Declutter: Five Home Clutter Culprits and How to Fix Them

Living with clutter starts to become the norm the longer you have lived in your home, but have you yearned for the cleanliness and open feel of a decluttered living space? There may be several factors causing your clutter. Today we will discuss the top five home clutter culprits and how to fix them so you can truly enjoy your home.

 

Culprit: Kitchen Countertops

Over the years of using your kitchen, you start to end up with a lot of things that just pile up on the countertop, like daily use items that are too inconvenient to constantly put away. But never fear, there are several things you can do to fix your kitchen clutter issues. One of the best ways is to invest in some kitchen organization items to maximize the amount of space you can use in your cabinets and drawers. For convenience items you would prefer easily accessible, store them in stylish boxes or baskets to keep them out in the open while looking tidy.

 

Culprit: Bookcases and Shelves

Bookcases and shelves are great organizational furniture, but over time you can lose control of them. One of the best ways to fix clutter on bookcases and shelves is just to get rid of things you haven’t used in a long time, then sort books and items by size, colour, and type. Place alike items in piles with good spacing between them to give a sense of openness. A nice trick for bookshelves is only use half a shelf for books, and the other half for decorative items. Anything you don’t need on display, place in stylish boxes and store on the top or bottom shelf.

 

Culprit: Entryways

Entryways in homes can quickly get slogged with daily items such as keys, mail, clothes, boots, backpacks… the list goes on and on. A great way to start fixing this is to get a nice shelf where thing can be placed, and maybe a decorative bowl for your keys. Next, you’ll want to make sure you have hooks easily accessible for coats, a boot rack for any shoes and boots that come off right in the door, and a basket or two for other items like umbrellas. With modern living, having a charging station for mobile devices right at the entryway can be a convenient addition.

 

Culprit: The Closest

As you buy clothing over time, your closest can start to become a cluttered mess. A great way to solve this is to keep track of items you have worn over the last year or two. If you haven’t worn an item in a while, it may be time to consider donating it. Hanging rods aren’t often the most efficient use of space, so consider boxes, baskets, shelves and drawers. For seasonal items consider storing them in boxes or bags in the higher shelving areas when not in use.

 

Culprit: The Garage

Garages inevitably end up being the last resting place for a lot of boxes in your home. When decluttering a garage, you need to be realistic and get rid of anything you aren’t likely to use anymore, have a garage sale or donate the items. Once you are down to the essentials, start working on garage organization ideas, like shelves, pegboard systems and labeled storage bins. Hooks on the walls also work great to store things like bikes.

Once you’ve decluttered these five major problem areas, you are well on your way to an open and clean home you can feel more comfortable in.

How to Save Money on Gas in Your Home this Winter

There are many things about your house that affect the cost of your homeowner’s insurance. Some of these include the type of roofing (metal or shingles), building frame, and heating system. You must have heat in all areas of your home because if an item freezes in an unheated area, such as a pipe, your insurance may not cover it.

 What Type of Furnace do you Have?

If your furnace is older than 15 years, you should replace it with a new efficient model to offset high energy prices. In addition to saving money, modern furnaces give off less pollution and produce more heat. An Energy Star® certified forced-air furnace is recommended on the Natural Resources Canada website because it uses 6 per cent less energy.

Check your Furnace Temperature in the Winter

According to Stats Canada, you should have a programmable thermostat to optimize the operation of your furnace. The Canadian Centre for Housing Technology did a study to examine the impact of thermostat temperature on gas and electric furnaces.

The following is what the study discovered with respect to gas furnaces:

  • Using a daytime temperature of 22°C and a nighttime temperature of 18°C resulted in a 6.5 per cent savings.
  • Setting the temperature to 16°C at night and when the home was unoccupied during the day resulted in a 13 per cent reduction in the amount of gas used.

You can use the above as a benchmark for what you set your temperature to during the winter. When Edmonton goes through it’s common deep freezes you might want to adjust your numbers. There are other things to consider such as the type of home you have, if pipes freezing is a concern, and the needs of people in your home such as babies, small children, and seniors.

Monitor Water Heating Costs

Your water heater consumes quite a bit of energy (14 per cent to 25 per cent). If you don’t have an energy-efficient model you should consider buying one to save money on gas. It’s also recommended that your hot water tank is turned to 49°C to save on energy usage.

Use Your Dishwasher!

Did you know that washing dishes in a newer model dishwasher uses less hot water than if you clean dishes by hand? It might sound crazy because dishwashers spray water continually, but they’re really using less water. Washing dishes by hand uses up to 102 litres of water per load; while an efficient dishwasher can use as little as 11 litres.

