Prepare Your Outdoor Patio for Winter

Prepare Your Outdoor Patio for Winter

There’s nothing more magical than enjoying the winter charms with your loved ones, drinking hot mulled wine in your cosy outdoor sanctuary. There’s no reason to retreat to your home during winter and look through your windows as your beautiful patio becomes whiter every day. You can easily transform it into a comfy haven for the cold days where you can spend chilly evenings in a warm and inviting ambiance. Here are several tips that can help you prepare your patio for the upcoming winter.

Make it cosy

The end of warm summer days doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your lovely backyard, especially if you have a covered patio. All you need to do is bring out several blankets and pillows to keep you warm while you enjoy quiet, intimate evenings with your friends. Not only will you create an ambience of comfort and warmth, but you’ll also elevate the overall décor of your patio. You can add patterned blankets and throw pillows with enticing winter motifs to set the mood for the upcoming holiday season. You can also introduce a beautiful outdoor rug for your lounge area to keep your feet warm and to create a layered stylish look. Furthermore, if your patio features a neutral colour scheme, throw pillows and blankets will provide you with an opportunity to bring in a pop of colour and break the monotonous look.

Add a heat source

You need to add a heat source to your patio in order to soak in the winter beauty in a warm environment. There are plenty of solutions that will keep you warm while also creating a cosy ambiance. You can go with a propane-based outdoor heater or install a lovely outdoor fireplace. You can opt for a stone fireplace for a rustic look or a gas one that will help you create a modern atmosphere. Adding a fire bowl is yet another authentic solution that will enable you to spend chilly nights outside in a warm ambiance.

Embrace the winter magic

Embrace the winter magic

Instead of running off into your house, you should embrace winter and completely enjoy its magic. Get ready for the festive season in time and gather all of your winter-inspired decorations for your outdoor patio, such as beautiful string lights and candles of different sizes, that will bring a sense of romance to your outdoor sanctuary. You should check out some of the beautiful accessories that The Furniture Shack has to offer. From magical candles and lanterns to beautifully designed outdoor rugs, every single detail will help you create a magical and enticing winter atmosphere. You can also consider adding festive decorative items, such as pinecones, evergreen springs and branches to capture the true spirit of winter.

Enclose your patio

Enclose your patio

If you have a beautiful view from your patio and you’re not a fan of winter, you should consider temporarily enclosing your outdoor haven. Depending on your budget, you can choose between glass and aluminium walls. This way, you will shield your patio from unfavourable weather conditions while still being able to soak in the view of the snow-covered scenery. If you don’t want to completely close your patio, you can install a pergola to cover it.

Keep it clean

Although maintaining your backyard and patio during winter isn’t easy, you shouldn’t let your outdoor furniture and other patio elements become damaged due to improper maintenance. You should find out whether your outdoor items are weather- and water-resistant. If not, you should properly store them away over winter. While aluminium and wooden furniture are weather-resistant, you still need to properly maintain them to ensure their durability. For example, you shouldn’t use protective covers for your wooden furniture to avoid moisture build-ups beneath them. Nonetheless, you should properly and regularly clean your outdoor furniture regardless of the materials to prevent mould growth.

In just a few easy steps, you can prepare your lovely outdoor sanctuary for the wintertime and create an ambiance of cosiness and warmth. Afterwards, you can embrace the winter magic and soak in its beauty.

About the author:

Chloe is an art historian and recreational ballet dancer. She is passionate about photography, dance and music. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world with her husband and take stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about home design, since she is crazy about aesthetics.

Tips To Stay Comfortable If Your HVAC System Goes Down

With more than 80 percent of American homes having some kind of air conditioning or heating system installed, it’s easy to take that technology for granted. However, these systems don’t always function the way we expect. In those situations, we have to cope with the climate the way our ancestors did, in the days before these modern conveniences existed.

Coping without heating or air conditioning is an inconvenience no one wants to deal with, but it’s something everyone needs to be able to do. Fortunately, staying comfortable, even without your HVAC system, is a matter of following some relatively simple guidelines. With these tricks in mind, you can keep from feeling too hot or too cold, even if your HVAC system is on the blink for more than a day.

