9 Hacks to Help Keep Your Home Warm This Winter

 

 

 

 

Make Your Home Safe For The Holidays

The holiday season can be a busy time, making it hard to prioritize the safety of your home. Take the right precautions now so you can make the most of your time celebrating with loved ones at home.

If you’re planning on staying home and hosting guests this holiday season, the tips below can help you check your safety list twice and feel at ease.

Kitchen

Cooking and baking are a central part of any holiday celebration, but food preparation can also be the source of multiple safety hazards. Before you stir, bake, or fry your favorites, consider the following precautions.

Replace batteries

It should go without saying, but you must maintain your smoke detectors year-round. It’s especially important to replace the batteries before your holiday cooking. Many people try intricate, unfamiliar recipes during the holidays, and it only takes a moment for flames to start in your kitchen while you walk away to use the bathroom or turn your back to prepare something else.

Clean your appliances

Use a bit of elbow grease to refresh the interiors and exteriors of your appliances to reduce the risk of fire from leftovers like grease or crumbs. However, before you do, check that your cleaner is safe for the surfaces of your appliances. Some common agents in all-purpose cleaners are not safe when heated and should be avoided in hot spaces. To play it safe and help your wallet, make a homemade cleaner, such as a 3:1 water and white vinegar solution.

Monitor your food

Food safety never takes a holiday! Check any ingredients lists on new foods or recipes for allergens that members of your household or your guests might have adverse reactions to. When you’re ready to cook, it’s wise to invest in gadgets like a meat thermometer to double-check that your recipes are ready to serve. Additionally, after your meal, promptly put any leftovers in the fridge or freezer so they don’t spoil.

Decor

Many people love to go all out with lights, a tree, and candles to bring home the holiday spirit—all of which can be safety hazards if they aren’t set up and maintained correctly. Spend a few extra minutes during your decorating to keep your pieces beautiful rather than dangerous, as below.

Contain candles

The warmth, light, and scent of candles bring joy, and, because of that, they are a decorative staple for the holidays. However, at this time of year there are more than twice as many candle fire calls across the US as normal. To mitigate this risk, invest in sturdy holders, use clear surfaces, and never leave candles burning while you’re sleeping or away from the room. If you prefer candles for the ambiance over their scent, consider flameless candles, which provide the same glow without the fire hazard.

Tend to your tree

A Christmas tree can be a central point of decor that you look forward to dressing up with your loved ones. But you can take a few steps to ensure your tree looks its best without ruining your holiday. For example, keep your tree well-watered. A well-watered tree is less likely to catch fire, and you can prevent a tree fire by positioning it away from any heat sources, unplugging lights at the end of the night and while you’re sleeping or out of the house. Lastly, try not to overload your tree with too many lights and ornaments.

Manage plugs

Do not attempt to cram all your plugs into one outlet. Plan your decoration placement to strategize where you’ll need extension cords. Check that your lights and electric other decor are a proper wattage for your outlets. It’s better to have less decor to avoid tripped wires and burnt outlets. The best way to mitigate the jumbled look and safety hazard of crowded outlets is to use pieces with rechargeable batteries wherever possible.

Weatherproofing

Winter can be full of unexpected weather that can change plans and make the roads near your home unsafe, and holiday plans can add stress to the mix. Make sure your home and household are prepared in case bad weather strikes.

Control heat

Have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned before you roast your chestnuts in an open fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace and plan to use space heaters, be sure to keep them away from flammable objects. They should be away from all surfaces and set to oscillate, if possible, to distribute the heat evenly.

Stock up

The best way to prepare for a snowstorm or extreme weather is to stock up on necessary supplies. Items like salt, shovels, and a generator can ensure your holiday guests aren’t stranded or left in the dark.

Check your seals

Take the time to check the seals on your home’s windows and doors. If you can fix the seal yourself, do so before you decorate to save the time of redecorating. Consider hiring a professional to check and repair any cracks, and invest in draft stoppers so your heating bills don’t ruin the holiday spirit.

Have a safe and happy holiday season by keeping these home safety tips in mind.

4 Tips to Help You Hire the Right Movers

Once you’ve purchased a home, you’ll need to hire a moving company to transport your belongings into your new house. However, hiring movers involves more than finding someone to get your belongings from point A to point B. Use these tips to help you find a reliable company that will move your possessions safely and efficiently.

Determine your moving needs

Everyone’s move will be different, and it is crucial to understand the costs involved in the process. A reputable moving company will determine the scope of your move through an in-person appointment. The estimator should do a thorough walk-through to understand all the items you’re moving, which should include checking all your storage areas, including your attic and your basement. Make sure you understand the estimate you receive and that it is as accurate as possible. It can be helpful to get quotes from multiple companies to make sure you are getting the most value for your move.

