Archive for June, 2011

Solar Blankets for Your Pool

Solar Blankets for Your PoolOur first post that talks about renewable energy is related to your swimming pool. It is about how you can avoid using non renewable energy and use solar blankets for your pool instead. You will also save money as well in this particular solar energy solution! A solar blanket insulates the pool, keeps the heat in and converts sunlight into heat as well. Most come with rollers that make it easy to remove from the pool when it is time to use your pool. When it is time to place the solar blanket back on the pool, just drag it out over the pool as this lady is doing. Easily done and probably the most cost effective solution. Never leave the solar blanket on your lawn. Your grass will burn in no time.

Gas Heaters

Many people will employ gas fired or electric powered heaters to heat their pools to the desired temperature. While this is gas pool heaterfast and you just need to dial the temperature that you want, it is using either natural gas, electricity or perhaps oil to heat your pool.  It is also convenient and can be turned on for the weekend or whenever you want to have warm water to swim in. They are expensive to install as well as to operate. Installation costs can be as much as $2000 and operating costs each season can vary a great deal based on use, but $500 a season is not uncommon. You are also using non renewable energy to heat your pool and contributing to green house gases as well as pollution in general.

Solar Blankets for Your Pool

Using a solar blanket can achieve the same result, while saving energy and taking advantage of the sun’s heating rays to keep your pool warm. Many people do not like the extra work involved and the time it takes to remove and install the solar blanket each day, however it is an inexpensive way to heat your pool.

The work involved is not a lot. Basically you have to roll up the solar blanket when you want to use the pool using a roller or wrap it with straps. When you are ready to place the blanket back on the pool, it is a quick 2 or 3 minute job to pull the blanket back over the pool. There is no cost other than the two to three hundred dollar cost of the blanket depending on the size of the pool, when you purchase it and install it.

Rollers for Solar Blankets

In ground pools have a neat device that you can purchase to use to remove your solar blanket from the pool. Basically it is a long tube that spans across the pool with a crank at one end that solar blanket rolleryou use to roll up the solar blanket that is installed on your in ground pool.

These same rollers can be installed on above ground pools, however it is a little more difficult since you need to install something to attach the roller too that sits on top of your above ground pool and off to one side. You will need to cover your solar blanket when it is rolled up with a white plastic sheet to protect it from the sun and avoid over heating. They come with the solar blanket and can also be purchased from your pool store.

Above Ground Pool Solar Blankets

Above ground pools do not seem to cool down as fast as in ground pools and they tend to heat up more quickly as well. This is primarily due to the cooling effect of the ground around the in ground pool keeping the water at a constant temperature. Never the less if you want to  heat your pool you can with a solar blanket, They are quite effective and will keep your above ground pool warmer than many in ground pools.

In this case the blanket is just manually rolled up and left hanging at the side of the pool which is fine and you do not have to be concerned about purchasing a roller and mounting it at one side of the pool. It is a little bit more laborious to rolling up the blanket.

Maintaining and Installing a Solar Blanket

solar blanketSolar blankets should always be covered when they are rolled up. If they are left in the sun and not covered by a thin white plastic sheet, the blanket will heat up and in fact get so hot it will melt the plastic. At the very least it will begin to cause the plastic and bubbles to deteriorate more quickly. Always cover them when they are not on the pool and left in the sun. A properly maintained solar blanket should last at least 3 to 4 years.

Installation is pretty simple. Purchase a blanket that is either the size of your pool or slightly larger if your pool is not a rectangle such as a kidney shaped pool. Next lay out the blanket on your pool and allow it to stretch. The heat from the sun will soften it a bit and stretch the blanket somewhat as it heats up.

Next using a pair of scissors, cut the blanket while it is on your pool to the edges of your pool following the shape of your pool. Installation and cutting will take a maximum of no more than 30 minutes. Attach the blanket to your roller if you have one and you are done.

 

Comments are welcome regarding solar blankets for pools and any other methods of heating your pool for swimming. For more related articles about solar heating, click here.

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Home Security – Burglar Deterrants

Burglar DeterrantsWe all worry about residential crime and break ins into our homes. Reports suggest they are increasing, however it really depends on the city you live in. Even where you live in the city and published reports for your city. Having had personal experience with a break in, we can also tell you that the police take reports and do little else. They know you will get your items replaced by your insurance, so why do anything. They also have more important crimes to deal with and cannot be bothered chasing some minor crooks who are burglarizing homes.

