The Benefits of a Fireplace Insert

For homeowners with existing gas or wood-burning fireplaces, it can be frustrating to see high energy bills each month when the fireplace is used. Unfortunately, traditional fireplaces simply aren’t very efficient, which is why many homeowners look into remodeling their fireplace at some point to increase efficiency and functionality. One of the best decisions homeowners can make when it comes to revamping an existing fireplace is to install a fireplace insert.

Specifically, a fireplace insert can be placed directly inside an existing fireplace. Typically, these inserts have insulated glass doors and feature self-cleaning technology to save homeowners time and money. By understanding the many benefits of installing a fireplace insert, homeowners can ultimately make the decision that’s right for them.

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Improve Energy Efficiency

Possibly the biggest advantage of installing a fireplace insert is the energy savings homeowners can enjoy by doing so. While the results will vary from one home to the next depending on the type of fireplace and layout of the home, fireplace inserts have been found to increase overall efficiency from around 5% to 65% or more. This translates into significant energy cost savings for homeowners. Fireplaces without inserts don’t have sealed and insulated glass doors, which can result in faster-burning fires as well as wasted heat.

For homeowners looking to sell in the near future, installing a fireplace insert can be a great investment. This is especially true considering today’s home buyers are looking for homes that have energy saving features. Being able to advertise a recently installed fireplace insert will be a big appeal to buyers.

Reduce a Home’s Carbon Footprint

With better efficiency, homeowners can also enjoy the peace of mind in knowing they’re reducing their home’s carbon footprint. This is important as many homeowners are becoming more serious about lowering their energy use and doing their part to protect the planet.In fact, there are even EPA-certified fireplace inserts available that can practically eliminate emissions.

This is yet another feature of a fireplace insert that will appeal to today’s homebuyer segment. New homebuyers are very conscious of their carbon footprints and will go out of their way to buy a home that has environmentally friendly features.

Save on Fireplace Rebuild Costs

For homeowners who are on a tight budget or want to make the most of their money on a fireplace remodel, installing a fireplace insert is a very economical option. Because there is no need to remodel or build a chimney when an insert is installed, this can save homeowners a significant amount of money. The specific costs will vary depending on the size and configuration of the current fireplace, as well as the type of insert chosen, but an insert will almost always be significantly cheaper than a full fireplace remodel or rebuild. This is important when remodeling for the purposes of selling a home.

Increase Fire Safety in the Home

Installing a fireplace insert can also help homeowners enjoy a greater sense of safety in their homes, especially when compared to traditional wood-burning fireplaces. This is because fireplace inserts have sealed glass doors that can be kept closed while a fire is going, thus allowing homeowners and their family members to safely enjoy the flames and warmth from afar. Other fireplace designs require the doors to be open, potentially exposing open flame to the living area and creating a hazard with pets and small children.

Endless Styles to Choose From

Finally, fireplace inserts come in a variety of styles, so homeowners can choose one that best suits their unique sense of interior style and design. Of course, for homeowners interested in selling their home in the near future, choosing a fireplace insert style that will appeal to the widest range of prospective buyers is a good option. A traditional or modern style, for example, is more likely to appeal to a large segment of buyers than a more fun and trendy style.

Overall, a fireplace insert can be a great decision for homeowners who are interested in selling and want to get the largest return on investment for their updates. In the meantime, homeowners can also enjoy the added energy savings that a fireplace insert can bring.

Need A Termite Treatment At Home? Here Are 3 Effective Solutions

Homeowners across the world dread termites but with the help of technological advancements you can now resort to three efficient termite treatment options. It is best, in the first place, to keep termites from getting into your home by not stacking firewood anywhere near your home, pruning the undergrowth at the foundation and averting dry-rot. But if prevention is out of question, the next best option is cure and with proper treatment it is very much possible to keep termites at bay.

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Read on to learn more about the most common as well as effective termite treatment options from UrbanClap. Before you engage in any of these, you might as well talk to a qualified termite professional to find out which treatment method will efficiently drive out the termite species attacking your home.

