Monthly Archives: June 2013

Quick Tips for Saving Energy in Your Home This Summer

Smart Home
Although it is frequently overshadowed by the need to keep a house warm in the winter, keeping a home cool and comfortable during the summer can create a strain on a family’s energy bills. This is especially true with families in warmer parts of the country that all but rely on air conditioning to stay cool. Fortunately, there are ways of saving money on your energy bill in the summer without resigning yourself to living in an unbearably warm house.

Keep Your Thermostat Turned Up
As much as you will want to, it’s not always wise to run your air conditioner all the time. Keep your thermostat at around 78 degrees and use fans to circulate cool air. During the summer, keeping the thermostat set at a high, yet comfortable level will decrease cooling costs.

Keep Your Shades Closed
Although it’s not as effective as exterior shading, shades and drapes on the window can go a long way in keeping a home cool. Your home’s windows are some of its largest sources of heat gain, so it’s important to keep them shaded as much as possible.

Open Your Windows When It’s Cool Outside
Instead of running an air conditioner, try opening your windows when it is cooler outside. This will help ventilate your home, especially at night or early in the morning. In addition, try waiting until turning on your air conditioner is needed, usually during early to late-afternoons.

Use Your Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are capable of circulating enough air to cool a space by over four degrees, and they use about as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb. Using circulating floor fans in individual rooms is another simple way to keep your house cool, and save energy at the same time. Once again, this should eliminate the need to run your air conditioner non-stop.

Turn Off Your Lights
When you leave a room, make sure you turn off the lights. If you’re in a room with large windows and it isn’t too hot outside, don’t be afraid to open the shades in the middle of the day to let some sunlight inside. Don’t run appliances longer than you need to. Unplug them if you won’t be using them soon.

Use Your Appliances Efficiently
This means not doing entire loads of laundry, keeping your dryer’s lint trap clear and run all appliances during off-peak hours such as after the sun has gone down. If you have to buy new appliances, look for Energy Saver products. These can lower your energy bill by as much as 30 percent, and will save you money in the long run.

Replace Air Conditioner Filters Monthly
Dirty filters can block the airflow in your air conditioning system, causing it to work harder and use more energy. Replacing your filters every month can save you up to five percent on cooling costs.

Keep Outdoor Air Conditioning Units Free of Debris

Most central air conditioning systems run off of a large outdoor unit. This should be kept free of debris and weeds to work efficiently. Leaves, branches, and invasive plants should be removed to keep the unit functioning correctly.

Home with Solar Pannels

Hire Someone to Perform Maintenance on Your Air Conditioner
An air conditioner will last for years if it is properly maintained, but it will also work inefficiently and waste a lot of energy if it goes too long without a tune-up. Make sure you have it repaired and maintained before every summer.

Seal Leaky Windows and Doors
Cool air can easily escape a leaky window or door, and this can be a big problem when cooling your house. Check to make sure there isn’t a draft coming from a closed window. If you do notice a draft, seal it with caulk or weather stripping. These are available in kits at most hardware stores and are a relatively inexpensive fix to a pesky problem.

 

This article was written by Wesley Francis. Wesley is a home contractor, father of three, and DIY enthusiast. For further energy conservation strategies, he recommends searching for home renovation professionals in your area, like the team at Remedy Roofing, who always provide eco-friendly solutions. There are plenty of energy-saving home projects out there, go find them!

The Top 5 New Orleans Fountains

WaterFountains are found throughout New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter and the Garden District. They grace the courtyards of many private residences and they are commonly found among the restaurants and hotels in the area. Even Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street has a courtyard fountain that appears to be on fire at night. Here are the five most fascinating and historic fountains in the city of New Orleans.

