Home Theater Installation Costs

There’s nothing like sitting back, reclining and enjoying a five-star film right in the confines of your home. One way to amplify the thrilling action you see on your screen is by watching it in your own home theater.

What once was considered a luxury only for the very rich has become much more typical for homeowners in the twenty-first century. It is a terrific outlet for families who love watching home movies, staying in on Saturday nights and really being part of the action. Frankly, a home theater is like an oasis from reality.

Nevertheless, there is always a cost involved. Surprisingly, if you know how to shop, many families can install a new home theater system for less than $1,000. Below, I will discuss all factors, as well as costs, that go into home theater installation.

Home Theater Installation Cost

The overall price of your home theater install will largely depend on what you need. If you are clearing out the basement, adding new soundproof walls, all new wires, a new speaker system and screen, then of course, the price will inflate. However, if you just need the wiring and other components installed, you should expect to pay no more than $500. In fact, according to our home theater installation cost estimator, the average price is $334.

Surround Sound Installation Cost

While the overall design may look different, installing surround sound for your home theater is not very different from any home sound system. Therefore, as HomeAdvisor points out, the average price to install a surround sound system is $492.

A surround sound system can include two small speakers plugged into a wall outlet, or it can include a dozen mounted speakers located throughout the home for cohesive sound. Either way, we highly recommend buying a pre-packaged system. They ensure that all parts are included and oftentimes, can be cheaper as opposed to buying a la carte.

If you do want to buy each piece by itself, you should look for:

  • A center channel speaker
  • Two front speakers – one for each side of the screen or on the side walls
  • One or two subwoofers
  • Two or more surround speakers or speakers behind

How to Save Money with Home Theater Installation

Many homeowners end up hiring a pro, which I will get to later, but like any home remodeling project, there are always tricks and hidden opportunities to save money.

 

If you have some electrical knowledge or woodworking skills, you may be able to take some projects off your contractor’s hands. Just make sure your contractor knows what aspects of the job you are undertaking. Communication is key with all home improvement projects. If it is not there, delays will occur.

Next, if you know enough about the technology such as the sound systems, electronics and so forth, you can purchase all the equipment yourself (remember, always look for sales). Home theater pros are used to purchasing the equipment themselves, so one less trip to the store should save you cash on your overall installation.

As always, you can take your DIY skills to the next level by installing the home theater system yourself. Just beware that there may be certain local legal requirements in your neighborhood. Nevertheless, if you do decide to go with a pro, make sure you shop around. Get at least four quotes for your job. Don’t go with the cheapest and don’t go with the most expensive.

Hiring A Pro

Besides their experience, one of the biggest advantages of hiring a professional is the fact that they can customize the theater to your liking. If you are talking a new home theater system, many companies can design entirely new systems from scratch, including your existing furniture.

On the other hand, if you want to upgrade your current system, pros can create a new setup based on existing equipment that can still be used while incorporating new purchases to replace outdated components. If you are looking to save, updating old furniture and obsolete technology is an easy way to vastly upgrade your home theater.

To find a pro, check out HomeAdvisor or the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association.

What Goes Into Home Theater Installation

Home theaters should be designed to separate yourself from the rest of the house. The walls are almost always soundproofed so as not to disturb others. If your walls are not soundproofed, you should look to your pro to add the extra insulation. If you want to see how it’s done, watch the handy video below.

Oftentimes, the installation will involve cutting into walls. You or your pro will need to rewire most of the system, add all the acoustics and visuals needed to create that one-of-a-kind home theater experience.

Final Home Theater Considerations

The Room

Unless you are looking for a man cave, make sure you leave enough room for all the necessary components of a terrific home theater.

Furniture

Finishes are selected to provide not only an aesthetically cohesive space but also to work in conjunction with the room acoustics. If you don’t have space for four or five recliners, consider adding a U-shaped couch. If you’re looking for something smaller, you can always try actual theater-style conjoining chairs or a simple array of armchairs. Don’t forget about cup holders!

Lighting

Never underestimate the power of light. A healthy combination of recessed lights and wall sconces lends itself perfectly to home theater lights. Overall, lighting fixtures serve not only to accentuate the details, but also to provide acoustically reflective surfaces.

FAQs About HVAC Systems

In today’s environmentally-conscious world, homeowners are always looking for ways to reduce air pollutants and increase the energy efficiency in their homes. HVAC systems have grown in popularity and, as technology continues to progress, these systems are becoming more and more energy efficient. HVAC systems are popular among modern home builders. If you are a homeowner who is considering installing or updating an HVAC system in your home, you might have some questions.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding installing and maintaining HVAC systems.

