Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

The weather outside is frightful, but if you follow these money-saving tips, you can avoid a scary heating bill this winter:

  • Lower your thermostat. Set it between 68 to 70 degrees when you're home. Lower the temperature at night. If you'll be out of the house for longer than 4 hours, lower the temperature to 62 degrees. Remind everyone to put on a sweater, warm pajamas, and wear slippers or socks. Add an extra blanket or quilt to your beds.
  • Buy a programmable thermostat. A smart thermostat can be set to change the temperature for you and will only set you back about $75-$150.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filters regularly. Inspect them monthly - especially during the colder months.
  • Replace worn weatherstripping around window and doors.
  • Insulate your attic access door.
  • Don’t cover heating registers with furniture or rugs.
  • Set your hot water tank to 120 degrees or lower.
  • Use lower temperatures when washing laundry. Use a cold rinse whenever possible. Empty the lint trap before every dryer cycle. Consider line-drying clothes instead of using the dryer.
  • Open curtains and blinds on sunny winter days to help warm your home, but make sure to close them at night to help keep heat in.
  • Limit use of a gas fireplace.
  • Restrict warm air from unused areas. Close vents and doors to unused rooms.
Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

Water is one of the world's most precious commodities. Whether you're building a new home, have purchased an older home, or are simply trying to cut down on utility bills, there are many measures you can take to conserve water.

  • You know that annoying little drip in the bathroom sink? Did you know it can send up to 20 gallons of water down the drain every single day? If the drip has become a steady little stream, you can multiply that amount by many times. Use high quality fixtures that won't leak. Proper installation is critical. Don't overlook even the smallest of leaks. Take a "Do-It-Yourself" course from a local building supply or plumbing store so you know how to identify problem pipes and fixtures and feel confident in repairing them. (Just think of the money you'll save!)
  • If you suspect the toilet is leaking, try this tip. Remove the lid from the toilet tank and put three or four drops of food coloring in the water there. Wait 30 minutes (don't flush the toilet). If you see color in the bowl, that is an indication that your toilet is losing water and replacing it with water from the tank. Find out where the water is going! Replace any parts that need to be replaced and repeat the test. When building your home, purchase toilets specifically designed to minimize the amount of water they use. Be sure to write down all of the water-saving measures you take in case you decide to sell your home. Conservation efforts will make your home more valuable and easier to sell.
  • Play "Water Detective." Water leaks can be sneaky. You might be using excessive water and not even know it. Turn off all of the water in your house and yard. Record the numbers on your water meter. Wait two hours. The meter should display the same numbers as when you started. If not? You're losing water to a sneaky leak somewhere. Find the culprit and put an end to the waste.
  • If you're building a new home, make it a point to use low-flow faucets and shower heads. If you're trying to make an older home more efficient, install flow restrictors. They are inexpensive and easy to install. Aerators are readily available for faucets. Aerators allow you to adjust the spray volume you need for the task at hand. Aerators may feature a valve to easily reduce the flow of water without turning of the taps or readjusting them. Discuss the concept of water conservation with others living in your home. Carefully review water bills for water usage and plan a reward for significantly reducing the amount of water used each month. Encourage people to take shorter showers, avoid leaving water running needlessly, turn of the water while brushing teeth, etc.
  • Properly adjust your hot water heater and insulate pipes so hot water in the pipes stays hot and is readily available on demand. This will prevent you from having to run the water for an extended period of time to get water from the heater to the faucet.
  • Keep fresh, cold water in the refrigerator. That way, there will be no need to run water for an extended period of time to get it good and cold.
  • Purchase conservation conscious appliances. Even if you don't purchase new appliances, you can save water by making sure you only start appliances with a full load. Use the proper settings for the load you are washing. For example, if you're washing a regular load of dishes, don't use the "Pots and Pans" cycle of your dishwasher. Set your clothes washer to a cycle that requires the fewest rinses.
  • Garbage disposals require the use of running water to rinse food waste down the drain. You can recycle and save water by starting a compost pile. Instead of washing food waste down the drain, turn it into a valuable resource for your garden.