Archive for November, 2011

How To Select New Tires for Your Car

Having just gone through the trial of selecting new tires for my car and since this is a web site about tires, I thought it would be helpful to write How To Select New Tires for Your Carabout my experience and also some of the criteria that I used to finally decide which tires would be the right ones for my car. Of course we will all use different criteria, but hopefully this list will help readers and you may want to add them to your list. If you do not have one, perhaps this will help you when it comes time to put new rubber on your car.

Select New Tires for Your Car

We will expand on each of the items below:

  • Tire Size
  • Year of Your Car
  • Make
  • Model
  • Engine
  • Speed Rating
  • Road Condition – Mud, Snow, Rain, Seasons
  • Nitrogen
  • Valve Stems
  • TPMS
  • Mileage Warranty
  • Maintaining your Warranty
  • Repair Locations

Tire Size

When you go into see a tire dealer regardless of who it is they will check to make sure that they put the right size of tire on your car as defined by the manufacturer of your car. You can save time and also cross check your dealer if you already know the size of tire that is currently on your car.  My car’s tire size is P215 60 R 16

You can read this off the side wall of the tire and all of your tires on your car should be the same. If not you are going to have problems controlling your car at higher speeds. consult your owner’s manual to find out what tire size should be on your car and compare to what you see on your current tires.

Year – Make – Model – Engine

When you talk to the dealer, they will need to know the year your car was made, the manufacturer of your car , the model and the engine size.  This is the information that is used to select the size of tire from their database and to provide you a cross section of tire manufacturers to choose from.

Make sure you have this information with you when you go into see the tire dealer.

Speed Rating

The above information will also determine the speed rating of the tires that should be on your car.  Most people will never come close to the speed rating for your car or your tires. However you must make sure that you have the right speed rating for your car to ensure that your tires will not over heat and explode at high speed. Again your dealer will confirm this and you should ask him to explain.

Road Condition – Mud, Snow, Rain, Seasons

There are basically three general sets of  conditions that you need to be prepared for. Dry conditions – wet/mud  and ice/snow. Most people will opt for all season tires to allow them to have a good tire that can deal with all of the above conditions. However there are some locations that require snow tires during the winter and will not allow summer or all season tires in the winter time.

If you live in an area were there is a lot of snow, consider using all seasons in the summer and fall and then switch to snow tires for the winter. Traction is much better and you will be much safer as well.

All season tires perform well on plowed roads and wet conditions as long as there is sufficient tread dept.  If you are caught on the road with all season tires with lot’s of snow, pull off or at least go slow so that you can maintain control.


I have used nitrogen filled tires for the first time over the past two years. Based on my experience, I would recommend using nitrogen filled tires. The gas is more inert and will maintain the tire pressure better than compressed air.

Not all locations will fill your tires with nitrogen and some will charge extra for this service.

Valve Stems

Most tire shops will replace the valve stem each time they replace the tire. This is standard and costs very little. The reason they replace these is to prevent any possible leaks that might crop up due to the current stems weakening from wear and tear.


Cars with Tire pressure monitoring systems should not have any problem. The existing units should continue to operate as advertised and should not need replacement unless they have been damaged during removal of the old tire, damaged by the tire going flat while the car is still moving or just age.

Mileage Warranty

The mileage warranty that comes with the tire is basically how far you should be able to drive on your tires given normal average driving. Lower mileage tires are also cheaper as well since they will have less tread depth on them as well.

The mileage warranty you select will depend on how long you plan to keep the car and what your budget can afford at the time. Higher is generally better.

Maintaining your Warranty

The dealer will give you a list of things to do to maintain your warranty. These will include tire pressure maintenance, tire rotation , tire balance  and to ensure that your car is maintained properly to protect your tires. Read the specific requirements and ensure you follow these .

Repair Locations

This was very important for me. You might find cheaper tires at a small garage, but what happens when you are on a trip and need tire repairs immediately. Dealing with a national supplier such as Costco or Wal-Mart guarantees that there is a location not too far away regardless of where you actually are.

In our case I wanted coverage in Canada and the US. I wanted to be able to take advantage of the free tire rotation and balancing for the life of the tires regardless of were we were with the car.

Our next post will be about which Tire Supplier we chose and why! For more info about the right tires for your car, click here.