Visit the Pawn Shops

Our policeman, who visited our home, basically told us to visit the pawn shops to see if some of the family heirlooms had been pawned. If we find them, they will have to file a report and the police will pick them up, file another report and then we get the item back. They made it clear that they were not going to do very much investigation! Not even checking for finger prints.

Single family homes are twice as likely to be burglarized than apartments.The most likely things to be stolen in a burglary are items that can be disposed of quickly and are in demand. Items such as cash, small electronic equipment, home computers, cameras, jewelry, furs, tools and hand guns.

Burglar deterrents – Security of Your Home

Most people don’t worry too much about security other than the basics.  The things a burglar fears most are being seen by someone and having to taking too much time to complete the crime. They want to get in and out quickly!

Most of the time burglars will break into a home that is vacant, while people are at work or when they are on vacation.  If you happen to be home at the time, it can be a very stressful event. Make sure you have pepper pepper sprayspray at home within easy reach.  Best thing is get out or lock yourself into a room and call 911.  Many people, while they feel that their home is secure, do not really have any idea how secure their home is.

Survey Your Home for Security Week Points

One approach is to have a professional conduct a survey of your home. Local police sometimes will do this as a service to the community. They outdoor home key holdersmay also conduct workshops for the neighborhood so that you can do your own survey.

You can identify all potential trouble spots and determine what steps can be implemented to improve the overall security of your home. If you have a third party conduct one of these surveys for you, make sure you check their credentials and getoutdoor security camera references. Also recognize that most third party companies will try to sell you their products as well. Locksmiths will sell locks, alarm companies will sell alarm systems and so on. Common sense is in order here.

Imagine that you are the Burglar Planning a Break into Your Home

Begin outside and review how you would  break in? Sometimes it is a good idea to have a friend or neighbor to go with you and give their opinion as well. You can then do the same thing for them at their home.

Ask yourself how you would know when you are not at home? Lights are on a different schedule than normal, garbage has not been put out, driveway is not cleared of snow etc. These are all tell tale signs that the home is vacant.

Turn down the volume on phones before leaving so it can’t be heard from outside. Another dead giveaway nobody’s home, and never leave a message on your home indicating that you are away.

Burglar Deterrents that are Effective

Most burglars are looking for the easy score and the least risk situation. A dog barking, or signs of a dog will deter a lot of thieves from even trying. So will signs of an alarm system. Burglars are basically opportunists and are looking for an easy score that allows them to get in and out quickly. Anything that would delay them or attract attention such as a dog or an alarm will deter many burglars from attempting to break in. Even a sign indicating that there is an alarm system may scare security signsoff a few opportunists.

Experienced burglars may not be deterred by this type of deterrent, especially electronic barking dogs. They can tell the difference!

Outdoor lights that turn on based on motion sensors are another great idea. They must easily brighten the area and be also out of reach from someone who is standing beside them.

Every home is different and requires a different set of deterrents. In our next post about burglar deterrents we will add a burglar deterrent checklist or security checklist. You can use this list to check your homes security. Assess what changes you want to make your home more burglar proof.

For more home security articles, click here.

 

 

 

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Stolen iPhones and Security

Stolen iPhones and SecurityThis post is about iPhone Security, not the type of security were someone hacks into your iPhone and takes over your phone, although I guess that can happen. Instead this post is about the type of iPhone Security when someone steals your iPhone!

A good friend of mine was walking down the street the other day reading her email or sending a text message. She was walking along, not really paying attention to what she was doing and suddenly a guy walked up beside her and grabbed the iPhone out of her hands. Easy to do since she was holding it loosely while pressing the screen as she was preparing to send a message. Lot’s of people do this. You see them every day walking down the sidewalk, through the mall, or even walking into traffic without paying attention to were they are going.

It happened in seconds and the guy started to run off to be joined by a number of friends. Now we discussed ways to limit the amount of financial damage losing your iPhone can do in the previous post, “Smart Phone Security”. Check that post out if you need more information about protecting yourself.

What She Did Next

This was not the smartest thing to do, but she yelled at the guy, chased him down and demanded her iPhone back. She used a lot of expletives and called him every name in the book. Next thing she knows she is surrounded by his buddies all taunting her as well as him. This situation could have gotten really bad, had she not thought quickly.

She yelled a lot of expletives which we mentioned, saw that was not working and was surrounded by his friends with people walking by on a crowded sidewalk not paying attention.

She changed her tack and started yelling at the top of her lungs for help, that someone had stolen her iPhone and she was being surrounded.  This began to attract the attention of passers by and also the gang realized that they were  dealing with a smart chick who was not intimidated by them. Of course anyone who steals like that is a bum and a coward, so as soon as you face them up in this manner they back off.

