Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mercury rising: Top 10 tips to get your house summer-ready

The kids are ready for summer,
but is your home ready, too?
Before spring gives way to summer, take some time to make your home more energy efficient. You’ll lower your energy bills and make your home much more enjoyable.

Our top 10 energy tips range from dirt-cheap to painfully pricey. Choose what your budget will allow.

Tip No. 1: Ask your electric company for a free home energy audit or hire a professional to evaluate your home’s energy efficiency.

Tip No. 2: Replace your old incandescent light bulbs with CFL and LED bulbs, which use less energy and put out less heat.

Tip No. 3: Check the weather-stripping and caulking around your windows and doors. If they’re loose, you’re letting hot air slip through the cracks.

Tip No. 4: Install ceiling fans in most rooms. While they don’t actually lower the room temperature, they make you feel cooler, which will keep you away from the thermostat.

Tip No. 5: Improve your air conditioner’s efficiency by removing plants and other materials from around your outdoor unit. Make sure the coils are clean.

Tip No. 6: Replace your air filters once a month, or as recommended. This will improve air flow and give you cleaner air to breathe.

Tip No. 7: Hire a licensed professional to check out your A/C unit and look for leaks in the air ducts.

Tip No. 8: When it’s time to replace an appliance, water heater or exterior door, buy one that is Energy Star ® certified.

Tip No. 9: Make sure you have adequate insulation in your attic. Insulation gets compacted over time and loses its efficiency. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recommends thermal resistance of R-30 to R-38, which is about eight to 12 inches deep. Adding insulation could cost you $1,000 or more, but it could cut your electric bills by 20 percent.

Tip No. 10: Replace your old single-pane windows with insulated, double-paned, low-E (low-emissivity) windows. They’ll keep your house cooler and reduce outside noise. On a budget? Try caulking, weather stripping and tinting your windows. Thermal curtains can also keep the heat out.

When you’re done weather-proofing your home, you can sit back and enjoy a long, cool summer! For more tips and related articles, check out our blog.

Spring cleaning and home inventories go hand in hand

The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the lawn is lush. All this can mean only one thing: it’s time for spring cleaning!

As you cut the clutter and spruce up your surroundings, this is the perfect time to make a list of all the valuable (and not-so-valuable) items you own.

Ah, springtime! The perfect time to stop and smell the roses...
and create a home inventory while you're at it!
Disaster can strike without warning in the form of a fire, flood, hurricane or robbery. To make an accurate insurance claim, you’ll want to have a comprehensive list of your belongings.

Your list should include jewelry, furniture, artwork, collectibles, cameras, electronics, appliances, clothing, kitchenware, linens, tools, and basically anything else you have purchased. Look outside, too, and make note of your lawn equipment, grill, trailer and boat.

There are plenty of apps out there that can help you list and categorize every item you own, or you can go it alone.

This is a good time to be slow and methodical. Work on one room at a time, take photos or video of your big ticket items, and make detailed notes, including:
  • Description, make and model
  • Purchase date and price
  • Estimated current value
Unless you have something especially valuable, you don’t need to list each item of clothing. Instead, you can categorize them – for instance, 15 pair of slacks, 20 dress shirts, 13 dresses, 12 pair of shoes, etc.

Scan or copy your receipts, if you have them. And start keeping receipts for new items.

Whether you created a physical document or an electronic file, make a copy and store it offsite – at a friend’s house, in your office, or in an online storage account

A complete list of your belongings will give you peace of mind, speed up insurance claims, and maximize your insurance reimbursement.

Knowing how much stuff you have, and how much it’s worth, will also help you understand how much insurance you should purchase.

If you need help determining the right amount of insurance to meet your needs, call Ryan Insurance & Financial Services for a free policy review at 386-738-2000. We're here to help!