Archive for May, 2013

Property Asset Management

Property Management SystemsProperty asset management is an important part of the property management job. Not only is property management responsible for managing  tenants, renting units, paying common expenses and letting contracts to complete repairs, they are also responsible for managing both fixed assets as well as non fixed assets.  Units must be rented, contracts signed with tenants and rent collected on a monthly basis either by check or by electronic means. This is the common most understood portion of property management. But keeping track of all of the assets and completing an inventory every year or more often if needed is a necessary part of the job. Missing items have to be replaced and this can represent an additional cost to the owners. As a result of an inventory audit of the asserts, further action may be needed to investigate chronic problems.

Property Asset Management

Property asset management is another major part of the job that is completed by property managers on behalf of their clients. Management of fixed assets includes repairs, painting, plumbing etc as needed for both interior and exterior portions of the building. Sometimes enhancements are planned to make the building more attractive to tenants and customers. Management of non fixed assets also is needed for asset in common areas of buildings, assets in each unit that is rented and assets that are needed to allow for properly maintain the building.

These items could include tools, ladders, cleaning supplies and supplies typically needed for routine repairs. This also includes items such as refrigerators, stoves and cook tops, dryers, washing machines and dish washers if the apartment or town home is equipped with all of these items. Common areas might have chairs and tables, a stove and refrigerator in shared common rooms or club houses etc.

All of these repairs and purchases need to be recorded as expenses and the larger items accounted for in the asset management system being employed by the property management income company. This is required to keep track of how much money is spent on various categories and for the larger items that  depreciate as well. This is necessary for tax purposes to ensure that the appropriate tax deductions are taken to avoid paying too much tax under the tax law. Each asset may be in a different tax class and any repairs and changes must be reflected accordingly.

Property managers need to have all of this material recorded in the asset management system. In addition contracts between the owner and the property manager must stipulate the requirements for tracking purposes and also reporting purposes. This information must be made available to the owners accountants for audit purposes as well as for preparation of the tax statements at the end of each year.

Manage Contracts

Contracts should include what reports are required on a monthly basis as well as on an annual basis. Most will include rental income, rental expenses, rental records, lease records, and income statements. In addition, asset changes should also be reported. In most cases the report will include or report the value of assets at the beginning of the period, the additions and removal of assets during the period and then the value of the final assets at the end of the period. The property manager should also be able to report an inventory of all assets as well.

This is pretty standard for property managers and expected by client owners. Many owners will review these reports regularly as part of their due diligence and over view of the property that they own. Owners will also query anything that looks out of place and any large expenses that may be reported.

Property managers should be prepared to deal with these questions and even provide a narrative report routinely addressing anything that owners may be concerned about. They should be preparing these exception reports as a matter of course to deal with questions that the owner is likely to have. This saves time for everyone.

For about asset management and property management services , click here.

Cooling Your Roof

Cooling Your RoofWe saw a question posed by a reader about spraying water on the roof in the summer time when it is really hot. The idea was to spray water on the roof cooling your roof down and this in turn may decrease the cost of cooling the house with AC. She did this at dusk when the sun was going down and it did cool her roof down significantly and the house was actually cooler as well. She succeeded in cooling her house and she also mentioned that the neighbors thought she was nuts. They wanted to know if this was a smart thing to do and if it would save energy.

Cooling Your Roof

The writer or the blog owner of the site that this idea was written on thought this was a really great idea. He had wanted to do this himself but did not have a hose with a sprayer that was strong enough. There is no doubt that spraying water on the roof will cool the roof. But is this really a smart thing to do?

The reason this has such a cooling effect is that the heat from your roof (and inside your attic) is being used to warm the water and then evaporate it. Evaporation is a cooling process (which is why sweating makes us feel cooler), so you wind up lowering the temperature of the roof itself substantially. This reduces the heat gain from the roof to the attic and from the attic to inside your house.

Concern About Spraying Water on the Roof

We are very concerned about this answer and also that many people might actually even try this. Not only is it a waste of water, but anyone who pays for their water by the gallon is going to get a huge surprise at the end of the  month if they do this very often. The money they save on cooling the house if any will be quickly used up by a higher water bill. Water is expensive in some areas and this action of spraying your roof can end up costing quite a bit.

