Monday, April 29, 2013

Think outside the fuse box: Unique energy-saving home improvements

Think outside the fuse box: Unique energy-saving home improvements

You've replaced your home's 20-year-old windows with new, Energy Star-rated models, upgraded to electricity-sipping appliances and there's not a single incandescent light bulb to be found anywhere in your house. You may be wondering what more you can do to further reduce your home energy bills.

When you've covered the basic and obvious ways to trim energy use at home, it's time to start thinking outside the fuse box. Here are three unique home improvements that can help make your house even more energy-efficient.

1. Put a stake through the heart of vampire power - Even when they're turned off, electrical devices draw power as long as they're plugged in. "Vampire power" or "standby power" refers to the electricity wasted in this manner. In developed countries, standby power probably accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use.

Fortunately, vampire power is a relatively easy problem to solve. In many cases, simply unplug the power cord - a great solution for your cellphone charger or the coffee pot. When an appliance gets frequent use, however, constantly unplugging and replugging it may not be convenient. In those situations, a simple home improvement may be in order.

Connect outlets to wall switches that make it easy to turn the device off or on at the outlet. Or, you can plug appliances into a device that, in turn, plugs into the outlet and stops electricity leakage.

2. Add motorized shutters to windows - People add motorized rolling shutters to their homes for a variety of reasons, from enhancing privacy and security by making it harder for burglars to break in through windows, to protection against intense sunshine and hurricane winds. But did you know shutters can also boost your home's energy efficiency?

In winter, motorized shades or rolling shutters maximize insulation of windows - a significant point of heat loss in many homes. In summer, they can reduce heat gain, help maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature and protect furnishings from damaging UV rays. Automating motorized shutters with a sun sensor allows you to further improve energy efficiency by raising or lowering shutters throughout the day to fine-tune heat retention.

3. Open the door to energy savings - Your home's front door is the first impression visitors get when they arrive on your doorstep, but it's also a potential source of heat and energy loss. Replacing an old, inefficient or poorly insulated door with an Energy Star-qualified door can pay off with significant heat retention and energy savings. -

When looking for a replacement door, insulated doors made of fiberglass or steel, filled with an insulating core such as polyurethane foam, are more energy-efficient than traditional wooden doors. Doors should also fit well into the doorframe, and use weather stripping to block drafts.

Doors wear out, lose efficiency and need to be replaced.  Replace your old front door with an Energy Star-qualified one, and you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of the door, according to

Improving your home's energy efficiency is the right thing to do - for both the environment and your wallet. With a bit of creativity and the right home improvements, it's possible to maximize your home's energy efficiency.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Make exterior trim part of home remodeling

Make exterior trim part of home remodeling

As existing home sales continue to climb and housing prices increase, remodeling is also on the rise.  Owners of older homes are investing more in home improvement projects that add beauty and value, especially with environmentally friendly products.

Most homes, no matter how well maintained, will need some exterior trim replaced from time to time. Traditional wood trim boards can split, crack and rot over time, as a result of damage from the rain, snow, wind and sun.

Replacing old or damaged exterior trim with engineered wood composite trim is one way homeowners can preserve design integrity, while remaining committed to green building principles.

Check your exterior trim

Take a few minutes this spring to walk around your house and inspect your exterior trim. Look closely at the trim around your windows and doors, at the corners, and near the roofline. Pay special attention to peeling or blistering paint, green algae, warped boards, and spongy or soft spots. Also, check for termite damage, which creates more damage to U.S. homes than fire, floods and storms combined.

There are several options for replacing your existing trim. It is a great way to give your home a nice, clean new look. And, it can be done with the environment in mind.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Roof maintenance tips for every season

Roof maintenance tips for every season

From intense heat to extreme snow, your roof protects your house from the elements all year long. When is the last time you checked to make sure your roof was in good shape? No matter what the seasons are like in your area, now is the time to begin preparation for extreme weather by giving your roof a second look.

Time-consuming roof projects can be a nuisance and a stress to homeowners. But, by staying on top of repairs, a roof will stay well maintained.


Spring brings warmer temperatures, green grass and flowers, but it also brings spring rain. While spring rain may be great for your garden, it can severely damage your home if your roof is out of shape.

Have your roof professionally inspected for any problems winter storms may have caused. Finding and fixing leaks is important so that the rainwater does not drip into your attic. Fixing leaks early will help you avoid problems later.

