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Making Your Home Guest-Friendly
“Oh no, the in-laws are coming and the house is a mess!” Whether you are hosting overnight guests or holding a party, if your home is cluttered, it can be a stressful situation. Prepare ahead of time to relieve stress and enjoy your time with your friends and family.

1. Plan Ahead. Start planning as soon as you’ve set the date. Use checklists to free your mind from the mental clutter of all your ‘to dos’.

2. Plan the Menu. Shop for non-perishable items in advance. Schedule some time just before guests arrive to shop for fresh items. Designate a shelf in the pantry and in the fridge strictly for food for guests.

3. Survey Your Home. Walk around your home as if you were a buyer seeing it for the first time and make a list of anything that needs attention. Focus only on the rooms your guests will see and don’t worry about detailing family bedrooms.

4. Clear the Clutter. Even the most spotless home can look messy and uninviting if there is clutter. Start with the entry area and coat closet to make a good first impression. Eliminate all but the absolutely necessary items. A garment rack in the basement can serve as storage for extra coats and other items you remove from the closets.

5. Organize the Guestroom.
a) Clear the clutter, add some nice hangers and hang a cedar closet freshener. Install a battery powered light if necessary.
b) Allow space for unpacking by emptying a few drawers in a chest in the guestroom.
c) Clear the clutter from bedside tables to make room for your guests’ books or jewelry. Remove personal items and knick-knacks from the room.
d) If you don’t have an extra bed, consider purchasing a feather bed (which you can later store in a vacuum bag), or an inflatable air mattress.
e) Reserve a couple of sets of linen for guests only so they remain clean and fresh. If you are having several guests, consider providing towels in a different color for each of them.
f) Purchase travel-sized toiletries (or keep the ones you get when you stay in a hotel) and tuck them in a pretty basket by the sink.

6. Get the Job Done. Involve the whole family in the cleaning, organizing and preparing. Another option is to hire professional help in order to get the job done quickly and preserve your sanity! Consider hiring a cleaning company, a professional organizer and/or a handyman.

7. Final Touches. After you’ve cleaned and organized your home, add small touches throughout, like flowers and candles, to give it warmth and comfort for your guests.
Do another walk-through after you’re done to see how guests will experience your home.
Now you can relax and enjoy your friends, your family and your home.

Hellen Buttigieg
Certified Professional Organizer & Life Coach
www.weorganizeu.com

You may not want to admit it, but the days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and winter is on its way. No matter what the season means to you whether that’s embracing the snow, avoiding the outdoors altogether, or taking off for a sunny destination - winter-proofing your home should be at the top of your list.

Roof: Before it’s covered in snow be sure to have it checked for any damaged shingles, replacing them if necessary. Also have your gutters cleared to ensure drainage will flow smoothly when the snow melts.

Furnace: It’s no secret your furnace will be of paramount importance as temperatures continue to drop, so prevent a breakdown by making sure its service and maintenance is up to date.

Windows: Double check that all windows are tightly sealed and water isn’t collecting in the sills. Ensuring windows with multiple sliding panels are in the closed position is important to avoid drafts.

Doors: Similar to windows, it’s important to check door frames are securely sealed without any cracks. Consider sealing or insulating mail slots or doggy doors.

Floors: Check for gaps between exposed floorboards, especially in any unfinished rooms in the house. If you have central heating, it’s important to ensure ducts connected to floor vents are well insulated.

Everything else: When setting your home up for seasonal success, it makes sense to take a look at your current insurance policy as well. Winter often means extreme weather that can result in damage to your property.

Want to improve the air quality in your home? Decorate with ferns. Horticulture experts say potted ferns help purify indoor air by filtering out common household pollutants.

Here’s how to keep your family breathing easier:

1. Pick your plant. There are many types of ferns, but these easy-to-find varieties do well indoors. If you would like a tall fern, try the bird’s-nest. Prefer a plant potted in a hanging basket? The Boston fern is best. For a plant that fits in small spaces, the little button fern is perfect.

2. Water often. Ferns are thirsty plants, so it is a good idea to keep them consistently watered, making sure the soil stays moist - but not wet.

3. Add humidity. Ferns thrive in normal house temperatures and indirect light. To up humidity for ferns, double-pot your plants in a set of plastic containers, filling the area between them with pea gravel. Keep the gravel moist, and your plants will be good to grow.

