10 Ways to Lower Your Heating Costs

1. TAKE THE HEAT DOWN A NOTCH

Each degree you lower your thermostat for a period of at least eight hours can make your heating bill 1 percent cheaper, theEnergy Departmentestimates.

2. INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT

Afraid you won’t remember to turn down the heat before you go to bed or leave the house? A programmable thermostat controls the temperature 24/7. Resist the temptation to mess with the settings when you get chilly, lest you eat into the savings. Grab a sweater instead

3. REDUCE DRAFTS

You can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills by covering up drafty windows and doors and sealing air leaks, according to the Department of Energy. Drafts can affect the thermostat reading, too, so these simple fixes may solve more than one winter energy challenge.

4. INSTALL STORM DOORS AND WINDOWS

This is a more permanent way to cut down on drafts that enter the house through inefficient doors and windows. The home improvement siteImproveNetalleges this project can increase your home’s energy efficiency by 45 percent and lays out the costs, pros, and cons.

5. CHANGE FURNACE FILTERS

Dirty furnace filters can restrict airflow, making the heating system work harder, which in turn can boost your bill. Filters should be cleaned or replaced monthly during the cold season. Keeping tabs on the furnace filter can also reduce medical bills. The more efficient the filter, the more allergens and debris it will catch and prevent from circulating in the air.

6. RUN FANS IN REVERSE

Did you know that changing the direction of a ceiling fan could shave as much as 10 percent off your heating bill? Good Housekeeping explains that flipping a switch on the fan turns the traditional counterclockwise rotation that produces a cool breeze to a clockwise rotation that pushes the warm air back into circulation

7. TURN DOWN THE WATER HEATER

The Simple Dollar points out that the standard setting for a hot water heater is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can lower energy costs 6 to 10 percent by lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, which is still plenty warm. Other options, such as a tankless or solar water heater, can reduce the cost of heating water even more but require an initial investment of at least several hundred dollars.

8. KEEP MAINTENANCE IN MIND

Just like any other major appliance, afurnaceneeds regular tune-ups. Keeping it clean and properly adjusted helps it run efficiently and prolongs its lifespan. Check with your utility company or furnace manufacturer — many offer free annual inspections.

9. USE CAULK AND WEATHERSTRIPPING

Windows and doors aren’t the only spots where warm air leaks out of the house. Keep an eye out for places where two types of building materials meet — corners, chimneys, and around pipes and wires. These energy suckers can be plugged up with caulk and weatherstripping.

10. SEAL THE DUCTS

The Energy Department warns that about 20 percent of heated air can escape from the ductwork in a house. Properly sealed ductwork also better protects against dust and mold. Note that sealing ducts is not the same as cleaning them. In fact, many studies have shown that cleaning the ductwork is unnecessary unless there is an air quality issue.

Excerpt from MSNnews.com

Advertisements

Real Estate News

Builder confidence in the new-home market rose to its highest reading in nearly 9 years, according to the latest reading from the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. September marked the fourth consecutive month that builder confidence has been on the rise. “Since early summer, builders in many markets across the nation have been reporting that buyer interest and traffic have picked up, which is a positive sign that the housing market is moving in the right direction,” says NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. For the new-home market, builder confidence rose to a level of 59 in September, according to the index. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as “good” than “poor.” The seasonally adjusted index measures builder perceptions of the single-family new-home market on home sales and sales expectations for the next six months, as well as builders’ perceptions of buyer traffic. All three of the index components in September posted gains, with current sales conditions and traffic of prospective buyers rising to 63 and 47, respectively. Expectations for future sales also rose two points to 67. Source: National Association of Home Builders

Some home buyers are making an unusual request: They’re asking to spend the night at a home before they make an offer on it. HGTV’s “Sleep On It,” which follows potential buyers as they stay overnight in two homes with the sellers’ approval before deciding which one to buy, hasn’t seemed to spark a national trend. But it has prompted such proposals to surface more often, real estate professionals say. The sleep-overs can help buyers gain a better perspective on what it actually would feel like to live at the home, whether the kitchen is the right size, the noisy neighbors are too distracting, or the water pressure just isn’t right. Corlie Ohl, a real estate professional at Citi Habitats in New York City, recalls a client who requested to take a shower in an $865,000 apartment he was considering purchasing. He wanted to make sure the place had adequate water pressure. “It’s the strangest request I’ve ever experienced in my life for someone who wanted to purchase an apartment,” Ohl says. “The seller said, ‘Yeah, I guess, as long as he brings his own towel.” Contracts are a good idea for any buyer sleep-overs to protect both parties from liabilities, such as loss of personal belongings, say real estate professionals. A couple in Boulder, Colo., were staying at a condo when they decided to check out the condo’s parking area at night. But, “as they exited the elevator, they were abruptly confronted by two police officers, weapons drawn,” says real estate professional Bob Gordon. The neighbors had thought they were burglars. But the incident prompted the couple to put in an offer immediately on the home, “knowing the neighbors would be concerned enough to call police,” Gordon says.
Source: US News and World Report

