18 July 2018

Save or Splurge: Make the Most of Your Money with Home Improvement

Home improvement projects can be fun as they allow you to be hands-on when you update or redecorate your home. You can change wall colors, add new appliances, and just be creative with your project. While this is often exciting for many, it also comes with a few challenges. One of the most daunting aspects of it is the budget. Overspending can be easy to do and it can be difficult to find the best product for your project at a good price.

This article will help with this challenging aspect. It will explore some great and useful ways you can make the most of your money when it comes to home improvement. Keep reading to find out more about them.

Tips for Home Improvement Budgeting
Plan Things Out

One of the best ways you can tell whether or not to save or splurge on a project is by planning it out. You can make a list of the absolute things you need and one of some things that might not be as important. You can determine which objects are vital and then search for some deals on them. It will help you to make sure you don’t overspend or buy unnecessary things. This can also help to keep you organized and save money along the way.

Consider the Places that Need Help

To make sure you make the most of your money with home improvement, you need to consider the rooms and areas in your home that really need help. If things are falling apart or look dingy, that’s one thing you’ll definitely want to remodel.

You’ll also want to check your appliances. These are often the most important things to replace in a home improvement project. If your appliances aren’t working well, it’s a good idea to first invest in new ones.

Try to Remodel the Kitchen First

Unless another area needs to be fixed immediately, it’s often recommended that the kitchen be the first place for home improvement projects. A kitchen remodel cost isn’t necessarily as high as some other room remodels might be. It also is more beneficial because it’s a room that everyone uses often in the living space. This means your investment will be worthwhile. When you remodel your kitchen be sure to keep things like the appliance life in mind as well as the cabinets. These are the two most important aspects of a kitchen.

Redo the Flooring

Besides the kitchen, another one of the best places in your home to put your money is on flooring. Floors can go through quite a bit and that can show. You’ll be able to replace worn out flooring easily and which often comes with a good price tag. There are usually flooring deals that can be combined with other things. This can help you to save a significant amount of money on your project.

Home improvement projects don’t have to be challenging or daunting. It can be easy to overspend or not even know where to start. However, with the tips above, you can be sure that your project will be well-planned out and budgeted. They will keep you on track without fear of overspending or wasting money.

The ideas mentioned in this article will help to ensure you save money when you embark on your home improvement adventure. By doing things like making a detailed plan and considering the type of room you need to fix, your living space will be transformed without hassles. So, if you’re looking to make the most of your money during your home improvement project, definitely keep the information above in mind.

09 July 2018

8 Appliances That Are Driving Up Your Electricity Costs

We use them every day to wash our clothes, cool our houses, and cook our food. Appliances. And for all that they do for us, operating them can come at a heavy cost. While the frequency and duration of their use largely dictates their expense, some appliances just happen to require more energy than others. These devices are not confined to one area and located all around homes, both in places that can be seen and in other that cannot. Though there are a number of energy drainers that could qualify, there are eight appliances that are particularly draining and will drive up your electricity cost.


There are few devices in homes that require energy twenty-four hours a day all year round, but the refrigerator is among them. Tasked with the job of keeping perishable items cool and frozen items intact, the fridge accounts for roughly four percent of the energy used within the home each year. The impact of this appliances consumption can be minimized by investing in a new refrigerator, as manufacturers are beginning to focus more and more on energy efficiency in appliances. Keeping the internal temperature of the fridge cooler than necessary will also contribute to the electricity it requires, so consider changing things up. Maintaining a temperature of 36 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit should be optimal and help you further reduce your costs. Here is a list of the best fridge freezers that would help you in saving electric bills.

Water Heater

The water heater of the house is used every day by homeowners and is one of the most significant contributors to the total cost of home energy. This is the machine that warms the water in your shower, sink, and even in your washer. All of the times you left the sink running to let the water warm up or took a long shower, this machine was working overtime to provide the heat required. Much like the refrigerator, adjusting the water heater is a two-pronged approach that can involve trading in for a new, more energy efficient model or simply decreasing its overall temperature. Most water heaters remain somewhere around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but this can be adjusted down to the 120-125 degrees range to avoid unnecessary energy waste.

