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男生女生做污事Hey I'm Chris. I'm a budding architect and business owner who specializes in unique window creations. I have a small team of folks who help develop, sell and install them as well. We focus on windows and enjoy a fair-sized client base. I'm thankful for the ability to do what I love while also seeing people enjoy our creations. On my "Room with a View" websites I share our industry, as well as, stories and happenings from our brother industries. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Ralph Germann Architectes Design a Private Residence in Préverenges, Switzerland

男生女生做污事House FFL by Ralph Germann architectes (1)

House FFL is a private home located in Préverenges, Switzerland. Completed in 2014, it was designed by Ralph Germann Architectes. View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery View in gallery House FFL by Ralph Germann Architectes: “The house..

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Get the Best Sleep You’ve Ever Had on an Organic Mattress

Do you need a new mattress? When most people shop for a mattress, they consider things like price, durability, warranty, and, of course, comfort. But have you ever wondered what materials are used to make your mattress and whether they’re healthy or safe? View in gallery Conventional mattresses are typically made with synthetic materials that can off-gas volatile chemical compounds (VOCs) into your home, aggravating allergies, asthma, and other health..

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Best Memory Foam Mattress

Expertly crafted to adapt and conform to your body, the best memory foam mattresses deliver customized support and comfort. These foam mattresses have an elasticity from polyurethane foam that enables the mattress to bounce back to its original form, hence the reference to “memory.” In addition to the cradling comfort and alleviation of pressure points, memory foam mattresses provide motion isolation, which is fantastic for co-sleepers who actively change position throughout the night. 

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A restful night’s sleep is essential to your overall wellness. We have selected the best memory foam mattresses that you can buy with confidence. All prices are valid as of May 2020.  

Best memory foam mattress overall: Novosbed by Goodmorning.com 

Crafted with three zones of high-density memory foam, the Novosbed provides everything you should seek out in a foam mattress including even weight distribution, body contouring, relief of painful pressure points and motion isolation. Novosbed offers three firmness levels so you can customize — soft, medium and firm — along with sizing from twin, twin XL, full, queen, king and California king. 

What sets the Novosbed apart from its competitors? The three-zoned memory foam cares for comfort, support and long-term durability. Its Comfort Zone with high-density memory foam keeps airflow circulating and comfort consistent. The Transition Zone is all about pressure point relief through body contouring, plus the bonus of motion isolation. Last but not least is the Support Zone of premium support foam for even weight distribution.

The Novosbed mattress ranges in price by size from $799 (twin) to $1,199 (California king). As memory foam mattresses feel different for every sleeper, take advantage of Novosbed’s Comfort+ 120-night sleep trial that provides a free Comfort+ kit to allow for firmness adjustment. Shipping is prompt with one to five business days in Canada and five to 12 business days within the United States. Novosbed backs its memory foam mattresses with a 15-year warranty and free returns.

Customer reviews rank this foam mattress with an overall score of 4.8 stars out of 5. With over 5,000 verified customer reviews, Novosbed customers consistently note alleviation of back and shoulder pain along with the pleasure of not feeling their partner’s movement at night.

Other great memory foam mattress choices

Best memory foam mattress for hot sleepers: Cocoon Chill by Sealy

Due to high-density foam and lack of air circulation, some memory foam mattresses tend to sleep hot. The Cocoon Chill by Sealy memory mattress offers cooling technology. Cocoon’s Chill is encased in a stretch-knit cover known as Phase Change Material that not only absorbs but dissipates body heat. The result aims for a refreshing night’s sleep on a cool-to-the-touch memory foam mattress.

As opposed to other Sealy mattresses sold in stores, Cocoon was created for direct, online sales. Personalize your comfort level by choosing either Medium Soft for a cozier feel or Extra Firm for a sturdier feel. As with other memory foam mattresses, the Cocoon molds to your sleep position, body shape and size.

Cocoon by Sealy occasionally offers sales. Sale pricing in May 2020 for the Cocoon Chill ranges from $387 twin (regularly $600) to $741 California king (regularly $1,150). Select the size that best fits your sleep needs as Cocoon is available in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king and California king. With free shipping, a 100-night sleep trial, a 10-year limited warranty and free returns, hot sleepers can test out this memory foam mattress choice. More than 5,000 reviews from verified customers include praise of the quality of sleep, lack of neck and back pain upon waking and superior customer service support. Cocoon’s average of 4.7 out of 5 stars makes it a solid contender in the memory foam mattress market.