They handed her iPhone back and took off just as a few men were coming to her rescue. She was very fortunate and lucky. If she had not been on a crowded street she would not have had a chance. It might have turned out much worse if she was surrounded on a quiet residential street!
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Improving Gas Mileage

Improving Gas MileageMany people are predicting  that gas prices could climb to $1.40 per liter this summer. As of writing this post on June 1st, prices are at $1.24. During the past week they have been as low as $1.17 and as high as $1.27 per liter of gas. During the spring of 2013, they climbed dramatically and approached $5.00 a gallon in the US in California. It is only a matter of time before they stay at that price, although they are now back to $4.29 a gallon. I really believe that the oil companies are just conditioning us for higher prices. The cost of gasoline for Canadians and Americans is a huge issue for those people who need to drive to get back and forth to work everyday.

Plan to Improving Gas Mileage

Many Canadians have no intention of cutting back on time behind the wheel. They have to get to work and they want to take their vacation. Some are cutting back on the distance they are traveling, but most are not planning to cancel their vacation according to a survey completed for  Canadian Tire.

Many are planning to find other ways to save dollars to compensate for the increased cost of gasoline. Gas prices have not yet risen far enough to cause major changes in driving habits and also car buying habits. People are looking for other ways to save money to compensate for the increased cost of gasoline.

According to the survey completed for Canadian Tire,  one-in-three drivers (36 per cent) revealed that they would rather give up vacation time than give up driving and more than half (56 per cent) said they will take on the role of do-it-yourself mechanic to save on car-related costs.

Many Canadians need to go back to basics with regards to maintaining an optimum speed to maximize their gas mileage as shown on the chart on the right.

Canadians take a shine to D-I-Y( Do It Yourself)

Many drivers plan to roll up their sleeves this spring to take on ambitious tasks with their cars, that they might have otherwise paid for if not for the hike in gas prices, including:

  • 44 per cent said they would check and replace air filters themselves
  • 33 per cent would attempt to remove their snow tires and install summer tires
  • 73 per cent plan to take on monitoring and topping up their vehicle’s fluids
  • 58 per cent will inspect and replace vehicle light bulbs

The top do-it-yourself job Canadians will take on this summer is cleaning the car, as 90 per cent indicated that they don’t think it’s worth the money to have it professionally done.

While many  Canadian drivers are willing to take on more, the survey shows they draw the line at performing other automotive work such as brake repairs  or oil changes with 81 per cent indicating they would prefer to leave it to the professionals.

Whether performed by a service professional or at home by do-it-yourself drivers, Canadian Tire experts recommend that Canadians and US motorists perform the following spring maintenance tips to help drivers maintain and improve fuel efficiency and to avoid more costly repairs in future:

  • Get rid of winter: Remove winter tires and wash away winter grime and salt build-up
  • Roll on: Check tire tread and ensure proper tire inflation at least once a month
  • Check under the hood: Replenish all essential fluids (automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid and coolant) and get regular oil changes
  • See clearly: Replace worn or damaged wiper blades and burned out light bulbs to maintain good visibility and safety

Other survey findings:

  • 26 per cent of Quebec drivers said they would change their own oil to save money
  • 73 per cent of Ontario drivers said they would rather drive to work than take public transit
  • 97 per cent of BC drivers agree that checking and adjusting tire pressure will help to improve their fuel economy; 59 per cent said they would take on more do-it-yourself car maintenance to offset high gas prices
  • 62 per cent of Alberta car owners said that although it’s not their favorite thing to do, they would prefer to wash their own car to save money
  • 56 per cent of drivers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan said they would detail the interior of their car to help save money

For more posts about improving gas mileage, click here.

 

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Reduction of Your Mobile Phone Costs

Mobile Phone CostsThis was a big cost reduction that we just came across and it personally saved us $20 a month on our mobile cell phone costs. That is $240 a year that we saved just by making a call to our service provider!  This site is about saving the average consumer money and this is an easy one to follow up on.

Here is how we reduced our cell phone charges.

My cell phone was pretty old and about to die due to a failing battery. It was time to renew my old cell phone and as always for me at least this is a complicated task. What phone do I get, how much will I pay, how much talk time is there, how much standby time and what features should I get. Do I want a smart phone or just a regular phone? You can see were this is going, I try to avoid making this decision.

