Monday, April 30, 2012

New A/C Tips

lennox units outside home New A/C Tips from Lennox
With the mercury rising each day as we approach the hot summer months, air conditioning maintenance becomes an essential yet often overlooked part of home ownership. Performing simple routine maintenance can dramatically improve an air conditioning system’s efficiency, save on utility costs, help to avoid potential breakdowns, and extend the overall life of the system.
To help consumers add years to the life of their air conditioning system, Bill Cunningham, a home cooling and energy efficiency expert with Lennox – a leading manufacturer of heating and cooling products – suggests the following tips for keeping your cool this summer:
1. Change the Filter – Dirty air filters are the No. 1 preventable cause of a system breakdown. When the air filter becomes clogged by dirt and other particles, the unit can’t produce enough airflow, which results in a lower volume of air and the system having to work harder. According to Cunningham, clean filters allow the system to run more effectively and can help save energy by reducing operating costs.
2. Call for an Annual Check-up – To help ensure proper and efficient operation, the system should be serviced by a qualified service technician at the beginning of each cooling season. While this service generally includes a check of all major system components and equipment operation, it also allows the technician to identify and eliminate any concerns, should they exist, thereby helping to prevent more costly repairs if those concerns are left uncorrected.
3. Keep the Unit Clean and Clear – Another important thing a homeowner can do for the health of a unit is keep the outside air conditioning unit clear of debris. Make a habit out of keeping the condensing unit clear of weeds and plants. Allow proper clearance around all sides of the unit including the top to make sure it can breathe properly.
4. Set it and Forget It – Programmable thermostats help ensure the air conditioner operates only when necessary to maintain a steady, even temperature, which prevents it from running constantly and helps conserve energy. Many new thermostats also have service reminders that alert the homeowner when routine maintenance is required. In the long run, these state-of-the-art features can help prolong the life of a system.
5. Replace a System That’s Past its Prime – While a routine annual maintenance check-up by a licensed professional can extend the life of an air conditioner and help save on major repairs and energy costs, if the system is already 12 to 15 years old, Cunningham says it’s time to consider replacing the system. Maintenance and repairs on older systems can be more expensive and they don’t operate as efficiently, whereas a new system will be much more energy efficient and will save hundreds of dollars on energy bills.

About Lennox Industries

Lennox Industries is a leading provider of customized home heating, cooling and indoor air quality products that are designed to deliver customized comfort, efficiency and functionality, with the most innovative and reliable features available. For more information about Lennox home comfort products, visit or call 1-800-9-LENNOX.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Ins and Outs of Moving

