Robot Vacuum

Robot Vacuums: Are They Really Worth It?

Robot vacuum cleaners have really taken off in the last few years and it’s fairly easy to understand why. With their ease of use and practical, hands-free action, homeowners are discovering the many advantages of purchasing this type of vacuum cleaner. But, are they really worth the higher cost? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you can expect from using one.

What Are Robot Vacuum Cleaners?

Robot vacuums are an autonomous device that is designed to clean carpet, tiles and hardwood floors of all dirt and debris, much like other types of vacuum cleaners. The main difference of robotic versions is their ability to minimize the amount of work hat homeowners need to do.

Upon their release in the late ’90s, robotic vacuums initially struggled with homeowners. However, after two decades of innovation and the continual rise in Smart Home devices, robot vacuums have never been more popular.

In recent years, there is no denying their spike of interest from homeowners, partly because they’ve become more affordable, but mostly because they’ve become more efficient at accomplishing their intended purpose — cleaning your floors without requiring you to put in much work.

The Benefits of Owning a Robot Vacuum

If you’re currently looking to buy a vacuum cleaner, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not considering a robotic vacuum. To help you determine if this is the right device for you, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits you can expect to receive from a robot vacuum.

1. Easy To Use

Perhaps the number one benefit of owning a robot vacuum cleaner is that they are extremely easy to use. Once the machine is programmed for a given space and the timer is set for a predetermined start time, the product virtually runs itself. Simply place the device on the floor in an appropriate starting spot and you’re good to go.

In addition, many models have been refined over the years to be self-regulating and nearly foolproof, meaning mishaps are becoming more and more unlikely as the technology evolves. That means you don’t have to worry about your vacuum malfunctioning or becoming stuck on a surface.

2. Incredibly Efficient

Today’s robot vacuum cleaners provide multiple tasks. They not only clean, they remember the layout of your space, are able to dump the dirt they collect, and then find their way back to the charging station.

Some higher-end models have advanced sensors and are also able to transition between bare floors and carpeted areas without manually switching settings. Other allow you to control them through a smartphone app.

The methodical, back-and-forth or circular motion of the machines also ensures that every inch of a floor or space is covered, which translates to a more thorough cleaning overall.

ECOVACS Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

Photo Credit: ECOVACS Robotics

3. Saves You Time

It is a universal experience that everyone’s lives have become increasingly busier in the 21st century. Indeed, multi-tasking has become paramount to, and part of, modern-day existence. One of the most desirable benefits of robot vacuum cleaners is that you don’t have to be present when the vacuum is operating.

Simply turn it on before you leave the house and it will do all the work for you while you’re out of the house. Therefore, time not spent manually vacuuming can be spent working, relaxing, playing with your kids, or doing whatever your heart desires. Indeed, the old adage that time is money certainly applies to this product as well.

4. Works on Different Surfaces

Another benefit of the robot vacuum cleaner is that it works on multiple types of surfaces, from carpets to wood floors to linoleum to concrete.

As mentioned, higher-end models are able to transition between different types of surfaces during the same cleaning cycle. With other models, you simply change the setting, place the product at a designated starting point, and set the programmer and timer as usual.

5. Detects All Levels of Dirt

Along with working on all types of surfaces, autonomous vacuum cleaners are able to tackle all types of dirt as well. From dust that has barely settled to deeply-embedded debris in your carpet, the vast majority of these vacuums are designed with increasingly powerful suction capabilities, despite their compact size.

Using built-in sensors, the machines also can detect the amount of cleaning required in different situations and will repeatedly go over an area until it is clean. This level of detail when it comes to cleaning is unmatched in other similar products.

6. Sets Boundaries

Another advantage of robot vacuum cleaners is their inherent ability to perform in — and only in — a given space that they are programmed for.

For instance, if you have children playing in another room while the product is operating, you can set virtual walls in the programming function to prevent the machine from going across doorways and other openings. Likewise, if you have pets alone at home while the machine is operating, you can easily limit the scope of the machine so it won’t frighten them.




7. Small, Compact & Easy to Store

A robot vacuum is much smaller than an upright or canister vacuum cleaner and, as such, can easily be stored in just about any space — in a closet, under a bed, or wherever you have room. This makes the product ideal for any homeowner that has limited storage space or is trying to downsize their belongings.

These smaller vacuums can also be easily transported from one location to another because of its size. You don’t need to clear out your trunk or borrow somebodies truck to move it from one place to another. As an added benefit, the small, low-slung nature of the product means it can get under furniture and reach areas that a regular vacuum cleaner cannot.

8. Makes Housecleaning Go Faster

Because a robot vacuum cleaner is self-sufficient and self-operating, it is an ideal product to help you maximize the amount of time spent on housecleaning.

Indeed, while your robotic vacuum is doing its thing on your floors, it frees up your time to work on cleaning other areas of the house. Working in tandem, you’ll be able to significantly cut down on the time it takes to clean your house. And, the result of more efficient cleaning is that you’ll be more likely to clean your house more thoroughly more often.

9. Ideal Solution for the Handicapped & Elderly

People with mobility issues, such as the elderly and handicapped, can truly benefit from owning a robot vacuum cleaner.

With its ease of use and hands-free operation, a robot vacuum cleaner can be a liberating product for this demographic, who would otherwise be forced to hire house-cleaners at a much greater expense. In addition, the money saved that would otherwise be spent on doing so makes this a product worth investing in.

10. Economical and Cost-Efficient

Because robotic vacuum cleaners have been on the market for a number of years, both the price and features have improved significantly, and continue to improve as the years roll by.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent product that does the job right for your particular needs. Starting at approximately $150, with high-end models running upwards of $1,000 to $1,500, there is something for everyone’s budget when it comes to this type of product.

Takeaways

When considering the reasons why you should buy a robot vacuum cleaner, the previous ten benefits should be at the top of your list. If you can see your life improving with 8, 5, or even 1 of the benefits outlined, then purchasing a robot vacuum cleaner is worth it and then some. For efficient and effective cleaning power, a robot vacuum cleaner is becoming the hands-down choice among many homeowners, businesses, and commercial establishments alike.


Frozen Pipe

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

If you live in a cold climate, you probably know all too well the dilemma of frozen pipes. If you’re new to cold climates or, perhaps, new to owning a house, it’s wise to learn all you can about what you should do in the event that your pipes freeze during a cold winter chill.

To help you prepare and protect your home, let’s take a look at why pipes freeze, as well as some simple prevention tips that every homeowner should know as the mercury starts to drop.

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

The reason behind why pipes freeze is likely self-explanatory. When the temperature outside your home drops too low, the water inside the pipes will freeze.

This typically starts with any spigots, faucets or pipes that are exposed to the elements. However, it can have an effect on areas in your home this is not heated or just poorly insulated. Upon hitting this frozen state, the water inside your pipes and spigots will expand, which may cause it to burst. This is where things can go really bad for homeowners, possibly leading to a whole host of other problems.




How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

There are many preventative measures that a homeowner can take to protect their home from a frozen pipe. There’s no single “best” way to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Instead, familiarize yourself with the tips below and use them in conjunction with each other. This will go a long way to make sure your pipes don’t freeze and, hopefully, prevent them from bursting and flooding your home.

1. Add Insulation to Exposed Pipes & Fixtures

By far, this is the easiest thing that a homeowner can do to protect their pipes. By adding a layer of insulation to all plumbing fixtures that are exposed, especially pipes and spigots, you can help prevent them from becoming too cold.

Most homeowners will initially think of the pipes and faucets on the exterior of their home. But, don’t forget about any pipes that are exposed in areas of your home that are not heated or well-insulated. This could be your garage or a basement, but also any of the forgotten crawl spaces. All of the pipes in these areas should be insulated, too.

There are lots of types of insulation that can help you here, all of which are available at home improvement stores or online.

Faucet Cover

Faucet Covers

These are a great way to protect outdoor spigots or faucets. Typically, a faucet cover is only a couple of bucks and they’re incredibly easy to install. If possible, opt for the faucet covers that have a hard plastic shell, as these are a bit more durable and will last for many seasons.

Foam Pipe Insulation

Resembling the colorful “noodles” you kids playing with in a swimming pool, these are pieces of foam that are designed to wrap completely around and insulate all exposed pipes. Extremely affordable and easy to install. The best part about this type of insulation, is that it goes far beyond preventing pipes from freezing, it will actually help cut your energy costs and prevent those same pipes from condensation when the temperature goes back up in the summer.

Pipe Wrap Tape

Very similar to the foam insulation above, but instead of a giant noodle of foam, this type of pipe insulation looks more like a roll of duct tape. You’ll apply it much like you would tape, too. Simply wrap it around any exposed areas and it will add a layer of thermal insulation to prevent it from freezing. Unfortunately, pipe wrap tape is going to be one of the more expensive options.

