Fireplaces Add Some Snap, Crackle, and Pop!

When the weather outside is frightful, a fire can be so delightful. That’s what the song says, anyway. But loads of homeowners tend to agree with the sentiment, so surely they can’t all be wrong. Adding a fireplace to your home can seem like a big undertaking, but there are several options for homeowners looking to add a little snap, crackle, and pop to their living spaces.

Fireplaces: Beyond the Chimney

Long, long ago, there was only one way to have a fire indoors: you had to have a brick chimney to contain the flames and keep everybody safe. However, that was back then; today there are lots of options for adding fireplaces to your home without having to also add a new chimney or repair an old one that’s no longer in use. This is great news, especially if you really want a fireplace for ambiance, rather than to be used as a primary heating or cooking source.

While wood burning masonry fireplaces have a sort of rustic, nostalgic appeal, today’s modern ventless options are far easier to install, require a lot less maintenance, and are often extremely fuel efficient should you choose to use them to help fight back winter’s chill.

Chimney-Free Fireplace Options

If you have an existing chimney that’s in great shape, there are lots of options for units that can be installed into that space. For many homeowners, however, it’s not that simple, because either their home never had an open chimney, or the one they do have is in poor shape. This is where chimney-free fireplace options really shine. They can be placed pretty much anywhere you want to put them since there’s no flue required.

When you go shopping, consider options like:

  • Ventless gas. Ventless gas fireplaces have been in use for awhile now. Unlike some gas units, the ventless gas units don’t require any kind of vent, so they can be installed on an inside wall, between rooms, or in other tricky spots. Although they don’t need a vent, it is recommended that you put them in larger rooms. You can often use a ventless gas fireplace when the power is out, making them a great emergency backup in a house that’s otherwise heated with electricity.
  • Electric. If you really like the look of a fireplace, but don’t want to deal with cleaning or maintaining anything, an electric fireplace is a great option. These aren’t your grandmother’s electric fireplaces! Most units have beautiful LED-based simulated fire and blowers that can put out a lot of heat. When in heating mode, they work a lot like large space heaters. But like an electric space heater, they need almost no care to keep running year after year. Many units can also have the LED turned on independently of the heating element for cool-to-the-touch flames all year round.
  • Ethanol. Looking for real fire without having to hook up gas lines? Ethanol may be the solution you’re seeking. Instead of piping in gas or tying into the electrical, an ethanol fireplace will produce a real flame with bottled alcohol-based fuel that you simply pour into the burner and light. They come in a huge range of sizes and designs, suitable for many indoor applications. You’ll get some heat from these, but not anything substantial. They’re similar to gel fireplaces, which have been losing popularity to ethanol fireplaces for years, but unlike gel fireplaces they use a liquid fuel instead of a gel-based one.
  • Water Vapor. If you only want the look of fire, but no actual fire to deal with, a water vapor fireplace can give you one of the most realistic experiences without limitations. These fireplaces can be incredibly large and long, limited largely by your imagination. They don’t produce any heat, since water vapor is used to reflect special lights that create the illusion of a flame. All you need is electricity and tap water to set the mood.

Ready to Add One?

If you’re ready for a fireplace that hits all the right notes but don’t know who to call, take a look in the HomeKeepr community to find a fireplace company that will best fit your budget and your lifestyle. They can install it in plenty of time for you to enjoy your cold nights by the real or simulated fire.

Originally posted at: https://blog.homekeepr.com/fireplaces-add-some-snap-crackle-and-pop?sharedby=vincent-russo

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When it Pays to Upgrade Your Thermostat

Your thermostat plays an important role in keeping your home comfortable throughout the year. After all, the thermostat is the central hub for controlling the temperature you want to keep your home at regardless of whether it’s hot or cold outside. Unfortunately, the thermostat that you have now might not be doing as good of a job as you think, which could be costing you money. If you want to get the most out of your heating and cooling and save some money in the long term, it may be time to upgrade your thermostat to a model that’s a little bit smarter.

