Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… Refurbish?

Refurbishing furniture has become a popular hobby for people who enjoy upcycling or do-it-yourself projects. Thrift stores and consignment shops often have lots of furniture for fairly reasonable prices. Unfortunately, most of this furniture is old, and usually pretty ugly. That’s where refurbishing and reupholstering comes in handy. With a little bit of research and practice anyone can learn to make old furniture look new and original. Here are some tips to refresh any type of furniture:

  • Wooden Furniture: Wooden furniture is often easier to refurbish than upholstered furniture. The first step with wooden furniture is always sanding. The level of wear and tear on your furniture will indicate how much you should sand it. Be careful with sanding to make sure that you’re sanding fairly equally, because you don’t want to change the shape of the piece, you’re just trying to smooth it out. This can be particularly difficult on any pieces that have been clawed by cats or have extremely splintered surfaces. Once you’ve finished with the sanding, all that’s really left is choosing a stain or paint that you like for the furniture. For things with knobs and hardware, like a chest of drawers or a cabinet, you’ll want to find some hinges or pulls that you like to attach to the piece. Generally, you can replace existing hardware, but if you find something that doesn’t fit the current holes it’s easy to drill new holes. After staining/painting and attaching hardware you’re pretty much done! Some people like to add antiquing stain to make the piece look worn, and you can even go so far as to sand certain parts of it after painting like corners or edges to give it an antique used feel.

Wood Furniture

  • Upholstered Furniture: Upholstered furniture takes a little bit more knowledge and skill to refurbish. Upholstery can be tricky because you have to measure the fabric properly to cover the areas of your couch without having a ton of extra. This is tough because sofas and chairs are often odd shapes, not to mention they’re squishy which makes them even tougher to measure. If you’ve ever had to wrap a pillow as a Christmas present, then you probably understand why this can be tough. Sometimes if you’re lucky your furniture will have fabric that matches your décor already, in which case you can simply restore a piece. Often the easiest way to restore a piece is to make an appointment with an upholstery cleaning company who can come to your home and deep clean your furniture. This can remove any unpleasant smells left behind by the last owner, after all nobody wants to sit on a sofa that smells like a thrift store. You can also learn to clean antique furniture yourself, but you risk ruining the pattern of the fabric or damaging the upholstery, in which case you’ll have to reupholster the chair, which takes much longer than cleaning. If you choose to reupholster your upholstered furniture, there are many books on the topic that are good resources for learning how to do it.

Upholstered furniture

  • Metal Furniture: There are lots of great metal pieces out there for upcycling as well. Unfortunately, many of these pieces have rust spots or dents in them, which can make them look a little bit trashy. Lucky for you, rust is easily removed with steel wool from most kinds of metal fixtures. There are solutions that will also help take rust off of metal items. Dents are a little tougher to deal with, and might be better left alone, if it’s a lamp and you can turn that side to the wall, that might be the best course of action. Most of the time when people try to fix dents they end up scratching and denting the metal even worse, so if you’re going to buy a dented piece, know that the dent is part of the piece now. There are many types of spray paint that adhere to metal, so you can paint your new piece any color you want.

metal lamp

It’s no surprise that upcycling furniture has become so popular lately. With all of the initiatives encouraging people to take care of the environment and be green, it makes sense that people would want to recycle a serviceable piece of furniture that they can customize to match their current décor, rather than buy a new piece. This can be an easy one-time DIY project, or become a regular hobby. You can even refurbish pieces and then sell them to turn a little profit, or just make enough to start another project.