Darlington Fountain

This fountain in New Orleans’s West End was erected prior to World War I. It was known as a musical fountain because an operator controlled the water flow and the lighting by hand to synchronize the fountains with the music contributed by bands and orchestras at special events. The three-dimensional effects produced resulted in it also being known as a “prismatic” fountain. This century-old masterpiece became one of the inspirations for later automated musical fountains, such as those found at The Bellagio in Las Vegas.

The original drawings for the fountain are dated February 1915, and construction likely concluded in 1916. The Darlington fountain later became the symbol for West End Park. Yacht clubs and restaurants also embraced the iconic fountain by using it in their logos. The fountain is slated for a full restoration by the Friends of West End.

Fountain in Jackson Square

This historic fountain is found in Jackson Square, which is situated exactly where the French Mississippi Company built the very first settlement. Fittingly, the fountain in Jackson Square was dedicated on April 29, 1960 to memorialize the visit of French President General Charles de Gaulle and his spouse, Yvonne.

The landscaped area on which the fountain stands was designed in 1721 by architect Louis H. Pilié. For a time it served as grounds for military parades. Today it stands at the heart of the French Quarter in front of St. Louis Cathedral, the longest continually operating cathedral in the U.S. The current home of the New Orleans archdiocese, the cathedral first opened in 1718. The present structure was built in 1789. Pope John Paul II visited in 1987.

Fountain at Coliseum Square Park

South of the French Quarter, in the lower Garden District, is the lush greenery of Coliseum Square Park and its beautiful fountain. Strollers and those on Garden District walking tours often stop to enjoy the tranquil sounds experienced here. Both biking trails and walking trails abound in this park that dates back to the mid-1800s. The park and its fountain are only two blocks away from the St. Charles streetcar stop.

Fountains at Longue Vue House and Gardens

Just off Metairie Road, at 7 Bamboo Road, are the Longue Vue House and Gardens and its 22 fountains. Longue Vue is often thought of as one of the highest quality city estates in the nation. It is open to the public on a paid admission basis. It’s been a National Historic Landmark since 2005.

The Classical Revival mansion serves as a stunning backdrop to a long rectangular pool and lyrical fountains. The fountains frame the mansion in endless photographs captured by enchanted visitors. The fountains are a vital part of the eight acres of gardens inspired by the Gardens of the Alhambra in Spain.

The home was built by New Orleans businessman Edgar Bloom Stern and his wife, Sears heiress Edith Rosenwald Stern. The gardens have been fully restored to the original specifications created when the Sterns built the estate.

Pavement and GrassFountains at the New Orleans Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden, in City Park, is home to the country’s largest stand of mature live oaks. The cool shade and the fountains offer a wonderful respite from city life. Bronzed statues and sculptures blend well with the historic cast-iron fountains. Photographers never tire of framing scene after scene with low-hanging oak branches. The conservatory has been renovated, and it includes a roaring waterfall and beautiful hanging vines in a simulated rainforest. Over 2,000 plant species can be explored here.

New Orleans truly is a city of fountains, and these five examples have long represented, and help contribute to, its overall vibrancy and heritage.

The author found a great New Orleans-style copper fountain for his home at: www.fathomfountains.com/copper-fountains

Preparing Your Gulf Coast Garage for Summer

AC Seen from OutsideAs a homeowner in the Gulf Coast region, you can protect your home’s garage doors from summer weather by making a plan and by taking action to implement it. The first of June is the official start of hurricane season, and your prompt action can limit or avoid damage to your home’s structures. Planning for weather events that are predictable is a duty of responsible homeowners.

The National Hurricane Center cites sustained wind speeds at up to 95 mph for Category 1 and up to 157 for Category 5 storms. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale indicates that frame structures are especially susceptible to damage from wind, and garage doors that are typically constructed of wood or similar materials are vulnerable.

