This Virginia weather has gone from frigid to somewhat agreeable to frigid to "Hey, it's not so bad out today!" And it will certainly keep flip-flopping! But when those frigid temps hit, and the evenings are in the single digits Fahrenheit, is your home up to snuff? Oftentimes strong drafts can seep in through improperly sealed doors and windows -- this can lead to an increase in your home heating costs as your HVAC system tries to keep up with those drafts. We've got five quick n' easy fixes for those pesky drafts. Let's check 'em out!
- Check those hinges
Folks this first one is so easy! Check those hinges! A loose hinge causing your door to hang at a slight angle could be all it takes to allow that frigid arctic wind to seep into your home.
- Replace or add weatherstripping
Weatherstripping comes in myriad forms, but most --if not all-- of it is fairly easy to install. The picture above beautifully illustrates the wonder of weatherstripping -- it obviously seals the draft allowed in through that space between the door and the door casing; but it also provides a nice, clean look! If this is an option you're interested in pursuing, but are uncertain how to get started, check out this video from Today's Homeowner.
- Install a sweep
The basic steps are simple:
- Measure door width.
- Mark and cut to length (if necessary) the new door sweep.
- Drill pilot holes.
- Loosely attach.
- Tighten screws.
Bada-bing, bada-boom! The sweep covers that gap left between your door and its threshold or sill. If you don't have a threshold running across the entryway of your exterior doors, that is also something to consider adding. Fun fact: door thresholds are called "door saddles" in the U.K. They're so wacky!
- Not as elegant but highly effective: window film
Stretch the film across the windows and casing, use a blow drier to shrink-seal that film over your windows, remove film come springtime. For the larger windows get somebody to give you a hand hanging the film! And last, but certainly not least:
- Invest in insulated curtains
Thermal curtains feature a layer of acrylic foam between the double or triple layers of fabric to provide insulation, making these curtains ideal for winter months or drafty windows. And if you like to "sleep in": thermal curtains can also dampen sound and block out sunlight. Furthermore, they'll prevent interior "heat gain" from all that sunshine you'll be getting come summertime. As a matter of fact, all of these tips work for keeping cool air in.
Well, that about wraps it up, folks. Like we told you, all of these tips are eezy-peezy! And with all of that money you'll be saving on your home heating (and summertime cooling!), this might give you a good excuse to give us a call -- we'll do the cleaning while you take back your weekends!
We're all about your home being as beautiful, clean, and organized as it can be. While we're in your home, let us do the cleaning; but in our downtime we're researching and writing articles like these to make your home shine. A well planned-out home office can be a bastion of productivity and efficiency. It can also be a relaxing space where you also happen to get a lot of stuff done. Trying to reach that ideal? Let's get to it!
- Location, location, location
When setting up that office try to give yourself as much wiggle room as possible! Obviously an office like that pictured above is out of a lot of people's budget, but the amount of space in that bad boy is stunning! If you're not feeling crammed and squeezed into your work space you'll surely feel more relaxed and, as a result, probably get a lot more done.
- A GREAT chair
If you're going to be spending a lot of time in that office, sitting, then you'll need a good chair! Check out these reviews from GearPatrol.com, their top pick for "Best Budget Chair" is "The Alera Elusion" From Gear Patrol:"[This chair] could be misconstrued as another simple office chair — that is, until you sit in it. The mesh back panel offers supreme comfort and allows for great breathability. The seat cushion features a waterfall edge designed to eliminate pressure on the legs. The Elusion is also infinitely adjustable and even offers forward tilt."
- A nice view
Ok, ok, we'll admit -- we were being a little cheeky including this image as our potential "nice view," as if this is what you could be looking at outside your window. But, the advice remains the same: try to set up your office in a room with a window, ideally one with a nice view of the natural landscape. Check out this article from the Harvard Business Review (yeah, that Harvard): "Research has found that gazing at something green — through a window, on a walk outside, or even on a screen saver — can help improve attention and performance in the workplace. Attention restoration theory suggests that natural environments have restorative benefits for us. Because nature captures our attention without requiring us to focus on it, looking at natural environments lets us replenish our stores of attention control."