Best organic memory foam mattress: Puffy Original by Puffy 

There is an eco-conscious movement in the mattress community, and many people are replacing their traditional mattress with an organic memory foam mattress. The Puffy brand delivers an organic memory foam mattress that cradles and supports your body, alleviating joint pain and uncomfortable pressure points. Made without mercury, formaldehyde, lead or other heavy metals and ozone depleters, Puffy foams provide the peace of mind that you’re sleeping on a mattress that is better for your health and our environment.

Sizing includes twin, twin XL, double, queen, king and California king, with pricing during Puffy’s Spring Sale 2020 from $495 twin (regularly $795) to $1,050 California king (regularly $1,350). In addition to the Puffy Original, Puffy offers the Puffy Lux and Puffy Royal. Puffy offers a lifetime warranty and a 101-night risk-free sleep trial in your home to decide if the Puffy memory foam mattress suits your needs.

In over 6,000 verified reviews, customers noted the Puffy Original as a quality organic memory foam mattress at an attractive price point. Puffy customers gave high marks for both comfort and support, noting less tossing and turning throughout the night.

Best memory foam mattress for back pain: GhostBed by GhostBed

Back pain affects all aspects of our lives including quality of sleep. GhostBed has created a memory foam mattress with aerated latex to deliver optimum support and spine alignment. GhostBed’s top layer is focused on comfort and pressure relief. The middle gel memory foam layer provides added pressure point relief along with heat absorption. The base foam layer ensures your entire body is evenly supported. The result? Potentially a pain-free restorative sleep.

Sizing includes twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king and split king. GhostBed offers four models: the original GhostBed, GhostBed Luxe, GhostBed Flex and GhostBed 3D Matrix. During GhostBed’s current 2020 sale, mattresses are priced from $409 twin (regularly $545) to $1,118 split king (regularly $1,490). It’s easy to test out this foam mattress with GhostBed’s free shipping to all 48 continental states, 101-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.

U.S. News & World Report ranked GhostBed one of its top-rated mattresses for back pain. GhostBed ranks high in customer satisfaction. Awarded 5 out of 5 stars on Google reviews with 17,000 reviews from real customers, GhostBed is highly praised for alleviating back, joint and hip pain.

The Freshome research team analyzed memory foam mattresses on the following criteria: brand, price, materials, warranty, trial period, delivery and shipping costs. In addition, real customer reviews and ratings provided valuable insight in selecting our best memory foam mattresses.

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Top Home Bathroom Flooring Options

Choosing the most suitable bathroom flooring can be daunting. You want your bathroom flooring to complement the rest of the home yet still withstand high moisture levels, humidity and heavy foot traffic. The sheer number of bathroom floor designs, colors, textures and material types further complicate the process. To help cut through the clutter, we’ve narrowed down the best flooring for bathroom areas as well as the pros and cons of each.

Best waterproof bathroom flooring options

There are many bathroom flooring options on the market today, with many of them claiming to be waterproof. But are they? Waterproof flooring means that no water or moisture will penetrate it no matter how long the floor is exposed. In genuinely waterproof flooring materials, the waterproofing product is baked in rather than just being used as a coating. By contrast, water-resistant floors are usually not resistant to moisture under the top layer of the floor. 

While the flooring material may be waterproof, the subfloor is usually not. As such, water can seep through cracks, between floorboards or along the wall and cause damage to the bathroom’s structure. Bathrooms often need a silicone sealant around bathtubs and toilets no matter what flooring type you choose. 

Waterproof bathroom flooring is easier to clean and maintain, but it also protects. Because water will always find its way down through cracks on the floor or in walls, this leakage can manifest itself in the form of damp ceilings or walls, especially if the bathroom is on an upper floor. As waterproof flooring is watertight, there’s little risk of leakage.

Waterproof vinyl flooring

Gone are the days when vinyl was perceived as flimsy or cheap. Today it is one of the most popular flooring options for its durability and comfort. Vinyl planks and tiles come in virtually any color and style imaginable.