Washer and Dryer

With a need for electricity and heat, washers and dryers have their own part to play in the amount people are charged for energy each and every month. Due to the many moving parts and separate components of the machines, there are a few ways to reduce their cost. For the washer, consider forgoing the use or warm water and instead just wash all of your things using cold water. When it comes time to dry, know that the dryer requires more energy to be operated. You can make the machine’s performance more efficient by cleaning out the lint trap before beginning or you could consider hanging your clothes on a line. By doing that, you’ll completely eliminate the need for the dryer as well as cut off its energy usage.


Computers make up around one percent of the energy bill, but that amount can be even further reduced in a number of easy ways. If you’re in the market for a new computer, consider purchasing a laptop instead of a standard desktop. The choice will demand less energy and have the added bonus of being transportable. A bad habit that many people share is leaving their computer in sleep mode rather than turning it off completely, which also contributes. Unless you expect to use your computer shortly after putting it to sleep, be sure to power it down. This will conserve energy and have you plugging in your laptop to charge less than you would have the other way.

Electric Oven

One of the main methods by which people prepare food is the oven. Equipped with multiple cooking settings, built in timers, and even self-cleaning capabilities, ovens are tools that make cooking a bit easier. But to allow for their capabilities, a sizeable amount of energy is required. A side effect of oven use that further drives up electricity costs is the heat that is generated from them. It tends to raise the overall temperature of the house and often results in homeowners using the air conditioning to reduce the heat, undermining attempts at saving. To counteract this, as well as save on the costs of operating an electric oven, be sure to use you microwave when you. Often there are oven and microwave instructions on boxes and microwaves will not only use less energy, they will also have your meal done faster.


The fluctuation of the temperature within homes often causes the thermostat to be used as a means of regulating the climate. Due to the changes brought about by the turn of the seasons, there are peak months for their use. One of the best methods for lowering the cost of your thermostat is to use the natural cooling that you keep out every day. That means you should open up doors and windows when you can to allow for the breeze to come through. Especially at night, when the temperature is naturally cooler, don’t be afraid to open your window instead of turning on the air conditioning. The help of smart devices can also be enlisted as programmable thermostats that learn your temperature preferences and act to reduce costs can be installed.

While electricity providers like TXU Energy offer flexible energy plans to help you manage your electricity needs and usage, you have to ensure that your thermostat or heating is functioning properly. Problems with your thermostat may result in a spike on your energy bills.

Check the following warning signs that your heating is not in good condition:
  • Inconsistent Room Temperature: If you notice that one area of the room is warmer than other spots, there could be a major problem with your thermostat.
  • Strange Odors: Musty, burnt, and any strange smells coming from your heating unit may indicate potential heating issues.
  • Strange Loud Noises: If your furnace is noisier than usual, seek help from an HVAC professional for an inspection. Screeching, grinding, popping, and banging noises may indicate loose or damaged parts within the furnace.

For generations, televisions have provided a level of comfort to homes, often being left on to fill spaces with noise. When people are in rooms, even briefly, the tv still manages to find a way to be turned on and use a bit of electricity. For television, electricity usage does in large part stem from being turned on, but tvs also use energy when turned off. It is called the phantom load and it occurs when electronic devices are powered off, but left plugged in. During this time, devices are on standby mode but still burning through electricity and as a result, running up electricity costs. An easy stop to this, can come about by unplugging devices or turning off the power strip they’re plugged into. There are even special power strips available for purchase that cut off the flow of electricity when devices are turned off.


The conclusion of most meals is marked by the clearing of tables and the loading of dishwashers. Varying slightly from model to model, this appliance rinses dishes using water of particularly high temperatures, then undergoes of a drying process. The cost of utilizing this machine, along with the others involved in making it run, make up a fair bit of the utility bill. Though operating the dishwasher will always bear and expense, the cost can be diminished and in relatively simple ways. For nights where there are not many things to wash, consider doing the dishes by hand. This will completely take the dishwasher out of the equation and save you on a load. In the event you do want to use the appliance, wait until you have filled it up completely before washing, as using the dishwasher with a full or light load used the same amount of energy.

Use Appliances That Have an Energy Star Label

Energy Star labels were created by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy, which aim to reduce pollutants and carbon emissions brought about by inefficient use of energy. Energy Star labels are found in appliances, symbolizing energy-efficiency to help consumers save money on high electricity bills. 

The more stars you see on the Energy Rating Label means that the appliance is more energy-efficient. Efficient appliances consume less electricity to attain the same performance levels of similar models within the same capacity or size. An appliance model that is more energy efficient means it will consume less energy, saving you more money in the long run.