So, how does using your dishwasher save money on gas? When you wash dishes by hand the water heater makes the water hot. When you use an energy efficient dishwasher it has a heater inside to warm up the water.

To save money on gas you need to have energy efficient appliances such as your furnace, hot water heater, and dishwasher. With the tips presented here you can save money on gas and still enjoy the winter season in comfort.

How To Protect Your Home When You’re Away

Look Like You’re Home

One way to dissuade potential intruders from breaking into your home is to make it look like you’re actually at home. If you’re going away for a short time, leave a couple lights on. If you don’t want to waste a lot of energy, switch your regular lightbulbs for energy-saving LED lights.

If you’re going away for a significant period of time, cancel or redirect any magazine or newspaper subscriptions you might have, or have a neighbour come and regularly pick up your mail. Nothing says “no one’s here” like a bunch of newspapers piled up outside your front door. You may also want to pay some neighborhood kids to come by and mow your lawn once in a while, as long, unkempt grass is also a sign that a house is unoccupied.

Lock Your Windows, Lock Your Doors

This may seem like an obvious one, but many people leave for vacation without making sure that their windows and doors are adequately locked. All it takes is for one open window for a thief to get in, so it’s important that you check every single entry point before you head out to for rest and relaxation.

Also make sure that there are no gas leaks, and that all of your electronics and appliances are turned off. Don’t forget about your taps! Leaky taps can rack up a lot of water charges; make sure all of your taps are turned off and leave your drains unplugged in case a tap starts leaking while you are away.

If you spend a bit of time checking that everything is adequately locked, shut off and in working order, you will be able to relax and enjoy your summer vacation.

Insurance

Another way to protect your home when you’re not there is to double-check your insurance coverage. Accidents happen and, unfortunately, people have returned from vacations to find their homes burglarized, vandalized, and even devastated by a fires, floods, or other unforeseen disasters. If you’re not 100 per cent sure your insurance covers accidents and incidentals, give your provider a call or set up a quick appointment. Also note how many times someone must check on your home while you are away. If you don’t pay attention to this clause, your insurance may not pay out if there is a claim.

Protect Your Information

Before you leave, put important documents in a safe place. A safety deposit box is one of the best ways to secure documents like birth certificates, mortgage agreements, bank statements, credit card information, etc. Remember: one of the biggest crimes these days is identity theft, so while you may think burglars are only after your cash and jewelry, many thieves are actually after information. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable: your home is not only your house; it’s your life, your identity, and your peace of mind.

Nix the Spare Key

A lot of people keep spare keys in what they believe are clever hiding places. Don’t do that. Give your spare key to a trusted neighbour or friend instead, as thieves are wise to all the spare key hiding places, such as under a potted plat or the doormat, in a bird feeder or under the patio stones.

A few simple precautions before you leave for vacation means peace of mind so you can truly relax.

Edmonton Home Insurance

Sadler Insurance is a full-service insurance brokerage, providing home insurance services to Edmonton and surrounding area. 

Learn more about our home insurance policies, or get in touch with our team to get a quote today!

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4 Must-Know Facts About Edmonton’s Icy Sidewalks Bylaws

How to Save Money on Gas in Your Home this Winter

Basic Lawn Maintenance

During the spring and summer, your lawn requires some extra maintenance. You need to begin with an evaluation of your grass, trees, shrubs, hedges, flowers and plants. Once you have determined that everything is healthy (consult with a yard specialist from a commercial greenhouse if any items need attention) you need to ensure that you take care of it and uphold the condition of your yard.
Here’s how to get started.

Analyze Your Grass
Look for weeds, brown spots and any areas with white rings that could indicate a fungal infection in your soil that is severely impacting the grass. Complete this step before you add any new plants to your yard so that plants have an optimal growing environment.

Take Care of Your Grass
Your grass is the base of your yard and to keep it healthy you need to start each spring with the application of a natural fertilizer. You should seriously consider buying organic and avoid manufactured, chemical fertilizers.
In terms of maintenance, you should water your lawn three times per week and use a rain gauge to measure 1-1 ½” of water. This will ensure your yard isn’t over-watered. You should also avoid watering your lawn in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is at its greatest strength. Water your lawn in the evening when the sun won’t scorch it. When cutting your lawn, don’t take the grass down too short. Mow your grass once per week and never take it down to more than 1/3 of the blade height.

Trees, Shrubs, and Hedges
Prune your trees, shrubs and hedges. Call in a tree trimming service if you have branches touching your roof or growing too far over the fence into the neighbour’s yard. Check your trees for holes and disease; ensure that your trees, shrubs and hedges are healthy and free of pests. These can spread quickly throughout a tree or bush, causing a lot of expensive problems.

