New Year Home Upgrades

New Year Home Upgrades

New Year Home Upgrades – It happens every January. Motivated by the sense of a fresh start for tackling those home improvement projects that never got done the year before, many of my clients come to me with a wish list of to-dos–primarily inspired by the latest trends in design and remodeling, though some are just focused on high quality ac repair options instead. This year I thought I would beat them to the punch and compile my own list of what I think contractors–and DIYers–will be called upon to do the most in 2018. If you want more tips as well as this article, you can read this guide to see if it has any tips for you and your New Year Home Projects!

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 to discuss you New Year home improvement projects or visit our website for information on all our capabilities. New Year Home Projects

1. Install Garage Organization Systems

Why it’s popular: Getting organized is probably the top New Year’s resolution of home improvement enthusiasts. What’s great about starting out with the garage is that the area can then serve a workshop for other projects. Plus, there are just tons of options to choose from in home improvement stores. Plus, garage organization means you can logically organize your Christmas decorations. Overhead storage, Wall systems, Attic renovations are all useful and economical renovations. Furthermore, once the organization system is in place, you’ll rarely have to make any other improvements to your garage. You might have to get a Garage Door Repair once in a blue moon or repaint the garage door to improve curb appeal, but once done, it becomes an effortless space in your home to maintain. New Year Home Upgrades

2. Update Lighting

Why it’s popular: Again because there are so many great options to select from. Homeowners can add recessed lights, spotlights, ceiling fans (with light fixtures), under cabinet lights… the list of interesting styles of lights available looks to continue to grow in 2019. My personal favorite for really making an impact statement adding state of the art LED lighting with adjustable color temperature and colo. They can be installed in less than a day, and they bring sunlight directly into the home, but they have the profile of a recessed light so that they won’t draw too much focus in the room. New Year Home Projects

3. Purchase Standby Home Generator

Why it’s popular: Ranging from $800 to $10,000, depending on the size, these were selling out all over the country when Superstorms hit so are still fresh on the brain for many. For ease of use, you can choose to have a manual transfer switch installed in your electric panel so the generator can run your house directly, instead of having to layout a web of extension cords. Standby generators can make your life convenient and protect you from devastating power outages. However, you may encounter some issues with local building officials do to noise ordinances. New Year Home Projects

4. Replace Doors and HVAC system

Why it’s popular: Fresh start. The beginning of the year always has people thinking about ways to make their home more energy efficient and increase curb appeal. Air leaks from your old doors are taxing on your HVAC and expensive on your utility bills. Speaking of HVAC, make sure you’re getting that regularly maintained too (check out to learn more about this.) If your HVAC isn’t working properly this can also affect your utility bills, even more so than having poor quality doors. Unfortunately, not every HVAC system is reliable so if you’re noticing that yours isn’t working as it should, check it out and contact an AC Repair company so you can get help from a professional hvac contractor. They can also help you with air conditioning installation if you’ve decided to replace your old ac unit. You can visit sites like to find more details.

Some people find it tricky finding hvac service companies, as improvements or repairs like this are vital for your home and need to be done properly! There are plenty around so you don’t need to worry, there will be someone in your local area. Many companies also work across various states. For example, work in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington! Don’t risk trying to fix the problem yourself otherwise you may make things worse. Replacing the old doors with new materials and solid seals will save you money in the long run and improve the look of your home. This will take from a weekend to a week to complete, depending on the size of your home, but the benefits will last for decades. New Year Home Projects, New Year Home Upgrades

5. Install an electric fireplace and entertainment wall

Electric Fireplace Entertainment Wall – Do you want to make your home pop? Are you looking for a dramatic home improvement project that will add pizazz and great resale value? We can take an ordinary wall, strategically place the TV, install a state of the art electric fireplace with the help from a Fast turn PCB Assembly contractor, do a dramatic paint job, add some dimming LED lights, a few pieces of art-work and you have a perfect entertainment wall. Plano Texas Handyman – visit our blog on electric fireplace.

Reasons to get an electric fireplace installation – If you’re new to the idea of owning an electric fireplace, we’re here to give you the scoop on all the reasons you’ll love having one. Skip ahead to the Electric Fireplace Infographic or View the Video, or keep reading to learn why it’s one of the best things you can do for your home this winter (or any season)!

6. Exterior Home Lighting

Exterior Home Uplighting – Your choice of lighting is a quintessential part of your home’s ambiance. Choosing the right uplighting / downlighting layout can create a subtle yet stunning outdoor lighting atmosphere that you crave for your home’s exterior.

