What to do if your home has a gas leak

(NC) Although natural gas is extremely safe and reliable, gas leaks can occur inside or outside your home. Knowing how to detect them can keep you and your family safe.

Natural gas is both odourless and colourless, making it hard to identify. To make it easier to detect, gas utilities add a chemical called mercaptan, which causes gas to smell like rotten eggs or sulphur. Interestingly, mercaptan is a natural chemical that's also found in the human body — it's the reason human waste and bad breath cause a stench.

Look out for other warning signs, like a hearing loud hissing sound or damage to a gas connection, pipe or meter. Dead or dying vegetation in the area around your natural gas meter, appliances or gas lines could also be a sign of a leak.

If you suspect a natural gas leak, here's what you should do:

• Go outside and if possible, leave the area immediately.

• Once you're a safe distance away, call your local natural gas utility's emergency number.

• Don't use phones or electronics near the leak.

• Don't use appliances or start any vehicles or motors.

• Don't smoke, use lighters or matches.

• If leaked gas is burning, call 911 and do not attempt to put the fire out yourself.

• Never assume that someone else has reported a natural gas leak.

Learn more about natural gas safety at www.enbridgegas.com/smellgas.

Declutter your closet with these minimalist tips

(NC) Each year, we declutter our lives through a crusade called spring cleaning. It marks the transition from wearing our winter garb to our summer digs, but no such milestone is allotted to the seasonal transition during fall.

This time of year is an equally important opportunity for simplification, especially when it comes to cleaning out your closet and creating the perfect capsule wardrobe.

In theory, capsule wardrobes are a minimalist selection of items that can be easily mixed and matched, creating a multitude of combinations. Saving you time and money, this is a strategy designed to streamline your daily clothing choices.

In practice, capsule wardrobes are more easily said than done. If downsizing to 30 items sounds impossible, there are other methods for making more closet space:

• Set aside regular times of the year to reassess your closet. Spring isn't the only season that cleaning can be cathartic.

• Ask yourself some simple questions: Does it fit me right now? Do I remember the last time I wore it? If the answer is no, chances are you shouldn't keep it.

• Put items you aren't ready to purge into a box and out of sight. The next time you revisit the box you'll see what clothing you haven't touched since last season.

• Focus on a few wardrobe staples that will carry you from season to season, such as external wear, accessories and shoes. These should be timeless, modern and adaptable, much like the design behind Daniel Wellington watches that have interchangeable straps to complement almost any outfit.

• Add budget-friendly trendy or seasonal pieces that refresh your style throughout the year but invest in high-quality items you can wear in countless ways.

Cooler temperatures pushing pests into local homes

(NC) Many pests are seasonal, with mosquitoes peaking in the summer and rodents seeking refuge in the winter. Fall is no exception to this trend, with many pests looking for shelter indoors as temperatures begin to drop.

“Many mistakenly believe their pest problems will end at the close of summer,” explains Dr. Alice Sinia, resident entomologist for Orkin Canada. “Instead, they'll find that new pests move into their homes in preparation for winter.”

Sinia recommends monitoring for the following pests during this autumn.

Rodents. Mice and rats are two of the most common fall intruders. They need warmth, shelter and food to survive, making your home an oasis during the cooler season. In addition to carrying several diseases, these pests can cause extensive damage to your home by chewing through wire and insulation. Once they're inside, they reproduce quickly.

Box Elder Bugs. Also known as maple bugs, these pests can enter through cracks and crevices, congregate in large numbers and hibernate through fall and winter. While they do not cause structural damage, they can leave stains on furniture and linens.

Bed Bugs. These are a constant threat, and this fall will be no exception. Bed bugs can travel on clothing, suitcases, bedding and furniture, moving quickly from one home to the next. Although they do not carry diseases, they can leave behind itchy welts and are difficult to eliminate.

Cluster flies. Cluster flies are slightly larger and darker than the common housefly. They are attracted to warmth and are most commonly found on the sunny side of buildings. They can fly and crawl through small openings and voids in the walls. These pests do not bite or carry diseases, but will leave behind stains on walls and curtains when crushed.

Preventive steps can help reduce the risk of pest threats. Try trimming vegetation, sealing cracks and screening windows. Contact a licensed pest management professional to help prepare your home against fall pests.

Beware of phantom power draining electricity in your home

(NC) Did you know that phantom power lurking in your home could account for up to 10 per cent of your home's energy use? Also known as standby power, phantom power is energy consumption that is being drawn by many household gadgets, electronic devices and appliances while they are switched off but plugged in.

Here are five tips from Hydro One to reduce energy consumption and the amount of phantom power being used in your home:

1. The most effective way to eliminate standby power loss is to unplug your devices when they are not in use.

2. An easy way to turn your electronic devices off is to plug all electronics into a power bar with a timer to shut off automatically.

3. Group appliances and electronics that are being used together by plugging them into the same power bar with timer. Try this with your coffee maker and toaster, for example.

4. Unplug cell phone and tablet chargers once devices have finished charging. Up to 50 per cent of the electricity they draw is lost as heat.

5. Look for the Energy Star label whenever you buy new electronics or appliances. Energy Star identifies the most energy efficient products that reduce energy use even in standby mode.

Learn how much energy your electronics really use and find more tips on reducing phantom power at www.hydroone.com/phantoms.