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How to Go Curtainless This Winter

(NewsUSA) - In the northern hemisphere, the sun's lower winter angle in the sky peers straight into your windows, causing glare, more fading from its UV rays and unwanted hotspots. The usual remedy is to block out the natural daylight with curtains or blinds. However, this may darken the interior and create the need to turn lights on.

Then there's the appearance of the home. From the exterior a home's windows may appear disheveled with a drape partially open, a blind a bit crooked and next to it, a curtain pulled tight.

Then there's the cost of curtains, drapes, blinds and shades, that can add up quickly. Can you go "curtainless" and still reduce the sun's glare?

"A cost-effective solution is long-lasting, professionally installed window films, which can be permanently affixed to the glass by experts in a day or less to windows, doors and skylights. Many designs and features are available, such as privacy films that still allow in natural light, or clear, glare-reducing films that offer energy savings," says Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA).

Window films themselves are high-tech systems with multiple performance coatings produced to address specific problems in buildings. They may last 15 years or more and can be installed on single or dual pane windows in good condition, and they may also upgrade the glass to today's energy standards.

Window films with the IWFA logo are rated just like windows for their energy savings features. Window film manufacturers and businesses may offer a warranty that not only covers the window film, but may also cover the window glass.

"Window films are always 'on' and work when you need them so there is no need to pull drapes, shade or blinds," adds Smith.

Other benefits in addition to savings may include enhanced safety, the blocking of up to 99 percent of UV rays and privacy films. Window films may also help to keep heat in during winter and reduce the sun's solar heat by up to 80 percent in summer. Another plus is that a home may have a cleaner, modern look.

Get in touch with a local window film business at www.iwfa.com before the sun forces you to be in the dark.

 

Making America's New "Hybrid" Home Energy-Efficient Year Round

(NewsUSA) - The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the face of America's workplace. In fact, an increasing number of folks might find their "new office" feels a lot like home -- because it is literally their home.

Our post-pandemic "return to the office" may look very different with hybrid or fully remote work models rapidly rising in popularity. Studies support this trend with 83% of workers believing a hybrid model would be optimal going forward, according to an Accenture survey. Further, 87% of managers believe working from home is the future, according to Remote-How research.

While the new dynamic promises an improved work-life balance, it will also cause energy use and utility bills to skyrocket with technologies, appliances and systems running overtime at unprecedented levels -- making optimal, energy-efficient home climate control a greater challenge.

The good news is that families can prevent a utility-bill blitz by following a few simple tips. With home heating and cooling accounting for nearly half of home energy use, small steps can go a long way.

  • Ease Into Electric: According to Columbia University's Earth Institute, electric systems are a solution to decarbonize home climate control. Among the most energy-efficient heating and cooling products, electricity-powered ductless mini-split systems, offered by companies including Fujitsu General America, can save as much as 25% on your energy bill. Mini-splits use thin copper tubing to pump refrigerant from an outdoor compressor directly into an indoor air-handling unit, where the air is quietly distributed to the interior space.
  • Get "Smart" About Climate Control: When it comes to smart home temperature control, there are Smart HVAC Systems and Smart Thermostats. Smart HVAC systems have built-in Internet capability and can be controlled directly without additional equipment. Smart Home Thermostats create "smart" systems by enabling remote temperature control via a mobile or Internet-connected device or voice-operated home automation system.
  • Voice Your Preference: Take control of your comfort. Most HVAC manufacturers offer apps that enable systems to be controlled from anywhere using a mobile device. Voice-control capability uses digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to verbally dictate home temperatures. Easily controlling the temperature more closely allows homeowners to be more comfortable and improve energy savings.
  • Find Your Efficient Comfort Zone: Many of us live in homes designed for bigger families, but have yet to downsize. If you find yourself using a fraction of your home on a regular basis, consider upgrading to a zoned ducted, or ductless system. That will allow you to save energy heating and cooling spaces where you and your family don't spend a lot of time. This will multiply savings as you're not only needing less cooling, but you also gain from a more efficient system in the spaces you do still use.
  • Try Low-tech Fixes: Simple changes can have a big impact. Take advantage of the sun's energy to heat your home by opening your south-facing curtains at sunrise to make best use of "passive solar gain." Force down warm air. Denser, cooler air stays closer to the ground, and warmer air rises. So, force it downwards with a low-speed fan. Insulate and fill the gaps. Warmed air leaking out around poorly sealed window frames, power sockets, recessed light fittings, and other gaps is a big source of heat loss in homes. And thick curtains help to insulate glass at windows.

