11 Ways to Squeeze a Little Extra Cash out of your Heating System this Winter

squeeze a little extra cash out of your heating system

The holidays are over, and you’re settling in for the, hopefully not, long winter.  Your pond and irrigation system are winterized, but after the expense of the holiday season, you may not be looking forward to the upcoming heating bills as the thermometer drops. Take a moment to read our previous post about all the simple ways you can save money on heating your home in the cold months.

Here are an additional 11 ways to squeeze a little extra cash out of your heating system this winter: 

  1. Layer Up! Put on a sweater and lower the thermostat! Our parents knew this was a great way to save money, and it still applies today. Even a 4-degree reduction in your thermostat will save you some dollars this winter. According to energy.gov, a 10-degree (brrr!) reduction can save you as much as 10% on your heating bills.
  2. Maintain the system: Take good care of your HVAC system, and it will take care of you. Be sure it’s tuned up and ready to purr through the chill. Remember to replace your filter too!
  3. Keep your garage door closed: The garage door serves as a block to the cold air buffeting the shared interior wall. Keeping it closed will provide a buffer between your heat and the frigid winter air.
  4. Take control:  There are many helpful tech gadgets available that can assist with keeping your costs low, such as a smart thermostat. Program it to lower the temperature when you are at work and asleep.
  5. Let the sunshine in!  On sunny days, open the curtains to drain the heat from the sun.  Clean your south-facing windows to allow as much heat as possible into your home.  Then close the curtains as soon as the sun sets to keep the heat inside.
  6. Post-Santa repairs: If Santa made a stop at your house, now is the time to check the chimney and ensure everything is in working condition.  Close the damper when it’s not in use to stop the heat from escaping here.  Check the seal on the flue damper to ensure it’s as tight as possible.  If you’re using your fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system so the warm air can be blown into the room.  Lower the thermostat and enjoy the heat from the fireplace.
  7. Wrap it up:  Adding clear plastic sheeting to your windows can reduce drafts and the loss of warm air.  They can be purchased at any hardware store and are easily applied with heat, such as from a hairdryer.
  8. Vent!  Clear any obstructions away from the vents so your furnace can do its job and blow the warm are into your rooms.  Clear vents also help your HVAC system work more proficiently.
  9. Throwdown a rug. Lifting rugs and putting down wood or manufactured flooring has been the preferred decorating technique for some time now.  Unfortunately, the ease of sweeping the floor has been traded in for a loss of heat.  Carpeting insulates your floors, so use throw rugs through the winter months.
  10. Insulate.  From doors to attics, more insulation will help keep your heat where you want it.  Inside your home!
  11. Close off the unused. If there are rooms you don’t frequent, close the air vents and doors. Avoid wasteful heating of square footage such as garages, crawlspaces, and attics if you’re not using them regularly.

If you’re looking for a reliable HVAC contractor anywhere in Columbus or central Ohio, reach out and we will share our list with you.   Just call or email us!  We hope these tips were helpful. 

10 Tips for Keeping Our Neighborhoods Safe

10 Tips for Keeping Our Neighborhoods Safe - Man with binoculars peering over fence

You’ve finally purchased the home of our dreams in a neighborhood you’re excited to move into. Owning a home is part of living the American dream, a live-in trophy for all your hard work. You maintain it and care for it, cutting the lawn weekly, washing windows in the spring and fixing any leaks that may spring up.

Part of caring for our home includes caring for the neighborhood too. It means connecting with neighbors and knowing your children’s friends and their families. Being social is the first step in continuing to keep your new neighborhood safe. Get involved!

Here are 10 tips for keeping your neighborhood safe.  It’s difficult for crime to get a foothold in communities where the following is in place:

