Archive for August, 2013

Dress to Get the Best deals

Dress to Get the Best dealsDid you dress to get the best deals this morning? Everyone knows that you dress well for interviews to make your best impression and  get that all important job. You want to look your best and make a positive impression on the person who will interview you. The first 30 seconds often makes the impression that will count with the people who will interview you, some times before you even open your mouth to say hello. They will observe how you are dressed, whether you are well manicured, whether your hair is neat and tidy and whether your clothes are great looking. They do not have to be expensive, but they have to be great looking, they have to be clean and they have to match.

Dress to Get the Best deals

Dose the same apply when you are looking for a great deal when you are buying something? How about a car, a home or purchasing furniture? Assuming that you are going to negotiate the best deal you can, what is the impact of buying something when you look your best? How much will you pay?

Dress Down to Negotiate

We happen to think that you should dress down to get a good deal. Again first impressions make an impact on the sales person and the person who approves the deal. If they think you are well heeled they may not be quite as willing to lower the price in order to close the deal. There are many factors that go into whether you can negotiate a better deal. We just happen to think that if you dress expensively, you are going to pay more than the guy who is not dressed as well. Why would they cut you a deal when you look like you can afford it?

Look like you do not have $$$ to be able to afford the deal.  Remember that the sales person wants to close the deal, they want to make a sale and they want to extract as much money as they can from you. If they think that you can afford it in addition to really wanting whatever you are buying, chances are they will hold out based on the feeling that you can afford it!

Experiment to See what Kind of A Deal You Can Get

If you look well off they will ask for more. It is that simple. What do you think about this thought and have you tried buying something at different stores based on how you are dressed? Try negotiating for the same product at two different stores and see if the way you are dressed makes a difference in the price you are offered.

You may be surprised at how much less you pay when you are well dressed compared to when you are not. This only works of course where the price is negotiable and the person  you are dealing with has the authority to negotiate. If you are dealing with some who does not have the authority, ask to speak to someone who does and then see what happens! It does not always work, bit often enough it does and you save money as a result.


Tesla Crash Test Score

Tesla Crash Test ScoreThe Tesla Model S earned the highest crash test scores of any car ever tested! In case you are wondering, this is a brand new all-electric sport car that can put many gasoline driven cars to shame. Its only drawback is that it needs to be recharged often which makes it an issue for long trips. But it is apparently the safest car on the road, bar none. This one caught fire when a piece of metal lying on the road flipped up and damaged the battery case on the underside of the car. More protection was added since this particular fire took place.

Tesla is saying, that it got an A plus in NHTSA’s crash tests. And it got the best A plus ever when compared to any other car that has been tested by the NHTSA.

Tesla Crash Test Score

Performed Well in Head on Crashes

The reason is no engine and lots of cushioning at the front of the car to absorb head on energy from a crash. This energy absorption protects the occupants of the car and when combined with air bags it means you have a far greater chance of surviving a head on collision in one of these all-electric cars.

Side Impact Crashes

The Model S also outperformed other models in the government’s side pole impact test that mimics a vehicle sliding sideways into a post or tree. This is one of the most dangerous types of impacts. The Model S did exceptionally well in this test because of aluminum rods placed in the side of the vehicle, Tesla said.

Rollover Resistance

The Model S also outdid every other model in rollover resistance, During separate independent testing, the Model S simply refused to turn over during even the hardest turns and “special means” were needed to get the car to flip. The reason the car is so stable, Tesla said, is that its large, flat battery is mounted in the floor of the car, creating a very low center of gravity. Any time you have a low center of gravity, it is almost impossible to flip a car. That is why sail boats have ballast at the bottom of the boat to keep them upright. Have you even been on a double-decker bus going around a curve? If you have you will understand how important it is to have a low center of gravity to keep from tipping over.

Roof Crush Test

As you might expect by now, the Model S also topped other cars in the roof crush test. In an independent validation of the Model S’s roof crush strength, the car’s roof was so strong that it broke the testing machine. No Tesla batteries have ever caught fire even after high-speed impacts. This car is truly something that other manufacturers of all kinds of cars will aim for or try to emulate, whether they are traditional gas driven cars, hybrid electric cars or all-electric cars.

The Bar is Set Pretty High

Tesla is setting the bar pretty high for everyone and the industry can only work harder to catch up.


Driveway Sealing

Driveway SealingWe recently had our driveway sealed by one of those companies that come knocking on your door offering to seal your asphalt driveway with tar. Usually we just send then away, however they had just completed the neighbors driveway and I was able to see the results of their work. I decided to let them go ahead after negotiating a good price for their services. They also gave me a $50 discount for referring my neighbor as well after he decided to have his driveway completed as well.

I have included several pictures on this post showing their work and also outlined the steps they took to complete the job which also impressed me regarding their work. I only had one complaint which is that they got a little tar on the garage door which does not look great. The door needs to be painted anyway so will add this to one of the many other jobs that I need to do.

They should have done a much better job, and I would have mentioned this to them had I noticed it in time, however it was the next day when I saw the small spray of tar on the lower part of the garage door.