New Cell Phone Plans, New Smart Phone Features

Also when you do call  the mobile company , they always want to review your plan to see if they can sell you more features or a more expensive phone.  I dread this because really what I want to do is to decrease my costs nor increase them.

This time was different. I started by telling them that I was thinking of moving to another carrier which immediately got their attention. They send you to the RETENTION desk at this point and this is really who you want to talk to. They can make decisions and offer discounts to help you make a decision to renew your service contract with them.
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Hardwood Floor Installation

Hardwood Floor InstallationThe beauty and durability of hardwood floors often lures home owners into replacing old carpet  flooring. They replace it with something that is far more durable and better looking than carpet. This can be a great investment which will improve the value of your home as well as make it much easier to sell. Most buyers are  looking for homes that do not have carpet in them.  Consumers who have allergies also want hardwood floors and no rugs at all to avoid and reduce their reaction to dust etc.

If you are looking into hardwood floor installation for your home there are a few things you will need to know, even if you plan to hire someone to do the work for you. This article features some tips and directions to ensure your hardwood floor installation goes smoothly.

Planning Hardwood Floor Installation is Key To your Success

Planning is an essential step in the hardwood floor installation process. A little organization goes a long way. First of all, all wood including hardwood flooring needs some adjustment time before you can install them.

Storing the wood indoors for a few days in your home will allow the wood to expand and  will give you time to prepare the area were the hard wood flooring will be installed. Make sure you have all the necessary tools including a hardwood floor nailer, miter saw and jamb saw before you get started. Some consumers will purchase this equipment, while others will simply rent it for the time they need it.

Be sure that the sub-floor is properly cleaned and level. This is the time to make sure that the sub floor is well nailed to the joists. Some people will add a second sub floor on top while others will screw nail the sub floor to the joists to avoid any squeaks in the floor later after the hardwood is installed. You can also cover the sub-floor with asphalt felt. On the felt you may want to make a few helpful markings that will really help you out later.

At the starting wall you should mark a straight line about a half inch from the wall. Also, a chalk center line should be made by making a few measurements at various points in the room.

Installing Your Hardwood Flooring

When you begin the hardwood floor installation, choose the longest boards or widest planks. You then should pre-drill some pilot holes in a place where the 1 ½ inch finishing nails will be hidden when the molding is replaced and face nail the first boards into the floor joists.

For the following row you should drill pilot holes at 45 degree angles into the tongue every 10 inches. Also, nail at the floor joists and the ends of the board. Use the floor nailer for the following rows until there is no more room and finish the room in the same manner it began by hand.

Hardwood floor installation requires some carpentry skills, however with some planning and the right tools it should go smoothly. Seeing the finished product is satisfying and will be rewarding for many years.

Take your time and if you feel that it is not going well, stop, take a breather and consult an expert. Personally when I am doing work of this sort, I know it is time to stop and take a breather when I get tired or I get frustrated. This is when mistakes are made which only makes the situation worse. Stop for the day, go for a walk, whatever you need to do to relax a bit and gain a new perspective. This way you will have that perfect floor that everyone wants. I also like to work in a steady manner whenever I am doing work of this sort. I make less mistakes and I get more done.

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Alternative Energy for Consumers

Alternative Energy for ConsumersWe are starting a new blog specifically focused on alternative energy for consumers. Some people refer to this as renewable energy. Which ever term is used it really does not matter. Since what we are focused on is real ways that the consumer can embrace renewable or alternative energy. They may be able to reduce their overall cost of using energy around their homes and in their everyday life. We also will be discussing solutions for consumers that will help them save energy as well. This is commonly known as reducing your energy foot print. It helps them spend a lot less money paying for energy for heating, cooling, their car etc.

Why are We Developing an Alternative Energy for Consumers Blog

One of the reasons that I am writing this blog is that the cost of energy is going up significantly. Anything I can do to reduce my energy foot print means  I can save money and keep it in my pocket vs. placing my hard earned money in some corporation.  Some may view this is a particularly selfish view, however that is what drives the average consumer.

They sympathize with save the planet kinds of issues. But what really gets their attention is money in their pockets. Note, that by saving or reducing my energy foot print not only reduces my cost , but it also helps reduce the impact on the environment.

There is a lot of information out there about commercial systems. But not so much that is specifically directed at consumers so we thought we would do some research and see what we could come up with. The commercial systems such as wind farms, solar farms, wave action and even hydro electric plants are fantastic.