What is a “Text Msg Short Code Program”

Some of our readers have asked, what is a “text msg short code program”? We have answered this question in a previous post, however wanted to take another shot at addressing the question here in a new post. If you would like to refer to our previous post, just click here, and you will go to the original post. It will open in a new window so you will not lost your spot on our blog.

Personal Experience with Text Msg Short Code Program

We ran into this issue because we were being billed $2 every time we received one of these messages and needed to stop them in a hurry. Anyway, the way I understand short code programs is that they are special messages that use a specific code to send text messages to consumers. The advantage of text msg short code programs is that consumers have control to opt into or out of these programs. In other words you can cause them to be sent to you and you can stop them anytime.

I apparently had approved these messages to be sent to me. I did not recall doing this, however the good thing was that all I had to do to stop them was to send a text message to the number sending the text message to me with the message “stop”. It worked and the messages topped coming to me. The other great thing was that my mobile carrier also reversed the charges or wrote them off, I am not sure which was done.

Expensive Text messages

Companies use text msg short code programs to sign up subscribers, to send them information that they have subscribed to e.g sports scores and other real time information and charge them for the service. In my case if I had not stopped this service, it would have cost me $2 for every message.  And I was receiving a message at least once per day. This can get expensive, but if you need the information, I guess it is ok.

Anyway, I hope that answers the question, What is a “Text Msg Short Code Program”? If you need more information refer to the original post were it explains how these messages got started and how they are administered. If you are having problems with text msg short code program messages being sent to you, call your carrier to have the charges reversed and also to confirm how to stop your particular  set of messages.

If you have comments or have other experiences  with text msg short code program issues and would like to tell our readers about it, please leave your comments below. Visit our previous post, just click here, to get more details.

Reduce Electricity First

This may seem like an odd post to be included in an alternate and renewable energy blog, however when you think about it, one of the first things you may want to do is to reduce or control the amount of electricity that you use every day before you start looking for other sources of electricity. The subject of this post is how can I reduce the mount of Reduce Electricity Firstelectricity that we use every day.

The chart on the left is a graph of our electrical usage. We are on a smart meter system and pay for electricity based on the time of day usage.  Green is from 7pm to 7am, while yellow is from 7am to 11am and 5pm to 7pm, and red which is the highest cost is from 11am to 5pm in the day. As you can see in June, July and Aug of 2010 we used a lot of electricity. We were running a pool pump  basically 24 hours a day.  Air conditioning was operating a lot and contributed to a high cost for electricity during those months.

During Feb, Mar and April we were in the sunny south, so the only thing that was using electricity was our furnace, our fridge and security lights that turn automatically when it gets dark, which in the winter time is for almost 14 hours a day. There is a huge difference even from Dec which is also a cold winter month. All TV’s , computers etc were unplugged so there was no trickle draw of electricity. This shows the dramatic difference between usage from different months and the impact of shutting everything down.

Electricity Reduction List

Some web sites advertise usage meters or kill a watt meters, however if you just use your common sense you can reduce your electrical bill substantially. Here is a list of the things that you might consider in terms of energy reduction when it comes to electricity:

  • Turn  off all lights in vacant rooms
  • Eliminate the 2nd fridge
  • Eliminate the freezer
  • Turn off and unplug all electronics when not in use e.g. TV’s, radios etc
  • Run pool pumps for a few hours a day in non peak times
  • Run air conditioning during non peak times
  • Turn up the temperature for air conditioning so that it runs less
  • Convert all lights to fluorescent bulbs to reduce your electrical draw
  • Schedule clothes washing and drying to non peak electrical rate times
  • Schedule dish washer operation to non peak electrical rate times

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Installing Laminate Flooring

Installing Laminate FlooringInstalling laminate flooring is something that you can easily do yourself. Why pay professionals to do it when the instructions for how to install it are printed right on the package. Also many flooring stores offer beginner courses to help the do it your self consumers. In addition, all the manufacturers of laminate flooring have the directions for installing the flooring available on their websites. These floor pieces are designed to click together and will float on the floor. There is no nailing required, which makes it suitable for direct placement on cement floors, although you may want some insulating value under the floor.

Installing Laminate Flooring vs. Hardwood Flooring

There are some differences between  installing laminate floors and installing hardwood floors, but you can use the same tools for both. Tools can be purchased although most people will rent them for the time they need them. The first step in installing laminate flooring is to calculate the size of the room and purchase the flooring of your choice.

