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Home Care

DIY ideas to increase your home’s value

If you’re considering upgrades to your home, consider these DIY ideas.

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Photo by ian dooley from Unsplash.com

Now as much as ever, your home may be a sanctuary for all kinds of expression, from thinking and dreaming to working and playing. Over the past year, homeowners began to consider the intersection of function and design in new ways.

Weekend warriors are dedicating themselves to creating more organized living spaces and making their homes better places for learning, working and living. If you’re considering upgrades to your home, consider these DIY ideas from the experts at Royal Building Products that can increase beauty and resale value.

Home Office: Spending more time at home may mean storage space is at a premium, especially if you’re relying on a makeshift home office. You can add a high-impact and functional element to your office with a built-in bookcase or workstation. Consider your materials carefully since they have a big impact on your final results. For example, a versatile alternative to wood is synthetic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) trim, which you don’t need to sand or prime before painting, ultimately saving time, energy and money. While PVC is slightly more expensive than some wood options, it also requires less maintenance long-term.

Bathroom: By updating worn-out items, modernizing fixtures and creating a more functional space, you can expect to recoup up to 50% of a bathroom’s remodel cost, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. If you’re considering an on-trend look like shiplap, a practical solution like Royal prefinished PVC Shiplap can help create a clean, comfortable space. It’s waterproof, mold resistant, flexible and works well in spaces with many slants and angles. Plus, it’s lightweight and easy to install.

Entryway: A home’s foyer offers the first impression of its interior, teasing the personality of architecture and decor found with each step deeper inside. Whether bold and dramatic, tranquil and serene, or something in-between, the entryway often sets the tone for a home’s ambience. Details like decorative molding and lattice trim can create a striking entryway for almost any home style.

Exterior: Whether you’re sprucing up an outdoor living space or simply want to boost curb appeal, subtle enhancements can make a big impact. For example, board and batten shutters offer an attractive, low-fuss way to highlight your home’s windows. Painting the front door is another low-cost way to freshen up your exterior. Or invite a touch of nature by adding flower boxes to your front porch or windows.

Select a Trim Style to Match Your Home Style

The right style of trim can transform a room into a whole new space. A good rule of thumb is to keep the style of trim consistent with your home style and from room to room.

Craftsman: The craftsman home style pairs well with simple, tailored and purposeful doors and minimally ornamented window casings while white, light beige and cream-colored crown moulding can create roomier spaces.

Colonial: This home style’s rustic simplicity and rich detail call for interior trim that lends a touch of stately courtliness. Choose multi-piece trim and wider baseboards, wainscoting and crown moulding to adorn family room floors, walls and ceilings.

Cape Cod: This practical and quaintly unassuming design can be accented by subtle interior trim such as transom windows and sidelights that surround multi-paneled entry doors, casings for double-hung windows, picture rails and frame walls.

Modern: The clean expansiveness of this home style lends itself to unadorned window and door casings as well as baseboards. You can go minimalist and use trim merely to protect walls and floors. Alternatively, you could rely on trim to create an appealing contrast with the wall colors.

Ranch: Open, informal and inviting, this style needs trim work that flows from room to room. Many styles work, from simple baseboards to more formal trimmed windows and cabinetry in the kitchen, fireplace mantels in the family room and passageway casings.

Find more creative inspiration, tools, tips and practical steps for every level of DIY-er at buildroyaldiy.com.

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Home Care

6 Solutions to safeguard valuables while moving

After moving into a new space, there’s an immediate need to keep valuables and important documents organized and secure in case of theft, fire or flood.

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Moving season means packing up valuables like tech devices, family heirlooms, jewelry and beyond and trusting they’ll make it safely to your new space. Ensuring a new home or apartment is properly secured is top of mind for many homeowners and renters, for both their personal safety and their most prized possessions.

After moving into a new space, there’s an immediate need to keep valuables and important documents organized and secure in case of theft, fire or flood. Whether or not a large security system is available on-site, Master Lock and SentrySafe’s DIY security and safety solutions equip your home with an extra line of defense and provide new homeowners and renters confidence.

