Since The Cleaning Crew, LLC. is known for our green cleaning approach, we always enjoy sharing eco-friendly tips with our followers. Last summer we shared tips for saving electricity. We want to remind you of those energy (and money) saving tips as well as add a few new tips for this summer!
In our previous blog Easy Way to Save Electricity This Summer, we recommended several techniques for saving energy. At the hottest point of the summer, these tips can come in hand for also saving a few bucks on the electricity bill.
- Eliminate Electronic Heat-Unplug any devices that express heat in order to save on air conditioning costs.
- Lessen the Laundry Load-Do as little laundry as possible and avoid doing it during the heat of the day.
- Save for Sundown-Do all of your heat-producing activities early in the morning or later in the evening.
- Automate Appliances-Invest in appliances that can be automated and set to schedules.
- Frequently Use Fans-Use fans instead of air conditioning.
- Watch Your Windows-Make sure doors and windows are well insulated and caulked to avoid leakage.
- Conserve energy and money by repairing or installing new air conditioning systems, the ac repair costs will be outweighed by the amount you save in coming years of having a properly maintained AC system.
- And finally, of course, keep an eye on your electricity bills. Research the market, using a company like Electricity Monster to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal you can. If you decide it’s time to switch, you might want to check these Reliant Energy rates if you want to be paying less than you currently are.
- Fresh Food-Go to your local Farmer’s Market and enjoy fresh fruits and veggies all throughout the summer.
- BBQ-Reduce electricity use and heat in your home by cooking outdoors on a grill. According to Treehugger.com, propane is the cleanest approach to grilling outdoors.
- Reduce & Reuse-Reduce your footprint by avoiding disposable cookware and utensils. Try to use reusable items including silverware, dishes, and water bottles. You could even look at buying metal boba straws to replace non-recyclable plastic straws.
- Cut Chemicals-Choose safe and eco-friendly sunscreens and bug sprays. This will not only help the environment by reducing emissions, but it will also be safer for those who are using the products.
- Water conservation-Follow all neighborhood guidelines about watering your yard. In addition, don’t waste water. If you aren’t going to finish your glass, use it to water plants or pets. (Biofriendly Planet)
- Use Solar Power-Instead of using devices that need to use an electrical charge, harness the power of the summer sun and use solar power.
Try these out and let us know how they work for you. Add your favorite eco-friendly tip in the comments below!
Summertime is great for relaxation and adventure. High electricity bills can eat up extra cash that could be used for travel or other fun. Since we can’t all go out today and install solar panels and a windmill, here are some great alternatives to help cut down on electricity use and increase the fun this summer!
Eliminate Electronic Heat
A major part of reducing energy use in the summer is trying to eliminate use of an air conditioner. So, eliminating or reducing heat producing elements of your home is essential. Screens and machines put off a lot of heat. Make sure to turn off computers, appliances, lights, and TVs when they are not in use. According to Money Minded Mom, it is best to use LED light bulbs in all light light fixtures because they produce 95% light and only 5% heat. You also don’t have to use as many bulbs because they put out a more direct light.
Lessen the Laundry Load
When you are trying to use less energy, one of the easiest ways is to lessen your laundry. If you run all cycles on cold water, there is no need to separate darks and lights. This allows you to run larger loads, using the machine less. In addition, air-drying clothes instead of using a drying can eliminate quite a bit of heat. Read more ideas about going green from the Retro Housewife here.
Save for Sundown
If you must use the heat-producing elements of your home, wait until after the sun goes down. Green Shield Organic reasons that, “your air conditioner will not have to compensate for the added heat during the day” if wait until nighttime to do things like run the dryer or use the oven.
If possible, put all of your electronics on an automated system. Most air conditioners now are programmable and you can change the temperature with the touch of your phone. The Binder Ladies recommend always keeping your air conditioner running, but to adjust the temperature up and down as necessary. Moving the dial can save a surprising amount of energy.