What Are Smart Thermostats?

Smart thermostats are programmable thermostats that give you a greater amount of control over your home environment. These thermostats can automatically adjust the temperature at different times during the day, ensuring that you aren’t spending extra money heating or cooling your home while everyone is at work, at school, or in bed asleep. This can result in significant energy cost savings over time.

Thermostats and Sensors

One thing that makes many smart thermostats even better is the ability to pair them with various sensors around your home. Some thermostats can be combined with motion sensors to automatically adjust the temperature when they don’t detect any movement for a specified period of time. This allows for more dynamic control over your heating and cooling, meaning that you don’t have to specifically program in every time that the temperature should go up or down. They can also be connected to smart home hubs and virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant so that you can add temperature changes to the routines you’ve set up.

Smarter Heating and Cooling

Many smart thermostats offer the ability to add additional temperature sensors throughout your home, giving the device a better view of what the entire home environment is like as opposed to just the temperature near the thermostat. In many cases you can even set up different zone tolerances using these sensors, specifying which areas need to be kept at certain temperatures and which areas can have a bit more variance. This allows the smart thermostat to better decide when to turn on the heat or the air, making your entire home more comfortable in the process.

Maintenance Monitoring

HVAC repairs can be expensive, and regular maintenance is recommended as a way to catch potential problems before they have a chance to become major issues. A smart thermostat can help with this. Many smart thermostat models include maintenance monitors that not only keep track of how long it’s been since your last maintenance inspection but can also identify other potential problems. Some even track little things that you can do yourself like changing air filters regularly to keep your system in top shape.

Is It Time to Upgrade?

There have been a number of studies done on cost savings with smart thermostats and they all offer up the same general results: Upgrading to a smart thermostat can have a notable impact on your energy costs over the course of the year. There’s obviously an up-front cost to them, especially if you add sensors or additional temperature nodes, but they will pay for themselves in savings over time. Keep an eye on your energy costs and maintenance bills to get an idea of what you’re paying every year with your current thermostat, then consider whether upgrading to a smart thermostat might help you to get those costs under control.

Smart Thermostat Installation

While it’s possible to DIY a smart thermostat upgrade, bringing in an experienced installer can make a big difference when it comes to the ease of installation and the ideal setup of any additional sensors and thermal nodes you want in your home. Fortunately, HomeKeepr can help you find the right installer for your needs. Sign up for a free account today and you’ll be on your way to make your home’s HVAC system that much smarter.

Originally posted at: https://blog.homekeepr.com/when-it-pays-to-upgrade-your-thermostat?sharedby=vincent-russo

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2021’s Colors of the Year Unveiled!

Everything has its season, and for paint, winter is that time. Year after year, paint companies release their chosen Color(s) of the Year, which are meant to be reflections on trends that are coming to interior design near you. If you’ve been considering repainting a bedroom or your whole house, knowing what’s in can help you narrow down the impressively huge list of paint options available.

Bold Tones Are Where It’s At

2021 continues the trend that’s been taking us far from the subdued hues that have been so popular in the past. Instead of neutral palettes, homeowners are going big or going home. That doesn’t mean the paint scheme in every house has to be glam, but it does mean that it’s ok to put a little personality out there. Pops of color are glorious when done properly and no longer the sale killer they may have once been. But it’s not exactly a revisit to the 1950s. Color should be used more strategically to create a big impact, highlight features in your home, and influence the atmosphere in living, dining, and sleeping spaces.

Drumroll Please….

Most of the major paint companies have announced their colors for this year, though a few are still waiting for 2021 to roll around. Of those that have made it official, you’ll notice a big trend in color themes. Blues, pinks, and grays rule the day, though they’re not your grandma’s retro flavors.

Pantone: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating
One of the top names in color has come up with one of the top color combos for 2021. It’s a whole mood, really, and sums up 2020 pretty well. Ultimate Gray is a light neutral gray color that would be at home in almost any space. Illuminating, however, is a bright, determined yellow that should be used in small doses. As Pantone’s executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, wrote in a press release about the decision, “The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude.” It’s also way eye-catching.