Step by Step Procedure

These are the steps they followed which make a lot of sense to me and some of these pictures show these steps but not all of them. If you are going to have your driveway coated with tar, you might ask the people doing the work how they will proceed to get a feel for what kind of job they will do and how good a job it will be.

  • Brush the driveway to clear large debris away
  • Blow dust off the driveway and any remaining leaves
  • Seal cracks with asphalt sealer
  • Tape edges to protect the lawn and cement curb as well as garage floor
  • Apply sealer using a sprayer and taking steps to prevent wind blown spray to get on things like the garage door
  • Allow to dry – 24 hours( I let mine dry for 48 hours before placing my car on the driveway just to be careful)

Driveway Sealing

Company Name

Canadian Driveway sealers is the name of the company. You need to make sure that they are using quality materials and that they take the time to place liquid asphalt in all of the cracks in the asphalt to prevent water freezing in these cracks and just getting a lot worse than they already are. When water freezes it expands and makes a crack that much larger than it already is.

These guys did a good job, however you need to be careful with whom you hire, there are a lot of shady characters using inferior products that are going door to door.


Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems

Is central air conditioning better than split or room air conditioning? This is a question we have wondered about for some time. There are pro’s and con’s to both which we will list in this post! Before we begin, we thought we should explain these terms so that everyone is on the same page. Central AC is installed in many homes and means essentially what it implies. There is one air conditioning unit that provides cool air throughout the home from one location usually in the basement for homes with basements and from just about any other location in homes with no basement including the roof. There is one unit outside that is attached to the furnace which blows cool air throughout the house.

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems

Room air conditioners are usually found in one room, sitting in the window and will only cool the room they are in and perhaps adjacent rooms if they are small and the doors are left open. Most people will locate them in the bedroom so that they can get a good nights sleep. These systems are noisy and the fans are loud, so they are something you should get used to.

Split AC Systems

Split air conditioning systems are usually for larger homes and may have an AC unit for each end of the home or for different floors. There will be multiple forced air furnaces as well to blow the cooled air throughout the section of the home that they are to cool. Separate thermostats are provided so that the sleeping area for example can be kept cooler than the rest of the home to enable better sleeping conditions. Various circumstances or design of the home will require different configurations of AC units.

The following are some of the characteristics as well as pros and cons for each:

Central AC

  • most rooms are at the same temperature
  • opening and closing vents is used to control specific room temperature and cost
  • 2nd floor rooms will be hotter
  • Basement will be cold
  • costs are high to cool entire home

Room AC

  • only rooms were AC is will be cool
  • usually in rooms for sleeping
  • cost is lower
  • must endure hot rooms in parts of the house
  • Must endure the noise of the AC fan in the room

Split AC

  • Multiple units outside the home
  • Larger home means more cost
  • Can control temperature in different parts of the home
  • May need to close off sections of the house if not in use

Older homes or homes that are heated with electricity baseboard heaters that do not have any way of forcing air throughout the home will typically go for in room AC, while homes that are heated with forced air gas or oil furnaces can take advantage of central or split AC systems. All air conditioning is expensive to run, using a lot of electricity. Any time you can shut the system off or increase the temperature will reduce the amount of electricity you are using and reduce your electrical bill as well.

If you are on time of day electrical billing with a so called smart meter, you may also want to program your AC so that it runs mostly at night when the cost of electricity is at a lower rate compared to the daytime cost of electricity. Evening rates can sometimes be as much as 50% less than peak rates for electrical use.


How to Reduce Energy Consumption

Reduce Energy Consumption – Consumers are trying to reduce energy consumption more and more everyday. As prices for oil rise, there is a direct impact on all of our pocket books and it is much more motivating these days to reduce your consumption and put some of that money right back in our wallets. How can we do that ? Well the we believe the answer is to systematically look at everything that we do these days and evaluate how we can reduce the amount of energy we use and thus save money that can be used for other things.

The major areas were we all use energy includes our cars, our homes and where we work. We will discuss each of these in a little more detail to give our readers some ideas about how they can go about reducing their energy consumption and save money as well. When you put money back in your wallet it is a really good feeling and it can be used for other things. We read recently that 76% of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck which is a very risky thing when you think about it. Any money that can be saved on your monthly costs can go to meet other cash requirements.

Reduce Energy Consumption – Car Energy Reduction

Almost everyone has a car these days and they have become so complex that the average person cannot begin to understand them, let alone work on them. The computer in the car looks after everything and runs the car as efficiently as possible given what it has to work with. And that is the point that we would like to make in this post.

Using the right kind of gasoline, making sure your tires are properly inflated and driving in a manner that conserves energy vs. driving erratically can save a great deal of gasoline and allow your car to deliver better mileage per gallon of gasoline. Jack rabbits starts and stops, driving well over the speed limit and driving with under inflated tires all takes a great deal of gasoline.

Try driving carefully for one gas tank full vs. the way you normally drive and see what the difference is. You probably will be able to go a lot further than when you drive normally.

