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5 ways to go green and stay comfortable at home – Home Improvement Blogs

(BPT) – Paid Content by Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc.

Taking steps to live a greener lifestyle at home not only can help protect the environment, but it can improve the comfort in your home and help save money, too. According to a study conducted by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), 41% of Americans want to buy green products for their home. Strategic home feature upgrades and smart habits can help save on utility bills, reduce your water and carbon footprints, and potentially benefit your budget long term.

We have all found ourselves with a little more time at home recently and may have time for some small DIY projects. Fortunately, green home improvements don’t have to be difficult. Here are five ideas to make your home more sustainable and help save money:

1. Install a rain water barrel

Watering a lawn and garden is essential to the health of the landscape, but running water for hours at a time can be costly and unsustainable. One alternative is investing in a rain barrel. A rain barrel can be purchased at a reasonable price and stores rain water to use later when watering your landscape. Some cities and counties even offer discounted rain barrels to residents to encourage water conservation, so call your local municipality to learn about potential options.

2. Use a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat works by automatically raising or lowering the temperature in your house based on your selected settings to keep it comfortable when you’re home and save energy when you’re not. Smart thermostats are enhanced versions of programmable thermostats that can learn your habits and be controlled remotely from an app. With either option, you could potentially save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

3. Use natural light and update bulbs

The natural light that comes into a home does not cost any money, so it is a perfect source to naturally light up a room. Not only does this save on energy costs, the sunshine may boost your mood. On darker days and in the evening, turn on ENERGY STAR® certified light bulbs that can save up to 90% in energy consumption when compared to standard bulbs. Using less energy is better for the environment and for the wallet, so use electric lights only when needed and turn them off every time you leave a room.

ENERGY STAR and the ENERGY STAR mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

4. Upgrade to energy-efficient windows, appliances or HVAC System

Making energy-efficient home upgrades often requires an investment, but these upgrades can potentially increase your home’s value. For example, installing new energy-efficient windows or appliances or heating and cooling systems that use less energy could increase the value of your home. To help fund certain qualifying home improvements in select areas, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance offers its Home Upgrade loan program, or “HUG” financing. “Home owners deserve the opportunity to upgrade or repair their current home without draining their savings,” says Eric Hamilton, president of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. “The HUG loan program gives qualified applicants* a chance to responsibly upgrade their home, whether you’re planning energy-efficiency upgrades or tackling an emergency repair.”

5. Use green cleaning supplies

Natural and eco-friendly cleaning supplies do not use harmful chemicals, which is better for your local water supply and is a great option when cleaning surfaces your family uses often. There are many cleaning supply alternatives that are available at local retail stores that contain less potentially harmful chemicals, or you might consider making your own cleaners at home. Pantry staples like baking soda, distilled white vinegar and lemon juice are common ingredients for creating DIY cleaners that are better for the environment and often cost just pennies to make.

Whether it’s taking a small step like changing to energy-efficient light bulbs or a bigger step like financing energy-efficient home improvements with Vanderbilt’s HUG loan program, you should feel proud that you’re making a positive impact on the environment and its future. The energy savings and potential lower utility costs are a welcomed benefit of your sustainability efforts at home.

*All Loans Subject to Credit Approval. Not all applicants will qualify. Subject to state regulation. This advertisement is for Consumer Loans. Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license.

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000


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4 smart steps to manage cat allergens at home – Home Improvement Blogs

(BPT) – As millions of Americans spend unprecedented amounts of time at home, it also means spending unprecedented amounts of time with their pets. And for cat owners who have sensitivities to cat allergens, this can create unforeseen challenges.

According to a recent study by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Purina Pro Plan, three in four cat owners say their relationship with their cat is a core part of their health and well-being. However, 26% of households with cat allergen sensitivities also stated that cat allergens have caused huge problems in their life.

Having a cat shouldn’t mean choosing between enjoying time with them and living a healthy, full life. Fortunately, there are steps cat owners can take to help manage cat allergens at home.

Step 1: Vacuum and dust regularly

It’s best to vacuum carpet at least twice a week, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to help capture higher levels of allergens. Make sure to focus on spaces where cats play and lay frequently, including below furniture and the furniture itself. This ensures even those cozy corners get clean and don’t become a hot spot for allergens.

Hard flooring such as tile, wood and laminate should be cleaned regularly as well to eliminate dust and dander. Vacuum on the low setting to get the suction closest to the hard flooring. Don’t forget spaces such as the litter box area because dust from litter can contribute to airborne allergens. Additionally, wet mop at least once a month to more fully clean hard flooring in your home.

