Reducing Power Outages at Your Home

It’s as if your entire life shuts off when you lose power at home. Television, landline telephones, kitchen appliances and music aren’t the only technologies that you lose during power outages. When the power goes out at your house, you can’t get on the Internet or cook.

Cut back on home power outage inconveniences

Let power outages happen at night and you won’t be able to see good in the dark. The longer power stays out at your house, the worse conditions get. After a while,the battery on your cell phone will run down, leaving you without the chance to connect to family and friends without venturing outdoors.

Although you might feel helpless when the power goes out at your house, there are a few things that you can do to prevent power outages. There are also steps that you can take to respond to power outages, so the experience doesn’t halt your day too much. To prevent home power outages, you could:

  • Reduce the chances that electricity will damage your home – Contact your utility company to repair electrical wiring. Specific instances when you will want to do this include when wires hang so close to your house that they actually brush your house during high winds and when apiece of a wire breaks.
  • Cut away low hanging tree limbs – Power lines don’t only cause damage when they hit your home. They can knock out power if they get caught in tree limbs. When you’re outside performing general maintenance on the exterior of your home, look for and cut away low hanging tree limbs.
  • Check electrical boxes – Check with your utility company to see if electrical boxes need to be moved or reinforced. A bad transformer can cause power outages throughout your neighborhood.
  • Remove termites – Although termites are famously known for causing wood damage, they can also cause power outages.
  • Turn off unused appliances – By turning off appliances when they are not in use, especially during harsh weather storms,you reduce the amount of power that your house demands, which could help you to avoid a power outage.

Despite your best efforts, power outages occur. Keeping candles and batteries nearby are not the only things that you can do to respond to power outages at home. Additional steps that you could take include:

You have to deal with enough unexpected events at your house. Regular power outages shouldn’t be among those events. If you take proactive steps, you could reduce the number of times that the power goes out at your house. You could also keep your home safer during hard weather storms.

How Writing a Personal Letter to Sellers Can Help You Close on a House

If you’re hunting for a new home and have come across one that fits all of your requirements and more, it can seem like the only thing you can do is make an offer and wait.

However, your first choice could also be another buyer’s dream home. And, if a higher bid isn’t feasible, you have to find other ways to win over the seller. One way this can be achieved is through writing a letter to the owner of the home.

If you’re bidding on your dream home, writing a letter the the owner can be anxiety inducing. Choosing what to reveal and finding the right words can be scary, even for the most seasoned writer.

So, in this article we’re going to walk you through writing a letter to a seller to give you the best possible chance of winning the bid for a new home.

Tell them why you love their home

If you’ve fallen in love with certain aspects of the home, there’s a good chance the sellers did too. Be personal in your explanations. Rather than just say you love the location, mention that it is a perfect distance to walk to the playground with your children or pets. This will help buyers better understand you and your story.

If you have family who lives nearby, or if the home has features that can greatly improve the life of you, your family, or your pets, be sure to mention this in the letter as well.

Don’t press or plead, just be polite

It can seem desperate and off-putting to receive a letter pleading with you to sell your home to someone. So, when you’re writing your letter and you come to the end, simply thank the buyer for their time and for reading, compliment them once more, and wish them luck in their new home.

Revise and review

It can be tempting to send your letter immediately after writing it, especially if writing is you don’t like writing in general. However, it’s always a good idea to revise. I suggest writing your letter one night, then reading it again the next evening to give yourself time and distance from it–this way you’ll be reading it with fresh eyes and will be able to find any wording that sounds strange or confusing.

It’s also a good idea to run your writing through a free proofreader like Grammarly. And, finally, there is no substitute for having an editor. Ask one of your friends or family members to read the letter and give you feedback.

Stand out from the crowd

There are a few things you can include in your letter to set you apart from other potential buyers. Including a family photo will help the sellers put a face to the names you mention in the letter.

It can also be helpful to print and mail the letter, rather than sending it electronically. Since we so rarely receive a physical copy of a letter these days (unless it’s from a bill collector), it can be nice to receive something positive in the mail for a change.