Another concern is the impact on the shingles. When water is sprayed on the roof it will cool the shingles. There is no doubt of this, but now you have one side very cool and the other is still very hot. Over time this will cause the shingles to twist and crack and prematurely age the roof, which could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. Any savings you received from cooling the roof in this manner, will quickly be lost with the cost of a replacement roof. A replacement roof will cost several thousand dollars  depending on the size of your roof.

What Should the Home Owner Do

The writer would be better off to make sure that the roof is well vented so that hot air which rises can vent out the roof vents at the top of the roof and cooler air would be drawn in at the bottom of the roof. Placing trees around your house to provide shade and also lowering blinds inside your home to block the sun coming in would be far more efficient. Not only is the air flow automatic when the vents are properly sized, you do not have to remember to spray the roof every day to cool it off.

Depending on the size of your roof and the construction of your home you may need to have more than one roof vent. Each gable and each roof area should have vents that allow the hot air to escape from your attic and dissipate the heat. There should also be sufficient openings that allow cooler air to enter the roof as well at the eaves. Hot air rises and this is what you are trying to take advantage of. Air will flow in at the eaves and out through the roof vents which will have the effect of cooling the roof with no damage to the shingles.

On a large roof you may need to have as many as three or four vents to ensure that you have sufficient air flow to properly cool the air in your attic which in turn will keep the rest of the home cool.

We do not think that spraying water on a roof is a very good idea and would really recommend that home owners not take this approach at all. for more energy reduction ideas, click here.

Tires Online

Looking for tires online can be quite rewarding. without leaving the comfort of your home, many people can now search for tires for their cars and make their purchases online, arrange for them to be delivered and then show up at the dealer to have them installed. This is a very convenient way to purchase tires, however there are a number of cautions that consumers need to be aware of when they purchase tires online in this manner. For example, where will you have the tires shipped? Who will install them and how much will you pay for the tires to be installed and balanced?  You may save on the purchase and lose out on the installation.

Tires Online – Pricing

First of all the price they pay for the tires may include shipping and taxes to the location where you can have the tires installed. However the price may not include installation or balancing of the tires before they are placed on your car. This extra cost can be as much as $20 or more for each tire and with taxes amount to over $100 in extra cost. Some tire stores will match prices including the installation cost to shop around for the total package before you make a decision.

Tires Online – Warranty & Services

Another concern is warranty and services. Some companies will offer free tire rotation every 12,000 miles , free tire balancing and checking of tire pressure. If your tires have nitrogen in them, this could include topping up as needed with nitrogen. All of these services are quite costly if you must pay for them individually.

Finding a great deal on a set of tires without these services and features can mean that your great deal is actually more expensive than some other online tire deals that do include all of these services. Compare carefully before you make your decision to purchase tires online.

What is the Total Cost of Owning Tires

We like to know what the total cost for buying a tire and then maintaining the tire on your car is. The cost for tires can include the following and this what we think you should be comparing before you make a purchase:

  • Tire price
  • Installation Price
  • Balancing
  • Fill with Nitrogen
  • Tire rotation
  • Rebalance tires when they are rotated
  • Tire pressure check and top up
  • Tire disposal charge for old tires
  • All taxes, shipping and duties if applicable

As you can see there is a lot to take into account when buying tires for your car. negotiate based on the final price and the services you want thrown in.

Personally we like the idea of having all of these services included in one price from a national dealer that I can use regardless of what city I might be in. I can have my tires balanced and rotated anywhere in the country for free because it was included in the price of the tire when I purchased it and I maintain my car properly!

For more about buying tires while on the road, tire sales, etc., click here.

Text Messaging Systems

text messaging systemsText messaging systems are provided by the telephone companies, mobile phone companies and of course companies that exist to provide these services over the internet. The traditional text messaging system is provided by mobile carriers and allows one customer to send a text message to any other device capable of receiving and displaying a text message, usually a cellular phone or a smart phone that has mobile phone capability.

Text Messaging Systems

SMS Apps on Smart Phones

If you have access to the internet either through your carrier or through WiFi, many smart phones can support apps that will send and receive SMS messages to other people with the same app on their phones as well as to phones with regular SMS text messaging capability.

There may be a charge for this service when you send a text message to someone outside the system. Many of the apps are free to download or if you upgrade to the full featured app, there may be a small charge. Usually the charges for apps for text messaging over the internet are much lower than those of standard text messaging systems offered by the telecom companies.