The Bait Treatment:
This system of treatment is also commonly adopted by many homeowners as it offers minimal invasion in the home. In this traps or baits are set up along the perimeter of the property, preferably by a licensed professional, and the contents get eaten by termites. These pesticides are extensively spread all over the termite colony to effectively kill swarms at a time.
The traps for bait treatment must be removed and replaced annually and can easily be damaged by wear and tear, pets or the weather.

The Liquid Treatment:
One of the most common methods to treat infestation of termites is the use of liquid termiticides. Though there are many skeptical homeowners who prefer to stay away from chemicals liquid termite treatments have known to be one of the most effective and strongest way to get rid of bugs. Also, regular use of liquid treatment as a precautionary measure can keep termites at bay.
This treatment method starts typically by digging small trenches around the foundation of your home with the assistance of a licensed professional for termite treatment. After boring tiny holes within the foundation and filling them up with liquid termiticide, all you have to do is wait for the termites to coat the termiticide onto their exoskeletons and diffuse the liquid in their colonies.

The Fumigation Treatment:
This method is primarily resorted to as a last option for termite treatment because of the nature of pesticide typically used. Fumigation is opted mostly in regions with dry, hot climates to eradicate termite problem especially when several termite colonies build up within a certain area.
For effective fumigation, only professionals should be hired to thoroughly tarp off your home and then resort to gases for permeating into each termite colony to kill them all. It is an expensive treatment method and you will have to vacate your property for several days to avert inhaling these poisonous gases.

DIY Tips for Termite Prevention:
You can also follow these Do It Yourself (DIY) tips to keep your house protected from termite invasion.
•    Damaged Roof Repair- Termites can easily enter your home through damaged roof tiles. Get your broken tiles repaired as soon as you detect them so that termites don’t get free access to any part of your house.
•    Clear Wood near House- If you prefer to store firewood, make sure that it is kept away from your house premises. Termites feast on wood and you don’t want any wood stocked in and around your home for this very reason.
•    Foundation Crack Repair- Any crack in your foundation can also make way for termite entry. Ensure that all such damages in the foundation of your home are repaired as soon as possible.
•    Air Conditioning Maintenance- Although, Air conditioners offer great relief, mostly during summer time, don’t forget that the moisture produced by the A.C. can attract termites. It is your responsibility to point away the moisture release of the A.C. away from your home’s foundations.
•    Pipe Leakage- As is well known by now, termites thrive in damp areas. You need to regularly check all your pipes, outside as well as inside ones, and immediately repair the ones that are leaking to keep your house termite-free.
It is best to allow professionals to decide which termite treatment is best for your house. Licensed professionals have knowledge and experience as to which species have attacked your home and what is the safest and quickest way of them.

The mid heeled slingback and why you should get a pair right now! Plus, join the shoe & tell linkup!

The mid heeled slingback and why you should get a pair right now!  | 40plusstyle.com

2 weeks ago I featured my funky Chie Mihari shoes and uploaded them to Cherie’s Shoe & Tell linkup. They were promptly chosen as her favorite shoes, so here I am co-hosting the linkup this week.

I have decided to dedicate this special shoe article to the block heeled slingback.

Why?

Well, because of this shoe.

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This Chanel toe capped mid heeled slingback was featured with almost all of their 98 looks at their fall 2015 ready to wear show! Looking amazing every single time.

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I think it may just become the shoe of the year. I, for one, would very much like to have them.

Have a look at a few closeup looks from the show sporting these shoes.

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Here are a few reasons why I think this shoe is so fabulous:

  • They are very chic.
  • They are still funky too because of the colorblock effect.
  • They go with almost any outfit.
  • They look good with pants, skirts and dresses.
  • They look comfortable and easy to walk in!

If you are like me and like to add some similar shoes to your closet, here is what I found currently available online.

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Even more of my favorite shoes (including shoes with arch support) in the 40+Style Shop!

These are the slingbacks I have in my wardrobe right now, so the mid heeled slingback with block heels would be a a welcome addition!

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I hope you will join the fun Shoe & Tell linkup and show me some of your favorite shoes, the shoes that are on you wish list or an outfit featuring some great shoes! You don’t need to be a blogger to join. Just make sure that you have an image that is somewhere online.

