For many, bringing a pet home is the same as bringing home new family. Pets easily find their way in our hearts with their playful antics and friendly companionship. When you first bring a new pet into your home it is imperative that you are willing to make some adjustments to your living space. This article is aimed at giving hints for all who have pets or will have pets in their home. Preparing your home and yard for your new pet is important to their well being and your ease of mind. The focus will be discussing animals that are out most of the time, like cats and dogs, that are more likely to get into some mischievous fun. However, many of these tips and hints will work for most of the four legged friends we bring into our home. Most of the tips will seem like common sense, however, when the new pet is roaming around it may slip our mind to check for common place hazards. Many times we take for granted that things are safe or wouldn't interest animals. However the puppy running down the hall with a roll of toilet paper would beg to differ!
So let's get your home and yard ready so it is safe for your pets (and also not a free going playground waiting for destruction and mayhem)!
Part I: Preparing Your Home
When bringing a new pet to the home the last thing anyone wants to think about is cleaning and proofing their home. However, taking a little time to do so will prevent headaches and possible heartaches. It will keep your pet, prized possessions and your sanity intact. This is true whether you are bringing home a new pet or adjusting an older one to a new home. Or, perhaps, you find your self in the unfortunate situation of losing possessions to a pet who has never had boundaries set up in your home. Whatever your reason, these tips will help proof your home for the new, old and mischievous pets in your life.
Think Below the Knees
Get down on all fours and look around at the same level as your pet. There is a whole other world down at their viewpoint!
Unless they are sleeping, or eating, they are playing!! Some tips to make this non-stop action fun and safe for both of you!
If they can't reach it, they can't eat it, scratch it, or all out destroy it!
Don't feed table scraps to your pets. Many times people don't realize that some foods okay for us can be toxic or hard on the system for animals.
Some foods to be aware of: Alcohol, Chicken & Turkey Bones, Nutmeg, Apples (stems & seeds), Chocolate, Onion Apricots (seeds), Coffee (grinds & beans), Peaches (seeds), Avocados, Dairy Products (large amounts), Pears, Baking Powder, Fatty Foods, Plums, Baking Soda, Garlic, Potatoes (peelings & green,) Broccoli (large amounts, )Grapes, Raisins, Cherries (stems & seeds), Macadamia Nuts, Yeast, **Tobacco, although not a food, ingestion can be poisonous
The holidays are fun for everyone - including your pets!
What do they do when you leave the home? Preferably it doesn't involve eating the couch!
Cautionary tale on the restricted room - we placed one of our pups in a room in our house as we went out to get a bite to eat. There was no furniture in the room except for her crate with her toys. When we came back she had climbed the crate and chewed the metal blinds on the window and also proceeded to dig up part of the carpet!
Part II: Preparing
Your yard is fun place for you and your pet to enjoy the outdoors. Maintaining your yard for your pet is relatively easy. There are some hazards that you will want to watch for and prevent. Not all of your pets may enjoy your yard to its fullest, some may stay in pens or restricted kennel/runs. The tips below address pets that have more freedom. These pets roam a fenced backyard or around the perimeter of your house (i.e. Dogs & Cats). In addition to proofing tips we offer some ideas about making your yard more enjoyable. Sometimes you may have a small space or areas you really don't want Fido to excavate. Read on for a checklist of ways to make your yard safe and entertaining for your pets.
When maintaining your yard you want to keep your pets in mind.
Your pets will make your yard into their own domain. Make sure their kingdom is safe and enjoyable.
Ideas for your Pet Friendly
Yard Below are just a few ideas of things you may do to improve your yard for your pet.
Pets are a wonderful addition to the family and home. Taking time to proof your house and yard will make both of your lives a lot easier. It may seem daunting at first that there are so many things to do for or keep away from your pets. However, after a while your pets will learn the house rules. You may even be able to reclaim certain areas of the house as your pet matures and understands not to destroy your things. For example, our dogs don't touch the laundry anymore and we can leave books on low shelves without them getting even a sniff of interest. You will find many of the hazards you watch for you will begin to do so naturally. Eventually you won't even realize your new habits. It is simply part of the lifestyle change that happens as it is always an adjustment to bring animals into our home. Just know that you can be pro-active, you'll have far fewer headaches in the long run and in the end you will have great company and lots of fun!
