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Send the Kids Back to School with Green in Their Backpacks

Posted on September 08, 2017 by Jennifer Chan

According to the Nielsen Company, parents and students will spend just under $1.6 billion on back-to-school supplies this year. Spending even a portion of that on “green” products would have a meaningful impact on the environment.

When buying paper, check the labels and choose the product with the highest post-consumer waste (PCW) content. (That’s the waste paper from our homes and offices.) Treecycle.com and Green Paper Company are two of the online retailers that make it easier to buy tree-friendly back-to-school supplies.

You’re going to need pens and pencils to go with that paper. Forest Choice #2 cedar pencils are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council “to have originated from environmentally well-managed forests.” Biodegradable cornstarch pens and other green writing tools are available from Green Earth Office Supply. Read more

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5 Ways to Lower Your Cooling Costs

Posted on July 20, 2017 by James Florence

A central air conditioner can be priceless on a hot summer day, but the cost of running it certainly isn’t. While having a well-maintained, energy-efficient system will help keep your cooling bills in check, another smart step is finding ways to keep your home naturally cooler, which reduces the need to run your system in the first place. Here are five measures to consider:

1. Install a whole house fan. On summer mornings and evenings, it’s not unusual for the temperature outside the home to be cooler than on the inside. In this instance, running the air conditioner can feel like a waste of energy. If only there was a way to get that cool outdoor air into the home… Read more

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The Benefits of a Variable-Speed Air Conditioner

Posted on July 18, 2017 by James Florence

Imagine if your car only drove at one speed, regardless of whether you were in town or on the freeway, or if your stereo only had a single volume setting that couldn’t be adjusted. Sounds awful, right? Well, when it comes to your air conditioner, you may be dealing with an equivalent situation. In fact, the air conditioners found in many Bay Area homes only have one setting: full blast. Not surprisingly, these relics of cooling technology aren’t exactly the epitome of energy efficiency.

Fortunately, there’s a better option available: the variable-speed air conditioner. Unlike its single-speed predecessors, a variable-speed unit is able to incrementally adjust its power output in conjunction with changing climate conditions—and that’s just the beginning. Read more

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Let the Sun Shine In: The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Window Washer

Posted on May 02, 2017 by James Florence

It’s May, which means the rainy season is finally over and Bay Area residents can look forward to clear, sunny skies for the foreseeable future. However, if your home’s windows are still caked with residue from the winter deluge, you won’t get the full effect of that soul-recharging solar radiance. Before you grab the Windex, consider a better option: hiring a professional window washing company. Here are a few reasons to leave your panes to the pros.

Superior tools and techniques
Window cleaning seems like something anyone can do, but few people actually know how to do it correctly. First, most homeowners lack the right tools, opting for paper towels, rags or newspapers to do the job. Read more

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Industry Spotlight: Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association

Posted on March 30, 2017 by Suzanne Carroll

PHCC logoThe Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) promotes the advancement and education of plumbing and HVAC professionals and advocates for improvements in public health and environmental safety. Since its founding in 1883, the PHCC has assisted in establishing an apprenticeship system, worked with lawmakers to enact sanitation regulations, helped develop improvements in plumbing fixtures and created educational programs to keep its members up-to-date on industry advancements. The association’s goal is to “become so relevant that PHCC contractors are the best choice for professionalism, reliable products and knowledgeable service.” Read more

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Midcentury Modern Design: A Conversation with J. Hettinger Interiors

Posted on March 23, 2017 by Jennifer Chan

Last fall, the New York Times called midcentury modern design “the decorating style that just won’t die.” Co.Design went a step further, calling it the pumpkin spice latte of interior design: a “tabula rasa that is easy to produce, easy to ship and difficult to object to.” It’s not surprising that the design media has grown weary writing about midcentury modern; after all, the style has been trending for at least a decade. However, these publications might not recognize that for those who live in small, urban spaces and value light, air, and the natural world in their homes, midcentury modern design may be more than just a fad. Read more

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Preparing for Next Year’s Taxes

Posted on January 18, 2017 by Suzanne Carroll

While the beautiful days of winter may be a tax season perk, the real prize comes once you’ve successfully prepared and submitted your tax return. If you’re going to receive a refund this year, congratulations! Now, let’s think about not only how to spend it, but how to spend it to maximize your refund next year. And if you’re not going to receive a refund this year, you may want to consider making some deductible expenditures.
Here are a few ideas:

  • Do you own a rental property? Any maintenance you spend on that property can be deducted. Is it time to re-paint or install new floors? Does it need a new water heater or a retaining wall?
  • Read more

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