Plano Texas Handyman can add LED uplighting or exterior downlighting to enhance your homes facade and value. Call us today at 214-507-3415 for a free estimate or visit our website for all our capabilities. Exterior Home Uplighting

Although lighting experts and landscaping pros seem to speak their own lingo, understanding the meaning of the term uplighting/downlighting is as obvious as it seems. Uplighting refers to lights that are mounted to shine their light upward and are installed at low or ground level. Downlighting refers to lights that shine their light downward; so they would be installed at a higher to point to create this downward light effect. If you would like to learn more about landscape lighting, you can visit a site similar to New Year Home Upgrades

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 to discuss you New Year home improvement projects or visit our website for information on all our capabilities.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under Cabinet Lighting – Thinking about adding some lights under the upper cabinets in your kitchen, home office, or over your workbench? These lights are a great example of task lighting-lighting installed to help see more easily and clearly while doing something. Under Cabinet Lighting

Plano Texas Handymen can present the best options for under-cabinet lighting. Call us at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities. Under Cabinet Lighting

It might be for making a salad, rolling out the dough, or finding the right- spoon or spice. Trying to sort through some papers or photos on your built-in desk? What about being able to see exactly more effectively when repairing the dresser drawer or coffee maker.

As under-cabinet, or counter-top, lights have become more popular in recent years, more options for installing them have become available. The question is, which one would be the best for you? Get more ideas on for your kitchen, bedroom and more.

Fluorescent Strips

For a while, it was popular to install fluorescent tubes under the wall cabinets. That option fell out of favor as people found that they didn’t care for the color or the intensity or the glare from these lights.

For one thing, the fluorescent fixtures were almost always installed along the angle where the cabinets meet the wall. That was great for keeping these fixtures, which tend to be both bulky and fragile, away from the person working at the counter, and it made wiring them easier. It also meant, unfortunately, that the light was coming from the other side of the work, and that it would bounce, or glare, off the surface of the counter.

So maybe fluorescent strip lights aren’t what you’re looking for, but here are some things to learned from looking at them:

  • The fixture should be mounted close to the front edge of the wall cabinets, so that as much light as possible will be on the objects you’re working with, or looking for.
  • It should produce a non-glaring light.
  • The fixture should be small and light, not heavy or bulky.
  • The fixture should be sturdy, in case it does get hit with something.
  • To the extent possible, the fixture should be easy to wire.
  • Under Cabinet Lighting

And there’s one more characteristic that isn’t an issue with fluorescent strips:

  • An under-cabinet light should be cool. Not in terms of color temperature, and not just cool looking, but in the amount of heat it generates. It shouldn’t give off enough heat to damage the cabinets or their contents.

Round Lights

Some people call these “hockey puck” lights because, well, that’s what they look like. They are available with either halogen or xenon light bulbs. Xenon bulbs don’t have a filament, so they typically last up to three times longer than halogen bulbs. They also give off a whiter light, which can help visibility but may also produce glare, and they burn hotter than equivalent halogen bulbs. For those who want to use lights with xenon bulbs, check the fixtures to see how much heat they’ll be transferring to the bottom of your wall cabinets.


  • Round lights are designed to be attractive.
  • They are usually sturdy.
  • They are typically relatively easy to wire.


  • These lights can get hot-especially the ones with the xenon bulbs.
  • Round lights tend to throw pools of light. Getting even lighting across a broad area may require installing quite a few of them.

Slim Fluorescent Strips

These are the successors to the bulky fixtures of yesteryear. Slim fluorescent fixtures are small enough and light enough to be mounted at the front of the cabinets just behind the face frames. They’re also directional so that they can be mounted to cast their light down and toward the wall, not back toward the room.


  • Slim fluorescent strips are more attractive than the older models.
  • Most fluorescent tube fixtures that call for light tube covers are reasonably sturdy.
  • Most of these fixtures are relatively easy to wire.
  • Some fluorescent tube fixtures can be strung together to create very even lighting.


  • It may become expensive to add enough to provide even lighting.
  • Because these are fluorescent lights, make sure to get the right light color before installing them. Under Cabinet Lighting

LED Strips and Packs

Some of these lights look a lot like the slim fluorescent fixtures, and some of them can be a bit bulky. They are LEDs, though, which tends to mean a long service life, lower operating costs, and a different quality of light. It can vary, so be sure to power them up in the kitchen, and try out the light before installing them.