What better way to open the new year with a look at the future. In particular the technology and innovation behind homes of the future. There is no doubt that as technology changes so many aspects of our lives it will soon also effect our personal sanctuary. Last year we looked at how computers were changing how we watched television. Other simple pastimes such as reading are also affected by computers and software notebooks that change our libraries. Music collections can now be slimmed down from plastic CD to bits of data on our computer. But what about the home structure itself? How will new technology effect how we use energy, water, communications and the natural environment surrounding the home? What might the homes of the future look like? Below we take a look at some of the more fast approaching changes to residential buildings that we might see take hold in the next few years.
Homes with a Brain - The new smart homes integrate new technology while keeping flexible for future innovations. A central command for everything from lights, security, and temperature control to entertainment features such as TVs, computers, and music are all connected to one central powerhouse that can be accessed from anywhere in the home. Programming options will allow you to set the home to various tasks based on the time of day. Imagine waking as the blinds open to the sun in your room, the kids are all woken for school by the house using lights and/or radio alarms, the coffee is already brewed and the security system turns off the evening protections so you don't set it off as you grab your morning paper. At the end of your day, the house checks that all the lights are off for you, all the doors and windows are locked, the security system is on, and maybe the refrigerator tallies its contents so it can remind you in the morning that you are running low on milk.
Solar Energy - Recent oil prices and environmental concerns have created a resurge in the use of solar power. The new solar panels are not the same ones from the 70s. Instead, new solar panels on the market collect more photovolatic energy and are easier to install. Many homes are already including a few solar panels on the roof to offset energy costs. Setting the panels at the right slop towards where the house receives the most sun exposure is key. Even in a sunny state like California, consumers should realistically expect only a 50-75% savings at this time. But this is still substantial! Just imagine, as technology improves, so will our ability to use the sun's energy.
Wind Energy - Harnessing wind energy for a single urban residence is in a much more experimental/infancy stage than solar energy. But in the future, wind energy may help offset your energy costs just as much. Traditionally, wind power has been on a large scale and usually used rurally because the size of the turbines. But there are innovative thinkers already creating compact wind turbines for the urban resident. A recent example is the Clarian Jellyfish that is no more obstructive than a TV antenna on the roof.
Wireless Energy - Various forms of wireless energy are still under experimentation. Some are already proven to work in models - such as the WiTricity created by MIT Professor Marin Soljacic. In the future, using electromagnetic induction, microwaves or even lasers, energy may be transferred without the use of wires. In cases such as electromagnetic induction, the transmitting energy is reportedly safe to humans as energy moves from the power source to the receiver at a resonant frequency that matches each other but not other items in the environment. At this point the idea is that homes will still be connected to the city power grid, but all the devices in the home would be powered without wires. Imagine never having to charge your cell phone again or hanging a television on the wall without any wires. To read a bit more, click here.
Phones - Will your home in the future have a standard phone line? Many customers have been dropping phone line use in favor of wireless options - in fact, last year it was estimated that one in every five homes only uses wireless phones.* In addition, homes are now using more Internet phone and communication options such as video conferencing. Homes in the future may not be built with a standard phone line as more users switch to an IP based or wireless phone plan. Already many businesses are cutting costs by either not upgrading or not installing these phone lines for reconstruction or new construction projects. Starting with the business sector first, it may only be a matter of time when the phone line becomes optional for new homes.
Security - Many of the gadgets from the movies are now a reality for the everyday consumer. It is becoming easier to set up cameras around your home that you can access from any computer on a secured site. Add to this new electronic locks that allow you to lock/unlock your home online - perhaps you forgot to lock the doors this morning but can now do so from work or you want to let your neighbor in to bring in the paper while you're on vacation. And yes, these new locks will let you track which doors are opened, when and, in the future, by whom. You can already get fingerprint readers that will limit access to computers and/or your home. Some of the new model homes also include iris scans that make keys almost unnecessary.
Space - In the cities our available living space can be limited and will be even more so in the future. For urban living, therefore, it makes sense that our living spaces take on multiple functions. Tucking away what is not in use and creating efficient use of space is a common element many urban homes are adopting. For example, compact, built-in furniture features can help turn a living room into a bedroom or dining room. Perhaps suburban and even some rural homes will adopt some of these innovations as they give evidence of their cost effectiveness. Homebuyers may use urban designs to lower energy bills and the cost of building or remodeling a home. However, large homes will not disappear overnight and design will not change in most of the country until these slim urban concept designs prove their efficiency without sacrificing comfort.
