Posted on Sep 16, 2014
Before you spend money on the latest energy-efficient gizmo that’s supposed to save you money, let’s look at some energy saving ideas that will really help you save home energy. The strategies that we will look at will maximize the effort you put in, and help reduce your home energy consumption.
First sit down and think about all the different ways your family uses energy around the house. Now put an approximate type and cost of energy used. You may have trouble breaking down the cost but try to do it. Now all you have to do is find ways to save on your resources at the same time cut your costs. You may have to think creatively but it can be done.
So here are some tips to get you started:
- Turn the lights off when you’re not using them. This is really simple and easy to do. Do you really need your bedroom light on when you’re in the living room? Do you leave lights on when you leave the house? Do you even need more than one light on in a room for what you are doing? Believe it or not it makes a big difference.
- Turn all electronics and other appliances off when you’re not using them. No one can do everything at the same time. Can you really listen to a radio, watch television, and use your computer all at the same time?
- Set your thermostat down a couple of degrees in winter, or up in summer, to conserve energy. And dress appropriately indoors for the time of year it is. For instance in winter, put on a sweater or some extra clothing, or may snuggle under a blanket to stay warm. In the summer, wear less and stay cooler naturally.
- Only turn an appliance on when you have a full load. This is true especially for the washing machine, dryer and even the dishwasher. It is amazing how much extra energy is used doing multiple small loads in comparison to one full load.
- Do regular maintenance on your appliances. Keeping them clean means they don’t have to work as hard. Changing filters reduces the energy needed to accomplish a task. Regular care will also mean any maintenance bills that you might come up against may well be cheaper.
- Be careful how you use your water. Like when brushing your teeth or washing your hands, use only the water you need. Don’t let the water run the entire time. Also, try and use less water if you take a bath, or control your shower times.
- Simply let your hair air dry, instead of using a blow drier every day.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees F.
Don’t forget the bigger projects as well.
- Seal the cracks around your doors and windows. You are paying for your hot air that escapes through cracks all around your house. You need to make sure you are doing all you can to keep the warm air you’re paying for inside your house.
- You also need to check your house’s insulation. Though this has been done by many homeowners nevertheless you still need to do it before you pass it over. It is probably the biggest thing in reducing heating costs.
Now some of these things may seem trivial to you but let me assure you that even the small things add up over time. And really most of them you won’t even notice the difference to your life except your bills.
These tips and suggestions will make your home more affordable, and take some strain off of our world’s resources. Just think if all of us would make a few of these changes, it would make a huge difference.
by: Dave McIntosh
Posted on Jul 16, 2014
(BPT) – Most of us have been there at some point. You somehow find yourself barefoot in your kitchen at midnight, eating ice cream out of the container. Alternatively, the mid-afternoon energy slump has landed you in front of the vending machine pining for a package of candy. Maybe the kids didn’t exactly have to twist your arm to make brownies last weekend. And, by the way, is that whole sleeve of cookies really gone?
How is it that, despite our most valiant efforts, a sugar craving can effortlessly throw a healthy way of life off track? And how do we combat these cravings in an effort to eat better?
Get a handle on the basics.
Hydration, protein intake and movement all play an important role in sugar cravings. In fact, it’s estimated that 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. “Lack of hydration is a real problem, because our bodies are primarily water,” says Cindi Lockhart, senior program manager for Health and Nutrition at Life Time Fitness.
Adequate hydration is essential for energy, nutrient absorption and improved digestion, maintaining body temperature, detoxification, easing joint pain, optimal mental function, younger appearance and weight control. Furthermore, by the time actual feelings of thirst set in, they’re often mistaken for hunger. “Naturally, as we reach for the nearest cupcake in an inadvertent attempt to resolve physiological thirst, our ‘cravings’ will not be satiated,” says Samantha Bielawski, registered dietician and personal trainer at Life Time Fitness.
Optimizing protein intake can also help stabilize blood sugar spikes and crashes, which cause an energy level roller coaster and an endless cycle of cravings for sugar and carbohydrates throughout the day. “A lot of my clients are shocked to learn their true protein needs and are pleasantly surprised when they are liberated from the urge to eat every two to three hours,” says Bielawski.
