Getting the Most Out of Your Central Heating

Getting the Most Out of Your Central Heating

We all like to be comfortable in our homes; unfortunately, constantly running heat and air conditioning can put a significant dent in our wallets. Many people think heating or cooling a house is an all-or-nothing game, but there are actually plenty of ways to make sure your house stays at a comfortable temperature without spending hundreds on your monthly heating bill.

Part of the process requires consistent maintenance of your heating system, but the other part is far easier—it involves simple choices you can make to save on your heating bill.

Routine Maintenance

Whether you’re talking about a car, a computer, or an HVAC system, nearly everything works better with consistent maintenance. There are plenty of steps you can take to maintain your central heating system, and many of them can save you money on your heating bill.

The first thing you should do is make sure you have a good air filter. The higher the MERV rating on your air filter, the more contaminants it’s trapping. This is essential to maintaining indoor air quality and a comfortable temperature.

Speaking of air filters, you should make sure you replace yours every 90 days. As more and more air passes through an air filter, contaminants get trapped and impede airflow. Keeping your filter clean not only allows for more air to pass through, it also keeps the air you breathe free of harmful irritants.

You should also make sure your outdoor units have space to breathe. Keep leaves, pollen and grass away from your outdoor units, and make sure they have a few feet of space around them for airflow. As the winter months approach and it’s time to shut off the A/C, you should replace the furnace humidifier filter and turn the water (which you should have turned off in the summer) back on.

Inspecting the condensate drain and clearing it every now and then will help prolong the life of your heating and cooling unit. Lastly, you should occasionally make sure your HVAC unit is on level ground to promote proper drainage. Although these tasks relate more to the A/C, they’re an important part of prolonging the life of your system in general. If you aren’t comfortable performing this maintenance yourself, get help from a trusted HVAC company.

Be Vigilant

One of the easiest ways to save big on your heating bill is to become more vigilant about when and how you heat your home. This includes letting the temperature drop a bit when you’re away from home and promoting proper airflow when the heater is on.

When you’re not at home, you don’t need to keep your house at a cozy 70 degrees F. Each morning before you leave for work, turn your thermostat down a few degrees for the duration of the day. When you get home, you can turn it back up to your desired temperature and relax. A smart thermostat that connects to your smartphone allows you to change the temperature when you’re not at home, which means you can set it to your desired temperature and let it heat up as you drive home. If you don’t mind bundling up, choosing a sweater over those extra few degrees of heat can provide significant savings, too.

Fans are one of the most overlooked money-saving tools when it comes to heating your home. Fans simply promote airflow—nothing more, nothing less. By turning a ceiling fan on (set to the winter setting), you can spread heat throughout your home and save on your heating bill. Heating a home is always going to cost you, but it doesn’t have to be a fortune. Follow these simple tips and you can significantly lower your heating bill.

Some of the Best Neighborhoods Found in Miami

Some of the Best Neighborhoods Found in Miami

Miami is an amazing city and it is no surprise, therefore, that property and neighborhood development company Terra Group is so focused on it. It is known as the “Magic City”, and it attracts people from all over the world. Because of that, however, space is running out and this has given rise to condos that are built vertically. For many, living in Miami is about living at the beach, but there are other neighborhoods as well. What the Terra Group wants to do, meanwhile, is build sustainable communities all across South Florida. Hence, they have developed a list of the best neighborhoods in Miami, in which they may be able to achieve that.

Miami’s Best Neighborhoods

Brickell is perhaps the best part of Miami. It is home to beautiful and luxurious towers, with chic condos like the Plaza, Icon Brickell, and the Santa Maria. Brickell is not found right on the beach, but it is just a few minutes’ drive away. What makes Brickell so interesting, however, is that it is an elegant and cosmopolitan area that is now seen by many as “Manhattan with better weather”. It is a trendy place, with equally trendy nightlife.

Then, there is downtown Miami. Only recently has this been redeveloped to include true high quality architecture. The Quantum on the Bay is one of the newest high rise buildings there, as is Ten Museum Park, One Miami condos, and 900 Biscayne Bay. Here, people can enjoy upscale living but in the heart of the city itself.

South Beach is also home to various luxury condos. The Murano, the Icon South Beach, and the Continuum are just some examples of this. The truly upmarket condos are close to the ocean and within walking distance of the restaurants and the famous nightlife. They all look over downtown Miami and/or the Biscayne Bay. People from all over the world try to get a second home here, not in the least because it is so pedestrianized as well.

Miami Beach is to the north. This is perhaps the best place for those who like to be on the oceanfront. The Bath Club and Mei Miami Beach are just two examples of fantastic opportunities that are available there. Close to the see, at Bay Harbour Island or Biscayne Points and other parts of North Miami Beach, you will find some of the most elegant homes.

