Whether you’re trying to keep the heat out or in, no matter what time of year it is, it can feel like utility bills are a constant struggle.
The heater runs up the gas bill, the air conditioning runs up the electric bill, and either way it can get difficult to manage that balance between keeping your utility costs down and having a home that’s a temperature comfortable for everyone.
Sure, you can ask anyone for solutions to this issue, and you’ll get a variety of responses—thicker insulation, installing a new heater, and so on. And as well-intentioned as that advice might be, it’s not always viable due to finances, schedules, and other life concerns.
So what are you to do? Luckily, with a little imagination and some patience, there’s ways to cut down on utility spending with simple reorganization and renovations that are far cheaper, and it’s never too late in the season to give them a try:
Keep heat-generating devices away from the thermostat: Thermostats work by detecting the heat nearest to them and turning the heat or AC up until the desired temperature is reached. What a lot of people don’t know is that the thermostat can be easily influenced by heat-generating objects near it, like TVs and lamps. If you have any floor lamps or TV stands near a thermostat, try to renovate your living room/bedroom/etc a little bit to make sure these electronic devices aren’t accidentally causing your thermostat to go into overdrive.
Remember your window shades: Now’s a great time to show off those curtains and blinds. Well-placed window dressings can help reduce the temperature in your home during the warmer months (and prevent cold air from coming in when it cools down) and stop the thermostat from pumping out too much air.
Don’t clog the vents: A big part of thermostat overuse comes in when the vents are prevented from distributing air properly through the room, resulting in too much adjusting of the current temperature and forcing your bills to climb up. Don’t let things like couches, bedroom dressers, or other bulky furniture take up too much room around your vents—try to swap out these installations for something more open like wire shelving or any kind of open-backed cabinet to let the air flow freely. This goes for other tables in the room as well; if you can swap out your bigger tables for things like wall shelves to hold onto everything, you can help the air move around more easily.
Cook lightly: There’s a big reason grilling outdoors is a popular solution for dinnertime in the summer, and it’s not just because charcoal makes everything taste better. Overuse of ovens can actually cause excess heat in the kitchen, which (as you can guess) your thermostat will interpret as excess hot air and try to work harder to overcompensate. Use the microwave or the toaster oven when you can.
Turn off and unplug everything you can: It’s a lesson you heard from your parents growing up too, but not leaving lights on when you don’t need them is a great way to cut back on both utility bills and errant heat production throughout the house. If you’re really looking to save, remember to unplug everything too—‘phantom power’ can cause devices like cell phones and computers to keep drawing power when they don’t need to. Turn off desktop computers when not in use, don’t leave things like tablets and phones plugged in longer than they need to be, and make sure everyone is being smart about lightbulbs.
Have you done anything in your home to help reduce utility usage? Leave a comment below!
When was the last time you took a look around a room and said to yourself “I wish I just had a little extra space in here”?
Was it within the last few days (or, if you’re reading this at home, the last few hours)? It’s a common issue that many households face, but there’s frequently an easy solution that gets overlooked: over-the-door storage!
From racks to hanging baskets to entire shelves, the backside of doors is a great solution to a number of storage issues that smaller rooms can experience. Below, we’ve collected a few of our favorite uses for over-the-door storage, where they can be used, and how it can make your storage problems easier than ever:
Extra pantry space: Pantries have a history of getting cluttered, especially if none of your ingredients are old enough to throw out and you just know you’re going to need them soon enough. Instead of finally having to purge all those spices, get some over-the-door baskets for some of your bigger items like boxes of pasta and canned goods to free up space and make everything that much easier to reach.
Towel storage: By installing either a towel bar, a shelf, or a wire basket on the inside of one of your bathroom doors (either the door leading into it or the door leading to your towel closet, if you have one) you can greatly expand the space you have for clean towels and prevent any awkward situations on your way out of the bath next time.
Accessories—scarves, hats, etc: With a little imagination, the back of your closet door can become an excellent place for accessories like hats, gloves, and scarves. Take some coat hooks or rails of some kind (long handles, curtain rods, etc) and mount them inside the door of the closet to provide easy, hanging access for things that don’t quite work on either shelves or hangers.
Extra shelves: Whatever the room, whatever you use it for, a lot of spaces could benefit from some extra wall shelves to hold things, but sometimes the walls themselves just don’t have the space. Instead, mount these to the inside of a nearby door (the door to the room, the door on the closet, etc) to provide that much extra storage room.
Magnetize it: For the particularly crafty out there, we’ve seen many good examples of people using magnets to hold things like kitchen supplies. Take a thin sheet of metal with some trng magnets and mount them to the inside of a door—it quickly becomes a great way to hold pots and pans, makeup tools, and much more.
Has your house benefitted from over the door shelving? Let us know in the comments!
Basements, am I right?
Unless you’ve got a finished basement that you use for entertaining company (or if one of your kids lives down there—and trust me, kids love basements), the odds are pretty good that your basement has become a haven for everything that doesn’t quite have a home somewhere else.
Tools, knicknacks, holiday decorations, coats you wear once a year...starting to sound familiar? It’s a common story, told by basements the world over, but it isn’t as immense and unfixable as you might believe.
