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Old House, New AC: Your Best Bet for a Seamless Retrofit

If you're planning on updating an older home so you can enjoy state-of-the-art heating and cooling, look into a system that won't make you choose between charm and comfort.

The Unico System Installed in Older Architecture

Photo: unicosystem.com

Having once lived in a charming and historically significant Victorian home, I’m quite familiar with the compromises those old houses require. Built in 1870, ours was one of the first to adopt Edison’s newfangled electric lights, and it still had the original knob-and-tube wiring throughout its three stories. Just as electricity was an afterthought, so were heating and air conditioning. The house was designed to be heated by its numerous fireplaces, which had mostly been replaced with cast-iron radiators. But air conditioning? Forget about it! At the time, our only relief from the sweltering summers were a bunch of bulky, noisy, energy-gobbling window units that detracted from the aesthetic appeal of the house and impinged upon the lovely natural light from the eight-foot-tall windows.

Anyone who falls in love with an older or architecturally sensitive house faces a similar conundrum: How do you achieve up-to-date comfort and convenience in cooling and heating without compromising the architectural integrity of the structure? The most popular and prevalent HVAC systems in America—central air conditioning and forced-air heating—often rely on a network of bulky air ducts that are tough to incorporate into an existing home. In the past, retrofitting central air conditioning into an older home meant hiring a pricey contractor to open up walls, ceilings, and floors to route the system from room to room. Adding insult to injury, the rigid, unwieldy ductwork often takes up more space than the gaps in your walls and ceilings can accommodate, necessitating soffits, chases, and dropped ceilings that steal space from the home’s interior. In the end, to keep your family comfortable, you compromise the overall appearance and aesthetics that made you fall in love with your older home in the first place.

 

Installing AC in an Old Home

Photo; unicosystem.com

Nearly Invisible HVAC
Fortunately, there is an innovative and viable alternative to both conventional HVAC systems and inefficient window units: A newer technology known as high-velocity mini-duct HVAC allows cooling and heating to blend unobtrusively into the interior design without marring historic charm. The low-profile and versatile Unico System distributes comfort through cylindrical ducts that measure merely two to two and a half inches in diameter. Small and flexible, these mini ducts easily slide in behind walls and snake around and between joists where traditional metal ducting cannot fit, eliminating the need for altering your home in any significant way. The Unico System also features highly efficient air handling units that are compact enough to fit into tight spaces but deliver up to three times as much cooling power as larger, conventional units.

The rest of the system is just as inconspicuous. While most traditional HVAC systems rely on a variety of unsightly components—radiators, baseboard units, large metal vents—the Unico System maintains the attractive design aesthetics of your home by squeezing even its “big” pieces into the existing walls, and connecting to small, discreet outlets. The parts you do see—either 5-inch round or 8-by-1/2-inch slotted vents—can even be painted or stained to make them blend even further into the room’s overall design scheme. Meanwhile, the system’s whisper-quiet operation will preserve the peaceful charm of your old house, thanks to Unico’s impressive insulation: The mini ducts are constructed with nylon inner cores that muffle the movement of air, and the air handlers are housed within a cloak of closed-cell, sound-deadening insulation.

Advanced Comfort and Convenience
By opting for a high-velocity mini-duct HVAC in an older home, you’re not just bringing the place up to date, you’re also priming it for the future with cutting-edge energy efficiency. Whereas conventional HVAC installations can lose energy—as much as 25 to 50 percent—through typically leaky ductwork, the insulated mini ducts in the Unico System keep thermal loss close to none. Additionally, the system helps you lower your utility bills even further by removing 30 percent more humidity from the air than a conventional central air-conditioning system does, making the house comfortable even with the thermometer set slightly higher.

This combination of flexibility, painless installation, and advanced energy efficiency has made the Unico System the go-to retrofit for numerous historic and architecturally significant homes across the country, including the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum and the Harry S. Truman Little White House, both located in Key West, Florida; President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, D.C., his seasonal residence; the Petersen House in Washington, D.C., where Lincoln died after being shot at Ford’s Theatre; and the 277-year-old Orrin Hoadley House of Branford, Connecticut, an architectural gem built decades before the United States was even a country. So, if you are looking to add comfort and value to your older home, consider choosing an option that has been vetted by the National Park Service and has garnered the approval of architectural review boards in communities across the country. If it’s good enough for a presidential residence, isn’t it the right choice for your own palace?

