Blog :: 2018

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills This Summer

 

Posted on May 16 2017 - 12:52pm by Housecall

Window sill of a house in rural

By Rob Caiello

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time to start thinking about ways to save on utility bills and energy costs before you’re shocked by your first big bill this summer. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prepare your home (and your wallet) for the summer heat without sacrificing comfort. So, before you crank up the AC, take a look at our top ways to save on utility bills this summer. Your budget will thank you!

1. Get Your HVAC System Ready

Is there anything worse than a broken HVAC system in the summer? The good news is you can avoid this nightmare by taking precautions and getting your HVAC ready for summer. First, you’ll want to clean or change the air filters as dirty or clogged filters force your air conditioning system to work much harder, which in turn causes more wear and tear in the long-run. You’ll also want to inspect your outdoor unit for any visible signs of damage such as warped panels, torn insulation or rust. In the colder months, small animals may nest inside the insulation so you’ll want to inspect the inside as well. Taking these steps to ensure your AC unit is working efficiently will help keep your energy bills low this summer.

2. Clean Air Filters and Vents

Many homeowners make the mistake of closing off vents in rooms that are not being used, but closing vents causes more pressure in the ducts causing your air conditioner to work much harder. Before you turn the AC on this summer, open all the vents and give them a nice cleaning.

3. Keep Blinds Closed

Did you know that keeping your blinds closed during the day can drastically reduce the heat in your home? Keeping them open causes a greenhouse like effect—sunlight and heat pour in all day and can’t get out, making your home much warmer and causing your air conditioning to work over-time, which in turn will spike up your power bill.

4. Lower Your Utility Rates

Do you live in a deregulated energy region? If so, you have the power to choose your energy provider and can shop around for the lowest energy rates. If you haven’t researched your options in a while, summer is the perfect time to reevaluate your current energy provider and find out if there is a cheaper rate out there. Many deregulated energy providers offer special promotions in the summer, like “free nights,” so you should definitely check out what else is out there.

5. Time Your Thermostat

If you want to be cost conscious this summer, you shouldn’t blast your air conditioning at all hours of the day. A lower temperature setting at night and a higher setting during the day is recommended for optimal cost savings. If you’re forgetful or aren’t always around to change it, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule your temperature changes even when you aren’t home.

6. Switch to LED Bulbs

While incandescent light bulbs are cheap, they use more energy and produce quite a bit of heat compared to LED bulbs. LED bulbs tend to be a little more expensive than incandescent lights, but they last longer, produce less heat and create great energy savings in the long run. So, consider making the switch the LED lights, at least in the rooms you use most, to help lower your utility bills this summer.

7. Buy a Water Cistern

If you don’t know, a water cistern is a device that captures rain water and stores it for you to use to water your garden or lawn, to wash your car, etc. Your water bill can get out of hand in the summer as you spend more time outdoors, so a water cistern is a great investment if you want to keep your garden and lawn green all summer long without paying for extra water use.

8. Use Your Ceiling Fan

In the warmer months, you should run your ceiling fans counter-clockwise. Since heat rises, the counter-clockwise motion will help pull the cold air up toward the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan efficiently will help cool your rooms, allowing you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature, ultimately reducing your power bill.

9. Invest in Smart Power Strips

Connecting multiple appliances to a smart power strip that can be turned off with only one flip of a switch at night when the devices aren’t being used is a quick and easy way to help reduce energy waste. When you don’t have to unplug all your devices individually, saving energy suddenly becomes much easier!

10. Don’t Use an Irrigation Schedule

Irrigation schedules or timers that you can set to schedule when your garden or lawn will be watered sound nice in theory, but they actually produce quite a bit of water waste. You can’t control when it rains, and you may not be home to stop your irrigation system from going off when it does. Watering manually may seem like a chore, but when you think about all the money you can save from reducing water waste, manual watering becomes more appealing.

Don’t let the first utility bills of summer sneak up on you. Be proactive and implement our tips, we promise they’ll help you save big on your utility bills this summer!

Rob Caiello is the Vice President of Marketing over at Allconnect. Since 1998, Allconnect has simplified and expedited the purchase and setup of home utilities and services (like internet, TV, and electricity) for millions of movers relocating across the United States.

    Comments

    1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

    High-Resale Value Projects You Can Tackle In A Weekend

    RIS Media's...

    High-Resale Value Projects You Can Tackle In a Weekend

    Posted on Mar 1 2017 - 3:58pm by Megan Wild

    kitchen

    “There’s no place like home,” as the old saying goes. That’s especially true when it comes to an investment.

    You live in and love your home, but there might come a time when you have to leave it. And when that time comes, you’ll want to get as much money as you can for your property so you can move onward — and upward.

    In order to increase your abode’s value, you might think you have to put in a ton of time, effort and money, but that’s not entirely true. Instead, you can take on weekend projects over time to spruce the place up so when it’s time to sell, you have a completely updated property that’ll end up selling itself.

    Ready to get to work? Roll up your sleeves and start on one of the following five weekend projects.

    1. Repaint Your Kitchen Cabinets

    When it comes to smart investment in your home, the kitchen is one of the best places to start. Buyers expect kitchens to be updated. Stone countertops, stainless appliances and sleek flooring all make a space feel modern. Obviously, these changes require a lot of money and, sometimes, a lot of time. That’s why you can tackle it in bits and start first with your cabinets.