How to Calculate Your Electricity Consumption

There are many ways to help you calculate your average electricity consumption. One way is to get the average consumption of your three-month bill. Energy consumption calculators are also available online that you can use to determine how many kilowatts your appliances consume in a day.

Bio: Douglas Keller has been a financial expert for 20 years, helping people reach financial stability. He now provides personal finance tips for Payless Power, where he helps people save money on their bills every month.

Professional Tips for Restoring Furniture After a Flood

Floods can be one of the most unpredictable natural disasters out there, taking over your home and everything in it, sometimes without the slightest warning.

Even if you successfully save yourself and your family, they still wreak havoc in people’s lives because the damage floods can leave behind is often extensive and irreparable. As we all know, furniture can be expensive, especially whole rooms of it, and that’s why you’ve got to know how to recover your furniture if ever subjected to a flood.

So, to that end, following are some basic steps you should take to salvage your furniture and belongings should you ever be subjected to flood damage.

1. Assess the Damage

The first thing you should always do is take note of the damage. Before entering the room, shut off the electricity to ensure that there will be no electrical charge in the water. Then, get the furniture out of the flooded rooms and into a dry area as soon as you can—this includes even the furniture not touching the floor. Mass amounts of water can evaporate into the air and damage wall or ceiling d├ęcor just as well as if it were sitting in the water itself.

It’s important to note that if you are at all prone to flooding of any kind, be sure to invest in flood insurance and/or Act of God insurance, which is insurance that covers natural disasters including but not limited to floods.

If you already have the proper insurance, take pictures of your damaged furniture in order to document the impairment that needs to be compensated for.

Also, it is imperative that you stay away from electrical plugs or utilities until given absolute confirmation of its safety by a professional. Water is a very effective conductor of electricity and could cause serious harm or even death to those directly exposed to it.

2. Salvage What You Can

Furniture made out of more solid material such as wood is far more likely to be salvageable than anything upholstered or fabric-based. Furniture of the latter may not be able to be recovered, so be sure that if flooding is a likelihood you can expect (i.e. there’s an incoming hurricane) that you preserve the furniture ahead of time if possible.

If furniture was not preserved prior to its exposure to water, there are several things you can do to prevent further damage: For items that you can remove from the flooded room, do so. For others that will cannot be removed from a flooded area, lift them out of the water onto wooden blocks so they can begin drying. You can also cover said items in aluminum foil to keep out extra dampness. The key here is to make sure that your furniture is removed from the water and exposed to as little dampness as possible after it has been removed.

Another tip would be to turn on any ceiling fans to promote drying, but this is only if the ceilings themselves are not damaged as well. Standing fans or hair driers are highly discouraged as their use of outlets is dangerous in the presence of water.

3. Call in a Professional

Despite these tips being of extra use, it is highly recommended that when dealing with water damage, you reach out to the experts such as companies like All Dry US or other water restoration services. With the help of alldryus.com (specifically in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida region) your furniture can be restored in no time at all.

Restoration professionals can strip furniture down to its base in an effort to replace the water damaged spots, but this process can be expensive, so be sure that those decisions are cost effective before you make the commitment.

Family antiques or anything of sentimental value should take priority in salvaging, and professionals should be made aware of such items as should your insurance company. In those cases, it may very well be cost effective to reach out to water damage experts, as water damage can often be permanent and facilitate health complications due to its fostering of mold and mildew.

Furniture can often be hundreds of dollars, and significantly more in large house-size quantities. Therefore, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to prepare for flooding, acquire the knowledge so you know what to do in case of experiencing flooding, and remember who to reach out to if the circumstances call for it.

05 July 2018

Landlord Success Tips


When you’ve invested in a rental property, you want to make sure you get your investment back. Being a landlord can be tricky business, but these tips will get your business running more smoothly than ever. From lease targeting to landlord software, these simple suggestions will help you take a decent business and polish it into a thriving one. In the rental property world, each day comes with new challenges, so make sure you meet your issues with a clear head.

Stick to a Business Mindset

With any business, it’s important to stick to best business practices. If you landlord part-time, you may be tempted to wiggle your records around. Remember that your business is, in fact, a business, even if it’s on the side. Keep your receipts, payment history, and all other financial information handy and organized. Not only will you want it for taxes, it can help you make better decisions later.

Use Lease Targeting

Since it’s easy to lose money between tenants, a good landlord trick is to try lease targeting. Lease targeting is the practice of including a clause in your lease that prevents tenants from vacating at a certain time. June 1st is the prime move-in day for apartments, so try to angle your leases around early summer, if you can.

