The temperature is dropping and the heating bills are going up. Some quick and easy tips will have you saving money this winter on home heating bills. 1. Set your thermostat back. For every degree you set your thermostat back over eight hours, you’ll save about 1 percent on your heating bill each year. 2. Use a space heater. If you spend most of your time in one area of your home it is less expensive to use a space heater than turn up the heat in your entire home. 3. Open blinds during the day to let sun in. At dusk, close them to trap heat. 4. Inspect weather stripping around exterior doors. Replace old, cracked, or missing stripping. 5. If heat is escaping at your doors, attach a sweep to the bottom of the doors. Sweeps are flexible plastic strips that are easily screwed to door bottoms, and keep cold air out from below. 6. Fill gaps around windows with interior and exterior caulking. If cold air is coming in around the sashes, install appropriate weather stripping.]]>
The warmer weather is here. If you don’t have air conditioning or just want to save money by not turning it on as often there are lots of ways to keep cool. So before you turn on the air or get overheated here are some tips on how to cool down your home as well as some tips for cooling yourself. 1. Keep the blinds shut Keep the heat out by closing your blinds, curtains and windows during the day. This will block the sun’s heat. Keep everything shut until night falls and its cool enough to open the windows. 2. Open the windows After nightfall open the windows to allow the cool night air to blow throughout house. 3. Use a fan Place ceiling fans and window fans in upstairs rooms to draw off the heat and push the heat outdoors. Set up fans to suck up the cooler air from the floor below, and blow the hot air upwards towards the ceiling. 4. Create your own air conditioner Believe it or not you can make your own air conditioner. Place a metal bowl of ice in front of a fan, and adjust the fan so that the air is blowing over the ice. 5. Avoid adding heat Don’t add heat to your home especially during the day. Wait until the evening to take a hot shower, wash dishes and clothes or turn on the oven.]]>
Is clutter taking over your life? There is a way to take your life back from the piles of junk collecting in your home and it doesn’t involve all of your things ending up in the landfill. Here are just a few smart and frugal ideas for repurposing old stuff… For Decorating Use old hardware from dresser drawers to hang curtains. Use junk CDs and DVDs as drink coasters. For Organizing Use oatmeal containers and coffee tins to store flour, sugar and mixes. Use old doorknobs to make a coat rack. For Outside Use egg cartons, old jars, tins and yogurt cartons to make functional seed starters. Use old wooden ladders as part of your landscaping, allowing ivy and other vine plants to climb them. Use CDs to scare birds away from your berry garden. Hang CDs from a tree near your berry bushes. The shiny, moving objects will frighten birds, keeping them away from your sun-ripened berries. Use Cooking Spray as an ice repellent. Spray both sides of a plastic or metal shovel with cooking spray and the ice will slide right off. Repurposing items is easy if you start by changing the way you look at things. Next time you think something is trash, stop and think “how can I repurpose this?”]]>
Saving money can be hard. It often seems like a daunting task but often it is the little things that make a big difference. Here are five tips to get saving more money now. 1. Pay off your debt. If you have debt try to consolidate it and pay off debt as soon as possible. A strategy to do this would be to consolidate debt to a lower interest rate if possible. Interest on debt can cost you thousands of dollars every year. 2. Pay your bills on time. When you don’t pay your bills on time you acquire late fees. The best way to do this is to get organized about your regular bills. If possible, automate your regular payments. 3. Know your bank balance. If you don’t keep track of your check book you will probably accrue over draft fees. Be aware of the balance in your bank account and avoid overdraft fees. 4. Avoid ATM fees. ATM fees can really add up. Try to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees, or withdraw directly at your bank. 5. Manage your credit. Credit card fees are often hidden costs you don’t account for. Look for credit cards with cash back bonuses and reward points. Avoid credit cards with annual fees.]]>
While the danger from winter storms varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. The winds are almost always a factor here on Cape Cod. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes. Before The Storm: To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:
- Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
- Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- A NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the NWS for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.
- Download FEMA’s Be Smart. Know Your Alerts and Warnings for a summary of notifications at:www.ready.gov/prepare. Free smart phone apps, such as those available from FEMA and the American Red Cross, provide information about finding shelters, providing first aid, and seeking assistance for recovery.
- Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Winterize Your Home
- Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
- Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
- If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
- Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
- Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Learn From Every StormRestock your emergency supplies to be ready in case another storm hits. What happens if you aren’t available during the storm? Be sure that you have someone watching out for your home. You want someone reputable that can be entrusted to make sure your home is ready. Pat Foran is an accredited member of the National Home Watch Association. Call today before the next storm hits! Information gathered from http://www.ready.gov]]>
Did you know the average family spends over $1600 a year on utility bills alone? Here are some simple steps you can take to not only save energy but also put some money back in your pocket.