Flowers and Plants
You need to weed your flower beds and ensure they are free from bug and fungal infestations. In the spring, you may need to start more delicate flowers and plants inside and then place them in your yard when the weather permits. When you transfer your flowers and plants, ensure you place them far enough apart to avoid the crowding of roots.
To have a great-looking lawn you need to take the time to analyze the condition of your grass, trees, shrubs, flowers and plants in the spring. You should also ensure that you follow the best practices for taking care of your lawn and plants throughout the growing season. With the tips presented here you can have a spectacular yard to enjoy all summer long.

4 Must-Know Facts About Edmonton’s Icy Sidewalks Bylaws

Did you know that legally, Edmonton residents must keep the sidewalks in front of their house free of snow and ice in the wintertime?

Most Edmontonians do already know that keeping your walkways shovelled is best practice, but simply aren’t in-the-know about some of the incredibly important details.

Here is a quick guide with the most important information about Edmonton’s icy sidewalks bylaws, so that you’ll know when to remove your snow, what needs to be shovelled, and what to do when someone neglects their duties.

You Have 48 Hours to Clear the Snow

Many Edmonton residents believe that snow needs to be removed within 24 hours, but the City allows a 48 hour grace period to clear away snow.

This helps residents with busy schedules get to their snow shovelling duties easier without being in violation of City bylaws.

Remember, however, snow can quickly become packed, turning into hard-to-remove ice, the longer it’s left on the sidewalk and driveway.

Snow Removal is Regulated Through Complaints

If you notice someone in your neighbourhood hasn’t cleared away their snow within the 48 hour grace period, you can call the City of Edmonton and lodge a complaint.

The City doesn’t employ people to wander the streets looking for violations, they instead employ a small number of inspectors who confirm complaints made by residents.

Don’t expect a ticket to arrive at someone’s home magically; you have to be proactive and call.

Everyone Gets One Strike Per Season

When a complaint is lodged with the City, they send out an inspector to investigate.

If the snow is indeed not removed, then the inspector will issue a warning.

The home owner, or person responsible for snow removal, then has seven days to remove the snow.

The inspector returns in seven days and, if the snow isn’t removed, the property owner is issued a ticket.

Subsequent complaints for that year result in a ticket.

No seven-day period, just another ticket.

Roofs and Awnings are Included

When it comes to snow removal, most people only think about the sidewalks and driveways, never thinking to look up at their home.

If you have an awning or roof that hangs over the sidewalk or driveway, basically the paths that people need to take to walk by or up to your property, then that snow needs to be removed as well.

This is to reduce the chances of snow or ice falling onto a passerby, which could lead to serious injuries and a potential lawsuit for the property owner.

Snow on the roof can be removed with an extended pole, but must be done with extreme caution.

Snow removal bylaws in Edmonton can seem complicated, but they’re actually quite simple.

When it snows, you have two days to remove the snow from sidewalks and driveways.

After that, you could receive a complaint that can result in a fine.

However, there can be other consequences as well, like lawsuits that result from injuries, which could be a much more substantial financial burden than a simple fine.

Be sure to keep your walkways well-maintained this winter season for the safety of you, your family, and your neighbourhood.

Edmonton Home Insurance

Sadler Insurance is a full-service insurance brokerage, providing home insurance services to Edmonton and surrounding area. 

Learn more about our home insurance policies, or get in touch with our team to get a quote today!

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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: 7 Things You Must Check Each Fall

This fall weather is a reminder that the Edmonton winter is not far off (sad but true).

As miserable as winter can seem, it can also be one of the best seasons.

There’s nothing like curling up under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa and watching the snow fall.

Follow our quick tips below to help get your home cozy and winter ready before the deep freeze sets in.

1. Check around window and doors for drafts

A drafty window can really cool a room down, and be a big drain on energy bills! Luckily a cheap tube of caulk can be a permanent solution to a drafty window. If you are looking for a seasonal approach you can also cover windows with a layer of plastic sheet and double sided tape to cut down on drafting.

2. Visit your attic

Can you remember the last time you were in the attic? Probably not, and there’s a chance there are undetected drafts or gaps in your insulation. Take a peak up there and check everything is properly insulated.

3. Change your furnace filter

A fresh furnace filter not only improves air quality but will help your home heat more efficiently.

4. Check your radiators and heat vents

Shuffled any furniture around in the spring or summer? Check to make sure it’s not blocking access to your heat vents and radiators. Obscured heat vents and radiators will have a harder time heating the whole room.

