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Keeping your home warm during a Nova Scotia winter is not an inexpensive undertaking, but there are more and more options available to help you take the heat off of your wallet and put it into your house!
One of the biggest ways that home heating can cost you money? Air leaks. If your heat is sneaking out into that snowy world, you’re not only losing the warmth you’re pouring your money into, but that also means the cold air is getting in — a lose-lose battle.
Older homes in particular are more susceptible to this, but this is something you can check and many of the leaks are surprisingly easy to fix. Feel around your windows, doors, and fireplace — if there’s an air leak, you’ll feel the temperature drop around these, and you may even hear or feel a bit of a draft.
warmuptowintericon1Older windows, especially single pane, should be replaced wherever possible, as technology has come a long way in changing the way windows are constructed. They are now made to maximize energy efficiency, keeping your home cool during the summer and cosy during the winter. Is it just the window frames that need an update? Re-caulk them! There are some great products available now to help stop heat from escaping around your doors.
Ensuring that your chimney flue is closed when your fireplace is not in use will help, as well as maintaining the chimney stack itself, ensuring everything is in proper working order.
Inadequate insulation is one of the leading culprits in raising your home heating costs. Repairing this is a project you should probably have a contractor aid you with, but the cost of materials is low, this is not a lengthy process, and you will instantly see the savings on your energy bill this winter. This is a worthwhile investment in your home for your comfort as it will also keep your home cooler in the summer. As well, ensuring that your home is properly insulated will add major re-sale value.
Some other parts of your home that can have major air leaks? Basements, attics, baseboards, outdoor electric sockets, and uninsulated ductwork. Ensuring that your furnace or hot water boiler are properly maintained, and replacing them when they’re no longer serviceable, are also important steps in caring for your home and the money you’ve already put into it.
warmuptowintericon3Subsidizing your home heating system with one that is more cost-effective to run is another excellent way to keep the temperatures in your home up this winter, but the cost down.
Electric fireplaces are a very popular choice. Available in a huge array of styles, colours, and sizes, you’re definitely going to find one that suits a space in your home. They run for just pennies an hour, and can project major heat, while also adding that lovely fireplace ambiance without the maintenance of a real fireplace. Instead of chopping wood, you can flick a switch — the ease is definitely appealing.
If you have one, using your real fireplace is another great solution. Just ensure that your chimney is properly maintained and have a specialist check it at least once a season for safety reasons.
Wood and pellet stoves are also great sources of heat, and often having one of these can heat your entire home without your electric or oil heating source even needing to kick into action. These great sources of warmth have also had modern updates to make them more user friendly and more energy efficient.
Heat pumps are a highly energy efficient product, and as an added bonus they also help keep your home cool in the summer months.
Efficiency Nova Scotia and the government have some rebates and programs to help you make your home more energy-efficient, so when you’re tackling any or all of the above options, look into these — saving money is always welcome.
If this winter is anything like the last one, you’re going to be hunkered down with your family in your home quite a bit — some relatively easy steps will ensure that when those days come, your house is cosy and comfortable — and that keeping it this way isn’t costing you a fortune.


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - October 30, 2014


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.

