Keto Diet: Seven Tips on How to Stick to Your Keto Lifestyle

The ketogenic (keto) diet has become prominent over the last couple of years, as a great method to lose weight and improve various health conditions, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and sugar levels. It involves the power of calorie restriction with the benefits of nutritional ketosis to provide the body with energy from stored fat instead of glucose.

At the same time for some people counting calories, only eating certain foods, and having to cook more might sound extremely difficult and scary, even if you are someone with the strongest willpower. It is only natural to feel overwhelmed while embarking on any change, but with a healthy mindset and a few steps that can help you get into good habits, you won’t look back.

Keep Only Keto-Friendly Food In Your House

When you are hungry, it might become much easier to forget about your goals and cheat on a diet. Hunger is a strong motivator, and for this reason, it is best to be prepared and plan for the worst, especially if you are the only one in your family on a diet. Consider cleaning out your fridge and cupboards or at least hide carb-rich foods in a hard to access place. Cleaning your kitchen reduces temptation and the likelihood of consumption by eliminating foods that are not on your meal plan.

Plan Your Meals & Social Situations In Advance

Planning your meals and visits to restaurants and cafes in advance is a great way to stay on track during your keto diet. Each week mark in the calendar nutrition plan for the week, including snacks and how many meals you need when going out. Also, make sure to add eating in the office, social engagements, or unique circumstances that might impact your routine.

Once you determine how many meals you need, find healthy, low-carb recipes for each day of the week. From there, create your shopping list and hit the grocery store. You don’t have to prepare all meals at one time. You can just set aside 1-2 hours to chop vegetables, marinate protein, or cook parts of meals to stick to your diet.

Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand

Instilling good habits doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it is essential to be fully prepared in case of unforeseen long hours at the office or hunger pains during the day.

Consider always keeping healthy snack options on hand to prevent a fast-food run or purchase of ‘bad choices’ at the corner store. Keto-friendly yogurt, sliced veggies, low-carb hummus, hard-boiled eggs, homemade trail mix, or bars are some of the possible good snacks.

Get Inspired

Successful and sustainable changes in your life require enjoyment along the way. Since food is an essential part of our life, enjoying your meals is not something you need to miss out on just because you maintain a keto diet.

Instead of running for the carbs, try to reconnect to your inner foodie, don’t get stuck in a repetitive mealtime, and find appropriate substitutes for the food you love. Luckily, there are so many great resources to discover the keto recipe of your dreams like purchasing a cookbook/guidebook or just searching in Google.

Try Out Help Of CBD Oil

While CBD oil is commonly used as a natural alternative and effective remedy for anxiety and pain relief, improved mood, concentration, and sleep, the intake of this product can also offer beneficial effects.

Cannabidiol (or CBD) is a generally safe, non-addictive, and non-psychoactive compound extracted from Cannabis Sativa plants. To provide positive CBD effects, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system involved in vital body functions such as sleep, appetite, stress, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, and many others. Therefore, CBD might promote weight loss by decreasing appetite, boosting metabolism, and activating the “browning” of fat cells.

You can incorporate CBD products into your daily cooking routine to add health benefits into a nutrition system and sustain a well-balanced, complete diet as well as spice up your cooking experience. The nutritional content of CBD oil can also provide your body with needed components like protein, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin E, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, etc.

Stick To A Fitness Plan

While you have made the one step in pursuing a healthier lifestyle by choosing a Keto diet, you also need to dedicate yourself to a regular workout regimen. In case you already have a workout routine, but you don’t do it often, try to add a few more days to your schedule. To maximize your results, make sure that you are getting into physical activity at least four times a week.

If fitness has never been your thing, there is a lot of easy options that you can use, and that requires a yoga mat and some dumbbells. You can find different at-home workouts on platforms like YouTube to help get you started. As an alternative, you can also look for gyms in your area to be sure you will prioritize the workout regimen.

Get Your Friends On Board

Since we are social animals, it can be hard to undergo such a substantial lifestyle change when everyone else carries on like before. Also, the word “diet” is typically associated with a negative connotation, resulting in a pessimistic attitude from your friends and family, even when dieting done for the right reasons. This can make you feel alienated and more likely to succumb to peer pressure. Instead, try to talk to your loved ones and explain that this is an essential change for you, and you would appreciate their support.

