Sunday, 20 December 2015

Don’t overpay for heat this winter

Don’t overpay for heat this winter

Don’t make these mistakes when heating your home

Don’t make these mistakes when heating your home

Follow this safety guide if you’re putting up holiday lights

Follow this safety guide if you’re putting up holiday lights

Published Jessica Vitullo - December 7, 2015

December is finally here! If you’re planning on decorating your home with holiday lights to celebrate the season, you’re likely not the only one on your street! But putting up lights can be dangerous. Consider working with a licensed electrician and be sure to follow our guide on how to stay safe.

Choose the right holiday lights

Indoor and outdoor lights aren’t the same. Some lights are rated for indoor use, some for outdoor. When you’re at your local home hardware store, read the package instructions to see which lights you’re buying.
It’s also important to pay attention to the recommended wattage. Don’t exceed the recommendation, or your holiday lights might blow out before Santa arrives!

Avoid damage and overloaded circuits

If you buy a bundle of string lights and notice the cord, plugs or ornaments are damaged, do NOT use them. Instead, simply replace them. Damaged electrical products can be hazardous to your home (and to you during the installation process).
You also want to make sure that you’re not plugging in too many lights into the same outlet. An overloaded circuit can overheat and start a fire. The only fire that should be happening in your home is a controlled one within the fireplace!
The same goes for using extension cords. Plugging in too many plugs into an extension cord can lead to overheating.
You do NOT want to be this guy!
You do NOT want to be this guy!

Install holiday decor wisely

It’s easy to get carried away with holiday lights. After all, don’t you want your home to look like the homes in this video?
To make your home look like any of these, you have to be extra careful!
  • No more than 3 light strings should be connected together. Be sure to read instructions on your lighting package to be sure.
  • The bulbs themselves should NOT touch supply cords or wires.
  • Secure the lights properly using power clips.

Lastly, remember the following:

  • If the children are near you, watch to ensure they don’t place anything cords or lights in their mouths.
  • Don’t let your pet get to the lights either.
  • Turn them off when you go to bed or leave the house.
You spend so much time doing the decorations outside that you want to keep them around all year, right? WRONG. It’s important to take them down once the holiday season is over. They are not built for year-round use.
If you’ve never put up holiday lights before, then make this season your first year! This expert shows you exactly how to do it:
Need some help from an electrical perspective? There’s no shame in speaking to an expert, someone who knows and understands electricity! Reach out to an electrician using our directory to find someone who can ensure your home is lit properly. Hey, they might even be able to do the installation for you!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Enjoy a maintained furnace all winter long

It’s that time of year again when the snow falls, temperatures plummet and furnaces break. Although we rely on our furnaces to keep our homes warm and cozy in the cold winter months, many of us don’t give our furnaces a second thought until it breaks down, that is, and we need a furnace specialist to visit. A maintained furnace is essential this winter.

We spoke with Bill Watson of Air Plus Heating and Cooling, a Toronto-based company that has been providing furnace and air conditioner installation, service and repair for over 20 years, about how to give your furnace the love and attention it needs to keep you warm and cozy all winter long.

Check filters regularly

Watson says you should replace your furnace filter three to four times a year, depending on manufacturer specifications. Checking your filter frequently will help to ensure your furnace is running at optimal capacity.
“A dirty or clogged furnace filter will restrict the amount of air your furnace will be able to use to distribute warm air throughout your home and can put undue stress and wear on the components of the furnace,” says Watson.

Schedule regular furnace cleanings and check-ups

Watson recommends getting your furnace checked once a year. A qualified technician can examine the current state of the furnace and advice you if there are any issues with your equipment.
“The whole idea is to give the homeowner peace of mind about the reliability of their furnace so they can avoid that 2 am or holiday weekend breakdown,” says Watson.
Cleaning your furnace once a year will eliminate dust and debris which will help increase the lifespan of your furnace, plus help to improve its efficiency, meaning you’ll be spending less money on your utility bills.
The best times for a cleaning are in the fall or spring and after any major renovations since renovations lead to an enormous amount of debris which gets caught in the return air ducts, restricting the optimal efficiency of the furnace.

Re-organize your basement

Avoid storing chemicals, paints and paint thinners near your furnace.
“You want as much fresh clean air around the furnace as possible,” says Watson.
Avoid blocking return air ducts with couches and furniture as blocking these ducts also restricts the amount of air provided to your furnace, reducing its efficiency.
This winter, don’t be stranded with a broken furnace. Instead, reach out to the furnace experts at Air Plus Heating and Cooling!

Friday, 11 December 2015

5 steps to find the right contractor

(NC) Finding a contractor is kind of like finding a mate.
Like dating, it means you have to know what you're looking for, ask a lot of questions, seek advice from friends and family and most importantly, take your time deciding. After all, the contractor you choose is vital to the success of any remodeling project you take on.
Here is what you need to know to find the perfect contractor:
Do your research.
Make sure you've done your homework. Research your project so you have a realistic understanding of what's expected. Also compare the timeline required against existing projects your contractor may have on their plate. (Note: It is not uncommon for contractors to be working several jobs simultaneously.) This will give you an idea of how much time they can realistically devote to your project and if that works for you.
Ask for advice.
Referrals are the best way to find someone who is reliable. Like a partner, a good contractor will be around for the long haul. Talk to friends and family and get their recommendations on who they've worked with in the past.
Get specific.
Once you have a list of recommended contractors, narrow down your selection by doing some preliminary research into their credentials. For example, have they received any certifications? Do they specialize in anything? Are they affiliated with any professional associations? Do they have the proper licenses and insurance?
Ask for references.
Don't be afraid to do a background check. Good contractors will have no issue with passing along references. Ask questions such as: Did the contractor show up on time? Did the project stay on budget? Were they happy with the overall work and professionalism?
Set up a meeting.
Meet them face-to-face. Come prepared with questions about your project and see if your style and vision for the project pair well together.
More information is available at or by visiting the upcoming 2016 GTA Home + Reno Show, February 12-15 at the International Centre.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

5 tips for selling your home

(NC) For many, the holiday season is a busy time that includes shopping, cooking and entertaining. Amidst the hustle, it may seem difficult to find time for selling a home. Yet some home owners would prefer to list their home at this busy time.
“Sometimes professional, or personal, circumstances arise that require owners to sell their homes,” says Pat Verge, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “But other times home owners are simply ready to sell and the prospect of less competition from other sellers is appealing. Whatever an owner's reasons are for listing their home at this time, if done properly, the process should be successful.”
Here are five tips to keep in mind if listing your home in this season:
1. Deck the halls…to a minimum: Seasonal decorations are the way to go. Minimize décor to avoid crowding your home and distracting buyers.
2. Don't hide flaws: Rather than covering up flaws with décor, take the time to fix them or keep them revealed to avoid future conflicts with buyers.
3. Hire a Realtor: Enlist the services of someone that you trust and who will be available for you during the holidays. This will help alleviate some of the stress of selling and give you more time to enjoy the season.
4. Price to sell and be prepared to negotiate: No matter what time of year, a home that is properly priced will attract buyers. Work with your Realtor to negotiate a price that is satisfactory.
5. Market your home: Take time to enhance your home's curb appeal (even if it is covered in snow) and use good quality photography to show off your home (use photos taken in the spring/summer months if possible).

Give your home new life with these tips

            Give your home new life with these tips (NC) As the change in weather has us retreating indoors, take some time to spruc...