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3A

W

hen attempting to

cool their homes,

many homeowners' first

instinct may be to adjust

the air conditioning ther-

mostat. But there are oth-

er, more energy-efficient

methods to cooling a home.

According to the Inter-

national Association of Cer-

tified Home Inspectors, as

much as half of the energy

used in homes goes toward

heating and cooling. The

following are a handful of

ways to make heating and

cooling a home more eco-

friendly.

Insulate

Insulation often is as-

sociated with warmth, and

rightfully so, as it is used to

protect a home from cold

weather. However, insula-

tion also is effective at cool-

ing homes. Many insulation

materials work by slowing

down the way heat moves

through materials and into

spaces. Proper insulation

can provide effective resis-

tance to the flow of heat,

meaning it can help block

hot air from flowing into

the interior of a home. In-

sulation will help reduce

the amount of work a cool-

ing system will have to do

to cool a home thanks to the

flow of heat.

Replace air filters

Air filters trap dust, de-

bris and other microscopic

particles so they are not cir-

culating in the air or clog-

ging up vents. Over time, air

filters can become so bogged

down with dirt that air can-

not move through a home

very easily, forcing cooling

systems to work harder.

Simply replacing the filters

can help cooling systems

work more efficiently.

Adjust the thermostat

Programmable thermo-

stats allow homeowners to

adjust their cooling systems

for when they are home and

when they are out. Air con-

ditioners can be set at high-

er temperatures when resi-

dents are at work or school,

and then lowered before

residents arrive home.

Try evaporative coolers

Sometimes

called

"swamp coolers," these

devices can be effective in

regions with low humidity.

The U.S. Department of En-

ergy notes that these cool-

ers evaporate water into

the air to provide a natural

and energy-efficient means

of cooling a home. When

operating an evaporative

cooler, windows are opened

part way to allow warm in-

door air to escape as it is

replaced by cooled air. Un-

like central air conditioning

systems that recirculate the

same air, evaporative coolers

provide a steady stream of

fresh air into the house. Plus,

they consume only about

one-quarter of the energy

consumed by more tradition-

al air conditioners.

Ceiling fans

Fans help to circulate air

throughout a home and cre-

ate an effective draft. Ceil-

ing fans are usually most

effective at circulating air

throughout a room. The

larger the blades, the more

air that can be offset by the

fan. Many fans operate qui-

etly and effectively. In some

locations, fans may be all

that's needed to cool a space.

In others, fans may work in

conjunction with air condi-

tioners to enable homeown-

ers to raise the thermostat by

about 4 F.

Keeping a home cool and

saving money in the process

is possible by making a few

tweaks to the cooling system.

Reduce energy costs while ensuring homes stay cool

D

ogs, cats, birds, and

lizards have evolved

from wild animals and

outdoor companions to

become beloved, largely

domesticated members of

the family. The number of

pets in homes across the

country continues to grow.

According to Statista, as of

March 2017, 94.2 million

cats and 89.7 million dogs

were estimated to live in

the United States as pets.

Canada’s Pet Wellness re-

port estimates that there

are approximately 7.9 mil-

lion cats and 5.9 million

dogs in Canada.

Over time, pet owners

grow accustomed to their

pets’ antics, messes and

even their odors. Deal-

ing with smells is par for

the course for pet owners,

and many become desen-

sitized to certain common

smells. But when company

is on the way or people are

thinking about selling their

homes, pet odors must be

addressed. Even though it

will take effort, homeown-

ers can freshen their homes

and eliminate unpleasant

pet-related smells.

Find ways to ventilate.

Odors can build up inside

closed environments and

prove overpowering. Open-

ing windows when applica-

ble, using exhaust fans and

encouraging cross-breezes

can air certain odors from

the home.

Clean frequently. Cats

and dogs can leave behind

fur, dander, food messes,

and more. Eliminating the

debris that pets create can

reduce odors. Sweeping,

vacuuming and mopping

floors can help as well.

Don’t forget to vacuum

draperies and furniture,

and consider purchasing

cleaning appliances specif-

ically designed for homes

with pets.

Keep on top of ac-

cidents and litter boxes.