You should  leave hardwood flooring open for a time so that it can become acclimatized to your home. This is not the case when installing laminate flooring. When reading the directions as to how to install laminate flooring, you will learn that you can install it as soon as you open the package. You should also check all the planks before you install them to ensure that none of them are defective.

You will get a refund for any defective planks, as long as they are not damaged by you in any way. If you have difficulty getting the laminate planks to fit together, you should not put them together and take them apart more than three times. This could damage the laminate flooring and mar the effect when you have it completed.

Installing Laminate Flooring in the Kitchen

If you are installing laminate flooring in your kitchen, you should have the cabinets in place beforehand.   This means that you will have to learn how to install laminate flooring around the cabinets. This is also why you need to have a saw to cut the planks when you need smaller sizes and pieces to fit around the cabinets. Most people will opt for a tiled floor in the kitchen and also in the laundry room, however some will go for wood floors because they like the look and feel of the wood better than the tiles.

Laminate Flooring in the Laundry Room

When installing laminate flooring in the laundry room, you should make sure that you have rubber pads underneath the washer and dryer. This is to make sure that these appliances are level so that they won’t damage your flooring. Although most people do not have laminate flooring in the laundry room, there is no reason why you can’t use this room of the house to learn how to install laminate flooring. You can even practice installing hardwood flooring on this small area before you tackle more visible rooms of the house.

You might be in need of a few tips for installing laminate flooring if you are just learning how to install laminate flooring. If you have to place the laminate flooring around pipes, one tip is to drill a hole in the plank about ½ inch larger than the circumference of the pipe. Then cut the plank through the center of the hole and fit the two pieces of laminate flooring together around the pipe and glue them together.

Installing Laminate Flooring Near Door Frames

When installing laminate flooring, the flooring should extend under the door frame. If you have a piece of scrap that you have left over. You can use this as a marker for the depth that you need to trim the door frame. If you are not changing the height of the finished floor, most doors will continue to work just fine without scraping the floor. On the other hand if the floor is being raised for whatever reason, you may need to trim the bottom of the doors.


Home Sitting Services you Should Look For

Home Sitting ServicesIf you are leaving your home vacant for any reason make sure someone will look after it. If you  have decided to hire someone to look after your home while you are away there are precautions you should take to ensure your home is secure. Here is a list of things that you should be looking for them to do. This list applies to your neighbor, one of your relatives, a close friend as well as a professional home sitting service that you might hire. It is to ensure that there are mo miscommunications and that the insurance companies requirements are looked after.

Home Sitting Services – Checklist

Whether you are leaving for the weekend or all winter, the last thing you want to be concerned about is your homes security while you are away.

  • A report after every visit by email, which is very reassuring to many couples vacationing in foreign countries or living at another location while your home is being sold. The status should be provided along with whatever services should be included.
  • Pick up your mail and forward it if needed. This includes mail in your mail box at your home as well as at the post office or one of the neighbor hood post office boxes that are available in some communities. It should also include all of the junk mail that is delivered to our homes and if not removed leaves that not lived in look if not picked up
  • Check on the security of your home, including alarms, windows and doors.
  • Check that there are no water leaks and that the furnace is working properly in the winter time heating your home.
  • Water your plants.
  • Look after the lawn in the summer including cutting your lawn and watering if needed.
  • Monitor subcontractors, such as driveway snow clearing in the winter or lawn cutting services.
  • Miscellaneous services such as
  • pool care,
  • walking the dog or
  • feeding the cat.

Insurance Companies

Many insurance companies require someone to visit your home every 48 to 72 hours, while some are comfortable with a visit once a week. Most want the water shut off so that if there is a leak during a vacancy the water damage will be limited.

As an alternative to relying on friends or family, a professional home sitting service is one way to make sure that everything you need is done to keep your home secure and deal with any emergencies. Look for the following service list if you are hiring a company to look after your home.

  • Home visits on a schedule you choose
  • Reports by email after every visit
  • Fulfill your insurance requirements
  • Reasonable rates – less than you expected
  • Choose only the services you need
  • Short or long-term arrangements
  • Vacation, Business Trip, Relocating

Who Should You Hire

Another issue is who can you trust. Most family members are trust worthy and if you know your neighbors well enough you can usually count on them to help you out for short-term vacations. A long-term vacation is a different thing and may impose on your friends and neighbors more than you want to.  Unless you can return the favor, you might want to consider a professional who is in the business.