What Does HVAC Stand for?

HVAC is short for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

How Often Should I Check My Air Filter?

It is recommended that you check your air filter once a month, especially during the seasons when it is being used more. You should clean a reusable filter once a month, or throw it out and replace the filter if you use disposable filters.

How Can I Reduce My Energy Costs?

There are a number of actions that can be taken to help reduce your energy bill every month:

  • One easy adjustment would be to alter the temperature on your thermostat. If your system does not have to work so hard to get the house to a desired temperature, you will be saving energy and money. So, in the summer months, keep your temperature a little higher and in the winter months, set your temperature a little lower.
  • Installing ceiling fans is another great way to reduce energy costs. By installing ceiling fans, you can help circulate the air conditioning or heat throughout the room. In addition, you can rotate the direction of the airflow during the different seasons. For optimal use during the winter months, set the blades to rotate in a clockwise direction to push the warm air down from the ceiling. In the summer, set the blades to rotate in a counterclockwise direction.
  • In rooms that are frequently used, do not block the vents. In less frequently used rooms, close the vents so you do not spend money cooling rooms that are not being used.
  • Put your thermostat on a timer so your system is not running and wasting energy when you are not in the house.

Is There A Reason My Air Conditioning Unit is Freezing Up?

Yes, this is a common issue and there may be several reasons for why this problem occurs. One reason may be that there is a leak in the refrigerant lines in the system. The location and cause of the leak will tell you whether you should replace or repair the system. A second reason may be that the evaporator coil is dirty. This problem is similar to a dirty air filter in that you may notice the system is not working efficiently and is not cooling your home properly. These problems require assistance from your local service experts to fix.

What is Indoor Air Quality? What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

 

Although outdoor air quality has been a major focus when it comes to environmental studies, recently, indoor air quality has become a topic of conversation. Indoor air quality refers to pollutants in the air inside your home, the humidity level and the ventilation levels. Pollutants inside your home can be caused by several things. This list includes, but is not limited to, carpeting, upholstered furniture, curtains, cleaning products, air fresheners, paints and gas appliances. In sum, any item in your home that releases gas creates air pollutants that can decrease the quality of the air inside your home.

How Can I Improve the Indoor Air Quality in My Home?

In order to improve the indoor air quality in your home, there are several strategies you can follow:

  • Eliminate dirt and dust from your home by cleaning and vacuuming at least once a week.
  • Open your windows! Although modern homes and HVAC systems are designed to be energy efficient and filter the air in your home, if you do not mix in some fresh air from outside, levels of air pollutants will increase and the air inside can become stale.
  • You may need to switch to use high-efficiency air filters in your HVAC system. There are some air particles that are just too small and may never land on a surface and avoid the vacuum. There are high-efficiency air filters that can capture even the smallest and most evasive of air particles.
  • Monitor the humidity levels of your house. If your house is too humid, this can increase the concentration of particles and germs in the air. Keeping track of the humidity levels can help decrease indoor air pollutants.

 

What Size HVAC System is Right for Me?

Although you might be under the impression that the larger the house, the larger the system required, this is not necessarily true. To get an accurate quote on which size system you may need, you may need to call a licensed professional to help you out.

Should I Repair My HVAC System or Replace It?

If your system is old and in need of constant repair, it may be time to update to something more modern and energy efficient. The average life expectancy of an HVAC system is about 20 years, depending on the general usage. It may be helpful to contact a licensed professional regarding your specific situation.

The ‘Empowered Homeowner’

Working Together to Get the Job Done

Any professional in residential construction knows that keeping customers happy likely presents the biggest day-to-day challenge. Today’s homeowner has fundamentally changed the construction model for design and renovation for both homeowners and the home industry professionals and vendors who serve them.

How Has Renovating Changed?

1. Technology is disrupting old models

The barriers that previously limited a homeowner’s ability to access information, ideas, and find talent are no more! Mobile technologies such as Internet-based apps, software, and social networks have helped to educate the homeowner online and instill a new confidence and desire to not only be informed, but to also be more involved.

2. Communication must be flexible

More often than not, homeowners are using websites and apps on their tablets and mobile devices to plan their home project. Homeowners now expect more frequent, visual, and mobile communications, and less in-person meetings.

3. Homeowners are empowered

The new construction model places the homeowner at the centre of the project as an active participant, not bystander. They want to source and hire and the best professionals, with personalities they like and trust can execute their vision. They want to purchase products and materials that meet all of their criteria. They are empowering themselves with knowledge and information that will help them effectively manage their projects as participating partners.