Say Goodbye to These 10 Home Design Trends That Are So 2015

comfortable kitchen, interior of a nice loft

pio

 

vesempre/iStockIt’s hard to think of today’s decor trends with anything other than a myopic view. We have finally perfected interior design! you might think, smugly ensconced within the enveloping folds of your velvet couch while staring at your gallery wall—complete with a faux taxidermy deer head, of course.

But never forget the ’70s—or the ’50s, or any decade you find garish. No one was plastering their homes with a veritable Crayola box of colors in the ’80s as an intentional effort to look ridiculous. It was cool!

Alas, it’s time for us to reflect upon the year’s most-favored home design trends and take a good, hard look at what should stay and what should go with the final days of 2015.

Rest assured, we’re not calling (most of) these trends tacky. Every single one has been lauded by interior-design magazines and obsessed over on Pinterest. Done correctly, most of them are beautiful, tasteful and elegant.

But they’re all so … tired. They’ve had their time to shine. As a new year approaches, let’s put these 10 design trends aside and try something new.

1. Swiss crosses

Been there, done that. We’re ready to cross this design trend off our list.

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swiss crosses

This minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired pattern looks good on a quilt, throw pillow, or shower curtain, but it may be time to give this simplistic design a break. The fad may not have run its course yet, but it spent the last year permeating Pinterest, so it’ll be on its merry way soon. And what’s worse than being the last one to arrive at a party? (Plenty, actually.)

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2. Black and white spaces

No gray area here. We’re tired of this colorless look!

Houzz

blackandwhite

Another Scandinavian import, white rooms with black accents—or, rarely, the other way around—are certainly chic. A simple take on class and style. But isn’t it time for some color? There’s no need to paint your walls yet if you’re still digging the trend, but adding some royal blue throw pillows or a pink chair will give some 2016-style oomph to your definably 2015 room.

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3. Mixed metals

The only gold and silver we want to see mixed together is in our bank accounts.

Z Gallerie

mixed metals

“Anybody who mixes metals besides Rolex is an idiot, and maybe Rolex is an idiot, too,”Scott Dresner of Chicago’s Dresner Design told me when I interviewed him aboutkitchen trends designers hate. While his statement might be broad, chances are good you’ll look back on 2015 with the same attitude. Enough with combining silver and bronze; consistency is its own reward.

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4. Industrial chic

Industrial chic? More like “industrial cheap”!

Studio Cuvier

industrial chic

There’s nothing wrong with adding some industrial touches to your home. (I may or may not be writing this from an industrial-inspired dining chair.) But loft-style decor is so trendy. You’ll probably think back on it like you do the mullet: Cool in small doses, but generally used incorrectly.

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5. Driftwood

This is one design trend we’re hoping will just drift away…

DigsDigs

This is one design trend we're hoping will just drift away...

Last year, we said good riddance to rustic-inspired, wood-pallet decorating—only to find driftwood rising in its stead. Chances are you didn’t go down to the beach and select that driftwood yourself (and if you did, seriously, bravo). Unless you live on the coast, your driftwood accents will look out of place once the fad dies down, so it might be time to start hunting for a replacement.

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6. Rich velvets

We love this look, but we’re afraid it’s time for velvet to go underground for a bit.

West Elm

velvet decor

Bold, velvet chairs and couches should never, ever go out of style. Unfortunately, the design world is defined by shifting trends and endless change, and eventually these gorgeous, rich, velvet fabrics will be unfashionable yet again. Savor them while you can. In the future, we’ll all look back at 2015 as a high point of royal glamour.

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7. Chintz

BYE, already!

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Floral patterns have been attempting a comeback for several years, but it’s time to let them wilt on the vine. Sure, the current interpretation is thoroughly modern, often combining large-scale designs with sleek, contemporary furniture; but as a society, it’s time to say no. No, chintz, your comeback is not nigh. Go away.

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8. Open shelving

We’d love to tuck away this design trend for a while. Oh wait, we can’t!