Regardless of who you use, it is a good idea to remove anything of value. Jewelry and other valuable items should be removed so that there is no temptation.  Also take pictures or a video of your home for insurance purposes and a record of your home’s valuable items. This is good protection for you for a number of reasons:

  • Provides a record of your belongings
  • Insurance claims need documentation of what you have
  • Helps you recall all of the miscellaneous items that you have in your home which are very difficult to remember in times of stress
  • Protection in terms of anyone coming into your home and removing items of value, you have a record

Comments are welcome about your experiences when you are away and using the services of a home sitter. For more info on burglar deterrents and property management / home security, click here.


Adjusting Cold Air Return Vents in the Fall

Adjusting Cold Air Return VentsOur last post was all about adjusting cold air return vents in the fall and the importance of having enough of them to ensure excellent air circulation within your home. This post is really just a reminder to adjust your vents for the coming heating season.

Most people have air conditioning and in modern homes there will be a hot air return vent located near the ceiling just above the cold air return vent which will always be at floor level. You will also only find these hot air return vents on the second floor of two story homes since hot air always rises and at the ceiling level in one story homes. In the spring you may have closed the bottom cold air return vents which forces the air return to the furnace to be drawn from the ceiling were the air is hottest. This improves the cooling effectiveness of your system and provides a more comfortable environment in your home.

Cold air as you may know falls to the lowest levels while hot air rises.  By closing the bottom vent you are forcing the hot air to be drawn into the return system to be cooled by the air conditioner. Opening the cold air vent in the fall allows the cold air to be drawn to the furnace and heated.

Adjusting Cold Air Return Vents

Our cold air return vents actually have a lever that allows us to open or close the vent depending on the time of the year. It is a small lever that you can push up or down depending on what you want to do. Some homes may not come with these kinds of vents so home owners may need to place a magnetic cover over the vent to prevent air from entering.  Make sure that you are covering the cold air vent at the floor level and not the one at the ceiling. You would only do this in the spring when you are about to turn on the air conditioning. If you do not have a hot air return vent at the ceiling level, then do not cover your cold air return vent. The furnace will not receive sufficient air to circulate.

Winter Time – Open Your Cold Air Return Vents

Once winter arrives, you want to have the cold air at floor level drawn into the air return system. It is time to open these vents if they are closed. Allow the cold air to return to the furnace to be heated. Since cold air is so heavy, it will automatically flow to the lowest level into cold air return vents.

Why Should we Open and Close These Vents

There are a couple of reasons. The most straightforward reason is that you want the air to flow in an optimum way. It should either cool or heat your home as fast as possible so that you are comfortable. Another reason, is the cost of energy as it  increases. Consumers want to save as much money as possible by reducing their energy foot print. Using your homes air circulation system efficiently, you can actually save money. They can reduce their annual costs to heat and cool their home.

In the winter time also utilize the suns rays to heat your home in the day time. Close the blinds in the evening to provide that extra layer of insulation around your windows. The reverse would be done in the summer time. Consumers should prevent the suns rays from coming into the home and overheating the house.

It Only Takes a few Minutes

This is a simple thing to do and it only takes a few minutes twice a year to do. The motivation of our site is to help home owners save money. It leaves more money in your pocket for other needs.

If you have thoughts about this, please leave us a constructive comment. Our readers will appreciate it.


Saving Money at the Fuel Pump

Saving Money at the Fuel PumpGas prices have come down a bit recently from the highs of $4 and more per gallon. However it is only a matter of time before they go up again as the economy picks up and people start spending again. Every time I fill the car up, I groan at the cost of the gasoline. It is time to think about Saving Money at the Fuel Pump. It is time to make sure that I do everything I can to stretch a tank of gasoline as far as I can.

Even if you are driving a small car that get’s great gas mileage, it still is a bit of sticker shock each time you fill up. I just heard to-day that the avg cost of a gallon of gasoline has gone up by one dollar in the last year. That is a lot of money that is no longer available to your family, especially if you commute to work every day.