Everyday Uses for Soap

A bar of soap won’t just keep you clean it can serve many more purposes! Here are some uses for soap to solve common household problems:

Stop squeaky hinges by wedging moist soap between the doorframe and hinge, and work the door back and forth; also rub soap directly onto the hinge.

No more squeaks in floorboards when you work a little moist soap into the cracks between the boards.

Unstick a stubborn zipper by rubbing soap on both sides while closed, then unzip it and rub soap over the opened teeth.

Solve sticky drawers by rubbing both sides and the underside with soap.

To keep eyeglasses from steaming in cold weather, rub both sides of each lens with soapy fingers, and then polish.

Have any of these tricks worked for you? Share more soapy tips below.

 

Vegetable Gardening for Small Spaces

Growing fresh vegetables and herbs in your own backyard can hold a lot of appeal to many but not everyone has the luxury of a large backyard to start one. If you’re home has a yard with limited space don’t give up your garden dreams just yet! Below are some tips on how to start your own small vegetable garden whether you have a postage stamp lawn or none at all!

Start with research – No matter what the square footage you are working with is it is important to do some research first. You will want to create a list of the types of vegetables and herbs you are hoping to grow. You will then want to find out how much light they require, which season they produce during and if there are any plants they do not do well next to. Other things to consider are how deep and wide the roots grow. When you only have so much space to work with you want to maximize every inch. If one plant takes up a quarter of your garden while another can share that same space with several other plants you will want to weigh out how badly you want that particular plant. Choosing “dwarf” or “compact” varieties of plants will also help you make the most any small garden.

Small land – With some careful planning and thoughtful placement you can get just as much or more from your small garden than those with larger plots of land. It’s all in the details. One technique you will want to favor is the vertical growing method. Essentially you place the taller growing plants in the back and the shorter growing ones in the front so that they are not deprived of sunlight behind your taller plants. Use a garden planner tool to your advantage to pre-plan your garden and how you will fit the different varieties of plants on your small plot. You may also want to consider using the succession planting method. When a plant has stopped producing you remove it and plant seeds for a new crop whose growing season is upcoming. This will allow you to truly maximize your limited space.

Patio – Creating a container garden will be your best friend when you are lacking land to plant vegetables in. When choosing pots ensure that they have drainage holes on the bottom and keep in in mind that the larger the pot the better. A larger pot helps the soil retain moisture and maintain an even temperature. If your container is large enough you may even be able to get away with planting an upward growing plant with some under growing varieties.

Window boxes – If you don’t have enough space in your backyard or a patio to dedicate to a garden you still have options. Window boxes can offer more than just space for perennial flowers they are also perfect for growing herbs and salad greens in. Planting several herb varieties per box will provide you with a homegrown spice rack at your fingertips!

While it may seem that gardening is impossible without a large plot of land almost anyone, no matter the space of their home can grow a garden. With a little research and a willingness to get your hands dirty, you too can have home grown produce!

What’s For Dinner?

What’s for dinner? That is always a tough question when its 5:30, you have just walked in the door and all you can find is a box of cereal.

Avoid ordering out or a dinner malfunction by keeping your pantry stocked with a list of staples that will help you make a variety of meals in a jiffy.

1. Canned chicken: At first it may not sound so appetizing but with a storage life of up to a year, canned or pouch chicken can be a lifesaver. Mix it in with casseroles, stir-fries, creamy salads, or even shredded as a topping to a baked potato. You won’t know the difference.

2. Pasta: It doesn’t matter what kind; spaghetti, linguini, rotini, penne, macaroni,–the list goes on. Pasta is best served to add bulk to a meal. Pasta can be an alternative to rice which can take longer to cook. Add pasta to soups, sauces, with cheese or vegetables and you will have a home-style meal in minutes.

3. Jarred Tomato Sauce: You have the pasta in the pantry so having a quick jar of sauce is a no-brainer. It’s not your mother’s homemade sauce but it will do in a pinch. Tomato sauce is actually very versatile and can also be used in soups, stews, and chili recipes.