Bielawski says movement and exercise can also impact your sweet tooth. “Not only will a walk distract you from the nearby vending machine fare, but you’ll also enjoy the non-sugar-induced-serotonin boost. Add some sun exposure – especially during the midday slump, and you’ll feel naturally invigorated.”
Ditch healthy labels.
Recently, there’s been an increase in the amount of healthy labels gracing products in grocery store aisles. Even still, Bielawski says it’s important to choose wisely. “Every nutrition choice either moves you toward health or away from it. In my experience as a dietitian, most foods plastered with flashy labeling and elephant-sized font proclaiming their healthy qualities are anything but.” She says processed foods that are unrecognizable in nature are typically high in carbohydrate and grossly lacking in hunger-busting protein and fat. Processed carbohydrates like these give a temporary high, possibly fueling sugar addiction, but what goes up must come down. Healthier options include a handful of cashews, hard-boiled eggs or Greek yogurt topped with grain-free granola. “The bottom line is man-made food rarely provides nourishment. We should all try to stick with unprocessed, natural foods whenever possible,” says Bielawski.
Arm yourself with adequate sleep.
Research shows when healthy adults are sleep-deprived they tend to crave carbohydrates and can develop disruption to normal blood sugar regulation. “This means your body is even more apt to add that sugary intake directly to your midsection,” says Bielawski.
Retrain your taste buds.
“One of the Life Time Weight Loss Support Groups I am involved in found added sugars in everything from gravy mix to canned mushroom soup, and I am confident that those specific foods don’t taste overtly sweet to the average American,” says Bielawski.
Experts agree that our sweet sensors require much more sugar now than they ever have before to actually promote the sensation of “sweet.” The answer, however, isn’t simply transitioning to chemically fortified sugar free alternatives to enjoy at liberty.
“While an artifically-sweetened dessert is OK as an occasional treat, any dessert food – whatever the sweetener – shouldn’t take up a substantial portion of your diet,” Bielawski notes. “While it may sound extreme,going cold-turkey on sugar can go a long way in turning down those taste buds to their natural subtlety.” Bielawski adds that we might even find ourselves fully satisfied with the silky sweetness of roasted beets or the vivid taste of fresh summer raspberries, no longer needing the taste of a diet soda, which is a very good problem to have.
Posted on Jul 16, 2014
As a parent, how to decorate your child’s room is one of the tough decisions you have to make. She might love Dora the Explorer today, but it’s not likely that she’ll want cartoons on her walls forever. You could end up spending a ton of money redecorating every year or two if you don’t think ahead. Here are seven theme ideas for girls’ rooms that can grow with her over the years, saving you money.
All little girls love to be princesses – and teens like to act like them too. Take a more mature approach to it from the start. Chose a subdued pink and pair it with browns to give the room a Victorian look. Canopy beds are regal, but they can be expensive. Instead, go for a smaller, removable net canopy, which attaches to the ceiling via a ring and only flows over the head of the bed. Use gold touches to finish the room with an elegant feel, and display princess toys that your child has until she outgrows them.
Instead of painting cartoon flowers and bumble bees all over the walls, which can be fun for a toddler but overwhelming for a teenager, try using real flowers (or silk flowers if you don’t have a green thumb) on shelves that are out of reach of tiny hands. Use natural colors, like greens and browns, for painting and sheer curtains to let in as much light as possible. Keep the artwork on the walls whimsical enough for a children’s room – like pictures of fairies or butterflies – yet sophisticated enough for teens; skip the cartoons and look for prints of paintings.
Creating a retro room for your daughter can be fun, but don’t go too crazy with the flower power and smiley faces! Instead, stick to using colors that were popular in the 1960s and add fun touches like beaded curtains, printed rugs, and beanbag chairs. Use a lava lamp as a night light and stick to fabrics in funky prints, like paisley.
Pink French poodles and polka dots look cute in a little girls’ room, and it is actually fairly easy to take that style idea and make it appropriate for any age group. Start with color – a Parisian themed room should have elements of black, pink, white, and tan. Stuffed poodles can easily be replaced on shelves with more sophisticated decor, such as an Eiffel Tower replica or French country prints. Add mirrors and sconces to the walls (out of reach of small children of course) and for the furniture, think wrought iron and wood painted white or cream and distressed.