Saving Money at the Fuel Pump – Fuel Saver List

Here is a list of fuel savers that can help you get as much mileage out of a gallon of gasoline as possible:

  • Clean your fuel injectors
  • Make sure your tires have the proper air pressure
  • Change out the spark plugs, air filter and gas filter as per the manufacturer
  • Plan your trips so that you reduce trips for specific things
  • Car pool to work, team sports and taking the kids to practice
  • Avoid hard accelerations from a stop sign or stop light
  • Coast into stop points, to avoid coming to a complete stop
  • Drive at the speed limit

More Detail about Fuel Savers

Clean your fuel injectors. When fuel injectors are clogged or gummed up, modern engines do not perform efficiently. Ironically, this may actually lead to them introducing too much gas to the combustion chamber. Check you owner’s manual for any directions on the type of fuel injector cleaner to use. You may want to have the dealer do it for you.

Correct air pressure in your tires.  Filling your tires to the correct air pressure ensures your tires will move efficiently across the road. Importantly, use the air pressure recommended by the manufacturer, not the tire supplier. You can find this information in your owner’s manual or on the inside of the driver’s door.

Organizing your life is a good way to save money on gas. Organize running errands to avoid taking multiple trips a day to get things done. Every time you fire up that car, you burn fuel. Make a list of everything you need to accomplish and do it all on one trip.

Car Pool If you have kids, getting them to and from school, sports and the houses of friends can lead to a lot of time on the road. Save money for you and others, by  teaming up with parents to move the kids around in one car.

Car pool to work – This also provides huge savings and gives car poolers a chance to catch up on sleep or read the paper or even get some work done.

Large Gas Saving Techniques

Avoid hard accelerations from a stop sign or stop light. Every time you press the gas pedal to the floor and take off fast, you are burning much more gas. Leave a stop at a more normal level of acceleration.

Coast into stop points, to avoid coming to a complete stop. I see so many people accelerate from stop light to stop light and then hit the brakes hard. Coasting into a stop light, not only saves your brakes. This action also reduces the gas you use on leaving the stop light especially if it turns green as you arrive.

Drive at the speed limit-driving 10 miles an hour over the speed limit causes a severe reduction in your gas mileage. You might get there faster, but it is going to cost you a lot more!

Taking small steps can add up to a big difference. Following the above tips  should spend help you spend less time at the pump. For more gas saving ideas, click here.


Cold Air Return Vents

Cold Air Return VentsThe location and number of cold air return vents is so important to the comfort of the homes occupants. Yet the design and the installation of these vents seems to be haphazard at best in many homes. My own home has two cold air return vents upstairs. There are two vents on the main level for a 2500 square foot home  with 4 bedrooms. These cold air return vents play a crucial role all year round for heating the home in the winter time and for cooling the home in the summer time.

Having sufficient cold air return vents and managing them properly can both make your home more comfortable as well as save you money on heating and cooling costs. Here is more information about them to help you manage your heating and cooling system with cold air return vents. The most important thing is to make sure that they are not blocked in any way.

Cold Air Return Vents – How They Work

Cold air return vents work on a forced air system. In other words you have a fan on your furnace which forces air through enclosed piping to hot air vents located in every room. It draws air through a enclosed system from every room in your home that has a cold air return vent. As a result the air circulates throughout your home cooling it in the summer time and heating it in the winter time.

If there is not a cold air return vent in a bedroom, the door should be left open so that the air can circulate. Three of our bedrooms do not have cold air return vents. These doors must be left open or the rooms will not heat properly and they certainly will not cool off either in the summer. The cold air return vent located in the hallway is the main return for the three bedrooms that do not have have cold air return vents.  If you want to save energy, simply shut off the hot air vents and close the doors to keep these rooms from being heated or cooled depending on the season. Never do this in a bathroom as the water pipes might freeze in the winter time causing the pipes to split and lots of water damage. The same applies on our main level.

Cold air return vents at Ceiling Level

There are actually two cold air return vents in tandem at each location. One is located at floor level and the other is located at the ceiling level. In the summer time hot air rises and and is sucked through the ceiling vent, while in the winter time cold air falls and is sucked in through the floor vent. It is important to shut off the cold air return vent that is not being used. For example, shutting off the vent at the floor level during summer time will ensure that all of the hot air is drawn off the ceiling to cool the room quickly.

