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Clean heat: Stay warmer with clean energy

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(Family Features) Winter is a perfect time to think about renovations that bring coziness and warmth to your home. For homeowners who live off the natural gas line, propane is an earth-friendly option that can reliably and efficiently deliver warmer air all season long.

“When homeowners upgrade to propane during a remodel, they transform a dream home to include comfort and performance with high-efficiency appliances that have low-carbon footprints,” said Susan Kadilak, owner of Kadilak Homes, a construction, renovation and interior design firm. “Not only do families stay warmer with propane, they can feel better doing so because it’s clean energy.”

If you’re considering upgrades to bring more warmth to your home, start with these tips from Kadilak Homes and the Propane Education & Research Council:

  • Do your research. Talk with your contractor about what you’re wanting to accomplish. Your local propane supplier is also equipped to help you navigate questions and find the right solution for your home.
  • Think cozy. If your electric furnace is struggling to keep a room warm, consider upgrading to a propane furnace to get to your desired temperature more efficiently. Propane furnaces blow hotter air, which is more comfortable than the below-body-temperature air electric heat pumps produce. Propane furnaces also emit up to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces, according to the 2018 Gas Technology Institute Report, so you can feel good about your impact on the environment.
  • Make your home more efficient. As homes age, small cracks can develop around doors and windows and let cold air inside your home or allow warm air to escape. If the seals around the windows and doors are damaged, invest a few minutes to replace them and spend time caulking gaps. When your home is well-insulated, propane can efficiently keep your home toasty during chilly winter months.

Some of the most common clean energy heating upgrades homeowners request include fireplaces, furnaces and boilers.

Fireplaces

A roaring fire can be a focal point during the cold winter months. With 5-6 times the heating capacity of electric fireplaces, propane fireplaces are more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, convenient to use and easier to install than wood-burning models, Kadilak said. Some parts of the United States are banning wood-burning fireplaces due to their negative effects on the environment. Propane-powered fireplaces are an alternative that emit less soot and other air-polluting emissions. You can enjoy a toasty fire at the flip of a switch with no ash or soot to clean up and no firewood to store. Many models can also operate during electrical power outages, providing a critical source of heat to the home.

Furnaces

There can be a bone-chilling feeling when the furnace goes out in the middle of a cold winter. If your furnace is blowing cold air – or no air at all – it’s time for an upgrade. Before you buy, know propane-powered furnaces have 50% longer lifespans than electric heat pumps, which reduces their overall lifetime cost for homeowners. Propane furnaces also provide warmer air than other heat sources, at 120-140 F.

Boilers

While furnaces rely on forced warm air to heat dwellings, boilers use hot water or steam to raise temperatures in homes. High-efficiency propane boilers offer performance, space savings and the versatility to provide heating, hot water and snow melting. This versatility also extends to the type of heating delivery system propane boilers serve, including hydronic baseboard systems, in-floor hydronic systems or forced-air systems where the hot water from the boiler (instead of a furnace) acts as the heat source.

Learn how propane can help keep your home cozy, including where you can find a propane supplier in your area, at propane.com/KadilakFireplaces.

10 Winter Safety Tips for a Propane-Fueled Home

If your home uses propane to generate heat or run appliances, there are some simple steps you can take to help keep your family safe and avoid potential dangers this winter.

1. Make sure you have an adequate propane supply. Schedule regular winter visits with your propane supplier so you always have an adequate supply in your tank.

2. Mark the location of your tank with a flag, pole or stake. Ensure it is higher than the average snow cover depth for your location. These markers can help you avoid plowing or shoveling rooftop snow on top of your tank. Should your tank become covered with snow, use a broom to clear it.

3. Make sure your heating system and appliances are running efficiently. Before the start of each heating season, have a qualified service technician inspect and service your appliances and propane system. This can help ensure your appliances are running as efficiently as possible.

4. Create an emergency preparedness plan and review it with everyone in your family. Post a list with contact information for your propane supplier and emergency services along with instructions for turning off propane, electricity and water. If you need to turn off your propane, contact a service technician to inspect your propane system prior to turning it back on.

5. Prepare a family disaster supply kit. Include several days’ worth of water and canned foods, along with a can opener, extra clothes, blankets, flashlights and batteries. Also include a battery-powered weather radio so you can stay informed as conditions change.

6. Check your chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors and propane tank for damage, blockage or debris caused by snow and ice. Use a broom rather than a shovel and clear these areas frequently to help reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

7. Consider installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors can provide you and your family with an additional measure of security. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location and maintenance.

8. After a storm passes and it is safe to do so, check the entire area for downed power lines, damaged gas lines or damage to your propane tank. Immediately call your local utility company or propane supplier if any of these hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.

9. Never use a stove for space heating and never use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas, particularly in the event of a power outage. Proper ventilation is necessary for safe operation, and the carbon monoxide fumes can be lethal. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use. Never store, place or use a propane cylinder indoors or in an enclosed area.

