Water is tops for heating up your home

(NC)-To most homeowners, hydronic, under-floor heating is still considered a luxury. However the advantages of wall-mounted and under-floor hydronic heating go beyond esthetics and design.

Hydronic heating systems use water, a much more effective heat-transfer medium than forced air, to distribute warmth throughout your home, so the comfort of toasty toes this winter can come with cost savings.

In addition to lightening the load on your wallet, hydronic heating has benefits when it comes to the environment and your health. According to the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating, a not-for-profit trade association representing Canada’s manufacturers and wholesaler-distributers of plumbing and hydronic heating products, here are five reasons hydronic heat may be right for your home:

• Using water as the heat-transfer medium reduces the need to move around air with its dirt, dust, pollutants and allergens it carries, improving indoor air quality when the windows are closed;

• Floor and wall radiant heating delivers consistent and even warming over a greater surface area. This is known as the radiant effect and it allows you to heat your home at a lower thermostat setting, requiring less energy for lower bills;

• The main heating conduit is pipe, which means less duct work. Hydronic heat can be installed almost anywhere, including lower levels, basements, and garages. It can be used in a whole home or simply a new addition;

• Hydronic heating allows you to use your whole living space without the worry of obstructing vents and intakes. And with fewer unsightly grills, hydronic heating contributes to the esthetic appeal of your house;

• Hydronic heating is easy to install and not expensive. More information is available online at http://www.ciph.com.

Warm up to savings with an energy efficient home

(NC)-As the days get shorter and grow colder, energy bills can skyrocket as light and heating systems work to keep Canadians comfortable during the winter months. TD Friends of the Environment Foundation offers a few eco-friendly tips for Canadians to reduce their environmental footprint while reducing their energy bills during the winter season.

“Canadians can conserve energy and lower their energy bills by implementing simple solutions into their everyday lives,” says Mary Desjardins, the executive director of TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. “For instance, small things like draft-proofing a home can save consumers as much as 10 per cent on energy bills.”

Additional tips include:

• Put outdoor lights on a timer: Leaving lights on for extended periods wastes energy, so set outdoor lights on a timer to limit energy consumption. Set lights to be on for a five or six hour period, as opposed to all night, and switch to LED light bulbs for increased energy savings.

• Set the thermostat: Keeping your home at a reasonable temperature is an easy way to reduce energy costs. Set the thermostat to 20C (68F), and lower the temperature if you’ll be away for longer periods of time. Using a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the temperature while you are at work or sleeping will further reduce your energy consumption – and your costs.

• Seal leaky windows and doors: Reduce energy loss – and subsequent money loss – by sealing leaky doors and windows. Make a homemade “draft snake” – a simple craft project made with a piece of fabric filled with dried beans, old clothing or fabric scraps – and place it at the bottom of doors and windows to keep warm air in your home and money in your pocket.

In addition to working with Canadians to conserve energy, TD FEF supports thousands of projects dedicated to protecting Canada’s natural environment.

More information about local projects in your community is available online at http://www.tdfef.com.

Source: Torontohydro.com https://www.torontohydro.com/sites/electricsystem/Documents/Energy%20Efficiency%20Tips%20English%20Nov27.pdf

Courtesy of Newscanada

Affordable decorating tips to take your home from ho-hum to high style

Feeling uninspired in your space? Updating the decor in your home is an easy way to add more color, style and personality to rejuvenate your residence. Whether you’re making a few updates, like new artwork or wall colors, or renovating an entire room with a completely new look, decorating should be fun, not stressful. With a few simple tips, you can up the design ante in your home without breaking the bank.

Decorative painting for design

Painting can consist of much more than simple strokes of one color. Take things to the next level with decorative painting. Create different patterns on your walls with textured rollers to achieve an artistic design. Sponge and fabric paint rollers provide unique patterns to give your walls a one-of-a-kind look. Low in price and high in design, using textured rollers is a great option for redecorating on a budget.

Painting stripes in your room is a refreshing way to update your current color scheme. A sequence of wide and narrow stripes in complementing colors is a stylish option. To achieve crisp, clean lines between each stripe, painter’s tape will get the job done. It will also help to prevent paint bleed, leaving precise lines and keeping the transition between your colors looking sharp.

