Category: Home Improvement

Running Your AC vs. Opening Windows

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When the temperature is rising, do you run the air conditioning or open the windows? The choice isn’t always obvious. You may think open windows are the more economical choice, but constantly starting and stopping your central AC or window unit can be inefficient and costly. To help you decide, here are some tips for implementing the best cooling solutions for any warm-weather situation.

It’s not just hot – it’s humid

Solution: Run your AC

Climate makes all the difference when deciding whether open windows or air conditioning will be the most cost-efficient option. If you live in a climate that’s both balmy and sticky, the air conditioning will be your saving grace. If the humidity level is high, then anyone inside the home will feel uncomfortable. Opening the windows in this case will let in more humidity, which can also be hard on your home.

Avoiding a high energy bill

Solution: It depends

For those who don’t have to deal with as much humidity, the next question is just how hot it gets in summer. If you live in an area with cooler summer temperatures, opening the windows and keeping the AC turned off as much as possible will save energy costs in the long run. In a warmer climate, you might be able to use minimal AC if you tightly seal your windows and doors to prevent cold air escaping. But in general, it’s best to just keep the AC running if you expect you’ll need to turn it back on during the day.

Leaving town for a few days

Solution: Run your AC at a higher temperature than normal

Setting a proper ‘away temperature’ for your home can help to conserve energy and costs while at work or on a vacation. Shoot for a higher inside temperature that’s closer to the temp outside, 7 to 10 degrees above your normal setting. This will slow down the flow of heat into your home and make it easier for your AC to work efficiently. For the ultimate control over your indoor temperature, use a smart thermostat so you can adjust your settings when you’re away from home. You can also set a program to automatically adjust the temperature based on your schedule.

Your energy bills are consistently high

Solution: Upgrade your system

Nobody wants to sink thousands of dollars into their home mechanicals if they can avoid it. But today’s AC systems are more efficient than their predecessors, and a new system can pay off quickly if your current one is hanging on by a thread. Many homeowners presume that central air conditioners operate at 100% on or off to maintain consistent indoor temperatures. Today, two- and multi-speed central air-conditioning systems offer outstanding, constant levels of home comfort while minimizing the electrical consumption. If your air conditioner is 20 years old, it may be time to upgrade to something modern. The savings over the life of the new system will substantially offset the difference in the initial price.

Yard Maintenance Must-Haves

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If you recently bought your first home, you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole experience. And somewhere in between setting up your house and getting to know all the neighbors, you may have overlooked one thing: the yard—or should we say, the yardwork. Unless your new digs come with landscaping service, chances are you’ll have to adapt to your new role as chief gardener—and find the best tools for the job. Here’s a list of seven must-buys for the yard that will save you some headaches and a bunch of extra trips to the hardware store.

Garden gloves

Like so many of the items on this list, garden gloves are one of those things you don’t think to buy until you need them. As in, once you’ve gotten your fifth splinter, third blister, and millionth stab from a pine needle. This ‘tool’ might seem basic, but gardening gloves are absolutely essential if you plan on working in your yard or garden. Gardening gloves will protect you from debris in the soil, sharp tools, stinging insects, and most importantly, infection. Most fertilizers contain animal manure, and consequently bacteria—this bacteria is important for your garden, but can lead to serious infection.

Leaf rake

Whether it’s leaves, sticks, or even just pine needles, a good old plastic leaf rake is an indispensable tool when it comes to getting your yard in shape. Not just for leaves, a plastic rake can be useful for cleaning up a variety of yard and garden debris or even spreading mulch. Sticks, dead plants, and even thick layers of pine needles are all things you’ll want to be able to manage with your new rake—so be sure to pick something that’s both strong and lightweight.


It’s a funny word, but this gardening tool actually packs a pretty big punch. Much like handheld pruners, but with longer handles, these tools are great for trimming trees and hardy plants up to 2 inches in diameter. Loppers are the advanced version of pruners. When your garden matures, and your crops start swaying uncontrollably, that’s when you should get a set of loppers that is designed for thicker branches.

Reciprocating saw

If you have any major yard cleanup to do (like pruning large bushes or cutting saplings or thicker branches), you’re going to want one of these. Generally considered safer than a chainsaw, these battery-operated saws are still powerful enough to cut through some pretty sizable stuff (typically up to 12 inches). If your yard needs a lot of pruning, a reciprocating saw is going to make your life a whole lot easier. Not only are reciprocating saws lightweight, powerful, and easy to use, but they’re much safer than a chainsaw, especially when you’re balancing on a ladder.

