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Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nine Energy-Efficient Fall And Winter Tips

Saving energy is a priority year round, but when the temps start to dip, and those 24-hours-a-day heating bills kick in, finding ways to conserve takes on new urgency. A few tips can make a big difference in keeping your home, your energy usage, and your bank balance, comfortable.

Use the Earths natural heater

In the summer, its all about keeping the heat out by drawing blinds and curtains. But, in the cooler months, using the power of the sun can help you warm your home and keep your heating costs down.

"Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows," said

Check for leaks

Do a walkthrough, looking for spaces where air can be escaping or getting in. The space under, over, and around doors and windows is an obvious spot. Also look for gaps near chimneys, recessed lights, behind and inside cabinets and closets, and around areas where plumbing pipes make contact with walls and other parts of the home. This Old House provides guidance on how to self-check for leaks. Or, you can hire a professional to come do a home energy audit.

Insulate the windows

Light, gauzy window coverings may look great, but they could be contributing to a cold home and a waste of energy, especially on windows that are not receiving direct sunlight. If youve addressed leaks and the area close to your windows still feels cold, insulated drapes should help.

Check your heating system

"Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating system failure," said Huffington Post. "If your heating equipment is more than 10 years old, now is a good time to schedule a season checkup with a licensed contractor to make sure your system is operating at peak performance." You also want to make sure youre regularly checking and changing the air filter - at a minimum of every three months, they said.

Turn down your thermostat

Turning the heat down by 1015 degrees "when you are asleep or out of the house" can save about "10 a year," according to Using a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature when everyone is out of the home is key. But a smart thermostat ups the ante. Our favorite is the Ecobee3, because it features a remote sensor you can put in another room to regulate the temperature throughout the house, as well as a touchscreen that makes using it even easier.


Take a look at your fireplace

A crackling fire may make the room nice and toasty when youre in front of it, but what about when you dont have a fire burning? Keep your "fireplace damper closed at all times unless fire is burning," said Delfera Heating amp; Cooling. "Keeping the damper open causes the warm air to go up the chimney instead of heating your house. If you no longer use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue to ensure maximum energy efficiency."

Lower the temp on your water heater

If you can stand a shower thats not scorching, lower the temperature a bit and youll see a big return. Typical water heating "accounts for about 18 of the energy consumed in your home," according to Turn it down "to the warm setting 120F to save energy," said Delfera.

Dont heat unused spaces

If you have rooms that arent being used all the time, close the vents and shut the doors. This will help the heating system run more efficiently by pushing air only to the spaces that need it.

Consider your holiday lights

If its been a while since you changed out your Christmas lights, it may be time to consider a new approach. "For some, LED lights may be the way to go," said USA Today. Frank Skinner, marketing director for, told them that, "For the most part, all LED lights use up to 90 less electricity than their incandescent counterparts. So right off the bat, there are some savings there with energy.

They may cost a bit more upfront, but will pay off literally in the long run.

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The Benefits for Financing Down Payments and Renovations

Whether youre a professional property developer or a single homeowner, financing your property ambitions comes above all else. Even professional property developers with a proven system of acquiring and renovating homes, condominiums and business properties can run into financing issues.

Weve examined the benefits of financing a higher down payment, purchasing renovations and the cash financing options available for those of you looking to buy and upgrade your home.

Why Save For a Greater Down Payment?

Banks and lenders want low risk scenarios and that ultimately comes down to meeting the required down payment for your mortgage deal, and theyll give you a better deal if you offer a lower risk scenario. Paying an increased down payment comes with a number of fantastic benefits for your financial future. Heres a few key benefits, according to Investopedia;

Reduced Mortgage Payments - Because youve put more cash up front, your monthly payments will be smaller and more manageable

Lower Interest Rates - Lenders will give you a far improved rate since youre deemed a lower risk. Expect interest rates to lower significantly upon 20 down payment.

No Mortgage Insurance Fees - If you cant afford a significant deposit, most mortgage deals will require you to take out mortgage insurance, which will add another 0.5 - 1 interest on top of your existing deal.

Ability to Ride Out Financial Crises - When it comes to a financial crisis, those in most danger of ruin are the ones who have taken out the maximum loan available on the lowest down payment. They have a high interest rate deal and may even face foreclosure.

Why Save For Renovations?

Renovations and upgrades obviously provide that wonderful ability of allowing you to transform your new home into your own dream living space. But aside from that, they can also allow you to significantly improve your homes resale value. Investopedia strongly advise making wise additions to your home that will ultimately boost your bottom line.