If your family is spending a lot more time at home and your utility bills are soaring, a ductless heating and cooling system is definitely a worthwhile investment. Many Fujitsu systems have an Energy Star rating that is more than twice as efficient as the minimum standard set by the government. To learn more or find a contractor near you, call 888-888-3424 or visit www.constantcomfort.com.

 

Optimize Your Home Office With Customized Furniture

(NewsUSA) - Home offices are personal spaces that reflect the user's personality. Whether you work in a room with a closed door, a nook in the kitchen, or a corner of the family room, home offices are becoming a part of life.

Furniture that fits, figuratively and literally, into our homes and lives can make working from home a more pleasant, productive, and comfortable experience.

In addition, consumers are more conscious of the environmental and economic impact of large purchases such as furniture.

Custom furniture company Baru not only creates pieces that fit your needs and your space exactly, they work with trusted furniture makers in your community. Once you experience customized furniture for your home office, your relationship with your work space will change.

Not only will you have a unique furniture from top-quality materials, you will have supported the local economy and helped cut down on the waste associated with overseas manufacturing supply chains. Baru's network of skilled woodworkers can turn your order around quickly, and for a fraction of the cost of typical "custom-made" items.

Several more reasons to choose custom furniture for your home office include:

- Investing in quality. Custom furniture from Baru is designed and built to last so you can maximize your investment. Local manufacturing avoids long-distance shipping, so the money can be put towards higher-quality materials and components to make your investment worthwhile.

- Showing your style. Even if you are the only one who sees your home office, you have the ability to customize a desk with drawers just where you need them, and choose custom finishes and colors that bring pleasure as well as function to your workspace.

- Saving you time. Baru's sustainable manufacturing practices allow the company to know the sources of all materials and where the pieces are made (in the U.S.A.). Local production means a shorter wait time for your furniture to reach your door, and reduced carbon emissions associated with long-distance shipping.

Baru's top design and manufacturing engineer, Leland Thomasset, is an artist in his own right, with an extensive career in woodworking.

One of his designs was a walnut sideboard with a wireless charger and built-in mini speakers. But wait, there's more -- the sideboard had no bottom, so those seeking unobtrusive "instant office space" can pull up a chair, open the doors, and get to work, then close it all up for an "out of sight, out of mind," aesthetic.

Visit hellobaru.com for more information about how you can change your relationship with your furniture, and feel good about it.

 

Restore Your Floor, Upgrade Your Space

(NewsUSA) - Whether you are returning to an office or upgrading a home office, nothing refreshes a business or residential space like new, high-quality flooring. The right flooring can help add style and warmth to a kitchen, infuse energy into a workout room, and lend an air of professionalism to an office.

Now is the perfect time to enhance your space with new flooring as you welcome more guests to your home, or welcome more clients to your office. Some popular types to consider for your floor installation or replacement include laminate and vinyl. Both are attractive, cost-effective, and easy to install. Here's a quick rundown to help you decide which is best for you:

- Laminate: Several key features make laminate flooring stand out from other types. Laminate flooring is made by taking an ultra-high-definition image of the material, whether it is wood, tile, or stone, and printing that image within the plastic material of the flooring.

