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Say goodbye to bed bugs with these easy pest control tips

Densely populated cities are facing an exponential increase in bed bug infestations as a result of blazing summer temperatures. The problem is compounded by social stigma which often results in a reluctance to seek professional advice on the eradication and prevention methods.

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Bed bugs are insects (ectoparasites) that feed on human blood. Even though they do not transmit diseases, just the thought of them makes one itchy. Their bites can result in a number of health impacts including skin rashes, psychological effects, allergic symptoms and can cause skin changes ranging from minor red patches to prominent blisters. They are usually picked up on planes, trains, hotels and spread into homes.

Densely populated cities are facing an exponential increase in bed bug infestations as a result of blazing summer temperatures. The problem is compounded by social stigma which often results in a reluctance to seek professional advice on the eradication and prevention methods. This is mainly because a significant proportion of the population have no physical reaction to bed bug bites and are seldom aware of an infestation. The problem is a global one and there is literally no country on the face of the planet that has not witnessed a bed bug problem.

Where do bed bugs originate?

Scientific research on fossilized bed bugs indicates that they have been around for thousands of years. It is believed that they originated in the Middle East, in caves that were used by both humans and bats. They are found all over the world, but perhaps surprisingly, the worst infestation problems tend to occur in developed countries where people use bed frames and soft beddings.

Between 1930 and 1980, bed bugs were almost eliminated because chemicals like DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) were used to tackle infestations. Since the banning of DDT, there has been a huge increase in infestations. Most bed bugs are now immune to conventional pesticide treatments. With increased levels of international travel, the spread of infestations is unquestionably on the rise.

What is the perfect condition for growth?

Bed bugs tend to feed on humans, dogs, cats and other pests using blood for growth and reproduction. These tiny and nocturnal critters rely on human blood for nourishment and usually hide in and around bed corners and cracks.

Bed bugs need to feed at least once before each molt (shedding of their outer exoskeleton), although they could feed as often as once a day. Under favorable conditions, adult bed bugs can live for about 2 to 4 months.

In order to properly treat bed bugs, a full site inspection by a licensed and insured pest control company is of utmost importance. Bed Bugs can live in headboards, floor cracks, crevices, electrical boxes and even sockets. They are so elusive and can adapt to their surroundings so well that we have now started to use canines to ‘sniff out’ the insects.

How to get rid of an existing bed bug infestation?

Step 1: Reposition and Protect Your Furniture
The first step is to move or displace all of your furniture or materials out of the affected area. However, because you do not know if these pieces of furniture also have bugs in them, make sure that you are careful about where you take them. If possible, bring them into the yard where the bed bugs would not be able to infest more rooms in your property.

Wrap a tape around the legs of your furniture about an inch from the ground. That way, any bed bugs that try to get up from the ground and into the furniture will get stuck and eventually die. Whether or not you find them on the tape, replace it every few days.

Step 2: Wash your bags, carpets and rugs
If you have any removable carpets, rugs and bags, go ahead and deal with those first, because if these can be lifted off the ground, it becomes easier to see and tackle the bugs.

If your bags and rugs are small and machine washable, the best thing to do is throw them in the washing machine. However, note that for the optimum results, dry these items on the highest setting because heat is among the best ways to kill bed bugs and their eggs.

Step 3: Steam Carpets, Curtains and Soft Furnishings
As earlier mentioned, bed bugs do not react well to high temperatures. You can either buy or rent a steamer that can achieve high temperatures of up to 118 degrees Celsius or more which be more than adequate to exterminate bed bugs.

Move your steamer inch by inch over the carpet while ensuring that you spend at least a few minutes steaming individual sections, as the steam will not kill bed bugs upon contact. For best results, regulate the steamer to its highest possible temperature while ensuring that your fabric will not be affected.

Step 4: Add Borax Powder or Diatomaceous Earth
After steaming your furniture and other materials, it is time to get scientific. Borax and diatomaceous earth are both products that can break down a bed bug’s exoskeleton leading to dehydration. Sprinkling one of these products on your carpeting can help kill off some more of those persistent critters.

When using either of these products, make sure that you read the instructions and the warning label. Both are irritants and should not come into contact with your skin, eyes or in your nose or mouth. Prior to application, ensure that pets and children are kept off the premise. Once the borax and diatomaceous earth is sprinkled on the surfaces, leave it for at least 3 to 4 hours.

Step 5: Vacuuming
Vacuum your soft furnishings thoroughly by going over carpets, beddings and mattresses multiple times. Use any hose attachments to vacuum the tight spots including the baseboards. Once you feel certain that you have gone over every inch of materials multiple times, it is now time to dispose of the vacuuming waste bag. Take the vacuum machine outside and remove it before placing it into a garbage bag. Finally, tie the garbage bag so that it is completely sealed, so as to prevent the escape of any bugs. All disposable materials used to remove bed bugs from your home must be taken out to a sealed trash dumpster.

