Home improvement 101

Looking for the latest in home improvement? Check out the 30th annual Philadelphia Home Show. This year, more than 500 exhibitors are showing off their products and services — from “upcycled” art to innovative insulation — at the Convention Center.

“We’re really seeing a trend toward people taking the house they already have and turning it into their dream house, slowly and affordably, instead of buying a new one,” says Alyson Caplan, show manager. “It’s a more budget-conscious approach.” Caplan and exhibitor Sam Litwin of NJ-PA Energy Group share their tips on what to look out for this year.

Keep cozy: “People want to make their house look beautiful, but we focus on the not-so-pretty stuff — things you don’t readily see that can make a tremendous impact, like insulation,” says Litwin. He recommends thermal reflective insulation, the same technology NASA uses to keep astronauts cozy. It lowers utility costs by keeping heat in during the winter and reflecting it back out in the summer.

Take advantage of sunny days: Solar panels, which can be used for hot water or electricity, are a great way to go green while saving some green, Caplan says. Add in tax rebates and solar panels look even better.

Turn trash into treasure: The Philadelphia Dumpster Divers will be on hand to show off their wares and give tips on how to transform everyday objects — like trash — into distinctive decor. “They ‘upcycle’ materials to create art, instead of just recycling,” Caplan explains. “It’s really a lot of fun.”

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