"Laminate flooring used to have a reputation for being slippery; however, modern manufacturing methods have enabled designers to use slip-resistant material and increase the texture gravure depth allowing for better traction," according to HomeSolutionz, a licensed, bonded, and insured flooring company based in Phoenix, Ariz.

Laminate flooring can be used in any area of a home or office, including kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, living rooms, and even home workout rooms or art studios.

"Using Click and Lock Technology at the seams, new laminate flooring is designed to be easy to install," according to Home Solutionz experts.

- Vinyl: Luxury vinyl plank is an elegant and popular flooring choice that has the added benefit of being easy to clean and care for, a bonus for busy homes and offices. A skilled contractor will ensure that the vinyl plank floor in a home or office lasts as long as it should. High-traffic areas may require more frequent replacement, but a reliable flooring company, such as Home Solutionz, can install a luxury vinyl plank floor with seamless spot treatments or more complete replacements when needed to keep your home or office looking fresh and appealing.

Call 1-602-610-1636 or visit homesolutionz.com to learn more about the many ways to refresh your home or business with new or replacement flooring.

Six Inspiring Farmhouse-Style Ideas Using Natural Wood

(NewsUSA)

Farmhouse-style interiors have been popular for the last few years and the look remains as sought after as ever. There are enough iterations of the style (modern, industrial, French, rustic, and more) to suit most tastes. Signature elements include open shelving, shiplap, apron sinks, and a preference for natural, honest materials-stone, metal, and above all wood, new and reclaimed. "When it comes to farm-style decor, most of us think of the kitchen first," says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center. "But it can work equally well in bedrooms, living areas, even bathrooms. Incorporating natural hardwood into the design is a great way to achieve the look without going overboard into kitsch." Here are six inspiring uses of the perennial style.

1. A warm contemporary farmhouse kitchen

Photograph by Caitlin Murray

Photograph by Caitlin Murray

A large apron sink in cream-color cast concrete sets up a warm and sophisticated country tone in this Portland, Oregon kitchen by Emerick Architects. The island's black-walnut-slab top is complemented by open shelving and undercounter cabinetry in honey-stained maple, gray quartz counters, stainless-steel appliances, and a handmade ceramic-tile backsplash.

2. Corral-inspired stair railings and balustrades

Photograph by Spacecrafting

Photograph by Spacecrafting

Rift-sawn white oak with a custom whitewash stain forms the handrails and posts of the main staircase in a Stillwater, Minnesota house by Home Design by Annie. An elegant reinterpretation of the traditional wooden-rail fences found throughout rural America, the stair gets a high-tech twist in the form of stainless-steel guard wires.

3. A characterful rustic kitchen

Photograph by Scott DW Smith

Photograph by Scott DW Smith

Charming rusticity is the name of the game in this Hesperus, Colorado kitchen remodel by Veritas Fine Homes. Existing beams and columns and a new oak floor-all in a dark finish-are joined by knotty-alder cabinetry and floating shelves stained a similar color to the island's honey-tone maple butcher-block top.

4. A cool western ranch-style bedroom

Photograph by Rikki Snyder

Photograph by Rikki Snyder

As this bedroom in Sag Harbor, New York designed by Timothy Godbold shows, the classic look of Southwestern ranches-pared down and sun scorched-adapts well to a modern interior. The aesthetic is evoked with minimalist means: simple bone-white accessories set against an expanse of white-oak boards that clad the walls like barn siding. 

5. The industrial-farmhouse look in a loft

Photograph by Manolo Langis

Photograph by Manolo Langis

Reclaimed hardwood is a beautiful, sustainable material that can be used in a farmhouse-style kitchen to create a sense of warmth, age, and texture. In this Santa Monica, California loft conversion, SUBU Design Architecture juxtaposes recycled wood with plumbing pipes and similar machine-age elements that nod to the building's industrial heritage.