We encourage these new developments to lessen our impact on the environment long term ( coal, oil and nuclear generating plants ) and generate electricity from these alternate energy sources. For those readers who may not be aware, hydro electric plants are plants that generate electricity using water that drives turbines that in turn produce electricity. The Hoover Dam is a well known hydro electric generation facility.

What Energy Savings Will We Focus On

Our focus is going to be on things that the consumer can do that are real as well as economical. They will include some of the same things such as solar, wind and anything else that we come across. We invite anyone reading this blog to leave us a comment on the blog to point us to other energy sources or ideas that we should take a look at.

Personally, I have been frustrated by the lack of focus from a consumer perspective. There has been lots of information about conserving energy, but not nearly as much about renewable energy sources. Conserving energy is sometimes more expensive than it needs to be. Just look a the fluorescent lights that are replacing incandescent light bulbs as an example.

There is no need to price them as high as they are. If these new bulbs were priced lower and more people would turn to use them and reduce the energy used as well. In our opinion pricing needs to be adjusted to encourage consumers more to reduce their energy use.

Please don’t misinterpret this comment, it is an excellent idea to conserve energy and reduce your energy footprint, we just think that we should also be focusing on generating electricity as well!

Our 1st Post!

This is our first post about renewable energy and we are probably rambling a bit. Future posts will begin to discuss alternative energy sources for consumers, energy saving ideas,  and we will try to come up with one post every second week.

It is important to us that our readers provide comments, especially about products that may be available on the market. We are going to be doing lots of research, however you can help with the job by pointing us to various products that may be available on the market. Many stores are beginning to sell solar panels for use in RV’s and even in homes, however we think that there is much more that can be considered.

Send us your suggestions about alternate energy sources for consumers via the comment field at the end of the post. We read them all and will use the constructive comments. Spam comments are auto deleted. Thanks and here’s to fun blogging! For more alternative energy posts, click here.

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Vacant Home Management Checklists

Property Management SystemYour about to go on vacation and wondering what you need to do about your home while you are away. We put together Vacant Home Management Checklists that you can use to decide what you need to do about your home depending on were you are going and how long you be away. the home in the picture is another example of a home that is vacant and has been boarded up. Someone needs to check on this home also to make sure that nothing is being damaged to leaking water etc.

This is a check list you should consider if you plan to leave your home unoccupied for any length of time. You should take into account both home maintenance issues, home monitoring and home security issues while you are absent

Home maintenance takes into account items that might need repair after storms, lawn care, snow clearing etc. Home monitoring is really all about peace of mind. Knowing that someone is checking your home on a regular basis to make sure everything is ok and then advising you of their visit. Home security covers items to make sure that your home does not advertise that you are not home making it attractive to thieves.

Home security is very important to everyone. Not only do you risk losing your value able possessions, many people feel that their personal space has been violated if their home has been broken into. Protect your home by following a few common sense steps, increase your security and avoid leaving your home as an inviting place to visit by burglars.

While it it is not all inclusive, it is a good start and you can add your own personal items to this list or check with local companies for additional security items to be aware of to keep your home secure.

Vacant Home Management Checklists

    • Arrange for  summer maintenance services lawn, shrubs, garden
    • Turn off the main water intake to avoid frozen pipes in the winter if the furnace does not run
    • Shut off your water heater to save energy and to avoid it boiling dry if you turn off the water
    • Turn off all outside water taps
    • Shut off the main water valve in your home
    • Turn off all taps to things such as dishwashers and clothes washers
    • Run the water once a month, flush toilets to avoid toilets running dry from evaporation, run water in all sinks for the same reason
    • Disconnect all electronic items to reduce power requirements and protect devices from electrical surges (Note: only unplug the refrigerator if it is empty)
    • Arrange for yard maintenance in the growing seasons
    • Arrange for plant watering inside and out
    • Hire pool or hot tub maintenance if required
    • Contract Snow clearance in the winter – driveway and walkways
    • Arrange with professional property manager/ house sitter to watch over your house

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Smart Phone Security

Smart Phone SecuritySmart Phone Security, can include were someone hacks into your smart phone and takes over your phone, or someone stealing your phone. This post is about the type of Smart Phone Security when someone steals your phone!

A good friend of mine was walking down the street the other day reading her email or sending a text message. I know you are not supposed to that. There has been all kinds of reports were people have hurt themselves walking into objects and other people. They even walk into the middle of the road and are hit by cars. That is actually another reason for not doing this sort of thing, but this post is focused on Smart Phone Security.

Anyway she was walking along, not really paying attention to what she was doing. Suddenly a guy walked up beside her and grabbed the smart phone out of her hands. Easy to do since she was holding it loosely while pressing the keyboard as she was preparing to send a message.