Alternatively, you can connect to like-minded people on various groups or forums on keto topics. Here you will feel understood and can share struggles and successes, encourage each other, and swap interesting recipes. When you use social support to your advantage and have individuals to share your questions, concerns, and accomplishments, it will be much easier for you to stay on the keto diet and achieve the results you want.

Informative Reverse Mortgage Terminology

Those who are dedicated to work to provide for their families look forward to the day they can retire and enjoy life. Unfortunately, with retirement comes the lack of money. Most individuals decide it’s beneficial to them to take out a reverse mortgage on their home once they retire.

Before you make such a huge and important commitment, you should make it a point to become familiar with the terminology that you may hear when applying or talking about getting a reverse mortgage. Let me take the time to explain some of it to you.

 

What Does Reverse Mortgage Mean?

You know how you pay for your mortgage each month to the bank? A reverse mortgage is the opposite of this. You would actually receive a monthly payment from the loan once you are approved for it. It is a long-term solution for your financial woes after retirement. As long as you permanently live in the home you are borrowing against, you should have no problem accessing the money.

 

How Can I Use My Money?

One of the great things about reverse mortgages is that you can gain access to the money in a variety of ways. One option is to take it out as a line of credit. You will be able to use smaller amounts of money whenever you need it.

Another common method is to take out a single payment. This would mean that you get all of your money in a lump sum. On the other hand, you could opt to split up the payments monthly. They would all be of equal value for as long as you have a valid loan. This is the most common method that people use because it gives them better predictability. It acts as a salary, just like you would have if you were still working.

 

Let’s Talk About The Reverse Mortgage Calculator

The reverse mortgage calculator is what your lender will use to calculate your financial status, which is based on the value of your home as a whole. They have to do this before they can grant you the loan.

There are several factors that contribute to their final decision such as the age of the home, condition of the home, and its physical location. You cannot borrow the complete value of your home’s equity as per federal law. The reverse mortgage calculator will assist you in determining what percentage of the final value you would be able to receive in the loan.

If you already have a mortgage, you will need to pay that off before you can borrow any of the money you may get from the reverse mortgage loan.

 

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage

The shorter version of this is HECM. The difference between a home equity conversion mortgage and a regular reverse mortgage is slim. The distinguishable factor that sets them apart is that the HECM is issued by a government agency whereas the reverse mortgage is given to you by a lender, such as a bank. The home equity conversion mortgage comes with government insurance, which is what really sets the two apart from one another.

Prior to Beginning the Project: 8 Questions to Ask Your Bathroom Remodeling Contractor

People are giving their homes a great deal of attention these days. In fact, spending on home improvements surpassed $450 billion last year in the United States alone. Experts expect this figure to grow during the years to come. While home additions, kitchen renovations, and basement and attic transformations are popular projects, many homeowners are focusing on their bathrooms. Updating this space or adding square footage can transform your views of the entire home while increasing property values by a considerable margin.

 

Developing a Working Relationship with Your Contractor

Though some homeowners take the do-it-yourself route for bathroom renovations, most choose to hire a contractor. Bringing in the professionals helps ensure the job will be done correctly, more quickly, and on par with local building codes. Using the experts also reduces the likelihood of unexpected problems and takes the workload off of your shoulders. That said, it’s important to make sure you and the contractor are on the same page. This means asking bathroom remodeling contractors all the right questions.

 

1) Are You Licensed, Bonded, and Insured?

By law, contractors must be licensed and bonded. They’re also required to have insurance coverage in case they damage your property or one of their workers is injured on the job. Far too many homeowners assume the contractors they’re considering meet all those prerequisites, but some don’t. This could lead to any number of problems down the road, not the least of which is extensive and costly property damage.

 

2) Do You Offer Guarantees?

Contractors generally work with networks of suppliers. All the products and materials they get from those suppliers come with warranties and other guarantees, and they’re passed along to customers. At the same time, contractors should offer a guarantee on their workmanship. If the one you’re interviewing doesn’t provide those reassurances, consider looking elsewhere.

 

3) Can You Show Me Examples of Your Work?

Looking at contractors’ reviews and past projects is essential. This will give you a good idea of their skills, capabilities, and work ethics among other aspects. It’ll also help determine if a specific company is the right one to take on the type of project you have in mind.

 

4) Who Will Be Completing My Bathroom Renovation?

You wouldn’t allow a complete stranger to come into your home without at least getting a little background information beforehand. It’s important to know your contractor wouldn’t bring just anyone into your home as well. Be sure you know exactly which workers and subcontractors will be working on the project, and find out if background checks are performed on employees before hiring them.

