6 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

eco friendly

Many of us would love to make our home more eco-friendly, but we’re just not sure how to begin. Plus, an eco-friendly house often comes with the reputation of expensive bills. While it’s true that you can break a budget if you radically overhaul your home, you certainly don’t have to spend more dollars than you’re comfortable spending.

In fact, there are several easy and cost-effective techniques to live your daily life in an environmentally conscious way:

1. Use green cleaning products. It’s springtime, so what better time of year to switch all your cleaning products to greener ones? You can buy products at the store, or even make your own out of surprisingly cheap ingredients. You’ll feel much better when you know that you’re not sending toxic materials down the drain.

2. Cut down on your waste. There are many methods to cut down on waste. Instead of simply throwing all waste products into the garbage so they wind up in the landfill, start sorting your trash and see whether anything can be recycled or even composted. This will reduce the waste you’re producing as a household and help the environment flourish.

3. Start walking or riding your bike when possible. Have to make a trip down the street? Rather than jumping in your car, ride your bike or use the opportunity to exercise your legs. You’ll save money on gas over time, and you’ll be doing something good for both you AND the environment.

4. Replace your inefficient windows with newer window models. Replacement home windows can dramatically cut down on your energy bills, which means you’re using up far less fuel every season to heat or cool your home.

5. Buy recycled products when available. When you have the chance to buy an item that’s made from recycled products, consider it a viable option compared to buying a product that has been made from non-green materials. This can include everything from furniture to napkins to books.

6. Visit antique stores, second-hand shops, yard sales and auctions. Why not give an old treasure new life? If you want to redecorate this year, see how many things you can find that have been discarded by others. You may just discover treasures waiting for you that have more character and charm than anything you could buy at a big box retailer.

As you start to focus on becoming more eco-friendly in your everyday habits, remind yourself that any change you make will help. You don’t have to radically transform your lifestyle in order to have a positive impact. Simple steps are the perfect beginning to a greener home and healthier lifestyle!

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Spring Cleaning – What Are You Forgetting to Do?

inside oven

As soon as March rolls around, most homeowners get into high spring cleaning gear. We sweep, we scrub and we scour. By the time we’re finished, we’re convinced we’ve done everything there is to do to get rid of the dust, dirt and grime that we collected over the winter. However, chances are good that we’re probably forgetting some spring cleaning items.

It’s an honest case of overlooking what’s in front of us. In our zeal to clean the right way, we tend to do what we’ve always done. But if you want to truly spring clean like the pros, it’s important to make sure you haven’t forgotten about the following areas:

  • Make the oven shine. We’re not talking about the outside of the oven — we’re talking about the caked-on holiday grease that’s built up for months (or years) on the inside. Depending on the type of oven you have, you may need to buy a heavy-duty cleaning product that will create powerful fumes. If this is the case, open your Harrisburg home windows and properly ventilate the kitchen and adjoining spaces.
  • Clean all your curtains. You wouldn’t dream of not cleaning your Harrisburg replacement windows, but what about the trappings that adorn them? Spring is a great time to take down all the fabrics and either throw them in the washing machine and iron them, or take them to a local drycleaner.
  • Get your ductwork cleaned out. During the winter months, a lot of debris can build up in the ducts throughout your home. While it may be possible for you to use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the unwanted particles you can see in the registers and vents throughout your home, you simply cannot get to the depths of the ductwork. It’s a smart idea – especially if anyone in your house has allergies to mold, mildew, dust mites or pollen – to hire a professional to clean the ductwork thoroughly.
  • Remove all lint from your dryer vent. A build-up of lint is likely trapped in your dryer vent. You can try to clean this out yourself, or hire a professional to do it. Not only will this increase the efficiency of your dryer, but it’s also a protective measure. Lint build-up is a recognizable cause of house fires, so make sure you always remember to remove it.

As you begin to embark on your spring cleaning regimen, continue to ask yourself if you’ve missed anything. You may be surprised to realize that you’ve forgotten to polish or wash something that’s in plain view, like your window treatments or oven. And once you’ve remembered everything, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the spring sunshine!