Make a Plan

As part of your general household defense plan, the security of a garage door will improve the structural integrity of your home. Successful efforts to stop hurricane winds from entering a garage can prevent extensive damage to the interior of your home. Interior doors that are not designed to resist impact can easily collapse in hurricane conditions. Captive wind forces inside a garage are extremely destructive, pushing upward and outward to destroy walls and roofing systems. Defensive methods that are commonly used in garage openings to limit wind damage include:

• Impact-Rated Garage Door – Hurricane-force winds pull as well as push against garage doors, shaking and weakening them in the process. Impact-rated doors are designed to withstand forces of extreme wind conditions and flying debris. Some are reinforced within each section of a door to provide increased resistance to winds. Prices start around $900 for a one-car garage door and $1500 for a two-car door.

• Braces – Vertical braces made of aluminum strong enough for use on airplanes strengthen a door and make it more resistant to hurricane winds. For about $200 per brace, you can add to the security of your garage door. The quality of your existing door governs the performance of braces that are a retrofit product. Doors that have glass windows or those that are in poor repair may not get as much protection as those that are solid or new. Manufacturers may choose not to offer guarantees for braces applied to substandard doors.

• Hurricane Panels – Steel offers the best protection from hurricane damage. Aluminum panels are lighter and less capable of deterring damage. Installation of either type of material is a difficult task, and the quality of installation has an effect on effectiveness. Poorly installed panels can add to flying debris and cause damage to people or property. Panels for doors of various sizes are available for less than $1000.

House with a Lot of WindowsImplement a Plan

To assess the need for garage door protection, you may choose to hire a home appraiser. Some companies offer a free evaluation of garage doors to assess the wind load that they can tolerate, their ability to resist impact, and their compliance with local building codes. Checking for effectiveness of protective measures and the cost of installing them is a first step you can take to prevent hurricane damage.

Taking the next step to get the work done is the way to make sure that it is done correctly. The space occupied by a garage door opening is sufficiently large to require installation by someone with professional expertise.

With these tips in hand, the author has begun fortifying his Houston overhead door.

Window Tinting a Gulf Coast Home

Kitchen with Window TintWindow tinting makes any interior space cooler, more private, and more enjoyable; this is particularly valuable for homes in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast region. The addition of window tints can not only reduce cooling expenses, it will protect furnishings and art from the bright sun while also making it harder for intruders or strong winds to break a window. However, it’s important to choose the right team to tint the windows in any private home. Here are a few tips homeowners can follow when searching for a window tinting company.

Selection

Not all window tints are created equal. Some are darker and will cut more of the natural light. Special coatings are required to block the UV rays and protect fine artwork from fading. Security tints that hold glass pieces together when a window is broken are also specially designed and labeled. Look for a company that has a good selection and can provide you with the right window tint.

Experience

Look for a company with years of experience. They may also specialize in window and commercial tinting, but they should definitely have a few years of experience in residential windows. It takes time to learn how to smoothly install window tint that is free of bubbles or scratches.

Insured

When a contractor works on any home, they should have insurance. While it is not likely that a window tinter will break something inside a home, it’s still better to choose a company that protects its customers by investing in insurance. With this coverage, homeowners are protected in the unlikely event that something in their home is damaged or broken.

Timely Services

It’s also important to invest in a company that will provide timely services. When homeowners make the decision to invest in window tint, they don’t want to wait weeks or months to have it installed. Look for a company that can provide fast service to start benefiting from window tinting right away.

Ask About the Clean-Up

Installing window tint can be messy. The technicians will have to use water to get all of the air out from between the windows and the tint. Talk to the company you are considering about the installation process. Find out what steps they take to protect your home and clean up any mess afterward. The best companies will use protective covers under the windows, and they will clean up the entire mess after the tinting is installed.

Window FixGet Multiple Quotes

Talk with several companies and get more than one quote. This is the best way to find the most reasonable prices on window tinting projects and save money. Taking the time to talk with different companies also lets homeowners ask questions about scheduling, how long the project takes, and what steps are taken to keep the area clean.