What If you Do Not Have Enough Cold air vents

If you can’t install a cold air duct back to the furnace from each room, you can sometimes fake it. You can install a cold air return register above the door from each room that connects to the hallway. The air flows through these openings from each room. The air flows across the ceiling in the hallway towards a larger cold air return that does extend to the basement furnace. This will work well for rooms that do not have a cold air return vent.

Homes with basements often find that they are very cold in the winter time. Usually this is because there is no cold air return vents installed in these rooms. Add cold air return vents at the floor level to draw off the cold air . You will see a significant difference in the temperature of the room.

Why Builders do not Install Enough Vents

There never seems to be enough vents in new homes. Basically they cut back on the number of vents to reduce costs. However if air is forced into a room it must have somewhere to go. A cold air return vent in every room, would ensure that these rooms would all be heated properly. Air distribution  in the winter and in the summer would improve.

Air also meets resistance and will take the easiest route. Many people find that rooms close to the furnace will be the hottest and coolest. Shutting off the return registers in these rooms will force the air to go to other rooms. Both cool and hot air will provide a more even heat around the home.

We appreciate comments on this post. Add your ideas about saving money as well as how to manage cold air return vents. Feel free to leave a comment to assist our readers.


Txt Message Short Code Programs

Txt Message Short Code ProgramsLast year we wrote an article about this subject of short code programs because we had been personally exposed to this particular scam. We wanted to let people know about Txt Message Short Code Programs, what they were all about and why you should always review your phone bills. Consumers should always review both your regular home phone as well as your mobile phone bill to check for these extra charges on your phone bill. They can be surprisingly large and add up quickly. In our case they were being charged every day and at a rate of $2 per message that we received.

If we had not stopped these text messages, that would have been over $60 added to our monthly bill for something that I did not want and never ordered. This is a scam and you should really pay attention to this issue if it happens to you. Your unlimited text message plan does not cover these charges.

If you would like to refer to the original post about this subject of Txt Message Short Code Programs, click here to read the 1st post we wrote on this particular subject.

Why Pay Attention to This Issue

Txt Message Short Code Programs

The reason we got so excited about this issue, is that we were being charged $2 for each text message we received from one company who was using the short code program. There was nothing short about it, only the text number. The cost was high, who wants to pay $2.00 for  a text message you did not ask to receive. In addition, the information provided was for some sort of sports related thing that provided current information, in real time. I never want to pay for this sort of thing , ever! Even if I was interested, it was not worth $2 per message unless perhaps I was into sports betting.

If you are ever hit with billing for Txt Message Short Code Programs, call your provider and complain. If you did not subscribe to the service, then they will usually write off the charges and provide you with the method to stop receiving more messages. Usually it is simply sending the word STOP by text message to the number that sent the original message to you. However we recommend that you check with your provider to be totally correct and to have the charges reversed.

When are they Useful

Txt Message Short Code Programs are useful in some situations such as your carrier sending free messages to you to provide information about their service. These Txt Message Short Code Program messages you will not mind since you do not pay for them and they can be helpful at times since they alert you to new features or services. Although it can be an aggravation when you receive these messages, at least you also do not have to pay for each one.

If you have had a problem with Txt Message Short Code Programs, tell us about your experience and leave a comment. I am sure other readers will be interested. You may even save them a lot of charges on their monthly cell phone bill.



Home Insurance While You are Away

Home Insurance While You are AwayMost people leave on vacation and really do not give a seconds thought about home insurance. While they are away or  coverage for their home all kinds of things can occur. If you are only leaving for a week, you are probably ok. However for anything longer than one week, you should really check with your insurance company re home insurance while you are away. Find out what they need you to do to maintain your insurance coverage on your home.

Some insurance companies will not cover homes that have been left vacant for specified lengths of time. They want someone checking on them to make sure that the furnace is working. They want to make sure that there are no water leaks or other damage. Refusing to cover a claim could be catastrophic. If you do have a claim, you will be happy that you made the effort to check with them first and followed their instructions.

Homes become vacant for many reasons. Here are a few:

  • Vacation – short
  • Extended vacation
  • Transfer to somewhere else
  • Fire damage
  • New home construction

In many cases someone who is being transferred to another city or country for a temporary period may decide to leave their home vacant or try to sell their home while they work elsewhere. People who go on vacation may leave their home and do not have anyone check on it, or just have the neighbors keep an eye on it while they are away.