  1. Neighborhood Gatherings: Throw a neighborhood party! Organize a chili cook-off in fall, luminary fundraisers in the winter, bike rallies in spring and pool parties in the summer. Neighbors who play together, know each other and communicate about anything that might be suspect. 
  2. Beautify your space: Keep a well-maintained yard because homes with gardens and planters tell strangers that the people care. Open lots, and public parks can be fixed up with a little teamwork which will send a clear message to outsiders that you are invested in your community. Pride of place goes a long way to deter crime.
  3. Download notifications: There are apps such as Neighbourhood Watch and Neighborhood Crime Watch which allow you the communication of emergency alerts, crime alerts, sex offender alerts, severe weather tips, and much more. You can also upload photos, videos, and information about suspicious activity in your neighborhood, which is shared with neighbors.
  4. Neighborhood Watch: Join your local Neighborhood Watch. If there isn’t one in your community, start it! There’s also a Dog Walker Watch you can participate with or bring to your community. These organizations provide tips and work with law enforcement to teach you how to keep your neighborhood safe.
  5. Welcome Police: Invite the police to patrol your community if you are having issues with speeders, make them feel welcome with a wave when you see them pass by. Keep them abreast of any suspicious activity.
  6. Play outside: Encourage outdoor activities, so there are always people outside in your neighborhood. A hive of activity will deter anyone looking to do something on the sly.
  7. Improve lighting: Consider lobbying to bring streetlights into your region if you don’t have them already. Keeping the area lit up makes it more difficult for someone to get away with illegal acts without being seen
  8. Secure your home: Do your part to make theft and vandalism unpalatable to criminals. Keep the exterior lights on, install a security system, and if you travel, ensure a neighbor watches your house, picks up mail and newspapers, so it appears you’re still at home. Keep your curtains and windows closed at night
  9. Teach your children: Walk the neighborhood with them to discuss boundaries, safety, and suspicious activity. Children can offer watchful eyes and ears too while at bus stops or playing with their friends. Let them know they should report anything suspicious to you and/or a safe adult. Define clearly who a safe adult is to you.
  10. Be an example: Treat your neighbors with respect. Proactively participate in your community and resolve conflicts with patience and communication. Encourage your children to do the same and have zero tolerance for bullying. Promote peaceful negotiations between friends and neighbors.

These are our tips for keeping your neighborhood safe.  If you’re looking to relocate into a different neighborhood, we’d be happy to help!  Let us know what type of home and area you’re looking at, and we’ll let you know when something matching your description becomes available.

Top 10 Tips to Prepare Your Finances for a Home Loan

Underwriters are the bank employees who calculate the risk of loaning money to each potential borrower. Some risk factors that can affect your mortgage interest rate or your acceptance rate are well known: Your credit score, debt ratio, and debt-to-income ratio. Other risk factors or concerns aren’t as well known: Sudden changes in debt ratio, changes in name or address, closing accounts, and accepting gifts to use as down payments. Learn about what lenders are looking for, what they avoid, and consult your lender before making big financial moves.

Here are the top 10 tips to prepare your finances for a home loan!

  1. Stay current. Make on-time payments for your current credit cards, rent/mortgage, loans, and other accounts. This will help you retain or improve a good credit score, which can lower the interest rates you are offered for a home loan.
  2. Stay steady. Spend normally. Sudden increases in purchases, new debt, or a drastic change in your spending habits can be a red flag for financial instability.
  3. Keep debt low. Don’t apply for a car loan, new credit cards, or add new debt. Keep paying steadily on your old debt. Ideally, your balances will be 30% or less of your credit limits. Also, you want to show a predictable, conservative debt-to-income ratio to show you’re a responsible borrower.
  4. Consult your lender. If you suddenly need to replace a vehicle, have an unexpected expense, talk to your lender about the best way to meet your increased financial needs without impacting your mortgage application. They may have suggestions, guidelines, or solutions for you. Have a payment issue? Often your lender can guide you through creating a letter of explanation for underwriters about a missed payment or a rough financial patch.
  5. Keep your accounts. Have a credit card you opened in college? Don’t close it! While it does lower your potential debt, closing that older account can make your credit history shorter and it changes your balance sheet. Open credit that isn’t being used or is lightly used can actually raise your credit score, while closing unused accounts can adversely affect your credit score by making it seem as though you’re using a bigger percentage of your credit limits.
  6. Student loans. Check with your lender about what consolidating accounts would do to your credit score and balance sheet. Often, lenders are looking for stability more than perfection, so don’t make big financial moves (even positive ones) without checking with your lender.
  7. Monitor your score. Take advantage of your bank or credit card’s credit score monitoring program and keep an eye on your score. Your lender can tell you what their minimum acceptable score is and using the monitoring program will help you spot actions, choices, and errors that can affect your score.
  8. Check your history. Did you pay off a student loan? Ensure your lender reported that payoff correctly. Does your credit score reflect an account you never had? Write the credit bureaus and petition to have the account removed from your history. Make sure the score and history you’re going to be judged on is correct!
  9. Life changes. Be cautious about changes in address, name, or occupation. These can cause lenders confusion or concern. It may be best to wait until after you have purchased your home to make big changes like these.
  10. Gifts. If parents, grandparents, or a recent inheritance will be affecting your down payment, talk to your lender. There may be additional paperwork or concerns for your mortgage application. Your lender is your best advocate through this process.

If you have any other questions or need to connect with a reputable lender, don’t hesitate to ask us – we’re happy to help!