Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How to Prepare for Heating Your Home This Winter

Fall has just begun, and winter is coming (Game of Thrones anyone?). You probably don’t have to worry about White Walkers, but winter can still be a harrowing experience if your home isn’t properly heated—no one likes wearing mittens indoors. Paris Farmers Union has endured 97 frigid New England winters thus far, so we understand better than anyone the importance of prepping for the season in advance.

We’ve compiled a few tips to aid you in the preparation process. It’s a hassle to be proactive, but you’ll thank us when a cold front inevitably rolls in. By following along with this abridged heating-your-home handbook, you’ll avoid being mistaken for the friendly neighborhood snowman.

Insulate Drafty Ducts & Windows

Precious heat can easily leak from an uninsulated duct or window and raise your bill as a result. Dealing with a drafty window is a relatively quick fix—seal the frame with caulk and apply an adhesive weather strip. These two improvements should be sufficient, but you can also install a second sash lock to keep any excess air from seeping through the bottom of the pane.

Leaky ducts are a little trickier to tackle—major repairs should be performed by an experienced professional. Ducts are responsible for the even distribution of air throughout your home, so their repair is worth investing in. If you’re determined to patch up a small problem on your own, try taping your duct joints with foil and fiberglass wrap.  

Install a New Thermostat

It’s important that your home stays warm while you’re inside, but it’s just as vital that the temperature adjusts in your absence. Unless you’re hoping to have the highest heating bill on the block, we suggest that you invest in a reliable programmable home thermostat. While already included in many homes, a digital thermostat’s benefits can’t be overstated—it optimizes your home’s heating by adhering to a consistent schedule. To cut costs and increase efficiency, make sure your thermostat is set to 68 degrees while you’re at home during the day. You don’t need a handyman to install a thermostat; simply follow along with this instructional video and tutorial.

Keep Warm by a Crackling Fire

In addition to being an eye-pleasing centerpiece and an entrance for Santa, a gas fireplace can be a lifesaver in the cold winter months. We suggest selecting a vent-free model. These fireplaces burn ventless gas logs and provide greater heat output, use less gas and produce less pollution. Unvented fireplaces are sometimes the only possibility for two-story homes because of installation complications, and they typically come with a much cheaper price tag than comparable vented models. While generally vent-free gas fireplaces are clean burning, in very small homes you may experience light indoor pollution from their use.

If you aren’t drawn by the charm of sitting around open flames during the holidays, you can opt for an electric fireplace. In addition to being a cheaper solution, an electric fireplace produces no fumes, is extremely efficient and is simple to install. Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, maintenance is minimal—you don’t have to worry about logs or cleaning a sooty chimney. 

Invest in a Few Space Heaters

You can quickly heat up a room of almost any size through the installation of a supplemental home heater. These heaters are great for their portability—you can easily move them from one room to another as the need arises. A downside of using space heaters indoors is their flammability, so it’s important that the surrounding area is clear of clutter and that they’re turned off at night. We recommend getting an electric space heater as they’re safer and cleaner-burning than gas solutions.

Patios are a great place to host and entertain guests during the summer months, but they often go unused during the winter. Cold weather shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your backyard during the holidays—consider investing in an outdoor patio heater. These heaters are affordable, portable and safe to use as there’s no open flame.

Preparing for winter can be a daunting task, but we hope these tips will help you defrost in even the fiercest snowstorms. Be sure to check out our heating & cooling page for all the tools you need to keep warm this holiday season!   

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Safety Measures for Home Improvement Projects

You’ve got a home improvement project lined up and you’re ready to tackle it – congrats! You’ve gathered your supplies, read up on the “how to” and now it’s time to get to work. But there’s one more thing to wrap your head around before you get started: safety measures! Safety isn’t the most exciting part of a home DIY, but it’s very necessary and could save you from being one of the thousands of people who end up in the emergency room each year due to an injury while performing home improvement projects.

Naturally, every project will have its own home improvement safety tips to follow, depending on the equipment being used and what exactly the labor entails. Here, however, we provide you with a few general guidelines to keep in mind. Read on for an overview – and be sure to do a little investigating on the specifics of what you’ll be doing, too, so as not to miss any important warnings or reminders.

Forget Fashion; Go Practical

First off, you want to make sure you’re wearing appropriate attire. Don’t dress to the nines – or anywhere close to it, for that matter. Think practical. Make sure your clothing is comfortable and allows you to move around easily (and quickly). Also, don’t wear clothing that is too loose or baggy – you don’t want to get caught on anything. Skip the jewelry and any other dangly accessories, too.

It’s usually a good idea to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris, as well as ear plugs to protect your ears from damage while operating any loud power equipment.

Power Tool Tips

While we’re on the topic of power tools, there are a few things to keep in mind while operating one. Before you begin to operate a power tool, be sure to read through the instructions carefully. Look for the UL safety mark on your tools so you know they’re up to this globally-recognized standard. Don’t walk away from a power tool when it’s active - make sure it’s turned off and unplugged, and be sure it’s out of reach of any little ones who might wander by. Care for your tools by avoiding yanking their cords out of the electrical socket or carrying them by their cords, and keep them away from oil, heat and sharp edges. When they’re not in use, store your tools in a safe, dry place.