Ask for References

Finally, ask for references for any tinting company. Reputable companies are happy to provide references for their work including pictures of homes and businesses they have worked on. Don’t be afraid to call the references and ask for more detailed information about how the company did, how long they were in the house, and how pleased the customer is with the work.

Window tinting can lower energy bills and help homeowners save money. The best tinting will also make the home safer by protecting furnishings from the sun and even intruders. Finding the right company for a residential project will require a little research, but homeowners will be much happier with the finished product when they hire a reputable, experienced company. From a decorative tint on a New Orleans bungalow, to a window film in Houston, homeowners across the Gulf Coast have been able to enjoy their summers again by pursuing this simple home renovation project.

Easy Tips for Gulf Coast Homeowners to Keep Cool This Summer

Woman in Front of ACBattling summer heat in an arid region is tough enough, but when you’re living in New Orleans, or any city in the Gulf Coast region, you have to deal with both heat and humidity. Use the following tips to keep you and your family nice and cool during your Gulf Coast summer.

Stay Inside and Crank Up the A/C

This one is simple enough. You probably don’t want to be a hermit all summer long, though, so if you’re going to spend time outdoors, aim for early in the morning or later in the evening when outside temperatures will be more manageable.

Electric Fans

Letting your air conditioner run all summer can be expensive. If you want to cut down your electricity bill, use an electric fan instead. Keep in mind that once temperatures go into the high 90s, an electric fan won’t ward off heat-related illnesses. Take a cool bath or shower if you start getting too hot. You can even turn your fan into a makeshift air conditioner. All you need is a metal bowl filled with ice. Place this bowl directly in front of the fan, and it will go a long way toward cooling the room.

Drink Plenty of Water

You should stay hydrated all year round, but this is even more important during the summer. Drink eight ounces of water each hour. Avoid alcoholic beverages or drinks with high levels of caffeine, as these will dehydrate you quickly. Drinking enough water has numerous health benefits, so this is a good tip follow throughout the year.

Protect Your Body

Put on plenty of sunscreen and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Ideally, sunscreen should be applied approximately thirty minutes before going outside. You should also wear a hat and sunshades in order to ward off heat stroke and prevent your eyes from being damaged by the sun’s UV rays.

Keep Strenuous Activity to Minimum

Those of you looking for a good excuse to avoid home and yard work are in luck. Participating in strenuous activities during a heat wave is dangerous, so either cut back on your work hours or limit your activities to the early morning or evening. If you exercise regularly, you should either alter your workout schedule to avoid the hottest time of the day or exercise in a building with a good air conditioning system. Or, you can take part in outdoor activities that can simultaneously keep you cool, like visiting some of New Orleans’ public pools.

Wooden TableTake Walks by a River

On hot summer days in the Gulf Coast, a large body of water is your friend. If you live in New Orleans, take a stroll through Woldenberg Riverfront Park and watch the ships sail down the Mississippi River. You’ll enjoy cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery.

The Canal Street Ferry

Speaking of New Orleans, a ride on the Canal Street Ferry can provide you with a fun and cost-free way to cool down. The ferry operates seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to midnight.

To offset some of the costs associated with cooling his Gulf Coast home, the author recently invested in an energy saving water heater replacement.

The 4 Most Luxurious Spas in New Orleans

FacialSpa at Windsor Court

The spa at Windsor Court is located inside the elegant Windsor Court Hotel, in the heart of the French Quarter. Enjoy the many luxurious offerings at this full service spa, catering to your every need. Once you enter the spa, you are greeted by friendly, courteous staff that will provide you with the accessories you need for your relaxing session. Guests are provided with robes, sandals, and a private locker for personal belongings. The facility also offers a pool and gym area for those receiving treatments.

The Windsor spa offers personalized treatments from facial, nail, and hair to full body treatments. The spa also offers personalized treatments and spa packages for wedding parties upon request. The spa recommends that you make reservations before arriving; this will be helpful so that they can provide the best service to you.