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7 Ways to Make Your Home Feel Fresh

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After being cooped up all winter, it’s time to embrace the fresh beauty of spring. Not only does this season bring a promise of warm days to come, but it also reminds us that it’s time to make our home come alive. Most people engage in at least one or two bouts of spring cleaning to help boost the freshness of their home. However, there are a few other ways to make your house feel airier, lighter and brighter:

  1. Bring the outside indoors with plants. The greenness of plants adds an element of the outdoors to any room. You can even use the plants to decorate your Mechanicsburg replacement windows. Placing a potted plant in your bay or bow window will give your room some color and life.
  1. Change your window treatments. It’s not unusual for homeowners to have window treatments that are darker during the wintertime, and then swap those treatments for less heavy ones when spring rolls around. Linen and lace designs can add a gentle touch.
  1. Open all your windows on a regular basis. Unless you have serious allergies, why not open up your windows and let the breeze come in? You don’t have to keep your windows open all day — even a few hours will change the atmosphere and scent of your house.
  1. Try some commercial air fresheners. Commercial air fresheners, such as the plug-in models, can quickly spread throughout your whole house. Try to pick an aroma that’s delicate and fresh for the springtime, such as a sea breeze.
  1. Declutter your living areas. Nothing makes a room seem heavier than having too much stuff in it. The fewer items that are located in a space, the more spacious and roomy the area will appear. As you declutter, see if there’s anything you can donate to the local Community Aid or Salvation Army facility.
  1. Swap out your throw pillows. After decluttering your living area, it’s time to replace all those dark-colored throw pillows on your chairs and sofas. Choose ones in bright, spring colors — your space will be completely transformed by simple accents that have a major effect.
  1. Get a new bedspread or quilt. Nothing says “spring” in the bedroom more than a new bedspread or quilt. Pick a pattern that will stand out without being too dark. Greens, golds and blues are terrific shades to set off the beauty of a bedroom.

After you spend just a little bit of time making your home feel, look and smell fresher, it’s time to enjoy all the wonderful opportunities that spring brings in Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill and all of Central PA. Your home deserves to freshen up, and so do you!

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3 Chic Colors to Incorporate in Your Home This Season

color blog

Spring is a time of year when the desire to redecorate strikes some individuals, couples and families full-force. There also seems to be a strong movement toward particular colors. Today, those colors include seafoam, tangerine and icy strawberry. This means many people will be choosing these hues to transform rooms into chic, modern areas.

Seafoam, tangerine and icy strawberry shades convey a sense of warmth and bright appeal, and they match the feel of springtime. They are also bold — just like spring, there’s nothing subtle about them, although they can be used minimally to add a slight pop rather than a bold swath of color.

How to Try These Colors in Your Home

What happens if your budget isn’t as big as your redecorating dreams? Not to worry. There are several ways to frugally use seafoam, tangerine, icy strawberry or any other hue into your living spaces and transform your look!  Try some of these ideas:

  • Purchase or make new throw pillows. One of the fastest and cheapest ways to change the appearance of a living room or family room is to switch out the pillows. If you don’t want to purchase new ones, you can buy fabric and make pillow covers to use with your current pillows.
  • Swap out your window treatments. Draperies, curtains and other window accessories are great ways to add some color to your room. Find the ones that will make your Harrisburg home windows stand out, and warm up your room for spring.
  • Add a large painting to your wall. It doesn’t take a Picasso to turn a plain canvas into a work of art. Try creating a painting for your wall in your chosen color. You could even make small canvas blocks, and hang them on the wall to add a pattern.
  • Add an area rug in the shade you prefer. Area rugs cannot compete with the price of wall-to-wall carpet, yet they add a tremendous sense of warmth and visual appeal to any room.
  • Try “color blocking” your shelves with like-colored items. If you like the seafoam color, purchase a few attractive items or frames in those colors. Then, arrange the colorful items on bookshelves or on tabletops to create little “color blocks” around your home.
  • Hang scarves on the wall as murals. You can often find inexpensive, gorgeous pashmina style scarves, especially at the end of the winter season. Use them as mural hangings or drape them over the backs of chairs.

No matter what you do, personalize your home and get it ready for spring with some unique, transformative decorating decisions. Your house will be full of warmth and color, and your wallet won’t take a hit in the process.

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How to Choose the Perfect Window Style

custom

You’ve decided that it’s time to get replacement windows, but you’re having trouble deciding which type will best suit your home. Instead of worrying about the possibilities, take a look at the more popular styles, as well as their pros and cons.

