Smart Ideas for Staying Warm: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Winter Energy Bill

If you’ve ever received a letter from your local energy company comparing your energy usage to your neighbors, you’ve probably wondered what you could be doing differently to save money. Here are five tips to help you reduce your energy costs while staying warm this winter.

  1. Tune Up Your Furnace. Unless your furnace is brand new, it’s probably time for an annual checkup. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so hire a professional who will conduct a thorough inspection, clean the vents, and change the filters, which will help your furnace run more efficiently. And, if there is any rust, corrosion, leakage, blockage, or other damage, it will cost far less to fix the issue now than it would if the furnace breaks down in the middle of a freezing January night!
  2. Update Your Thermostat. Consider replacing your old thermostat with an innovative new “learning thermostat” which tracks household usage and automatically adjusts the temperature to minimize energy and save money. Check with your local energy provider, as you may be able to order it directly from the company.
  3. Live Small. If you find yourself using only some of the rooms in your house during the winter, don’t waste money heating your other rooms fully. To minimize energy usage, close the floor and wall vents in unused rooms and keep the doors shut. Keep your indoor air temperature low and use a small portable electric heater to create additional warmth in the other rooms as you use them. If you have ceiling fans, turn them on low in a clockwise direction so they push the warm air down towards the floor.
  4. Clean Your Dryer Exhaust Vent. If it’s been years since you cleaned your dryer vent, it may be partially clogged with lint, dust, or animal hair if you have pets. Hire a professional to thoroughly clean the exhaust vent and you’ll find that your clothes dry faster—saving you money with every load of laundry.
  5. Get Cozy. Throughout your house, check and repair window and door seals to prevent heat from escaping. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day to let the sunlight in and close them again at dusk. Wear slippers to avoid cold feet, and if you’re an animal lover, let your dog or cat curl up at the end of your bed for extra warmth!

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Seasonal Migration; Not Just for The Birds

As the weather takes a turn for the worse, the thought of getting away to a warmer climate becomes more appealing. The term “snowbird” is often used to describe those who migrate from colder climates to sunny locations for extended periods each year. Becoming a snowbird and owning a home in another state can provide more than just a respite from the cold. Read on for more about the benefits of being a snowbird.

Ready. Set. Entertain! Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

As much as we look forward to the holidays, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can often feel like an endless round of decorating, cooking, and entertaining. To reduce stress and prevent holiday burnout, use these tips to make this season easy, enjoyable, and memorable.

Gift Giving Made Easy: Fun and Ingenious Ways to Streamline Your Holiday Shopping and Manage Your Budget

When it comes to holiday gifts, it really is the thought that counts. While it can be fun to indulge your family and friends with extravagant gifts, it’s not always necessary. With a little forethought and planning, it’s easy to manage your budget and impress your loved ones with cost-effective gifts that convey how much you care about them.

Get Your Garden Winter-Ready: 7 Easy Ideas for a Fall Weekend

Winter is a gardener’s friend, providing flowers, shrubs, and trees with a well-deserved opportunity to rest and rejuvenate after a lush, showy summer. To give your garden a jumpstart on next spring, spend a sunny fall weekend planting, mulching, and watering. With these autumnal preparations, your efforts will be rewarded next spring with a healthier, more beautiful landscape.

Getting Your House in Order: How to Build Your Own Home Repair Rolodex®

With cooler weather just around the corner, now’s a great time to get your personal Rolodex® of home service experts in order—before you actually need them. After all, the best time to call an electronics installer is before you buy the deluxe home entertainment system, and the worst time to find a friendly, cost-effective plumber is after your pipes have frozen. To help create your list of trusted home experts, here are some tips for finding the right people for each job.