It is the big day — moving day. For weeks you’ve planned, worried and worked to make sure all of your belongings make their way to the new destination without a hitch.If you have planned well, this day will be stress-free and an exciting adventure. If you planned poorly, however, moving day will be full of problems, headaches and, in some cases, disasters. So how do you avoid a bad situation? For starters, plan ahead, do not leave too much up to chance and keep a sense of humour (if you can).
Below are other tips:
* Ask to have your moving company give you a guaranteed cost. This will help you avoid an unexpected bill in the future.
* Make arrangements with your mover as far in advance as possible. Last-minute calls during the busy season may mean spending extra money or not finding a mover at all.
* If you are moving into an apartment, reserve the elevator.
* If you are moving into a house, arrange for street parking if needed. In the winter, make sure that the driveway is cleared of snow.
* Moving in the winter can throw you challenges you never thought of. Do not put objects that cannot be frozen in the truck. Keep them with you.
* Keep your valuables with you. That means jewellery, money and important documents. Movers will not accept responsibility for these items.
* Leave clothing and bedding in dresser drawers. Remove breakables and do not overload.
* Leave furniture in its original place. Do not move it all to one room.
* Keep any luggage you will need on the trip separate.
* Take your telephone book with you if you’re moving towns. There will probably be a few times when you will need to contact someone from your former place of residence. A telephone book means you will not have to pay the long-distance bill for that area’s telephone information service.
* Take down any pictures, fixtures or photos hanging from the wall before the movers arrive.
* If you will be packing yourself, start well in advance of moving day. Discard any unwanted items.
* Defrost your freezer before moving day. Pack food in boxes, laundry baskets or clear plastic bags. Try to use up as much food as possible in the weeks before the move.
* Mark the sides and the top of cartons for easy identification. You will want to write a quick summary of contents, as well as the room (kitchen, main bedroom) in which they’re required.
* Be careful not to overpack a carton. Heavy items (such as hardcover books) should be packed in smaller containers.
* If you have pets, be sure you have carrying cages.
* Hire a babysitter for the day if you have children.
* Walk through your house or apartment with the mover, indicating special-care items or giving specific instructions. Always be sure there is someone to do this with the mover. This step might help you avoid heartache when your belongings arrive at the new house.
* Verify the delivery address with the mover and provide information about how you can be contacted at the new dwelling.
* Try to be at the new home before the movers start unloading. Know where you want your belongings placed.
Some specialized tips:
* Books: pack in small cartons.
* Canned Goods: pack upright with no more than 24 to 30 cans per box. Wrap glass containers.
* Plants: you may want to keep plants with you.
* China and glassware: clearly mark boxes FRAGILE. Stuff glassware and china with tissue (if you use newspaper, be prepared to clean all glassware upon arrival at the new destination). Pack plates, platters and saucers on edges, not flat, and pad in layers as well as along the top and bottom of the box.
* Clocks: remove or secure pendulums in large clocks. An expert should prepare grandfather clocks.
* Clothes: pack in clean cartons.
* Drapes and curtains: remove curtains from rods. Fold and pack in cartons or dresser drawers.
* Flammables and combustibles: these items must not be packed as temperature changes can cause them to leak or explode. Your mover will not be held responsible.
* Lamps and lampshades: remove bulbs, harps and shades. Roll up cord. Pack lamps with bedding or wrap separately, and place upright in lined cartons. Wrap shades in tissue rather than newspaper. Place upright in lined carton.
* Medicines: seal caps with masking tape, wrap and place in small cartons. Keep those you need with you.
* Mirrors, paintings and pictures: tell your mover about special-care items. Wrap small mirrors, pictures, paintings and frames, and place upright at edge of cartons. Large items should also be left upright in larger, sturdier containers. Place tape diagonally across mirrors for protection. Do not use newspaper to protect paintings.
* Computers and video equipment: pack in original boxes if possible. Otherwise, use strong corrugated cartons and protective pads. Place additional padding between cartons and equipment. Wrap cords separately and label.
* Microwave ovens: remove and wrap all loose articles from inside the oven. Tape the door shut with an X pattern over the door and glass. Use the original manufacturer box if possible. Label box.
* Records, CDs and stereos: CDs and records should be placed upright in cartons. Wrap the stereo in an old blanket and place in a carton.
* Silverware: wrap each piece in cloth or low-sulphur-content paper to prevent tarnishing. Use an old blanket or moving pad as wrapping to prevent scratching the silverware chest.
* Appliances and utensils: wrap and place small appliances and utensils in cartons. Place heavier items on the bottom. Have an authorized service person prepare all large appliances for moving. Call for this service well in advance.
* Tools: discharge the batteries in tools. Pack in strong, small cartons. Wrap separately if valuable.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Get to the Site Safely – Tips for Safe Van Driving

by Nicola Crozier
safe van training Get to the Site Safely   Tips for Safe Van Driving
As anyone in the building and construction industry is aware, hauling all of your essential tools and materials around requires some form of van. Filling the family car with muddy work boots, brick dust and screws won’t go down well with the rest of the family, so you need your own dedicated van, but as any man with a van can testify, driving a van filled with heavy objects presents a number of issues.
Unlike driving a normal family car, the driver needs to consider various factors before setting off to make the drive to the location as simple as possible. Here are just four factors that need taking into account:
The Contents
First and foremost, you need to consider that some of the contents may be fragile. You don’t want to be throwing your van around a bend – like you would your normal car – only to hear the dreaded sound of everything in the back falling over and getting damaged, leaving you unable to do your work and earn your money, a nightmare for any self-employed builder. By giving yourself plenty of time to reach your location on time, you shouldn’t have to rush anywhere.
The Essentials
Ensuring that you have everything you need for all eventualities in your van will make sure that you’re covered for anything that may happen. You should have a high-visibility jacket for working on a site anyway, so ensuring you have one in the van is a must as it means you’re likely to be visible to road users if your van breaks down – a multi-purpose essential in that respect. By taking only the things you need for that particular job, you aren’t carrying around any additional weight which makes maneouvering the van more difficult, and also uses more fuel, so it actually saves money too.
Spread the load of the items in the back to make driving simpler. If everything is piled on one side, you’ll find that the handling of the vehicle is compromised. Similarly if all of the heavy items are at one end, you’ll find it more difficult to pull away or stop. Placing a significant amount of the load around the wheel arches could cause them to drag on the tires, potentially damaging them and even causing a puncture so make sure that you avoid overloading these areas, but placing the goods in different corners is a good idea as it really does spread the weight across the chassis.
With more weight on board courtesy of all of the necessary tools, it does take more engine power to build up speed, but most importantly it takes a lot more braking effort to stop it. Give yourself a much greater distance between yourself and the vehicle in front to ensure that you have as much time as possible to stop.