For example, keeping cool in the summer without air conditioning means dressing for the weather, drinking plenty of cold water, and avoiding the use of heat-generating appliances — unless necessary. For additional cooling, you can take a lukewarm bath or shower before bed, or stay in your basement during the hottest hours of the day.

Staying warm without your furnace is possible if you stick to only a few rooms and block the doors to the unused rooms with heavy curtains or blankets. Dressing in layers of warm wool clothing and blocking drafts under doors with rolled-up towels and blankets also helps you stay comfortable even when it’s cold inside your house.

Modern conveniences such as HVAC systems have certainly made life easier. However, knowing how to live without them will make life easier for those brief periods when they aren’t working. Or, you might want to live without them voluntarily to save a little money on your energy bills. Either way, these tips can help you stay comfortable without your HVAC system.

Tips to stay comfortable if your HVAC system goes down from Randazzo Heating & Cooling

Pre-Autumn Updates: 5 Things to Check on Your House Before Summer Ends

Pre-Autumn Updates: 5 Things to Check on Your House Before Summer Ends

The steps that you take in the coming weeks could have a major impact on your family’s comfort once the weather cools off. Seasonal maintenance will also help you cut back on your energy bills and save a little extra money every month when you start using your furnace or boiler again. Here is a look at five areas of your home you should take a look at well before the summer ends.

Check on Your Furnace or Boiler 

Most newer furnaces and boilers are designed to last for well over a decade, but they still require constant maintenance. When your HVAC system is being used regularly, you might need to change the filters as often as once every month. Homeowners should also have their heating and cooling systems inspected by an HVAC contractor twice a year.

Seal Cracks and Openings

Keeping your home at a consistent temperature is going to be nearly impossible if you have openings around doors, windows, vents, and pipes. Even with high-quality insulation and a new HVAC system, small openings will allow quite a bit of warm air to escape from your home during the winter months. Most smaller openings can easily be sealed with a caulking gun and all-purpose caulking.

Inspect the Roof for Damage

Your roof, rain gutters, and downspouts should never have any cracks or clogs. A minor pinhole or clog could cause thousands of dollars in damage during a rainstorm, and your home insurance might not cover the repairs. If you are unsure of how to inspect your roof for damage, then you should schedule a service call with a local roofing contractor like Gutter Magician NKY or someone else who has gutter service options.

Protect the Pipes

Any water pipes that are exposed to cold temperatures could burst when the weather begins to change. All of the pipes inside your home should be checked for leaks and wrapped in foam pipe covers before the start of autumn. You also need to close the shutoff valve that controls your outdoor faucets and remove the bleeder caps to drain any remaining water.

Upgrade the Insulation

High-quality insulation will keep your home at a comfortable and consistent temperature no matter what the weather is like outside. At the very least, you need to check your insulation a few times a year for any signs of damage. Homeowners who have a little extra money to invest back into their property should consider upgrading to blown-in insulation with a high R-value.

Another project that you might want to tackle this summer is scheduling a comprehensive energy audit for your home. During an audit, a specialist will inspect your property and come up with a detailed list of changes you can make to improve your home’s efficiency.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys Tennis and spending time with her family.


Four Feng Shui Tips To Make Your Home Cozy For Winter

Four Feng Shui tips to make your home cozy for winter

People who’ve heard of feng shui know that it has something to do with the flow of energy around a home and how that flow can be helped or hindered by the way items are placed around a room. But feng shui also responds to the different seasons. Here are four things to do to keep the energy flowing even on the cold days of winter:

Use Warm Colors

Because winter is yin, which means it has the qualities of coldness and darkness, it is balanced by colors that are warm, if not fiery, such as red or orange. These colors are considered yang. Neutral colored pillows, draperies, slip covers and bedclothes should be swapped out for accessories that have these warmer colors and can be bought from places such as Modern Home 2 Go. Fruits and vegetables with warmer hues, such as tomatoes and pumpkins, should be eaten. Even artwork with cool colors like blue or green can be exchanged for artwork with warmer hues, at least for the season.

warm colors

Plug up Drafts

Drafts coming in from leaky windows need to be corrected and the windows themselves covered with warm drapes in bright, warm colors and made of heavy fabrics such as velvet and flannel. Air conditioning units need to be either removed or covered up while they are not in use.

