We’re officially in the midst of the summer, and it’s looking like it’s going to be hot. Most indicators point to a hotter-than-average summer in fact. This is paired with the fact that consumers in the U.S. are dealing with the highest inflation in 40 years. We’re paying more for everything, including energy costs.
In May this year, energy costs were almost 35% higher than the previous year, with fuel oil and gas contributing the most to these increases.
Energy service costs are 16% more yearly, and electricity is 12% higher. It’s not going to be easy to stay cool this summer, so below are eight ways you can work on lowering your energy bills.
1. Get a Checkup for Your Air Conditioner
The better shape you’re A/C is in, the more efficient it will be. For example, clearing out a clogged unit filter can save you 5-15% energy usage. Your unit will function better for longer, so you can save on a replacement by extending its lifespan. Call a professional to service your unit.
2. Use Fans
Fans use about 1/60th the energy of your air conditioner. If you have any ceiling fans in your house, turn them on. You can save up to 40% on your electricity costs. Fans don’t cool the air like your A/C but pull body heat away from your skin. You can use your fans and your air conditioning to raise the thermostat a couple of degrees but still feel comfortable.
3. Check Your Laundry
Heating your water makes up around 18% of the energy you consume in your home.
When you’re doing laundry, first of all, make sure you’re doing full loads. You can do laundry less often. When you do end up doing loads, use cold water. You can also hang dry once in a while and save on your energy bills.
4. Don’t Use As Much Electricity During Peak Hours
Energy companies charge customers more for using electricity during what they define as peak hours. Peak hours are the times of day when demand is highest. You'll lower your monthly energy bills if you can schedule your energy use around these hours and use most of it during off-peak hours.
Off-peak hours are late night or early morning.
If it’s an especially hot day, usually when the temperature outside is more than 90 degrees, you might wait until after 6 p.m. to wash the dishes, cook or do laundry.
5. Shut Doors and Vents
If you’re at home, close the doors to rooms you’re not using. You should also close the A/C vents in those rooms, which will help your system operate more efficiently.
If you’re not wasting energy cooling those rooms no one’s in, then it’ll require less energy for you to stay comfortable.
6. Keep Your Blinds or Curtains Closed
During the day, when the sun is at its hottest and brightest, keep your blinds closed, particularly in parts of the home that get the most direct sunlight.
7. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are a great tool to make your home more energy-efficient and lower your bills. When you program your thermostat, you can set it for when you won’t be home or when you’ll be asleep. During those programmed times, it’ll set the temperature accordingly, so you’re not always having to make adjustments.
The Nest is a popular option for programmable thermostats, and according to the company, it can reduce your electric bills by as much as 20%.
8. Use LED Bulbs
Finally, if you have any incandescent bulbs in your house, it’s time to switch to LED. Incandescent bulbs are incredibly inefficient. Only around 10-15% of these bulbs' electricity is turned into light. The rest becomes wasted heat.
LED lights, by contrast, use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer. They also run cooler.
This is sure to touch a nerve, I have an uncanny ability to do that. It simply comes from telling the truth which, I am convinced, people are not accustomed to. I see so many agents running frantically and spending thousands of dollars on lead generation tools, systems sites etc. However the majority of it is in vain.
Allow me to explain.
See, there are roughly 50 million leads generated yearly but about 5 million homes sold. So, there are about 45 million leads that are either duplicated, bad, or whatever. According to NAR, roughly 8% of Buyers and 5% of sellers found their agent online.
Compare this too, 60% of buyers and 73% of sellers who worked with the agent in the past, were referred or knew their agent.
Read that again to understand this next point.
If the majority of your business is through referral, past clients, and SOI, why are the masses investing so much time chasing the online leads.
I have a theory. It is simply that they do not know what else to do. It is easy, put your credit card in and BOOM, leads start to populate. The same bloody leads that dozens of others are getting. Do you see it, you spend money to get leads, the same lead that opt’s in here or were tracked by their activity and now some latest system picks it up and identifies them as a LEAD.
Then this is where Speed to lead comes in. Oh the anxiety of never being able to shut it off.
With relational marketing, it is slower, methodical, and intentional. You simply nurture your relationships, stay in touch, and put on some events to mingle with one another. It seems much easier, so why don’t more people focus heavily here.
