Making a few small changes in your home could add up to big savings in your energy bill, and that’s good news for you and for our planet.
Here are some things that you can do to make your home more energy-efficient:
- Turn the heat down. Better yet, use a programmable thermostat so you don’t have to remember to do it! Starting at just $20, it will pay for itself in a very short time. We have installed them in every house we have lived in, and like the Honeywell brand. Find them at Home Depot .
2. Use window coverings – Lined draperies can reduce a window’s heat loss by 10-30%. Drapes with darker colours and tightly woven fabrics, with heavy black-out lining will provide the most insulation. Highly reflective blinds can also reduce heat gain by up to 45%. Roman shades with heavy lining also provide extra insulation, especially when mounted close to the glass.
3. Upgrade or add insulation – Adding insulation to your attic and walls can help seal air leaks and improve your home’s heating and cooling costs. Read this article by This Old House to find out the best type of insulation to use.
4. Stop drafts – Make sure all your windows and doors have good seals. Adding weatherstripping around window frames and caulking any cracks will go a long way in making your home more energy efficient. For some inexpensive ways to seal your windows read this article by This Old House.
5. Consider replacing old wood windows if there are signs of deterioration and rot, and they cannot be repaired. Single-glazed aluminum windows also should also ideally be replaced (no more condensation!) New windows are expensive, but your decrease in energy-loss will be significant and your home will be much more comfortable, and desirable if you decide to sell.
6. Replace old toilets with a Low-Flush model. Toilets are the biggest water drain in your house, accounting for up to 30% of your water use. New, low-flush toilets use 1/3 – 1/2 the amount of water as an old one. If you can’t afford new toilets, there are some no-cost ways to cut down on how much water your toilet uses. For example, you can literally fill a plastic bottle with pebbles or sand and place it in your toilet’s water tank (away from the plumbing equipment). This will displace some of the water used for the flush.
Before you do any major renovations or upgrades, check to see if there are any government grants available in your area. In Canada, you can have an energy audit done, to determine your best plan of action. Find out more info here.
If you are looking to buy a new home in Canada, look for a home that has an R-2000 or Energy Star rating. Read more about R-2000 Homes here
Arhaus, a furniture company that believes in using natural materials, has teamed up with American Forests and designers to provide insight into ways to make your house more environmentally friendly. Many of their dining room tables are made with wood certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative to ensure that their products have as little environmental impact as possible. By using green technologies and organic products, we can really have an impact! Right now, Arhaus is offering up to 60% off!
Do you have any tips you would like to add? I would love to hear them!
This month we are giving away an embroidered linen bolster pillow cover, valued at $46. It fits a 7″ x 20″ bolster pillow. Bolster pillows look great on benches, on a bed, or on a chair. This one has a delicate floral pattern of pale blues, greens and greys.
Contest runs from July 5 – July 19, 2017. Open to residents of Canada and USA, 18 years or older.
It’s time for another giveaway! I am a mom of 3 amazing daughters and I feel so blessed to have them in my life. To celebrate Mother’s Day I have teamed up with a few friends and am giving away this amazing gift package worth over $125 –
One winner will receive:
2 outdoor pillow covers, by NikkiDesigns
6 organic napkins, by NikkiDesigns
1 recycled fabric tote bag, by Sharon
1 recycled fabric cosmetic bag, by Sharon
3 delicious snack bars by Good Bite, made on Vancouver Island
Contest is open to residents of Canada and USA, 18 yrs or older.
Contest ends: May 14, 2017
Looking for ways to create an inviting, fresh look for your outdoor living space without breaking the bank? I have rounded up a few ideas that are easy to do, and don’t cost a lot.
One hot trend in outdoor design right now is to use natural materials that you can find locally. Recycled timber, local rocks, plants and grasses all create a very natural, rustic look.
Ask your neighbors if they have any plants they are dividing in the Spring that you can have. If they thrive in their garden, they will thrive in yours! Using native plants is also good for the eco-system.
Create a relaxing area to read, unwind, and maybe do some yoga or stretches. I found this beautiful Brazilian style hammock for $65 here
Repeat plantings for a bigger impact. Fill large pots with inexpensive perennials for instant colour. Larger pots also means less watering. Find 14″ terracotta plastic pots for $9.48 ea at Home Depot
Tall pots like these can be found at Home Depot for $35 each. Mix tall, spiky spider plants and wandering Jew with cascading creeping Jenny and sweet potato plants (Ipomoea batatas) for a great eye-catching arrangement.
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This month we are giving away a $40 gift certificate that can be used on any of our bedding – wool comforters, mattress pads, pillows, duvet covers, sheets, bed skirts, and bed throws. This is your chance to get that bolster pillow or linen sheet set that you’ve been wanting! Gift certificate may be applied to custom orders.
