Frugal Fancy

Home Tips for Frugal Living

Author: Kent Davidson (page 1 of 3)

Furry Troubles: Dealing With Pet Urine On The Carpet

Pets are gifts, and their companionship can be as rewarding as any other relationship or experience. It might sound far-fetched, but pets have the power to improve mood, and they even help fortify the body’s ability to fight off allergies. Yes, pets are great, but there a few bumps to worry about when you own a pet, and it often boils down to pet urine.

Why is Pet Urine so Hard to Deal With?

Yes, the first thing to get out of the way is to accept that this problem is a big one. No matter how much you love your pet, the smell of urine is not pleasant at all. Sometimes the smell is so strong that people have to throw away clothes or other items. The problem is that you cannot throw away a carpet easily because carpets can cost a considerable amount of money to replace.

There are a number of reasons why pet urine can be hard to remove. For one, a lot of it depends on the type of pet you have. Dogs, for example, give off a more acidic smell than cats. This is not only smelly, but it also can damage your carpets more than you might imagine. The acids in the urine break down fabric, which could make your carpet seem dingy. These acids can also damage the dyes in the carpet and lead to some discoloration.

Cats leave a distinct ammonia-like smell. This is because cats are actually trying to urinate and mark their territory. Their urine is supposed to be strong and fend off intruders. It should be noted that cats that do not drink enough water usually have stronger smelling urine.

You should also know that carpet fabrics are sometimes absorbent, which can make it a lot easier for the urine to set in and stay put. The scent will fuse into the fabrics if it is not treated quickly enough.

Furthermore, urine also attracts bacteria, and you do not want that to happen. Some bacteria can give off certain smells, which will only aggravate the problem even more. Of course, the scent that bacteria might give off is nothing compared to the fact that your carpet may be harboring them. This could put you and those in your family in danger of getting certain physical ailments.

No one is saying that having a pet is a mistake, but it does come with a few chores. Potty training your pet is probably a great idea, and making sure that he or she is always hydrated is wise, too. Prevention is probably the most important step to take when you have pets, but that does not mean accidents will not happen.

Calling in the Big Carpet Cleaning Guns

You did the best you could, and you tried to prevent your pet from urinating on your carpet, but it happened. Now, you have a stinky carpet that is preventing your home from becoming the hot go-to spot among your friends. There is no need to fret as long as you hand over the mess to professionals.

Of course, professionals are going to be using a up-to-date equipment and carpet cleaning solutions to take care of the job. You may be thinking that the job sounds easy and that you can take care of it on your own. There is a little problem with that because some of the steam cleaners sold for home use are not strong. This means the heat might initiate a binding action within your carpet between the fibers and urine.

You might be able to get rid of the smell, but that binding action you created is still going to come back to haunt you. It is very likely that the smell will return on days when the humidity in your home is high enough to re-hydrate the particles hidden within your carpet.

Making sure you call professionals ensures that this will not happen to you. It is imperative that the carpet cleaner used to deal with pet urine is a high-force cleaner that is able to eliminate all particles lodged within your carpet. The bonds are going to be destroyed, and any bacteria left lingering should die. The process is tedious, but making sure that the smell is gone for good does take some patience.

Now, you know a little more about pet urine and why it is so hard to deal with. You also know who to call when the problem is causing a stink in your home. Do not worry about this; professionals will make your carpet smell great, and it may look as beautiful as it did when you had it installed. Besides, there probably is a little pet hair and other little things in your carpet that a good cleaning will take care of, too.

Tips on Getting Back Your Full Security Deposit

If you’re new to renting an apartment or condo and have never dealt with getting a security deposit back, you may be apprehensive about navigating this often touchy subject on move-out day. Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to make sure you get your full deposit back, or at least get an itemized breakdown of why your deposit is being withheld.

Security deposit cartoon from

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Unfortunately, many landlords will do everything in their power to keep your security deposit, which is why you must take the necessary steps to protect yourself from this. This isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of reasonable honest landlords that will happily return your security deposit as long as you leave your apartment in the same condition as when you moved in, but there are plenty of landlords who will do just about anything to keep it for themselves.