5. Clean out your gutters

Cleaning your gutters is never fun, but a gutter blocked up in the fall will stay that way until the spring. It’s easier to clean them out in the fall when you aren’t trying to find the least icy patch on your lawn to place your ladder while you are trying to clean out an over flowing gutter.

6. Track down your snow shovel before the first snow fall

Move your snow shovel to an easily accessible spot before it snows. That way you won’t be stuck digging through the garage at 7 am to clear the sidewalks before they get trampled down during the day.

7. Wash and store your summer furniture

Put cushion covers through the wash, and hose down any plastic or wood furniture before putting it away for the winter. This way when spring happens you can enjoy patio season right away!

Edmonton Home Insurance

Sadler Insurance is your locally-owned insurance provider, customizing home insurance coverage for Edmontonians since 1936.

Learn more about our home insurance policies, or get in touch with our team to get a quote today!

More Helpful Homeowner Tips

 

How to Avoid Accidents in Your Yard

Having home insurance protects you, your family and your home from financial distress, but it doesn’t help protect you from injury in your own yard. Every year thousands of Canadians are injured on their own property. When the warm weather rolls around you and your family are much more likely to be outside, working and playing… and possibly sustaining injuries. Here are some tips to keep your yard accident-free this summer.

Water Safety
Whether you have a swimming pool, a hot tub, a pond or a kiddie pool, children should always be supervised when playing outside near bodies of water. Drowning is often silent and quick so younger children especially need to be watched.  If you do have a full-sized pool or hot tub, make sure that residents of your household have swimming experience and are taught water safety rules from an early age.  Animal who are not familiar with pools and ponds should be supervised as well.

Have a fence around your pool with a gate that locks if possible. Hot tubes can also have locking covers to prevent injury.

Clear the area around your pool, spa or pond of any electrical hazards. Surprisingly electrocution happens quite frequently due to having this debris around water.

Everyday Yard Safety
When mowing your lawn, make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing (long pants, closed toed shoes0 and that have you have properly cleared the yard of visible rocks, toys and debris. Children should not be allowed to stand right near to the person mowing the lawn, and as well should not be allowed to operate the lawnmower until they are responsible and strong enough (usually over the age of 12.)

Try to hide or secure all extension cords around your yard so no one trips over them. Check your cords frequently for frays as well.

Keep all chemicals, paints, tools, etc. out of reach of little hands. If you and your child are doing a chore together that requires hand or power tools, practice good safety rules and always supervise, or take over when needed. Make sure all of your tools are cleaned and put away every day.

Have you ever tested your garage door? Slide a roll of paper towels underneath the door whn it’s closing to make sure it goes back up as soon as it touches the towels. And make sure that your kids know not to run under the garage door and to stand clear while closing AND opening.

If you have broken or uneven steps, repair them immediately so no one on your property trips.

Never use a pressure washer on a ladder! The momentum could push you backwards right to the ground. You should make sure your pressure washer is in good form before turning it on, and that you have read the manual. It should not be pointed at people or animals as the stream is so hard it could severely injure someone or something.

Personal Safety
When outside in the heat, be sure to wear appropriate clothing. It’s so tempting to just run out into the sun, but a hat, light clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses protect your body from harmful rays that could burn, and from heatstroke. If it’s too hot, stay in the shade and only perform light physical activity.

Be realistic about what you can and can’t physically handle. Don’t try to lift things that are just too heavy – enlist help. If you have to climb a ladder make sure it is set up on a level surface and that someone is holding it for you as you climb.

If your kids are head outside for a game of tag make sure they are wearing appropriate. Closed-toe footwear and not shoes like flip-flops that will lead to stubbed toes and tripping.

Making a Water Damage Claim

Surprise: you have water damage! What do you do? Although water damage can affect your home at any time of year, spring is generally when most claims happen. Once things start to thaw, and you add in a little rain you can have water seeping into your basement on through your roof in no time. Here’s what you do when water damage hits home:

1. Stop the damage as quickly as possible! Try in any way you can to put an end (at least a temporary one) to the situation. If your hot water tank has burst, cut the water. If your foundation is leaking or your sump is overflowing, try to sop up or block the mess to prevent further damage. If a plumber is required, call immediately.

2. Call your insurance broker –they can then direct your claim to the appropriate person at the company you are insured with. If it is after hours, call your company’s 24 hour claim line. They will help you assess whether your deductible is higher or lower than the amount of damage.

3. Start the drying process immediately. Black mold can appear within hours of water damage. If you are going forward with your claim your insurance company will send a preapproved restoration company over to dry everything out.

4. Make a list of your damaged items for the insurance claim. Try to include serial numbers and/or warranties if possible.

