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Since it arrived for the 2019 model year, Subaru's Ascent has pretty much been an also-ran in the three-row midsize SUV segment. Through the first half of calendar-year 2021, it was outsold by the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Volkswagen Atlas and Hyundai Palisade, among others. Read more from OnSachem News.



) - In the northern hemisphere, the sun's lower winter angle in the sky peers straight into your windows, causing glare, more fading from its UV rays and unwanted hotspots. The usual remedy is to block out the natural daylight with curtains or blinds. However, this may darken the interior and create the need to turn lights on.Then there's the appearance of the home. From the exterior a home's windows may appear disheveled with a drape partially open, a blind a bit crooked and next to it, a curtain pulled tight.Then there's the cost of curtains, drapes, blinds and shades, that can add up quickly. Can you go "curtainless" and still reduce the sun's glare?"A cost-effective solution is long-lasting, professionally installed window films, which can be permanently affixed to the glass by experts in a day or less to windows, doors and skylights. Many designs and features are available, such as privacy films that still allow in natural light, or clear, glare-reducing films that offer energy savings," says Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association (IWFA).Window films themselves are high-tech systems with multiple performance coatings produced to address specific problems in buildings. They may last 15 years or more and can be installed on single or dual pane windows in good condition, and they may also upgrade the glass to today's energy standards.Window films with the IWFA logo are rated just like windows for their energy savings features. Window film manufacturers and businesses may offer a warranty that not only covers the window film, but may also cover the window glass."Window films are always 'on' and work when you need them so there is no need to pull drapes, shade or blinds," adds Smith.Other benefits in addition to savings may include enhanced safety, the blocking of up to 99 percent of UV rays and privacy films. Window films may also help to keep heat in during winter and reduce the sun's solar heat by up to 80 percent in summer. Another plus is that a home may have a cleaner, modern look.Get in touch with a local window film business at


before the sun forces you to be in the dark.  Read more from OnSachem News.



)Now-perhaps more than ever before-creating a relaxing outdoor space has been at the top of homeowners' to-do lists. Basic porches and patios are out, and families are investing in extravagant exterior areas with high-quality furnishings and amenities. And they're doing so with natural and durable materials like cypress. Here are five ways homeowners are decking out their outdoor space.Beautiful Flooring

Photo courtesy of J Paul Moore PhotographyBeautiful FlooringIf you're building an outdoor room, one of the first considerations is what's underfoot. Nancy Moore of The Porch Company in Nashville, Tennessee, says she loves utilizing the softness and beauty of wood in above-grade applications."A wood floor is much more attractive than a masonry one in my opinion-and less expensive," Moore says. "Cypress is our go-to wood for covered porch floors because it's naturally resistant to decay and readily available in tongue-and-groove boards, which gives a more finished look. And due to its light color, unlike cedar, we can use stains to develop a wide range of color choices."Moore also offers some important advice. "If you're installing a tongue-and-groove floor, make sure there's an appropriate gap and you slope it to allow for water drainage," she explains.Decorative Ceilings

© 2021 Nickolas Sargent of DBA Sargent PhotographyDecorative Ceilings"A lot goes into designing an outdoor space," says Tom Kirchhoff of Kirchhoff & Associates Architects in Jupiter, Florida. "The ceiling must relate to the furniture layout, decorative accents, and lighting. We tend to make the ceiling the focal point of our design creativity, and really love using natural cypress because of the warmth it provides, as opposed to other materials, such as stucco."High-End Cabinetry

Photo courtesy of M&M Millworks of LouisianaHigh-End CabinetryWhether indoors or out, homeowners can never have too much storage, says Robert N. Holley of M&M Millworks of Louisiana, a custom cabinet shop in West Monroe, Louisiana."We produce top-notch cabinets, regardless of if they'll be installed indoors or out," Holley says. "We prefer working with cypress because it's local, easy to sand, offers a rustic appearance, and holds up well to the elements in all seasons-especially in our hot and humid climate."Cypress also accepts a variety of finishes to meet any style. But if it were up to me, we'd use a clear sealer instead of a pigmented stain. I like to show the wood's natural beauty."Showpiece Tables

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Deshotels, Backwards Anvil LLCShowpiece TablesWhen it comes to outdoor furniture that's built to last, Benjamin Deshotels, a blacksmith and owner of Backwards Anvil LLC in Port Island, Louisiana, chooses cypress."In our neck of the woods, cypress has a rich history and that's a big motivator to incorporate it into our projects," Deshotels says. "Cypress also performs well in outdoor environments; not to mention it's a beautiful wood with lots of character."I recently used cypress to build an outdoor table with matching benches. It's finished in an oil-based stain to enhance the wood's color and a few coats of spar varnish to provide protection from direct sunlight and UV rays."Real Seating

Photo courtesy of Lake Cypress Outdoor ProductsReal SeatingThere are a lot of factors to consider when buying outdoor furniture-including quality, durability, and price. And Steve Peugh of Lake Cypress Outdoor Products in Sulphur Springs, Texas, says cypress checks all the boxes."We've been crafting high-quality, Adirondack-style furniture with cypress for more than 30 years," Peugh says. "Cypress is a naturally durable wood and it won't decay like pine and some other common species. It's also stronger and denser than cedar."And when compared to wood alternatives, like polywood and plastic, Peugh says people choose cypress for three reasons. "First, it won't heat up like alternative materials. Second, it'll last for many years. People think polywood will last forever, but it gets brittle and will break. And lastly, cypress is less expensive than wood substitutes-which is surprising to many customers."Homeowners are tired of replacing their outdoor furniture every few years. And at the end of the day, people don't want to sit on plastic, they want the real thing."For more creative ideas on decking out your outdoor space, visit