The first, and maybe the most important, thing you can do to protect yourself in this situation is to fill out the move-in walkthrough paperwork in detail. Make sure you take pictures of any existing damage before you even move your first box in. Take pictures of every room in its entirety, as well as close ups on damage (if any), that way during the move out walk through the landlord can’t blame any damage that was already there on you. Be sure to turn this paper work in promptly, preferably before you even move in, if that’s an option. Often there is fine print at the bottom of these documents that requires you to turn them in within a certain range of time, or the document becomes void, so make sure to get it in on time. It doesn’t hurt to make a copy of this document for yourself as well, just so you have it on file in the case of any discrepancies.

The second step goes without saying, but take care of your apartment while you’re in it. I don’t mean you have to sweep, mop, and vacuum every other day or anything, but just generally stay on top of maintenance. If there are things that need fixing, make sure to call maintenance right away before a small problem becomes a large expensive problem. If your landlord or rental agency sees you taking the time and energy to make sure your place is kept in good shape, they will be more likely to return your deposit without a fuss.

security deposit

When it comes time to move out, take the time to do an extra round of deep cleaning. You want everything to look pristine when your landlord comes to do their walkthrough, that way there’s nothing that they can claim as a reason for withholding your deposit. It might even be a good idea in places that have carpet to hire a carpet cleaning service to do a deep clean right before you’re about to move out. This will take any ground-in dirt and grime out of your apartment’s carpets, and make the place smell nice for the walkthrough. If possible, ask your landlord to do the walkthrough while you’re present so you can talk through any possible issues with them, or let them know what damage was there when you moved in (this is a good time to have those pictures handy). Some landlords won’t allow you to be there for the walkthrough, opting to do it at their leisure, but it can’t hurt to ask. If you can’t be there for the walkthrough, be sure to take pictures of your apartment when you move out, so you have evidence of what it looked like when you left.

The only thing that’s left at this point is making sure you drop off the keys on time, and leave a forwarding address for your landlord or rental agency. They’ll need to know where to send your deposit once they’ve approved your refund. If you follow these steps, and take care of your apartment, it shouldn’t be any problem to get your security deposit back. The main thing is to make sure there aren’t any glaring issues that they can blame you for, but with proper attention to detail during your move out cleaning, you can take care of most of these issues.

In the event that your landlord tries to keep your security deposit, even after taking all of the proper precautions and steps to protect yourself, it can be a good idea to threaten a suit in small claims court. Often the threat of legal action will get a quick reaction from your landlord or agency. Just make sure there isn’t actually any citable reason for why they are keeping your deposit before threatening legal action. You don’t want to get to court just to lose, then you’ll be out of even more money.

Most of the time if you take care of your apartment, have proper documentation of existing damages and the condition that you left it in, and are a good tenant in the time that you are renting, there will be no reason for your landlord or leasing agency to keep your security deposit upon moving out. Most of the time, getting your security deposit back is just a painless request after moving out, but it’s still important to have proper documentation to back yourself up in the case of any shady business from your landlord or leasing agency.

approved security deposit

HVAC Maintenance To Expect From A Heating And Cooling Company


Performing regular maintenance on your heating- ventilation-air conditioning system (HVAC) is the best way of keeping the unit running at top efficiency and the lowest expense. Regular HVAC maintenance also helps you get the longest life possible out of your investment and gives you assurance the unit will be working when you need it.

Some kinds of HVAC maintenance should be left to a qualified and reputable heating and cooling company. There are also some maintenance tasks homeowners can easily do themselves. Whoever does the job, staying on task with HVAC maintenance is the best way of staying comfortable in all seasons and saving on energy costs at the same time.

For systems that do both heating and cooling, maintenance tasks are needed in the spring and fall. Systems that cool only need maintenance annually at the start of the hot season. Stand-alone furnaces need a maintenance check once a year at the start of the heating season. Each type of unit needs somewhat different attention, but these are the main points of HVAC maintenance for most systems.

