SUBMITTED BY FAMILY FEATURES Energy bills are likely among the largest expenses for homeowners, but you can ta...
While many homeowners think lawns need less care during the fall months, it’s actually the perfect time to giv...
As the days get shorter and the weather turns chilly, it’s time to prepare your home for the winter months ahe...
The structure of a cabinet is generally manufactured with either furniture board or plywood. The quality of th...
Late in 2018, Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based recycler, and COPIRG, the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, re...
Want to get the kids away from screens and outside for some fresh air? Many outdoor projects will not only lur...
Four out of five homes in the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roof. And it’s easy to see why. The wide var...
Curb appeal is beneficial in various ways. Curb appeal can make a home more attractive to prospective buyers a...
The season for fresh fruits and vegetables grown right in the backyard is upon us. Warm weather breathes life...
CONTRIBUTED BY DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS The Shofu-en Japanese Garden was dedicated on June 23, 1979 with a forma...
SUBMITTED BY FAMILY FEATURES
Energy bills are likely among the largest expenses for homeowners, but you can take action to lower those costs. During a remodel, a certified contractor can help you make smart decisions when it comes to selecting appliances, windows and insulation for your projects.
Though upgrades made with efficiency in mind can vary depending on the climate you live in, the biggest energy users are typically the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and water heater, all of which make up about 60% of a typical home’s energy budget.
Learn how you can reduce your home’s energy reliance and environmental impact with these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry:
Heating and Cooling
Climate control is one of the largest home energy users. A programmable thermostat is a simple starting point and can save up to one-third of heating and cooling costs. Cutting-edge models can even learn your family’s behaviors and tweak usage for maximum savings. Additional ways to save energy include sealing leaky ducts, cleaning or changing air filters regularly and replacing your furnace or air conditioner with an energy-efficient model, particularly if your heating and cooling systems are more than 15 years old.
Studies show that only 20% of homes built before 1980 were well-insulated. Depending on when your home was built, adding insulation in the attic and walls can be one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste. Not only does better insulation reduce energy loss and improve comfort, it’s an upgrade that generally adds to the value of your home with an estimated 95% return on your investment.
High-performance windows not only lower heating and cooling bills, they also reduce heat gain during warmer months and add a layer of insulation when you need to keep the heat inside. Triple-pane, Low-E insulated frame windows can save 33% of the heating cost for a typical home in cooler climates, and in hotter environments, double-pane, low solar-gain windows can reduce cooling costs by up to 32%.
The average house dedicates 5-10% of its energy budget to lighting. To cut your use, switch to LED lights, turn off unneeded lights and, where possible, use natural light. Other measures, like relying on task lights and installing motion detectors, can help further limit your lighting-related energy usage.
The refrigerator is a major energy drain, accounting for up to 15% of the energy bill in some homes, particularly models that are 15 years old or older. Design plays a major role in a refrigerator’s efficiency; it needs adequate air flow for optimal function. Be realistic about your needs and only buy as big a unit as you require. Be aware that icemakers and dispensers not only add to the up-front cost, they’re also less efficient. As with any appliance, shop for a model that offers as many energy-saving features as you can afford.
Trees positioned to reduce summer sun and winter wind can reduce a household’s energy use by 25% or more. In summer, trees can lower air temperature as much as 9 F through shading and evapotranspiration. In winter, a well-designed landscape can cut heating bills by about one-third.
Find more tips for creating a more energy-efficient home at remodelingdoneright.com.
While many homeowners think lawns need less care during the fall months, it’s actually the perfect time to give your yard the extra boost in needs to make it through a dormant winter.
Giving your lawn a little autumn attention as it works to absorb energy, moisture and nutrients to sustain it through the colder months can pay dividends with a lush, healthy yard next spring. Consider these tips to take advantage of the fall growing period:
Grass continues to grow until the first frost, so it’s important to keep mowing throughout the fall. Ideally, you should keep your yard at 2 1/2-3 inches in height, which is short enough to prevent matting and fungi like snow mold yet long enough to keep the root system deep enough to withstand the cold and dryness of winter. Leaving small clippings on the yard can also add organic matter, moisture and nutrients to the soil.