4. Professionals must build compelling online brands

The empowered homeowner does their research and starts to plan their project up to a year in advance, because they are passionate about their home. Their contractor due diligence will include viewing a professional’s portfolio, reading online reviews, and using community activity to gauge personality and assess how easy the person may be to work with. This all leads to the conclusion that professionals must invest time to develop and manage their brand presence online; for it is here, where their next customer is looking. Will you be found?

The Reno Facts:

  • 41% of renovation projects exceed initial budgets.
  • 83% of homeowners are motivated to renovate to improve the look, feel, flow and layout of their home.
  • 58% of renovating homeowners are planning to hire professional help.
  • 81% of homeowners rated “good reviews & recommendations” as “very important” when selecting a professional to work on their home.

Positive Reviews Gets You More Views

Online reviews are second only to personal advice from a friend as the driver of hiring decisions. TrustedPros is dedicated to bringing quality construction professionals together with empowered homeowners in search of the right contractor for their home improvement project. TrustedPros contractors gain access to potential customers by building their brand presence and reputation online through testimonials that have been verified by a third-party. Homeowners are now empowered to hire their pro with confidence. Don’t forget the importance and power of a customer review. Contractors depend on referrals and word of mouth to sustain their business.

Renovate Better with RENOMii App

Contractors and Electricians and Plumbers, oh my! Collaboration between trades and homeowners on any renovation, or remodel is taxing on a good day. However, the matter is further complicated by poor communications, or when one party loses sight into other aspects of a project. “Why did the installer the homeowner hired not show up today? Did plans change? I needed them to complete their work, so I could do mine. Now I don’t know what to do”. This scenario sounds costly for both 1) the frustrated tradesperson, and 2) the unaware homeowner. Unaccounted for costs at the end of a project can lead to disputes, bad reviews, or even litigation. Next time, manage your project in RENOMii, a unique collaborative software solution for renovation management that tracks your project’s budget from contract signing to homeowner sign-off. All homeowner communications and approvals are tracked through an automated change order approval process. Contractors create change orders outlining costs and timing, and submit for homeowner approval. Since all approvals are tracked and stored if something is disputed, you can quickly reference approved change orders and negate a potentially negative review, or legal battle saving you time, money and most importantly – your reputation! It only takes 5 minutes to create a project in RENOMii and invite your homeowner to collaborate on their renovation. RENOMii is free for professional members to try. Automatically save 20% when you subscribe! Contractors and Homeowners Agree: Renos Go Better Using RENOMii!

“No other software has generated that type of [homeowner] response
in my 31 years of home building”.

“Communication with my home buyers during the construction of their homes has improved immensely through the use of RENOMii. It clarifies the process of work change orders for everyone and as a result reduces a huge amount of stress for both builder and home buyer. The transparency and instant availability of information helps to promote a higher level of trust from the home buyer that is invaluable to the process. On the several projects that I have used RENOMii, I have received unsolicited offers from home buyers to do testimonials for my company following the completion of their new home build. No other software product before has generated that type of response in my 31 years of home building”.

Richard Trapp, President at Emerald Homes Ltd.

“RENOMii is easy to use, and helped keep everything detailed, in writing, and under control, which removed a major source of stress in managing the project”.

“RENOMii gets to the heart of many contractor/client disputes – how much are changes supposed to cost, and what exactly is expected. Our General Contractor, Catalyst, used it on our front porch rebuild project it was easy to use, and it definitely helped keep everything detailed, in writing, and under control, which we found removed a major source of stress in managing the project. RENOMii forces clients and contractors to put their requests and comments in writing, and ensures that both have to agree in order to change the cost of the project. If you know how to have a conversation on Facebook, you know how to use RENOMii, and your project will be better for it.”

Hot Tub Costs

Whether it’s for relaxation, health or entertainment, hot tubs provide a home getaway like no other. Surprising to many, hot tub costs are not as high as many assume. While it certainly depends on your location, as well as model, type and accessories, you can oftentimes buy a new tub for less than $500.

Below, I will explain all the costs that come with hot tub installation, hot tub repairs, as well as the costs surrounding the various types and features.

Note: The terms hot tub and spa are used interchangeably, though spas are usually considered to be in-ground, permanent units, often installed in conjunction with a swimming pool. Spas will not be addressed below.

Hot Tub Installation

Hot tubs are not expensive to install? According to our hot tub cost estimator, it costs $298 to install a new hot tub. Keep in mind, this price takes all hot tubs into consideration, including very inexpensive portable versions.

Nonetheless, many would agree that $298 is a small price to pay for a spa-like retreat, a romantic destination or a therapeutic tool to help you unwind at the end of the day. On top of all that, high-quality hot tubs can even increase the overall value of your home.