Plants - Plants can help make a room more appealing and complete. In the future, plants may also be used to facilitate cleaner air in the home or to help clean waste water. Plants already can act like a carbon filter and help in taking gases such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde out of the air.* Maybe start this today and get a spider plant which is reported to work on both of these gasses. Currently plants may also be used around the home to help slow chemicals from storm runoff, safely adsorbing chemicals and creating clean waste. In the future, as more ways to treat water through phytoremediation are developed, this technology may become more accessible and plants may take a greater role in helping remove toxins from the water coming in and out of our homes.
Sprinklers - Okay, so not as impressive as say wireless energy, but the new sprinkler systems are still pretty neat - and cost effective. New systems allow for thinking sprinkler systems that will water the lawn only as needed. Set to read the amount of rain already received - you won't see automated sprinklers on during a rainstorm again!
Clean up the outside.
Increase The Curb Appeal Of Any House. Simple, low-cost curb appeal and house makeover improvements that anyone can do in a weekend. Or, there are many landscaping companies that can help with the job if time is an issue.
Touch up the interior.
Replace bathroom and kitchen fixtures that are worn or leaking.
Home Improvement Contractor. Find and research local contractors, and get free no obligation quotes on your home improvement projects.
Get rid of any bad smells in your home.
The days are longer, the temperatures are becoming pleasant and our energy levels are up as we begin to stretch out of our winter hibernation - spring is here! Time to harness some of the new energy and get the spring cleaning out of the way. Although some demigods may have immaculate households and not heed this tradition, most of us do have a bit (or more) of collected clutter and dust around the home. Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to remove dust, mold, toxins and clutter from our households. And as we clean, we notice a pile emerge of unused and unwanted "stuff." This gathered hoard of old décor, books, electronics and exercise gadgets should not be squirreled away for another year! Instead, incorporate into your spring cleaning the determination to get this "stuff" out the door through a garage sale (real or virtual) or off to charity.
Spring cleaning for most households is a family tradition. According to the contributors to Wikipedia, evidence of spring cleaning can be seen in ancient civilizations - from the Jewish tradition of cleaning the house before Passover to the Iranian "khooneh tekouni" or "shaking the house." Many Americans grew up in households where there was a yearly purge of dust and "bad air" from the winter months. This too comes from earlier times when fires of coal and wood were the primary source of heat and rural households sometimes bundled down with the livestock indoors. For this reason, some argue that spring cleaning is not a necessity with our modern furnaces, solid windows and cleaner spaces. Consider this a time then to do the very best cleaning of all your living spaces, appliances and work areas. We all skimp on cleaning out the fridge or stove, now is the time to hit these areas thoroughly. Below we have listed some common items to clean during this sweep. For a more detailed list to help on your cleaning, we have also provided a "Spring Cleaning Checklist."
Common Spring Cleaning Tasks:
Dust ceilings, walls, corners, light fixtures, base boards, vents, and furniture
Wipe down walls, light-switches, outlets, doorknobs and handles
Clean blinds, curtains, drapes, window sills and windows
Clean doormats, bathmats, and area rugs
Shampoo the carpets
Clean the hardwoods and vinyl
Dust and wipe down furniture, cabinets, shelves and countertops
Clear the clutter and get items back where they belong
Consider items for a garage sale, charity run, or dare to think it - re-gift it!