  • Replace filters regularly, and keep a supply of filters on hand. Newer, pleated filters are made to have an electrostatic charge which attracts dust particles and even bacteria and mold spoors. Replace the filter every three months, but monitor it monthly and replace it sooner if it looks dirty. Homes with pets need more frequent filter replacement.
  • At least monthly, remove debris that has fallen onto the unit. Leaves, branches, dust, and pollen block airflow and reduce the efficiency of HVAC systems. Check that lawn mowers and weed eaters do not throw cut grass onto the sides of the HVAC unit. Make sure there is at least two feet of clear space around the entire unit at all times.
  • Check that the HVAC unit is sitting firmly on level ground. If it has shifted, contact a heating and cooling company for repairs.
  • During the summer, the water to the furnace humidifier can be shut off to prevent leaks.

ac unit 2

In the fall, the wick filter on the humidifier should be replaced and the thermostat adjusted to thirty-five percent humidity before the water is turned back on.

  • Once a year, pour one cup of bleach mixed into a quart of water into the AC condensate drain to kill algae and mold.
  • Inspect the refrigerant levels and lines. Add refrigerant, if needed, and repair any leaks in lines before using the unit.
  • Clean out dust, spider webs, and other debris from inside the unit to prevent electrical problems.
  • Inspect the drain pans and make sure the drains are working properly.
  • Inspect and clean the coil, fan motor, and fan blades, blower housing, and blower motor. Older models often need occasional lubrication.
  • Inspect the control unit wiring and connections.
  • Inspect the compressor and clean or repair as needed.
  • Clean the condensate drain and pan.
  • Check for gas leaks on furnaces.
  • Adjust the burner as needed.
  • Check flues and duct work for damage, dislocation, and corrosion and repair as needed. Check ducts for airflow leaks while the unit is running.
  • Check heat pump and AC refrigerant charge levels annually.
  • Monitor outdoor and indoor dry bulb temperature settings.
  • Check gas pressure to furnace and adjust if necessary.
  • Check that vents are adjusted properly for airflow.
  • Monitor the unit per any other manufacturer recommended specifications.


When the system is being turned on for the first time in the season, listen for abnormal sounds and check for unusual odors. It is a good idea to do a check like this a few weeks before you are likely to need heat or air conditioning. That way, there is time for any needed repairs or HVAC maintenance to be done by a HVAC specialist before the weather changes.

When looking for a reliable company to maintain your HVAC system, ask them for a check list of everything they inspect on each service call and make sure they cover the points listed above.

Why to Install New Replacement Windows in Your Home

If you’re planning to put your home on the market in Greensboro NC in the near future or you are planning to stay, incorporating home improvements for added residential value are always a great choice. There are many options out there but only a few will show high returns. Window replacement and renovations to your bathroom or kitchen will often show the greatest return for every dollar spent on the homestead.


Most people intuitively understand that a fully restored kitchen with newly installed appliances, cabinets, and flooring will greatly increase the value and the appeal of a property. The same is true for upgrading your bathroom: The value of functionality and looks in the bathroom is apparent.

Sometimes the value visible from newly installed windows is not always easy to see but the effect of upgrading windows can be just as advantageous as kitchen and bath remodels for improved comfort and home value. With this being said, a bathroom or kitchen remodel is almost not even complete
With older homes, you may find that their original windows are still single pane which means that they are not as energy efficient as double paned windows. No matter how hot or cold climate, replacing single paned windows is always a wise choice. In cold climates you can see savings in heating costs and in hot climates you will see savings in cooling costs. If you have a high quality Renewal by Andersen (RbA) replacement window installed properly, you may find even greater savings. Customers of RbA window replacement installation services in Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Raleigh have all found great savings on their energy bills.

Also make sure not to settle for low quality windows because this will gauge on how much you will ultimately save over their lifetime. If there is an energy star rating on the window, you can rest assured that you will be investing wisely. Don’t settle for the generic mom and pop produced replacement windows out in Southern Pines NC that won’t last you even 5 years. If you choose Renewal by Andersen’s windows you can guarantee that with their Fibrex material, you will have you a window that will last you well into your old age if not past that.

Generating high home energy savings is not the only benefit of installing new replacement windows in your Greensboro home. You are also reducing the carbon emissions that are released into our atmosphere. When you are using less energy you are contributing to less pollution. In Central North Carolina, much of our energy is produced by coal which pumps out millions of carbon monoxide particles into the air we breathe every day. Start saving the environment today and go green by buying new windows for your home or business.

noise in home

Another excellent plus when upgrading your windows is the more refined noise reduction attributes. The noises emitted from the Greensboro and Raleigh city life can sometimes be unbearable. By reducing this noise pollution, you can actually reduce your stress levels. A peaceful home is a happy home and these are things that home buyers may look for when searching for a new home.