Hot Tub Types

There are certain hot tubs that provide a more luxurious feel than others. The general rule of thumb is the larger or more complicated the model, the more it costs to install. As our friends at HomeAdvisor have iterated, there are the standard two-person models with a couple of jets at the lower end of the price spectrum. In the mid-range, there are models with jets and built-in seats that hold five to seven people. The luxury models can have up to 160 jets and other amenities like underwater lighting and drink holders.

Dialing it down a bit, there are two main types of hot tubs; wood fired hot tubs and portable/inflatable hot tubs.

Note: While we are only reviewing hot tubs, many consumers spend more and go with an outdoor Jacuzzi.

Wood Fired Hot Tubs

Back in the day, wooden tubs were all we had. They are typically built using redwood, cedar or teak with a simple design. While seating is limited compared to newer models, they do offer a permanent, rustic touch not many hot tubs present.

 

Rather than using electricity or gas (saving money on utilities), these tubs operate by burning traditional logs of wood to heat the water. Because they hold a greater volume of water, they’re very heavy and must sit on a base of solid concrete or a specially engineered and reinforced deck.

While they may be heavy, they don’t require any electric wiring or plumbing since they are standalone items that can be placed anywhere. Plus, wood fired hot tubs typically cost less than traditional versions

Portable Hot Tubs

Certain locations, such as Chicago, don’t allow for year-round hot tubs (even though we need them in the winter). As such, many opt for a portable or inflatable hot tub that can be taken out in the spring or summer or removed before winter. These versions are very cheap and you can install without a pro in under an hour

Hot Tub Repair Costs

There are few aspects of the home that allow you to set it and forget it and sadly, your new hot tub is not one of them. Just like mowing your lawn or cleaning out the filter in your furnace, your hot tub requires regular maintenance throughout the year. As you can see with our hot tub repair cost guide, this includes periodic draining of the tub, scrubbing the surface and shocking the water with chemicals. On average, it costs $185 per year to maintain the tub.

Wood Fired Hot Tub Repairs

It takes a lot to damage a wood fired hot tub, but nonetheless, certain repairs do come up. The most common wood hot tub repair is resurfacing the wood, a project that can take as little as four hours and cost anywhere from $325 to $1,300, depending on the quality. As you can assume, whenever the issue is on the outside of the tub, the repairs will never exceed exorbitant amounts.

Portable Hot Tub Repairs

Portable hot tubs are not nearly as sturdy as their wooden friends. They can be damaged quite easily, but thanks to their inexpensive nature, repairs are not very expensive, rarely exceeding $300. In fact, given the repair price, many just opt for a new portable or inflatable hot tub.

Reasons to Get A Hot Tub

On top of relaxation, there are certain benefits to owning a hot tub that we outlined below. To see more, please see Hot Tub and Spa Benefits.

  • A recent study shows that 70% of employed Americans suffer stress-related conditions, such as depression, ulcers, high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia.
  • A National Sleep Foundation study found that a 15-minute soak in hot water can actually help you fall asleep faster.
  • Studies show that warm water allows your blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to your muscles – and you relax!

Garage Door Trends

Curb appeal is becoming increasingly important to homeowners. They’re looking for the best way to make their homes stand out and increase property values.

The question is where should it start? Look no further than the garage door. A garage door is more than a large entryway into the home, but it’s also a way to distinguish a home from the others on the block. Garage doors are being used much differently than in the past. That’s why we’re going to explain what the biggest garage door trends are today.

Garage Design Trends

How a garage door looks is incredibly important to homeowners. There is only one chance to make a first impression. Garage doors are the largest entryway to the home and are typically the focal point of a home’s exterior. Homeowners are taking this opportunity to design their own garage doors rather than purchasing a standard door. It’s important to make the most of this large space and many are doing so in interesting ways.

Garage Doors are Getting Bigger

Larger garage doors are all the rage now. Homeowners are tending to make larger openings for their garage doors when building or renovating their homes. This gives the owner a larger canvas to work with and allows more space for creativity. The larger doors also stand out and increase curb appeal.

Bold Colors Create A More Vibrant Garage

White and tan garage doors are fading in popularity. Homeowners are becoming bolder with their choice in garage door colors. They are trying to build a concept based around the color of their home. Homeowners want their garage doors to complement their exterior. In turn, this increases the home’s curb appeal and causes the garage to stand out amongst the neighbors.

More unique colors also allow owners to stylize their home based on their personality and design sense. It gives them an opportunity express themselves in a way white or tan garage doors can’t.

