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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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HOME IMPROVEMENT Thursday, September 20, 2018

A special supplement to



Fall Home Improvement

2 Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Times - Delivering Your Community

Considering an energy audit? Get informed Metro Creative Services


The average household uses approximately 29,935 watt-hours in a day. Streator resident Jim Turner’s panels produced as much as 29,564 watt-hours in a day during a rainy June month.

Solar panels may turn a nice profit for Streator homeowner SUMMER HOAGLAND-ABERNATHY For The Times Streator resident Jim Turner was paid to use solar energy — and for good reason. Passersby and neighbors alike regularly stop at the Turner household to ogle at the shining attraction, irregular to the usual countryside: his towering solar panels. The panels, guaranteed for 25 years, produced as much as 29,564 watt-hours in a day during a rainy June month, and the average household uses approximately 29,935. Because of the possibility of extra energy, Turner could actually make money on this investment. This gain is due to a monetary incentive program set in place by the state due to its goal of using renewable resources to create 25 percent of its electricity by 2025. According to energysage. com, for each megawatt hour of electricity your solar system produces, you will be granted one Solar Renewable Energy Credit that you can then sell in the market, creating a nice income stream for

the life of the system.” There is also a tax break called the Special Assessment for Solar Energy Systems so that panel-owners will not need to pay the property tax for the expensive installation on their land.

‘If I could get two or three more people to do this, the world will be a better place for my grandkids.’ JIM TURNER Solar panel homeowner However, Turner went with a simpler option. He sold his upcoming SRECs for approximately $6,000 dollars, lump sum — half the amount the 16-grid panel costs — so that the buyer could sell the credits on the open market instead.

Head of Independence Renewable Energy LLC Norman Johnson, who installed the panels, said that this lump sum option can be better or worse, depending on the size of the system. If it is 10 kilowatts or less, the lump sum might be more useful to the owner. The only downside to the system that Johnson could think of was that if the panels were installed on a roof instead of a yard, and that roof had to be replaced, this could be an added cost. However, the solar panels themselves have a 25-year warranty, and Turner pays an extra $25 per year on insurance to protect his panels from hail, rocks and other damages. But compared to the cost of a monthly light bill, $25 every year is a small price to pay. Although, money isn’t the only incentive to buy a solar panel. Using renewable energy is one of the best ways to help the environment. As Turner said, “If I could get two or three more people to do this, the world will be a better place for my grandkids.”

Overconsumption of energy is a problem that plagues many homeowners. Wasting energy can hurt homeowners’ bottom lines and the planet. But many homeowners aren’t aware just how much energy their homes are consuming and even wasting. That’s why a home energy audit can be so important. A home energy audit or assessment investigates just how much energy a home consumes so homeowners can make their homes more energy efficient. Audits identify where energy is being wasted and can offer suggestions to fix the problem. The U.S. Department of Energy advises that the average U.S. household consumes around 90 million btus in a year. Of the energy used in homes, nearly 50 percent goes to heating and cooling. Water heating, appliances, electronics, and lighting account for the remaining consumption. Consumers can save between 5 and 30 percent on home energy bills by getting a home energy audit and making the adjustments advised by auditors. There are two types of energy audits: professional and do-it-yourself. Professional auditors will go room-to-room to assess a home’s energy use. Typical testing includes thermographic scans and infrared cameras to determine air leakage and insulation; a blower door test, which depressurizes the home and simulates the effect of a 20 mph wind to find air leaks; and watt meter measurements to test energy usage by various devices throughout the house. Before an auditor comes to the house, homeowners can make a list of any problems or concerns they want to discuss with the auditor. The auditor also may interview the homeowner to learn about how the home normally runs and can analyze energy

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Many homeowners aren’t aware just how much energy their homes are consuming and even wasting. That’s why a home energy audit can be important.

