Tag: how to

How to Make Your Apartment More Eco-Friendly

Unsplash

There are a lot of perks to apartment living. They’re generally easier to maintain, can be more affordable than a house, and are great short-term commitments for those always on the go. However, one of the drawbacks to apartment-dwelling, particularly if you’re an environmentalist, is often the limited green actions available. Whether you rent or own your apartment, it can be difficult knowing how to get involved in sustainability efforts. However, eco-friendly changes can be applied everywhere, including apartments.

It’s important for the sake of our future here on Earth to begin taking green actions to help minimize the negative impacts on the environment. For those living in apartments, getting started on making your living space more eco-friendly is easier than you think:  

Construct with Mother Nature in Mind

The best place to start is at the beginning, right? If you’re an apartment owner or landlord, it’s important to prioritize constructing any new apartments with the right materials. Some of the best sustainable building materials to use include:

  • Reclaimed Wood: Reusing materials like reclaimed wood is a perfect way to cut down on waste and reduce production costs. Reclaimed wood also typically has a lot of character which only helps make each of your apartments more unique while also being sustainable.
  • Bamboo: The thing that makes bamboo a great sustainable material choice is its rapid growth rate. Bamboo is ready to be used in just six years and when it’s of high quality and sold by reputable dealers, it’s extremely durable and long-lasting. It’s also one of the more affordable options to pick from. 
  • Green Insulation: Unlike traditional insulation that’s made from synthetic materials, which can be damaging to the environment, green insulation is made from recycled materials. From old denim to sheep’s wool, green insulation is a great substitute for fiberglass insulation and more.

Making the initial decision to build with sustainable materials benefits the environment long-term by reducing the overall negative impacts. It also can help save future tenants money on utilities thanks to sustainable building materials like green insulation helping to reduce energy use. It may be more expensive at times to pick the sustainable option over the non-sustainable counterpart, but it’s worth the cost.  

Don’t Shy Away from Pre-Owned Appliances

Appliances breaking down or not working properly is a common issue for tenants and owners alike. Moreover, many apartments still have the same appliances they were built with decades ago. While certain types of appliances were definitely built to last regardless of age, for the most part, many are now inefficient and that can be costly. As pointed out by General Contractors License Guide, “Not only do inefficient appliances waste energy, but they can also cost you extra money. A 21-cubic foot refrigerator using 750 watts of power costs an average of $27 each month to run, which can add up fast when you factor in additional energy use each month.” With that being said though, don’t be temped quite yet to toss out your old appliances. 

While it may depend on where you live, there is likely a used appliance business you can and should utilize. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity have numerous stores you can contact. They will not only replace broken appliances with functioning ones but will also take your old ones away and repurpose them. The appliances these types of businesses have are typically lightly used and worked on to be good as new. This reduces the overall impact on the environment by increasing better energy usage functions, minimizing waste, and providing more materials to be re-used.

Small Changes Have Big Impacts

Wanting to make some green changes to your apartment is understandable as we begin learning more and more about serious environmental threats and problems. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s easy to overload yourself when taking on major eco-friendly projects and renovations. Furthermore, it’s not always possible to make those apartment-altering changes. While big green actions are certainly important, small, everyday green actions are just as essential in regards to the planet’s health. Try incorporating some of the simple green actions found in things like eco-friendly apartment guides if you’re unsure where to start. It may feel perhaps ineffectual, but changing your habits to be more conscious of the environment is a great way to make a difference, regardless of where you live. 

Read How to Make Your Apartment More Eco-Friendly on Apartminty.

Source: blog.apartminty.com

How to Install String Lights on Your Patio | ApartmentSearch

Close up image of stringed lights

Make those warm summer evenings on the patio with friends even cozier with the right lighting. String lights can make your apartment balcony or patio dreamy, but do you know how to hang up outdoor string lights without damaging the walls? It can be challenging! Before you start, you’ll need to do a little research. These are the methods you need to know when hanging up string lighting on your apartment balcony or patio.

Adhesive-Backed Hooks

Best for: vinyl siding, brick

Trying to figure out how to hang patio lights without nails so you can transform your apartment balcony into its own little haven? Adhesive-backed hooks make attaching lights to vinyl siding or brick as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Make a mark where you want to secure your lights.
  2. Stick the adhesive side to the wall.
  3. Drape the lights over the hooks.

Hot Glue

Best for: vinyl siding, brick

Wondering how to hang string lights on an apartment balcony without ruining the exterior siding and incurring a damage fee? Hot glue may be a surprising option. There are two ways to attach string lights using hot glue, depending on the type of bulb.

For larger bulbs:

  1. Apply a small drop of glue to the side of each bulb socket, on the side opposite from the socket’s clip. Gluing the base of the socket can cause the socket to detach from its cord.
  2. Press the socket firmly into the wall and hold it in place until the glue dries.

