Bed Bugs

6 Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation

One of a homeowner’s worst nightmares, bed bugs are a serious concern that requires prompt action in order to prevent from spreading. The sooner you are able to recognize the signs of an infestation and get a professional exterminator out to your house to diagnose and treat, the easier it will be for you to kill and remove bed bugs from your home.

Unfortunately, far too many homeowners allow the situation to escalate before seeking help because they simply do not recognize the signs of a bed bug infestation.

That’s what we’re here to talk about today.

How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs

To help you get back to a having a restful night’s sleep, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms, signs, and indicators that every homeowner should be familiar with. Here are six of the most common indicators to be on the lookout for.






1. Bites, Bumps & Redness On Skin

This is easily the most common sign that homeowners will recognize right away. If you start noticing red or pink bumps on your skin, then you may be looking at a bed bug bite. In fact, you may not even notice you have these bumps until the itching or burning sensation starts to set in.

If it’s feasible, take a photo of the bites with your phone. This will help your doctor diagnose whether the bites are from bed bugs. At this time, it may be wise for you to contact your doctor to ensure you are getting the appropriate medical care.

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Pay particularly close attention to the pattern and number of red bumps, as it is common for bed bugs to bite several times in a straight line or in one area. Are there numerous bites all appearing within the same localized area? This is a sign of bed bugs.

Bed Bug Infestation

2. Actually Seeing Bed Bugs

If you have a heavy infestation, it’s entirely possible that homeowners will actually be able to see bugs crawling around your bed sheets. If you are able to see them for yourself, then an exterminator needs to be contacted right away.

Spotting bed bugs for yourself is not always as easy as it seems. This is because bed bugs tend to be nocturnal, which means you may not be able to see them during the day. If you suspect you have an infestation of bed bugs in your home, try to inspect your sheets at night. Check every area of your bed, including all of the crevices and edges. Inspect and remove all of your bedding. You should also take a look at your box spring.

Bed bugs are very tiny, so you may need to look closely. They are almond-shaped with a reddish-brown color. It is also possible that you will see eggs in your bed, which means you have several generations of bugs that are infested within your sheets. In addition to the bed bugs themselves, look out for any excrement or skin that may have been left behind as well.


3. Presence of Exoskeletons

You may not see bed bugs for yourself after the infestation has grown, but it should be easier to spot the presence of exoskeletons. These are the hard shells that are used to provide structure to the bed bugs’ organs and muscles.

As bed bugs grow, they molt this skin and leave it behind. Seeing an exoskeleton on its own might be easy to dismiss, but remember, it is incredibly unlikely that an infestation has moved away or resolved itself on its own. If you find exoskeletons in your bed, then it’s very likely that you have bed bugs.






4. Blood Spots on Your Mattress

Another sign that you may have bed bugs in your home is if you notice tiny spots of blood on your bed sheets. This is because bed bugs feed by biting your skin and drinking your blood.

They will be more noticeable if your sheets are white or lighter in color. If you have dark sheets, then you may not notice them right away. You should also pay attention if there are any small, unexplained blood spots on your clothing or furniture. It is not unheard of for bed bugs to attach to clothing and become mobile. Unfortunately, this is a very common way for bed bug infestations to spread to other parts of your home.


5. Fecal Matter on Your Mattress

This one may be a little disgusting to think about, but another common sign of bed bugs is discovering small black or brownish spots on your bed sheets or mattress. These small spots could be feces produced by bed bugs.

To confirm whether these spots are actually excrement from a bed bug, you can take a mildly damp cloth and gently rub it over the spots.

Because bed bug excrement is generally just dried blood, a damp cloth will make these brownish spots red again. This is a strong indication that you may have an infestation in your home.


6. Strange Odor

It is also very common for bed bugs to create a very unpleasant odor. The description of the scent can vary, but many people describe it as either smelling like coriander or spoiled raspberries.

This smell is generally the result of the bed bugs releasing pheromones, but it can also be created by crushing the bugs. These odors are most often created when the infestation of bed bugs has increased drastically, so if you start smelling something in your mattress, then it is highly likely that your bed bug problem has escalated quite a bit.

Spot the Signs & Act Quickly!

Out of all signs and indications listed above, the most important one that homeowners should watch out for is actually seeing the bugs in your bed. If possible, try to capture one or more of the bugs to show an exterminator. This will prove beyond a doubt that the culprits are bed bugs and you can then proceed with the proper treatment to eliminate the infestation.

Obviously, no homeowner ever wants to deal with a bed bug infestation. But the sooner you can spot the signs of an infestation, the easier and more cost-effective it will be to kill and get rid of these unwanted pests. At the first sign of trouble, contact a pest extermination company near you in order to get a professional out to your home or business so that you can go back to getting a good night of sleep.



Gardening

5 Sustainable Gardening Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword or a flavor-of-the-month cause; it’s a way of life that supports the Earth! And, sustainability begins at home – which is why creating a sustainable, natural garden is always a wonderful idea.

Many homeowners use harmful fertilizers or pesticides, or even excess water, in their gardens, but these types of conventional gardening techniques may often be more detrimental to our planet’s health than you intended. Instead, it’s important for homeowners to create a self-sustaining, organic garden that’s free of as many chemicals as possible.

Are you just getting started on your environmentally-conscious journey? If so, it’s time to read up on five our sustainable gardening tips that every homeowner should know!





1. Use Native Plants

Using native plants in your garden is one of the overall best ways to ensure that your garden is in tip-top, sustainable shape.

But first… what are native plants?

In short, native plants are types of plants that are uniquely indigenous to your region or ecosystem and are adapted to local soils and your climate. There are tons of benefits when it comes to transitioning to a native landscape! Namely, this type of garden requires much less maintenance than a typical garden or lawn – this is because minimal watering is required, and you don’t have to use harmful pesticides or fertilizers.

In addition to this, a native plant garden has the added benefit of becoming a wildlife habitat for local birds and insects. Bottom line: Native plant usage allows for your developed landscape to coexist peacefully with nature, which is always the goal for any sustainable garden.

To get started, it’s recommended that you checki in with local garden experts to get ideas for plants that thrive in your area and vegetables that mature easily during your area’s growing season.

2. Mulch Your Garden

If you’re truly committed to a sustainable garden, using mulch is the way to go. Basically, mulch comes from organic materials, which helps to make your garden more resistant to pests; it also provides tons of valuable nutrients.

Mulching is also the best sustainable method for providing soil moisture and for preventing weeds from growing in your garden. Simply add a 2-inch layer of mulch to your garden beds and around your plants, and let the sustainable magic begin!

3. Cut Down On Watering

It’s important to use the least amount of water possible, when making the shift to sustainable gardening.

There are a few different ways to do this:

  • Native Plants Require Less Water — First, as we’ve already noted, using more native plants in your garden will automatically mean using less water.
  • Use a Rain Barrel — A popular option for homeowners is to install a rain barrel on one of your home’s downspouts, for collecting water to use for your plants.
  • Collect Leftover Water — Another water-saving trick we love is to use a shower bucket – just place a bucket in your shower to collect leftover water runoff, and then use that water for your garden and any other plants. Simple yet effective!




