8 Tips to Bug-Proof Your Home

Ants

Springtime means budding trees, blooming flowers, soft breezes and, unfortunately, an influx of bugs. Eager to stretch their wings and legs and go in search of a food source, a host of bugs may soon start eyeing your home as a possible new residence. Making sure you bug-proof your house can help keep the bugs outside where they belong. With these eight tips, you can protect your home against unwanted guests.

1. Make Your Surroundings Inhospitable

Like humans, bugs have preferences when it comes to making a new home. In order to discourage them from cohabiting in your space, make your surroundings as inhospitable to them as possible. Spending some time cleaning up both your house and yard provides a first line defense against bugs. Being overly neat and clean around your house and property effectively makes you a rude host to these unwanted visitors.

  • In your yard, dump out any standing water. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes. In fact, mosquitoes need water to pass through their lifecycle. Within a short time, just a few mosquitoes can lay hundreds of eggs in standing water. These eggs soon hatch into hundreds of new mosquitoes.
  • Mosquitoes aren’t the only insect hoping to take up residence in your yard. Wood piles are cozy and dark, making them ideal homes for a variety of crawling bugs. Be sure to keep piles of wood or debris away from the side of your home.
  • Inside, keep your home clean and tidy. Bugs, like ants, are searching for a food source. It’s easy for crumbs to accumulate on tables, countertops, and on the kitchen floor. A quick wipe-down after meals and frequent sweeping of kitchen and dining room floors can minimize the food trail.
  • It’s just as important to avoid standing water inside as it is outside. A lone mosquito can lay eggs inside your home just as easily as it can in the yard. Cockroaches also need a water supply to survive so drying up potential water sources can discourage them.

2. Watch for Invaders

Cockroach

Ants send scouts to check out a new area before sending in the troops. When you see a lone ant, don’t ignore it. Take care of any initial invaders promptly before they can carry the message back to the rest of the hill. Likewise, keep an eye out for other bugs like cockroaches and crickets that may sneak inside. If you catch them early, it’s much easier to eliminate them from your home before they make it their home too.

3. Guard Your Perimeter

Bugs search for ways into a cozy home. Eliminate the easy entry points. First, seal your doors or install door sweeps to fill in any under-door gaps. Weather stripping isn’t just for winter. Install it for both doors and windows to seal openings. Be sure to check for openings around pipes, vents, garage doors, and windows. Caulk any cracks you find to seal up obvious entry points.

4. Screen Your Windows

When warmer weather comes, many people like to open the windows and let in some fresh air. Make sure that both your windows and doors have good screens so that you’re not letting in more than fresh air. Check existing window screens to be sure they are in good working order. Repair any rips or tears that could let bugs inside. If you have a patio sliding glass door, invest in a sliding screen. Screens keep the fresh air coming in and the flying bugs and other debris out where they belong.

5. Keep it Clean

Food is a beacon to bugs. The pantry is a hotspot for these crawlers, which is why you should be sure to keep dry foods sealed and put away. Plastic or glass storage containers can seal up bug favorites like sugar and cereal. Don’t leave dirty dishes on the counter or in the kitchen sink. Also, avoid leaving overripe fruit out on the counter, which can increase your risk of a sudden infestation of fruit flies.

Be sure to take out the trash promptly as many types of bugs love to burrow into an overflowing trashcan. If you have a lot of food scraps, don’t just toss them in the kitchen trash can. Instead, keep compost and food scraps sealed, and take them out frequently.

Don’t forget about pet food either. Rather than leaving food out all the time, which can quickly become a creepy-crawly smorgasbord, feed your pets more frequently in portions that they can eat in a single setting.

6. Use Safe Chemicals

If, despite all your best efforts at warding your home against insects, you spot a bug or two, don’t despair. You can still get rid of them by using some common household ingredients. Many bugs, like ants, are repelled by strong smells. Reach for the vinegar and spray or wipe down surfaces where you’ve spotted bugs. Ants also do not like cinnamon so sprinkling a line across windowsills or on counters can keep them out.

