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A clean home is a health and a pleasant home. It looks better, it smells better. But did you know that lurking behind all those smells can be numerous chemicals that are affecting your health? About 16 percent of individuals are extremely sensitive to chemicals. Others may have trouble breathing and some may be concerned with the environmental impact. Research is slowly showing that some ingredients in conventional cleaning chemicals can affect our health and our environment. They can also be expensive. But there are options.

Are homemade cleaners any good? Many people have the perception that a homemade cleaner is not effective. Sometimes, you will need to put a little bit more elbow grease to get somePlease see CLEAN | Page 7

Mix ingredients in spray bottle. For very light jobs, you can also just use baking soda with water, or ½ cup vinegar with 1 quart water. uuu Window/Mirror Cleaner — Mild 3 tablespoons vinegar 1 quart water Mix ingredients in spray bottle. For a stronger solution, mix half and half vinegar and water. Hint: Newspapers leave a streakfree shine. uuu Toilet Bowl Cleaner — Mild ¼ cup baking soda 1 cup vinegar Mix ingredients and pour into basin, allowing to sit for 3 minutes to ½ hour. Scrub with brush and rinse. uuu Oven Cleaner — Mild ¼ cup baking soda 2 tablespoons salt Mix in hot water as needed to make a paste. Let paste sit for 5 minutes. Don’t use on wires or heating elements

curtains or draperies to block heat gain during the summer. If your curtains or draperies aren’t lined, use a sheet, or purchase tightly woven heavier fabric. • Use overhead fans or fans to cool the body in locations most often used. The air conditioning system can be set at a higher temperature when fans are cooling the body.

Cooling • During the day, keep window shades or blinds down and closed, especially on east and west facing windows. In the evening and early morning, open windows if the temperature and humidity are lower. • The recommended thermostat setting for air conditioning is 78 degrees Fahrenheit when people are at home. This setting should be turned up to higher temperatures when no one is home to help reduce the energy use. • If you have a window air conditioner, place it in a window that is shaded or on the north side. This will help it perform more efficiently. Weatherstrip around the air conditioner. • When the cooling system is operating, close and lock all windows and doors. Close exterior sliding storm windows. Locking doors and windows

All-Purpose Cleaner — Mild ½ cup vinegar ¼ cup baking soda ½ gallon hot water

KATIE CULLUM creates at tighter seal and reduces air leaks. During less humid warm days, open the windows in the mornings and evening to allow fresh air to help cool the home. • Use towels or a draft stopper to block air coming in under doors that lead to the outdoors, or buy a door sweep. If the door leaks around the entire frame, install foam weatherstripping between the door and the frame. • Use blinds, shades, and lined

Heating • Set thermostats no higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit when people are home.  • Lower the thermostat when you sleep or not at home. Lowering the thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours can help you save 5-15 percent annually on your heating bill. Energy. gov website states that if the setback period is eight hours or longer than savings of as much as one percent for Please see TIPS | Page 7

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Page 2 • Friday, March 29, 2019

How many times have you sat on the sofa pouring over a home magazine wishing your rooms could be ripped from its pages? Some people are gifted with a natural talent to impart a space with perfectly balanced colors and schemes that fit with one’s lifestyle and design preferences. Others are not as equipped. But that doesn’t mean design has to suffer. An interior designer with knowledge and resources who’s in your corner can make all the difference. Many people are hesitant to bring in professional designers because of cost. But contrary to popular belief, working with an interior decorator is not something reserved for the rich and famous. Designers actually can save homeowners money in the long run. A good designer will choose the right amount of high-quality elements that will be durable and timeless. This means less money will ultimately be spent on replacing cheap materials or redesigning rooms that have gone out of style. According to the design experts at Homepolish, utilizing a designer to transform a space can