What Are Double Hung Windows?

If you’re wondering why people choose double hung windows, it’s because they are the most popular type of window that’s available on the American market. One window “sits” on top of the other window, and they slide open from the bottom or sometimes the top.

Pros: Double hung windows are available in numerous sizes and colors. This adds to their versatility. They are also simple to clean, tilting in and out. Plus, if you have a window air conditioning unit, they make installation simpler.

Cons: This type of window may not provide the aesthetic look that you want for your house. Additionally, the airflow could be limited depending on the number of windows in the room.

What Are Casement Windows?

Casement windows include a crank to open them fully. Because both sides of the casement windows can be opened, your entire window can be used as a source of room ventilation.

Pros: Obviously, if you’re looking for a window that provides maximum airflow throughout your space, casement windows will afford you this opportunity. Plus, the hardware is tough to spot, so it won’t interfere with the appearance of the windows externally or internally.

Cons: If you have window air conditioning units, casement windows aren’t for you. Larger varieties of this type of window may be tough to crank open and close.

What Are Bay Windows?

Bay windows have multiple sections of windows and open out from the side of the house. Depending upon their size, they can add significant square footage to a room. They’re known as one of the most intrinsically attractive types of windows because of their architectural design.

Pros: There are a few major benefits to bow windows. If you want to allow sunlight into a room, and your home has been built in such a way that bay windows are a possibility, you’ll love the results. Because they open, you’ll also get tons of fresh air. You’ll even get more storage space to display items in your room, thanks to the deep bay window sill.

Cons: Not all structures can accommodate the inclusion of bay windows. You may have to make major changes to your home to add one, and this can be costly.

Visualize Your New Windows

If you’re having difficulty envisioning how windows will look in your home, try the Renewal by Andersen visualizer tool that allows you to upload your photos and see which windows are right for your needs. Then, give us a call and we’ll set up a consultation. Remember: There’s a perfect window for any situation!

How to Extend Seasonal Décor With Holiday Staples

decor

While it can be great fun to decorate your home for every holiday, it takes time, effort and money to pay for all that décor. The good news is that if you choose a few staple decorative pieces for your home, you can ride out several holidays without having to perform an HGTV-worthy makeover every few weeks.

From January until December, here are some of the most convenient items that will make your residence look like it was decorated for the season with the help of a professional.

January-February

This is the time of year when we have multiple interesting celebrations, including the Chinese New Year, the SuperBowl and Valentine’s Day. Red hues are strongly associated with the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, so why not add some red cozy blankets, pillows and even throw-rugs to your common living space? Stay away from ornamentation that’s too time-sensitive, including hearts and dragons, that you’ll have to take down a week later.

March-April

This is springtime, and green is in the air with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Bright colors will spruce up the interior of your home at this point in time, and they’ll coordinate with what’s going on in the changing landscape outside your front or back door. Since you’re already engaged in spring cleaning, change your window treatments to brighter colors. You can also switch up the pictures on your walls to make your living areas look brand new.

May-July

It’s all about red, white and blue from May until July thanks to Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day. While you might not want to go full-force with these colors, it’s great to pick white and either red or blue. For instance, a white and blue theme in your main rooms will create a fresh, summery, nautical ambiance.

August-October

Back to school is in the air, and that means autumn isn’t far behind! Think of all those muted, earthy shades that will help you dress up your home for the season. For instance, you may want to take down your spring/summer window treatments and replace them with fabrics of rust, auburn, pumpkin, caramel or chocolate. Change any throw rugs and sofa pillows accordingly.

November-December

These are the biggest holidays of the year, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make your home look like a twinkling palace! Simply focus on adding neutral gold, white and silver items throughout your rooms. A blanket here and candles there are inexpensive ways to decorate for the end of the year. Plus, they’ll go along nicely with any other decorations you typically showcase, like a Christmas tree or a Menorah.

Seasons may come and go, but you don’t have to stress about how to make your house look wonderful. Eliminate the frenzy of constant decorating by grouping holidays together. The impression you make on your guests will be stellar, and only you will know that you didn’t have to break a sweat!

