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The Best Wood For Your Wood Stove & Fireplace

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Nov 30, 2017


Here is a gas fireplace made to look like a wood fireplace.  If you have a wood fireplace than deciding which type of wood works best is something to think about.

Are you excited to use your wood stove or fireplace for the first time this year? If so, then it's important to have the right kind of wood ready to go. This week, I've got some tips for getting the most out of your wood stove or fireplace this winter. Enjoy!

Long-Burning Wood

Walnut, hard maple, birch, and oak are all examples of hardwoods. Hardwoods burn slowly and are the best choice for your wood stove or fireplace. They also burn very hot, providing more than enough heat to your home. Because of its great qualities, hardwood is usually more expensive than softwood.

Fast-Burning Wood

Cedar, spruce, pine, and balsam are all examples of softwood. This type of wood burns fast, leaving behind a fine layer of ash. This ash can quickly start to build up as creosote in your chimney. Though softwood is less expensive than hardwood, it is less desirable.

Wood With a Delightful Fragrance

Some types of wood create a lovely fragrance when burning in a fireplace or wood stove. I think the best part of having a fireplace or wood stove is watching the glowing flames. But a wonderful scent in the air makes the experience extra-special. For example, yew has an appealing fragrance when burned in a stove or fireplace. Plus, it's slow-burning, so you have more time to enjoy it. Though pine is a quick-burning wood, it offers you a pleasant fragrance. Other fragrant woods include apple, birch, and cherry.

What Types of Wood Should You Avoid?

Avoid putting wood with paint or varnish on it into your fireplace or wood stove. This can release toxic fumes when burned. Keep in mind that greenwood has a lot of moisture and provides little to no heat. Plywood, particle board, and pressboard are other types of wood that shouldn't be burned in your fireplace or wood stove.

Tips for Drying Wood

Whether it's hardwood or softwood, the wood you put into your fireplace or wood stove must be dry. Any piece of wood should contain less than 20 percent moisture. You can stack wood to dry it, making sure that you allow the proper amount of airflow between the pieces. Get a hand-held moisture meter from a hardware store to gauge the progress of the drying process. Be sure to factor in that it takes about one year of drying time for each inch of wood thickness.

Operating Your Fireplace or Wood Stove Efficiently

The overall efficiency of your wood stove depends on a lot of factors. In order to be efficient, your wood stove must be installed the right way as well as receive regular maintenance. A buildup of creosote in the chimney of your wood stove can be a fire hazard as well as decrease the efficiency of your stove. It's a smart idea to call a certified chimney sweep to get your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year. Your fireplace should also be inspected/cleaned once a year to get rid of accumulating creosote. Sweep the ashes out of your wood stove or fireplace to keep them from piling up and creating a fire hazard. And burn hardwood instead of softwood in your wood stove or fireplace to enjoy the highest degree of heat in your home.

Remember to be safe as you warm up your home this winter. Thanks for reading. - Alan with Alan's Factory Outlet

Topics: best wood for your fireplace

Winter Is Coming: Tips To Winterize Your Shed

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Nov 20, 2017


Preparing your shed for the winter months can help keep your tools, equipment, and shed itself in good condition. Plus, winterizing your shed can make it a more comfortable place to spend time during the cold weather. Look at a few winterization tips for your shed, garage, or barn to make sure you're ready before the snow flies!