Keep in mind, even though your pet can’t reach some surfaces physically doesn’t mean their allergens won’t get there. Microscopic allergens can float through the air and land virtually anywhere, so dust surfaces high and low with a damp rag or microfiber cloth to capture these particles and remove them from the home.

Step 2: Update your cat’s diet

Many people think that cat hair itself is the allergen, but it’s actually what’s on it that is problematic – the major cat allergen called Fel d 1, a protein that cats produce naturally in their saliva. When cats groom themselves, the Fel d 1 is transferred to the hair and skin through saliva. The allergen eventually lands in the environment as the cat’s hair and dander shed naturally.

Following a decade of research, Purina has introduced Pro Plan LiveClear, the first and only cat food that reduces the allergens in cat hair and dander. Instead of trying to manage the allergen once it’s already in the environment, the allergen is neutralized at its source in the cat’s mouth. When cats eat the food, the key ingredient – a specific protein sourced from eggs – binds to Fel d 1 and safely neutralizes it. In a published study, the food was shown to reduce the allergens in cat hair and dander by an average of 47%, starting in the third week of daily feeding. Learn more at

Step 3: Groom and brush your cat

An important step in managing allergens at the source is to keep your pet clean. Regularly groom or brush your cat, particularly if they are prone to matted hair. The act of grooming reduces loose hair and thereby reduces the overall allergen load. Some types of brushes will groom and massage at the same time, so once acclimated, many cats enjoy the massage, which can potentially help reduce some stress or anxiety.

Step 4: Wash household items

The next step is to stay on top of cleaning household items. For example, bedding and blankets make a warm bed for pets and therefore harbor a multitude of allergens. Be sure to wash all sheets, blankets and pillowcases in hot water at a minimum of 130 F to remove allergens and kill other triggers such as dust mites, according to the Mayo Clinic. Consider making a habit of washing bedding and blankets weekly to remove allergens from your home.

By combining these allergen management strategies, cat owners can better handle their current situations and be closer together with the cats they love.


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5 ways to help prevent home cyberattacks – Home Improvement Blogs

(BPT) – Being home 100% of the time has become the new norm for many Americans, as social distancing is implemented in communities across the country to slow the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Connected devices are being used virtually nonstop, as the homebound stream shows to binge watch and video chat with friends to help pass the time. Unfortunately, most residential computing networks aren’t regularly maintained and monitored to protect against security breaches. This presents hackers with a virtual playground of which to take advantage.

“Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to exploit computer system vulnerabilities and home networks are popular targets because so many of our devices — phones, TVs, computers, even appliances — are connected to them,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance director of product management. “Insurance companies provide solutions to help financially protect homeowners and renters if they fall victim to a cyberattack. There are also steps they can take ahead of time to help prevent one from happening in the first place.”

Following are five tips to protect your home network — and the devices connected to it — from hackers.

1. Power down your devices. This disables the internet connection, cutting off access to any personal information stored on your computer, tablet or phone. Unattended machines are easy targets for hackers, especially if you’re asleep.

2. Secure your wireless network. Information accessed on an open network, including email passwords and sensitive bank information, is fair game for hackers. Don’t make their jobs easier — protect your Wi-Fi network with a strong password that’s difficult to guess. Wireless routers that are issued by cable providers are typically assigned a network name and password that’s easily located on a label on the device itself. These can be changed using your online account, so do this as soon as possible for added security.

3. Invest in anti-malware software. Malware — or malicious software — can be installed on your computer without your knowledge so hackers can damage your system, steal personal information or restrict your access to extort money from you. Anti-malware software helps protect against, detect and remove malware, stopping cybercriminals from doing further damage. Also, avoid downloading music or video files from suspicious websites, and clicking on links or email attachments in messages sent from unknown senders to help prevent malware from infiltrating your system.

4. Install recommended updates. Smartphone, computer, tablet and smart TV manufacturers, among other providers of connected devices, offer periodic software updates to protect against potential security breaches. Chances are, if an update is recommended, hackers have already discovered a way to access your personal property and information, so keep your software up to date. Set your devices to install auto-updates when possible.

5. Beware of phishing scams. Phishing scams aren’t new, but hackers continually use more sophisticated email — and even text messages — to trick people into providing their personal information. Once again, do not click on the links or attachments in messages from unknown senders.

Li suggests homeowners and renters consider adding Home Cyber Protection to their existing policies as an additional way to protect against hackers. “Even the most vigilant individuals can experience a cybersecurity breach,” said Li. “Having coverage to help recoup financial losses that are brought on by cyberextortion or stolen personal information can offer peace of mind during an otherwise stressful time.”