In addition, use power strips on all electronics and appliances. Then, you can ensure that electricity is cut off with the flip of just one switch instead of unplugging them all.
Frequently Use Fans
According to the San Francisco Gate, a standard residential air-conditioning system costs over $125 more dollars a month than a fan. Even if you are just using a window unit, you can still save close to $50 each month by running a fan instead. For the summer, make sure all of your ceiling fans are set counter-clockwise. If you use floor fans, you can put ice behind them and they will blow cooler air. Check out this and more Survival Life hacks on their list of 17 Ways to Keep Your House Cool and Save Money This Summer.
Ceiling fans to high or difficult to clean? Let us help! Call us today at 541-601-6236 to get a free estimate.
Watch the Windows
One of the major ways cool air escapes your home and hot air comes in is through cracks in windows or door seals. If you can, spend the money to install energy efficient windows. If not, the people at Prepper Lists suggest to make sure to properly seal all cracks or leaks. Then, put a tinted film on your windows or splurge on energy efficient curtains to reduce the amount of heat that comes in.
Also, keep your windows closed for as long you can in the morning to keep the cool, night air inside. Then, once it starts to get warm, open windows at each end of your home to create a cross-breeze to cool things down.
Reducing the need for air conditioning is the number one way to save on energy costs in the summer. If you use these tips to help eliminate heat in your home, you should be successful in having an energy-saving season.
To remove these stains from clothes, scrape off excess, then run under cold running water. Treat with liquid detergent; let stand for a few minutes before rinsing. Treat with a stain stick, then launder as usual.
In order to remove these stains from clothes, sprinkle flour, talcum powder, cornstarch or artificial sweetener on both sides of the stain and let sit for 30 minutes. Shake off the powder and the stain should be faded or gone. Rub in some dish-washing soap and rinse under hot water; repeat as needed.
Place a layer of paper towels over the stain. Then, To remove these stains from clothes, working from the inside of the fabric, flush with cold water to transfer some of the barbecue sauce to the towel. Later, pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent to break up the stain. Let sit for several minutes, then rinse well. Sponge the stain with white vinegar and rinse again. Pre-treat again and wash.
Just like with BBQ sauce, place a layer of paper towels over the stain. Working from the inside of the fabric, flush the area with cold water to transfer some of the salsa to the towel. Once you’re home, pre-treat with a liquid laundry detergent to break up the stain. Let sit for several minutes, then rinse well. Sponge the stain with white vinegar and rinse. Pre-treat again and wash
¡Ay caramba! Simply scrape off the excess guacamole, and flush the stain with cold running water. Then wash the item in the hottest water safe for the material with all-fabric bleach.
It’s not a day in the park if it doesn’t include some ice cream. If little drips get on you or your little one’s clothes, to remove these stains from your clothes, pre-treat or soak the fabric using a laundry detergent that contains enzymes for at least 30 minutes and launder.
Remember to clean all stains as quickly as possible. The longer a stain sits on clothes, the harder it will be to remove.
Have you ever made your own homemade, all-natural stain remover?
What is your preferred stain remover?
5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break with Your Kids
Everyone gets stoked for Summer Vacation to arrive! However, that joy can turn sour in a heartbeat when parent or kid expectations aren’t met or if you forget to install ducted air con. Kids seem to want a free range, carte blanche, “do anything I want when I want to” existence, while parents generally can’t hack that kind of mindset. Before those smiles turn upside down, and your summer gets away from you, use these 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break. Start here, then adjust as you go!
The first of 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break with your kids is to maintain a schedule while setting consistent limits.