Seven Tips for Winterizing Your Shed

  1. Sweep Out the Debris. Give your shed a thorough sweep to remove the dead insects, leaves, dirt, twigs, and other debris. Be sure to move the tools and other items out of the corners to reach every inch of the floor. Sweeping debris out of your shed removes the material mice, squirrels, and other rodents may use to build a winter home in your structure.
  2. Apply Weather Stripping. Close the door of your shed and run your fingers around its border. Do you feel air leaking through? If so, get some weather stripping and apply it around your door. This is an easy DIY project that takes less than 30 minutes. Be sure to check your windows for leaks around the edges and apply weather stripping if needed. Preventing air and moisture from entering your shed or garage can prevent mildew from forming and tools from rusting. Plus, it's more pleasant to work in your shed without the cold breezes blowing in on you.
  3. Check the Bottom Seal on the Garage Door. You can keep freezing air from blowing into your garage by replacing the bottom seal on the garage door. This seal can become worn and begin to crack or tear away. Give the seal a visual inspection, then close the door and put your hand near its base to see if any air is coming through. The process of replacing the bottom seal is easy, and you can find a replacement at any hardware store.
  4. Remove Debris Around the Exterior of the Structure. Take a walk around your shed, garage, or barn to look for piles of sticks, leaves, grass clippings, or fallen logs that are close to the exterior walls. If you find any of this type of debris, remove it. Depending on how much debris you find, this task could take you 30 minutes to an hour. Removing this debris discourages squirrels, mice, insects, and other pests from building homes near your shed and possibly gaining access to the structure.
  5. Clean and Organize Gardening Equipment and Tools. Taking some time this month to clean and organize rakes, hoses, shovels, spades, and other similar items means they will be ready to use in the springtime. Unhook your garden hose from the outdoor spigot and empty the water out of it. Then, coil it and hang it in on a wall hook inside your shed. Get a spray bottle of water, a bottle of mild soap, a sponge, and a rag to clean your rakes, shovels, and spades. Make sure they are completely dry before neatly arranging them in a corner. Cover the tools with a tarp to prevent dust from settling on them.
  6. Clear Out Old, Unwanted Items. If you have items such as dried-out cans of paint, broken or rusted tools, empty containers, or outdated seed packets, dispose of them to make more room in your shed or garage. Use the newly cleared space to start a project to work on over the winter.
  7. Store Organic Items. If you have soil, mulch, seeds, or other organic items in your shed or garage, put them in waterproof bags for the winter. This can prevent mildew, mold, and other damage that would ruin the contents. Plus, I would store any dog food, horse grain, or other food you have in metal garbage cans with lids. This makes it practically impossible for mice and other rodents to get into your pet's food supply.

Good luck as you prepare your shed for winter! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: winterize your shed

18 Things You Never Knew About Thanksgiving

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 14, 2017


With thanksgiving and winter getting closer is it the right time to start thinking about buying a metal rv cover for your motorhome?

Do you look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving each November? It's such a pleasure to see a table full of delicious turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and other traditional favorites. More importantly, Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate our freedoms and enjoy time with loved ones. I think of Thanksgiving as a day to relax and remember all of our blessings. You may think you know everything there is to know about Thanksgiving, but do you? Here are some facts about Thanksgiving that may surprise you.

18 Things You Never Knew About Thanksgiving

  1. Sixteen pounds is the average weight of a turkey purchased in the United States for Thanksgiving dinner.
  2. Do you like green bean casserole? You're not alone: More than 40 million green bean casseroles are put on dinner tables every Thanksgiving.
  3. Fifty percent of Americans like to cook Thanksgiving stuffing on the side, while the other 50 percent like to put it in the turkey.
  4. The cranberries we eat today were originally known as crane berries. The pink blossoms and drooping head of this plant reminded pilgrims of a crane.
  5. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate foil packets of roasted turkey in space after walking on the moon.
  6. The very first Thanksgiving celebration took place over three days. Hey, I think we should bring this tradition back. Are you with me?
  7. Thanksgiving turkeys led to the birth of TV dinners. In 1953, the Swanson company had an abundance of turkey left over from the holiday, so they decided to sell it in aluminum foil trays alongside a helping of sweet potatoes and other delicious sides.
  8. A turkey is taken to the White House every year to receive an official pardon from the president. That lucky turkey doesn't end up on the dinner table.
  9. The first Thanksgiving didn't include turkey: The pilgrims ate deer, fish and geese.
  10. President Abraham Lincoln set the official holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth week of November.
  11. If you live in California, you live in the state where the most Thanksgiving turkeys are eaten.
  12. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the heaviest turkey on record weighed in at 86 pounds.
  13. After the first Thanksgiving, it took 200 years for this celebration to become a national holiday.
  14. Find the wishbone of your Thanksgiving turkey, dry it, and get a friend to pull the other side of it. It's said that the person who ends up with the largest piece of the bone will have good luck.
  15. The largest number of turkeys are produced in Minnesota.
  16. In America, 91 percent of households eat turkey for Thanksgiving. That's a lot of delicious leftovers!
  17. More than 42 million Americans travel 50 miles or more to visit relatives on Thanksgiving.
  18. You probably could guess that mashed potatoes and stuffing are the two most popular side dishes on Thanksgiving. The third is macaroni and cheese. Mac and cheese is especially popular in the southern states.