 

 

This article has been brought to you by Unico. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Video: 9 Home Cleaners to Borrow From the Pantry

Save money on store-bought cleaners and make your own from items you already have on hand.

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Did you know that tartar sauce makes a brilliant copper cleaner? Or that a slice of the bread is your secret weapon when cleaning up broken glass? The food in your larder has a lot of genius yet little-known uses. Make the most of your pantry by testing a few of these cleaning hacks at home.

For more clever cleaning ideas, try:

9 Products You’ll Love—Even If You Hate Cleaning

The Top 10 Grimiest Spots in Your Home, According to Science

13 Lazy Cleaning Tricks for a Spotless Home


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Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Beat the Heat Giveaway with Fujitsu General Today!

Enter for your chance to win a wall-mounted mini-split heating and cooling system – plus installation!

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Fujitsu Seal

During the summer months, many homeowners escape from the stifling heat by blasting their air conditioner. Unfortunately, though, maintaining an ideal household temperature doesn’t come cheap. HVAC systems account for about half of a typical home’s energy consumption, which directly impacts your monthly utility bill. That’s why we partnered with Fujitsu General to give away an energy-efficient Halcyon RLS3Y Wall Mounted Mini-Split Heating and Cooling System, plus up to $2,500 toward installation!

Enter Bob Vila’s $5,000 Beat the Heat Giveaway with Fujitsu General today and every day this month (starting at 12:00 p.m. EST on June 30, 2017 through 11:59 a.m. on July 31, 2017) for your chance to win!

ENTER NOW!

Fujitsu

fujitsu.com

Thanks to its advanced technology and innovative features, the Fujitsu Halcyon is one of the most effective mini-split systems in North America. The energy efficiency of the system saves homeowners money on utility bills while maintaining a home’s comfort level. What’s more, the Halcyon is quieter than conventional HVAC models, with the ability to quickly achieve a homeowner’s desired temperature – even when working in extreme hot and cold temperatures. The Halcyon is available in three models (9, 12 or 15,000 BTU) and the winner of our giveaway can choose the best option for his/her home.

The Fujitsu Halcyon RLS3Y Wall Mounted Mini-Split Heating and Cooling System is made to heat and cool a single room. The system has many advanced, technology-driven features.

  • Halcyon systems have Wi-Fi capabilities, which allow them to be controlled remotely with an app for smartphones and tablets.
  • The Energy Saving Program (ESP) senses motion, adjusting a room’s temperature 20 minutes after it becomes empty. Then, when people return, the unit returns to its set operating temperature.
  • A wireless programmable remote control allows users to set weekly timers.
  • The design relies on ductless technology to keep the loudest parts of the system, like the compressors and motors, outside of the home, where they won’t create a noisy distraction. As another benefit of the design, hot or cold air can’t escape through ducting, so the mini-split system produces less wasted energy than standard central AC systems.

Enter today and every day this July to increase your odds of winning the Fujitsu Halcyon RLS3Y Wall Mounted Mini-Split Heating and Cooling System! To learn more about Fujitsu, click here. Also, don’t forget to check out Fujitsu General on Facebook.

“Bob Vila’s $5,000 Beat the Heat Giveaway with Fujitsu General” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Friday, June 30, 2017 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Monday, July 31, 2017. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Must submit name and email address using the online “Bob Vila’s$5,000 Beat the Heat with Fujitsu General” submission form. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. By entering, all entrants agree to the Official Rules.


5 Reasons to Replace Your Window Treatments ASAP

As it turns out, there's never been a better time to upgrade your home with brand-new blinds, shades, or drapes.