Finally, there is Sunny Isles Beach, an upmarket oceanfront neighborhood. The luxury high rise buildings here, such as the Jade Beach and Jade Ocean, are famous the world over. It is incredibly luxurious, offering true five star living. It is home to Trump Royale, for instance. Beachfront properties here are within walking distance of shopping facilities such as the exclusive Bal Harbour Shops and the Aventura Mall. In fact, many consider it the best place to live in South Florida, and it is just a 20 minute community to downtown Miami and South Beach as well.

Things to consider when doing DIY

Things to consider when doing DIY

For some people, a DIY attitude comes naturally to them. They see a crack in their wall, or even their neighbours and they don’t hesitate to get their equipment ready and fix it themselves. If there is no problem then, they will come up with a new job to occupy themselves such as making a small vegetable garden or planning an extension to the house. A lot of the time these can become long, uncompleted tasks and simply turn into hobbies rather than necessary jobs, but for others they work out incredibly well. It is when you see these completed tasks that you become a little disappointed that you didn’t do it yourself. You lack the motivation, the know how or the time. There are many benefits to DIY, in either short or long projects and we are going to look at some of those here to give you that added motivation.

You are not alone:

When you start out on your project, remember you are not alone. Everyone started somewhere especially in fields they hadn’t a clue about. Plan, make sure the project isn’t too big and gather some equipment and knowledge online. You will learn what you are capable of and what you are not and then you can bring this into future projects.

Do a little research:

Before you carry out an DIY projects ensure you do a little research. On larger projects, especially around your property you must ensure that you can carry out the work that you want to and that it can be down in a safe manner. Possibly there are building restrictions in your area which means you can’t carry out work. There might be cables or pipes within your work area that could affect your project.

If you don’t have a background in the field there are plenty of online resources and books which you can use as guides. Ensure they are from reputable sources and this will make your project easier to organise and carry out in a much faster manner.

There is always professional help:

There is always a possibly that you won’t have the skills to carry out the project to its completion or the time. It is then always important to remember that you can call on professionals to help. Companies such as Gordon powers can come in at any time and help with your electrical issues and then you can continue with you project. If you don’t feel up to it any more then there are a host of other that you can hire in to do the job.

Carrying out your own personal DIY project is always a great way to stay motivated and keep yourself busy when you are at home or in an otherwise boring situation. You get to learn some new skills, have the satisfaction of completing the job your side and you won’t be able to blame anybody else for the failures. Remember to always, research carry it out in a safe manner and call on the professionals when necessary.

Easy home improvements for DIY novices

Easy home improvements for DIY novices

Home refurbishments are a great way to give your home a new lease on life, but the expense of hiring decorators can be a huge turn-off. For many, the idea of DIY as an alternative is just as unappealing.

Thankfully, there is a way to get the best of both worlds. Following these simple guidelines, you can transform your home at minimal expense with some DIY that even the biggest novice will find easy and enjoyable: 

Mood lighting

Adding a couple of free-standing lighting fixtures can help turn any room into a new space or at least one that looks new.

Budget versions of stylish floor uplighters and lamps can be picked up from “big box” home decor stores. The best part is, there is absolutely zero effort or electrical knowledge required to install them. Simply unbox, assemble and plug into the wall.

These simple and affordable lighting fixtures can be a great addition to a room that doesn’t get much natural light. They can also be moved around the room to ensure that they have the optimal desired effect with no electrician’s bill in sight. 

Repainting

There’s no end to the benefits that a new coat of paint can bring to a room. While professional painters will surely disagree, it’s a job that can be done well by simply following a few simple guidelines, so there really isn’t any excuse for putting up with drab or worn-out paint jobs.

The key to selecting an appropriate color is to go for a neutral shade. While it may be tempting to add in a feature wall, you may regret this at a later date if fashions change or you decide to change your furniture. So, opt for a gray, off-white or perhaps a “fashion-neutral” navy (be sure to only use dark neutrals such as charcoal and navy in rooms with plenty of natural light).

Hanging pictures

Does your home look like you live in it, or does it just look like somebody lives in it? The key to making any space your own is to include plenty of personal photos of loved ones or artwork that means something to you.

Hanging photos of friends, family and places that you’ve traveled to is a simple and cheap way to bring a room to life. The best part is, it requires no DIY skills whatsoever.

Choose some sentimental photographs from Facebook and print them out on high-quality black-and-white photographic paper. This can be done cheaply at any copy shop and at many “big box” department stores. Because black and white are neutral colors, your photos will have a classic look that complements any room.