bills to determine typical energy consumption. Windows, doors, HVAC systems, insulation, fireplaces, and lighting fixtures all may be assessed during a professional audit. Even though a professional audit is usually the best way to determine where a home is losing energy, homeowners can conduct their own audits to detect and fix problems. Locating and sealing air leaks, addressing inadequate ventilation, checking that insulation levels and vapor barriers are at recommended levels, and inspecting HVAC systems should be part of any DIY audit. If a heating/cooling unit is more than 15 years old, the DOE suggests having it replaced with a newer, energy-efficient unit. An energy audit can identify areas around a home where improvements can be made to reduce energy consumption and waste. Upgrading to new appliances, replacing light bulbs, sealing drafts, improving insulation, and addressing moisture and water leaks can be good for the environment and help homeowners save money.

Fall Home Improvement

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Thursday, September 20, 2018 3

Protect your home (and more) from winter’s freeze Metro Creative Service Freezing temperatures may be good for ice skating or building snowmen, but sub-freezing temperatures can be dangerous for the average person and his or her home. Cold weather often leaves people scurrying to do whatever is necessary to safeguard themselves from the big chill. But it’s important homeowners also protect their homes in cold weather.

Plumbing Plumbing and pipes may be vulnerable to cold weather. Frozen pipes may burst and cause substantial damage to a home, potentially causing flooding and structural damage. Homeowners should disconnect and drain garden hoses before winter arrives. Water to outdoor hose bibs should be turned off, though the valves on these outdoor faucets should be left open to drain. Also, outdoor faucets can be covered with insulating foam covers.

The Red Cross says pipes that freeze most frequently include pipes in unheated areas, such as basements, attics, garages, and crawl spaces. Close vents to the outside in areas like attics and basements to limit the amount of cold air that gets indoors. Think about insulating unheated areas, as well as using pipe sleeves, heat tape or wraps on exposed pipes. By opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors, homeowners can allow warm air from a home to reach pipes under the sink. During extreme freezes, keep cold water dripping from a sink to prevent pipes from freezing.

Service HVAC systems It’s important to ensure that heating systems are working properly prior to the cold-weather season. It may only take hours for the interior of a home to reach dangerously low temperatures without adequate heat. Homeowners should schedule annual

LEFT: Cold weather often leaves people scurrying to do whatever is necessary to safeguard themselves from the big chill. But it’s important homeowners also protect their homes in cold weather.

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off when leaving the room and remembering to avoid overloading outlets.

Protect outside

checkups of furnaces and hot water heaters. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a clean air filter and make sure all thermostats are working properly.

Have fuel ready Homeowners who heat their homes with oil, wood or coal should make sure they

have plenty of fuel on hand in advance of winter. Shortages can occur, and it may take some time for new fuel to arrive in the midst of a cold snap. As a precaution, homeowners can rely on portable space heaters to fill in the heating gaps during freezing temperatures. Exercise extreme caution with these devices, turning them

Drain birdbaths, clean out downspouts and remove water from other items where water can freeze and cause damage. Inspect roofing prior to the snowy season, but stay off roofs during freezing weather. Remove snow shovels and other winter gear from storage and make sure the items are easily accessible during snowstorms. Winter’s bite can be severe. Homeowners can protect themselves and their properties when the freeze sets in.

Questions to ask before embracing DIY Metro Creative Service Home improvement projects are as popular as ever. In its 2017 True Cost Survey, the home improvement site HomeAdvisor found that, between February 2016 and February 2017, homeowners spent an average of just over $5,000 on home projects. That marked a nearly $1,900 increase from the year prior, indicating that homeowners are increasingly opening their wallets to transform their homes. In addition to spending money to improve their homes, many homeowners are spending their time on projects as well. While DIY projects can provide a sense

LEFT: While DIY projects can provide a sense of fulfillment and personal attachment to one’s home, prospective do-it-yourselfers should ask themselves some questions before picking up their hammers and getting to work.

of fulfillment and personal attachment to one’s home, prospective do-it-yourselfers should ask themselves some questions before picking up their hammers and getting to work.