Also consider taking the bus, car pooling or just walking or taking your bike. These all can save you a great deal of money as well and conserve energy at the same time.

Reduce Energy Consumption – Home Energy Reduction

We have discussed many different ways or reducing energy in your home on this blog. Improve your insulation, caulk windows and doors, make sure your insulation is at the proper level and turn down your thermostat in the winter and up in the summer to reduce energy consumption.

If you have not already upgraded to high efficiency furnace and water heater, it may be time to do so. There may also be subsidies and assistance to consumers in your area that will help pay for these upgrades. Old furnaces are only at 67% efficiency while new ones are at 95% or better!

Close blinds in the summer time to reduce the amount of sunshine heating up your home. Open blinds and take advantage of the sun in the winter to help heat your home.

Reduce Energy Consumption – Office Energy Reduction

We included this topic in the post because we can all do something to reduce the energy consumption at work as well as our travel to work. Car pooling to get to work, taking the bus to work all helps you in your own personal pocket book.

Improving energy use at work can also help with company budgets and not only make the company more profitable, but in doing so, make sure you have a job for a longer period of time in today’s market place. Cost of energy use must be paid for which means more product must be sold. Anything you can do to reduce costs in this area will mean less pressure on other areas and make life easier for all.


Real Estate Sales Management

Certified Property ManagerReal estate sales management involves many different aspects beyond the obvious of selling a home, setting it up for sale and managing open houses etc. for example some clients have to move right away and they leave the home vacant, which in some ways is a good thing since there is typically less clutter. The agent may request that the owner do a couple of things to enhance the opportunity of selling this house for the price they are looking for. At the same time they must also ensure that the home is looked after and meets all insurance requirements to keep the insurance valid.

A home should also looked lived in or at least taken care of even when it is vacant. Sometimes a real estate agent must also look after this activity themselves or subcontracts these services if they want to get the house sold. This is just part of the job on the way to a successful sales career.

These steps include the following:

  • Making sure that the house is clean and neat
  • Possibly staging the home with rented furniture to make it look presentable
  • Arranging or causing to be arranged by the owner for someone to maintain the home while it is vacant

We will discuss each of these in a little more detail. Note that the person selling the home i.e. the owner will have to decide how much of this they decide to do and how much they will look after vs. how much they will ask the real estate agent to do on their behalf. Some agents will automatically include this effort and even furniture rental in their fee, while others will suggest that the owner pick up these extra costs.

Making sure that the house is clean and neat:

The last thing that buyers want to see is a messy home which they not only will have to clean if they buy it, but it also indicates a general attitude of not taking care of the home. Your agent will push you to clean up this situation and may even arrange for cleaners at your cost to come in and clean up after you. The same applies to the outside curb appeal. Nice landscaping, a newly cut lawn and healthy plants indicates that the current owner cares about his or her home.

Possibly staging the home with rented furniture to make it look presentable:

if you have moved and the house is empty it is much harder for a prospective buyer to visualize what the home looks like with furniture in it. Some agents will place furniture and some pictures in the home to help buyers with this issue. They may already have furniture of their own they use for this purpose or they will rent them for you at your cost.  Real estate management may include this kind of staging to help sell a home.

Arranging or causing to be arranged by the owner for someone to maintain the home while it is vacant:

this item is particularly important for people who have been transferred and have had to move before the home is sold. In order to maintain your insurance on your home, there will be specific things that must be done. For example many will ask that the water be shut off and the house checked once a week. Checks more often may be required if the outside temperature is below freezing. Real estate agents want to ensure there are no delays in selling a home due to damage cause by water leaks and other problems that occur from time to time.

Real estate property management can encompass more than just these items, however we decided to focus on those associated with selling a home.


Car Maintenance Basics

So many people do not attend to car maintenance basics and then really get a nasty surprise when their car breaks down or they get a huge bill for work that must be done on their cars. If you do not keep up with the maintenance on your car, your car is going to have more wear and tear on all of the components making everything more costly. We decided to list the basic things that should be monitored or kept up to date and then we will discuss some of these in more detail. Why take the risk and face a towing charge, inconvenience and maybe even lost wages because you did not maintain your car?

Car Maintenance Basics

Here is our lost of basic car maintenance activities that everyone should pay attention to themselves or make sure that their mechanic is looking at:

Fluid Levels: All fluid levels which includes oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission and windshield washer fluid.

Check Your Belts: All belts that are on your engine, such as the fan belt if your car has one and the main water pump and power steering belts.

Check your Tires: Monitor your tires for tire pressure and uneven wear on one side or the other. Rotate your tires according to the manufactures instructions

Verify your Brakes: Monitor your brakes and have them checked to make sure there is enough brake pad on then. Also check to make sure that the calipers have not seized or are leaking brake fluid. If you hear a squealing sound every time you touch the brakes, have them checked immediately, the brake pad could be fully worn down and you are braking with metal on metal.

Muffler Systems: If your muffler is sounding louder than normal, it may be time to have it checked and / or changed. Either your muffler, pipes or catalytic converter is about to let go and you will need to have it changed soon.