Waterproof vinyl flooring’s core is reinforced by additional layers to enhance its rigidity. When shopping for waterproof vinyl flooring with rigid core construction, you are likely to come across wood plastic composite (WPC) and stone plastic composite (SPC).

As the name suggests, WPC incorporates fine sawdust or other wood-like materials, a thermoplastic resin, fiber and a foaming agent. Sometimes referred to as wood polymer composite, this type of flooring material is lightweight, resilient, warm and comfortable when you are standing for long periods.

SPC vinyl flooring material uses ground limestone, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and stabilizers. SPC is thinner, denser and heavier compared to WPC flooring. Due to its thin nature, there’s little padding underfoot, which makes it less comfortable.

Types of waterproof vinyl flooring for bathrooms

Waterproof vinyl plank

Waterproof vinyl planks are perhaps the most popular WPC vinyl flooring option on the market today. Made to mimic hardwood floors, they are available in several shapes and sizes.

Waterproof vinyl tile

The top surface of waterproof vinyl tiles is glazed, preventing moisture from seeping through it. Most mimic natural stone, but there are a few that look like wood.

Pros and cons of waterproof vinyl

Pros:

  • Affordability: Vinyl is relatively inexpensive as compared to other flooring options such as porcelain tile or hardwood.
  • Ease of installation: Because vinyl is lightweight, you can cut and adjust it to fit your bathroom floor exactly.
  • Waterproof: Vinyl floors are water-resistant, making them practical for bathrooms.
  • Versatility: Vinyl flooring is available in many shapes, textures and colors.

Cons:

  • Impossible to repair: Once damaged, vinyl flooring cannot be repaired. You have to replace the entire tile or plank.
  • Prone to wear and tear: Compared to other flooring materials such as hardwood that can last a lifetime, vinyl flooring has a maximum lifespan of about 20 years.
  • Tough to remove: If installed using a vinyl adhesive, vinyl floors are challenging to remove.

Porcelain and ceramic tile bathroom floors

From the appearance, it’s difficult to tell porcelain and ceramic tile apart. Both are made from a clay mixture that’s heated in a kiln. However, porcelain flooring is made of refined clay and is heated at higher temperatures making it denser and more durable than ceramic. Porcelain and ceramic are often the best tile for bathroom floors for durability and affordability.

Types of tile floors for bathrooms

Porcelain and ceramic planks

Technology has made it possible to achieve the appearance of a hardwood floor while maintaining the features of porcelain or ceramic floors through planks that mimic real wood.

Porcelain and ceramic tile

Homeowners are particularly fond of porcelain and ceramic tiles for their bathroom floors due to their versatility and durability. Porcelain tiles are harder, denser, tougher and less porous. On the downside, they are more expensive than ceramic tiles. Ceramic tiles are more affordable because they are less refined, but are also less durable.

Thin-gauged floor tiles

Gauged porcelain tiles (GPT) measure 36-by-36 inches or smaller. These tiles offer superior porcelain features that are only available from natural stone or marble. Gauged tiles are available in a wide range of styles, textures and colors.

Pros and cons of tile flooring

Pros:

  • Easy to maintain: Tile floorings are normally coated with liquid glass which protects them from stains.
  • Chemical and heat resistant: Tiles made of porcelain and ceramic do not corrode when exposed to chemical agents or extreme temperatures.
  • Diverse colors and styles: Tiles are available in a wide range of colors, patterns, sizes, styles and textures to fit most decor.
  • Durable:  Porcelain and ceramic tiles are rather long-lasting. And water-resistant.

Cons:

  • Hard surface: This type of flooring can be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods.
  • Professional installation is required: Even slightly uneven tiles can result in breakage, so the installer needs to be skilled and knowledgeable.
  • Cold: This type of floor gets cold during colder months.
  • Grout lines: It’s impossible to prevent grout lines entirely. Tiles need some maintenance to keep grout lines clean and mold-free.

Natural stone tiles

When used on your bathroom floor, natural stone tile adds warmth and depth to the bathroom. The tiles are uniquely textured and colored, and can be made of marble, granite, limestone, slate and travertine, among others.

