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Antifog your bathroom

anti fogA nice warm shower feels great. When you get out, however, it is always hard to start getting ready with fogged mirrors.

To combat that, all you need is shaving cream or furniture polish and a clean cloth.

Apply the shaving cream or furniture polish to the mirror evenly with a cloth before wiping off with a lint-free cloth.

It is as simple as that.

Repeat every couple weeks to keep that mirror fog free.

Check out our home tips tab for more help around the house or let us know your biggest trick!

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Save on heating costs

Boy, have the temperatures started to drop here. Fall jackets are a must during the day, mittens and scarves are coming out for the winter.

As for inside, air conditioners have long been turned off and now the thought of turning heat on has many looking to keep costs down but temperatures up. High energy bills can deeply dig into household budgets.

blogThere are many small things that can be done to save on heating costs. Wearing extra layers, turning the thermostat down during the day or when no one is in the home and keeping vents clean all help.

Here are a couple places to watch:

Heating

  • Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night and whenever the house is unoccupied. Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Make sure your programmable thermostat is:
    • Installed properly.
    • Programmed appropriately – a programmable thermostat only saves energy when it is programmed.
    • Not located in an unheated space, a poorly-sealed or seldom-used room, or in direct sunlight near a heat source. The thermostat should be able to sense the average temperature in your home. If it is not in the right place, contact a heating and air conditioning professional about having it moved.
  • Lower your thermostat and wear socks and a sweater in doors. Lowering the thermostat by just one degree Fahrenheit can reduce energy use by 3 percent.
  • If you have a forced air furnace, inspect your filters at the beginning of the heating season and monthly during the season. Clean or replace them if there is significant dust build up.
  • Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. The air inside your home can be very dry, especially in New Mexico. Moister air feels warmer, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable even though your thermostat is set at a lower temperature.
  • Install foam insulation gaskets behind electric outlets and switch plate covers.

Windows and doors

  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. That includes overhead doors on attached garages.
  • Install do-it-yourself plastic-film storm windows. Find them at a local hardware store.
  • Seal off unused rooms (as long as the room is less than 100 square feet and isn’t the room where the thermostat is located). Close the floor or wall registers and return air vents, and keep the doors closed.
  • Open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day. Close window coverings at night to keep the heat in.
  • Weatherstrip and caulk windows. Check window frames for cracks and fill them with caulk that contains silicon. Putty-like “rope caulk” can help seal large cracks and save you up to 5 percent on your energy bill.
  • Check all exterior doors for air leaks and weatherstrip and caulk as needed. A one-eighth-inch gap around a door is equivalent to a 6-inch-square hole in the side of your house and causes a lot of energy loss. You can check doors two ways:
    • Have someone stand on the other side of the door and shine a flashlight around the door’s perimeter. If you can see light through the cracks, your door needs sealing.
    • Hold a piece of paper between the door and the frame and shut the door. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you should weatherstrip around the door.

Water heater

  • Make sure the water heater is set no higher than 125 degrees.
  • Drain off a bucket of hot water from your water heater annually to remove sediment that will interfere with the heater’s long-term use.
  • Install a water heater blanket if your water heater is older than 5 years.
  • Insulate the pipes around the water heater with inexpensive, easy-to-install pipe insulation. This is particularly helpful if the water heater is in an unheated space.

Fireplace

  • Never use a traditional fireplace for supplemental heating. A fireplace sucks heated air out of your home to fuel the fire and exhausts it through the chimney, and then your furnace has to turn on to replace that warm air.
  • Close the fireplace damper and seal the opening shut when not in use.

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Alternative uses for dryer sheets

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This tip comes from Ashley Koch, a Keller-Williams agent in the Twin Cities.

Dryer sheets are great for laundry, but can be used for many other chores around the house, a tip that can help save time and money in the long run.

So, here is a (excuse the pun) laundry list of things dryer sheets are good for:

1. Dusting: used dryer sheets can knock the dust off nearly any surface, including furniture, blinds, car interiors, baseboards/molding. Also works for sawdust and drywall compound.

2. Keep bugs away: Tuck some in your picnic basket or under lawn furniture to repel bees from your juicy flesh and encourage them back to the flowers, where they belong. You can also rub a sheet directly on your bare skin to discourage would- be buggers from leaving their mark.