Squeaky Doors : door hinges can dry out and even rust due to exposure to dust and salt. Lubricating these hinges will keep them quiet and prevent the hinges from wearing over time.

Check all of the Lights: it only takes a minute or two to check all of the lights to make sure they are all working properly. Check your driving lights, high beams, brake lights and turn signals to make sure they are all working properly and it is safe to drive on the road.

Spare Tires: most people forget about the spare tire and the car jack until it is time to use them. Check that the tire pressure in the spare tire is at the proper level. With any luck you will never have to use your spare tire, however when you do you want it to be full of air and that the car jack is where it is supposed to be and works properly.

These are the main car maintenance basics to check for on a regular basis. Set up a schedule to review all of these items. A good time to have all of these items checked is when you are having the oil changed every 3000 miles or 6000 kilometers depending on where you live. With these basics in place, you will have less of a chance of your car breaking down and needing to be towed to the garage.


How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

How to Refinish Hardwood FloorsHow to Refinish Hardwood Floors. Refinishing a hardwood floor can be pretty straightforward and simple if you know what you’re doing. The most important thing that you want to remember is first to make sure that there is sufficient thickness of wood to begin with that will support sanding. Most machines will take or remove one 16th of an inch of wood to ensure that all gouges in the wood are no longer seen and also that all previous finishes are removed. You must make sure that there’s enough thickness remaining in the wood to allow for one 16th of an inch to be removed and to continue providing support to the floor.

Why Do Hardwood floors Get This Wa

Floors that are getting thin are the result of many standings over the years. This is true for particularly older homes that have had hardwood floors installed from the beginning and have had them sanded many times. If you happen to be the person who’s buying an older home with hardwood floors one of the things that you might want to look at is the thickness of the hardwood floor, particularly if you are planning to re-sand or resurface these floors.

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Once you’ve decided to refinish your hardwood floor, always make sure that you sand in the direction of the grain. If you send across the grain it will leave scratch marks all over your floor and basically ruin the floor. In order to get those scratch marks out of the floor you’ll have to remove more wood which makes it a lot bigger job for you to complete.

Sending the floor should be done with a belt sander that includes a vacuum. The vacuum will suck up all sawdust and small particles that could permeate the rest of the house making the cleanup job much bigger.We cannot emphasize this issue enough. If you want to avoid dust everywhere, use a vacuum that exhausts outside to remove over 90% of the dust from your home. There will still be some dust to deal with but nothing like there would be if you just allow it to float throughout your home. Also shut off the furnace fan to avoid any dust being sucked into the system and being redistributed through out the house.

Remove all Dust After Refinishing

Once you have finished sanding the next job is to use a tack cloth to wipe up all small particles of dust that could be on the floor. Also wipe the walls, doors and windows. Anywhere there could be fine particles of dust should be cleaned of all dust. The reason that this step must be taken is to avoid any dust remaining on the floor and then being held in place when you apply varathane or some other finish to the floor. These dust particles will really show up in the daytime light and ruin the look of your floor.

After each coat of varathane has completely dried, a light sanding with very fine sand paper is usually completed to roughen up the floor a little bit and provide better adhesion. After this fine sanding, again use the tack cloth to pick up any particles that may remain. Add a final coat of finish and then allow to thoroughly dry before placing furniture etc in the room.

Also follow the manufacturers steps outlined on the container for applying your finish, especially if you are applying more than one coat to the floor. Failure to follow the instructions could mean that you will need to re-sand the floor completely and start all over again.

Good luck with your hardwood floor refinishing job and let us know of any additional steps or comments that may be interesting to our readers.


Prep Your Home for Summer Vacation

Prep Your Home for Summer VacationWhether you are going away in the summer time or the winter time for a vacation it is always important to make sure that your home is looked after while you are away. In fact it is the single biggest asset that most people have and why shouldn’t you make sure that it is well looked after while you are away relaxing and enjoying yourself. Most people feel really violated if their home is broken into while they are away. It is time to prep your home for summer vacation. If you can make your home looked lived in while you are not there, there will be less chances of a break in while you are gone.

Prep Your Home for Summer Vacation

Make your home look lived in while you are away. Place various lights on timers so that the standard lights in rooms that you use while you are there come on and turn off just the same as if you were living there. Make sure all of the windows are securely locked and place a bar in the sliding glass door so that it cannot be pried open.

Install automatic lights and an alarm system. The lights should come on at dusk and off at dawn at the front of your home and at the back and at any side doors. Use photo sensors and fluorescent lights or the new LED’s and they will not use much in the way of electricity. They also last a long time as well. The alarm system should really be monitored, but sometimes just having the alarm go off is enough to scare away anyone who is thinking about robbing you.

Check the locks to all of your doors and windows to make sure they are all closed and secure. No sense in making it easy for someone to break into your home. Place a bar across the bottom of the sliding glass door if you have one to prevent the door being pried open.

Hold All Deliveries

Put a hold on newspaper and magazine deliveries. News papers and flyers building up around your door is a sure way to let people know that no one is home. If you do not want to cancel the paper, arrange for a neighbor to pick them up for you and keep them until you come home.