Because your yard typically suffers some degree of soil compaction and heat stress, which can lead to brown or thinned grass, regular aeration can prevent soil from compacting and defend against thatch – a layer of roots, stems and debris – that blocks water, oxygen and fertilizer from reaching the roots. The process of aerating removes soil plugs from the yard to encourage root growth and free up passageways for nutrients.
When leaves fall on your lawn, they can block out sunlight and, if left too long, stick together to form a suffocating mat on your grass, potentially leading to fungal diseases. Start raking as soon as leaves begin to fall or blow into your yard, and rake at least weekly. Alternatively, use your lawnmower fitted with a collection bag attachment to remove leaves from your lawn’s surface.
Because grass grows slower as the weather cools, fall is the ideal time to fertilize. In mid-to-late-fall, apply a dry fertilizer to your grassy areas to provide necessary nutrients and encourage deep roots and denser growth that can better compete with weeds and tolerate disease and insects. For optimum coverage, use a drop spreader, though crank-style broadcast spreaders also work.
A dense lawn not only looks good, but also helps protect against weeds. Over-seeding your existing turf can help fill in any thin or bare spots and also introduces the resilient grass seed. For best results, over-seed immediately after aerating when the ground is still warm, nights are cooler and the sun is not as hot during the day.
For more strategies to build a healthy, better looking lawn, visit eLivingtoday.com.
As the days get shorter and the weather turns chilly, it’s time to prepare your home for the winter months ahead. Because your home will likely require extra maintenance to keep it in shape throughout the winter, beginning preparations early can help lower energy bills, increase the efficiency and lifespan of your home’s components and make your property safer overall.
Consider these tips from the experts at the National
Association of the Remodeling Industry to help ensure your home is ready before winter weather strikes.
Get Your Furnace Checked
To keep your furnace from failing when you need it most, get it inspected by a professional before you need to rely on it to heat your home in the dead of winter. Regular tune-ups can prolong your furnace’s life, help prevent carbon monoxide leaks and ensure your unit is working at maximum efficiency.
Seal Leaks Around Windows and Doors
If replacing window screens with storm windows and installing a storm door on your house isn’t realistic, you can keep your home warmer and increase energy efficiency by applying caulk to seal any gaps you find around window and door moldings and help keep heat from escaping. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall of your home, you can also use caulking and weather-stripping to help block potential entry points for cold air.
Check Your Gutters
Once the leaves have fallen and before the first snow, check to make sure your gutters are properly secured – replacing gutter spikes and downspout rivets where needed – and clear of debris. If your gutters are full of debris, it can lead to water backing up against the house and overflowing, which can cause potential damage to roofing and siding. Also adjust downspouts so they direct water at least 5 feet from the house, which can help prevent melting snow from saturating the ground around the house and causing foundational damage.
Prep the Plumbing
Undrained water in pipes can freeze, both indoors and out, which can cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting hoses and shutting off exterior faucets, draining any water that remains in them and storing hoses indoors to prevent cracks. Drain any other pipes, valves or in-ground sprinklers that may be exposed to the elements and, for an extra layer of protection, wrap water spigots with covers to prevent damage.
Examine Decks and Patios
Your patios, sidewalks, driveways and decks need occasional maintenance as well, and giving them a once-over before colder weather hits can help ensure they’re prepared to stand up to the elements. Repairing any broken joints or cracks in stonework and applying sealer can prevent melted snow from getting in and freezing, which can create bigger problems. The same principles hold true for decks and wooden handrails. Though typically made from treated or rot-resistant wood, they are subject to splintering, decay or insect damage and may need to be stained and sealed periodically. Of course, if replacement is necessary, it’s best to complete the project before inclement weather hits.
Find more expert tips to get your home ready for winter at RemodelingDoneRight.com.
