What You Can Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

Reducing the impact of your home on global warming is mostly tied to the power plants that are run on fossil-fuels. The burning of these fossil-fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas creates carbon-dioxide which accumulates in the atmosphere, which contributes to a greenhouse effect, causing global warming. It is this carbon dioxide production that we are trying to reduce.

Therefore, the principle of carbon conservation is to reduce the amount of power you consume in your house, which will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

There are small things that you can do to use less power. Replacing incandescent lights with compact flourescents is easier and less expensive than several years ago. The bulbs fit into a standard light bulb socket, produce just as much or even more light (measured in lumens) and are now available in a warmer light color, so they don’t remind you of the lights in your dentist office. They also last much longer than their incandescent (regular) counterparts. You can now find fluorescent lights everywhere regularlight bulbs are sold, including retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and any hardware store. There is no special equipment necessary, so it is a simple investment that can really reduce your energy usage.

Turn off lights in rooms that are unoccupied, or use timers to set when a light will go off. Use small task lights instead of turning on every light in a particular room. Try using natural sunlight during the day instead of turning all the lights on.

Wash your clothes in cold water, and line-dry them if possible. If you live in a temperate climate, hanging your clothes to dry is a viable option, though it does take a little more time. Washers and driers use a lot of energy. Washing your clothes with cold water uses less energy because the water does not need to be heated (which takes more energy than washing them in cold water).

There are even special detergents optimized to work best with cold water. Also, without being dirty, evaluate your clothes before washing them. Does that shirt just need to be ironed? Did I only wear those jeans for five minutes while making up my mind as to what to wear? Clean clothes are a part of good grooming, but we often wash things that are not really dirty just because they’ve touched our bodies for a moment, or fell on the floor too close to the hamper.

Unplug appliances that are not being used. Stereo systems, coffee pots, video game systems, clocks and specialty lamps all use power even when you’re not using them. If an appliance needs to be replaced, take the time to shop for energy-efficient ones. There is a label called “Energy Star” which certifies that an appliances uses a significantly lower amount of power than traditional appliances. Some states even give tax credits for Energy Star appliance purchases – check your local legislation to find out. That might be enough of a financial incentive.

Check your home for drafts, broken window panes, and gaps in doorways. Whether summer or winter, your house could be letting out the heat or air-conditioning that you’re using power to create. Most drafty doors or windows can be fixed by using caulk or by repairing windowpanes, installing weatherstripping, or replacing a window. If you have questions on how to do this, seek advice from your local hardware store, or a place like Home Depot or Loews.

Get a thermostat which regulates heat and/or air conditioning through the day. The heat does not need to be on full blast when no one is home, but it shouldn’t be freezing when you get home from work, either. A programmable thermostat is relatively easy to install, and can save you a lot of money on your heating bill. Lower the temperature during times that no one is home, and when everyone is asleep. Set the heat to your comfort level for peak times that you are home. Never turn an air conditioner on in a room that also has an open window, it’s purely a waste. You can also attempt to section off portions of your home so your air conditioner is not trying to cool the entire house.

By doing these things to reduce your power use, you will not only save money on your electric bills, but help to reduce the amount of carbon entering our atmosphere.


Ways to Make a Dining Room Flow into a Kitchen

Rooms dedicated solely to dining that are completely closed off from adjoining parts of the home are not as popular as they once were in the early to mid twentieth century. Part of the reason is because families are leaving the table and dining in front of the television. My family is no exception.

This common practice has made formal dining rooms just about obsolete. However, it is possible to successfully make a dining room flow into the kitchen or another adjoining part of the home for a more useful purpose. I once had a formal dining room that was closed off to the rest of the home, and I successfully made it flow into my kitchen in a striking new way. In the end I had more space than ever for storage, entertaining and more.

Add French Doors Instead of Solid or Pocket Varieties

My traditional sandstone beige dining room had double pocket doors, and they closed the dining room off from the kitchen on one end and the living room on the other. I felt completely isolated when the doors were closed, and I had to find a way to bring the space into the twenty-first century.

I began by having the pocket doors removed, the framework changed, and I had French doors installed instead. When the French doors were closed I still had a view of the other rooms in the home. The glass-paned doors looked absolutely gorgeous whether they were opened or closed, but I found additional ways to make my dining flow into the kitchen.

Paint Both Rooms the Same Hue

When I moved into the home the kitchen was robin’s egg blue and the living room was eggshell white. This would have to change if I wanted to make the dining room flow into the kitchen. After adding the French doors I decided to paint the kitchen sandstone beige. The transformation was amazing. Not only did the dining room appear to flow into the kitchen, but both rooms looked much more spacious.