5 Reasons to Update Window Treatments in Summer

Photo: blindsgalore.com

Everyone loves summer for its long, relaxing days and the prospect of endless fun. But if you’re torn between lazing around on a lawn chair and taking on a home decorating project, know this: There’s no better time to swap out old window treatments than right now. The reasons might surprise you, so read on to find out why and benefit from helpful shopping tips courtesy of Blindsgalore, a leading supplier of custom-made window coverings. If you act quickly, you can save money, stay cool, and still wind up with window designs that really wow!

Old window treatments are glaringly obvious in the bright light of summer.
In darker, colder months, it’s easy to overlook shabby shades, busted blinds, or other worse-for-wear window treatments, but not during the long, sunny days of summer! In the bright sunshine of those extended daylight hours, you’re bound to notice faded, yellowed, or discolored materials; bent or warped slats; and frayed fabric or cords. If you see these defects, so will your summertime houseguests. Replacing tired window treatments can polish the look of an entire room. As an added benefit, with your home’s interior all spruced up, you won’t feel compelled to quickly shoo friends and family away from the air conditioning or out onto the patio.

Keeping energy costs down is crucial.
When the heat is on, quality window treatments help reduce your cooling bills by reining in the amount of heat transfer through the glass panes. (Window treatments also help ensure a warmer home in winter by preventing heat from escaping.) At Blindsgalore, you’ll find the ideal option for all your windows, no matter their size or shape. Consider energy-efficient cellular shades, which help maintain comfortable temperatures thanks to their unique honeycomb shape that traps air between the pane and the room. Or perhaps your best bet will be sun-blocking solar shades that prevent damaging UV rays and distracting glare from entering without obscuring the view of the outdoors.

Installing Simple Fit Pop-In Shades from Blindsgalore

Photo: blindsgalore.com

You’ll get big impact for less effort.
Summertime and the living is supposed to be easy, so no one wants to stress or sweat over complicated projects. Fortunately, replacing window treatments can be super simple, thanks to the installation guides, step-by-step instructional videos, and customer service pros on call at Blindsgalore. DIY novices, take note: The company’s Simplefit Pop-in Shades make the job even easier, with a no-tools-required installation. The effortless push, peel, pop, and lock process means you’ll have great-looking, hardworking shades installed in a matter of seconds.

Privacy is more important than ever.
Long days and balmy nights mean lots of time spent outdoors, and that can translate into more people peeking into your home. While those people may simply be curious neighbors enjoying a leisurely stroll, crime statistics show that the highest percentage of burglaries occur during the summer, so the last thing you want is to put your valuables on view to possible intruders. While Blindsgalore offers a large selection of opaque privacy blinds that prevent view-through, even when backlit, less sophisticated treatments can also offer adequate privacy. Whatever you choose, rest assured that you’ll be able to keep your home the sanctuary it was meant to be and feel safer this summer.

You’ll find unbeatable prices.
You probably already know about summer steals on garden equipment, school supplies, and bathing suits, but you may be surprised to learn that this season is also the best time to save money on window treatments. For example, Blindsgalore’s blowout Fourth of July sale is one of their biggest sales of the year, offering incredible savings up to 50 percent! So buy now, install simply, and enjoy the beauty and function of new window treatments this summer and beyond.

 

This content has been brought to you by Blindsgalore. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Get Rid of Snakes

Creeped out by slithery legless reptiles? Try these methods to discourage their presence or banish them should they appear on your property.

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How to Get Rid of Garden Snakes

Photo: istockphoto.com

They may be perceived as sneaky, slimy, and scary, but most snakes are not dangerous to humans. And, to their credit, they do an excellent job of keeping the population of rats and mice in check. Out of more than 150 snake species in North America, only four (the copperhead, rattlesnake, coral snake, and cottonmouth) are venomous—and they should be avoided at all costs. But if you’d rather not share your personal Eden with nonvenomous serpents—or they’ve started to raid your chicken coop—consider the measures here for how to get rid of snakes.

How to Get Rid of Snakes

Photo: istockphoto.com

METHOD 1: Reduce Rodents

Got rats, mice, voles, or moles? If so, you’re inviting snakes to dinner! Eliminating the rodent habitat in your yard, and the areas surrounding it can go a long way in the quest for how to get rid of snakes.