4. Grow Your Own Food

There are so many reasons to grow your own food! First, selfishly, it just tastes better — garden-fresh fruits and veggies are far superior to the same fruits and veggies you’ll find in a supermarket. And, from a sustainability standpoint, growing your own food just makes sense.

You get to control your garden’s growing environment, which means you can elect NOT to use dangerous chemicals and pesticides.

Plus, harvesting our own veggies and other garden items can help contribute to overall waste reduction, considering that organic waste is the second highest component of landfills in the U.S.

Need other incentives? Growing food in your home garden can help save money and become a super-fun hobby!

5. Start Composting

Composting is an integral component of any sustainable garden. Seriously, one of the best ways to jump-start your sustainable garden is by composting all your food waste.

Composting does a lot of great things for our planet: it enriches the soil, provides much-needed nutrients to our gardens, and contributes to less waste being produced at the landfill.

In addition, composting will also help you to use less water in your garden – this is because the organic material from your compost pile allows your soil to become more fertile and able to retain more water.


Ready to get started?

When it comes to creating your personal compost pile, you have a few options. First, you could elect to simply rake your leaves over your garden bed in the fall and winter; and/or you could collect all yard waste and organic materials, such as (eggshells, coffee grounds, all your veggie and fruit scraps, grass clippings, and even shredded newspaper, and place everything in a bin or a pile.

Over time, these combined materials will start to decompose back into the earth – like a science project, but for the earth’s benefit!

Do you use sustainable gardening practices in your home garden? Did we miss an important sustainable gardening tip or technique? Tell us in the comments below!


Natural Pest Control

Natural Pest Control: How to Control Bugs in Your Home

Commercial bug sprays get the job done fast, but our homes and environment pay a hefty price for overuse of insecticides, which can poison beneficial insects and wildlife. When you use sprays and foggers indoors, you also run the risk of making pets and children sick.

Fortunately there are lots of easy to use natural alternatives that actually work to repel and kill insects. Next time you get bugged and bitten by mosquitoes or when the ants on your counters are driving you crazy, you might check out some of the following “natural pest control” options.

How to Repel Insects With Essential Oils

Quite a few plants have insect-repellent qualities. There are a number of essential oils that will do the job, and a few living and dried herbs also can keep bugs away.

Try mixing a few drops of any of the following essential oils in a spray bottle filled with water, or add to a damp cloth, and wipe-down your counters and sinks. You can also place cotton balls with a couple drops of essential oils inside your pantries and cupboards, or even add a couple of drops to a bandana and tie loosely on your dog. However, never apply essential oils a pets’ skin or fur without consulting your veterinarian. Not only will bugs head the opposite direction, the oils will make your home smell fragrant and clean.

  • Clove
  • Lavender
  • Any citrus oil, including lemon, lime, and sweet orange
  • Mint, including peppermint and spearmint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

You might also look for products containing cedar oil or shavings. These sprays, shampoos, and pet bedding are great to both repel and kill fleas and other biting insects. They are safe to use on both cats and dogs, and they smell great too!

For mosquitoes and flies, you can’t go wrong with lemon eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree, and neem essential oils. You can add a few drops to hand lotion to make your own insect repellent, but do not use eucalyptus or tea tree oil on pets — tea tree oil is particularly toxic to cats.

Some plants will also repel mosquitoes even as they grow in your garden. Consider planting lemongrass, catnip, rosemary, lemon balm, citronella, scented geraniums, mints, and marigolds around your patio or deck. These grow well in containers and hanging baskets. These plants will add color — and possibly culinary bonuses — to your yard, as well as keep the bugs at bay.

Tuck sprigs of rosemary and bay laurel leaves in your cabinets or under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to repel a variety of insects from food, paper products, and clothing.




How to do Pest Control at Home By Yourself

Below, we have highlighted some of the most common pest control problems for homeowners. If you have further questions of concerns, please start a conversation in the comments down below.

1. Fleas

For anyone who has pets, you know summertime is flea season.

If you know fleas are going to be an issue, a natural pest control method is to spray your yard and outdoor runs or kennels with beneficial nematodes in the early spring. These tiny parasites are safe for the environment and will control the outdoor flea population, significantly reducing the need for pesticides or flea medications on your pets. Throughout the spring and summer, also be sure to keep your lawns mowed and trim back all weeds, as this will help keep flea numbers down (and also help control mosquitoes and other biting insects).

How to Kill Fleas on Your Pets

For treating fleas on your pets, there are a few easy things you can try. Giving dogs a bath with non-toxic flea shampoos can substantially reduce the flea population in your home.

Many people swear by Dawn dishwashing detergent as the best flea shampoo out there. When you give your dogs a bath, suds them up and leave the shampoo on for at least 3-5 minutes. Rather than subject your cat to a bath, try using a flea comb to safely remove the majority of fleas. You can drop them into a cup of soapy water or diatomaceous earth to kill the fleas after you pull them from your pet’s fur.

How to Treat Flea Infestations Inside Your Home

If you have a flea infestation inside your home, you should vacuum regularly, wash all bedding, and use a steam cleaner to sanitize all the areas where your pet spends the majority of their time. These cleaning methods will significantly reduce the number of active fleas inside your home, as well as kill their eggs.

You can also sprinkle pet bedding with diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is a fine white powder that is made from fossilized aquatic creatures, and contains significant quantities of silica. While entirely nontoxic to pets and humans, it kills fleas and other insects by getting into the areas of their exoskeleton and dehydrates them. Once you apply the powder, leave it for a few hours to kill fleas and then vacuum it up again.


2. Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes aren’t just an itchy nuisance. Health officials warn of Zika and West Nile viruses spreading in the US. When it comes to cats and dogs, there’s also the added concern of heart-worm, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. With these illnesses becoming more common in the US, it’s imperative that you protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes and their nasty bites.

How to Reduce Mosquitos Outside Your Home

There are some easy things you can do outdoors to reduce mosquito populations. Be sure to regularly drain any standing water on your property. Water often collects in potted plants, wheelbarrows, tires, children’s toys, playscapes, and pet bowls. If you a pond, fountain, or birdbath in your yard, you should consider using mosquito dunks or granules that contain a non-toxic bacteria that prevents mosquitoes from breeding.

Keeping your lawn mowed will help with mosquito issues. Even better, consider inviting mosquito-eating bats to your property with low-profile bat houses that can be easily installed on your house or fencing.

Natural Methods to Repel Mosquitos

A safe alternative to bug sprays when spending time outdoors is citronella oil lamps and candles. Mosquitoes don’t like the smell of citronella, and just adding a few of these can help make your entire patio safe for your next cookout or pool party. And when you absolutely need an all-natural repellent, look for products that utilize lemon eucalyptus oil. Even the CDC has recommended lemon eucalyptus oil as an effective alternative to DEET for repelling mosquitoes.




3. Bees and Wasps

While mosquitoes get most of the attention, there are a number of other flying insects that you don’t want interrupting your next picnic. Stinging insects like bees and wasps may be nuisances, but they are actually beneficial insects for the environment.