Regardless of what foods you like on your Thanksgiving Day table, I hope you and your family have a fun holiday. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: 18 Things about Thanksgiving

How To Choose The Right Rescue Dog For Your Family

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Nov 6, 2017


October is the month for pumpkins, treats, and goblins. But did you know that it's also Adopt a Shelter Dog Month? Dogs end up in animal shelters for a lot of reasons. Some dogs are found on the streets and never reclaimed by their owners, while other dogs are brought in by people who can't keep them anymore. Most rescue dogs are accustomed to living in a home with a family. This makes them perfect for many households. This week, I've put together some tips to help you and your family choose the right shelter dog for your household.

Consider the Energy Level of the Dog

Some breeds are known for having a high energy level, while others are more sedate. This makes it essential to conduct research on the dog breeds you are interested in. If you have kids who love to go on walks and play in the yard, then you may want a rambunctious, high-energy dog like a terrier mix or a border collie mix. Alternatively, if you want a dog that's content to hang around the house all day, you're likely to lean more toward a basset hound or a bulldog mix. Choose a dog breed that fits with the tone of your household.

A Puppy or a Dog?

There is no question that most puppies are very cute. But if you adopt a puppy, you'll have to housebreak it. Plus, no matter the breed, most puppies are always ready to play, and they are known to chew things and get into mischief. It's smart to take these things into account before choosing to adopt a puppy. On the other hand, many families want a puppy so they can have a pet that grows up alongside their children. But an adult dog is likely to be housetrained and more mature than a puppy. Also, some people adopt adult dogs because they want a dog with an established personality.

Ask Shelter Volunteers About the Dogs

Most shelter volunteers are experts on the dogs they care for. If you see a dog you like, ask a volunteer about its temperament, its energy level, its overall health, and whether it likes children or other animals. Most volunteers will be happy to help so they can see every dog go to a good home. I suggest that you ask the volunteer to accompany you as you take the dog outdoors to see how it acts outside of the shelter environment.

Consider the Other Pets in Your Household

If you have a cat or another dog in your household, be sure to take them into account before adopting another dog. Choosing a dog that gets along well with other animals is critical. Some shelters even allow you to bring your dog in to meet the dog you want to adopt.

Don't Make a Quick Decision

If you see a dog trembling in the back of its cage or one that doesn't come over when you call it, you may be tempted to move on down the row of cages. But think about how scary it can be in a noisy shelter surrounded by strangers. Ask a volunteer about the dog and its personality. A dog that seems shy or unfriendly in a shelter may flourish in a loving home.

If you want to add a dog to your household, I hope you adopt one. Shelter dogs are not lesser animals; they're just looking for a fresh start with a new family. Thanks for reading. - Alan at Alan's Factory Outlet

Topics: rescue dog

15 Fun Facts About Pumpkins

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Oct 26, 2017


Now that we are partway through October, you're probably seeing more pumpkins around your neighborhood, at the farmers' market, or even piled up in front of the local grocery store. There's a good chance you're going to grab a few pumpkins for your family this fall: Maybe you'll carve a few jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween or put aside some as décor for your Thanksgiving dinner table. No matter how you use your pumpkins, there are some facts about these friendly signs of autumn that you may not know. This week, I found some fun facts about pumpkins that may surprise you. Enjoy!