Do I have any physical limitations? No matter how much home improvement television shows may simplify projects, prospective DIYers should know that such undertakings are typically very difficult and oftentimes physically demanding. Homeowners with existing health conditions or other physical limitations may not be capable of performing certain tasks or may need to take frequent breaks, which can delay projects.

Do I have the time?

Many home improvement projects require a significant amount of time to complete. Homeowners whose time is already stretched thin with commitments to work Metro Creative Service and/or family may not be able

to complete projects within a reasonable amount of time. That’s fine if working on a part of the home that won’t affect daily life, but can prove stressful or problematic if the project is in a room, such as a kitchen or bathroom, that residents of the home use each day. Novice DIYers should be especially honest with themselves about the time they have available to work on the project, as such homeowners are bound to experience a few time-consuming missteps along the way.

Can I afford it? While DIY might seem more affordable than hiring a contractor, that’s not necessarily true. Novice DIYers may need to buy or rent tools, costs that can add up. Contractors already have the tools necessary to begin and complete projects, so the cost savings of DIY might not be as significant as homeowners think.

See DIY, page 5

4 Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fall Home Improvement

The Times - Delivering Your Community

Green options in home siding

Metro Creative Service If new siding is on the list of must-do home projects this year, there are many factors to consider. Though it’s a transformative renovation, replacement siding is a significant and potentially expensive undertaking. Therefore, careful consideration must be given to the materials used and their maintenance, longevity, insulation factor, and cost. Many homeowners also want siding that is eco-friendly. Sustainability is an important consideration for many homeowners. Data from the National Association of Home Builders’ “Green Multifamily and Single Family Homes 2017 SmartMarket Brief ” indicates that at least one-third of single-family and multifamily home builders who were surveyed said that green building is a significant portion of their overall activity (more than 60 percent of their portfolio). By 2022, this number should increase to nearly one-half in both the single-family and multifamily sectors. Green building has become an important and established part of the residental construction sector. Where siding is sourced, the materials that go into its fabrication and how well that siding insulates a home are key aspects of its “green factor.” The following are some of the more sustainable options in home siding.

Reclaimed timber A house sided with clapboard, or a log cabin-inspired look, is iconic. These types of siding are typically made from insect-repellant pine, cedar, cypress, or redwood. While lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council is environmentally friendly, homeowners may want to seek out reclaimed lumber. This wood has history and causes very little environmental impact. Plus, timber salvaged from old buildings or fallen trees may be superior to new wood because it likely came from slow-growing, old trees with dense grain.

See SIDING, page 5

Stucco, reclaimed wood and brick can be more eco-friendly than vinyl siding and other materials.

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Fall Home Improvement

The Times - Delivering Your Community

7 uses for fallen leaves Metro Creative Services

By the time autumn hits full swing, many trees will have shed their leaves for the season, and the last vestiges of red, yellow and orange magic will have faded to brown. Raking, blowing and collecting leaves becomes the primary chores of lawn and yard maintenance, and presents most homeowners with large piles of gathered leaves to tend to. It is impossible to count just how many leaves fall to the ground each year, or just how many pounds of leaves get collected curbside, but the numbers are substantial. Cleaning up leaves is considerable work, but not all of those leaves need to be carted away. In fact, there are several different uses of leaves that can be beneficial. 1. Spread leaves as a protective mulch to cover tender perennials or root crops/bulbs in the ground.

Thursday, September 20, 2018 5

DIY: Novice DIYers should enlist help From page 3 Before going the DIY route, homeowners should solicit estimates from contractors, comparing the estimates to how much a project will cost if homeowners do it themselves.