No need to be a strict dictator here, but experts agree: kids do better when there’s some structure to their worlds. Tennis lessons is a good way of giving your children something to do during the summer as well as give them consistency, if you are interested in finding out more, check out what type of tennis lesson are you looking for? There are a few other games that allow your kids to be active and enjoyable, an example of this is something like Pickleball, a game that has the elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. With it’s growing popularity there are a few places online that can help get them started with the best pickleball paddles and instructions to start playing the game, teaching them a new game would be a great way to give your kids consistency. Consistency helps manage expectations for both kids and parents. Parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham writes on structure:
Research shows that kids get stressed during the school year from academics, homework, the social scene, and all the activities. They really need time to chill and relax. But they also need structure, meaning they need their day and week to have a shape — so they know what to expect. For instance, every morning after we play, we do errands or pick up the house together for an hour, and after lunch we have reading time and then quiet time. Every afternoon we run through the sprinkler or go to the pool.
With the abundance of screen-driven entertainment these days, “screen time” can be a parent’s “easy button.” Computers, smartphones, iPads, and game consoles abound. But research from The American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests eliminating screen time for children under 2 years old and advises limiting daily screen time to one to two hours for older kids. What to do? Setting consistent limits seems to be the consensus top tip, according to GreatKids family blog. Other top suggestions include:
- Use technology (DVR, apps, passwords) to monitor and control screen time
- Set a consistent family viewing time
- Keep media out of kids’ bedrooms
For a more comprehensive look, check out their 9 Secrets for Managing Your Kids’ Screen time by clicking here.
Technology can be an effective motivational and behavioral tool when used correctly. Empoweringparents.com outlines the guidelines for using technology as a consequence or reward.
Our second of 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break is to get outside and take in some adventures with your kids!
Yes, get them playing in the back yard. Yes, take them to the local park. Yes, hit up those play dates. Yes, go on family vacation. But YES, YES, YES, open their eyes to a bigger world and bigger experiences. Summer is prime time to take them on a hike into the woods, to the top of a mountain, through a creek, over some sand dunes. Travel and explore a neighboring town. Travel as much as you can this summer. For some helpful tips on traveling with kids, check out our blog from last week.
Family travel expert Debbie Dubrow has been there and done that when it comes to family travel. She emphasizes the challenges, the solutions, and rewards of traveling with your kids in her blog Deliciousbaby.com. Read her article “Why Travel“ by clicking here.
One father gave his 3 & 4 year old daughters a “travel experience” of a lifetime and documented it here:
While that “travel experience” may be extreme for some, be pro-active in sharing big experiences with your kids, no matter how little they are!
Allistair Humphreys, one of National Geogrphic’s Adventurers of the year, has coined a new term: “microadventures.” While Alistair has walked across India, biked around the world, and rowed across the Atlantic, his most recent passion is to encourage microadventures among those who living within the 9 to 5 structure. Grand, months long adventures may be out of reach for the majority of us, but a weekend microadventure isn’t. Here’s a short piece he did on microadventures for CNN:
His new book is called Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. His other adventure books are available on his website.
Brett & Kate McKay run The Art of Manliness website, and after reading Alistair’s book on microadventures, decided to take an 8-week microadventure challenge – with their two young kids. Click here to read about their experiences. Their conclusion:
What turned out to be the most surprising thing about my 8-week microadventure challenge was how unchallenging it was! Breaking out of my routine and doing a tiny expedition each week required very little effort, time, or money at all; the barriers I had imagined to executing such outings turned out to exist only in my mind. That included a worry that Gus and Scout wouldn’t take to some of the activities, and I’d have a pair of whining kids on my hands. Instead, they loved getting out more and exploring, and I learned, as I seemingly have to again and again, that they’re more resilient than I sometimes think.
“I would say read! Read, read, read. In books there is a world of information just waiting to be discovered. The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read.” ~ Dear Abby
Aha! Parenting nails it:
Books open the imagination, make time disappear, and give kids a wholesome alternative to screens. (Reading is also highly correlated with school achievement.) Reading to your child develops a love of stories and books, which is what starts them wanting to read on their own. For more on helping your child learn to love reading, click here. For a starting list of great books to take to the library with your child, click here.