  1. Conserve energy. Keep thermostats at 65 F during the day and 55 F at night, and close off any rooms that don’t need to be heated.


SOURCE:
Propane Education & Research Council

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Throw a party like a pro

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(Family Features) Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply catching up with loved ones, playing host can be as demanding as it is enjoyable. Before gathering your crew for your next event, make a plan to ensure you get to enjoy the day as fully as your guests.

Keep the Menu Simple
An ornate spread may be impressive, but your guests are just as likely to appreciate a less demanding menu with a few standout dishes. Offer a single main dish, a couple of tried-and-true sides, some finger foods for snacking and a seasonal dessert. Beverage staples like tea, lemonade and water are all you really need, but if that feels too basic, you can offer a flavor station with fresh fruit like berries and lemon wedges, flavored syrups and other sweeteners. If you’ll be serving alcohol, don’t try to cater to everyone’s favorite. Select neutral white and red wines and one or two beer varieties. A signature cocktail you can premix and serve is another way to add a special touch.

Set a Thoughtful Theme
One area many hosts go overboard is theming their events. While setting a theme can be a fun idea, it doesn’t have to be fussy or complicated, and your decorations don’t have to be over the top. Subtle color, centerpieces and serving pieces are all places you can inject some thematic vibes without investing too much time or money. You can also let your theme influence any games or activities you plan, as well as other entertainment like background music.

Anticipate Guests’ Needs
Thinking ahead about your guests’ comfort can prevent scrambling once the party is underway. Consider needs like seating, where you’ll keep extra food for quick refills and essentials like more toilet paper in the guest bath. Also anticipate accidents like spills and have supplies ready to efficiently correct inevitable incidents. Remember to plan for extra trash bins and if guests will be congregating outdoors, provide extra sunscreen, bug spray and fans.

Organize Entertainment
Depending on the purpose of the party, your entertainment may be pretty clear, but if it’s a casual gathering, you’ll likely want to provide guests some ideas for passing the time. Board games and backyard games are almost always a hit. A playlist that fits your theme can add ambiance and provide background for conversation, but you can also inject some musical fun with karaoke. If you’ll have kids in attendance, provide age-appropriate options for shorter attention spans, too.


Make Cleanup Easy
After the last guest leaves, you may be ready to call it a night, but taking care of a few quick chores can make cleanup easier in the morning. Load the dishwasher and set it to run overnight, leaving any tough dishes to soak in hot, soapy water. Check for any spills or stains that need immediate attention and get a jump start on the floors. For a convenient hands-off experience, try the Eufy S1 Pro Robot Vacuum and Mop, which achieves a 99.99% sterilization rate when mopping and, using automated sensors, elevates the mophead and converts to powerful suction for carpeted areas. After cleaning, the robot docks to automatically empty its dustbin, dispose of wastewater and clean its mopping pads, drying them with hot air to inhibit bacterial growth and odors.

Explore more ideas to tackle entertaining (and its aftermath) with ease at eufy.com.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (group of friends)


SOURCE:
Anker Innovations

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Explore your dream destination:Tips for a a travel adventure

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(Family Features) If you find yourself dreaming of sunshine, sand and sparkling pools, it may be time to start looking forward to your next vacation getaway. Get a jumpstart on building excitement for the journey ahead by beginning preparations early, which offers many benefits, including better rates and more time to research your options.

Start exploring ideas for a fun-filled trip with these tips from the travel experts at Funjet, which specializes in providing travelers with vacation packages to hundreds of destinations around the world:

Plan Ahead
Booking your vacation well in advance allows you to take advantage of the best deals at
the most popular hotels and hottest travel dates. In addition, by being flexible with travel dates,
families can save hundreds of dollars. Moving travel dates by a day or two can result in major savings, often even more than the discounts you can get on last-minute trips.

Research Dream Destinations
Deciding where you want to go is the first step, but with a literal world of possibilities, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. One place you can find inspiration is by exploring the top travel destinations others are choosing. For example, the top 10 travel destinations booked with Funjet in 2023 include numerous international destinations. Las Vegas is the only U.S. city to make the top 10 list. Mexico is especially popular, with Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose Del Cabo. Others include Belize City, Belize; Liberia, Costa Rica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Panama City, Panama; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Consider All-Inclusive Options
Whether you prefer adults-only or family-friendly, luxury or budget-friendly, there’s a diverse range of all-inclusive resorts to choose from. All-inclusives are known for their convenience and value. They offer hassle-free experiences with meals, drinks and often activities included. While many resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean islands are all-inclusive, be aware that smaller islands like Antigua may feature European plan-style hotels, where meals and drinks are not included.

An all-inclusive package usually encompasses a variety of activities and amenities curated to offer an enjoyable and cost-effective vacation. Within these packages, guests often have the opportunity to access amenities such as swimming pools, engage in sports activities, participate in fitness classes and other entertaining experiences.