15 Fun Facts About Pumpkins

  1. Full Moon, Jack-Be-Quick, La Estrella, and Old Zebs are just a few examples of the 45-plus varieties of pumpkins. There is even a white pumpkin called Cotton Candy.
  2. The pumpkin capital of the world is Morton, Illinois, and 95% of the pumpkins grown in our country come from Illinois.
  3. A pumpkin can contain about 500 seeds. The average pumpkin provides approximately one cup of seeds.
  4. In 2016, a Belgian man grew a pumpkin weighing a record-setting 2,625 pounds!
  5. Sometimes, pumpkins are mistakenly categorized as vegetables, but actually, pumpkins are fruit. They are a type of squash.
  6. Pumpkins were once used to get rid of freckles and treat snakebites.
  7. Pumpkin pie is the second favorite of Americans after apple pie.
  8. Native Americans referred to pumpkins as Isqoutm squash. The Greeks referred to pumpkins as pepons. Eventually, the word "pepon" morphed into the word "pumpkin."
  9. Antarctica is the only continent where pumpkins don't grow. I guess pumpkins aren't too crazy about the minus-60-degree temperatures in Antarctica at this time of year. I don't blame them!
  10. When most people think of a pumpkin, they usually picture an orange one, but pumpkins can also be green, red, white, or yellow.
  11. Pumpkins can be steamed, roasted, baked, or even boiled. I like roasting pumpkin seeds in olive oil and sprinkling them with a little salt. Roasting pumpkin seeds is a fun activity you can share with your children or grandchildren after they are done carving their jack-o'-lanterns.
  12. The pilgrims made pumpkin beer by fermenting maple sugar, pumpkin, hops, and persimmons.
  13. The word pumpkin first appeared in the fairytale Cinderella. It served as the perfect fruit for Cinderella's fairy godmother to transform into a carriage.
  14. The Irish used to carve potatoes and turnips at Halloween and put burning coals into them instead of candles. Later, Europeans started to carve pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns.
  15. We produce 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin in our country each year.

If you want to keep your carved pumpkin looking great until Halloween, try smearing petroleum jelly or vegetable oil onto its insides. This will help it to stay moist. Also, put a moist towel over your pumpkin during the day, or at least move it out of the direct sunlight. You may even want to wait to carve your jack-o'-lanterns so there is less time for them to spoil in the outdoor air.

Have some fun this Halloween, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: pumpkin facts

Creepy Ways To Decorate Your Yard For Halloween

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Oct 11, 2017


Do you get a lot of trick-or-treaters at your house on Halloween? If so, give them some extra fun this year. Dust off your creativity and try a few of these DIY crafts that may just make your home the most popular with trick-or-treaters this Halloween!

Decorate With Window Silhouettes

Get some pieces of cardboard and cut out the shapes of pumpkins, witches, bats and cats. Paint the cardboard images black and hang them in your windows. Turn on the lights inside to create some scary silhouettes. For added creepiness, put colored crepe paper on your windows.

Signs of No Good

Find some old pieces of wood that are flat and about ten inches long. Use black paint to label each piece with words like "Beware," "Turn Back," and "Haunted House Ahead." Post these signs on your fence or around your front door.

A Spooky Wreath

Make a collection of miniature witches' brooms with twigs and string. Next, get some black construction paper and cut out a dozen small black cats. Glue the brooms and cats to an old grapevine wreath and hang it on your front door.

Monsters in the Bushes

Make some glowing monsters and place them in the bushes in front of your house to greet trick-or-treaters. Young kids can help with this easy craft that starts with a few empty toilet paper rolls. I like the idea of using glow sticks of different colors to raise the creepiness factor.

A Line of Swaying Ghosts

Make some coffee filter ghosts and hang them near your front door. Use fishing line so trick-or-treaters will think they are floating in the air.

A Gathering of Balloon Ghosts and Pumpkins

Get some orange and white party balloons, a package of white glow sticks, and a black marker. Blow up a balloon, shake a glow stick, and slip it into the balloon. After securing the end of the balloon, use black marker to make a pumpkin face on the orange balloons and ghostly eyes on the white ones.

Ghostly Gourds

Make a group of ghostly gourds using dried gourds, white and black paint, and some cheesecloth. Place them around your front door so they can surprise trick-or-treaters.

Turn Your Front Door Into a Mummy

Find a couple of rolls of white gauze, two pieces of white construction paper, two pieces of black paper, tape, and scissors. Wrap your front door in the white gauze. Next, create two big eyes using the construction paper and tape them to your door. Instant mummification!

Spiders Galore

Put aside several empty toilet paper rolls, paint them black, and let them dry. Then glue eight black pipe cleaners to each to serve as the spider's legs. Glue a pair of googly eyes to each one and hang them from your front door frame or porch lights with fishing line.

Light Up Your Front Walkway

Start putting aside gallon plastic milk jugs for this project. Use a black marker to make a spooky face on each one. Lastly, put an LED tea light in each jug and line them up on the border of your front walkway. This will attract a lot of attention from trick-or-treaters.