For twinkle-style lights:

  1. Hold the light cord in place against the wall.
  2. Squeeze a drop of glue onto the cord and wall.
  3. Hold in place until the glue dries.

Gutter Hooks

Best for: stucco

Gutter hooks are S-shaped hooks that hang on the gutter. There is no permanent installment so you can adjust as you go. These hooks are easy to install so you can light up your night in no time!

  1. Thread the light string through one end of the hook.
  2. Slide the other end of the hook over the lip of your gutter.

Staples

Best for: wood

We’re talking a heavy-duty staple gun—think Clark Griswold, minus the mishap. When securing string lights to a wood wall or post, staples are a simple, easy option.

  1. Mark the spots where you want to attach the lights.
  2. Carefully hold the light strand in place (watch your fingers!).
  3. Press the staple gun firmly over the strand and staple into the wood, making certain to not puncture the wire when you fire the staple gun.

Metal Cup Hooks

Best for: wood

Cups hooks screw into the wall and have a cup shape, making it easy to hang and adjust the light strands so you can keep your patio fresh.

  1. Mark where you want to secure the cup hooks to the walls.
  2. Pre-drill small, shallow holes with a wood-bearing drill bit (should be slightly smaller than the hooks) at each mark.
  3. Twist the hook into each hole.
  4. Drape the lights over the cup hook and tweak the slack how you prefer.

Screw Eye Hooks

Best for: wood

Screw eye hooks screw into the wall similar to cup hooks. The difference is that while cup hooks are only a semi-circle, screw eye hooks have no opening. This means you will need tiny metal carabiners or simple zip ties to attach the strand of lights, which is more secure.

  1. Mark where you want to secure the screw eye hooks to the walls.
  2. Pre-drill holes with a wood-bearing drill bit at each mark.
  3. Twist a screw into each hole.
  4. Attach the strand of lights with the preferred method.

Extra Tips:

Decide on design. Will you hang the lights around the perimeter of the patio or start at one point and fan out multiple strands? Do you want the lights taut against the wall or drooping in between? The closer the anchors are to each other, the tauter the lights will be; securing them farther apart will allow for slack in between.

Measure first. Take measurements for both the string(s) of lights and the dimensions of the patio where you are going to hang the lights.

Plot points. As you measure, plan out where you will secure the lights and make sure the spot can handle the hanging method you choose. Mark the placement as you go.

Plan the power source. Make sure the plug is nearest to a power outlet and can either reach the outlet itself or with an extension cord.

Remove the bulbs before hanging. This will help prevent them from breaking or getting glue on them if using it.

Save energy. If you plan to use your lights frequently, also have a plan to conserve energy. LED bulbs are recommended because they help save energy, stay cool, and last longer. An outlet timer that turns the lights on and off automatically is also a good idea to ensure the lights aren’t on unnecessarily.

Choose the best bulb. Twinkle vs. café style, soft white vs. yellow … there are all kinds of combos to choose from and you can’t go wrong whatever you decide. Do look for shatterproof bulbs instead of glass if possible and opt for LED.

Ready to upgrade your outdoor living space? Search for apartments with a large patio or balcony with ApartmentSearch!

%%youtubomatic_0_0%%

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Emergency Preparedness Guide and Checklist [Download]

Emergency preparedness can mean the difference between weathering a disaster and finding yourself vulnerable in a long-term crisis. From power failures to hurricanes, emergencies strike every day, often without warning. By the time they do, it’s too late to start planning.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do now to prepare yourself and your family for a future emergency. But it can be an involved process, and it’s easy to forget something. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with an emergency preparedness checklist.

These recommendations will help you create your own family emergency plan, including a checklist of steps to take and supplies to pack in a disaster supplies kit in the event of an emergency.

Download our printable emergency preparedness checklist

This printable emergency preparedness checklist can help you take the steps needed for creating an emergency plan to keep yourself and your family safe and secure.

emergency preparedness checklist download buttonemergency preparedness checklist download button

1. Understand the risks for your area

Start getting prepared for emergencies specific to your location by assessing the risks of your particular location. Though there are basic requirements for preparedness, each type of natural disaster also requires its own specialized preparations.

For example, an ice storm might cause an extended power outage, so you may want to install a portable generator. In an earthquake or tornado, you’ll need to know how to find the safest place to shelter. (In both cases, stay away from windows, near the center of an inside room.)

And different regions are prone to different disasters: Texas has been hit by freezing weather, hurricanes, floods, hail and fires. In California, earthquakes and fires are common threats. Oklahoma is in “tornado alley,” and is often hit by ice storms.

Consult relief agencies in your area to get information about emergency alerts for the community, evacuation routes from the area and special assistance options for elderly people and those with disabilities. Ask at your workplace and your children’s schools or daycare to learn about each facility’s emergency plan.

Monitor weather and fire reports via NOAA weather radio. Download a reliable weather app, and sign up for emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts sent to your smartphone will signal you with a unique tone and vibration, then brief text messages explaining the type of alert and recommended action.