DIY Insulation

Sometimes, a winter storm will creep up on you and leave you with little to no time to get the necessary supplies or insulation. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry, there are still some easy and free insulation options that will protect your pipes.

Perhaps, the oldest method of protecting your pipes. Simply take some old rags or towels, and wrap them around any exposed pipes, spigots or other areas that you think is susceptible to freezing.

Make sure it’s wrapped up tight and won’t come loose during a storm. The best option is to wrap duct tape around the towel. Another option is to use another towel, tying it into a knot around the “insulating” layer to ensure it stays in place.

2. Use Heat Tape to Regulate Temperature

The name “heating tape” can be a bit of a misnomer. While there are different types available, some of which do have adhesive properties, most homeowners will think of this as a type of extension cord or cable.

The heating cable is then strategically wrapped around any exposed pipes. Once installed, simply plug in and turn on. The cord will emit a small amount of heat that will help regulate the temperature around the pipe, thus preventing from freezing.

When used properly, this can be a great way to make sure your pipes never freeze. Unfortunately, they are much more expensive then other types of pipe insulation. Additionally, you also need to be mindful of the type of heating cable you use, as well as the material your pipes are made of.

3. Protective Measures Inside Your Home

For pipes and spigots located on the exterior of your, insulation is about the most you can do to protect them from freezing. However, when it comes to the inside of your home, there are many things that a homeowner can do.

Frozen Water Spigot
  • Maintain Temperature:

    The number one thing you should do is regulate and maintain a steady temperature inside your home. Try to keep it above 60°F at all times, even if you’re not home at the time.

  • Heat & Insulate Exposed Areas:

    If you have a basement, garage or crawl space with an exposed water line, then you may want to consider using a small heater in that area to help prevent the temperature from dropping to a level that will cause water inside to freeze. Of course, a heater should only be used if it is deemed safe by the homeowner. Insulating pipes will be the best prevention, but a heater may also help. The very least you can do, at least for a garage, is keep the door closed and insulated.

  • Weather Sealing Doors & Windows:

    This is something that every homeowner should consider, just for the energy savings alone. No matter how extreme the temperature is outside, this is one easy DIY project that will help you regulate the temperature inside. It’ll help prevent pipes from freezing in the cold winter, as well as help your air conditioner keep the room cool in the hot summer.

  • Heat Circulation Within Cabinetry:

    Inside your home, it’s not uncommon for pipes to be exposed inside the cabinetry. They may be hard to spot, but there they are. Look inside your cabinets and if you see pipes, leave those doors open to ensure that the heat in the room can circulate to those areas.

4. Shut-Off Water Supply & Drain

Your pipes won’t burst if there’s no water inside to expand. Therefore, it would be wise to shut-off the water supply for any pipes that lead to an exterior spigot, as well as drain all the water out.

This would include:

If the weather hits extreme temperatures, then you may also want to drain the water out of any appliances that have a water supply, such as your hot water heater or fridge. This is especially true if they are located in a basement or garage.




5. Let Your Faucet Drip

The most popular way to prevent pipes from freezing, is to allow the faucets in your home to slowly drip water. Sure, it’s a gross waste of water, but it works. This is much better than dealing with a burst pipe.

The slow drip works because it helps moderate the water pressure inside your pipes. This allows the water to keep flowing and pressure lowered, all of which makes it more difficult to freeze.

6. Wash Your Dishes & Clothes (While You Sleep)

Most dishwashers and washing machines have an option that allow you to delay the wash-cycle for a few hours. If you have one of these, schedule a load to start in the middle of the night. This is when the temperatures will be at their lowest, and when your pipes have the highest risk of freezing.

This follows the same principles of a dripping faucet, but instead, you’re putting some of the appliances around your home to work (and not completely wasting water).

7. Use Ice Maker to Make Ice

While it sounds counter-intuitive to make ice when the weather is creating ice everywhere else, this little trick works quite well.

Your refrigerator makes ice when it detects that it’s needed. So, empty all the ice out of it. This will cause your fridge to make more ice, thus using more water and helping relieve the pressure that may lead to your pipes freezing.

Keep A Close Eye On Your Pipes

Knowing how to prevent frozen pipes in your home and yard is only part of the battle. If you’re in the home when the cold weather strikes, it’s wise to also keep a close eye on your plumbing.

This includes all faucets inside and outside of your home. Turn them on occasionally, inspecting that the pressure of water is working properly. This should be the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do before you go to sleep.

Visually inspect occasionally to ensure that the preventive measures listed above are working. You want to be able to catch frozen pipes as soon as possible, so you can take the necessary steps to thaw them.


Bag of Leaves in Yard

13 Tasks Every Homeowner Should Complete Before Winter Rolls In

How to Prepare Your House for Fall & Winter

Fall conjures images of sunset-colored foliage, carved pumpkins and cinnamon in the air. Kids swap boogie boards for backpacks and moms and dads breathe a wistful sigh of relief. But shopping for pencil cases and Halloween candy are not the only important tasks you’ll do this fall.

Below, you’ll find a list of not-so-spooky house care tips that every homeowner should complete during autumn to help keep your home safe and warm all season long.

1. Get Ready for Fall(ing Leaves)

Watching the leaves change from vivid green to amber and gold is one of the highlights of the season. Raking up those leaves once they’ve fallen from the tree is not. Perhaps, composting or mulching all the leaves is your preferred route. But, if you plan on removing them from the yard, you’ll need to have the right tools ready to clear the lawn of debris.

At the very least, you’ll need a good rake to help clear the leaves from your yard. But, if you can get your hands on a leaf blower, you can save a ton of time. And don’t forget to stock up on large bags to help remove the ever-growing pile.

2. Branch Out

Aging trees can pose another threat as the weather gets colder and the winds start to kick up. If the branches of your trees are directly over your home, then you may have a more elevated risk of damage in the event that large branches break off and fall.

If this unfortunate scenario happens to your home, the damage of falling branches could range from minor to quite severe. Common issues may as simple as a few damaged shingles or shattered windows, but when it comes to heavy branches, you may see dented / blocked gutters, or a complete compromise of the integrity of your roof.

This is why it’s important for all homeowners to keep a close eye on the trees surrounding your property. Frequently, inspect them for potential weakness, and strategically trim them as soon as they start to get too close to your home. Use a chainsaw or hire a professional to remove branches that are too close to the house or those that appear to be in danger of falling.

3. Clean Your Gutters

Inspect your roof throughout the season to remove any leaves and branches that have accumulated there. As the leaves fall and pile up in your yard, keep in mind that the same is happening on top of your roof.

If the leaves are not cleared out in a timely manner, the accumulation of leaves or branches may prevent water from draining properly, and sometimes can create a “dam” that prevents water from draining entirely. Dammed up water may damage exterior surfaces and create a leak in your roof, window or walls. As every homeowner knows, a leak in the roof can cause all sort of other damage to items inside your home, possibly even creating an environment that allows mold to grow.

Check your rain-gutters, downspouts and other drainage items frequently to be sure they aren’t blocked by fallen leaves, debris or birds nests.

4. Repair Any Roof Leaks

A minor roof leak can become a major problem as the temperature starts to drop. Frozen water or the weight of snow can exacerbate minor flaws and leave your home vulnerable to major water damage.

This is precisely why every homeowner should make it a habit to climb up on their roof, grab a pair of binoculars or contact a roofing company to do a thorough inspection. Check the shingles and metal flashings for any signs of damage, especially on the ridge and in valleys or around vents and chimneys.

When it comes to roofs, a small amount of preemptive care can save you from an enormous amount of damage down the road.

5. Prepare Your Lawn

When the weather turns colder and the snow is near, some homeowners may breathe a sign of relief knowing that they won’t have to mow their lawn again until spring. For the most part, this is generally true. You will, indeed, have less lawn care responsibilities.

However, before you stash away your lawnmower and turn your grass over to the cold, it’s important to fertilize your lawn one last time. Spread a layer before the ground freezes, and your lawn will wake up in the spring nourished and ready to grow green once again. There’s no better way to start the spring season.

You will also want to winterize your sprinkler system. The last thing you want is to discover that it needs repairs come spring.

6. Walk the Walk. Fill the Crack.

Summer showers and growing roots may have damaged your driveway, or walkway. The wise homeowner will take a few minutes to check if their concrete or pavers have shifted, become loose or are somewhat uneven.

This simple task can prevent a falling hazard throughout all seasons of the year, but are increasingly treacherous in wet or icy weather. No matter how small the crack may seem, if you can spot and fill it before the winter chill, you have a better chance to prevent water from seeping in and freezing when the temperature drops. Once this happens, the cracks may expand and create an even more treacherous hazard as time goes on.

7. Dodge the Draft

Now that you have the windows down and you’re enjoying the cold weather, don’t forget that you need to prepare for the (even) colder temperatures to come.

