Saturday, 27 February 2016

Know when it's time to replace your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

Know when it's time to replace your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

(NC) If you're like most homeowners, on more than one occasion you've found yourself looking around and thinking…“Have we really been in this house that long?”
Along with the happy memories, and the dated paint or wallpaper, are two devices essential for your family's safety - smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. And just like the decorating, these too need a refresh every so often.
Smoke and CO alarms monitor the air non-stop with advanced circuitry and highly accurate sensors. They even self-check themselves continuously to make sure they will be ready should danger strike.
As they stand guard over the years they also have to contend with pet hair, dust, cooking grime and other airborne contaminants. So is it any surprise that, whether battery powered or wired into your home's electrical system, these potentially life-saving devices eventually need to be replaced?
To be certain your family is safe, check the age of all your alarms. Look for a date of manufacture sticker on the outside edge of the alarm or, for older models, on the bottom. You may need to unplug or remove the alarm from the ceiling temporarily to find it. Once you know the age, follow the guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association: Replace smoke alarms immediately if they are older than 10 years (or if you can't find a date of manufacture) and CO alarms if they were manufactured prior to 2009.
Canada's leading alarm manufacturer, Kidde, offers a complete selection of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms with the longest lifespan – a full 10 years.
To keep your family protected, follow these replacement rules whether your alarms are battery powered, plug-in or hardwired.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

How to spend less on your energy bills
(NC) Heating bills can be one of your family's largest expenses. Homes are typically heated by natural gas, electricity or heating oil. In Ontario, natural gas is the most affordable choice for heating your home – rates change based on the market every three months, but natural gas still costs less than half the price of electricity or oil.
About 60 per cent of your annual natural gas use goes toward keeping your home warm. Since many natural gas costs are passed through directly to the customers, reducing your natural gas consumption can help to lower the bills. Here are some tips from Enbridge Gas Distribution on how you can keep your energy costs low.
• Check your windows and doors. Is the caulking or weather stripping doing its job? Look for cracks, feel for drafts, and replace the caulking or weather stripping as necessary.
• Lower the temperature on your thermostat by three degrees when you're sleeping or out of the house.
• Is it a sunny day? Open the curtains to let the sun shine in. Not only will you get some needed vitamin D, but the sun will help to warm your home.
• Close the air vents and doors to rooms that you don't frequently use – like guest bedrooms or basements. Considering making a DIY draft-stopper to use at the bottom of these doors.
• Check with your natural gas utility to see if they have billing programs – such as Enbridge's Budget Billing Plan which allows you to distribute your charges fairly evenly for the majority of the year.
• See if you qualify for low-income assistance programs – like Enbridge's Home Winterproofing Program.
More energy efficiency tips are available online at

Monday, 1 February 2016

10 Tips on Improving Indoor Air Quality

10 Tips on Improving Indoor Air Quality

You work hard to stay healthy, eating the right foods and getting lots of exercise. The air you breathe also affects your health but it’s harder to make sure it’s clean because you can’t see it or feel it. And you don’t want to wait until you get sick or one of your children is diagnosed with asthma. That’s why the government focus on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is so important, and why this article offers you a collection of tips on improving indoor air quality in your home.
This is a new problem as we seal gaps to tighten up the envelope wrapping our homes to conserve energy. These gaps used to allow unhealthy indoor air to be exchanged with fresh air from outside. Please don’t look for an easy solution, and don’t be fooled by the advertising on air filter packages that promise healthy living. It simply isn’t true. (Read: How the Right Home Air Filter Can Save You)

plants are often included with tips on improving indoor air quality, but they're not very effective at this unless you have a huge number of plantsTips on Improving Indoor Air Quality

There’s a lot of misinformation swirling around, and packaging that claims things are green or healthy, when there’s no proof to substantiate the claims.
Houseplants are a great example of this. They’re lovely for decoration and there are also lots of articles telling us indoor house plants help improve air quality. The truth is while laboratory tests showed excellent results removing VOC in the 1980s, subsequent testing in residential settings hasn’t supported these findings. (Read: How Well Do House Plants Perform as Indoor Air Cleaners?)
So here are tips on improving indoor air quality in your home, focusing on what you bring into your home, along with things you do at home.

candles are one of the most surprising tips on improving indoor air qualityStop Buying Productes that Bring Pollutants into Your Home

You probably don’t realize how many different ways you introduce unhealthy pollutants into your home. So hopefully once you know, you’ll do a better job of reducing or eliminating things that have a negative affect on the air you and your family breathe at home.
  • Don’t smoke inside your home.
  • Don’t use candles, or at least avoid those made with paraffin that releases chemicals. Beeswax and soy candles are good alternatives, as long as they aren’t scented with essential oils versus synthetic fragrances. You should also trim wicks to 1/4″ to reduce the amount of soot given off.
  • Buy products that don’t have unhealthy chemicals like VOCs. Everyone’s heard of low/no VOC paints but what about these products? For product specific pollutants, visit the National Institute of Health’s Household Product Database.
    • Aerosol spray products for paints, cosmetics and pesticides.
    • Upholstered furniture and carpeting, plywood and pressed wood products if they contain formaldehyde.
    • Appliances with refrigerant used in air conditioners, freezers, refrigerators and dehumidifiers. Freon used in older appliances is being phased out due to ozone.
    • Cleaning products like air fresheners, bleach, toilet bowl cleaners, citrus or pine oil cleaners, furniture polishes and more.
    • Personal care products including nail polish and remover, colognes, perfumes, rubbing alcohol and hair spray.
    • Dry cleaned clothes, spot removers and cleaners used for fabric/leather.
    • Home office and hobby products like inks, toners, correction fluid, glues and other adhesives, etc.
    • Home maintenance products including caulk, grout, insulation, paint and stain, adhesive removers, contact and model cement, etc.
    • Pet care products like litter stain/odor removers, flea and tick control products, etc.
    • Lawn care products and pesticides like lawn fertilizer, pool products, herbicides, etc.
    • Ozone generators which are dangerous for children, the elderly and people with breathing problems. The EPA and American Lung Association advise against these “air purifiers”.

Proactive Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality

  • Don’t allow appliances to exhaust air and/or moisture inside your home. This means no ductless range hoods and bathroom/dryer vents should always be vented outside. Seriously, this was a common problem we found in my handyman business that had to be corrected.
  • Make sure all fixtures that burn fuel are vented to the outside, away from windows and HVAC intake vents. These include furnaces, fireplaces, range tops, exhaust fans and similar appliances.
  • Work with chemicals outside, and not in your garage. You should strip paint, solder and glue, tune up your lawn mower or snow blower outside.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation for your house, changing filters on your HVAC equipment and using additional air cleaners as needed. Air cleaners should be UL 867 certified and meet California’s ozone release requirements. Weather permitting, open doors and windows and use ceiling fans except when there are high levels of allergens outdoors.
  • Keep your home dry, using dehumidifiers if necessary. Take immediate action to remove water and wet materials, like drywall and insulation in a flooded basement, to prevent the growth of mold.
  • Take steps to keep your home clean, leaving shoes at the door, using a high efficiency (HEPA) vacuum cleaner and washing bedding to reduce exposure to allergens and dust mites.
Photo credit for candle photo: Kensal Walk – Living Room via photopin(license)


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