How to Choose New Exterior Doors

Replacing your exterior door isn’t something to be taken lightly; you can’t just buy any door, pop it in place and expect it to compliment your home. You need to take a couple of important factors into consideration such as design, materials, and energy efficiency, and whether to do the work yourself or hire someone to do it for you.


Design

There are a lot of styles to choose from when it comes to exterior doors, so it’s a good idea to take the design of your home into consideration before purchasing anything. Take a long look at your home and the doors available. You may want to print a picture of your house and the available exterior doors, and hold them against the picture to make a decision. This is one of the easiest ways to determine if the door you like will suit the style of your home.

Of course older homes will enjoy the benefits of a sturdy wooden or vinyl door, while modern homes may enjoy doors with glass inserts.

Materials

Taking the materials into consideration is very important, especially, when it comes to design and energy efficiency. Many people choose wooden doors, but they are rather heavy, and tend to warp and rot over the years. Vinyl doors have increased in popularity due to the fact that they are lighter, more affordable and are completely maintenance free.



Energy Efficiency

Your exterior door should help with your energy efficiency, having a door that leaks will increase the amount of warm air escaping and cold air coming in, which is very unwelcome on cold wintry nights.

The door should be properly fitted with the right sealer and insulation to ensure the highest level of energy efficiency for your home.


DIY or a Contractor

If you have DIY and carpentry knowledge then you may wish to tackle replacing your exterior door on your own, though you need to be sure you understand what you are doing. While paying for a contractor may set you back and add to the overall cost of the door it will help ensure the door is fitted correctly and increase your energy efficiency accordingly.



For more information on exterior doors visit www.clerawindows.com/doors

How to Make Your Home More Enegry Efficient and Eco Friendly

With the winter looming just around the corner, your home’s energy efficiency starts to weigh heavily not only in terms of being green from the environmental, personal, and social perspective, but it is becoming increasingly important because of very high heating costs.

In this guide I am going to present some fairly easy to implement ideas on how to increase your home’s energy efficiency on a budget.

Home Insulation Ideas

If your home was built before 1970s, then it is very likely that it does not have sufficient levels of insulation, which results in unnecessary heat loss. Many states now offer some very attractive home insulation programs, grants and rebates. For instance, the state of Massachusetts, my home state, provides a 75% tax credits rebate on energy efficient insulation up to $2000.00 in year 2011.

There are many similar programs in other states, and taking advantage of similar energy efficient insulation rebate programs will not only put money back in your pocket, and reduce your heating and cooling costs. But it will also increase the saleability of your home, reduce the chance of your heating pipes bursting in the winter, reduce cold air drafts in your home, and make your home a more comfortable place for you and your family.



Attic Insulation

Going back to older homes built before 1970s, if you happen to live in one, chances are that your loft or attic insulation is not sufficiently insulated and ventilated, which is a common reason for ice dams on the roof in the winter and costly roof, walls, and insulation damages that may not necessarily be covered by homeowners insurance. If you plan on having a new roof installed any time soon, then consider replacing your old roof with an energy efficient metal roofing system, which will help reduce your cooling costs in the summer, and help stop ice dams in the winter.

You can better insulate your attic by locating air leaks, and applying a caulk sealant to stop the unwanted air leaks. You can feel for this air leaks with your hand, or buy a special tool for detecting thermal leaks in your home at your local home improvement store. Another alternative would be having a professional home energy audit performed in your home, which would give you a complete report outlining locations where energy loss due to insufficient insulation and air leaks occurs.



You can then, follow up on recommendations of home energy audit report, and have a contractor insulate and seal poorly insulated, and poorly sealed areas in your house for you, or you could save a bit of money by taking on these inadequacies in your home insulation levels yourself with the help of specialty sealants, and attic insulation bats for your attic.

Having a sufficiently insulated and properly ventilated attic will help prevent ice dams on your roof. Being prepared for cold storms with a properly insulated home can save a ton of money and headaches from having to deal with busted pipes and ice dams damage in the winter. Trust me on this!

Insulating Walls

You can have your walls insulated with a blown in insulation, or you can have more insulation installed if you are planning to install new siding on your house some time in the near future. Obviously, blown insulation is much easier and less costly then, ripping apart your sheet rock to install a cavity wall insulation, but if you are doing a complete remodel of certain rooms in your home, and you are taking off old sheet rock, then you can have your wall cavities insulated during this time. Although, in all honesty ripping off your old sheet rock, or plaster and installing a new one is a messy and expensive way to do it.


Simple way to insulate your windows for the Winter

If you do not quite have the money to replace your old windows with energy efficient ones, then you can install a special film over your old windows, which will help reduce the cold air drafts thereby helping to keep your rooms warmer and saving on money on reduced heating bills.