Fall To Do List

As the weather cools down, our thoughts turn to visions of … leaf piles, broken gutters, and stopped-up chimneys. Or rather, how to deal with such household chores before the winter sets in. Here are 10 jobs that should top your priority list this fall.

1. Change batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s a great idea to do this on the day Daylight Savings Time ends. Check the expiration on your fire extinguisher and review your escape plan with your family as well.

2. Inspect your fireplace. Have the chimney cleaned professionally, clear out any leftover ashes from last year from disposal chute if you have one, fix cracked glass doors.

3. Get the garage into shape. Gather up summer items such as lawn chairs, umbrellas, garden tools, and beach toys, pack them securely and store them neatly. Move snow shovels, snow sports equipment, and other winter tools to the front of your storage areas so they are easily accessible.

4. Ready the garden for winter. If you’re in colder climes, decide if you’ll be feeding the birds, and get your feeders cleaned and filled. Empty hoses and pack them away. If your winter weather is more temperate, you may want to prepare for winter planting of garlic, leeks, onions, lettuce, and potatoes.

5. Clear the deck. Clean, repair, cover and store your patio furniture and barbecue to prevent weather damage.

6. Get to the gutters. Clean and inspect them. Make sure your downspouts are clear and that you replace any broken extensions so that water is properly diverted away from your homes foundation.

7. Prepare the furnace. Check that it’s working properly before you really need it — you don’t want to be waiting for the repair service when the temperature’s dropped into the single digits. Better yet, get a professional cleaning and inspection.

8. Set up humidifiers. If you don’t have a central humidifier, pull out your portables and get ready to use them once you turn the heat on. Dry air not only harms your lungs and skin; it can also damage wood furniture, which can become brittle and crack.

9. Consider an exterior paint job. Fall is a great time of year to freshen your home’s exterior paint, with lower temperatures and low humidity.

10. Install a programmable thermostat. It doesn’t have to be as fancy [or expensive] as the Nest. Preset temperatures for different times of day and save yourself some money on heating bills — plus ensure you’ve got a cozy home to return to.

My credit score is what?!?!

The creator of one of the most widely used and influential credit scores, FICO, said that the latest version of its score would no longer weigh medical debts — which account for about half of all unpaid collections on consumers’ credit reports — as heavily as it did in previous iterations. The newer FICO scores, available this fall, will also ignore any overdue payments that have already been made. Previously, the scores factored paid and unpaid collections equally, though it ignored amounts under $100. FICO credit scores, which have become consumers’ financial passport to just about everything from rental apartments to most loans such as mortgages, are based on the information in an individual’s credit reports, which are generated by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The scores are based on a 300- to 850-point scale. Because of the new scoring model, individuals with a median score of 711 — and an otherwise clean credit history, except for unpaid medical debts — may see their FICO score rise by 25 points. As a result, many consumers may qualify for more attractive interest rates on various loans, potentially resulting in thousands of dollars in savings. “It probably doesn’t mean the difference between an approval and a denial, but it can mean the difference in a more advantageous rate,” said John Ulzheimer, a credit expert at Credit Sesame, a consumer credit website, and a former FICO employee. But consumers whose credit files are tarnished only by unpaid medical debts that went to collection agencies — but were ultimately settled or paid — are likely to see a much greater increase in their scores. “That is when you could expect to see your score go through the roof,” said Mr. Ulzheimer.  Source: NY Times — Not sure where your score puts you with regard to being eligible for a home purchase or refinance? A quick and simple analysis may let you know how to get in position to take advantage of these upcoming changes. Just contact me and I will help you get started.