However, on days when it’s sunny and not bitterly cold, move the draperies aside, and let in natural light for a few hours.

Add More Light

Winter is the time to change lightbulbs. This is especially important now because the inefficient, incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. Homeowners should screw in at least one lightbulb that gives full spectrum light that mimics a sunny day, and use halogen, LED or compact fluorescent or CFL lightbulbs. These lightbulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and LED and CFLs are cooler. Halogen bulbs, however, are hotter, so make sure they are kept well away from anything flammable, including those heavy draperies over the windows.

Candles not only provide light, but can be the focus of calming rituals. Simply light a candle, sit before it, and breathe in and out.



Donate old clothes and other items to charities. This is not only a good thing to do for others but decluttering a home frees up good energy, or chi. Decluttering makes room not only for new items but new ideas.

Following the principles of feng shui saves winter from being the part of the year that just has to be endured. These tips make winter cozy, comfortable and even quietly invigorating.

Beautify Your Winter Wonderland With These 5 Plants

Beautify Your Winter Wonderland With These 5 Plants

Winter is a beautiful and enchanting time of year. With pure white snowfalls and the smell of chimney smoke in the air, it is a time for wonder and awe. While there are many upsides to winter, there are also quite a few drawbacks. One in particular is the frigid temperatures. If your green-thumb is forced to hibernate all winter long, consider some cold hardy plants to spruce up your winter landscape. It will be able to lift the spirits of everyone who walks by right in time for the holidays. Take a look at these five excellent examples of plants that have no problem with a little chill.

Winterberry Holly

Starting off with the most obvious of selections, the Winterberry Holly Bush has become a staple of Christmas. It has beautiful glossy green leaves adorned with the trademark red berries it is known for. This plant should be planted in the spring in order for the roots to take hold and survive the winter. Over the warmer months white flowers will add a decorative touch and will turn to berries when the air grows colder. Once planted this bush will last all year round making sure you never have to worry about a bare yard again.


Winter Glow Pigsqueak

You may want something a bit more subtle than red berries in your yard. If this is the case, consider the Winter Glow Pigsqueak. This shrub has gorgeous bright green leaves that look amazing in contrast with the snow. The only time it may change color is during the fall where it could take on a bronze tone. Aside from the color, this plant is also perfect for the winter because it requires very little upkeep. It grows best in the shade so just make sure you have some trees in your yard as well.


Some people can never get enough flowers. After the first frost hits, it is often time to say goodbye to the soft petals and sweet fragrances. There is, however, a few types of flowers that may be able to bring some color to your home. Jacaranda trees are able to overlook the winter frost and bloom as if it were springtime. The blueish-purple flowers form in clusters making it truly eye catching. Moon Valley Nursery offers a few different varieties of this tree to make sure you can find the perfect fit for your home.

Winter Jasmine

While the plant itself will last all year round, the flowers will open up in late January. Winter Jasmine gives the bleak winter scenery a pop of bright yellow. It is a climbing plant which make it excellent for decorating a fence or trellis. Being an immensely resilient plant, it will survive through heat and frost, as well as dry or wet soil. Though it will not take much work on your part to keep this plant happy, it will always make it a point to keep a smile on your face.


Lemon Tree

Adding a few more trees to your yard is never a bad idea. They provide shade and picturesque scenery that can always be appreciated. Purchasing a lemon tree has these same advantages and more. If you live in a warmer climate you can have lemons any time you want. Even in cooler weather you will be able to look at your perfect landscape and wait for spring for your fruit. Either way, this is a tree that will always have a way to give back.

Winter does not always mean you have to put away your gardening gloves. Though cold hardy plants usually do not require all that much maintenance, plants always grow better with proper attention. For advice about seasonal plants as well as a wide selection of their own, enlist the help of a professional in your area.