2. Write down emergency contact numbers

Important phone numbers should be available in multiple locations and formats. It’s a good idea to post them on the fridge — along with your home number and address for reference — as well as near any landline telephones. Also, program these numbers into the cellphones of every household member.

Choose a primary emergency contact and at least one secondary contact to call if your family gets separated. One should live out of state, and one should live locally. Tell your family members and loved ones which to call during each possible type of emergency. Remember that sometimes during a crisis, it’s easier to get through to out-of-state numbers than local ones.

It’s also a good idea to know which emergency management and response organizations you may be dealing with following a disaster, such as FEMA or the American Red Cross. Post these numbers, as well, and store them in your contacts.

Program emergency services numbers into your phone and put them near the top of your list, so you can find them right away. Hint: Most phones list contacts alphabetically, so you might want to list emergency contacts with “AA” or the number 1. Then write them on a small card to place in your wallet, in case you’re away from the list you’ve posted, your phone isn’t charged or your WiFi is down.

Here are some numbers you should include:

  • Fire / paramedics
  • Police
  • Local relief agencies
  • Area utilities
  • Work
  • School
  • Child care
  • Relatives
  • Poison control

3. Identify escape routes

Draw out the floor plan of your house and determine which escape routes would be safest for a quick getaway in each type of emergency. Escape routes also should be practical for pets, if you have any.

Post escape route plans in a central location in your house, preferably alongside the important contact numbers, and in each bedroom. Consider loading these directions into your smartphone, too.

It’s important to know when to get out and when to take cover where you are. Fires can occur in any climate and are the most common type of emergency that require escape or evacuation routes; if you’re indoors during a tornado or earthquake, you’re better off staying put.

Strategically store any equipment that could help you escape more quickly, such as collapsible ladders in upstairs rooms or window breakers for shatterproof glass. If your windows or doors have security bars, be sure they’re equipped with emergency releases so you can get out quickly if you need to.

And if you have pets, make pet carriers easily accessible so you can load them up quickly. (Herding cats is even more difficult in a crisis.)

emergencyemergency

4. Locate emergency meeting places

Designate two different locations where family members can gather to find each other after leaving your home. One should be directly outside the home in the event of a fire. Identify a location that’s a safe distance from the house, such as a neighbor’s home, mailbox or nearby stop sign.

The other designated meeting place should be outside the neighborhood in case of an evacuation. In the event of a major disaster that requires an evacuation, tune in to local media and be on the lookout for alerts about where to find help at emergency shelters.

You might also designate an out-of-state meeting spot if it’s common for your whole area to be evacuated, as in hurricane season. Make sure your family members have these addresses and phone numbers among their emergency contacts.

Include all locations in your escape route plan, clearly marked on a map. Post the meeting plan alongside the important contact numbers and escape routes.

5. Practice escaping, responding and meeting with family

Discuss with household members what to do during a fire, storm, earthquake, etc. At least two people in your home should know how to shut off utilities and respond to power outages. At least two should be familiar with first aid procedures to address personal injuries.

Make sure your household takes time to review the escape routes and practice using them so your whole family will be ready in the event of an emergency. Hold periodic drills the way schools, businesses and other public facilities do, to be sure everyone can get out of the building. If you can, have your family meet up at the designated local emergency meeting spots.

6. Pack an emergency supplies kit

Have a go-bag or preparedness kit ready that includes family records and other important documents (stored in a safe portable container), along with survival essentials that you may need during an emergency. Refer to the emergency preparedness checklist below for supplies to include in your emergency kit.

“Go bag” supplies

“Go bags” are emergency kits that contain the essentials for people to stay safe and secure in a crisis. Most items listed will apply across the board. However, you can decide whether you need to pack other essentials that address special needs — for instance, specialized medical supplies, prescription medications, spare eyeglasses, personal hygiene items or pet food.

For more information, check with the U.S. government’s official emergency preparedness website, ready.gov.

Essential survival supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Emergency blanket
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Pocket knife
  • Sleeping bag/tent
  • Drinking water
  • Protein bars
  • Canned food
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies

  • Cellphone
  • Cellphone charger
  • Credit cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Garbage bags
  • Insurance policies
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Contact information
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Face mask
  • Rain gear, if applicable

Tool kit supplies

  • Pliers
  • Pocket knife
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Can opener
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries]

Personal hygiene and health supplies

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Prescription medications
  • Feminine supplies
  • Extra change of clothing
  • Washcloths
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Clean wipes or towelettes

Food and drink supplies

Plan on having a 3-day supply of non-perishable food in a waterproof container, plus a supply of water. Keep a gallon of water per day for each person for several days, to be used for drinking and sanitation. Pack as lightly as possible without leaving out essentials. Foods like protein bars are great space- and weight-savers.