When it comes to smart homes, consumers are more interested in their security features than the gadgets that control the homes’ appliances. New research by Icontrol Networks, a home technology company, shows that 90 percent of 932 respondents recently surveyed say that security is one of the most important reasons for using a smart-home system. In fact, 67 percent rank it the No.1 reason, and the majority of consumers say security is a must-have in any home automation, according to Icontrol’s 2014 State of the Smart Home Report. Fire and carbon monoxide alarms, as well as gas leak alarms, were listed as top security features, according to the survey. “For now, safety and security are driving initial mass market adoption,” says Jim Johnson, executive vice president of Icontrol Networks. “But the convenience associated with a connected home will likely play a greater role as consumers realize how much easier automation makes their lives.” Seventy-eight percent of respondents also ranked energy management as one of the top features that matter most to them in a smart home. HVAC heating and cooling management was cited as the most important feature in helping to reduce utility bills. Nearly 43 percent of respondents say they’d be interested in replacing their thermostat with a “smart thermostat,” one that automatically adjusts when the home is occupied. Source: Builder

International buyers continue to flock to the U.S. to purchase and invest in properties. Favorable exchange rates, affordable home prices, and rising affluence abroad is driving interest, according to the 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity conducted by the National Association of Realtors®. From April 2013 through March 2014, total international sales are estimated at $92.2 billion, a rise from $68.2 billion from the previous period, NAR reports. Twenty-eight percent of Realtors® reported working with international clients this year. “We live in an international marketplace; so while all real estate is local, that does not mean that all property buyers are,” says Steve Brown, NAR’s president. “Foreign buyers are being enticed to U.S. real estate because of what they recognize as attractive prices, economic stability, and an incredible opportunity for investment in their future.” International buyers are coming to the United States from all over the world, but the highest interest in U.S. property is being driven by Canada, China, Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom, which accounted for about 54 percent of all reported international transactions. Canadian residents continue to have the largest share of U.S. purchases, but dropped their share from 23 percent in 2013 to 19 percent in 2014. Buyers from China hold the lead in dollar volume, purchasing an estimated $22 billion with an average sale cost of $590,826, according to the NAR study. China was also the fastest-growing source of transactions, now accounting for 16 percent of all purchases, up 4 percent from last year. In 2014, nearly 60 percent of reported international transactions were all cash, compared to only one-third of domestic purchases. The survey also revealed that 42% of foreign buyers use their U.S. home as a primary residence. Source: NAR 

 

Information courtesy of Franklin American Mortgage

 

G Team

http://www.GTeamTN.com

615-443-SOLD Office

615-466-3030 Direct

15 Things Highly Confident People Don’t Do

Old Republic Home Protection (ORHP) - In Touch Newsletter

15 Things Highly Confident People Don’t Do15 Things Highly Confident People Don’t Do
By Daniel Wallen

Highly confident people believe in their ability to achieve. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else put their faith in you? To walk with swagger and improve your self-confidence, watch out for these fifteen things highly confident people don’t do.

1. They don’t make excuses.

Highly confident people take ownership of their thoughts and actions. They don’t blame the traffic for being tardy for work; they were late. They don’t excuse their short-comings with excuses, such as “I don’t have the time” or “I’m just not good enough”; they make the time and they keep on improving until they are good enough.

2. They don’t avoid doing the scary thing.

Highly confident people don’t let fear dominate their lives. They know that the things they are afraid of doing are often the very same things that they need to do in order to evolve into the person they are meant to be.

3. They don’t live in a bubble of comfort.

Highly confident people avoid the comfort zone because they know this is a place where dreams die. They actively pursue a feeling of discomfort because they know stretching themselves is mandatory for their success.

4. They don’t put things off until next week.

Highly confident people know that a good plan executed today is better than a great plan executed someday. They don’t wait for the “right time” or the “right circumstances,” because they know these reactions are based on a fear of change. They take action here, now, today—because that’s where progress happens.

5. They don’t obsess over the opinions of others.

Highly confident people don’t get caught up in negative feedback. While they do care about the well-being of others and aim to make a positive impact in the world, they don’t get caught up in negative opinions that they can’t do anything about. They know that their true friends will accept them as they are, and they don’t concern themselves with the rest.

6. They don’t judge people.

Highly confident people have no tolerance for unnecessary, self-inflicted drama. They don’t feel the need to insult friends behind their backs, participate in gossip about fellow co-workers, or lash out at folks with different opinions. They are so comfortable in who they are that they feel no need to look down on other people.

7. They don’t let lack of resources stop them.

Highly confident people can make use of whatever resources they have, no matter how big or small. They know that all things are possible with creativity and a refusal to quit. They don’t agonize over setbacks, but rather focus on finding a solution.