According to US News Money, these are the renovations and replacements that will bring the greatest return on investment;

Renovations that bring the greatest percentage return on investment:

  • Entry door replacement: 96.6
  • Deck addition wood: 87.4
  • Attic bedroom: 84.3
  • Garage door replacement: 83.7
  • Minor kitchen remodel: 82.7

Renovations that yield the smallest return:

  • Home office remodel: 48.9
  • Sunroom addition: 51.7
  • Bathroom addition: 60.1
  • Backup power generation: 67.5
  • Master suite addition: 67.5

Financing Options

So now you understand some of the reasons for actually spending more cash on your home But if you dont have a large disposable income, you may need to find a means of financing your purchases.

Saving - Of course, the glaringly obvious method for saving a down payment isnt so straight forward. Thats especially true if youve got student debt, rental payments and bills to pay, with very little disposable income to go towards your downpayment. The internet is a wonderful place however, and fortunately theres a number of down payment saving strategies to help you

Help from your parents amp; family - Its the go to option for many first time home buyers. Loving parents are willing and often able to give you that extra boost in disposable income necessary to make that all important down payment on your first home. Even if you can agree a repayment plan with them, thats going to be far more favourable than turning to a personal loan for financial assistance.

Personal loans - Theres a number of reasonable options for taking out a personal loan - Peer-to-peer lending platforms, car title loans see how car title loans work and credit cards are just some of your options for accessing cash.

Tap your IRA - Theres an exemption for withdrawing up to 10,000 from your IRA for the purpose funding your first home. Its an initiative you should consider if youve got money built up

Hustle - Whether its getting a second job or selling off your unwanted possessions on Ebay and Craigslist, theres nothing like a bit of hustle to increase your bank balance and put you in a more financially secure situation.

Whatever you decide, ensure that youre in a stable situation to make the commitment of purchasing property. After all, the 2008 financial crash was a stark reminder that the property market can be a fickle one.

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Living the High Life: How to Safely Install Tall Window Treatments

High ceilings and tall windows make for a beautiful, roomy space. However, it can be difficult to get your curtains and blinds up on windows that are 10 feet high or more. Install your window treatments safely, and enjoy them for years to come.

Proper Preparation

Like with any installation project, taking the time to prepare for window treatment installation can make all the difference in achieving success. Because taller windows are more difficult to work with, preparation is especially vital.

Make sure that you have the correct tools and hardware to begin your project, along with the provided instructions.

Take the time to understand the components, installation parts and directions before you begin working on your project. Read through the entirety of product instructions, not just the first step, carefully ahead of time.

Measure... twice. Ensure all components will fit the window appropriately by repeating all required measurements. Clearly mark all drill spots and ensure everything is level before making the first hole.

Note where the electrical outlets, switches and vents are located so that they are not obstructed.

Ask a friend for help. Larger shades, blinds and even curtains are especially heavy and cumbersome, so its essential to have another pair of hands.

Ladder Safety

When hanging high window treatments, you will most certainly need a ladder. Dont attempt to stand on items not meant for climbing, such as furniture. Basic ladder safety rules of thumb are as follows:

Ensure that the ladder is tall enough for the job: Overreaching may cause you to lose your balance. Determine whether youll need just a step stool, or if an extension ladder is required.

For taller ladders, keep the "3-point rule" in mind: Have three points of contact on the ladder two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand at all times.

Heed any safety warnings about which rung is the highest to climb: Most ladders warn against stepping on the highest rung.

Keep rungs dry and free of obstructions.

Be aware of weight limits.

Make sure all extensions are locked.

Drill Safety

Most curtain and blind installations will require drilling into the window frame or wall. Operate your drill safely to avoid accidents and mistakes.

When drilling into a wall, use an electronic stud finder to locate studs and any live wires behind the wall.

Use the recommended bit size.

Follow all manufacturer instructions and make sure all bits are properly sharpened and attached correctly.

Wear safety glasses.

Other Safety Concerns

Once youve finished hanging your window treatments, enjoy your finished look with these additional safety tips in mind:

Make the right window covering decisions for your home -- especially by ordering cordless window treatments to keep your children and pets safer. Be sure to install and consistently use all safety features included with your window to use your blinds and shades effectively. Move cribs, beds and other childs furniture away from the window treatments enti>

Flowing or "puddling" curtains can be a tripping hazard. Keep this in mind when choosing the length of your curtains. If you opt for longer curtains for a certain aesthetic, make sure they are not obstructing highly trafficked areas.

Safe installation of window treatments involves using the right tools and hardware, taking careful measurements and following basic safety rules with the tools you use. Get the help and support you need from a friend, and ensure a beautiful outcome.

Katie Laird is the Director of Social Marketing for and a frequent public speaker on Social Media Marketing, Social Customer Care and profitable company culture. An active blogger and early social technology adopter, you can find her online as happykatie sharing home dcor, yoga, parenting and vegetarian cooking tips. To learn more about window treatments like those highlighted in this article, please check out the website.

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