Why a dehumidifier is a useful appliance to keep in a baby’s nursery

I love my little niece, Olivia. My sister, Alexis, just gave birth three months ago, and we playfully argue over whether Olivia looks more like me or her mother (I say she has my nose and my eyes!) But, although my niece sure is cute, she can be a handful, especially for Alexis, who has never had a baby before.

We were talking the other day when she let me know that baby Olivia was sick with a head cold. Alexis took her to the doctor, who told her that it in addition to administering her prescribed medicine, Alexis should think about purchasing a dehumidifier for her little baby's room.

Alexis thought she had purchased all the essential baby items before giving birth. I remember my wife telling me about shopping trips she took with my sister. They spent hours picking out baby clothes, crib bumpers and diaper genies. But, no one ever told Alexis that she should buy a dehumidifier for the baby's room.

In addition to her doctor's advice, I also told her about an internet article I read about how dehumidifiers can be a great addition to a baby's room. The article corroborated what the doctor said, which was that this appliance is so useful because it helps keep the air moist, so that a baby's nose doesn't get too dry. Another reason why dry air can aggravate a baby's head cold is because it can leave little ones congested instead of helping to clear out their nasal and sinus passages.

As soon as I finished my conversation with Alexis, she made the decision to go by one. She told me that the dehumidifier has been one of the best baby items she has purchased for Olivia yet. Little Olivia doesn't have a head cold anymore, which is helping her (and Alexis and her husband!) sleep much more soundly!

Alternative uses for an electric fan

One of the most useful appliances I have in my house is my electric fan. It was given to me by my brother, Mark, and over the years, it's moved to virtually every room of my house. One day, I started to do a little research because I wanted to see if my fan could be used for anything else.

I came across an article that opened my eyes to just how useful this appliance is. I used to think electric fans were just used for cooling down a house. Boy, was I wrong. Fans are also great appliances for clearing smoke out of a room.

When I read this, I immediately thought of my teenage daughter, Amanda, who likes to cook and frequently burns the cookies she bakes for me and her mom. Even though she has good intentions, our family kitchen usually fills up with smoke as a result of her cooking mishaps.

Amanda recently tried to make blondies and set the smoke detector off. I used the electric fan to move the smoke out the window, and before I knew it, my family and I were inhaling clean air again. Although sadly, Amanda's blondies could not be saved.

I've also used a fan to clear out other household smells. For example, I have an uncle who has a terrible smoking habit. Whenever Uncle Joe comes over, he asks if it's a problem if he lights up. After a few cigarettes, my home smells like a bar. This is particularly problematic for my wife, who has bad allergies. Instead of telling Uncle Joe that he couldn't smoke in our house anymore, I simply put an electric fan next to the window where he always sits. The smoke from his cigarettes is blown up the window by the fan.

Thanks to my incredibly useful electric fan, my family can stay cool and breathe easy, even with Uncle Joe there!

How to keep an air conditioning unit working throughout the summer

Summer will be here before we know it. That means, we can finally say hello to backyard barbecues, beach days and sunny weather. But, if you are like me, one thing that isn't so great about summer is the hot weather. Although over the years my family has purchased cooling appliances, like air conditioners and electric fans, there's nothing worse than coming into your home only to discover that the air conditioner is broken.

But, I spoke to my dad, Mark, who used to be an electrician. We were laughing about the days I used to call him and complain about how my air conditioner had broken once again. He used to ask me if I had taken good care of it, even when it wasn't in use during the cooler months of the year. I told him I thought I had. But, my dad quickly made me realize that there are some routine maintenance steps I should follow to make sure my air conditioner is working all year long.

First, my pops said it was best to change the unit's filters on a monthly basis. He said doing so would prevent too much dust and other debris from accumulating. Mark also told me that it was a good idea to keep some extra filters on hand, because during the summer, hardware stores are likely to sell out of them.

One tip that my dad gave me was that once a year, I should have an air conditioning technician come over and clean out the unit's drain (I know, I was surprised air conditioners have drains, too!) Apparently, these technicians have high-pressure vacuums that get rid of particles that are keeping air from flowing freely.

Church in Colorado makes changes to save energy

I love learning about new cultures and different religions. And one of the great things about living in such a diverse area of town is getting to know my neighbors, many of whom come from different countries all around the world.

I saw my neighbor, Peter, who was outside relaxing on his porch one morning and I decided to go over and talk to him and see how he and his family were doing and how they were adjusting to their new home.