Screen Your Tenants

When tenants are unruly, you run into all kinds of problems. Some tenants may complain about noise. Other tenants may no longer feel safe in your building and start looking elsewhere. A negligent tenant may fail to pay his or her utility bills and damage your appliances by having their electricity shut off by the city. As a landlord, it’s important to run a background check on tenants, check for past eviction history, and see their criminal record. You can do that using landlord software.

Never Discriminate

While you can screen your tenants beforehand, you’re not legally allowed to turn someone away based on sex, race, color, religion, familial status, or disability. The Fair Housing Act protects anyone in this category, and some states also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, marital status, and age. Additionally, discriminating is simply the wrong thing to do.

Make Repairs ASAP

Any landlord loses money in between tenants, unless they’re lucky enough to get new tenants the day after the old ones move out. Realistically, a landlord can expect a month or two of vacant units between leases. That’s income lost, so it’s always better to retain the tenants you have. Happy tenants mean a longer lease in most cases, so respond promptly to repairs. The better you treat your tenants, the more inclined they’ll be to stay.

Inspect Before and After

Legally, you’re allowed to charge a tenant for any damages the unit suffered during their residence. It’s written right into the lease. The problem is that damages might not be apparent, and if a tenant protests, you’ll need proof that the unit has gone down in condition. Take before and after videos of a unit, making note of the damages that exist before a tenant comes in and the damages that exist after.

03 July 2018

How to Keep Your Appliances in Good Condition

Household appliances save us time and effort. Imagine life without a washing machine or dishwasher. It wouldn’t be much fun. Unfortunately, many household appliances don’t last more than a few years. A cynic might argue that manufacturers deliberately build appliances with a limited lifespan, so they can sell you a new one after five years. We don’t know if this is true, but one thing is certain: if you look after your appliances, they will almost certainly last longer.

If your dishwasher, fridge, oven, or other appliance is faulty, check whether it is under warranty. And if your washing machine is faulty and you need washing machine repair and maintenance advice from Hotpoint, give them a call.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure you get the maximum life possible out of your appliances. Ignore them at your peril!


A shiny new fridge is a joy. It’s clean and hygienic inside with no mouldy mushrooms lurking in the vegetable tray and the shelves are just begging to be filled with food. But, as proud as you may be with your new fridge, it is essential that you don’t switch it on for 24 hours when you first bring it home.

Fridges are often transported flat. The oil in the compressor needs time to settle before you switch the fridge on for the first time. Otherwise, the oil may end up in the refrigerant lines rather than the pump, which will lead to the pump wearing out much sooner than it should.
It is also a good idea to vacuum the coils at the back of the fridge from time to time. This helps to keep them dust-free. If dust is allowed to settle and form an insulating layer, the fridge will need to work harder to maintain the correct temperature.

If you take good care of your fridge, it should easily last 15+ years.


Freezers generally last a long time and require very little maintenance. If you have a frost-free freezer, it doesn’t need to de-frosted. Older models don’t have this facility, so you need to defrost your freezer when ice begins to build up. To do this safely, empty the freezer and switch it off for 24 hours, or as long as it takes to defrost.

Frost-free freezers have a drain pan. Clean it out from time to time or mould will build up. A solution of bleach and water is fine.

Washing Machines

Washing machines don’t usually last more than five years, but with some care and attention, you can keep your washing machine in perfect working order for longer.

Always empty pockets before you place garments in the machine. Coins and other metal objects cause untold damage to a washing machine drum. Foreign objects can also get caught between the door seal, which will damage it and cause a leak. Smaller objects can get stuck in the drain hose, which is equally damaging.

Prop the door open after you empty the washing machine. This allows the drum and other components to dry out. If the machine is left closed and wet, mould might build up inside, which is a health issue.


Make sure you clean out the drain filter regularly. This is where food waste ends up. If it is allowed to build up, the dishwasher won’t drain properly. You probably use your dishwasher daily, but if you don’t use it that often, pour some mineral oil and water into the bottom of the machine to keep the seals moisturized. Otherwise, they will dry out and the next time you run a load, water will leak out everywhere.

Hard water can cause numerous problems with household appliances, so pop a hard water tablet into your washing machine or dishwater every week or so. It is possible to keep your appliances in good working order for longer than you would expect using the tips discussed above.