About the Contributor

This article was written by Nicola Crozier, a freelance writer currently working with uShip. Nicola has written about a variety of topics, ranging from vehicle safety tips to home removals.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Caesarstone USA’s Color Pop-Up Tour Makes a Splash in Seaport, N.Y.

caesarstone1 Caesarstone USAs Color Pop Up Tour Makes a Splash in Seaport, N.Y.

Caesarstone USA, Inc. made the first of several stops on their Color Pop-Up Tour in Seaport, New York hosting a two-day event in honor of their 17 new colors on April 4th and 5th. Consumers, trade partners, and industry leaders were among the guests invited to share this unique and innovative experience. Several well-knowns from the designer/architect community as well as social media experts were guest speakers at the 7 events held throughout the 2 days. At the center of it all was the huge, lighted Caesarstone dome which provided a truly exceptional space for event guests to gather against the New York City skyline and waterfront and made quite an impression on the attendees and passersby. The interior, designed by architect Dan Brunn, incorporated huge slabs of the new Caesarstone colors, as well as featured the 17 winning mood boards of the LUXE Interiors + Design “SET THE MOOD” inspiration board design challenge.
“Caesarstone’s first POP UP Color Tour was incredible in every way. We positioned Caesarstone as truly a leader, unique and innovative in everything we do — from innovating new colors, to our new ad campaign, to embracing social media to our spectacular POP UP Color Tour. The positive feedback and respect we got from all visitors can’t be described in words. This is a new era for our industry. This is where we shine as a company — we defined new game rules that set us apart from all others,” commented Sagi Cohen – CEO, Caesarstone USA, Inc.
While the 8 latest Classico colors (Shitake, Linen, Wild Rice, Late Autumn, Wild Rocks, Belgian Moon, Haze, and Atlantic Salt) have been on the market for some time, the new beautifully textured White Crocodile in the Motivo line, and the 8 colors in the recently launched and elegantly patterned Supremo line took center stage. In fact, Caesarstone’s new ad campaign is centered on the Supremo series. On Day 1, the “Supremo Girls” were unveiled — 3 stunning 10′x5′ artistic slabs showcasing the unique colors and patterns of Supremo using patented technology exclusive only to Caesarstone.
“A gorgeous brand like Caesarstone needed an equally beautiful campaign to launch their newest and most prestigious line. I think we gave that to them in our idea for Supremo. We simply used the surface itself as the inspiration for our mysterious portraits that reflect the potential costumers themselves. Because any surface, especially a Supremo surface, is a reflection of the customer and his or her desires. In the end Caesarstone isn’t just selling kitchen counters, what they are really doing is creating surfaces that add to the pageant of one’s life,” said Joe Kayser – CCO, Y&R:CA
After the Press Conference, AIA continuing education course, luncheon with Caesarstone’s Director of Business Development Ed Rogers, and mood board reveal, Day 1 turned into night kicking off with the LUXE Interiors + Design Opening Party. Hundreds were in attendance, including TV personality Ty Pennington. Day 2 featured a luncheon, NKBA continuing education course, fabricators appreciation event with Stone World, and closing event with House Beautiful’s Sean Sullivan and Kate Kelly Smith, and a social media presentation by Eqal’s Ashley Richardson.
“The vision that I had for the ‘POP UP Color Tour’ was one that created an experience that touched all of the senses. It’s easy to talk about branding and what the brand means, but what I wanted to achieve and to present was something with depth and dimension, something that could be felt and explored. I wanted to allow our partners, consumers and industry experts an opportunity to really experience Caesarstone and to walk away with a connection to us and understanding of why we are the industry leader,” said, Karen Schakarov – Vice President, Marketing Caesarstone USA, Inc.
Caesarstone has yet to announce their next stop on the Color Pop-Up Tour, though it is sure to be an innovating and awe-inspiring experience from the well-established global leader in the quartz industry. So keep an eye out for the Caesarstone dome, perhaps coming to a city near you.
About Caesarstone USA
Caesarstone is the original quartz countertops and surfaces manufacturer. Caesarstone is headquartered in Southern California with sales divisions and major distribution centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Colorado, Miami, New York, Atlanta, St. Louis and Dallas. Caesarstone’s Independent Distributors are located in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Arizona and Utah. Caesarstone’s premium quartz countertops and surfaces complement any design, from traditional to contemporary, for both home and commercial applications. Caesarstone products are available through kitchen and bath retailers, fabricators, architects, designers, builders and distributors nationwide. Offering a Residential Lifetime Warranty, Caesarstone countertops and surfaces are nonporous, stain, scratch and heat resistant. Caesarstone has earned the respected Good Housekeeping Seal from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute and is in compliance with stringent international environmental standards including ISO 14001 (environmental management system), ISO 9002 (quality management standard), and NSF (public health and safety).
Using only sustainable materials, Caesarstone is GREENGUARD certified and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). For more information about Caesarstone and its products, please visit the company’s website at, or call toll-free 877-9QUARTZ (877-978-2789).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pest Control