Don’t let mail pile up, have close friends, neighbors or family pick it up. Lots of mail in the mail box is another sign that no one is home as well. If you are gone for a long time you may want a family member to go through the mail and open some of it and then review it with you over the phone.

Hire someone to mow the lawn and trim the shrubs if you are gone a long time. Most neighbors want the street to look nice as well and an unkempt place is another advertisement that no one is around.

Hire someone to clear the snow if you are going to be away in the winter time. We know this is about summer vacations, however we wanted to stick this in here as a reminder that regardless of when you leave, home owners must make sure that their home is looked after at all times of the year.

Hire someone to check the home while you are away. Check with your insurance company to find out how often you need to have someone actually come into the home and verify that everything is ok. Then arrange for a friend, a family member or a professional company to come and check that the power is on, there is no leaking water and there are no breakings.

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Tesla Robotic Factory

Tesla Model S RecallTesla Robotic Factory has a lot of red robots and a giant roll of shiny metal that looks awfully similar to the paper spools found in many (ancient) newspaper presses. The factory is one of the most modern factories on the planet, producing one of the most modern cars every to come off an assembly line. If you are not familiar with this all electric car, take a few minutes to read this post and several others we have written on this blog. They are clearly leading the automotive industry at the moment in terms of all electric vehicles. They are currently the leader in Norway and selling well in many other countries.

Tesla Robotic Factory

Tesla Model S Awards

The Tesla model S has also won many awards, one of which is for being the safest car on the road. After crash tests have been conducted on the car with both front end and side wall tests, the Tesla Model S protects its occupants better than any other car partly to its design and partly due to the unique characteristics of the car. Without an engine to come crashing into the passenger area, the front of the car has much more cushioning power in the situation of a front end crash. The panels in the doors are designed to be much stronger and energy absorbent than many other cars, which also protects the occupants.

Tesla Model S Will not Roll Over

The Testla Model S is very difficult to rollover. The heavy battery is mounted so low in the car, that it’s center of mass prevents the car from being tipped over in a situation where the car is in a tight curve or goes down an embankment. This car will not roll over the same way that most other cars will.  With such a low center of mass you can drive this car with a high degree of confidence that you will be safe in an accident. The only problem they have now is to find a way to make it go longer on a charge and find a way to charge it more quickly to make it practical for more drivers.

Tesla has been rumored to be developing an electric car that will be priced at levels the average consumer can afford. They are also investing in a new battery manufacturing center that will support both the Model S and the new cheaper electric cars. More to come we hope with all of the high safety ideas built in.


Monitor electric car charging spots

Monitor electric car charging spotsCalifornia is setting aside parking spots that are reserved for electric vehicles in much the same way that spots are reserved for handicap spots and pregnant women. Unfortunately people with regular cars are not respecting these parking spots and using them to park in with regular gasoline powered cars. This can be a huge problem if you are driving an electric car and need to recharge it before continuing your trip. Imagine, your battery is almost dead and someone is parked in an electric car charging spot and is not charging his or her car!  All you want is to recharge and get going.

Monitor electric car charging spots

Ticket Drivers

More and more people are urging city counsels to pass laws that ticket non electric car drivers when they park in these spots. They feel that enough time has passed and that the grace period is over. Ticket these cars in the same way that a car parked in a handicap zone would be ticked. The meter maids and the people who enforce bylaws can implement these parking rules.

More Spots Available

Make more electric car parking spots available and they should be  should also be made available in states that are pushing for electric cars to help deal with pollution.  This is going to cause more conflict with regular car drivers since in cities were parking is already at a premium, they will be reserving spots for charging electric cars.

Pass Bylaws

City counsels who are in  favor of promoting green energy approaches are going to have to pass parking by laws that support these kinds of initiatives. This will take some time before laws will be passed since there are just not enough electric vehicles on the road. Eventually there will be, but this may take a few years. in the mean time they will just have to deal with the frustration of few spots to charge their cars being available and people parking in them when they should not be.

Charge Drivers

Most electric car drivers want police to charge drivers who park in these electric car charging spots. We anticipate that there will even be arguments and some form of road rage about this before it settles down and people accept the changing approach to cars. We are about to enter a significant change in driving and parking habits. As with all major changes in our society, some people embrace the changes and some  fight change. Which kind are you?

Treat these spots in the same manner as handicap spots in terms of policing, bylaws and ticketing. This is the only way that some people will get the message and stop using the spots for non electric vehicle parking.


NewTires

new tiresIs it time to buy new tires for your car? How do you know if you need new tires and where can you find the best deal for tires? How do you know you are actually getting a good deal for tires and what should you look for when you do buy tires. Most people just go back to the dealer or to one of the big name stores to purchase their tires. They might watch for a tire sale to take place, but often they suddenly realize that their tires are in bad shape and they have to get tires right away. So without shopping around off they go to the closest tire store and spend upwards of $500 to a $1000 on a set of four new tires, with balancing and installation included.