Weed whacker

To be successful with some of the smaller jobs on your never-ending list of yardwork, you’re definitely going to want one of these. Useful for clearing unwanted ground cover, it’s also a great option for people with small yards and limited storage space. A weed whacker is a homeowner’s best friend. Maintaining and trimming your lawn is greatly simplified with this amazing tool. Unless you have an enormous yard, purchase a battery-powered weed whacker. Battery-powered weed eaters are lighter, less noisy, and way easier to move around.

Bow rake

Another simple tool, but definitely not one to be overlooked, is the metal bow rake. With shorter prongs and a sturdier build than leaf rakes, this one is a must for anyone looking to plant or sow seeds. Because of its strength, this rake can be used to work the soil in ways that more lightweight versions can’t. In addition, it can also handle the occasional rock without snapping. A metal bow or garden rake will come in handy for spreading soil and compost in the garden, or moving heavier debris than leaves or acorns.

Garden bags

After all your pruning and trimming is done, you’re going to need something to collect all that extra debris for removal. Enter the garden bags. Not only are these great for removing extra leaves and sticks as you clean up your yard, they’re an important tool if you need to do fire mitigation work around your property.

Valentine’s Day Home Improvement Ideas

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Greeting cards, romantic dates, flowers, and chocolates are the gold standard for Valentine’s Day. But this year, why not do something different? The best Valentine’s Day gifts are those that can be enjoyed for years. DIY or home improvement projects create lasting memories reflective of a special bond between people. It’s less about the actual item, and more about the intention and memory behind it.

This Valentine’s Day, express your love to your favorite person by taking on a home improvement project. The time you dedicate to this DIY gift is sure to impress your loved one and beautify the space you share together. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Plant a rose garden

Sure, a bouquet of a dozen roses is beautiful, but it’s not going to last for the long haul. Give your significant other a rose garden that can be enjoyed for years to come. Experts say roses can be planted anytime during the year, except in extreme weather conditions. If you’re currently experiencing chilly February temperatures, give your significant other a card that details your plans for planting a rose garden when the weather warms up.

Buy a pair of rocking chairs

Spend quality time together every day with a set of rocking chairs. You can place them on your porch or patio, or in the backyard. Adding two rocking chairs to a front porch is a great gift to enjoy for years to come. Many new, more modern, and outdoor-friendly rocking chairs can work with different home architecture styles. If you’re looking for a natural finish, teak will hold up best to the elements. You can also add a personalized pillow in an outdoor fabric for a romantic finishing touch.

Install a wine refrigerator

If you can’t travel to Napa this Valentine’s Day, you can still bring the winery experience home to you. Indulge in a little vino together with your own private wine cellar. Plan an at-home picnic with French bread, assorted cheeses, and a special bottle from your own wine fridge.

Hang an outdoor swing

Show your significant other some old-school romance with an outdoor swing or hammock that you can enjoy together, especially in the warmer months.

Easy Ways To Upgrade Your Maui Home’s Curb Appeal

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A tidy, tasteful home will catch any buyer’s eye. That’s why many people put effort into fixing up—and even staging—the interior of their home before putting it on the market and hosting open houses. But did you know that an unkempt exterior could deter potential buyers from even setting foot in the door? That’s right. A shoddy-looking front yard could undermine all that hard work you put into beautifying the inside of your Maui home, and that could jeopardize your chances of selling.

Don’t let your home’s exterior fall to the wayside. Whether your front yard is in need of a few tweaks or a full face-lift, the following tips will help boost your home’s curb appeal and make sure everything matches.

Garage Door Replacement

Garage doors tend to be large, so they’re a major architectural element of your home. Replacing one can be costly, but this one upgrade could help sell your house faster.

According to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report, garage door replacement has consistently topped the list of remodeling projects that give you the biggest return on investment. In fact, this year’s report found that by replacing your garage door, you could recoup 94.5% of the cost when you sell your home.

Old or damaged garage doors will make a house feel dated and not cared for. If your garage doors are in poor condition, replace them. Don’t let potential buyers think that the damaged garage doors represent the rest of your home’s condition.

Front Door Upgrade

The first thing potential Maui buyers see as they walk up to your home is your front door. The door can give house hunters a hint of your design sense and what decor delights await them on the other side.

Consider the color and materials of both the inside and outside of your door. He says the hardware on a door is also important to the overall aesthetic and that door hardware should be updated to create a unified statement throughout your property.

Updating your front door can do wonders for your security and style. If your door hardware is showing signs of age, this fall could be the perfect time to upgrade to a new handle set and an electronic lock that adds smart, keyless convenience.