Ah, springtime. The melting of snow, the sprouting of tulips, the return to life for many of us … and when I say “us,” I’m not just talking human beings. Spring cleaning can unearth unwanted house guests such as termites and carpenter ants that have been sleeping—that is, burrowing, building nests—in your walls and floors.
According to the Termite Institute, termites are a $5 billion problem for homeowners. Perhaps an even bigger problem, ants—not just carpenter but 10 different species that can threaten homes—are capable of infesting and multiplying at rapid rates. You know what I mean if you’ve ever left a can of pop open outside in summertime, or dropped fruit scraps in the kitchen; in mere hours, ants are at the scene like paparazzi on Britney (another unwanted, gross house guest).
Besides entomologists and Gary Larson fans, nobody wants to talk about pests unless you’re already facing an infestation; however, because termites and ants can strike without warning, even the best-kept homes are at risk.
The Termite Institute and the Ant Institute are trying to change all this by speaking out to homeowners about these pesky pests, providing homeowners with identification, prevention and eradication information. Especially interesting, both websites offer live web cameras that vividly simulate what it would be like if either bug moved in.
If you’ve read this far, you’re either worried about infestation or already dealing with one. Horror stories certainly abound across the Web, from those dealing with ongoing struggles that want to share their knowledge, to notification of goings on Down Under, where admittedly, the bugs look a whole lot scarier. For elimination of termites, the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology has a straightforward guide for homeowners, including how to deal with the problem and how toprevent it from happening in the first place.
The University has a similar site for ants, again directed right at homeowners. Why so generous, Kentucky? Maybe it’s all that tasty blue grass.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Benefits Of Wooden Vertical Blinds In The Home

by Jack Oldham
wood vertical blinds 3 The Benefits Of Wooden Vertical Blinds In The Home
It’s possible to change the overall feel of a room and make it more appealing to visitors without performing a complete overhaul. The best way to achieve this is by carefully choosing accessories and furnishings that have a real impact on the atmosphere, whilst still making it a comfortable place in which to reside.
Whilst many people believe bold changes are required to accomplish this, there are a number of more subtle ways you can make this sort of difference.
One of the most neglected areas when it comes to home improvement is the window treatments in a home. Many people choose to concentrate on other choices, such as the wallpaper design, or the shadings of the wall paint, and simply do not pay as much attention to window treatments as they should. Many people seem to be of the train of thought that they don’t have much of an impact on the final appearance of a room. This simply isn’t true and a poor decision regarding window treatments could have a disastrous effect on the entire décor scheme in a room.
One option which can offer a number of advantages over its competitors in this case is wooden vertical blinds. According to many style experts and interior designers, these carry a more timeless quality than many alternatives. Window treatments such as blinds and curtains use different fabrics. In a similar way to clothes, fabrics and patterns can very quickly go out of fashion, rendering your window treatments out of date. The lack of patterns and varying colours on wooden vertical blindsmean that this is very rarely a problem.
Instead, these window treatments can go towards creating a contemporary look for any room, with the homeowner safe in the knowledge that not only the appearance, but the blinds themselves are made to last. The appearance isn’t as restricted as you may think either, as there are many types of wood available to make sure that your window treatments fit in with your existing décor. Here are a few tips to make sure you choose the right wood for your home.
Many people choose light woods for their wooden vertical blinds. Woods such as pine are a good choice for people wishing to create a brighter atmosphere in a room. This helps make the room more welcoming not only to you, but also to friends and family who may visit from time to time.
On the other hand, if your room feels a little bit on the large and unwieldy side then darker wood may be the right choice for you. Whilst having a large room is a nice dilemma to be faced with, you may feel that visitors could struggle to relax and kick back in your home as a result of the size. The key here is to create a cosy, relaxing atmosphere. Combining dark vertical blinds with dark décor and a piping hot fire is one way to achieve this.
Another idea is to use the blinds in conjunction with other pieces of décor and accessories to create the perfect atmosphere. Taking real care when selecting cushions, lampshades and other accessories as well as window dressings can go a long way towards making your house a home which appeals to you, your family and your friends alike.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Space Planning 101