  • Drinking water
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Vacuum-packed meats
  • Canned foods
  • Crackers
  • Protein bars

Stay safe with our emergency preparedness checklist

It can be a complicated process to create an emergency plan and assemble a kit of supplies for your family. But it’s an endeavor that’s worth every moment of effort when your preparations keep your family safe and secure during a disaster.

Comments

comments

Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Create a Roommate Cleaning Schedule

Is there anything worse than coming home from a long day at work and seeing the kitchen turned upside down for the third day in a row? Before you throw in the towel, bring up a roommate cleaning schedule in your next house meeting. Assigning specific tasks and building a roommate chore chart can help everyone take more responsibility for their messes.

Showing how you can work together vs. just sending passive-aggressive vibes can help you get along better and keep the apartment clean. It’s all about communication when it comes to roommate compatibility.

Follow these tips to build a roommate chore chart and keep your home clean.

Sync on cleaning habits

Whether you found your roommate through Facebook, a friend or an app, you only got a few minutes to get to know each other before you decided that they were a good fit. You must check compatibility during the interview.

Here are a few questions that can help determine if you have the same cleaning habits, for example.

  1. How often did you do the dishes in your old home?
  2. How did you and your roommate split the deep cleaning of the apartment?
  3. Did you have any altercations about cleaning tasks not being done? How did you resolve them?
  4. If the trash is full, do you walk away or take it out and add a new bag?
  5. How often do you think we should do a deep clean of the apartment?

You’ll see red flags as they talk about their old roommates (this is why references are essential!) and determine if your cleaning personalities sync up.

How to make a cleaning schedule

What exactly does the word “clean” mean to you and your roommate? Determine how often the roommate should do the tasks — daily, weekly, monthly — and how detailed they should go with their task. For example, should someone clean the grout in the shower or wipe all surfaces in the bathroom? Does mopping come into the equation or just sweeping? It’s essential to agree on what “clean” looks like for all roommates.

Assign zones to each person (kitchen, bathroom and living room) and what can be done together (outdoor space). This is a good time to make rules about personal items in shared spaces — don’t leave your laptop or dirty socks in the living room, for example. Your personal things should remain in your bedroom.

Once you’ve made a list of the tasks to complete, it’s time to create the roommate chore chart.

rooommates cleaningrooommates cleaning

Making a roommate chore chart

While there’s no allowance attached to this roommate chore chart like the good old days of childhood, the reward is a clean home and a good relationship with your roommate. We call that a win-win. Here’s how to get started.

Make the chore list together

Pick a Saturday morning, make breakfast together and spend a few hours walking around the apartment. Make a list per room of the cleaning tasks you would like to see done.

For example, in the kitchen, write down taking out the trash, loading the dishwasher, buying cleaning supplies, wiping down the counters and sweeping the floor as items for your chore list. Then do the same for each shared space.

You can keep the bedrooms out of the chore list as they are personal spaces. List everything per room and evenly split tasks between the roommates based on interests and usage. These chore tasks typically are fast and easy to complete on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

When are the tasks getting done?

Some tasks will happen every day like taking out the trash or doing the dishes and other tasks work well on a weekly basis. Next to each chore task, list how often the task is done. A few examples of timelines:

  • Daily: Empty out the garbage every morning, pick up clutter from shared spaces and load the dishwasher. Pick up as you go is a great way to stay on top of dirty counter spaces, clutter and dishes. Use a dish, put it in the dishwasher immediately after rinsing.
  • Weekly: Take the garbage to the curb, wipe all counters including kitchen and bathroom, sweep and vacuum the floors, clean the toilet and shower and make any lists for the grocery store. Rooms like the living room and bathrooms should be cleaned on a weekly basis to avoid any pile-up of dirt, food or clutter.
  • Monthly: Wash all kitchen towels and couch blankets, replenish any household items that are old and clean out the fridge. The kitchen should be deep cleaned on a monthly basis and it’s best for a team project.

Shell out the assignments

Split chore assignments evenly, so everyone is doing the same or similar amount of work and add their name next to the assignment with a deadline, if applicable. Designate specific tasks to the same person over time, like emptying the garbage daily, to avoid confusion. The roommate should complete this task at the end of each day.

Other tasks like loading the dishwasher need to be completed by the person who didn’t cook dinner or, if you don’t cook dinner together, by the person who made the mess. This way, some of the tasks rotate, especially those that are generally not wanted. Roommates assigned weekly completion tasks can pick a specific weekday, so they don’t all pile up on the weekends.

Before finalizing the assignments, make sure everyone agrees and airs out their grievances to ensure all compromises were met.

Print out the roommate chore chart

Here’s a quick template to use for your roommate chore chart — download the chore chart so you can print it, laminate it and stick it on the fridge for everyone to see your roommate cleaning schedule.

roommate chore chart to create a roommate cleaning scheduleroommate chore chart to create a roommate cleaning schedule

Check-in as time goes on

Once you’ve settled with the roommate cleaning schedule for a few weeks, review it again during your next roommate meeting. If it’s better for you to do the dishes at night and maybe your roommate can take the trash out in the morning, make sure to communicate that. You have a higher probability of sticking with it if it fits your schedule a little more.

