Archive for December, 2010

Hardwood Floor Selection Tips

Five  Basic Tips When Selecting Hardwood Flooring

Timeless beauty, clean lines, strength and durability as well as the ease of cleaning and the classic look make hardwood flooring the perfect choice for your home. Home buyers are looking for hardwood floors as a first choice these days. You will add a lot of value to the home by installing hardwood floors especially if you plan to sell. Here are a few hardwood floor selection tips.

No matter what your personal style is, there is a flooring choice for you because of Hardwood Floor Selection Tipsthe unlimited selection available. But before you rush out shopping for your hardwood flooring, keep these tips in mind.

Before you head off to the renovation stores, measure the rooms that you plan to cover with hardwood flooring. If you decide to also place hardwood on the stairs, measure these as well. Stairs are generally more expensive than flooring due to the extra cutting and shaping that is required. This is especially true of stairs that are curved which require a great deal more custom work to prepare the risers.

Hardwood Floor Selection Tips

Set a budget for yourself. Having a wide variety of flooring to choose from is great, but the downside is that it is easy to get overwhelmed quickly, and this makes you very susceptible to overspending. Remember to balance style with quality with your budget when you make your final choice.

Tip #1 – Hardwood in Appropriate Rooms

You will be wise to match the room with your choice of flooring, whether hardwood or otherwise. Many people place hardwood flooring in kitchens, only to regret it due to damage from dropped dishes, moisture from spilled items and generally increased traffic. Also for example, do not try to put hardwood flooring in a bathroom, due to the high levels of moisture a bathroom receives.

Tip #2 – Color of Wood

Different areas of the house demand different types of wood. For example, wood floors that have very light or very dark finishes typically do not fare well in the kitchen. If you want a bright home, dark wood will not accomplish this for you. It may give your home a more rich look, however it will be darker than you may prefer.

Tip #3 – Hardwood Floor Finish

Choose a hardwood flooring that has an appropriate finish to match your lifestyle. A sitting room that is seldom used will let you get away with a lighter finish. However a hallway or living room will get continual traffic and requires a choice that offers a tougher finish that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Once you make a choice you may also want to carry this forward into the rest of the home.

Tip #4 Floor Installation

Consider installation – doing it yourself or having a professional installer do it for you? Many people successfully install their own flooring, but only after they have done their homework. Many renovation stores will offer installation courses for those about to install hardwood flooring. It is often easier to hire a professional, but do you due diligence when selecting a hardwood flooring installer. You will want to be sure that it will be installed correctly.

Tip #5 – Choosing the color

Choosing the color and style of the floor can be the fun part. Choose a hardwood that fits your personal taste and your lifestyle. The comparatively high cost of the flooring and installation demands choosing a wood that will not go out of style quickly. This last point is very important. Selecting a current fad can be detrimental to your home’s value and make it difficult to sell. Select color and style of hardwood flooring that will appeal to a wide audience of potential home buyers and colors that are easier to match with furniture.

These are five basic tips that may help many people when they are embarking on the selection of flooring. Once you have hardwood you will wonder why you ever considered carpet in the first place!

Comments are welcome. Spam will be auto deleted.


Apple iPad 2

Apple iPad 2The Apple iPad 2 is rumored to be released in the 1st quarter of 2011 and the ideas and feature rumors are rampant. We have searched a number of sites to compile a list of new features that Apple may be adding to the new iPad. Well 2011 has come and gone. It is now 2013 when we are updating this post and the Apple iPhone 4th generation is out, the iPhone 5 is out  and there are rumors about other updates on the way. Apple is continuously updating their devices and it is expensive to keep up with them.
One of the best ways to keep up is to sell your old device before it gets too old, recover some of your investment and grab the latest and greatest model. Of course if you are buying an iPhone, you must buy the phone unlocked so that it is much easier to sell. Prospective buyers can easily insert their own SIM card for their carrier of the choice.

Here is the rumored list:

  • a 7-inch display.
  • a mini or micro USB port.
  • the 9.7-inch model will actually stick around.
  • a new, smaller model would be “in addition” to the larger, original-sized iPad.
  • the device will feature Apple’s Retina Display.
  • include 128GB of memory.
  • will feature a camera.
  • will feature a camera in the front as well as in the back.
  • be lighter to hold in the hand.