The frames are an easy win, too. Just look out for the correct-sized frames at yard sales and charity stores. Remember to stick with frames that are neutral in color and simple in design.

Ladder shelving units

Ladder shelving units are on-trend at the moment. This is why you’ll see them in stylish city cafes and restaurants and in virtually every home décor store.

If you want to get in on the trend, then consider adding a set of ladder shelves to your bedroom, living room or dining room. Assembly is as simple as putting up a normal ladder, which virtually anyone can do, and you can include ornaments on the shelves themselves to suit any room.

The DIY versions of shelving ladder units require a little more assembly but will spare you the inflated fees that boutique stores often charge for very similar items.

Be aware that these units will have their own shelf life, so may start to look a little dated in a few years’ time.

Window shutters

Shutters may not be the first thing that come to mind when thinking of easy DIY projects. but there are DIY shutters available that won’t break the bank. They also look great and take no time to install.

Most importantly, a new set of window shutters will give any room in your home a fresh new exotic feel. On a practical level, they’re ideal for keeping out the summer sun.

Get back to nature

Greenery is always in fashion. So, why not add some to your home? Aside from the mental and physical health benefits that plants can bring to a home, they can also change the look and feel of a room entirely. They can also be picked up from a garden store relatively inexpensively and require no DIY skills at all.

Avoiding a Foreclosure Through Forbearance – Pros and Cons

Avoiding a Foreclosure Through Forbearance – Pros and Cons

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A lot of people hope that a forbearance agreement can help them to avoid foreclosure, and it often can. However, it should not be seen as an easy way out of a difficult situation. In fact, if you are facing foreclosure and you want to consider a forbearance agreement, do make sure you speak to a specialist like Stephen Buzzi first, so that you increase your understanding of what it is, whether it is right for you, and whether or not you can comply with the terms.

How Can a Forbearance Agreement Help?

Essentially, under this agreement, you will be able to receive special terms on your loan for a set period of time, usually no more than three months (although extenuating circumstances can increase this to a year). After that period of time, your normal payments will return, with an increase to pay back the payments you have missed.

Essentially, this agreement gives you a little bit of breathing space to your finances back in order. At the same time, however, it is very risky because, once your term is up, your payments will increase, and often substantially so. If, once your forbearance agreement is up, you cannot make the new repayments at any point, the lender will be able to proceed with foreclosure.

Another issue that you have to be aware of, is that your foreclosure agreement will be reported to the credit bureaus, and it will look as if you have been delinquent on your payments. Hence, your credit score will be negatively affected. Should your rating already be less than perfect, you could find yourself in a high risk category. While this may not seem so big of an issue now, if you were to find yourself with further difficulties at a later stage, you will struggle to find any help suitable for you, including foreclosure prevention.

Furthermore, forbearance agreements impact your escrow. This means it also impacts your property taxes and your insurance. Every installment, some money is placed into escrow to ensure annual expenses are met. Should you have a forbearance agreement in place, no money will be able to go into escrow and this means that you could end up not having enough money to pay taxes and insurance. When that happens, the forbearance agreement can be voided, and foreclosure can commence.

Should You Avoid Forbearance?

The above makes it sound as if forbearance should be avoided at all costs, which is definitely not the case. It is an excellent option for people who find themselves in a short-term difficult situation and who want to avoid foreclosure. It is simply very important that you are fully aware of all the risks that are out there, and what these types of agreements really mean. Naturally, if you speak to Stephen R Buzzi first, he will assist you in making sure that you know exactly what the agreement means, and that you are sure that it is a suitable solution for your particular situation.

Key Components For a House Extension

Key Components For a House Extension

If you have decided that the time is right to look for more space within your home then a home extension is the course of action which I would recommend. This was a dilemma that I was faced with some years ago and the idea of moving home for more space just seemed too much work, too problematic and, with a volatile housing market, potentially too expensive.

I decided therefore that I would extend my home so that we could gain the additional space that we were looking for and if you are considering doing the same thing, I wanted to use my experience to give you an idea of the things that you are going to need to work out.

Budget

Your budget is key to the speed and quality of the extension and whilst you should of course make it as large as possible, don’t forget that you will not money in reserve. These things always run over budget and there is always something that you will have to pay extra for. An example of this was the additional money I had to pay for the brickwork for the house, the original bricks had been discontinued and the guys down at David Montoya stonemakers were able to custom make them for me, an expense which I had not considered. Rsememrb that you’ll also need money for decorations and furnishings once the job is complete so do not go all in.