Girls can love sciences and technology as much as boys, so why not choose a celestial outer space theme for your child? Use navy-colored paint to give the illusion of a night sky and glow-in-the-dark stars that can be removed if she no longer likes them when she’s older. To give the room a girl’s touch, use celestial sun, moon, and star accent pieces and pretty cloud or sunset artwork.
Tropical themed bedrooms are always a hit for kids, but creating an island paradise that will still be appropriate when your toddler is a teen can be challenging. Subtlety is key here. Use beach colors like aqua and blue for the walls or furniture and instead of carpeting, go for a wood floor that gives the room a more beach bungalow feel. For small children, use some tropical-inspired rugs to make the play surface safer, and use shells and hibiscus flowers to complement your design. You can also use bamboo and wicker for furniture and blinds in the room, and frame artwork featuring mermaids, dolphins, and sailboats for the walls.
Most young girls love to play dress up, and teens may also be very into fashion. A Hollywood glitz and glam room can be great for themed bedrooms. Instead of a traditional dresser, chose a vanity, which your daughter will appreciate when she’s in high school, and instead of a wallpaper border, string white Christmas lights around the room that can be kept up all year. Use clear beads that give the illusion of diamonds in the window treatment and for a chandelier-like lighting fixture and add a few touches of animal prints in pillows, throw rugs, etc. for a little fun.
Remember, your toddler may not grow up to like the style you chose, so be prepared for your tomboy teen to hate her garden-inspired room or your cheerleader to have an issue with the beach theme you picked. The good news is that no matter what theme you use today, if you switch out the accessories, she’ll love it tomorrow. Avoid huge decor choices that are hard to change, because you want her room to grow with her tastes.
by: Max Sheppard
Posted on Jul 9, 2014
Summer time is one of the happiest seasons of the year. This is the perfect time to get a week of vacation from work, go to the beach and enjoy time with friends and family. As summer could mean happy times, it could also mean more expenses as you spend for family getaways and as electric bills go up due to more people staying in the house and using electric appliances. To help you save money during summer time, here are some helpful tips:
1. Turn off unnecessary household appliances
Be cautious on what appliances kids use. Turn of unnecessary appliances that might just add up to your bill. Turning off the air conditioning during a cold night is one of the helpful things to practice.
2. Let the kids try a summer business
Instead of allowing your kids to just spend more of their money during summer, you can even teach them how to be thrifty and run a summer business. They can try setting up a Lemonade stand or have a garage sale of their old clothes and toys. This way, the kids learn to value money and spend little or just enough for their needs.
3. Save on groceries
Grocery shopping, combined with the money we spend “eating out,” makes up a huge portion of our monthly expenses. In order to save more money during summer, you must learn how to save money on your groceries. Choosing less expensive drinks, avoiding single-serving snacks and being realistic about the amount of food you need are some helpful ways to save you some bucks on your groceries.
4. Avoid credit cards
Using your credit card means borrowing money from the bank that issued the card. And since credit cards often have high spending limits, it encourages cardholders to spend more and more money based on their credit limit. This therefore leads to uncontrollable spending. It is more helpful then to use a prepaid debit card or a prepaid money card when making purchases as these types of cards have credit limits based on the amount of money that the cardholder has from their own bank account. This helps the cardholder think twice before spending as he knows the money will be deducted from his own savings account.
Saving money during the summer season does not mean though that you have to spoil your happy times with your family. With careful planning, budgeting and following these simple tips from reassessing your groceries to choosing prepaid debit cards over credit cards will surely help you save more money that you can use for your family”™s future needs.
Courtesy of BPT
Posted on Jun 25, 2014
(BPT) – As millions of high school students prepare to head back to the classroom in just a few weeks, many may reflect on their summer jobs serving tables, operating cash registers, tracking inventory and assisting customers.
To most, those summer jobs were solely for the purpose of having a little extra cash, or maybe to build a college resume. But students should consider the long-term knowledge gained in such a short span of time. These hourly positions often provide the building blocks for something bigger to come in the future: a career.
The restaurant industry hires hundreds of thousands of seasonal employees every summer, including high school students getting their first taste of the working world. One-half of all adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives and one out of three adults got their first job experience in a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association.
But can summer jobs in restaurants lead to bigger and better things? Research shows that nine out of 10 salaried restaurant employees started in hourly positions, and 80 percent of restaurant owners began their industry careers as hourly workers. Nearly all restaurant employees say the industry is a good place to get a first job and learn basic working skills.