TIDBITS

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The debate over open shelving has raged on for a few years now, but 2015 is the year we drew lines in the sand. Some open-shelving fanatics seem to be tip-toeing quietly back,complaining of dust and grease splatter. (We told you!) Come back to the side of cabinet doors and cleanliness, friends. Let’s leave those dirty open shelves in the past.

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9. Faux deer heads

faux deer head

Houzz

For some reason, when designers tell homeowners they need to add something three-dimensional to their gallery wall, everyone leaps toward fake antlers. Whether you choosecardboard or white resin, it’s time for these eerie oddities to go the way of chevron decorations and cheap wood panelling.

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10. Explanatory walls

Does America really need this many reminders to eat?

sweetpickinsfurniture.com

Does America really need this many reminders to eat?

The writing’s on the wall: Stop putting writing on your walls. You don’t need to stick the word “family” in the middle of your gallery wall—we know. And believe it or not, most guests will understand that a kitchen is for “EAT”ing without enormous metal letters stating as such. Let your guests determine each room’s intentions without spelling it out for them—literally.

The Best Time to Furnish Your Home Is Now—Here’s Why

Need new furniture? Now is the best time to buy.

Now that the holidays are blessedly receding in our rearview mirrors, many of us may be surveying our homes and thinking, “Dang, why did I squander all that money on an Xbox One when we don’t even have a decent couch where we can sit and play “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” in style?”

If this lament rings a bell, you’re in luck. According to WCVB News in Boston, the best time to buy furniture is right after the holidays. The reason for this boils down to the fact that sofas, credenzas and coffee tables hog up a whole lot of floor space in a showroom—and January is the month when designers literally clean house to accommodate the latest styles and new models.

“Furniture makers release new models in February, so stores need to make room in advance,” Lindsay Sakraida at DealNews.com told WCVB. “Thus January is an excellent time to get good discounts.”

So how good a deal are we talking about? Well, according to theNational Retail Federation, savings can range from 30% to 60%. Given that a couch can easily cost $2,000, that’s an extra $600 to $1,200 in your pocket, all due to good timing!

Weather may also play a role. “In the north, the cold weather slows business, so we see plenty of sales to bring in traffic,” says Nancy Snyder, a Chicago-based interior designer at Bon Brise Design. After all, “no one wants to lug a heavy sofa or table into their home in the snow.”

As for where to go to score these deals, scan for “sample sale” signs, which mean a store is purging old inventory.

“These are usually floor pieces,” says Snyder, meaning they’re displayed so consumers can see, touch and sit on them to get a good feel for their comfort level. Of course, that also means they may have a few dings or dents or just not look as shiny new as they would straight out of the package. But for the price, they’re a steal.

And even if you miss this January window, don’t fret. Sample sales can crop up anytime. So when in doubt, it never hurts to ask.

The Best Ways to Save Tons of Money on Your Home in 2016

Want more moolah in 2016?

It’s New Year’s resolution time—when we vow to drop 18.5 pounds, start training for a triathlon, cut back on sodium, and maybe even give up our crippling HGTV addiction. What’s that you say? You want to make a resolution you might actually keep?  OK, try this on for size: Resolve to save buckets of cash by making simple changes around your home, sweet home.

Whether you live in a mansion or a condo, homes consume a ton of expensive energy—whether in the form of electricity, water or gas. The good news? You can lower these bills—freeing up cash for all kinds of other pursuits such as that new kitchen reno you’ve been dreaming of or even a vacation far from home. What’s more, these changes are far from painstaking; some are as simple as switching your lightbulbs or tweaking the settings on appliances.

Collectively these tiny changes can add up to huge savings. Try a few or all to reap the benefits of a fatter bank account in 2016—and beyond.

Get an energy audit

Consider this a checkup for your home: Many local utility companies offer energy audits (often for free), where experts assess your home’s energy consumption patterns looking for improvement areas where you could cut back on guzzling electricity, gas, or water (and also lower your utility bills). Auditors may do this remotely by poring through your records, or they visit your home to examine everything from its windows to duct work to shower heads—saving you as much as 30% of your monthly bills.

For more information go to energy.gov, or head to the Residential Energy Services Network, where you can enter your ZIP code to find an auditor near you.