Can I go it alone? Many home improvement projects require more than one set of hands, and it’s risky and even foolish for first-time DIYers to assume they can begin a project and see it through to completion entirely on their own. Homeowners whose spouses, partners, friends, or relatives are willing to chip in may think that’s enough. However, the DIY skills of those who volunteer may be

a mystery until the project begins. Novice DIYers should enlist the help of a friend or family member with home improvement experience. If no such person is available, it may be wise to hire a contractor instead. Home improvement projects may seem simple on television. But prospective do-ityourselfers must make honest assessments of their skills, time and budgets before taking on a DIY project.

Follow The Times reporters on Twitter @TT_bbader @TT_derekb @TT_dchurney

See LEAVES, page 6 RIGHT: Cleaning up leaves is considerable work, but not all of those leaves need to be carted away. In fact, there are several different uses of leaves that can be beneficial.

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Siding From page 4 Brick Avoid any negative environmental impact by choosing locally produced or reclaimed bricks — or those made from post-consumer content. The longevity of bricks can often offset the energy expenditure in their manufacture. Plus, many bricks are made from natural clay, which can be an excellent insulator.

Stucco HouseLogic says traditional stucco is made from sand and Portland cement mixed

with water to make a usable plaster. It’s tough and durable — often lasting the life of the house. Eco-friendly variants include stucco made with an earth-and-lime mixture, offsetting the CO2 emissions associated with cement production. Stucco can reduce air infiltration that causes drafts in a home.

Fiber-cement Fiber-cement is similar to stucco in that it is made from sand, Portland cement, clay, and wood pulp fibers. It can be fire-resistant and insect-proof and will not rot. It’s a stable material that can recover almost 80 percent of the initial cost, according to

the National Association of Realtors®.

Stone This nonrenewable resource can be beautiful on a home and durable, but mining it can impact the environment. If homeowners can use reclaimed or displaced stone, those are more sustainable options. Manufactured stone, which is cement and other materials molded to look like stone, is also aesthetically appealing and more eco-friendly. Replacing siding is a significant undertaking. Homeowners can consider sustainability when selecting replacement siding materials.

Ginger Walter

321 E. Main St. Suite 1, Streator Phone: 815-673-1843 Fax: 815-673-1823 Email:

@TT_cellerbrock @TT_jtpedelty @TT_brianhoxsey

Fall Home Improvement

6 Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Times - Delivering Your Community

How to pet-proof a home Metro Creative Service

Tens of millions of households throughout North America include pets. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation reports that more than 80 million households in the United States include companion animals, while the 2014 Canadian Pet Market Outlook reported that 57 percent of Canadian households owned pets. Pets are a big responsibility, and responsible pet owners recognize that the work begins even before pets come home. Pet proofing a home protects pets from accidents and injuries as they grow acclimated to their surroundings. u Install childproof latches. Much like children after they learn to crawl and then walk, young pets tend to be curious, and that curiosity can put them in precarious positions. Pet owners should install childproof latches on low drawers and cabinets, especially those beneath sinks where potentially harmful cleaning products are typically stored. Curious pet paws may be able to pry or pull open cabinets and drawers, but childproof latches can make that considerably more difficult if not impossible. Metro Creative Service u Close toilet lids. While Pet proofing a home protects pets from accidents and injuries as images of puppies drinking they grow acclimated to their surroundings. from toilets may elicit some

Leaves From page 5 The leaves will form a natural insulating cover that keeps the soil and the plants within a bit warmer over winter. 2. Create a pile of leaves that will break down and form a crumbly, compost-like material called leaf mold. Even though leaf mold may sound like a blight, it’s actually a good amendment to garden soil, improving its structure and ability to hold water. Leaf mold also attracts beneficial organisms that are vital in healthy soil. 3. Brown leaves can be added to green materials in compost piles to improve the health

of the compost being formed. According to the healthy living resource Care2, the ideal ratio is 75 percent brown to 25 percent green materials in compost. Turn compost piles regularly to aerate them. 4. Store dried, mulched leaves in a dry spot so they can be used in the spring as a weed barrier for spring plantings. They will keep weeds at bay and help retain soil moisture to ensure small sprouts have the resources to grow. 5. Use shredded leaves as a lawn supplement. Pass a lawn mower over leaves left on the lawn to break them down into pieces too small to rake. This will help keep the lawn healthy