Pros and cons of natural stone tile flooring

Pros:

  • Enhances your bathroom’s elegance: Natural stone flooring can be beautiful and enhance your decor.
  • Aesthetic value: While the tiles may be the same material, each has a different coloring or grain alignment, which adds depth and texture to the space.
  • Increases home resale value: Natural stone flooring is as expensive as it is unique, thus improving the home’s value.
  • Durability: Natural stone is long-lasting when compared to other flooring materials.

Cons:

  • Expensive: Compared to other flooring materials such as vinyl, natural stone is quite costly.
  • Uncomfortable: Like ceramic and porcelain tile, natural stone adapts to existing weather conditions. The floor could become uncomfortable to walk on in cold weather.
  • Difficult to maintain: Soaps and detergents can lead to floor discoloration.
  • Porous: Unlike glazed porcelain or ceramic tiles, natural stones are quite porous and prone to water damage.

Water-resistant laminate floors

Laminate flooring came up as an easy-to-install and more affordable option to hardwood flooring. Since its inception, laminate flooring has undergone tremendous improvements. Today, it is difficult to tell hardwood and laminate flooring apart. There are also laminate flooring styles that resemble natural stone, vinyl and even tiles.

Pros and cons of water-resistant laminate floors

Pros:

  • Easy to install: Laminate flooring is lightweight, so it’s easier to install and ideal for a DIY bathroom floor remodel.
  • Waterproof: Laminate flooring is water-resistant, especially when silicone-sealed around tubs and toilets.
  • Affordability: Laminate flooring is an affordable alternative to hardwood and other flooring types.
  • Durability: Waterproof laminate is long-lasting and practical for a high-traffic bathroom.

Cons:

  • Difficult to repair: While it is durable, laminate flooring has to be replaced when damaged.
  • Less versatile: As it is a relatively newer material, there are fewer options when it comes to design and style as compared to other flooring types.
  • Appearance: While laminate may mimic natural stone or hardwood, it can look less realistic up close.

Engineered wood floors

If you are keen on getting long-lasting hardwood floors for your bathroom, go for core engineered wood floors. Unlike traditional hardwood floors, core engineered wood has several layers, with the outermost layer being hardwood veneer. The inner layers are made of hardwood, fiberboard or plywood.

Pros and cons of rigid core engineered wood floors

Pros:

  • Water-resistant: Compared to traditional hardwood, engineered hardwood does a better job of reducing moisture problems.
  • Easy to install: Real wood flooring is rather difficult to install, unlike engineered wood flooring which can utilize click-lock installation.
  • Easy to clean and maintain: As engineered wood is coated with wood veneer, it is easy to clean and maintain, holding up well against dents, fading, scratches and stains.

Cons:

  • Price: Compared to conventional wood, tile vinyl and laminate, engineered wood is considerably more expensive.
  • Health concerns: Some people have allergic reactions to the adhesives used to bind the various layers of engineered wood together
  • Prone to damage: The outermost surface is not scratch-resistant and needs more care than other types of flooring.
  • Fewer chances of refinishing engineered wood: Unlike traditional wood flooring which you can re-sand numerous times, engineered wood cannot be sanded (or only once) due to its thin top layer of hardwood.

Frequently asked questions

What are some bathroom floor tiles for a high-use bathroom?
Porcelain tiles are great for high-use and high-traffic bathrooms as they are denser, harder and less porous than other types. Ceramic tiles have the same benefits as porcelain tiles but are more affordable. Vinyl is the most affordable option for a high-use bathroom.

What are the best cheap flooring ideas?
Laminate and vinyl are both affordable flooring options for a bathroom. Both come in various styles, designs and colors and are two of the more easily installed flooring types.

What are some small bathroom tile ideas?
A small bathroom should have small- or medium-sized tiles in neutral colors. It is not a good idea to install large tiles in small bathrooms. Apart from disrupting proportionality, large tiles may need to be cut off, resulting in waste, which can also interrupt any patterns. 

What are the best bathroom flooring ideas for households with kids?
Porcelain and ceramic flooring is great in a kid’s bathroom. These tiles are scratch-, stain- and water-resistant. They are also more durable than bathroom vinyl flooring and can withstand splashes from exuberant playing in tubs and sinks.

