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PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTATS & THE FACTS — One of the simplest, easiest and cheapest ways to reduce energy use in your home.
THE EMPERORíS NEW CLOTHES DRYERS — Clothes dryers are one of the most energy intensive appliances we have at home.
PHONE-Y BUSINESS — Recycle your old cell phone - now that's nothing to laugh at!
STEADY AS SHE GOES — Energy efficiency with your car is just as important as with your home.
TAP DANCE — Stop wasting water in the house by checking out these simple tips.
On The House Express is brought to you in part by:
…With the right renovations and some simple changes, you can create a bathroom that is safe and comfortable for everyone.
Step 1) Get the Right Rugs
Bath mats help collect dripping water near the tub or shower and provide comfort and safety from slippery, cold floors. But unless you have a mat with a nonskid bottom, you’re only adding to the danger. Tripping on rugs is just as bad as slipping on water, so make sure you have a mat next to the shower and toilet that has a secure backing so it doesn’t slip.
Step 2) Cut the Clutter
Shampoo, soap, lotion, makeup -- the list of products we use daily in the bathroom is tremendous, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be cluttered. Use easy-to-access shelves to hold things like toothpaste, deodorant, combs and other items you use each day. In the shower, there are many options that can be quickly installed to hold soap and shampoo. This organization will eliminate the chance that these items will be knocked down and cause someone to trip and fall. Plus it’s a lot more sanitary.
Step 3) An Accessible Commode
Accessing the toilet can be more difficult with age. If there is a problem for you or someone you live with, a simple handrail by the toilet can be used to hold and pull on if assistance is required. If that isn’t enough, consider getting a handicap accessible toilet. The seat on these is often higher and easier to use.
Step 4) Get a Safer Tub
Aging adults might find it difficult to get in and out of their bathtub due to its design, but they still desire the independence of bathing along with the relaxing health benefits it provides. A popular renovation is to replace the old tub with a new walk-in tub.
Premier Bathrooms, the world leader in walk-in bathtubs, offers a variety of models from the conventional bathtub to deeper versions that are more like hot tubs. Walk-in tubs feature a door so that you don’t have to lower yourself in and out while bathing. Simply walk in, shut the water-tight door, sit in the contoured seat, fill up and enjoy. When you’re done, drain the tub and exit in comfort.
Mrs. Rugby decided to install a walk-in bath for her husband. Her story is similar to many seniors whose spouses require additional assistance. "Having to give my husband 24 hour care, I was finding it difficult to bathe him. We have had a walk-in bath installed, what a difference it has made. I enjoy more freedom; my husband loves his new bath. He was asked ’if you had to leave your house and only take one item what would it be?’ He answered straight away his bath."
Whether you and your spouse are aging and you want to remain independent in your home, or you have parents that are living with you and you’d like to help them live more comfortably and safely, consider these bathroom renovations and changes.
For more information on walk-in tubs or to schedule a complimentary consultation, visit www.Premier-Bathrooms.com or call (800) 578-2899.
Looking for a way to put some sparkle in your yard? Have you considered a water garden? Not familiar with the term 'water garden?' You're not alone. When we were kids we simply referred to these backyard oasis as ponds.
As kids, we marveled at the fabulous pond our Uncle Al created in his backyard. Because he was a contractor, the pond, like everything he made, was built to last. He dug an enormous hole, installed a maze of reinforcing steel, poured a ton of concrete and decked out the perimeter with a heap of decorative stone. Whew!
After filling the pond with water, he adorned both the interior and the area surrounding the pond with plants and greenery. As soon as the pond was complete, it became the home for his favorite pets -- Koi, turtles and a frog or two. Going to Uncle Al's house was almost as good as a trip to the zoo!
The good news is that unlike our Uncle Al, you don't need to be a contractor to enjoy a pond or water garden in your yard. As a matter of fact, all you need is a bit of imagination, a few tools and one of the easy-to-install pond kits available on the market. Flexible pond liners and prefabricated plastic ponds make the once laborious task of pond construction a breeze. What's more, the pond can be as simple or as elaborate as your imagination (and pocketbook) allows. The flexible liner offers virtually unlimited design possibilities while the prefabricated model is easier to install.