Apps Are Not Password Protected

She has a lot of apps on her Smart Phone , however they all have auto sign on turned on. Yes, her bank information, her credit cards, Paypal, Skype and much much more. Worse her phone was open and turned on because she was using it. Easy for someone to keep using the phone until the battery wore down, accessing her bank account and other applications that she has on the phone.

We used to be worried about losing our cell phone and someone racking up huge long distance charges. You still need to worry about this, but even more important is the applications we have on these Smart Phones and the damage someone can do to us financially. And I am not even mentioning the wireless transfer of funds when you bump smart phones together!

So How Do we Avoid Smart Phone Security being jeopardized?

There are numerous ways to tighten up security on our phones as well as avoid the type of situation my friend had over the weekend. Here is a partial list which if you follow will certainly decrease the chance of both having your phone stolen as well as losing money through Smart Phone applications that are open. Here we go:

  • Do not text, email or use apps while walking or driving
  • Keep your Smart Phone locked at all times except when using it
  • Keep a firm grip on your Smart Phone when using it
  • Make sure no one observes you as you enter passwords
  • Make sure you phone auto locks after 15 seconds of no activity
  • Never store passwords on your Smart Phone
  • Always type your passwords into the phone when accessing an app
  • Never write down passwords

If your Smart Phone  is stolen or lost, it still is a big loss, however not as big as you might think if your apps are compromised. Following the above steps will help to limit the loss of your phone.

We will let you know the details of how the situation turned out in our next post, however for readers who do not have the time to come back next week, she did get her phone back in an interesting way.

Wipe Your Smart Phone

Another common method for smart phones offered by some carriers is that you can wipe your phone if it is stolen or lost. This is a good thing, assuming you will never get your phone back, however by the time you reach your carrier and have the phone wiped the damage will already have been done. Protect yourself by not using your phone when you are not paying attention to were you are going or in large crowded areas.

We appreciate comments on this subject of Smart Phone Security as well as our suggestions to protect yourself. Please leave comments as well with additional suggestions that we can alert our readers to for improving their personal Smart Phone Security.


Twelve Money Losers & Expenses

Twelve money losers and expenses that home owners need to watch out for. We recently saw an article about this subject and decided to put our own spin on this list of hidden money expenses and losers. Two more were added which we think would be of interest to our readers as well as potential money saving ideas.

We decided to try to estimate how much money is involved and how much you might save each year. You can plug your own numbers into this list as well to see what your savings would be, to help you decide if you want to pursue savings in this area. Here is our list:

  • Short Car Trips
  • Bundled Cable or Phone Services
  • Leasing Hot Water Heaters
  • ATM Fee’s
  • Lottery Tickets
  • Gourmet Coffee
  • Cigarettes
  • Infomercial Impulse buys
  • Brand Name Groceries
  • Eating Out
  • Unused Gym Memberships
  • Daily Internet Deals

For each of the items below we have estimated the cost for the average person or family and summarized this cost at the end of this post. It is pretty amazing. Do your own calculations if any of these situations apply to you to see how much money you might save if you were to reduce or eliminate the charges for these items.

Money Losers – Short Car Trips

We all forget things and have to run to the store for an item we need for supper, however with a little planning many of these trips can be eliminated. Every time I run to the store I drive about 5 miles return. This works out to 84 cents per trip in gas alone assuming 25 miles per gallon and $4.20 per gallon. Assuming 3 trips a week for a variety of items this works out to $10/ week or $131.40 a year
Bundled Cable or Phone Services

This is a tougher one to estimate, however if you eliminate one feature that you do not use and save $5 on cable and $5 on your phone services, that is also $10/month and $120 / year. Check out your service packages to assess what you use and whether you can eliminate any services that you do not use very often or not at all.
Leasing Hot Water Heaters

We recently replaced our water heater at a cost of $700 and purchased the unit. Previously we had rented the unit at $14 / month. At this rate it takes us a little over 4 years to pay for the upfront cost. From then on we save $14 a month for as long as the hot water heater lasts!

ATM Fee’s

Most people do not pay ATM fees when they withdraw funds from an ATM at their own bank. However it gets very expensive if you make a WD at another banks ATM. Some charge as much as $4 per WD. Let’s assume twice a week for a total of $32 / month and $416 per year. That is a lot of money you can save by avoiding this charge. Use your credit card or plan your money use to control these fees.