Because of the benefit these bugs provide, it’s important to leave them alone whenever possible. Many people want to kill wasps who build nests in their doorways, under eaves, or swarm on the porch. Instead of reaching for bug spray, consider making your house less appealing to them so they find another place to call home.

You can make a simple homemade repellent spray that will discourage rather than kill these helpful insects. Fill a spray bottle with water, a couple squirts of Dawn dish soap, a few drops of peppermint oil, and a pinch of powdered cinnamon and cayenne. Spray this mixture around your entryways and anywhere else these insects like to buzz around.

If you have an active and unwanted bee hive or wasp nest on your property, rather than destroy it, call out a professional beekeeper or natural pest control company that can attempt to relocate the nests rather than kill the insects.


4. Ants, Grain Moths, and Weevils

Several species of ants find their way into our homes in search of food or water. While it can be difficult to get rid of them even when using commercial products like ant bait, the good news is that there are much cheaper and easier options.

How to Make a DIY Cleanser for Ants

Because ants use their sense of smell to find food, you can disrupt their plans by cleaning your countertops and walls with a 1:8 mixture of vinegar and water. For even better control, consider adding several drops of peppermint or orange oil to your cleanser. This all-natural cleanser is a great everyday cleaner and will make your ant problems a thing of the past.

If you get ants or other bugs in your pantry, especially in your dry goods, try sprinkling some cinnamon, cayenne pepper, or diatomaceous earth — or a combination of the three — in the corners and along your floorboards. You can also put bay leaves in bins with flour, pasta, grains, and cereals. All of these all-natural methods will help control and prevent pests.

It’s also a great idea to invest in tightly-sealing plastic containers for items you keep in your pantry, such as flour, granola, and cereal. Not only will this help your food stay fresh for longer, but it will also prevent tiny insects from getting inside your food.

If you still have issues with weevils in your flour, we would strongly recommend storing it in your refrigerator or freezer.


5. Moths

Rather than using mothballs, — which are toxic — try making your own repellents by adding dried lemon peels or cedar chips into a stocking, and then tie it to a rack inside your closet. You can even make small individual sachets out of cheesecloth to hang around the neck of clothes hangers.

This is one of the best natural pest control methods for preventing moths from destroying your clothes.


6. Other Creepy Crawlers

To discourage centipedes, rolly-polly bugs, and silverfish, homeowners should try placing cotton balls with peppermint or eucalyptus oil around baseboards, behind bookshelves, and in damp locations. You can also add bay leaves or sachets with cedar shavings to boxes of papers or books.

When it comes to spiders, scorpions, and other crawling pests, on of the easiest non-toxic pest control techniques is to simply seal off access to your home. Caulk around window sills and doorways, and fill in holes around utility lines or plumbing.

If you’ve tried all of this and still can’t determine how/where insects are gaining access, then you should contact a local pest control company to provide a thorough inspection of your property and recommend improvements.





Final Thoughts on Natural Pest Control

Not only are these natural pest control options safer for the environment and your family, most are also less expensive and easier to apply than commercial alternatives. For example, although a bottle of essential oil may seem a little pricey at first, when you discover that one bottle will last many years, you’ll realize what a smart investment it can be.

Next time bugs get on your nerves, give one of these alternatives a try, and you might not ever want to purchase bug sprays again.


Bamboo

How to Remove Invasive Bamboo from Your Yard

Bamboo is a popular ornamental plant in many areas with warm climates, but if yours has gotten out of control, then it can be a massive headache. Removing invasive bamboo isn’t always an easy process, but with a little bit of planning, it is quite doable. Here are a few tips for removing invasive bamboo in your yard.

What is Bamboo?

Native to tropical forests, bamboo is a type of grass that has a thick, woody stem, with stalks that can vary from a few millimeters around to nearly four inches in diameter. It can also be a very hardy plant, in some cases surviving freezing temperatures. Even though the stalks are hollow, the tensile strength of mature bamboo can be as strong as steel.
com
Bamboo is world-famous for being the fastest known growing plant. Most species can grow several feet in a month, with some kinds growing as much as three feet per day! Additionally, bamboo can spread outward as well as upward — runner bamboo can spread nearly 15 horizontal feet per season.

This plant spreads by sending out new shoots, rather than by spreading seeds. The root system grows outwards from the base, occasionally sprouting new stalks. This makes it very difficult to eradicate unless the entire root system can be completely removed, and since a single growth can extend for acres, this might be a difficult task.

How to Prevent Invasive Bamboo Growth

If you’ve lost control of the invasive bamboo in your yard, have a neighbor whose bamboo patch is spreading, or even live next to a forested area, then you know how tough it can be to deal with. Bamboo is an invasive species in many areas, and even when it’s native to a location, it’s still hard to keep it out of your yard. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to prevent this weed from growing in your yard.

Prevention, of course, is the best treatment. If you notice bamboo encroaching in your yard or want to control a plant of your own, start by putting up a barrier. It should be made of concrete or metal for maximum effectiveness; wood often works for a few years but will eventually decompose in the soil. The barrier should extend at least two feet below the ground and six inches above it. Be vigilant and cut back any shoots that try to sneak over it.

If it’s too late and you already have a invasive bamboo infestation, then not all is lost. There are steps that you can take to eliminate it — although these steps may not be the obvious ones.




3 Tips to Eliminating Visible Bamboo Growth

So what does work? If your invasive bamboo has grown particularly tall, then your first step should be to cut it back to a manageable height. This can be done with a machete (for large shoots) or pruning shears (for smaller ones). If you have extremely small or tender bamboo, then you might be able to use your lawn mower to trim it. Cut as close to the ground as possible to make the next few steps easier.

There are three basic steps you should take to eliminate invasive bamboo from your yard. You should:

  1. Cut Shoots

    Make sure that when you’re eliminating bamboo, don’t leave the bamboo shoots, root systems, or other waste near your yard where the bamboo can spread again. If your city has a green waste program, check to see if they accept bamboo. If not, the plants can be composted (without the roots), burned, or even used for arts and crafts. Just don’t let them back into your yard.

  2. Dig Deep

    The next step is to eliminate as much of the root system as possible. Dig up the bamboo clumps, eliminating as many of the shoots and tendrils as you can find. You may have to go as deep as two or three feet to make sure that you’ve gotten it all.

  3. Apply Herbicide

    After a few days, the bamboo will probably start to crop up again, although it will most likely be thinner than before. When you first encounter these small shoots, kill them right away. Use maximum strength herbicide to poison the plant. You can either spray it directly on the leaves, or (for the best effect) cut the plant back and dab the herbicide directly onto the freshly cut stem. After about a week or so, the plant will begin to appear brown; this means that it is dead or dying. Once this happens, dig it up again.

    This process can be helped along by placing a plastic barrier over the plant and anchoring it with rocks or landscape pins. Not only will this block sunlight from getting to the plant, it will help prevent rainwater from diluting the herbicide and intensify the effects.

Organic Alternative to Herbicides

If you dislike using chemicals like herbicide in your yard, one organic solution is to pour boiling water over the plant. The extreme heat will kill the bamboo without harming your soil. However, this many not be as effective for larger infestations.