Cold drafts inside your home can be a real drag. Buy some caulk, and seal cracks and gaps around windows or doors to keep your home energy efficient throughout the year. Check weather stripping for deterioration and replace or repair any sections that look damaged. Window treatments can also reduce energy loss, so consider installing insulating shades, curtains or blinds.

These small improvements are easy DIY projects that can save a ton of money for all homeowners. But this is especially true for those that live in areas that experience extreme temperatures.

8. Get Ready to Heat Things Up

You can also prepare for the cooler, drier winter weather by inspecting and performing routine maintenance on the equipment that heats your home. Perhaps the most important preparation that a homeowner can do to prepare for winter.

If you use a gas heater, hire a professional to inspect it for leaks and ensure it’s ready to warm your home in an efficient and safe manner. A “leaky” heater is not only inefficient but may also fill the air you breathe with dangerous poison. And the wise homeowner knows that they should never compromise their indoor air quality.

9. Change Your Air Filter

The air filter in your home needs to be changed on a frequent basis. While we may sometimes forget or neglect to change the air filter, the dawn of Autumn is a great time to change all the filters in your home.

Not only will this improve your indoor air quality, but it will also increase the overall efficiency of your furnace. If you’ve noticed screeches or whines coming from the belt, or maybe even erratic behavior from your furnace, you may want to have it inspected for blockages or problems with the burners, blower motor or thermostat.

It’s better to do this at the beginning of the Fall season, than to wait until the winter chill sets in.

10. Clear the Chimney (And Fire When Ready)

If you use a wood fireplace in your home, it would be wise to inspect the chimney to ensure there are no blockages or venting problems before you light the first fire of the season. Have your chimney swept, cleaned and cleared before you start any fires inside your home.

For the homeowner looking to save a bit of money, consider adding an energy-efficient fireplace insert or infrared heater to help provide heat to your room while slashing your overall heating bills.

This is also a great time to conduct routine other “home safety” measures, such as replacing the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.

11. Chill Out. (And Save Money)

After a long, hot summer, the cool weather can be a welcome relief to your body… as well as your budget. You can finally turn down your air conditioner, but may not need heat for a few more months.

Use the colder weather as an opportunity to create a comfortable temperature inside your home. Leave your windows open at night and enjoy the crisp chill of the Fall evening. Strategically tweak your thermostat, enjoy the mild temperatures and think of all the money you’ll save.

12. Add Welcoming Fall Decor

As the Fall season rolls in, there is no better time to change the elements of your interior decor to suit the season and welcome you as you come home.

  • Interior Fall Decor — Whether it’s autumn leaves, orange pumpkins or Fall candles, there are some very easy and cheap improvements that every homeowner can make to add a bit of Fall flair to their home.
  • Exterior Fall Decor — You might add outdoor lanterns along your walkway or fence to welcome visitors as the days become shorter and darkness comes on earlier. Extra light can be great for guiding trick-or-treaters as well. A seasonal doormat, large pumpkins and harvest themed elements create a warm welcome despite the cold.

Embrace the season with these simple upgrades to your decor.

13. Contain Yourself (And Declutter Your Mornings)

While your house may stay cleaner once the kids are back in school, odds are your entryway will not.

Backpacks, jackets and muddy shoes can quickly pile up around your main entrance, creating a mess, as well as a hazard. Now is a good time to add a mudroom bench with hooks to hold all the backpacks and outerwear coming in from the cold day. Extra storage for shoes and other gear will also help cut the clutter and keep your house looking neat. This will all go a long way to getting you ready for the morning rush.


Final Thoughts

Leaves, lawns, furnaces and fires all require attention as the cold weather starts to set in. And while this may be an intimidating task at first glance, getting your home ready for fall doesn’t have to be scary. These simple tips will make fall house care as easy as pumpkin pie.

Downsizing

9 Reasons Why Downsizing Your Home Makes Sense

When we consider the benefits of downsizing, we need to go far beyond the idea that the term “downsizing” simply refers to just moving into smaller living quarters. That’s not a fair definition for homeowners to go by.

What Is Downsizing?

Downsizing can be defined as an intentional reduction in size. This could be as simple as the amount of belongings you own or the size house you live in.

However, we would suggest that it is larger than that. Downsizing is a complete overhaul in your lifestyle. It’s more than just a smaller home, it’s a move towards the simple life.

For the purposes of this article, we will be examining all the reasons why your average homeowner should consider this change in mindset, the benefits of downsizing and how the simple life can bring happiness to your front door.

The Benefits You Should Expect by Downsizing

Once we focus on the totality of downsizing, the benefits increase exponentially. From the testimonials of many who have discovered the wonders of downsizing, here are nine benefits that they smile about.

1. Less Stress, More Happiness

This is a huge benefit that cannot be overestimated. From losing a large mortgage on an oversized house to not running around an urban area trying to have the family involved in so many different activities, downsizing brings less stress, which means more serenity and a much greater chance of actually enjoying life.

You may also will find yourself arriving early for appointments, not always being late. In short, you will be more on top of your weekly schedule, not sweating bullets as you pull up to the dentist 20 minutes late. Another related perk is the ability to find lost items more quickly. With less stuff to clutter your living room, you can locate your keys and purse much faster. Who can put a price tag on that stress-buster?

2. Saving Money on Monthly Expenses

When possessions are jettisoned, one has to spend far less on maintaining them. When the McMansion is left behind, so is the monster mortgage payment.

Downsizing Saves Money

It is almost impossible to downsize and not be in a better position financially. Many people who have downsized have experienced an immediate windfall as they have money left over from the sale of their previous home.

Others see a better balance each month even if they don’t move, as one car needs regular maintenance, not three, as the gasoline bill dips precipitously when the family’s schedule is de-cluttered.

Whether you see this improved picture clearly during Day One of downsizing or after six months, it will be clear at one time or another. Enjoy the view.

3. Better for the Environment

Smaller house equals fewer trees felled. Less driving equals less CO2 that you put into the air. Fewer or smaller appliances equal less electricity consumed. The list can go on and on. You will be the “green” person you’ve always aspired to be without even trying!

4. More Energy to Focus on What Matters

Someone once wrote that the opposite of happiness is boredom. That statement can be debated, but the weariness that comes with routine is well known by many. Downsizing your life could very well push you out of your comfort zone. That change very well may energize you as you re-create your life and become a happier, less stressful person.

As you see the benefits on this list take shape, you will become even more excited about the possibilities of your new minimalistic lifestyle, and rather than sleeping away your precious spare time, you will want to be spending your new free time in constructive ways.




5. More Time to Do What You Want

Do you have any idea how much time you will gain every Saturday when you don’t have to clean so many rooms? You can easily add another hour or two instantly to the weekend!

You will have more time to pursue the passions you’ve always wanted to develop, from painting to reading, from traveling to tennis. Less time cleaning, less time driving, less time shopping — the hours add up rapidly and you will find new joy as you are able to spend more time on pursuits that bring you joy.

6. Fewer Temptations to Buy Stuff

This might not sound like a benefit, but when you really think about it, it does have many upsides.

9 Reasons Why You Should Downsize

Less space means less temptation to buy new items and clutter your living space. Downsizing your living space also means less cleaning.

In another benefit that apartment dwellers have long understood, it can also cause you to spend more time outside, which always equates to better health.

7. Opportunity to Get To Know Your Neighbors

It has been said that when people live on top of each other, they tend to keep to themselves. That necessary social distance in urban areas is true, but it is also true that the opportunities to get to know your neighbors and local shopkeepers multiply when you live in smaller spaces.

Many Americans, in particular, have traditionally sought to live on large lots, separated from other human beings. They have ended up with huge yards to mow, mortgages to pay and a gnawing sense of loneliness.

Of course, not all apartment dwellers revel in community spirit, but don’t be surprised if you see the same people again and again and begin to build a relationship with them. It’s much easier in an apartment or condo building, or in townhouses that adjoin without giant lots in between.

8. More Control On Your Everyday Life

This benefit comes up again and again as veteran downsizers talk about their new way of life.

They offer perspectives such as, “My stuff used to run me. Now, I control my stuff,” or “I was a slave to my possessions. Now, I’m free.” A more open schedule, a less cluttered living space and life, and a realignment that puts you in the driver’s seat–not your things–can surprise you with a far greater sense of control than you’ve previously experienced in life.

9. The Freedom to Live Simple

Whether that freedom comes from you dictating your schedule, not the other way around, or simply feeling liberated by getting rid of junk that has cluttered your mind and life, downsizers all revel in the new freedom that they feel.

Add to this list as you downsize. Fill in the gaps that we may have missed in the list above. Begin the great adventure of living with less and gaining far more in return than you anticipated.

Have you downsized your life? What benefits did you experience? Let’s hear them in the comments below.


Room Air Conditioner

Room Air Conditioners: How to Cool a Room Without Central AC

Many homeowners use a central air conditioner to control the temperature in their home, but this often comes with a hefty price tag and the requirement of cooling every room within your home. But, what if you can’t afford a central AC, or you just want to cool down one room? That’s where a room air conditioner can help.