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Spring Home Improvement

create rooms that are more in tune and balanced with homeowners’ needs — helping to improve mood and functionality. That can extend to other areas of a person’s life and well-being. Putting the task of designing a home’s interior in someone else’s hands frees up time to focus on other projects as well. Designers can look at a space with a careful eye and not be influenced by items that have sentimental attachment. He or she can help decide if anything should be repurposed or removed. Plus, an interior designer can help homeowners stay on budget. Designers also can serve as liaisons for clients who have difficulty communicating with builders and architects. Designers are trained to think about things that homeowners tend to overlook, such as placement of lighting, outlets and room flow. He or she also likely has contacts within the industry that can be utilized, saving even more time and money. A good designer can be worth the investment. The end results will be an interior that homeowners will be proud to call home.

Home renovations are big business. The home renovation resource Home Advisor states that the national average cost of remodeling multiple rooms in a home was $41,784 in 2018. While homeowners cannot change the size of rooms to save money, they can manipulate the materials used to keep expenses down. Many products on the market today are designed to replicate the look of more costly materials without the higher price tags. User-friendly DIY products also can help corral costs by cutting down on labor expenses.

absorb sound. These products tend to be less expensive than the materials they replicate.

Resilient flooring

Shower kits

Resilient flooring is manufacturered to mimic the look of hardwood, tile, stone, and other materials. According to Armstrong Flooring, specialized manufacturing processes and coatings create a product that resists stains, dents, moisture, and scratches. Most resilient products are made up of several layers to create stability and

Bathroom renovations can increase the overall value of a home. But some homeowners do not have the time or money to do a complete bathroom remodel. Replacing an old vanity with a newer one and replacing an outdated tub/shower combination can improve the functionality of a space without breaking the bank. Shower kits and

Laminate countertops Much like resilient flooring, laminate countertops are inexpensive, lowmaintenance and durable alternatives to stone and solid-surface countertops. They come in many different styles that can look like granite or marble. Homeowners also can consider solid surface materials, tile, concrete, and wood block when looking for cost-efficient countertop materials.

stalls enable homeowners to renovate bathrooms with less hassle than creating a tile- or stone-based shower enclosure. Kit pieces drop in place and may only require minor plumbing work. Certain kits can be installed directly over dated showers for a quick remodel turnaround.

Cabinet refacing Homeowners who want to keep the layout of a kitchen intact but simply update its look can turn to cabinet refacing. The Kitchen Magic renovation company says refacing or resurfacing uses quality wood or laminate veneer to change the color and appearance of the exterior of cabinets without having to remove the existing cabinet frames. New doors, drawers and hardware will complete the transformation at a fraction of the cost of a new cabinet build. Low-cost materials can keep renovation budgets in check and still produce beautiful results.

RENOVATION PROJECTS TAKE TIME

Did you know?

Investing in a home renovation project not only requires money, but also time and patience. While contractors, architects and designers can estimate how long a project may take, it is impossible to anticipate all of the scenarios that can affect that estimated timeline. Information from the real estate firm Keller Williams indicates an average kitchen remodel involving installation of new countertops, cabinets, appliances, and floors can take three to six months. But if ductwork, plumbing or wiring must be addressed, the job may take longer. A midline bathroom remodel may take two to three months. Adding a room to a house can take a month or two. The home improvement resource Renovation Junkies offers similar estimates, with the average home renovation taking between four and eight months. Homeowners need to consider time when planning their home projects.

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Few home design elements provide the instant wow factor of freestanding tubs. Freestanding tubs have an air of luxury that can help current homeowners relax, and impress buyers when homes go on the market. Freestanding tubs are typically made of cast iron or porcelain. The home improvement website HomeAdvisor notes that cast iron is durable and solid and retains heat well, which is great for those who want to spend more than a little time relaxing in a freestanding tub. However, because cast iron is so heavy, installing a cast iron tub may require structural reinforcement of the flooring, which will add to the overall cost of the project. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to install a tub varies widely depending on the type of tub, the materials its made of and other factors, including plumbing and piping. For example, the cost to install a freestanding tub will rise considerably if new plumbing and piping are necessary. Before purchasing a freestanding tub, homeowners should seek estimates regarding installation, making sure to get them in writing. Contractors will determine if structural reinforcement is necessary and include such costs in their estimates. In addition, make sure to ask