The first step in constructing a water garden is to choose a site where it will best compliment your garden. Existing water has nothing to do with where the water garden is located. However, proper planning is important to integrate the pond into existing landscaping so that it looks like nature placed it in your yard. Place the liner (flexible or prefabricated) on the ground where it is to be located and use a garden hose or a trail of flour to outline the shape of the pond. Remove the liner before beginning to dig.
The next and most difficult step in constructing a pond or water garden is digging the hole. You'll need a reliable pick, a good shovel and a strong back. You can make the digging easier by soaking the soil with water and using a rototiller the following day to break up the soil. This process can be repeated with each successive layer of excavation. Fortunately, a water garden is shallow. Most projects will require less than two feet of excavation, the average depth ranging from 18 to 24 inches. If possible, locate the pond in an area where the terrain is already low. This will lessen the amount of excavation required, and the soil that is removed can be used to build up the area to serve as a landscape berm.
With the excavation complete, put a couple of inches of play sand at the bottom of the hole to protect the liner and to serve as a leveling base. Next, place the liner in the hole making sure the top edges are level. Fill the pond about one-third full with water and pack the space around the liner with sand. Continue filling the liner with water while packing sand around the perimeter. The water line should always be higher than the level of the sand during the backfilling process. This will ensure that the walls of the pond are fully expanded. Use flat, shale-type stones to create a decorative edge and to conceal the joint between the top edge of the liner and the soil.
The final step in pond construction is the installation of the components -- the pump, filter, lighting, fountain or waterfall and plant material. Pumps come in various sizes and are rated according to the amount of gallons per hour (gph) of circulation. The size of the pump should correspond to the size of the pond and the length and height of the stream or waterfall – if one exists. In addition, a 110-volt outdoor electrical outlet with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) will be required to operate the pump. Check with your local building department for information on codes and methods for installation of an electrical outlet.
Among the most important elements in the construction of a successful pond are the plants and greenery placed around its edges. In addition to providing color and helping to create a natural setting, they provide an environment that is attractive to frogs, turtles and birds. If they don't show up on their own, they can be imported.
What would a water garden be without plants in the water? Plants prevent the water from becoming stagnant by keeping it properly oxygenated, fresh and clear. The water lily, water hyacinth and lotus are the most popular flowering aquatic plants. For shallow water along the perimeter, consider sunning arrowhead, pennywort, water hawthorne or sweet flag.
Finally, a word about safety: A youngster can drown in two feet of water. Therefore, you'll want to keep the safety of children in mind as you design and build your backyard oasis.
The hair on the back of your neck rises feeling a sudden queasiness in the pit of your stomach.
You shift into a run catching a quick glimpse behind you, the lion is now moving in long strides.
You pump your arms and sprint now full speed as your heart races and everything slows down, reaching the tree at full speed you jump catch the lower branches and frantically pull yourself up, small branches and twigs tug at your face but you feel nothing but the pounding of your heart and the loud snarl of the big cat just out of reach.
Higher you climb still imagining the horror below until finally you dare to look down watching the lion circle the tree.
Your breath is now coming in short shallow gasps, sweat is streaking down your face burning your eyes, then an overwhelming clarity of mind and feeling of jubilation washes over your whole body.
You feel the Air molecules brush your face the brilliance of the green foliage contrasted against the stark blue sky
You are ALIVE!!!!!!!
Now. Growth hormone is surging through your body, other anabolic hormones are activated strengthening parts of your body to rebuild tissues and muscles to keep you strong and mostly powerfull.
You can simulate this scenario in the gym by doing metabolic surging types of movement patterns with just body weight or other types of resistance.
So you can make newer cells better than the old ones. This is what we are meant to do, your ancestors were incredibly fast and tenacious.† It is why you are here now.