throughout the winter without blocking out needed sunlight. 6. Bag dried leaves and pack them tightly together in cold areas of the home, such as basements or garages. They can act as added insulation. Bags of leaves also can be placed around planting containers to protect them from frost. 7. Gather a few of the best-looking leaves and preserve them. Use an iron on a low setting and press leaves between two pieces of waxed paper until the waxed paper seals together. Or use clear contact paper to achieve the same effect. Fallen leaves can be used in many different ways throughout the year.

foods are not left out where pets can reach them when you are hosting friends or family members. If necessary, make sure all foods are served on dinner tables or kitchen counters that are inaccessible to pets. u Conceal all wires. Today’s homes are more connected than ever before, and that often translates to more wires around the house. Make sure all wires are bundled together and out of the reach and view of pets, who may be tempted to chew on them. Even wires that are out of reach may tempt pets if they can see them, so pet owners should make concerted efforts laughs, the nonprofit organizato conceal wires. tion American Humane warns u Move or remove potentially that chemicals in common toilet poisonous plants. Plant lovers cleaners can be deadly to pets. may not have worried if their In addition, small puppies or plants were poisonous when kittens can drown in toilets. they had no intention of welKeep all toilet lids close when coming pets into their homes. toilets are not in use. But prospective pet owners u Keep potentially harmshould research each plant ful items out of pets’ reach. Household cleaners beneath the in their homes to make sure they’re not poisonous. Move kitchen sink are not the only items around the house that can potentially poisonous plants to be harmful to pets. Medications places where pets cannot access should always be stored on high them. Remove any poisonous shelves where pets cannot reach floor plants from the home them. In addition, make sure all before purchasing or adopting a pet. laundry room items, including Pets, particularly puppies and detergent and dryer sheets, kittens, tend to be curious. Pet are stored out of pets’ reach. Discuss human foods that might parents can protect pets from their own curiosity by pet proofbe harmful to pets with a veting their homes. erinarian and make sure such

‘Close toilet lids. While images of puppies drinking from toilets may elicit some laughs, American Humane warns that chemicals in common cleaners can be deadly to pets.

Fall Home Improvement

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Thursday, September 20, 2018 7

Prepare for visiting elder guests Metro Creative Service Homeowners may find themselves hosting senior guests several times throughout a typical year. These occasions can be wonderful opportunities for making memories, but homeowners may need to take certain precautions to ensure that guests are safe and comfortable. This may involve making some minor modifications around the home. Mobility and comfort needs for seniors may differ those necessary to accommodate other guests. Meeting the needs of senior guests may involve any of the following. u Make sure pathways leading to and from the home are level, cleared and easy to see. u If possible, add a ramp over stairs that lead to the front door. Ensure handrails are sturdy. u Remove clutter and excess furniture if a guest visiting will be using a walker or a manual/motorized wheelchair.

u Remove accent rugs from a home, and be sure that any mats are secured with nonslip material. u Increase lighting in entryways, staircases and hallways, especially areas leading to kitchens or bathrooms. u If guests will be staying overnight, arrange sleeping accommodations on the first floor and/or in a room closest to the bathroom. u Well-placed grab bars in the bathroom can be an asset. See if you can borrow a portable shower seat to make bathing or showering easier for overnight senior guests. u For long-term guests, consider replacing round doorknobs and other pulls with lever-action ones that are easy to grab. u Concessions may need to be made concerning interior temperature, noise levels and television viewing. Several easy modifications can be made to make senior guests feel comfortable when visiting others.

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With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s a good idea to start making your home more senior-friendly to accommodate any elderly guests.

Pay less now and you will be paying more in the end!