Guerlain Spa at The Roosevelt New Orleans

This spa is not only known for being linked to one of the more well-known names in town, it is also known for its luxurious offerings. Guerlain Spa has been known for excellence throughout its 180 years of operation. During each session, beauty experts perform a systematic analysis of the skin to determine where their primary focus should be – environmental, nutritional, emotional, or physical. The analysis helps therapists determine a treatment that is specifically tailored to your personal needs; this is one of the signature touches Guerlain offers to their clients. Guest service is the spa’s top priority.

The products used at Guerlain are a full line of high quality products from the prestigious Guerlain Paris. The spa also offers hydrotherapy facilities, makeup services, and a VIP treatment room. Exclusively offered to hotel guests is a special treatment called the Waldorf Impériale, a two-hour body massage and facial. The spa also offers a state-of-the-art fitness center and a relaxing rooftop pool for guests to enjoy.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa New Orleans

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, New Orleans has gained enormous recognition not only for its gorgeous decor, but also for the elegance of its spa treatments. The spa offers over 100 therapies, all of which are customizable to meet the needs of clients, as well as a fitness center, retail store, and valet parking. The staple of The Ritz-Carlton Spa is absolute indulgence in every sense. The atmosphere alone is enough to help you relax and forget about the world, with draped chandeliers and therapists to pamper your every need. The spa is equipped with 22 luxurious treatment rooms as well as relaxation lounge areas, steam rooms, and saunas. Spa packages are available for couples and wedding parties, upon request. Reservations are encouraged to be made one week in advance.

Girl and hair

Woodhouse Day Spa

The Woodhouse Day Spa is a full service luxury spa located near the French Quarter. Upon arrival you are greeted by friendly staff that will provide you with a luxurious robe and a delicious beverage. The spa offers 70 invigorating and rejuvenating spa treatments that offer a unique approach to maintaining the health and beauty of your skin. Woodhouse Day Spa offers signature body wraps and massage therapies, the most popular being the four-handed massage. Tension release and deep relaxation is achieved through the spa’s signature technique called “intent combing science.” The spa offers many services including waxing, hand treatments, foot treatments, body treatments, and much more. Appointments are available seven days a week.

Next time you find yourself in the Big Easy, be sure to take some time to let yourself be pampered. Whether you’re young or old, male or female, New Orleans has a wide variety of luxury spas for every preference.

In researching various spa offerings in the Gulf Coast, the author found that many of the most luxurious locations utilized equipment from one company: T4 Spa

Achord Eye Clinic

Written by: Jill Martinez

The most effective advertising we do, to tell you the truth, is not anything we pay for or can even control to a certain extent,” reports Dr. Shonda Achord. “We get a lot of our business from patients who refer their friends, family members or co-workers to us because they’ve had a positive experience here.” True to form, the moment I entered Achord Eye Clinic the staff offered ample amounts of smiles, assistance and freshly brewed coffee. I even noticed them greeting patients by their first name and immediately delving into enthusiastic bouts of spirited conversation. The friendly atmosphere coupled with Dr. Achord’s sixteen years of experience and laid back charm are enough to inspire hope in those of us who have been worn thin by the crassness of the modern health care industry.

“Here’s the difference,” begins Dr. Achord. “ I have always made it a point to spend the same amount of time with each patient, even if they are just here for a routine eye exam.” And that is, in fact, a big difference. “Often times, patients will say that they’ve never had such a thorough eye exam before. And I take that as a huge compliment,” she says, smiling all the while.

Dr. Achord first became interested in optometry while working at a local optometrist’s office in Gonzales as a college freshman. There began her journey into what has now become her life’s work and passion. After obtaining her degree from LSU, she continued her studies at the University of Houston College of Optometry, one of the top ranked optometry programs in the nation. But home is where the heart is, and Dr. Achord knew she wanted to return to Louisiana to set up shop and settle down.