Fake It ‘Til You Make it: Faux Wood Garage Doors

Wood doors add a level of sophistication to a home. They increase curb appeal and the value. The only issue is wood doors are extremely expensive. Homeowners are already making an investment to install their garage door. This is why homeowners are turning to fiberglass or steel garage doors. They can get a door that looks like wood for a fraction of the cost. In addition, fiberglass garage doors increase R-values (insulation) and that saves even more money!

Let the Light Shine In: Large Windows on Garage Doors

A beautiful window in the living room can increase the curb appeal. Why should it be any different for a garage door? As they’re becoming bigger, the windows on them are becoming larger as well. It gives the door an interesting aesthetic that is increasing in popularity.

The windows also help improve the inside of the garage. Garages don’t have to be dark areas void of sunlight. Homeowners are welcoming sunlight into their garage with the larger windows. Much like home windows, homeowners want the windows larger in their garage because they allow more light in and give the best outside views.

Garage Functionality Trends

Not all trends are aesthetic; some include the efficiency of the garage door or how it is used by the homeowner. How garage doors operate has changed over time, especially over the last few decades as technology has improved and family size and structure has changed.

 

Garages Aren’t Only for Cars

Sometimes, garages aren’t used for the owners’ cars. They are turning their garage into an additional room for their home. Workshops, spare bedrooms and family rooms are some examples of what owners are creating with their garage.

Many families are becoming larger and extended families are living together. They need the extra room to accommodate everyone comfortably. Homeowners are often turning their garages into extra bedrooms so everyone has a place to sleep. This means the door needs to be well insulated so the room’s temperature remains controlled.

Bedrooms aren’t the only way to accommodate families comfortably. Extra living spaces are created as places friends and family gather. Since the garage is becoming a room people spend more time in, it could be another reason why larger windows are trending.

Well Insulated Garage Doors Keep the Outside Out

With garages becoming more than an area to store their car, homeowners are looking for ways to make the room more comfortable. This is why insulated garage doors are trending. They prevent harsh temperatures from getting into the home and air or heat from escaping.

Outside noises are also reduced with the added insulation. If the garage has been converted into a bedroom, preventing outside noise from being heard is ideal. Who would want their sleep disturbed?

Improved insulation isn’t only trending with owners using their garage as an extra living space. It also improves the insulation of the home altogether. This is especially true where the garage shares an adjacent wall with a room inside the home. The improved insulation will decrease how hard the owner’s heating and cooling systems have to work to reach a set temperature. Heat and air will be trapped inside which means the owner saves money on their bills.

Open the Garage with A Smartphone

What can’t be done with a smartphone? As technology evolves, the demand for smart products does too. This is why smart garage door openers are trending. Homeowners can now open and close their garage door with their tablet or smartphone. Smart garage door openers provide the owner with peace of mind that they didn’t leave their door open. They are able to close it from anywhere!

No Work is Good Work: Reliable Garage Doors

As technology improves, the expectations of homeowners change. They want their garage doors to require little to no maintenance. With the hustle and bustle of a typical day, homeowners don’t want to worry about their garage doors not working or malfunctioning. In addition, garage door repair isn’t cheap.

Family Water Saving Ideas At Home & Away From Home

In our modern, world we have seen many of our natural resources used and sometimes abused. Resources such as air, trees and water have been taken for granted by everyone. For centuries, people have been using these resources without giving thought to whether this is hurting the environment. Over the past few years, we have come to understand that abusing our natural resources can have a negative impact on the environment.

Because of the need to be alert to the environment and the natural resources, people need to help by saving these resources whenever possible. One of the best ways to save resources is by all family members helping out. These include saving water, both at home and while away from home.

To help families learn about conserving water, we have put together the following information. We hope this helps your family save water and help the environment.

Recycling Appliances & Electronics

Consumers recycle their electronics and appliances for a number of reasons, ranging from wanting to upgrade their devices to desiring more energy-efficient items. Smart choices when recycling electronics can save the ground and water from contamination. As e-waste grows, the recycling and donating of these common home and personal items offers a practical solution to a modern and potentially dangerous problem. Going green with future electronics and appliance choices can help reduce environmental impact while also lowering energy bills. With a few great recycling strategies in hand, consumers can make conscientious decisions to help protect the environment now and in the future.

The Problem With E-Waste

Modern technological conveniences often make our lives easier, but improper disposal of these devices can negatively impact the environment. Developing countries are especially susceptible to the environmental ravages of old electronics, as a large percentage of the developed world’s e-waste is exported to these countries. Since regulation can be less stringent in developing countries, environmental laws protecting the earth and the region’s inhabitants can be rare. While ridding your house of unwanted or old electronics could be considered home improvement, the environmental costs of irresponsible disposal can negate any freed-up space.