Finding the best room ac unit for your home will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the space, your budget, and your personal preferences.

Below, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions people have about room air conditioners, as well as discuss the pros and cons of the different types available for you to choose from.

Let’s get started.

What Is A Room Air Conditioner?

A room air conditioner is any type of appliance that is designed to cool down an individual space, such as a room in a home or office.

Cost-effective and energy-efficient, this genre of air conditioners can be a suitable alternative for homeowners that don’t want to, or are unable to, invest in central air conditioning.




Are They Just For Small Rooms?

No. While they are commonly associated with smaller spaces, room air conditioners are available in a wide variety of sizes.

It’s important to know the size of the square footage of the room you’re looking to cool, and then calculate the amount of BTUs needed for that size space. You will also need to decide the type of AC unit that would work best for your room, which we detail down below.


Types of Room Air Conditioners

Now that we have a better idea of what a room air conditioner is, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of the different types you will choose from. Consider these pros and cons as you decide which air conditioner is best for your room.

Window Air Conditioners

Window AC Unit

Probably the most familiar type of room air conditioner, window cooling units are a great option for controlling the temperature within single rooms. There are many benefits to this type of AC unit. They are very affordable to purchase, with hundreds of models available from the most reputable brands in the space.

This low price point goes beyond the initial purchase, too. With a reputation of being extremely energy-efficient, you can count on saving even more money on your monthly energy bills. These costs can be further extended if you get an AC unit that has been rated by EnergyStar.

Window AC units come in just about every size, so no matter how large or small your room may be, it’s not hard to find one with the right amount of BTUs for your space.

The main downside of this type of room air conditioner is the installation requirements.

To work properly, window AC units do require permanent installation through a window that is partially open. This will allow the AC unit to vent hot air from the room. Without proper ventilation, the air conditioner would not be able to cool your room to your desired temperature.

While not an overly difficult task, installing a window air conditioner does present a challenge for many homeowners. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to install your AC unit, you will have to hire somebody to complete the task. This is an additional cost that many homeowners don’t consider at the time of purchase.

The Pros:

  • Affordable to buy and use.
  • Very energy-efficient.
  • Lots of options to choose from.

The Cons:

  • Installation may be difficult.
  • May need to hire someone to install AC unit.
  • Fixed location may require multiple units.

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable AC Units

In recent years, portable air conditioners have exploded in popularity. Likely because this type of AC unit is another great option for cooling individual rooms.

Portable AC units work just as their window counterparts, but offer the convenience of being light enough to move from room-to-room. Because they don’t require permanent installation, you have more flexibility in cooling strategic areas within your home.

Portable Air Conditioning

Portable Air Conditioner FAQs

Popular for cooling single rooms, here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about portable air conditioners.

Learn More

Installing a portable air conditioner is a very simple task that should pose minimal issues for homeowners. Simply click the window vent kit in place, and attach the hose(s) that come out of the back of the AC unit. This is how it vents hot air from the room.

Depending on the brand and model you buy, portable AC units are an affordable option with a large number of units to cool rooms of all sizes. However, the purchase price of a portable AC unit will be slightly higher than window units. But, because they are portable, you may only need to purchase one unit to cool various rooms.

The main downside of using a portable unit is that it will not be as energy-efficient as other types of room air conditioners on this list. At this time, you will not be able to find any portable air conditioners that have earned an EnergyStar rating.

The Pros

  • Affordable to buy.
  • Very simple installation.
  • Portable and easy to roll from room-to-room.

The Cons

  • Not as energy efficient as other room AC units.
  • Some units will be louder than others.

Ductless Air Conditioners (Mini-Split)

Ductless AC Unit

Ductless air conditioners, also known as a mini-split, are great at cooling large, open spaces. While they are not cheap to purchase, this type of room air conditioner is designed to work much like a central AC unit, qualifying it as one of the best alternatives for homeowners.

Consisting of a condenser outside that connects to the unit indoors, ductless AC units are mounted high up on your wall in an area that allows you to maximize the circulation of cool air across the entirety of your room. They take up zero floor space and are extremely quiet, allowing it to largely blend into the room.

Out of all the room air conditioners on this list, ductless AC units are going to be the most efficient. They use very little energy to operate, allowing you to cut your monthly energy costs by a significant amount. You can also find lots of ductless systems that are designed to cool multiple rooms, giving you maximum temperature control across your home.

Similar to buying a central AC unit for your home, the main downsides of ductless air conditioners are the overall cost of purchasing and installing it.

Unfortunately, the price tag for a ductless mini-split system is going to be much steeper than other room AC units. And once you get over the initial sticker shock, you also have to consider the cost of finding and hiring a qualified technician that can install it for you.

The Pros:

  • Surprisingly quiet.
  • Very efficient with minimal costs to use.
  • Doesn’t take up any floor space.
  • One unit can cool multiple rooms.

The Cons:

  • Expensive to purchase.
  • Need to hire a qualified technician to install.

Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners

Wall AC Unit

With a similar design as window units, this type of air conditioner is installed directly into your wall of the room you want to cool.

Wall air conditioners are the least popular type of unit on this list, and for good reasons. Most homeowners don’t want to spend the time and money to cut a hole into the side of their home, just to cool one room.

If you’re going to spend that amount of money, it would probably be wiser to invest into a ductless AC that doesn’t require a large hole in your home. It’s also going to be much easier to install and use a portable or window unit.

Despite these downsides, through-the-wall air conditioners are engineered to be slightly different than window units. This allows them to be slightly more efficient at cooling large, open rooms.

Wall AC units are also a great fit for cooling small sheds, workshops or other areas that don’t have a window and have little downside to cutting a hole in the wall.

It is important to remember that the difference between a window and through wall air conditioner does not lie in where they are positioned but in their structure. Through wall air conditioners vent warm air only through the back of the unit while window air conditioners work from both sides. These room air conditioners are not interchangeable.

The Pros:

  • Efficient and powerful.
  • Doesn’t take up any floor space.
  • Great at cooling large rooms and open spaces.

The Cons:

  • Potentially expensive to install.
  • Requires a hole in the wall.

Finding the Best AC For Your Room

Now that you have a better idea of what types of air conditioners can be used to cool a single room, let’s close this out with a few final considerations to help you find the best AC for your room.

No matter what you decide to buy, or how much it costs, this is a big decision that will affect your comfort level on a daily basis. It’s important to look at all the angles before you buy the first one you come across.




Ask yourself these questions:
  • What is the square footage of your room?
  • How much are you willing to spend?
  • Are you willing and able to do the installation?

Once you have the answer to these questions, you’ll be in a position to make an informed decision and find the best air conditioner for your room.

Window vs. Portable

Most homeowners will find that a window air conditioner is the most affordable and easiest to buy, but they may be hesitant when it comes to the installation process. If this is the scenario you find yourself in, then perhaps a portable air conditioner is the better option for you. Just know, that you’d be sacrificing energy efficiency for convenient installation.

Ductless = The Closest to Central AC

If you want to get closely replicate what you have with central air conditioning, then your best bet would be to buy a ductless air conditioner. But, they are more expensive to buy, and considerably more difficult to install. However, long-term, they are a great way to cool a room.

Any questions or thoughts? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.


Portable AC Unit

9 Tips to Using a Portable Air Conditioner

How to Get the Most Out of Your Portable AC

Like any new appliance you bring into your home, a portable air conditioner requires a little bit of getting used to, plus the typical cleaning and maintenance to ensure it is operating to its full potential. Regardless of where you install it or how often you use it, getting to know your indoor air conditioner and how it works within each room its placed, will go a long way in helping you get the most out of it.

To help you learn how to use your portable air conditioner, we’ve but together the following tips. These tips are designed to help you increase its efficiency, longevity and overall cooling ability. For more technical info, please refer to our list of FAQs here, or the user manual that came with your portable AC.

1. Strategic Installation

Be mindful of where your portable AC is installed. While not always avoidable, there are certainly some areas of your home that you should try to stay away from when you’re installing your unit.

Portable Air Conditioner

Sunny Spots

If possible, you will want to try to avoid placing the portable AC in an area that gets a lot of afternoon sun. If the heat of the sun is bearing down on your AC, it will likely need to work harder to keep the room at your desired temperature. This extra work may eventually lead to a shorter lifespan.

Humid Spots

It’s also wise to install and use your air conditioning unit in rooms that have low humidity levels. This is because the higher the relative humidity is inside the room, and directly surrounding the AC unit, the more condensation it will create.

Depending on the type of portable air conditioner you are using, this extra condensation may increase the frequency that it needs to be drained and cleaned. Failing to remove this will, ultimately, lead to the unit malfunctioning.