Features to Consider for New Tires

We decided to include a list of items that we think consumers should include when they are looking for new tires. If you get a price for all of these services included and compare the exact same tires at another vender then you will be able to really find the best deal. Here is a list of what we think the average consumer should include when they are looking for new tires:

  • Right size and speed rating for your car
  • Installation
  • Balancing
  • Filled with nitrogen (Not all tires or consumers need this feature)
  • Refill or top up if needed with nitrogen
  • Disposal of your old tires
  • Warranty in terms of miles or kilometers that the tires should be good for
  • Lifetime tire rotation
  • Lifetime rebalancing
  • Tire warranty replacement
  • Price
  • Taxes in the state or province you are in

Compare Everything Before You Buy

When you compare all of these items from several tire stores you visit for new tires, you will quickly begin to realize that there can be a significant difference in the cost of tires. Take for example tire rotation. Most manufacturers suggest that tires should be rotated every 10 to 12 thousand miles. A tire store will charge as much as $20 per tire or $80 to do this work and they may or may not include topping up with air and re-balancing at the same time. A deal that includes this feature will save you at least $160 a year if you drive 20,000 miles a year which is not uncommon for most people today.

Tire warranties can also make a huge difference in the cost as well. If you travel a lot and deal with a dealer that has only one location, chances are that when your tire goes bad you are going to be a long way away from this dealer. Dealing with a national tire dealer makes a lot more sense and increases the chances that you can take advantage of the warranty wherever you are.

Hope this short post helps readers in making decisions about tire sales.


Eight Ways to Reduce Gasoline Usage

Reduce Gasoline UsageWith gas prices going up as we write this it is ever more important to save money by using less gasoline! We listed a number of ways to reduce your gasoline usage as well as save money at the pump as well. If you have additional ideas, leave us comments to assist our readers.

Reduce Gasoline Usage

Get an app for your smart phone – use GasBuddy’s, AAA’s TripTik and the YP Yellow Pages and Gas Prices, all of which are free. Others that cost money include SmartFuel, Gas Cubby and Cheap Gas.

Drive less – consolidate errands to keep driving to a minimum and plan your trips so that you are not retracing your drive. If something can wait until tomorrow when you can combine it with another errand, put it off until the next day.

Drive slower – Shave 10 to 15 miles per hour off your speed and you can save up to 15% in fuel consumption. You can test this easily by driving at your normal speed which is 10 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit and noting how many miles you obtain on a tank full of gas. On the next tank drive at the speed limit and not how much further you go on a tank full of gas. You may be surprised. If you have a gas mileage monitor in your car you can do the same thing even more accurately!

Keep your windows closed – at highway speeds, air racing through your car will increase its drag and burn up to 10% more fuel. I used to think that not running the air conditioning would save more money, but it is not the case. Roll up the windows, leave the AC on and turn up the temperature a notch or two to save money and have a more comfortable trip.

Go light on the brakes – slow and steady acceleration and braking can save as much as 20% in fuel. Not to mention that your brakes will wear out much slower as well. We all know what a brake job costs these days and it is just not worth it to spend greater than $500 for a brake job by doing those jack rabbit starts and stops.

Shut Off your car when idling restarting the car when you’re idling for more than one minute will cost you less in fuel than the wait. Even the Toyoto Prius will shut the engine off when it comes to a stop at a light or stop sign to conserve gas. Idling your car for long periods makes no sense and pollutes the air around you as well.

Turn your A/C off. – the air conditioner is a big drag on your car’s engine and gas efficiency. If you do not need it turn it off, especially if just cruising around the city at low speeds, however at high speeds you are better off to close your windows and use the AC if it is hot. Turn up the temperature in your car by a degree or two to conserve energy or just let fresh air come into the car through the vents.

Regular Maintenance

Keep your car healthy. — clean dirty air filters, replace aging spark plugs, keep tire air pressure and fluids at recommended levels  are all regular maintenance things to do for your car to maintain your car and gain maximum gas mileage from your car. Most people can do a lot of the work themselves and it only takes a few minutes to check air pressure and fluid levels.

These are some of the methods to use to conserve gasoline when you must drive your car. The ultimate way to conserve gasoline is to walk to the corner store or take your bike. Not only do you save some money on gasoline, you also get some exercise which is good for the body and the mind as well.

Save


Improving Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency AuditYou may have seen similar diagrams and pictures of homes showing the areas where heat loss occurs in your home. This particular one is from an article in Britain and therefore the savings are indicated in pounds rather than dollars. Don’t be concerned about the currency, we all have the same issues when it comes to improving energy savings for our homes. If you are not well insulated, then  you are going to lose heat somewhere and that means it is going to cost you money as well.

You may have upgraded your furnace and your water heater to the latest models and be achieving high efficiency with these devices. When we say high efficiency, anything above 95% efficient is considered high efficiency, especially compared to older models which were down in the 60% range. Consumers who have taken this step to upgrade their furnace are already saving money by using the fuel they are paying for as efficiently as possible.