A Witch's Shoes

Get a pair of long socks with orange and white stripes on them. Fill the socks with rolled up newspaper or tissue paper. Put a pair of old black shoes with buckles on end of the socks. You may be able to find shoes like this at a second-hand store. Display the sock/shoe combination in a way that looks like your house fell on the witch who was wearing them.

Add Some Glowing Light to Your Front Entrance

Put some strings of white LED lights around your doorway to create an eerie glow for trick-or-treaters. If you want, manipulate the light strings to look like ghosts or witches' hats.

A Twist on Pumpkin-Carving

Use your computer to print a template of a scary skeleton hand, a bristling cat, or a witch's hat. Use these templates when carving your pumpkins this year. Be sure to put a candle or LED tealight in each pumpkin to show off your scary work.

Ghost on the Porch

Get a white balloon, blow it up, and put a glow stick inside of it. Tie the end of the balloon and put a white sheet over it to make a ghost. Secure a piece of fishing line around the neck of the ghost and hang it from the ceiling of your porch.

A Gigantic Spider in the Yard

Get nine black garbage bags, some fishing line, old newspapers, a glue gun, and two white Styrofoam cups. Fill one of the black bags with old newspaper until it's a big ball. Fill the other eight bags halfway up with newspaper and twist them into spider-leg shape. You can use the fishing line to secure them in that shape. Use the glue gun to fasten the eight legs to your gigantic spider's body. As the finishing touch, glue the two Styrofoam cups to its head to serve as eyes. I especially like this one because you can haul it out every year!

Have some fun with these spooky DIY crafts, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: decorate your for halloween

Winter Is Coming: How To Prep Your Yard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Oct 11, 2017


With the arrival of fall, you may think it's time to forget about the yard work until next spring. Perhaps you've already rolled your lawn mower into the garden shed and locked the door. But freezing temperatures, snow, and ice can damage the health of your lawn over the winter months. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare your lawn so it has a better chance against the harsh winter weather.

Cut the Grass

Don't put your lawn mower away for the winter just yet. Mow your grass to a length of about one or one and a half inches. Maintain this length until the ground freezes. Keeping your grass short will decrease the likelihood of fungus growth once the snow starts to fall.

Rake the Leaves

Raking leaves off of your lawn allows sunlight and oxygen easy access to your grass. This keeps it in good condition. Plus, you can use the raked leaves as mulch. I suggest you do a little raking each day so you don't end up with a yard full of heavy, wet leaves after a fall rainstorm.


Why is it important to aerate your soil in the fall? Aerating your lawn allows air, sunlight, and water to reach the roots of your grass. Keeping your lawn as healthy as possible in the fall will make your lawn-care duties easier in the springtime.

Apply Fertilizer

Fertilizing your lawn in the fall delivers nutrients straight to the roots. The roots store the nutrients so the grass is ready to start healthy growth in the springtime. Be sure to aerate before fertilizing so the fertilizer can sink directly into the ground.

Get Rid of Weeds

If you still have dandelions or other weeds growing on your lawn, it's the perfect time to remove them. They are funneling nutrients away from your grass. Putting weed-killer on them now means they won't reappear next spring.


If you see bare spots on your lawn, reseed them to prompt new growth. Water the new seeds until you have grass that is about an inch or an inch and a half tall. It's better to reseed now instead of in the summertime because new seed doesn't fare well in the heat.

Mulch Your Garden

Both your garden and your yard need attention in the fall. If you have perennials in your garden, cut them back and pull out any lingering weeds. Remove any miniature trellises, stakes, or other items that may become damaged during the winter. Put them in your garden shed or another dry, clean storage area. Use your raked leaves to mulch your garden so it will be ready for springtime growth.

Add to Your Compost Pile

Shredded leaves and grass clippings can be added to your compost pile or used to start one. Maintaining a compost pile helps to nourish plants and soil. Also, it's a simple way to reduce the amount of material in our landfills.