Remember to click here for a detailed Spring Cleaning Checklist! WORD | PDF
Other important items (while your at it):
Now that you have cleaned your house, you have gathered "stuff" that you no longer use, need or want. Your gathered hoard of goodies will probably include:
Getting ready for a garage sale can be a daunting task and should be handled with the same planning and care you would give to a major event - just try to keep it fun - you're planning for a big block party where you get to meet your neighbors and make some money! Here are some basic guidelines:
Online Garage Sale
Now perhaps you have items left over from your garage sale or prefer to sell from the comfort at your computer desk at your own pace. Just keep in mind that selling items online will require more time as you write descriptions, place photos and run to the post office. If you have the patience or enjoy the idea of a virtual garage sale, these sites will help you get your unwanted items moving out the door! Amazon Marketplace: If you are a bit of a bibliophile and need to thin your collection, the
Amazon Marketplace can be a great option to sell used books, CDs, DVDs and more. Keep in mind that to list is free, but there are fees when an item sells. Considered more user-friendly than similar sites, it is worthwhile to check it out. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161232
BarterBee.com: A site specifically geared towards recycling CDs, DVDs and computer or consol games between households. Once you sign up for a membership, you list your used items for sale. Sell items to get points. You can then use those points to buy other CDs, DVDs or games that you want to try out. Of course you wouldn't use this site to make cash - points are used for like items. http://www.barterbee.com/
Craigslist: An online mismatch of services, used goods and announcements by city location. Here you may be able to find used items cheap. It can be the ordinary like used furniture to the not so common. For example, I once found someone who had new pavers left over from a patio project that they were willing to sell at a discount just to get them off their lawn. You may also be able to find cheap services such as yard work. However, users beware, there are no regulations on this site and you should take precautions when working with anyone on this list. This site definitely has a mixed history of great successes and terrible wrongs. Be careful. http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites
eBAY: One of the most popular and well known online auction stops, eBay has been around since 1995. Users have the ability to rank other users for the ease of trade transactions. Probably the biggest garage sale on the internet. http://www.ebay.com/
Etsy: Buy and sell handmade items - a great source for crafters and home artisans of all medias. This site allows you to sell your talented pieces or purchase others for less than gallery prices. http://www.etsy.com/
JunkDepot: An online clearing house where you can list your items for sale. To list is $.99 per item and there is a 6 month limit to your posting. http://www.junkdepot.com/
Oodle Classifieds: An online classified search machine that searches 80,000 sources. You can also post your classified adds as well. http://www.oodle.com/
Sell.com: Another online classified site that allows you to list items for sale - a basic add is free and there are no transaction fees once an item sells. You can get a few more bells and whistles for a cost. http://www.sell.com/
Silkfair: Another online trade site that strives to make your life easier with fewer fees and an easy to use interface. A good alternative to check out if interested in selling or buying items online. http://www.silkfair.com/
SwapThing: This site allows for consumers to trade and barter items or services. There is also the option to do flat out sales. Unlike an auction site, you can barter privately and do not have to list items for auction. You enter what you want and it will match you with others who have it available. http://www.swapthing.com/home/index.jsp
Winter is here, and if that utility bill is high, you are probably already troubleshooting problem areas of your home. One of largest contributors to drafty rooms is a lack of insulation. Insulation is designed to stop air passage through ceilings, walls, and the floor. The intention is to keep the right air where you want it in each season. Obviously, the windows and heating source are also important to maintaining an overall energy efficient program, but having the right insulation is a key factor.
In existing homes, it can be difficult to go back and insulate after the fact. If attic space allows, you can blow-in insulation. Under-floors and in-between walls can be difficult as well. Even with your best efforts, there is bound to be some location that is hard to reach. What if you had a product that you could apply from the exterior?
Sound a bit like science-fiction? SFGate highlighted the ingenious concept of Nansulate this past November. It is a paint-on insulation that suspends specially engineered particles with low-conductivity in an acrylic base. The particles are water-resistant, making the paint a weapon against mold and mildew. Unlike traditional fiberglass insulations, this new product is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
So how green is this product? The company promotes it as a major breakthrough in green endeavors. Not only does it contribute to creating more energy efficient homes, but they also make this statement regarding the safety of the ingredients: "Nansulate® coatings contain none of the ingredients contained on the EPA listing as Class I or Class II Ozone Depleting Substances, nor do they contain any ingredients on the listing for Global Warming Potential (GWP) that are non-ozone-depleting." The company is anxious to become accepted into the green marketplace. "We are pleased to see that our Nansulate coatings are becoming a brand name in the sector of Green Nanotechnology," stated Francesca Crolley, VP Operations & Marketing. (Nano Science and Technology Institute)
Sounds like a pretty good idea, but is it affordable to the average homeowner? Surprisingly, it is actually quite affordable. At $66 for 150 sqft of coverage, it is an inexpensive alternative to other forms of insulation. Especially if you take into account the ability to avoid opening up walls or crawling under houses. The paint can be applied with a brush, sprayer, or roller. It is applied to walls, windows, pipes, and water heaters, and can even be applied over existing paint.
Because this is a fairly new product and its composition is so different from traditional insulation materials, it is hard to do a straight-across-the-board comparison between the two. So far, however, those who have already used it report a 20-40% savings on their utility bills.
A relatively new product, the company is working hard to bring awareness to its presence. I, like many, was initially skeptical. It sounds a bit too easy to be effective. They offer several case studies to promote its efficiency, but each of us will probably have to try it firsthand before we are believers. It definitely sounds like it is worth trying-out. Fairly easy to install, why not see how it can help your energy efficiency this season? Request free estimates from a skilled painting contractor in your area to see what this product can bring to your home. More information at: CalFinder Remodeling
With all of the environmental problems our world is facing today, every day people are looking for ways that they can make a difference. Earth conscious individuals everywhere are recycling their paper, plastic and glass, purchasing hybrid and electric cars but what more can people do in their day-to-day lives to make a difference? When it comes to earth-friendly home improvement measures, you'd be surprised at the amount of "small stuff" you can do that really adds up in a big way. Here are a few of my favorite eco-friendly home improvement tips.