What about everyone’s favorite home-invading critter, the cockroach? To get rid of pesky roaches, make a cockroach cocktail. Cockroaches love both cocoa and sugar. By mixing either with dichotomous earth or Borax, you can kill any roaches that eat it.

7. Encourage Natural Predators

Cockroach

You can also turn to natural exterminators. By attracting bug predators to your yard, you can help control the bug population. Bats, for example, can eat thousands of mosquitos. They’re also not picky, willing to snack on flies, wasps, and spiders in addition to mosquitoes. To attract bats to your yard, build a bat box and mount it high on a pole.

Bats aren’t the only natural bug predators though. Warblers and swallows also love to eat mosquitos. Put out a birdhouse with some birdseed or nectar to attract them to your yard. To encourage birds to stick around, keep a fresh water source available. Do remember to change it daily or invest in a moving water feature. Birds do not like stagnant water, but mosquitos certainly do.

8. Call in the Pros

When all else fails, you can always call in the exterminators. If your bug situation has gotten out of hand, consulting with a professional can help you get on top of the situation. Exterminators can give you information and options for addressing infestations.

This spring, spend a little time bug-proofing your house. With a few tips and a little preparation, you can discourage bugs from invading your space. By creating a less-than-welcoming environment, you can keep bugs where they belong, outside your home.

4 Appliances that Increase Your Home Energy Bill

Home Computer

See how these four appliances are siphoning money from your wallet.

When you get your energy bill in the mail, do you ever wonder which one of your appliances is the biggest drain on your wallet? While your furnace and air conditioners are the biggest culprits, you might be surprised by the amount of power some of your smaller, everyday appliances are using.

We’ve previously discussed a few home improvements that will cut your energy bills, but here we’ve outlined a list of the top four most surprising appliances that are jacking up your energy bill. We’ve also included a few quick tips to keep these surprising energy-eaters in check.
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10 Healthy Tips & Benefits of Grilling

Healthy Grilling

Grill, baby, grill. The leaves may be changing color and the mercury may be falling, but it’s still great grilling weather. From burgers to brats, you’ve got a lot of great options to sear and savor. The best part is, grilling isn’t just fun, it can actually be good for you too.

5 Health Benefits of Grilling

There are health benefits to cooking your food on the grill versus on the stove or oven. We’ll go over some of the health benefits and give you some tips to serve up some tasty and healthy meals this fall. Let’s start with the five health benefits.

1. You Eat Less Fat

When you grill, you eat less fat because the excess drips off the grates. Think about cooking a burger on the grill versus in a pan on your stove-top. On the grill, the fat cooks off. In a pan on the cooktop, the fat has nowhere to go, so it pools and is eventually re-absorbed by the meat.
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How to Choose the Right Type of Grill for You

Personal Sized Grill

When I was 23 living in a studio apartment that had a common area for grilling, I got myself a personal hibachi grill. When I was married, living in a condo apartment with a balcony, I got a stand up electric grill (per my lease requirements), and now that I own my own home with ample pool deck for any size grill, my husband chose a large gas grill with all the bells and whistles. There are many types of grills that you can choose from, but they’re all built differently and may not be the best fit for your home.

So, whenever you move to a new place, it’s time to re-evaluate your grill choices. You can do this by asking yourself the following four questions. Based on your answers, you will have a better idea of what type of grill fits your life (and space) perfectly.
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6 Easy Home Improvement Tips to Cut Your Utility Bill

Sealing Window with Caulk

Considering the high cost of energy, it pays to do whatever you can to maximize your home’s use of this precious and expensive commodity. Fortunately, there are small, simple steps you can take to increase energy efficiency that can save you a substantial amount of money.

Try these six simple yet vital energy-saving tips and watch your utility bill start to shrink.