Take Interior Colors Outside

Choosing the right colors for the inside of your home takes careful thought and consideration. But no matter what paint you choose, make sure the palette transitions smoothly from exterior to interior.

Interior and exterior colors don’t have to match, but they need to complement one another. For example, a traditional forest-green exterior trim looks great when paired with navy blue, tan, or blush interiors.

Make sure that the colors of your exterior accurately represent what buyers should expect to see on the inside.

Update Window Frames

Installing new window frames will create the appearance of brand-new windows, and is a quick and inexpensive way to make your home look newer and more attractive to buyers.

Consider updating your outdated window frames with new, stylish black window frames.

Black window frames will boost your home’s curb appeal, make your home more unique, and create a great contrast with the rest of your interiors. Because black windows make such a statement, they don’t always need shades, blinds, or curtains, offering an opportunity for you to sidestep what can be an occasionally costly investment.

Refresh Landscaping

The American Society of Landscape Architects recommends that homeowners invest 10% of a home’s value in landscaping. A well-manicured front yard can be eye candy to potential buyers.

Professional landscaping can be pricey, but we’re not suggesting a full foliage overhaul. Simply take a few hours on a weekend to freshen up your existing landscaping with plants and fresh mulch.

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is important for safety, but it can also significantly improve the curb appeal of a home.

There are a variety of outdoor lighting options, from decorative lighting (like sconces by your front door) to landscape lighting (to illuminate the pathway to your porch).

It’s an easy update. You will find many beautiful options and styles at your local home improvement store.

Preparing Your Maui Home for Winter

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Cold weather is officially here, and you’ll likely want to ensure that your Maui home is ready to deal with the ice, snow and cold temperatures. Just because everything seems to be in good shape now doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any problems over the course of the winter. Here are some repairs and inspections you can do to ensure that your family stays warm and dry through winter.


Drippy faucets or clogged drains can cause water buildup or mold growth. For problems like these that you may have been ignoring or if it’s been a while since your plumbing was checked, contact a local Maui plumber for an evaluation of your water lines and pipes. Make sure the plumbing is insulated adequately so your pipes won’t freeze and burst in the freezing temperatures.


Walk around the external foundation of your home to look for cracking, crumbling or other signs of decay. Loose, weak or broken foundation cement or bricks can let in moisture that could cause serious damage in the months ahead. Inspect the inside foundation for similar problems and call a specialist to repair any damage before cold weather arrives.


Schedule an annual maintenance visit with a local Maui HVAC expert to keep your furnace working efficiently. If it’s getting old or worn out, it may be time to consider a new furnace installation to keep your home comfortably warm through the winter months. You don’t want your heating system to give out during the winter over a weekend when an HVAC technician’s emergency visit costs more than a regular weekday appointment.

It’s easier to have a new furnace installed while the weather is still mild instead of waiting for a snowy, icy day when the driveway might be slippery and snow could get tracked through the house. You’ll appreciate the peace of mind of having an up-to-date, reliable furnace that can supply the heat your family needs.


Strong winds or heavy rain can damage a roof over the summer without you even knowing it. Have a professional roof inspection done to check for missing or broken shingles, deteriorating gutters and downspouts, or a missing chimney cap. Don’t wait until several inches of icy snow has piled on your roof and caused a leak in your home. Have any needed repairs done now before the weather turns frigid.

Simple Organization Tasks You Can Do In Minutes

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When was the last time you smiled with pride upon opening a cleaned-up junk drawer or closet? If you can’t recall ever having this feeling, it’s time to hit these hot spots. In fact, it’s smart to tackle organization projects now, since you’re probably spending a lot of time at home anyway, because COVID-19 is lingering on.

You might be surprised by how tackling just one small area—like your overflowing silverware tray or tool chest—can put you in a much better mood. Organizing can also help lower your stress levels over the long term. Here are some simple organizing tips for the clutter magnets in your home.

Thin The Mug Herd

How many mugs can you drink out of at one time? If we’re all being honest, and even allowing for each to have an overnight stay in the sink, 2 per family member should definitely get the job done. Let those extra mugs go…even if they came with a dish set, were picked up as a vacation souvenir, or were a gift. Once you’ve enjoyed them, you’re under no obligation to keep them.

Recycle Plastic Containers

Assess your Tupperware drawer, and determine what you really use all these containers for. If you take leftovers to work for lunch every day, keep several; but if you barely cook, or if you have containers with MIA lids, donate them to a shelter or recycle them. When you have your ideal number, pair each with it’s corresponding lid, and you’ll no longer spend more time finding a container than preparing the food that’s going into it.