7 Ways to Get Your Home Ready for the Chilly Winter Season


The tell-tale signs of winter are here: you’re late to work because you can’t bring yourself to get out of the warm bed and your car has trouble starting because of the below-freezing temperatures.

As the cold weather moves in, you may be tempted to flee to a warmer climate. But for most of us, jobs, family and other responsibilities prevent us from becoming expats in the Caribbean.

Instead, it would be wise to focus on how we can make our lives more comfortable and warm with manageable home improvements. Let’s explore seven ways to prep your home for the chilly weather that winter inevitably brings.

Clean Your Chimney and Gather Firewood

There is nothing more quintessentially winter than curling up next to the fireplace. But a poorly maintained fireplace can cause damage to your home and your health. Hire a chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney, and ask him or her how to clean it yourself.

Check your chimney flue and cap to ensure they are operating correctly. A missing or loose cap could create water damage or encourage little critters to nest near the warmth of the fire. Store your firewood in a dry place and ready your shovel and poker so that you don’t have to touch the hot surfaces directly.

Check Windows and Doors for Leaks           

You might remember your grandparents carrying on about drafts, but they were on to something. Check out the weather stripping around exterior doors, and install storm doors as an extra layer of protection if you’ve got them. Caulk around windows when you see gaps to keep cold air where it belongs.

Insulate Your Garage Door

Most people think to check windows and doors, but your garage door should also get some love. Consider an insulated garage door, which will keep energy costs down and cut down on noise pollution.

There is an added benefit to updating your garage door: since it is one of the largest exterior surfaces of your home, you can add a lot of curb appeal by updating its style. So this move makes sense economically and aesthetically in addition to warming you up this winter.

Inspect Your Furnace and Boiler

Many of us just assume our heating and hot water will come on when we want it to, no questions asked. If pressed, you might not even be able to say where your furnace and boiler are, or how they function.

The system of pipes and heating varies from home to home, but the one consistent is that they should be inspected every winter. If it is time to replace older systems, expect to gain some energy efficiency and lower your bills.

Purchase a Generator

Lots of people who lived through Snowmaggedon or the Polar Vortex remember living without power for days on end. At first the candlelight was charming, but that wore off quickly.

A generator would provide a backup power source should you lose power in your home. If you want a generator for convenience or for safety – say, if a family member needs refrigerated medication or an electric medical device – there are several factors to consider. Among them are installation, sound and cost. But if an alternate power source is a must for you, then purchasing a generator is an important part of getting your home ready for winter.

Drain the Outdoor Plumbing, Ready for Frozen Pipes

One of the most common winter mistakes first time homebuyers make is not draining the water from faucets and hoses that sit outside the home. Frozen pipes can burst and cause immense damage to the home. Disconnect hoses and store them inside to prevent freezing and cracking.

Once you’ve got the outdoor plumbing taken care of, be on the looking for indoor plumbing that might freeze, like pipes that sit against exterior walls. If your faucet produces just a drip of water, it’s a sign of a frozen pipe. Leave the faucet on, and apply heat using a hair dryer, towels soaked in hot water or an electric heating pad. As the pipe thaws, water will drip out of the open faucet. Continue until your regular water pressure is restored.

Prepare Your Pantry

The kitchen is probably the hub of activity in your home, and for that reason it should get a little winter preparation as well.

Stock the pantry with chicken broth, canned beans and crushed tomatoes so that you can pull together a quick chili in a pinch. Grab cocoa and marshmallow for the requisite hot chocolates.  And update your recipe box with some popular winter recipes, so that you can keep your family warm inside and out.

Most of us look forward to the holidays, more time spent before the fire and cozy scarves and mittens. But the reality of a cold, harsh winter is anything but romantic. So prepare your home for winter weather before the snow men show up in your front yard.