Adjust your water heater

Most people set their water heaters on high. The amount of energy needed to keep gallons of water at scalding for no reason? A lot. Lowering it by just 10 degrees Fahrenheit will save you from 3% to 5% on your heating costs. Also, buy your heater a nice blanket to keep heat in and tack on an additional 4% to 9% in savings.

Swap your lightbulbs

Switching to low-energy lightbulbs is a quick and easy way to reduce lighting costs. A 60-watt bulb retailing for $6 will save between $30 and $80 over its lifetime. The average household has 50 bulbs—so that’s a minimum $1,500 in savings! But there’s no need to go out and buy $300 worth of lightbulbs all at once. Swap out the bulbs you use every day—kitchen and bedroom—and leave the barely used ones in basements or attics until they burn out.

Kill your home’s energy vampires

Those little lights all over your house that indicate printers and chargers are on but not in use? They’re “energy vampires” sucking dollars out of your wallet, an average of $165 a year for a typical U.S. household. The low-tech solution? Unplug these items before bed, which will save you as much as 10% on your energy bill. The high-tech solution? Power cords such as the Embertec Emberstrip AV+ ($79.95) that will turn off equipment when it senses they’re not in use.

Wash your clothes this way

Switch to cold water washes. Yes, your clothes will still get clean—some stains come out more readily in cold water—and you’ll save about $60 a year. As dryers account for 12% of energy in an average household, consider line-drying clothes in nice weather to save you almost $200 per year. Or, if you do use a dryer, clean your vent, which will reduce energy costs by $9 to $12 per month, says Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance.

Strip your windows in the winter

In the winter “even the smallest gaps around a window or door frame allow air to leak inside,” says Mark Liston, president of Glass Doctor. “An eighth of an inch gap under a 36-inch wide door will let in as much cold air as a 2.4-inch diameter hole punched in a wall!” That means in the winter, sealing cracks around windows and frames is a no-brainer that can bring down the heating bill between 10% and 15%.

Film your windows in the summer

And as for the summer, when the sun beats through your windows and bakes your home? For that, you can add window films—an imperceptible layer that acts like sunglasses, filtering out infrared and UV rays. A whole roll of it will run you around$25 but can translate to an average of 20% to 25% reduction in energy costs via the AC. Added benefit: It keeps colors in paintings and carpets from fading, says Mike Byrd, program manager for Madico, which provides window films for the Smithsonian, the Louvre, and many other architectural landmarks.

Cut the cord

Getting rid of cable and your landline will save you about $100 a month. Keep your fast Internet and consider buying a $35 Chromecast—a device that slings streaming shows from your cellphone to your TV.

Here’s How Smart Your Home Can Be in 2016

How smart can your home really be?

Everywhere you turn these days, you hear just how “smart” your home can be. In fact, 2016 is being hailed as the year that our homes truly enter the high-tech future, and all that talk about the “Internet of things” becomes more than just blather. Only what exactly does this all mean?

What are the new smart objects available for your home, and how will they all work together? For a glimpse at some of the cutting-edge highlights, check out these products below—some currently for sale, others soon to be released—that can make your house seem a whole lot savvier in the year ahead.

It’s good to be smart!

Your fridge

The upcoming Series 8 edition of the Bosch HomeConnect Refrigerator will snap a photo of the interior every time you shut the door. First, it will convince your kids that the little light does, indeed, go off when the door is shut. But more important, you can view these fridge pics later on your phone when you’re at the store trying to remember if you need milk or if you’re stocked up on dinner ingredients. Bonus: You can keep an eye on how that week-old paella is looking, if you dare. $2,500, Bosch.

Your doorbell

With the Ring doorbell, it’s as if you’re always home: When visitors ring your bell, the onboard camera transmits their images to your cellphone, letting you see who’s destroying your hard-earned privacy and allowing you to talk to these interlopers (or pals!) from wherever you may be. Now you can remotely tell UPS exactly where to leave that package. $199, Ring.