2. The Amount of Space Between Walls

One of the main benefits of this type of air conditioner is the fact that it’s portable. This gives you quite a bit of flexibility in the location of your home that it can be installed.




However, it’s still important to pay close attention to where you place it.

No matter where you decide to install the appliance, it is very important that you leave adequate space between the walls and the unit itself. Failing to leave enough space will limit the airflow. When your unit is unable to draw in enough air while it is in use, its output is reduced. As a result, this reduced output makes it harder for your portable air conditioner to cool the room to your desired temperature.

Refer to the user manual to know how much space the manufacturer recommends for your specific model.

3. Ventilation

No matter what type of room air conditioner you are using in your home, ventilation is always going to be one of the most important factors for ensuring optimal operation and a long life of the appliance.

Window Vent Kit for Portable AC

The importance of ventilation cannot be overstated, but it’s especially important when it comes to portable air conditioners.

Proper ventilation will direct the hot air from the compressor and out of the room. This will help prevent your AC unit from overheating, as well as keep the temperature inside your room from going up.

Use the Right Vent Kit For Your Window

Most portable AC units come with a window ventilation kit that’s designed to fit the majority of “standard-sized windows” in homes. However, depending on when your home was built, as well as the region you live or the style of your home, the definition of a “standard-size window” will vary.

It is unlikely that you should have any issues getting your ventilation kit to fit the windows in your home, but if you do, there are other ventilation options available, including kits for sliding doors and drop ceilings.

4. Keep the Exhaust Hose Straight

Now that we have ensured that the portable AC is properly ventilated, let’s now take a look at the exhaust hose. You will want to limit the amount of twists, kinks or coils in the hose leading from the unit to the window. The exhaust hose should remain straight with minimal contortions.

Portable Air Conditioning

How to Save Money With Portable AC’s

If you’re clever in how you use your portable air conditioner, they can save you a lot of money. Here’s how you can use them to lower your energy bills.

Learn How

It is strongly recommended that you minimize any kinks in the exhaust hose that will limit the airflow or reduce ventilation. This may require a shorter exhaust hose, or just simply being mindful of where/how it is installed.

What Happens If the Exhaust Hose is Twisted?

When you have a long and twisted exhaust hose attached to your portable air conditioner, the unit has a harder time with ventilation.

As a result, the moisture in the air being expelled will start to accumulate inside the hose, and eventually start to trickle back down into the unit itself. If this happens, the cooling efficiency and the lifespan of the air conditioner may be reduced.

5. Clean & Replace Filter Regularly

This is probably pretty obvious to all homeowners, but the filter in your air conditioner should be changed regularly. This is not only important to ensure proper operation and cooling, but is essential for maintaining your indoor air quality.

How Often Should I Change It?

The frequency that you clean or change your filter all depends on how often you use the AC unit. It would be wise to inspect it every 6 to 8 weeks, just to make sure that it is in good condition. If your home is dusty, or if someone in your family is prone to allergies, then you may want to consider cleaning or replacing your filter more often.




What Happens If I Don’t Change the Filter?

If you’re using a clogged or dirty air filter, it may reduce the intake of the unit which may lead to a variety of problems.

These problems include:
  • Diminishes the efficiency, costs more to use.
  • Harder to reach and maintain desired temperature.
  • Forces the AC unit to work harder than it should.
  • May compromise indoor air quality.

Many of these issues will only occur when the filter is neglected for an extended period of time, but nonetheless, this shows why it’s important for all homeowners to regularly check and replace the filters in their air conditioners.

What If My Portable AC Has Multiple Filters?

Depending on the brand and model of the portable AC you’re using in your home, you may have multiple filters inside. All portable AC units come with a pre-filter, and don’t always require the use of other filters.

While these pre-filters are great at reducing large particulates that may be circulating in your air, they do very little for the common allergens that are known to lead to health complications, such as mold spores or pet dander. This is why it’s recommended that you use another type of air filter in your portable air conditioner.

6. Keep it Clean

Keeping your portable air conditioner clean is one of the easiest ways you can keep the device working properly, and it doesn’t take much work to complete.

AC Coil Cleaner

The Simple Clean:

Simply wipe down the outside of the unit down with a damp cloth. Avoid using excessively hot water or any sort of cleaning chemicals that may damage the exterior.

How Often? Do this every 4-6 weeks.

The Deep Clean:

Unplug your unit and clean the condenser coils to increase its efficiency. You can either purchase a coil cleaner to use or make your own cleaning solution with water and lemon juice. Spray the solution on the coils and remove after a few minutes.

How Often? Do this once a year.

The Professional Clean:

Sometimes, even when you clean the unit on a regular basis, you may require professional service to improve its functionality. If you experience issues with your unit that you are unable to resolve on your own, don’t hesitate to contact a professional air conditioning service to clean and inspect the appliance.

How Often? As needed.

7. Store it Properly When Not In Use

When you have no plans on using your portable air conditioner, it is recommended that you store it away to keep it safe for the next season. Try to avoid storing your AC unit in an area that has extreme temperatures, such as the garage or patio.

Checklist for Storing Portable Air Conditioners

Before you disassemble your AC unit and put it away into storage, it is strongly recommended that you do the following tasks.

  • All water has been drained from the unit.
  • Turn unit on fan setting to help the inside dry completely.
  • Deep clean all other parts and allow to dry, specifically exhaust hoses and drain pains.
  • Compress the exhaust hose to prevent damage while in storage.
  • Cover the unit with a sheet to prevent dust or other debris from accumulating.
  • Store your portable AC indoors in a climate-controlled area.

8. Electrical Requirements

When it comes to the power source for portable air conditioners, most homeowners shouldn’t have any issues. The vast majority of these AC units are designed to operate on the standard 120v electrical outlets commonly found in homes.




This is a pretty essential feature, as it would be difficult to move the AC unit from room to room if it required a different receptacle.

It may be a good idea to use a surge protector that can add a layer of protection against sudden power failures. It’s also recommended that you are mindful of how many appliances are plugged into the outlet, as to not overwhelm the circuit.

Note: This applies to the majority of portable air conditioners used to cool rooms in your home. If you’re using a commercial-size unit or a high-BTU air conditioner, you may need more electricity. All electrical requirements will be found in the user manual.

9. Pre-Cooling & Better Circulation

To help your portable AC unit cool your down in an efficient manner, it is recommended that you turn it on shortly before the room gets too hot or uncomfortable. If you wait until the sun is shining bright and the temperature is at its peak, the air conditioner will need to work harder, and take longer, to reach your desired temperature.

Another tip that every homeowner should know, is to use a small oscillating fan near the unit. This will help the cool air circulate throughout the room, and make you feel more comfortable.


Final Thoughts

There are many benefits that come from a portable air conditioner, but when you know how to strategically use it, you’ll find that you can improve its efficiency and extend its life.

By following the usage and maintenance tips listed above, you put yourself in the position to get the most from your AC unit, all while staying cool and saving money.


Portable Air Conditioner

Can A Portable Air Conditioner Save Money On Energy Bills?

This is one of the most common questions that homeowners have when they are considering whether or not a portable air conditioner is the right fit for them. And, the answer is wholly determined by how you plan on using the air conditioner itself.

The Quick Answer

Yes. Portable air conditioners can save you money and lower your energy bills, but only if you are strategic in how use it.

The Long Answer

Okay, now that we got the cliff-notes answer out of way, let’s dive a little deeper into how you can use a portable air conditioning unit to save money on your monthly energy bills.

Energy Efficient Portable Air Conditioner

Are Portable AC’s Energy Efficient?

No, not really. Out of all the various types of air conditioners available to homeowners, portable AC units are generally one of the worst in regard to energy efficiency.

When you compare portable air conditioners to other types of room AC units, you’ll find that they score terribly in a side-to-side comparison. You’ll find that both window and ductless AC units all have higher CEER and EER ratings, making them the cheaper choice for daily operation.

The simple truth — Portable AC units will use more energy to hit your ideal cooling temperature.

But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use this type of air conditioner to help you save money and lower your energy bills.

3 Cooling Strategies That Save Money

I know what you’re thinking. If a portable air conditioner is such an energy hog, then how will it save money?

There’s a couple of strategies that you can follow to help you save money, and use your portable AC to stay cool. But again, it all comes down to how you use it.

The “Portable” Cooling Strategy

Portable air conditioners still have one notable advantage, and it’s so obvious that it’s baked right into the name.

Portable Air Conditioner

This is the only type of room air conditioner that doesn’t require permanent installation. By taking advantage of a few extra accessories, you can easily move a portable AC from one room to another.

  • Rolling vs Carrying:

    The majority of manufacturers will include castors with the unit, but these can also be bought from any home improvement store. If you plan on moving a portable air conditioner from room to room, these are strongly recommended. They will make it easy to roll around, and you won’t have to worry about straining your back by picking it up.

