Tag Archives: air quality

Spring Cleaning – Going Green

Signs of spring burst all around the Cape back in February. Although it may not be time to start packing away your winter clothes just yet it is a great time to start on your annual cleaning & organizing. This year why not go a little greener with it?

Spring_Flower_CleanYour Air
Nix the air fresheners and open up those windows! Toss the scented aerosols and freshen things up with fresh cut flowers instead. Forget chemicals and use mixes of baking soda and essential oils for deodorizing. Use low-VOC paints.

Your Papers
Register an address and you start getting paper solicitations and direct marketing cards. Open a line of credit and you get loads of other offers. On average the amount of paper waste we make every year adds up to over 2000 pounds! What can you you do to go green here? Of course you can recycle the paper but start lessening the amount delivered in the first place. Call the sources of all of the unwanted mail and opt out. You can also sign up for paperless billing invoices and save your receipts digitally. Not only will you be saving the environment you’ll be saving yourself the time you would normally spend filing it all away!

Your Water
Use less and keep it clean! If you’ve been putting off fixing that running toilet do it now! Check all of your faucets for drips and adjust them accordingly. A faucet that drips 1 drip per minute actually wastes up to 34 gallons a year and you’re paying for it. Consider swapping out your shower heads for low-flow models. Be conscious of how much water you’re using when you’re brushing your teeth and doing dishes (turn it off while you scrub!).

Your Stuff
Recycle and donate. Old tattered clothes can be used as rags or kept for messy projects like painting the ceiling. Donate clothes in good condition to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, church group or homeless shelter. Donate old pillows and towels to your local animal shelter. Buy a trash can that helps you sort out your plastics and bottles from your trash, and sort and recycle all of your boxes.

Your Energy
Vampires are everywhere! Think of how many things are still plugged in at your home right now. The coffee pot? TV? Phone chargers? Computer? All of these things are still slowly using electricity. Put a stake in it and unplug any electrical devices when you’re not using them. For areas with multiple devices use a power strip so you only have to pull one plug from the outlet.
Have you had a home energy assessment done yet? Mass Save offers them for Massachusetts residence. They gave homeowners all new energy efficient light bulbs and power strips for their entertainment centers (for FREE!).

Share with us how you are going green in your home!

Leave your shoes at the door

Leave your shoes at the door

Whether they’re strict about it or not we all know someone with the “no shoes in the house” rule. Although some may find that policy annoying or even sometimes odd for guests you may want to consider adopting the practice for your own home.

Shoes

I’m sure you’ve heard “a little dirt never hurt anyone”, but how about pesticides, lawn fertilizer, the flu, E. coli and C. diff? What is C. diff? It’s a dangerous bacterium that causes terrible symptoms from diarrhea and cramping to kidney failure and fatal inflammation. It’s nasty stuff but what’s even scarier is how possible it is that you’re carrying it or something similar around on your daily footwear! Something as simple as propping your feet up on the ottoman after a long day can actually be a bad idea.

Take a look at the numbers.

  • The University of Arizona shared that the bottom of shoes contain on average 421,000 different types of bacteria, 96% detected coliforms (bacteria used to indicate the sanitary quality of water and food), and 27% detected specifically E.Coli.
  • As shared by TODAY, a study by the University of Houston found that 26.4% of shoes carry that awful sounding C. diff.
  • The University of Utah’s study concluded that bacteria on your shoes are transferred into your home at a rate of 90 to 99%!

So leaving your outdoor shoes on in the house is highly likely to carry quite a bit of bacteria throughout your home where you eat, relax, breathe and sleep.  For healthy adults that may only bring a threat of being sick for a few days, but for children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems it can be extremely dangerous.

Still not sold on the daily practice of dropping you shoes at the entry mat? You can keep your home healthier by at least spraying them down with a disinfectant and then thoroughly washing your hands. It’s not as good as taking them off and spraying them down, but it’s certainly heathier than not doing either. And as Mom always said, “no shoes on the table.”

August Home Maintenance

Ahhhh August ♥ Summer heat – sunshine – beach time… Sneak these few home maintenance items into these beautiful long days and cozy, warm nights.

Sunny Evening

  • Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Inspect your foundation for signs of termites. Look for tunnels and dirt bridges. If you suspect them, call an exterminator right away.
  • Use a vacuum with a narrow nozzle to clean the condenser coils on the back or underneath your refrigerator.
  • Make any necessary faucet repairs. Check for any worn washers and signs of leaking both on top of and underneath the faucet.
  • Clean your range hood and either clean or replace the filter.
  • Replace your air conditioner filter.
  • Hoping to do any interior remodeling projects this fall? Start the planning and estimate collection now so that they can be done early in the season.