Your lights

The Fluxo smart lamp is designed to be the only light in the room. A sleek pendant containing 300 white and colored LED lights, it emits a wide range of light tones and intensities. You can turn on only certain sections in case, say, you want to read on one side of the room and your partner wants to doze on the other. It also stores your favorite types of light, automatically cues them at the right times based on your past usage patterns, and turns off when you leave the room. About $450, Kickstarter.

Your mirror

Tired of your selfie stick? Get ready for the Selfie Mirror, a device that, true to its name, snaps photos with an HD camera and a lumen light, without the hassle of holding a camera. But the mirror provides a whole list of more essential services from behind its reflective surface: The camera lets you make Skype calls to far-away friends and keep an eye on your home when you’re away. And you thought it was just about self-obsession! Starting at $199, Indiegogo.

Your front door

If you don’t want to sign on for a full-scale alarm system, the Elephant Door alarm is a decent alternative. Just attach the modules to your door and pair it with your phone. The device contains an accelerometer, gyroscope, and microphone, which detect when somebody tries to enter the door uninvited. When it detects a security breach, the Elephant emits a high-pitched alarm and alerts you to the situation through your device. Price TBA, Elephant.

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Your remote

If opening different apps to control your armada of smart devices is too much hassle for your future self to stomach, the Smart Remote might just save you. Simply point it in the direction of the device you want to control, and the remote will know which one you’re aiming for—which means you can adjust your speakers, lights, and thermostat according to your whims without leaving your well-worn spot on the sofa. Price TBA, Sevenhugs.

Your electrical outlets

The Eve Energy is a little white device that connects to electrical outlets to let you know how much energy is being used by a given outlet, providing a new way to keep your electric bills in check. It lets you switch the appliance in that outlet on and off remotely on your phone, so if you forget to turn the lights off you can do it on your way to work. $199, Elgato.

Your alarm system

Elarm is a set of sensors you place around your home that send you customized alerts—so you’ll know if an intruder has crossed the threshold, your dog is leaving an unwanted gift on the love seat (again), or if your daughter got home from school. The coolest feature: the Jiggle, a small stick-on sensor that you place wherever you want to detect movement, so you’ll know if, say, your kids are snooping in your closet or whether your elderly dad has taken his medicine. Available for preorder, price TBA, Elarm.

Your cybersecurity

Some people are scared off of smart home devices by fears that hackers could steal their info or spy on them, but the Pebble aims to put those fears to rest. This sleek and wireless device resembling a river rock continually monitors all of your connected devices and alerts you to suspicious activity: Think of it as a smart device cop. Green equals all good, orange means that an issue has been detected and Pebble is resolving it, and red indicates a security breach that you should investigate, pronto. $99 by preorder, Dojo-Labs. Sadly, we couldn’t find a device to control your significant other … yet.

4 Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money

Man installing fiberglass insulation in the wall.

Winter is the perfect time to tackle important home projects. But why stop at just improving your home? There are tons of great DIY projects out there that can improve your living situation and save you serious dough. Here are some simple winter projects to help you get started.

1. Update your insulation

Insulation helps keep the heat you generate inside your house, allowing rooms to stay warmer for longer. If you think you’re losing heat too quickly after you turn down the thermostat, you may want to inspect your insulation. Replacing old batches or adding pipe and tank insulation is a relatively easy way to help your home maintain its warmth and shorten how long you run your heater.

2. Seal pesky drafts

Another great way to keep heat inside (and energy costs down) is to eliminate any drafts you find in your home. Using a caulk gun to seal gaps in walls and windows can help minimize the amount of warm air escaping your house. You may also want to consider checking your doors’ weatherstripping for any openings. Replacing weatherstripping is a relatively simple process and shouldn’t put too much strain on your wallet.

3. Buy energy-smart lightbulbs

One of the easiest home improvement projects you can tackle this winter is to swap out your old incandescent bulbs for efficient LEDs. While the initial cost may be rather steep—LED bulbs tend to cost three times more than traditional incandescents—the lifespan of an LED is significantly longer and uses far less energy. If you’re unable to afford the initial cost of LEDs, though, you can look into compact fluorescent lights. These offer similar energy savings to LEDs, albeit without the same lifespan and high upfront cost.