Keep the (cleaning) harmony at home

Finding the perfect roommate is genuinely a feat. It’s so hard to get to know a perfect stranger over a short meet-up. But if you communicate your expectations initially, like what cleaning mistakes set you off, you’ll find a better fit for your home.

Refer back to this roommate chore chart when discussing your cleaning schedule and check in with each other as time passes for any needed changes.

Comments

comments

Source: apartmentguide.com

What to Do in a Power Outage at Your Apartment

Power outages do more than just put out all your lights. Losing power can lead to ruined food, loss of internet and the inability to live comfortably in your apartment.

On average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a typical power outage lasts around two hours. While this isn’t long enough to wreak major havoc in your home, it’s enough to highly inconvenience you.

What to do in a power outage

The most important thing to do in a power outage is not panic. These things happen, and as long as you’re able to think clearly and make good decisions, you’ll get through the darkness.

1. Check your circuit breaker box

Circuit breaker box during a power outage.

The first thing to establish when you lose power is whether it’s a single unit issue or something more widespread. Making sure a circuit breaker isn’t tripped in your own apartment is the best place to start.

You’ll usually find your breaker box in a bedroom closet or on the wall in a hallway. Look for a gray or black door, assuming it wasn’t painted over to match the wall. Make sure you have a flashlight with you to see everything clearly.

When you open the box, you’ll notice if a breaker has tripped because it won’t firmly be in the “on” position. You can check each breaker to see if it wiggles too. If a breaker is in the “off” position or looks like it’s sitting in the middle, you’ve got a tripped breaker. Just flip the breaker back on and you’re back in business. If the breaker is in the middle, switch it all the way off before turning it back on.

2. Report the problem

Man in the dark during a power outage.

If you check your breaker box, and everything looks in order, it’s time to take the DIY out of the process. Contact your property manager to report the problem and get more information. They’ll most likely be able to tell you whether or not it’s affecting the entire building and what steps are in place to remedy the situation.

You can also simply look around to other buildings in your area to see if they look like they don’t have power either. If all the windows in neighboring buildings look dark, you know this is a much larger problem and something the electric company is most likely already working on repairing.

It still doesn’t hurt to report your outage to your electric company though.

3. Avoid damage from power surges

Electrical cord.

When the power does come back on, there’s a risk a power surge will take place. This can scorch walls or even lead to small electrical fires.

To prevent this from happening, go through your home and unplug appliances and electronics. Even though you’re eager to get back to using everything as soon as you get electricity back, it’s best to play it safe until after the power returns.

4. Monitor alerts

person on phone

Even with the power out, as long as your phone is already charged, you should have the ability to monitor alerts regarding your electricity. Check in with your power company for regular updates and report your issues if they haven’t documented anything wrong in your area.

If your power outage is weather-related, keep an eye on local news updates and weather reports to stay on top of any evacuation announcements or other important information.

5. Keep a clean supply of water

Supply of water filling up in a bathroom during a power outage.

With prolonged or widespread power outages, there’s a chance drinking water could get contaminated. This happens when the loss of electricity extends to the water sanitation system in your area.

Even if this happens, the water you can immediately pull out of your faucets is still okay to drink. To provide yourself with a solid amount of clean water when the lights go out, fill up tubs and sinks right after you lose power.

What not to do during a power outage

The most important thing not to do during a power outage is panic. You need to think with a clear head to act safely. However, a few other no-no’s are worth noting when it comes to staying in your apartment while the power is out.

  • Do not open your refrigerator or freezer if you can help it. This will keep the food inside cooler for longer and prevent spoilage.
  • Do not try to use a gas stove to heat your home. You should also avoid bringing in an outdoor grill for indoor heat. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fireplace, go ahead and light that, but otherwise, bundle up with blankets or get to a warmer location.
  • Do not leave lit candles unattended for light. It’s OK to use them while you’re in the room with them, but make sure you blow them out before you leave. Flashlights are always a safer bet when moving from room to room and make a great first choice in light sources when you lose power.
  • Do not assume you can get out of your apartment complex. If you live in a gated community, chances are the gate runs on electricity. If you’re opting to leave your apartment while the power is out, make sure you either know how to manually open your community gate or that your management office has taken care of the issue.
  • Do not go near pooling water or power lines. If you’re outside at all during a widespread power outage, stay clear of fallen power lines and large puddles of water. You have no way of knowing when the electricity will come back on and charge up a wire or a pool of water where a line is hiding.
  • Do not waste hot water. Losing power doesn’t mean you can’t flush toilets or even take a shower, but the amount of hot water you have when the power goes out is not much. To avoid cold showers, on top of everything else, use the hot water you have sparingly.