Yet another way to make your home more comfortable would be to incorporate glare resistant window films which is very simple, attractive, and easy to install. These window tint coverings not only reduce glare but can reflect harmful ultra-violet rays from damaging your carpets, rugs, furniture, and even your own skin. I highly suggest this option when working with a window replacement company. For added security, they also offer shatterproof windows that can withstand impact during storms, accidents, and breakings.

When sitting down to discuss financing this investment, you will quickly realize how costly this process may be. Depending on how many windows and the quality of windows you could be looking anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars so make sure to do your research and pick the style and brand that best fits your needs and budget. If you want to save the most money make sure to replace all of your windows at the same time. This will lower your labor costs and you may even gain a better discount in quantity.

Make Granite Countertops Pop Throughout Your Luxury Home

granite counter woman cooking food

Granite is a material that signifies prestige, luxury, and fine taste. This igneous rock has been used for building for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations realized early how valuable it truly is given its intrinsic properties. The advent of modern materials has not diminished its luster as it remains one of the most popular choices for both interiors and exteriors around many Northern Virginia homes.

The good news is that it is now more affordable than ever with great companies like Granite Source. In the past, it was only a select few who could pay for the prized material. Its usage was usually limited to lavish buildings. Improvements in mining and processing have resulted in lower prices such that homeowners such as yourself can now use granite for various applications. Below are some ideas for your consideration.


  1. Countertops and Other Kitchen Applications

The most common use of this material today remains firmly in the kitchen. Granite countertops are more appealing than other choices because its properties are well-suited to the environment. Counter surfaces get a lot of abuse including high heat, ubiquitous moisture, random spills, repeated impacts, and sharp edges. Inferior materials will look old fast in the face of this barrage. Meanwhile, granites will simply shrug them off given their impressive strength, impenetrability, and resilience. They are so apt for kitchens that they have found their way to backsplashes, dining tables, islands, and the like.


  1. High Class Bathrooms with Character

Of course, there is no reason to confine granite to one area when others can benefit from it as well. Take bathrooms, for instance. These tiny spaces share lots of similarities with kitchens in terms of features and environmental conditions. They both deal with a massive amount of moisture that demands resistant materials. Sinks made of the polished rock is available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Tiles made from it can be used as flooring or as wall covering around bathtubs. They not only repel water but also provide a beautiful natural look to the space.


  1. Stunning Fireplaces and Living Room Décor

Fireplaces have a tendency to dominate the interiors wherever they may be. Most of the time, they are placed in the living room to give people a communal place to huddle around a fire during the winter. Using granite tiles around the fireplace provides just the right accent to make it come alive. A solid slab may also be carved into a mantle or hearth. Watch the fire dance and crackle against the gorgeous stone. While it is possible to use different materials for this purpose, nothing comes close to the effect made possible by the stone. Match it with select granite décor for the room.


  1. Exterior Finishes that Keep the Elements at Bay

The superb water and heat resistance of granite make it an excellent match for many outdoor applications. For example, the ground surrounding an outdoor hot tub may be covered with stone tiles. It would be better to utilize the unpolished version for greater traction and prevent slippage. Another strategy is to install small tiles as the grooves between them will provide the necessary friction to avoid accidents. If designed and executed well, then the result is bound to make a lasting impression on visitors.


lovely luxury bathroom with granite counters

Installing Custom Granite Countertops

If you have your heart set on a granite countertop, then pick a good installer to do the job. It is an arduous process but experienced professionals are able to complete it quickly with remarkable results. Here is how the whole thing works from start to finish.

First, you choose the exact type of stone you want from the available options at your fabricator’s showroom. Consider the color, quality, appearance, and price before making a definite selection. The estimates will be calculated based on the dimensions required and presented for your approval. Next, find a sink to match so that the cutout portion can be planned ahead. The layout of the faucet must be set in advance as well because the fabricator may have to drill holes for the fixtures.