Rust-Oleum: Satin Paprika
Do you dream of the desert southwest? Or maybe you already live there and want to bring a bit more pop indoors? Satin Paprika may be the answer. This coral red, spicy earth tone is the anchor for three distinct color palettes that Rust-Oleum has developed for 2021. It’s gorgeous in a variety of spaces, works with many different colors, and, frankly, it brings to mind the red stone that’s so common in the desert. Your succulents will feel right at home.

Glidden: Aqua Fiesta
Glidden zigged this year when a lot of the other paint brands zagged, and named Aqua Fiesta its Accent Color of the Year. It’s a bold, but not overly bright, aqua color that goes great with both light neutral browns and grays, allowing it to dress up all kinds of spaces. You might feel like taking an island vacation or dream of mermaids after painting this one on, though.

Benjamin Moore: Aegean Teal
Benjamin Moore was also feeling a bit blue when choosing 2021’s color of the year, but more blue than green, which resulted in a gorgeous dark robin egg-esque color. The gray undertones make it a great accompaniment to the popular gray neutrals, and the more strict blue gives it a bit of a grown-up feel. It’s a super calming color in any room and will even pair well with yellows.

HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams: Passionate
Blue isn’t everybody’s thing, and clearly HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams agrees. It chose Passionate for its 2021 Color of the Year. This is a deep carnation, but not quite red, sort of color that looks awesome with earth tones and tans. It’s the kind of color that you may have never expected to like, let alone paint in your home, until you see it in action. Accent it with other bold tones and your humdrum room will absolutely be transformed.

Sherwin-Williams: Urbane Bronze
Looking for deep, rich color that won’t leave anyone guessing about your intention for your space? Urbane Bronze is a color that will define a space without regrets. It’s a warm gray-brown that goes well with a range of flooring and lighting, but stands up on its own without the need for a lot of fanfare. You might not want to use this on every wall, as it may have a way of making your space feel a bit small, but your accent walls and accent pieces will absolutely thank you.

Valspar: Hues of the Year
Valspar couldn’t pick just one, so instead went with a whole range of colors for the year. It chose 12 muted colors; these are colors that could be considered “barely there,” just a hint of bold for a room that isn’t ready to go all in. These subtle choices range from misty blue to a warm apricot, with buttercream, green, beige, and gray also on the menu. Use this palette together to create a wholly harmonious space.

Ready to Get Painting?

Choosing your colors is only the first step to getting that big paint job done. If you need some help finding a painter who will knock it out of the park, don’t hesitate to ask your HomeKeepr family for a recommendation. After all, it’s an awfully good feeling knowing that someone you believe in trusts the painter that’s going to make your dreams come true.

Originally posted at: https://blog.homekeepr.com/2021s-colors-of-the-year-unveiled?sharedby=vincent-russo

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Should You DIY Your Holiday Lighting?

A good holiday light display can be awe-inspiring, leaving neighbors talking and prompting people from all over town to drive by just to see it. Unfortunately, some of these displays can be difficult to install, and may even require some technical know-how if you want the display to sync to music or have multiple parts working together. There are services that can help with this, putting in the work to set up your lights, regardless of whether you want a modest display or something that would make Clark Griswold green with envy. Are they right for you, though? Here are a few things to consider.

Display Complexity

One thing that can influence your decision of whether to DIY your holiday lighting is the complexity of the display you want to create. There might not be much of a need for you to hire someone if you are doing basic decorations or have all the equipment you need to get your lights in place. If you want a large elaborate display, or don’t already have everything that you need to reach and mount lights everywhere you want them, you might be better off hiring someone to get the decorations done.

Available Free Time

Putting up lights around the holidays can take a lot of time, especially for larger displays. This is why a lot of people make decorating into a weekend project when there’s more time available to put into it. Between work, family time, and other responsibilities, though, you may not have large blocks of time available to put into your decorations. This can lead to holiday decorating being stretched out across days or even weeks of small bursts of activity, so if you’re in that situation you might consider paying to have it done instead.