Skype messaging

For example Skype allows SMS messages to be sent free and as long as you are sending messages to another Skype user, there is no charge. Once you begin sending messages to other phones that are not registered as Skype users, there is a nominal charge for each message. The same applies when you make a phone call to a non Skype user or phone. This is how they make their money when they are offering free services like this.

Text message systems are great for the average consumer who knows a little bit about how to use computers and smart phones. For anyone with no or little knowledge it can be expensive. If you are reading this article and are not aware of these app’s, get someone to show you how they work so that you can start reducing your phone bill like everyone else.

Text messaging for Emergencies

Many organizations have started to use text messaging as a means of mass alerting their employees or students in the case of universities of something that they should be aware of. This is an excellent way to send information to everyone warning them of  an emergency.

In the past a siren would be heard, but all you knew was that there was some kind of emergency, but you had no idea of where the problem was or even what kind of problem. Now you can send the alert and provide some information along with it.

Companies and educational institutions can provide  weather alerts, fire alerts or some other kind of emergency warning and also advise employees and students to remain away from specific areas.

This is an excellent solution to day since almost all if not all students carry cell phones as their primary means of communication these days. Most are carrying some kind of smart phone and even the older style of mobile phones receive text messages very well.

For more information about text messaging, click here.

Resurfacing Hardwood Floors

Resurfacing Hardwood FloorsResurfacing hardwood floors is often best left to the professionals for a number of reasons which we will go into in this post about this particular topic. All consumers want to try to save some money and some have the time to do the work themselves, however many just do not have the time, the skills or the patience to do the work themselves. If you are planning to try resurfacing hardwood floors yourself, the first thing you need to do is to talk to the experts and learn a few tricks of the trade. Then you need to have the time and patience to do the job and a supporting family who can put up with the mess for a few weeks, unless you plan to take vacation to complete this project within a few days.

Finish the Resurfacing Job Quickly

Hiring a professional usually means that the job can be finished in three or four days depending on the size of the job. Sure your home is a mess during this time, but then the job is done and you can put your furniture back and relax to enjoy your brand new floor. This is usually what most people aim for and you really cannot blame them. Who wants to do all of that work and have a mess too that lasts for several weeks?

It Takes a lot More Time to Do It Your Self

The writer has done a lot of these kinds of jobs on his own and I have saved a great deal of money doing it as well. The problem that we had is that it took a long time to get the job done. Only being able to work on resurfacing the hardwood flooring for a few hours at night before the kids went to bed and then on the weekends really extends the project completion date. In addition my family had to put up with all of the dust in the house and also the furniture totally rearranged so that the work could be done. It took me a couple of weeks to complete the job and I saved several thousand dollars by doing the job myself.

Rent the Right Equipment

Always sand with the grain of the wood and never across the grain. Always rent a machine that will do the sanding for you and has a vacuum attached to such as much of the dust as possible into a bag or entirely outside. This can significantly reduce the amount of dust inside the home and make a huge difference in the clean up afterword.

You will have to do some hand sanding to get into corners and areas that the power sander cannot get to. In addition, removing the corner round and then sanding right up to the wall can reduce the amount of hand sanding that needs to be done.

Sand with progressively finer sand paper to leave a very smooth finish and then vacuum and clean the wood before applying the stain or protective coats to the wood. You may want to wash the walls first to remove all sawdust that has attached to the wall. Clean the floor last with a tack cloth to remove any sawdust that could mar the finish on your floor. When you are finished you will have a floor that looks brand new and add thousands in value to the price of your home.

When consumers are buying a home, they will not take on the job of sanding a floor. Unless they can really get a low price for the home. It has to be low enough that they can afford to pay for the refinishing job. Most sellers would prefer to have the work done and live in the home for a while. For more information about hardwood floor refinishing, click here.


Do It Yourself Landscaping

Do It Yourself LandscapingAny time of the year is great for do it yourself landscaping. But spring is the time when most people get started with their own landscaping projects. It is springtime in May and it is time to start landscaping your backyard and your front yard. Many people wait for the long weekend in May to do this work. The weather has turned and  it is much warmer and there will be no chance of frost. This is Victoria Day for Canadians and Memorial day for US citizens. This is the traditional time for the northern US and Canada to start their gardens. They also touch up any landscaping work they wish to do.