It seems like the world is speeding up every day, with people getting so busy and their schedules so hectic that we’re all getting stressed and overwhelmed. With this increase in the demands being placed on us, there is a growing trend of people investing in their homes to make them into a sanctuary, a place where they can escape to at the end of a long and grueling day.
And really, isn’t that just what homes are for? Aren’t they supposed to be your safe haven? Creating a space that helps you unwind is so important, especially nowadays.
Want to know one of the best things you can focus on to help you shake off the day? Your shower. Seriously.
showerThis is the place where you prepare for your day and wash off the day—the place where you put on your best concerts (did you know singing in the shower is shown to help reduce stress?), the place where you sometimes just stand and let the warm water rinse you clean of your tiredness, your tension, your worries.
How do you make your shower into a mini spa-escape? It’s never been easier with the wide range of products available for just this purpose.
Does your relaxing shower turn into a scalding torture device when someone in your house flushes the toilet? If this is the case, you need to have a pressure-balance valve installed in your shower. It will prevent these surges in extreme water temperatures, and not being afraid of being iced or burned is definitely Step One to enjoying your shower.
You’ll want to consider the showerhead itself, to decide what suits you best. A lot of people are stepping up their shower game by installing more than one showerhead in their shower. Consider how lovely it would feel to have a waterfall showerhead cascading warm, soothing water from above you, then a gentle regular shower in front of you. With today’s water-saving showerheads, this kind of indulgence is not at the cost of the environment or your water bill.
Apart from the type of water flow, there are also different placements for your shower head(s). Above, wall-mounted, hand-held, body mist showers, and the very appealing shower panels, where one part of your shower has jets for giving massages — talk about relaxing!
Another cool modern update is turning your shower into a steam shower. It doesn’t get more spa-inspired than this. It’s a great way to loosen tense muscles, clear your sinuses, and simply relax. And when you want to cool off, you can just turn on the shower itself.
showertilesSteaming is an add-on to a shower, and you control it through a digital panel added to the shower with this upgrade. It doesn’t require a lot of water to create the steam, but it sure feels luxurious.
Adding nice tiling to your shower will give it the visual appeal of a spa, and with the wide selection of tile options now available, you’ll be able to give your shower the look you want at a price that suits your budget.
Comfort and extras like a steam shower are an investment, not just in your home (where you will see the return value at re-sale time) but also in yourself.
You work hard; let your home be the place where you relax and remember what it is you’re working for.


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - October 16, 2014


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.

pinterestshedsAnyone who spends time on Pinterest and home design blogs has probably noticed that garden sheds are doing double duty nowadays, and are being transformed into visually appealing storage, mini studios, and even little indoor/outdoor rooms just for hanging out in.
People are taking them to new levels of style and comfort-- gone are the days of run-down old sheds where spiders lurk and clutter grows.
Interested in transforming your shed? Step one is organization. You need to go through the contents of your shed and purge. Donate what you can, toss what needs tossing, and then decide what kind of storage system is right for your space.
There are a wide range of shelving units in different styles and materials that you can install in a shed or garage. The different types of shelving are designed to hold different kinds of weight and install differently, so you need to determine what you want the shelving to do. Most units are ones you can easily install yourself.
Are you turning your shed into outdoor garden storage? If so, having a nice workbench is a smart idea. A workbench doubles as a potting bench, tool maintenance and repair spot, and so much more.
paintingAre you turning it into a hideaway? If so, a coat of paint inside and outside is a big step. Painting the trim will also help add personality. Windows are ideal if your shed will be more than functional, and adding a window box full of pretty flowers adds even more appeal!
There are beautiful shed designs available now if you're starting from scratch. You can buy them pre-built, assembly required, or you can design and build one yourself (with the help of a contractor if you're not experienced in this area. A contractor will also know about your local building codes and restrictions).
Make sure your shed is properly sealed to keep out the weather and to protect its contents. After that, it's about adding personality!
If your shed is more for fun than for storage, window coverings will make it feel more homey. Design it so that on nice days, you can have the shed door (or doors) open-- adding flowy long see-through curtains to blow in the breeze and blur the line between inside and outdoors.
A little bistro set and other comfortable seating options will make it a lovely spot for long talks over tea.
If your shed is meant to create storage and minimize clutter, the key is organization and tidiness. Putting things away in their rightful place and keeping the interior and exterior shed surfaces clean will do wonders in making the space feel inviting and making it a nice spot to spend time in even when you're using it for storage and work around your home.
Properly utilized, storage sheds can be a homeowner's best friend,because as every homeowner knows, there's no such thing as too much storage!


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - October 2, 2014


Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.