Archive for September, 2011

Cheap ways to keep warm

1.       Close all of your windows properly. This includes making sure storm windows are installed and closed in place if you have them. Windows should be latched. Open them during the day if the outside temperature is higher than the inside.

2.       Keep your windows air-tight. You may want to purchase removable window-caulk or plastic to better seal them. At a minimum, stuff a towel or shirt in front of any noticeable leaks.

3.       Use cheap clear shower curtains over the windows that receive sun light. This will keep the cold air out, and the warmth from the sun will heat your house without cold air coming in. You could also cover your windows with clear plastic sheets and make it airtight.

4.       Seal your doors. Check around the door frame and also under the door. You may want to buy weather stripping or a door sweep. Again, at minimum, make a draft dodger or stuff a towel at the bottom of the door.

5.       Use smaller rooms. If, for example, you have a bedroom that is much smaller than your living room you could choose to use it as your bed-sitting room.

6.       Close off any un-used rooms. The closed door makes that room another barrier between you and the frigid outdoors. It also stops air from circulating as much, which reduces heat loss. Also, home improvement stores sell magnetic register covers to ‘shut off’ forced air furnace registers in unused rooms. That way when the heater does click on, only the registers in the rooms you use will pump out heat. Makes for more efficient use of the heater. Check that all heat registers are adjusted open, especially where plumbing pipes might freeze. Unblock cold air returns in heated rooms [they may be blocked with furniture or rug] so heat can circulate efficiently.

7.       Put up curtains. A set of heavy curtains can block a draft. Open them when the sun is shining and close them when it’s not.

8.       Put down a rug or carpet.

9.       Add insulation in the attic and the crawl space.

10.   Exercise; get in shape. 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can warm you up and keep you warm well after the exercise session. And your healthy body is generally more tolerant of the cold.

11.   Dress warmly. A hat is your number one friend at a time like this. A large percentage of body heat loss occurs in the head region (This is a myth: heat lost from the head is proportionate to the surface area [roughly 10%]), so it is crucial to keep your head covered. A turtleneck sweater can work wonders. Dress in layers, especially with wool or cotton clothing. Don’t wear your winter coat or you will have nothing else to put on when you go outside. When you are sitting still put on a blanket.

12.   Tights. If you still get cold legs then you could buy a 2 pack of black tights from your local shop, make sure they are opaques. Wear one or more pairs over each other under your clothes, this will provide your body with another layer of clothing to trap warm air in. It is ok for men to do this as well.

13.   Cook. Steam will raise the moisture level in your home, making the air more dense, and it uses more energy to heat humid air. Limit cooking that gives off steam, as this will increase the humidity in the air and make your house damp. Make cookies or a pie instead, as your oven will help to dry the air and heat the kitchen. The kitchen will be warm while you are cooking, and then you can have a great home cooked meal too!

14.   Drink warm beverages. Make a cup of tea or coffee. Sip some warm broth.

15.   Light a candle. A candle/candles can produce a lot of heat, just be mindful of where they are placed and do not leave them unattended. A trip to most any grocery store or discount store can provide you with a number of candles cheap!

16.   Find a friend or pet to snuggle with. The living body of any warm-blooded being is a furnace unto itself.

17.   Be active. Moving around produces body heat! The more you are active, the better your blood circulation will be. This will mean that hot blood gets to your fingers and toes, keeping them warm.

18.   Evaluate and Plan. Consider how you got yourself into this position. If you are suffering a cold house due to an energy blackout, the above tips will help you get through this short term emergency. But if you are living with a non-working heater because you don’t have enough money to pay for heat repairs, you will need to start saving money in the bank for exactly this type of emergency. Pay yourself first so that you can get through any and all emergencies as they arise. Don’t leave yourself out in the cold.

19.   Let as much sun hit your house as possible. Check for obstructions (e.g. plants,sheds )to the sun’s light reaching your house and remove items leaning against walls etc. on the sunny side ( ideally put them back again at night for additional insulation ). One note though, if your home is in an exposed location you will have to balance the wind/sun break effect to suit.

20.   Sit on a 50 watt heating pad. Rather than heating the whole house or room, sit on a low wattage heating pad.[Warning! Safety instructions for heating pads say not to do this.–.]

21.   Buy a thick bathrobe or dressing gown. Think of it as a big, fluffy blanket with sleeves. They are very warm and comfortable, and you can even sleep in them!