Put your thermostat to work
Invest in energy-efficient appliances
Seal it up
Slow the flow
Moving can be an expensive endeavor. Even if you decide to rent a truck and move your belongings yourself there are lots of other expenses that can add up. Luckily, there are a few simple ways consumers can save money hauling their belongings from their current home to the next one. Purge your things. Instead of moving things that you don’t use sell or donate them. If you decide to donate items to charity, you could save lots of time and even get a tax deduction. Move on a less popular day. The most popular time to move is at the end of the month. Since most closings happen and leases are up at the end of the month there’s more competition for the trucks and moving crews. Moving at the end of the month will also cost you more. Choose your moving date midweek, closer to the middle of the month. Packing materials like bubble wrap and foam peanuts are costly. If you are packing your own items use things you have around the house like bed linens, towels and clothing to pad your items. You can also use newspapers and tissue paper from gift bags. Be careful when using newspaper as the newsprint will smudge on dishes and other items. Don’t buy moving boxes check Freecycle and Craigslist for free ones first. Ask around, your friends may have boxes suitable for moving.]]>
Kitchens sell houses. So having a great looking kitchen is important if you are thinking of putting your home on the market or maybe you just need a fresh new look. Cabinets are one of the biggest expenses in a kitchen remodel but with a little elbow grease and creativity, you can update your kitchen cabinets without going through the hassle of an entire remodel. Here are some tips on how to make your kitchen look like new with a cabinet facelift. Give the wood a Good Cleaning You will be surprised what a good scrubbing can do. Heat, water, grease and food residue all take a serious toll on your cabinets.
When times are tough you look to cut back anywhere you can. The price at the pump can be a real budget buster. There are ways to save on gas and get better mileage from your dollar. Slow down Speed is the biggest factor on fuel economy. Driving at 55 mph instead of 65 or 75 will save on gas. Tests have shown increasing speed from 55 mph to just 65 mph dropped fuel economy from 40 mpg to 35. While driving at 75 mph can cost the car another 5 mpg. Go smooth Keep a steady pace; avoid hard acceleration and braking if possible. Frequent acceleration and braking can reduce mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Driving with smooth acceleration, cornering, and braking will also extend the life of the automobile. Don’t be a drag When driving on the highway, more than 50 percent of engine power goes to overcoming aerodynamic drag. Carrying large items such as luggage racks and top-carriers reduce fuel economy. Warm Up Take the time to warm up the engine before taking off. Cars run most efficiently when they’re warm. Stopping and starting the car several times is a big factor, try to combine several short trips into one so that the engine stays warm. Pump up Check your tires. Underinflated tires compromise handling and braking which in turn can reduce fuel economy. Check the pressure of your vehicle’s tires to make sure they are correct. Keep moving Idling is one of the worst things your car can do, when idling your car is getting zero miles per gallon. Turn off your engine if you expect to sit for more than about 30 seconds. Practicing these simple tips should have you putting less money in your gas tank in more in your wallet in no time.]]>
What will boost your home’s value? You want to add a sunroom but will that bring in the biggest bang for your buck? How about a new bathroom? It’s a common question that many homeowners ask. What will we get back when we sell? This can be a hard question to answer but luckily Bankrate.com and Remodeling Magazine has come up with a list of the worst home fixes for the money. Here are the six improvements that ranked dead last nationally when it comes to getting those renovation dollars back at resale. 1. A Home Office-The standard home office renovation is this year’s biggest loser in the resale value sweepstakes. Nationally, homeowners spent an average of $28,888 and can expect to recoup about 45.8 percent at resale, according to the report. If you want to enjoy a home office opt for something that is easily converted back into a bedroom or den. 2. Backup Generators-This only usually brings about negative thoughts like does this home loose power often? On average, when homeowners have a heavy-duty backup power generator installed, they spend about $14,718, according to the report. The average amount of the price recovered at resale time: 48.5 percent. 3. A Sunroom-While the thought is sitting and enjoying a sunroom may sound lovely to you but the addition of a sunroom is often more than you can recoup. The national average for a sunroom addition is $75,224, according to the report. Homeowners can expect to recoup about 48.6 percent when they sell. 4. A Master Suite-It is the price tag of this addition that can also leave sellers in the red. For a super-deluxe master suite addition — which adds square footage and uses only top-dollar materials — the average cost is about $232,062, according to the report. Sellers can expect to recover about 52.7 percent at resale. 5. An Extra Bathroom-Wait kitchens and bathrooms sells houses or that’s what people say. Bathroom additions are very expensive. For a moderately outfitted addition with synthetic stone or plastic laminate surfaces, plan on the cost about $21,695, according to the Remodeling report. Go upscale, with finishes like premium marble or fine tile, and you can easily spend in the neighborhood of $40,710. You can plan on a return of about 53 cents on the dollar. Look for less-expensive way to get the same results. Try reconfiguring your existing space to add a bathroom for less. 6. A Dream Garage-The price tag for a top-of-the-line detached two-car with all the trimmings is about $90,053, according to the report. This is a garage that is completely top-of-the-line. You can expect to recover about 53.6 percent of that when you sell. Instead go for function over form and stick the basic garage if you plan on a garage project. ]]>