6. Open-shelf wet bar with a rural-art vibe

Photograph by Rikki Snyder

Photograph by Rikki Snyder

Timothy Godbold conjures another variant of that farmhouse staple, open shelving, with this wet bar cunningly tucked under the open stairs in a North Haven, New York residence. Stocked neatly with interesting glassware and bottles, the floating slabs of white oak and the gray honed-granite countertop become an art installation in their own right. Visit www.hardwoodinfo.com for more about farmhouse style with American hardwoods.

 

Instead of Moving, Consider Improving Your Home

(NewsUSA) -Right now, moving may be a little challenging as property value has gone up tremendously and the number of homes on the market is low. The next best option is to remodel and expand your home office, home gym, or add a patio for outdoor gatherings.

If you own your home and have a mortgage, a cash-out refinancing option may be an easy way to have the money to tackle your home improvement project. Since interest rates are still quite low now may be a good time to tap into your home's equity. Many homeowners may not realize that cash-out refinancing can help fund these projects. A cash-out refinance is not a second mortgage. It is borrowing against the equity in your home or money you have already paid towards your mortgage. A cash-out refinance will require that you refinance your home most likely at a lower rate. The new loan amount will be slightly more than the remaining balance of your home because it will include the amount of cash you take out for you or your family.

Cash-out refinancing is beneficial because it can increase monthly cash flow and allow you to make good use of the funds you take out, according to Freedom Mortgage, one of the nation's full-service mortgage lending company and a leader in FHA and VA loans according to Inside Mortgage Finance, 2020.

The benefits of cash-out refinancing aren't limited to home improvements. Funds from a cash-out refinancing also can be used to pay for a college education or to consolidate high-interest debts at a lower interest rate. Homeowners can typically borrow up to 80% of the value of their homes without paying the private mortgage insurance (PMI) required by some lending situations. That means if you have more than 20% equity in your home, you can use that equity to get cash now.

To help homeowners explore their options and determine how much cash they can obtain, Freedom Mortgage offers a free cash-out refinancing calculator that enables the user to determine what makes sense and the amount of their new monthly payment.

For more information, visit https://www.freedommortgage.com/cash-out-refinance.

 

Cleaning Your Home Made Simple

(NewsUSA) - Good housecleaning has never gone out of style, but it has taken on a new priority in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Whether you are spending more time at home or have returned part-time to in-person work or school, smart, effective cleaning strategies can help keep your home and family safe and healthy.

Safe and simple are key criteria for choosing from among the wide variety of today's home cleaning products. However, consumers also want cleaners that are tough and effective, that don't just eliminate stains and spots, but also kill germs, viruses, and bacteria.

To that point, many people want to make cleaning easier, and that includes one-stop shopping.

One such product, all-n-all, tackles cleaning, stain removal and deodorizing in one single step.

The multipurpose cleanser contains ingredients derived from renewable resources, natural products including hydrogen peroxide and plant derived essential oils. It is designed to deliver a tough cleaning punch throughout the home, and the formula kills 99 percent of germs, bacteria, and viruses on hard, porous/non-porous surfaces when used correctly.

"Added surfactants help to break down those stubborn stains, giving you a one-step cleaning solution for your whole home," says Jason Bailey, president of all-n-all.

To that end, all-n-all is engineered to clean the entire house:

  • Kitchen: all-n-all can help keep countertops and floors germ-free while tackling kitchen appliance cleaning from the sink, refrigerator, to tough stove top grease and grime.
  • Living room: Stain-removal properties can take on challenges such as wine, coffee and pet stains from carpet, clean light switches, remotes, and tables.
  • Bathroom: Remove iron deposits, hard water and calcium deposits from faucets and shower fixtures, clean sinks, bathtubs and countertops in one simple step.
  • Nursery: It's safe and gentle enough to use on children's highchairs, furniture, toys, and game controllers.

All-n-all contains no dyes, phosphates, bleach, chlorine, or sodium lauryl sulfate, and is manufactured in the USA, with no harsh or abrasive chemicals.

Visit Lowes.com for more information and to purchase all-n-all natural cleaner.

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