p004 Space Planning 101
Kitchen designed by MeCC Interiors Inc.
Most design professionals have certain guidelines or rules of thumb they use when planning spaces for clients. The NKBA(National Kitchen and Bathroom Association) and Design Works, Inc. decided to formalize it into writing, answering many frequently asked client questions in the process. Here is a cheat sheet.
The odds are high that you’ve at least heard reference made to the Kitchen work triangle — the placement of the sink, fridge, and stove / cooktop.  The “rules” state that the triangle should not exceed 26′-0″ feet in length, and no single side of the triangle should be less than 4′-0″.  (Larger kitchens may have multiple work triangles.)
Countertops should be at least 24″ deep and allow for at least 15″ of clearance.  Ideally, there should also be a minimum of 15″ wide countertop spaces between appliances, e.g. the fridge and the cooktop, so that you have a place to set down food and/or dishes.  If you are adding in an island, you want a minimum of 3′-0″ between the main cabinets and the island.
If you are renovating or planning a space from scratch, you’ll find that some of the clearances are more pronounced now than they may have been when the room was last updated.  You want to allow for at least 30″ of unobstructed floor space in front of all fixtures — toilet, bidet, tub, shower, lavatory.  If you have the luxury of multiple sinks, the centreline between the sinks should be a minimum of 3′-0″.
Living RoomIf your preference is for cozy, your conversation area should be approximately 8′-0″ across; this will enable comfortable conversation and easy access to coffee and/or side tables to everyone in the group.  If you like a little more space, increase the area to about 10′-0″ across.  Of course, if you’re blessed with a large, open concept area, remember that you can always create multiple conversation areas that can be combined for larger gatherings.  Conversely, if your space is small and you feel you are unable to use an ottoman and/or coffee table, be assured that an 18″ path between seating and low objects is sufficient for walking.
 Space Planning 101
Dining Room designed by MeCC Interiors Inc.
Dining RoomYou need about 2′-0″ of space per person for comfortable eating.  (This applies to kitchen breakfast bars, too.  A 4′-0″ counter is not designed for three (3) people, so do not even try.)  Ideally, if people will be walking behind diners, you want to allow for a corridor of at least 44″.   If access is not an issue and it is simple a matter of people pushing chairs in and out, there should be 3′-0″ of clearance behind dining chairs.
If you like to entertain and need to determine the size of table to purchase, think of the number of people you will need to accommodate and multiply that by the requisite 2′-0″ of space per person.  If you commonly host ten (10) people, your table should have a perimeter of at least 240″ or 20′-0″.
When it comes to selecting the optimal chandelier, consider the size of your table.  The general rule is to hang the chandelier so that it is about 6″ from the edge of the table.  Whether your table is round, rectangular, ovular, or square, that means measuring the width of the table and subtracting 12″.  For example, if your table is 54″ wide, look for a chandelier that is 42″ wide.
 Space Planning 101
Bedroom designed by MeCC Interiors Inc.
Smaller bedrooms are often dwarfed by their beds and that cannot always be prevented.  However, be sure to leave adequate room to walk and access storage pieces.  There should be a minimum 30″ in front of dressers, night tables, or armoires so that they can be comfortably opened.  If you can leave more space, do.  Unless you have a walk-in closet, aim for 4′-0″ of open floor space in front of your closet for dressing room.