There are many stores that offer topsoil, mulch, and many different types of flowers and shrubs. Also vegetables for planting in your garden. There are so many choices that sometimes it is very difficult to make a decision. As you can see by these pictures that we took at Lowe’s, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different colored flowers and shrubs. They can be picked up for your garden and your pots around the house. We enjoy this time of year because it is time for renewal and updating your yard.

The May long weekend is one of the most popular days.  Consumers go out and buy all kinds of flowers and soil and shrubs. It is also the most busiest time for the garden centers. It is almost like Christmas for them with so many people shopping. Everyone needs to be patient and take their time while they try to dodge people with their carts. Shoppers are just looking around and not paying attention to where they’re going. But one of the best things about shopping at this time is that many of these garden centers have great sales. In fact we found mulch at Lowe’s that was at half price compared to other stores offering the same kind of mulch and the same size bag.

Do It Yourself Landscaping – Shopping

The weekend after the long weekend is another great time to shop. As we mentioned the long weekend and the time leading up to it is Christmas season as far as the garden season goes for these garden centers. After that people get interested in doing summer things and enjoying the warm weather. Sales drop off and if there is inventory left, many of the these stores will offer great sales at this time. You can find any number of products at half price and lower depending on the item. Some customers will purchase things like mulch at half price or lower and keep it in the garage or garden shed for next year. If you have a place to store this stuff it is a great time to save some money.

By the way we really like mulch for our gardens when we are do it yourself landscaping. It makes the job of weeding easier because there are less weeds to start with and secondly they cannot get a good hold with their root systems. They are very easy to remove when you have about an inch of mulch on the ground around your plants.

Another good reason to use mulch is that it helps to retain moisture for your plants and prevents the ground from drying out. Your plants will do far better when you use mulch on the gardens. We use mulch in all of our flower beds for these reasons and it happens to look nice as well. A nicely edged flowerbed with some of your favorite colored mulch looks great. We like to use cedar mulch which comes in brown, natural, red and black coloring. Personally the brown cedar mulch works best for us, but many people purchase the other colors as well.


Assets Property Management

Property Manager QualificationsMany residential rental property owners are focused on the income and expense side of the equation since this is the primary cash flow that will impact their ability to pay all of their expenses associated with the property that they own. There is another element of property management that needs to be discussed and that is assets property management.

Some units will be rented without furniture; however there may be the basics such as fridge, stove, microwave and possibly a washing machine and clothes dryer. There will be screens on the windows, lights, faucets, toilets and chandeliers. While this may seem extreme in terms of asset management, some property owners have found much to their frustration that these things are missing when they come to inspect after the tenant has moved out.

Assets Property Management

Fully Furnished

At the other extreme, some rental units will come fully equipped with furniture, beds and bedding, kitchen utensils and basically everything that a person needs to live. All you need to do is bring your clothes. This is a far more complex asset property management situation where there are a lot of items to inventory and keep track of. Tenants look for cleanliness and good quality utensils, clean linens as basic requirements. Property mangers often hire cleaners to go in after tenants leave to clean the place. They will make the cleaning fee a part of the charge for renting the property in addition to whatever is charged on a per month or daily basis.

In addition there may be other items in or around the property that must be tracked and included in the assets of the property. There are several reasons to keep track of all assets that are in and around a property. These are:

  • Track assets for tax purposes for deductions and depreciation purposes.
  • Keep track of assets for an inventory purpose to ensure nothing is stolen when tenants leave.
  • Track assets from an expense perspective to report on the books for income statements etc

Property managers can be contracted to track all of these items on behalf of a owner client, or the owner client may track these things themselves. If the property manager is responsible for this element of asset management, proper tools must be used to record the date of purchase or the date first entered into the record, the value of the item and a description of the item all linked to the unit that this asset is located in. All additions and removals must also be recorded as well.

Informal or Formal Asset Tracking

Some property managers will perform the function of asset property management informally and use a camera to record everything and perhaps focus on the major items in the home. Others may perform and maintain a very detailed asset property management function. There is a significant difference in the amount of time required to perform these functions and each owner must evaluate the benefits of a detailed inventory vs. the cost of maintaining such an inventory.

Most companies will focus on the major items and leave the details of smaller items to the owner. However asset property management is extremely important  for tax related reasons, since these items can be written off against income either from a depreciation perspective or from a total write off perspective.