A plethora of plates

Artwork is a great way to change things up and give any room a boost. Expensive traditional framed pieces of artwork aren’t your only option anymore. Instead, create an eclectic art piece with plates you already own, or find them at garage sales and antique stores. Opt for various sizes and shapes and attach each one to your wall with plate hooks. You can cover an entire wall, or focus on a smaller area – but before you get started, be sure to lay out your design on the floor first. This way, you’ll achieve your desired look, without extra nail holes on the wall from hanging as you go. 
Perk-up hallways with runners; rooms with rugs
While re-energizing your home, the hallways may seem a little drab. Add a pick-me-up to your walkway by hanging portraits with funky frames along the walls. Add a runner along the length of the floor for a touch of pizzazz. Runners come in a multitude of lengths, patterns and colors – not to mention price ranges. Updating the flooring will keep your feet cozy and help to diminish the sound of footsteps during the night. 

If you have a space you want to update, but a full room makeover isn’t in your budget, consider an area rug to spruce things up. If the color in your room is dull, the rug can add visual interest and a pop of color, serving as an aesthetically pleasing addition. Area rugs also help to break up the space of a larger room and can add grandeur to a small space. A new rug will also protect your pre-existing carpet, vinyl and hardwood floors, keeping them looking newer, longer. 

Opt for accents as design elements

No home redecorating project is complete without a few perfectly placed accents. These interesting items stand out from your primary colors and furniture pieces, offering a fresh look to any space. Accent pieces – like chairs, frames or vases – will spice up a monotonous color scheme, while harmonizing with everything else you may already have in a room. Consider a bright beanbag chair for your child’s bedroom, a bold lawn chair on your patio to enthrall while entertaining or a lamp base in a complementary color on your console. Keep in mind accents are meant to speak for themselves; so there’s no need to have another elaborate piece in the room to pair with an accent piece. Just one affordable piece is all it takes.

When the redecorating bug bites, embrace the opportunity to freshen up your home inexpensively. With a pinch of creativity and a dash of design inspiration, you can easily make over any space into one that’s perfect for you.
Caption 1: Create different patterns on your walls with textured rollers to achieve an artistic design.
Caption 2: Painting stripes in your room is a refreshing way to update your current color scheme.

Courtesy of BPT

New mobile app will help your heart get healthy

Making important lifestyle changes could add healthy years to your life, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s newest mobile app is helping Canadians take the right steps.

Called the 30 Days Mobile App and launched in partnership with Desjardins Financial Security, this tool gives users a customized risk profile showing the long-term impact of their daily health choices – then guides them to break bad habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle in 30 days or less. Every day the app delivers a focused, easy-to-do challenge that channels the user’s motivators.


Andrea Balfour is one user who says it’s already helping her adopt healthier habits after only a couple of weeks.


“I can’t believe how quickly these changes are becoming part of my daily routine,” says the 47-year old who recently committed to losing 125 lbs in order to improve her heart health. “At first I found the daily challenges difficult because they pushed me beyond my comfort zone, but they’re slowly adding up and it’s getting easier every day.”


The app helps users inventory their health and risk factors by completing a mini-assessment. They then prioritize the risk factors that are most important to them and highlight what motivates them most.


When she first started using it, Balfour weighed 265 lbs and was smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.


“I knew I had to make some drastic changes to reduce my risk of heart disease and stroke. This app has helped me figure out what steps I need to take, and now it’s showing me how to take them.”

The free app is currently available in English or French for iOS devices only (iPhone, iPad and iTouch) and can be downloaded at Apple App Stores or at heartandstroke.ca/YourRisk.

Courtesy of Newscanada

Baked Potatoes with Creamy Mushroom Ragout by Isabelle Boucher of Crumb: A Food Blog

(NC)-One of my favourite things about mushrooms is the way they add hearty flavour and texture to meatless dishes. Take this recipe, for example, where a hearty vegetarian-friendly mushroom ragout elevates the humble baked potato from simple side dish to a meal in itself.