Improving Energy Efficiency – Where is the Heat Loss

But the next area to be concerned about is what is happening to the heat once it is distributed within your home. Is most of it escaping out through the roof, the walls, the windows or the doors? As you can see from this diagram or picture, a great deal of heat loss can occur if you do not take steps to properly insulate your attic, walls, windows and doors in your home. You may already have insulation in your attic and as far as you know the rest of the house is ok.

Have an energy consultant assess your home and give an estimate of what it would take to make your home more energy efficient. Windows can be upgraded to with double pains and argon in between to deliver maximum efficiency. Also apply caulking around them to ensure that there are no gaps to allow air to escape or enter the home along with insects and possibly moisture. Your windows can allow a third of your heat to escape unless they are properly installed and efficient.

Conduct a Pressure Test

By doing a pressure test of your home you can also find out where all of the leaks are. By applying caulking in these areas and also plugging or adding insulation as appropriate, consumers can reduce the drafts as well as reduce their heat loss and improve their heating bills as well. Doors and floors can be responsible for as much as 11% according to these estimates of your total heat loss. Even though lower than the windows, it is still substantial and relatively easy to repair and inexpensive as well. A pressure test may cost you something, the real question is how quickly will you recover this cost through energy savings?

The roof or attic is the next major area to tackle. First make sure the attic is adequately vented to remove heat from your attic. By removing the heat naturally, the cost to cool your home would also be reduced. Insulation in your attic should be at least R25 or higher to decrease the amount of energy being lost through the roof area.

Following these areas can be the best way to improving energy efficiency.


Residential and Commercial Property Management

Residential and Commercial Property ManagementThe management of residential and commercial properties is similar in some ways and very different in others. If you happen to be a landlord of residential properties, either single family homes, town homes or apartment buildings you will want to consider hiring a property manager who is familiar with managing residential properties. There are various bylaws and government laws that are specific to residential property and you need companies that have the experience and knowledge on what is required and how to deal with these requirements. The tenants are also very different and have many different needs, come from various income strata’s and there are also many more of them as well.

Commercial Property Management

Commercial property management can be anything from large corporate malls to large office buildings that require building upgrades and modifications to meet the customer’s professional requirements. Long term leases with rental guarantees etc would be the order of the day and competition ruling the rent levels and the services provided. Managers deal with far fewer tenants. In some cases the building may be rented by one large tenant, while in others floors may be subdivided to accommodate multiple tenants.

Residential Property Management

Residential property management on the other hand is governed by the rent levels that the market will bear along with what increases the government will allow in many cases. Many more tenants to deal with per building and perhaps even many owners if it is a multi unit condo for example with many owners for the individual units. In some cases there may be a group of investors who purchase a building and then hire a management company to manage the rental building for them. With multiple objectives on one side and multiple needs on the other, the job of being a residential property manager can be quite complicated and time-consuming. This leads many property managers of residential homes to charge more per door than they would for a single owner building.

Professional Systems

In both cases professional level cash flow tracking systems, asset tracking systems and a method of reporting that meets the needs of the owners and / or the board of directors of a condominium board. Condominiums represent another type of property management, were the property manager is hired to manage all of the common elements of the building and has virtually nothing to do with the interior of the units. Some units could even be rented and managed by different property management companies all together. This also adds complexity in terms of finger pointing on some issues.

Hire Experienced People

A property management company must have the right people in place to manage all different sorts of situations and buildings. If you are a customer, paying attention to the kinds of buildings currently managed and the level of skills, reporting etc is important. You may also want to talk with current customers of the property management company to confirm satisfaction levels and ensure that their customers are satisfied with the services provided.

The type of information that is needed and provided may be quite different depending on the owners and the property management companies. the number one objective is to provide excellent customer service to both tenants and owners. But sometimes you cannot satisfy everyone and that then becomes the biggest challenge of all. Property managers must first make sure they are following the laws, they must be fair and honest and they must answer to the person or group that pays them. Ultimately that is what it comes down to . Doing what is right, what is fair to all parties  and making sure that to the extent you can everyone’s expectations are met. If they are not met, you had better have a good reason and a good explanation to explain why it is not the way they would like to be!


Hardwood Floor Resurfacing

Hardwood Floor ResurfacingHardwood Floor Resurfacing. One of the first things  people will look for are  the hardwood floors. If they’re shopping for a home and looking at older homes that are up for sale many will remark that the hardwood floor will need resurfacing. The hardwood floors look old and used based on the fact that much of the finish is worn away in areas where there is heavy traffic. However other people love this old-fashioned look and feel that it adds a lot of character to the home. If you are selling your home, it is hard to know if you should refinish the floors or leave them the way they are because some people like the used look while some people want everything perfect.

In fact one couple that we met loved our old hardwood floors and felt that they would not resurface the hardwood floors until the time when their children were older and would take better care of their floors. The floors were not actually that bad, and they were comfortable with the way they were.

Hardwood Floor Resurfacing and Young children

This couple had two very young children, who love to play with her toys on the floors and they were afraid that the floors if refinished and resurfaced would become marked up again very quickly. This was probably true, in fact the best decision they made was not to resurface the hardwood floors at this time. In addition the condition of the floors gave the house that antique look and a lot of character which many people loved when they visited.