Planning Permission

Until you are sure that you have the planning permission for your project, the only person that you should have contracted is an architect. The architect will need to be there to plot the design and to tweak and change it so that it is granted permission from the local government. Without this you cannot build so make sure that you invest a lot of time and energy in gaining your permission.

Construction Firm

You should spend a lot of time when making the decision as to which construction firm you will use to carry out the project. Essentially what you are looking for here is a company with an excellent track record for speed an quality, a leader who will regularly inform of you of what is going on and who is always available and a construction firm which charge a fair price for their work. Use reviews from others, personal recommendations and meetings to decipher which is the best.

Stay or Go

Finally you need to consider whether you will stay at home whilst the work is being undertaken or go to a hotel or a family member’s home during this time. There are benefits and disadvantages to both options and it will vary from job to job. My recommendation would be to move out if it is possible, the job will get done quicker and you won’t have to live on a construction site for the duration of the job. The choice is your but decide as early as possible to cause as little upheaval as you can.

How to Create the Perfect Environment for Your Pets

How to Create the Perfect Environment for Your Pets

Have you had a longing to get a pet? If you have, then you will most likely be thinking about how you can cope with a pet and the things you will need to do to make them happy. In reality, it isn’t that difficult to create a loving and safe environment for your new pet, it just takes a little lateral thinking.

Whatever pet you decide to choose, here are a few tips to get you started and hopefully make up your mind.

Do Your Research

You may have always wanted a certain type of pet such as a lizard for example, but, have you researched what keeping such a pet involves?

The best way to save you time and money is to take some time to read up on the animals before you start buying anything. You also want to get a few different opinions on how to keep your new pet. It will give you a good overall idea of what you need and don’t need.

You also want to research about what food you need to buy, it may be that you need specific food for your pet in order for it to stay healthy. It is also important to check the place you get the pet from, you must make sure that you are not buying from an unscrupulous dealer.

Make your Home and Garden Safe

An important step before you get your pet is to make sure your home is animal safe. If you have any areas where your animal can escape, you need to fix them before your pet arrives. Think about the size of your animal and try to think about which areas it can get into.

Some animals are easier than others, cats, for example, can be difficult to prevent jumping over your fence, but they are independent so they should be ok. Just remember to keep them in the house for a week or two to get used to their location.

Make sure that you find a builder to repair any outbuilding you are planning to use to house your pet, holes in your walls or repair any gaps in the fence to make sure your pet can’t get out, and other animals can’t get in.

Protect Your Things

Some animals can make a lot of mess, especially when they are young, so if you have anything you don’t want to be chewed, scratched or eaten, then you should make sure you move them out of the way.

It is also a good idea to clear up things that your new pet may harm themselves with by eating or playing with. Not only will this prevent your animal getting hurt, it will also help them to learn what is theirs and what is yours.

You and your new pet will hopefully have many years of fun and companionship together. By making your home as safe and fun as possible, you will be helping to ensure that they are happy and secure when you are there, and entertained when you are not.

Why Buying a Vacation Home is a Great Idea For Retirees

Why Buying a Vacation Home is a Great Idea For Retirees

I retired 4 years ago and like many who have just given up the world of work, I felt a little lost and I was unsure how to pass my time. I realised very quickly that I would need a project to keep me busy or at least something that I could sink my teeth into. I worked and saved very hard throughout my working life and that left me in a healthy financial position so I decided that an investment of some form would be a good way to keep me from being bored.

After a chance meeting with real estate expert Radha Singh Hazlet NJ resident like myself, I was convinced that the best thing that I could do would be to invest in a vacation rental and that is exactly what I did. I had pondered the idea for a long time before deciding and if you are like I was, here is why I think a vacation property is the perfect choice for retirees.

Vacation Home

The most obvious reason is of course the fact that you will have yourself your very own vacation home that you can jet off to whenever you feel like. For this reason I would recommend that you buy a vacation property in a location that you will be happy to spend much of your time in. I bought a place near Philadelphia which has the perfect distance between sea and city, since buying the property I have probably spent at least 3 months each year there and I cannot see this changing.

Making Money

When I am not staying in my property, I like to use AirBnb to rent it out to others who are looking to stay in the area. Because of the location of the property, I very rarely have it empty and this provides me with a nice monthly dividend on my investment. In truth,  I had bought the property as somewhere that I could stay whilst on vacation but the additional revenue which the rental of the property brings in, is exactly what I use to pay for my time down there and for my transport. If you do buy a vacation property, make sure that you are maximising its financial potential.

Management

The management of the property is not something that takes up a great deal of my time but it is something that keeps me occupied when I need it. I spend many hours speaking with guests, fixing issues and doing the overall management of the property. This never feels like work and I actually enjoy connecting with the guests from all over the world who are calling my vacation rental home for a short period. It is always nice to have a little project to get involved with once you are no longer working and the management of my vacation rental was just what I needed in order to keep me busy.

Necessary Materials for Your Next Roofing Project

Necessary Materials for Your Next Roofing Project

Usually, it is quite easy to complete a residential roofing product, so long as you have everything properly prepared. If, for instance, you want to complete roofing projects with copper nails, you need to have your nails, your hammer or nail gun, and all your other materials ready, as well as your plan of action. Let’s take a closer look.

Your Materials

First of all, not any material will do. The right one for your needs depends on where you house is located. Of course, your own personal preference is also an important factor, but it should not overrule the recommendations of official contractors and certainly not those of your local building codes. Make sure you check those out before you get started, in other words. Usually, you will be able to use ceramic, concrete, asphalt, wood ,or metal sheeting.

Metal sheeting is almost always permitted, not in the least because it is so versatile. Plus, thanks to modern technology, it can mimic the look of various other materials, including tiles and shingles. Communities the world over have used this to create their roofs because it is also very durable. So long as you choose high quality metal sheets, they can last for as much as 70 years with little maintenance. Even the lower quality ones can last about four decades if looked after properly. Thanks to modern tools and technology, the chance of enlargement through nail holes and because of the environment has been all but eliminated. Plus, the metal sheeting is usually already painted for you as well.

An alternative would be wood, which is commonly found in residential roofing. While beautiful, you do have to invest heavily in maintenance, as it is very easy for wood to rot. Furthermore, there are other things to consider as well. Wood is susceptible to insects and other animals. Some wood is more rain and sun resistant than other types of wood, and some kind can even resist certain animals and insects. This is obviously very important for homeowners.

Then, there is asphalt, which is popular because it is often locally manufactured. Furthermore, it is versatile and can be customized to your specific needs. Asphalt, for instance, can be made to look like wood or slate, or any other material that you like. It is quick to put up asphalt and it is very easy to maintain it, particularly when compared to an organic roof. They also last a lot longer.

Last but not least, there are ceramic materials and concrete, which have been popular roofing materials for a long time. These are somewhat heavier materials compared to other roof products, and this weight is something that you need to think about, since your foundations and load-bearing walls do have to be able to hold them. Concrete and ceramic is also a very good insulator and will last even when exposed to the elements. However, they can’t be too heavy or bulky for obvious reasons.

Get Help with Your Mortgage in Florida and Avoid Foreclosure

Get Help with Your Mortgage in Florida and Avoid Foreclosure

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A lot of people believe that, once they are facing foreclosure, no bank will touch them anymore. In reality, however, Florida mortgages are there to help them avoid foreclosure as well. Not just that, thousands of people who took out a mortgage in Florida many years ago have found that their original lender is now owned by a major national bank, is no longer in business, or has been sold to a different, out-of-state lender. In all of these cases, it may be time to consider a different mortgage altogether.

Start Anew

Florida mortgages are there to help you start afresh, and this can help you avoid or stop foreclosures. In fact, purpose foreclosure loans exist, which can take on your mortgage and any other debt you may have, combining them into one. Once you have done that, a weight will fall off your shoulders as you can suddenly meet all your financial obligations. All you have to do is find a Florida mortgage expert that deals specifically with foreclosure situations. A quick internet search will reveal many of these professionals just waiting to help you.

What Foreclosure Experts Do

Foreclosure experts work specifically with those who are in dire financial straits. They know that their clients have been turned away by the vast majority of other lenders but are able to find them other solutions. Foreclosure rates have always been at the highest in Florida and the government has created a number of programs to provide assistance with this.

Foreclosure loans do require a down payment. However, there are federal programs in place that can help with this as well. An example of a solution that is out there is the Florida Assist loan program, which offers help of up to $15,000 for a down payment. While this is a loan, it is non-amortizing and no interest is charged on it. Furthermore, the loan is offered as a second mortgage, and no monthly payments have to be made specifically for that loan. Instead, you will not have to repay it until the home is refinanced or sold on.

Another option is the HAMI (Homeowner Assistance for Moderate Income), which offers help towards down payments or towards the cost of closing. Furthermore, there are a variety of incentives and credit programs available through the government, all designed to ensure people can either buy their own home, or avoid foreclosure. The Office of Community Affairs provides a wealth of information on these options.

Naturally, the best option is to never get into a position in which you face foreclosure. There are many different Florida mortgage lenders around who have very friendly acceptance criteria. They would be more than happy to hear from you and discuss the options available to you. It is best to do this as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the bank starts to make moves towards foreclosure, as the longer you wait, the worse your situation will look on paper.