Kacey-MyaKacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

The Most Important Winterization Projects For Your Home

The Most Important Winterization Projects For Your Home

Winterizing your home is extremely important because it cuts energy use and costs and can help you and your family stay safe and warm during the long, cold months of winter. However, many homeowners don’t know where to start, or have trouble figuring out which projects to tackle first. The most important projects are those that will save you money while keeping your home safe from winter’s ravaging winds and temperatures, and many of them are easy to do.

Here are a few of the best ways to winterize your home and save money.

Ceiling fans

When the winter months come knocking, check your ceiling fans. Most of them come equipped with a switch that will allow you to change the airflow direction, meaning running it in reverse will pull warm air down from the ceiling. This can cut your heating costs by about ten percent, making it a quick, easy project that will show real results.

Clean those filters

Air filters can get dirty fast, especially in the furnace. Check and replace them often in winter months to keep airflow steady and to keep your furnace from kicking on needlessly and running at a high demand.

Replace windows and doors

If you can feel a cold breeze coming through the cracks around your windows and doors, it might be time to consider replacing them. Storm windows will help seal in warm air, keeping you from paying outrageous heating bills during winter months. Storm doors can also help save you money and will give you the extra benefit of allowing light and solar heat into your home.

Consider smart technology

Setting the thermostat at a lower temperature can help save you quite a bit of money during colder months, especially when you’re not home. It may be a little cooler when you return, but it will be worth it in the long run. Consider installing a “smart” thermostat that allows you to program the temperature from anywhere with a remote.

Clean the gutters

Making sure the gutters on your home are free of debris and leaves will ensure that water can flow freely rather than pool up and freeze, which can cause myriad problems in winter months.

Check your water heater

Before the coldest months hit, flush your water heater to remove any sediment that might hinder the heater’s ability to work up to its potential. Then, lower the temperature to make sure it won’t heat the water too much. 120 degrees is just about perfect, and will keep your heater from working overtime.

Don’t Forget the Pool

To get your pool ready for the winter, start by closing it and adjusting the pH to the appropriate level, adjusting water hardness to the proper level of calcium, adjusting alkalinity and chlorine, and then cleaning and storing equipment. Don’t forget to clean the pool filtration system.





New Home Owner? 5 Ways to Winterize Your Home

The winter season is known as a time when harsh weather arrives in most locations. From high winds to heavy snowfall, the weather can wreak havoc on a residential building. To winterize your property and keep it safe, there are a few important steps to take.

New Home Owner? 5 Ways to Winterize Your Home

Ventilate Your Home’s Attic

Add fans in the attic and install a vent to allow cool air to circulate in the space, which will prevent ice dams from forming on the roof. The attic influences the temperature of the roofing materials and will reduce the risk of damage if it’s kept at a moderate temperature.

Cut Tree Branches

Raccoons, squirrels, and small critters often look for shelter on residential properties during the winter season. Prevent the animals from making a home on your roof by cutting back tree branches that provide access to the building. This will also protect the home from damage when heavy storms arrive, which can cause the branches to have contact with the roof.

5 Ways to Winterize Your Home

Seal Drafts on the Walls

Drafts can cause cool air to come into the home and will also allow heat to escape due to holes that have formed in the siding or walls of the building. Caulk the drafts to seal the cracks or holes to reduce your energy usage and keep your home comfortable.

Repair Your HVAC System

It’s important to ensure that your HVAC system is working well to ensure that it will heat your home during the winter months. Hire a professional like Doctor Fix-It to inspect the system and make any repairs that may be necessary. This will reduce the risk of the unit breaking in the middle of the night or during a snowstorm when you’re in need of heat.

Replace Missing Shingles or Tiles

One of the most common problems during the winter season are leaks that can develop in the wet climate. You can prevent water damage by replacing missing shingles or tiles on the roof. Hire a professional to inspect the structure and secure new materials with roofing cement that is applied onto the roof deck.

When you want to winterize your home and prepare it for the cold season ahead, there are several ways to get your property ready. By taking the right steps, you can feel comfortable spending plenty of time indoors and reduce the risk of damage to your home.