Water from spring rain needs to have access to easy drainage so it does not saturate your roof. Check your gutters for leaks and clean out leaves and debris that winter has left behind.


When the temperatures start to rise, it is important to assure that your roof can breathe. The area underneath your roof needs access to cooler air so that the warm, expanding air can escape. Allowing the warm air to escape can help the home maintain a comfortable temperature without overworking your air conditioning unit. When you consider how hot the temperature can get inside your attic, it is easy to see why proper ventilation is so important.

It is important to inspect your ventilation system, both inside and out. Ensure that nothing could block the escape of air, such as insulation or debris, and look for signs of wear that indicate you need to update your ventilation system. Under-ventilated attic space can lead to higher cooling costs and accelerate the aging of shingles.


As the summer heat starts to break and the kids go back to school, fall provides the perfect time to ensure that your home is protected for winter. If your roofing system is not up to standard, it may be time for new shingles. Shingles provide great protection for your home, but like everything else, reinforcing them with back-up makes them stronger.

Before having your new shingles installed, consider reinforcing your roof with an extra layer of protection.

Your roof makes up around 50 percent of your home's exterior. Something that is such a large part of your home and provides protection to your family and your belongings should be well maintained. By spreading your roof checkups throughout the seasons, you can ensure that your roof is always in the best shape possible. A well-kept roof means a happy house.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More beauty, less beast in your lawn and garden

More beauty, less beast in your lawn and garden

A tale as old as time, true as it can be ... insects, weeds and poor fertilization are the beasts that take away from the beauty of plants and flowers in our lawns, gardens and even homes. To maintain a home and landscape your neighbors envy, interiors and exteriors should remain pest-free, and plants should be fed with the proper nutrients to stay healthy all-season-long.

Given the many things to consider when it comes to sustaining a lush landscape, homeowners are seeking new ways to simplify their lawn and garden maintenance techniques.

Five quick tips that take the guesswork out of warm weather chores and make any home flourish with "more beauty, less beasts."

1. Decoding soil DNA: The best gauge for fertilization requirements of your landscape is through a soil test. These tests are used to evaluate the condition and levels of nutrients in the soil, especially pH, which determines how well plants are able to draw the nutrients they need from the soil. Home soil test kits are available at most lawn and garden retailers or homeowners can contact their local Department of Agriculture for more information.

2. Fertilizer frequency factors: During periods of drought, it is important not to over-fertilize as this can result in unhealthy or burnt-looking plants. The frequency of fertilization depends on climate, plant type and the fertilizer. A pre-measured, ready-to-use fertilizer ensures efficient feeding, proper nutrition and vigorous plant growth. The benefit: better results with bigger blooms and produce, when compared to unfed plants. This also saves time, minimizes water usage and removes guesswork.

3. Select the right plants: One of the best defenses against problem insects is a strong, well-maintained plant. When designing your landscape, select plants that are less prone to insect problems. For example, native plants tend to be more pest-resistant, if planted where the sun and soil are right for them.

4. Go on the offensive: While weeds grow year-round, pest activity in many ways correlates with temperature. In general, as temperatures increase, so does insect feeding and insect populations in and around the home. Combat insects and weeds.

5. Protect beneficial species: Within every landscape and garden are pest predators that are beneficial to the health of plants - either by feeding on problem pests or by helping with soil aeration and drainage. Examples include earthworms, spiders, ladybugs and praying mantises. Attract beneficial insects to your landscape with plants that provide nectar, pollen and other food sources.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Tragedy in West, Texas

Tragedy in West, Texas

Posted Date: 4/19/2013, from the Fire Chief David Jones, City of Keller Fire Department

There are no words to adequately describe the impact of the disasters America has witnessed this week, and none fell closer to home than Wednesday’s news out of West.

At this point, we know that at least 12 lost their lives in the tragedy, hundreds more were injured and countless more are in mourning — for friends, for family members, for homes destroyed and for the loss of this small town’s quiet way of life. We also know that many who were taken from us were first responders, volunteers who cared more for others’ safety than their own, who rushed toward disaster on Wednesday to honorably and selflessly serve, and who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that others made it home to their families that night.

The thoughts and prayers of every Texan, every American, are with the people of West right now, but many of you are also seeking additional ways to help.