The edge profile of the solid slab also needs to be determined. If you want the countertop to come with a corresponding backsplash, then specify your preference. Once all of the information has been gathered, then the fabricator will create a mockup with wood to see how it all fits on the actual kitchen. Adjustments will be made as required. The final template will be used in the actual granite fabrication. The fabricator will carefully install this countertop in your kitchen. You’ll have a magnificent piece that will last for as long as the house is standing.

3 Tips to Building the Ultimate Man Cave on a Budget

Every guy needs a man cave to call his own.  I just recently built my own in the basement of our home.  My wife may have control over the upstairs, but downstairs is my domain.

There are a lot of things you can do with a room devoted to guy stuff, and the more features you add, the pricier it gets.  But you don’t need to shell out an arm and a leg in order to have a stellar man cave.  Below I’ll show you a few ways you can build one on a budget.

Entertainment Center

An entertainment center is likely going to be the biggest expense in your project – but it’s a must have.  No man cave would be complete without an entertainment center, but there’s no need to blow your entire budget on creating one.

The television is going to be the most expensive item on your list for the entertainment center – as it should be.  A TV will serve as the centerpiece of the room.  If you do some good bargain shopping, you’ll be able to find a decent TV at a great price.  Black Friday and the week of the Super Bowl are two of the best times to find a great deal on a TV.

Window Shadeswindow-shades

Whether you’re watching a moving or playing video games, the experience can be ruined if there’s an obnoxious glare hitting the TV.  That’s why it’s important to have quality window shades in your room.  Quality window shades come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices.  If you’re looking for exceptional quality shades at a reasonable price, MannKidwell in Richmond, VA is a great option.  However, if you’re on a shoestring budget then you can find inexpensive shades that will get the job done at places like Ikea.

A Bar

Having a stocked bar is critical when it comes to building a man cave.  A man cave needs to be prepared to serve up whiskey or beer whenever the moment calls.  Fortunately, you don’t need a large selection or drinks or an elaborate display.  I’ve found that a mini fridge with a shelf of liquor above is more than enough to  get the job done.  If you prefer working with your hands, go pick up some wood from your local hardware store and get to work building your own.  They’re incredibly easy to make and are low cost.

Tinting Your Window Can Save You Money

Windows are a vital component of your home’s construction, bringing in light, warmth, and fresh air – you knew that. But did you know that window tinting is a simple and cost-effective way of making home windows more energy-efficient? Or that tinting can protect valuable items in your home from fading? Let’s take a closer look at how tinting can save you some money:

Window tinting can be a great energy saver. In cold climates like the one here in Indiana, the surface area of home windows accounts for as much as 30 percent of heat loss. Double- and triple-pane windows can reduce this loss considerably, but they are expensive to install. Window tinting can reduce heat loss by five percent – for a lot smaller investment. And tinted windows have many other advantages beyond energy savings.

You can’t see ultraviolet rays, but you can see the damage they leave behind. Left unchecked, ultraviolet rays can fade the color of furniture, drapes, carpets, and artwork in your home. They’re also harmful to your skin, even when you’re inside. Window tint films reduce UV rays by as much as 99 percent. And by virtually eliminating damage from this source of radiation; you’ll be extending the projected lifespans of everything from couches to carpet.

Window tint usually consists of an extremely strong film of polyester sheeting. And these films have a high tensile strength, leading to another advantage: While a tinted film can’t stop a window from breaking, it can hold the damaged pieces in place and reduce the chances of someone getting hurt. This feature also makes it harder for someone trying to break-in to the house.

In the past, window films were often dark or reflective. Now this doesn’t have to be the case. Window tinting films can be clear or shaded in a wide range of colors. Color-tinted windows can create a dramatic and beautifying effect on the look of a home. Window films can also shield the home’s interior from view, without requiring you to draw the shades.

Maybe by now you’re convinced that window film has its merits, but you have no idea how easy it is to install. In the hands of a professional tinting company, such as Solar Concepts in NW Indiana, window film installation is easy and trouble-free. While the exact process of tint installation differs slightly, depending on the manufacturer and the installer, most involve the following steps:

Furnishings, curtains, and carpeting are moved away from the window. The window is carefully cleaned, then wet with a soapy solution to reduce static electricity while the film is being applied. The tinting film is then carefully stretched out against the window surface, and a squeegee is used to work out all air bubbles.