Non of these features have been confirmed yet and Apple may even be letting them continue to keep the competition guessing. And it seems to be working since all of the competitors are aiming to introduce new tablets by the summer of 2011. Apple would appear to have the advantage since it’s product has been out there for longer and has had a chance to stabilize.

Even so, the developers for Android are  working hard to catch up and surpass the Apple juggernaut. Android may have the lead by the summer time in terms of other competitors, but it is any ones guess at this time how quickly they will catch up to the new iPad!

However, while everyone can assume that Apple will put a camera on the new iPad, nothing has been confirmed. And if earlier reports are true, and Apple is indeed creating several different physical models of the new iPad, to throw off any “leaks,” then it may be awhile before we start seeing a clear picture as to what Apple has up their sleeve for their new tablet device.

Rest assured, Apple will aim to be head and shoulders above the competition when they introduce there new iPad. In addition their other products will also not be far behind with feature additions as well. This was demonstrated by the releases of the iPhone 4 and the new iPod Touch in 2010.

More to come as we enter 2011 and Apple gets closer to the eventual release. Comments and rumors welcome! For more details about using iPads, click here.


SUV Tires

SUV’s wheels and tires are one the most essential parts of your vehicle. SUVs, such as the Land Rover Range Rover, are 4WD, and can go through any terrain that the planet could offer. In fact drivers with 4WD and a SUV combination have been known to take their vehicles into  some of the worst conditions possible.

When they are driving in off road situations,  the tires and wheels of your SUV  help SUV Tiresyou to reach your destination because they are  the major equipment that drives your vehicle through all kinds of conditions. However, the functions of the wheels and tires do not just end there.

Your SUV tires also emphasize the overall appearance of your vehicle. Some people will customize the rims and tires to make a statement. Consumers spend thousands of dollars on tires and rims to really enhance their vehicles every year.

Purchase the Proper SUV Tires

Purchasing  the proper wheels for your SUV can actually improve your SUV’s performance just by effective cleaning. Like any other car parts like Land Rover Range Rover parts, SUV wheels can eventually be corrosive and tires can wear out as well with hard driving in less than perfect conditions.

Always check the condition of your SUV tires even if you only drive it on the road. Check the tire pressure and the amount of tread that is left on the tires to avoid blowouts and losing control at high speeds.

Check the Age of Your SUV Tires

This is going to be a common theme throughout this web site. Vendors sell tires that are brand new, however some have been stored for a long time before they are eventually sold. Check the age of the tires before they are installed, before you purchase them to make sure they are not older than 6 years. Recently there was an article about several stores selling new tires that had been sitting on the shelf for more than 7 years. Rubber tends to become brittle as it ages and can blow up at high speeds.

Cleaning your SUV Tires

Getting your SUV perfectly cleaned on a local car wash is a great idea. However, the only drawback of it is the cost that you would be spending in a car wash. Why go to a car wash if you could clean your wheels by yourself, right?

Whenever you use your SUV for a long travel or even on a short trip, dust particles attack the surface of your wheels. Other unwanted dirt on your wheels and tires include road tar, mud, and brake dust. Acid rain and winter salt are effective irritants as well as long exposure to hot sun can make your wheels brittle.

Cleaning your wheels and tires is actually the first step in car washing. You should first select the best tire cleaner for your wheels and tires. There are a lot of cleaning agents out in the market today but you should choose the safest and most effective cleaning agent for your wheels and tires. Some cleaning agent contains a high level of acidity and can easily damage your wheels. Acid-free cleaners are effective cleaning agents that are commonly used by car wash shops.

Common Cleaners

The most common cleaner is the household detergent because you can find it anywhere in your kitchen, or toilette, of course. Not only that, detergent is also effective and is the safest cleaner because it does not contain any harmful ingredients that can affect your car. Wheels and tires of SUVs are much larger and broader than other vehicles so the cleaning process most likely will take longer compared to sedans.

Now let us start with the cleaning process. First, you should check your tires for road dirt and mud. If you found one, then scrape it with any hard object you can find in your place, but be careful not to scratch your tires so hard. Dilute your chosen cleaner in a bucket of water and then start brushing your tires. The grooves of your tires are the most susceptible to mud and road tars. Brush it effectively. After cleaning your tires, proceed to the wheels. Rinse the brush that you had used in your tires and start brushing your wheels in up and down motion. Pretty easy, right? You should actually clean your wheels and tires once a month for maintenance.