Treatments to Avoid

What doesn’t work when you’re trying to remove invasive bamboo? Simply cutting it back is rarely effective, because this doesn’t deal with the root system. The plant will just send up new shoots in a matter of days or weeks. Using some substances such as rock salt or bleach might help, but they can also damage your soil and make it difficult to grow anything after the bamboo is removed. Trying to burn the bamboo can actually make the problem worse, since it not only leaves the root system intact but enriches the soil with extra nutrients. And purchasing a panda to eat the bamboo isn’t really a feasible option.

What you should do if nothing else is working

If none of these solutions are working, then there is one more drastic option that you can take. You may need to not only eliminate the bamboo plant, but also the topsoil in your yard. This step combined with concrete barriers can eliminate bamboo once and for all. However, since it’s an expensive and difficult process, you might be better off trying the other options mentioned here first.

Conclusion: Don’t Give Up!

A hardy bamboo plant can live for decades, so eliminating bamboo is not a one-time process. Two or three years of dedicated treatment may be necessary to make your yard completely bamboo free. Don’t give up hope, though, and keep fighting that plant — eventually you’ll be able to eliminate it and enjoy a bamboo free yard.

Bagless Vacuum Cleaner

5 Benefits of Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

How a Bagless Vacuum Cleaner Will Benefit You

The idea of centrifugal separation vacuuming has been around since at least the 20’s, but the most recent trend toward this technology, and the bagless vacuum, was the making of James Dyson who introduced his first unit in 1979. They gained in popularity especially in the 1990’s and soon other big name vacuum manufacturers, such as Hoover and Shark, adopted examples of the technology.

What makes a bagless vacuum a good decision?

Most bagless vacuums have much the same options their bagged counterparts including; motorized brushes, all the extensions and add-ons and running lights, but they have some standout characteristics. Below, we have taken a closer look at five benefits that bagless vacuum cleaners have over their bagged counterparts.

1. Less Loss of Suction

You know those times your vacuuming along, really putting a dent in the house cleaning, and you feel that slow dread rising as you realize dirt particles aren’t staying in the vacuum. A kernel of popcorn is sucked away as you pass over it only to be spat back out a moment later. You pull the hose, placing your hand against the end and sure enough, the satisfying slurp and high whine of good suction is not to be found.

Vacuum Cleaner Bag

Does the bag need to be changed? You expose the vacuums guts and tentatively poke at its stomach. It seems only half full. But something has stolen suction, so you pull the bag off the fitting, see nothing, replace it on the post, close it up and start the vacuum again. And suction is back, but still not quite what it is with a brand new bag.

Okay, it doesn’t always happen like this, but I’m sure this has happened to you at least once. Overall bagged vacuum cleaners preform admirably, but we all know that they have a tendency to slowly lose suction as the bag fills.

Bagless vacuums lose far less suction as the dust collection cup fills and often even continue to have good suction when the cup is almost completely full. But there is also less chance of the dust cup becoming completely full; it’s transparent and you know exactly when it needs emptying.




2. Bagless Vacuums Are Environmentally-Friendly

Bagless vacuums are better for the environment. Every bag takes resources to make, takes resources to transport to the store where you will purchase it. Every bag you use and throw away goes into a landfill. It may seem a small thing but when you’re trying to live greener the small things add up.

With a bagless vacuum you are not taking part in the using of those resources and the only thing you are throwing away is the dust and other debris sucked up off the floor. You are not adding to it by throwing away the container too.

3. Satisfaction of Seeing Your Work

There is something very satisfying about being able to look through the transparent plastic canister and see all the dirt and grime you’ve gotten off the floor. Like a salesman working hard to sell the vacuum, you may find yourself running to someone else in the house just to show how much you’ve picked up, how messy the house really was, and pointing out, yes it actually really did need to be cleaned.

Bagless vacuums also make it tons easier to find that jack of Jimmy’s or little Mary’s doll barrette, sucked away in a moment of poor floor scrutiny. There’s no having to cut into a bag to get at lost items, just dump the canister carefully in a trashcan lid and easily fish out the once missing treasures.

4. Easy To Empty

Bagless canisters are also very easy to empty. Usually only requiring a release from the vacuum body and a snap of the bottom or top canister lid. You want to do this over an outside trashcan and as close to the bottom as possible, because all the dust can easily turn into a big cloud if some care is not taken.

This also brings up the point of allergies. Bad allergies may be a good reason to stick with bagged vacuums. But many bagless vacuums now have HEPA filtration built right in and if done carefully and with a little thought these canisters can be emptied with minimal allergic reactions; and, going back to the green point, a single reusable allergy face mask worn when emptying the canister is greener then throwing bag after bag away.

After emptying the canister, you also have a unique opportunity to clean the inside of the bin and perhaps wash/replace the filters. Taking the extra couple of minutes to clean your machine will go along way in keeping it in top working condition.




5. No Fussing with Bags

I know I’ve found myself in the situation where I’m in a cleaning mood. I start vacuuming and realize the bag needs to be changed, so I start searching… where did I put those, in closets and drawers until finally I conclude that I have no more bags, so, an extra trip to the store to get bags. It’s a hassle, at least for those lacking in their organization. With a bagless vacuum cleaner this is just not a worry. When you’re ready to clean, the vacuum is ready to clean.

There is some maintenance with bagless vacuums. The filters need to be cleaned periodically to maintain best performance. Most are easily washable. They will also need to be replaced once-in-awhile, but far less often than you would be buying bags (again the greener part).

There’s also a reason most handheld, stick, and robot vacuum cleaners are bagless, this type of technology is more easily molded into these less conventional vacuum configurations. Not to mention more favorable by consumers.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether purchasing a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner remember to do some research on the pros and cons of each type. It is important to purchase a well-designed and easy-to-use vacuum. After all, if you don’t like to use the vacuum it makes cleaning that much more of a chore. Bagless vacuums are not inherently better than vacuums that require bags, but they do offer a greener, more hassle-free cleaning experience for those that would like the option.


How to Save Energy in Your Kitchen

5 Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Whether it’s cooking, baking, or washing dishes, the kitchen is one of the main areas within your home where you will be consuming energy. There’s no way around this, but you can, however, reduce the amount of energy used by being a smart and frugal consumer.

Here in this article, we will discuss some easy ways that homeowners can learn how to cut their energy use in the kitchen while still preparing delicious meals and keeping a tidy — and functional — cooking space. Here’s how.

1. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances

If you’re in the market for new kitchen appliances, look for the Energy Star label before you buy. This is a designation given only to items that have been deemed highly efficient by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Department of Energy. If you have perfectly good appliances that are not Energy Star, don’t just trade them in for new models.

2. Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient

Your fridge can cost you approximately $90 a year to operate, unless you outsmart it with a few frugal maneuvers, such as:

  • Change the Thermostat Setting:

    If you set your refrigerator’s thermostat to too cold of a setting, you are spending more money than you need to. Adjust your fridge’s temperature to a range between 37° & 40° F. Your freezer should be set between 0-5°F. Buy two appliance thermometers to monitor the temperatures if your appliance doesn’t have them already built-in. By raising your fridge temperature, you can save around $20 annually.