The structure of a cabinet is generally manufactured with either furniture board or plywood. The quality of these materials can vary, and there are pros and cons to each. Both are engineered wood products comprised of binding or fixing strands, particles, fibers, veneers, or boards of wood together with adhesives or other methods. Here is how they differ.
Furniture board, or particleboard, is the most common substrate of cabinet boxes. It’s a pressboard of wood particles and resin mainly crafted from plywood scraps. Because furniture board has no natural grain pattern, it can be finished with a wood veneer or laminate layer.
The quality of furniture board depends on size of particles, amount of glue, and density. Smaller particles will make the board denser, heavier and more stable.
Advantages: less expensive to manufacture than plywood; texture uniformity; more impervious to temperature fluctuations; added strength and stability in high-density versions.
Disadvantages: heavier and not as strong or stable as plywood; more vulnerable to scratches and dents; potential for damage from prolonged moisture; screws and glue can loosen over time.
Plywood is the compression and adhesion of thin layers of wood to create one solid sheet. The grain of the material is alternated with each new layer to form a panel that is sturdy and strong. Some plywood is manufactured using green initiatives like sustainable wood and reduced off-gasses.
The quality of plywood depends on number of plies, thickness of wood, and quality of adhesive. Low-quality plywood will have gaps, making it less reliable.
Advantages: lighter than furniture board; superior strength and stability; less damage from prolonged moisture; eco-friendly construction.
Disadvantages: more expensive to manufacture; more susceptible to warping.
If cost is no issue, plywood is a great choice. However, furniture board has many merits that make it equally viable. Plywood can be a standard option but may incur an additional upgrade cost of 12-16% depending on the manufacturer. At the end of the day, if your cabinets are constructed well and installed properly, you’ll likely be unable to tell the difference.
Late in 2018, Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based recycler, and COPIRG, the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, released their State of Recycling in Colorado report. Colorado generated a record 9.3 million tons of waste in 2017 and overall diverted just 12% of it to recycling centers, well below the national rate of 35%. Residential recycling rates in communities across the state vary widely from 9% to 61%, according to the report.
It is projected that Coloradoans could recycle 32% of its waste, including bottles, cans, and paper. National studies indicate that participation in recycling increases when communities make it convenient for consumers by bundling trash collection together with single-stream recycling in which all recyclable items are placed in one bin, to be sorted out at a processing facility. In addition, a variety of programs are being developed around the state to encourage effective recycling.
Widespread recycling could bring significant benefits to Colorado’s economy and environment. According to the State of Recycling in Colorado report, almost $250 million worth of recyclable material which is currently being thrown away could be recycled here in the state, generating jobs and improving local economies. Recycling creates on average nine times more jobs per ton of waste than landfills do. In support of our environment, increasing statewide recycling to 28% would decrease carbon emissions by over 2.2 million tons per year, reduce air and water pollution, and conserve natural resources. Recycling creates value from our waste, producing ongoing economic, environmental, and social benefits.
The greatest challenge for most consumers is knowing what to recycle and what not to. Sending only recyclable materials to processing centers reduces the added expense of sorting out inappropriate items and discarding them, and also protects valuable equipment from breaking down.
The Villager will be running an ongoing series of short notices in coming weeks designed to educate readers about the best practices in recycling. Consumers who understand the importance of recycling and who are educated about how to do it effectively can make a great contribution to improving life in Colorado. Look for Recycling Simplified notices in the Digs section.
Want to get the kids away from screens and outside for some fresh air? Many outdoor projects will not only lure your whole family outdoors once the jobs are completed, but the family may actually want to help you.
1. Make a backyard movie theaterWho wouldn’t love watching movies under the stars? You’ll need a DVD projector and a large screen. You can use a large drop cloth or blackout cloth stretched over a PVC frame or between two trees for a screen, if you’ve got them. Stretch it taut and secure so it doesn’t move with every breeze mid-movie. Provide plenty of blankets or rugs and pillows so everyone can relax during the movie, and pop up some popcorn! You can rent a projector, collapsible screen and popcorn machine. Visit RentalHQ.com to find rental companies near you.