Setting your Thermostat to Save Heating Costs

This is the time of year when the weather is cold and the furnace is running more often that consumers begin to pay attention once again to were they set their thermostat. There is often a discussion between spouses regarding what temperature to set the thermostat at. Now as utilities introduce time of day billing, charging higher rates for peak times and lower rates for off peak, those with electric heating may want to pay even more attention to the temperature they maintain their homes at. You can reduce your electricity cost by using electricity in off peak periods.

Even if you use central heating systems such as gas or oil, you still want to give this some consideration. Not only do you reduce the amount of gas or oil that you use, you also reduce the amount of electricity you use running the fan.

Should you turn down the thermostat when you are not at home or at night when everyone is sleeping? Does it matter how you heat your home – gas, oil or electricity?

The answer is that it depends! – Setting your Thermostat to Save Heating Costs

When you heat your home, regardless of the type of heating system you have, heat will escape from your home, at the same rate, regardless of the heating system you use. The rate depends two things:

  • The insulation you have in your home in the walls and the ceiling or attic and how well sealed your home is will determine how much heat is lost and how fast it escapes.
  • Secondly the greater the difference in temperature between the outside and the inside of the home, the greater the rate of heat loss as well.

Maintaining your home at a lower temperature overall will mean there  is less difference in temperature differential and therefore less heat escaping. In other words you are spending less energy to heat your home. Keep your thermostat at the lowest required temperature at all times. For example many people use a programmable or setback thermostat, where you can set the temperature to rise to comfort level (e.g. 68F / 20C) just before you get up, back down to economy level (e.g. 62F / 17C) just before you leave for work/school, back up to comfort level around the time you get home from work or school, and back down to economy level around bedtime.

Setting your Thermostat to Save Heating Costs  – Cost of Energy

The cost of energy is also an important issue. If you pay the same price for energy regardless of the time of day, then you probably will not need to give this point much consideration.

On the other hand if you are heating your home using electricity for example and you are on a system that charges more per kilo watt at peak times, then you will not want to heat your home with expensive electricity. There are several choices you have given this situation.

  • Set your thermostat to the lowest temperature that you can stand during the peak time for electrical rates. You will still use electricity, but at least you will keep it to a minimum.
  • Another approach is to warm up your home prior to peak rates, perhaps warmer than you normally would, and then allow the home to cool during the day while rates are at peak levels.
  • The success of this latter approach really depends on well insulated your home is. If it is not well insulated, or has many drafty areas, then you will have limited success with this approach.

Even if you heat with gas or oil which is the same price regardless of the time of day, there is still a small electrical component that you may want to take into consideration. The fan must run to distribute the heat through the home. When it does it uses electricity. Keeping the temperature low during peak electrical rate times, will help to minimize your overall heating bill.

Lastly, many people will set their furnace fans to being on all of the time. There are some advantages to this approach. It helps to maintain humidity levels at better levels in the dry winter months. It also helps to maintain a more constant temperature level throughout the home. On the other hand, when the fan is running even at low speeds it is consuming energy in the form of electricity and this contributes to your overall energy bill.

If you have comments on this post or have suggestions please feel free to leave your comments on our post for our readers to help them save money and operating costs for their home.

Reduce Your Monthly Electrical Costs

Monthly Electrical CostsReduce your monthly electrical costs is becoming more important all the time as rates rise in most jurisdictions. The previous post referred to a significant increase in the cost of electricity for people living in the province of Ontario, Canada and specifically in Ottawa. Although we have not confirmed, we suspect that most jurisdictions across North America will experience the same kind of increases over the next few years. We are talking about increases of 200% or more over the next 5 years. These numbers are significant and if nothing else it means that we all should think about how much electricity usage we can reduce in order to save costs.

This is the main focus of this web site and posts, however we encourage our readers to become active on political sites as well to put pressure on the government to manage and reduce costs for the generation of electricity across the province. Enough about why we need to think about reducing electrical costs and political overtones. How can we reduce our electricity costs by conserving energy and using less energy contributing to less greenhouse energy impact on the earth.

Monthly Electrical Costs

We have composed a long list of things that the average homeowner can consider. Some will apply directly while others will only apply to consumers in specific situations so pick and choose those that make sense for your situation. You may have seen many of these previously on other posts, however hopefully there are some that are new that will help you manage your energy and electrical usage.

Here we go, in no particular order.