Peter said everything was going well and he just spoke to his mom, Sue, who is a member who is a member of a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Colorado. Apparently, Sue was reading the Citizen Telegram one morning when she came across an article that talked about how another church of the same religious affiliation joined a clean energy challenge.

I was so surprised to hear this because normally, I think of schools and college dorms competing in these types of contests. Who knew that religious institutions did, too?

One of the most fascinating ways that this Seventh Day Adventist Church in Colorado was attempting to beat competitors was by trying to reduce its power consumption by lowering the building's programmable thermostat. Energy-efficient lighting was also installed.

Peter said that his mother was so intrigued and impressed by the article, that she is going to talk to her church's officials and see if members of the parish would be interested in partaking in a similar competition.

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked Pete if programmable thermostats used less energy than its manual counterparts. Pete, an electrician, told me that one of the benefits of manual thermostats was that they are cheaper and sometimes easier to operate and understand than their those that are programmable.

Wisconsin program delivers air conditioners to seniors in need

I love my grandmother, who is turning 100 in a couple weeks. But, since she doesn't live with my family or my folks, I worry that she doesn't have anyone to take care of her. Now that summer is nearing, I often ask myself, how will she keep cool? She doesn't own an air conditioning and doesn't know how to fix an electric fan if hers breaks.

One night, I was relaying these concerns to my sister, Jan, when she told me I shouldn't get myself all worked up. Apparently, my granny told her about a very interesting article in her local paper, the Gazette Extra.

My sister said that my grandma told her that the article discussed a new program in Beloit, Wisconsin, which is near her hometown, that was donating used and new air conditioning units to low-income seniors in an effort to prevent heat-related illnesses.

I told Jan how happy it made to me to know the people, just like our grandma, were being watched over by caring members of the community. During the conversation with Jan, I began to wonder how the elderly qualified for an air conditioner. My sister told me that because these appliances are in such high demand, older men and women had to have a doctor's note saying they had a medical condition. But, Jan told me that despite this requirement, around 250 people were given air conditioning units in the past 10 years!

Although Granny's town has yet to have this type of generous program, I got me thinking that I might want to start something similar so that I can rest assure that the special lady in my life stays healthy and cool this summer.

Fire in Illinois caused by broken dehumidifier

I think dehumidifiers are one of the most useful appliances in my house. I've used my dehumidifier to help keep my allergies at bay and to prevent mold from growing in the "problem" rooms of my house, like my bathroom. But, while talking to my neighbor, Jim, I realized just how important it is to take precaution when using this appliance.

Jim told me that while talking to his mother, Nancy, on the phone, she told him about a fire that took place in her hometown of Canton, Illinois, as a result of a malfunctioning dehumidifier. Apparently, Nancy was reading the paper one day when she came across the article in the Canton Daily Ledger.

Nancy told Jim that the fire occurred March 21 around one in the afternoon. I was so surprised to hear this, because I normally think of fires occurring early in the morning when people are asleep.

Nancy also told Jim that when the fire rescue team arrived to the single-family residence, the smoke was so thick that there was no visibility! I can't even begin to imagine how scary that must have been. Jim said that after looking around the house, the firefighters finally discovered that the cause of the fire – a malfunctioning dehumidifier – was located in the basement.

Jim told me that thankfully, there were no injuries. But, just hearing that story reinforced how dangerous everyday appliances can be – if you don't use them properly, of course. Jim's brother, who is an electrician, told me that one of the simplest ways to prevent fires like the one that took place in Canton is to check the condition of my dehumidifier frequently. He said it may be a good idea to replace the appliance if there are any wires exposed or other parts that are broken. idea to replace the appliance if there are any wires exposed or other parts that are broken.

How to clean an electric heater

The warmer weather may be fast approaching, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good idea to take care of appliances we typically use during colder months. Trust me, I waited to clean my electric heater until I needed to use it in December only to find out all the grime and dirt it had accumulated in my attic caused it to malfunction.

I decided that I would dedicate a small chunk of time one weekend to cleaning my heater so that it would work properly next time I needed to use it. I spoke to my wife's father, Rob, a former electrician, and he gave me some tips that were so helpful and easy, I thought they needed to be shared.

Rob told me that before we even gotten started, I needed to unplug the heater. Next, we took one of my wife's damp cleaning rags and wiped off the surface dust on the top, bottom and sides of the appliance.

Then, we detached the grill of my heater by unscrewing the bolts. We used another moist rag to wipe off the residue that was inside the appliance. Rob told me that it was important that the inside of the machine not get too wet. He told me if it did, it would be a good idea to let it air dry before reattaching the front piece.

