Save Energy in the Kitchen

The kitchen can be a major cause of the energy bill skyrocketing. There are ways to save energy, even when using the most common kitchen appliances.

To make refrigerator usage as efficient as possible, set the temperature to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, make sure there is ample space between it and other surfaces, especially the stove and oven. Keeping the freezer packed full, but leaving more space in the fridge better allows for cold air circulation.

When using the stove top, try to schedule cooking during off-peak hours. Cooking with pots that are the correct size for the burners also helps to not use excess energy.

Don’t let oven heat go to waste when baking. During the last few minutes, turn the oven off and allow the food to cook in the residual heat. Take advantage of the oven light, and check on the food through the window instead of opening the door. This will cut down drastically on energy loss. When you’re finished baking, leave the oven door open a bit to let the warm air help heat the kitchen especially during the cooler days of fall and winter. The best time to let the oven self-clean is right after cooking so the oven won’t have to reheat itself just for cleaning.

Did you know the dishwasher uses 33 percent less hot water than washing dishes by hand? Also, only running the dishwasher when it is at capacity will significantly lower the energy bill. During the cycle, turn it off before the drying cycle begins and open the door, allowing the dishes to air dry for even further energy conservation.

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Fall Cleaning

Fall is an important time to clean and organize the house. The children are back in school and winter is fast approaching. Use that spring cleaning checklist, with a few more chores added on to make sure the house is prepared for the cold winter months ahead.

Wash the windows and window treatments. With the windows open all summer long, dust can accumulate a thick coating on the blinds. Walls also need a good scrubbing after being exposed to the elements during summer months. Vacuum the carpets and wash all the hardwood or linoleum flooring in the house.

For the kitchen, reorganizing the cupboards can really help take the stress out of preparing for holiday meals. Discard old Tupperware and other items as needed. By reorganizing, it will take the guess work out of finding items needed for cooking holiday meals and dishes can be returned to the original owner if they were kept from last year’s festivities. Also go through the pantry. Items such as sugar and flour get used more during fall and winter when baking, so make sure there are plenty of each stocked up.

Check on the furnace filter, it may need to be replaced before the furnace can be turned on. Also if there is a chimney in the house, have it inspected and swept before winter arrives. Check the weather stripping around doors and windows so the cold air stays out. Clean and store patio furniture away until next summer.

When the cold weather starts to hit, get the winter linens out of storage and change the bedding throughout the house. Get blankets and winter clothing out of storage as well. Make sure the guest rooms are prepared for company. Flip mattresses if needed and fluff pillows.

If planning on entertaining during the holidays, refinish the surfaces around the house so they look like new. If the sinks, counters or bathtubs need an update, call Refinish First.

Sink Refinishing

Sinks, both commercial and personal, can become damaged over time. They are high traffic areas that get a lot of use and abuse. They can become chipped, cracked, discolored scratched and dull. Before replacing the entire unit, consider refinishing. It can save a lot of time and money.

Refinish First can refinish porcelain, acrylic and composite sinks. Many times cleaning agents can ruin a sink’s finish. Chips and cracks in a sink are inevitable over time. Replacing an entire sink and can be costly, especially if there is more than one to replace, such as in a commercial business. Refinishing the sink’s surface can cut the cost dramatically and make it look brand new.

Refinishing takes less time than completely replacing the sink. There is no need to disconnect from drains and pipes to refinish. It also cuts down on the time that the sink and the bathroom are unusable.

The new surface that Refinish First puts on can last 15 years or longer with proper care and maintenance. There are many different colors to choose from and different finishes too. It’s even possible to create almost any custom color if you like the one already on the bathtub or shower.

Contact Refinish First for a free refinishing estimate in the home or for a business.

Grow Herbs Indoors

Growing herbs in the garden during summer is a great way to keep fresh ingredients around without breaking the bank. But when winter comes, and gardens become dormant, it can be difficult to keep these fresh ingredients on hand. Instead of heading to the grocery store, think about growing herbs indoors.

Chives, chocolate mint, rosemary, oregano and thyme are easily grown indoors and are some of the more frequently used herbs, but there are many others that can be grown indoors. To bring these herbs indoors there are two different options. One is buying them from a nursery and the other is bringing them inside from the garden.

To start these herbs indoors, get small pots with a drainage hole and saucer that will fit in the window sill. Before filling the pot one-third full of potting soil, put a small piece of window screening over the drainage hole to make sure the soil doesn’t escape. Take the plant out of the nursery container and place it in the pot, surrounding it with more soil.

For bringing outdoor herbs indoors, plant runners or divisions are needed. A plant runner is a stem-like growth extending from the mother plant’s growing point. Pot the runner or division like a brand new plant and continue having fresh herbs for the rest of the year.

If the window sill isn’t large enough for herbs, any spot near a window will work fine. South or southwestern facing windows are best for growing herbs. Terra cotta or clay pots tend to dry out fast especially in a warm home during winter, so choose a plastic pot instead.

Bathroom Maintenance

Bathtubs and showers have a reputation for building up grime from remnants of dirt, debris and soap. This can cause the growth of mildew on bathroom surfaces. Cleaning and maintenance of these areas is the key to stopping the growth of mildew and keeping bathroom surfaces attractive.