2. Build wooden benchesFor kids – and grownups – who aren’t keen on lying on the grass to relax, offer outdoor seating options in shady spots. Sturdy wooden benches are not hard to build, and there are plenty of templates online for different approaches. One creative method is to build a bench around the trunk of a favorite large tree. Get kids involved in helping with construction and painting. Supply cushions for a comfy, shady spot for kids to read, talk and daydream.
3. Get out the s’moresFire pits are all the rage, and for good reason. They’re easy to make, and people love gathering around a fire to roast marshmallows and enjoy a summer evening. You’ll need to check local ordinances regarding fires before you begin. Pick a spot well away from bushes or foliage, with no overhanging branches or structures. You should also call 811 to check that there are no underground utility cables where you’re building. Fire pits can be dug into the ground, at ground level or raised slightly above ground level. Materials vary, but include stone, brick or metal, and you can make it any shape – round, square or rectangular. Using heavy stones and bricks is an easier task if you have – or rent – a wheelbarrow or cart for transporting materials.
4. Create a playhouse or gazeboTo attract everyone in the family, create a little outdoor space for kids to play in or for adults to enjoy a beverage and relax. Depending on the size and design of your project, this can be a straightforward build or a more complicated structure. Online templates can give you ideas for different design options, so you can choose what works best for your space and skill level. If you can, build a screened-in structure to keep the bugs out for maximum comfort. You will need to purchase lumber for your posts, floor, joists and beams, but again, you can keep the design to a simple rectangle or square to make the job easier. Tools you will need include a miter saw, jigsaw and power drill. If you don’t have all these power tools, you can rent the equipment you need for construction.
5. Put up a tree swingIf you’ve got an older but sturdy, healthy tree with a good-sized horizontal branch, this could be a great spot for a tree swing. Make sure the branch is long enough to occasionally relocate the swing, to prevent damage to the tree. You can make either a simple disk-shaped swing with a single rope, or a traditional rectangular swing with 2-4 ropes. There are plenty of home improvement websites offering rope swing designs. You’ll want to use strong rope, such as a 3/4-inch twisted polypropylene rope. Tools you may need include a handsaw or miter saw, a sander, a power screwdriver and power drill.
The entire family will find renewed interest in spending time together outdoors with your creative additions to the yard. Now is a great time to start a fun new project – before the summer flies by. Visit RentalHQ.com to locate all the tools you need, so you don’t have to buy items you may rarely use.
Four out of five homes in the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roof. And it’s easy to see why. The wide variety of available colors and styles, combined with durability and affordability, has made asphalt shingles the leading choice for residential roofing in the country.
But, like all exterior building products, asphalt shingles start to age as soon as they are exposed to nature. Buildings experience aging factors differently, so it’s difficult to predict how long shingles will last. With storm chasers and insurance adjusters claiming roof damage or defective shingles after major weather events, it’s important for homeowners to arm themselves with information about what type of roof aging is normal, and most importantly, what type is not.
What is normal?
It’s natural for a roof to age, and the process begins as soon as shingles are exposed to nature. The sun can raise rooftop temperatures as high as 50-70 degrees above the ambient air temperature. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and heat have been shown to accelerate roof aging, as have pollution, hail, snow, ice, falling tree limbs and people walking on a roof.
Here are a few common signs of aging shingles:
Curling is a common phenomenon in some shingles and is not considered a defect. It is natural for asphalt to age and shrink with time, which may result in a slight curling of the shingle edge.
Minor cracks may also appear on the shingles as they age, but industry experts say it is a normal weathering characteristic and not cause for alarm, as long as the cracks do not penetrate through the shingle and the roof is still performing the intended purpose of shedding water.