  • The Venting Challenge:

    The only significant challenge is whether you need to install the window vent every time you want to move the AC unit. If so, this will become tiresome. Instead of bothering with this inconvenience, yu should consider buying an extra venting kit and installing it in the rooms you frequent the most.

Why This Saves Money

If you live in a small home or apartment, this is a great way to save some money. Instead of buying an air conditioner for each room, and dealing with the hassle of multiple installations, you can simply move a portable unit when you need.

The extra venting kits are just a simple click into place, and the castors allow you to roll it around your home with ease.

The only inconvenience is remember to actually move it when you need.

The Supplemental Cooling Strategy

This is where the real money saving opportunities come in to play, and is applicable for every homeowner, no matter how large or small your home may be. And it’s especially useful for anyone that is using a central air conditioner to cool their home.

Take a moment to consider how often all the rooms in your house are occupied at the same time. This is probably a rare occurrence, yet… every single day, you pay to keep those rooms cool.




Think about that.

How much money do you think you’ve lost, by cooling rooms that don’t really need to be cooled? Instead, try setting your thermostat at a reasonable, yet still relatively comfortable, temperature, and then use a portable air conditioner to quickly cool down the most important rooms.

This is called the supplemental cooling strategy. And it will save you lots of money, when used correctly.

Why This Saves Money

You no longer have to pay for your entire home to be cool, when only one or two rooms are being used.

As an example, think about your bedroom. You spend roughly 8-10 hours in that room every day. And a good night’s sleep is dependent on how comfortable you are. However, as you drift away into deep sleep, you’re continuously paying to keep the rest of your empty home at that same temperature. This happens every time your head hits the pillow. The energy cost adds up over time, and the amount of money that you’re wasting may just give you nightmares.

As an alternative, use a portable air conditioner to cool just your bedroom. And set your central air conditioner to a more energy efficient temperature. This gives you the flexibility to stay cool all night long, but save money by using less energy in total.

Note: When the cool nip of winter starts to hit, this same supplemental strategy can be applied when heating costs start to rise. Just swap out your AC unit for a heater, or plan ahead and buy a portable air conditioner that has heating functionality.

The “Don’t Piss Off Your HOA” Strategy

A quick glance at the reviews for popular window AC units, and it’s hard to miss the obligatory complaint about how somebody’s Homeowners Association made them take down their window unit.

Portable Air Conditioning Unit

This is actually a pretty common scenario.

While every neighborhood and HOA have their own set of rules, one of the most common restrictions found across them all is about window air conditioners. They’re an eyesore. They may not be safe. They are too loud. There’s a plenty of reasons they are restricted.

Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t even realize it, until it’s too late. It’s already installed in your window, and you’re living the comfy life as you open that HOA notice.

Why This Saves Money

Unlike the other cooling strategies above, this one will prevent you from wasting time and money with a window air conditioner that is only going to upset your HOA.

Nobody has time to deal with an overzealous HOA, and returning a large appliance is a hassle in itself.

If you’re one of the unfortunate homeowners that has already bought and installed a window air conditioner, then you may have already lost money. Hopefully, the manufacturer of the AC unit has an accommodating return policy and a low restocking fee.

Final Thoughts

Portable air conditioners get a bad rap. It’s true that they are not the most energy efficient air conditioner available, but if you are clever in how you use the device, there is no doubt that it can save you quite a bit of money and lower your energy bills.


Portable Ice Maker

Portable Ice Maker FAQs

What is a Portable Ice Maker?

A portable ice maker is a small appliance that is designed to make ice, but doesn’t require permanent installation or a dedicated water line. You can plug it in and make ice at your convenience, or store it out of the way when you don’t need it.

How does a portable ice machine work?

Portable ice makers operate by quickly making small batches of ice from water that you pour into the unit. Once a batch is ready to serve, the machine will drop the ice down onto the tray for you to scoop out when needed. Simply plug it in, pour in some water and you’ll have ice within a few minutes.

However, unlike other types of ice makers, portable units don’t have a drain, so as the ice begins to melt, the water simply drips back down into the basin whereupon it is turned back into ice.

The cycle repeats until there is no more water in the ice maker.


How do you clean a portable ice maker?

Cleaning your portable ice maker is a simple task, and just about the only maintenance needed to keep it operating in an efficient manner.

Portable Ice Maker

Every ice maker will have their own specific cleaning instructions in the manual that came with the device. You may also be able to download them from the manufacturer’s website.

If you don’t have access to the cleaning instructions for your specific model, you can follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the ice machine.
  2. Empty all water or ice.
  3. Disassemble interior pieces and wash separately.
  4. Clean the interior with a towel.
  5. Pour a generous amount of vinegar into the unit with some water.
  6. Allow device to run a few cycles and discard all ice with vinegar.
  7. Allow machine to dry before using.
  8. Add fresh water and enjoy.

Note: You can substitute vinegar with a cleanser made for ice machines.


How long does it take to make ice?

This will vary between different models, but generally, a portable ice maker will produce ice within 7-15 minutes after you add water.

It’s important to note that there are a few other variables that can play a role in slowing down production of an ice maker.

  • The type of water you use.
  • How often you clean the ice maker.
  • The age of the ice machine.
  • Frequency of use.

If you use hard water and don’t clean your ice maker on a frequent basis, then it is likely that mineral build-up will start to happen inside the device. This will slow down production time and quality.





Do portable ice makers need a dedicated water line?

No. A portable ice maker does not need or even require a dedicated water line to work. As the name suggests, this appliance is designed to be portable, allowing you to plug it in when and wherever you need it.

When you want it to produce ice, you simply plug it into an outlet and fill the reservoir with water. The unit will start producing ice relatively quickly.

This lack of a water line is one of the main differences that sets a portable ice maker apart from other types of ice machines. This may be considered both an advantage and disadvantage, depending on how you plan on using it.


Do portable ice makers need a dedicated drain line?

No. A portable ice maker does not need or require a dedicated drain line to operate. Much like a dedicated water line, a built-in drain line would make it less portable.

Due to how this type of ice machine works, it has no need for a drain line. As the ice melts, the water goes back down into the basin where the machine turns it back into ice. This process repeats until you have consumed all the ice, or add more water.

Note: To ensure that your ice is fresh and tasty, it would be wise to drain any water that has been sitting in the unit for more than a day.


Does it matter what type of water I use?

Yes, to some extent. The overall quality of the ice produced by the machine is largely determined by the quality of the water you pour into it. But, the type of water you add to the unit can also play a role in its ability to produce ice, how often you have to clean the unit, and its overall lifespan.

Obviously, the water should be potable. If it’s not safe to drink, then there’s no reason it should be inside an ice machine. But outside of whether it’s safe to consume, determining the “best” type of water is going to be subjective.

  • Hard Water — Generally, it would be wise to avoid “hard water,” as it will eventually lead to mineral build-up inside your ice machine and diminish the quality of ice that is produced. This applies to all appliances.
  • Distilled Water — While this type of water has less minerals, it may also cause performance issues with some ice makers. This is due to the usage of sensors inside most portable ice machines that rely on mineral content to determine whether more ice needs to be made.
  • Filtered & Purified Water — These fall somewhere in the middle. The mineral content will be lower than hard water, but not low enough that the sensors inside are unable to perform their duty. The water quality is usually better, which means you should get ice that smells and tastes fresh.

With all of that said, the best type of water should always come down to the experience you get from the ice.


How does ice production differ from ice storage?

Often overlooked, the product/storage capacity are two considerations that one must take into account before buying any type of ice maker. All manufacturers will have these listed somewhere in their spec sheet.

  • Storage — This defines the maximum amount of ice the unit can have ready to serve.
  • Production — This defines the maximum amount of ice the unit can produce in a day.

This is also another major difference between portable ice makers and other types available. Because they are designed to take with you on-the-go, portable units will be significantly lower in both capacities.


Is a portable ice maker a freezer?

No. This type of ice machine is not a freezer, nor is it a suitable alternative to a freezer.

While the design will vary from model to model, all portable ice makers have an insulated exterior to help keep the ice frozen and ready to consume. However, there are no portable machines that double as a freezer. This means that the ice will slowly start to melt the moment it hits the tray.

Once it melts, the water goes back down into the basin where it is used to make another batch of ice.


How much electricity does a portable ice maker use?

Like all appliances, the amount of electricity will differ between brands and models, as well as how you are using the device and the frequency you clean it.

Countertop Ice Maker

For the most part, portable ice makers are not known to be very energy efficient. We are unable to find any portable ice makers that are EnergyStar certified.

However, that doesn’t mean that they are going to cost a lot to run. In fact, they use far less electricity than undercounter ice machines or refrigerators with an ice maker built-in. And if you only plug it in when you need ice, then it is very unlikely that you’ll notice any increase in your utility bills.

For more insight, we would encourage you to read this article from Wired Mag where they analyze, calculate and estimate precisely how much it would cost to use an ice machine.


Do these work with standard 120v wall outlets?

