Bidet making headway in America’s bathrooms

Posted by at 8:44 am

Surveys today show Americans are open to all kinds of home innovation, and the bathroom is no exception. But acceptance of the bidet – the common personal cleaning fixture that graces commodes throughout much of Europe and Asia – has been a bit of a tough sell. It’s unquestioned that the quality of cleaning with a bidet fixture is superior to toilet paper alone, so why the American reluctance? One of the keys to selling a better toilet is marketing. And in America, talking about the best ways to clean up after the loo has always been a bit taboo. Many anthropologists believe American GIs coming back from World War II associated the bidet with bordellos visited overseas. Given America’s puritanical past, they may have been uncomfortable introducing the bidet to neighbors, afraid they might have to explain exactly where...
Read more

Is a home warranty for you?

Posted by at 3:46 pm

Spend any amount of time watching television, and you’re likely to encounter a barrage of advertisements for home warranties. Well-written and engaging, the ads play on consumers’ well-founded fears of suddenly being faced with a major repair bill on an appliance or vital home system. Right after purchasing a home, a nominal monthly fee in exchange for peace of mind can be very enticing. Maybe you even know someone who saved plenty when their home warranty covered multiple breakdowns. Trouble is, home warranties often don’t deliver what’s expected. These “service contracts” cost $350 to $500 in premiums a year, but unlike insurance policies, don’t cover losses from theft, or catastrophes like floods or fires. The basic package usually covers breakdown of your plumbing, most kitchen appliances, water heater, heating and electrical components, sump pump and fans. Optional coverage is available...
Read more

E-cycle to recycle your tech waste

Posted by at 3:17 pm

According to the Consumer Technology Association, the average American household owns 24 consumer electronics products at any given time. Replaced for upgrades on a regular basis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns these products are also the fastest-growing component filling our nation’s landfills. And it’s like throwing away a gold mine. Seriously. Products like computers, TVs and cell phones contain precious metals like silver and gold, rare earth elements and other valuable materials like aluminum, copper and steel that could be extracted and reused. Cellphones by themselves represent a mountain of wasted resources. Only about 10 percent of discarded cell phones are actually recycled out of millions replaced each year. For every one million phones thrown away, 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium and more than 35,000 pounds of copper goes in the trash...
Read more

Time to plan your escape

Posted by at 2:39 pm

Want to combine the unpleasant experience of being locked in a room with the tedium of solving complex puzzle problems? While this may not sound like a lot of fun at first, the “escape room” experience has become something of a cultural phenomenon. But you don’t have to pay big dollars for a high-tech experience at one of the many businesses hosting the games. Whether dinner parties, family game night or birthday bashes, you can design and build your own escape room at home. It can be a bit intimidating. Isn’t it going to be a lot of work and cost? After all, don’t businesses make huge outlays for authentic costumes and high-tech gadgetry? Take a deep breath. The true magic of the escape room experience lies in creating puzzles that are difficult without being frustrating, and hiding essential clues...
Read more

Accessorize your dwelling with an ADU unit

Posted by at 2:56 pm

As home prices continue to  rise, many folks are left wondering how they can afford a piece of the American dream. Some have broached the idea of sharing, but co-ownership – even among family – is a little too cozy for most. The tenancy approach is probably the easiest. That’s why many buyers today are looking for homes with potential to add “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs. ADU residences can be build-ons, re-purposed space or even a separate, free-standing unit. The main draw is practicality. ADUs provide a sense of autonomy for the renter at a lower cost, and can provide the homeowners with help paying their mortgage. The majority (62 percent) of U.S. households are made up of one or two people, while most new and existing homes are designed to accommodate three or four. Legacy housing stock is...
Read more
June 27th, 2018

The Book on Cleaning

Posted by at 12:09 pm

Finished spring cleaning, still thinking about it, or somewhere in between? Seasonal cleaning is just a state of mind! Get inspired to do some summertime spring cleaning with these three recently published books. Each contains a look at cleaning philosophies from a different country, and how a tidy lifestyle can lead to a happier you. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter https://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Art-Swedish-Death-Cleaning/dp/1501173243/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528753350&sr=8-1&keywords=the+swedish+art+of+death+cleaning Not about death at all, but living a life so tidy that when you pass on, you’ve left an easy job to the ones who have to go through, and make choices about, your possessions. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing/dp/1607747308/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528753628&sr=1-2&keywords=life+changing+art+of+tidying+up If your home only contains items which spark joy, and you give thanks to the items...
Read more
May 30th, 2018

Summer weeding program

Posted by at 10:09 am

When you own a home of your own, you may suddenly be moved by an overwhelming desire to make it beautiful – both inside and out. A lush, green lawn is the foundation of any home landscaping project, but left uncared for, the lovely expanse you bought into will soon be infested with ugly weeds. You can fight back. The best way is to stop worrying so much about the weeds, and start worrying about the grass. A lawn with lots of weeds is trying to tell you something. First, if you haven’t followed a regular thatching and aeration schedule, now might be the time to start. Next, most lawn experts swear you can shade out most weed growth by mowing to a uniform height of at least 3 inches. Any shorter, and it lets too much light hit the...
Read more
March 16th, 2018

Under lock and key

Posted by at 12:36 pm

Your new home doesn’t have to be a prison, but it needs to be secure! One of the most important reasons for having your own place is having a safe place for your own “stuff.” More than 2 million burglaries are reported each year in the U.S., or about one every 15 seconds. Don’t become one of these alarming statistics! The most expensive solutions, in this case, are the best. Studies show that homes with a professionally installed home security system and monitoring are far less likely to be targeted by burglars. According to security firm ADT, facial recognition locks will be standard security by 2025 – just like the movies. But the costs of these high-tech systems can be prohibitive. For those of us with less disposable cash, there are plenty of affordable actions that are nearly as effective. It’s quite...
Read more

Tax Refunds Can Help Bring You Home

Posted by at 12:34 pm

Are you one of the many millions receiving a refund on your 2017 tax return? Like many Americans, you may be tempted to use the refund on a mini spending spree. Easy to understand – who doesn’t like a new wardrobe, fancy dinners, or the latest electronics upgrade? But if you’re thinking about buying that first home, resist that urge to splurge! Here’s a few ways to use that small spring windfall to unleash a torrent of future wealth through home ownership: Build down-payment savings: Whether it’s a few hundred or several thousand dollars, think about depositing your refund into a down-payment savings account. The more you can put toward that initial payment, the less you have to borrow, and the lower your monthly payments. Tax refunds are relatively small for most people, so saving two or three years’ worth...
Read more

All the dirt on rinsing recyclables

Posted by at 12:02 pm

Are you scraping and rinsing and otherwise scrubbing to get the last of the peanut butter out of the jar, just so it’s fit for the recycling bin? Doing the same for your applesauce, yogurt, pet food and chili? Technology still hasn’t developed packaging (with the possible exception of Go-gurt) that allows you to actually EAT all the remaining food product. So, isn’t expecting you to wash out bottles, tubs and cans a little bit like adding insult to injury? How much recycling prep is enough? And how clean is clean? And what about water waste? True environmentalists know a kitchen sink can use up to 5 gallons of usable water a minute. Isn’t that worse than putting a dirty peanut butter jar in the landfill? These are all good questions, but let’s start with the simplest answer: It depends...
Read more