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A 10,000 Pound Move | Moving Big and Heavy Equipment

A 10,000 Pound Move | Moving Big and Heavy Equipment

This week was a ton of hard work. Sweat and tired muscles. But! No tears and no blood, which is saying something since we moved around 10,000 pounds of equipment.

It was so cool. Also nerve wracking. There were many times that I had my serious concentration face on. But now that it’s done, I can sit here and giggle at how powerful I felt at moving such big and heavy stuff.

Overall, there were 2 4×8′ CNC’s that were moved, a 4′ Plasma table, and my giant Matt Cremona Bandsaw Mill, which traveled in two parts (the bed and the carriage).

If you missed the announcement, I bought a commercial space that I’m turning into a retail space and production shop. And that is where all of this equipment is heading. Some of this was in storage and other items were in my personal shop.

Check out the video above to see how we got it all moved!

I hope that you realize that if I can do these things, so can you! It really was a very short time ago that I didn’t know how to use tools, how to build things, how to run a business or how to make videos. I am self taught in all of these areas and there’s nothing different about me that makes me more capable of doing them over anyone else. I hope this inspires you to put effort into learning the things that gets you excited.

See you on the next build!

Find out more about The Wood Shed here:

Do you have a bulk CNC production needs? Email us here!

Check out how we built my giant Bandsaw Mill here:

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up at the top of this page for my newsletter so you don’t miss new projects!

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5 big jobs to tackle for summer – Home Improvement Blogs

(BPT) – Summer is here, and that means it’s time to tackle the big outdoor tasks.

The importance of getting work done is especially true in this season of social isolation, when Americans are enjoying their homes’ outdoor spaces more than ever. Outdoor work may require some extra sweat and elbow grease, but these big jobs are a welcome break right now, keeping people busy and outside — and helping them truly appreciate their well­-tended green spaces.

For many, outdoor work is a satisfying endeavor, allowing homeowners to take pride in their home and yard, along with the work they put into it, which shows in what people are searching for, posting and sharing online. For example, Pinterest Insights saw an increase of 89% in backyard renovation ideas on their website, along with a whopping jump of 658% in DIY small patio ideas on a budget, and an impressive 528% increase in budget garden inspiration ideas.

Ready to get started on your summer to­-do list? Consider adding these big but worthwhile tasks to your roster.

Start a “victory garden”

Given all the questions brought about by COVID-19, many Americans are re­igniting the WWII practice of growing their own fruits, vegetables and herbs to give themselves more control over their food supplies. Many produce varieties are easy to grow, and cultivating them at home can ward off unnecessary shopping excursions. “Americans are turning to gardens for food access, food security, food safety and food affordability,” confirms gardening exec Jim Feinson on

Beef up your landscaping

Look over your landscaping layout and determine which parts need trimming, filling in, fertilizing or replacing. If you’re in doubt, many garden centers can draw up plans demonstrating changes or additions that might look more eye­-catching. Before getting started, invest in easy­-to-­use equipment that will make the heavy­-duty labor less grueling. Northern Tool + Equipment’s Strongway Steel Jumbo Garden Wagon can handle tough jobs like hauling rocks, pavers or bags of cement; in fact, it can capably pull up to 1,400 pounds of supplies.

Revamp your deck

Does it just need a good power washing, or is it screaming for a repainting or re­-staining too? Either way, your work will go faster with Northern Tool’s Powerhorse Gas Cold Water Pressure Washer, which has the 2.5 GPM and 3100 PSI you need to effortlessly blast through mud, dirt and debris on your deck, siding, fence, patio or driveway.

Get your garage in gear

Reclaim your space by getting rid of junk you don’t need, power washing your floors and establishing dedicated space for the tools and equipment you regularly use. New cabinets, bins, racks, shelves or pegboard panels can go a long way toward keeping everything handy and easy to find. You may even want to create a mancave vibe by installing a TV, mini fridge and casual seating.

Tackle your gutters

It can be a hefty job, but built-­up debris must be cleaned out at least twice annually to avoid wet basements, interior leaks, mold growth, rodent infestations and/or displacement of the gutters themselves. Use a sturdy ladder to safely access the edges of your roof, then use a trowel or gutter scoop to remove refuse. Flush out the system using a power washer or a garden hose with a spray attachment. Check for cracks, rust or paint damage and missing attachments, ensure all sections are sloped enough to drain stormwater and replace any sections that can’t be repaired.

Summer is here, and that to-­do list won’t take care of itself. Plan now to take on the tasks that will help you and your family make the best possible use of your outdoor spaces in the warm weather.


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