West city leaders have requested that physical donations stop, as the outpouring of support has overwhelmed the town’s storage and distribution capabilities. But they are asking that people’s generosity be directed toward two funds that have been set up to support relief efforts. Donations may be mailed to the “Victims of the West Explosion Fund” at:

200 W. Oak St.
West, TX 76691


State National Bank
100 N. Main St.
West, TX 76691

Donations are also being accepted online at (look for the red button at the bottom of the left column).

-Fire Chief David Jones

Visit the link below to read this on our website.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spruce up your home for spring in just a weekend

Spruce up your home for spring in just a weekend

As the weather gets warmer, everything outside becomes fresh and new - so why not make your home as nice inside as the weather is outside? In just a weekend, you can complete a few quick, easy projects that will make a big difference in your space. Get inspired to give your home a spring spruce-up with these handy tips.

Wash away winter grime

The first step to making your house feel like new is to clean. Use a weekend to focus on three main areas: the kitchen, bathroom and living room. In the kitchen, toss expired items from your refrigerator and wipe down the inside with soap and water - don't forget to sweep underneath and give the coils a good dusting, too. To get the bathroom in shape, replace dingy shower curtain liners, pitch old toothbrushes and other unwanted items and purchase a new toilet brush. In the living room, thoroughly dust light fixtures and blinds, and remove and launder slipcovers on couches or chairs. While you're at it, don't forget to replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Time to de-clutter

Still haven't eaten that candy from Christmas? It's time to pitch it. Spend a few hours cleaning out kitchen cabinets, cluttered closets and the junk drawer - you'll feel more relaxed and organized as a result. Once you've gotten rid of items you no longer need, refresh shelves, drawers and pantries throughout the house by installing shelf liner. It's an easy and inexpensive task that can give any space, whether it's the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, a new look in a jiffy. Non-adhesive shelf liners are easy to cut and install. They are available in a variety of colors and prints and is a great way to add an unexpected pop of color and personality to your shelves and drawers, providing the perfect mix of fashion and function.

Add some accessories

It's amazing what a few accessories can do. To revive a room without spending a fortune, attach some new trim to your existing drapes or add new shades to your favorite lamps. Wall decals or stencils are another way to add a personal touch to a room. You can also bring the season inside with spring flowers in a brightly colored vase or buy a new piece of art to hang as a focal point in your room.

Pull out your paintbrush

If you want to go for a more dramatic redo - but one that's still doable in a weekend - pick up some paint. The warmer weather means you can keep your windows wide open, making it the ideal time to add a fresh coat of paint to your room. For the simplest touch, paint an accent wall instead of redoing the entire room. Pick a vibrant color for some spring cheer or try tackling a decorative painting technique - such as stripes, zig zag chevron or a geometric print - to really make your room feel modern and stylish.

To really get in the spring spirit, make painting an excuse to have some fun with friends and family. Take turns helping friends with their painting projects and reward the effort with pizza, ice cream or other treats provided by the host.

Whether you're going for a dramatic makeover or simply giving your home a good scrubbing, find inspiration in these tips to help you make the most of your weekend and get your home in superb shape this spring.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Add economical living space with an outdoor room

Add economical living space with an outdoor room

Adding living space to your home can be an expensive prospect. However, creating an outdoor room is a budget-friendly option that gives you more square footage, as well as additional opportunities to enjoy the season. As an extension of the home, outdoor rooms with decks or pergolas can be personalized to truly bring indoor comforts outside for relaxation and entertaining.

Prepare your outdoor space

Before embarking on designing an outdoor room, start with a clean slate by making necessary repairs. Outdoor fix-ups are on the agenda because of the unusual weather the country has experienced, including wind and flood damage. Outdoor structures have particularly taken a beating, with damage to wood structures and cracked concrete.

Stand up to Mother Nature

If you start with cellular PVC as a wood replacement, you can add longevity and low-maintenance to pergolas and other outdoor structures. Those that come in easy-to-assemble kits make it even easier to have a stylish extension to your home. According to the experts, look for variations in pergola design such as straight or arched tops, and round or square columns in many sizes.

Affordable, natural looks that endure

Decks are another easy way to extend living space and with new alternative materials, it's easy to save on maintenance without sacrificing style. One advancement in composite decking technology features a "cap" or protective outer layer that looks like real hardwood.