These are the simple yet effective basic ways to make your home greener and more energy efficient on a budget. If you have already done these and are ready for the next step, then consider replacing your old oil burner with an energy efficient gas heating system. Once again there may be some good rebates available for that when you choose to upgrade your heating system with a 92 to 96% energy efficient gas burner. The cost of gas is less than the cost of oil, and having an energy efficient burner will further reduce your heating costs in the winter. You can also install energy efficient gas-powered hot water burners to reduce the cost of heating water in your home.



More Ideas

You can obtain even more energy efficiency in your home by replacing your lights with energy efficient lighting, and by installing, eco-friendly shower heads in your bathroom.

Mixing Concrete: Steps for DIY Concrete Pouring Project

What is concrete?

Concrete is cement, aggregate and water mixed at the right ratios to make it strong. It is always better to mix concrete on the dryer side to get good strength. Slow curing of concrete will make it stronger than a rapid cure.

Mixing Cement

Only mix what you can effectively work with in the allotted pot life. If you are mixing more than a bag, then consider renting or buying a portable cement mixer to help you save the valuable time.

Once your concrete mixture is ready, work the concrete into the very area of the project. Tamping it with a shovel will help force the concrete into every space and work the air pockets out.




Working with Concrete

Level out the concrete using a rake or even a straight edged surface like a 2×4. Smooth out the concrete surface with a masonry trowel.

Be sure to use the necessary tools such as expansion joints, which are really important for projects like replacing a section of a sidewalk. Always use proper safety gear and precautions when working with concrete.

DIY Concrete pouring projects you can do

Some relatively easy DIY projects involving mixing and pouring of the concrete include the following; laying and pouring a sidewalk around your house, making concrete steps for your porch, laying decorative walkways with brick and a concrete binder in your backyard, making decorative concrete block edging, pouring to set fence posts around your home.

If you are planning to do a bigger project involving mixing and pouring of concrete, then you may be better off by hiring a concrete construction company to do the work for you.



Grow Organic Vegetables Right in Your Own Back Yard

To avoid feeling sick to your stomach every time you hear about food being recalled, why not grow vegetables for your family right in your very own back yard? With all the food recalls and scares it is hard not to feel at times that there really isn’t any absolutely safe food available on the market for people to purchase and bring home to their families. There is always that small worry in the back of the majority of the people’s minds that they may fall victim to the horrible introduction to e.coli through food that they have purchased at the grocery store.

Grow Organic vegetables in Your Back Garden



Due to all the food scares that have been reported, a huge amount of people have begun to think about using the same methods that have been used throughout history and grow their own organic vegetables at home. Growing vegetables in your own back yard is probably the best location for this type of project, especially when the majority of the farm land on sale is being purchased by developers. Even if it was not being sold to these businessmen, the price is too high for most people. Growing organic vegetables in the back yard is cheaper and really much more practical; this project does not require as much space as some may think.



With a little bit of out of the box thinking, you may be pleasantly surprised to see just what type of garden you can grow in your own personal space. A huge amount of these out of the box ideas can be found in magazines that focus on your home and gardening or by searching different internet sites. These tools can help you figure out which approach is best for you and the space that you have access to. An example of one of these ideas is to plant your vegetables in an object that is mobile such as an old wagon; this will make it easier for you to move your little garden into the shade or into the sun.

If the idea of digging around in the back yard is not appealing, then another option is to plant your garden in large sized steel buckets that are galvanized. For a more creative individual, the garden can be placed in pots throughout the yard which can be bought in different types of designs or individuals can even paint them on their own. The amount of space that you may have to work with should not discourage you from taking on this life changing project, no matter how small the space might be.



How to build a Fire Pit in Your Yard

If you have spare bricks or some good sized rocks laying around your yard, then you have the perfect building material already available to build your fire pit. If you don’t, you can easily purchase fieldstone at your local DIY store, or you can go out into the woods and find some for free. If you prefer to use bricks, you can purchase them at your local hardware store.

Before you start building your fire pit, speak with someone in your local fire department regarding any city ordinances or fire codes that you need to follow when building and using your fire pit. Then, choose a nice spot in your backyard that is clear of any buildings, trees and bushes and that is clear of your everyday backyard traffic. Mark out where you want to build your fire pit, the size of the pit, and then dig it out. You want to make the pit deep enough so that when you have a fire built and blazing within the pit, the flames will not shoot out above the pit’s rim. Once you have dug the pit, line it with the fieldstone or bricks that you purchased for this purpose.



How to build Fire Pit DIY

If you are unsure how big to build your fire pit, go to your local hardware store and see if they sell large round grill plates. This is the surface you grill your food on with a traditional barbecue. You may need to order one from a specialty fireplace store. This can act as a great gauge for the size of your pit, as well as provide you with a surface you can grill on. You will also need a cover for your pit. This will help keep your fire pit free from debris and ready to use at all times.

While some people are willing to simply use their imagination to build their fire pits, the less adventurous can purchase a kit that provides all the materials they need to build a fire pit. These kits typically also include a cover for your fire pit as well as a grill surface.