Necessary Equipment

Hanging lights might seem like a simple task, but it becomes a lot harder if you don’t have the necessary equipment on hand. While you can get light mounting hooks and other supplies pretty cheaply, you’re looking at bigger expenses if you find that you need to buy a ladder or other equipment just to get to the areas where you want the lights to go. If you don’t already have everything you need, hiring someone who does may be the cheaper and easier option.

Technical Configuration

Some lighting displays are really impressive, using computers and other specialized hardware to sync multiple display pieces, and in some cases even operate projectors or broadcast music that can be picked up on the FM band. If you’re not very technologically savvy, setting up a display like this might be more of a job than you can realistically handle alone. Bringing in someone with experience setting up these more technology-driven displays can save you some serious time. It may save you money as well, as they’ll make sure that you don’t buy anything that you don’t actually need to get your display working.

Other Services

When trying to decide whether you can do your decorating yourself or if you need to bring someone else in, consider whether there’s anything else that you need help doing. Some holiday decorating services offer assistance with multiple parts of decorating, including setting up trees or displays inside the house. Some may even offer custom decorations or consulting services to make sure that everything ties together and matches the existing themes of your home. These are all things that you can typically do yourself, of course. Still, if you have a certain look in mind, it’s worth remembering that you may be able to get some help bringing it to life this holiday season.

Finding the Right Installer

Finding a light installer you can trust isn’t always easy, but HomeKeepr is here to help. Sign up for a free account today and connect with workers who can get the job done right the first time.

Originally posted at: https://blog.homekeepr.com/should-you-diy-your-holiday-lighting?sharedby=vincent-russo

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Tips and Tricks for Persistent Drafts

Oh, baby, it’s cold outside… and inside, too, if you’re standing close to a drafty window, door, or mysterious source of outside air. Persistent drafts are funny things. They can be massive pains when the wind blows just right, and almost unnoticeable when it’s still, making it both difficult to locate the problem, and hard to keep front of mind as you go about the rest of your week. But if you’ve got a persistent draft, transient or not, this can be the year you solve it. You’ll also save yourself a bundle in home heating and cooling costs throughout the year, so bonus.

Locating a Persistent Draft

Generally, people think to look at windows and doors when a draft is noticed, but what happens when the window doesn’t seem leaky and the door seals tight? Try:

  • Running your hand along the trim where it meets the wall. Sometimes windows aren’t properly weatherproofed when they’re installed, leaving the trim around the window unit to leak and leak and leak. Check that you’ve got a solid caulk bead all along your trim, even on the bottom of the window. An alarming number of air leaks result from skipping this step.
  • Examining outlets. Did you know cold air can come in through outlets on your exterior walls? It sure can. Sometimes it’s easier to find these by taking the cover off (turn your breaker off first, please).
  • Checking your chimney. If your damper isn’t closing properly, you may have a big time draft coming down through the chimney like Santa on Christmas Eve. It’s not always obvious when a chimney is leaking cold air unless you’re right below it, so make sure to check inside the fireplace.

If you can’t find a leak with your bare hands, try using a candle. Turn your ceiling fans and furnace off and run the candle slowly along ceilings, windows, doors, trimwork, outlets, fireplaces, and other potential sources of air loss. If you notice a flicker, mark the spot with a sticky note or other easily removable method. Go room by room, checking carefully in every possible spot.

Fixing Air Leaks

Once you know where your leaks are, the real work begins. It’s not just enough to know where the leak is; you need to know what to do about it. There are temporary fixes that will help eliminate drafts while you wait for a professional energy audit and weatherproofing, or you can try your hand at sealing common sources of air leaks.