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How to Tell If You Need to Replace Your Windows

window

Have your utility bills been skyrocketing for no discernible reason? Are you noticing drafts in rooms that seem to be worsening each year? Are there small cracks or nicks in your windowpanes? These are all strong indicators that it’s time to consider calling a Mechanicsburg window replacement company.

Ignoring windows that aren’t performing up to par is only an option for a short amount of time. Eventually, those windows will start to become problematic and cost you money over the long haul. If you’re asking yourself “When do I need to replace my windows?”, why not start by considering these signals:

  • Your furnace has to work harder to heat the house. Most likely, the issue isn’t your furnace if you’ve kept it well-maintained. If your furnace is struggling to keep your home at a constant temperature, you probably have leaks somewhere in your living spaces. Older windows are often the culprits, so by replacing them, you’ll be protecting the life of your furnace as well as spending less each season to heat and cool your residence.
  • You feel a noticeable drop in temperature when you walk by your windows. If you have older models of windows, they’re probably not well-equipped to lock the warmth into your room. Instead, they’re slowly sucking the hotter air into the outdoors. Therefore, when you walk or sit by the window, you feel a chill. Newer windows constructed using high-tech materials won’t perform that way.
  • Your windows don’t seem to fit snugly into the walls. Older homes are known to settle, and during all the settling, the windows may begin to shift slightly. Eventually, they aren’t fitting as tightly as they once did. This can cause great stress on the windows themselves, causing cracks to appear in the glass. An improper fit can also be a source of heat leakage.
  • Your windows have a wavy appearance. Has the glass in your windows begun to buckle or take on a wavy look? This is a sign that they were made using antiquated methods. While they may seem pretty from an aesthetic standpoint, they aren’t recommended for homeowners who are serious about protecting their residences and saving money. If you want to keep older window panes for their historic beauty, you can always hang them on the interior walls in lieu of photos or mirrors as centerpieces.
  • Your windows cannot be cleaned. Are you unable to clean your windows to a shine? Newer windows will bring back the luster to all your windows from the inside and the outside. Plus, many replacement window options have ultraviolet protection to keep your carpets and furniture from prematurely fading.

If you’ve decided that you’ve had it with your current windows, discover the benefits new windows can provide!

Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning!

spring cleaning

The thermometer might be hovering around the freezing mark, but it won’t be that way forever. Warmer weather will soon wash through the midstate, and that means one thing: annual spring cleaning!

Instead of waiting until the calendar officially says that winter is done for the season, why not get a jump on all the washing, dusting, repairing and scrubbing? That way, when the first warm breezes beckon you to go outside, you won’t be stuck indoors with a bucket and mop.

What can you do to spring clean when the wind is blowing a cold gale? Plenty! Here are some ideas:

  • Focus on scrubbing hardwood or laminate floors, as well as deep-cleaning your carpets. During the winter, your family has tracked in tons of dirt, grime, salt and debris. All that gunk will make itself at home until you scrub it away. Not only will tackling the flooring throughout your house make the environment much healthier thanks to all the allergens you’ll be removing, but it will also make every room smell better.
  • Start to make headway with your dirtiest windows. As the preferred Harrisburg replacement window company, we often hear homeowners lamenting about how tough it is to get their windows shiny. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that type of hardship. Our windows make cleaning simple — and you never have to leave your house to get the job done. We even have a short video to show how to clean Andersen windows quickly.
  • Put some elbow grease into your grimiest appliances. When was the last time you cleaned the oven? What about removing everything from the refrigerator and giving it a sponge bath? When the snow is falling outside, it’s the perfect opportunity to take your appliances from drab-looking to fantastic. This can even help the appliances run more efficiently and last longer than they otherwise might.
  • Spend time organizing your closets. Did the closets turn into catch-alls for tons of clothing, unwanted items and stuff you couldn’t put anywhere else? Remove everything from each closet and figure out what you want to keep, what you want to donate and what you want to toss. If you haven’t worn an outfit for more than a year – or it no longer fits you – it’s probably something you’ll never wear again.
  • Arrange your bookshelves. A neat bookshelf can make any room look tidier. If you have bookshelves overflowing with ancient tomes, or cluttered with trinkets and photographs, spend an afternoon re-arranging your beloved items. The shelves will look like they have been attractively designed by a pro, and your living space will seem less chaotic.