Prepare in advance

Since the odds are good you’ll experience a power outage at least once, why not prepare in advance? You can make a lights-out kit to ensure everything you’ll need in an emergency is in one place.

Put together a few flashlights, extra batteries and an emergency radio if you have one. Consider adding a remote charger for your cell phone and even a few bottles of water.

Store your lights-out kit somewhere that’s easy to get to even in the dark.

Stay safe when the lights go out

We all pay an electric bill and come to rely on the utility’s availability whenever we need it. This is what makes it so stressful when the lights do go out. Knowing what to do in a power outage, and preparing in advance, are the best steps you can take to handle the issue until the light returns.

The post What to Do in a Power Outage at Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Picking the Best Air Conditioner for Your Apartment

Looking to cool down your apartment? With spring and summer approaching soon, it’s important to start thinking about how to prepare for those hotter months and stay cool. While many apartments come with built-in air conditioning (AC) units, many do not. So what are your options for cooling down your space? In this article, we’ll go into detail about how to decide what is the best air conditioner for your apartment.

How do air conditioners work to keep your apartment cool?

Air conditioners have been around for a very long time, in fact, the first air conditioning system was developed in 1902.The basics of how air conditioners work are similar to how a fridge works. Air conditioners use an internal refrigerating system to take in hot air and cool it. The hot air, absorbed by the AC unit through various coils and systems, turns into a gas. From there, the unit converts it back into a liquid.

Next, the hot air pushes out the back through vents or a window and the cool air pushes into your apartment. The website HowStuffWorks.com puts it very simply: “Think of it as an endless, elegant cycle: liquid refrigerant, phase conversion to a gas/heat absorption, compression and phase transition back to a liquid again.”

air conditioning

Important things to understand when selecting your AC unit

There are a couple of other things to consider when picking which type of AC unit to use for your apartment. You’ll want to consider things such as cooling capacity, BTUs, energy efficiency and costs.

BTUs

BTU or British thermal units is the amount of energy it takes to heat or cool one pound of water. For air conditioners specifically, the BTU refers to the amount of heat your unit can remove in an hour. Some units take more than others. For instance, a window unit takes anywhere from 3,000 to 25,000 BTUs, whereas a portable system can use anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 BTUs. Make sure to take the time to research this before deciding on which unit is best for you. Learn Metrics has created a more in-depth chart for understanding different BTUs for different sized apartments.

Cooling capacity

When picking out your AC unit keep in mind its cooling capacity. The size of the area you want to cool will greatly impact your choice. Different units cool different area sizes. Take portable units for example — these are usually only able to cool the area they sit in. Window units on the other hand are a better option if you are looking to cool down an entire apartment.

Energy costs

The cost that it takes to run an AC unit is something else to consider. The price can greatly change depending on how big your unit is and how big of an area you’re trying to cool. On average it can cost anywhere from $14.40 per month to $211.20 to run different types of AC units.

Best air conditioner options for your apartment

Now you know how air conditioners work, how do you know which type is right for your apartment? Here are a couple of different options that you can choose from.

1. Portable air conditioner

Portable units are one option when looking for an AC unit. They come in various sizes and work in many different rooms. Often referred to as “portable swamp coolers” or “evaporated cooling” these two systems work similarly to other AC units but primarily rely on water. Another difference is their setup. For instance, some require their own voltage plug and most require you the ability to vent the hot air out of a window.

Another great question to ask when thinking about portable units is, “Can you use a portable air conditioner in an apartment?” The answer depends on your apartment complex and its rules. In certain apartments they are not allowed, so make sure to check with your apartment before you invest in one. Here are some pros and cons of portable AC units.

Pros:

  • Move room-to-room
  • Cost-efficient
  • Come in various sizes
  • Great if you have a strict HOA or landlord and can’t install a window unit

Cons:

  • Sometimes are less energy efficient
  • Can be noisy

AC unit in a window against a brick wall

2. Window units

Window units are very popular throughout Europe and make another great option for your apartment AC unit. Set in a window, they function much like other AC units and are capable of cooling medium-sized spaces. Here are some of their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Come in various sizes to fit your windows
  • Can come with a heating system

Cons:

  • Not portable and stay in the window you place them in
  • Not energy efficient

3. Wall-mounted

Wall-mounted units are a great option for people who are living in older buildings that tend to get very hot during summer. Here are the pros and cons of these AC units.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Don’t take up a window or block the view
  • Energy efficient

Cons:

  • Don’t cool the whole space
  • Must be cleaned and maintained regularly

Happy woman holding a remote under an air conditioning unit

4. Personal AC unit

Personal AC units are great for cooling down a single person in a smaller space. They are typically very small — meant for bed stands or desks and are not meant to cool the entire space down. These typically only need a plug and water, however, they do not cool as well as bigger units. Here are their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Great for personal use
  • Move from room-to-room
  • Easy to use and install

Cons:

  • Not energy efficient
  • Need cleaning after each use to avoid germ growth

Man with his face in front of a fan

How to keep your apartment cool without an AC unit

If none of these options work for you, there are other ways to keep yourself cool this summer. Here is a list of other options to consider:

  • Installing fans
  • Purchasing dark blinds to block the sun
  • Putting cooling sheets on your bed
  • Switching out your light bulbs to ones that produce less heat
  • Opening your windows at night
  • Cooking outside

Stay cool as a cucumber

While the summer heat is great for outdoor activities and vacations, it’s not so great for your apartment. Keeping your place cool throughout these hot months is essential. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own living space. The good news is there are many different options to consider when thinking about the best air conditioner for your apartment.