 

5) Which Permits Will I Need?

Most home renovations require certain permits. If you don’t have them, you could run into quite a few expenses and legal issues down the road. Ask the contractor which permits you’ll need. Also, find out if the contractor takes care of them or you’re responsible for that portion of the process.

 

6) What Is Included in the Estimate and Contract?

Countless homeowners have proceeded with bathroom remodels only to find themselves paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more than initially expected. Along those same lines, quite a few have enlisted professionals and been stuck with incomplete work and subpar materials. Ask the contractor exactly which expenses are included in the estimate and what the contract covers before allowing him or her to start on your project.

 

7) What Type of Payment Schedule Do You Have in Place?

In most cases, contractors require a deposit before they’ll begin a project. From there, their payment schedules vary a bit. Some ask for partial payment at some point during the project with the remainder due upon completion. Others don’t accept payment until clients are fully satisfied with their work. Anything more than a ten-percent upfront payment may be a warning sign of a scam, and you don’t want any unexpected surprises to crop up. Be sure you fully understand when and how much you’re expected to pay.

 

8) How Do You Handle Projects?

This is a complicated question, but you need to cover certain important points when you ask it. Find out when the contractor will show up each morning and how late the team works in the evenings. Do they work Monday through Friday or only on certain days? Will they take extra care to avoid damaging your walls, flooring, fixtures, and other items in the home? Do they take care of the cleanup after the project is complete?

 

Bottom Line

Getting answers to all these questions helps you better understand how a contractor approaches projects, whether he or she is capable of meeting your expectations, and what your role in the process will be as well as other crucial aspects. In the end, asking the right questions will greatly improve your chances of being happy with the end results. Truly qualified contractors who are dedicated to client satisfaction won’t mind answering your questions and offering in-depth explanations.

8 Low-Cost Ideas for Remodeling Your Home’s Facade

When people pass by your house, the very first thing they see is your facade. This is why it is only natural to improve how it looks to make it pleasing to the eyes.

The only problem is, remodeling sometimes costs a lot. So, we present to you eight low-cost ideas that will change up your home facade without breaking the bank:

 

Install a new front door

Your front door serves as the entrance of your visitors. It is also probably the first thing visitors notice when they visit you. By simply installing a new door can change the way people perceive your house.

It also offers other benefits like:

Better Home Security
Better Insulation Properties for Energy Efficiency
Better Durability for Low-Cost Maintenance
Better Appearance

Update exterior lighting

The next thing that you should pay attention to is the exterior lighting of your home. This is very important if you still want to make your home stand out during the night time.

It sorts of adds to the overall visual appeal, emphasizing your beautiful facade.

Other than the visual appeal, exterior lighting will also help improve your house’s security. Better lighting helps with visibility, increasing the chances of catching a thief when he crawls into the night.

It also protects you and other people from tripping or falling.

 

Swap exterior finishes

Swapping exterior finishes will give your house a more modern look instead of it looking plain. You can make endless designs by decorating your house exterior using different materials. This is what you call cladding.

If you have no idea what materials are best for your house, a recladding specialist in Auckland would be able to help.

 

Refresh your landscape

Nothing makes a house more refreshing to look at than a good landscape. It makes your home stand out so much, not to mention that a good scene will continue to be beautiful year after year when better-taken care of.

Here are a few ways to refresh your landscape:

Take your spring cleaning indoors
Invite wildlife to your home
Add or repair hardscaping
Do little maintenance
Check your plant beds

Paint the exterior

Old painting gets damaged, and as years pass by, it makes your house look dull. But, you can always give your house facade a significant makeover by simply painting it. This will help:

Better aesthetics
Improve the ambiance
Remove any old marks and stains
Protect your house from outside elements

Remember to invest in better painting materials. This will help you save more money in the long run.

 

Replace your windows

We’ve already mentioned installing a new door, and you can do the same for your windows. If you have those ordinary windows, then you should change them.

Here are some reasons why:

Help reduce energy costs
Protect you from UV rays
Easier maintenance
Reduce noise
Make your home safer
Improve visual appeal

Makeover your driveway

Remodeling your facade shouldn’t only end with your house.

It would be best to improve your driveway and other pathways around your house for that total visual appeal. Here are a few of the most common used materials to makeover a driveway:

Concrete
Paving
Stoneworks
Gravel
Bluestone

Check out the pros and cons of each material and see which suits you best. There may also be cases that you might need to combine two or three of these materials. It’s up to you.