The type of cleaner for different surfaces varies. Generally, a nonabrasive liquid cleaning solution can be used on most surfaces. Shower curtains are infamous for attracting mildew. A good preventative measure is to wipe it down with a dry towel after each use along with regular cleaning.

Grout doesn’t take well to water. If in contact for a prolonged period of time it can become damaged and mildew can form. Cleaning helps this, but tile and grout need a little more care than other materials. Each year the condition of the grout and tile should be checked. If any tiles have become loose or damaged or there is damaged grout, it is time to make repairs. The experts at Refinish First can repair chipped tiles, replace missing grout and seal the grout when they refinish a surface in your home.

As with grout, caulk and sealants can deteriorate and be subject to water damage. To prevent this, caulk and sealant should be inspected annually and fixed as necessary. Damaged caulking should be removed and the unit resealed.

Doors on bathtubs and showers can present their own set of problems as well. If standing water is found in the base or track of the door, the drainage system isn’t working properly. Small holes can be drilled into the track to allow water to drain. If standing water if left uncorrected, mildew can become a problem in the door.

Regular and careful maintenance can prevent most damage on bathroom surfaces. If damage has occurred, Refinish First can help return the surfaces to new. Contact us today for a free bathroom refinishing estimate.

Re-caulking the Bathtub

Caulk around bathtubs and showers gets old and worn over time. It needs to be replaced or resealed regularly to prevent water damage, mold growth and increasing energy bills. But sometimes caulk gets overlooked and forgotten. Inspecting it regularly and looking for telltale signs of damage is a good habit.

Damaged caulk can be discolored, cracked or simply missing. Once water gets in, it can quickly do a lot of damage. Sometimes the discoloration comes from a layer of dirt and grime and can be washed off. If it doesn’t come off after a good scrub, it is most likely mildew growing underneath or behind the caulk.

When this happens it is best to start by removing the caulk. Using a razor-like scraper, cut the mold away from the wall and bathtub or shower surface. Vacuum up the left over debris before cleaning the area and leaving it to dry. There are many different ideas out there for cleaning mildew. Bleach is a pretty common method for getting rid of it. Once all of the mildew is gone, fill it in with new caulk.

Caulk comes in a variety of categories and each has different benefits. When deciding on one for the bathroom, it is important to consider how it will stand up to large amounts of moisture. Silicon caulk is great for use in bathrooms. It is somewhat flexible when it dries, creating a higher resistance to cracking. It is also highly waterproof and mold resistant, easy to clean and doesn’t fade over time. It cannot be painted, but comes in a variety of colors to match bathroom projects.

Some cases of mildew are mild, and can be cleaned up easily. If the problem is persistent and keeps reappearing it may be time to replace the caulk completely.

Clean and Clutter Free

Kitchen counters get a lot of traffic. They get spilled on, dripped on, burned, scratched and more. If not cleaned properly, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria, something nobody wants near their food. Kitchen counters are also a place of clutter. Dirty dishes, appliances and other items get left there, making cooking an obstacle course. Having a regular cleaning routine can help cut down on kitchen messes and clutter.

Food prep areas should be cleaned each time they are used. Warm water and dish detergent work well for this every day type of cleaning. Make sure to dry the counter completely to discourage the growth of bacteria. For deeper cleaning, a nonabrasive cleaner and sponge or microfiber towel can be used. Some surfaces, like natural stone, concrete, wood and engineered quartz, require the use of a soap and warm water mixture to clean them. Vinegar shouldn’t be used on wood counters due to the possibility of it dissolving the glue holding it together and bleach or ammonia can ruin the sealant and dull concrete counters. Researching the best type of cleaners for different kitchen surfaces is always a good decision before cleaning them.

If kitchen counters have become damaged, old or worn out, Refinish First can refinish laminate, tile, solid surfaces and cultured marble. The surface will look like new for a fraction of the cost and time associated with a kitchen remodel.

For keeping the counters clutter free, it’s all about developing habits. Many times, things get tossed and left on the counter. Junk mail is a pretty common culprit. Instead of bringing mail into the kitchen area and leaving it, sort through it at the door. Get rid of junk mail right away to keep it from building up. Have a basket set somewhere for the important mail.

When cooking meals, pots, pans and all sorts of other cookware can pile up in no time. If possible, the best option is to wash them as soon as they’re done being used. Or wash them right after the meal is over. Also, if dishes are air-dried, try not to leave them on the counter overnight. Have a routine for putting them away once they’re dry.

Find more practical places for items. Kitchen towels can be hung up on the oven, the refrigerator, or a special hook. They’re also less likely to get lost that way. Appliances that don’t get used often can be put in cupboards, if there’s room. One idea to free up the counter space that the coffee maker occupies is to create a little coffee bar or station. Get a simple roll cart or shelf and place it against an empty space on the wall. The coffee maker can go on top while all the fixings can go down below on shelves. This can be a fun little craft project and ensures everything for coffee is in one spot.

Creating routines and habits can help keep kitchen countertops clean and clear. This can have a positive effect on other life aspects, such as stress levels.