1. Seal Windows & Doors

Test the air-tightness of your home, and you might be astounded at how much energy passes through the cracks and crevices surrounding your windows and doors. Check the seal around your windows and the perimeter of your doors by holding a piece of tissue in front of them. If it moves, even slightly, you have a leak, which will be even more pronounced during windy weather. Rattling windows and doors also indicate air leaks, as does daylight peeking in from around door and window frames. Also check around switch plates and outlets for airflow leaks.

Cut down substantially on energy leakage by sealing off leaks in stationary windows with caulking and using weather sealant around windows and doors that are movable. Also install door sweeps.
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Clean With Steam: Why You Should Clean Filthy Floors With Steam Mops

If you’re only worried about how dirty floors look when your family and friends come tramping through your house in their shoes, think again. You may be exposing them to more health hazards than you think. I would know because I have a husband, three kids, two birds and two dogs living under my roof.

Floor Mop with Steam

According to recent research from the Scott Kelley Biology Lab at San Diego State University, which was published in the scientific journal Genome Biology, we live with an array of bacteria we bring into our homes via our shoes. All of this bacteria may affect our family’s health.

In fact, you track in dirt and more all over your house when you don’t leave your shoes at the door. Your pets bring in even more than things, like dust, dirt, bacteria, viruses, molds, fungi and other allergens.

Germs on your floors matter because they can exacerbate allergies and make you sick. For example:
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12-Volt Coolers: The Key to Successful ‘Staycations’

12 Volt Cooler on the Beach

I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely curtailed my vacation spending, preferring to plan shorter, closer-to-home trips versus one big, long, expensive excursion away from home for a week or more. How about you?

According to a 2014 Ipsos Public Affairs poll of more than 2,000 Americans, 36 percent have not taken a vacation (defined as leisure travel of at least a week at least 100 miles from home) in the last five years. In 2013, when polled about vacation plans, Ipsos found just less than half of Americans (48 percent) said they were confident that they would take a vacation in 2013, down four points from 2012.

12 Volt Cooler

Since the Energy Information Administration predicts gas prices will hover around a national average of $3.61 per gallon through this September, you might be planning a ‘staycation,’ also known as the ‘stay-at-or-near-home vacation’ or taking a ‘daytrip’ (defined as one-day travels within 50 miles of home) to save money.

If so, you might consider a 12-volt (12V) cooler to help ensure your family’s happiness on these outings. While traveling, I’ve found ice just doesn’t cut it in a conventional cooler all day long because wet, soggy food is a given and warm-ish drinks can ruin any family adventure or event.
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The ROI for Switching to a Stackable or Combo Washer Dryer

Washer Dryer Combo in the Kitchen

Ever wonder if it’s worth it to exchange your ol’ side-by-side washer/dryer setup for a stackable or combo unit? Well, my family learned firsthand there was plenty to gain in our rental property when we swapped out our full-sized washer and dryer for a stackable washer/dryer — space!

In fact, we gained an entire kitchen wall. We reconfigured the space and added more kitchen cabinets and counter space to our 1,000-square-foot house. Here’s what we learned during the process.
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Replace or Reface: Do Your Kitchen Cabinets Need a Facelift?

If your cabinets have seen better days, updating them can give your kitchen a whole new look. To determine if you want to transform your cabinets with a facelift or replace them altogether, compare the advantages and disadvantages of refacing.

What is Refacing?

Refacing your kitchen cabinets entails keeping your existing cabinets and simply freshening them up. This is accomplished by removing the old fronts from the cabinets to expose the framework, which is then refaced with a veneer made from real wood, Rigid Thermofoil (RTF) or plastic laminate. New knobs, pulls, hinges and molding are installed on the cabinets at the time of refacing.
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20 Bathroom Storage Ideas Under $20

Bathroom Storage Ideas

Unless you live in a palace, your bathroom isn’t nearly as big as you need it to be. Sure, it serves its purpose, but even those of us who appreciate small-space living like to keep things organized!

Although square footage may be at a premium, you have lots of options to help you maximize your three-dimensional space. Here are 20 of our favorites that won’t bust your budget.
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