Autumn a prime time to tend lawns and gardens



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Mums are perennials. When properly planted and cared for, they can bloom every autumn.

Autumn is gardening season. That statement may not seem right to those who think of the spring as the peak time to care for lawns and gardens. However, autumn is an ideal time to get into the garden and ensure that flowers, trees and garden beds will over-winter successfully. A number of things make autumn a prime gardening season. The cooler days of fall enable gardeners to spend ample time outdoors without the threat of blazing heat. In addition, soil harbors a lot of residual warmth in autumn. Also, the colder temperatures haven’t yet arrived in autumn, nor have the leaves completely fallen, making fall a prime time to assess what’s already in the landscape, what needs pruning back and where to address planting for next year. Gardening enthusiasts can focus their attention on these areas this fall.

See LAWNS, page 8


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Fall Home Improvement

8 Thursday, September 20, 2018

Lawns From page 7 u Pamper perennials. As annuals and perennials start to fall back, mark the spots where perennials are located so they can be easily identified later on. This way, when planning spots for spring bulbs or other spring layouts for next year, perennials won’t be overlooked or covered over. u Prune shrubs. Look at shrubs and trees and cut out dead or diseased wood. u Clean up borders. Weed and tidy up borders and lawn edging. u Install pavers or rock wall. Embrace the cooler temperatures to work on labor-intensive projects, such as putting in a garden bed, retaining wall or walkway. u Remove spent summer veggies. Take out vegetable garden plants that have already bloomed and borne fruit. Tidy up vegetable gardens and start to sow cooler weather plants, such as onions, garlic, beans, and sweet peas. u Rake and compost. Rake the leaves and gather grass clippings to add to the compost pile. u Plant spring bulbs. Get tulips and other spring bulbs ready for planting so they’ll burst with color next year. u Dig up herbs. Relocate herbs like parsley or basil to indoor gardens. Otherwise, strip all leaves and freeze for storage during winter. u Consider mums. Chrysanthemum plants are perennials. While they look beautiful in pots, if planted, maintained and winterized, they can bloom every fall. u Fertilize the lawn. Fertilizing in autumn helps ensure grass will stay healthy throughout the winter. u Add mulch and compost to the garden. Replenish spent soil with mulch and compost so garden beds will be revitalized for spring planting. u Prune hedges. Tidy up hedges, as they won’t be growing much more this year. u Clean and store equipment. Clean, sharpen and oil all equipment, storing lawn and garden tools properly so they are ready for spring and not lying out all winter. Autumn may not seem like gardening season, but there are plenty of lawn and garden tasks to tend to during this time of year.

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Make your fall clean-up eco-friendly Metro Creative Service Certain tasks become necessary once autumn arrives. Whereas spring and summer were spent tending gardens and maintaining a yard prime for entertaining, autumn is about preparing properties to survive the winter. Just as with other jobs around the house and yard, fall clean-up can be done in a manner that is respectful to the environment.

Leave plant stalks and leaves It is tempting to want to cut back perennials and other greenery so a property looks neat. But as flowers and plants dry and drop to the ground, they help insulate the roots from the cold. They also provide a natural habitat and serve as a winter food source for birds and small animals.

Rake leaves sensibly Power blowers and mulchers make fast work of leaves, but at the expense of the environment. Gas-powered devices discharge fuel exhaust into the air, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, reap the benefits of peace and quiet as well as exercise from manual raking. While raking, do not feel the need to remove every leaf. A certain amount of organic matter can be beneficial to the soil and even insulate the lawn somewhat. A leftover leaf here or there also may provide protection for insects and small animals. For example, many native bees spend the winter in tunnels in the ground, cracks in mortar, holes in dead wood, or within hollow stems, and they need lawn and garden litter to survive.

Compost is a friend Spread a thin layer of compost on the lawn and in garden beds. Compost prevents weed growth, insulates and protects the soil and

provides nutrients that will be needed once the spring busy season begins. By using compost, homeowners can reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers and weed killers.