  • As E-Waste Piles Up, Disposal Issues Grow
  • Replacing Old Smartphones With Newer Models Creates Environmental Problems
  • E-Waste in Developing Countries Endangers Environment, Locals
  • India’s Electronic Waste Problem
  • Children’s Environmental Health: Electronic Waste
  • Bringing Harmony to Electronic Waste Disposal

Going Green & Recycling Your Electronics

One of the benefits of recycling electronics is that the act can allow for a remodeling of your environmental consciousness. When purchasing new electronics, you’ll have the ability to choose Energy Star-rated products or other resource-economical items. Reading energy labels on electronics before you purchase them can give you the opportunity to select products that use a reasonable amount of electricity. Recycling your electronics can reduce construction processes and ensure that your electronics’ new owners can enjoy your items without the need for brand-new materials or the manufacturing wastes they might cause.

  • Greener Gadgets
  • Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics
  • Guide to Recycling (PDF)
  • Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
  • Recycling Your Electronic Waste
  • Electronics Recycling Laws and Guidelines
  • Demanufacturing and Shredding During the E-Cycling Process

Specific Appliances

In recycling terms, appliances that are designated for recycling are often referred to as “white goods.” Certain brands of electronics may also have specific recycling guidelines or programs associated with them. Components of electronics, such as printer cartridges, often come with recycling instructions contained within their retail packaging. Generally, it can be a good idea to check with the manufacturer of specific appliances or electronics for guidance on how to recycle items. Local recycling centers or city websites may offer further suggestions if manufacturers don’t run in-house recycling programs. For particularly large or heavy items, consider hiring a private curbside recycling service to take electronics or appliances on your behalf.

  • Advice About Recycling Appliances
  • Recycling TVs
  • Call2Recycle: Rechargeable Battery and Cellphone Drop-off Locations
  • Safe Disposal of Refrigerated Household Appliances: Frequently Asked Questions
  • What Do I Do With Appliances?
  • Printer Ink Cartridge Recycling Information

Donation

 

Giving appliances and electronics to charities is a great way to relieve yourself of your old gadgets in a truly positive manner. Aside from giving a person in need the opportunity to use the appliance and helping to conserve the environment, your donation may also be tax-deductible. Donating large items like appliances can also offer you the opportunity to engage in a bit of home improvement or remodeling and invest in electronics or appliances that are more energy-efficient and environmentally sound. Matching yourself with an appropriate charity to donate to can be easy. Start by determining which charities local to you accept appliance donations, and then choose the charity that speaks to your personal philosophies, philanthropic causes, or interests.

  • Donate Goods to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • Salvation Army Appliance Donation Value Guide
  • Guide to Donating to Goodwill
  • E-Access
  • Donate Computers to the United Way

Before You Recycle or Donate

Once you decide to recycle or donate your electronics and appliances, certain steps should be taken to reduce your liability and protect yourself from unnecessary problems. To guard your privacy, data on electronics like computers and cell phones needs to be deleted. Reformatting electronics so that they are returned to their factory state can ensure that devices are wiped clean of all personal information. It can also be a good idea to remove the batteries of any electronics that you want to recycle. Batteries can contain dangerous acids that need to be handled carefully and recycled in special centers. Similarly, major appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners need to have the Freon removed before they are donated, recycled, or disposed of. Local municipalities, scrap yards, or even a contractor from an appliance repair store may be able to help you to rid your appliance of this potentially troublesome chemical.

  • E-Cycling Central: Find a Recycler
  • EPA Refrigerant Recycling Rules (PDF)
  • Appliance Recycling Guide (PDF)
  • How to Properly Dispose of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Equipment (PDF)
  • CFC Appliance Recycling and Recovery Practices (PDF)
  • Preparing Your PC for Reuse or Recycling: Protect Your Private Information (PDF)
  • How to Donate Your Computer to Charity
  • Safely Dispose of Computers and Other Devices

Getting Your Property Tenant Ready

If you currently own a home and are thinking about using your basement or condo as means of generating some extra income, you are not alone. According recent statistics about 1 in 20 Canadian households own some form of income property. The perks of leasing a property can far outweigh the negatives, if done properly.

Before you decide to post an ad on Kijiji or contact a real estate agent, it is very important to understand what leasing a portion of your property may entail. This quick list will get your property rental-ready in no time.