The post Picking the Best Air Conditioner for Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

9 Ways to Survive With No Dishwasher in Your Apartment

Even if your new rental unit ticked off most of your must-have boxes — great location, lots of light, budget-friendly — you might be disappointed about one thing: There’s no dishwasher in the apartment.

Not to worry! Here are some tips, tricks and shortcuts that take the drudgery out of washing dishes — and you may even end up enjoying the task.

1. Plan meals that use fewer dishes

Instant pot filled with food.

Instead of dirtying piles of cooking utensils, try incorporating some one-pot meals into the rotation. Slow cookers, instant-pots, woks and sheet pans will all minimize the amount of mess.

When baking, measure your dry ingredients first and then reuse the same measuring cups and spoons for wet ingredients.

You can also line your pans with aluminum foil before roasting vegetables or baking lasagna to cut down on washing time afterward.

Also, read a recipe through before you start cooking to see how many dishes you will need. By thinking ahead, you’ll have less to wash when you’re done eating.

2. Clean up as you cook

Washing a dirty pan with soap and water because there's no dishwasher in apartment

As you prepare your meal, get in the habit of tossing food scraps into the compost bin or garbage can. Plan to wash what you use as you’re cooking or place dirty dishes into the sink as you go.

Before you start chopping any ingredients, fill the sink with warm soapy water and soak your dirty dishes so food doesn’t become dry and caked on. Wash your prep tools as your food cooks.

3. Get the right tools for the job

Cleaning tools for dishwashing.

Toss that stinky kitchen dishcloth and pick up a few smart gadgets that will almost make you forget you don’t have a dishwasher in your apartment.

  • A dishwashing brush can handle even the crustiest food remnants, plus it dries completely — no more damp, germ-infested sponges lying around.
  • If you prefer a sponge, get a washable microfiber one that you can toss into the washing machine.
  • Silicone scrubbing gloves protect your hands, plus they provide some scrubbing power.
  • Using a blade brush is a safer way to clean sharp knives.
  • A food scraper or dish squeegee makes dishwashing easier and keeps your sudsy water cleaner.

4. Protect your drain

Sink clogged with water.

The last thing you need when you have no dishwasher in your apartment is a clogged kitchen sink.

Never pour oil or grease down the drain because they can coat the pipes and cause a blockage. Use a sink strainer to catch food particles and empty it regularly while you’re cleaning up.

5. Be efficient by learning how to clean stubborn dishes

Handwashing dishes.

For about $10, you can upgrade your kitchen faucet with a swivel tap aerator, which helps get into the nooks and crannies for more effective dishwashing.

Wash items from least to most dirty: Glasses and silverware first, then plates and bowls. Save the largest, dirtiest things for last. Some dishes, like glassware or anything oily need extra-hot water to get clean, while others do better with cold.

For example, dairy and starch rinse off easily under cold water, which prevents the residue from getting sticky. For scorched pots and pans, head to your laundry room to grab a dryer sheet: Soaking it with the pan in warm soapy water for an hour will remove caked-on grime.

6. Use the right kind and amount of dish soap

Soapy sponge because no dishwasher in apartment

If you don’t like wearing latex gloves to protect your hands, use a natural dish soap that will be gentler on your skin. For very greasy dishes, you might need a more advanced dish cleaner.

Don’t use too much soap, because it can leave a sticky residue on your dishes — one or two tablespoons per load is all you need.

Pouring your soap into a touchless foaming soap dispenser controls how much you use, saving you money.

7. Purchase space-saving drying racks

Dishes drying on a cleaning rack.

Why double the amount of work to hand-dry all your dishes when you can let them air-dry instead?

Since small apartment kitchens usually lack counter space, ditch the bulky dish-drying rack in favor of a more streamlined solution, such as hanging a wire shelf over the sink, or using a roll-up drying rack that stores away when not in use. Or, use a silicone dish-drying mat — it’s better than a fabric one because it prevents mold growth.

8. Treat yourself to a few luxuries

Man listening to music while doing dirty dishes in the kitchen with no dishwasher in apartment

Just because there’s no dishwasher in your apartment doesn’t mean you should dread cooking great meals for yourself or your loved ones. One thing that makes the task easier is creating the right mood for the job.

