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Archive for November 2019

Winter is just around the corner, which means that an increasing number of Americans will start their preparations for the colder weather.  While many households make use of electric or gas heating sources, as many as 4.8 million homes use a wood stove, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Despite rendering exceptional heat and being very economical, many homeowners wonder whether wood stoves affect indoor air quality. Although excess smoke can pose a problem, there are a number of ways to ensure that your wood stove is as safe and eco-friendly as possible in its maintenance and usage.  

Use dry wood

Dry wood not only creates substantially hotter fires but less smoke as well. Where possible, collect your wood, chop it, and leave it to air dry for at least a year before using it. This will not only result in a reduction in indoor air pollution but also save you money as no heat will be wasted on evaporation. You can make your fires even more eco-friendly by collecting branches and trees that have already fallen or using wood that would otherwise have been destined for the landfill. You can even try and source offcuts from your local joiner or sawmill but take care to not use anything that has been painted or treated in any way.

Allow enough air to circulate

If you want the air inside your home to be as clean as possible you need to ensure that there is adequate ventilation. Apart from making use of a sound chimney system, you also need to make sure that there is no furniture blocking the vents. You should also consider opening a window or two a bit in order to have fresh air enter the home while letting any excess smoke and gas emissions escape. Take care not to open your windows too much, however, as you don’t want all the lovely heat your stove is generating, to escape.  

Give your stove and chimney some TLC

One of the simplest ways to make your wood stove more environmentally-friendly is to keep both the stove and your chimney well-maintained.  Remove creosote build-up from your stove on a regular basis with a special detergent and limit future build-up by only making fires with seasoned, dry wood. Your chimney is a very important component of your wood stove.  Apart from posing a fire risk, a chimney that is filled with soot and creosote can also leave the house filled with an unpleasant smoke. In order for a chimney to remain clean, it has to be thoroughly inspected and swept at least two times a year.

A wood stove can be a great addition to any home, especially during the colder months. As long as you take the necessary steps to combat any indoor air pollution as much as possible, you will be able to enjoy the wonderful heat omitted by your stove without suffering from any adverse effects. 

Seniors over the age of 65 are three times more likely to be injured or lose their life in a home fire than younger people. Home fires are more likely to occur during the winter, when various heating methods are being used. Wood stoves create a pleasant atmosphere, heat the home well, and are commonly seen in senior’s homes, but they can present risks. If you have family, such as elderly parents, who are vulnerable and use a wood stove, there are some precautions you can take to help keep them safe and give yourself some peace of mind.

Regular maintenance and cleaning

Regularly maintaining and cleaning wood stoves can help to keep older relatives safe. Ideally, this should be done by a professional who can also inspect the flue for any problems, and make sure that everything is working as it should. Creosote can build up in the wood stove and chimney, and will need cleaning thoroughly. This should be done at the end of each winter, or whenever your loved ones are done using their wood stove for the year, and at least once during the winter while it’s being regularly used. You may need to arrange regular maintenance for seniors in case they forget or are unaware that it needs doing. 

Prioritize safety

Safety should always come before anything else when warming the home. In some circumstances, the risks that a wood stove presents outweigh the benefits, and opting for alternative heating solutions can be a better option. For example, a senior with dementia may leave their wood stove unattended or play with it out of confusion, or they may have a physical illness, like arthritis, that makes it difficult for them to manage a wood stove. If they live with someone else who can take responsibility for the wood stove then it’s not as big of a problem, but for seniors living at home alone it’s important for their loved ones to assess the risks and how safely their wood stove can be used. Assistive technology can give you peace of mind if your loved one lives alone, as they can call for help easily if something goes wrong while they're using the stove.

Precautions family can take to protect seniors

There are plenty of things loved ones can do to reduce the risk of a fire or injuries from a wood stove. Placing it on a fire-resistant base will reduce the chance of hardwood or carpeted floors becoming hot and catching fire. Ensuring any wood used for burning is dry and well-seasoned, which usually takes about two years, helps to minimize the amount of creosote and tar that builds up in the wood stove and chimney, as well as reducing the amount of smoke produced. Logs should be kept away from the wood stove, as stacking them next to it can increase the chance of a fire. Seniors may benefit from having a fireguard in place to reduce the risk of them falling into the fire or the temptation to go near it. This can be particularly helpful if someone else in the home is responsible for the wood stove and there’s no need for seniors to touch it at all.

Seniors can safely use and enjoy their wood stove to warm their homes, but loved ones can take some precautions and follow basic safety tips to reduce any risks and give themselves peace of mind throughout the winter.

65% of Americans prefer to workout at home than at a local gym. Having a home gym is convenient and can be purpose-built to suit your fitness needs and, with the addition of some luxury features, can help you to de-stress and relax at the end of the day, too. Nothing says luxury like a home gym that’s fully outfitted. By incorporating an extensive range of fitness equipment, a hot tub by a warming patio heater, and a room dedicated to yoga where you can meditate by a cozy fireplace, your home gym can be a truly relaxing and luxurious retreat for boosting your health and wellness.

Choosing the right fitness equipment for you

Kitting your home fitness room out should be done to your needs, rather than buying equipment that you think should be in a gym but that you have no intention of using. If you enjoy jogging outside for cardio and want a home gym for weight training then prioritize free weights and weight machines. Similarly, if your goal is to shed some pounds and improve your fitness, then you should look into some cardio machines. Elliptical trainers, treadmills, and exercise bikes are all good options that allow you to have variation with your workouts. Having a television or sound system can provide you with some entertainment and motivation while you’re working out, so consider installing these, too.

Adding a touch of luxury and relaxation 

One of the perks of a gym membership is that you can get additional features, such as hot tubs, access to a pool, and saunas. If you’ve got the space, then adding some of these touches to your home fitness suite can be well worth it. Not only can they help you to relax after a long day at work, but it can also help with recovery times after intense exercise. Having an outdoor pool and installing a hot tub area with it can be an option if you don’t have space indoors. Including a cozy outdoor fire or patio heater can make the space feel even more inviting and you’ll be more likely to use it in colder months and in the evenings too.

Creating a cozy yoga area

Perhaps all you want from your fitness room is somewhere warm, cozy, and relaxing where you can practice yoga, pilates, or meditation. Creating an ambiance will be an important part of this and a fireplace can be a great feature that helps to warm the room too. Space is key, so keep either a whole room or a small part of your fitness room free from bulky equipment and away from noise. Calming music, scented candles, and dimmed lights can be all you need. Basic equipment, such as a yoga mat, pilates balance ball, and resistance bands can be kept nearby for the days you feel like mixing up your workouts.

A fitness room in your home can be a great investment that adds some real luxury to your home. For cozy and relaxing spaces, fireplaces can significantly contribute to the ambiance, as well as being a great focal point that makes any space feel inviting.

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