Refresh Your Closet

If you don’t wear it, it goes—period. Be intentional with your closet, because it’s the best way to prevent clutter. No time to clean it out completely? Even if you remove just a couple of things that don’t fit or that you no longer love, you’ll be working toward a more organized space.

Sort Your Socks

And while you’re at it…spend a few minutes piling up unworn T-shirts and ragged dish towels as well. Include them with your socks that no longer have a matching partner, and then give them the recycle treatment. You can use them for dusting, in the garage, or as otherwise needed around the house…but they’re not doing you any good taking up drawer space.

Junk Drawer

Open that drawer that makes you wince and toss every old pen, outdated appliance manual, and leaky battery. Use those plastic containers without lids to separate paper clips, rubber bands, and post-it notes. Once it’s pristine, it’s no longer the junk drawer—it’ll simply be a drawer in your kitchen.

Best Practices For Recycling

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As good as your intentions are for the environment, you may be doing more harm than good if you’re unaware of the most common recycling rules. For example, not every piece of plastic, cardboard, or aluminum belongs in the bin. One of the biggest misconceptions is that an item is recyclable if it has the recycle symbol on it. This, coupled with confusion about what can and cannot be recycled, has caused contamination rates to increase.

The types of materials that can be recycled can vary from state to state and city to city, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about the recycling best practices in Maui. Be well-versed on the following rules to make sure your household is recycling the right way.

The Basics

Recycling reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources, and saves energy. Many items can be recycled, but if they don’t get properly sorted, they’ll go straight to the trash. Make the effort to sort as you go. As a rule of thumb, the following materials are accepted no matter where you live: paper, cardboard, metal cans, and plastic containers labeled with a No. 1 or 2.

Leave Caps On Plastic Bottles

Recycling is the right thing to do, but it’s also important to do it right. Plastic bottles should be emptied out and crushed with the bottle caps on when thrown into the recycling bin. The plastic recycling industry used to not be able to recycle bottles with caps; however, as processing technology improved, the message has changed to ask that caps remain on the bottles, according to the Association of Plastic Recyclers.

No Plastic Bags

Plastic is recyclable, so bags made of plastic belong in the recycling bin, right? Wrong. Don’t put plastic bags and plastic wrap in your curbside recycling bin, they only cause problems for recyclers by getting tangled in the equipment. Instead, take your clean and dry bags, wraps, and films to a drop-off location like a retail store.

No Plastic Cutlery Or Coffee Cups

We’ve all been ordering a lot more take-out meals lately, so your collection of leftover plastic utensils has probably piled up. But while plastic cutlery is convenient to use in a pinch, it’s not recyclable. Plastic knives, forks, and spoons are typically not accepted in most local recycling programs and—because of their small and narrow size—can get stuck in or fall through the machinery that sorts them. No Starbucks coffee cups either! To-go cups made of cardboard have a plastic or wax lining that keeps liquid from leaking, but the lining also makes the cups nonrecyclable.

Tear Down Cardboard Boxes

Each year 24 million tons of corrugated cardboard are discarded, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Most of that cardboard, around 91%, is recycled; but the big rule for cardboard boxes is to break them down so they’re flat. That way you’ll optimize space in your recycling bin and reduce the number of pickups needed from your local recycling service. One type of cardboard box you should just throw in the trash? Pizza boxes. The grease and food soaked up by the cardboard make pizza boxes a gross mess to recycle.

Empty, Clean and Dry

Food is not recyclable, so every item you throw in the bin should be spotless. One ketchup bottle or not-quite-empty milk carton can cause your entire bin of otherwise perfectly recyclable items to be contaminated. Therefore, any scraps, liquid, or waste should be removed from your recyclable items before tossing them.

Things To Know Before Filing A Homeowner’s Insurance Claim

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Not all homeowners insurance policies are created equal. When it comes time to file a claim, many Maui homeowners find that their policy covers only certain types of damage. As a homeowner, you should thoroughly read your policy before you need it. Review your declarations page in order to fully understand what your policy covers and what your deductible will be for various types of losses.

When an unfortunate event happens, you’ll likely file a claim with your insurance company. But your life will be even more stressful if you make a mistake filing the claim or aren’t familiar with what your policy covers. Here are some insurance claims do’s and don’ts for Maui homeowners.

Do: Keep Good Records

There’s no such thing as overdocumenting when it comes to claims. Your smartphone can be a handy tool to document each and every detail. It’s also a good idea to get organized and create a separate folder to keep all your documented items together. Document all related expenses, save all receipts related to temporary repairs, alternative living expenses, contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc.

