Did you undertake any major home improvements over the past year? Buy a new water heater or air conditioner? Put up some new storm windows? Guess what, hope you kept the receipts because these could all be tax deductible. And in fact, they aren't tax deductions, they're tax credits, which are even better for you.
Okay, so the last couple of giveaway prizes have been a bit "female-centric." But for day eleven of our Twelve Days of Giveaways we're tipping the scales over to the testosterone side of the equation with a $500 gift card courtesy of that mecca of maleness: Home Depot.
Christmas is coming and it's time to start shopping for the perfect gifts for loved ones. I don't pretend to know your friends or family, but I can answer questions you'd like to ask your husband, father in-law or other handy do it yourself person. And don't get the impression that this list is just for men: I know there are plenty of women DiYers, too and you can use this list for them as well.
As I said last week, old books and magazine make great gifts. Look for titles from the golden age of DiY before Home Depot appeared and we all got spoiled. It seems there are dozens of multi-volume DiY books published in the 50s and 60s, and they're on eBay cheap. If you can find a complete set of Mechanix Illustrated How-to-do-it Encyclopedias, you're set for life.
Have you ever flushed the toilet, only to go back to the bathroom an hour later and find it still running? Do you live alone, but wake to the sound of water running in the middle of the night? It's not ghosts, it's your toilet's flapper valve.
Toilets are fairly simple. They are far less complicated than your TV, for instance. Still they are more complicated than the kitchen sink. When it works normally, the flush handle opens the flapper flooding the bowl and sending your deceased goldfish down the drain. How Stuff Works has a great cutaway diagram of a toilet, with flush-able animation.
Even as far as the housing market tumbled, we still ended up with what the real estate folks call a "fixer upper". We got a nice 50s ranch house in the San Fernando Valley from the original owner who was moving into an assisted living home. She had kept a nice neat place, with glorious rose bushes in the front and back yards--but the paint and wall paper was from the mid 80s and the furnace was from the 50s.
At least the appliances had just been replaced.
The roof was the biggest issue. New cedar shake roofs have been banned in Los Angeles since sometime before 1990. We still had one in 2008--which would have made it at least 28 years old if it had been put in right before the law was passed, which I doubt. A little investigation revealed an earlier roof still lived under the current one, most likely the original 1950s version. Any roofer, insurance agent, home inspector, or Realtor will tell you 30 years is an old roof. It didn't leak, but it had to go.
Ah, The humble A19 60-watt soft white incandescent light bulb. How many have you changed in your life time? How many people did it take? Cue rim shot and canned laughter. Could Edison have ever seen the day his greatest, most difficult-to-perfect invention would sell for less than $1 each? The 60-watt light bulb doesn't have long to live folks. It has already been outlawed in several countries, and there were reports of hoarding when it was announced that they would be phased out in the EU.
Pay attention: the US is supposed to be phasing them out by 2014!
People, you have nothing to fear. There is no need for petitions. We don't need to create a "National Incandescent Association" and get some celebrity to talk about prying light bulbs out of his cold dead hands. There are more and better options being produced everyday. Between CFLs and the newest LED technologies, the lighting in your house of tomorrow is going to look radically different--or exactly the same. It's up to you.
One thing is for certain though, you are going to save money on your lighting bill!