4. Rice and Grains: Grains can be used as a quick side to any meal or bulk up any dinner. Stock up on quick-cooking rice, bulgur, and barley. Serve grains with a simple stir-fry or mixed with veggies and an egg for an easy fried rice dish. Mix flavored rice boxes with ground beef for an easy, one-meal dish.

5. Canned Beans: Beans are high in protein; they have a long shelf life and can be a part of lots of different dishes. Heat and mash them for a filling soup or drain and mix them with canned veggies for a light and flavorful dip or vegetable salad. Any kind of beans will do; Black, Pinto, Cannellini, Great Northern, or Garbanzo, just choose your favorite.

6. Canned Vegetables: It is so difficult to use fresh-bought produce before it wilts. Canned vegetables to the rescue, they last much longer. Combine an assortment with broth and seasonings for an easy vegetable soup or add them to pastas, dry soup mixes, casseroles, or rice.

7. Canned Salmon and Tuna: Protein is good for you and helps fill you up. Canned salmon and tuna can be used for easy meal ideas. Serve in salads, pitas, pasta dishes, burgers, loaded potatoes, croquettes, and even as light appetizers or snacks.

8. Canned Tomato Products: Canned tomato products can be turned into so many things. Stock up on paste, stewed, diced and whole tomatoes. Diced tomatoes make a great queso dip when added to melted cheese. Add to ground beef and taco seasoning for a zesty burrito supper, or to a skillet with seasoning for a homemade pasta sauce. Use stewed tomatoes in soups and stews.

9. Peanut Butter: Everyone loves a PB&J sandwich, but peanut butter can be used on the dinner table for Asian-inspired flavor in dips, sauces, and stir-fry. Try it for a snack spread on celery stalks or apple slices, or as a spread with multigrain crackers.

10. Canned Fruit: Fruit for dinner? Why not? Jarred cherries, canned fruit, including pineapple, mandarin oranges, and even fruit cocktail can be used as a healthy and lean side dish. Try serving grilled pineapple with chicken, add mandarin oranges to salads, and fruit always makes a great dessert.

How to Prepare Buy Your First Home

You’ve been thinking about buying your first home and it is a very big decision. It is typically not a decision you make overnight instead you need to take the time prepare yourself.  Here are the basic steps that you should follow when it is time to buy a home.

  1. Ask are you ready? Home ownership is quite different than renting. It is a lot more expensive than renting. You will have added expenses and responsibility. There will be expenses like repairs, added utility costs, such as garbage and water, plus taxes and insurance related to your home. You will want to make sure to have an emergency fund, before you purchase your first home.
  2. Shop for a loan. Your first step will be to get preapproved. Knowing how much you can afford will help you to look for homes within your price range.
  3. Figure out how much you can afford. Just because you are preapproved for a certain loan doesn’t mean you can afford that in the real world. A good rule of thumb is to keep your mortgage along with your taxes and insurance between twenty five and thirty percent of your income. You don’t want to be house poor.
  4. Use a real estate professional you can trust.  A good real estate professional will listen to your wants and needs carefully. It is important that you are also educated on the process of buying a home. A good real estate professional will help meet your needs while navigating you through the process and advocating for your best interests.

A Guide to Rooftop Solar Power

Thanks to federal tax incentives and a growing concern for the environment, many Americans are installing rooftop solar panels to cover or offset the cost of their utilities. In the last ten years the solar industry has grown by an unprecedented 1,600 percent and it shows not signs of slowing. As solar becomes more affordable, however, debates have opened up around the use of solar power and its effect on older ways of producing electricity (like coal-fired and nuclear power plants).

Solar power is a complicated process that is part of an even more complicated industry. If you’re thinking about making the switch, consider this your crash course in rooftop solar power.

I’m interested in solar. Where do I start?

Before you call a local solar provider and start getting sales pitches it’s useful to know some background information on solar in your area. Do some research on your home state to see if your local government has incentivized solar in any way. Some states have provided funding to banks to offer loans for home solar systems.

