Archive for October, 2014

Rainguard Automatic Downspout Extension

Rainguard Automatic Downspout ExtensionThe Rainguard Automatic Downspout Extension is great for people who need a down pipe that is hidden but still takes the water away from the house. We have shown both the old down pipe and the new one. the old one is the beige pipe with the black extension laying on the brick driveway. While it is effective it really does not look very nice and the family often trips over it as they go around the corner of the house.

The new Rainguard Automatic Downspout Extension is the green coiled device that is coiled up by the vines on the brick driveway. When it rains, this device rolls out and water is carried away from the house. For light rains, there are six small holes which allow the water to leave the coil. In heavy rains, it uncoils the entire distance and there is an opening at the end to allow a heavy flow of water to dissipate well away from the house foundation.

One of the major advantages of this device is that it coils up out of sight when there is no rain. No more stepping over the old downspout! It is also important to mention that water should never be allowed to collect near the foundation. There should always be good drainage to take the water away from the house. While most new homes have weeping tile around the basement of the home, they sometimes get plugged and water then seeps into the basement causing water damage, mold issues and damage to the interior contents of the home.

Rainguard Automatic Downspout Extension – Installation

Installation is very easy. they provide a flexible plastic clamp to use to wrap around the raingurad after it is is installed over the down pipe. You cannot see it in this picture due to the leaves from the vine, however it is very easy to install and no tools are needed for the installation. You might need a screw driver to remove the old down pipe depending on how it is attached. It is extremely easy and does not require any do it yourself difficulty.

Rainguard Automatic Downspout Extension – Remove for the Winter

Although the instructions do not indicate that you should remove it for the winter, we happen to think that it should be removed. If you have freezing weather with lots of snow etc, we think that this device could be damaged by the ice and snow. Our plan is to re-install the old one for the winter and then exchange it again next spring. This is just our opinion and does not reflect the opinions of the manufacturer. There are many small jobs like this one that can easily be accomplished by the homeowner that will extend the life of various products. In this case the raingaurd can be used year after year.

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Outdoor LED Light Bulbs

Outdoor LED Light BulbsA few years ago, LED bulbs of any kind were very expensive and most people ignored them because of that. Even with rebates as incentives, the payback was just too long . However like all new technologies, mass production of outdoor LED light bulbs has enabled the price to come down substantially and now it makes sense to buy these bulbs just to reduce the amount of electricity that we use and save money on our electrical bills. In addition there are still discounts from manufacturers and also from government agencies that consumers can use to decrease the cost of updating to the new cost saving LED’s. Before you buy, look for coupons in your newspaper, in flyers and also online.

Outdoor LED light bulbs will last many years and use about one tenth of the electricity at the same time. In some cases there is still a rebate available from your local electrical company for any kind of LED bulb which makes them even more attractive.

Outdoor LED Light Bulbs for Christmas Decoration

The biggest difference recently has been for Christmas lights for both indoor and outdoor LED bulbs. Now you can purchase strings of lights for the same price as the original Christmas tree lights, they operate at one tenth the cost, there is no heat so no worry about fire and you can attach many strings together and not be concerned about overloading the electrical circuit. The bulbs last forever virtually and you save electrical costs at the same time. What a great innovation!

Of course outdoor LED light bulbs are not limited to just Christmas tree lights. They are now appearing in house lights, emergency lights and so on. Manufacturers have developed the appropriate protective housing for the light bulbs so that they can be used just about anywhere. Many car manufacturers are using them in newer cars as well, reducing the weight as well as the power needed to generate sufficient electricity to power the lights.

The writers family has switched over to all fluorescent lights, which also last a long time, however not as long as the outdoor LED light bulbs. As the florescent lights stop working we will upgrade to the new outdoor LED light bulbs and the indoor LED light bulbs. It just makes so much sense.


Best Garden Bed Edging Tips

Best Garden Bed Edging TipsAdding edging to your garden improves the overall look of your lawn and your garden as well as providing separation between the two. We found that it was much easier to mow the lawn with this particular type of edging since you can rest one wheel of the lawn mower on the stones. The stones are flush with the level of the lawn. Also when it comes to trimming the grass along the edge it is much easier as well to create a nice defined edge to the lawn. The brick is actually pavers that were left over from another landscaping project. We did not bother with a gravel base. We just removed the amount of grass and earth we needed and placed the stones in place. Since they do not need to support any weight and we also want the pavers to move with the level of the grass, this works really well and is very easy to install. We tried this approach in another area of our property last year and it has worked quite well. the pavers have not moved and they do the job of separating the lawn and garden very well. It is an inexpensive way to create a really nice environment in your lawns and gardens.

Best Garden Bed Edging Tips – Types

There are a variety of edging materials in addition to the one that is shown in the picture. Many people use a flexible rubber liner that is placed partially in the ground and extends an inch above the ground level. While this works effectively, it is more difficult to cut along the edge and it also means that you have to use an edger more often to keep the grass from getting over grown along the edge. You can use any kind of edging, however you will need to take into account how easy or difficult it is to mow the lawn and maintain the edging. We have tried this approach in past years and found that the plastic liner rises over time and becomes a nuisance. We would rather not use this liner at all.

Best Garden Bed Edging Tips – Maintenance

The stone edging that is shown in the picture requires virtually no maintenance. In was installed over one year ago and only one stone needed a slight adjustment over that period of time. The flexible rubber liner we had previously had to be readjusted almost every year. My money is on the paver stones for long term maintenance and overall look and feel. If you are concerned about the cost, check for sales and left over pavers in the fall at building supply stores. If a neighbor is replacing his patio, (this happened in our area), ask if you can have the pavers. They likely will be thrown out so why not reuse them to create a great looking edge for your lawn.


Reduce Energy Consumption

It is so simple really, just turn the switch off! Run appliances such as washing machines and dryers at low peak times when energy is charged at it’s lowest levels. Turn down your thermostat to conserve energy in the winter time or up in the summer to reduce your overall energy consumption. There are probably a 100 little things that can be done if you make them into a habit that will save you money and reduce energy consumption. Just take a look around your home and anything that uses energy in any form is a candidate to be turned off and reduce energy consumption and put money in your pocket.

When we started thinking about this around our own home we went for the obvious and also the biggest contributors first. These were the lights of course. We turned them off if not in the room and we also converted from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs which made a huge savings. Now you can convert to LED’s which save even more money. We are just waiting for the fluorescent we have to burn out. They have such a long life span, this might take a while and the LED’s last even longer.

Reduce Energy Consumption by Time of Day

We are on time of day billing for our energy consumption.  Basically the electrical energy rates cost much less in the evenings and are much higher in the daytime. We run dishwashers, washing machines and dryers after 7pm at night to take advantage of the lower energy rates in the evenings. We also have a pool so I installed a timer on the pool pump so that it runs only in the evenings. There has been no problem with algae or anything like that and the energy savings paid for the timer in the first year of operation.

Turning off other appliances when not in use such as TV’s and radios save small amounts. It is more a mindset than anything else once you have the big users of energy under control. Don’t forget that when you go away for the holidays to unplug everything before you leave to reduce your energy foot print to as small as possible.


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