Lottery Tickets

Everyone wants to win the lottery, yet the odds are very low that you will win. You can check with your favorite lottery to find out the odds, however let’s assume you spend $5 per week. This adds up to $260 per year for a small weekly lottery purchase and many people purchase much more than this.

Gourmet Coffee

Daily gourmet coffee can get expensive. Even if you purchase only one gourmet coffee at $4 per coffee, think about how much you can save if you purchase a regular coffee at say $2 per coffee. Some regular coffee is priced even lower. Assuming 5 days a week, your annual cost difference works out to $520!

Cigarettes

Think about how much better you would feel and how much money you would save if you gave up that pack a day habit. Prices vary, but we used $8 a pack to calculate the annual savings of $2920!

Infomercial Impulse buys

Do you make these impulse buys? How often do they work out and you get the value that was advertised. If you resist, would it be the end of the world if you do not have this item advertised on infomercials? We assumed one a month at a cost of $30 per charge. Plug in your own numbers to get the real cost for you.

Brand Name Groceries

This is a tough one to estimate. Experts feel that brand name products are often as much as $2 per item higher than non brand name products. We assumed that you purchase 10 items per week and could save only $1 on each item, not $2 to get and annual savings of $520, which we actually think is very low.

Eating Out

Restaurants are expensive and the cost varies a lot depending on were you live, what you eat and how many people are in your family. Could you eat out one night less per week at a fast food place and your family of 3 would each a lot healthier as well. Home made food is so much better for you and costs so much less as well. We assumed you would save $20 once a week after taking into account the cost of the food you would consume at home for an annual savings of $1040

Unused Gym Memberships

Many of us get the urge to sign up for a gym membership, go a few times and then stop. We still have to pay whether we use it or not. Don’t sign up. If you cannot go for a walk each night, you are not going to work out at the gym. Memberships can cost as much as $30 per month or annually $360

Daily Internet Deals

Do you purchase internet access while traveling or when you are out somewhere. At an average of $5 this can add up. Some hotels charge as much as $15 per day. We assumed $5 once a week average for a total cost of $260.

The total cost is pretty amazing, $6800 per year. You can really do a lot with all of that money. Plug in your own numbers and figure out how much you would save!

Cost Areas Per Instance Monthly Annual
Short Car Trips $.84 $10.00 $131.00
Bundled  Services $ $14.00 $120.00
Leasing Hot Water Heaters $ $32.00 $140.00
ATM Fee’s $4.00 $32.00 $416.00
Lottery Tickets $5.00 $20.00 $260.00
Gourmet Coffee $2.00 $40.00 $520.00
Cigarettes $8.00 $240.00 $2920.00
Infomercial Impulse buys $30.00 $30.00 $360.00
Brand Name Groceries $1.00 $40.00 $480.00
Eating Out $20.00 $80.00 $1040.00
Unused Gym Memberships $30.00 $30.00 $360.00
Daily Internet Deals $5.00 $20.00 $260.00
Total Costs $372.00 $6807.00

 

 

 


Tires and Summer Driving Tips

Tires and Summer Driving TipsIgnoring the tires on your car at any time of the year is one of the fastest ways to prevent your car from getting good gas mileage. It can also causing unsafe conditions for handling your car at high speeds on the highway. With the price of gas sky rocketing, now is a good time to check your tires. We cover a few tires and summer driving tips.

Checking your tires to ensure you are traveling on correctly inflated tires is one of the easiest ways to save money on gas. Making sure they are properly balanced and your front end is aligned is another.

Statistics are provided by the Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. They suggest that it is possible to save between $100.00 to $200.00 per year by avoiding under inflated tires.

Of course your individual savings is based upon how many miles you drive and how under inflated your tires are. Your car will also be more stable on the road and you can avoid accidents more easily if your tires perform well.

Tires and Summer Driving Tips

20% of Tires Under inflated

There is at least one tire under inflated by more than twenty percent (20%) on approximately twenty-three per cent (23%) of cars based on information from the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency. That means that almost 1 in 4 cars has at least one under inflated tire. Besides lowering your fuel consumption, under inflated wheels can also lead to steering and braking problems. That makes under inflated tires a possible danger.

Using a tire gauge is the only sure way to know if your tires are under inflated but a telltale sign of under inflated tires are loud squealing when coming to a stop or turning a corner even at slow speeds.

Fuel Efficiency Lower

Driving a car with just one tire under inflated by (8 psi) or 20% can lower the car’s fuel efficiency by 4%. In addition under inflation may reduce the life of the tire by more than 9000 miles. Tires are permeable. That means that air can and does pass through the tire walls.