3 Common Heater Problems You Can Fix Yourself

A malfunctioning heater can be a serious problem, especially in the winter months when you need the heater to keep your house warm. Instead of calling a repair company to fix the heater, you can save some time and money by troubleshooting the problem yourself. Although there are a number of reasons why your heater is not working properly, investigating three common problems can help you to diagnose and fix your system as soon as possible.


Check the Thermostat

One of the most common causes of a heater problem is the thermostat, which is the device that regulates the temperature in your home. The first step is to make sure the thermostat is turned on and has power. If you have a digital thermostat, ensure the screen is not blank and then check the wires behind the device to see if they are securely connected. If necessary, replace the thermostat’s batteries, reconnect the device to the wall outlet or secure the wires.

If your thermostat has power, the second troubleshooting step is to check the settings. If the settings are wrong, your heater may only work periodically or not at all. For example, if you inadvertently set the temperature too low, your home will remain cold. Review your thermostat’s user manual to get the exact directions to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.

Heating Duct Problems

Your home’s heating ductwork is an integral part of the HVAC system because it circulates air throughout your home. Professionals, like those at Princeton heater repair, can offer expert advice and solutions regarding heating issues. Even the most powerful heater can be ineffective if the ductwork is failing. There are several reasons why your home’s ducts are not circulating enough air to keep your home warm.

If the ducts are dirty from dust, grime, debris, and pollutants, air will not be able to flow through your home. Cleaning your ducts can significantly improve the air circulation in your home. In addition, ducts that are torn, twisted, kinked, and ripped can also prevent air from circulating through your home or simply leak enough air to cause a major inefficiency in the heating system. Repairing these problems, such as kinks and tears, can restore your home’s air circulation to proper levels.

Check the Filter

Another common problem that is easily fixed is a dirty air filter. A clogged air filter can severely limit the flow of air from the heater, which can eventually cause the heater to overheat and shut down. Regularly checking the filter and replacing it when necessary can eliminate this particular problem from ever becoming a serious issue.

Although some heating problems require professional help, troubleshooting your heater can help to keep your heating costs down and also give you a better understanding of how your heating system operates.

Winter Home Dangers: How to Avoid Major Cold-Weather Disasters


People go to extreme lengths to save money in the winter months, and some of these money-saving endeavors actually end up costing them more in the long run. There are several options to help you avoid major cold-weather disasters, but like all things that are worthwhile, they are going to cost you either time or money. By taking some necessary steps before the onslaught of winter, you can help to reduce damage to your home.

Wise Steps to Prepare for Winter

Winter storms are “Deceptive Killers.” The National Weather Service is known for calling them this because many winter deaths are indirectly related to the storm through traffic accidents or hypothermia. Stock up on rock salt and other products that can melt ice on walkways. Use sand to help improve traction, and have snow removal equipment to get rid of excess snow. Keep plenty of food and blankets on stock, and have a radio that operates on batteries so you can listen to emergency broadcasts.

Making the Best of a Current Storm

During a storm and when it gets near freezing temperatures, you need to keep the heat on in your home. Heating a single room isn’t the answer either. If you don’t keep your home well-heated, then the pipes in your home may burst. This can lead to additional damage and the need for more repairs in the future. It’s also important to stay indoors. If you do have to go outside, keep dry and make sure you walk carefully to avoid accidents.

Taking Care of the Aftermath

If a pipe bursts or you have other plumbing issues, it’s important to hire a plumber who can repair your water lines effectively. In an emergency, Puget Sound Plumbing recommends shutting off the main water line and calling for help immediately.

Getting Ready for Next Winter

When winter is over, it’s important to evaluate the stability of your home. Hire a plumber to check your pipes, get a roofer out to check your roof and get your car checked out by taking it to the mechanic. All of these steps can help you save money in the long-run, and it will help prevent you from getting stuck out in the snow next winter.

Even if you waited until your home was covered in snow, it’s not too late to get your home checked up and repaired. Save yourself additional money and be certain to have a hassle-free winter this year. Most Americans are going to face some form of severe winter weather, but you can help avoid a serious situation by preparing your home.

Guest Post By:
Anica Oaks

Freelance writer and web enthusiast
Read some of my published work on my Google+ page.

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