After application, the new film needs to dry in place. During this time, there is can be some clouding or appearance of water under the film. This is a normal part of the drying process, and if the film has been correctly installed, it will clear up in about a day. If you think the tint installation process sounds fast and easy, that’s because it is.

Whether you want to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency or protect your valuables from fading, window film can be a great investment. Why not follow up with one of Indiana’s window tinting pros today?

Top 10 Tips on Starting a Home Daycare

daycare fun

Starting a daycare, preschool, or other child care facility in Crosscreek FL involves a lot more than gathering toys and planning fun activities for the children. Before you can actually hang a sign out stating that a daycare center is open for business, you will also need to address some very important logistical and administrative tasks.

If your Crosscreek child care facility is to be successful from the start, a solid foundation must be created through training and documentation according to legal guidelines and regulations. Doing so will reduce the risk of problems getting the doors open or keeping them open in the future.


Here are some important considerations that will help ensure that everything is in order before the first child arrives.


  1. Create a business plan to help direct all the decisions made for the daycare or preschool. If you have no experience creating a business plan, your local college or university, small business administration, or even another daycare center can help understand what goes into the planning.


  1. Decide how large or small the facility should be. Some individuals use their own home as the base of operations, but others rent commercial spaces. The maximum number of kids for which you wish to care can help with determining this.


  1. Research your state’s regulations for daycare accreditation and licensure concerning the size of your preschool and address the requirements as you go about preparing your daycare center.


  1. Determine from where the children cared for in your child care facility will come. What ages will you accept? Decide whether you want to target the employees of a particular employer or special needs children. By specializing in this way without excluding children from other area, you will ensure service to your community.


  1. Find out what the going rates are in your area and set yours competitively. Also, set your own payment policies.


  1. Cover every aspect of your preschool or daycare center as you create your policies and procedures manual and use it to guide how you run the facility.


  1. While commercially run centers require trained teachers, assistants and a director, you may not need any of these if you intend to run yours out of your home. Decide if you need to hire help or can do it yourself.


  1. Create an appealing space for the kids by bringing in furnishings their size and bring bright colors in by painting walls or supplying brightly colored toys or craft materials. Make sure that your center adheres to your state’s building codes.


  1. If you hire staff, get together with them to develop a daily schedule and curriculum. All activities should be age-appropriate.


  1. Create a marketing campaign for advertising your daycare services. Things like flyers you can hand out at local schools and churches or at the businesses you will be targeting is a good way to advertise. Online ads, work of mouth and other networks work well too.

kid playing with toys

It can be a lot of hard work creating a new child care facility, but it can be very rewarding as well. Helping children develop and mature is a great way to spend your time.

It may take a little while to build your child care to the numbers you want, but after that it will be easy to maintain if you remain true to your standards.

Replacement Windows Can Save Big On Heating Bills

With winter coming to northern Virginia, here’s something to keep in mind: Windows account for about 25 to 30 percent of heat loss and the cooling of your home. One of the most effective solutions for this heat loss is the installation of energy-saving replacement windows. If you weren’t already considering beautifying your home with new windows, you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of investment you can get back in energy savings.

When choosing among different types of windows, most homeowners focus on elements like the attractiveness, openness, or color and design thereof. These elements are important, but you can’t neglect other more technical aspects that will define the true quality and worth of the window – aspects like improved year-round energy efficiency.

Why Switch to Efficient Windows?

Here in Fredericksburg, when most homes are built, builders install low-cost windows that have only one pane. Double-glazed windows, which insulate twice as well as single-pane window glass, aren’t always found in new homes, let alone older ones. Improving the quality of insulation – measured as R value – decreases utility costs and reduces your carbon footprint and emissions of the house. The R-value of the glass is part of the overall rating of the energy efficiency of the window.

