Category Archives for "Home & Renovations"

June 19, 2018

Training To Work Inside Or Outside?

If you want to work in the home care market, have you wondered whether you would prefer to work inside or outside? Landscape gardeners work in all weathers to beautify people’s gardens and public areas. Heating and air conditioning engineers work indoors making sure that homeowners, office blocks, factories, shops, and any other buildings have their heating or air conditioning in good working order. There is a great demand in America for qualified workers in both occupations, and it really is a choice of where you prefer to be, indoors or outdoors.

Training For Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

If you train to become an HVAC technician, your work will involve the installation, maintenance, and repair of a heating and air conditioning system, as well as industrial and commercial refrigeration units. HVAC training Arkansas, for example, includes learning the basics of maintaining and repairing motor, compressors, and pumps that these systems depend on to work efficiently. To complete the course, the students are also taught the fundamentals of electrical engineering and circuitry. Once qualified, you can expect to earn a salary in excess of $37,000 in an area where the demand for qualified technicians is growing very fast.

Training For Landscape Gardening

There is much more to being a landscape gardener than knowing about plants and lawns. You also have to know how to construct gravel and paved areas, walls, fences, pergolas, ponds, and barbecues. You have to be able to know if a tree is healthy, and if not, how to treat it. Shaping shrubs, trees, and hedges with chain and handsaws is also another skill needed, and there are many more. An eye for design can also be very useful.

The area the work is needed in varies from private gardens to parks, and many other open spaces. Once qualified, you can expect to earn about $40,000 a year in a profession that needs more qualified people desperately.

Making Your Choice

Both career paths offer plenty of work because of the lack of qualified HVAC technicians and landscape gardeners, and the basic salaries are not very different. Either choice will also give you the option of starting your own business, many people in either of these jobs being self-employed. Then it could be you that becomes the employer; the amount you can then earn is much greater.

There are some parts of the country that have hot summers and very cold winters. In these areas, heating and air-conditioning technicians will have to be on their toes to keep up with the amount of work, as people will want their equipment to always be working and in good order.

Landscape gardening is not just a job you do in the summer months either. If plants, lawns, and most other elements outside are not properly cared for in the winter months, they will not be much good come summer.

Both jobs are fulfilling and worthwhile, so you just need to decide if you want to train to work indoors or outdoors.

April 19, 2018

Everything You Need To Know About Smart TV

Shopping for TV used to be so simple since there were not a lot of options before, just brand preferences then sizes. And the factors that make an awesome TV mostly just included sound and picture quality. For as long as our TV choice gives us ability to show us our favourite, that’s good enough for us.

Today, homeowners we’re presented with another factor to consider, brought on by the growing necessity to adapt to the Internet and the rise of streaming sites. A smart TV has now become an inevitable part of any home. If you don’t have one yet, go on and check out the available Sony Smart TV range at Harvey Norman.

In this article, we’ll talk about smart TVs — what they are, how it works, and the benefits from getting one.

What is a Smart TV?

In simple English, Smart TV provides an operating system that allows you to access both network content and online content without the need to install an external box.

Let’s say you don’t have a Smart TV but you want to access Netflix. You won’t be able to do it without the help of an additional console, like an Xbox or an Apple TV, which you will then have to constantly plug in and take out from your TV.

How does a Smart TV work?

Accessing online content through the Smart TV is as easy as connecting it to your broadband router. It’s recommended that you connect the TV to the Ethernet to get a much more stable connection. However, if the broadband and the TV are in different rooms, connecting it the Wi-Fi will do.

Once you’re connected, it’s only a matter of signing in and choosing the Internet channels that you want to download. Internet channels are basically like apps that you have on your phone. Some Smart TVs come with preloaded apps like Netflix or Youtube, but you may add any preferred streaming channel like Hulu or TED.

There are different app platforms that can help you manage and navigate your Smart TV menu, depending on the brand you’ve chosen. These include Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and SmartCast.

What are the benefits of getting a Smart TV?

The main appeal of Smart TV is giving its users access to a lot of media channels that are otherwise unavailable on a normal cable satellite service. This includes TV shows, films, music, and even games. You can even use the Smart TV for normal web browsing or accessing PC files (as long as it’s compatible to the TV).

A Smart TV also has the capability to cast content from your mobile device to the TV, and vice versa; just use the appropriate app. So if you want to show everyone a video you’ve taken using your phone, open the app and cast the video on your Smart TV.

If this is going to be your first Smart TV purchase, the best option would be a Sony Smart TV. It uses the Android TV platform, which means that you have a wider net of media channels to choose from, other than the usual, Netflix, Youtube, and Hulu. It also has a built-in Chromecast which means that you can seamlessly cast your content from mobile to TV with just one tap of a button.