Assets Property Management – Year End Reports

Year end reports will cover income and expenses for the property. These same reports will also show the total value of assets at the beginning of the year, the additions and deletions during the year and the final total assets at the end of the year.

Owners and clients will monitor all of these reports as part of their ongoing management of the property and the services provided by the property management company.

For about asset management and property management services , click here.

Online Tires

Online TiresHave you ever checked out some of these online tire web sites that cater to all kinds of cars and customers? Almost all of the major tire companies have online tire sales available where customers can order their tires online and have them shipped almost wherever you would like. In fact you can order them to be shipped to the nearest dealer closest to you or you can even have them shipped to your home. You will have to pay shipping and tax of course and if you are crossing borders, you may have to pay brokers fees and import duties.

Before you decide to make your purchase find out what costs you will have to pay and compare to the cost of buying locally at your closest tire dealer. These additional fees can add up in a hurry and it is always a good idea to take into account the total cost of your purchase. Also tire dealers will often have sales on as well which may in the end be the best buy!

Online Tires – Deals

Consumers can usually find pretty good deals for these online tire sales web sites. It is an easy way to shop for tires online and customers can easily compare prices. What consumers need to remember is that there is still the cost of installation to be added along with the cost to balance the tires.  This cost can add another $20 or $30 dollars to each tire. This is really the cost that you need to compare to and not just the cost of the tire, unless you have your own wheel balancing and installation equipment, which most people do not have.

Some of the larger chains will arrange for the tires to be shipped to the dealer located closest to your location where you can have them installed for an additional fee. Again include this fee for installation when you are comparing tires that your purchase online. When you ship to their store they will sometimes waive shipping costs.

Compare all Services and Features

Finally compare the services and features that you will receive when you purchase tires online. These may include free wheel balancing, free tire rotation and free top up with nitrogen for as long as you own the car. These services can be quite valuable and make the difference between purchasing a set of tires from one online tire company vs. another company. Almost all of the major tire stores such as Costco, Americas Tire and Canadian Tire support these types of services. They charge in different ways so consumers need to compare the total costs of purchasing and maintaining tires.

Free tire rotation can be worth as much as $60 when you consider that a lot of places will charge $15 per tire or even more to remove the tire, balance the tire and then reinstall the tires according to the rotation that is required by the manufacturer.  this is just one example of factoring costs into the price that you pay for tires.

We travel a great deal by car, so buying from a national chain is also important since it means I can take my car into one of their shops in any city and have the tires rotated for free.

For more about buying tires while on the road, tire sales, etc., click here.

Cheap Text Messages

Text Message Marketing ResellerIf you are looking for cheap text messages capability, why would you ever use SMS messaging from the telephone company unless you have a fixed cost plan with unlimited incoming and outgoing messaging capability.  Most phone companies offer this kind of service were customers can pay a fixed rate and are allowed a maximum number of outgoing messages and unlimited incoming messages. Once you exceed this maximum number, each additional text message will be charged and will add to your overall bill.

Consumers can also use their smart phones to send and receive SMS text messages using free apps that are available from iTunes as well as from Android stores depending on the type of phone you have. Unfortunately many of these apps require that the people you are sending the message to must have the same app on their phone to be free, otherwise you will be paying for each SMS message that is sent.

Cheap Text Messages

Cheap text messages are readily available as long as you are careful and manage your communications cost. Even if you are paying for a text message, it is still cheaper than a phone call if you have to pay for your calling on a per minute basis unless you are trying to have a text message conversation involving tens or hundreds of messages.

Before you sign up for a plan with your telephone company or your mobile carrier, take some time to evaluate just how many text messages you will be sending and receiving before you decide which cheap text message package you sign up for.

Consumers can also control their costs by using the free applications that are available for most smart phones and send free SMS or text messages to their friends and colleagues for free. As long as you are connected to the internet via WiFi at home, at a location that provides free WiFi, you can send these messages at no additional cost to you.

Be careful about using your data plan to send text messages. Each time you send a message and are connected to your cell phone providers data network you will be using part of your monthly allotment of data. Text messages by themselves are not expensive since they are small and do not take a lot of data.

On the other hand, if you attach pictures to your text messages, this can use up your data quickly. Always connect to a free WiFi site whenever you can to avoid using your data plan. This approach will ensure that you stay within your data plan allotment and not use your text message plan as well.