It’s been nine years since Dr. Achord launched her own full service optical business, and she hasn’t looked back since. In addition to offering the best in name brand designer eyewear such as Gucci, Fendi, Kenneth Cole, Silhouette, Kate Spade, Coach, Dior, and Vera Wang to name a few, Dr. Achord specializes in hard to fit contact lens cases, most notably patients with keratoconus.

Keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to bulge forward resulting in a raised peak on the surface of the eye. In these cases, normal soft contacts will not fit, and unfortunately most doctors don’t want to invest the time or resources to stock and fit the rigid contacts necessary for these patients to retain their vision. This is where Dr. Achord can and does help. She’s established her business by serving those who’ve been turned away because their conditions are deemed too labor intensive and are not cost effective enough to treat. Patients who visit Achord Eye Clinic are never turned away, and usually after meeting Dr. Achord they never want to venture far from her care.

Achord Eye Clinic
12726 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70810
225-767-3937

Acadian Brick and Stone: Paving the way to a new gold standard

Written by: Jill Martinez

It’s been a hard road to hoe since his days working in oil field management almost five years ago, but Darriel Green and his wife, Dione, have stayed committed to their vision to create a service oriented business which provides quality brick and stone products to both residential and commercial projects in the Lafayette area. “Looking back, I get a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that we excelled at a business people told me years ago wasn’t even worth my time,” says Darriel Green. “We’ve been able to grow our business from a cramped modular building in a dusty, dirty brick yard to an expansive state-of-the-art showroom which features an array of brick, flooring and roofing selections. The journey has been tough and tears have definitely been shed, but in the end, myself, my wife and my amazing staff have stayed focus on our core company value – to always treat others as you would like to be treated,” notes Green. “That’s always been our standard, and it continues to set us apart within the industry time and time again.”

In addition to their general emphasis on hospitality and good will, Green’s success is also derived from his specialized selection of antique bricks, especially those extracted from areas around South Carolina, Virginia, St. Louis, and Birmingham. Without carrying the weight of all the green hype that permeates the market today, recovering and reusing bricks is and has always been a great way to recycle materials. And that is exactly the eco friendly manner in which antique bricks are produced. “People in Louisiana and throughout the Southern part of the country love the rustic character and charm of antique bricks. It is a more specialized product, so I have to travel around to different areas to select the best quality bricks available,” he says. “We have some that date back from around 1870.”
Amid all of his success in the industry, Green is probably most proud of his antique brick floor tile. “I burnt up almost $2,000 of equipment in a single day trying to slice antique brick to get just the right hardness, texture and color,” Green recalls. “And we are talking about a product that took an entire three years of this kind of exhausting experimentation to perfect.”

When Darriel and Dione began a renovation of their home in the area, their natural instinct was to use brick in the flooring. Instead of outsourcing the job, Darriel made up his mind to produce the flooring himself – a decision that in the end bolstered his business tremendously despite the many setbacks he encountered along the way. “The antique brick floor tile has been a really great product for us. It’s changed our business, that’s for sure!” exclaims Green. And although Green continues to expand his product selection, grow his markets, and target larger and larger areas, the service-oriented foundation he set into place years ago remains the same. For the Green family and the loyal, dedicated staff at Acadian Brick and Stone, it’s not what they are selling, but the way in which they relate and respect each and every customer they interact with that makes all the difference. “I can’t emphasize that enough. You can buy bricks in many different places, but being able to trust that you’ll get what you want, when you want it, and for the price you agreed to pay is such a relief to the homeowners and builders we deal with on a day to day basis, that they keep coming back or refer their friends and family,” he explains. It is amazing how far a smile and a dose of good old fashion respect will get you. Darriel and Dione Green could not agree more.

Acadian Brick and Stone
2431 S. College Road
P.O. Box 82207
Lafayette, Louisiana 70598
337.235.9516
www.acadianbrick.com