Thursday, January 9, 2014
Have you made your New Year’s Resolution list yet? Like many people, you may have added “Get Organized” to your list of things you’d like to accomplish this year. One place that many people have trouble getting organized is the family drop-zone; a central place in the home where family members (sometimes literally) drop their keys, bags, mail or other important documents.
Many of our homes have built-in drop zone areas , like the Glenstone or Livingston floor plans. However, if that area isn't organized, the accumulation of everyone’s stuff can get overwhelming! By getting (and keeping) your family drop zone organized, you can make sure everyone gets out the door in the morning quickly, while still keeping your home clutter-free at the end of the day.
When you're preparing to tackle your family drop zone, ask yourself these two questions.
Do I use this item on a daily basis?
If the answer is no, find another place for it. Only keep must-have items in your drop zone so that you keep it from becoming a dump-zone!
How can I better utilize this space?
After you’ve cleared out all the unnecessary items out of your drop zone, look at the space itself. Is there something you can add to make the space more efficient?
• Place a decorative bowl on the counter to hold your keys, or mount hooks on the wall to hang bags or purses.
• Get a basket for each member of the family to hold shoes, gloves, or scarves.
• Put drawer organizers to good use by holding pens, pencils, stray paper clips or stamps.
The final step in keeping your drop zone organized is to commit to keeping it maintained. When you come home from work, don’t just drop all the mail in a giant heap. Pledge to sort everything into its proper place. Involve your kids in your efforts too. When they walk in the front door, make sure they know that their shoes and bags need to be put in their bins or hung on the wall instead of dropped on the floor or the counter.
Do you have a family drop zone that you plan on organizing this year? Let us know on our Facebook page!
Friday, January 3, 2014
If you’ve been outside today for more than a few minutes, you know that it is COLD outside! According to local weather reports, it looks like it’s only going to get worse as the weekend progresses. As temperatures drop, there is a greater need for you to take care of the pipes inside your house. Even in new construction houses, pipes run the risk of cracking and breaking, leading to water damage and costly repairs. Here are 4 things you need to do to prevent broken pipes in your house.
1. Locate your water shut off valve.
If you haven’t done so already, make sure you know where your water shut off valve is located in your home. Many times, it’s located near your water heater. Familiarize yourself with how to turn off your water quickly, just in case you do have a busted pipe.
2. Check your thermostat.
If you’re going to be away for a few days, don’t set your heat any lower than 55 degrees. You want to keep at least a little bit of heat circulating in the home so that your pipes don’t burst while you’re away.
3. Open your cabinets.
When temperatures drop below freezing, it’s a good idea to leave your cabinet doors open to allow warm air from the house to circulate around the pipes. This is even more important if the pipes are on an exterior wall.
4. Turn on your water.
If it’s extremely cold outside, turn on your faucets to allow a small trickle of water to come through the pipes. This will keep the water running in the pipes and keep it from getting frozen. If your sink has separate hot and cold faucets, let both of them drip. If there’s just one faucet, set it to medium so that both the hot and cold water lines are both activated.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Temperatures are cooling down and that means it’s time to start thinking of ways to prepare your Ball home for fall and winter. These simple steps can lower your utility bills and keep you and your family warm and comfortable throughout the cold season.
- Clear your gutters and downspouts from debris frequently throughout the fall. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems, pest infestations, wet basements, foundation damage and many other expensive complications. Consider installing gutter guards to cut down on the amount of leaves that can clog your drainage system.
- Caulking is one of the least expensive home repairs out there, with some of the biggest energy savings. Caulk around windows and doorframes to prevent heat from escaping. Silicone caulk is great for outdoor use because it won’t crack or shrink when the weather gets colder. If your weather stripping is cracked or loose or you can see daylight from inside your home, consider replacing it.
- Now is the best time to get your lawn ready for the spring. By spreading seed now, you give the roots enough time to germinate and develop a good root system before the cold weather sets in. If you can, aerate your lawn before you put down fertilizer, which will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. We’ve found a great tutorial from DIY Network on how to aerate your lawn. If you aren’t able to aerate, consider mulching dry, fallen leaves rather than raking them. When you mow, remove the bag and let the pieces fall among the grass blades. This will allow them to decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter.