    Old wooden cabinets with equally dated hardware — think oak doors with shiny brass handles — don’t require a complete gut job. Instead, spend a weekend repainting them a more neutral hue. Finish the project off with new metallic knobs and pulls to complete the modernized look.

    2. Make the Eye Go up With Crown Molding

    Most homes have roughly the same ceiling heights, but there’s a little trick to make yours look bigger — crown molding. Yes, that white line at the top of your painted walls will draw eyes upward, making the room appear airier than it may very well be.

    The project is easy enough to complete, too. You might not be able to install molding throughout your entire home over a single weekend, but you can certainly tackle the project on a room-by-room basis. Again, start with the spaces likely to draw in the most moolah:

    • Kitchens
    • Bathrooms
    • Living spaces
    • Master bedrooms

    These tend to be the make-or-break rooms when it comes to a big purchase. Crown molding adds a bit of detail, a feeling of luxury that’ll certainly add to the bottom line.

    3. Boost Curb Appeal — and Backyard Bonuses

    No one will come in your home unless the first impression is stunning. Another DIY project should be a landscape overhaul of your front yard. It can be something as simple as adding a path of pavers to your front yard or sprucing up your flowerbeds with colorful blooms. All of this will catch the eye of potential buyers — and fatten up the bottom line of the offers they make.

    Another easy fix — your garage door. If it’s street-facing, it’s another area for prospective buyers to look at, and it has a great return on investment.

    You don’t have to stop with the front of your home. Especially if you live in a climate that permits lots of outdoor activity, you’ll want a backyard to match. Some may require you rent or buy tools for landscaping and other applications, but imagine the payoff with, for example, the beauty of a functioning fire pit in your backyard. Not only will you be able to enjoy it while you’re still living in your home, but potential buyers will easily be able to envision themselves sitting around a fire.

    4. Beautify the Bathrooms

    Bathrooms have a big effect on buyers. They expect clean, modern updates, just like in the kitchen. Overhauling your powder room is an easy weekend task that might require small swaps, such as a new modern light fixture over the vanity or a new vanity altogether.

    Your full bathrooms will require a bit more attention if you want them to be up to snuff. Again, look in the familiar places:

    • Lighting fixtures
    • Cabinets
    • Hardware
    • Countertops
    • Tile

    You don’t have to shell out a ton of money to have someone else re-tile a wall or backsplash in your bathroom, either, if you have the patience to demo and tile the space yourself.

    5. Out With the Really Old

    Some accents once considered fresh and fashionable now give your home a dated appearance. You probably already know what in your home screams 70s, 80s or 90s. Whatever it is should go in due course.

    The list of outdated design elements is truly endless, but some of the biggest offenders are old-school wallpaper, the floor-to-ceiling wood paneling that may or not be actual wood, and, of course, popcorn ceilings. By removing these three offenders alone — a popcorn ceiling doesn't take much effort - your home will snap right back into 2017.

    Once people start envisioning themselves living in your home, you won’t have to envision offers pouring in — they’ll start coming thanks to your hard work. You go, weekend warrior.

      Comments

      1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

      6 home Maintenance Tasks You Didn't Know You Were Forgetting

      6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Didn’t Know You Were Forgetting

      Posted on Feb 22 2018 - 1:34pm by Housecall

      home maintenance

      By Brentnie Daggett

      In all likelihood, your home is the biggest investment you'll make in your life. To protect that investment, turn to regular maintenance tasks to ensure that your home will be running efficiently for years to come.

      Most folks are already aware of this. But if you feel like you're mastering your home maintenance, you may be surprised to learn that there are a few you probably never realized you were forgetting. Here are six tasks that require your attention, that you may not be tending to frequently enough, or may be overlooking altogether:

      Clean Your Refrigerator Drip Pan

      Did you know that refrigerators have drip pans? They do, and those drip pans need to be cleaned regularly or they can be prone to mold growth. Pull it out carefully to prevent spills, and dump excess liquid and clean the pan with an all-purpose cleaner.

      Flush the Water Heater

      Check the temperature of your water heater to ensure that it's set below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding. Test its safety relief valve once a year so that it operates properly and flush the system to remove sediment buildup which can cause system failure.

      Reseal Your Grout

      Grout needs to be resealed annually to protect your tile from wear and tear. Most grout is made of sand and cement; this means it can absorb water, bacteria and even stains. Resealing will help your grout look better and last as long as possible.

      Test Smoke Alarms

      Testing smoke alarms and changing their batteries is a vital maintenance task for safety reasons. Smoke alarms should be tested twice a year. Remember, at minimum, you should have one detector on every level of your home, and in each bedroom.

      Change Your HVAC Filters

      Have your heating system inspected, serviced and cleaned annually. Proper maintenance can extend the life of your furnace, postponing an expensive replacement. Change air filters seasonally to monthly, depending on your home's needs, to protect against major HVAC issues.

      Block Out Pests

      Prevent against pests setting up camp in your home by caulking small holes or cracks to deter bugs. Also, use hardware cloth to cover any larger areas.

      Mastering home maintenance tasks can be a chore, but by ensuring that you're not missing these all-too-often ignored jobs, you'll be able to rest easy knowing your home is that much more protected.

      daggett-brentnie-headshot-growella-150x150Brentnie Daggett is a writer and infographic master covering the rental and property management industry for Rentec Direct. She loves to share tips and tricks to assist landlords and renters alike. To learn more about Daggett and to discover more great tips, visit www.rentecdirect.com.

        Comments

        1. No comments. Be the first to comment.