There is a lot to be aware of when you are using a smart phone and managing your costs. Make sure you understand your plan from the phone company and then configure your smart phone accordingly to take advantage of your plan and the free resources that are available.

For more information about text messaging, click here.

Paying Down Debt

Paying Down DebtThe holiday season is over and all of the credit card bills have arrived to give us that holiday hangover we get every year. If you do not pay the balance in full, these credit cards will trigger interest charges to the level of 17% or even higher for store credit cards. These interest rates are high and generate a lot of extra cost to those bargains that you might have got when you made your purchases. Anyone who only pays the minimum payment is paying almost all interest and very little principle. As a result your charges next month for interest will be about the same or higher if you charge more to your credit card.

Paying Down Debt – Credit Cards

Always pay down your credit card debt or do not spend the money if you cannot pay this debt off immediately. Another approach if you really must make these purchases is to use some of your savings which is only generating may be 2% income compared to the 17% that the credit card companies are charging.

Pay Down Line of Credit Debt

Some consumers like to use a line of credit that is secured with the equity in their home. When you secure a loan with a home, the interest rate can be very competitive. It is a very good idea to use this line of credit to pay off your credit cards with this line of credit. When you are paying something in the order of 4% on a line of credit it only makes sense to pay down your debt on your credit cards using the line of credit funding.

The danger of course is if you run your line of credit and your credit cards up to the maximum, you are really in trouble, since now you have nowhere to turn. Using a line of credit really requires a lot of discipline to make sure that you pay down this debt on a regular basis and do not allow it to build up beyond what you can afford.

Pay Down Your Car Loan Debt

Many people will purchase a car and take out a car loan when they do. As we write this, car companies are offering zero interest rate loans for up to seven years. In situations like this if you have any other loans that have an interest rate above zero pay down these loans first, before you pay down your car loan.  Otherwise always pay down debt that has the highest interest rate first.

Paying Down Debt is a High Priority With Retirement Planning a Close Second

Consumers know they should pay down debt and they also know that they should save for retirement. Both are incredibly important, the more so as you get older and your earning power goes down or at least enters the fixed income area. I hear lots of seniors complaining that they are now on a fixed income. This is no surprise, they should have known that they were going to be on a fixed income and planned for it. We think that paying down debt is important; with retirement saving being even more important.

Develop a financial plan that tells you how much you need to save to get you were you need to be financially. Then implement that plan to ensure that you are financially stable when it comes to be retired and live the life style that you would like. Your financial plan should also include paying down debt that you may have whether it is a mortgage, car loan, personal loan or credit card debt. Include any credit line that you may also have.

Consumers should get a handle on their financial plan that leads to retirement early in life. If you do the easier it will be and the better off they will be when they retire. Start early in life and you will not need to save as much each month compared to someone starting in their 40’s. Begin saving for retirement in your early 20’s, in fact as soon as you start working with the rest of your surplus money going towards paying down debt.


Save Energy This Spring

Save Energy This SpringEvery day is a day to save energy, however on this post we will spend a little time discussing how to save energy this spring. The picture shows that a regular light bulb will consume more energy than a small computer monitor. It is so easy to change this situation by converting from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs or the new LED bulbs. We have written articles on both of these on our website and calculated the cost savings for each. Take a look at these posts if you are interested.

Depending on how you program your thermostat, you could save up to 10% on your year-round heating and cooling costs. For consumers in the northern USA and in Canada, heating costs are the predominant energy expense. By setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter will save heating fuel as well as electricity that is not being used to drive fans and keep the home warm. In the summer time, especially in the southern US, air conditioning is a huge cost to many people. Closing your window shades and setting the thermostat a few degrees warmer can also save a great deal of electricity.

Save Energy This Spring

Get Rid of your old Fridge and Freezer

At various times during the year, power companies will pay for a 3rd party company to pick up old freezers and fridges for free. They will recycle it and you further reduce you electricity further, especially if this fridge or freezer is not being replaced. New appliances are much more energy efficient and will have more features as well. Get rid of that 20 year old or older freezer and save energy. If you only use it during part of the year for example in the fall, then unplug it, clean it out and leave the lid open to air it out when you are not using the appliance. At least you can save some energy during part of the year.