Electricity reduction with an Immediate Payback

  • Turn your lights off in rooms not being used
  • Cook foods with a microwave
  • Turn the furnace down (saves electricity and fuel needed for heating)
  • Unplug charging units when not in use
  • Unplug TV sets if not being used
  • Keep the coils clean and free of dust under your fridge
  • Do not use the dishwasher dry cycle
  • Run appliances etc in off peak hours
  • Dry your clothes during off peak hours
  • thaw frozen food in the fridge
  • Unplug computers when not in use
  • Program computers to go into sleep mode
  • Wash full loads in the laundry
  • Use the oven window instead of opening the door
  • Use the microwave or toaster oven instead of a full size oven

Electricity reduction with a Delayed Short Term Payback

  • Lights on timers
  • Outdoor Lights using photo sensors
  • Use a programmable thermostat to take advantage of off peak rates
  • Use a ceiling fan to move air around to avoid air conditioning
  • Switch to Compact Fluorescent bulbs
  • Consider a hot water jacket for your hot water heater
  • Use LED lights for Christmas decoration
  • Sign up for Energy reduction programs to avoid brownouts

Electricity reduction with a Longer  Term Payback

  • Upgrade older appliances (fridge, stove, washing M/C, Dryer) with new energy efficient M/C’s
  • Insulate windows to reduce heating costs
  • Insulate attics to reduce heating costs
  • Insulate wall receptacles on outside walls
  • Arrange for an energy audit to be completed
  • Use blinds on windows to reduce air conditioning costs

Some of these ideas will also help to reduce your heating and cooling costs as well, particularly if you heat your home by using natural gas. We will soon add a similar blog post about how to reduce your heating costs as well since this is a great time of year to consider how large your heating bills will be during the winter.

I am sure there are a lot more ideas about how to reduce electricity costs. We would love to hear about them, so please comments on our blog.

Electricity Costs Going Up

Electricity Costs Going UpThe following article came from an online post by the Ottawa Citizen. We included it here so that more readers would see this information and maybe it would also be the trigger for more people to think about reducing their electrical usage and reduce their electrical costs.

With these increases that are planned, because of mismanagement at Ontario Hydro, there is no doubt in our minds that rates are going up. Unfortunately the only thing that the average Ontario resident can do is to vote the liberals out of office and reduce the amount of electricity they use. Please refer to our next post for ideas on how to reduce your electrical costs. Again in 2013,  two years later we are experiencing another annual increase in the cost of our electricity in the province of Ontario.

Electricity Costs Going Up

OTTAWA — Ottawa residents can expect their electricity bills to soar by more than 40 per cent by 2015, according to an analysis filed with the Ontario Energy Board.

The report, done for Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) by Aegent Energy Advisors, tallies up anticipated hydro cost increases from a dozen different sources between now and early 2015.

It concludes that Ontario residents and businesses will pay a total of $7.7 billion more for electricity over the next five years.

The Citizen used the CME analysis to calculate how much Ottawa residents could be paying for electricity by 2015.

The average residential customer in Ottawa now pays about $117 a month, including HST, for 800 kilowatt hours of electricity.

If the CME’s calculations are correct, that will rise by nearly $49 to about $166 a month by 2015. That’s an additional $587 a year — an increase of 41.8 per cent over current costs.

Residential customers in Ottawa are already paying 17.7 per cent more for electricity than they were just this spring, thanks to rate hikes approved May 1 by the OEB and the imposition of the HST July 1.

The CME isn’t the only body raising the alarm over soaring electricity costs.

In an analysis posted to his blog Tuesday, Energy consultant Tom Adams predicts that by October 2011, Ontario’s residential power price “will blow past the 200-per-cent mark” relative to the price consumers paid when Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals took office in 2003.

In an interview with the Citizen last month, Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid acknowledged that electricity rates will continue to rise to pay for the province’s “critical investments” in clean and reliable power.

However, Duguid wouldn’t estimate how large the increases will be because the Ontario Power Authority is still working on a long-term energy plan, expected this fall.

The CME analysis contains even worse news for businesses, institutions and other non-residential customers. It projects their electricity costs could jump by between 47.1 and 63.7 per cent by 2015.

That could have dire consequences for Ontario manufacturers that use a lot of electricity, CME officials warn.

While energy represents just two to three per cent of manufacturing costs overall, that can rise to as much as 30 per cent for the steel, chemical and refinery industries, said Paul Clipsham, CME’s director of policy and business intelligence.

