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Outdoor entertaining areas are popular among homeowners, and firepits are one of the most sought-after additions to such spaces. In fact, a 2016 survey from the American Society of Landscape Architects found that fireplaces and firepits were the most popular outdoor design element in 2016. Various styles are available to homeowners who want to add firepits to their backyards, and choosing the right type may come down to budget, the amount of yard space available or even personal preference.
· Wood firepit: As their name suggests, wood firepits burn wood, which may appeal to homeowners who already have wood-burning fireplaces inside their homes. Because they don’t require homeowners to tap into gas lines, wood firepits are generally easy to set up and install, and many homeowners prefer the aesthetic appeal of crackling wood and flames that’s synonymous with wood firepits.
· Gas firepit: Gas firepits are touted for their convenience, as they don’t require homeowners to carry wood and build fires. Upon being connected to a gas source, gas firepits provide fire at the click of a switch. Gas firepits are also appreciated for their safety, as there is little or no risk that flames from gas firepits will grow too large and become difficult to control.
· Gas fire tables: Gas fire tables might be ideal for those homeowners whose sense of decor favors more modern looks. Gas fire tables come in a variety of shapes and sizes and, like gas firepits, there’s no need to struggle with lighting a fire or carrying firewood.
· Tabletop firepits: Homeowners, condominium or apartment dwellers with limited backyard space may want to consider the convenience of tabletop firepits. Restaurants may use tabletop firepits in their outdoor seating areas because they provide warmth and ambiance without taking up much space. Tabletop firepits fueled by gas will not need to be connected to a gas source, which may appeal to consumers who want something that’s simple as well as small.
· Fire urns: While they might not technically qualify as firepits, fire urns provide a similar effect as firepits. Fire urns are typically gas-powered and may be an ideal choice for homeowners who are looking for a unique, awe-inspiring feature for their outdoor entertaining areas.
Check out this week’s e-edition of The Horseheads Shopper here! The Horseheads Shopper 8/18/17
Insufficient sleep causes more problems than many people may know. Fatigue after a poor night’s sleep might seem like an inconvenience that can be easily rectified, but the long-term effects of insufficient sleep are significant.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, researchers have found a link between insufficient sleep and an elevated risk for type 2 diabetes. In one such study exploring that potential link, researchers asked healthy adults to sleep just four hours per night for six nights. At the conclusion of that period, participants’ ability to break down glucose had decreased by an average of 40 percent and reached levels that are consistent with those of older adults at risk for diabetes.
Insufficient sleep may be linked to any of a host of factors, including one’s bedroom environment. An environment that promotes restful sleep can help people suffering from insomnia or restlessness improve the quality of their sleep. The NSF offers the following tips to make bedrooms more conducive to sleep.
· Set the right temperature. The NSF notes that research indicates a bedroom temperature of roughly 65 F makes for the best sleep. Human beings’ body temperatures rise and fall throughout the day, reaching their lowest level around 5 a.m. each day before slowly climbing as morning begins. A room that is too warm overnight may interfere with this natural dip, leading to restlessness. If necessary, install a programmable thermostat in the bedroom so the temperature in the room remains steady and in line with your body’s natural temperature fluctuations.
· Address allergens. Some people may trace their sleeping difficulties to allergies. Dust and pollen in the bedroom can make for a disruptive night’s sleep. Wash bedding once per week in hot water if dust mites are proving problematic. If pillows cannot be washed, dry them using high heat to kill dust mites. In addition, cover the mattress in a mattress protector that guards against allergens and dust mites. If pollen is finding its way into the bedroom, always keep bedroom windows closed during allergy season.
· Use a white noise machine. Noise is another potential contributor to poor sleep. The NSF notes that some people may have their sleep interrupted by noise even if they don’t know it. White noise machines are often used to help infants sleep, but such machines can be just as effective at helping adults. The NSF notes that the constant ambient sound created by white noise machines masks activity both inside and outside the house, helping men and women enjoy more restful sleep.
· Draw blinds, shades or curtains. Waking up to sunlight each day might be nice, but that morning sunlight may be interrupting your sleep. Early morning rays from the sun might be triggering your body to wake up before it’s had adequate rest, so make sure blinds, shades and curtains are drawn before going to bed at night so you are not woken up prematurely in the morning.
Making bedrooms more conducive to sleep is one way men and women can improve the quality of their nightly sleep.
Refrigerators that inform their owners when it’s time to buy more eggs and thermostats that learn homeowners’ heating and cooling preferences may once have seemed like futuristic ideas straight out of a sci-fi movie. However, such products are no longer a dream but a reality.
The term “smart home” refers to a residence that has appliances, HVAC, lighting, entertainment systems, security, and many more devices that communicate with one another. Such devices can be controlled remotely, according to SmartHomeUSA, an automation product retailer. Proponents of smart home technology say features can help people save money on utilities and conserve natural resources, all the while providing peace of mind to homeowners.
In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide. That marks a 64 percent increase from 2015, according to the research data firm IHS Markit. The smart home trend is only expected to grow in coming years.
Although there’s interest in smart home technology, the industry remains fragmented. Consumers are trying to figure out which devices are simply fun and which provide practical benefits. Furthermore, the range of smart devices is expanding rapidly, making potential compatability issues a concern. Companies that plan to educate consumers further about the advantages of smart home features and are open to standardization may have the best chances of survival.
Those interested in dabbling in some smart home technology and testing the waters may want to start with the following household items.
· Smart bulbs: Manufacturers offer various types of smart light bulbs. Some are color-changing, others react to doorbells or alarms, and others can simulate typical lighting patterns when homeowners are away. Integrated apps enable remote access to scheduling so people can arrive home to a well-lit house.
· Home security: Wi-Fi enabled doorbells with video capabilities allow residents to see who is at the door without having to open it. Cameras can even be accessed remotely, simulating that someone is at home at all times. Never wonder if you’ve locked the door again with smart locks that can be engaged via a smartphone. Make sure that homes are secured or that pets are behaving while out with smart cameras.
· Flood sensor: Get peace of mind against damaging floods with Wi-Fi flood sensors.
· Appliances: A new breed of smart appliances can make it possible for users to turn on the washing machine while out of the house, close refrigerator doors from afar or even start their vacuum cleaners remotely.
Smart technology is taking over and is likely to continue changing the way people live and work.