  • LED strips and packs are designed to be attractive.
  • Most of these fixtures are reasonably sturdy.
  • Some LED strips and packs can be strung together to create very even lighting.


  • It may become expensive to add enough of these to provide even lighting.
  • LED lights may require a separate power source, which adds to the cost and can make the wiring trickier to install.
  • Because they are LEDs, make sure you enjoy the color of the light before you install them.

LED Ropes and Tapes

These lights are so slim that you can make them virtually disappear. They tuck into the angle between the face frame and the bottom shelf of the cabinet. Usually, they are never seen, except for the light they produce. They don’t give off as much light as some of the other types but, because they come in a continuous roll, they often provide the most continuous light available.


  • LED ropes and tapes can be installed to be invisible, or nearly so.
  • They are sturdy.
  • They provide very even lighting, and they can be mounted end-to-end to keep the light going without dead spots.
  • LED ropes and tapes are relatively inexpensive, per foot of light.
  • These lights are good to use for add-in lighting.


  • They may require a separate power source, which adds to the cost and can make the wiring trickier to install.
  • Because they are LEDs, make sure you enjoy the color of the light before you install them.
  • LED rope and tape lights might provide less light than what is expected. This means that they are not as useful as a primary source of light as some of the other options.

What’s the Best Choice?

For those who have good general lighting in their kitchen or home office and want light evenly spread across the counter, adding LED strip or tape lights might be the best choice. Above a workbench, a brighter light, such as a fluorescent tube fixture, is more likely to give the level of light needed.

Plano Texas Handymen can present the best options for under-cabinet lighting. Call us at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities. Under Cabinet Lighting

5 Reasons to Use Energy Efficient Lighting

5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting

5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting

5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting – First lets look at the benefits of installing energy efficient lighting and later we will examine the up-front cost to upgrade and then the annual energy savings. Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 to discuss the installation of your Drip Irrigation System. Visit our website at for more information. Installing Energy- 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

It’s no secret the cost of electrical energy continues to rise and will inevitably continue to do so in the future. At the same time, the demand for electricity continues to increase, taxing our existing electrical infrastructure to the margins of their design limits. We need more power, but in order to get it, we need new transmission and distribution infrastructure — but that’s just the beginning.

Efficiencies need to improve. Smart grid and microgrid strategies need to be deployed, and energy storage needs to be maximized. The list goes on and on. The problem is all of these propositions require a large amount of capital, which seems to be in short supply these days. Therefore, the quickest and least expensive way to generate more electricity is to not consume it in the first place. One way to use less energy is to install newer and more energy-efficient lamps, luminaires, and controls. Even lighting systems that were deployed just five years ago could benefit from newer lighting technologies and/or better control strategies.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that about 461 billion kWh of electricity were used for lighting by the residential and commercial sectors in 2011. This was equal to about 17% of the total electricity consumed by both of these sectors and about 12% of total U.S. electricity consumption. Residential lighting consumption was about 186 billion kWh — or 13% of all residential electricity consumption. The commercial sector, which includes commercial and institutional buildings and public street/highway lighting, consumed about 275 billion kWh for lighting — or 21% of commercial sector electricity consumption in 2011. Installing Energy- 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

The good news is lighting has become more efficient over the last decade and continues to evolve. Not only have lamps and luminaires become more efficient, but so have lighting control systems. Installing new luminaires and lamps — or retrofitting existing luminaires and lamps — is standard practice for the electrical industry. However, installing lighting controls to save energy has sent many electrical contractors and technicians back into training mode.

1. Energy Savings – Lamp/luminaire and lighting control strategies are driven by the need to save energy and by the adoption of energy codes like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1, or state standards like California’s Title 24. As lamp efficacies improve, energy codes are driving down the number of watts per square foot used to light any give space within a building. Add in effective lighting controls, and you can drive down energy consumption even further. On the voluntary side, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), has had a profound impact on driving energy-efficient lighting design as well. 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

There are other benefits for installing a well-engineered lighting system. Although the following benefits may appear to be less quantifiable, in reality, they are no less important than saving energy. First is the effect that a lighting system has on improving the productivity, recruitment, and retention of the customer’s employees. The second is green and zero net energy branding opportunities. A 2009 research study, “Green Goes Mainstream: How to Profit from Green Market Opportunities,” authored by Jerry Yudelson, Yudelson Associates, Tucson, Ariz., found an average 3.2% increase in productivity from lighting improvements. The same study also revealed that a 1% increase in productivity equates to 100% reduction in energy costs. 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

2. Large choice of lighting technology – Lamp and luminaire choice is usually driven by customer request in consultation with an architect, lighting designer, or both to meet occupancy requirements. However, in some cases, the electrical contractor may become the specifier of the lamps and luminaires to reduce costs for the customer (value-engineering). Electrical contractors involved in design/build projects have greater influence over lighting selection. Because most design/build electrical contractors are not lighting designers, learning something about basic lighting design benefits everyone involved. These can be coupled with a great new energy quote from Usave ( will only amplify the benefits.