 

Build a fence

Last but not least, building a fence. This is what appears at the outermost part of your house, so choose one that will make you stand out. There are fences made precisely for this, and it gives your home a higher value.

But other than adding visual appeal, a fence also gives you a sense of privacy, improves your security, and marks your part of the property.

 

Over to You

Remodeling your home should not cause a lot. And you do not even have to do these all in one go.

You can start first with what you think is the most important. If you believe your door and window are still in good condition, you can start with your exterior. If pre-cladding is out of your budget, then repainting should do.

Be creative without needing to spend too much.

Staying Active Amid Covid as a Mom

Between working at home, watching the kids full time, and tending to household chores — daily exercise can seem nearly impossible for some moms, while others feel like they’ve got plenty of movement from running after the kids all day. Sticking to a daily workout routine shouldn’t be stressful and doesn’t have to be time-consuming when you’ve got so much on your plate. Whether it’s a daily 30-minute power walk or a full hour body workout with your favorite virtual trainer, here are a few tips to keep you active for the sake of keeping you healthy and energized.

Power Walk 

The best workouts are the ones where you can multitask while doing them. Walking is the easiest way to exercise with kids because no matter their age, they can always tag along. Depending on your stride, you can burn anywhere from 100 to 300 calories in 30 minutes. If you’ve got a baby or toddler, investing in a durable stroller such as an ErgoBaby Stroller, can keep up with your fast-pace while keeping your little one comfortable and safe. 

For some added exercise, you can easily attach a bag with stroller straps and carry accessories such as a lightweight dumbbell to help tone your arms while you alternate to push the stroller with the other arm and get some jumps in before you head back inside. If you get tired, you can store the dumbbell back in the bag making it a convenient way to pack any other weights or accessories you can take with you.

Virtual workouts 

Due to Covid, trainers have evolved and have been using innovative ways to train clients from the privacy of their homes. If you can commit to a few days a week, these workouts can be done while your little one is down for their naps, early mornings before your day begins, or evenings after work hours when another parent is able to help with the kids for the length of your workout.

Ask your trainer if you’ll need resistance bands, dumbbells, medicine balls, or any other small workout equipment that you can purchase on Amazon. 

Enjoy the outdoors

The best thing about the outdoors is that you can still practice the six feet distancing rule. Outdoor activities such as hiking, allows you to take your little one with you. If you choose to take your little one with you, make sure to pick an easy hiking trail where you won’t slip and avoid anything narrow. By using a baby carrier, you can strap baby onto your back, turning it into your own DIY weight vest to work out your back and shoulders. You can also strap the baby onto your chest if you feel it be much safer. 

Make sure you and your little one stay hydrated during these warmer summer months, as well as, wear the proper clothing which is just as important as wearing sunblock. Jack Wolfskin womens outdoor clothing is specifically designed for any outdoor activities and weather conditions. They also have a selection of kids’ outdoor clothing so you can make sure you and your littles are covered. 

Another way to enjoy the outdoors is by taking outdoor classes. Classes such as Yoga in the park can be a great way to get a workout in while also relaxing. Since Yoga incorporates meditation and technique breathing, it can help you release some of the stress that comes from work and an active week with the kids. 

Of course, there are other convenient ways to enjoy a workout at home if you’re willing to invest in options like the popular Peloton bike, a treadmill, or the newest workout mirror. All of which are great investments for staying healthy and active when you’re a busy mom. 

The Phenomenon of Micro-Apartments: The Rising Trend in City Living

Micro-apartments are a form of smaller housing that usually ranges between 150 and 400 square feet. Aiming to combine necessity with functionality, these types of apartments provide all the essential amenities one might need in the smallest space possible. And even though micro-apartments are still a relatively new concept, they are slowly becoming the most popular accommodation option, especially among younger generations. To that end, here are some reasons why micro-apartments have become a rising trend in city living:

The importance of a prime city location

What micro-apartments lack in square footage, they often make up for in their proximity to prime locations. As this type of accommodation can usually be found in major cities across the globe, micro-apartments tend to be located in more urban and densely populated areas that generally don’t provide a lot of space, only at a more affordable price for the average tenant. What’s more, an increasing number of renters, especially younger ones who have just started living on their own, are more likely to sacrifice space, as long as that entails close proximity to schools, business centers, and other lifestyle aspects of urban areas that allow them to enjoy a life in the city. This could be one of the reasons why micro-apartments are so trendy among generations that value convenience over luxury.

