Cold Cathode Lighting: Innovative and Affordable

cathode-lightingOne tends to think of cathode lighting as something primarily used in businesses and commercial buildings, but there are many advantages to consider for installing it in your home, as well.

It’s a great energy saver; unlike regular lights, cathodes don’t use extra power from being switched on and off. Once the tube begins to heat up, the resistance to current flow begins to drop, resulting in it steadily requiring lower voltage to continue working. This can save as much as ninety percent energy, compared to standard light bulbs.

Cold cathode lights don’t get hot. They can be as much as five times brighter than neon lighting, and they have one of the longest lives of any type of lighting available, up to 50,000 hours.

Available in a wide range of colors and sizes, cathode lighting is ideal for many locations, and are increasingly seen in stores, hospitals, galleries and libraries. They are used to best effect in alcoves where indirect lighting is preferable. Their increasing fluid and flexible designs help draw attention to the special features and furnishings in a room.

The improvements in the design of cathode lighting fixtures make them available in smaller and sleeker shapes than traditional fluorescents. With a long life expectation, no flickering to distract or annoy, high brightness and a flexible nature, cold cathodes are innovative and creative.

Moreover, they are totally recyclable once they have come to the end of their lighting life.

All good reasons to consider making a shift to utilizing cathode lighting in your home!

Courtesy of ArticleCity.com

Backyard Decorating Tips

Your backyard can be an important extension of your home, so it’s worth spending time, and perhaps a little money, to make it functional and attractive.

The first step in creating a comfortable and appealing outdoor living space is to clear and tidy the area you have to work with. Stand in your backyard and assess what maintenance needs to be done or what eyesores need to be removed.  It’s time to think of all those gardening verbs:  Trim, mow, edge, fertilize, rake, weed, cut down, haul away, put away, paint and repair.

Make a list of the jobs, and get started – today!  Here are some problem areas for many homeowners, with ideas for ways to make improvements.

Tackle backyard eyesores

Store garbage cans and recycling bins in the side yard or garage.  If the hose must be handy, install a hose reel or a pottery hose house to keep it tidy.  Remove tired or scraggly potted plants, especially ones still in their plastic pots.

Establish a kiddie play area and train your children to keep their outdoor toys there.

Barbecues and their attending equipment aren’t always beautiful to look at.  Why not store them out of sight until they’re needed?

Organize your tools and create a storage system that works.  Up-end them in an old metal garbage can.  Hammer in a row of nails along a fence or the back of the hose, drill holes in your tool handles, loop through a section of rawhide and hang your tools from the nails.

How to Get Motivated

Your list may seem overwhelming, so here are a few ideas for making the work lighter:

Set up a social gathering a month or two away to work towards.  If you’re like me, you’ll want a tidy and attractive yard for your guests.

Commit time to the project. Break your list down into manageable chunks.  Schedule 15-minute to 2-hour blocks of time on your calendar over two months.  Use the odd few moments of free time to complete one small task.

Team up with a friend or neighbor. Spend an hour at his/her house on Saturday and work at your home on Sunday.  Reward yourselves with a picnic in your outdoor dining room.

Design a few outdoor rooms

After taking care of the grunt work, you’ll need to clearly define how you use the space.  Think of your yard as a series of areas or “rooms” with specific functions – areas for conversation, food preparation, eating, potting, storage, playing or sunning – surrounded by or intermingled with foliage or flowerbeds.

Create conversation areas in configurations similar to those in your home.  For example, place a small table in between a pair of chairs.  Position a “coffee table” in front of a bench with two chairs on either end.  Cluster pots to either side of the bench.  Add accessories such as shells, sculpture pieces, tiles or driftwood.

Make sure your outdoor “dining room” is easily accessible to the door closest to your kitchen.  Clean or replace the chair cushions.   Place an improvised centerpiece on the table and leave it there even when the table’s not in use.  Try a blooming potted plant, a cluster of pottery vases, a mound of river rocks, a bird house or birdbath or a bowl filled with croquet balls, beach glass or fish net floats.

Buy or recycle furnishings

Finally, think of items you might add to your outdoor living space to enhance your enjoyment.  Be creative!

Could you purchase sections of reassembled picket fencing and cordon off a small play area on the patio or the lawn for the kids to play in?

How about hanging a bamboo roll-up screen in front of your potting shed to conceal it from view?

Do you have trees that could hold a hammock or hanging chair?

Check any old wood furniture in your garage or attic.  An old dresser works well as a barbecue center or as a potting station.

An old kitchen table and chairs with a fresh coat of paint looks charming.  An old trunk, a few tree stumps covered with a slate slab or a wooden box can serve as a “coffee table.”

For creative finishing touches, rummage through your kitchen cabinets and check for anything waterproof to use as an accessory.

by Kit Davey

Home Maintenance Tips

We all know the things we probably “should” be doing in our home to keep things running efficiently and helping to prevent potential large, costly problems. However… we all know that actually getting those little things done around the house is an entirely different story! Having been in the home repair industry for over 12 years now, I can attest to how incredibly valuable keeping up with regular home maintenance can be. We have experienced countless situations where a very expensive problem could have been fixed by something as small as checking for leaks. Do yourself, and your home, a favor this year and give your house the TLC it deserves.

We’ve put together a list of maintenance tips broken out by month to help keep that to-do list manageable. Check them out and stay tuned for February’s maintenance tips next month!

Home Maintenance Tips
By following these steps you’ll avoid expensive repairs later and keep your home safe & efficient.  See the “Home Maintenance” page for more details.

• Clear Out Your Dryer Vent Hose – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission studies show 15,600 home fires are caused each year by lint blocking dryer vent hoses, killing or injuring 390 people and causing over $75 Million in damage.  Of 26 home equipment based causes of home fires, this is # 3 out of 26.  (# 1 and # 2 are gas & electric stoves).  It’s easy to protect your family, just use a flexible brush long enough to go the entire length of the hose to clean it out.

• Check All Faucets and sinks for Leaks & Drainage – Leaks can damage the insides of walls, cause dangerous mold to build up and cost you.  Visually check for leaks and check drain speed by filling up sinks and watching how fast they drain.  If you’ve noticed water build up in the sink while using it, it’s at least partially clogged.  Use a natural product like Bio-Clean to unclog drainpipes.

• Inspect Tile, Grout and Caulking for Cracks – Grout is the material between tiles and caulk is between tiles and glass or in the corners.  Cracks can let water through causing unseen damage and providing a breeding ground for dangerous molds.  Remove existing caulk or grout and thoroughly clean before replacing.  An individual cracked tile can be removed by carefully using a ceramic drill to start a hole and then break it out.

• Change Furnace Air Filters – Filter out allergens and keep your furnace running efficiently by changing your air filters.  We recommend microbial type filters. Change monthly or as recommended by manufacturer.

• Test All Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Push the button on the unit to check it – a few minutes doing this each month could save your family’s life in a fire. Plan on changing the batteries twice a year.

• Check Doors for Squeaks, Bumpers, and Proper Closing – A door knob going through drywall can cost up to $200 to repair, so check and replace door bumpers as needed.  For squeaks, use WD-40 and for uneven closing, get longer hinge screws.  As you tighten the longer screws you can adjust the door up or down to make it close properly.