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Bed and Mattress Height

Most people think about the size of the mattress when it comes to finding a new bed. But bed height and mattress height are often overlooked as factors that affect personal comfort, body health and the overall aesthetic of your sleep space. An amazing night’s sleep is quickly undone if you struggle to get out of bed.

How to determine the best bed height for you

Why do you want to purchase a new bed?

Purchasing a new bed and mattress is no small investment. We spend one-third of our lives sleeping (or trying to), so finding the right mattress affects our overall well-being. Make a list of what you love about your current mattress and what you don’t. Is it challenging getting into or out of bed? Do you and your partner not have enough room to stretch out comfortably? Take time to build the perfect bed by making an educated decision based on your sleeping position, firmness level and your bedroom’s decor.

What physical factors should be considered in bed height?

Consider your height versus the overall bed height to ensure a seamless sleep experience. If you’re petite, you shouldn’t need a step stool to climb into bed. Conversely, if you’re tall you don’t want to have to crouch awkwardly to get onto the mattress. Generally, a bed should hit around knee-level, or about two feet from the ground. 

Age is another critical factor in choosing bed height. Aging adults may lose balance or fall from a too-high mattress height. A mattress height that is too low can cause painful pressure on joints. The proper bed height can help prevent injuries and strains.

What medical factors should be considered?

Medical factors such as fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease and muscle pain play an important role in determining the best overall bed height. Think about the ability to get in and out of bed easily and without putting excessive strain on your body. Getting up from a low-height bed can cause unnecessary pressure and pain. Alternatively, if your feet can’t touch the floor while sitting on an 18-inch memory foam mattress on top of a 9-inch box spring, getting up from a higher bed can cause similar issues.

If you have physical issues or limitations that require a specific bed height, talk to your doctor for a recommendation and customize your mattress and bed frame accordingly.

What mattress size fits your needs spatially and aesthetically?

While a king size mattress offers plenty of sleep real estate, does it fit your bedroom space? Compare your overall room measurements to the bed measurements (mattress and frame included). Make sure you’ll be able to move easily around the bedroom and still have space for your furniture.

Mattress size and bed height can also affect the aesthetics of a room. Traditional bed heights complement larger rooms with vaulted ceilings while low-profile mattresses give the appearance of more space.

Typical bed and mattress height

When choosing your new mattress, consider the overall bed height including the bed foundation or box spring. The Better Sleep Council shares, “while most people focus on the mattress for comfort, in reality, your foundation is responsible for much of your bed’s comfort and support.” 

Here are some popular bed types and their typical heights:

Futon bed height

The futon of yesteryear has had a complete overhaul. Modern-day futons provide the multi-function of a sofa during the day and a sleeper at night. Upholstered in a variety of materials including leather, faux-leather and fabric, futons easily integrate into an apartment, guest bedroom or small space. The futon’s “mattress” portion is approximately 5 inches in height with an overall futon height of 15 inches off the floor, creating a low-profile, contemporary look. Selecting a futon doesn’t mean skimping on comfort. Serta’s 15-inch Rane futon contains high-density foam webbing cushions and pocket coils.

Adjustable bed height

Smartphone apps and wireless remotes often control these tech-fueled adjustable bases. With features such as USB ports, under-bed lighting and adjustable legs, these bases provide the ultimate control over bed height and sleep position. From watching TV, reading a book or combating a night of snoring, power bases can be elevated or lowered. The adjustable legs come in three 3-inch pieces allowing customization of bed height based on your specific needs. Pair a 12-inch memory foam mattress by Tempur-Pro Adapt with their 9-inch adjustable power base for a high-tech and ergonomic slumber. When choosing an adjustable base, always take into account the range of motion in addition to the bed height.

Platform bed height

Platform beds provide a lower bed height as they are a flat foundation without the added height of a traditional box spring. Made up of a solid flat material, grouping of slats or a lattice-type grid, platform beds provide a stable surface on which your mattress can rest directly. Platform bed heights vary from 2-inch ultra-low profile to the standard 5-inch height. Platform beds go hand in hand with memory foam. For example, Leesa details that their memory foam mattresses are designed to rest on a flat, firm and sturdy surface. For a compact bed height, pair the Leesa 10-inch memory foam mattress with their 7.5 inch foundation.