Check for drafts and leaks Fall is an ideal time to check windows and doors for cracks where water, air or insects can enter. Seal up holes and cracks, and ensure there are no drafty areas. Drafts can cause home heating and cooling systems to work harder, expending more energy than necessary.

Collect and harvest Be sure to gather any useable garden vegetables and fruits and prepare them for storage if they cannot be consumed in the next few days. Canning is a time-honored preservation method.

Herbs and seeds can be dried and saved for use later on. Vacuum seal fresh basil and parsley.

Take inventory Look at which items in the yard have seen better days and prepare to recycle or reuse them in different ways. Faded plastic planters can be used as impromptu bird baths in a garden. An old tire can be mulched and turned into soft material to put around a playset. Inquire as to the proper way to recycle plastic

Forget the gaspowered mulchers and blowers. Instead, enjoy the quiet and savor the exercise that comes with raking. lawn chairs that may be broken. Autumn yard work should be performed in as eco-friendly a fashion as possible.

Fall Home Improvement

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Clean indoor air can help reduce asthma attacks Metro Creative Services Did you know that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 million Americans, including roughly seven million children, have asthma? It’s true, and those numbers have steadily risen in recent years. Asthma is more than occasional wheezing or feeling out of breath during physical activity. Asthma is chronic and can lead to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, fast breathing, and chest tightness, states the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In the 21st century, people spend significant time indoors at home, school or work, and indoor air environments could be triggers for asthma. Improving indoor air quality can help people breathe clearly. The AAFA notes that the following agents can adversely affect indoor air quality, potentially triggering asthma attacks.

Allergens Allergens such as mold, dust mites, pet dander and fur, and waste from insects or rodents thrive in many homes. Ensuring indoor air quality is high can cut back on the amount of allergens in the air. People with asthma can invest in an air purifier and vacuum regularly, being Metro Creative Service sure to use a HEPA-equipped Improving indoor air quality can help people breathe clearly. The appliance. Routinely replacAAFA notes that the following agents can adversely affect indoor air ing HVAC system filters can quality, potentially triggering asthma attacks. help prevent allergens from

Helpful basement remodeling tips Metro Creative Service A basement remodeling project can add valuable and usable space to a home. For many years, homeowners overlooked the potential of a basement remodel, perhaps thinking it would not be a smart return on investment. But that’s no longer the case. The latest “Cost vs. Value”

report from Remodeling magazine says the average basement remodel can cost around $61,000 with a 70.3 percent recoup rate. In addition, HGTV says architects and contractors indicate the cost of redoing a basement is roughly one-third to one-half less than the price of putting an addition on a home.

Before remodeling a basement, homeowners should think about how they want to use the space. Homeowners also must focus on some potential obstacles in a basement that will need to be addressed so that the area can be as functional as possible.

See BASEMENT, page 12

blowing around the house. Also, frequent maintenance of HVAC systems will ensure they are operating safely and not contributing to poor indoor air quality. Mold can be mitigated by reducing moisture in a home. Moist environments in the kitchen and bathroom may promote mold growth. Ventilation is key to keep mold at bay.

into air over time. Keeping tobacco smoke out of a home can improve indoor air quality and personal health.


Tobacco smoke Thirdhand smoke, or THS, may be unfamiliar to many people. A 2011 report published in Environmental Health Perspectives says THS is an invisible combination of gases and particles that can cling to clothing, cushions, carpeting, and other materials long after secondhand smoke has cleared from a room. Studies have indicated that residual nicotine levels can be found in house dust where people smoke or once smoked. Studies have indicated that smoke compounds can adsorb onto surfaces and then desorb back

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases released from commonly used products. These can include paints and varnishes, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, new furniture, and new carpet. People with asthma may find that VOCs can trigger attacks. Airing out items, reducing usage of products that are heavily scented and choosing low- or no-VOC products can help. Making cleaning products from baking soda, vinegar and liquid oil soap also can keep indoor air quality high. Homeowners who plan to renovate their homes can consider using the appropriate specifications for HVAC systems to promote good indoor air, as well as address any other potential problems that may be compromising indoor air quality.