  1. Fire and Carbon monoxide poisoning prevention

    Ontario law requires all homes to have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector and it is your responsibly as a Landlord to ensure that your property is equipped with these essential products. Make sure you hire a licensed contractor to install the detectors if you are not confident in your ability to do so on your own. This may cost you a few dollars but it will protect your tenants from harm and will absolve you of any responsibility for damages that may occur from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

  2. Plumbing

    If you are leasing a property which requires use of a basement, you will want to take an extra step to find a reputable plumbing company that can assess your home and determine if it is at risk of experiencing water or sewage damage. Repairing damage caused by flooding can be incredibly expensive and in this case it is always better to be safe than sorry.

  3. Electrical

    Have you ever walked in to a room and noticed that the lights are flickering or that the on switch actually turns off the lights? Not only are these electrical issues annoying, but they pose safety hazards as well. No one wants to live in a home with unpleasant lighting, so do not subject your tenants to such conditions. Electricians can install attractive and high efficiency lighting to suit your style and budget.

  4. Mold and Asbestos Removal

    Most homes, new or old will likely have instances of mold build up due to moisture or poorly ventilated spaces. Although a little mold in a bathroom can easily be removed through regular cleaning methods, there are instances in which mold contamination requires professional removal. Attempting to clean large areas of mold with bleach is ineffective and can be dangerous.

    Exposure to Asbestos is also very dangerous and has been known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and many other health problems. Various companies offer testing for asbestos within your home. If you plan to do any type of renovations on your income property, Health Canada highly recommends you research the ways in which you can lower human exposure to the harmful chemical.

  5. Add some Pizazz

    A beautifully designed space with eye-catching features will convince potential tenants to put your income property at the top of their list. Find a competent contractor that can help you transform your property. By adding shiny new faucets, trendy artwork that can be found at IKEA and installing crisp white baseboards you can create a space that adds value and also feels like home.

Up to 47% of Contractors may be Using Fake Reviews, Study Reveals

A study based on 10 years of reviews indicates up to 47% of home service contractors in some work categories may be using fake online reviews to attract homeowners. The startling revelation comes at a time when home improvement disputes and problems continue to dominate the consumer complaints received in Canada.

The findings were released by TrustedPros Inc. after analyzing the customer review data collected by TrustedPros.ca since 2004. The home improvement and contractor review website employs a validation team that closely screens each review after it is submitted, making sure that it’s not posted by the contractor themselves, their family, friends, or employees. Any review that fails to clear the screening procedures is flagged as “suspicious” and disapproved for publishing.

The current study segregates contractors planting fake reviews by industry, city and province. For each city, province, and service category, the total number of contractors suspected of posting fictitious reviews was divided by total number of reviewed companies in that area/category. The results disclose some interesting facts.

Moving companies top the list of fake reviews with 47.83% of reviews flagged as suspicious and removed from the TrustedPros website. Locksmiths, pest control, window cleaning, home theater, and duct cleaning businesses were close contenders, with 40% or more of their reviews believed to be bogus.

Detox Your Home in Minutes

Inside your home can be 5 times more toxic than outdoors. This is attributed to a number of different factors including poor air-quality, off-gassing from furniture, pesticides brought inside from footwear and harmful plastics in the form of food containers. We all want to protect ourselves and families from harm and ridding your home of dangerous materials and chemicals is great way to start.

The air quality inside your home is very important for your respiratory and overall health. Wondering where to begin? You can add a little more freshness to your home by opening up your windows, which in turn will allow the air in your home to flow out, helping to remove dust and mold spores that can occur in poorly ventilated spaces. After realizing the health benefits of plants, you may want to give your green leafy friends a hug. According to a study conducted by NASA in the 1980’s house plants are effective in removing harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, ammonia and other chemicals. Peace lilies seem to be the superheroes of all house plants as they are very inexpensive at about $14.00 for a medium sized pot and remove the top 6 most common and harmful chemicals found inside homes. When certain plants bloom they can add a beautiful fragrance to the air and offer a natural alternative to products like Glade and Febreze.

In keeping with this, labeling these particular products “air-fresheners” is actually a misnomer. If one were to take a look at the ingredients found in these products, freshness is the last thing that comes to mind because they actually add more pollutants to the air in your home. What’s the alternative? Natural essential oils emit pleasant fragrances without the use of chemicals. One such oil is Frankincense, which is extracted from the Boswellia tree commonly found in Northern Africa. This oil has an earthy smelling fragrant and is used in aromatherapy to aid in relaxation. It was also one of the gifts supposedly given to Christ at a young age by a wise man, so it also has spiritual and meditative connotations as well. Frankincense contains antibacterial properties and acts as a natural air purifier when diffused. If you are searching for a more perfume-like scent that is similar to the ones found in a Glade plug-in, Lavender oil will provide the smell of spring in your home all year long. If you suffer with asthma or simply have a stuffy nose, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are very effective in relieving congestion and clearing sinuses.