3. Keep your clothes fresh: tuck a few fabric-sheets in your drawers to keep that ‘just-washed’ smell happening for weeks. Throw one in your dirty clothes hamper to prevent any rampant, residual odors from escaping into your bedroom

4. Scrub your showers: Lightly wet a used dryer sheet, and scrub to remove soap build-up and mineral deposits.

5. Freshen your home: Place (or tape) a dryer sheet on your HVAC vents to scent the air circulating through your home. You can even place one alongside your filter in your central heating unit to distribute the scent. Also works on ceiling fans, and on the back of box/portable fans.

6. Reduce static cling: Pat your self with a sheet to combat static on your clothes, stockings, and even long hair!

8. Clean your laundry room: When you finish drying a load, hold on to the dryer sheet, and wipe down the inside of your dryer’s drum, your lint trap, the outside of your washing machine and dryer, and scrub away any excess or spilt laundry detergent.

9. Scrub the bugs from your car: Summer drives often equal insect gut polka dots all over your auto’s body and windshield. Simply wet your car down, and use a dryer sheet to scrub away carnage with ease.

10. Wipe up hair: The cling of a dryer sheet is perfect to wipe up pet hair from your furniture, or even your own hair from your bathroom.

11. In your shoes: Toss a dryer sheet in the toes of your shoes to minimize odors and prolong the just-purchased smell.

12. While traveling: Place a few dryer sheets in between items in your suitcase to keep both your clothes fresh and to prevent your items from picking up any mustiness from old luggage.

13. In your crafts: Use dryer sheets to add texture to cards, scrapbooks, etc. Also use for reinforcement in appliqué and quilting work.

14. For diapers: Keep your used dryer sheets in your diaper bag, and roll one up in the diaper to prevent odors before you have to chance to throw it away.

15. In the kitchen: Soak cookware with burnt or baked-on food in warm water, with a dryer sheet or two. Makes clean-up easier than you’d expect. Also works on cook tops and dingy cabinet doors.

16. Clean paint brushes: Soak your used paintbrushes in warm water with a dryer sheet, and that pesky latex paint will come off in under a minute.

17. In books: placing a dryer sheet in new books or photo albums will keep them smelling fresh, and can combat the musty paper smell of used or old books. Also works as a killer bookmark.

18. In toilet paper: Roll up a dryer sheet in your toilet paper roll. Each time you spin, it releases a little freshness into your bathroom.

19. As you sleep: keep a fabric-softener sheet in your pillow case and under your mattress or mattress pad for sweet dreams of summer all year ‘round

20. While sewing: use a dryer sheet to store your needles while threaded to keep them from tangling, for paper piecing whilst you quilt, and for backing for embroidery.

21. Repel rodents: Use dryer sheets to keep out mice, skunks, squirrels, rats, etc from your basement, garages, boats, campers, and clubhouses.

22. In your car: stash dryer sheets under your car seats and floor mats, and in your glove box and trunk for fresh scents as you travel.

23. At work: Hide dryer sheets in drawers, behind computers, and in cabinetry to keep your workspace fresh, and combat your co-workers awful perfume or stale cigarette scent.

24. In you vacuum cleaner: Place a dryer sheet in your vacuum bag or dust containment unit. As the hot air moves as you vacuum, you’ll bulk up your cleaning efforts. (Make sure this is in NO WAY a fire hazard)

25. In storage: tuck dryer sheets in your rarely used items such as luggage,camping gear, sports equipment, or specialty craft or kitchen items to prevent the inevitable smells of basements, attics, and garages.

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Prepare your home for winter

Earlier in the day we posted on our facebook a reminder to winterize outdoor pipes before the cold really sets in.

But there is so much more to do besides the pipes.

Here are couple more tips. It’s a long list, but it is also a long winter. You want to make sure you can do as much preventative maintenance as possible so you aren’t outside in negative temperatures trying to fix things!

Windows and doors

  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Look at the weatherstripping and caulk inside and out, when necessary, or replace weatherstripping.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

Lawn,  garden, and deck

  • Check drainage: Make sure rain and snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt should slope away from your home.
  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem
  • Move patio furniture indoors or cover well. Clean and dry it first so you don’t have to do that in the spring.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

Tools and machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.

Gutters, roof, and drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.