STEP 1
Maintain your lawn by mowing regularly and control brush and tall vegetation by cutting back any tall weeds growing at your property’s edge.

STEP 2
Clean up such debris as piles of rocks or wood, which make excellent shelter for mice and other small rodents.

STEP 3
Search for rodent burrows—sure signs that pesky four-footed critters are camping out on your property—and fill them up with dirt or gravel.

 

How to Get Rid of Snakes

Photo: istockphoto.com

METHOD 2: Apply Snake Repellant

There are several excellent and effective snake repellants on the market. If you have kids or pets, read the labels, to choose one that’s safe to use where they might also wander. Granular formulas are easiest to administer, while liquid varieties need to be mixed.

STEP 1
Broadcast repellent over the area where you’ve seen snakes. If you have a granular product, scatter it evenly over the target area with a hand spreader, or by shaking the granules out of the bottle or bag. If you have a liquid product, mix it and distribute it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

STEP 2
After treating the area where you’ve noticed snakes, apply repellant in a concentrated line around the perimeter of your property to create a barrier that snakes will not want to cross.

 

How to Get Rid of Snakes

Photo: amazon.com

METHOD 3: Set Traps

There are several types of effective snake traps available. Some utilize glue, similar to rodent traps, and others trap snakes by virtue of their construction. A minnow or maze trap, for instance, creates a space a snake can easily enter but will find difficult to exit. Traps are meant to humanely capture snakes, not kill them. So be aware that any snake you trap will be alive and need to be released.

STEP 1
Before setting a snake trap, don protective clothing like gloves, closed-toed footwear, long pants and sleeves as a shield from any potential snake encounters. Although they won’t cause lasting harm, non-venomous snakes can bite and cause injuries that may require medical attention. Wearing gloves will also help keep you from transferring your scent to the trap, which could ward off snakes.

STEP 2
Place the trap in the area where you’ve seen a snake, or evidence of its activity (shed skins or winding trails in the dirt are a dead giveaway). Camouflage it with dirt, leaves, branches, or whatever else will make it blend in best. Snakes don’t eat dead meat—and who wants to try setting a trap with a live rodent!?—so bait the trap with one or two fresh eggs, a delicacy to snakes.

STEP 3
Check the trap routinely to see if you’ve caught one. Once you have, plan to relocate it at least 10 miles from where it was trapped, in a non-inhabited area, to ensure it doesn’t return or cause menace to others. If you’d rather not look at a snake in your vehicle while transporting it, put the entire trap in a large pillowcase (not a garbage bag, which isn’t breathable), and tie off the top. To release a snake from a maze or minnow trap, open it so that the snake will leave in the opposite direction from where you are standing. Vegetable oil will dislodge a snake from a glue trap—simply pour about a cup of oil directly onto the snake and trap to release it.

 

Easy DIYs for Your Best-Ever Backyard

All of the Outdoor Design and DIY Tips from BobVila.com
With fair weather having arrived finally, it’s time to turn your home improvement efforts to the backyard and your deck, porch, or patio—the parts of the home built specifically to enjoy the extra hours of sunlight. Guided by these practical pointers and inspiring ideas, you can introduce beauty, comfort, and utility to your backyard and outdoor living areas, making them as inviting and enjoyable as your home interiors.


Video: 8 Renovations That Pay You Back

Not all renovations are created equal. Get the scoop on the best investments you can make when remodeling your home.

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Which projects are on your home improvement wish list? A modern kitchen? Maybe bathroom update or a basement remodel? Whatever upgrades you’re considering, you probably already know to research and consider all the costs before you ever pick up a hammer. Less commonly known is this: Some—but not all— renovations can actually put money back in your pocket. When it’s time to sell, the right improvements may be so tempting to buyers that you’ll earn extra dollars when you sign over the house to the new owners. Watch and learn to see which home improvements are most likely to earn you a few bucks.

For more home improvement ideas, consider:

The 15 Smartest and Smallest DIYs You Can Do for Your Home

Rescued from Ruin: 9 Extreme Makeovers You Need to See

9 Sneaky Ways to Get New Floors for Under $50