The Best Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Summer

The Best Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Summer

Every year you add another home improvement project to your list. Pretty soon the list will feel almost impossible to complete! Start tackling some of those projects this summer with these five home improvement ideas. With warmer weather and longer days, summer is the perfect season for making your home a more enjoyable place to live.

1. Replace light bulbs and fixtures

Are you still using old-style incandescent light bulbs? Replace them with newer versions that are more energy-efficient.You’ll save money on bills and won’t have to replace them as often in the future. While replacing your bulbs, see if you have any outdated fixtures that don’t really fit in with your home’s style anymore. Now is the time to update those, too.

The Best Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Summer

2. Repair or replace window screens

In the summer, you’re going to want to enjoy fresh air by opening your windows. But, if you’re missing a screen or it is torn, bugs could get into your home. You certainly don’t want to spend your time swatting at flies, so replace or repair your window screens right away and start enjoying the outdoor breeze inside your house.

The Best Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Summer

Photo credit: Designsponge

3. Remove old wallpaper

Does your home still have that old 70s wallpaper in the living room? Open the windows, turn on some tunes and update that ugly print with contemporary wallpaper or a fresh coat of paint. This simple change will refresh your room and bring it to the present.

The Best Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Summer

4. Set up your patio with outdoor furniture

Outdoor entertaining is the perfect way to enjoy summer, but you can’t host guests without furniture. Determine how you want to use your patio – whether for dinner or drinks and conversation – and choose furniture to match.

The Best Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Summer

5. Add a raised garden bed

Start growing all those plants and herbs you’ve been meaning to plant by installing a raised garden bed in your yard. The sooner you tackle this project, the sooner you can start enjoying fresh produce!

If the idea of tackling projects this summer sounds far from appealing, make each task more fun by enlisting help and working to your favorite songs. All of your hard work will pay off in the end!

By Wendy Weinert

A Spotlight on Energy Efficiency in the Bathroom

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Access Lighting Vail Brushed Steel One-Light Medium Wall and Vanity Light

Bathroom lighting can be tricky. We spend a rather significant amount of time in this often-forgotten part of the house, and yet its design doesn’t possess the elegant grandeur or thoughtful comfort of the dining or living rooms. Bathroom lighting needs to be bright enough to catch blemishes, flattering enough that it won’t prevent you from leaving the house, and soft enough to evoke relaxation during bath time. Plus, fixtures have to be approved for damp environments. You may never use the den or grand dining room, but a day doesn’t go by when you don’t use the bathroom (if all goes well). We turn those lights on and off multiple times a day – why not also make them energy efficient?

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It’s thrilling how far energy efficient lighting has come in terms of design aesthetic and light quality. Most energy efficient lighting uses either LED lights or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) instead of the old familiar incandescent bulb. The difference in energy use of these newer developments from the classic light bulb is remarkable.

Take LEDs. “Light emitting diodes” started out as tiny single bulbs used for electronics, but, due to their efficiency and flexibility, creative designers have been grouping these bulbs together in new and interesting ways, creating warm, radiant – and efficient – lighting fixtures. A beautiful example is Nuvo’s Raindrop. Combining polished nickel and Lucite, the fNuvoLightingRaindropixture has slightly retro styling with very contemporary electronics. Raindrop uses three 4-watt LED modules. Wattage is often mistakenly equated with light output, but, actually, watts refer to the quantity of energy used to illuminate the bulb. Instead of wattage, LEDs are measured in “lumens,” which refers instead to the amount of light emitted. The Raindrop uses about 12 watts, but gives off about 870 lumens. You’d need 60 watts of incandescent light to give off the same brightness. Go with LEDs and you’re using less than a quarter the amount of energy! Not only that, but they last longer – an average LED bulb will be going strong for 50,000 hours – compare that with an incandescent’s quick little life span of 1,200. A fixture like the Raindrop or Access Lighting’s sleek and minimal 31003LEDD will not only save you money on your energy bill, it’ll save you time changing light bulbs.

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PhotoCredit: Pegasus Lighting Blog

Even if you’re satisfied with your current bathroom fixture, it’s easy to snag a little more efficiency simply by switching out the old incandescent for a CFL bulb. Placed somewhere between LEDs and incandescents in terms of efficiency, you can generally get about 8,000 hours of use per compact fluorescent (compared with 50,000 for LEDs and 1,200 for an incandescent). Their old reputation for harsh bright light no longer stands (we’d never recommend that for the bathroom!). CFLs measure brightness in Kelvins – choose a CFL that offers 2700-300K and you’ll find the same warmth of a traditional incandescent, but use about a quarter of the wattage.

So take some time to give your bathroom a little love – and save some money and the environment by switching to energy efficient lighting options.

5 things you might not know about LED lighting

You’ve surely heard the hubbub about getting rid of old-style incandescent light bulbs and switching to more eco-friendly, energy-efficient bulbs to light your home. The hype has started for good reason – lights like LEDs really are longer-lasting and more efficient, and come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. But many people are still reluctant to make the switch.

Photo Credit: Corbett Lighting

If you’re curious about LED lighting, but not sure about making the transition, here are five key things you need to know.

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1. What are LEDs, anyway? LED stands for “light emitting diode” and it’s those diodes that make the lights different from traditional incandescent and CFL bulbs, which contain filaments inside a glass bulb. The LED “bulb” contains tiny light sources or lenses that illuminate when an electrical current passes through a semiconductor within the bulb.

2. Do LED bulbs really last longer? Yes, they do! One LED bulb can have a life of 100,000 hours. Compare that to the average life span of a traditional incandescent light – just 750 hours.

3. Are LEDs actually eco-friendly? It’s not just a sales tactic – LEDs use less energy (less demand on the environment), last longer (fewer bulbs to throw away) and contain no toxic materials. They’re even recyclable.

4. LEDs are only for small fixtures, right? Nope! LED light fixtures have come a long way in recent years, and homeowners with a strong sense of taste can rejoice – virtually any style of fixture is now available in an LED version. So from your living room chandelier to the pendants above your kitchen bar, LEDs can light the way – and do it beautifully.LED_OutdoorPostLantern

5. Can LEDs be used outside? Absolutely! Whether you’re lighting up a pathway to your patio space or welcoming your guests to your front door, outdoor LED light fixtures will do the task – and save you the headaches of having to replace bulbs on a regular basis.