Perhaps the most obvious way to improve air quality in your home is to avoid smoking inside, since cigarette smoke contains thousands of poisonous chemicals that will negatively affect the health of humans and pets. Kicking the habit completely will also be beneficial as the chemicals contained in cigarette smoke can cling to clothing long after you’ve finished lighting up, further diminishing the air quality in your home. Fabric is notorious for trapping allergens and chemicals so you may also want to consider the way in which you choose to clean your clothes. Seeking an organic dry cleaning service can help you to avoid carcinogenic materials, but be aware that some companies have been fined for using organic labels without receiving proper certification. Wet cleaners also use industrial grade driers and mild eco-friendly cleaning solutions to remove stains and odour from clothing. Finally don’t be alarmed by the label that says “dry clean only”. Quite often, these labels are added by clothing companies to prevent lawsuits in the event that clothing is damaged but you can gently wash your dry clean only clothing to avoid the added cost of a professional cleaner.

Pretty Furniture, Ugly Chemicals

Sometimes the most attractive pieces of furniture are the most toxic. Perfluorinated compounds or (PFCs) and formaldehyde are just some of the chemicals found in furniture that is linked to cancer and other diseases. In order to prevent these chemicals from wreaking havoc in your home, you may want to revaluate your taste in furniture. Stain resistant fabric found on couches, curtains and clothing often contain PFCs as means of offering the consumer some convenience, but the health risks posed by the chemical far outweigh the benefits of not having to clean a stain. Where your furniture comes from may also be a factor as some countries do not have any regulations on the chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process. Investing in custom made furniture will give you the power to choose your own unique style as well as the chemicals you would like to avoid. Using solid wood with little to no varnishes or lacquer is best if you have small children in your home. Try to avoid using low quality laminate flooring, as formaldehyde contents in laminate flooring can sometimes exceed the emissions level recommended by the World Health Organization. Finally, it is important to remember that it can take up to 12 years for furniture to finish the off-gassing process, so careful consideration should be made before you purchase your next bedroom set.

No more Toxic Mess

It is pretty daunting to think about all the products in your home that pose potential health hazards to you and your family, but there are a lot of factors you can control such as the products you choose to clean your house. Most popular cleaning products contain bleach, parabens and ammonia but there are also alternatives that are becoming more available than before. Most supermarkets now carry household cleaners that are completely free of chemicals. They may be a bit expensive but the peace of mind is probably worth the money.

If you are into DIY’s you can also make your own cleaning solutions using vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. Lemons are known for their ability to eliminate bacteria while leaving a pleasant citrus scent. Baking soda is also an excellent bleach substitute as it removes stains and eliminates even the most awful odours. Baking soda works miracles on stains left behind in coffee and tea cups. Simply let the affected dishware soak for about 5 minutes and you will see the stains magically disappear. Another effective way to avoid germs and harmful chemicals is to avoid wearing shoes inside your home. Even if you just forgot the keys make sure you take your shoes off before you re-enter as pesticides and other chemicals remain on your shoes for a very long time. Buy a mat with hard bristles so you can wipe off the excess dirt outside instead of on your indoor mat. If you have a bit of time once each month, wear gloves and use a hose to wash the bottom of the soles of your shoes especially if you keep them in your bedroom closets. Finally, make an effort to avoid antibacterial soaps that use chemicals such as triclosan. According to an article from CBC news “This chemical is highly toxic to organisms in … receiving waters and also persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment, as well as having endocrine active properties (in humans),

Ditch the plastic Tupperware

Many plastics even ones that are BPA free still contain harmful chemicals that can lead to cancer and disturb fertility. Try to stick to glass dishware only. If you use the microwave, you don’t need to use that generic plastic bowl to cover your food a glass plate cover is fine. If you have an infant, it is best to use glass bottles, that way; you won’t have to play the harmful plastic guessing game. If you drink purified water, you can install reverse osmosis or alkaline water filters that hook up to the tap in your home instead of using the big plastic bottle.

Just chill

The final and perhaps most important suggestion is to rid your home of negative attitudes and energies. According to Health Canada, illnesses like heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and mental health problems can develop much faster when the person who is affected is under stress. Even if your home is chemical-free, having a negative and critical attitude can pollute the space causing you and others around you to experience anxiety and stress. The weight of the world can be overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing issues at work, financial burdens or simply annoyed with the daily traffic jams. Take some time alone each day to pray and meditate or listen to soothing music. The calm you will feel afterwards can empower you handle stressful events without making them dictate the atmosphere in your home. After all, your home should be a sanctuary not a war zone.