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) - The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the face of America's workplace. In fact, an increasing number of folks might find their "new office" feels a lot like home -- because it is literally their home.Our post-pandemic "return to the office" may look very different with hybrid or fully remote work models rapidly rising in popularity. Studies support this trend with 83% of workers believing a hybrid model would be optimal going forward, according to an Accenture survey. Further, 87% of managers believe working from home is the future, according to Remote-How research.While the new dynamic promises an improved work-life balance, it will also cause energy use and utility bills to skyrocket with technologies, appliances and systems running overtime at unprecedented levels -- making optimal, energy-efficient home climate control a greater challenge.The good news is that families can prevent a utility-bill blitz by following a few simple tips. With home heating and cooling accounting for nearly half of home energy use, small steps can go a long way.

  • Ease Into Electric: According to Columbia University's Earth Institute, electric systems are a solution to decarbonize home climate control. Among the most energy-efficient heating and cooling products, electricity-powered ductless mini-split systems, offered by companies including Fujitsu General America, can save as much as 25% on your energy bill. Mini-splits use thin copper tubing to pump refrigerant from an outdoor compressor directly into an indoor air-handling unit, where the air is quietly distributed to the interior space.
  • Get "Smart" About Climate Control: When it comes to smart home temperature control, there are Smart HVAC Systems and Smart Thermostats. Smart HVAC systems have built-in Internet capability and can be controlled directly without additional equipment. Smart Home Thermostats create "smart" systems by enabling remote temperature control via a mobile or Internet-connected device or voice-operated home automation system.
  • Voice Your Preference: Take control of your comfort. Most HVAC manufacturers offer apps that enable systems to be controlled from anywhere using a mobile device. Voice-control capability uses digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to verbally dictate home temperatures. Easily controlling the temperature more closely allows homeowners to be more comfortable and improve energy savings.
  • Find Your Efficient Comfort Zone: Many of us live in homes designed for bigger families, but have yet to downsize. If you find yourself using a fraction of your home on a regular basis, consider upgrading to a zoned ducted, or ductless system. That will allow you to save energy heating and cooling spaces where you and your family don't spend a lot of time. This will multiply savings as you're not only needing less cooling, but you also gain from a more efficient system in the spaces you do still use.
  • Try Low-tech Fixes: Simple changes can have a big impact. Take advantage of the sun's energy to heat your home by opening your south-facing curtains at sunrise to make best use of "passive solar gain." Force down warm air. Denser, cooler air stays closer to the ground, and warmer air rises. So, force it downwards with a low-speed fan. Insulate and fill the gaps. Warmed air leaking out around poorly sealed window frames, power sockets, recessed light fittings, and other gaps is a big source of heat loss in homes. And thick curtains help to insulate glass at windows.

If your family is spending a lot more time at home and your utility bills are soaring, a ductless heating and cooling system is definitely a worthwhile investment. Many Fujitsu systems have an Energy Star rating that is more than twice as efficient as the minimum standard set by the government. To learn more or find a contractor near you, call 888-888-3424 or visit


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) - One challenge that all busy parents face is how to keep a baby or toddler away from problem areas in the home. This month is Baby Safety Month, and is an important reminder to parents to look for potentially unsafe areas in the home, while identifying smart solutions to protect their little ones as they discover their surroundings.Here are four child safety ideas that are easy to install and will help give homeowners a little peace of mind: 1. Have a curious toddler who is exploring what's behind every door or cabinet?Home safety products such as the Dreambaby® Patented EZY-Check® Multi-Use Latch are a must-have for parents to help keep children from investigating where they shouldn't. The adhesive multifunctional latch can be installed on almost any surface, including glass, wood, metal, and more without the need for tools or screws. The flexible, patented extra-long design works with most non-heat generating appliances, including the refrigerator. Its multi-touch release makes it tricky for young children to open.2. Children are perpetually fascinated by electrical outlets, but the patented Dreambaby® CoverPlug® is unique in that it hides the entire outlet, so children don't even realize it is there. The Dreambaby® CoverPlug has a universal design that fits easily over three-prong outlets. The faceplate is paintable, so it can blend into the aesthetic of any room. Be sure to paint the faceplate before installation.3. Whether they're crawling or walking, toddlers are on a mission to explore everything in their space. The Dreambaby® Newport Adapta-Gate® accommodates a range of regular and irregular openings and landings. It is designed for one-handed operation and is an easy-close gate, complete with an indicator to confirm that the gate is closed.4. As babies learn to stand, they tend to pull themselves up with the help of any and all surfaces, especially kitchen cabinets. When it comes to keeping cabinets and drawers secure, parents can turn to the patented Dreambaby® Adhesive Mag Locks® for an effective but invisible solution that helps keep children safer without sacrificing style. The locks are designed to adhere to the inside of almost anything that opens, and the self-locking mechanism opens quickly when the special magnetic key is placed over the lock. Each lock can be disengaged when not needed, making it not only a great choice for your own home, but very useful at the grandparents' place.Dreambaby® is a family-owned and internationally renowned company with more than 20 years of experience in developing affordable, high-quality child safety products.Follow @dreambabysafety on social media and visit


to purchase home and child safety solutions or find more information. Read more from OnSachem News.