De-clutter your deck space

When designing that special outdoor space, start by de-cluttering the deck. Look for the latest clever, space-saving solutions that help make the most of your deck space. One way to cut costs and improve the view is to use fewer posts.  This creates a less cluttered look, clearer views and substantial cost savings.
With these tips, it's easy to find functional, beautiful and affordable options for making your outdoor space your very own.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Give your home a fresh look with color

Give your home a fresh look with color

A fresh coat of paint can give any room an instant lift, making it a great solution for converting a space from drab to fab.

Though neutrals reign as America's most popular paint choices, the National Home Color Survey shows people are becoming bolder with color. Three-in-four homeowners indicate they want to incorporate more color into their home, most commonly in their living room, bedroom and kitchen.

Try these following tips if you are looking to add color to their home:

* Identify a colorful object as the focal point of the room. Select bold items to build your room around, such as a piece of artwork, rug or chair that really makes a statement.

* Take the guesswork out of choosing colors with coordinated collections of color, paint and wallpaper designed to flow beautifully throughout your home. Mix and match the colors to help guide your wall, furniture and accessory color choices.

* Coordinate your color transitions. For high-impact transitions, combine bolder shades with their more neutral counterparts and for a more tranquil transition, stick to softer or lighter shades that are from the same color family.

* Highlight unexpected areas. Turn ordinary areas like ceilings, banisters or door frames into extraordinary spaces. If you want to keep walls neutral, paint a piece of furniture, such as a chair, headboard or the back of a bookshelf.

* Use colorful patterns for the illusion of space. Horizontal stripes can help small rooms feel more spacious, while vertical stripes can add the illusion of height to low ceilings.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Simple ways to save energy at home in just minutes

Simple ways to save energy at home in just minutes

Home is where the heart is. But it's also a place where families can be more conscious of their energy use. While conserving energy helps save the planet, it also helps homeowners save money.

According to Christine Ackerson, sustainability manager at LG Electronics USA, by adopting a green mindset and taking a few simple steps to be more eco-friendly, you'll help preserve our planet's resources and your budget.

Reduce, reuse and e-cycle

Phantom energy waste - the amount of energy plugged-in appliances and other electronics draw even when turned off - can add up. You can reduce phantom energy drain by unplugging appliances you don't frequently use or installing power strips that can easily be turned off. -Remember to unplug your cell phone charger when not in use. And use motion sensing exterior lighting and timers so that electronics such as space heaters and fans don't run longer than intended.

The average consumer household has about 24 electronic products, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, and old or outdated electronics represent one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. Recycling electronic waste, or e-waste, such as cell phones, televisions and computers can save energy and scarce resources by reducing the amount of raw materials extracted from the earth, as well as preventing harmful materials from ending up in the environment. For example, recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent of the electricity used by 3,657 homes each year in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.-

Recycling your old electronics is easy, and there are a number of resources to help. Manufacturers and retailers often offer recycling services or take-back programs - LG offers an online search tool at www.lgerecycling to find free drop off locations near you. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also offers online resources for safe e-waste disposal, or you can ask your local municipality if they offer e-waste collection programs.

The waste, the washer and the wardrobe

Doing laundry is a household necessity. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household does 392 loads of laundry each year; that translates to 7.5 loads per week. Upgrading an old, inefficient washer can not only lead to water and energy savings, it can also mean cleaner clothes.

Energy Star-qualified washers use about 20 percent less energy and 35 percent less water than standard washers. Larger-capacity machines save energy because you can wash more clothes in fewer loads. One new "mega-capacity" washer from LG has the largest capacity in the industry at 5.1 cubic feet. Plus, it features a special turbo wash technology that saves up to 20 minutes per load.

The "mega-capacity" washer also earned the "Energy Star Most Efficient" designation in 2013. This new program recognizes the most efficient products on the market.-Washers that earn this distinction can save consumers the equivalent of at least 68,000 bottles of water a year.

A bright idea: LED bulbs

When available, use natural lighting to light your home. On dark days and after sunset, light your home only in the areas you are using. When it comes to lights, one of the simplest yet most impactful ways to go green is to switch to LED light bulbs. They're the most energy efficient option and last 10 times longer than compact fluorescent bulbs. A cool lighting option, LED bulbs do not use mercury, so you're not putting extra toxins into landfills when the bulb does expire.