Bar the Door

For instance, the Master Lock 270D Folding Door Bar is a reliable, on-the-go solution that’s perfect for securing entry doors during a move-in transition. It offers an updated design from the original – now more compact with a quick-release foldable design for ultimate convenience and portability. Folding to just 16.5 inches and extending up to 43.5 inches, it’s small enough to fit in a backpack but strong enough to prevent forced entry on hinged, patio and sliding doors due to the pivoting rubber grips.

Keep Your Property Secure

Look for those that feature expanded storage capacity to accommodate keys, fobs and cards, ensuring safety and convenience when accessing a home or apartment. The dials on the lock box are easy to read and grip, providing smooth operation. Built to last, the solid metal body with a rubber bumper protects against tampering while safeguarding surfaces from scratches and damage.

Turn to a Timeless Security Device

Keeping valuables secure can start with a tried-and-true classic solution. These versatile security devices can be used for a wide range of applications. Extend the security of your valuables during a move by using it on self-storage units and lockers, trailers, vans and moving trucks.

Fireproof and Protect Valuables at Home

Consider fireproof and waterproof solutions (e.g. SentrySafe FPW082HTC Fireproof and Waterproof Safe) as these could be your line of defense against fire, water and theft. The best-in-class fire and water protection solutions feature 1-hour UL-certified fire resistance at 1,700 F and ETL-verified protection in up to 5 inches of water for 24 hours. These could also have security built-in technology that offer an advanced, multi-point protection system that effectively resists physical attacks and lock manipulation while its pry-resistant hinge bar in the safe door protects against theft attempts.

Safeguard Documents and Files

Provide yourself an extra line of defense (for instance, with the SentrySafe FHW40100 Digital Fireproof/Waterproof File Safe) that safeguards important documents and records with a durable design and peril protection. Built to hold hanging file folders for easy organization, such a safe can be easily transported with its convenient carrying handle when moving into a new home or apartment.

Opt for Renter-Friendly Security

Renters who live in a small space may not be ready for a full-sized safe. Lightweight offerings – such as the SentrySafe 1200 Fire Chest – are affordable and convenient security solutions that safeguard precious valuables and electronics from theft attempts to keep items safe and sound. It’s convenient carrying handle allows users to easily move the chest from room to room and seamlessly pack and store their valuables at the end of their lease.

Get more information from MasterLock.com and SentrySafe.com.

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Home Care

How to check for bed bugs

Following these tips to check for the pesky insects while traveling and back at home.

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Bedbugs can make you itch just by thinking about them. These tiny, reddish-brown insects that feed on blood are notorious for infiltrating hotel rooms and luggage, hitchhiking their way back to a new home virtually undetected.

“Understanding what to be on the lookout for when checking for bedbugs is key,” said Danilo Del Campo, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago. “If you’re able to catch the infestation early enough you can avoid bringing a problem home, which can save a lot of frustration. However, these insects are tiny and that’s not always possible.”

Although bedbug bites are not usually dangerous, bedbugs can come home with you, infest your home, and cause a great deal of discomfort and anxiety. If bedbugs are present in your home, you will likely find bites on your body. These bites sometimes turn into itchy, red or purple welts and are often found in zigzag clusters of 3 to 5 bites.

To find bedbugs before they find you, Dr. Del Campo and the AAD recommend following these tips to check for the pesky insects while traveling and back at home:

1. Store your luggage. 

When you arrive at your lodging, temporarily place your luggage in a tiled area, like the bathroom, while you inspect your room. There are fewer spots for bedbugs to hide in bathrooms, so you can check your room without worry.

2. Check your furniture. 

Bedbugs often hide in upholstered areas. Carefully inspect your bedding, mattress, headboard, and any fabric-covered furniture for:

  • Rusty or reddish specks of blood.
  • Tiny, blackish dots that look like dots made by a marker—these may be bedbug feces.
  • Whitish, oval bedbug eggs the size of apple seeds.
  • Shell-like bedbug exoskeletons.
  • Live bedbugs.

3. Check your room. 

Make sure to check the seams of fabric, in dressers, behind wall hangings or wallpaper, in corners, and in between cushions. If a credit card could fit in a crack, a bedbug could fit, too—they are that small. 

  • After you check your room, you can bring your luggage in.
  • Place your bags on a luggage rack away from the wall.
  • If you find signs of bedbugs, request a new room.

4. Check your luggage when you get home. 

After your trip, look at your belongings before unpacking to make sure no bedbugs came home with you.