You will receive one of three types of estimates:

  • A binding estimate is an exact amount for the entire move based on the weight of your belongings, and you will only be responsible for paying that price. This type of estimate can be a good choice as there are no surprise costs. However, binding estimates may be higher than the other options, and you will pay the estimated amount even if your items weigh less than expected.
  • A non-binding estimate is also based on weight. However, despite the estimate being as accurate as possible, the final price you pay can vary from the original quote. If your move costs more than expected, you will be required to pay this additional amount. However, in this situation, you will only need to pay the original estimate and an additional 10 percent at the time of delivery, with the remaining balance being billed to you after thirty days.
  • A not-to-exceed estimate is an agreement on the maximum amount you will have to pay. You will not need to cover any additional expenses or overages beyond the quote you receive, and the price you pay can only go lower if your items weigh less than expected. This is a popular option for long-distance moves.

Don’t hire on price alone

Everyone wants to save money, but your move may be a time when the lowest price may not be the best. Make use of online reviews or ask friends and family about their experiences if they’ve recently moved. You can ask the moving company for references from people they’ve helped move in recent months. Additionally, you can check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn more about the company.

Be aware of extra fees

Moving companies charge several extra fees that you should understand before moving day arrives, so ask your moving company if any of these fees apply. If you live in an apartment or a multistory home, you may receive additional charges if movers need to maneuver up and down stairs and on elevators. Additionally, if you live on a narrow street with limited parking space, you may need to pay a surcharge to move your items from a smaller truck into a moving van. Some companies will charge a fee for disassembling furniture or handling bulky items, such as pool tables or pianos. Finally, if you hire a company to pack all your items into boxes, you will need to pay for time, labor, and packing materials. However, if you plan to pack your items on your own, a moving company cannot cover possible damages unless they have completed the packing.

Consider moving insurance

All moving companies have a requirement to assume liability for the items they transport. However, there are different levels of liability. It is essential to understand what each type of insurance covers before deciding which is suitable for your move.

  • Released value coverage is the standard protection your items will receive during a move. However, it only guarantees to cover up to 60 cents per pound of a damaged item regardless of its value. This may be good for a piece of furniture but not for a laptop or tablet.
  • Full value protection comes at an additional cost, but it will fully cover your items. You will be able to receive the current market replacement value, a replacement with a similar item, or the item’s repair cost.
  • Separate liability insurance is offered by some movers and regulated by state law. This type of insurance pays for the amount purchased minus the basic carrier liability coverage, which is up to 60 cents per pound. It is important to get a copy of your policy and understand how much it covers.

Packing up all your possessions into a truck is only part of the moving day battle.

Maximize Your Mudroom or Entryway for Fall

The fall often brings cozy decor, tasty food, and fun celebrations into your home—but it can also be a time for tracking in wet leaves, mud, and other markers of the changing weather. Keeping up with maintenance in your mudroom or entryway is of the utmost importance to prevent any potential damage to your interior.

If you don’t already have a dedicated mudroom, you can still reap the benefits of upgrading your entryway for the season ahead.

Wipe your feet

The top reason why outside elements don’t stay outside is that your shoe-storage spot isn’t trapping them. Here a few solutions that can keep the muddy mess at bay.

Doormats

Decorative doormats are cozy, welcoming accessories, but they don’t offer a ton of protection and are mostly for show. Consider placing an initial decorative doormat followed by a durable runner rug through your entryway or mudroom. This way, your shoes won’t touch as much of the floor.

Shoe trays

Muddy, wet boots can wreak havoc on your hardwood or carpet. Instead of storing them outside in the cold, keep your boots warm and dry by creating a tray for them to drain onto. You will need a rubber or plastic boot tray, smooth stones, and a poly cement adhesive to glue the stones to the base of the tray. As an added bonus, the tray adds a fun and natural decorative touch to this space.

Benches

Place a bench against the wall in your entryway or mudroom, where you can take off shoes and unpack bags after a long day of fall activities. Choose one with a lift top and cubbies to maximize your storage space.


Keep it organized

When you’re in a rush, the tendency is to leave items strewn about in the mudroom or entryway. Take time to devise an organization plan that suits you and your household’s needs. By doing so, you’ll be able to find things faster and keep everything looking presentable for guests.

Baskets

One of the simplest organization tools you can use is baskets. Separate them by person or type of item. For example, you could have a bin for hats, another one for gloves, and one for scarves—and label them accordingly using a label maker or stickers. Avoid using tape and paper since the baskets may get wet from outside items. If you opt to organize by person, have everyone label and decorate their bin for a personal touch.

Additionally, consider using an opaque material for your bins. Options like canvas and wicker can withstand the elements and have a clean, aesthetically pleasing look. This way, your guests can’t see through to all the items inside the bins.