The need for more affordable housing

The standard of living has typically decreased for younger generations in recent years, which might be one of the biggest reasons why micro-apartments are gaining popularity. Of course, the monthly cost of renting a micro-apartment can vary widely depending on the country, the city, and even the particular area of the city where the housing is located. However, the monthly rent is generally between 70% and 80% the price of a typical, conventionally sized apartment in the same area. This difference becomes more apparent and much more important in large American cities such as Washington DC, New York, and San Francisco, where a micro-apartment becomes the only affordable housing option for younger generations.

Unique serviced apartment experiences

Smaller apartments aren’t just a popular living arrangement; they’re also becoming one of the trendiest options when it comes to travel accommodation, whether it’s a short trip or an extended stay. For instance, businessmen and digital nomads traveling through Asia for work obligations typically opt for Hong Kong serviced apartments when they visit this major business center. The reason for this increasing popularity is not only the convenient location that serviced apartments tend to offer, but also the comfort, privacy, and a homely feel, which make for a more pleasant and unique travel experience. As many of these serviced apartments also include communal areas, such as lounges, kitchens, and workspaces, they can be suitable for anything from socializing to effortlessly taking care of essential business obligations.

Choosing efficient design over luxury

Considering the fact that renters are increasingly looking for new and fully furnished properties that align with their aspirational lifestyles, it’s no surprise that micro-apartments are becoming a rising trend. And as these tenants generally choose a creative and efficient design that offers everything they need over the luxury of wasted space, such as basements, garages, and additional rooms, smaller living spaces become the best possible solution. The limited square footage of micro-apartments means that the interior design needs to be carefully planned and thought out in advance, offering perfectly placed, essential furniture, as well as innovative storage and other space-saving solutions. Evidently, the mere nature of small apartments caters to the minimal lifestyle favored among younger generations.

A sustainable accommodation option

With the need for a simpler, more minimalist lifestyle also come more ethical and sustainable practices. Living in a small space means that there’s not enough room for excess, unnecessary belongings, which leads micro-apartment renters to reduce their need to purchase and consume resources, but rather find new ways to be more environmentally conscious. As a number of micro-apartments are also incorporated in different co-living spaces that share communal areas such as living rooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and entertainment spaces, this also means that the total amount of water and energy consumed is significantly smaller compared to conventional living arrangements, making for a more sustainable and eco-friendly housing option.

Evidently, the current housing and lifestyle trends are heavily influenced by younger people aiming for a simpler, more convenient, and more affordable living arrangement. And considering the fact that living in a micro-apartment provides all the advantages of living in an urban city, without any staggering costs, it’s safe to assume that the small living trend will only continue to rise in the future.

10 Bathroom Remodeling Ideas That Won’t Blow Your Budget

Redecorating bathrooms is a huge business. In fact, bathroom design has become more of a movement than just a business, with an estimated $158 billion being spent according to figures published by the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association. Bathrooms comprise almost half of that total.

Whether you can’t afford to spend much on a bathroom remodel or would just rather not, there are plenty of ways to redecorate a bathroom without matching the national debt. If you are looking for a way to do Bathroom Remodeling on a Budget, here are 10 ideas that will help.

 

1. Become green.

One way to decorate a bathroom that is quick, easy, and inexpensive is to add plants. A plant can be selected that will add virtually any color of the rainbow to brighten a bathroom and improve your mood. Plants will also help to purify the air in a confined area. They will also help to reduce moisture by absorbing the dampness. Some of the best plants that add color and utility to a bathroom are peace lilies, bamboo palms, Boston ferns, and weeping figs.

 

2. Update Tilework.

Tile has been popular for use in bathrooms for years. Not only is it affordable and will dress up a bathroom better and faster than usually thought, but it’s easy to clean as well.

There are plenty of ideas out there for how tile can be used, and they won’t blow your budget. Perhaps best of all, tile will last for years and is unlikely to go out of style any time soon.

To save even more on your tile expense try to limit it to areas that are likely to get splashed with water or suffer from steam. Areas, where less tile is used, can be painted with mold-resistant paint to prevent damage.

 

3. The Latest and greatest: Art.

There was a time when art was a decorating option for nearly every room of the house except the bathroom. Today, however, art is becoming more commonplace for every room in a home, including the bathroom. Art in virtually any form—from painting to sculpture—is in just as great a demand for bathrooms as for any other room in a house.