“For some, it could potentially be unmanageable,” he said.

For many manufacturers, said Ian Howcroft, CME’s Ontario vice-president, the projected increases would have “a significant impact on their ability to compete in North America and globally.”

Some will likely look for opportunities to shift operations to other jurisdictions where energy is cheaper, Howcroft said. “That’s a major concern and a major consideration that I think we have to look at.”

The CME filed its analysis with the energy board in response to an application by Hydro One, which operates Ontario’s high-voltage transmission lines, for rate increases of 15.7 per cent in 2011 and 9.8 per cent in 2012.

It argues the OEB should consider the application in conjunction with all the other factors that are jacking up electricity bills.

Foremost among them, it says, is the government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, which offers generous 20-year contracts to producers of solar, wind and other forms of green energy.

The CME report assumes 10,500 megawatts of pricey FIT generation will be on line by July 2015.

Based on that, it says the FIT program will be responsible for about half its predicted $54.15 per megawatt hour increase in electricity costs by early 2015. One megawatt hour is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours.

Increases in transmission and distribution rates will account for further one quarter of the projected increase, the CME report says. A medley of other factors — everything from the cost of power from restarted units at the Bruce nuclear generating station to rate increases for Ontario Power Generation — makes up the balance.

Including HST, these various elements will drive up residential rates by $61.19 per megawatt hour by 2015, CME’s analysis concludes.

Clipsham said CME asked Aegent to do the analysis so the OEB, which deals with numerous requests for incremental rate increases, could see Hydro One’s latest submission in full context.

“You have all these individual filings, but nobody, at least publicly, is looking at the big picture,” Clipsham said. Once you do that, “it really adds up to some significant costs over the five-year period.”

He said CME hopes the energy board will take steps to mitigate the impact of the rate increases it foresees.

“Our grand vision would be that the government would also acknowledge these findings and use them for their own purposes,” he said.

Why Some People Hate Their iPad

people hate their ipadCan you believe it there are actually people hate their iPad! Perhaps they had unrealistic expectations with all of the hype that there has been out there in the news and the web regarding the new iPad. We will take a look at the pluses and minuses of the iPad and let you decide if it is the right device for you.

People Hate Their iPad

On the plus side it does have the following features which many people love:

  • Shiny, sleek and cool — the latest must-have accessory
  • Thousands of Apps developed for the iPhone and iPod Touch are showing up on the iPad
  • You can also purchase a keypad for the iPad
  • Brand new form factor that can easily be carried anywhere
  • Surfing the web, sending short emails, paying bills
  • the (.com) button is really handy
  • Uses WiFi connections to connect to the net
  • Fantastic device if you are a consumer of information
  • User satisfaction according to Apple is better than 95%
  • Best feature is that it is “always on”

There are some things that the iPad just will not replace:

  • Use an iPad as a replacement for my laptop if you only browse the net
  • Sending long emails is more difficult
  • Easy to make typo’s (that is why many people sign their messages with – Sent from my iPad)
  • Slower typing for people who are fast at typing on regular keyboards
  • Lack of a tactile sense when you touch the keys
  • Some people do not like the finger prints that show up on the screen
  • Some people find it heavy to carry ( much lighter than a laptop)
  • Not the most efficient if you generate information

Learn to Use the iPad

Like many new devices there is an adaptation period that everyone must go through when learning to use the device. The iPad is no different and if you have used a PC all of your career, then the adaptation will be larger and well worth the effort.

Also I have found that the use of the iPad really depends on what I need to do. After a few months, I found that there are some activities I would rather use the iPad for and never touch my PC. At the same time if I am generating content or making modifications to my web sites, it is just easier to use my PC with larger screens, the mouse and the keyboard.

The message I would like to leave for most people who are considering purchasing an iPad is that it really depends on what you plan to use it for. If you just need a device to read email, browse the net, watch movies etc, then you will likely be very satisfied with the iPad. On the other hand if you need to do more with your device, generate content, work on spreadsheets or presentations, you may not want to use the iPad for this type of work.

I really like using my iPad at the coffee shop to read emails or catchup on the news. It is so much easier to carry it with me rather than a bulky lap top.

If you have your own experiences with an iPad, please leave comments to help our readers. We accept all comments that are constructive and helpful for our readers, Spam comments will be deleted. If you want to link to this page, create a ping back and we will do the same.

For more details about using iPads, click here.



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