I think it comes down to immediate results. With online leads, you can have some level of immediate results, or well…ahhh you become busy. I focus on being Productive. Whereas it can take some time to build by referral.
I do believe that the majority are also Transactional Minded. They simply take the transaction and move on to the next. Never build deep relationships.
Also, it can be that they simply do not know what or how to build a relational business.
My friend Ricky Carruth is a popular coach with a massive following. He preaches Relationships and Relational Marketing and I agree with him. But again, people may be uncomfortable with asking for business or trying to build relationships.
This is one of the main reasons I created Explore My Town.
First, it is video based and since the entire world is going video-based, even Facebook, it makes sense to utilize the most popular medium.
Second, because you are making videos you can send them out to your clients with a weekly newsletter. My friend Keith taught me this and he does millions in production per year from his weekly video newsletter.
Third, the core of the methodology is B to B networking so you are equipped with a powerful way to build relationships in the community.
Couple this with scripting, editing and managed retargeting ads, and you will be seen as an influential leader of the community.
So there you have it. Why Relational Marketing over Traditional Lead Generation, and How to do it.
No matter what you do, start today building referrals and using video to do it. If you get jammed up, we are here to help.
It might seem obvious at first about what a credit inquiry is. Someone checks up on a credit report. When someone does indeed look up someone's credit, the request is listed on the report as an inquiry. Easy enough, right? But there are different types of credit inquiries. Credit inquiries can be listed as 'hard' or 'soft'. What's the difference?
A hard inquiry is when a consumer makes a new request for some type of loan. When someone applies for an automobile loan, that inquiry is then noted on the report. A soft credit inquiry is when a potential creditor looks into your credit report to see if you might be eligible for a new credit card or auto loan.
How do inquiries affect someone's credit score? It depends. If someone is looking around for the best auto loan, they will make multiple inquiries. When applying for the same type of loan over a limited period of time, there are no negative impacts. On the other hand, when making a request for a new credit card and then another credit card and then an automobile loan, you can expect credit scores to begin to fall. If the requests occur over a relatively short period of time, there will be no impact. If multiple credit requests are spread out over say six months, there can be an impact.
Multiple hard inquiries can signal to a lender the applicant might be falling on some hard times and multiple credit accounts are needed just in order to pay the bills. This will alert a potential creditor that certain new financial instances are occurring, giving the potential lender pause.
Consumers can also check the status of their personal credit scores by logging onto the annualcreditreport.com app. This is a free service provided by the three main credit reporting bureaus. This is considered an inquiry but not a hard one and won't affect credit scores.
Lenders will also ask a few questions about an inquiry when one is listed but no account taken out. Because most creditors report information once every 30 days, it's possible an inquiry will show up but the fact that the new auto loan is $600 won't show up until the reporting period. That's why lenders can ask for an explanation as to why an inquiry showed up on the report. This is for hard inquiries only. Again, softies won't matter.
Consumers shouldn't freak out if they make a new credit request and their scores will plummet. They won't. It's the repeated requests over a short period of time for different types of credit that will cause scores to fall. A car loan application and then a new credit card app won't be that big of a deal. Scores can be damaged however if multiple requests are made for various types of credit including department store cards, gas cards and others.
When we talk about urban gardening, it can broadly mean one of two things. The first might be a community garden. Many nonprofits and neighborhood organizations will launch community gardens in urban areas where people can work and share in the produce that grows there.
For our purposes, we’re talking about something more like container gardening. If you live in an urban area, such as in an apartment, you can still benefit from having a garden, even if it’s on a smaller scale. You can grow vegetables, herbs and more, and enjoy getting fresh air. Container gardening is also good for your mental health and can give you a sense of accomplishment.
The following are some of the general things to know as you get started.
If you’re in an urban area, you’ll need some space for a container garden.
You have some different options.
If you have a townhouse or condo, you might have some outdoor space that’s in-ground. You’ll need to check with your board or HOA to make sure you can plant a small garden.
Flower pots or hanging baskets are another option, and they’re portable, so you can put them on a balcony or patio, and if you need, move them inside, at least temporarily.
There’s also something trendy right now for urban dwellers, which is hydroponic gardening.