To begin, paint a wall, then add some kind of art that has a primary color to complement the rest of the room. Try picking out some gift-frame art that add a touch of glamour to the bathroom. There’s nothing like being able to see a picture of your family while soaking in the tub.

One concern many people have over adding art to the bathroom is keeping it protected from moisture. This can be done by limiting the amount of steam via good ventilation. Frames can also be sealed and kept away from the wall with bumper pads add to each corner.

 

4. Update the bathtub and shower.

One of the most expensive items to replace in a bathroom is the tub or shower. If you think replacing these is your only option, think again. Instead, a tub or shower can be given a fresh new look by removing stains, resurfacing it, and touching up the old grout. This job takes patience, but the new look will be well worth the effort. Best of all, that new look will last for years.

Another way to make your tub or shower looks great is to cover everything around it. Paint, tile, wallpaper, or other surfacing can be used to make the surrounding area look great.

 

5. Spread some color.

A few small pieces of décor in complementary colors will give your bathroom a totally new look. Colorful new towels, a soap dish/toothbrush holder, and other items will give your bathroom an immediate new life. Colorful candles (don’t forget scents) are an attractive and inexpensive way to add a relaxing touch.

Little things like these can not only make your bathroom stand out, but you might be tempted to go in and never come out.

 

6. Window work.

Windows can be made to look practically new without even touching them by replacing curtains and other coverings. Not only are there many types and styles of curtains to choose from, but a look can be updated with blinds, shades, and even shutters. Letting your likes and dislikes dictate the look of your windows will guarantee that they will end up being very unique.

 

7. Cabinets and class.

Despite what many people think, cabinets are one of the easiest things in a bathroom to upgrade. All that’s needed is some water-resistant paint and a little drying time. Even the hardware can be easy to replace to fit a new style.

When you go shopping for your new hardware, be sure to have your old fittings with you so that you purchase something with the same screw configuration. This way there is no need to fill old holes and drill new ones.

 

8. Recycled chic.

Thrift shops and second-hand stores are a great place to find tons of finds for bathroom redecorating. Look enough and there might even be faucets, bathroom furniture, and other items.

Shopping online has become the latest source for nearly everything, including new looks for your bathroom. Not only can these treasures be found in numerous stores and outlets, but it can also be used for comparison shopping.

 

9. Flat on the floor.

As ugly as a floor can become over time, it can be remarkably easy to bring it back to life. There are ready to cut carpets available, throw rugs, and other options. If there is a wood floor in the bathroom, try refinishing it. There is also vinyl flooring that looks great and is surprisingly inexpensive.

 

10. Lighting up.

As daunting as replacing lighting might seem, achieving a new look can be remarkably easy. Get rid of an old light cover or shade to create something that is nothing short of dazzling. There are still other lighting options, including pendant lights, wall sconces, and even stick-on lights, to add a dash of snazzy.

 

Adding Up the Savings

Suffice it to say that considerable amounts of money can be saved when redecorating a bathroom. All it takes for a totally new look is planning, a little resourcefulness, and some creativity.

 

Bonus Tip:

Before you finalize your bathroom remodelling budget, remember to calculate how much value the renovations are likely to add to your property. Fortunately, bathroom upgrades can have a significant impact on the resale value of your home, but to get a more accurate number, have a look at this easy-to-use ARV calculator. It can help you workout the current value of your home, based on the selling price of comparable homes in your area.

Improving Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality

Modern homes are sealed to keep out drafts. Unfortunately, that means that they keep indoor  toxins in. That is, the air in your home may be more polluted than the air outside. Since we spend more time indoors than our ancestors did, it can endanger our health. Fortunately, keeping healthy indoor air requires only a few simple steps.

 

Maintain your furnace

Do you have a forced warm air furnace? Then you have at least one air filter to maintain. You should at least get filters that block lint, household dust, mold spores, pollen, and smoke. Speaking of smoke, if you smoke, stop. Tobacco smoke dirties indoor air the way it dirties you lungs. Also, be careful about fireplaces, candles, and incense.

Some filters also block bacteria and viruses. Be careful with those, however. The pores are so tiny that they can keep adequate air from returning to the furnace. Put in a new filter at least every three months, the virus-blocking ones even more often. And keep an eye on it. Change it when it’s dirty, not according to the calendar.

 

Use a humidifier

In the winter, the air in our homes can be dryer than a desert. Overly dry air dries out our bodies. We can get chapped lips, itchy skin, and a dry sore throat.

