Beat the Heat: How to Cool a Room

Beat the Heat: How to Cool a Room

Staying cool during the warm months can be difficult (and that’s an understatement). But before you give up and just sweat your life away, there are some really great tips we’ve collected to teach you how to cool a room. Generally, knowing how to cool down a room can come down to a few basic areas: removing heat sources, lowering your body heat, or remove the hot air. Check out the following tricks to cool down any room in your home, whether you have AC or not.

Remove Heat Sources

Lots of items and appliances in our homes create heat. Targeting these heat sources can help make your home more livable when the mercury starts to climb. To learn how to cool a room down, start by removing some of these heat sources:

  • Appliances:
    You don’t need to actually remove these appliances, but it can help to reduce your use of them. Turn off the heat dry option on your dishwasher, stop using your dryer and instead hang-dry most of your clothes. Try to cook meals without using your oven or stovetop. Instead, opt for salads, sandwiches, smoothies, or grilling outdoors.
  • Light bulbs:
    All sources of light can give off some heat, so you want to use as few of them as possible. Alternatively, switching to more energy-efficient bulbs can provide some heat relief. Incandescent light bulbs create the most heat, so switch them out for LED bulbs.
  • Screens and computers:
    Using your laptop or computer can add heat to your rooms. Shut them off for the night or when you’re done working to help not only keep your room cool, but to lower your electrical bill too.
  • The Sun:
    Not surprisingly, the massive ball of burning gas that keeps our planet from freezing over can also be a big heat source within your home. When it shines through your windows it can really heat things up, especially in summer months. This is particularly true for windows that face west or south. You can install light-blocking shades or honeycomb blinds that will add a layer of protection against the sun’s rays.

Lower Body Heat

Sometimes you have to focus on yourself rather than looking for outside solutions. Try these quick tips to help with your own personal cooling:

  • Stay hydrated
    Drinking plenty of water before bed can help keep your body hydrated when sweating during the night. It also helps your body to stay cooler throughout the day.
  • Take a cold shower
    A quick cold shower can be an instant solution to the too-hot blues. Make sure to get your hair wet and let it air dry so you can reap the benefits long after the shower is over.
  • Use cotton
    Cotton sheets breath much better than other fabrics. Take it another step and get your sheet wet. Ring it until it’s damp and then place it over your body before bed. The slow evaporation will help keep you cool most of the night. Turn on your ceiling fan or place a box fan aimed at your bed to take this effect to the next level.
  • Go solo
    Body heat is a huge factor in staying cool, and we’re not just talking about your own body heat. Sleeping with a partner or child can make it harder to stay cool, so try going solo for a night or two. Sleep on the couch or have everyone run down to the basement and sleep on air mattresses to help stay cool.
  • Freeze your clothes
    It may sound crazy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Place you clothing (specifically, your pajamas) in a large, air-tight, resealable bag, and then place it in the freezer for a few hours. When you take it out, your clothes will be pleasantly cold. Just make sure that there’s no moisture on your clothes before you freeze them — cold clothes feel good; icy, dripping clothes not so much.
  • Use a fan
    Sitting under a ceiling fan or in front of an oscillating fan help trick your body into believing the room is cooler than it actually is. Put a bowl of ice in front of the fan to create a cool, misty breeze. Grab a cold drink and let your body relax.

Remove Hot Air

How to cool a room? Well, if you can’t remove the heat sources or cool down your own body, then your last option is to remove the hot air itself. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Open the windows:
    Let any cool air in. Of course, if it’s hotter outside than in, you’ll want to keep them closed. Be strategic about this: open the windows in the early hours when it’s cooler outside then shut them in the afternoon.
  • Create convection:
    If you have double-hung windows, lower the top sash and raise the bottom sash in each window. This will help cool air to flow in through the bottom and for hot air to escape through the top sash.
  • Create a cross breeze:
    To accomplish this, focus on having airflow from one side in, and out another. You can do this in a bedroom if it has two windows by aiming a fan out one window with the second one open. For rooms with just one window, open up the window and find another room on the opposite side of the house to help flow from one room to another, creating a cross breeze.
  • Use Your Exhaust Fans:
    Kitchen or bathroom fans that vent to the outdoors can help remove heat as well — so turn them on! You can also turn large fans into exhaust fans for your whole house by aiming them out the window of the upper floors while keeping all doors open. This will remove the heat from the hot upper stories while drawing cool air in and up from the first floor.
Power Behind the Throne: How to Fix Your Toilet

Power Behind the Throne: How to Fix Your Toilet

Don’t feel like calling a plumber? You may not have to. Fixing toilet problems yourself is actually pretty easy. We’ll walk you through how to fix a toilet focusing on some of the most common problems every household experiences.