Pack Like a Pro
Gathering everything you need for a vacation, especially with kids in tow, can be stressful. To make the process easier, organize your packing based on factors like the length of your trip, airline policies and your family’s activities. Essentials like an umbrella should not be overlooked, especially if your destination’s weather can be unpredictable. Maximize luggage space by packing travel-sized toiletries and put electronic necessities like your mobile device, charger and headphones in your carry-on bag.

Anticipate Extra Expenses
While all-inclusive resorts make tropical getaways stress-free and economical, it’s customary to express appreciation for exceptional service with tips. Resorts typically don’t require tipping, but guests commonly tip as a gesture of gratitude. When deciding to tip, families should consider modest amounts, like $1-5 per meal per person, and be mindful of different service levels as well as the convenience of using local currency. Having cash on hand makes it easier to tip as needed and ensure you have extra for souvenirs and other purchases.

Unplug and Unwind
Although most travelers believe it’s essential to stay connected, it’s a good idea to limit screen time so you can make the most of your vacation. Schedule a specific time, preferably in the morning, to address emails and online tasks then enjoy a worry-free rest of the day. While phones are often used to capture photos and videos or look up information about nearby attractions, putting away the screens means you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery, connect with loved ones and have a truly rejuvenating experience.

Protect Your Group Travel
When traveling with a group, there’s a greater chance of something happening that changes plans between when you book your trip and leave. That’s why it can be a good idea to take a “travel with confidence” approach and consider including a travel protection plan in your reservations. This insurance allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason, if necessary. When traveling with a group, stick with nonstop flights when possible, as you’re more likely to stay together, which can mean more cost-effective travel.

Enjoy the Experiences
While spending leisure time by the resort pool with afternoon cocktails can be a relaxing reward, you can make the most of a destination vacation by also planning a tour. Many destinations offer services that can assist travelers with booking various adventures, ranging from catamaran cruises to hikes and almost everything in between.

Find more tips and plan your next adventure at Funjet.com or call your local travel advisor.

Where to Stay
Start planning your dream getaway by checking out these traveler-favorite destination properties, based on bookings through Funjet:

Top 10 All-Inclusive Resorts

  • Dreams Onyx Resort & Spa (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort (Nayarit, Mexico)
  • Riu Caribe (Cancun, Mexico)
  • Riu Guanacaste (Costa Rica)
  • Riu Negril (Jamaica)
  • Iberostar Grand Paraiso (Riviera Maya, Mexico)
  • Riu Cancun (Mexico)
  • Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection (Mexico)
  • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  • Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa (Oaxaca, Mexico)

Highly Rated Hotels for Groups

  • Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection (Mexico)
  • Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  • Dreams Flora Resort & Spa (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Oasis Palm (Cancun, Mexico)
  • Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • Marival Emotions Resort & Suites (Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico)
  • Royalton Punta Cana, An Autograph Collection (Dominican Republic)
  • Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa (Oranjestad, Aruba)
  • Bahia Principe Grand La Romana (Dominican Republic)
  • Dreams Macao (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Secrets Playa Blanca Costa Mujeres (Mexico)
  • Zoetry Agua Punta Cana (Dominican Republic)


SOURCE:
Funjet

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Live Better

Go green with home cleaners

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(Family Features) If you’re among those looking for ways to clean your home while also going green, it may be easier than you think.

Consider these easy and affordable solutions to help you live more environmentally friendly. You may be surprised to find you already have many of these household products on hand.

Baking soda: A natural, safe, effective and gentle solution, baking soda can serve multiple home cleaning needs. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Rub onto silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry for shining serving or decor pieces. Additionally, you can sprinkle baking soda on upholstery and carpet to get rid of odors.

Vinegar: With the acidity to help get rid of dirt and grime around the home, vinegar can be used to clean cloudy glassware. Simply soak paper towels or a cloth in full-strength white distilled vinegar and wrap around both the inside and outside of the glass. Let sit before rinsing clean. To remove lime deposits on your tea kettle, add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar to the water and let it sit overnight. In the morning, boil the vinegar for a few minutes then rinse with water.

Lemons: With a fresh, natural smell, lemons have the acidity to remove soap scum, clean and shine brass and remove hard water deposits. Just spray some lemon juice on tile surfaces to remove soap scum or hard water deposits. Squeeze lemon juice on a cloth and use to polish brass around the home.

Houseplants: Plants serve as natural air purifiers. African violets and ferns are beautiful ways to help clear the air.

Other easy, green ideas for keeping your home clean include opening windows and doors while you clean to improve air quality and taking off your shoes when you come inside, which can help avoid tracking dust, dirt, pollen and more throughout the house.

Visit eLivingtoday.com for more eco-friendly advice.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


SOURCE:
eLivingtoday.com

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