Seniors Going Green

As an aging senior in Phoenix, AZ, I have had the chance to experience many years of change. The other day, I had a chance to sit down with my senior home care helper, Bob, and talk about how much the world really has changed and how we could make it a better place. Being in the sunny state of Arizona, we decided to investigate the solar power options that could help in assisting my energy usage.

flood lightWith further digging, I found that there were many options out there, some being pretty costly and others at an affordable price point. I had a lot of money saved up from retirement and had no children to have to shell out funds to. The first place I went to was Lowe’s, so I had my senior care assistant drive me down there so I could check out their line of outdoor solar lighting. There were many brands that seemed nice like Secure Home, Utilitech, and All-Pro but we ended up getting the Utilitech Pro 180-Degree 2-head black solar powered led motion-activated flood light with the timer included. This option had everything I needed to save money and keep my house lit at night. I also ended up purchasing a bunch of EZSolar Path Light LED lighting. This provided a dim ambient light that could lead the way at night when I had guests over. While I was splurging, I even ended up grabbing 2 post lights. They were Gama Sonic Imperial II’s which had a 19 inch black solar LED fixture. The energy savings probably won’t pay off until I’m dead but at least I’m helping out the environment by going green.

I also came across a new state of the art phone charger that I could you to stay juiced. All I have to do is place the solar charger near a window and plug my phone in and my phone is charged in no time.

My newest and coolest toy that I just had custom made is my solar powered oven and grill. With the help of a gigantic magnifying glass that was re-purposed from an old projector t.v., I am able to back, grill, and sauté virtually any food with the power of the sun. By harnessing the sun’s rays, I can pinpoint the solar energy and convert that energy into heat which can cook my food. To bake, the solar energy is used to heat up an internal heating element that pushes through my well insulated oven.  To saute, the light is directed and finely focused to heat the pan I am cooking in. To grill, the rays are focus on to the grill which transfers the solar energy on to the grill so it heats up the grill. This is a wonderful way to cook and I don’t have to rely on electricity, gas, coal, wood, or lighter fluid.

solar roof panels

To run the rest of my central heating and cooling systems, I have implemented solar roof panels. These are connected to a grid of batteries in which I am able to store the energy when it’s not being used. I can do everything from heating my water to powering my refrigerator.

The only thing I can suggest to everyone else is to take it one step at a time. The gratitude you will feel after is immense and you can even save a little money over the long run. I even got my senior care helper, Bob, to invest a little bit in solar power. For our next project we are going to try and harness  the power of wind to stray away from the fossil fuels our society is built on.



“Green” Your Home with Energy-Efficient Windows

efficient windows2Have you ever sat near a window in your home, and then all of a sudden felt a breeze – even though the window was closed? Old or poor quality windows are likely to cause drafts, as the seal around the window is no longer airtight. Leaky windows can heat up your home in the summer, making your air conditioning system work overtime. Similarly, your old windows could be letting in icy cold air in the wintertime, making your HVAC perform extra work to keep your home at a desirable temperature. If your windows are drafty, you might already be noticing a steady increase in your monthly energy bill. You may already even be aware of the energy savings you can expect by replacing your windows, and how they can increase your home’s energy efficiency by over 30 percent. But did you know that green, energy-efficient windows also improve your home’s air quality, require less maintenance, insulate against noise, and look great too?

Just like there’s a variety of reasons for you replace your windows with newer, green windows, there are also a number of ways for you to choose window replacements. Here are some things to look for when searching for new energy-efficient windows to fit your home.

Window Coating

Window coatings (also known as low-emissivity coatings) are a layer of metallic oxide in the glass that can reduce the amount of heat that comes through the glass. These coatings give you the option to tailor how much solar heat and UV radiation enters your home according to your climate. If you live in a cooler region, you can choose a coating that will maximize solar heat, so that your heating system doesn’t have to work as hard. If you live in a hotter area, where you are always using your air conditioning, you can choose a coating that blocks solar heat from warming your home even more. Low-E coatings can cut energy costs by 25%, and can also filter UV-rays, protecting your furniture and carpeting from fading in color.

Insulated Frames

Metal window frames, such as aluminum and steel, are good thermal conductors – meaning that the metal can easily transfer heat from the outside to the interior of your home. While your air conditioning system is actively trying to cool your house down in the summer, heat from the sun is counteracting the effort. For optimal energy efficiency, it’s best to instead choose frames with low thermal conductivity, such as wood, vinyl, and fiberglass. These New Jersey replacement window installers, for example, offer vinyl window frames for even better overall energy efficiency. Specially insulated frames also do a great job of preventing solar heat transfer.


