• How to Turn Up the Heat Without Using Electricity

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    Children drinking cups of tea by fire

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    By Robyn Woodman

    Whether you’re in the middle of a blizzard without electricity or you’re trying to save some cash this winter, it’s wise to have an alternate heat source on frigid days. Instead of reaching for the thermostat, warm up with these creative, no-power heating solutions.

    Use our tricks and tips to keep warm this winter. Your bank account will thank you come spring.

    1. Get fired up.

    Does your apartment have a fireplace? Whether it operates on gas or good old-fashioned wood, fireplaces can be energy-efficient heaters. If you have a gas insert, check to see if it’s a direct-vent, vent-free, or B-vent unit. Direct-vent inserts can offer more heat, while B-vents generally push any warmth out of the home. Vent-free gas fireplaces are the most efficient. Although not all states permit vent-free inserts for use in apartments, ask your landlord what type of gas fireplace you have to determine its heating potential.

    Does your rental have a wood stove? Rather than building a roaring fire, concentrate on building …read more  

  • How to Get Your Home Organized and Keep it That Way

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    Are you looking to get rid of years of old family belongings now that you have an empty nest, or is it time to simplify your hom

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    By Kendal Perez

    Amid the typical New Year’s resolutions, getting organized is an oft-promised, seldom-achieved goal that plagues busy parents, office workers, college students and everyone in between. Clutter and a messy environment are proven causes of distraction and increased stress levels, both of which prohibit creativity and productivity. Despite our best efforts, staying organized is a big challenge when life gets hectic and tossing our belongings wherever they fall trumps storing them where they belong (assuming they have a designated home at all).

    Those seeking a more streamlined lifestyle this year are likely influenced by the rise of the minimalist movement, the allure of tiny houses and the surprising popularity of such texts as Marie Kondo’s bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” These trends are not simply strategies for enhanced organization; they’re lifestyles that espouse a more intentional approach to living. Underlying the need to be organized, after all, is a desire for more control.

    “Organizing is about making decisions,” says Alison Kero, owner of ACK Organizing in New York City, adding that it’s …read more  

  • How to Avoid a War with the Neighbors

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    Hispanic referee between arguing neighbors

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    By Devon Thorsby

    A disagreement between neighbors can escalate quickly. One minute you’re mowing your lawn, the next you’re plotting revenge on the homeowner next to you for parking his car on your freshly cut grass.

    “You hear about neighbors chasing each other down with spades and all sorts of weird things,” notes Nick Hall, director of the Dispute Resolution Center of Harris County, Texas, which offers mediation for civil disputes, including neighborhood problems.

    It doesn’t serve you well to pick a fight with the people who live on the properties surrounding yours, and especially not when you’ve just moved in. But it can be all too easy to start off on the wrong foot with a neighbor, and it can haunt you for years to come. (Another strategy: Check out the neighbors before you buy the house.)

    While you don’t have to be the next Lucy and Ethel, you and your neighbors should be able to get along amicably enough to avoid major disagreements when it comes to what you each do with your …read more