Puppies and even adult

dogs may have their share

of accidents. Cats may

avoid litter boxes if they

are not cleaned frequently

and then soil around the

house. Be sure to clean up

pet waste messes prompt-

ly. Baking soda and vinegar

solutions are all-natural

ways to clean up and can

help remove urine odors

more readily. Also, look for

safe deodorizing cleaning

products that can be used

on carpeting, flooring and

upholstery.

Purchase an air puri-

fier. Air purifiers can help

remove odors and aller-

gens from the air. They’re

relatively inexpensive and

can be placed in rooms

that pets frequent.

Wash pet blankets and

beds. Launder pet beds,

cloth toys, blankets, and

any other items that pets

lounge on. Sweat, saliva

and dander can cause

these fabrics to become

stinky, and, in turn, make

the house smell worse.

Keep pets clean. Most

pets are very good at self-

grooming, but can benefit

from a spa treatment once

in awhile. Dogs that spend

ample time outdoors or

frequently get wet and

dirty may need routine

baths. Ask a professional

groomer what he or she

recommends to address

potent pet odors.

Neutralizing pet odors

takes effort, but it can

make for a more pleasant-

smelling home environ-

ment.

How to banish pet odors from a home

H

ome

improvement

projects can turn a

house into a home. Home-

owners plan scores of reno-

vations to transform living

spaces into rooms that re-

flect their personal tastes

and comforts.

Homeowners going it

alone may find things do

not always go as planned.

In fact, a Harris Interactive

study found that 85 percent

of homeowners say remod-

eling is a more stressful

undertaking than buying

a home. But homeowners

about to embark on home

improvement projects can

make the process go more

smoothly by avoiding these

common pitfalls.

Failing to understand

the scope of the project

Some

homeowners

don't realize just how big

a commitment they have

made until they get their

hands dirty. But under-

standing the scope of the

project, including how

much demolition and re-

construction is involved

and how much time a proj-

ect will take can help home-

owners avoid some of the

stress that comes with reno-

vation projects. For exam-

ple, a bathroom renovation

may require the removal of

drywall, reinforcement of

flooring to accommodate a

new bathtub or shower en-

closure and the installation

of new plumbing and wir-

ing behind walls. So such a

renovation is far more de-

tailed than simply replacing

faucets.

Not establishing a

budget

Homeowners must de-

velop a project budget to

ensure their projects do not

drain their finances. If your

budget is so inflexible that

you can't afford the mate-

rials you prefer, you may

want to postpone the proj-

ect and save more money so

you can eventually afford to

do it right.

Without a budget in

place, it is easy to over-

spend, and that can put you

in financial peril down the

line. Worrying about com-

ing up with money to pay

for materials and labor also

can induce stress. Avoid the

anxiety by setting a firm

budget.

Making trendy

or overpersonal

improvements

Homeowners who plan

to stay in their homes for

the long run have more free

reign when it comes to ren-

ovating their homes. Such

homeowners can create a

billiards room or paint a

room hot pink if they so pre-

fer. However, if the goal is to

make improvements in or-

der to sell a property, overly

personal touches may make

a property less appealing to

prospective buyers. Trends

come and go, and improve-

ments can be expensive. If

your ultimate goal is to sell

your home, opt for renova-

tions that will look beautiful

through the ages and avoid

bold choices that may only

appeal to a select few buy-

ers.

Forgetting to properly

vet all workers

It is important to vet

your contractor, but don't

forget to vet potential sub-

contractors as well. Failing

to do so can prove a costly

mistake. Contractors often

look to subcontractors to

perform certain parts of a

job, and it is the responsi-

bility of homeowners to vet

these workers.

Expecting everything

to go as planned

Optimism is great, but

you also should be a real-

ist. Knowing what poten-

tially could go wrong puts

you in a better position

to handle any problems

should they arise. The

project might go off with-

out a hitch, but plan for

a few hiccups along the

way.

Overestimating DIY

abilities

Overzealous

home-

owners may see a renova-

tion project in a magazine

or on television and im-

mediately think they can

do the work themselves.

Unless you have the tools

and the skills necessary to

do the work, tackling too

much can be problematic.

In the long run, leaving the

work to a professional may

save you money.

Home

improvements

can be stressful, but home-

owners can lessen that

stress by avoiding common

renovation mistakes.

Common mistakes made on home renovation projects