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Spring Home Improvement contractors to investigate piping and plumbing so no surprises pop up after the tub has been purchased and work has begun. If estimates from contractors aren’t budget busting, homeowners can consider these benefits of freestanding tubs before making their final decisions. • Cleaning: Because they’re detached from other bathroom fixtures and not flush against the wall, freestanding tubs tend to be easier to clean than built-in bathtubs. Freestanding tubs are accessible from all sides, making it easy to reach all those nooks and crannies where grime can build up. • Return on investment: In its 2018 “Cost vs. Value” report, Remodeling magazine noted that upscale bathroom remodels recouped 56.2 percent of their cost at resale. That was a better return

CONSIDER THE COSTS

Did you According to the improvement know? home resource HomeAdvisor,

adding square footage to a home can cost homeowners anywhere from $7,000 to $100,000. When adding square footage to a home, homeowners may need to knock down an interior wall or walls, the cost of which can vary widely depending on the walls being knocked down. Load-bearing walls are needed to support the home, and while such walls can be removed, homeowners may need to hire structural engineers at additional cost to orchestrate such removals. In addition, homeowners can expect to pay more when knocking down walls that contain ducts or electrical wiring. HomeAdvisor notes that the wall-removal process in old homes that contain lead paint or lath-and-plaster walls is more intricate and may cost homeowners more money.

Time to replace old wiring?

on investment than an upscale kitchen remodel (53.5 percent) and an upscale master suite addition (48.3 percent). The thought of a sizable return on investment can make relaxing in a freestanding tub that much more enjoyable. • Warmth: Even freestanding tubs made of materials other than cast iron offer great heat retention. Stone resin bathtubs, for example, provide excellent insulation on cold nights. That’s ideal for people who want to unwind in the tub without having to exit early because the water has become cold.

Here are some ideas to put vertical and other less-utilized areas to work for you. 1. Hang wire or plastic file organizers on the inside of kitchen cabinets to easily store cookie sheets, trays and cutting boards. 2. Save on counter or cabinet space with hanging spice racks. These can be hung directly on walls or on the inside of cabinet doors. 3. Stack all the stuff you can, including washers and dryers, beds (with storage drawers underneath) and even stacking nesting tables. 4. Choose furniture that is tall rather than wide. This can mean swapping out a dresser in a bedroom for an armoire or vertical chest of drawers.

5. Canvas bags hung on a towel bar on a wall can keep dirty clothes wrangled until it’s time to wash them. This also eliminates clothes hampers on the floor. 6. Add a second rod or shelving to the inside of closets to create more space for clothing and other items. 7. Take kitchen cabinets all the way to the ceiling. Store lesser used items on the uppermost shelves and the items you use each on the most accessible shelves. 8. Install a shelf over the entryway to a room to utilize this seldom-used space. Shelves also can be custom cut and placed in oddly shaped areas, such as in attic rooms under the eaves or on slanted walls.

