How to Save on Power Bills this Summer

As we move into the dog days of summer, Georgia Power offers some helpful tips to stay cool and save on energy bills.

Keeping cool

  • During the summer, the air conditioner is usually the biggest user of electricity. For many homes, it accounts for more than half of the summer electric bill.
  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher and leave it there. For every degree below that setting, you’ll use 3 percent to 4 percent more electricity.
  • Set the thermostat even higher when at work or away from home for long periods of time, but no more than five degrees higher.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts your home’s temperature to your schedule so you’re comfortable when at home and save energy while away.
  • Change or clean your air conditioner filter regularly to maximize the unit’s cooling potential. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.
  • Check your windows and doors for a tight fit. Apply weather stripping or caulking if needed.
  • Use fans whenever possible. Ceiling fans can make the air in a room feel 6 degrees cooler and allow you to save energy. However, remember to turn them off when you’re not in the room.

Proper insulation

  • Increasing attic insulation can reduce heat loss/heat gain by up to 28 percent.
  • Insulation is measured in R-value, which is a measure of resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation value.
  • Experts recommend you use an R-value of R-30 or higher, depending on local energy codes, in ceiling areas.

In the kitchen

  • Try to use the range instead of the oven. Or better yet, turn on the microwave or use a pressure cooker. Both use less power than a standard electric range.
  • Whenever possible, cook a lot of meals at the same time. This uses less energy than cooking each meal separately.

Using the refrigerator

  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Check them by closing a piece of paper in the door, half in and half out. If you can pull the paper out easily, you may need to make some adjustments or replace the seal.
  • Set the refrigerator thermostat between 35 and 38 degrees, and your freezer at zero degrees.

Clothes washer/dishwasher

  • Turn down your water-heater thermostat. A setting of 120 degrees is adequate for most homes and will save money and energy.
  • When using the dishwasher, turn off the drying cycle if you don’t need the dishes right away.
  • Run the dishwasher, dryer and stove in the morning or after the sun goes down to avoid adding heat to your house during the hottest part of the day.
  • Wait until the dishwasher is full before running it. Partial loads use just as much water and power as a full load.
  • Dry clothes in consecutive loads so the dryer does not have to reheat every time. Always clean the lint filter after each load.

Source: Georgia Power

Have you ever thought about selling real estate?

Looking for something new in your life? Tired of the 9 to 5? Claustrophobic from your cubicle? Out of work? Image

Come to Atria’s in Wexford on Wednesday, June 20th from 7 – 8:30 p.m., enjoy some refreshment and learn about a great opportunity to work with Prudential Preferred.

Real estate is booming in the ‘burgh and you could be a part of it! R.S.V.P. to Judy 412.833.7700 ext 269

Kick Start A Career in Real Estate

Pittsburgh career in real estateLooking to jumps start your career? We can help you be successful selling real estate!
Discover the key to your future. A career in real estate will afford you the freedom and flexibility not commonly found in most nine to five careers. This type of independence has its rewards, namely job satisfaction and the opportunity for outstanding financing success. As a real estate agent, you are rewarded in direct proportion to your efforts, there is no limit on how much you can achieve. Your own entrepreneurial goals to have your own business can be achieve.

 

Refinancing 101

Refinancing tipsMany homeowners have heard the term refinancing, but not all thoroughly understand what it means, or when it is appropriate. Thinking about refinancing but not sure what it involves?  We put together some of the basics for you to see if refinancing is really for you.

What is refinancing?
Refinancing your home is when you pay off an old loan, and take out a new one. Refinancing is a sensible decision when you can take out a new mortgage with a lower interest rate.

What do you need?
There are a handful of things that are generally required to refinance your home. These include a steady income, home equity, and a good credit rating. Refinancing is essentially applying for a mortgage all over again, so be prepared for any accompanying costs and be sure you can afford them.

When is a good time?
Refinance your home when mortgage interest rates are low. Refinancing is only sensible if you can get a new loan that is at least two points below your current loan rate, who goes on to warn that when refinancing, you will have to pay all closing costs that go along with getting a new mortgage. If you can’t afford this, or your new loan rate is not two points below your current, then it may be better to choose a different financing option.

Other reasons to refinance include shortening the term of the mortgage to build equity faster, lowering monthly payments or switching from an adjustable rate to a fixed-rate mortgage.

Additionally, suggests that you don’t refinance if you plan on selling your home within five years, as refinancing can cost around 2 percent to 3 percent of the total loan amount. If you aren’t planning to stay in your home for long, the costs you take on to refinance may outweigh your monthly savings.

Don’t forget, if you plan on staying in your home for a long time, and mortgage rates are on a downward trend, you can refinance multiple times.

Refinancing can be a great way to save money or speed up the process of equity building. However, talk it over with your lender each time you are thinking of refinancing, to be sure it is financially feasible for you and your family.

If you think this may be a good time for you to refiance, get your application started online with PA Preferred Mortgage.

Today Show Spotlights A Pittsburgh Home As One of Hottest Buys Under $250,000

140 Laurel Avenue - Ben Avon - $219,900“What do you get for under $250,000?” A great four bedroom home in Ben Avon according to Barbara Corcoran, real estate contributor for the Today Show.

Recently, the Prudential Preferred Realty listing 140 Laurel Avenue in Ben Avon was featured on the Today Show segment “Hottest real estate under $250,000″.

Here is what Today real estate contributor Barbara Corcoran had to say about this four bedroom home listed at $219,900.