Coming in at 4 of our 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break is Home and kid organization.
Staying active and creative will result in lots of loose ends. Here’s what to do with them.
Cords, cords, and more cords. Whether it’s your home entertainment center, or you have grandchildren or nieces and nephews visiting, managing cords can be a regular struggle.
- Start here: Separate Power from Everything Else. Route power cables in one direction and all of your audio and video cables going in another direction. It helps with cable management, but it also decreases the sheer bulk of cables. In addition, it simplifies your task if you need to swap something out or test a connection. Grab yourself a few sturdy, plug-rich surge protectors like the Belkin Pivot Plug. Separate out all of the things you need to be on all the time from the things that can be easily powered off. That way even if you have a device that prefers to stay on standby and never really powers off, you can save energy by flipping the switch on the surge protector.
- Label Everything – You might think that is common practice, but the fact is most people just don’t label the cables connected to their TV, receiver, consoles, and other gear. Grab a cheap, personal label maker and label both ends of your cables with the cable type and the device it’s connected to. That way you don’t even have to look at the connector, and you’ll always know which end to disconnect to pull out a cable you need to test or replace. Do the same with your power cables. No label maker? Grab some tape and a sharpie!
- Tie Down, Hide, and Organize Those Cables – Once you have the right cables, have your cables labeled, and have the right gear to make the most of your home entertainment center, the last step is to set it all back up as cleanly as possible. using binder clips, coiling and zip-tying slack when you need to. Velcro strips can all help conceal your cable clutter.
BOOK ORGANIZATION IDEAS
- Multi-Purpose Bookshelf: A shelf like the Oeuf Mini Library can hold books as well as toys. Its utilitarian form is easy on the eyes, too.
- A Wall bench and bookshelf automatically creates a cozy reading area and provides both a space to read and extra storage for books.
- Stacked cubes: A custom book area with plywood cubes created this set-up with differently sized boxes for differently sized books.
- Baskets: It can be as simple as finding a large basket or two to hold all of your child’s current favorite books.
The key to keeping a somewhat clean space with kids is to have a very clear organization for their toys and arts and crafts. When kids feel they can actually put away their belongings quickly, it can be a game.
As far as arts and crafts are concerned, here are some solutions that are simple to implement:
- Mom’s Crafty Space has an Upcycled Montessori-Styled Crayon Holder Tutorial. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also a good exercise for color sorting.
- I heart Organizing made an art caddy, using chalk paint, so it can be personalized by the kids to their taste.
- Cheeky Kitchen‘s pantry organization includes a shelf for arts and crafts, and a fun use of tin cans with simple labels.
- A Bowl Full of Lemons brings us the over-the-door shoe organizer as arts and crafts organizer.
- One Orange Giraffe designed a Portable Art Studio, including an essential craft bucket with pockets around it. Brilliant!
Check out @BetterHomes Storage Kit Ideas
Utensil caddies are a great size for far more than just utensils! The divided portions of the caddy are great for keeping markers, crayons and color pencils in their respective sections! Canning jars are perfect for odd shaped crafting items and can be tucked into the caddy along with scissors, paint, glue and wiggly eyes! The end result is something that can be tucked up on a shelf in a bedroom or pantry and can easily be snagged and carried to the kitchen table or floor to work on creative crafty projects!
Our last stop in our 5 Strategies for a Successful Summer Break is to focus on fun!
Parenting experts agree that what kids most remember is the feeling they had from a period of time, not so much the detail of every event. If the summer structure they remember is that they had fun during self-directed play, but parent-initiated activities were mostly about chores like clean up, they’ll remember the summer as a bummer. Making the focus of parent-directed (or grandparents) summer activities intentionally fun, while keeping age-appropriate responsibilities part of your schedule, will keep you sane and your kids happy!
What other tips do you have to create a successful summer break with your kids? Share it by leaving a comment below!
Karen & The Cleaning Crew