You should also consider some details about your home, your current energy provider, and the amount of time you’re going to spend in your home. If you plan on moving anytime soon, leased panels may not be something you want to put up on the roof. Some buyers will happily take over the lease; others won’t be so sure or may see it as a headache.

You’ll also want to learn about net metering from your current electricity provider. The electricity market is now in flux due to the increase of solar. As solar makes electricity more accessible, it could make electricity costs go up from your local utilities company. Net metering is the way that power companies measure how much electricity your panels put into the grid during the daytime which will be discounted from your monthly utility bill.

Finally, you’ll want to consider how beneficial the panels would be to your bill. If your home doesn’t receive a lot of sun or have enough viable roof space, solar panels might not be worth it. If you can buy the panels flat out, however, they’ll likely save you a lot of money in the long run.

Buying, leasing, and financing your panels

Buying, leasing, and financing all have their advantages and disadvantages which you’ll want to weigh before committing to one option. For example, even if you have the funds to buy outright you might prefer the leasing option for the maintenance and repairs guarantee. Maybe you want to buy or finance to take advantage of local and federal tax incentives.

Another thing to consider is the changing technology itself. As solar power improves, so does the technology that makes it possible. If you’re thinking of moving within the next few years it might be in your best interest to wait for the next generation of panels for your new home instead of buying panels that will be outdated in the home you’re in.

Making the calls

Once you’ve decided you want to go ahead with solar panels on your home you have another round of research to do. Compare providers in your area. Get quotes and setup options to find one that you’re happy with. Get a sample contract and read all of the fine print. Finally, check out the customer reviews to make sure you’ll be happy with this provider–especially if you’re leasing and will be dealing with them for the next 15-20 years.

 

Bicycle Maintenance You Can Do in Your Own Driveway

For some people, their bicycle is their main method of transportation. Whether it’s commuting to work or getting groceries, a bicycle can be an excellent way to save money, stay in shape, and enjoy the ride to your destination. For those of us who live too far away from work to cycle there, bicycles can still be a fun activity to that also helps you stay in shape.

Just like your car, your bicycle requires regular maintenance to keep your rides smooth and safe. Local bike shops will be able to give your bicycle a tune-up or make difficult repairs. However, there are a lot of maintenance tasks that can be done right from home with your average toolkit.

In this article, we’ll go over basic bike maintenance that you can do in your driveway that will keep your bike in good  working condition.

Safety Check

Before you ride your bike, it’s good to perform a basic safety check in your driveway before leaving your home. You’ll want to check:

  • tires, to see if they’re properly inflated, have enough tread, and don’t have any cracks
  • brakes, to see if both the front and rear brakes work properly and that they’re touching the rims when pressed
  • chain and shifters, to make sure the chain is lubricated and that the shifters are functioning correctly

Cleaning and lubrication

Cleaning your bicycle regularly isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. A clean bike is a safe bike and the process of cleaning helps you discover any potential issues with the bicycle. On a monthly basis, clean the frame and rims of your bike with a cloth. Look for any cracks in the frame, loose bolts or screws on any of the mechanisms.

Cleaning and lubricating the chain of your bike will significantly increase its lifespan and will prevent your chain from malfunctioning when you’re out on a ride. First, turn your bike upside down so that it is balanced on the sea and handlebars. Wipe off the grime that has built up on the chain with a rag. If necessary, use a degreaser and a small brush to scrub any remaining residue from between the links, then wipe down the chain once more. Apply a drop of chain lubricant to each chain link while you rotate the pedals.

While you have the lubricant out, also be sure to apply a small amount to the brake levers an derailleurs (the part that moves the chain onto the different sized sprockets to change gears). Also lubricate the brake cables and gear cables to make sure they can move freely and do not freeze up.

Repairs and replacement

Sometimes, in spite of proper care and maintenance you’re going to beed to make some repairs to your bicycle. The most common fixes you’ll need to make are changing flat tires and replacing worn brake pads, and chain issues like a skipping link. Depending on your bicycle, you can often find tutorials online that will help you find the tools you need to make these repairs from home. Otherwise, you could always give business to your local bike shop.