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Handy Services Guide Look up these local businesses for essential home improvements




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Thursday, September 20, 2018 11

Handy Services Guide Look up these local businesses for essential home improvements


Aluminum Inc. Siding & Window Installation

Free Estimates Vinyl & Steel Siding All Types of Windows Soffit and Fascia

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1603 Peoria Street Peru 815-224-3371 Quality Work. Fair Price. Guaranteed


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Fall Home Improvement

12 Thursday, September 20, 2018


Banishing pet odors from the house

From page 9 Basements can be chilly and damp. That means moisture issues and heating and cooling needs must be addressed prior to any construction. Homeowners may have to consider the installation of a dehumidifier and run venting through the basement to allow for proper climate control. If a basement takes on water, either through the walls or a concrete slab, a professional waterproofing company can come in and fix these issues so they will not damage drywall and flooring afterwards. The presence of insects and pests also must be addressed. Exterminators can help homeowners figure out which insects are in their basements and how to make the space less hospitable to these unwelcome guests so that the room will become comfortable for human occupants. Space is often at a premium in basements, which may contain HVAC units, water heaters, filtration devices, ductwork, pipes, and the other appliances. Qualified contractors can suggest solutions for cordoning off appliances and camouflaging pipes and wires so they won’t detract from the finished product. However, building access panels into the design will make it easier to service or repair features as necessary. Homeowners also may want to wrap pipes before drywall is installed to quiet noisy drainage pipes. Uneven basement flooring will need to be smoothed out and flattened before carpeting or tile can be laid down. A self-leveling underlayment can be applied to fill in gullies, while larger crack and holes will need to be patched. Once the structure of the basement is addressed, then the design work can begin. Many professionals advise against drop ceilings, which can take away from ceiling height and look cheap. Basements can be dark, so the addition of plenty of lighting can help brighten the room. Small basement windows can be replaced with larger ones to add more light

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Metro Creative Service

Metro Creative Service

Before remodeling a basement, homeowners should think about how they want to use the space. Homeowners also must focus on some potential obstacles in a basement that will need to be addressed so that the area can be as functional as possible. as well. Homeowners can mimic built-ins and architectural details from elsewhere in the home so the basement is aesthetically cohesive and doesn’t seem like an addition. Bookcases and shelving can add valuable storage space as well. Decorate the basement

with bright, neutral colors so they make the space feel more inviting. With some effort and financial investment, basements can be as beautiful and functional as other rooms in a home.

Over time, pet owners grow accustomed to their pets’ antics, messes and even their odors. But when company is on the way, pet odors must be eliminated u Find ways to ventilate. Open windows when applicable, use exhaust fans and encourage cross-breezes to air certain odors from the home. u Clean frequently. Cats and dogs can leave behind fur, dander, food messes, and more. Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping floors can help. Don’t forget to vacuum draperies and furniture, and consider purchasing cleaning appliances specifically designed for homes with pets. u Keep on top of accidents and litter boxes. Puppies and even adult dogs have their share of accidents. Cats may avoid litter boxes if they are not cleaned frequently and then soil around the house. Baking soda and vinegar solutions are all-natural ways to clean up and

can help remove urine odors more readily. Also, look for safe deodorizing cleaning products that can be used on carpeting, flooring and upholstery. u Purchase an air purifier. Air purifiers can help remove odors and allergens from the air. u Wash pet blankets and beds. Launder pet beds, cloth toys, blankets, and any other items that pets lounge on. u Keep pets clean. Most pets are very good at self-grooming, but can benefit from a spa treatment once in awhile. Ask a professional groomer what he or she recommends to address potent pet odors.

Metro Creative Service

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