Some creative companies offer self-fertilizing stands so you can grow food, and they’re self-watering, so it’s the ultimate convenience.
If you go with this option, you’ll need to add water to the reservoir weekly and add nutrients. You’ll also need to make sure the pH stays appropriately adjusted.
Since these gardens go upward instead of out, you’re saving valuable floor space, which in an apartment or condo can be crucial.
Decide What You’ll Grow
Some things are better suited to container and urban gardening than others. For example, herbs are great, like mint, basil and sage.
Different types of lettuce and tomatoes can also be well-suited to containers.
If you buy a hydroponic gardening kit, some companies offer hundreds of pre-sprouted seedlings, so you might find that you can grow cucumbers, eggplants and even strawberries.
Peppers grow well in limited spaces, including bell peppers, jalapenos and habaneros. Zucchini and squash are suitable for a balcony garden but don’t overplant because they can end up producing pounds of vegetables. Cumbers spread, and the vines will grow around your balcony, which you might like the look of.
If you’re not using a hydroponic kit, be careful about how much you plant in any one container. If you plant too much, then it may stunt the growth of your plants.
A pot that’s anywhere from 10-12 inches can usually hold three to four plants. A pot that’s 14 to 16 inches can hold five to seven, and a 16-to-20-inch pot can hold six to nine plants.
When you’re choosing what to grow, you want to make sure each of the plants you choose will be a good neighbor with the others. For example, if you combine plants that have different sunlight needs in the same pot, then some will suffer.
Make Sure Your Containers Have Drainage
If you’re growing plants in pots, make sure you drill holes for drainage if they don’t already have that. You’ll also have to put something below the container to catch the excess drainage water.
Finally, when you’re planning your urban or container garden, you’ll have to think about sunlight. Most plants need anywhere from 7 to 12 hours of sun a day and that’s especially true of herbs and fruiting vegetables. If you don’t think you’re going to be able to get that much light, then you might want to grow something like chard or spinach, both of which tolerate shade well.
Carefully read your seed packets or tags, and save them if you forget and need to refer back.
If the label says a plant needs full sun, that means between 6 and 8 hours of sun a day.
Partial sun is between 4 and 6 hours of sun a day, and shade usually means less than four hours of direct sunlight a day and filtered sun the rest of the time.
If you’re going to move your containers inside during the winter, you can use plant grow lights, which simulate the effects of the sun and are excellent in an urban environment.
As a designer, she'd helped others move. But her own move proved a bigger challenge
It's been said that moving is one of life's most traumatic events, right up there with switching jobs and losing a loved one. Having experienced all three - and having just recently moved with a toddler in tow - I can honestly confirm that, yep, moving is pretty stressful.
We decided to move when our rent rose higher than what we were willing to pay for our apartment.
If you're getting ready to renovate, or just thinking about a few possibilities, you've got some decisions to make. Some of them may be easy (like finally getting rid of that mustard yellow paint, perhaps). But some will require you to search within - and within your wallet!
Tile or wood
If you're redoing your floors, you're probably in the middle of this debate. The growth of wood-look tile has only made the decision more difficult because
Many of us hold off on doing any renovations or updates to our home because we don't want to spend the money. Oftentimes, those updates don't happen until we're getting ready to sell our house - which is sad, because it means you don't get to enjoy the updates yourself. When it comes to the master bath, it's often the last place that gets done, period, because we so often focus on kitchens and spaces that guests more commonly see. But, you deserve to luxuriate in that sparkling new tub and
Most loan applications submitted in today's environment are underwritten electronically. The loan application is run through an automated underwriting system and within moments a decision is reached. The wording will either be 'approved/eligible' or 'approve ineligible.' The eligible part indicates the file is eligible to be sold in the secondary market. When a loan falls outside of the approved/eligible, the loan can still be reviewed with a 'manual' underwrite.
Question: Our board is concerned about some of the structural changes made by owners like cutting concrete foundations, moving walls and plumbing modifications that tie into the main lines. Is there a statute of limitations to bring action against an owner for illegal or unapproved modifications?
Answer: Every HOA needs a policy for architectural changes. That policy should require proper engineering and permitting. If your HOA is comprised of