Ideas for Turning a Room Into an At-Home Office

The COVID-19 pandemic turned many professionals into remote workers. Use these tips to create a functional home office. 

The COVID-19 pandemic turned a lot of professionals into remote workers, and it looks like many of us are going to stay that way for a while. Some companies are discovering that a remote workforce is more productive and cost effective, and lots of employees are discovering that working from home isn’t so bad. 

If your work from home situation is starting to look like it might be more permanent than it initially seemed, then it’s time to stop working at the kitchen table. You need a home office. Ideally, you have a spare room you can dedicate to your work, but if not, an attic, basement or even a large closet can be converted into a perfectly suitable home office. Here are some tips to turn whatever room you have available into a home office.

Use as Much, or as Little, Space as You Have

A spare bedroom is the best location for a home office — it’s out of the way, has a door you can close, should have several outlets and probably has windows for natural light. It might even have a ceiling fan and a closet for extra storage. If you’re using your spare bedroom as a guest bedroom, you don’t have to sacrifice that — your spare room can be a home office most of the time and a guest bedroom as needed. If the room is small, install a Murphy bed and use a floating console desk, rather than a clunky piece of furniture.

An attic or basement can also work, particularly if you need a larger space for more than one person to work from home. But you don’t need a whole spare bedroom or a spacious attic to create a private, dedicated home office space. Many large closets can accommodate slim-profile desks or floating desks, with floating shelves above for storage. When you’re done with work for the day, simply shut the door. 

Don’t Sacrifice Ergonomics

One of the most common tips for working from home is that you shouldn’t ignore ergonomics. When choosing a space for a home office, make sure you have room for a properly sized desk (at least 29 inches tall), and a comfortable, adjustable-height office chair, preferably one with casters, adjustable armrests and an adjustable seat pan tilt. If you splurge on one item in your home office, it should be the chair — you’re going to be spending a lot of time in it, after all. A chair without the proper support could cause pain and repetitive stress injuries.

Of course, sitting all the time isn’t good for you, either. A standing desk is a good option, and they’re available at a range of price points. A desk that easily converts from sitting to standing offers the best of both worlds.

Consider Who Will Be Using the Space — And How

Are you the only person who will be working from home, or do you have a spouse who also needs a home office? You might choose a desk large enough to accommodate two people, although you’ll need a room with double the space — like an attic or finished basement, or even a garage

Consider how much time you’ll be spending in your home office, too. Do you work long hours? If so, you’ll want a larger desk and a more comfortable chair, then.

Shed Some Light on the Situation

Indirect light is important in any office setting. Natural light is best, if you have a space that offers it, but you should use curtains or blinds to diffuse it and arrange your desk so that natural light sources don’t cause a glare on your screen. Install an overhead light fixture or add lamps that aren’t directly in your line of sight or right behind you to provide any additional light you might need.

Adjust Your Internet Speed

If you’re going to be working from home, you need to make sure that your internet is fast and reliable. Obviously, there will most likely be an additional cost to increase your internet speed. If that’s the case, it’s worth checking with your employer to see if they will cover the difference or the entirety of the charge. And while you might think your current bandwidth can do the job, remember that if you have multiple people working from home and children doing schoolwork, your normal internet speed probably won’t hold up.  

Install More Outlets

No matter what space you choose for your new home office, you’re probably going to need more electrical outlets. You might also need a hardwired Ethernet connection and other data cabling for your equipment. Take the time now to install the outlets and data cabling infrastructure your new home office needs, so your work hours can pass smoothly and with minimal interruptions.

Working from home definitely has its perks. For one thing, you can’t beat the commute! With a home warranty plan from American Home Shield®, you can protect the systems that make it possible for you to work from home. Try adding electronics coverage to your warranty to protect an unlimited number of eligible electronics, including your laptop, printer, scanner and other devices you might need in your home office.

Home Maintenance Projects New Homeowners Might Not Know About

Content Provided By: American Home Shield

Being a new homeowner is exciting. It can also be stressful with new tasks to take care of. Here is a list of maintenance projects to keep up with.

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Performing regular home maintenance is a huge part of homeownership. It might not be fun — at least, it might not always be fun — but it’s necessary if you want to protect your investment and keep your home in good shape.

The problem for new homeowners is that there are just so many maintenance tasks to keep track of. Even the most detailed home maintenance checklist is bound to leave some off, and with advances in technology and individual differences between homes, your well-meaning older relatives may not even be aware of every single maintenance chore homeowners need to do these days. 