Another important thing to consider is how much ventilation you’d like for your home. Well-ventilating windows will improve the indoor air quality of your home. However, if a style of window is able to be opened, this means more opportunity for outside air to leak in even when it’s closed. The many different styles of windows offer varying degrees of both ventilation and insulation. For example, picture windows do not open and provide no ventilation, but are the best protection against drafts. Casement windows open with a locking lever, offering both ventilation and decent insulation. Consider the climate you live in and your own preferences.

Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” solution for buying energy-efficient window replacements for your home. However, with a little bit of research, taking into consideration your personal comfort needs and the specific characteristics of your climate, you should be able to find the perfect window to fit your home and give you the results you want.

Using Less Water and Energy in Your Home

How to Save Energy with Simple Home Improvements

When it comes to saving energy in your home, there are plenty of small changes you can do yourself and plenty of more involved changes that require hiring a contractor. Trust a professional for any building, installations, and replacement work around the house.

New Appliances

Installing new appliances in your home can make a big difference with cutting back on your water bills. For instance, a hybrid washing machine or dishwasher can allow you to wash bigger loads less frequently. They also have the water heating techniques that save you energy and the ability to use a smaller amount of water per cycle.


Believe it or not, a plumber can help you with your home’s water efficiency. Replacing your old toilet, having your pipes checked for leaks, and changing your showerhead are all easy ways to make sure that your home is running on as little water as possible.


A hybrid heating system is a great way to use less energy in your home. When you live in a location such as Virginia where winters vary between extreme cold temperatures and milder days, it’s not clear whether you should install a propane heater or one that uses a heat pump. Instead, a hybrid heater can use either method, as it switches between the two depending on the temperature that day. Simply have your installation specialist find the temperature where the system should switch, and you will be saving energy in no time!

Would you like to make changes in each of these areas of your home? Call a contractor such as Robertson Electric who has the capability of improving your home in any of the areas. Hiring company to work on your entire house is always easier than working with multiple companies.

Making Your Home Eco-friendly

Save electricity

Going green is a great way to help the environment and decrease your carbon footprint. It’s a way to ensure that you are doing your part in protecting the Earth and making it a better place for future generations. However, some people aren’t worried about these factors, and it’s hard to make someone care. It’s easy to think to yourself “What difference will one person make helping the entire world?” If this is you, consider how changes some of the processes in your life to be more ecofriendly can actually benefit you.

What Are the Other Benefits of Going Green?

Many of today’s products and appliances are ecofriendly. This means that they require less heat, water, and energy to run. What’s in it for you? Using fewer resources means that you will be charged less for utilities. An energy efficient dishwasher that holds more utensils at once and uses less water means that you will have to run less cycles and heat. The same goes for an energy efficient washing machine or drier. Talk to your local electrician, such as Mr. Electric, about how you can change the electrical processes in your home.

How Can I Get Started?

Aside from installing energy efficient appliances, there are plenty of other ways to be more environmentally conscious and save some money. Consider installing LED lights in your home. This stands for Light Emitting Diodes. The main benefit of using LED lights is that they last so long- which is both cheaper and more convenient for you. They last one and a half times as long as incandescent lights with a life of 50,000 hours. On the ecofriendly side, these lights only use 25% to 80% of the average lightbulb’s energy usage. See how much the stores around you are charging for their LED brands to see if it will be worth the investment. A simple proportion of price to the hours of light life will show the price per hour.

Getting your Home Ready to Sell

Why Its Important to Have your Carpets and the Rest of Your Home at its Best

clean home ready to sell

Anyone who has watched HGTV in the last decade knows how important staging is when it comes to selling your home.  You want to make certain that your home is perfect enough that they do not feel overwhelmed by the things they need to fix and neutral enough that they can see themselves in it. I am going through this process right now as I am about to sell my own home and move about halfway across the state for work.

Some of the changes you must make are obvious.  Hide the personal items, change the paint to neutral colors, make sure the sinks don’t leak and the doors close properly.  Others aren’t so clear.