4. Install a programmable thermostat

By automatically adjusting your temperature when you’re sleeping or at work,programmable thermostats can help you drastically cut down on your energy use. Models run at a variety of price points and installation should only take a couple of minutes. Some versions even allow you to adjust your thermostat from your phone, giving you extra control over when your heat or cooling kicks in.

While you might not see huge returns on your winter projects immediately, the savings you’ll make over the following years should be more than enough to make the investments worthwhile. Of course, improving your financial situation during the winter doesn’t have to stop at home improvement projects. You may also want to consider making a budget, work on creating good financial habits and improving your credit score this year. (You can see where you credit stands by viewing your free credit report card on Credit.com.) No matter what you decide, making the best of your time indoors during the winter could really pay off throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

Learning the Lingo: Cabriole, Camelback, and Other Couch Jargon Explained

sofas

Few pieces of furniture in your home carry more weight—figuratively or literally—than your couch. If life itself could be distilled into one massive, upholstered home furnishings item, it would be a sofa. So if you’re shopping for one, you’d better know your terminology.

There’s an entire universe of styles and options out there, and picking the perfect sofa is way more complicated than choosing between leather or fabric. Look no further than “Learning the Lingo,” our regular series where we decipher all the terms you need to know whether you’re buying, selling, or sprucing up your home.

This installment: a comprehensive couch glossary so you can find the ideal fit for you.

Cabriole sofa

C.K.Ma/Shutterstock

Cabriole sofa

Cabriole

The Cabriole sofa is characterized by an exposed wooden frame (often carved); continuous, equal-height back and arms; distinctive curved legs with concave lower portions and convex upper ones; and no separate back cushions. They rose in popularity around the time of Louis XV in the 1800s and have swung strongly back in vogue today.

The most famous modern-day cabriole may well be the one Tom Cruise jumped on during his enthusiastic profession of love for Katie Holmes, his sweetheart at the time, on “Oprah.” Clearly, these sofas can stand some unhinged but ebullient abuse!

 

Chippendale mahogany camel-back sofa

Camelback

Any traditionalist will love the classic line of a camelback, which has an arched back that rises to a higher point in the middle and again slightly at the ends. It usually has rolled arms and an exposed wood frame.

Cute fact: It comes in one-hump or two-hump styles. That’s why it’s sometimes referred to as “humpback sofas.” Not by us.

Chesterfield sofa

Chesterfield sofa

Chesterfield

The Chesterfield sofa’s signature feature is its partial button tufting. The design is highly versatile: It looks feminine and decorative when upholstered in linen or velvet but takes on a Gentleman’s Club feel when done up in leather.

Should you go into practicing hypnotherapy, you’ll be all set: Many historians believe thatSigmund Freud used a Chesterfield sofa during sessions, so perhaps it promotes introspection or is therapeutic. (As for your dreams: Remember, sometimes a sofa is just a sofa.)

Meridienne sofa

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Meridienne sofa

Meridienne

Picture it: a tufted, ornate sofa with a sloping back on just one side—and a woman draped dramatically over it. Now you have an official name for it: the Meridienne, aka the “fainting couch.” This style was the definition of luxury in the early 1800s, and while you don’t see it around too often these days, it still makes a style statement.

The Lawson sofa

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The Lawson sofa

Lawson

Created for a businessman named Thomas Lawson right around the turn of the 20th century, this sofa ditched the ornate, fancy-pants designs of the Victorian era and instead opted for a cleaner, more modern look. It has since turned into the most common, most American version of a couch: clean, boxy lines but with just enough give and comfort.

Tight-back Dean sofa from Room & Board

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Tight-back Dean sofa from Room & Board

Tight back

The back of the sofa is upholstered, with no loose cushions. This gives a firmer feel and a cleaner, more formal appearance. Cabriole, Chesterfield, and camelbacks typically have this style.

Loose-back sofa

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Loose-back sofa

Loose back

These couch cushions are separate from the sofa back, allowing for a softer, more comfortable lounging experience. Typically found on Lawson-style sofas, they’re great for homeowners with pets or kids, since the covers can easily be removed and cleaned in the event of spills, stains, and other traumas.