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Old homes can be charming and contain architectural elements not often seen in many modern housing developments. But what older homes may have in design appeal, they may lack in updated features. While cosmetic changes are not necessarily difficult, one area of concern in historic homes — and sometimes even in houses built 40 or 50 years ago — is archaic wiring. Wiring provides power to every room of the home. In today’s electronics-driven society, electricity that works is an essential component of daily life. Over time, wiring can be compromised through simple aging, pest infiltration, weather, or other conditions. Deteriorated wiring can present a shock hazard and also a serious fire hazard, warn the home renovation experts at The Spruce. Furthermore, the home improvement site This Old House advises that the amperage of old wiring may not be able to meet the needs of the devices used in homes — overpowering the circuits. This can cause breaker blowouts and other problems, such as overheated wires that may spark and cause fires from within the wall. Wiring often falls into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. Homeowners may make allowances for inadequate electrical systems, such as running extension cords or using multiplug connectors to increase their wiring capacity. However, they may not be diligently keeping on top of upgrades needed to stay safe. Confirming that a home’s electrical system is safe is a necessary part of home maintenance. For those who haven’t already done so, schedule an inspection with a licensed electrician to go over the home’s wiring. He or she can determine if any areas pose a safety risk and/or do not conform to local code requirements and the National Electrical Code. The electrician can also go over improvements that can improve safety and function. Additional outlets, including GFCI outlets in kitchens and bathrooms, may be part of the plan, as well as rewiring a fuse box or circuit panel to allow for better flow of power around the house. Frayed wiring or underinsulated wiring also may need to be replaced. Owners of old homes should recognize possible electrical system dangers that require attention. Plus, considering electrical codes change quite frequently, it is always in a homeowner’s best interest to work with a qualified electrician to keep wiring inspected and up to date.

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Page 6• Friday, March 29, 2019

Your expectations should be equally BIG

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Friday, March 29, 2019 • Page 7

Spring Home Improvement TIPS

Floor Cleaner — Wood

1 cup vinegar per pail of water OR 2 tablespoons olive/vegetable oil 2 tablespoons vinegar 1/4 cup lemon juice

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

every degree setback can be achieved. • To ensure the heat gets to where it is supposed to go, use mastic or foilfaced tape to seal the seams and any cracks in air handling ducts. • Have the heating system serviced each year to ensure efficient operation. • Clean or replace furnace filters. Dirty filters reduce the efficiency of the furnace or heating system and waste valuable fuel. Clean or replace the filter(s) as directed by the manufacturer. • Do not place furniture and curtains over or around the heat registers or in front of cold air returns. These items will block the airflow. • Never use the stove for additional heat. It is dangerous. Besides causing a fire hazard, fumes given off by combustion from gas appliances can result in increased carbon monoxide levels. • On sunny days, open blinds, shades, and curtains, especially if your windows face south. At night, close the blinds, shades, and curtains to help keep heat in your home.

Mix together, spray and mop. uuu

Floor Cleaner — Linoleum/no wax

1/4 cup washing soda 1 tablespoon castile soap 1/4 cup - 1 cup vinegar 2 gallons hot water

Mix washing soda with water before the rest of the ingredients. For extra polish, add 6 tablespoons cornstarch per cup of water. uuu

Floor Cleaner — Laminate

½ cup white vinegar 1 gallon warm water

Mix ingredients. Don’t overwet floors. Instead, apply with spray bottle. Mop. Consider using a microfiber mop.

CLEAN CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

thing clean. Sometimes, you may need to let it sit. However, homemade cleaners can be as effective as conventional ones … with a bit of knowledge and planning. When you consider the costs to your health, environment and how much you can be saving … it’s hard not to see the value in taking a few extra steps. The key is … keeping a home clean makes the cleaning tasks a lot easier than waiting until the job is too big.

Windows and doors • Close and lock all windows and doors when heating and cooling systems are in use. Close exterior sliding storm windows. Locking doors and windows creates a tighter seal and reduces air leaks. • Weatherstrip the moving parts of the doors and windows. Choose a more durable product to avoid early replacement. Products are made for the channels or window glides, for the window bottom, and for use where double hung windows meet. • Use a paintable caulk to caulk around the window frame where the interior window frame meets the wall. Use an appropriate caulk for the materials on the exterior where the window frame meets the house siding (exterior wall). This prevents air currents into the wall itself. • Use blinds, shades, and lined curtains or draperies to reduce heat loss in the winter. • When the sun is shining in the winter, open window treatments to allow the radiant energy to come into the home through the windows where the sun streams in.