Are Smart Thermostats Worthy Of All The Hype?

Smart thermostats are becoming more popular alternatives to traditional air and heating systems. Are they worth it, though? Read on to find out for yourself.

Current Trends in Smart Thermostat Design

Image via Flickr by Dept of Solar Energy Decathlon

Smart thermostats are controlled by Wi-Fi enabled devices so that you can control the temperature in your home from your smartphone. For example, the Nest thermostat is now onto its third version. These thermostats light up and show the current indoor temperature when it detects that someone is nearby. Some versions also display outside weather and time.

Initial Cost of Equipment

The initial cost of a smart thermostat is fairly low, considering how much you can possibly save verses using a traditional HVAC. Smart thermostats can cost $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on what brand name you go with and the features that come with it. Make sure you do some research to find out what you want and need before you purchase your smart thermostat. Even if you need a repair or service done on your smart thermostat, the savings are still worth the initial cost.

Installation Process

It’s fairly easy to install a smart thermostat, but you can always contact a specialist or electrician to do the work for you. Based on the wires used on your current HVAC, you may or may not be able to install a smart thermostat in your home. If you’re not sure of what type of wires to look for, call in a specialist to help.

Different Types of Thermostats Available

Even though smart thermostats are fairly new, there are several different types available on the market. The Nest thermostats were one of the first smart thermostats available on the market. Installation is pretty easy, and once it’s up and running, the Nest can learn your temperature preferences and plan accordingly. The Ecobee3 is another smart thermostat that uses Wi-Fi capabilities. Energy can be saved with this device since the Ecobee3 can detect where you are and adjust the temperature accordingly.

The Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat comes with a large screen with plenty of options. You can plan out seven days on the Honeywell and even change settings throughout the week. The Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Programmable Thermostat is another user-friendly product that is easy to install. Another Honeywell thermostat is the Z-Wave Programmable Thermostat. You can use it to control lighting and other home appliances, and the Z-Wave monitors your thermostat. Once you choose which smart thermostat is right for you, it will feel natural to walk into your home at the perfect temperature.

Energy Benefits

Smart thermostats can save money on your energy bill. These thermostats are designed to run only when someone is home, saving unnecessary energy and costs. Because of this, your HVAC won’t have to run constantly. Smart thermostats can save money in the long run on your home due to their many high-tech capabilities.

With so many benefits to having a smart thermostat, it’s worth your time to check them out and see if they’ll suit your lifestyle.

What Results Can You Actually Expect From Home Energy Upgrades?

The last decade has seen a surge in energy-efficient products. Everything from insulation to light bulbs delivers promises of moderate savings over the course of the year or the life of the home. While many people have experimented with what’s available, others have sat back and wondered what the actual results of making such upgrades are. The results are in, so take a look.

Seal Up the Envelope of Your Home

Image via Flickr by Swany

Matt Golden, a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy, says to start with “improving the envelope” of your home. Upgrading items such as windows, weather seals, and insulation are all envelope improvements. You can upgrade an HVAC system, but the upgrade itself won’t stop the issue of heat seeping out of the roof or through cracks in door and window frames.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that sealing air leaks and upgrading your windows can save you between $182 and $440 per year. The saving estimates take into account the cost of the upgrades and any other costs incurred for repairs.

Go Ductless

If you can’t go ductless, repair your ducts and make sure they are sealed and properly connected. If you can go ductless, you may be surprised at the energy savings. The idea of central air is a positive point for many homebuyers. People like the fact that they can heat or cool an entire house with ease, but they miss the energy side of that process. Ductless systems have zoned climate control throughout every room of the house. A ductless system allows you to avoid heating or cooling rooms that are not being used as well as setting specific temperatures in different areas of the house if needed.

To allow for more control, look into a programmable thermostat. An “away” feature sets the temperature while you’re not at home, helping you to cut costs further. Programmable thermostats can save you up to 10 percent on your heating bill annually.

Upgrade Your Old Water Heater

Heating water can account for up to 12 percent of your utility bill. Knowing that statistic, upgrading your old water heater makes sense. If you are not able to fully upgrade your water heater, you can also look at areas such as insulating it or turning down its thermostat. You may also want to look into a tankless water heater, which heats the water when you need it rather than gathering it in a tank and heating it from this point. Simply lowering the water temperature alone can save you between 4 and 22 percent of your bill annually.