To be extra sure that no dirt was left behind in the heater, Rob helped me vacuum out dirt and debris from inside. We completed the process by reattaching the front grill piece. I couldn't believe how simple it was to clean my heater. Before Rob's advice, I thought I'd have to buy a new appliance or have it professionally cleaned.

It's great knowing that I can be sure my winter appliances will work as they should once summer is over!

How to clean a dehumidifier

One of the best appliances in my family's home is our dehumidifier. But, what really gets on my nerves is when it becomes dirty. There's dust that seems to accumulate all over the thing from time-to-time. I used to get so angry, I'd want to curse it. But, I spoke with my cousin, John, who is an electrician, and he shared some useful tips on how to clean a dehumidifier. I thought I'd share his advice, so readers don't get as frustrated as I have in the past.

First, John stressed the importance of cleaning out the water at least twice a month. To do this, he said to detach the water container, dump out the fluid and replace it with fresh water. Then, my cousin recommended I use a moist cloth to get rid of particles or minerals that were left behind in the container.

Next, John advised that I take out the air filter and see if I should replace it. He said I should check out the instruction manual, which would let me know if it was time to buy a new one.

Then, John helped me out by showing me how to clean the mold, dust and other particles that were collecting on the dehumidifier's coils. He said that filthy coils are often the main reason why these appliances malfunction.

Then, my cousin and and I wiped off the blades, which he said was a necessary step in cleaning my dehumidifier. After that, we were ready to reattach all the pieces, such as the water container.

I couldn't believe how easy it was to clean this appliance. It only took a matter of minutes before I was ready to start using our family's dehumidifier again. The timing was especially perfect because other local weatherman  predicted the pollen levels were going to be sky high the following day!

How to clean your electric fan

During the hot summer months, there is nothing like sitting in front of my electric fan with a delicious glass of lemonade after a job outside. The cool air blowing in my face makes me feel like I'm relaxing on a beach somewhere in some exotic location. However, one thing that really bugs me is when I turn on my electric fan and dust comes out instead of fresh air.

I knew the reason this was happening was because I had stored this appliance upstairs in my attic during the winter months. My friend David advised me that I should periodically take a few minutes to clean it every week, but I never listened to him. When I took it down a few days ago, it made me realize why I should have heeded my buddy's advice.

After conducting research online, I finally found an easy way to clean our electric fan. These tips are simple, and only require a few household tools. If you need to give your fan a good cleaning, you can avoid frustration by following this method.

Before you begin, remember to turn off and unplug the fan. Then, unscrew the front grill of your electric fan. This may seem intimidating for people that aren't familiar with tools. But, don't worry, it's simple as pie. Most phillips head screwdriver will open this appliance right up.

Once you've detached the grill, dunk the blades in a container filled with soapy, warm water. Make sure that after you've done this, you thoroughly dry the blades using a rag or old t-shirt. Examine each blade to make sure the grime has come off the electric fan. If it has, you can re-attach the grill. Take that same rag and go over the outside of the appliance, including the buttons.

Plug in the fan and turn it on. In almost no time, your electric fan should be working as well as the first day you bought it!

How to select the perfect sized air conditioner unit

For most of us, selecting home appliances isn't very fun, but it's necessary for taking care of a home. Believe me, I'd rather have been outside enjoying the warm weather this weekend, but I knew it'd be better if I finally figured out the right air conditioner to purchase before the upcoming summer heatwave hits.

So, to help me pick the right size air conditioner, I enlisted by next door neighbor, Benjamin, who is also an electrician.

To start, he said it was a good idea for me to measure the volume of the room I wanted the air conditioning unit in. I hate it when my bedroom gets too hot, so I decided I would install it in there. To figure out the volume, Benjamin said to multiply the length of the room by the height. Once you have that number, multiply that by the width of the room.

After calculating the volume of your room, Ben told me to figure out which wall in the room is most exposed to nature's elements. We determined this to be east, and so I multiplied the volume of my room by 17. A calculator on my phone helped me with the calculations because I am a just terrible at math!

The last step we took involved evaluating my home's insulation. I rated it as "excellent," and so I divided the number I got above by six. This final number that I calculated told me approximately how many BTU's my air conditioning unit should have. Ben told me that the more BTU's an appliance has, the bigger the room it can cool.

A few simple calculations and a little bit of placement helped me figure out the perfect size air conditioning unit. Now my bedroom can stay cool during those hot summer days!