Besides, some home maintenance chores are easier to remember than others. Everyone knows that you need to clean your gutters a couple of times a year, but when was the last time you cleaned your window weep holes, repaired your weather sealing or lubed up your garage door springs? Here are the house maintenance chores that new homeowners not only overlook, but don’t even know about. 

Clean Window Weep Holes

Weep holes are a row of tiny, tiny holes on the outside bottom of your window frame. They’re there to, well, weep. What does that mean? While new windows with tight seals should keep water out entirely, weep holes are there to allow any water that does get inside the window frame to drain properly. But these holes are tiny, and debris can easily build up in them, so it’s important to clean them every six months or so. You can use a pin or paper clip to pick the debris out. To make sure they’re clear, spray water onto your window and check to make sure it leaks out. If it doesn’t, it means one of two things: the weep holes are still clogged, or they’re currently redundant due to a watertight seal around your windows.

Flush the Water Heater

Are you hearing any mysterious banging sounds from your water heater? If so, it’s time to flush it — and fast.

The water in your water heater tank contains minerals that can settle out of the water and build up in the bottom of the tank. If not flushed regularly, these deposits can cause the tank to deteriorate much faster than it otherwise would have. Failing to flush your water heater can shorten its life drastically, which is bad news since replacing a water heater can be hundreds of dollars or more. Flush your water heater once a year and replace the anode rod every five years.

Check and Repair Weather Sealing

A little peeling caulk around a window frame isn’t that big of a deal, is it? On the contrary, poor weather sealing around windows and doors creates drafts, which can lead to increased energy costs, and bad caulk around windows could let water seep into your walls and damage the structure of your home. If you don’t keep an eye on your weather sealing, you could end up with extensive structural damage to the walls and floors of your home.

Check for damage to caulk or rubber seals around your windows twice a year. Repair damaged caulk or rubber sealing, and if you see damage, check for water damage to the wood of your window frames and repair that, too, if you find any.

Clean Your Chimney

If you use a fireplace for heat or ambiance, you need to get your chimney cleaned yearly to remove creosote that could cause fires. Even if you don’t have a working fireplace, you should still get the chimney cleaned regularly. Birds or other animals could get inside of it, build nests, access your house, or die in there and stink up the place. If you’re not planning to use your fireplace, you should have the chimney capped.

Vacuum Your Refrigerator Condenser Coils

Your refrigerator uses condenser coils to remove heat from the inside of the unit, but if they’re covered with dust, pet hair and other debris, they can’t do their job as efficiently. That’s why you should pull your fridge out from the wall and vacuum the condenser coils or wipe them off with a clean dust cloth every few months. Doing so could extend the life of one of your most expensive and necessary appliances — because if the condenser coils go out, the cost of a repair is going to be so high that it’ll make more sense to just buy a new fridge. 

When you’re a new homeowner, it’s hard to keep track of all the house maintenance chores you need to perform throughout the year. A home maintenance checklist is a great tool to help you keep your home in shape. Stay tuned to the blog to get advice on home repairs, maintenance, and improvements.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Pool Safe All Summer

Content Provided By: American Home Shield

With summer already here, your pool will probably get more use. Keeping everyone safe while they cool have and have fun in your pool should be made a priority. Use these tips to make your pool safer this summer.

Nothing says summer like splashing around in the pool. But while a backyard pool can be the source of many wonderful family memories, it can also pose a hazard to your children or any children who live nearby. That’s why pool safety is so important.

As a responsible homeowner, you should take steps to keep kids away from your pool when you’re not there to supervise their swimming session. Follow these tips to help keep your pool safe all season long – you can never be too careful when it comes to kids around water.

1. Put Up a Fence Around Your Pool Area

If you have young children at home, you need to be extra cautious to keep them safe from the drowning hazard a pool can present. You should supervise your kids at all times, especially when they’re in and around the pool area. Putting up an isolation fence is a great way to keep your kids from getting into the pool or hot tub behind your back.

A good isolation fence is at least four feet high and surrounds both the pool and the spa, if you have one. It shouldn’t have any protrusions that make it easy for kids to climb over, nor should it have any gaps or openings that kids can squeeze through. Gates should have child-safe latches that are high enough that kids can’t reach them. The gap under the bottom of the fence should be less than four inches high.

Even if you don’t have kids at home, an isolation fence around your pool and hot tub can save the life of someone else’s child. In many jurisdictions, pools are considered an attractive nuisance because neighborhood kids often succumb to the temptation to break into them for some unsanctioned swimming. Fencing in your pool area can protect neighborhood children and may protect you from legal liability.