Just like the lighting designer, the electrical contractor needs to understand the customer’s lighting requirements. In the case of value-engineering or design/build scenarios, realize that the customer may be relying on your expertise when it comes to lamp/luminaire selection, layout, and control. Some basic questions to ask the customer include: What is the major task(s) that will be performed in the space (e.g., task lighting)? What surfaces or objects need to be lit (e.g., focal lighting)? What types of fenestrations will the space contain (e.g., daylighting)? Is any lamp/luminaire going to be used as an architectural or decorative feature (e.g., decorative lighting)? What is the mood of the space, or what are the navigation requirements within the space (e.g., ambient lighting)? In some designs, energy savings and increased productivity may be gained by separating task lighting from ambient lighting and using innovative control strategies.

3. Lighting has become understandable – The proper selection of the lamp and luminaire begins with understanding something about the qualities of a light source, which are determined by the method used to produce the light. Light sources range from incandescent and halogen to fluorescent and HID to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Lamps are rated in lumen output, watts, and lumens per watt or efficacy. Lumen output is the total light output of the lamp. This does not include fixture lumens only lamp lumens. (It’s important to understand the difference when evaluating LED lamps and luminaires.) Efficacy is the measure of how efficient one light source is when compared to another. The more lumen output per watt of power consumed, the more efficacious the lamp is. When purchasing lamps, think lumens, not watts.

4. Quality – The quality of light is also a measure of its color accuracy and the color of the light itself. Color accuracy is a measure of how well the light source can render the colors of an object. This is known as the color rendering index (CRI), which is measured on a scale of 0 (very poor rendering) to 100 (perfect rendering). The color of the light the lamp produces (whether the light appears warm, neutral, or cool) is a function of its color temperature. The lower the color temperature, the warmer (more red) the lamp appears; the higher the color temperature, the whiter or cooler the light source appears (more blue). This is known as the correlated color temperature (CCT), as shown in the Figure. 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

Other areas of concern when selecting a lamp are its operating temperature range, lamp life, lumen maintenance (how much light output diminishes over the life of the lamp), directionality, dimmability, starting time, and life-cycle costs. All lamp qualities need to be understood to provide the customer with the desired end result. This implies that you, as the electrical contractor, understand how all lamps generate their light and what their operational characteristics are. Control strategies will be predicated on the operational characteristics of the lamp and occupancy requirements. 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

The goal is to have a better understanding of the nature of light — not necessarily to become a lighting designer. However, if you are providing design/build services or value-engineering a lighting system, understanding some basics of lighting design will help a great deal. Many lighting and lighting control manufacturers provide basic online training with regard to understanding the nature of light, lamp characteristics, luminaire selection, and the correct switching or dimming control devices and topologies. Many lighting manufacturers also offer webinars and training courses, some of which are free. Staying on top of the latest training resources in the lighting arena will go a long way toward maximizing your next energy-efficient installation.

The annual savings to upgrade to energy efficient lighting

5. Energy Savings – Assuming you have a 2500 square foot home, with a total of 25 – 60W incandescent bulbs (lamps, fans and bath fixtures), 15 – 65W BR40 spot lights (can lights), and 4 – 4? 40W t40 fluorescent bulbs (closets and laundry).

The total out of pocket cost to replace these bulbs with LED lighting would be approximately $485.00, including professional installation. Installing Energy-Efficient Indoor Lighting Systems

The total annual savings realized based on .11c/kwh would come to $240.00 annually in energy usage, up-front, the payback seems to be 2 years! However, you must consider the longevity and useful life of the asset, LED bulbs last on average 14.7 years compared to 2.1 years for standard incandescent. Essentially, you will have to replace incandescent bulbs 7 times. The bottom line is that over the life of the LED product (14 to 15 years), you will save over $3200.00 in energy usage and bulb replacement.