You can find many other home energy-efficient products when you decide to upgrade. The examples above are only some of the larger problem areas you may find in a home. Other equipment such as Energy Star light bulbs and power strips can add more savings to your budget. Also, don’t forget how useful the sleep or energy save mode on your computer can be. Using as many options as you can will optimize your energy bill savings.

 

4 Home Automation Upgrades That Are More Than Just Convenient

The world moves fast, and you have to move fast if you want to keep up. Keeping up can mean replacing some of your old habits with new ones. One of the easiest steps you can take to make your life easy is to automate your home. While not all home automation devices on the market are worth your money, the four home automation upgrades below prove to be more than just convenient.

Smart Home Security Systems

Image via Flickr by Theron Towbridge

One of the popular home automation upgrades today is the smart home security system. Smart home security systems allow you to remotely monitor your house using your smartphone. Many systems allow you to see who is at the door and choose whether or not to let the person in using your phone. This type of monitoring is not only convenient, but it also adds a much-needed layer of security for you and your family.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are one of the best investments you can make to automate your home. They offer maximum comfort while also allowing you to save money by setting a schedule for your home heating and cooling. You can program your thermostat to turn off the heating or air conditioning while you’re at work or turn the air conditioning or heating on 10 minutes before you get home from work, thus saving energy and money.

Smart thermostats have much to offer, such as alerting you when something is wrong with your HVAC system. The alert lets you know you need to get your system repaired as soon as possible.

Smart Light Bulbs

Smart light bulbs will take your lighting game to a new level. Instead of boring, white lights, you can have any color lights you want on demand to create the ideal atmosphere for any occasion. Smart light bulbs can be controlled using your phone, and you don’t have to get up to change the ambience of the room. Still not convinced? Consider five reasons to switch your light bulbs.

Smart Coffee Makers

Image via Flickr by Coffee-Channel.com

Finally, consider the humble coffee maker. With a few tweaks and some innovation, we now have smart coffee makers that make your morning routine simpler than you thought possible. Although nothing may completely cure the Monday blues, these coffee makers get close. Smart coffee makers allow you to brew a hot cup of coffee at the press of a button. Using your smartphone, you can get your coffee brewing before you rise out of bed. They also allow you to save money and energy by turning off when not in use or running on a schedule.

Smart devices are making our lives easier at every turn. We can have seemingly limitless power at our fingertips if we allow it. Instead of being scared of change, you can take the time to embrace home automation. Of course, this list is not an exhaustive one for home automation upgrades, but they are ones that are worth the investment.

April 5, 2018

5 Signs Your Ductwork Needs Attention

You can’t see it because it is hidden behind walls, but ductwork is a vital part of your home and one that could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year if it isn’t working properly. It’s hard to know if your ductwork needs attention because the problems aren’t often noticeable or visible, but paying attention to these five signs could help you know if your ductwork needs to be checked.

Noises

Image via Flickr by HomeSpot HQ

If you hear rattling, whistling, or humming when your HVAC system is running, it could be a sign the ductwork isn’t working properly. It could be that the HVAC system is creating greater air pressure than the ducts can handle or there could be a leak in the ducts that needs to be repaired. In most cases, noises don’t indicate a major problem, but one that can be corrected with an HVAC tune-up or a relatively simply repair.

Weak Air Flow

Is your system not pumping out enough air? It could be that there is blockage or debris in the ducts that needs to be cleaned out. It could also indicate a tear or crack in the duct that is causing air to leak or the vents could be the wrong size to effectively deliver air. Weak air flow can happen throughout the entire home or in just a few vents. To get an idea of where the problem is located, check the air flow from each vent in the house.

Uneven Temperatures

Ideally, your heating and cooling systems should work so that every room in the house is the same temperature. If that isn’t the case, it could be due to blockage or breakage in the ductwork or vents in one area of the house that are the wrong size.

Dust

If your home is collecting more dust than usual, it could be a sign that there is debris in your ductwork. This issue can often be solved by simply changing the HVAC air filter, but it could also be a sign that a larger, system-wide filter needs to be installed. Dust and debris in the ductwork can cause the HVAC system to work inefficiently or break down.

Humidity

Mustiness or higher humidity than normal in your home can signal that the ductwork has cracks or tears that are allowing condensation to form. Pay attention to the humidity level in your home; if it seems to be increasing as the weather stays the same, it’s likely your HVAC system. If condensation isn’t removed and cracks aren’t repaired quickly, it could lead to mold growth in the ductwork.

Paying attention to how your HVAC system is working and how air is moving through your ductwork can alert you to potential issues before they grow into larger and more expensive problems. An HVAC technician can inspect the ducts and make repairs, but only if you are aware to what is going on. Paying attention to the ductwork could save you lots of money.