2. Install Pool Alarms

A fence is a great idea, but lots of kids are little geniuses when it comes to getting around barriers. Locks, child-safe latches and alarms can all help alert you if your little one gets through any of the doors, gates or windows that lead to the pool area. Every such access point, including pet doors if they are large enough for a child, should be equipped with locks and alarms. You should hear a warning every time a gate, door or window that leads to the pool area opens. A sonar or floating alarm that alerts you when someone or something enters the water is also a good idea.

If your home forms one side of the barrier around your pool area, make sure the windows, doors, gates and locks are not only alarmed, but also self-closing and self-latching. Alarms should reset automatically after someone passes through. Check your pool alarms every month to make sure they’re working properly.

Girls in pool with pool safety floats

3. Keep Up with Pool Repairs

Missing or broken drain covers in your pool or hot tub can present a drowning hazard because young children can get sucked down or trapped in them. Install anti-entrapment drain covers in your pool and spa. If you do DIY pool maintenance, part of your routine should include checking these drain covers to make sure they’re present and in good working order. If you’re having your pool serviced, ask about updating your drains with anti-entrapment covers. Take advantage of your home warranty pool and spa coverage to help keep your pumps and pump components in good working order.

Your pool or spa should have two drains for every pump, because that way, suction from the drains will be less powerful, even if one drain gets blocked. Equip single-drain pools and spas with safety vacuum-release systems, which automatically stop suction if the drain gets blocked.

Finally, exercise good pool safety when preparing your children to swim – tie long hair back or put it under a bathing cap, avoid loose-fitting suits or those with dangling ties and tell your kids not to play near the pool drains.

4. Cover Your Pool When You’re Not Using It

If at all possible, you should cover your pool with a rigid safety cover when you’re not using it. A motorized cover is best for this because you should cover your pool any time you’re not using it, even during pool season. If you use a cover, make sure it fits snugly over the entire pool surface and that children or pets can’t get underneath or trapped in it. If you’re using an inflatable pool, empty it after each use – kids can drown in as little as an inch of water, and you’ll want to use fresh water for each swimming session, anyway.

5. Be Prepared for the Worst

While you might not want to think about your child drowning in your backyard pool, you should be prepared to call 911 if something goes wrong. Keep a phone nearby when you’re using the pool so you can call for help if you need it. Learning CPR can be lifesaving, because the most important thing you can do to save your child’s life if he or she starts to drown is remove him or her from the water and start performing CPR immediately. Familiarize yourself with the signs of drowning – it may not be as obvious as you’d think. And keep a life preserver and a shepherd’s hook near the pool so you can quickly rescue a drowning child or pet.

There’s no reason why you and your family shouldn’t enjoy long summer afternoons in and around the pool, but pool safety should be a top priority when you do so. Moreover, don’t let a broken pool ruin your summer. Have a plan and be prepared for unexpected breakdowns with a pool and spa pump warranty plan from American Home Shield®. 

HomeOwners Plus – Star City Heating & Cooling

Star City_Blog post

Guest Post by: Star City Heating & Cooling

Star City Heating and Cooling is an independently owned Trane Comfort Specialist company specializing in the design, sale, installation, service, and maintenance of heating and air conditioning equipment, zoning, humidifiers, duct cleaning, and air purification systems for residential and commercial markets. Although we offer many services, we don’t just believe in selling a product or service, we believe in providing positive experiences that begin in the office that follows through to the service call and beyond.

Preventative Maintenance

A well-known fact within the HVAC industry is that regular maintenance is the most effective way to keep your heating and cooling system safe, strong, and efficient. One of the ways we provide the best value for our clients is through our unique VIP Maintenance Program. In hopes of encouraging home-owners to be proactive in caring for their heating and cooling investment, our VIP program not only offers year-round benefits but also includes two 50-point maintenance appointments.

Indoor Air Quality

The focus of building new homes and business is on energy efficiency, which causes indoor air to be tightly sealed in, causing 100 times more pollution than outside air. For this reason, higher quality filtration is of utmost importance to create a better fight against pollutants to create healthier air quality. Poor filtration will keep cycling the allergens, dust and bacteria back into the air, while proper filtration will stop the contaminants from entering back into the air. Other determining factors of air quality include temperature, humidity, and microbial contamination levels. For air quality improvements, consider upgrading to a Trane CleanEffects filter, utilizing our duct cleaning services, incorporating a humidifier and air scrubber, and regularly checking and cleaning filters. For more information on our product and services to help improve your indoor air quality give us a call or visit our website.