This analysis is done for a 2500 square foot home, do the math, many homes in Plano Texas are much larger. Your savings could be enormous.

Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 to discuss the installation of your Drip Irrigation System. Visit our website at for more information. Installing Energy- 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

Home Lighting Tips

Kitchen Remodel

Home Lighting Tips – Lighting a room seems easy enough: Plug in a lamp, flip a switch, and voilà! What was once dark is now bright. But certain missteps can cause a comfy space to feel, well, off. Here some common mistakes to avoid:

1. You don’t think in layers
It seems easy enough to install a row of recessed lights in a room and call it a day, but this strategy will ultimately disappoint. “Homeowners tend to light rooms like they’re hosting a convention – too much overhead light,” says Robert Gross, an architect at Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design. “This doesn’t add any warmth or character to a room.”  Overhead lighting is a go-to option in many spaces, but it’s often not enough. If you omit task lighting, like floor lamps and table lamps, reading on your couch or writing at your desk could strain your eyes. And if you only install can lights in your bedroom, you won’t get the cozy quality that bedside lamps can provide.  Home Lighting Tips

Plus, a variety of light sources make your common areas more flexible. Ambient (overhead) lighting will come in handy when you’re hosting large holiday parties, but you’ll crave the intimacy of a table lamp when it’s just you curled up with a magazine. Want to get super fancy? Why not try making a feature out of your lighting by choosing one of the neon lights available from sites such as Alternatively, accent lights that highlight art, cabinet interiors, or walls (think sconces) can also add a luxe design element to a room.

2. You dismiss dimmer switches.
Many of the designers we spoke to named this mistake as a major pet peeve. “Dimmers are the best kept secret of lighting design,” says interior designer Jeff Fiorito. “They allow you to control your lighting from day to night, for various events, and depending on your mood.” A quaint dinner party simply isn’t so quaint if your dining room is lit up like a stadium.  Every livable space should have dimmer switches, they add ambience and mood and can warm or brighten any room especially if you have recessed lighting.

3. You forget about where shadows might fall.
Place a light in the wrong spot, and you could create more of a problem than a solution.

“In bathroom, try sconces on either side of the mirror, instead of a single light above.” says Erin Davis, of Mosaik Design & Remodeling. “Overhead lighting can cast shadows on your face.” If you must go with an overhead light, choose a longer, horizontal fixture (instead of one with one single bulb) to help fully illuminate your face.  Home Lighting Tips

Shadows can plague your kitchen workspace, too. “If kitchen can lights are positioned above the edge of the counter, when you stand at the counter to work, you cast a shadow exactly where you need the light,” says Christine Beehler of Beehler Kitchens. Solve this problem by installing under-cabinet lighting.

Notice the same overhead shadow problem in your office? Make sure your desk has a task lamp.

4. You pick the wrong size fixture.
“This a common mistake I see homeowners make,” says Abbe Fenimore, the designer at Studio Ten 25. “A too-small chandelier over a large dining table or an oversized lamp on a table next to a sofa will make the area look disproportionate.”

Try these design tricks from Wayfair for picking the right-size chandelier: Add together the room’s height and width in feet. That number, in inches, should be the approximate diameter of your chandelier. In dining rooms, you should choose a chandelier that’s one foot smaller than the table’s narrowest width.

And don’t rely on eyeballing it when you get to the store. “Fixtures often look smaller in lighting showrooms, so bring measurements,” says Kerrie Kelly, home design expert at Zillow Digs.

5. You don’t position lamps at a helpful height.
“The bottom of a pendant light should be 30 to 36 inches above a kitchen island,” says interior designer Noelle Miceck. “The bottom of a chandelier should be 66 inches from the floor in a dining room, and when you’re sitting next to a table lamp, the bottom of the shade should be at shoulder height. If the lamp is too tall, you’ll be blinded by the bulb!”

6. You don’t consider your room’s paint color.
No matter how many lights you place in a room, it just won’t have that light airy feeling if the walls are too dark. This seems obvious, but even slightly different hues in the same color family can make a difference. “I painted my kitchen a grayish tan, and it caused the room to appear very dark,” says Plano Texas Handyman, Ted Vinci. “Repainting it with a ligther tan color will brighten it up.”

7. You forget that lights consume energy.
OK, so you’re probably not totally oblivious to this fact, but taking stock of what bulbs you use is important. Longer-lasting CFL and LED bubs can cost more up front, but can save you money over time. Of course, they won’t be perfect in every space; for instance, they often don’t work with dimmers.