Baked Potatoes with Creamy Mushroom Ragout

Serves 4


Baked Potatoes:

4 large baking potatoes, washed and scrubbed

1 tsp olive oil

Kosher salt

Creamy Mushroom Ragout:

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 cup thinly sliced shallots

3 tbsp flour

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp sweet paprika

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


Bake the Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and prick all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork pierced through the skin meets no resistance.

Prepare the Mushroom Ragout:

While the potatoes are baking, prepare the ragout.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat, heat the butter and olive oil until butter is melted and foamy. Add shallots and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until the mushrooms are soft and starting to brown. In a small bowl, whisk together white wine and flour until smooth. Add to the pan along with chicken broth and paprika. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until thick. Stir in the sour cream and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes to heat through (make sure not to bring to a boil, as this can cause the sauce to curdle). Remove from heat immediately, and stir in dill and parsley. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.


Once the potatoes are done, transfer them to a cutting board to cool for 5 minutes.

Cut a slit through the top of each potato, and gently push on the ends to create a small pocket for the topping. Sprinkle the inside of each potato with a little salt.

Ladle a generous amount of mushroom ragout onto each potato, letting the excess spill over the sides and onto the plate (yes, it’s messy, but it’s the best part!). Finish with a sprinkling of parsley or dill, if desired, and lots of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Isabelle Boucher is a well known food blogger who resides in Toronto, working in the Telecom industry by day and whipping up tasty creations by night. Follow her blog, Crumb: A Food Blog, where her tasty recipes and photos are documented.


Courtesy of Newscanada

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How to truly make your patio an extension of your home

If you’re like many homeowners, you consider the patio an extension of your home. So it’s fair to ask: Would you be just as comfortable nestled in with your favorite book or preparing a meal in your outdoor space as you would in your living room or your kitchen? As you contemplate ways to improve your outdoor area, think about projects that can both extend the hours you spend outside and make the time you spend there more relaxing.

Just as technology continues to make life indoors easier, more sophisticated awning systems, heating options and lighting can make your outdoor space that much more pleasant. Here are a few areas to consider as you plot your next round of improvements for your outdoor living space:

* Temperature control: One of the best ways to make your patio pleasant for more of the day – and more of the year – is to add simple temperature control features. If you live in a place where it gets uncomfortably hot during the summer, install misters around your favorite sitting areas to cool things down. Likewise, if you often find yourself heading inside because it gets too chilly in the spring and fall, a few strategically placed overhead heaters can extend your patio season.

* Shade matters: Awnings and umbrellas also play a huge role in regulating the temperature and comfort of your deck or patio. And now, shading options have become more sophisticated and easier to maintain than ever before. You’ll never have to worry about damaged awnings on a windy day with a motorized awning system with wind sensors that work together to automatically retract your awnings when winds become too high. Retractable awning systems can also be accessorized with sun sensors that signal motorized awnings to open as soon as the sun rises, keeping your outdoor space cool from the start of the day. If adding a hint of warmth is needed, simply install an awning heater. All of these accessories can be managed by the same remote that controls your motorized awning. With a system like this, you can leave the days of fiddling with fussy patio umbrellas behind.

* An outdoor kitchen: No patio is complete without a grill, but do you find yourself making frequent trips inside for other prep work? Make outdoor cooking easier by adding a prep island that can be placed near your grill. And if you really want to go all out, look for options that feature outdoor sinks or small refrigerators hidden under the countertop.

* Entertainment connectivity: Well-placed speakers can bring the stereo sound of your indoor system out. By upgrading your system so it can be controlled from your wireless device, you can bring the conveniences of your digital music system outdoors and eliminate the need to get up to turn up the volume or flip to the next song.

* Take look at your lighting: High-powered outdoor lights on sensors might be helpful when you’re bringing in the groceries at night, but patio entertaining calls for a little more subtlety when it comes to lighting. Consider zero-energy solar-powered fixtures around the perimeter of your patio for a gentle ambiance to light up your evenings. Motorized systems can also be connected to your lighting, allowing you to adjust brightness as needed from the comfort of your patio lounger.

Now is the perfect time to plan for next year’s patio season, and with the right improvements, you can make it the most comfortable one yet.

Courtesy of BPT