  • Use a flashlight to check the contents of your bags, including the seams of your clothing—look closely at your luggage to make sure no bedbugs are hiding inside.
  • If you find signs of bedbugs in your luggage, wash your clothes on high heat and use a hand steamer to clean your luggage.

If you notice any physical signs of bedbugs on your body or experience blistering, a skin infection (bites feel tender or ooze discharge, such as pus), or an allergic reaction (red or purple swollen skin or hives), make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.

You’ll rarely see bedbugs due to their small size, so many people mistake their bites for mosquitoes, fleas, spiders, or common skin conditions such as a rash or chickenpox.

“Unfortunately, bedbug bites can look similar to other insect bites,” said Dr. Del Campo. “A dermatologist will be able to help determine the cause of your bites and symptoms.”

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Home Care

7 Ways to reduce home energy costs

To help dial down your energy costs, consider these tips.

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When building your budget, utility bills – especially the electric bill – are likely one of your largest monthly expenditures. One of the biggest culprits: home heating and cooling, which account for more than half of the average household’s annual energy consumption, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration.

In fact, 83% of homeowners are concerned about the impact of energy bills on their household budgets, according to a survey conducted by Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS), with 54% saying it cost “somewhat more” or “much more” to heat their homes this winter compared to last year.

To help dial down your energy costs, consider these tips from the heating and cooling experts at METUS.

Adjust the Temperature

While you’re sleeping or away from home, adjust your thermostat up 5-10 F in the summer or down 5-10 F in the winter, which can help lower annual heating and cooling costs if done consistently. A smart thermostat can monitor your energy use and behaviors then automatically adjust to make your home more energy efficient.

Look for Incentives and Rebates

Qualified homeowners may be eligible to save money on qualified home energy improvement projects. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) offers tax credits and rebates, including a credit of 30% (up to $2,000) for qualifying heat pump installation, an energy-efficient option to replace fossil fuel-burning furnaces. Other incentives under the IRA include offsetting costs of electrical panel upgrades and rebates for homes with energy usage reductions of 20% or more.

Switch to a Heat Pump

Among survey respondents, 54% ranked government incentives like the IRA as one of the top reasons they would consider installing a heat pump to replace a traditional air conditioner. Options like Mitsubishi Electric’s all-climate heat pumps use two units – an exterior heat pump, which replaces your existing air conditioning condenser, and an interior unit installed on your furnace – to deliver cost-effective, eco-efficient, year-round heating and cooling. These smart systems not only improve air conditioning efficiency on hot days, but also determine the best source of heat (gas or electricity) on cold days, so your HVAC system is always running at peak efficiency and comfort.

Have HVAC Systems Serviced Regularly

For best performance and efficiency, regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system is imperative. Keeping outdoor units free of debris and changing air filters are tasks most homeowners can handle on their own but bringing in a professional – usually in the spring and fall – can help ensure your HVAC system and all its components, including electrical and ductwork, are functioning properly.

Improve Your Insulation

Poorly insulated attics, walls, ceilings, floors and crawl spaces can lead to energy waste and increase costs by requiring more energy to heat or cool your home. Because air can escape through these spaces when your HVAC system pushes air through your home, adding insulation can help reduce losses and keep your home more comfortable.

Use Appliances During Non-Peak Hours

Rather than using your oven, stove or clothes dryer from noon-6 p.m., peak time for many electricity providers, consider doing so in the morning or later at night. Using these appliances outside of the peak timeframe, when conventional heating and cooling systems are often running full bore, can help lower energy costs. Some utilities may also offer plans that incentivize limiting energy use during peak hours.

Think Multi-Zone

Consider upgrading to an all-climate, multi-zone heat pump, which can seamlessly connect to multiple indoor units, revolutionizing the way you experience comfort in your home. By eliminating problematic hot and cold spots in your home, this system ensures personalized comfort tailored to individual zones and optimizes energy usage by directing it only to the areas requiring heating or cooling. Replacing an outdated HVAC system with a multi-zone solution can also help achieve cost and energy savings. By efficiently managing temperature in different zones, you can experience improved energy efficiency, resulting in a more sustainable and economical solution for heating and cooling.

Find more solutions for improving your home’s efficiency and increasing energy savings at MitsubishiComfort.com.

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