22.   Go visiting. Purposefully spend time in a location that is heated at no cost to you: library, church, a friend’s house.

23.   Get a dehumidifier…dehumidifiers are designed to remove the moisture from the air not to cool…the way they remove this moisture is to reheat the air to further dry it after it releases its moisture. Basically, the room temperature humid air enters the dehumidifier where it is cooled to its dew point which results in its releasing its moisture. This dried air is then heated by the combination of latent heat of condensation, which is a natural result of the process, and by circulating through the condenser where heat is exchanged from it to the air. The result is the air going back into the room will be slightly warmer than it was going in, usually around 2 to 5 degrees.

Keeping warm

                 

  1. Fool the eye: Sometimes warmth is a matter of perception. Warm colors and textures make you feel warmer so change out your decor. Try a throw so you can snuggle under it.
  2. Cut a rug: Cover up your bare floors with a rug. 
  3.  Bake something: Stews, roasts, casseroles and soups are made    for     the cold weather because they cook at low temperatures for a long period of time and, of course, they warm you up going down.
  4. Drink something: Wrap your hands around a warm mug of tea, cocoa or coffee.
  5. Let the sun in: Open curtains and blinds during the day.
  6. Change your bedding: Switch to flannel sheets, a down comforter, use extra blankets.
  7. Clean the house: Not only will your house be cleaner but activity will get your blood pumping.
  8. Cover your head: It sounds silly but wearing a hat (and socks) to bed at night, even if the rest of you is clad in skimpy clothing, will keep you warm.
  9. It’s muggy in here: Use a humidifier. Humid air feels warmer. No humidifier? Open the bathroom door while you’re showering.
  10. Reverse the fan: We’ve heard that, since heat rises, running your ceiling fan in reverse will push the warm air back down to the ground.
  11. Do your laundry: Nothing warms you up like clothing straight from the dryer.
  12. It’s drafty in here: Block drafts with weather stripping, a rolled up towel or a draft stopper.
  13. It takes two: Snuggle up with your friends, or your significant other.
  14. Something old fashioned: Try a hot water bottle or, before you get into bed, running a hot pan over your sheets. Bags of rice or dried beans, warmed in the microwave, are another option

 

Prepare for winter

So you’ve pulled your sweaters out of mothballs and found your mittens at the bottom of the coat closet. But what about your house — is it prepared for the cold months ahead?

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You’ll be a lot less comfortable in the coming months if you haven’t girded Home Sweet Home for Old Man Winter.

With the help of several experts, we’ve boiled down your autumn to-do list to 10 easy tips:

1. Clean those gutters  
Once the leaves fall, remove them and other debris from your home’s gutters — by hand, by scraper or spatula, and finally by a good hose rinse — so that winter’s rain and melting snow can drain. Clogged drains can form ice dams, in which water backs up, freezes and causes water to seep into the house, the Insurance Information Institute says. 
As you’re hosing out your gutters, look for leaks and misaligned pipes. Also, make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the house’s foundation, where it could cause flooding or other water damage.

“The rule of thumb is that water should be at least 10 feet away from the house,” says Michael Broili, the director of the Well Home Program for the Phinney Neighborhood Association, a nationally recognized neighborhood group in Seattle.

2. Block those leaks
One of the best ways to winterize your home is to simply block obvious leaks around your house, both inside and out, experts say. The average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall, according to EarthWorks Group.

 

First, find the leaks: On a breezy day, walk around inside holding a lit incense stick to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames, electrical outlets.

Then, buy door sweeps to close spaces under exterior doors, and caulk or apply tacky rope caulk to those drafty spots. Outlet gaskets can easily be installed in electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, where cold air often enters.

Outside, seal leaks with weather-resistant caulk. For brick areas, use masonry sealer, which will better stand up to freezing and thawing. Even if it’s a small crack, it’s worth sealing up, it also discourages any insects from entering your home.

3. Insulate yourself
Another thing that does cost a little money — but boy, you do get the money back quick — is adding insulation to the existing insulation in the attic, regardless of the climate conditions you live in, in the (U.S.) you need a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic.

Don’t clutter your brain with R-values or measuring tape, though. Here’s a rule of thumb on whether you need to add insulation: “If you go into the attic and you can see the ceiling joists you know you don’t have enough, because a ceiling joist is at most 10 or 11 inches.”

A related tip: If you’re layering insulation atop other insulation, don’t use the kind that has “kraft face” finish (i.e., a paper backing). It acts as a vapor barrier,  and therefore can cause moisture problems in the insulation.