Remember that the effort you give to preparing your yard for winter can really pay off when spring arrives next year. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: winter yard prep

Get Your Green Thumb Glowing With Air Plants

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Oct 5, 2017


Have you ever heard of air plants? These are plants that can thrive despite receiving very little care and attention. Plus, you can let your imagination run wild when coming up with a way to display your air plants. My post today is all about air plants and how they can be the perfect starter plant for a green thumb in training. Enjoy!

What Are Air Plants?

Air plants, also known as Tillandsia, are unique because they don't need soil to grow. They grow by attaching their roots to a rock, a shrub, trees, or the ground. These plants are available at garden stores, greenhouses, and sometimes even in the flower department of a grocery store.

How to Care for Your Air Plant

Put your air plant somewhere in your home where it can get partial sunlight. Also, it's important to make sure that air is circulating around it at all times. Air plants need to be watered about once a week. Simply put your plant in the kitchen sink or a bathtub to give it a light rinse. Let your plant drain overnight before putting it back in its place. If the air in your home is especially dry in the wintertime, mist the base of your air plant as well as its leaves with water every three or four days.

Varieties of Air Plants

You may be surprised to learn that there are more than 600 varieties of air plants. One example is the Tillandsia lorentziana. It has long, thin leaves covered with white fuzz that feels like velvet. Tillandsia tricolor lives up to its name, with a dark green base, light green leaves, and red tints throughout. Tillandsia myosura is pale green with slender, curling leaves. I think getting two or three different varieties of air plants can add a lot of interest to the interior of a home.

Designs for Air Plants

One of the best things about an air plant is that you can get creative with how you display it. One idea is to grow an air plant in a dish of decorative rocks or pebbles, which be found at garden stores or even a pet store. Another idea is to find a large, beautiful shell and position your air plant on top of it. There are glass globes and large bottles designed to accommodate the needs of an air plant. Many people like to hang these air plant globes and bottles in front of a window. If you want to try putting your air plant in a globe or bottle, try suspending it from the ceiling with a couple of pieces of sturdy fishing line. This makes it look like the air plant is floating!

An air plant is an excellent option if you like plants that need very little maintenance. You certainly have a lot of appealing colors, textures, and sizes to choose from when searching for the perfect air plant. Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: air plants

What to Know When Buying New Home Appliances

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Sep 28, 2017


As summer turns to fall, you may be looking at new major appliances for your home. Perhaps you have an older refrigerator that's driving up your monthly electric bill, or maybe your older dishwasher is starting to struggle through its cycles. Selecting and buying a major appliance for your home can be a simple undertaking if you do a little research. For my post this week, I have some helpful information to consider as you search for new appliances.


When evaluating ovens, think about your cooking habits. Do you regularly cook several dishes at one time for your family? Or do you use your oven to heat up an occasional TV dinner? If you cook several dishes at one time, you may want a double electric wall oven. The price range for these goes from $1,300 to $2,000. The higher priced double electric wall ovens have extras such as a built-in microwave and temperature monitoring system. A single electric wall oven is a more appropriate purchase if you only plan to use it occasionally. These have a price range of $800 to $900. Be sure to measure the space where you plan to install the oven and discuss your needs with the salesperson.

Hot Water Heater

Hot water heaters are available in different sizes. There are some small enough to put on a shelf in a laundry room and others that need a large section of open floor space in a basement, so it's important to choose a new water heater with dimensions suitable for its proposed location. Also, consider the amount of hot water you need for your home. If you have a large family with lots of kids who take frequent showers, then you'll need a conventional storage water heater that has a reserve of hot water inside it. Alternatively, if you live in a household with very few occupants, you may want a tankless water heater that provides hot water on demand. Conventional water heaters run from $500 to $800 depending on the size you purchase. Tankless water heaters cost from $250 to around $700 depending on the brand and the amount of water it supplies; some tankless water heaters are used to supply an entire house, while others are appropriate for a small apartment. Another thing to consider is the fuel: There are electric water heaters as well as models that run on natural gas. You must decide what type of fuel is best for your household.


Do you have a small kitchen with very little space for appliances? If so, you may want to go with a small portable dishwasher. The price range for these runs from $450 to $600. If you have adequate space in your kitchen and a lot of dishes to wash each day, you could get a large dishwasher that fits beneath your kitchen counter. The price range for these is $350 to $600. Dishwashers vary in the amount of dishes they can wash at one time, the amount of water they use, and their appearance.