Printable version: August Home Maintenance Checklist

April Home Maintenance

For a beautiful, bountiful summer, start your preparations in April! Run through our maintenance checklist, then start a list of your own of all of the things you’d like to accomplish next season.

Cherry_Blossoms

  • Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clean your window screens with a bristle brush, a mild detergent and a garden hose.
  • Check for sales on winter maintenance equipment like snow shovels, generators, snow blowers, etc.
  • Prepare your winter equipment for storage and your gas powered lawn equipment for use.
  • Inspect your home’s exterior for signs of rot. Use a small awl to probe for any soft spots on railings, window sills, and posts.
  • Prepare to Grill! Grills can be cleaned with soapy water and a brass bristle brush. You may need to also clean the gas hose, and don’t forget about the drip tray. See your manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Re-caulk open joints around windows and doors, and replace weather stripping where worn.
  • Clean your range hood and either clean or replace the filter.

April Home Maintenance Checklist Printable Version

Air Quality Weighing You Down? It Could be the humidity.

The days of simply opening the window to clear a stuffy house aren’t always available. For year-round relief and protection for your home start running a dehumidifier.

dehumidifier
What do dehumidifiers do?
Dehumidifiers reduce the amount of moisture in the air. They work just like air conditioners only they contain both hot and cold coils.

How do dehumidifiers work?
Air is drawn in to the dehumidifier and any moisture contained in that air is condensed onto cold coils. This dries the air. The dry air then passes over hot coils and is circulated back into the room. The moisture that condensed onto the cold coils is drained into a tank or “pint”. You have to periodically empty this tank to avoid overflow. Some dehumidifiers can simply be set to a certain humidity percentage and it will automatically run itself to maintain that specified level. If you don’t feel like emptying the you may find one with a pump system that you can then direct so that the water safely away from your foundation.

In the months that you run air conditioners in your home you may not need to run the dehumidifier if the air conditioning is keeping the humidity low enough. A hygrometer, which can be purchased at some hardware stores, will give you an accurate humidity reading.

Who can benefit from a dehumidifier?
Everyone can benefit from controlled air conditions, but even more so are people with allergies, asthma, or those who are living in moist conditions. Here on Cape Cod, being so close to the ocean, we are all very familiar with moist conditions.

Do you find that symptoms including stuffy nose, eye irritation or sneezing increase when spending time indoors? A number of irritants, including dust mites, could be the culprit. Dust mites live in mattresses, upholstery, curtains, rugs and even get mixed up the air. (This is why you should vacuum mattresses and upholstery once a week with a HEPA filter vacuum). Bringing the level of moisture in the air down will make it less environmentally friendly for mites, mold and mildew.

Controlling the indoor air humidity with a dehumidifier will also reduce the amount of dusting you need to keep up with, reduce door frame swelling, and lengthen the life of your windows by reducing any condensation on them. The air will smell noticeably fresher. You may even find that your laundry takes less time to dry, and that your food keeps longer.

What are signs of moisture?

  • Stains on ceilings and/or walls
  • A “stuffy” feeling when you enter a room
  • Rotten trim and/or wooden areas
  • Musty odors
  • Condensation found on windows
  • A hygrometer reading above 40-50%

How do you choose a dehumidifier?
Your choices will be narrowed down with two variables: the amount of area the unit will cover and the size of the water tank that holds the condensed moisture. If you’ve ever purchased an air conditioner you know that it needs to be able to cover the entire cubic space of the room to work properly. Measure the area of space you’ll need to dehumidify (cubic feet) and select a unit that will cover at least that amount of space if not more. The higher the humidity in your geographical area, the larger the tank you’ll want your unit to have.

Don’t forget about maintenance on your dehumidifier. They can run above and beyond a few hundred dollars depending on the size you need so you’ll want to maintain them properly to get your money’s worth. Filters will need to either be cleaned or replaced so factor them into the cost when comparing units. Also, look for the energy efficient models to reduce the increase in electricity use. Some are also louder than others. If it’s in the basement you may not be too concerned with the noise, but if it’s close to a bedroom or entertaining space you may opt for a quieter version.

With all of the calls concerning mold in basements, musty bedroom and closet odors, and heat of summer mildew I highly advise that dehumidifiers are run to keep these occurrences at a minimum. If you do run into any of these while running a dehumidifier or not, always check first to make sure its not a slow leak, drip, or pending water damage. If it is, the sooner you find it the better.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.