Yes. All portable ice machines will work with a typical 120v wall outlet commonly found in homes and offices. You should not need any other equipment to make ice.


What do I need to do before using the ice maker?

Once you unbox your portable ice maker, it is recommended that you make a few batches of ice and discard it. This will remove any possible dust or debris that may have gather inside the unit during packaging or shipping.


Who makes the best countertop ice maker?

We try to stay impartial when it comes to brands. Certainly, some brands are going to be more reputable than others, just based on how long they’ve been manufacturing this type of product. Of course, this is not an indication of a “better” brand, but does offer a glimpse at how reputable a company is.

To help you determine which brand is best for you, make sure you look over the warranty that comes with the product, as well as the return policy from where you purchased it. Also, take some time to read over some reviews that customers have left. While the reviews are never going to be an accurate assessment of the brand, you may gain more perspective of what to expect from that brands’ customer service.


What is the best portable ice maker?

There is no correct answer to this question. The best portable ice maker is going to depend on your needs. And for many homeowners, a portable ice maker may not even be the best fit for them.

To find the best portable ice maker, you should do careful research on the brands and models available within your budget, and then compare their features to narrow down the one you deem to be the best unit for you.


Where can you buy a portable ice maker?

You can buy portable ice maker from a wide variety of retailers, both online or in stores. You’ll find that you have a better selection online.

Before you buy a portable ice machine at Walmart or Home Depot, we would recommend browsing your options online and narrowing down which model would be best for your home. You don’t have to buy online, but you’ll at least have comfort in knowing that you made an educated buying decision.


Have a question that you didn’t see listed here? If so, please add it don in the comments below.
Beaucarnea recurvata

How to Grow a Ponytail Palm

As one of the most popular houseplants found in homes all around the world, the Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is one of the easiest to grow and require very little maintenance by their owners. If you’re looking to add a splash of charm into your home, but don’t want to put much time or thought into it, then this tropical houseplant may just be the perfect choice for you.

Originating from the arid landscapes of Mexico, the name Ponytail “palm” is a bit of a misnomer. While the bulbous trunk indeed had some similarities to the trunks of other palm trees, the Beaucarnea recurvata is actually a drought-resistant succulent. And that bulbous trunk is where the plant stores its water.

Ponytail Palm

How to Care for Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palms are one of the easiest houseplants to care for.

They require little water, love lots of light, you don’t have to fertilize often, and they have the ability to adapt to the comfortable temperatures often found in homes. The downside of growing a ponytail palm inside your home is the incredible slow pace in which they grow.

As long as you don’t over-water it, you probably won’t kill it. It’s pretty much that simple.

However, if you want your plant to grow tall, thrive and be healthy, there are some easy guidelines you can follow to help you provide the best care for your ponytail palm.

Botanical Info

Latin Name Beaucarnea recurvata
Plant Family Asparagaceae
Genus Beaucarnea
Common Names Ponytail Palm, Elephant Foot Palm, Bottle Palm, Nolina Palm
Origin Mexico, South America
USDA Zone 10 – 11

Growing Conditions

Water Once every ~10 days.
Light Bright & full exposure to sun.
Soil Cactus potting soil.
Fertilize Once a month. Diluted liquid fertilizer.
Temperature Warm. Keep above 55°F.  
Humidity Adaptable. Not too low.  
Maintenance Easy to care for.  
Grow Inside? Yes
Grow Outside? Yes. Best in USDA Zone 10 – 11
Safe for Pets? Yes. But, care should be taken.
Container Size Depends on how large you want it to grow.  

7 Common Questions About Ponytail Palms

To help ensure that you’re providing to proper care for your ponytail palm, we have listed out the most frequently asked questions down below. If you have a question that you don’t see listed or would like to add additional feedback for others to learn from, please leave it down in the comment section below.

1. How often do you water a ponytail palm?

Not often, but the frequency depends largely on the environment you’re growing it in. Below, we have some general guidelines to watering a ponytail palm, but the best advice is to give it a drink of water when you see the soil start to dry.

  • During Hotter Months — You’ll want to water your ponytail palm plant once every 7-10 days.
  • During Cooler Months — You’ll want to slow down the watering schedule to once every 20-30 days.

If you don’t abide to that precise schedule, don’t fret. This plant is great at surviving long periods without water. But, if you want a healthy plant that grows to its fullest, you should try to follow the watering guidelines listed above.

Remember: The easiest way to kill a ponytail palm is by over-watering. Less is more.




2. How much light does it need?

Ponytail palms love lots of light. Remember, this plant is native to arid deserts, so full exposure to the sun will be appreciated by this plant. However, while full exposure is recommended, ponytail palms are adaptable to little or moderate amounts of light.

The downside of less light exposure is that you’ll see a noticeable slow down in its growth. And for an already slow-growing houseplant, this may just completely stunt it.

So, if you want your ponytail palm to grow tall, give it lots of light.

3. How often should I fertilize a ponytail palm?

Depends on the season and environment you’re growing your ponytail plant in. A general guideline is to fertilize your plant once every 3 or 4 weeks. If you see the tips of the leaves start to turn brown, then you’re using too much fertilizer.

  • Spring & Summer — Add fertilizer once every 2 or 3 weeks.
  • Fall & Winter — Add fertilizer once every 4 to 6 weeks.

Adding fertilizer is essential to the overall health of houseplants, and Beaucarnea recurvata is no different. Liquid fertilizers are recommended for ponytail palms, but granular fertilizers will also suffice. An all-purpose fertilizer will work fine here, but you can also consider using one formulated for cactus and other succulents.

4. What kind of soil should I use?

The best type of soil for this plant is one that drains quickly. Unlike many popular tropical houseplants, the last thing the ponytail palm wants is to sit around in moist soil for an extended period of time.

When you repot or transplant, it is recommended that you use a soil designed for cactus or succulents. If you want to make your own soil mixture, keep it light on the amount of peat you use within.

Remember: Keep the soil dry, and water sparingly.

5. Is repotting possible with a ponytail palm?

Yes, repotting a ponytail palm is possible and easy to do, but precautions should be made before you undertake this effort.

  • Size Matters — First, consider how large the tree is, and where you’re going to be moving it to. Larger plants will likely require more help from others, as well as a few other tools or equipment to assist in the transplant. On the flip side, if you’re repotting a small bonsai ponytail palm, then you likely won’t need any help or special tools.
  • Do In Spring — It is recommended that repot your ponytail palm early in the growing season, as this gives it plenty of time to adjust to the larger pot and form strong roots.
  • Examine the Roots — Once you have it out of the original container, take a close look at the roots of your plant. Look for any signs of bugs, rotted areas, or anything that looks injured or contaminated. Cut these off before you repot in new container.

Keep in mind: Transplanting it to a larger pot will encourage the plant to grow larger. This may be a deal-breaker for anyone growing a bonsai palm.

6. Is this plant safe for pets?

According to the ASPCA, the ponytail palm does not pose any toxicity threats to dogs or cats.

However, every homeowner with pets should know, and possibly take precautions if deemed necessary, that the leaves of the Beaucarnea recurvata contain saponin which may cause discomfort in some animals if ingested. So, while it’s unlikely that any harm will come to your dog or cat, it may be wise to keep an eye on them and ensure that they are not eating or chewing on the leaves.

It’s also worth noting that saponins are found in many popular houseplants, not just the ponytail palm. They also pose no danger to humans. In fact, saponin is found in many dietary supplements and are suggested to have some nutritional benefits.

7. Can you grow a ponytail palm outside?

Yes, but it’s recommended that you live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 10 or 11 if you want your plant to thrive. The sandy soil and hotter temperatures create an ideal environment for growing the ponytail palm outside.


Portable AC Unit

Portable Air Conditioner FAQs

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

Designed to be moved from room to room with ease, a portable air conditioning unit is a smaller cooling appliance that vents directly out of your window, but doesn’t require permanent installation.

Generally, this type of air conditioner is engineered to cool individual rooms, not your entire home. To make it easier to move around, portable units often have wheels on the bottom and built-in handles on the side.


Portable Air Conditioner

Do portable room air conditioners work?

Yes, of course. They are a popular alternative to central air conditioners, and one of the better choices for cooling rooms in your home.

Of course, the amount of benefits you receive from a portable air conditioner is entirely dependent on how you use, how well you maintain it, the environment you are using it in, and a whole host of other factors. But, yes, portable air conditioners do work when used correctly.


Are these air conditioners energy efficient?

It depends on how you use it. When compared to other types of air conditioners, portable units are going to be one of the worst for energy efficiency.

Across the board, portable units tend to have a lower Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) than other air conditioners. The overall efficiency will vary per each model or brand, and you certainly will find some units that have a higher EER than others, but for the most part, this appliance is not considered as one that is energy efficient.

