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The new year is thought of as a fresh start -- and if citizens of the world fail to take action to protect the planet, we might not have many fresh starts (or years ahead of us) left. That's why many homeowners are making a pledge to be more energy efficient and eco-friendly overall in 2020. But if you don't want to take on massive renovations or even sacrifice your relative comfort, can you still be sustainable?

The answer is a resounding "yes." By implementing some simple changes, you can make your home more environmentally sound, reduce your carbon footprint, and maybe even save some money in the coming year. Here are a few ways to go about it.

Add Some Green

If you want to go green, you might want to add green. That might mean spending some green up front, as well, but most people will tell you that it'll pay off in the end. Not only can landscaping add as much as 14% to your home's resale value, but it can potentially do wonders for your surrounding community. In fact, one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year, equalling 11,000 miles of car emissions! Although it may mean a bit more yard work for you to take care of, planting some trees can improve air quality. And if you're strategic about where you place your trees, you can provide some shade that will keep your home cooler and reduce how hard your HVAC system will need to work. Planting a vegetable garden can allow you to save money on groceries, as well, while focusing on native plants can support local wildlife (like our endangered and oh-so-important bees and other pollinators). Ultimately, a more self-sustaining life will translate to one with greater energy efficiency. This is also a great option for the almost 43 million renters in the United States who can't modify their homes to their liking.

Seal the Escape Routes

This section may sound extreme, but we're not talking about barring your windows and doors completely shut. Your home's doors and windows need to stay accessible to you, of course, but they need to keep air from being able to travel in and out. If there are gaps, you'll end up wasting energy. In fact, 30% of a home's heating energy is lost through its windows. That means you're paying extra for your HVAC system to work overtime. And since a good portion of your home is probably made up of windows, you'll have a bit of work to do to ensure your home stays comfortable and your bills stay low. Conduct an assessment of where your home seems drafty and seal or caulk any areas where air can escape. You may also want to call in a professional to take a look at your home's insulation, as air can easily escape through the attic, roof, or crawl spaces. These small adjustments can ensure the warm or cool air stays inside and the extreme weather stays out. Subsequently, you'll feel a lot better in your home and won't be stuck with unnecessary expenses each month. As a bonus, your heating and cooling system can work more efficiently and will likely last a lot longer.

Ponder Your Power and Appliances

Speaking of your heating and cooling system, it's time to consider your appliances -- and what's powering them. Although many American homes still rely on conventional utilities to supply electricity, solar panels are becoming more popular with each passing year. It's easy to see why, as cost reductions have made them far more accessible to the masses. If PV panels were installed on just 0.6% of the nation's total land area, these panels could supply enough energy to power the entire country. If you've been considering swapping out your utility company for solar panel installation, the new year might be a good time to finally take the plunge. Eventually, you'll be able to provide all the power you need and you'll end up saving money. This is essential given that 30% of Americans have bad credit. And because you'll probably be a bit more aware of the power you use, you'll likely end up being a bit more conservative with your usage.

Of course, if you're going to completely change your power supply, you might want to rethink your major appliances, too. Homes that are a bit older may come equipped with appliances, but these appliances may not meet current energy efficiency standards. This means you'll end up requiring (and wasting) more energy to use them. Some statistics show that a refrigerator that's a decade old can use twice the energy that a new model does! If you haven't yet switched to Energy Star models, there's no time like the present. You may even be able to take advantage of seasonal deals to save a bit of money -- though you'll end up lowering your energy bills as a result anyway.

Setting -- and keeping -- New Year's resolutions may not seem easy, but it's simpler than you think to make your home more energy efficient in 2020. By opting for eco-friendly practices, you can reduce your adverse impact on the world and reduce costs at the same time.

Published in For the Home
Monday, June 10 2019 22:15

5 Cool Tips To Stay Comfy This Summer

Summer is finally here, and with the change of seasons comes changing temperatures. Depending on where you live, summer can get incredibly uncomfortable and hot, especially during the night when you're trying to sleep. Instead of sweating through the season, use these tips to stay cool in your home all summer long.

Invest In Insulation

Insulation isn't just useful during the winter to keep you warm. Having insulation with a higher R-value can help you stay cooler in the summer by keeping your cooled air inside your house, rather than letting it escape and wasting energy. The R-value is the measure of thermal resistance, which indicates the temperature difference when a unit of heat runs through it. Essentially, the higher the R-value, the better the insulation. If you're planning on tackling some home repair this summer, this is one area you might want to address.