5 Signs Your Ductwork Needs Attention

You can’t see it because it is hidden behind walls, but ductwork is a vital part of your home and one that could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year if it isn’t working properly. It’s hard to know if your ductwork needs attention because the problems aren’t often noticeable or visible, but paying attention to these five signs could help you know if your ductwork needs to be checked.

Noises

Image via Flickr by HomeSpot HQ

If you hear rattling, whistling, or humming when your HVAC system is running, it could be a sign the ductwork isn’t working properly. It could be that the HVAC system is creating greater air pressure than the ducts can handle or there could be a leak in the ducts that needs to be repaired. In most cases, noises don’t indicate a major problem, but one that can be corrected with an HVAC tune-up or a relatively simply repair.

Weak Air Flow

Is your system not pumping out enough air? It could be that there is blockage or debris in the ducts that needs to be cleaned out. It could also indicate a tear or crack in the duct that is causing air to leak or the vents could be the wrong size to effectively deliver air. Weak air flow can happen throughout the entire home or in just a few vents. To get an idea of where the problem is located, check the air flow from each vent in the house.

Uneven Temperatures

Ideally, your heating and cooling systems should work so that every room in the house is the same temperature. If that isn’t the case, it could be due to blockage or breakage in the ductwork or vents in one area of the house that are the wrong size.

Dust

If your home is collecting more dust than usual, it could be a sign that there is debris in your ductwork. This issue can often be solved by simply changing the HVAC air filter, but it could also be a sign that a larger, system-wide filter needs to be installed. Dust and debris in the ductwork can cause the HVAC system to work inefficiently or break down.

Humidity

Mustiness or higher humidity than normal in your home can signal that the ductwork has cracks or tears that are allowing condensation to form. Pay attention to the humidity level in your home; if it seems to be increasing as the weather stays the same, it’s likely your HVAC system. If condensation isn’t removed and cracks aren’t repaired quickly, it could lead to mold growth in the ductwork.

Paying attention to how your HVAC system is working and how air is moving through your ductwork can alert you to potential issues before they grow into larger and more expensive problems. An HVAC technician can inspect the ducts and make repairs, but only if you are aware to what is going on. Paying attention to the ductwork and keeping up with home maintenance could save you lots of money.

Not Sure Where The Pests In Your Home Are Coming From? The Professionals At Terminix Can Help

Discovering ants, cockroaches, or other pests around your home may make you feel like a bad housekeeper, but the problem may not be due to a lack of cleanliness or home maintenance. Insects, rodents, and wildlife don’t need an invitation to move in and take up residence; everything and everywhere is fair game. To be specific, dry, warm spots inside your home are especially attractive to house-hunting insects. Part of the job of controlling pests is figuring out how they’re getting inside, and a professional, such as a pest control cockroach infestations, can help you find and fix the weak spots in your home’s defenses. For expert assessment, you should look at these areas:

Windows and Screens

Inspect window screens for tears and holes and look for edges of the screen that may have escaped from the frame. Examine the weather stripping for loose or worn spots and replace if needed.

Daylight and Doors

Look for light around the doors; if you can see it, insects can get through there. Ensure that your doors form a seal when closed by replacing worn door sweeps. Don’t forget to check the door into the garage too.

Gaps in Siding

Siding should meet the edges of the house trim; seal any gaps you find between the points where they should meet. Seal gaps between siding and the foundation as well because gaps at ground-level are entry points.

Foundations and Exterior Walls

Can you see a few inches of the foundation? If not, remove topsoil to expose a few inches or more. Soil that is high enough to meet the exterior walls provides easy access to bugs. Trim shrubs and plants to keep them from touching the exterior.

Dryer Vents

Inspect dryer vents as well as kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. Vent dampers should be able to move without obstruction; replace any that are broken.

Crawl Spaces

If you can’t get into the crawl space yourself, have someone do it for you. Check screens over the opening for holes and tears, which may be a point of entry.

Wall Areas

Examine TV cables, plumbing, and HVAC passages through the walls and apply a double seal to block insects. Caulk around the exterior entry/exit points, as well as the interior openings.

Chimney Caps

Consider installing a chimney cap to block larger animals, such as squirrels, raccoons, or birds, from using this large entry point. Because rodents can bring bugs, fleas, and other pests into the home with them, a cap provides extra protection. Be sure to examine the cap for damage on a regular basis.

On the Roof

Inspect fascia, soffits, and roof vents for damage and look closely at the points where rooflines meet. These junctures can be attractive to yellow jackets and wasps. Examine vent screens too.