What You Need to Know About Ladders

If you’re working in any high spaces, a ladder will probably be involved. Most accidents with ladders are due to incorrect placement, so knowing how to arrange your ladder is really important. If you’ve got a ladder leaned up against a wall or other structure, follow the 4-to-1 rule. This rule states that for every four feet of ladder, you should place the ladder one foot away from whatever it’s leaning against. Also be sure to check out the instructions for the specific ladder you’re looking to use. Certain ladders are best for certain tasks, so try to find what is optimal for whatever it is you’re doing. Regardless, make sure your ladder is long enough and fully welded so it’s able to withstand the weight necessary for your project. 

A First-Aid Kit, Always 

You’ve got the right attire, you’re operating your tools correctly and you know what to do. Unfortunately, despite all your best efforts, accidents do still happen. When they do, be prepared with a fully stocked first aid kit. Know where it is and what’s in it so that when you’re in a rush to get what you need, you can do it as quickly as possible. 

Be Aware of What’s Around You

Whether you’re working in a room on your own or in a busy building full of people coming and going, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Know where other people are – and who may be entering your workspace – and know what’s on the floor or just in your area in terms of power tools, sharp edges or anything else that could potentially cause an accident.

Doing DIY projects can be a lot of fun and can save you some money, too. But it’s far from worth it if an accident occurs. Minimize the risk by following these suggestions – they’re mostly common sense, but a small slip-up can have a heavy price. You can never be too careful, so make sure you err on the side of safety every time. Feel free to leave a comment if you have more DIY safety tips to add – and good luck!
Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Checklist of Essential Items for Hunting Season This Fall

As summer draws to a close, hunters throughout the Northeast are anticipating the fall hunting season. It’s time to stash away the swimsuits and towels in favor of ammo and camo. Before we know it, Thanksgiving will be right around the corner.

But before you start hoisting your tree stand with mouthwatering visions of venison for dinner, you’ll need to prepare. Here, we’ve put together a list of essentials for turkey, deer and elk hunting this fall. 
Depending on your region, this hunting supplies list may vary. We’ve whittled it down to the essentials that may span across multiple types of hunting (except where specifically noted). As a result, we’ve left off equipment like firearms and focused this list more toward the basic gear hunters may or may not forget while packing up the truck. For more ideas or inspiration, you can check out our selection of hunting supplies!

So without further ado, let’s get to the essentials: 

Cell phone – Embrace this modern age (while avoiding the need for smoke signals); don’t forget your phone in case of emergencies (or victory pics at the end of the weekend!).
Your license – This seems like a no-brainer, but your license is an easy thing to forget, and it will really put a damper on your day if you get caught without it.
Pocket knife or multi-tool – It’s always a good idea to keep one on hand for small jobs or quick fixes. 
First-aid kit – Don’t return home with a tragic story because you forgot a first-aid kit. Trust us.
Water – The hydrated hunter is the focused hunter. 
Toilet Paper – Again, don’t return home with a tragic story because you forgot toilet paper. (All jokes aside, be sure to pack a roll… or two.)
Flashlight, lighter, matches – Let there be light! When the sun sets, you’ll be glad you didn’t leave yourself in the dark; plus, those frosty nights are on their way – a fire might be required. 
Catch-all bag with various necessities – It's always a 
good idea to pack a bag with small utensils or toiletries.
Hunting knife, elbow-length plastic gloves, surveyor's flagging tape – For deer and elk hunters, this is just a quick rundown of the tools you’ll need following the kill.
Various calls for locating, attracting and targeting – For turkey hunters, some examples may include locator and diaphragm calls among others. Variables include distance and stage of the hunt. For deer and elk hunters, this will probably be grunt tubes and rattling antlers.
Compass – Unless you were born in the woods where you’re hunting, we highly recommend a compass. Getting lost as the sun goes down is a feeling not unlike Indiana Jones landing in a pit of snakes (read: panic).
Binoculars and range finder – For deer and elk hunters, and maybe some turkey hunters, these are perfect for looking for game from a great distance while perched above the trees.
Scents and lures – Mostly for deer hunters, scents and lures are a key part of the hunt when attracting game.
Rain gear/warm clothes – Anticipate the elements, especially as the season begins to change from summer to fall to, eventually, winter. This most certainly depends on your region, but Northern hunters take notice.
Folding saw – This is a fantastic tool to bring along for a multitude of tasks while in the wild.
Rope – You need it to hang your game; it’s ideal when preparing to transport game home. Be sure it’s sturdy and there’s plenty of it.
Insect repellent – This might apply more to hunters in warmer climates, but nevertheless, take the proper measures to ward off bites and stings that may interfere when you’ve spotted a target. 
Game bags/dry ice – Use these for preserving and protecting your harvest until it’s home and ready for storage. Be sure to purchase the proper sizes depending on your game.
Large coolers for game (foam coolers are perfect) – The final step in traveling home with your bounty is making sure it’s safely contained and chilled.

And if it’s deer you’ll be hunting out there (specifically whitetails), check out David Libby’s book, “Hunting Whitetails From On High” before heading out. Libby writes specifically about dealing with the whitetail issues in Maine where hunting is competitive and deer numbers are low.

Double- and triple-check your list before heading out this season. You can never be too prepared when spending a day, or weekend, in the wild. We wish you the best on your hunt – and feel free to head over to our Hunting Supplies section for some of the best hunting gear you’ll find anywhere!