“This is a neighborhood on the Ohio river, just eight miles from downtown Pittsburgh. this is a 1910 gem that fits right in. The whole neighborhood has houses like this.

The entry has turned staircase with original wood he details. The living room has a gas log fireplace with a mirrored mantel and a brand-new joint job that sets off the white trim. the dining room has wood floors, and a built in china cabinet. The kitchen has been updated with tile floor and a back splash and the courtyard has a cabana and a stone wall planting bed which a lot of people like. Easy to reach, all surrounded by a tall, wood privacy fence.”

For more information on this home please visit our website to contact the listing agent.

Spring Cleaning the Anti-Martha Way

Spring Cleaning TipsMartha Stewart spring cleans like a pro — because she is a pro. But the rest of us seek an easier way. Welcome to The Anti-Martha Stewart Spring Cleaning Guide.

For the record, we love Martha Stewart. She has elevated housekeeping to high art, which protects home values. Martha’s taught us the devil is in the details, and that even mundane chores can be tackled with grace, diligence, and elbow-high rubber gloves.

That said, spring is here, and cleaning is required. But who’s got the time or energy to rip apart every square inch of the house? When we saw a Martha blog that suggested cleaning our kitchen range in only 22 steps, we threw in the towel and shouted, “Get real!”

Then, we created our Anti-Martha Stewart Spring Cleaning Guide, acknowledging that top-to-bottom cleaning is a good idea, but nobody’s idea of a good time.

Except for Martha. Almost 30 years ago, when I was a cub reporter in Westport, Conn., I interviewed Martha at her Turkey Hill estate there. Then, she was a fabulous local caterer about to hit the big time with her book, “Entertaining.” She gave me a tour of her place – the Federal-style house, glorious gardens, chicken coop — and was appalled to hear I had never eaten an egg fresh from a chicken’s butt.

She straightaway gathered powder blue eggs with brown spots, walked them back to the best-appointed kitchen I’d ever seen, and whipped up the best omelet I’d ever eaten.

Lesson learned: Effort bears fruit (or eggs).

But days have only 24 hours, and work, family, and the tyranny of getting in 10,000 steps makes spring cleaning Martha-style merely a fantasy for most of us. So, we created our own get-real guide.

Our guide is all about time-savers and corner-cutters. Our advice:

•Don’t scrub when a good soak will do.

•Take small bites out of large tasks: If you live long enough, you’ll get it clean.

•Invest in white vinegar companies, because vinegar is the one cleaner you can’t do without.

•If a machine can clean it better and faster, buy it or rent it.

 

But seriously, folks. Here’s a little preview of our guide.

Shower heads: A warm white vinegar bath will get rid of mineral deposits.

Windows: Use coffee filters or microfiber cloths instead of paper towels to wash windows and avoid streaks.

Patio furniture: Vacuum wicker furniture with an upholstery attachment.

Primo declutter tip: Get rid of “fat clothes” first, which make you feel bad about your body.

 

Hey, we’ve got a million of these. Martha, we’re sure, is shaking her head in dismay. But we’re sure our guide will help you get clean in spring and still have time to enjoy the season.

And that’s a good thing.

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Article From HouseLogic.com

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: March 29, 2012

Use Tax Season to Organize for the Future

Tax season is the perfect time to stash all your financial records, making future financial matters much easier. But what records do you keep? Many people are confused about what records they need to keep and for how long. They hold onto tax returns, bank records, brokerage statements and other financial information simply because they don’t know if they’ll need it again.

“Most people are going through their records to get ready to file their return,” says financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning, “This is the time to get smart about what you need to keep and then set up a system to store it efficiently going forward.”

Rodgers suggests these five steps to help you effectively organize your finances for 2012 and beyond:

1. Out with the old – Discard the records you no longer need: Tax returns older than seven years; bank records and credit card statements that are not related to the tax returns you’re keeping; brokerage statements that aren’t related to purchases of current holdings. Be sure to shred all your old documents before throwing them out.

2. Go digital – Convert the documents you plan to save into digital images that are stored on your hard drive. Invest in a good scanner and scan as you go through your paperwork, shredding and tossing the hard copies as you go. On your computer, file by tax year, so your 2011 folder will contain your tax return for 2011 and all pertinent bank records and receipts. Organize the previous six years the same way. Next year you can delete the oldest folder when you add the 2012 folder.

3. Save a forest – All of the financial institutions you deal with would prefer to send your statements electronically. Stop receiving paper statements. Instead, download your statements electronically and store them in your new filing system. Most banks and credit card companies keep at least a year’s worth of statements available. You need to download these files only once a year to complete the year’s file.

4. Save backups in case of emergency – Make backup copies of your files on a CD or DVD so that if something happens to your computer you have a back up of the files.

5. Go paperless – Your new electronic filing system can be expanded to include all your financial records, from car maintenance receipts to pay stubs. Wills and insurance policies can also be scanned and stored but, of course, keep the originals of those in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe.

Gone are the days of saving your financial documents in a box and shoving it into the attic. Technology advances have made organizing your personal finances easier with minimal cost. Make 2012 the year you get organized by moving your finances into a 21st century filing system.

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Certified Financial Planner Rick Rodgers is president of Rodgers & Associates, “The Retirement Specialists,” in Lancaster, Pa. For more information, visit http://www.TheNewThreeLeggedStool.com or http://www.rodgersspeaks.com.