5 things to know before you start: 1. Know the types of cleaners because they will help with creating cleaners. 2. Always start with as mild a cleanser as you can. If the job is not finished, even after a little elbow grease, or letting it sit for a while, then move up to a stronger recipe. 3. Remember: although gentler on us and the earth, this does not mean these products are safe to be consumed. Please still keep all cleaning products out of children’s reach. 4. A microfiber cloth can save a lot of time with simple tasks like dusting. 5. Hot water will clean better than cold.

What about ammonia and bleach? Ammonia and bleach are inexpensive and effective at cleaning and disinfecting. They can be used sparingly and diluted as a last resort in household recipes. However, never mix ammonia and bleach together (such as spraying shower with bleach and glass cleaner on mirror) Mixing these chemicals together can produce highly toxic fumes. Information taken from the Clean and Green booklet available at the White County Extension Office or visit www.uaex.edu.

Weed Control

Water • Set your water heater at a tem-

Pest Control

Termite

perature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (medium setting on a gas heater dial). This will help you to cut your water heating costs by 6-10 percent.  • Turn the water heater further down if you are away for an extended period of time. • Insulate the hot and cold water pipes at the water heater for at least 6-10 feet. Insulate all exposed water pipes for even more efficiency to prevent heat loss and heat gain. • Front loading washers are usually more energy efficient than top loaders. Look for the ENERGY STAR® and/ or Water Sense logos when purchasing new. • Install low-flow faucets and shower heads and take shorter showers. • Fix faucet leaks. A single faucet from just one home dripping at a rate of one drip/minute would waste 34 gallons of water annually. 

Range (stove) and oven • Use the broiler or microwave when possible. Surprisingly, the broiler uses less energy, and does not need to be preheated. The microwave can be up to 80 percent more efficient. • Use the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking to reduce moisture problems and pollutants. • Don’t use the oven to help heat your home. Besides causing a fire hazard, the fumes given off by the flames over an extended period can result in increasing carbon monoxide levels. • Use lids on pans and pans that fit burners to reduce heat loss.

Refrigerator • Refrigerators cost about $5-$8 or more per month to operate consuming 3-5 percent of your total energy use. Keep the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. • Check the gasket (soft plastic piece that seals the door to the body of the refrigerator) for gaps and improper fit. The door should close firmly against the gasket. Check the tightness of the door by placing a dollar bill between the gasket and the door. You should feel a slight drag when you pull it out. • Do not locate an oven or heating appliance close to a refrigerator, as the refrigerator will have to work harder

to keep items cool. Do not put refrigerators in unconditioned rooms such as garages or porches. • Try not to keep the door open longer than necessary. If accessible, vacuum coils and keep drain trays clean.

Washer and dryer • Use hot water only for very dirty clothes and diapers, if there is an illness in the family, or if someone has a suppressed immune system. Refer to the washing instructions on the clothing labels and on the washing machine. Preferably wash in cold water using cold water detergents whenever possible. • Full loads of laundry in the washer save both energy and water. Adjust water levels for smaller loads. • Clean the lint from the dryer’s filter after every load. • Operate the dryer like the washer: Don’t overload it. Overloading uses excess energy, because the items take longer to dry. Hang items to dry outside if possible.

Lighting • Incandescent bulbs use 70-75 percent more energy than compact fluorescent lamps/lightbulbs (CFLs) and 80 percent more than LEDs. Change all incandescent bulbs in your home either to CFLs or LEDs. • Turn off lights when a room is not occupied. Train the whole family to do this on a regular basis. • Use natural light as much as possible. • Use one higher wattage bulb (lamp) instead of several lower watt bulbs when possible. A 100-watt bulb gives off about 20 percent more light than two 60-watt bulbs. Do not use a higher than recommended wattage bulb in a light fixture. • Dust lightbulbs. Dusty bulbs can emit 20 percent less light. • Install outlet and switch foam gaskets to stop air leakage. Follow safety instructions and turn off the power at the breaker box before installation. Use all suggested safety precautions. Katie Cullum is a County Extension Agent - Family & Consumer Science for the White County Extension Service. She can be emailed at kcullum@uaex.edu. 

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