1.) Change a Light Bulb, Change the World: One of the smallest things you can do with one of the biggest potential impacts is changing one, single light bulb in your home from an incandescent to a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if every American home replaced just one bulb, we could save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year. That translates into savings of over $600 million in annual energy costs. Additionally, by changing just one light bulb, we could prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to emissions of over 800,000 cars! That's incredible! While CFLs do cost a bit more up front, they last up to 10 times longer and produce about 75% less heat. The best part is, you don't need to buy all new lighting! CFLs can be used in most standard light fixtures. While the impact of every American switching one light bulb to a CFL is staggering, why not change a couple? It's recommended that a CFL be installed into any fixture that is used for more than 15 minutes at a time, including fixtures in the living room, bedroom and kitchen.
2.) Paint The Town Green: If you have a painting project on your list of "to-dos," consider using low or no VOC paints. VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) are low level toxic emissions that are released into the air during the painting process and sometimes, for years afterward. While zero VOC paints are ideal, these can cost on average, about $30 a gallon. If you are on a budget, low VOC paints are a suitable option, costing about the same as a regular gallon of paint. Many of these low and zero VOC paints are also odor free, which is a plus. You can also purchase low and no VOC stains and varnishes for your woodworking projects.
3.) If You Build It Green, They Will Come: When it comes to purchasing furniture for your home or apartment, it’s a good idea to be thorough when shopping around. I'm not just talking about shopping for the best price - I'm talking about shopping for the "greenest" manufacturer! Take bedroom furniture manufacturer, Lifestyle Solutions, for example. Lifestyle Solutions has its manufacturing process certified for compliance by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) guidelines for sustainable management of tropical forests. Every single product they produce is constructed from plantation-grown imported hardwood to help ensure a sustainable use of timber. Bedroom furniture manufacturer Vaughan-Bassett on the other hand, employs a One For Program, in which the company replaces every tree used in the manufacturing process, with a new one. By shopping with a more earth-friendly company, you feel especially good about your investment - and let’s face it, good furniture is definitely an investment.
4.) Clean Living: When you clean, have you ever stopped to look at the bevy of chemicals found in most household cleaning solutions? I always go by the mantra of "if you can't pronounce it, it can't be good." By using natural cleaning products, you eliminate both direct contact with your skin and you help the environment at the same time. Since most conventional dish and laundry detergents are petroleum based (non-renewable resource), with fragrance that contain phthalates (potentially harmful chemicals), you should try and use "fragrance-free" products and cleaning products with a citrus-oil base. Home-made concoctions are also great ways to clean a more eco-friendly way. Remove stains by soaking fabrics in water mixed with borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, washing soda or white vinegar. Baking soda can be used in place of traditional cleanser for cleaning countertops and stovetops. Try adding one-quarter cup of white vinegar or a tablespoon of lemon juice to a spray water bottle and clean your windows. By taking a pot of boiling water and flushing it down your drains, you help prevent drains from clogging. If your drain is already clogged, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle one fourth cup of baking soda into the offending drain and then pour a cup of vinegar, letting it sit for 15 minutes. Flush it out with boiling water and repeat as necessary. When it comes to the day to day tasks and basic home improvement, there are plenty of eco-friendly ways that you can make a difference. While some of these things might take some extra time and cost a little more money, it's probably worth it in the long run. More information at: http://www.BedroomFurniture.com
The old days of harsh bleach and chemicals used to clean around the house are slowly fading out. Along with this trend is a desire of many consumers to adopt more environmentally friendly products for their home. This can be anything from the new countertops and floors to the groceries bought at the local supermarket. In addition to what you bring in (and take out) of your home, the maintenance of your home can is a way to become more green.
The headings below is just one way to break down some of the improvements and updates you may make to your home which will effect its impact and performance. Did we say performance? You bet! Making sure your home is running efficiently and smoothly is the number one way to helping the environment! How efficient is your home? Making your home work efficiently to keep you warm, cool and provide you with creature comforts is the perfect way to help other creatures of the world. Taking time to keep your home updated will help reduce the amount of energy you need and ultimately be easier on your wallet as well.