Take advantage of Coupons

Coupons with values ranging from $1 to $10 are available for a limited time to replace existing incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs, energy-efficient fixtures, timers, dimmer switches, indoor motion sensors, power bars and even clothesline. These coupons are available not only in the spring but pretty much all year round. They can save consumers a great deal of money not only in the purchase of these lights, but also in the daily use of electricity that will be reduced. These coupons are usually sponsored by the local government who is trying to encourage people to convert to reduced energy-consuming devices. These coupons can make a huge difference in the amount of money you pay for fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Clean all of Your Furnace Filters

Your furnace has worked all winter long and now will take a short rest until the time comes to start cooling the house. Replace the filter to maximize air flow through the furnace. Also clean any debris that may have collected around the outdoor unit if the AC unit. Sometimes leaves and twigs collect around these units which can lower the efficiency. You should have your furnace inspected at least once per year to make sure that it is operating at peak efficiency.

Time of Day Energy Use

In some locations across Canada and the USA, electricity companies have started charging for electricity based on the time of day the electricity is used. The higher rates are during the day time and the lower rates are in the evenings and at night usually after 7pm. Any time you can delay the use of electricity to the evening is going to save you money and energy use. For example running the dish washer after 7pm or drying clothes after 7pm will save a great deal of energy cost due to the lower rates that are charged in these time frames.

Check out you local utility to see what rates they charge during various times of the day to see if this is applied in your area and whether it would save you any money if you were to run these electrical devices after the 7pm time frame.

There are many more ways to reduce your energy use and we have only covered some of the major ones. Every home is different and consumer living standards and schedules are also different. If you take the time to evaluate all of your energy use and ask yourself if there are ways to reduce your electrical use, you may find many other ways to reduce your energy foot print and your cost much more. If you do let us know and leave a comment or two about the ways you have found to manage your energy use and reduce your overall cost.


Hardwood Floor Installation

Hardwood Floor InstallationHardwood floor installation is actually pretty straight forward. Once you have properly planned out what you are doing and made all of the decisions regarding what kind of flooring, it can be easy.  What should you do about the sub floor and who should complete the installation for you? There are lots of sites that discuss the actual installation work of installing a hardwood floor. However in this post we are going to focus more on the practical side of all of the decisions that need to be made. When you consider a hardwood floor and hopefully provide a few guidelines or ideas for you to consider.

What Rooms will Hardwood Flooring Be Installed In

Will you install hardwood flooring in the entire house, on one level, in one room and what about the stairs. Some people prefer to have several rooms carpeted and the rest with hardwood flooring to provide contrast. Some people want the entire house flooring to be hardwood. There are practical considerations to take into account in making these decisions in addition to the cost. Matching floor levels from room to room may be a concern if you want to avoid uneven floor interfaces. The stairs can be the most expensive part of the flooring due to the additional labor required especially if it is curved. More information on both areas in a moment.

Preparation of the Floor

Obviously the existing floor material needs to be removed. The sub floor underneath needs to be cleaned of all debris and any nails or staples also removed to leave a smooth surface to work with. It is also a good idea to run over the floor with a vacuum to clear away any dirt and dust that may be left. This will mean less dirt will be stirred up when you are installing the new flooring.

Installing Additional Sub Floor Support

If your existing sub floor is less than 5/8’s inches or you want to make sure that your floor is really tight with no squeaks you may want to add another sub floor and screw nail it down into the joists. Alternately you can also screw nail your existing floor wherever there are existing squeaks. Test this by walking all over the floor and screw nailing into a joist at that point.

Direction for the Floor to Run

Most installers will recommend that you install the floor with the grain of the wood running lengthwise in the room instead of across the room. This approach has the impact of making a room look larger than it actually is. Once you have chosen which way the wood grain will run, maintain this approach throughout the house.

Color or Stain of the Floor You will Choose

This is an entirely personal choice that will be made by you the customer. Something to consider is obviously matching the décor of the rest of the house and matching your planned decorating ideas. Also if you plan to sell the home anytime soon, you may want to choose something more neutral in color so that the floor will appeal to more potential buyers when it comes time to sell your home.

Who Will Complete the Hardwood Floor Installation

Most people will usually go with the installer recommended by the store where you purchased your flooring from. Many consumers will do it themselves in an effort to save money as well. Like any project that you take on, take the time to learn how to do the installation properly and plan it out so that no mistakes are made. Once the floor is nailed to the subfloor it is pretty hard to take it up to do any rearrangements or make corrections.




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