5. The next step is to clean up and restore using the restoration company. These companies will generally pack your belongings, remove any damaged items and then restore your property.

The most important thing to remember when making a claim is to do it quickly so your broker or agent can assess the situation.

Here are some tips to avoid a flooded basement this spring:

  • Test your sump pump to make sure it is still working.
  • Grade your yard to slope away from your home.
  • Clean out your eaves troughs.
  • Keep your valuables and boxes at least 6 inches off the basement floor.
  • Inspect your roof and repair any damaged shingles.
  • Install mainline backwater valve on the sewer line to avoid sewage backup.

For more information on home insurance in Edmonton or to get a quote, click here.

Take a Home Inventory in 7 Steps

house insuranceWhether you are a homeowner or renter, home insurance (or renter’s insurance) is a necessity. If something were ever to happen to your home that destroyed possessions, it makes sense to have a home inventory of your possessions, big and small. Having a home inventory will help you in a very stressful time should you ever need to use it. Making one takes some time and effort, but with digital cameras, camera phones and computers, it is definitely a lot easier than it used to be!

Step 1: Plan out the process. It isn’t recommended to try and do this in one sitting. It will take time and organization so the best way to plan is to block off 20-30 min. increments weekly until it’s done. Maybe a Saturday or Sunday work best, or maybe a weekday; fit it in whenever you have the time and write it down on the calendar. Figure out what device you will use and make sure it’s charged for that time (if you don’t have a camera, purchase a disposable one.) Also, decide which you will use for the process: home inventory software (this can be purchased online), or a simple spreadsheet program (like MS Excel).

Step 2: Start taking pictures. Take pictures of whole rooms, walls, clothing, appliances…. You get the idea! Everything should be included. It may be best to go room by room in your 30 minute time slots.

Step 3: Take pictures of your important documents (like the deed to your house or birth certificate, etc.)

Step 4: Take pictures of your major appliances and their serial numbers to make sure you can tell the insurance company exactly what you have.

Step 5: Group like items. E.g.: take a picture of all of your pants and then record how many pairs you have; take a picture of all of your silverware and then record how many pieces you have in total. Be sure to do the same with collections. If you have anything that is particulary valuable (like a fur coat or piece of jewellery or collector’s item) make sure to separate it from the group and log it individually.

Step 6: Keep a record of your inventory in spreadsheet format if possible. You can organize it however you wish: by room, alphabetically, etc. You will need to include the approximate value of all of your pieces as well, but remember you can include the value as it pertains to groups of items as well (e.g.: Silver earrings (sterling) , 5 pairs, value: $250 total)

Step 7: Save your inventor and pictures to a USB, disk, or whatever you have around and put it in a fire-safe box or a safety deposit box.

For more information on house insurance and home inventories, call us today!

7 Fall Home and Yard Maintenance Tips

The cool weather will be here before we know it – it’s a great time to make that “To-Do List” for your fall maintenance tasks. Keeping up with seasonal tasks is not only a great way to protect your home against damage from our harsh Edmonton winters, it’s also a great way to make sure that you are doing your part as a homeowner to keep your property looking and functioning properly. Here are 7 action items to add to your fall home maintenance list:

  1. Check all of the wood trim around your windows and doors for cracks, holes and peeling paint. Damage to your wood trim can lead to water and ice inside your home in the winter. Repair or seal any holes, cracks or damaged seals.  If the damage is too bad, consider replacing the wood altogether while the weather is still agreeable. This would also be the perfect time for a new paint job on your window and door trim.
  2. Check and clean the gutters and downspouts around your house. To protect them from falling leaves in September and October, consider installing gutter guards.
  3. Have a look at your roof and replace any damaged shingles that you find. Also have a look at the flshing around your chimney and make sure it is intact. If you are not a fan of heights, you can hire a roofing professional to come and have a look.
  4. Think about organizing your garage before the chill sets in. Make a spot for the garden tools that will soon be hibernating for the winter! Also, this is the perfect time to give it a good sweep out and make sure that there are no problems with the weather stripping on your doors – mice love warm, uninhabited garages when the chilly weather hits.
  5. Before the frost sets in, be sure to prune your trees and bushes back, as well as remove dead annuals.
  6. Schedule appointments for a chimney sweep and fireplace inspection before you start having fires indoors. Chimneys should be cleaned every 1-2 years and inspected to make sure that there are no leaks or damage.
  7. Another important appointment is a furnace inspection. It’s free and it’s important to make sure your furnace is functioning properly and efficiently, and that there are no carbon monoxide leaks.

Have fun cleaning up and call us if you have any questions about your Edmonton home insurance.