Lower Temperatures With Lighting

Even if you don't necessarily notice it all the time, the lights in your house could be giving off just enough heat to cause a few additional problems during the summer months. To fix this issue, try switching to LED bulbs. Unlike incandescent bulbs, which release 90% of their energy as heat, LEDs use energy far more efficiently with little wasted heat. You'll have brighter lighting throughout your home without having to worry as much about beating the heat.

Fantastic Fans

Ceiling fans can be a great way to reduce your energy bill while still keeping your home cool. Just make sure you've got yours spinning the right direction; some ceiling fans are able to switch directions to help with heating your home in the wintertime, so double check to see if you've changed it back. If you don't have a ceiling fan, consider investing in a separate fan for some of the warmer spaces in your house so you aren't over-exerting your A/C unit.

Smarter Sheets

Ever wake up in the middle of the night because it's just too hot in your room? You might want to switch out your sheets. Changing to a lighter, more breathable fabric like cotton for your linens in the summer can make sleeping in hot weather a bit more comfortable. You'll be able to sleep through the night without having to drive up the energy bill by cranking up the A/C.

Don't Forget Your Furry Friends

You and your family aren't the only ones feeling the heat during the summer. According to The American Pet Products Association, almost 85 million households have a pet. Be mindful of the heat when it comes to taking care of your pets. Some animals enjoy the hot weather, but if you're starting to feel the burn, chances are your dog with a fluffy coat is too. Keep extra water out for animals and help them find ways to stay cool.

With summer just around the corner, now is the time to get your home ready so you can stay comfy and cool all season long. How do you plan to cool off your home without running up your energy bill this season?

Published in For the Home

This Holiday Wish Guide feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ & Positec Group.

When seeking out that perfect holiday gift, I always find that it's much easier to shop for kids than it is for grownups. I even make it hard for my loved ones to shop for me (and they know that they don't have to) because I don't really ask for anything and find it hard to come up with ideas. But since I'm always on the lookout for new products that will be useful and make life easier in new and sometimes unexpected ways, I get excited when I find something truly awesome that could really be great for a lot of people. The WORX Pegasus Work Table and Sawhorse fits the bill - and that's because it's not just great for DIY'ers, contractors and those who work in construction. There's a lot of potential for use by almost anyone, from crafters and model makers to photographers, artists and everyday homeowners who could use a proper work space that's rugged, portable and easy-to-use.

Published in For the Home

As organisms big and small begin their hibernation for the winter, your landscaping can start to look a bit dreary. You may be inclined to take this season off from tending to the look of your yard, but the winter months give many opportunities to amp up your landscaping prowess. Incorporate these elements into your yard's landscaping and your home will be the natural star of the neighborhood.

Published in Gardening

Twist and Seal first hit my radar a few years back when their first weather-resistant cord protector started popping up at retailers around the holidays. Now, the Twist and Seal family of products includes four unique items, each with a specific application that helps to achieve the same end result: protection of electrical connections from the elements. Personally, I've dealt with wet plugs and moisture issues for years, and here at Rock Father HQ, it's always the holiday season that's most painful. Christmas lights are notoriously fragile, with tiny fuses that aren't water-proof, and wet connections constantly tripping our GFCI outlets. Add the recent blow-up characters and laser shows into the mix, and there's more chance for irritation. That doesn't mean that other seasons are devoid of hassle, and with summer approaching, we'll also have our DynaTrap and some outdoor lighting that will need protection, and thanks to Twist and Seal, there's a solution for that as well. The folks at Twist and Seal - located right here in Illinois - sent over some items for review, and in the video below, I'll walk you through them...

Published in Gardening

I don't know that most people expected DreamWorks' Trolls to be as big as it's been, particularly on the spin-off front. With its colorful characters, vibrant world, sing-along soundtrack and positive message, kids have been inspired to create their own Trolls-inspired projects that keep the spirit of "happy" going long after the end credits have rolled. Now, with the film having come home on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD, my friends at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have partnered with a variety of writers and creative types (including yours truly) to come up with some fun projects to do at home. Armed with a box of supplies graciously delivered by the folks at Fox, The Rock Daughters™ and I set out to craft something awesome. Thing is, I realized after we were well underway that I'm just not very good at the whole "crafting" thing, and that there's others out there who have some really impressive project ideas. But, that's actually not what's important - the real importance is in having fun and fostering creativity, no matter how things turn out.

Published in Movies, TV and More
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