Static electricity more easily builds up. We get a shock when we get close to something metal. Static cling makes our clothes stick to already uncomfortable skin. Unfortunately, dry air feels cooler. But if we turn up the thermostat, we only dry the air even more. Not only that, but air that’s too dry can harm our furniture and the structure of the house.

In the summer time, your air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier to keep your home from getting too moist. But in the winter, you need a humidifier to add moisture. You can get one to attach to your furnace or smaller room humidifiers of three different basic designs.

 

Open windows and doors

Indoor air becomes stale if it isn’t exchanged for outside air. Even modern sealed homes allow some outside air to enter and drive out the stale air. But perhaps not enough.

Even in the coldest parts of winter or the hottest parts of summer, opening doors and windows from time to time helps indoor air quality. Of course, you needn’t keep them open for very long. In extreme temperatures, normal coming and going might exchange enough air.

In moderate temperatures, when you don’t need to run either the furnace or the air conditioner, leave windows open longer.

 

Use houseplants

Most people probably choose houseplants for their beauty. Most people know that plants breath in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. So houseplants keep indoor air from becoming stale.

Less well known, at least some houseplants can remove common air pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzine.

 

Control dust

Now here’s where improving indoor air quality requires some extra effort. Your air filter traps dust, but it’s better to keep it out of the air in the first place. Regular vacuuming and dusting surfaces like end tables keeps the air cleaner.

 

Eliminate volatile organic compounds

Modern sealed buildings lead to so-called sick building syndrome. People who live and work in sick buildings suffer a variety of allergy symptoms. These come not from the sealing of the building, but from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Certain solids and liquids––thousands of products in all––emit these possibly toxic gases.

Some VOCs come from new carpeting or furniture. Most of them come from products for cleaning, disinfecting, or, ironically, air fresheners. Cosmetics, dry-cleaned clothes, bug-killers, paint, and various hobby products also emit VOCs.

If a product––bleach, for example––stinks, you’re smelling a VOC. The stench indicates a toxic chemical.

Unfortunately, in our sealed buildings, VOCs linger in the air long after we’ve finished using the products that emit them. Concentrations of VOCs are higher indoors than out, regardless of whether the building is in an urban area with bad air or out in the countryside. Indoor air may have twice or even ten times the concentration as outdoor air.

Houseplants and air filters remove some of these pollutants, but it’s better not to turn them loose in the house in the first place.

If you paint, look for a low VOC paint. Alternatively, keep the window open. Put a box fan in the window to blow outside.
Whenever possible, buy new furniture or carpets when you can keep windows open and use an exhaust fan.
Don’t use bleach or other toxic products indoors.
Prefer cleaning supplies that do not contain VOCs.
Don’t use air fresheners.

 

Check for radon

Radon is a radioactive gas, which can cause cancer. It occurs naturally in soil. The interior of your house probably has lower air pressure than the soil. So it can act like a vacuum cleaner, sucking air from the soil.

Well water, too, can have high levels of radon. Running the water releases radon into the air.

Your house probably has some radon in it. If any part of your home is below ground, it has more than it would otherwise. Since you can’t see or smell radon, you can’t know if you have a dangerous level of it without testing. You can either buy a radon detection kit or have a contractor perform the test.

Consumer Reports counsels not to believe manufacturers’ claims that air purifiers take radon from the air. If a test shows a problem, have a contractor install a radon-reducing system for your  house.

 

About the author: David Guion is founder and editor of the respected blog Sustaining Our World. A retired librarian, he served for three years on a university sustainability committee.

How to Maintain a Healthy Garden – 7 Useful Tips

If you are a nature lover like me, then why not create a beautiful garden in your backyard, especially if you have the space for gardening? A garden not just uplifts the aesthetic appeal of the house but also gives you your own zen area to relax. Gardening is a hobby you need to develop as there is a lot of work involved to maintain a beautiful garden. We have discussed a few tips below to help you keep it clean and healthy.

 

1. Learn Thoroughly About the Plants You Choose

Each plant has different sunlight, nutrients, and water requirements. You cannot water all the plants equally and a few plants may need extreme sunlight whereas others may die if exposed to extreme sunlight. Do thorough research about all the plants you choose for your backyard to make sure you are taking the best care of them.

 

2. Maintain Proper Spacing

Make sure to maintain adequate distance between the plants as the roots need space to spread. If plants are placed in a crowded manner then the plants will grow poorly as they would compete for water, nutrients, and light.