Think about this: The average family spends close to $3,000 a year on electricity bills, and just by upgrading from single-pane windows to double-pane, you could reduce your energy costs by half, each month. For example, by upgrading from a single glass pane, homeowners could diminish energy loss through the windows by:

  • 34% if replaced by aluminum frames and double pane
  • Up to 51% if replaced by PVC and double pane

Conserve more energy. Double-glazed windows have an air space between the panels that are filled with various substances, like argon or krypton, which insulates against the loss of precious heat in the winter and comfortable cool in the summer. By reducing heating and cooling loss by up to 50 percent, double glazed windows will help to conserve natural resources through reduced power consumption.

Minimize condensation. Condensation control is another important advantage of double pane windows. Windows that are energy efficient keep glass surfaces and window frames in the house warmer. This means more heat is maintained inside. When the windows and interior walls retain heat efficiently, condensation is less likely to form on interior windows. The glass will be less prone to “sweating,” and you’ll have less humidity to deal with.

Choosing for High Energy Performance

The typical materials chosen for window frames are wood, aluminum, and vinyl. But what to choose? Each of these materials has its own characteristics in terms of thermal and sound insulation.

Aluminum is a material that allows greater diversity of window shapes and sizes for a wide variety of specific designs. Key benefits that stand out are affordability and minimal maintenance. It does not corrode or deteriorate, and can be easily cleaned with water, soap, and a soft cloth.

Vinyl windows are also pretty affordable. Their main feature is that vinyl is electrically, acoustically, and thermally non-conductive; in other words, it’s a great insulator. It also has high impact strength and is exceptionally durable.

Wood windows are highly regarded because they tend to be both beautiful and durable, but they tend to cost more than their counterparts.

Just imagine if you could combine the versatility and malleability of aluminum, the insulation and easy care of vinyl, and the beauty and durability of wood in a single window. As a matter of fact, you can. Renewal by Andersen replacement windows made of Fibrex® manage to combine the best qualities of the other window materials into one great design. Best of all, these energy-efficient windows meet or exceed EnergyStar® standards.

Winter will be here soon, and so will high heating bills. If you’ve been considering talking to a local Fredericksburg installer about energy-saving replacement windows, now is the perfect time.

Granite Countertops: The Rock Solid Investment


For centuries, granite has epitomized strength and durability. The very word, granite, is used to signify something that is next to permanent and solid. Those traits have made it the material of choice for a growing number of property owners for use as countertops in the kitchen and bathroom.

Granite countertops are not simply strong and able to stand up to daily use. They also are available in a vast array of colors and styles to match any decor and provide a touch of luxury and organic beauty.

Each piece of granite is unique, due to the natural processes that created it, to the location where it was mined. It will come with its own veining, coloration, and pattern, which makes each granite fabrication a truly one-of-a-kind artistic creation. Still, granite mined in the same location will share similar traits so they can be matched for continuity.

granite mining

Granite stone is formed when magma deep within the earth cools. It is mined across the world, with excellent samples coming from such locations as China, Brazil, Finland, Norway, and India. A granite contractor will be able to provide a wide variety of choices for your perusal.

Granite countertops have been considered high-end additions for the kitchens of the well-to-do. However, its growth in popularity continues to make it more affordable to all. It also is seen as a good investment because of the luxury it adds and because its durability will mean it will not need to be replaced. Granite is hard to scratch, and its polished surface is perfect for baking needs. It also can stand up to high temperatures without discoloring, burning, or cracking.

Other types of stone also are marketed for use as countertops, but each has its own limitations that would make it less appealing than granite. For example, slate often is touted for its beauty, but it is expensive, going for a price of up to $200 per square foot. Mid-range granite can be had for $100 to $150 a square foot. Slate also requires buffing with steel wool to remove scratches that can occur with regularity.

Slate and soapstone, another countertop option, do not come in nearly as many colors as granite. Soapstone also is porous, so it requires sealing with mineral oil to limit staining. Since slate has a matte finish, it must be rubbed with lemon oil to achieve a wet looking shine.


When you find a reliable granite contractor, they likely will show you the range of colors and patterns available. Colors range from mottled white to stunning blues, deep reds and blacks, and browns of variegated hues. Granite also can be cut into long slabs, which will add the benefit of limiting seams.