  • Make Your Own Ice:

    A built-in ice maker may be convenient, but it’s costing you extra cash. By relying on this feature, you could be spending 14 to 20 percent more than you need to be. Turning off this auto-feature is fairly simple, and by doing so, you can keep more money in your bank account.

  • Clean Off Your Coils:

    When your refrigerator’s coils get dusty, the cool-air flow is restricted, which makes your appliance struggle to do its job. You can remove this dust with a vacuum cleaner attachment, and save yourself nearly five dollars a year after performing the task.

  • Limit Yourself to One Fridge:

    Do you have an extra fridge in the basement, garage, or game room for beer, holiday turkeys, and party food? If so, you are shelling out hard-earned cash for something you only use seasonally. Find a way to make one refrigerator work for your household and save yourself $90 a year.

3. Spend Less on Cooking by Altering Your Oven/Stove Habits

The gas or electric oven and stovetop in your kitchen can cost you less if you change a few of your cooking habits. When you pay attention to the way you use your range, you can shave dollars off your utility bills. Follow these tips:

  • Stop preheating your oven: It’s not necessary to preheat your oven for every single recipe you prepare. There are a few items, such as fragile cakes like angel food, that may require preheating, but most dishes don’t necessarily need this step performed. If you want to be extra sure that you can skip this step with your meal preparation, it might be a good idea to do a bit of research beforehand, but for the most part it isn’t a big deal. If you skip preheating, you can save a couple dollars each month, which adds up to big dollars over time.
  • Use the right size burner: When you have a large pot or pan, use a larger burner. If you’re cooking with a small saucepan, use a smaller burner. Putting small pans on oversize burners is a waste of gas or electricity. It’s also not great for the pan. This practice will save you money on your energy bills, plus protect your pans for years to come.
  • Turn the power off early: You don’t have to leave your oven or burner on till your food is fully cooked, because plenty of heat will still be present when you turn the switch to “off”. Take advantage of the lingering heat and save cash in energy costs.
  • Clean your burners: The shinier your burner pans are, the more they will reflect and magnify the heat.

4. Save While Operating Your Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, you can save money while using it by doing the following things:

  • Use it: Most people think that hand washing dishes is cheaper than running the dishwasher, but this is actually not true. It is cheaper to run a full dishwasher than to hand wash every dish along the way. When you hand wash dishes, more water is lost down the drain than is used to wash and rinse the dishes.
  • Load it up: Be sure to wait until your dishwasher is full of plates, cups, bowls, and utensils before running it. It takes the same amount of water, energy, and soap to run a half-full load and a completely full load, so be sure to fill it all the way up before washing the load.
  • Skip heated-dry feature: Your dishes will dry without the extra heat, so skip this feature and save money. If your machine has an energy-efficient setting, be sure to utilize it.

5. Cut Costs During Cooking

You can cut dollars from your budget if you practice a few frugal cooking practices, such as:

  • Use your microwave as much as possible, because it’s a fairly economical machine and won’t heat up the rest of your home.
  • When using the oven, reduce the amount of heat you need to cook foods by baking your meals in glass or ceramic dishes.
  • Stop opening the oven door to check your meal, because you’re wasting heat.
  • Cover pots and pans on top of your stove for faster cooking times.
  • Boil foods in smaller amounts of water, to reduce energy needed to bring liquids to a boil.
  • Use a pressure cooker, because foods cook quickly and efficiently.
  • Double or triple recipes so you have leftovers.
  • Cut foods into smaller pieces, because they will require less energy to be cooked.
  • Use your barbecue on your patio to avoid using your oven and to keep your house cooler during the summer months.
  • Instead of using a blender, mixer, food processor, or electric coffee grinder, use your muscles to chop, blend, beat, or grind.

Your kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s where your family congregates, and where food and beverages are prepared to feed appetites and provide comfort. You can keep this important room warm and welcoming, but still trim dollars off your energy bills. When you know how to cut energy use in your kitchen and make “green” practices the norm, everyone benefits.

How to Hire an HVAC Technician

8 Tips Every Homeowner Should Know About Hiring an HVAC Technician

When your HVAC unit starts to show signs of needing maintenance, service, or complete replacement, it’s critical that every homeowner knows what to do and who to call (or not call).

During the peak of the summer months or in the thick of the winter months, your ability to find the right HVAC technician can make a huge difference on the timeline that is needed in order to fix whatever indoor air problems you may be experiencing in your home.

If you hire the right contractor to service your HVAC system, you will likely get things fixed or replaced without much of a hassle, and be back to feeling comfortable inside of your home in no time. On the other hand, if you hire the wrong contractor, it may make things much more difficult, causing you to have to wait a long time in the extreme heat or the freezing cold for service, pay too much for repairs, or be left without a working HVAC system.

Below, we will lay out eight tips that every homeowner should know to help you find and hire the best HVAC technician to service your unit.

1. Review Licensing Information

Any time you are considering hiring someone to do work within your home, you need to do a bit of research to ensure everything is on the up and up.

The first important thing to check is your HVAC technician’s license number. Your contractor should have no problem sharing his or her license number with you. If not, move on and find someone else.

Once you get the number, it is possible to look up the license and get an overview of past performance. If your contractor won’t provide a home improvement license to you, this is a red flag that you may need to choose someone else.




2. Ask for and Contact Customer References

What you should do next is to ask your contractor for customer references. A reputable company should be more than happy to provide a list of previous clients who can share their experiences with you.

When you start talking to your technician’s customers, make sure you ask about various things such as the contractor’s timeliness, work habits, ability to finish the job and whether or not the price was within the budget. Learning about another homeowner’s experience may help you make a decision about whether or not this contractor can help you in your situation. If your contractor dodges your questions about references, this is another red flag that they may not be the best technician for you.

3. Look at Experience Within the Industry

Ideally, the HVAC service person that you choose should have a lengthy list of experience. Whether or not you choose a team of contractors or a single proprietor, it’s important to go with someone who has a proven record of success with various types of HVAC systems and room air conditioners.

When you’re paying for time and labor, you want to have someone in your home that can quickly diagnose the problem and efficiently make adjustments or repairs. It may not be necessary to have someone who has been around for decades, but at the very least you want to choose a technician that has been in the industry for a few years.

4. Read Online Reviews

You can check the reputation of your HVAC technician by perusing popular websites dealing with businesses or home improvement. What you can do is conduct an Internet search using the company’s name as your search term.

While you should be on the look out for fallacious or untruthful reviews, most of the time online reviews can help guide you to finding and hiring the best HVAC technician. Just make sure that your read over each review in order to make a decision about choosing a contractor to service your HVAC problems.




5. Evaluate the Pricing

One of the most important things to homeowners when they schedule service to their major appliances is the price. What will come out of your pocket is always an important factor to keep in mind.

Either on the company website or through customer references, look at some of the pricing of the various services the business may offer. Companies that are on the lowest end of the region’s pricing may not be the best bet. The highest priced contractors may offer additional services, so be sure to ask.

Keep in mind, while going with the cheapest company isn’t always smart, you certainly don’t want to pay more than you have to. You get what you pay for.

6. Ask About Rebates & Energy Efficiency

When you’re having work done to your HVAC unit, or if you’re going with a brand new system, a reputable company should offer you additional tips and recommendations that can help you make sure your home is more energy efficient.