Springtime isn’t the only time you can pick up a mop or broom. Start spring cleaning today and reap the benefits when the flowers start to bloom!

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Home Buying Tips for 2015: New Year, New Home

moving

Is it time for a new zip code? Do you want to set down permanent roots? Are you tired of renting?

If you’re thinking of making moves to move in 2015, there’s a lot at stake. Buying a home will be one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. Before you sign on the dotted line, we’ll tell you what to consider when buying your first home.

What to Look for

We’ve all watched enough HGTV to know that the most important thing to look for in a home is location. Paint can be updated, appliances can be purchased, walls can be knocked down, but you can’t change your school district or your township.

Pick three ideal neighborhoods to narrow your home search. Sure, you might be able to get a bigger home 20 minutes away — but take factors like your child’s school, your commute and area amenities into account when weighing your decision.

You should also consider whether or not the home has enough space for your current and future needs. The basement doesn’t have to be finished now, but make sure it has one if a man cave is something you’d like in the future. If you’re not done growing your family, buy a place with an additional bedroom or space to put one in.

When to Run

Many websites that highlight home buying tips neglect to mention the things you should look out for when buying a home. Knowing what to consider when buying a home and when to walk away can save you time and money down the line.

Here are a few red flags to avoid:

  • Old drafty windows
  • Worn-out roof
  • Termite damage
  • Cracked foundation
  • Empty swimming pools
  • Knob-and-tube wiring

However, if the asking price is right and you’ve got room in your budget for big renovations, it might be worth it.

When to Buy

Real estate experts say the best time to sell a home is during the summer. Because children aren’t in school and the weather is more conducive to families hauling their possessions to a new place, you’re more likely to get multiple offers on your home and sell it for the price you want.

Budget-conscious buyers should consider making moves now — during the winter months. Sellers going through the hassle to move and list during the frigid temperatures are likely motivated and more willing to make a deal. Since most folks wait to look until the summer, you’ll also have fewer competing offers.

That said, don’t buy just because you can score a bargain. Wait for the right home to come along to follow these home buying tips. You’ll be happy you did when you’re making memories inside it for years to come!

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Out With the Old, In With the Organization

bookcase

Are you playing hostess this year? In the weeks leading up to the holidays, you clean every surface and dust every corner to make your family and friends feel comfortable in your home.

Dinners are eaten, glasses are clinked and presents are opened in a whirlwind few days of Christmas cheer. When guests leave, however, you might feel overwhelmed with the mess and piles of gifts.

To start 2015 off with a clean slate, try these tried-and-true tips for cleaning and de-cluttering your home after the holidays.

Trim Your Possessions

If you received just as much as you gave this holiday season, it might be time to take stock of your possessions. Clean out your closet, and sell or donate your old sweaters and accessories. This will help you make room for the new items you found under the tree.

Did Mom get you those stainless steel pots and pans you had your eye on? There’s no reason to hold onto your old set. If you’re strapped for time, many donation sites have free pick-ups of clothing and household items.

Put Away Decorations

One of the easiest ways to clean your home after the holidays is to put away your seasonal decorations. While it’s a tad depressing to say goodbye to your ornaments for another year, you’ll be thankful you got your tree out on the curb before the needles start to fall.

And don’t forget to multitask. While you’re taking the garland off the stairs, dust between the spindles. When you take the wreath above the fireplace down, sweep up any ashes Santa might have left behind.

Get Clever With Containers

Now is also a good time to look through your home’s storage solutions. Think about what isn’t working and where you find consistent messy piles. If your closet is overflowing with crumpled scarves, consider purchasing an inexpensive scarf hanger.

Are there books on every flat surface in your living room? Display them in a bookcase. You can also invest in baskets, bins and hooks to de-clutter your home’s pantry, cabinets and drawers.

Store Some More

When cleaning your home after the holidays, you might find yourself with a number of items to put in storage. If you’re running out of space in all the usual places, consider some unconventional storage solutions. You can easily store large totes in your garage eaves and on exposed beams with the addition of a few two-by-fours. Rolling, shallow totes are also perfect for under beds to store holiday wrapping paper and decorations.

Think outside the box and you’ll have no problem freshening up your home once all the guests have left, and de-cluttering your space for the new year.

 

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