4. Check the furnace
First, turn your furnace on now, to make sure it’s even working, before the coldest weather descends. A strong, odd, short-lasting smell is natural when firing up the furnace in the autumn; simply open windows to dissipate it. But if the smell lasts a long time, shut down the furnace and call a professional.

It’s a good idea to have furnaces cleaned and tuned annually. Costs will often run about $100-$125. An inspector should do the following, among other things: 

Throughout the winter you should change the furnace filters regularly (check them monthly). A dirty filter impedes air flow, reduces efficiency and could even cause a fire in an extreme case. Toss out the dirty fiberglass filters; reusable electrostatic or electronic filters can be washed.

5. Get your ducts in a row
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if it must travel through unheated spaces. That’s a huge amount of wasted money, not to mention a chilly house.

Ducts aren’t always easy to see, but you can often find them exposed in the attic, the basement and crawlspaces. Repair places where pipes are pinched, which impedes flow of heated air to the house, and fix gaps with a metal-backed tape (duct tape actually doesn’t stand up to the job over time).

Ducts also should be vacuumed once every few years, to clean out the abundant dust, animal hair and other gunk that can gather in them and cause respiratory problems.

6. Face your windows
Now, of course, is the time to take down the window screens and put up storm windows, which provide an extra layer of protection and warmth for the home. Storm windows are particularly helpful if you have old, single-pane glass windows. But if you don’t have storm windows, and your windows are leaky or drafty, they need to be updated to a more efficient window.

Of course, windows are pricey. Budget to replace them a few at a time, and in the meantime, buy a window insulator kit.  Basically, the kit is plastic sheeting that’s affixed to a window’s interior with double-stick tape. A hair dryer is then used to shrink-wrap the sheeting onto the window. (It can be removed in the spring.) “It’s temporary and it’s not pretty, but it’s inexpensive (about $4 a window) and it’s extremely effective.”

7. Don’t forget the chimney
Ideally, spring is the time to think about your chimney, because “chimney sweeps are going crazy right now, as you might have guessed.

That said, don’t put off your chimney needs before using your fireplace. “A common myth is that a chimney needs to be swept every year not true. But a chimney should at least be inspected before use each year.

Ask for a Level 1 inspection, in which the professional examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney. Most certified chimney sweeps include a Level 1 service with a sweep.

Woodstoves are a different beast, however. They should be swept more than once a year. A general rule of thumb is that a cleaning should be performed for every ¼ inch of creosote. ” Why? “If it’s ash, then it’s primarily lye — the same stuff that was once used to make soap, and it’s very acidic.” It can cause mortar and the metal damper to rot.

Another tip: Buy a protective cap for your chimney, with a screen. “It’s probably the single easiest protection” because it keeps out foreign objects (birds, tennis balls) as well as rain that can mix with the ash and eat away at the fireplace’s walls. He advises buying based on durability,not appearance.

One other reminder: To keep out cold air, fireplace owners should keep their chimney’s damper closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. And for the same reason, woodstove owners should have glass doors on their stoves, and keep them closed when the stove isn’t in use.

8. Reverse that fan
“Reversing your ceiling fan is a small tip that people don’t often think of.  By reversing its direction from the summer operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, keeping you more comfortable. (Here’s how you know the fan is ready for winter: As you look up, the blades should be turning clockwise.)

9. Wrap those pipes
A burst pipe caused by a winter freeze is a nightmare. Prevent it before Jack Frost sets his grip: Before freezing nights hit, make certain that the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and that the lines are drained.

Next, go looking for other pipes that aren’t insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces — pipes that run through crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores. If you’re really worried about a pipe freezing, you can first wrap it with heating tape, which is basically an electrical cord that emits heat.

10. Finally, check those alarms
This is a great time to check the operation — and change the batteries — on your home’s smoke detectors. Detectors should be replaced every 10 years, fire officials say. Test them — older ones in particular — with a small bit of actual smoke, and not just by pressing the “test” button. Check to see that your fire extinguisher is still where it should be, and still works.

Also, invest in a carbon-monoxide detector; every home should have at least one.

Step by step canning instructions

In this economy home canning is making a comeback….we have the step by step directions you will need to try this yourself. All of your canning needs can be found at your local Evergreen Supply store.