Generally, the more advanced the technology, the more moving parts or the more “bells and whistles” an appliance has, the shorter its functional lifespan is likely.

According to consumer’s reports, if it will cost 50% or more of the cost of a brand new appliance to repair your older machine, it rarely makes sense to do the repair. Here are a few tips when shopping to replace your laundry pair.

1. The newer your laundry machines, the more energy efficient they are likely to be. If your washer and dryer are more than ten years old, you are likely better off replacing them with new energy efficient models.

2. Front-loading washers use a fraction of the water that an older top-loader consumes, making a difference of around 7,000 gallons of water per year. That’s a big savings on the water bill.

3. Dryers are not Energy Star rated, they all use around the same amount of energy, but newer machines have sensors in the drum that detect moisture and stop the dryer when the clothes dry.

What if we told you there is a way that your home can be heated and cooled for a fraction of the cost it is currently costing you? This technology is not new and has been in use for many years. We are able to steal heat from deep in the ground and pump it into your house to keep you warm in the winter. Then pumping the heat out of your house in the summer. This technology is called a geothermal heat pump. Heat pumps are nothing new and lots of people in moderate climates have heat pumps.

Temperature Gradient
Temperature gradient is a preliminary concept that one needs to understand before the benefits of a geothermal heat pump can be fully appreciated. It’s all about heat flow. There are two parts to this concept:

Direction of heat flow: It should be no surprise to you that heat will move from hot to cold all by itself. It does not need any encouragement (energy). If it is hotter outside than it is inside, heat will move from outside to in and heat the home until the temperature inside is the same as out. The natural direction of heat flow is hot to cold. If heat is flowing in the direction it wants to go, you will have a positive temperature gradient.

Temperature difference: Heat will move very quickly if it is very hot outside and very cold inside, there is a big difference in temperature and we have a big temperature gradient.

What’s A Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a mechanical device that moves heat against the temperature gradient. A heat pump can be used to cool a house like an air conditioner and it can also be used to heat the house by moving heat from outside to inside. They don’t work as well in cold climates because as the temperature outside drops, so does the efficiency of the heat pump. In cold climates it may be too inefficient to heat your home with a heat pump.

Pipes are buried in the ground or in a well or lake, horizontally or vertically. A circulating liquid moves heat in and out of the ground through the pipes and the heat is pumped in or out of the house as required. Heating and cooling by pumping heat through a temperature gradient is much cheaper than heating and cooling with electricity and or fossil fuels.

What’s more psychologically revealing about the make and model of your car? Its color! Studies reveal that the color of your car shapes others’ opinions about your personality.

If the color of your car is …

Blue: You are a laid-back nurturer.

Black: You’re a mysterious leader.

White: You exude honesty.

Silver: You’re a far-sighted trailblazer.

Green: You’re a pillar of the community.

Gray: You’re a refined individual.

Red: You’re a passionate go-getter.

1. Fog-free mirrors. Wipe shaving cream on the mirror with a cloth; buff off. The mirror will stay clean after a hot shower.

2. Degrease your carpet. Apply shaving cream to a greasy stain and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove excess cream and dab area with wet cloth; vacuum as usual. The glycerin in shaving cream should safely dissolve the mark.

3. Fix a squeaky hinge. Squirt a little shaving cream on the hinge of a door. It will lubricate it, keeping it squeak-free.

4. Remove mildew from grout. Combine equal parts of shaving cream and bleach; apply it to bathroom grout. Leave it overnight to attack mildew and rinse away.

PROS

Environmentally friendly compared to gas or oil furnaces (no combustion)
Not a significant source of pollution and efficient
300-500% more than the best furnaces
Geothermal energy is a renewable resource as long as the Earth exists
Suitable for the smallest of houses to the largest commercial spaces
No cost fluctuations determined by gas and oil prices
30%-60% savings on heating and 25%-50% savings on cooling

CONS

High upfront costs ($10,000-$20,000)
More suitable for new home builds as retro-fitting involves large scale excavation
Electricity is still needed to run heat pumps
Geothermal energy using wells requires large usage of water
Discharge into the Earth could include sulfur dioxide and silica
Fewer installers and thus less competition
Large scale geothermal power plants are dangerous to the Earth’s surface

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