In addition to being able to withstand hard use by children and accidents in the cooking process, granite stone also is easy to clean and resistant to bacteria. A daily cleanup using only a mild soap, a soft sponge, and water is all that is required to keep most granite countertops looking like new. Sealants also can be applied that will prevent the absorption of liquids and subsequent staining.

Given granite’s many positive benefits in durability and ease of maintenance, it easily is the best of materials for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Add to that the value it brings with its style and natural beauty, and granite makes for a solid investment in your home’s overall appeal. If you are in Northern Virginia and are currently looking for the areas finest supplier and installer then give the folks at Granite Source NOVA a call Today!

Car Shopping: is the Frugal Choice the Best Choice for You?

Used Cars vs. New Cars

Anyone who is thinking about buying a car has suffered nightmares about being sold a lemon by sleazy used car dealer salesmen. This phenomenon is why many people avoid used car dealerships and opt to shop for new cars instead – even though they may offer comparatively more expensive options for vehicle ownership. There are a host of differences between used car and new car dealerships besides the obvious. For instance, shopping around for used car financing options can be much different than dealership financing.

car purchasing


Let’s explore some of the main differences below:


New car dealerships are usually held directly accountable for their sales practices to the makers of the cars. This is because they usually operate as a franchise and our bound to strict corporate policies. On the other hand, used car dealerships have a bit more latitude due to the mere nature of their operations. While one is not suggesting that used car dealerships (particularly independent ones) are reckless free for all’s, the truth is, they are likely to deal directly with previous owners of the vehicles and not necessarily the car makers or manufacturers. This increases their flexibility in decision-making and lowering prices.

As far as vehicle maintenance and repair services, independent used car dealerships will sometimes outsource these services to a local garage that they may not have a strong relationship with. This is often true when they offer some type of warranty. Keep this in mind when prioritizing the price of maintenance and repairs. If you have a job that requires lots of travel, you need be aware of what it’s going to take to repair your car from intensive use and ware.

Repairs and maintenance services

Contrary to popular belief, new car dealerships also carry used vehicles by way of CPOs – certified pre-owned cars. CPOs means that the new car dealership is accountable to the manufacturers for the used cars it does sell. The original manufacturer is responsible for repairing and refashioning these CPO vehicles to be resold at the dealership.

In addition to offering CPOs, new car dealers are generally tied to a service and maintenance garage through which they are able to offer client repairs. Conveniently for us, they are expected to meet a certain quality rating before they can be offered up for resale.

Financing and warranty

Another major difference in how used car and new car dealership operate lies in financing options offered to customers. While used car dealers may offer cheaper cars and other vehicles for purchase, new car dealers are likely to offer loan and financing options that customers can make use of.

Why opt for a used car dealership: cheaper costs and a wide range of options

Persons opt to go with a used car dealership for a number of reasons. The primary reason is often financial. Financially, used car dealerships may have cheaper options when compared with new car dealerships as they simply cannot charge the same premium for used and older vehicles. This is true for sales, maintenance, and repair services.

At a used car dealership, people are likely to have a wider range of vehicles to choose from at a wider price range when compared to new car dealerships. Although they are all pre-owned, used cars are not necessarily old cars.

How to use a used car dealership: buyer beware

As suggested prior, a sleazy used car dealership salesman is every vehicles buyer and owner’s worst nightmare. Shopping on a used car lot is very different from shopping for a new car or shopping for a used car on a new car user lot. The dynamics are different. Additionally, there are several kinds of lots including- buy here, pay here lots. Consignment lots and specialty lots operate under a different set of rules or guidelines as well. When buying a used car, one should be careful to verify the following:

Certification and regulation

It is important to check whether or not the independent dealership in question is being regulated. Yes, there are regulatory bodies in many cities and states that can help hold a dealer accountable. One can therefore check to see if such certification or registration with a relevant governing body exists. Even consumer and other relevant business laws and governing agencies may apply in this regard. In other words, a used car dealership is not a law onto itself. Much like other businesses, regulations must be followed. Find out what those regulations are and measure the dealership in question against them.

Track record

Again, as is the case with other businesses, unless you are the first ever customer they have had, any given used car dealership is likely to have a track record. Pay attention. Ask around; look for previous customer reviews online and so forth. Do thorough background tests and do not simply take for granted to assurances of the dealer.

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