Fix a Running Toilet

A running toilet is probably the most common problem you’ll face. And the good news is that it’s a problem you can most likely fix yourself. This problem can happen either when the water level in the tank is too high, allowing water to flow over the top of the overflow tube and down into the tank. Or because the flapper isn’t sealing itself correctly in the opening of the flush valve. No matter the issue, the repairs are super easy. All refill valves have a specific method for adjusting the water level, and flapper valves are easy to replace or adjust. You can also fix this problem by doing any of the following:

  • Check for a faulty chain or flapper
  • Adjust the water level
  • Check for water-logged float
  • Replace a fill valve

Tighten a Loose Handle

Another common problem you can handle on your own is to tighten the flush handle when it gets loose or disconnects from your tank. You can solve this problem in two ways:

  • Adjust the flush handle mounting nut in the tank. It will have reverse threads that will require you to rotate it counterclockwise to tighten it.
  • Reconnect the lift chain or lift wire that connects the lift arm from the flapper.

Repair the Flush Valve

Some toilet repairs may involve your replacing your flush valve. Your flush valve is a brass or plastic fitting attached to the bottom opening of the tank in the center. This valve operates with a neoprene or rubber flapper or a float ball. To repair the valve follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your water supply and flush the toilet.
  2. Remove the old valve flapper or ball assembly along with the flush lever chain, guide wires, or anything else connected to the drain valve assembly.
  3. Take a sponge and remove any excess water in the tank.
  4. If your valve seat is brass, use steel wool or sandpaper to clear it of debris, then rinse with a soft cloth. Let it fully dry before moving on. You can speed up this process by using a hair dryer.
  5. Now, install your new sealant ring onto the drain valve seat. Depending on the kit, you may just need to peel the paper off from one side of the ring. Carefully center it over the opening of your cleaned valve seat. Press it gently to set it in place. Don’t press too hard!
  6. Grab the flapper ball valve assembly, and test fit the best location before removing the paper on the sealant ring. Position it at about a 45-degree angle so the tank ball can pivot freely and open fully when the chain lifts it. The chain should pull at an angle slightly back toward the hinge of the tank ball, or straight up. Once you’ve got the right spot, remove the paper from the sealant ring and place the flapper ball valve assembly over the sealant ring and press down firmly.
  7. Next, attach the lift chain by checking that the tank ball is closed, then make sure the toilet flush lever is down. Connect the chain attachment to the clip hole in the flush lever. Connect the clip to the plastic chain link allowing for a slight bit of slack in the chain. You can trim off any unneeded chain links. Leave a couple hanging from the clip.
  8. Finally, turn back on your water supply and let the tank refill. You may need to adjust the chain length through a bit of trial and error.

Solve a Slow Filling Toilet

This toilet repair has a few steps, but it’s still not overly complicated. The most common reason for a valve to no longer fill a tank or to slow down is a debris issue and how long your valve has been in use. Debris can build up with time in your water system. The valve body, shut off valve, or supply line can also restrict the flow of water and slow down the filling speed. Valves tend to have a good life for about 7 years, then they start to wear out. To flush debris from your water supply, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your water supply and flush the toilet.
  2. Reach into the tank with one hand under the float cup and lift it. With that same hand, grab the gray shaft the keeps the float cup all the way up. Don’t let the float cup drop or let the valve shaft turn—keep them in place.
  3. Now place your opposite hand on top of the valve cap and place your thumb on the side arm coming out of the top. Turn the cap and lever counterclockwise about 1/8th of a turn to unlock. You can now lift off the lever and cap from the valve body.
  4. You can now inspect for debris on the seal and the portion of the valve that is still in the tank.
  5. Grab a cup and hold it upside down over the exposed valve and turn your water supply back on for about 10 to 15 seconds. The pressure can help release any debris inside the valve.
  6. Reassemble the valve by replacing the cap arm next to the refill tube. In order to lock it in place, press the cap down while gently turning the cap and arm clockwise.

If flushing the debris doesn’t solve your slow-filling problem, you may have to replace or repair the valve completely.

Extend the Life of Your Water Heater: How to Drain a Hot Water Heater

Extend the Life of Your Water Heater: How to Drain a Hot Water Heater

Have you noticed that your hot showers are getting shorter and less steamy? If this is the case, there’s a chance your water heater is losing some of its potency. But don’t worry, you don’t need to completely buy a brand new one or suffer through cold showers. You can easily learn how to drain hot water heaters and flush it to bring back some of its vigor.