When shopping for new bulbs, look for the Energy Star label. If just one light bulb in every American home was replaced with an Energy Star bulb, we would save about $600 million in annual energy costs, plus save enough energy to light 3 million homes for an entire year!

Go autopilot to heat and cool your home

The energy used to heat and cool your home throughout the year can mean big utility bills. Adopt a green mindset and change the temperature just a few degrees and the savings will come naturally. Try adjusting your thermostat three or more degrees - you might not even feel a difference. During periods when you're not in the home, adjust it even more. According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 1 percent for each degree by turning your thermostat back if the setback period is eight hours long.

An easy way to control your home's temperature is to get a programmable thermostat. Put your home's heating and cooling on autopilot by programming temperature settings for each day of the week. Depending on whether you're home or away at work, you can set your seasonal preferences so your home maximizes energy conservation while keeping temperatures comfortable. Adopt these ideas and you can make a difference in helping to address climate change and protect the planet, and also save money. Take the "Change the World, Start with Energy Star Pledge" at the Energy Star website,, and make a promise to make simple behavioral changes to make your home more energy efficient and preserve resources for future generations.  (BPT)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tips for setting up your home theater viewing space

The home entertainment center concept has evolved dramatically over the past decade, from a single "tube" TV and a DVD player to full-blown, high-definition multi-media centers. The technology today offers a more immersive experience, but without a proper set up, you might not enjoy to full potential the pride and joy of your living room.
Choose adjustable lighting. Place lights on a dimmer so that you can adapt the lighting level depending on what you're watching. Outfit windows with shades that can easily be closed to further darken the room. Opinions vary on what's the best distance from which to view a screen. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, a reliable formula for calculating optimal viewing distance is to multiply the diagonal size of your TV (for example, 50 inches) by two or three. That number will tell you how many inches you should sit away from the screen for the best possible picture.

Keep in mind that in addition to the size of the screen, the resolution will affect your calculations. Generally speaking, you'll want to sit farther away from a larger screen, but if it has a higher resolution you can sit closer. For example, a "4K" TV offers four times the resolution of typical HDTVs, meaning more detail, so viewers get a crisp, clear picture from as close as five feet. If you want a large screen in a small space, an Ultra HD TV is an ideal solution. (BPT)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Make your house look like a 'million dollar listing' for less

Make your house look like a 'million dollar listing' for less

A new report reveals houses are selling faster and for more money, yet another indicator of a rebounding housing market. According to the National Association of Realtors, full-year sales of previously owned homes increased by 9 percent in 2012 over the previous year. Plus, home prices jumped up 12.3 percent, the biggest percentage gain since January 2005.

This will challenge sellers to sharpen their competitive edge as more homeowners, encouraged by promising indicators, put their house on the market. Josh Altman, one of the top 10 realtors in the country and star of Bravo's hit TV show "Million Dollar Listing: L.A.," shares three strategies for making houses more desirable to buyers.

Install hardwood floors

"Installing hardwood floors is one of the smartest investments a seller can make," said Altman. "Hardwood flooring is easy to install, never goes out of style and is extremely desirable to homebuyers."

Countless hardwood flooring options, including popular bamboo varieties, allow homeowners to easily select a floor that looks great and fits within their budget. Homeowners can even differentiate their floors - and houses - by transferring the flooring's warranty to the new owner.
Laminate or vinyl flooring is another option for getting a fresh, updated look. Laminate enables homeowners to get the look of hardwood for less, and there are even options for DIY novices, such as flooring that easily clicks together without glue or nails.

Increase the curb appeal

First impressions matter, and home buying is no different. "Making a few updates to a house's exterior goes a long way in making houses more inviting and valuable," said Altman.

Homeowners can put their green thumbs to work by weeding their garden, trimming plants and branches and adding color by planting vibrant flowers in containers or planters. Simple repairs and updates offer a lot of bang for your home improvement buck, whether it's getting a new front door, updating house numbers or painting the trim, downspouts and gutters.

Update the kitchen

Remodeling a kitchen can bring a home to the top market value, and you don't have to tear down walls or break the bank to do it. "No matter what budget a homeowner has, there are simple ways to add that wow factor to a kitchen," said Altman.

Unique, stylish light fixtures can create a warm and inviting environment, while new appliances add visual interest and help increase the value of a home. Even subtle touches like updating cabinet hardware or installing a tile backsplash behind a stove can give a kitchen the facelift it needs.  (BPT)