English arm sofa at Restoration Hardware

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English arm sofa at Restoration Hardware

English arm

An English arm is stuffed on the interior sides and flat on the exterior to create a clean line up the side of the piece. Equal parts classic and comfy, it’s popular for a range of design tastes.

Sock-arm sofa

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Sock-arm sofa

Sock arm

A sock-arm sofa is all about comfort: Rolled over the top but flat at the front, this style is one of the most common arms. It’s seen on a range of sofa styles, because it works with both overstuffed versions and sleeker designs.

Track-arm Petrie sofa from Crate & Barrel

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Track-arm Petrie sofa from Crate & Barrel

Track arm

The track arm is squared off, usually piped, and found on Mid-Century Modern pieces. While it’s not exactly comfortable, it’s got style in spades: It’s found on just about every piece of furniture in the early episodes of “Mad Men” (usually occupied by Don Draper, cigarette and strong drink in hand).

The Top 10 Germiest Spots in Your Home—and How to Clean Them

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They’re out there—lurking in your shower drain, under the doormat, around your kitchen sink, even in Humbert the Cat’s dinner bowl. Germs may be invisible to the naked eye (if they aren’t then you have a bigger problem than we might be able to help you with), but they’re almost everywhere.

Aside from the general nastiness, germs can cause illness and disease and trigger major allergies. And just in case you’re resting easy, thinking of this as a warm-weather problem, sorry to burst your bubble of smug complacency: We happen to be in prime germ season right now. Scientists don’t fully understand why people tend to get sick in winter, but hanging out with bacteria sure can’t help. It can’t help at all.

Be afraid. Or better still: Be prepared. Show those germs who’s boss!

So just what is your home’s Germ Central? If you think it’s the bathroom, think again. NSF International swabbed 30 surfaces you very likely touch in your home every day—ranging from kitchen surfaces to cellphones—to measure levels of yeast, mold, and coliform bacteria (a virulent family of food- and water-based bacteria that includes salmonella and E. coli).

Take a look at some surprising spots where germs lurk:

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According to NSF, here are some cleaning tips for those 10 spots:

1. Kitchen sponge

Microwave wet sponges at high heat for two minutes once per day—seriously, every day—and replace every two weeks. These things get filthy.  If you’re the type who measures the life span of kitchen sponges in years, stop being that type.

2. Kitchen sink

Is it any surprise that the kitchen sink is the second germiest place in your home, a virtual Wild West of bacteria? Tame it. Wash and fully disinfect the sides and bottom once or twice a week. Sanitize kitchen drains and disposals monthly by pouring down a solution of 1 teaspoon household bleach in 1 quart of water.

3. Toothbrush holder

OK, this one caught us a bit off guard. Germ-laden toothbrushes? Going into our mouthsdaily? Gross. Hand wash the holder with hot, soapy water, and clean with a disinfecting wipe once or twice a week.

4. Pet bowl

Give your furry loved ones—and their owners—a break. Place bowls in a solution of one cap of bleach in 1 gallon of water and soak for about 10 minutes once a week.

5. Coffee reservoir

A common disinfecting method is to add up to 4 cups of undiluted vinegar to the reservoir, let it stand for 30 minutes and run the vinegar through the unit. Run fresh water through the unit until the vinegar odor is gone. It’s a bit of a pain, but it works. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning every 40-80 brew cycles, or at least monthly.

6. Faucet handles

Clean daily with disinfecting cleaner or wipes. A paper towel and a splash of water isn’t enough.

7. Pet toys

Clean monthly: Hand-wash hard toys with hot, soapy water, and use washer to wash soft toys. You’re on your own with the plastic Donald Trump squeeze toys.

8. Countertops

Yes, we know you clean these every day. Clean them better, please. Wash with hot, soapy water, rinse with clean water, and apply a bleach-water solution daily.

9. Stove knobs

Remove knobs, wash in hot soapy water, let dry, and reinstall once a week. Do it.

10. Cutting boards

Place in the dishwasher after each use or hand-wash with hot soapy water.