Whether you want to take back your kitchen from insects infestations or have bigger problems, such as rodents or wildlife, pest control in San Antonio is available through Terminix. Enlist a team of experienced professionals who know where to look and what to look for in helping you determine how pests are getting into your home.

March 20, 2018

Ammcor Reviews The 5 Benefits Of Renting A Property

According to Ammcor, a property management company in San Clemente, Orange County, we still live in a world in which people think that they cannot be classed as successful unless they purchase a home. However, there are some tremendous benefits to renting instead and those should be considered as well. Here, Ammcor reviews the top 5 benefits associated with being a tenant instead of buying a home.

Ammcor Reviews Top 5 Pros of Being a Tenant

  1. Renting is simple, quick, and easy. Buying a house requires complicated applications, meetings with lawyers and accountants, complex contracts, and more. Renting, by contrast is a lot easier, particularly when arranged through a property management company like Ammcor. People are recommended to read the reviews others have left about them to view why they are so popular.
  2. You don’t have to make a huge financial down payment. Usually, to become a tenant, you will have to put down a deposit of around one month’s rent. While this is still a significant amount, it is nothing compared to what you would have to pay for a mortgage. A deposit of 20% of the purchase price is generally required. This money is an investment, but it is also money that you will basically never see again. A tenant deposit, by contrast, is given back when you move, minus any costs for repairs to return the property to its original state.
  3. You have no maintenance costs. A property management company like Ammcor is responsible for all the maintenance costs associated with the home. If you buy, they are all yours to pay for which can be very costly. A broken toilet, a leaky roof, burst pipes, a sinkhole in the garden. They are all things that can cost thousands of dollars that you don’t have to pay for as a tenant.
  4. It is a lot more flexible. If you buy a home and want to move, you will have to list your property, hope that people view it and make an offer, negotiate the offer, deal with lawyers and accountants, and more. This process can take months, if not years. If you are a tenant, however, you usually only have a one month’s notice period, after which you can simply go elsewhere, be that around the corner or to the other side of the country.
  5. It is financially flexible as well. When you are a tenant, you pay rent and that is fixed for set periods of time. While there may be the occasion increase, which is contractually laid out, you always know what you have to pay. You don’t have to worry about repair and maintenance costs, mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance premiums, or interest. In fact, you may not even have to worry about bills, because things like utilities are often included in your monthly payments. The money you save by renting can be used for a range of other things, including investments.

Golden State Financial Group Explains the Concept of Home Loan Modifications

A home loan modification is a financial construction in which an existing mortgage is changed to make it more comfortable for borrowers, ensuring they can continue to make their repayments. Essentially, borrowers ask their lenders, often through a company like Golden State Financial Group, to make changes to the existing loan terms because they are facing some sort of hardship. In so doing, they ensure that they don’t have to go through foreclosure, and the lender ensures they still get their money.

Golden State Financial Group on What Home Loan Modifications Are

These plans are part of the Home Affordable Modification Program, which was developed in February 2009, at the height of the foreclosure crisis. The aim was to ensure people who struggled to make their repayments would be able to come to a more affordable arrangement. The standards have been federally set under this program.

Someone who is struggling to make their home repayments because of hardship can use these programs to avoid foreclosure. Their home loan is restructured by lowering interest rates, extending the loan term, and even writing off some of the principal. The aim is to make sure that what the borrower pays stays below 31% of their gross monthly income.

Qualifying for a Home Loan Modification

Not everybody qualifies for these types of programs. Lenders do have their own in-house modification programs, but if someone applies through the federal arrangements, they must:

Have taken out their mortgage before January 2009. This stops opportunists from taking advantage.

Be the home’s owner-occupant.

Be in negative equity.

Be in significant financial hardship as a result of reduced income, medical bills, increased mortgage repayments, and so on.

Currently make payments towards a mortgage that are more than 31% of their monthly gross income.

Prove they can make the new repayments.

The goal of a home loan modification is to ensure you can repay a loan, not to stop you from having to pay it at all. If you are in such financial distress that you cannot make any repayments, then other solutions will have to be found.

During the application, people need to provide a wealth of information, including:

Proof of gross income.

Proof of assets.

Tax returns.

Account balances.

Proof of monthly payments.

Proof of any other outstanding debt and payments made towards that.

Furthermore, applying for a loan modification means writing a financial hardship letter. This letter needs to explain, in a short and concise manner, why the individual is in financial distress and what has caused this. Once all this information has been collected, it must be sent to the lender with a request for loan modification, which they will then review. Asking for the help of a company like Golden State Financial Group is often a good idea, as it means they can check whether all the necessary documentation is present and whether it is offered in the right way. This avoid being rejected and having to start to process again.

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