When it comes to refrigerators, you can get a style with two doors (refrigerator on the bottom, freezer on the top), side-by-side doors, or even side-by-side doors with a bottom drawer. Some refrigerators provide filtered drinking water, and some allow you to closely monitor the temperature inside the appliance. If you have a large family, you may want to invest in a large refrigerator with filtered drinking water and an ice dispenser. I like the idea of giving the kids reusable bottles to fill up with filtered water each day before school. However, if you live alone, you may prefer a moderately sized traditional refrigerator without the bells and whistles. If you want a refrigerator with an ice maker or a water dispenser, make sure you have the proper lines for the hookup. Measure your old refrigerator to see if you have the space to accommodate the new model you're interested in. Lastly, don't forget to measure the width of your front door. Sometimes, taking the front door off of its hinges is required to get a new refrigerator into your home.

Washing Machine and Clothes Dryer

Think about the amount of laundry you do in a week. A simple top-loading washing machine is suitable if you do a small amount of laundry per week. These washers range from $300 to $600. If you have several loads of laundry to work through each day, you may want to go with a front-loading washing machine made to handle large loads. These range in price from $500 to $900. There are also portable washers designed to fit into small laundry or utility rooms. These are priced from $200 up to $800. Most clothing dryers are front-loading and range from $300 to $800. The higher-priced models can accommodate larger loads of laundry and have more cycles.

Make sure to look for refrigerators, clothes washers, clothing dryers, and dishwashers with the Energy Star logo on them. This logo means you're getting an appliance proven to use energy in the most efficient way. Happy shopping, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Sweeten Up Your Yard For National Honey Month

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Sep 11, 2017


A carport at Alan's Factory Outlet makes a great spot to park and protect your vehicle.  

Do you love to drizzle honey in your tea or bowl of oatmeal? Maybe you eat a dollop of honey on toast for breakfast. Either way, if you love honey, you'll be glad to know that September is National Honey Month. This month celebrates American beekeeping as well as highlights how important bees are to mankind. Not a beekeeper? You can still join in on the fun. Learn about some plants you can add to your landscape that are especially attractive to bees. Enjoy!


Bees are attracted to the lovely blue, purple, and pink petals of these late-summer blooms. Chances are good that you have a lot of neighbors who grow these low-maintenance flowers in their yards. There are many varieties to choose from, such as the Bluebird, October Skies, and Silver Spring. These flowers should be planted in mid-spring in a patch of ground that gets full sun. They require about one inch of rainfall per week, or else they'll need to be watered.

Black-Eyed Susans

These flowers bloom in mid-summer and again in autumn. In fact, this flower is also known as the Autumn Sun. They flourish in full sunlight but can endure partial shade. Black-eyed Susans have bright yellow petals surrounding a dark brown center. They are perennials and annuals that grow close together in large numbers. Many bees search out big groups of flowers of all the same type: This makes the work of visiting lots of nectar-filled flowers a little bit easier. On an interesting note, birds such as American goldfinches eat the small black seeds on this flower to build up strength for the cold winter months. I like the idea of planting flowers that serve both the bees and the birds.

Blue Giant Hyssop

These hardy plants are covered with brilliant purple petals and are full of nectar that's irresistible to bees. They can grow to be about three feet tall and look very dramatic when planted against a white fence. Blue Giant hyssop grows best in an area that receives full sunlight and has rich, well-draining soil.


Horsemint is also known as spotted bee balm. These pink and white flowers should be planted in an area that gets full sunlight so they will thrive. Horsemint blooms from July to September and has a unique fragrance.

Purple Coneflowers

Bunches of these pale purple flowers are popular gathering areas for bees. They bloom in late summer and can continue to flourish into the fall. This flower looks like a purple daisy, and like the black-eyed Susan, it serves as a food source for American finches. These are full-sun blooms that need about an inch of rainfall each week. If you have very little rain in the summer, be sure to water your purple coneflowers.

In addition to planting some bee-friendly flowers in your yard, you may want to create a bee bath. Bees need a certain amount of water to remain healthy, just as most other animals do. Combine a collection of colorful, nectar-filled flowers with an appealing bee bath and you'll have the most popular meeting place for the bees in your neighborhood.

Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: plants bees like


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