Part of any routine service for HVAC systems is a complete run through of the little improvements you can make around the house to support the proper maintenance and efficiency of your air conditioning or heating system. Contractors who take the time to show you how to make your home more energy efficient are typically ones you can trust.




7. Make Sure You Get an Estimate

Every reputable HVAC technician should provide a detailed and itemized price estimate of the work that needs to be done. If you don’t get a line-item or detailed information about how much the project or repairs may cost, then you should consider hiring a different HVAC technician.

It is strongly recommended that every homeowner get several estimates from different HVAC companies, as this will allow you to compare costs and make a data-driven decision. Ask about discounts your contractor may offer to help you keep things within your budget. Perhaps there are rebates available for you to take advantage of.

Some technicians may even offer financing opportunities that can help you purchase an entirely new system for your home. This can break down the cost into manageable monthly payments, making it much more affordable.

8. Get Everything in Writing

Once you have made a choice about which company you want to hire, it’s important to get a solid contract written out. Your contract should detail the entire scope of the project along with the detailed pricing.

Go line-by-line and read over everything that your technician presents to you. Make sure you ask any and all questions if you don’t understand something. An HVAC technician understands that most homeowners will have questions, and they expect you to ask. So, ask away before you sign anything.

Putting everything in writing can help you know exactly what to expect, and how much you’re going to pay before the job is completed. When everything has been finished, make sure you get additional information about your HVAC’s warranty and service requirements if you installed a new system.

Keep in mind that the warranty may vary between the manufacturer and the company that installed the devices. Get this in writing.

The Importance of Researching HVAC Technicians

Finding the right home improvement company or HVAC technician is something that can take some time, research, and effort.

If you skip this important step, you’re setting yourself up to getting a lower standard of service, paying much more than you need to or even becoming victim to an unscrupulous company. Being an informed and smart consumer can help you and your HVAC technician know exactly what to expect and provide a more positive working experience for all.

Infrared Heaters: How to Keep Your Home & Save Money

For many homeowners, winter is a frigid time of year, full of extreme weather and very low temperatures. Unfortunately, the cost of heating your home using your central air can be rather expensive, especially when you think about all the empty rooms that you’re paying to keep warm, yet aren’t using. These extra energy costs can be worrisome for families on a budget or trying to lower their utility costs.

Thankfully, we may have a solution for you. By following a supplemental heating strategy in your home, you will be able to save on your overall energy costs, without sacrificing your overall comfort levels.

Infrared heaters are a great option to help you accomplish this. They are a comparatively inexpensive yet effective way to keep your home or office warm.

How Do Infrared Heaters Work?

In a nutshell, an infrared heater, or “heat lamp,” uses a process called electromagnetic radiation, in which an entity with a higher temperature transfers heat energy to an entity with a lower temperature. While the term electromagnetic radiation might sound scary or dangerous, it is perfectly safe for use when it comes to infrared heaters.

This type of heater actually projects out infrared light, which we humans lack the ability to see. Though it is invisible, things like our skin, clothes, and furniture absorb the light, and heat up.

In general, objects in the direct line of an infrared heater (infrared light projection) heat up very quickly, while surrounding objects will take slightly longer to warm up and raise the overall temperature of the area.

Remembering that infrared heat is actually light, some larger and more industrial versions of these heaters use a type of gold coating on the tube that reflects the radiation. The element Gold has exceptional oxidation resistance, and reflects approximately 95% of infrared light. This effectively doubles the amount of radiation projected outward.




Types of Infrared Heaters

Infrared heaters vary on the type of fuel or energy needed to power them. Most personal infrared heaters are electric, but propane and natural gas-powered are fairly common as well. All of these heaters are extremely efficient, and project nearly 100% of the heat they generate.

Material

This type of heater also varies when it comes to the material used in their construction. Larger infrared heaters are usually metal or ceramic, and are used mostly for commercial or industrial purposes.

Personal-sized infrared heaters can be metal, ceramic, or made of different types of composite plastics that have the ability to withstand high temperatures. Many personal heaters are made with a combination of these materials, with metal being the most common as the reflectivity of the material may help intensify the heat.

Aesthetics & Decor

As far as aesthetics are concerned, rest assured that infrared heaters have made great strides to fit into various styles of interior décor. Recently, many personal versions have been made to look very stylish and complement their surroundings.

Filament

Still, another way to classify different types of infrared heaters is the material used for the filament. The most effective and most common filament material used for the electric-style heaters is tungsten.

Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal, which means it can stay strong and withstand extremely hot temperatures.

Alternative filament materials used for lower-temperatures include various alloys of iron, carbon aluminum and chromium. Carbon filament in particular is becoming more popular among personal infrared heaters due to its ability to heat up very quickly.

What Are the Benefits of Infrared Heaters?

Making the decision to use an infrared heater comes with several advantages over central heating, as well as other types of space heaters.

  1. Fast, safe, directed heating.
  2. Silent: They just radiate light.
  3. No reduction in oxygen or humidity levels, which can dry out skin and sinuses.
  4. Infrared heat promotes healthy blood circulation.
  5. No UV radiation.
  6. No pollutants or toxic by-products.
  7. No long fuel lines, open flames or carbon-type combustion.
  8. Extremely efficient and inexpensive to operate: Almost 100% of the heat created is transferred.
  9. Very little maintenance – No moving parts, no motor to wear down, no air filters or lubrication required.



Are Infrared Heaters Safe?

Although infrared heating is considered to be safe among consumers and professionals alike, they still emit heat and can be extremely hot at very close ranges. This means caution should always be exercised if the heater is operating around children or pets.

Much like any other type of heater, proper safety precautions should always be followed when operating. This would include avoid leaving your heater on when you go to bed or leave the room for an extended period of time.

It’s also worth noting that this type of heat can be started and stopped very quickly, as it is literally switching a light on and off. This may be considered to be a safety feature for some homeowners.

Lastly, remember that infrared heating is largely directional and focused. A rise in ambient temperature within a living area may take some time to occur, due to surrounding objects absorbing the light and heating up.

Why You Should Consider Using One

When it comes to using a personal heater to keep you and your family warm, you have many choices to choose from. And for the most part, they will all work great at achieving its purpose. Infrared heaters are a great choice because they require very little maintenance and are extremely quiet.

The heat they produce is gentle, cost-effective and very energy-efficient. You are guaranteed to stay warm and save money with this type of heater.

Steam Mops vs. Steam Vacuums: The Pros & Cons

What is a Steam Cleaner?
What Are the Benefits of Using Steam to Clean?
The Pros & Cons of Steam Mops
The Pros & Cons of Steam Vacuums
Which One is Best for You?

A decade ago, having a steam cleaning vacuum or a mop that was fancier than a stick with dreadlocks was pretty much a dream for your average homeowner. Over the last few years, however, an influx of technological advances and new features have created a wide variety of steam cleaning devices that have completely revolutionized the way we clean our homes.

We now not only have budget-friendly steam cleaners available to the average consumer, but we have choices between different types. For the purpose of this article, I’d like to focus on the differences between steam mops and steam vacuums. Weighing the pro’s and con’s of these two popular types of steam cleaners will give you the opportunity to make the best purchase for you and your family.