Resurface the Floors

If you do decide you want to resurface hardwood floors, the first step is to make sure that there is sufficient wood left on the floor to handle resurfacing. If there is less than 1/8 of an inch of wood left then you probably will have to replace the hardwood floor. A light sanding will remove 1/16 of an inch of wood each time it is sanded. If there are gouges in the wood this light sanding may not remove the gouge and you may also have to remove that section of the floor or the entire floor to gain a brand-new look. This is something that must be taken into account before deciding to resurface a hardwood floor.

Always sand the wood in the direction of the  grain of the wood, never across the grain. If you sand across the grain you will leave permanent marks and scratches that will mar your floor and further it will have to be re-sanded to remove those scratches so they will not be seen. When your happy with the sanding make sure that all dust is removed, use a tack cloth to pick up any small particles of dust. After that you can apply varathane or some other product that will seal the wood, bring out the grain in the wood, and provide a finished look to the wood that will protect it for many years.

If you do not remove all of the dust and apply varathane or some other product, you are going to end up with all kinds of marks on the surface. Every little piece of dust is going to show on the smooth finish and you will not be satisfied with the look of the floor. Some people will apply several coats of finish to the floor to really provide a protective coat on the floor. When a 2nd or 3rd coats is applied, it is recommended that a very light sanding be completed each time between coats. Make sure that the first coat has dried thoroughly before sanding. Instructions on the container will tell you exactly how many coats to apply and whether you need to sand between coats.

Once it is finished, you will have a beautiful looking floor that you can be proud of.


BMW I3 Electric Vehicle

BMW unveils i3 electric car
The BMW I3 Electric Vehicle, planned to go on sale next year, is the first electric car to go into full-scale production from an established luxury automaker. Some people will be interested in this car because being green is the right thing to do. They want to drive an expensive car that is good on gasoline as part of the overall image of driving expensive cars that do not burn a lot of gas.

However we happen to think that if you are spending a lot of money on a car which you would be if you were buying a BMW, then the last thing you should really worry about is the amount of gas that you are using. Sure it is annoying that it costs a lot when you fill up at the pump, but so what you drive a really expensive car. Focus on an electric car for the masses instead of one for people who can afford expensive cars.

Specifications for the BMW I3 Electric Vehicle

At a price of 25,680 pounds th eBMW I3 develops 170 horsepower and 250 pounds of torque. It can reach from 0 to 62  miles per hour ins 7.2 seconds and has a top speed of 93 miles per hour. the range of this car is between 80 and 100 miles depending on how it is driven, hills etc. The BMW I3 comes with a fast charging wall box that can recharge the batteries up to 80 % in 3 hours.

As with all electric vehicles that only have electric power, they still take a long time to recharge. Charging using a regular wall socket can take up to 10 hours which is a very long time. A range extender engine can be added which is a gasoline engine that runs a generator to charge up the batteries while on the go. You can extend the range up to 180 miles by using the range extender. Better, but still not great when compared to traditional gasoline powered engines.

We will add more about this new car as more information becomes available and we get some reaction from readers.


Electric Bike – The Elf

Electric Bike The ElfThe Electric Bike The Elf: an ovoid, semi-enclosed, solar-chargeable, plug-in, bike-lane-legal, electric pedal car.  What a mouthful, but that is how they describe this new bike that is available for commuters in cities. With a 1-hp (750-watt) electric motor in the rear wheel hub and a lithium battery pack, or two, snuggled into the center frame rail aft of the front wheels—and a plastic canopy to keep the weather off drivers—the Elf proposes a solution for urban commuters!

Imagine riding to work in this modern vehicle. It is a show stopper and could actually cause accidents when car drivers are too busy looking at the bike and not where they are going. Never the less this could be the answer to many commuters problems of dealing with the elements and whether they should ride, walk or drive to work. you can see from the picture that the rider / driver is sitting in much the same position they would if they were in a car. It appears to be much more comfortable than someone on a regular bike and they also have some protection from the elements.

Electric Bike The Elf – What About Parking

We wonder if this vehicle will have to pay for parking. Although technically a bike, they do take up more space than an ordinary bike and may have to pay for a parking space that would normally be occupied by a car. Before you purchase one of these, we suggest you determine f you will need to pay for that parking spot and whether it is worth it or not. Paying for an expensive parking spot changes the entire economics of riding a bike to work. If your main objective is just not to use your car, then it is a non issue. On the other hand if your plan is to save money, you may not be saving as much as you had hoped.

You just cannot pull up to a regular bike stand, lock this vehicle to the stand and walk away. There is simply not enough room for very many of these without preventing many other bike riders from using the traditional bike stand.  Anytime one of these bikes takes a regular parking spot, whether it is in a parking garage or a parking spot on the street, the owners of the garage or the city meter readers are going to demand a parking fee!  Parking is definitely something that needs to be taken into account and planned for if this particular bike is seriously considered.


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