A tire could lose up to 2 pounds of pressure per month. This is more important in summer as more air permeates through the tire in hot weather as the pores in the tire material get larger in the heat.

To repeat that was just stated heat can accelerate air loss in tires. When a tire is under inflated, the sides of a tire flex and bend more than normal. This builds up heat in the tire. With that additional heat an under inflated tire will to lose air at faster and faster rate.

Under Inflation Requires more Power

There is more bad new concerning under inflated tires and gas consumption. Under inflation also causes the tire to increase rolling resistance. That means the motor has to work harder to move the car and that also increases fuel consumption. Also the extra flexing and bending can weaken the tire walls which could lead to sudden tire failure.

You should make it a habit to measure the air pressure in your tires at least once every month. When you measure your tire pressure the tires need to be cold. A tire on a car is considered “Cold” if the car has not been driven more than 1 mile or the car has been sitting still for at least three hours.

Check the Tire Pressure Weekly

It is a great idea to keep a pressure gauge in your car. Check the air pressure of the tires often. If you can keep your tires at the correct inflation levels you should realize a savings of between $100.00 and $200.00 per year in fuel.

Although proper tire pressure will save you gas and money, it could also prevent tire damage that could lead to accidents. Not only will you be contributing to your fuel economy you will be maintaining the safety of your vehicle.


Hardwood Floor Cleaners

Hardwood Floor CleanersA hardwood floor is one of the most enduring floor surfaces and provides many benefits compared to all other surfaces. These benefits can be enhanced even more if you keep your floors clean by vacuuming regularly and cleaning weekly.

For example if you never wear your shoes inside your home on your hardwood floors you will avoid tracking a lot of dirt into the home and you will avoid scuffing the floor with your shoes. Any dirt or grit on your floor can be ground into the floor and acting like sand paper on the floor. Avoid wearing shoes any time inside the home on the hardwood floors. Here are a few of the reasons why you would want to make sure that your floors are always clean in addition to the obvious.

  • Longevity
  • Reduces dust accumulation
  • Improves the decor of many homes.
  • Can be easily repaired
  • Can be refinished

By providing a little care and maintenance to your hardwood floors you can expect your flooring to last a lifetime. If you are new to hardwood flooring, here is some information about hardwood floor cleaners and other maintenance tips that will help you get the most from your investment.

Maintenance Tips

  • Never wear outdoor shoes on your floor
  • Never go barefoot on your hardwood floor
  • Wear soft soled slippers or just wear socks while walking on your floor
  • Clean up spills, especially fluids, immediately
  • An option is to add throw rugs in heavy traffic areas
  • Clean with proper tools regularly

Hardwood Floor Cleaner Tips

For almost every kind of spill, smudge, stain or any other type of mess, you will find a hardwood floor cleaner for the job. If all of these chemicals and solutions are confusing to you then perhaps an all-in-one hardwood floor cleaner kit is right for you.

You can find many of these kits for both laminate flooring and hardwood. They usually come with an all purpose cleaner along with a specially designed mop.

Some general purpose hardwood floor cleaners can  remove some of the shine from the floor or even leave a residue. To avoid this, make sure you choose a cleaner that is specially designed to clean finished hardwood flooring. Other hardwood floor cleaners that you should avoid are oil soaps that can build up over time.

General Suggestions

Maintain proper levels of moisture in your home with a humidifier in the winter time. Winter air tends to dry everything out and will cause gaps to appear between the floor strips, unless you maintain the humidity level in your home between 30% to 50% at all times. Clean your humidifier at least once a month as well to avoid any chance of mold buildup in the humidifier.

Along with a proper hardwood floor cleaner you should practice regular care and maintenance of the floor. Dirt and grit tracked onto hardwood floor acts like sandpaper and will cause problems over time. Clean your floors at least once per week and immediately  after you have had a party or guests in your home.

This means it is important to either sweep away this dirt with a fine bristles broom or vacuum with a specially designed hardwood attachment. Using the incorrect tool could scratch the surface of your floor causing more damage. This is especially true in high traffic areas. Another important thing to remember is that you should never allow water to remain on any hardwood surface. Wipe up any spills as soon as you notice them.

With only the most common sense cleaning and proper hardwood floor cleaner you will have great looking floors that will last your whole life. Over time you will gain more appreciation of the subtle details and warmth of the wood.  Hardwood floors can be re-sanded and refinished, however if you look after them this may be avoided for many years. The more you give to your hardwood floors the more you will receive in return.


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