Traditional bed height

Traditional bed foundations are most commonly known as box springs. The standard box spring height is 9 inches, with the option of a low-profile box spring at 5 to 5.5 inches in height. Keep in mind a standard box spring will add considerable overall bed height as opposed to platform beds. Before purchasing your new mattress and foundation, always thoroughly read the warranty. Case in point, if you use a box spring with a Purple mattress, the warranty will be voided, as a box spring does not properly support Purple’s foam and hybrid mattresses.

Trundle bed height

Trundle beds provide extra sleeping space cleverly nestled under a larger bed. Typically on rollers, trundle beds can be easily moved when needed and hidden out of sight when not in use. Due to their compact size (most often a twin size mattress) and lack of a box spring, trundle beds are lower in height. A good option is the compact and comfortable Essentia Wholebody Beausommet 8-inch memory foam mattress. Note, however, sleepers who are tall, elderly or have back or joint pain should choose another location to rest their head due to the trundle’s low bed height and sizing.

Pillow top bed height

Foundations aren’t the only variable in bed height. Mattresses with a pillow top add extra height to your bed due to the additional layer of cushioning. Pillow top bed heights can range from 13 inches for the Avocado Green mattress with an attached pillow top to a sizable 18 inches for the Beautyrest Black K-Class pillow top. The extra padding within the pillow top can be composed of several different materials. Memory foam, cotton, latex, regular or polyurethane foam are popular pillow top fillers. Keep in mind the additional bed height when choosing your sheet set, as pillow top mattresses require deep pockets.

Should I choose a new bed based on height? 

Basing a bed selection on height is more important than you might think, especially if you have health issues. You’ll have many choices of mattresses and beds based on height, mattress type, sleep position, firmness level and physical needs will ensure quality sleep and a sound investment. One way to test a potential bed height is to try sitting and getting up from various chair heights. Once you find the height that feels best, you can find a bed frame, box spring and mattress that together make the height you

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HVAC Maintenance Tips

Homeowners must perform routine HVAC maintenance for air quality safety reasons. Scheduling HVAC preventative maintenance ensures it performs properly and prolongs the lifespan of your unit. Neglecting your system could lead to inefficient performance and system failure. There are several HVAC maintenance tasks you can complete on your own, however, some require an HVAC specialist. In this guide, we outline the dos and don’ts of HVAC maintenance.

DO: Seasonal HVAC preventative maintenance

At least two times per year, schedule HVAC preventative maintenance with a professional technician. Maintenance should involve a furnace or heat pump inspection that includes cleaning and an annual tune-up. Schedule maintenance for your air conditioning system in the spring and your furnace or heat pump either late summer or early fall. That way, your unit is running optimally and efficiently as soon as you turn it on.

If your HVAC technician discovers a severe problem, they can deal with it before it leads to other problems, and before it’s time to switch over from heating to cooling or vice versa. A tune-up typically includes a thorough inspection including checking the heat exchanger for cracks, checking refrigeration, cleaning condensate tube build-up, condenser cleaning, lubricating all moving parts and replacing filters.

DO: Change your filters regularly

Even though your HVAC specialist is checking filters twice annually during maintenance and tune-ups, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check them. Typically, HVAC systems have either a 30-day fiberglass filter or a three-month pleated filter. Because they have such a short lifespan, you should check them regularly. Even if it’s ahead of schedule, change them if they’re dirty.

Leaving a dirty filter in an HVAC unit makes it work harder. The harder an HVAC unit has to work to circulate air throughout a home, the more energy it’s using. A dirty filter also strains the system’s fan, which can also make it work too hard.

DO: Keep the area clutter-free for healthy systems

Seasonal HVAC maintenance should also include keeping the area around HVAC units clear both indoors and outdoors. That means there should be no build-up of debris, dirt, grass or leaves. According to the Department of Energy, you should leave at least two feet of space around outdoor HVAC units to ensure they operate efficiently.

DO: Regulate your internal temperatures

The Department of Energy states that, when homeowners turn their thermostats back by 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours daily, they can save 10% on annual heating and cooling bills. Further, if you set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter when you’re awake and lower it when sleeping, that also saves on energy costs. Use that same strategy in the summer by setting thermostats at 78 degrees when at home and keeping it warmer when away.

