Getting your hands dirty on the front end – with some planning and preparation – is the best blueprint for a successful home remodeling project. To help you start your remodel on the right track, consider these tips.
A Handy Guide to Starting a Home Remodel
(Family Features) Apprehension and inexperience keep many homeowners from pursuing renovation projects that would make their homes more functional, enjoyable and comfortable. Getting your hands dirty on the front end – with some planning and preparation – is the best blueprint for a successful home remodeling project.
To help you start your remodel on the right track, consider these tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services.
Start with a plan
Although it may sound obvious, the first step really is to decide what you hope to accomplish with your renovation. At the least, begin to outline rough ideas to discuss with an expert. Reaching out to contractors before you’ve determined a basic idea for your project can waste time and money. Spend time listing the features you must have, as well as some nice-to-haves if budget allows. Also think about overall functionality, design and layout. If you get overwhelmed or need ideas, don’t hesitate to turn to online showrooms or magazines for inspiration.
Set a budget
If the sky is the limit, skip ahead, but if you’re like most homeowners, money matters. Have a clear idea of what you can afford to invest in your renovation before you get started, and if necessary, research the financing options available to you. Look for financing that provides deferred interest or low monthly payments to help manage the project cost. Setting a clear budget can help keep your contractors accountable, and it goes a long way toward ensuring you can enjoy your finished project without regret.
Draw up the plans
To help set your plan in motion, there are numerous online tools you can utilize to simplify each step of the process including design, budgeting and more. If you’re planning a home remodel, a comprehensive resource like JCPenney Home Services offers a one-stop-shop for bathroom remodeling, countertops, custom window treatments, flooring, heating and cooling, water heaters and whole-home water treatment. You can find unique landing pages for each service that provides product information, complimentary in-home consultations and online pricing quotes at JCPenneyhomeservices.com.
Involve a professional
Unless you have the time and skills, you’ll want a licensed and insured contractor to lead the project when you’re ready to get your renovation in motion. It can be wise to solicit multiple bids, not only to ensure you get the best value, but also to find someone whose work, style and experience is most in line with the needs of your project. After all, this person will be a big part of your life during a fairly stressful time period. Always check references and verify the contractor’s standing with local associations.
Get ready for work
Remember that you’ll need to create a work environment that is safe for your contractors and protects your valuable possessions. Establish a clear path to the project space for easy access and removal of debris. Furniture, appliances, room furnishings, valuables and breakable items should be removed from both the path to the work site and the work site itself. If your renovation project will involve an essential room, such as the kitchen or a bathroom, make alternate arrangements such as creating a makeshift kitchen with the bare necessities in another part of the house.
Kitchens and bathrooms are among the most common renovation projects, and countertops are often a focal point of these redesigns. However, choosing the right countertop can be overwhelming. To help make the difficult decision a little simpler, JCPenney Home Services experts offer insight on two of the most popular choices:
Granite countertops have long been the mainstay of a beautiful kitchen or bathroom. Granite is a natural stone, quarried from large stone deposits around the world. It can have many different variations of patterns and colors, giving each slab a unique appearance that is visually rich and dynamic.
In addition to its distinctive beauty and classic elegance, granite is also extremely durable. Granite is highly resistant to heat and scratches and, with proper sealing, offers good water and stain resistance and is easy to clean.
Granite typically needs to be sealed, both prior to installation and at least once per year. If properly maintained, a granite countertop will last for as long as you own your home, making it a potential long-term investment.
Quartz is another popular choice for countertops due to its durability, stain resistance and ease of maintenance.
Quartz is one of the most durable countertop materials and one of the easiest to maintain. It is highly resistant to heat, water and stains, including stains from coffee, wine, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and more. Unlike granite, quartz does not need to be sealed, making it easier to maintain over time.
To aid in the planning process without the need for a salesperson, a resource like the Countertop Wizard at JCPenneyhomeservices.com lets you scope out the project and order samples online. Simply enter measurements, browse and select materials and options to get instant quotes.SOURCE:
JCPenney Home Services
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