Don’t: Procrastinate

When an incident causing damage happens, you should report it immediately. Most insurance policies don’t put a time limit on how long you have to file a claim. A good rule of thumb is to file within one year of the incident. Some policies even state the homeowner may be held responsible for subsequent damages due to delayed reporting or failure to make reasonable temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

Do: Enlist Professionals

When damage happens, there’s so much to do and take care of. But don’t go at it alone. Claims representatives can help walk you through the process. The insurance adjuster, mitigation contractor, insurance experts, and building inspectors should all be able to get in contact with you.

The claims process can be long and stressful, so you should prepare a list of questions to ask claims professionals. For example: “Does my home insurance cover temporary living expenses?” Or, “When will an adjuster come to my house?”

Don’t: Pay For Incomplete Work

Your insurance company will be paying for some, or all, of the repairs. Yes, the money won’t be coming out of your pocket, but that doesn’t mean the insurance company should pay for a job half-done. Be careful not to pay in full or sign on the dotted line before work is actually done to your home. Make sure there is a plan for the work being done, and get all the details in writing.

Fall Yard Work Tips

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Autumn is hardly the time for Maui homeowners to ignore their lawns and landscapes. In fact, what they do now will determine the quality of their family yard next spring and summer. During the pandemic, homeowners have been rediscovering the importance of connecting to the outdoors. That has translated into record sales in yard and garden equipment and supplies.

Here are a few simple tips to ensure your yard is ready for next spring:

Keep mowing

Continue to cut the grass until the first hard frost. Find the just-right length for the grass species—typically 2 to 3 inches—to keep it healthy as the weather turns cold.

Prepare outdoor power equipment

Clean and inspect the mower, trimmer, leaf blower, pruner, and hedger. Make sure accessories used in the fall, such as aerators and mulching attachments, are in good shape as well. Take any equipment that needs it to an authorized service representative. When it’s time to store the mower for winter, be sure to empty the fuel tank; fuel left in the mower can thicken and damage the equipment.

Aerate the lawn

Aeration prevents soil from becoming compacted and covered with thatch—a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris that blocks water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil.

Mulch leaves

Put down that rake. Mulching leaves and leaving them on the grass rather than raking and bagging them is good for the lawn and the environment. As shredded leaves decompose, they feed the yard naturally. Now is the time to shop for a mulching attachment or a mulching mower.

Trim up trees and bushes

Fall is the right time to look for and trim low-hanging branches that might break in the winter and cause damage. Call a tree service if needed.

Sherwin-Williams Announces 2021 Color of the Year

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Paint company Sherwin-Williams announced its 2021 color of the year: “urbane bronze.” The hue is said to instill calmness and has ties to nature, Sherwin-Williams says.

“The home is now the ultimate retreat from the world, and color is an easy and effective way to create a personal haven,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Urbane bronze encourages you to create a sanctuary space for mindful reflection and renewal.”

The color trends of 2020 ushered in a return to bolder hues, moving away from the popularity of cooler neutrals that dominated most of the 2010s. Now, Sherwin-Williams describes the 2021 choice as “bold and understated at the same time.”

“Urbane bronze is a comforting color, drawing from nature for a feeling of relaxation and serenity,” Wadden says. “There’s also reassurance in its sentimentality, with nostalgic ties to the design of the ’70s and ’90s, but with gray undertones that give it a distinctly modern twist.”

Urbane bronze can work inside or out in a home, used as a primary or accent color in bedrooms, living rooms, dens, or home offices, Sherwin-Williams says. Wadden also points out it can be used to accentuate window trim, columns, and accent walls in commercial or residential spaces.

“Complement the simplicity of urbane bronze with natural materials—like wood finishes, organic stone accents, or woven textiles—and a variety of mixed metals to create a serene space grounded in nature,” Wadden says.

The 2021 selection, Urbane Bronze SW 7048, is the 11th official Color of the Year. The list of previously selected colors includes:

  • 2011: Indigo Batik SW 7602
  • 2012: Argyle SW 6747
  • 2013: Aloe SW 6464
  • 2014: Exclusive Plum SW 6263
  • 2015: Coral Reef SW 6606
  • 2016: Alabaster SW 7008
  • 2017: Poised Taupe SW 6039
  • 2018: Oceanside SW 6496
  • 2019: Cavern Clay SW 7701
  • 2020: Naval SW 6244

Source: Sherwin Williams