Community Involvement

In 2010 we wanted to show our gratitude for the loyalty Lincoln and Lancaster County residents have provided, in-turn, Lincoln’s first annual furnace giveaway was born. The Warming Your Home for the Holidays Furnace Giveaway is a nomination process for homeowners who need a helping hand, or have helped others to be placed into a selection pool to receive a new furnace. Seeing a positive response from our community, we branched out and began quarterly volunteer opportunities and sponsorships with different nonprofits by starting our Community Outreach Program.

If you know of a non-profit looking for corporate partnerships, tell them about our outreach program, or contact us; we’re always looking for new opportunities.”

Contact us today

For over 30 years, Star City Heating & Cooling has been establishing strong relationships by continuously exceeding our customers’ expectations with quality work built on a firm foundation of team values:

Trustworthiness               Integrity                             Honesty                 Communication           Reliability                          Determination                  Adaptability

We look forward to working with you to improve your indoor environment. Give us a call for a company you can rely on, we’re always ready to build new relationships.

Fill the Mayflower this month

Fill the MayflowerSelect Van & Storage is our Home Owners Plus featured vendor for the month of November. Select Van GUARANTEES to accommodate your clients unique needs and scheduling to ensure little to no hassle.  An award winning Mayflower Agent, we are committed to exceeding your clients’ expectations.  We offer move planning expertise, detailed move time lines, competitive pricing options, skilled professional crews, fully background checked employees, no job too large or small, and specialized industrial moving equipment and vans.  A family owned company for over 65 years moving people locally and long distance.

In addition to providing top quality moving services, Select Van is an active member in supporting the Lincoln community. Join Woods Bros Realty and Select Van as we “Fill the Mayflower” full of canned goods to support the People City Mission. Mayflower trucks will be located at the Super Saver locations at 56th and Highway 2 as well as 27th and Cornhusker Friday November 20th from 4:00 – 6:30 PM and Saturday, November 21st from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Canned goods and other non-perishable donations are welcome.

Please come out in support of our Lincoln community and help those who need it most. Read more about the People’s City Mission.

 

Exceeding Customer’s Expectations

Star City Heating and Cooling’s main priority is exceeding our customer’s expectations through quality work and integral work ethics. Our second priority is elevating our technicians to higher skill levels through educational opportunities and technological advancements. Since Star City Heating and Cooling has been Lincoln’s Comfort Specialist Company for over 30 years, it’s important that we keep supporting our clients and community the way we have been supported by them. When we go into a client’s home we go in with the same respect for their home and needs as we do for our own.

One of our most valuable ways of providing the best for our clients is through our VIP Maintenance Plan. We designed this program to encourage homeowner’s to take proper preventative measures to care for their heating and cooling systems. It’s a well-known fact within our industry that maintenance is the number one way to keep HVAC systems safe, strong, efficient, and properly working. We designed the VIP plan to be full of specialized benefits and discounts that are valid for a full year on top of a discounted rate of two seasonal maintenance appointments. As a VIP, clients are able to save money all year long.

Because Lancaster County has been our foundation of support, we created a way to support those who make up this great place. In 2010, Star City Heating and Cooling began Lincoln’s first annual Warming Your Home for the Holidays, Furnace Giveaway. Since then, various local HVAC companies have also begun their own furnace giveaways, which is rewarding to know that we’ve also had a greater influence within our industry. Our Warming Your Home for the Holidays furnace giveaway is implemented during the Christmas season to generate a way for Home-owners who need a helping hand or have helped others, to be nominated to receive a new furnace. For us, the most rewarding parts of this program are building the relationship with the individuals involved, and the positive outcomes.

After the furnace giveaway began we expanded our community support by creating partnerships with various local nonprofits. Our current one is with Men With Dreams (MWD), a nonprofit organization that incorporates educational assistance, fitness, mentorship, family support, and guidance by providing experiences and goal setting to help elementary through high school students exceed their goals. Our intention with these partnerships are to generate a broader impact on the lives we work with by helping these organizations fulfill their needs.

Now that you are aware of our company motives, remember us as your go-to provider for all your HVAC needs. We are proud to offer expert design, installation, zoning, duct cleaning, maintenance, and repair services for residential and commercial sites. We have additional products as well to keep indoor climates clean, safe, and comfortable. If you are looking for a dependable and integral company devoted to efficient, high quality service, give us a call. We not only work for our families, but we work for our client’s as well.

Angela McRoberts

Client Outreach Coordinator

 

Star City Heating & Cooling

4810 N. 57th  Lincoln, Ne 68507
angela@starcityair.com

402-464-7827

starcityair.com 

Find us on Facebook/starcityair.com

StarCity

 

Interested in becoming a Home Owners Plus vendor and having exposure to all HomeServices agents in Lincoln? Call 402-437-7600 or visit www.homeownersplus.net 

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