- Plenty of light
This tip and our next one fall directly in line with our "nice view" suggestion. From the "Sustainability" program at NC State University, "Natural light leads to higher productivity:
A study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found that employees working in natural light recorded higher levels of energy than those working under artificial light. Another study showed 40 percent higher sales at checkout counters located beneath skylights. This data confirms what many studies have shown: natural light leads to enhanced productivity."
- Get a dang plant!
Last but not least, something we could all use more of in our lives -- plants! From Rodale's Organic Life, "In addition to perceived improvements in air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction, the researchers found that productivity increased 15 percent. They found that employees with plants in the office reported being more physically, cognitively, and emotionally involved in their work." Does it get any better than that?!
To round things out we have here a graphic featuring The NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Houseplants, courtesy of LovetheGarden.com. Check it out! Thanks for joining us, and after you've got your office all set up, feel free to give us call to help keep it clean!
Happy new year, folks! At the time of writing this article (with windchill) it is currently a balmy TWO degrees in Richmond, VA. That being said, it is a crucial time of year to be wearing all the winter gear you can muster, especially boots! But what happens when you, or your child, inadvertently get those bad boys wet? Maybe you got some snow inside them, maybe your child stepped in a giant semi-frozen puddle, whatever the case... We've done the research to save you some time, check it out!
- First, something to avoid: high heat
Don't be tempted to blast a hair drier set at high heat inside those boots! Similarly, don't put them over a floor register or in front of your heater. All of that high heat will dry your footwear quickly, but it can also greatly reduce their lifespan. All of that dry heat quickly leads to leather and other fabrics shrinking and pulling away from the rest of the shoe, and, at the same time, this method will also weaken the glue holding your footwear together -- a brutal combination! Now let's get to what you should do.
- Use a fan
Airflow is the name of the game when it comes to effectively drying things! This method pictured actually uses a couple of "S" hooks to hang the lace-less footwear from the fan. This method may not work with the bigger, bulkier boots -- but you can still set the footwear down and aim the fan toward the wet boots. If you're able to hang the shoes or boots from you fan, be sure to place a towel underneath everything because there will be a good amount of dripping water as everything dries!
- Use balled-up newspaper
The tried-and-true method of balled-up newspaper! In this writer's opinion, the best way to dry footwear with this method is to loosely ball up newspaper and pack it into your boots loosely enough that there is still some airflow. Really tightly-packed newspaper won't leave much room for osmosis to work its magic, and your boots will take way too long to dry! If you're doing things right, the "newspaper method" will work fairly quickly and you'll need to be changing newspaper frequently until everything's dry. It sounds like a lot of work, true, but avoiding wet feet in the winter; or stinky, mildew-y footwear is worth all the work!
- Consider purchasing a boot dryer
Consider investing in a boot dryer! If drying boots and shoes is a hassle you run into often, especially if you have a lot of young ones running around outdoors, consider making this investment. Boot dryers on major retail websites like Amazon run about $35, and you can even get much smaller insertable boot dryers -- these cost even less and pack away well enough when not needed. These work their major at a very even, low heat -- reducing the chances of damaging your footwear in the name of dry feet.
There you have it, folks! We hope you can put this wisdom to good use and keep feet (and footwear!) clean, dry, and odor-free. Stay warm and dry out there this winter, and if you'd like to spend more time relaxing and less time cleaning: consider giving us a call!
2018 is just a few days away! Have you given any thought to New Year's resolutions? We've got four great suggestions that can only lead to a happier home. Give this a read and hey, Happy New Year!
- Downsize and organize
While this image may be a little too picture-perfect, strive to find a realistic balance between what you desire and what you can accomplish. A good way to get started? Get rid of things you simply don't need. Take a look at our blog post from late October, discussing the Marie Kondo method of de-cluttering and organization. Long story short: The less things you have cluttering your home, the less things there will be taking up space and creating a disorganized mess. Walking into a clean and organized home is an incredible cognitive boost! Conversely, walking into a cluttered mess every time you get home from your long day at work can go a long way toward stressing you the heck out.
- Establish a strong routine
If you read our last blog post, "Four Tips to Make it Through the Holiday Daze," you'll recognize this image. We're using it here and bringing up the subject of "routines" again because a good routine is that important! If you already have a routine strive to streamline it even more, or maybe even throw in another daily challenge like exercising more often. The value of a good routine is that you can find a good rhythm with all your daily tasks, making everything seem easy-breezy. The easier your day seems, the less stressed you are -- the less stressed you are, the happier you'll be! Maybe just one part of your routine needs some work? If, for example, you find a good wind-down routine before bed time, you'll fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling even more rejuvenated than normal!