Pick up some great-smelling dish soap and soft linen kitchen towels, which dry faster than cotton and are naturally anti-microbial. Set up a waterproof Bluetooth speaker or wear wireless headphones so you can listen to your favorite tunes or podcast or light a few aromatherapy candles to make washing dishes more enjoyable.

9. Invest in a countertop dishwasher

Speaking of treating yourself: Sometimes, especially if you have a family to feed three times a day, hand-washing everything is just not realistic. Apartment dwellers have another option: A countertop dishwasher.

These appliances — ranging in size from 16 to 22 inches wide — sit on your counter, hook up to the faucet and wash up to six place settings at once. These dishwashers cost about $400.

Adapt to having no dishwasher in your apartment

While living in an apartment with no dishwasher can seem challenging at first, the transition to a wash-as-you-go lifestyle is easier when you plan ahead, use the right tools and shift your mindset.

The post 9 Ways to Survive With No Dishwasher in Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

The No-Cash Envelope System That Works

The post The No-Cash Envelope System That Works appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

I am a strong believer in the cash envelope system. It works great for our family. But I also know that is not the case for everyone.  You may not want to use cash but love the envelope system concept.  Fortunately, there is a program you can use that marries your desire to use plastic with the discipline of a cash envelope budget.

When it comes to managing your money, spending and trying to get out of debt, there are many programs and apps out there. But, not all of them can do everything.  That means one app for your budget, another for trying to get out of debt and then yet another for managing your spending.

ProActive does it all.  You can manage your money, spending, budgeting, and debt payoff – all from one simple to manage app! But, before you jump in and download it, make sure you read this honest review.  That way, you’ll know what to expect!

What is ProActive?

ProActive combines the beauty of shopping with plastic and the discipline of cash envelopes.  The system ensures that you never overspend – ever!  Just like with cash, when the envelope is empty, you are done shopping!

 

What is the cash envelope budget?

A cash envelope budget is what it sounds like. Rather than using plastic to shop you get cash and place the budgeted amounts into envelopes.  For example, if your budget for food is $200 a paycheck, then you get cash and place $200 in an envelope earmarked for groceries.

When you grocery shop, you use only the cash in the envelope. That is all you have available to spend. It is impossible to overspend.  If there is only $20 left then that means you can’t spend $22.  There is not enough money there.

It is a system that works very well for people who want to better manage and control spending.

 

How does it work?

Once you sign up and create your account, you will get a ProActive branded debit card.  When you are ready to spend, you use the ProActive card.  But, before you can swipe, you have to let the app know which envelope the money needs to come from.  That way, you always stay on budget and don’t spend more than you should.

 

Add funds to your account

When you get paid, review your budget.  Pay the bills that are due.  What you have left over is what you have left to spend on everything else on your budget.  It will include items such as clothing, household items, personal care and beauty, groceries, entertainment, dues, etc.

You will go into the app and click the “+” icon.  That starts the transfer from your bank account to your ProActive debit card.

 

Allocate the money to your virtual envelopes

Once the funds are deposited, you have to assign an amount to each category (a.k.a. envelope).  Review the budget to see what you have available to spend.

 

Shop as usual (but pay with the ProActive card)

You can’t swipe your card until you have told the card which category (or envelope) the money should come from.  Simply open the app and click the spend category.  Then you can swipe.

If there is not enough money left in the category to cover your purchase, it will be declined.  That makes it impossible to overspend.

 

The smart way to use ProActive

As parents, we teach our kids.  They need to know how to take care of themselves, cook, clean and do other things around the house.  But, it seems that financial responsibility is one that gets overlooked.

One thing that ProActive allows is for you to add your kids and teach them how to manage their own money.  You can put funds on their account and they too can set up categories.  And, just like mom and dad, they have to select the category before they spend so they are not spending more than they should either.

ProActive not only teaches your kids how to use a debit card, but also the financial responsibilities that go along with it.  And, it is in an environment that both mom and dad can see (and control).

 

Who is ProActive a fit for?

Just like with every other app or budget system there is never a one-size-fits-all system. That means this may not work for you.  If you love your credit card for the rewards then this will not work for you.  You can’t attach a credit card and use this program.

But, if you struggle to try to manage your money and spending then you really need to get this app. It makes it impossible to overspend and helps you learn how to think about every purchase you make.  You may not need to use it forever as you will become disciplined.

 

What does it cost?

When you sign up, ProActive will give you a 15-day trial.  They want to make sure it is a fit for you before they make you pay.  Then, if you love it, you continue at $5.75 a month (paid annually, so $69).  You can add a second user for $29 a year and even add your kids for just $24 each.

 

What happens if I forget my phone?

It happens.  We leave our phones behind. In that case, it is important that you always have an alternative payment method handy, such as your bank debit card, credit card or cash.

If your goal is to get out of debt, you have to first start with your budget and spending. If you don’t do that, you will never achieve your goals.  ProActive is one tool that helps you every step of the way.

The post The No-Cash Envelope System That Works appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com