Even if you didn’t have a summer job in a restaurant, it’s still a hot spot for career opportunities. The restaurant industry is posting stronger job growth than the overall economy, with employment now totaling more than 13 million. Eighty-eight percent of restaurant employees say restaurants often provide the opportunity to start at the bottom and move up to management.
And it’s going to keep getting better. The National Restaurant Association projects that restaurant and foodservice outlets will add 1.3 million new positions.
It’s no wonder training for a career in this growing industry is on the rise. Nearly every state in the U.S. – 47 in total – now implements ProStart, a two-year program that brings the industry and the classroom together to give 95,000 high school students across 1,700 schools nationwide a platform to discover new interests and talents, while opening doors to fulfilling culinary and restaurant management careers. ProStart is just one of the programs offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), which is committed to ensuring it supports the development of a highly-trained and professional talent pool through scholarships and educational programs. The Foundation has granted $15 million in scholarships to students and educators, giving them a jumpstart on successful careers.
In addition to the ample employment opportunities the restaurant industry provides, its employee base is incredibly diverse, consisting of people from various backgrounds, speaking many languages and with different skill sets. Eighty-one percent of restaurant employees say the industry is a place where people of all backgrounds and experience can open their own business.
Millennials make up a large percentage of today’s workforce and this group tends to gravitate toward organizations that do good for others. In fact, Jim Lewis, CEO of the National Society of High School Students, recently told Forbes that Millennials are responding to companies that focus on helping others and want the sense that they are giving back to the community.
And restaurants are certainly part of that trend. In fact, more than nine in 10 restaurants are involved in community service. The NRAEF, in partnership with American Express, has presented the annual Restaurant Neighbor Award to celebrate this outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators. It’s companies like these that will continue to attract Millennials as they seek out career opportunities with socially responsible companies.
As summer comes to a close and students return to school, they can feel confident in saying they not only spent their summer making some extra spending money in a restaurant, but also had the opportunity to build a foundation for a bright, fulfilling career.
Posted on Jun 25, 2014
Selling a home requires a bit of marketing, some sweat and elbow grease, and a touch of luck. But even in a competitive selling market, it is possible to turn the sign in your front yard from For Sale to Sold so you can move on to your next residence.
First, look at your home as if you were a potential buyer. Drive up to the driveway or the front curb and park, carefully looking at the home as if for the first time. Make note of the beautiful aspects of your home, and also areas that could deter potential buyers. The outside of your home is the first image they will see, both in person, and while pre-shopping online.
One maintenance project to tackle that will really spruce up the exterior of your home is refurbishing the outside woodwork that has been weathered by the sun, rain and snow. If you have a front porch, wooden window edgings or even a back deck, chances are these areas could benefit from new stain for a refreshed and clean look.
Home decks return about 70 percent of their original cost back to homeowners when a house is sold, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, but that’s only when the decks are kept in top shape. To remove moisture and sun damage and protect your exterior woodwork from further damage from moss, mold and rot, Flood wood care offers an entire wood care system from prepping materials such as deck cleaners to stain. Before prepping your deck, consider if you need Wood Finish Remover to remove latex, oil, semi-transparent and solid stains, or if your deck is unstained, you may need Wood Brightener/Cleaner to bring the old and faded gray coloring back to a fresh new wood appearance. Finally, apply a Flood wood stain to your deck and woodwork to give it a beautiful look that will have home buyers and your neighbors impressed.
In addition to your exterior woodwork, also take a look at your siding and gutters. Vinyl and aluminum sidings can collect dirt and look dingy after a season or two. Use a power washer on the siding and gutters to wash away the grime and spider webs and bring some vibrancy back to the outside of your home. Also consider adding season-appropriate flowers, plants or landscaping or replacing gutter downspouts with decorative chains to give your home an artistic look.
Finally, take a close look at your exterior lights. Glass-enclosed lights can become filthy from all the elements, so take a quick moment to wipe them clean with glass cleaner. If your light fixtures are tarnished, or looking run down, purchase a can of spray paint in any complimentary color to the exterior of your home and freshen them up. It will make your lights appear new in no time at all.
These quick-fix projects will boost the look of your home both for prospective buyers arriving at your front door, and also in the photographs visible online. With this better exterior appearance, chances are you’ll be able to sell your home much quicker.