So, before you rush out and buy the first unit you come across, let’s take a closer look at the benefits, disadvantages and the differences between steam mops and steam vacuums. But first, let’s take a step back and review what exactly a steam cleaner is, and why every homeowner should own one.

What is a Steam Cleaner?

As the name suggests, a steam cleaner uses steam to clean your floors and carpets, mainly, but can also be used to clean your clothes, curtains, and a whole host of other areas and objects in your home.

On a personal note, as a father of an infant, my handheld steam cleaner is the easiest way to sanitize the toys my teething son loves to chew on. So, you may very well be surprised at what all you could clean with a steam cleaner.



What are the benefits of using steam to clean?

Let’s go over five of the most obvious benefits of using a steam cleaner to clean and sanitize your home.

  1. Hygienic Cleaning:

    Steam and the heat it produces can kill around 99% of the germs, bacteria and parasites that may be lurking around your home. That means that whatever surface you steam clean is completely disinfected and sanitized. More so than could ever be achieved by a vacuum or swiffer alone.

  2. Kills Almost Everything:

    Not only does steam kill germs and bacteria, but it can also kill pests and insects. This would include the microscopic pests you probably don’t even realize are there, such as dust mites. The steam is hot enough to kills ants, ticks, fleas and other common household pests. If you’re using a steam vacuum, it kills the pests with the steam, and then sucks up their remains.

  3. Chemical-Free Cleaning:

    The steam cleaners only use steam to clean and sanitize your homes. While some models may allow you to add chemical cleaners, they are not necessary to kill off the germs and bacteria that may be contributing to your dirty home. Maybe it’s just me, but the less chemicals used in my home, especially on the floors where my kids play, is nothing but a good thing. Not only does this help you clean your home, it helps establish a safer environment for your children and pets.

  4. Works Quickly / Saves You Time:

    Not only does the steam soften up the hard-to-clean stains, it also allows you to clean those trouble areas quicker and more efficiently. If you were to use a swiffer or traditional mop, you’d have to wait for it to dry, and possibly, re-clean areas that you may have used chemicals on.

  5. Air Purification:

    While this seems like a stretch, because of the filters that they use, some steam cleaners actually help clean the air as you clean the floors. While this is a benefit, it should be noted that an air purifier is still the most effective method at cleansing the air in your home. But, a steam cleaner can help supplement the air purification process, as can certain houseplants.

Bottom-Line:

The bottom-line here, is that a steam cleaner is a great way to safely and efficiently clean your home, especially the floors. But, you still have to figure out which type of steam cleaner is best for your situation. So, let’s now take a look at the differences between two of the most popular versions — steam vacuums and steam mops.

Steam Mop: The Pros & Cons

A steam mop is a common household appliance that helps you clean your carpets and floors without the use of harsh chemicals. Unlike a traditional mop that requires soap and detergents to clean the floors, steam mops utilize the heat of steam to sanitize, clean and disinfect the floors. Because the device uses steam, it is able to kill approximately 99% of the germs, bacteria and dust mites that may be on your floors, as well as clean up the dirt and grime that may be noticeable.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of steam mops to give you a better idea of what you can expect to get out of it.

The Pros:

  • No Bucket Required:

    Cleaning with a steam mop eliminates the need to have a container filled with water. The old-fashioned method of mopping would require a bucket of soapy water and a dirty mop that you would need to wring frequently. This is not the case with a steam mop. Simply fill up the canister with water and you cleaning your floors has never been easier.

  • Save Time & Energy:

    Piggybacking on the previous pro listed above, working with a steam mop will save you time, energy and, ultimately, help cut down on the fatigue you may experience while doing these necessary chores. Not only is a steam mop easier to use, it’s more sanitary and efficient than a conventional mop.

  • Environmentally Friendly & Healthier Home:

    Because a steam mop uses intense heat in the form of steam, you don’t need to use any chemicals to achieve a hygienic cleansing on your floors. Whereas, with a traditional mop or swiffer, you will need to mix detergents, bleach and other potentially dangerous chemicals to achieve the same level of cleanliness. And then follow-up with clean water, if you don’t want those chemicals lingering around.

  • Lightweight:

    A steam mop is a compact, small and lightweight appliance. While the sizes and shapes will vary from model to model, they are typically smaller than steam vacuums and/or a traditional (non-steam) vacuum cleaner.

  • Easier to Store:

    Because of its smaller size, a steam mop is very easy to store when not in use. It’s compact, lightweight dimensions allow you to store it in many areas of your home. Even those with little storage space available. The same cannot always be said about vacuum cleaners, whether they use steam or not.




The Cons:

  • Not Multi-Surface Friendly:

    Steam mops are typically designed to clean hardwood and tiled floors only. There is a myth out there that you cannot clean carpets with a steam mop, but that’s merely a myth. You may need to purchase an extra attachment or accessory, but there are many steam mops out there that can clean both carpets and hard floors. However, you cannot clean as many areas in your home as you can with a steam vacuum cleaner, including furniture, curtains and other upholstered items. At least, it’s not an easy task to accomplish.

  • Extra Prep Time:

    In order for you to get the most effective clean with your steam mop, it is strongly recommended that you sweep the floors before you start to mop. Unfortunately, this will increase the amount of work you have to do to achieve clean and sanitized floors.

  • Doesn’t Get As Hot:

    A steam mop gets the water/steam hot, however, the water does not heat-up as hot as other types of steam cleaners. Again, this will vary from model to model, but if you can’t achieve that necessary heat, you will have a slightly harder time achieving the same level of cleanliness that you could get with other types of steam cleaners.

Bottom-Line on Steam Mops:

The steam mop is a fantastic choice for anybody that is addicted to “swiffering” their floors. While they are designed for hardwood, tiled and laminate floors, there are plenty of models out there that can help you clean your carpet as well. Not only does its smaller size make it easier to store, it’s also easier to maneuver than its steam vacuum counterpart. And, on average, steam mops come with a lower price tag. It’s certainly better than a traditional mop, but depending on what all you want to clean, it may or may not be the best steam cleaner for your situation.

Steam Vacuums: The Pros & Cons

A steam vacuum, sometimes referred too as a steam vac, is basically a vacuum cleaner that has an extra feature that utilizes steam to help it clean and sanitize your floors more effectively than just vacuuming alone. Depending on the model that you get, it’s possible that you can clean more than just your floors, instead using it to clean your furniture, drapes and other upholstered furnishings in your home.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of steam vacuum cleaners.

The Pros:

  • Multi-Surface:

    Steam vacuums can be used on a multitude of surfaces, including carpet, wood floors, tiles, furniture, curtains and other upholstered furnishings in your home.

  • Multi-Dimensions:

    Just as it can be used to clean all sorts of surfaces, steam vacuums can also be used to clean both horizontally and vertically, which makes it useful when cleaning walls, windows and cars.

  • No Prep:

    Unlike other types of steam cleaners, it is not necessary for you to sweep the floors before you use it. The vacuum will suck up the dirt and debris, allowing the steam to clean and sanitize the floor. This not only saves you time, but also provides a deeper clean.