Canning is no more difficult than many other types of food preparation, and it allows you to enjoy the delicious flavors of fresh produce all year long. Grow your own, or buy locally; you’ll be able to lower your grocery bills, support sustainable lifestyles, and manage your family’s nutrition all at the same time. It’s a great way to be creative in the kitchen as well! In just a few easy steps, this guide will teach you the simple art of canning.

In this document, you will find information about:

  • Preparing the Jars
  • Preparing the Canner
  • Preparing the Recipe
  • Filling and Capping the Jars
  • Heat Processing
  • Sealing
  • Storing

PREPARING THE JARS

  • Visually examine your glass preserving jars and two-piece caps.
  • Wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot soapy water. Rinse well. Dry bands.
  • Heat the jars and lids in hot water until ready to use (do not boil). Jars need to be hot to prevent breakage when hot food is added. Lids need to be hot to activate the sealing compound. However, boiling lids will cause seal failure.
  • Leave bands at room temperature for easy handling.

PREPARING THE CANNER

Boiling Water Canner (for high-acid foods such as tomatoes, fruit, and pickles)

  • Fill half full with hot water.
  • Keep water at a simmer, covered with lid, until ready to use.

Steam Pressure Canner (for low-acid foods such as vegetables and meats)

  • Fill with 3″ to 4″ of hot water.
  • Keep water at a simmer until ready to use.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for further information.

PREPARING THE RECIPE

  • Always start with a current, tested FreshPreserving™ recipe.
  • Prepare recipe as stated – do not make changes. Adding or changing ingredients can affect pH and heat penetration. However, you can safely add dry spices or flavored oils.

FILLING THE JARS

  • Ladle the hot food into hot jars, leaving the appropriate headspace as specified below. Headspace is the space between the top of the food product and the top of the jar.
  • 1″ for low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, seafood, and poultry).
  • 1/2″ for high-acid foods (fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and salsa).
  • 1/4″ for fruit juices and soft spreads (jams, jellies, marmalades, etc.).
  • Incorrect Headspace: Too much headspace will result in less vacuum. Too little headspace may result in food being forced under the lid.

  • Fill jars one at a time to maintain correct Initial Temperature. Initial Temperature (IT) is the temperature of the food when it is ladled into a jar and immediately capped. IT is a factor for heat penetration and is critical for product sterility. Filling and capping jars in an assembly-line fashion causes the product to drop below the required fill/cap temperature. Insufficient IT could lead to an unsafe product.
  • Remove air bubbles. Run a nonmetallic spatula between food and jar. Press back gently on food to expel air bubbles. Repeat 2 to 3 times around jar. Air bubbles around food pieces may not be readily visible. Failure to remove air bubbles will increase headspace and cause insufficient vacuum.

CAPPING THE JARS

  • Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Center hot lid on jar, allowing sealing compound to come in contact with the jar rim.
  • Apply band and adjust until fit is “fingertip tight.” Bands only function to hold the lid in place. If band torque is too tight, the lid will not vent properly. If band torque is too loose, the lid will not be held tight enough to the jar to make a proper seal.

HEAT PROCESSING

  • Place filled, sealed jars on rack.
  • Place rack into canner.
  • Process for method and time indicated on current, tested FreshPreserving™ recipe, adjusting for altitude. Correct time and temperature are important to ensure a safely preserved food product.

Boiling Water Canner Method

  • Lower rack of filled, sealed jars into water.
  • Be sure jars and caps are covered by 1″ to 2″ of water.
  • Bring water to a gentle, steady boil.
  • Process for the time indicated in recipe.
  • Upon completion of processing, turn off heat and remove lid.
  • Let jars stand for 5 minutes.

Steam Pressure Canner Method

  • Lock lid into place.
  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Once a steady stream of steam is escaping from the vent pipe, vent for 10 minutes.
  • Place weight on vent.
  • Bring pressure to 10 lbs (at or below 1,000 feet altitude).
  • Process for time indicated in recipe.
  • Upon completion of processing, turn off heat.
  • Let pressure return to 0 naturally, then wait 2 minutes.
  • Open vent and remove canner lid.
  • Let jars rest for 10 minutes.

SEALING

  • Remove jars from canner and set upright on dry towel to cool. Do not retighten bands – it may interfere with the seal.
  • Let jars cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Check seal. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.Remove bands and try to lift lids off with fingertips. If the lid cannot be lifted off, it has a good seal.

STORING

  • Clean jars and lids.
  • Remove bands for storage.
  • Label each jar.
  • Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.


Content provided by Ball Canning

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