Certain minerals like calcium and magnesium can build up over time in your water heater, causing you to need to drain the hot water heater. This is especially common in areas with hard water, and if you don’t counter the hard water with a water softener. This build-up reduces your hot water heater’s effectiveness, and can also start demanding more energy than usual to heat your water (driving your utility bill up). As such, it may be smart to start flushing and draining hot water heater once a year. And the fall is a great time to do it. This will extend the lifetime of your water heater, saving you from having to eat the cost of a replacement.

Supplies Needed:

Garden hose (yeah; that’s about it)

Note: some water heater tanks need to be completely full to avoid damage to the heating elements or gas burner. And of course, always read and follow all manufacturer’s directions and warnings for your particular water heater. If you don’t feel up to the task, contact a professional.

Step 1

Turn off your cold water supply valve at the top of the water heater.

Step 2

Turn off your water heater. If you have a gas water heater, turn the thermostat to the “pilot” setting. If you have an electric water heater, turn off the electricity from your main electrical panel. This is extremely important as exposed heating elements can burn out if the water level in your tank drops below the level of the hot elements. Water in the tank can remain hot for hours, so once you turn your water heater off, wait overnight before proceeding.

Step 3

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve of your water heater tank. This can be found near the bottom of the tank. Make sure to place the opposite end of the hose on the driveway or in a floor drain. You can also use buckets, just make sure to be careful as the water can be extremely hot as you work unless you’ve given it sufficient time to cool.

Step 4

Locate the nearest water tap to your water heater, preferably on the floor above. Doing this can help alleviate some pressure in the water heating system, allowing the water to drain far quicker from the tank.

Step 5

Now open the drain valve and let the water completely drain from the tank. Again, the water may be hot, so use caution. Once the water has completely drained from your tank, briefly turn the cold water supply back on. This can help stir up any remaining sediment. Turn off the cold water supply again, and then repeat the draining process again. You can continue to repeat this process until the water runs clear. Sometimes, there is severe sediment build-up which can block the opening of the drain valve. If this is the case, it may be best to call an expert for assistance.

Step 6

You can now close the drain valve and remove the garden hose, turning the cold water supply back on. Your water heater tank will start to fill back up. Remember to go back to the tap that you had opened up earlier; once cold water begins to flow from the tap, you can turn it off. You can now turn the electricity back on to the tank or the gas valve back on from the pilot position. Make sure to check the valve opening once it’s closed to make sure there aren’t any water leaks.

Knowing how to drain a water heater can come in handy, as installing a new water heater can cost anywhere from $795 to $2,800. The time it will take you to flush and drain the hot water heater is usually a better option than having to shuck out hundreds of dollars to replace it. Start flushing your water heater once a year to avoid needing to replace it, and helping extend its life.

Water You Doing?: How to Read Your Water Meter

Water You Doing?: How to Read Your Water Meter

Knowing how to read water meter can be a very helpful skill to learn. For instance, you can use the water meter to figure out how much water your household uses on a daily basis. To do so, read your meter at the start of the day and again at the end of the day and compare the totals. A water meter can also help you check for leaks. If you suspect a leak, turn off all the taps in your home then look at your meter. If it’s still turning, you most likely have a leak somewhere. 

Of course, in order to measure daily usage or monitor leaks, you need to know how to use your water meter in general. Here’s how you can locate and read your water meter.

Locate Your Meter

To start, you’re going to need to locate your meter. Your water meter is generally located near the front curb of your home. In colder climate areas, you may find it inside, usually in the basement. If your meter is outside, it can be found in a concrete box in your yard marked “water” or in a meter pit with a cast iron lid.

Gently remove the lid with a screwdriver or pliers. Be careful: spiders or other little critters may have taken up residence in your meter. 

Reading Water Meter

In the U.S., water meters typically measure volume in cubic feet or gallons. Water charges on your bill are based on 100 cubic feet or 1000 gallon units.

There are two basic types of water meters—a round-reading meter with several separate dials or a straight-reading meter that looks a lot like an odometer in a car. The straight-reading meter tends to be the most commonly found.

Straight-Reading Meter

On a straight-reading meter, the numbers found below the words “cubic feet” are where you will take your reading. Say the meter reads 81710.03, this is the total number of cubic feet or water recorded since the meter was first installed. If your utility bill comes in units of 100 cubic feet, then your utility company would just read this as 817.

On some straight-reading meters, a small blue triangle can be seen next to a two-digit number. This number is the low flow indicator. This triangle will spin if water is flowing through the meter. This is one way you can check for leaks.