Free shipping on purchases over $300, otherwise shipping charges will apply.
Contest runs Jan 6 – 31, 2017.
Open to residents of Canada and USA, 18 yrs of age or older.
Article from Boulevard Magazine – Fall 2016
Title – A Cut Above – Designing an Eco-Friendly Future, One Stitch at a Time
by Tess Van Straaten, photos by Don Denton.
For Ladysmith’s Nikki MacCallum, sewing is her passion. “I love sewing. I love fabrics and I love working with beautiful fabrics and creating things”, says MacCallum, the visionary behind NikkiDesigns. “My mother taught me how to sew when I was a little girl and I’ve been designing and sewing ever since.”
Yet surprisingly, this mother of three never intended to start her own custom-crafted home decor business. She was working as a seamstress and a clothing designer when she tried to buy a new duvet cover more than a decade ago. The first time MacCallum washed it, it shrunk and twisted and was no longer usable.
“Being a seamstress, I knew exactly what had happened – the fabric hadn’t been cut on the grain”, MacCallum explains, “When items are mass-produced, this type of care and detail are often overlooked. It’s gotten so bad, people aren’t surprised any more when stuff falls apart.”
MacCallum decided to take matters into her own hands – literally – designing and sewing her own duvet cover. But first, she extensively researched fabrics to find one that would be comfortable to sleep in but strong enough to last through numerous washings.
“The more I read about all the chemicals and pesticides used to grow cotton, the more determined I became to use organic fabrics,” she says. “I discovered that hemp, the strongest fabric known to man – it’s 10 times stronger than cotton – is environmentally friendly and doesn’t need chemical fertilizers or pesticides to grow. It’s also naturally mold and mildew resistant, gets softer with every wash and can be dyed naturally in beautiful colours.”
The duvet cover was such a success, MacCallum decided to open her own store on Etsy and soon discovered there was a big demand for quality, hand-crafted goods.
“The first year I sold six things, the next year 40 and by the third year it really started to take off,” says MacCallum, who launched her own website (nikkidesigns,ca) and now sells hand-made curtains, blinds, bedding and decor items all over the world.
With her business booming, the 52-year-old employs five people and is opening her first studio, which will have open-houses and by by-appointment in Ladysmith.
“I think the timing is really good for me to have this space so people can drop in”, MacCallum says, “A big challenge in growing the business has been finding good sewers. I’m lucky I have skilled sewers working for me but it’s a lost art.”
Another challenge was learning how to do online sales when it was still a relatively new phenomenon.
“There was no course to take and one teaching that 10 years ago,” MacCallum jokes.
But one of the biggest learning curves for this entrepreneur was one that everyone faces – work/life balance – which is particularly challenging for people running their own business.
“Having your own business is always a roller coaster and work/life balance is a big challenge. You have to know when to quit and not reply to another email because it’s important to have a life,” MacCallum says.
“Sometimes I wish I had done this when I was younger, but the timing was really good because it took off when my youngest daughter left the house so I could really focus on the business.”
For MacCallum, who still does all her own fabric cutting because it’s so crucial to a good outcome, the biggest business lesson has been not to get discouraged.
“As a business owner, you always have days where everything goes wrong and people complain and it’s all up to you – the buck stops with you – but you can’t take things personally,” MacCallum advises. “You have to let it go and you can’t let it get to you.”
Initially, MacCallum admits she tried to do everything herself, which was a big mistake.
“I learned to hire people to do the jobs I wasn’t an expert in so that I could concentrate on doing what I do best and on growing the business.”
MacCallum’s two biggest markets are New York and California and the most popular product at NikkiDesigns is roman shades – the company tells people how to measure and sends fabric swatches – followed by curtains and bedding.
All of the fabrics used – most often a hemp blend with organic cotton or silk – are natural and eco-friendly, and MacCallum says she’d like to see hemp become more widely used in society given all of its benefits.
“We know that eating organic food is the right thing to do so doesn’t it make sense that using organic fabrics is also better for our environment and better for our health?” asks MacCallum, who welcomed her first grandchild a year ago. “You don’t want sheets and bedding and window coverings that could off-gas potentially harmful chemicals and hurt your family.”
But MacCallum is most careful of the fact that everything at NikkiDesigns is hand-cut one at a time and fabrics are pre-shrunk to make sure there are no duvet disasters like the one that inspired her to start the business.
“It’s the little things people don’t know about that make all the difference.”
Boulevard Magazine is published by Black Press. It is Vancouver Island’s leading lifestyle magazine, celebrating 26 years of publishing on the Island. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org