Given enough patience and time, any basement can be whipped back into shape if you take the right steps and understand exactly why (and when) you should be doing it. Take a look at our checklist and see if it applies to your current basement predicament:
- Figure out what projects to prioritize: The basement can be messy, but it might not be worth stressing over if you have other, bigger jobs to be worrying about. Particularly in situations where your basement may be holding onto the detritus of other cleaning projects, make sure your basement reorganization won’t get in the way of anything else you’re trying to get done around the house.
- Assess the current mess: One of the most important steps of cleaning a basement is understanding what’s being kept down there and what you need to do about it. Is most of the clutter things that really can’t go anywhere else, like holiday decorations? Are things like unused furniture, clothes nobody has worn in years, and dusty VHS tapes the culprit of the clutter? This is going to affect how you handle the rest of the cleaning project going forward.
- Judgment day: Now comes either the hardest part or the easiest part, depending on your attitude toward decluttering. Take everything down there and sort it into “keep” or “discard” piles. The discard pile should be everything you’re okay with donating or throwing out—unless it’s something with actual value, try to avoid selling anything as this can cause your decluttering to slow down significantly and you may not wind up getting rid of anything. As for the keep pile, this should be anything you plan on using in the near future or anything you can’t get rid of just yet. Try to stick with whatever you decide for either item to keep the project flowing.
- Sort everything you keep: From there, you’ll want to break down the “keep” pile even further to help with the organizing. Divide everything up by whatever system works best for you (types of item, frequency of usage, size, etc) and decide on the way that works best for you to keep it all organized.
- Assess your storage options: A lot of basement clutter, no matter what you’re keeping down there, can stem from not really having a home for everything. Take a look to see where everything in your “keep” pile is going to go, and add more storage options as needed—wall hooks, wire shelving, wall shelving, and so on.
- Don’t store anything in a dangerous area: Finally, once you’ve decided where everything is going to go, make sure it’s avoiding the typical ‘basement problems’. Pick areas that aren’t prone to leakage, flooding, or drafts to keep your stuff safe and usable for the next time you venture down into the basement to find something.
Hopefully these tips should keep your basement cleaner, safer, and easier to get around through the rest of the year.
“Openness” has been an increasingly popular trend in home & apartment design lately, and that goes from the floor plan to the closet and all the way to the home shelving you use.
Open shelving has been popping up in living spaces of all sizes thanks to its ease of installation and even greater ease of use—but is it right for your home?
Above and beyond the decorative aspects of it, open wall shelves can actually do a lot to help keep the various rooms of your home better organized while providing a nice visual enhancement, even if you’re just using them to help keep your rooms cleaner.
Check out a few ways that open shelving can help around your house:
Open shelves, especially more durable ones like metal wall shelves, are always a good decision inside kitchens due to their ease of access—and let’s face it, you probably have a good amount of stuff in your kitchen that could use a more organized home. Depending on where they’re placed, open shelves are perfect for storing dry ingredients (spices, herbs, sugar, etc), serving trays or mixing bowls, or utensils (but try not to keep them too close to the oven to prevent heat issues!) right where you need them most without having to fight through the old junk drawer.
In the living room, open shelves are a great way to reduce clutter while also giving you more opportunity to decorate a little bit. Unless you need them to support a ton of weight, more ‘decorative’ shelving options like glass wall shelves and wood wall shelves can match a variety of previously-existing living room decorations (so you never have to fret about it matching your mom’s couch that you were gifted). These can be a good spot for books you want to display (either old favorites or something you’ve been meaning to read), family photos or knicknacks you’re particularly fond of, or just some small succulents or cacti. A good tip is to remember what you’re stacking on them, though—areas prone to bad windstorms or earthquakes might not want to put your old porcelain that high off the ground.
Most dining rooms seem to be full of a ton of stuff you use all the time, and almost as much stuff that you don’t. While your everyday-use dishes, silverware, and the like are better off kept accessible at ground level, open shelving can be a great way to store things like stemware and those fancy plates you got on your wedding day that you’re saving for just the right time and place. Pair it with a wall mounted wine rack to help keep all your entertaining wine right at the dinner table where you need it.
Bathrooms tend to be harder to organize than you’d expect—there’s already closets and cabinets, but those can fill up quickly and, well, there’s a lot of stuff we need to keep in bathrooms isn’t there? Open shelves can solve a lot of those problems. Try putting some up on the wall closest to your shower to help organize towels and keep them right at hand where you need them, or hang one up over the toilet (ideally high enough and far enough back to prevent bumping into it with your head) to keep paper towels, toilet paper, and any other needed bathroom supply where you can quickly get to it.
We’ll be back soon with more open shelving organization tips, but in the meantime leave a comment below if you’ve recently put wall shelving up in your home and tell us what you think!
For those among you with green thumbs, this is the perfect time of year to get out and do some yard work. Whether you’re replanting your prize rhododendrons, trying to figure out if you should start that herb garden, or simply looking to make the yard a little healthier, the time is right for getting your hands dirty with some outdoor chores.