Using programmable or smart thermostats is a simple way to control your home’s heating and cooling efficiency. You can control this thermostat technology from a smartphone or tablet from any location. Some smart thermostats can even learn your habits, adapting so you don’t even have to program energy-saving adjustments.

DO: Do visual inspections during your HVAC maintenance

At least once a year, perform a visual inspection of your system to make sure nothing looks awry. Check that condensate or evaporator coils aren’t dirty, that coils are not frozen and there are no water leaks. Look for damage to fins and, when the unit is on, listen for strange vibrations or sounds. Contact an HVAC professional if you notice anything that needs addressing.

DO: Maintain your carbon monoxide detector

When you’re operating an oil or natural gas heating system, you’ll also have a carbon monoxide detector. Make sure you’re testing the carbon monoxide detector at least once monthly. If the unit has replaceable batteries, change them at least once every six months or when you hear a single beep every minute. These detectors are essential for HVAC maintenance because, if it starts beeping four times with a pause, that means your HVAC unit is leaking, and you must get outside into fresh air and call 9-1-1 immediately. It’s also essential to remember that the average lifespan of a carbon monoxide detector is between five and seven years. Some monitors will notify you that they need replacement if they beep five times every minute.

DO: Make a seasonal HVAC maintenance checklist

Creating a seasonal HVAC maintenance checklist gives you all the to-do’s to add to your calendar. You’ll want to add professional seasonal maintenance to the calendar, which will include turning the water on in the fall, replacing the humidifier wick, turning the water supply to the furnace off in the spring and inspecting air conditioner refrigerant lines before summer. Additional checklist items include checking thermostat settings, tightening electrical connections, lubricating all moving parts, inspecting the condensate drain and checking the system’s controls. 

Make sure your calendar has reminders to schedule this maintenance, change your air filters monthly (or every three months depending on the type), replacing batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and inspecting your system.

DON’T: Ignore higher utility bills

If your HVAC system doesn’t receive regular maintenance, that could mean it’s running less efficiently. As a result, it’s consuming more fuel and causing higher utility bills. High energy bills indicate that the system either isn’t functioning as it should or that it might be time to replace it with a more energy-efficient unit. Look at the age of your HVAC system to determine if it’s time for an upgrade that meets efficiency standards.

DON’T: Be afraid to call in an HVAC professional

While there are many things you can do to ensure that your HVAC system is running optimally from season to season, there are limitations. HVAC specialists are trained and must follow building codes to ensure your home is safe. They also manage all electrical component installation to ensure efficiency. A sign that you need to hire an HVAC professional includes your system continuously turning on and off, or short-cycling. You might also need an HVAC professional if there is excessive noise when you start up the system.

Frequently asked questions

When do I need to schedule professional HVAC maintenance?
Schedule professional HVAC maintenance twice per year. Your air conditioning system should be checked in the spring and your furnace or heat pump in late summer or early fall.  

What temperature should I set my thermostat?
The Department of Energy suggests setting thermostats to 68 degrees during the winter when you’re awake and lower for sleeping. In summer months, keep thermostats at 78 degrees when you’re home and set it to higher temperatures when you’re out, adapting it as needed for your health needs. 

What does an HVAC tune-up include?
Seasonal tune-ups include a thorough inspection, checking the heat exchanger for cracks, checking refrigeration, cleaning condensate tube build-up, condenser cleaning, lubricating all moving parts and replacing filters.

How long does an HVAC tune-up take?
Depending on your HVAC system’s configuration, plan on tune-ups to last about one hour. Include an additional 30 to 45 minutes if any refrigerant is needed.

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3 Features to Look for in a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Every day we are exposed to carbon monoxide gas from the burning of carbon-based fuels including coal, kerosene, natural gases, oil, propane and wood. Typically, this toxic gas would be expelled out of the home through vents, but it doesn’t always happen. The Centers for Disease and Control estimates that 2,244 people died between 2010 and 2015 due to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Carbon monoxide cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. A carbon monoxide detector helps protect you and your property by detecting carbon monoxide leaks before they become lethal. Basic carbon monoxide detectors cost as little as $20. Since it’s critical that this gadget not let you down, we cover the basic features you should consider when buying a carbon monoxide detector. 

Combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector

Homeowners often do not see the need for smoke detectors because they think the presence of fire will be obvious. However, most fire victims succumb due to inhaling smoke as opposed to the fire flames or heat. A smoke detector is helpful should a fire start while you’re out or when you are asleep. 

Smoke alarms can use either photoelectric smoke detection or ionization detectors. As the name suggests, the former uses light sensors. When smoke particles break the beam of light, the alarm is triggered. In ionization smoke detectors, an electric current passes between two diodes. Interruption of this electric current by smoke particles triggers the smoke alarm. 

On the other hand, carbon monoxide detectors use electrochemical sensors, biomimetic sensors, or metal oxide semiconductors. Electrochemical sensors feature electrodes submerged in a solution. Once the carbon monoxide levels in your home exceed a specific limit, the electrodes sense a change in electrical currents and trigger the alarm. Biomimetic sensors have a gel that changes color when it absorbs carbon monoxide. The color change sets off the alarm. In a metal oxide semiconductor, excess carbon monoxide lowers the gadget’s electrical resistance, which triggers the alarm. 

You can buy a combination of a smoke and carbon monoxide detector such as the Kidde carbon monoxide detector, which saves you money and space. You only need to test and change the batteries on one device instead of two. However, remember to look out for the device’s end-of-life warnings and ensure that it meets the third-party standards. Battery operated devices have a lifespan of about two to three years, while hard-wired ones can last for up to 10 years. 

Interconnected carbon monoxide detector

In some instances, you can connect all the carbon monoxide detectors so that they all go off when one is triggered. By interconnecting these devices, you can meet the building codes in your area without physical wiring. It can also be helpful if you have a big home, so you will hear the alarm going off in a different part of the house. The downside of such a system is that it will be hard to know what part of your house triggered the alarm. 

Smart device integration with carbon monoxide detectors

The best carbon monoxide detector on the market today can be interconnected with the smart devices in your home. You can download an app on your smartphone through which you connect to your smart carbon monoxide detector. If there’s carbon monoxide detected, not only will the alarm go off, but you will also receive a notification on your phone. Most smart carbon monoxide detectors will inform you of the location or room affected and instruct you on how to respond. For example, it could prompt you to call 911 if the situation is severe, or just to open a window and contact non-emergency services for a minor problem. 

You can also connect your smart carbon monoxide and smoke detector to your home’s thermostat. Once this device is triggered, it prompts the thermostat to turn off the HVAC so that the poisonous gas or smoke is not sucked into the unit and circulated throughout your house. 

Smart device integration means that you are assured of your home’s safety even when you are far away. You will also receive a notification on your phone should the device get deactivated. Unfortunately, the unit and installation costs of these devices are usually high. 

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a smart carbon monoxide detector? 

If you spend significant time outside of your home, adding a smart carbon monoxide detector allows for remote notifications if something goes wrong. If you’re strained for cash and you are mostly home, you can do with a conventional detector.

What’s the best carbon monoxide detector placement?

Carbon monoxide detector placement is critical for it to be effective. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you install your carbon monoxide detector at most five feet above the ground. This is because carbon monoxide easily blends with the air in your home and rarely rises. If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, install it close to the sleeping area and ensure that its alarm can wake you.  

Where can I buy a Kidde carbon monoxide detector?

Apart from their website, you can buy Kidde carbon monoxide detectors (and other similar brands) from approved outlets, including Amazon, Grainger, HD Supply and Home Depot, among other stores. 

What should I do if my carbon monoxide alarm goes off?

If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, let fresh air into the building by opening all windows and doors. Turn off any fuel-burning appliances and go outside with your household and pets, even if you feel fine. Do not go back into the house until the source of the leak has been fixed, which means you might have to call 911 if you cannot fix the leak yourself. Make sure every member of your family knows how they should react should the alarm go off. 

What are the maintenance requirements of carbon monoxide detectors?

Carbon monoxide detectors need regular maintenance to ensure they work optimally. For starters, test and clean the device once a month. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on what the alarm should sound like, as well as how often you need to replace the batteries. 

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