How to prevent bed bug infestations?

It is not just the bites that make you feel uncomfortable if you have an infestation of bed bugs. The simple fact is that it can be very easy to wind up with bed bugs in your home or workplace without having an idea about it. It is very important to note that an Infestation does not reflect on your standards of cleanliness in any way.

At Home

• Wash and dry clothes at the highest possible temperatures.
• Eliminate clutter in your home or office to give bed bugs fewer places to hide.
• Avoid spreading bed bugs to your friends and family by not taking any clothes, suitcases or furniture to their homes.
• Tidy all areas of your bedroom, especially the floor around/underneath your bed and bed-side cabinets.
• Vacuuming can greatly reduce the size of the bed bug population, but only when they are clearly visible. It cannot guarantee total elimination. Empty and clean vacuum pumps to avoid transferring eggs to other rooms.
• Use Dubai Municipality approved products, to help eliminating some bed bugs – it is a good start but should not b be relied on to get rid of the problem completely. You need a licensed pest control Dubai based company to completely get rid of infestations.

When Travelling

• Check hotel bed linen and mattresses for live bed bugs, small dark bloodspots and a distinctive sweet and sickly smell.
• Avoid putting your suitcase on the bed.
• Hang clothes in a wardrobe rather than using drawers.
• Store suitcases in the garage between trips.

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Home Care

DIY home upgrades to add style and beauty

Consider these DIY ideas to spruce up your home’s aesthetics and create a more attractive place to live.

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Home upgrades are necessary for a variety of reasons, but many homeowners look to update their homes to add comfort and beauty. While a complete renovation can be appealing, it can also be costly and time consuming.

However, if you’re willing to take on some of the work yourself, there are ways to upgrade your living spaces to add style (and value) without the assistance of a contractor. Consider these DIY ideas to spruce up your home’s aesthetics and create a more attractive place to live.

Freshen Up Paint

When it comes to simple DIY projects, a new coat of paint can drastically update your spaces without making major renovations. Light colors like gray, beige or white can make smaller spaces feel more open while darker shades like navy and purple can create a dramatic look. If you don’t want (or need) to paint the entire room, adding a pop of color with an accent wall or touching up the trim are quick and easy improvements. Adding paint to a less traditional spot like the ceiling or refreshing cabinets with a new color can also help bring your spaces to life.

Install Mess-Free Stone Accents

If you’re looking to add warmth and texture, easy-to-install stone veneer can provide the look of natural stone without the expense. A mortarless option like ClipStone is designed to be installed with screws and common tools, making it easy to achieve the look of traditional masonry without the hassle and mess. Durable and low maintenance, you don’t have to worry about sealing or painting and it’s a perfect option for exterior or interior installation that can be installed in any weather conditions. Available in a variety of styles and colors, homeowners can mix and match to create a custom look. Plus, it features a built-in water management system, overlapping edges to minimize gaps, reversible outside corners and a variety of available accessories.

Upgrade Window Treatments

Windows can often be overlooked or left with the simple paper shades or aluminum blinds the builder initially installed. Consider replacing them with plantation shutters, wooden blinds or drapes that better suit the style of the room. In addition to blinds, curtains provide another opportunity to add design elements that align with your tastes. From geometric panels to sheers, the possibilities are nearly endless. Or simply match the curtain panels to the color of your walls or an accent color for a look that can match almost any style.

Update Accessories

Cabinet pulls, outlet covers, curtain rods, switch plates and doorknobs are easily ignored, but replacing them can be an inexpensive way to add small touches of elegance to your home. With a variety of designs and finishes to choose from, including bronze, brushed nickel, copper and stainless steel, updating worn pull handles and knobs can create an affordable look that appears expensive. The same is true for metal switch covers and outlet plates. While decorative curtain rods may be on the pricier side, adding a coat of paint in a metallic finish could provide a cheaper alternative.

Improve Curb Appeal

There are a multitude of inexpensive ways to give your home’s exterior a makeover. Start by pressure washing your siding and windows, which can make your house look almost as good as a fresh coat of paint for a fraction of the time and money. Remember to also clean your driveway, patio and walkways to maximize your investment. Pulling weeds, trimming trees and bushes, and patching bald spots in the yard can also go a long way as can planting greenery in front of your home and making landscaping upgrades like adding mulch beds, water features or decorative edging. Another idea: replace your front door or give it a fresh coat of paint to add a pop of color to your porch.

Find more ideas for improving your living spaces at myclipstone.com.