8. They don’t make comparisons.

Highly confident people know that they are not competing with any other person. They compete with no other individual except the person they were yesterday. They know that every person is living a story so unique that drawing comparisons would be an absurd and simplistic exercise in futility.

9. They don’t find joy in people-pleasing.

Highly confident people have no interest in pleasing every person they meet. They are aware that not all people get along, and that’s just how life works. They focus on the quality of their relationships, instead of the quantity of them.

10. They don’t need constant reassurance.

Highly confident people aren’t in need of hand-holding. They know that life isn’t fair and things won’t always go their way. While they can’t control every event in their lives, they focus on their power to react in a positive way that moves them forward.

11. They don’t avoid life’s inconvenient truths.

Highly confident people confront life’s issues at the root before the disease can spread any farther. They know that problems left unaddressed have a way of multiplying as the days, weeks, and months go by. They would rather have an uncomfortable conversation with their partner today than sweep an inconvenient truth under the rug, putting trust at risk.

12. They don’t quit because of minor set-backs.

Highly confident people get back up every time they fall down. They know that failure is an unavoidable part of the growth process. They are like detectives, searching for clues that reveal why this approach didn’t work. After modifying their plan, they try again (but better this time).

13. They don’t require anyone’s permission to act.

Highly confident people take action without hesitation. Every day, they remind themselves, “If not me, who?”

14. They don’t limit themselves to a small toolbox.

Highly confident people don’t limit themselves to plan A. They make use of any and all weapons at their disposal, relentlessly testing the effectiveness of every approach until they identify the strategies that offer the most results for the least cost in time and effort.

15. They don’t blindly accept what they read as “truth” without thinking about it.

Highly confident people don’t accept articles on the Internet as truth just because some author “said so.” They look at every how-to article from the lens of their unique perspective. They maintain a healthy skepticism, making use of any material that is relevant to their lives and forgetting about the rest. While articles like this are a fun and interesting thought-exercise, highly confident people know that they are the only person with the power to decide what “confidence” means.

Daniel Wallen is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of the Wallen Way. He is a personal trainer, Lifehack contributor, and author of The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous. Click here to access his e-mail course, the Mind + Body Make-Over.

Did you know?

According to the 2013 annual report from the Wilson County, TN Joint Economic & Community Development Board (JECDB), presented by Executive Director, G.C. Hixson, here are a few stats we thought our readers might find interesting:

2,314 residential homes were sold in 2013 (increase of 18.7%)

$217,000 – Median Home price (increase of 14.2%)

74 Days – average days on the market

 

Wilson County is the place to be!!! Call us to make your move! 615-466-3030

What you need to know about Renters Insurance!

Renters Insurance
by Wes Dugan

One of the biggest misconceptions of most people who rent is that their landlord has insurance that covers everything. And that is simply not true.

Whether you are a college student looking for a place to rent, someone who just sold their home and decides to rent for a while, or whatever the case, you must have renters insurance to cover your personal possessions, furnishings, etc.

Renters insurance will also provide liability coverage. If someone gets hurt on your property, then you are protected. We live in a very litigious society, so it’s not worth the risk to not have this coverage.

Renters insurance can also help you pay for a place to stay in case you are displaced from your rental property by something like a tornado, or major repair. Keep in mind that most policies put strict limits on how long this can be used. So make sure you speak with your local insurance agent about this part of the policy.

You want to know the value of your property so you don’t get (and pay for) too much coverage. If you have hand me down furnishings, then you may get by with a policy that covers less than if you have new furniture you just purchased.

Most apartment complexes and other rental properties require that you have renters insurance before they will agree to rent to you. So this is something you need to have in place prior to renting any apartment or property.

The good news is the cost of the policies are minimal. Usually less than $15 a month gets you renters insurance that provides full coverage. Usually for less than $150 per year, you can cover all your belongings and protect yourself in case someone gets hurt while in your apartment, loft, or rental home. And if your apartment complex or landlord has certain safety features, such as sprinklers, alarms, etc., it could bring down the price of your policy.

So, don’t take any chances. Talk to your local insurance agent today to figure out what you need, as far as coverage, and make sure you are protected.

Article written by: Wes Dugan, Farm Bureau
214 Castle Heights Ave. N. Ste. A
Lebanon, TN 37087-3419
Phone: 615-453-9702
Fax: 615-453-9703