Run like the wind from the predators stalking us today, Diabetes Cancer, Strokes, Heart attacks and Dementia.† Or just sit there and be devoured by the beast.
Live strong and long.
For more fitness tips and to order a copy of my ‘Living Proof’ DVD, go to www.overthehillfitness.com.
Decking Over a Slab
Using concrete makes for a great patio. Concrete takes irregularity out of the grade and produces an interesting and easy-to-maintain surface. It can be tooled as a surface drain to distribute water away from the home. It is relatively inexpensive and can be formed and poured in a weekend. And, a concrete slab can last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, concrete is brittle and sometimes cracks, becoming a tripping hazard and an eyesore. Even a cracked, ugly concrete slab can be useful. Filling cracks with a high-quality polyurethane caulking compound won't necessarily make it look better, but it can help to prevent further heaving and will definitely aid in proper watershed. Replacement is an alternative you might not want to consider. Breaking out a large concrete patio can take days and is grueling work. Also consider the cost of the jackhammer, concrete saw, dump fees and replacement cost. There is an alternative you might not have thought of... leave that ugly old patio right where it is and use it as a foundation for a beautiful new wood deck.
All you have to do is attach strips of wood (support strips, nailing strips, furr strips... call them what you like) to the concrete and apply the decking to the strips of wood. There is a condition regarding this procedure. A step down must exist between the floor of your home and your patio. A distance of 6 inches or more is plenty of room to do what we suggest. It is important for the top of the finished deck to be slightly lower than the floor inside your home. An inch or so is all that is needed. This precaution will do much to keep leaves and wash-water spray outside; away from your fine carpet, vinyl, hardwood or other flooring finish.
The heaving concrete patio probably won't stop shifting, but chances are the problem won't telescope through to the surface of the new wood deck. Wood is substantially more flexible than concrete. Where even the slightest ground movement can sometimes show as a radical variation in concrete, wood simply stretches, bends and flexes.
The strips of wood that are attached to the concrete should be either a pressure-treated specie, or cedar or redwood. In our experience, pressure-treated material seems to last the longest when in regular contact with moisture. There are a couple of alternatives when it comes to affixing the strips to the concrete, powder-actuated pins, and lag bolts and shields.
In the case of the latter, holes are drilled through the wood strips and into the concrete at 2 to 4-foot intervals along each board. Lag shields are driven into the holes in the concrete. The lag bolts traverse through the holes in the wood strips and into the lag shields in the concrete. As a lag bolt is screwed in, the shield spreads, holding both the bolt and the wood strip tightly in place. For this you will need a high-quality carbide-tipped concrete drill, a good drill motor and elbow grease. Drilling holes in concrete isn't rocket science, but it is physically tiring. Be prepared to work hard.
Using powder-actuated pins is easier, but does require some special skills. Here, a stud gun is used to fire special nails through wood and into concrete. The process is not physically tiring, is relatively inexpensive and can be done in a short time. For a medium-size project, all the pins necessary can be driven in less time than it takes to drill two or three holes for lag shields. The problem with powder-actuated pins lies within the "gun" part. Stud guns are dangerous and need to be handled with caution. Have the person at the rental store provide a thorough briefing on how the tool is used. You should also experience using the tool to drive one or two pins before leaving the rental establishment. If the store proprietor won't agree to this condition, go elsewhere.
Placement of the support strips is important. They should be parallel and the space between them equidistant. Two-by-four deck boards can span a distance of about 2 feet, whereas 2x6 deck boards work well up to as much as 4 feet. The choice is yours. We like the 2x6 size because fewer boards are required to cover the surface. This means easier logistics, fewer attachments per given area, and best of all, fewer support strips are required.
The support strips should be placed so as not to impede drainage. You don't want to build a dam. Ponding water can prematurely damage the support system, not to mention that still ponds breed mosquitos. The deck boards are laid perpendicular to the support strips and can be attached with nails or the deckmaster-style fastener that provides an invisible connection. Finally, when attaching the deck boards, it is important to stagger the joints at every course. Staggering joints adds strength and looks better.