 

3. Prune the Damaged Limbs Timely

 

It is essential to prune the damaged parts of the plant. If not, the plant will divert all its energy and most nutrients to the damaged part in order to salvage it which may affect the health of the entire plant. A wounded limb is also prone to disease that may spread to the entire plant. Make clean cuts that heal rapidly.

 

4. Use Fertilizers Carefully

It is obvious that you will have to use fertilizers in order to give your plants the essential nutrients, but then you need to be careful about choosing the right fertilizer for your plants. All your plants may need different nutrient combinations to grow better, and using the wrong fertilizer can burn the roots. To avoid these, get a soil test done by a local agency to get the information about nutrient levels and the soil so you know your next steps.

 

5. Fence Your Garden

 

An open backyard without a fence is never a good idea as critters, strays and even wild animals like deers can be attracted by the plants you are growing and soil your entire garden. Especially young plants are more prone to danger if not protected from these animals, hence fence your entire garden using metal fencing material to protect it from all large animals and small critters.

 

6. Treat for Bugs and Insects

Keep checking your plants for any infestation as insect damage is common in plants and if not treated can spread to other plants. There are chemical sprays available for different types of bugs and insects, consult an expert before you use any of those on your affected plants.

 

7. Keep it Clean and Tidy

An untidy garden will promote the growth of insects and germs, hence occasionally clean the garden to save your plants and also create a beautiful-looking garden for you to enjoy.

Plants are essential parts of our ecosystem and the more we can plant trees, the lesser our carbon footprint will be. Hence consider taking up gardening as your new hobby as it is not just good for you but the entire planet.

Dealing With a Clogged Drain Should You Resolve the Issue Yourself or Hire a Professional?

Dealing with a clogged drain can be a hassle, but it’s a task that’s always best performed as soon as possible after the issue arises. Clear pipes are important not just to the home’s plumbing, but to the health of its inhabitants. Read on to find out when to attempt a DIY repair and when to call a professional.

Clogged Toilets

Plungers are available at just about every hardware store for a reason. They’re helpful tools for resolving minor clogs, especially in toilets. When using the plunger, make sure it is locked to the drain with a perfect seal and try plunging it at least a dozen times. If this doesn’t work, it might be time to call a plumber. Homeowners can check out maplewoodplumbing.com to find out about one local company that can help.

Minor Clogs Close to the Surface

If there’s a bit of hair stuck near the opening of the drain, a home drain auger might be able to get it out. These devices aren’t as strong as the tools used by professionals, though, so they may not be able to get past the blockage. If homeowners can’t remove the blockage using a drain snake, they should call a plumber. Professional plumbers have access to better, stronger equipment, and it’s often motorized to provide faster results.

Multiple Drains Are Clogged

If multiple drains in the home are clogged, backing up, or running slowly, there’s little homeowners can do about it by themselves. Don’t bother with DIY fixes. The blockage is almost definitely too far down. A plumber with high-tech equipment and professional training will be able to locate and resolve it quickly, but DIY methods for removing it will likely prove ineffective and frustrating.

Built-Up Soap or Grease

If there’s soap built up in a bathroom drain or grease in a kitchen drain, homeowners may be able to remove it themselves by pouring boiling water down the sink. Try pouring it in three stages to give the water time to work through the clog, or use baking soda and vinegar before pouring in the boiling water to maximize its effectiveness. If that doesn’t work, or if it works for a little while but the clog comes back, call a plumber.

Repeated Clogs

Even if one of the DIY methods mentioned above works perfectly the first time, they aren’t fool-proof, and they don’t address the underlying plumbing problems. If one or more drains keep backing up, call a plumber to inspect the home’s plumbing system. He or she may be able to suggest ways to prevent future issues.

What About Chemical Drain Cleaners?

Homeowners may be tempted to use chemical drain cleaners to resolve their plumbing issues, but they shouldn’t give in to the temptation. They’re bad for the home’s plumbing, residents’ health, and the environment. In houses with septic systems, using chemical drain cleaners can even cause the system to stop working entirely.

If baking soda and vinegar, boiling water, plungers, and home drain augers don’t resolve the clog, a chemical drain cleaner won’t either. All it will do is cause homeowners more problems.

The Bottom Line

Minor clogs can sometimes be resolved at home using common tools and products like baking soda, vinegar, and plungers. Serious clogs that can’t be broken up, keep coming back, or affect multiple drains are best handled by professionals.