Getting Rid of Deep – Set in Stains

If you have carpeting, you probably realize that you want it to be free of stains.  So if your carpeting is in good shape, you might not give it another thought.  However, there is more to your carpet that just how it looks. As a rule, no matter how clean you think the carpeting in your home when you are selling it I would hire your local Chem-Dry carpet cleaning business to come to your home and do a thorough, deep cleaning that also happens to of course be green and environmentally friendly which is why I prefer them to other services.

New carpeting looks different, but it also smells and feels different from older carpet.  It is unlikely that you are wanting to pull out your old carpeting and install brand new carpeting just to sell your home, so your best option is carpet steam cleaning.

Just like couches, mattresses, and pillows, carpeting can hold onto smells for a long time.  If you have pets, cook heavily spiced meals, or smoke, your carpet will take these scents into its fibers.  This smell will be the first thing potential home buyers notice when they open the door.  Carpet steam cleaning gets most of the smells out of the fibers, getting your carpet smelling like new.

chem-dry carbonated cleanIt can also help your carpeting feel new again.  When carpeting is new, it is springier than older carpeting, a bit softer and a bit more resistant.  Deep carpet cleaning the Chem-Dry way though hot water extraction processes can help revitalize it to the point that you get a lot of that texture back, which buyers will surely notice as they walk through your home.  So schedule service with professional steam cleaners and get your home ready to sell.

Why You Need a Generator Transfer Switch When the Power Goes Out

power outage

Do you often have bad storms in your area that can block out power in your neighborhood? Things like heavy rain, snowstorms, floods, or tornadoes can leave you without electricity for days or even weeks at a time. Being without power for extended periods of time is probably not your idea of fun.  In an age when almost everything we do takes power coming into our homes it can be tough to go without not only your TV and computer but also the ability to cook. Many people even require the use of medical equipment that uses electricity. Businesses too can’t afford to be without power because this is often the time when customers need them more than ever.

The Better Way to Use a Generator

portable generac generatorMaybe you already own a generator and hook it up through a transfer box or other method. If you don’t already own a generator because you are confused about which one to buy or how to set them up or you think they are too expensive, they can actually be a lot cheaper and easier to use than you think. Because they come in all different sizes you can buy one within your price range. All you need to do is first figure out how powerful of a generator you need, and secondly purchase a manual transfer switch kit for your home generator. The power output of portable generators is generally measured in watts, and can range from 1,000 to 10,000 or more. Chances are the one you want is somewhere in this range for example if you look at the Honda site and select different models you can get a feel for how much each one powers The Generac site is another good resource for comparing different units.

Generator Interlock Kit Benefits

interlock kit installationOnce you are the proud owner of a portable home or backup generator, you are going to need an interlock kit, the manual transfer switch I recommend. It allows you to safely and easily back feed power into your home in the event of an outage through your generator. It’s the safest, most simple and also legal way to do this. When you purchase one it will come with instructions, but basically it is installed onto the front cover of your electrical panel. It interlocks the main circuit breaker so that power can only come from the generator or the electric wires and not both. This is absolutely essential when you hook a generator to your home because it protects your appliances, electrical panel and even utility workers who could otherwise be susceptible to surges of power coming from your home when they are working on top of or beside the power lines. When choosing your kit you must match it up to the electrical panel in your home, something that is easier than it sounds.

Usability is another key of the interlocking kits for generators. They are first extremely affordable costing only about $150 for a high quality metal one (never buy the cheap plastic versions). They are simple to install and much cheaper when compared to generator panels or having to hire a contractor or electrician for an installation. Another one of my favorite things are how small and portable they are.

Finally, the biggest advantage of a manual interlock transfer switch is that fact that you can choose which items in your home you want to power. With a generator panel, you are required to pre-select which outlets you want to have hardwired. To us this just isn’t an option because we like to be able to choose where we like to send our power and we are sure you are the same way.

If you have any questions I recommend calling the friendly folks at the official interlock website ( at 804-726-2448.