Hooks

In many places, the weather is cooling down and jackets are coming back out. Hooks are essential for any mudroom or entryway. Hang hooks vertically so that each person in your household has a column for multiple clothing options. Closer to the entrance, have a separate set of smaller hooks and a tray for your keys, wallets, and phones so that they don’t get lost in the chaos of taking off your layers. As an added protection, place a rubber mat underneath the hooks to catch any drippage from rain jackets.

Umbrella storage

Don’t lean your wet umbrellas against the wall; instead, give them a dedicated space where they can stay upright to drain. You can purchase an umbrella stand, or you could fashion your own with PVC pipe and a glued-on rubber base. If you decide on the latter, paint it a color that matches your interior.

Over-the-door storage

If your mudroom has an inside door, create an over-the-door storage system to keep smaller items compartmentalized. Accessories such as masks and sunglasses will be easily accessible but out of the way. Choose a storage system with clear pouches so you can immediately find what you need.


Dry and clean it off

Before taking off your layers and storing them back in your baskets or cubbies, let them dry. Not allowing your items to dry before storing can lead to musty smells and mold and mildew, and will prevent your belongings from drying properly. Here are some tips to ensure you effectively dry the items in your mudroom or entryway.

Clothing

Implement a hanging system for wet clothing before storing it back in baskets. Clothing like hats, gloves, and scarves can be left to dry using special hangers. Be sure to use a space that you can place rubber mats beneath. You can also invest in a wall-mounted drying rack, which can come in handy in all seasons for wet snow gear, spring rain jackets, and summer bathing suits.

Mats

Any mats that you place down should be rinsed and washed at least once a week. If you notice leaves and debris becoming an issue, mount a broom to the wall, and sweep any materials back outside into a dedicated pile for removal. Just make sure leaves and dirt aren’t left on the porch or steps where they can be tracked back inside. Check with your municipality for leaf removal rules.

Hard surfaces

Keep a small towel handy to wipe down any debris that gets onto your entryway seating and hard surfaces, and be sure to wash it regularly. You may also consider keeping a basket of supplies nearby to clean and disinfect.

5 Smart Upgrades that Increase Your Home’s Appeal

From kitchen renovations to a new roof, there are several upgrades you can complete to help make your home more appealing to potential buyers. However, if you’re looking to give your home a technological improvement, smart home upgrades can be a brilliant option. While these upgrades can improve the livability of your space, they can also increase its appeal, as 81 percent of homebuyers said they would prefer to buy a home with some smart home products already installed. So consider adding a few of these enhancements to your home before listing it for sale.

Smart thermostat
A smart thermostat helps regulate the temperature of your home while reducing your heating and cooling costs. Installing a smart thermostat can help you save up to 10 percent on monthly heating costs and up to 15 percent on cooling costs. These savings depend on your preferred temperature and the location and size of your home. You can control your smart thermostat from your phone or set it to a schedule so it turns on as you arrive home from work. A new smart thermostat will cost anywhere from $100 to $300 or more and set up is typically easy, making it an excellent DIY project.

Smart blinds
You can add privacy and reduce energy loss by installing smart blinds you can control with a remote, an app, or voice command. You can even automate these blinds to open or close depending on the time of day or if someone is home. During the summer and winter, smart blinds help block outdoor temperatures from affecting your home. The cost of smart blinds will vary depending on the size, number of windows in your home, and if you go with battery, plug-in, or hard-wired blinds. However, most models start at around $100.

Smart smoke detector
A smoke detector is a must-have safety feature in any home. However, a smart smoke detector can provide even more safety because it can sound an alarm while you’re at home and send an alert to your phone if it detects danger, giving you peace of mind while you’re away. Some smart smoke detectors will send a message to your phone when the batteries become low. Installing these upgraded smoke detectors could even get you a discount on your homeowners insurance depending on your company. Best of all, they only cost between $50 to $100.

Video doorbell
Add a sense of security to your home with a video doorbell. By placing a video doorbell at your front door, you’ll receive a message on your smartphone alerting you of deliveries or someone standing outside, and you’ll have a saved video clip of any activity. Depending on the type you choose, you may be able to speak with visitors at your door. Some video doorbells will need to be hard-wired into your home’s electrical system, while others will be battery-powered. Most video doorbells cost $100 or less.

Smart lock
Another way to increase the security of your home is by installing smart locks on your exterior doors. Forgetting your keys will never be a worry again with a smart lock. These devices allow you to unlock your doors through an app on your phone, scanning your fingerprint, or entering a numerical code. Additionally, you can let guests in remotely or give guests like babysitters an access code that you can turn on and off. The cost of a smart lock depends on the device you choose, but many will typically run between $100 up to $300.