However, they do have the advantage of allowing you to cool only one room at a time. This cooling strategy will help you save money and cut your overall energy usage, as you’re not having to pay to cool your entire home. From this perspective, one could absolutely make the case that it is energy efficient.


Do all portable air conditioners need to be vented?

Yes. You will need to vent your air conditioner. This is typically done through a window, but you can also buy a vent kit that works with sliding glass doors, casement/crank windows or through a dropped ceiling.

Most portable air conditioners will come with everything you need to properly vent the device, including an exhaust hose and an adapter that sits in your window sill. Just remember to follow the instructions for the model.





What is a window vent kit?

The window vent kit will come with your portable air conditioner. Typically made from plastic, this is the piece of equipment that sits in your window sill and connects to your exhaust hose(s) of the AC unit.

The window venting kit will typically fit most standard-sized windows and sliding glass doors. However, before you buy a portable air conditioner it would be wise to measure the window and ensure the venting kit that comes with the AC unit will fit in your home.

There are many venting kits available online, including many designed for larger windows and casement windows.


What if I can’t vent the AC unit?

That would be unfortunate. If you are unable to properly vent your AC unit, then this type of air conditioner will not be a sufficient cooling option for your home. You would want to consider an evaporative cooler.

Portable air conditioners work by moving hot air out of the room, so if you’re unable to use a vent, then the machine will not cool your room in an efficient or effective manner. You may feel some cooling if you are directly in front of the unit, but you’ll also notice some ambient heat building from the back.


Can I vent a portable AC through a dryer vent?

Sure, it’s possible. But, it’s probably not the best idea. This is definitely not a good idea if the diameter of the hose doesn’t fit the diameter of your dryer vent. Unfortunately, this is often the case, as many dryer vents in American homes have a diameter of 4 inches, and most portable air conditioners come with a larger vent hose.

If the diameters of the hose and dryer vent are the same diameter, you could attempt to vent your portable air conditioner in this manner. But, again, it’s not recommended and may lead to other problems. So, if you do attempt this, keep a close eye on the device until you feel confident that it is venting appropriately.


How long is the exhaust hose?

It varies. The hose or duct that comes with your portable air conditioner will vary from model to model, but they typically are at least 3-4 ft. in length.

Portable Air Conditioning Unit

You can buy longer (or shorter ones) at many retailers. While it is generally recommended that you buy a longer exhaust hose from the same brand or retailer that you bought your AC unit, this is oftentimes unnecessary.

However, it is important to understand that the longer you make the exhaust hose, the less efficient your air conditioner will be. This may also lead to your unit having to work harder to cool the room, which may cause the compressor to work harder than it should possibly shortening the lifespan of the air conditioner itself.

It would be wise to keep the exhaust hose shorter than 10 ft, unless you also have an exhaust fan of some sort that will help the hot air escape and allow your portable air conditioner to work in a more efficient manner.


Can I make my own exhaust hose?

Sure, but it’s not recommended. There are many scenarios in which a homeowner may desire a longer exhaust hose for their portable air conditioner. Unfortunately, the longer the exhaust hose, the less efficient the AC unit becomes.

If you want to replace the exhaust hose, it is best to buy one that is designed for this type of air conditioner, but if you’re in a bind or feeling handy, you can purchase many of the necessary materials at a hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowes.

Keep in Mind: If you go this route, make sure the replacement hose is the same diameter as the previous hose or the venting duct in the back of the unit. Most portable air conditioners have a 5 inch hose, but not always. Double-check before you buy. You could also consider using a PVC pipe, but that, too, comes with many disadvantages.


What’s the difference between a single-hose and dual-hose unit?

The way the air moves in and out of the device. Choose a dual-hose, if possible.

  • Single Hose — All air comes in and vents out of the one hose.
  • Dual Hose — One hose is used to pull in air from outside, and the other hose is used as an exhaust.

Dual-hose portable air conditioners are considered to be the better of the two options, as it is more efficient and can cool your living space quicker than single-hose units.


Do portable air conditioners give off carbon monoxide?

No. Because it runs on electricity, you do not have to worry about a portable air conditioner emitting carbon monoxide into your home.

In extreme circumstances, it is possible for a portable or window air conditioner to pull in air from the outside that is high in carbon monoxide. This is possible when a fuel-burning device is directly on the other side of the window. These may include a running car, portable generator or a grill you may be cooking on.

Again, this is an extreme scenario and it is unlikely that a portable AC will pull in enough carbon monoxide for you to experience negative symptoms. But, just in case, it would be wise to know what is going on near the vent, as well as have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.


Is a portable AC the same thing as an evaporative cooler?

No. These are two very different cooling appliances, and not an ideal substitute for each other.

An evaporative cooler, sometimes called a swamp cooler, uses water and the process of evaporative cooling to help make the temperature of the room feel cooler. Unlike portable air conditioners, you have to add water to an evaporative cooler for it to work, and it does not require any sort of ventilation. These are great for garages and workshops.


How loud are portable air conditioners?

It depends on the model you buy. Like most appliances in your home, the amount of noise (or the decibel level of the device) will depend entirely on the model itself.

All types of room air conditioners will emit some level of noise, with some being louder than others. Most homeowners consider this as background noise or white noise, much like your refrigerator or dishwasher.

Unfortunately, decibel ratings are not a spec that manufacturers advertise for portable air conditioners. To get a better idea of how noisy a particular model may be, you will have to read over reviews for each unit and try to make an educated decision for yourself.


Can you soundproof a portable air conditioner?

Not really, but you can take steps to lower the noise. If you buy a portable AC and find it to be loud, you can take a few steps to lower the noise.

  • Softer Surface — Take a look at the surfaces the AC unit is sitting on. If you have it positioned on a hard floor, then you should try to put a small rug underneath the unit. This will help lower the amount of vibration of the compressor and internal fans, and help make it a little more quieter.
  • Change the Fan Speed — It’s also important to note that the decibel level will likely change depending on the fan speed that the device is currently operating on. If it is operating on the highest speed, you will likely hear a little more noise.

Again, the above steps can help you soundproof it, but you will never be able fully eliminate the sound a portable air conditioner makes while it is operating.


What type of electricity do portable air conditioners use?

For typical residential use, portable air conditioners only need to be plugged into a standard electrical receptacle found throughout your home. You will not need any extra power or a special wiring setup to use this type of air conditioner.

The only time you may need a special plug or a dedicated circuit for operation, is for large commercial-sized air conditioners.


Can you use it to cool multiple rooms at the same time?

This depends on a few factors, but is certainly possible. These include the environment in which the air conditioner is being used, how well the air is circulated in this area, and the BTU rating of the device itself.

As an example, if your living space is very open and you’re using a high-BTU unit, then you may feel a cooling effect throughout the entire space. However, if you have a lower-BTU rating and the space is contained with lots of doors and walls, the device will have trouble cooling all areas in an effective manner.

To help you cool larger rooms, consider using a small fan near the air conditioner to help the cold air reach far corners of the space.


Will these AC units work for garages?

Not really, at least not very efficiently.

You can use them pretty much anywhere there is a plug, including inside your garage or workshop. Unfortunately, if your garage door is wide open or the area is not well-insulated, then it is unlikely that you will feel the temperature drop.

To cool your garage, you should consider using an evaporative / swamp cooler.


Will these AC units work for server rooms?

Absolutely! In fact, cooling a server room is one of the most common uses for a portable air conditioner.

Due to the heat that servers generate, especially when clustered together in a small room, it is crucial for you to keep them cool in order for them to operate in an efficient manner. Because of this, portable AC units are often used in conjunction with a central air conditioner to help cool the room with the computer equipment.

If you have a small server room in your home or small business, you may have buy a special vent kit or longer exhaust hose to properly vent the AC unit.


Is a portable air conditioner the best choice for me?

It depends on your situation. This type of air conditioner is great for anyone that wants to cool one room or area of their home, but is unable to do so with a window unit.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you want to have a window A/C unit sticking out from your home? If not, then you should go with a portable unit.
  • Do you live in an area with a zealous Homeowner’s Association? If so, then they’ll likely have rules in place to prevent window units, therefore leaving a portable air conditioner as the best choice.
  • Do you care about your energy usage of a room air conditioner? If so, then a window unit is going to be the best choice for you.
  • Are you capable of installing a window unit? If not, then perhaps you skip the hassle and go with a portable AC.

Keep in mind, a portable air conditioner is a popular cooling option used in millions of homes around the world, but they certainly comes with their own set of pros and cons. If you do your research and make an educated buying decision, you’ll be happy with your choice.


Where can I buy a portable air conditioner?

You can buy portable air conditioners from a wide variety of retailers, both online or in stores.

Before you buy a portable air conditioner at Walmart or Home Depot, we would recommend browsing your options online and narrowing down which model would be best for your home. You don’t have to buy online, but you’ll at least have comfort in knowing that you made an educated buying decision.

Have a question that you didn’t see listed here? If so, please add it down in the comments below.