Do You have Home Insurance While You are Away

Your existing home  insurance company MAY OR MAY NOT be willing to continue to provide home insurance or may refuse a claim if you have not had someone monitoring it while the home is vacant. Many of the mainstream home insurance companies will not provide home insurance for a home that is left vacant or even rented to a tenant.

Check With your Home Insurance Company

Before you make any decisions regarding your home, check with your insurance company first to confirm they will continue to provide insurance cover. Either way you need to have your building insured for liability and also damaged from some of the basic perils that may occur. You should also appreciate that limited cover is available for your building so you should take this into account if you are doing any financial planning.

Home Insurance companies may require someone to actually go into the home once a day during the winter to ensure that the heat is still on and that there is no break in the water lines. Some insurance companies will continue to cover a home with a once per week check if the water is turned off and drained from all of the interior pipes.

Example Of Insurance Claim While You are Away

A friend of ours was off in Florida for the winter when a pipe broke in his home due to an electrical malfunction. The furnace stopped working and the pipes froze. Water gushed out everywhere causing $90,000 in damages to his home. He had to have all of the floors redone and much of the house repainted. Fortunately for him his son was going into the home on a biweekly basis and found the water break. Even an hour of water running can cause a lot of damage! The insurance company covered him in this case, however he had to prove that his son was actually checking the house on a biweekly basis. Can you afford a $90,000 claim if your insurance company does not cover the damage.

Mortgage companies for instance require a minimum level of insurance associated with any mortgage they may make available to you. With a bit of help you will be able to find several quotes for your unoccupied building. Customers should also confirm what kind of security or how often the property needs to be visited to maintain your insurance.

When you do arrange for someone to check on your home make sure they can be counted on to actually go in and check. They really should keep a record of when they go in and confirm that the furnace is working etc. this suggestion is just to be on the safe side as far as claims are concerned.

Comments are welcome about having home insurance coverage while you are on vacation! For more information on vacant home insurance, click here.


Hardwood Floor Installation guide

Hardwood Floor Installation guideInstalling a hardwood floor properly will help to make it secure so that it does not have many squeaks when you walk across the floor and ensure that it lasts a long time as well. There are various methods to install a hardwood floor ranging from floating, staple down, and nail down to glue down. In addition preparation is important. The sub floor should be nailed down or preferably screw nailed down to the joists underneath so that there are no squeaks from the support floor.

Some people will even install a second sub floor to provide extra strength and avoid any squeaks in the floor altogether. This is probably the single most important step to take to avoid a squeaky floor. Some people will go as far as screw nailing another layer of half inch plywood on to the original floor to provide a really solid base. Before you take this step, some planning is required.

Planning the Installation

Review all locations where there are doorways and locations that interface with either carpeting, marble or tile. Consumers will want to avoid causing a significant surface level difference. This can be a great place for people to trip and fall. Adding the second level of plywood to firm up the floor also raises the floor by 5 /8’s of an inch and will make matching to other floor surfaces in other rooms a challenge. There are various tools and supplies available at the do it yourself department stores to help in this regard. If you are hiring an expert installer to install your floor you may get some ideas from this person as well.

Hardwood Floor Installation guide

The first step is to get the installation instructions as provided in the user’s manual provided by the manufacturer you purchased the hardwood floor from. Read the manual carefully and prepare a plan for your floors layout. We also recommend taking advantage of courses that are offered, usually for free at local stores who are selling hardwood flooring. They understand that people want to save money and will try doing it themselves. They would like to get the sale of the flooring and they also want satisfied happy customers. These free courses go a long way to obtaining a sale and also ensuring that the customer is satisfied with the floor after installation.

Floating hardwood floors are the easiest method for floor installation.

The first step in installing a hardwood floor is laying out an accurate reference line. There are a number of tools you can use to simplify the process.

  • Pneumatic Floor Stapler (rented)
  • Air Compressor ·Power Miter Saw
  • Pneumatic Finish Nailer
  • Drill and Bits
  • Table Saw(or Circular Saw)
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

These tools are sure to simplify the entire process of  the hardwood floor installation process. These tools can be purchased if you are doing a lot of floor, or in most cases they can be rented for several days or weeks depending on how long you need the equipment. There is a trade off between renting and purchasing which really is linked to how much floor you will install and how long it will take you. A friend of mind likes to take his time and will purchase most of the tools so that he can take his time and not worry about returning them when not in use.