  • Environmentally Friendly:

    You don’t need to use any chemicals or other potentially dangerous substances on your floor. The steam will kill off 99% of germs, bacteria, insects and microscopic parasites that may be living on your floors.

  • Self-Contained:

    You don’t have to hook this appliance to your kitchen sink in order for it to drain. It has its own water tank contained on the device. The size of the tank will vary from unit to unit, and is something that should be taken into consideration when shopping.




The Cons:

  • Bulky:

    Even though steam vacuums get smaller and sleeker as the years go on, they still tend to be a bit bulky. Depending on the model you get, and the surface you are trying to clean, this bulkiness may make it a little more difficult to maneuver.

  • Expensive:

    When compared to a regular vacuum cleaner or a steam mop, a steam vacuum will likely be more expensive. This “con” is a bit anecdotal, as the prices will range based on the brand, model and features of the unit. But typically, they tend to have a higher price tag.

  • Noisy:

    Just like your average vacuum cleaner, a steam vacuum can be a bit noisy. At this point, the louder noise is expected with this type of cleaning appliance.

  • Hard to Store:

    Because of its large and bulky size, a steam vacuum may be hard to store. Again, this “con” is dependent on the size of the model you own and the amount of space available in your home. It may not be an issue for you, but is something that should be taken into consideration.

Bottom-line:

A steam vacuum is great for people with a variety of flooring, including a large amount of carpeted area, in their homes. It can thoroughly clean any flooring type, and do so without any previous prep work from you. It’s also a great device to help you clean other areas in your home, such as furniture and curtains.

Unfortunately, the bulky size may make it difficult for some to use and store. All in all, steam vacuums are extremely handy to have around, but may not be the best fit for everyone.


Steam Mop or Vacuum: What’s Right for You?

As you consider which steam cleaner is best for you and your situation, you have to think about what you plan on using it for. Do you have a lot of carpets to clean? Maybe that means a steam vacuum would be better for your household. Do you only have one room with carpets and the rest are laminates? Perhaps the mop would be better suited for such a household.

The fact of the matter is that both the steam vacuum and the steam mop come with their own set of pros, cons and uses. You have to consider your budget, what you need to clean, how often you would use it and how much time you would be able to focus on cleaning. These factors will all affect which type of steam cleaner is right for you. In the end, it is up to you, so you have to get what you think you will be happiest with.

Keep in mind, steam cleaning is a great way to really kill germs, pests and bacteria on your floors, not to mention help remove stuck on stains and other residue. If you’re consider getting a steam cleaner, make sure you weigh the pros and cons of the vacuum or the mop, and get whichever is right for you. Don’t rent another steam cleaner.


6 Ways An Extra Freezer Can Save You Time & Money

How an Extra Freezer Can Save You Money

Economic inflation is causing the price of food to skyrocket and families are looking for ways to reduce their monthly expenses in order to maintain the quality of life they have become accustomed to. One way that consumers can combat the ever-rising cost of food prices is to invest in an extra freezer.

Whether you have a chest freezer in your garage or an upright freezer down in the basement, the extra space you’ll gain to store your frozen goods will bring many benefits to you and your family.

Here are six reasons why having another freezer in your home is a practical investment that will not only save you time and money, but also promote a healthy lifestyle for you and your family.

1. Save Money on Grocery Bills

The average person goes grocery shopping one to two times a week. While there is nothing wrong with this, those frequent trips to the grocery store can quickly add up.

Having an extra freezer in the home will encourage you to take an in-depth look at your shopping habits and tweak them. By tweaking your shopping habits, you can save hundreds of dollars every month on groceries, without having to use coupons. You can also save more money on gas since you will not have to drive to the grocery store as often.

Extra Freezer Can Save You Money

2. Purchase Food in Bulk

Purchasing food in bulk quantities means that you can purchase better quality food for a cheaper price, or just save more money on the food you would’ve normally bought. Most importantly, meats and cheese have a lower price per unit when they are purchased in larger quantities.

By dividing your bulk food purchases and preparing them in advance, you will not have to go to the grocery store as often. Purchasing food in large quantities also gives you the flexibility to purchase food only when it is on sale to save additional money. Purchasing food in bulk sizes makes it easier to store and prepare meals in advance.




3. More Storage Room

The average person has a limited amount of storage space for their food. Less space means frequent trips to the grocery store. Frequent trips can actually put a significant dent in your budget, because there is always the risk of waste due to purchasing more food than you can immediately use.

With an extra freezer inside of your home, you will have enough freezer space to store your groceries. You can purchase large quantities of meats, fruits, and vegetables and freeze them for future use.

Common ways to store freezer foods include:

  • Place pre-measured portions of cut up vegetables and meats into a storage bags and containers for future oven and crock-pot meals.
  • Label all foods with the date they are placed into the freezer for storage.
  • Use small containers to prevent freezer burn and preserve quality.
  • Always cool hot foods prior to freezing them.

4. Better Time Management

One reason why so many people avoid cooking is that they simply do not have the time or energy to do so. With an additional freezer in the home, one can prepare meals in advance and freeze them. If you happen to have a free day such as Sunday, use that day to prepare your meals for the rest of the week.

Once the meals are frozen, you can pull a meal out each day and heat it up in the oven while you handle other tasks. It is not necessary for one to be in the kitchen the whole time their meal is cooking. Preparing your meals in advance will give you time to deal with other things and give you more personal freedom.

This will also help put an end to any impulse grocery shopping and restaurant trips.




5. Reduce Food Waste

How much food do you throw away each month? Have you ever noticed that some of the food you are tossing in the trash has not been touched since it came from the supermarket?

Have you noticed that wasted leftovers are a frequent occurrence in your home? Your lack of time and frequent trips to the grocery store cost you money that you don’t have to spend.

Instead of resolving to be a savvier shopper, start using an extra freezer in your home. That freezer will keep you from throwing away so much food each month, and keep you from having to repurchase items anytime soon. Leftovers can be frozen for future consumption. By freezing your meats, fruits, vegetables, and leftovers, you gain more time to use them.

Standard Times for Frozen Foods Include:

  • Ground meats can last up to three to four months in the freezer.
  • Cooked meats can be frozen up to four months.
  • Different cuts of meat can last up to a year in the freezer.
  • Fruits and vegetables can last as long as eight to twelve months in the freezer.
  • Soups and stews can be frozen anywhere from two to three months.
  • Cooked leftovers can be stored in the freezer for as long as two months.

6. Incorporate More Healthy Foods Into Meals

Prepackaged and processed foods may seem like they are convenient items to add to your grocery bill, however they cost more money and often have unhealthy ingredients. This can cause you to become dependent and addicted to certain foods, although they hold no nutritional value for you and your family.

Encourage healthy eating habits by purchasing healthier foods. Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk when they are in season, and freeze them for use throughout the rest of the year.

Save Time & Money with an Extra Freezer

It doesn’t matter what type of freezer you use, having this extra appliance can be a real life-saver for you and your family. From reducing waste to helping you prepare meals in advance to saving you time and money, there’s no doubt that having an extra freezer is guaranteed to improve the quality of your life.