On straight-reading meters, the size of a meter is printed on the dial. If you see that the final number on your meter has “turned over” but the big sweep hand hasn’t passed the 0.6 mark, be aware that this meter number isn’t completely correct. For example, if the number shows 2426 and the big sweep hand is at 0.9, the correct reading on your meter is actually 2425.92 cubic feet.

Round-Reading Meter

A round-reading meter is a bit older and less common, but many are still in service. This kind of water meter has several small dials, which means it can be a bit more difficult to read. For water meter reading of a round-reading meter, each dial is marked off in divisions of 10 and can be read more like a clock, although the hand on every other dial turns counterclockwise. In order to read this kind of meter, start with the 100,000 dial and then read each dial around the meter to the one-foot dial. If the hand sits between numbers, use the lower number.

Reading a Digital Display

Today, some water meters will have a digital display. Knowing how to read a water meter gallons or cubic feet is a lot easier on these than analog meters. Digital water meters need light for activation, so grab a flashlight and shine it on the display for a minute or two. A digital display will alternate between the flow rate and meter read. The flow rate equals the number of cubic feet or gallons per minute that flows through the water meter, while the meter read equals the cubic feet or gallons used. A few digital display meters let you review your water use history. This can help you track your water use trends and even show when leaks have occurred.

You can check your water provider’s website for more information surrounding your water meter. Keeping an eye on your meter can ensure you stay on top of leaks and ensure your household’s water usage is within a reasonable range, so check your water meter out today!

Stain in the Neck? Here’s How to Get Stains Out of Carpet

Stain in the Neck? Here’s How to Get Stains Out of Carpet

How to get stains out of carpet is an age-old question that has plagued many a homeowner. The frustration that comes with it can cause many people to just ditch carpet altogether and go for an easier cleaning floor material, like tile or wood.

But for those of you who love the luxurious, soft feel of carpet beneath your bare toes, there is hope out there. The best place to start with any stain is knowing exactly what caused it. Then you can attack the problem head-on with one of our nifty carpet stain remover tricks.

Note: for each of these tips, be sure to use a clean, white cloth and always dab at the stain, don’t rub.

Coffee & Tea

You wouldn’t think it, but one of the best ways to get a stain out of your carpet from these beverages is to grab another beverage—beer! Pour a bit of beer right on top of the stain and then lightly rub into the carpet. Repeat a couple more times until all traces of the stain are gone.

Small Spills

There are a couple things you can do for small spills ,like juice from a sippy cup. First, shaving cream. Blot the stain with a clean cloth, then pat it with a wet sponge. Squirt a bit of shaving cream on top, and then wipe away with another clean, damp sponge.

You can also try using a bit of vinegar. Rub a small, light stain with a solution of 2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Allow the solution to dry and then vacuum it up! This is also a solution you can use for how to get old stains out of carpet before completely ripping the carpet out.

Red Wine

Before you do anything to figure out how to get stains out of carpet caused by red wine, remember to always blot the spill first. You want to remove as much wine from the floor as possible; dilute any remaining wine with cold water using a clean cloth.

You can now clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. After this, sprinkle salt onto the stain and wait about 10 minutes, then vacuum everything up. Some stores carry carpet stain removers specifically targeted at red wine. You can also purchase one of these to have on hand for a spill.

Paint

Vinegar isn’t just for the kitchen or laundry room. You can use vinegar to clean up several different kinds of stains — including paint! That said, you’ll need to move fast, because dried paint is a much bigger problem. While the paint is still wet, mix a solution of 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar with 1 1/2 teaspoons laundry detergent and two cups of water. Pour the solution on top of the stain and then using a sponge, sponge away the solution and paint before it dries and sets in. Rinse everything with cold water.

Grease & Oil

Shaving cream can also work on grease and oil stains. Spray the cream on top of the stain, and then gently work it into the stain, allowing it to soak into the shaving cream. Let everything dry and then rub it away with a soft, damp cloth.

Another great carpet stain remover for grease and oil is to use cornstarch and milk. Mix the two together to create a paste, then apply it to the stain. Let the solution dry then vacuum it up! You can also just pour straight cornstarch onto a grease or oil stain. Allow it to sit for a few hours and then vacuum it up.

If the stain is caused by greasy food, you can mix 1 part salt to 4 parts rubbing alcohol and rub it hard into the stain. Wipe away with a clean cloth.

Vomit

Vomit can be a tough cookie to crack when it comes to a carpet stain. To tackle this particularly nasty mess, head to the store for a good carpet stain remover. Once back at the house, start by clearing away any solid matter from the mess using a fork or spoon (gross, I know, but important if you want to save the carpet). Next, grab a stain remover from the store and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Then blot with a damp, clean cloth. You may need to repeat this process.

