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Tue, Jan. 21

Ask the Contractor: Paint, knickknacks transform a home in a snap

Q: What is the easiest and least expensive way to change the look of the interior of my home?-Anita in Prescott ValleyA: The easiest and least expensive way is to paint the interior and then add a few accessories as accents. Paint manufacturers offer more than 100 shades of a single color and the sheer number of paint choices can be overwhelming. To simplify the paint process, it is best to settle on a few of your favorite colors and build a palette around them. There are pale blues and greens and neutrals for inspiration or you can use a vibrant color palette to create a big statement. Color can change the entire mood and feel of a room and, if you do not like it, you can always repaint. You never have to settle for beige or white walls again! The trick is to use colors of a similar intensity so that no one color gets lost in the process.-Dave Berry, owner, Century Painting, PrescottQ: I want to make compost, but I have no idea how to start.-Ed from Chino ValleyA: When you collect yard waste from pruning, lawn-mowing and weeding, instead of throwing it away, you can use it to make compost that enriches your garden beds. Start by making a pile with alternating layers of green and brown matter. Turn the pile every week, keep it moist and, over a period of two or three months, depending on the weather, the pile will heat up and transform itself into rich, crumbly black compost. Mix it into your garden's soil to improve the soil's texture, fertility and ability to hold water and air.You should include grass clippings, dead leaves, branches from pruning and fruit and vegetable kitchen waste. Do not add diseased plants, plant parts that contain thorns, weed seedheads, meat, fat or bones from kitchen waste or dog or cat waste. Chop or shred everything as finely as possible - 1 to 2 inch pieces are good to speed decomposition.- Chris Welborn, owner, Vicente Landscaping***The Yavapai County Contractors Association has had several calls lately on the most popular green building basics, and below we have listed our top ten. • Appliances: High-efficiency forced-air heater with a programmable thermostat and Energy-Star rated appliances reduce energy use.• Engineered wood framing: Man-made products such as I joists, laminated veneer lumber and oriented strand board take the place of full-dimensional boards and beams typically harvested from old-growth or larger trees. Engineered wood makes more efficient use of fiber from smaller trees.• Insulation: On a home's exterior, rigid foam beneath siding reduces heat gain and loss while a radiant roof barrier bonded to the roof sheathing reduces attic temperatures. Tightly-sealed ductwork stops heat loss and improves the heater's efficiency.• Interior materials: Low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints instead of conventional paints and formaldehyde-free fiberglass used to fill wall and ceiling cavities provide improved interior air quality. • Landscape: Instead of solid concrete interlocking concrete pavers and gravel paths, allow rainwater to drain directly into the ground rather than flow into city streets and sewers. Permeable pavers are great. Drought-tolerant shrubs and groundcovers reduce water use.• Lighting: Fluorescent bulbs last 10 times longer and cut operating costs by three-quarters compared to incandescent ones.• Plumbing elements: Dual-flush toilets, low-flow showerheads and front-loading washers reduce water use.• Solar power: There are three types of solar energy: passive solar (designing your house to be oriented toward the sun); solar thermal (which includes hot water systems); and photovoltaic (or PV, which uses the sun's energy to create electricity to power your home). There are two types of PV systems - solar direct and battery-based. Most people who live in urban areas are connected to the utility grid purchase direct, grid-tied PV systems. These systems work when the sun is out and generate electricity that your home uses immediately. Any extra energy that you do not use is fed back into the grid, which helps the utility because the demand for electricity peaks during the day. At night, your home draws energy from the grid when demand and cost is usually lower.• Tankless water heater: These produce hot water on demand, only when needed. Compared to a traditional water heater with insulated tank, tankless models reduce energy costs because there is no loss due to radiation or the periodic reheating of water.• Windows: Low-e (low-emissivity) glass reduces UV rays at different times of the year. Dual-pane, low-e windows also muffle street noise.Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. YCCA, your local trusted referral source, can be reached at 778-0040 or at Don't start without us!Submit your questions to and watch for your answer in the weekly real estate section of the Daily Courier.
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