Always ask the tool renter to show you how the equipment works and also follow all of the safety precautions to avoid any injury. They also rent heavy duty extension cords for this equipment.

Also make sure you learn all about the hardwood floor cleaning tips. Installing is only half the job over the life time of the floor. If a hardwood floor is kept clean of dirt and grit it will remain shiny and new for many years. Remove your shoes at the door and vacuum often to remove all floor grit.


Solar Power Solutions for the Consumer

Solar Power Solutions for the ConsumerThe DC to AC inverter converts the DC electricity into AC electricity. AC Electricity is the kind of electricity used to power the appliances in your home.This web site is aimed at finding solutions for consumers to use in their homes and one of the first things we have come to realize is that it is not easy to find solutions that are easy to find and easy to implement.

One web site we read compared buying a solar solution to buying a car. Would you design the engine, the transmission etc or do you go in and purchase a car with a few identified options that are easy to figure out? The latter of course and that is one of the things that is currently wrong about solar panel solutions.

Most consumers do not understand anything about kilowatts, power, current, converters from DC to AC  and so on. What is needed in the industry are solutions for customers to chose from. Perhaps standard configurations that deliver solution’s that consumers and homeowners are looking for. In much the same way that a furnace is sold with sufficient heating capability for a 2500 square foot house, a solar panel installation should be sold in such a way that an installation could replace all or a percentage of your power usage.

Solar Power Solutions – How Many Panels Do I Need

I have no idea nor do I really want to try and figure this out. Even if I was given a formula to use, the average consumer like me is not going to be confident that they are making the right calculations. What are my alternatives?  Hire an expert which costs money as well and I am still not sure what the final solution is that I need. Just look at the picture on the right with all the different sizes ! With such new technology you can be sure that what you buy today will be updated and changed within 6 months.

How would I mount these on the roof and is this the right location to put them in? What is the optimum direction to face them towards and do I need to clean them once and awhile or are they maintenance free. I really do not want to get up on the roof very often to clean these things. I can only assume that dirt and grime that accumulates on the surface will cause the amount of power they generate to decrease over time.

What is a DC to AC Converter?

The DC to AC inverter converts the DC electricity into AC electricity, the kind of electricity used to power the appliances in your home. This is the same power that you can sell to the commercial power provider in your area or at least this is what many web sites say.

Were should this inverter be installed; are there any cooling requirements; special mounting requirements; electrical inspections required; approvals from the company providing power before you can connect to the grid? Devices such as these come with various power capacities . What size do I need to accommodate the amount of power that I am generating? This is an example of a component that must be sized to fit the system that you are installing.

Do I need a Controller

Apparently using an optional charge controller with a DC circuit breaker is required to manage the charging of batteries that can be used for backup purposes. The controllers use DC power from the solar modules to charge the battery bank. Do the controllers  protect the batteries against overcharging and what happens at night? Will the batteries then discharge back through the solar panels?

Who Wants batteries

This were the solution issue really comes to a head. What problem am I trying to solve?

  • Solar power generation for backup in case of electrical system failure?
  • Alternative power generation to reduce my electrical power cost
  • Generating income by selling power to the electrical grid
  • All three solutions?

Depending on the answer, I will need batteries especially for the backup solution. You have to have something to store the power in if you want a backup solution and that usually means batteries somewhere in the basement to be designed, sized,  purchased and  maintained! Who wants that in your home?

Solar Power Solutions – Installation

This is not an easy thing to install. First you must install the solar panels somewhere. They usually go on the roof, which means you risk roof damage. Wiring and cabling must then run down from the roof to the basement or wherever you are installing the inverter, the batteries and perhaps connecting to the electrical grid.

The wiring must be installed and inspected by an electrician, while the roof installation should be installed by experts who are not going to wreck your roof.


As we research this topic to find out more information, it is obvious at this time that the solar generation solutions for consumers is just getting started and there are not a lot of simple solutions for the average consumer. We have not factored in prices as of yet, but since the industry is still in it’s infancy, this usually means that prices are not anywhere near commodity type pricing.

Comments are welcome and help with finding solutions for consumer related installations. for posts about solar power solutions, click here.



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