- Change your furnace filter regularly. Before you switch over to the heat setting, contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service your gas heater or furnace to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Your local utility company will often provide this service for free. Also have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Just because it’s getting cooler does not mean that your ceiling fan can’t help you lower your utility bills. Change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.
- Take the time to do some additional fall cleaning you don’t normally get around to, like laundering window treatments, vacuuming your mattress and box springs, and cleaning out the clothes dryer vent. These small tasks will help remove dust and dirt that can be circulated into the air while your home is closed during the winter months. This cleaning will also save you time when you begin your preparations for the fall and winter parties and guests you will be hosting in your home.
Are there any other maintenance tips you'd like to share? Let us know on our Facebook page!
Monday, August 26, 2013
Moving is difficult for even the most organized people. When children are involved the difficulty increases. Whether you are moving just down the road or to a completely new city, here are some tips to help ease the transition.
1. Let Your Kids Help
If they're old enough, let your children help you pack some of their personal belongings. Even at a young age, kids can sort their toys and help you wrap objects in tissue paper or bubble wrap. If you'll be putting some things into storage, ask them what they would like to keep and what they don't mind parting with for a while. Make sure your kids know that their toys and belongings will follow them to the new house and aren’t being thrown away. If you’re using cardboard boxes, let your child decorate them after they’ve been packed.
2. Alleviate Their Fears
If possible, take the children to see their new home and neighborhood in advance. This will help to take the “mystery” out of the move. Introducing your children to their new neighbors will reassure them that they will make new friends after the move.
3. Pack It Last, Unpack It First
Children of all ages crave stability and comfort. Make your child's bedroom a safe place for them in your old home and recreate that same sense of ownership for them in their new bedroom. Older children may not want their new bedroom to be identical to the old (in fact, new furniture or decor could help dull the loss of school friends and activities), but younger children will benefit from a room nearly identical to the one they left behind. Make the moving disruption as minimal as possible by packing your child's room last and unpacking it first upon arrival.
4. If It’s Important, Keep It Close
Never make the mistake of letting the movers pack your child’s favorite toy or special blanket. Keep these items with you at all times. This will help ease any separation anxiety they may experience from the changes, and minimize your stress when you arrive if you can't find it right away. If it's important to your infant or toddler, it should be just as important to you -- don't let it out of your sight when you're moving.
5. Get Involved
Help your kids to make new friends by getting them involved in extracurricular activities in their new neighborhood. Find local schools, churches, co-ops and other neighborhood connections that might make your transition and introduction to your new place smoother. Sports leagues, community kids' clubs and classes specific to your child's interests will keep them busy, introduce them to new friends and make them feel more at home in their new surroundings.
Have you ever moved with children? Based on your experience, would you add anything to our list? Let us know on our Facebook page!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
With the summer temperatures rising, so does the need for more energy for your home. Make sure your home is running at the highest efficiency possible by following these simple tips. They can help lower your energy bills and leave you cool and comfortable all summer long!
1. Keep the blinds closed during the day. By keeping your blinds closed during the hottest part of the day, you’ll block heat from seeping into your home. For added insulation from the heat, use heavy drapes or curtains to block out the sun’s rays.
2. Adjust your thermostat to run at least two degrees warmer than you normally would. Consider using a programmable thermostat so that your air conditioner isn’t working hard to cool your home while no one is there to enjoy it. According to Kentucky Utilities, a programmable thermostat can save up to 12% on your home energy costs. Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
3. Use ceiling fans to cool your home. Even when your air conditioner is running, turn your ceiling fans on so you can spread the cooled air more effectively throughout your home without having to adjust the thermostat. According to energy.gov, if you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort level.
4. Consider planting shade trees or shrubs in areas of your yard that receive full sun during the day. Not only will you save on energy costs, but you’ll give your home more curb appeal! An air conditioning unit that operates in the shade uses less energy than one operating in the sun, however when planting, make sure to keep limbs far enough away from the unit so that they don’t block airflow.
5. On really warm days, avoid using your oven. Stick to using a crockpot, the microwave, or grilling out. Heating your oven up daily adds more heat to your interiors and therefore requires your air conditioning cooling system to work harder and longer. If you need to do laundry, wait until the sun has gone down so that you aren’t heating your home more than necessary.