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Home Care

Tips to homeowners seeking a reputable contractor

Homeowners should proactively seek a contractor when their property is damaged due to a windstorm (e.g., hurricane, tornado) or fire. An unsolicited offer from a contractor with whom the homeowner is unfamiliar should be treated with skepticism.

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Contractor fraud often occurs after major natural disasters which impact large numbers of homeowners, with some contractors initiating contact with homeowners long after the disaster occurred. Unethical contractors frequently use flyers and door hangers to generate business. In Florida, there are contractors who solicit roof replacement claims door-to-door even when no storm has occurred. Homeowners, however, have ways to determine a contractor’s credentials and reputation.

“Disasters can bring out the best in people as they rush to help those in need. Unfortunately, disasters also attract predatory contractors looking to defraud and deceive disaster victims,” said David Glawe, president and CEO, NICB. “After most disasters, these shameful contractors use well-rehearsed, predatory practices to exploit stressed disaster victims when they are most vulnerable. As a result, survivors pay these bad actors who do little or no work.”

Triple-I and the NICB offer these five tips to homeowners in the market for a reputable contractor.

  1. If you didn’t request it, reject it—Homeowners should proactively seek a contractor when their property is damaged due to a windstorm (e.g., hurricane, tornado) or fire.  An unsolicited offer from a contractor with whom the homeowner is unfamiliar should be treated with skepticism.
  2. Get at least three written estimates for the work and compare bids—In the aftermath of a major natural disaster, contractors are in high demand.  The pandemic and supply chain disruptions also have put additional pressure on labor and building material costs.  Homeowners should solicit at least three written estimates from three different contractors.
  3. Check credentials, including licenses, references, and insurance—Reputable contractors will provide homeowners with their state and local business licenses, physical business address and telephone numbers, and references.
  4. Make sure your contract includes estimated construction schedules and prices for labor and materials—If a contractor requires full payment upfront for a job, homeowners should think twice about doing business with them. It is common, however, for a contractor to request some money upfront after signing a contract with a homeowner as the contractor needs to buy supplies. 
  5. Contact your insurer to make sure your policy is up to date— If a contractor offers advice on what a homeowners insurance policy covers, the property owner should have this interpretation double-checked by an insurance professional affiliated with the insurer who covers the damaged home.
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Home Care

Tips, tools to help customers save energy, money as temperatures rise

High temperatures bring higher usage for customers, which can translate into higher bills. But a few smart, simple tips can help energy users take control of their bill and save money.

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Photo by Ilse Orsel from Unsplash.com

As the mercury rises today and over the weekend, Duke Energy is providing tips and tools to help customers save energy – and money – while trying to stay cool.

Duke Energy has sufficient resources to meet customers’ energy needs and continues to monitor its power plants, power lines and other equipment to help ensure customers receive reliable service during the heat wave.

High temperatures bring higher usage for customers, which can translate into higher bills. But a few smart, simple tips can help energy users take control of their bill and save money.

Low- to no-cost energy efficiency tips

High temperatures can lead to higher energy usage and bills as customers combat the heat. Below are some tips to help manage your energy use.

  • Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes an HVAC system work harder, which uses more energy.
  • Set your thermostat at the highest comfortable setting. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your energy usage and bill will be.
  • Close blinds, drapes and curtains during the hottest part of the day. Keeping your blinds, drapes and curtains closed will help prevent the sun’s rays from heating your house.
  • Use a ceiling fan in occupied rooms to supplement your air conditioning. Make sure the fans are set to operate in a counterclockwise direction to push cool air down into living spaces. Only use ceiling fans in rooms that are occupied; fans cool people, not things.
  • Grill outdoors. Using your electric oven and stovetop creates a lot of indoor heat. Help save energy by firing up the grill outdoors or prepare meals that don’t require cooking.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights. Be sure to turn off lights when you leave a room. Lights emit heat and cause your air conditioning system to work harder.

Track, manage your energy usage

Energy use typically spikes in the summer since air conditioning is one of the biggest energy users in your home. Customers can also easily track and adjust their usage during this week’s heat wave.

  • Customers with smart meters can check online to view their daily usage. Smart meters collect usage information by the hour, so checking spikes throughout the month – by day and even hour – can show what appliances and behaviors are increasing their bills. Video available here.
  • Duke Energy customers with smart meters also receive usage alerts through email and/or text halfway through their billing cycle, well before their bill arrives, with their current usage amount and a projection of what their final monthly bill could be.
  • Customers can also set budget alerts, so they know when their bill reaches a specific dollar amount of their choosing, allowing them to adjust their usage and help save money on their bill.
  • Customers without smart meters can sign up to receive high bill alerts for when adverse weather is projected to increase their electric bills by at least 30% and $30 compared to historical usage.

Other energy-saving programs, tips and guidance to help you manage higher energy bills that can result from increased energy is available at duke-energy.com/Summer.

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