Decorate Both Rooms in a Specific Style or Theme

Another one of the most effective ways to make a dining room flow into the kitchen is with decor of a specific theme. In this particular home I chose an Amish decorating scheme. I hung two black metal silhouettes of horse drawn carriages in the dining room along with two Amish countryside paintings and a shelf that held three ceramic Amish children with a small metal wagon. I continued this decorating theme in the kitchen. Because the two separate spaces had something it common they seemed to flow together almost seamlessly.

Install Matching Cabinets in Both Rooms

I really did not need my dining room since I only held family get-togethers a few times a year. What I really wanted was more cabinet space for storing dishware, baking supplies and non-perishables. Since my uncle designed the kitchen cabinets I knew he would be able to successfully design more for the room and obtain a perfect match.

In the end I transformed my dining room and kitchen into one huge eat-in kitchen. It included upper and lower cabinets as well as a small sink. I also had a second built-in dishwasher installed. Even with the dividing wall and doorway, I was able to make the kitchen and dining room flow together into one very large space. It was my dream kitchen and dining space all rolled into one.


How to Make Your Home Easier to Manage

People who opt for the ‘tidy up’ approach when tackling clutter are actually rearranging rather than organizing, and sooner or later the clutter builds up. Then you have to clear it up all over again. So remember the old adage- a place for everything and everything in its place.

To simplify things, think of the activities you and your family like to do in each room, and designate storage areas for items used for each activity. For instance, DVDs should be kept near the TV in a drawer or a basket, and your kid’s toys should be placed in a toy bin at their play area. This way, it helps family members know where items should be returned to later.

Maximize your space

  • At the entry way, assign a shelf for each family member and use a basket to hold items they want to grab before they leave.
  • Install hooks onto walls for holding bags and other items.
  • Consider having movable furniture or furniture with multiple uses, like a footstool with hidden storage.
  • Opt for a wall mounted flatscreen LCD or plasma TV, if space is tight.
  • In the storeroom, consider fixing some free-standing shelves to create more compartments. They are great for keeping household utilities like spare light bulbs, extension cord, plugs or spare vacuum cleaner bags.

Find Storage In Unusual Places

  • The empty space underneath the stairs is a great place to consider building a cupboard or storage unit to keep your stuff.
  • If you have free walls, try fixing up shelves for displaying items.
  • Some houses also have alcoves that can be used as extra storage spaces.

Iron Out Your Clothes

Daunted at having to sort out the entire closet? Then tackle it an armful at a time. Grab some clothes that you haven’t worn in a long time and try them on in front of a full- length mirror. Keep those that fit, are still in style, and don’t need major alterations or repairs. Donate the rest of the pieces that don’t make cut!

Keep your closet organized with these easy tips:

  • Keep the clothes that you wear most frequently within easy reach.
  • Shelves should be adjustable, and arranged in a way which serves your individual storing requirements.
  • If the shelves are deep, you may want to consider installing sliding drawers.
  • Compartmentalize closet drawers to create more space. These compartments can be used to store jewelery, undergarments and socks.
  • Invest in sturdy, well- built hangers. It’s help your clothes keep its shape longer and it’s also easier to organize.
  • It’s good to leave about 10 to 20 percent of extra space for future purchases and storing needs.

Ways To Keep It Organized

-Use a plastic cutlery tray to organized all your cutlery and eating utensils.

  • Designate a drawer to keep all loose items like aluminum foil, plastic wrap and food storage bags.
  • Build kitchen cabinets all the way up to the ceiling to create more storage space.
  • Free up cupboard space by installing extra fittings or hooks, wire baskets or hanging racks on the backs of doors.

Conquer Your Paperwork

We all receive bill and letters which tend to pile up, only to get stuffed into drawers which we then spend precious time searching through later. Set up a command central area where important records like bills, receipts, income tax forms and school reports are filled up and organized. You could also pin up a calendar for the whole family’s activities, have a menu list and keep your stationery here.

Bathroom Decluttering Checklist

  • Go through your bathroom cabinets and sort through all the items inside. Discard any medicine, prescription or cream that is past its expiry date.
  • Also remember to bin any beauty products over a year old.
  • Use smart and compact holders to keep toiletries like your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, combs in place.
  • Install towel hooks on a section of the wall to hang towels.
  • Keep dirty clothes separated in a clothes basket with dividers. Or places three baskets in a row and label them for whites, colors, and knits and delicates.
  • Give each family member a laundry bag to keep their dirty socks in. This will save your time trying to sort them out later.