“Minor cracks may not be noticeable from the ground, but people often spot them while hanging their Christmas lights,” said roofing industry expert Rick “the Roofer” Taylor, a longtime roofing contractor now working as a traveling trainer for shingle manufacturer TAMKO Building Products. “The intense heat from the sun can deplete some of the protective asphalt oils, and that can cause minor cracks.”
Dark brown or black streaks down the roof are common in particularly moist or humid areas of the country, and are the result of algae growth on the shingles. While not particularly attractive, these stains should not affect the shingles’ ability to shed water.
Some granule loss on the shingles is to be expected, especially if a roof has been recently repaired or replaced, since extra granules are a part of the shingle manufacturing process. Loose granules are usually noticed collecting in roof gutters after the shingles are installed. This type of granule shedding is common and not a cause for concern.
What is cause for concern?
While minor curling, surface cracking, closed blisters, algae stains and some granule loss can all be signs of normal roof aging, some more serious roof wear and aging could be indicative of a potential problem, and should be examined and monitored.
These roof issues may need attention:
Blisters, or small circular raised areas, are often the direct result of under-ventilated attics or excessive use of plastic cement – both of which are installation errors. If the blisters are closed and are not affecting the shingles’ performance, they are not a cause for concern. But if the blisters are open, exposing the asphalt, the roof is vulnerable to water penetration and requires immediate attention.
Buckling, a distortion of the shingles, can be a possible sign of inadequate roof ventilation, issues with the roof deck or other installation errors and may require attention.
Deep cracks that penetrate through the fiberglass mat should be investigated, as they may compromise the roof’s ability to shed water and make it susceptible to leaks.
Excessive granule loss that exposes the shingles’ asphalt layer is a reason for concern and requires immediate attention.
Armed with this basic information, homeowners should be able to distinguish between natural processes that are no cause for alarm and issues that do require attention and repair. Visit www.tamko.com for more information about roofing repair and replacement.
Curb appeal is beneficial in various ways. Curb appeal can make a home more attractive to prospective buyers and give existing homeowners a place they want to come home to. In its study of the worth of outdoor remodeling projects, the National Association of Realtors found standard lawn care and overall landscape upgrades were most appealing to buyers, as well as the most likely to add value to a home.
Although plants, grass and other items can improve curb appeal, homeowners should not overlook hardscaping.
Hardscaping is an industry term that refers to the non-living features of a landscape. These features can include everything from decks to walkways to ornamental boulders. Introducing paths or paver walls to a property helps develop that home’s hardscape. Hardscape and soft elements often work in concert to create inspiring landscape designs.
DIY landscape designers can heed certain tips to make the most of hardscape features on their properties.
As with many landscaping projects, homeowners must first determine what types of additions they would like on their properties. Common hardscape features include patios, decks, walkways of pavers or bricks, and retaining walls. Hardscape elements can be functional or simply decorative features that add whimsy to the yard.
Choose a theme
The right style allows hardscaping and softscaping materials to work together. For example, homeowners may want to give their yards an eastern feel, complete with a koi pond and decorative bridge or trellis. A formal English garden, however, may include manicured paths with stepping stones and ornate topiaries. Mixing too many styles together can take away from the overall appeal.
The pros suggest looking at the overall plan of the design, even if all of the work can’t be completed at once. This way the eventual finished project wil be cohesive.
Think about the purpose
Hardscaping can look good but also serve key purposes. Pebbles or gravel can mitigate trouble areas that don’t grow grass or plant life well. Retaining walls hold back soil in yards with sharply inclined hills. Mulch can set perimeters around trees and shrubs, as well as planting beds. Fencing, another form of hardscaping, is essential for establishing property boundaries and adding privacy.
Consult a professional
While many hardscaping additions can be handled by novices, large-scale projects, such as patios and decking, can change the grading of the yard. Professionals can map out how to handle drainage issues and meet building codes. In addition, professional installation can ensure hardscaping features last for years to come.
Hardscaping should blend with the nature around it and take its cues from the surrounding environment. This can help softscaping and hardscaping work as one.
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