Temporary solutions would include items like:

  • Gaskets for your windows. Some types of gaskets are meant to fill gaps at the bottom of the window frame. These are often only effective if you close the window on top of them and lock it for the winter.
  • Layers of window treatments. Windows are often a huge source of energy loss, so it would make sense that installing better window treatments can help slow the flow. This goes for both summer and winter. Install blinds hung on the inside of the window frame and an insulating curtain on the outside of it to slow those leaks coming from windows that have seen better days.
  • Door draft stoppers. Also known as “door snakes,” door draft stoppers can help keep the cold air outside if your door sweeps aren’t up to par. Choose a door draft stopper that’s slightly longer than the door in question, so the whole bottom is covered and the trim is overlapped.

More permanent solutions include removing trim and installing gap-filling foam, replacing door sweeps, installing gaskets in electrical outlets and junction boxes, taping the gaps in light fixtures, caulking trim work, and repairing fireplace doors and dampers.

When the Cold Breeze Blows, Count on HomeKeepr

If it’s cold inside and you can’t find the source of the problem, you may need an energy audit. These detailed examinations of homes help homeowners better understand the airflow of their homes and learn where improvements can be made to weatherproofing efforts. Some companies will offer both an audit and weatherproofing, making them great places to get more done.

Not sure where to start? Just check in with your HomeKeepr community! There are lots of qualified professionals ready to help you right now, and your network recommendations ensure you’re always getting the very best.

Originally posted at: https://blog.homekeepr.com/tips-and-tricks-for-persistent-drafts?sharedby=vincent-russo

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A Look at Smarter Smoke Detectors

Keeping your family and your home safe is an important responsibility. There are a number of devices that you can buy to help accomplish this, with some of the most common being smoke detectors.

There are many options when it comes to choosing a smoke detector, including several “smart” smoke detector models. If you’ve wondered whether one of these smarter smoke detectors is right for you and your home, here’s a closer look at how they work.

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Top 7 Things You Need to Know Before House-hunting on Zillow

Just as Kleenex has become the name for any brand of facial tissue and “to Xerox” is used as a verb for making copies, Zillow is the first name in online home search with 196 million unique visitors last year. That’s about double the number that Realtor.com enjoyed during the same period, making Zillow the platform that, in many ways, drives the real estate industry.

However, both real estate professionals and consumers have plenty of complaints about Zillow’s user interface (UI) and the accuracy of its information. If you’re thinking of starting a home search, here’s why you may need to bypass Zillow as your starting point.

To read the entire article: https://tinyurl.com/y3gxppc7

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Dealing With Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn is great with a movie or possibly for stringing around an old-fashioned Christmas tree, but it’s a little less universally loved when it’s applied to the ceiling as a texture. “Popcorn ceiling,” a type of texture that looks a lot more like cottage cheese than popcorn, was widely used in homes from the 1950s through the mid-1980s, regardless of architecture style.

A Warning About Popcorn Ceilings
Many popcorn ceiling treatments were manufactured using asbestos fiber, which was legal until the mid-1970s in most states. However, the asbestos-containing compound was still legal to sell until all stores were depleted, so if your home was built prior to the mid-1980s, there’s a significant chance your popcorn ceilings contain asbestos.

Just having asbestos bound up on your ceiling doesn’t pose a significant health risk by itself. The problem occurs when these ceiling materials are disturbed. Dust particles containing asbestos can be inhaled, which is really bad for your lungs. Because of this, it’s important to have an asbestos test on your ceiling materials if you’re considering cutting into or removing portions of it. It’s also vital that you invest in filtration respirators that will capture asbestos particles. And in some locations you may need a permit or licensed professionals to remove asbestos containing materials.

To read the whole article: https://tinyurl.com/yypytmse

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Hot Flooring Trends for Homeowners

Very few things in a home can make such a difference to both form and function as new floors. Flooring reflects not only your style and personality, but also your lifestyle. The right floor can make it easier to keep your home cleaner, hide imperfections, and set the mood for a cozy living space. And although flooring has generally been an “anything goes” environment for a while in home design, there are certain trends that have been a lot more popular than others. Here’s a brief round-up that should make your flooring search a little easier.

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Full article – https://tinyurl.com/y4685ygx

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