Dog & Cat Urine

These types of stains can be some of the most difficult to deal with, so you may need to invest in a wet vac or a store-bought remedy. Don’t use a steam cleaner as it can set the stain… and the odor. Instead, start by blotting the stain with a white cloth, then use a store-bought carpet stain remover specifically designed for pet messes. Repeat this process until the stain and smell are gone. You can also try to use a wet vac. Once you’ve used it on the stain, rinse the area with cool water.

Easy Tips for Saving Electricity

Easy Tips for Saving Electricity

Seeing a high electricity bill this month? Looking for ways to bring that nasty number down? Easy peasy. There are several things you can do each and every day to help you save electricity so you can not only save a little bit on your monthly bit but so you can also cut back on your carbon footprint. Check out our top electricity-saving tips below and then share them with your family members or roommates so you can all learn how to save electricity together.

1. Invest in a smart thermostat

These smart thermostats, like Nest, will show you a temperature range for your AC or heat. This range is an eco-friendly setting that will still offer money-saving benefits while still keeping your house a comfortable temperature. If you don’t have a smart thermostat, you can still save by lowering your set temperature by two degrees. Lower it by five degrees to save 10% on your heating bill.

2. Reduce heat in the kitchen

In warmer months, mix up your weekly menu to include more salads, smoothies, or meals you can cook on the barbecue outside. Avoid using your stove or oven as much as possible, this can help you reduce the heat in your home while also lowering your cooling costs.

3. Wash all laundry in cold water

Washing all of your loads in cold water is not only good for your electricity bill, it’s also better for your clothes. On average, washing three loads per week in cold water could save you $22 a year on your energy bill.

4. Set your dishwasher to air-dry

Stop using the heat-dry function on your dishwasher. Depending on how many loads you do in a day, you could be saving about $27 a year. While some things may be a little wet still after the load is done, you can just leave the door open and let it finish air-drying.

5. Unplug appliances you aren’t using

Instead of manually plugging and unplugging everything in each day, connect your items to a power strip and then simply turn that off when you aren’t using something. If you’re going away for vacation, unplug as many appliances as you can – though you should leave necessities, like your fridge, running. Although each device alone doesn’t drain a lot of energy, all together they can make a big dent in your utility bills.

6. Install/replace weather stripping

Weather stripping prevents warm or cool air from escaping out of your home. If air is escaping, your AC or heating system will have to work overtime to keep the temperature stable, leading to higher electricity bills. Check all your doorways and windows for any damaged or missing weather stripping and make the necessary replacements.

7. Turn off unnecessary lights

It’s worth getting in the habit of turning lights off when you leave a room. Two 100-watt incandescent bulbs switched off for an extra two hours each day could save you about $15 a year. Even better, switch all your bulbs to LED.

You can also use task lighting. This means using table lamps or under-counter lights to work in kitchens and hobby areas rather than turning on ceiling lights to light up the entire room. 

8. Use natural light

Did you know south-facing windows can illuminate 20 to 100 times its area? During the day, take advantage of the sunlight: open up blinds and curtains instead of flipping on lightbulbs.

9. Be smart with window coverings

Window coverings can help promote airflow along with block the afternoon sun. In the summer, if you’re not in a room, pull down the blinds or draw the drapes to keep heat from sneaking into the home and causing your AC to work overtime.

10. Take shorter showers

Heating up your shower or bath water is expensive. Start cutting back on your showers. You can save $30 a year by cutting your shower down by one minute. In hotter months, try taking showers in tepid water, rather than steaming baths.

11. Don’t leave the sink running

Along with cutting down your showers, start reducing your hot water usage by turning off the sink while you do things like brush your teeth, shave or wash dishes. Doing this can save you about $19 a year.

12. Bundle up

Turn down your heater a few degrees and add a layer or two. Get used to wearing socks around the home, along with a sweater. Use a blanket if you’re sitting at your desk or on the couch. This can help you save a little bit during the winter and fall months instead of using your heater to stay warm.

13. Hang dry your laundry

If you have a large family, or several people living in your home, try hang-drying the laundry rather than using the dryer. If you do eight loads of laundry a week and hang dry half of those clothes, you could save $65 a year.

14. Run full loads

Try to only run a load of laundry when it’s full. Or try cutting out one load of wash each week. You could save another $20 a year simply by waiting to wash.

These tips can help you reduce the energy usage throughout your house with only minor adjustments. Learning ways to save electricity can save the environment and your wallet!