- Spend more time with family
Have you downsized and organized? And you've established a better routine? Well then you're certain to have some more time to yourself! Why not use some of that to spend more time with the family? Just take a look at this article from BrainFodder.com to see the near-innumerable benefits of family meals -- spoiler alert, according to this article your children will be healthier, smarter, safer, and happier. Resolve to spend more time with your fam and you'll be happier and healthier yourself!
- Educate yourself on financial planning
Check out this article from TheBalance.com, "Personal Finance 101." From budgeting to cutting expenses to getting out of debt, they go over some important aspects of financial planning. Better financial planning means more money which means you can repair those things that need to repaired in your home, maybe expand your home, or even buy your first home. Important stuff!
Thanks for visiting us and giving this a read! As always, we hope you've learned a thing or two. Another surefire way to give yourself some more time? Consider giving us a call and letting us do the cleaning for you, while you spend more time with your family!
Do the holidays put you in a holi-daze? It's an unfortunate truth that this time of thanksgiving, celebration, and togetherness can in fact stress people out almost beyond their limit. Well, we're here with some advice on how you can make it through the holidays, and, hopefully enjoy them!
- Lift your mood with sunlight!
Sunlight stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects millions of Americans each year! Get some sunlight when you can (not easy this time of year, granted), and if those skies seem persistently gray both literally and figuratively speaking, consider asking your doctor about phototherapy -- a treatment that utilizes doses of full-spectrum light.
- Do less
If this looks at all familiar to you then you need to consider pumping those brakes on all those things that you do. Many of you are probably thinking, "Ha! Not likely! I'm too busy!" But you really, really need to take a look at your schedule and figure out what needs to be cut to give you more time to enjoy life. According to a Forbes article, David Meyer from the University of Michigan published a study recently that showed that switching what you’re doing mid-task increases the time it takes you to finish both tasks by 25%.'Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,' Meyer said. “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”Microsoft decided to study this phenomenon in their workers and found that it took people an average of 15 minutes to return to their important projects (such as writing reports or computer code) every time they were interrupted by emails, phone calls or other messages." And that's taking a look at one's schedule on a minute-to-minute basis, there are studies indicating that being busy all the time can be a real career impediment -- not to mention a burden on family and personal life. Give it some thought!
- Massage your hoku
Massage your what?! Your hoku point! While well-designed studies evaluating the efficacy of traditional medicine practices are few and far-between, take a look at this Michigan University article, "Brain Imaging Study Shows How Acupressure Fights Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors." So, the "hoku point" is, according to The Energy Healing Site, "located on the back of the hand, in the webbing where the thumb and index finger meet. Find the exact point by bringing your thumb and index finger together. The muscle will bulge a little--that's the spot.It can relieve headaches, as well as joint and muscle pain anywhere in the body. It is also good for soothing and calming, and for letting go of grief."
- During this busy holiday season, try to stick with your daily routine. Don't have one? Resolve to start one.
While the last tip stressed trying to make yourself less busy, it's important to find balance between "too busy," and the other end of the spectrum "good routine." According to GrowYouthful.com, "keeping to a regular schedule has both physical and mental benefits. Your body thrives on homeostasis - maintaining internal stability after some outside upset has caused an imbalance. Your environment is changing all the time, yet your body constantly adjusts itself to create the steady internal state that it needs for health and long life. Missing sleep or getting an unexpected sugar hit affects this healthy state of homeostasis.Growth hormones, digestive hormones, sex hormones, cortisol, insulin, blood glucose, feel-good hormones - they all have regular cycles throughout the day. They have a powerful effect on the best time of day for physical activities, thinking and creativity, sex and sports performance." If you don't have a good routine, resolve in 2018 to find one! And if you're into the idea of good New Year's resolutions to maximize your home organization and productivity, stay tuned for next week's article!
That brings us to the close of another World Class Cleaning blog post; as always, we hope you've learned something! A good way to make yourself a little less busy? Give us a call and let us keep your home tidy while you spend more time relaxing!
p.s. bonus fifth tip: go for a walk! That's right, walk that stress away! According to Ann Kulze, MD, "The rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep."