Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tips On Keeping Your Home Burglar Free While Away On Vacation

Keep your home burglar free.
Going on vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but every time you go away, most people can’t help but wonder what state is my home going to be in when I get back. Did I remember to turn off the coffee pot (the answer there is almost always no!), did I close the garage door, did I lock the back door? Will someone break in while I’m gone? These questions can make your vacation more stress-filled than stress-relieving. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you how to remember to turn off the coffee maker before leaving for an extended period of time, but here are a few things you can do to make your empty home less attractive to potential burglars.
  • Leave interior and exterior lights on, or put them on a timer.
  • Have someone you trust pick up mail, newspaper, and any packages you might receive while you’re gone.
  • Disable automatic garage doors.
  • Leave the radio or TV on to create noise in the home.  This makes it difficult for a burglar to determine if someone is home.  Leaving a TV on can lead to higher electric costs.  Consider using a battery operated radio to help conserve energy or in the event of a power outage.
  • Turn the ringer on your home phone down or put it on silent while you are away.  Criminals will roam the streets listening for loud rings that are not picked up, since this is a sure sign that no one is home.  Also, be careful not to leave a voice mail message advising that you are on vacation.
  • Make sure you shut and lock all windows and doors.
  • Shut the shades or drapes you normally close. Make it more difficult for someone to look in, but not so much the house looks closed.
  • Don’t hide a spare key, criminals prey on our fears of being locked out and will look around for that spare hide a key that you left.
  • Park in the driveway.  It gives the appearance that someone is home.
  • Take your laptops and cameras with you. If you don’t; consider marking them with a number (such as car registration numbers or a driver’s license number), this will make it easier for police to return them to you if they are stolen.  Keep a record of marked objects incase something happens.
  • Try to lock up important papers and valuables in a safe or bank deposit lock box.
  • Do not use Facebook, My Space, Twiiter, etc. to let your online friends know you are going on vacation or that you are having a great time while you are gone. Save this for when you get back and are at home. No sense advertising you are away.
  • If you have an agency for security, be sure they have your contact numbers (they most likely do) in the event of a break in.
  • If you have a do it yourself security surveillance system, be sure you have a tape in the machine and all is operating correctly.
The ultimate goal is to give your home the appearance that someone is there, or will be home soon. Don’t forget - you can always ask your neighborhood watch (of you have one) and your neighbors to keep an eye on your house and let you know if anything out of the ordinary happens.

Have a peace-of mind and enjoy your trip!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How To Save Money On Your Utility Bills

We get questions all the time from various people wanting to know how to save money on their utility bills. There are many ways and things homeowners or renters can do to lower their monthly utility bills. Listed below are just a few methods of doing this.

·       The simplest way to cut down on your air conditioning bills is to raise the setting on your thermostat.
·       If you are using ceiling fans or fans, raise your setting at least 2 degrees to off-set the cost of running the fans. Three or more degrees will start saving you money.
·       Replace all the bulbs you can with high efficiency LED or CFL light bulbs
·       Buy gaskets that go behind the outlet and switch plates and install them in all your outlet and wall switch plates. By doing so, you will help seal a lot of air leaks that come from your crawl spaces and attics.
·       Be sure your exterior doors have door sweeps and are weather striped. If you can see any daylight through you doors, they need more work.
·       Caulk around your windows and your sinks drain and water lines to help seal out any outside air from coming in and keeping the inside air in. Silicone caulking works best for this instead of expand-a-foam which is very messy.
·       Be sure to clean or replace your air conditioning return air filter each month. This is simple to do and has a big impact on your bills, comfort, and equipment life.
·       Have your heating and air conditioning system professionally tuned-up each year so it works at its peak efficiency level. Be sure they inspect your duct work for leaks as leaky ducts are major contributor to higher bills, less comfort, and sometimes excessive dust.
·       Be sure to turn off your TV’s, DVR boxes, DVD players, lights, and computers when not in use.
·       Close drapes or curtains on the sunny side/s of your house when they are in direct sunlight. This will help keep your home cooler. If you don’t, the radiant heat will warm up your house quickly and cost more to keep it cool.
·       Try to grill outdoors when it is hot to avoid using your stoves and ovens which contribute a lot to your heat load.
·       If you can do your laundry in the early morning or later at night it will help keep your house cooler because the dryer puts out a lot of heat into the room.
·       One last tip for this week, is to weather strip and insulate your attic access door or panel. A lot of energy is lost through these access doors and panels. You can use a thick foam board or faced backed insulation and glue it to the back of the door or panel. If you have pull-down stairs, build an insulated box over the top of them with a hinge.

If you use the tips listed above, you will save money on your utility bills and have more money at your discretion.  Hope you return next week to learn more.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finding a Quality Heating and A/C Provider

Hello Everyone! I hope you had a fun and safe holiday. This week’s blog subject is about finding a quality heating and air condition provider and to answer why some folks think the prices for repairs and replacement equipment is too high.

Let’s start off with how to pick a quality contractor. 
Some key points to consider:
  • Ask your friends and neighbors who they have used and what their experiences were with that company.
  • If you are new to the area and haven’t met your neighbors, Google air conditioning providers in your zip code.
  • When you have found a name of a contractor/provider; go online to the Better Business Bureau site and see if the company has any issues and how they were resolved and if they were resolved.
  • Go online and check to see if they have a contractors’ license and a tradesman license. This site will also tell you if there have been any complaints filed against the company.
  • Visit the company’s web site and see if it is a professional site that is useful to you. It should have testimonials, coupons, information, etc. If there is no web site, be very weary of the company as they may not have been in business very or long or have other issues.
  • When you choose a company, be sure they are insured and have workman’s compensation insurance and business liability insurance. If they have it and all quality companies do; they can give you the insurance company name and policy number or show you a copy of the Certificate of Insurance.  This is the best proof, just be sure your check the date to make sure it is current.
  • Be sure to ask if their technicians are N.A.T.E certified (North American Technical Excellence) or R.S.E.S certified (Refrigerant Service Engineer Society). Having certified technicians means the company cares enough to invest in their employees so they are a cut above other technicians.
  • Be sure the company you choose performs background and drug testing of all their employees. This helps to ensure the people they send to your house are safe and don’t have prior criminal or sex offender records and are not on drugs.
By taking the steps listed above, you should be able to find a quality provider in your area that will stand behind their work.

The next question you may ask from time to time is, “Why are your prices so high?”Most people, unless they own a business or are aware of true business costs really don’t know what it take to operate a business.  It is very expensive to operate a quality business and these costs are part of the price you pay for excellent service and quality parts with guarantees.

A small sampling of the costs to run a business are:
  • Business insurance
  • Workman’s Compensation insurance
  • Health, dental, vision insurance
  • Office supplies
  • Computers, software, and upkeep
  • Furniture
  • Mortgage/rent/utilities
  • Vehicles (loans, upkeep and fuel cost)
  • Inventory
  • Uniforms
  • Paid benefits for all employees
  • Payroll and payroll taxes, etc.
  • Continuous training and education
The point of this article is to point out that there are many more costs than just the part and labor, dispatch and testing fees to install it. If these costs are not paid; the company will not remain in business to serve anyone or honor their warranties and guarantees.

The next topic is, “Why does the new equipment cost so much; my old one was less than half that price?”The answer is the above costs increase (internal costs for the manufacturer, the distributor, and the dealer) and the cost to manufacturer to produce the new equipment has sky rocketed due to the rising commodity markets. The last six or seven years have had significant increases. The good side is that the air conditioning and heating equipment has become very energy efficient and continues to get more efficient. Our industry is changing rapidly with the focus on comfort and energy conservation. Hopefully, the markets and economy will level out and the prices will begin to as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, see you next week and if you have a particular topic or subject you would like answers to, please contact us (757) 421-9790 or by email