Friday, March 11, 2011

Tips for reducing your energy consumption

Conserving the electricity you use often boils down to what's plugged in. You can generally assume something plugged in is ALWAYS sucking electricity even if it's not in use.  Here are some tips to help you reduce your energy consumption.

Use a power strip for your computer, printers, and other computer equipment. This can protect the devices during electrical surge, and provides an easy way to unplug all those energy sucking electronic devices in one pull.
Electrical appliances, such as toasters and coffee makers, as well as cell phone and other device chargers continue to draw small amount of electricity even when off or not charging. Hence, it is best to unplug them after use.

Do you have a second refrigerator or freezer in the garage?  It may be costing you hundreds year in electricity just to store excess beverages and bulk groceries.

Laptops use less energy than desktops. If your desktop is ready for replacement, consider the versatile laptop.

Other draws on your electric bill are related to heating and cooling your house. Keeping your heating and cooling units clean and maintained will save money on energy.  If your furnace or AC unit are older, getting them replaced with an Energy Star until maybe a good return on your investment.

This is not a comprehensive list, just a few points to get you thinking about your energy usage.  There are books you can buy that dig deep into this topic. If you want a full professional evaluation, get an energy audit.  Some utility companies will offer them for free and some states will reimburse you the cost if you have to pay.

Happy conserving!
Check out more ways to GO GREEN!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Single buyers: Know this!

Single Homeownership is Awesome ... If You Consider This...

When I bought my first home, I was a single female.  I was living in an apartment with a friend. I had a car and had a career.  I had no pets.  I could do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. One day, someone said to me, "what's next; marriage or a house?" and they chuckled.  But that got me thinking.

I'm not anywhere near getting married so I guess I should look into buying a house.  But where do I start?

So I talked to an agent, who referred me to a lender and I'll leave the rest of the story for another time but what I want to go back to for this story were things I kinda figured out along the way instead of in advance.

Show me the money!

The first thing you should ask yourself is how much have you saved up for a downpayment and closing costs to purchase a home. 5%? 10%? 20%? This affects your purchasing power so it's the first consideration.

Credit? Debit?

These things affect your ability to get a loan.  In many cases, you can improve your credit score in just 3-6 months with help... all while saving up more down payment for buying your home. :)

Financially feasible.

Work backwards from your existing monthly budget, not the amount of the loan you are approved for with the lender.
Once you know your comfortable mortgage payments plus monthly expense budget ask yourself these questions:
1) If I lose a job, have a health issue, or anything else happens that could affect your ability to cover your monthly mortgage and other costs, do I have savings or a back up plan to make the payments?
2) Am I willing to have a roommate?

I am a grown up.

Once you have thought out the financials, now you can think about the responsibilities of owning a home.
Who's gonna mow the grass? Plow the snow? Who's responsible for maintenance? Do you even own a shovel or a screwdriver? If you cringe when you hear these things, you may want to consider a home in an association like a townhouse or condo.  Don't buy a home you can't manage yourself.

Location, location, location.

Look out for your safety and security. Consider proximity to work, friends and family. What neighborhoods can you afford? How is the lighting at night? Is the parking attached? Is the bedroom on ground floor?  What concerns you?


OK, so how single are you?  Is this a property you would keep long term or need to sell if your relationship status changed?  Are you in your job for the long haul or could you be relocated in a year?
Purchasing a home is generally a great long-term investment but if there is a chance it's not long term, make sure to only consider homes that have great general appeal and will be easy to resell (or rent) if need be.

You got all that? EXCELLENT!
Still need more guidance? NO PROBLEM!

I can help you either way. :-) 

If your friends are like mine were, they are going to envy your financial responsibility.  Your savvy investment in a home and paying your own mortgage instead of someone else's is going to have your family impressed!  Aren't you excited about saying "want to come to my house?" and knowing it's YOURS! 

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