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6 Tips For Cutting Winter Heating Costs

cut heating costs

Heating your house during the cold winter months can be a pricey necessity. And with El Niño casting a colder-than-normal winter on the southern states this year, taking the necessary measures to keep your heating bill as low as possible is important. These six tips can help.

 

1.     Seal All Air Leaks

By properly sealing all air leaks, you can save 10% or more on heating bills; that’s typically anywhere from $50 to $170 a year in savings. Drafts can occur in the following areas:

  • Electrical boxes: electrical outlets in exterior walls are known for being drafty without proper insulation. Remove all cover plates and fill the gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. Replace the foam gasket and the cover plate before using the outlet.
  • Holes in exterior walls: pipes, gas line and electrical cables frequently have gaps due that lead to drafty air leaks. Seal these gaps with expanding foam.
  • Worn weatherstripping: did you know that 7 to 12 percent of heat loss comes from windows and doors? By replacing worn and torn weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows, you can cut back significantly on lost heat.

 

2.     Reverse Your Ceiling Fan

Contrary to popular belief, ceiling fans can actually help keep your home warm in the winter. If you set your fan to spin clockwise on a low speed, you can push the warm air that’s trapped at the ceiling down, and spread it throughout your home. By following this simple tip, you could save as much at 15% on your heating bill.

 

3.     Lower Your Hot Water Temp

There is a good chance that your water heater is factory-set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but the Department of Energy suggests to dial back the temp on your water heater to 120 degrees.  Not only will that be sufficient for taking showers, doing laundry and washing dishes, but you can also save 6 to 10 percent on water heating costs as well.

 

4.     Buy A Portable Furnace

Consider buying a portable space heater and set it in frequently used rooms, like the living room or the kitchen. Even though the rest of your home might be cooler, the places you’ll be spending most time will be warm and you can turn down your thermostat.

 

5.     Get A New Thermostat

Outdated thermostats can actually be costing you money. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. By turning down the temperature 10-15 degrees for eight hours a day – like when you’re at work or while you’re sleeping – you can save significantly on your monthly heating bill. Better yet- programmable thermostats are incredibly affordable, with models starting around $25.

 

6.     Open Blinds

Keeping blinds and curtains shut during shaded or nighttime hours can significantly reduce heat from escaping through leaky windows. However, by opening these blinds when the sun is shining through your windows, you can use the natural light to heat your home. This added heat increases the temperature inside your home and prevents your heater from overworking.

 

For more information on how to properly care for and insure you home, visit Heuer Insurance Agency. Since 1929, Heuer has been serving homeowners in the Reno, NV area with reliable insurance coverage and friendly service. To learn more tips for keeping your home in good condition, visit the Heuer Insurance blog.

 

6 Tips For Cutting Winter Heating Costs

fireplace

Heating your house during the cold winter months can be a pricey necessity. And with El Niño casting a colder-than-normal winter on the southern states this year, taking the necessary measures to keep your heating bill as low as possible is important. These six tips can help.

1.     Seal All Air Leaks

By properly sealing all air leaks, you can save 10% or more on heating bills; that’s typically anywhere from $50 to $170 a year in savings. Drafts can occur in the following areas:

  • Electrical boxes: electrical outlets in exterior walls are known for being drafty without proper insulation. Remove all cover plates and fill the gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. Replace the foam gasket and the cover plate before using the outlet.
  • Holes in exterior walls: pipes, gas line and electrical cables frequently have gaps due that lead to drafty air leaks. Seal these gaps with expanding foam.
  • Worn weatherstripping: did you know that 7 to 12 percent of heat loss comes from windows and doors? By replacing worn and torn weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows, you can cut back significantly on lost heat.

2.     Reverse Your Ceiling Fan

Contrary to popular belief, ceiling fans can actually help keep your home warm in the winter. If you set your fan to spin clockwise on a low speed, you can push the warm air that’s trapped at the ceiling down, and spread it throughout your home. By following this simple tip, you could save as much at 15% on your heating bill.

3.     Lower Your Hot Water Temp

There is a good chance that your water heater is factory-set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but the Department of Energy suggests to dial back the temp on your water heater to 120 degrees.  Not only will that be sufficient for taking showers, doing laundry and washing dishes, but you can also save 6 to 10 percent on water heating costs as well.

4.     Buy A Portable Furnace

Consider buying a portable space heater and set it in frequently used rooms, like the living room or the kitchen. Even though the rest of your home might be cooler, the places you’ll be spending most time will be warm and you can turn down your thermostat.

5.     Get A New Thermostat

Outdated thermostats can actually be costing you money. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. By turning down the temperature 10-15 degrees for eight hours a day – like when you’re at work or while you’re sleeping – you can save significantly on your monthly heating bill. Better yet- programmable thermostats are incredibly affordable, with models starting around $25.

6.     Open Blinds

Keeping blinds and curtains shut during shaded or nighttime hours can significantly reduce heat from escaping through leaky windows. However, by opening these blinds when the sun is shining through your windows, you can use the natural light to heat your home. This added heat increases the temperature inside your home and prevents your heater from overworking.

 

For more information on how to properly care for and insure you home, visit Heuer Insurance Agency. Since 1929, Heuer has been serving homeowners in the Reno, NV area with reliable insurance coverage and friendly service. To learn more tips for keeping your home in good condition, visit the Heuer Insurance blog.

 

What Can YOU Do To Keep Your Home Safe?

DIY home security

Your home is a safe haven and central location for your family, so it is essential to protect it and the people who live there.

Unfortunately, Reno residents need to take extra precautions because Reno’s crime rate is higher than 86% of the other cities and towns in Nevada.  Property crimes are higher as well, and Reno residents have a 1 in 31 chance of being the victim of vehicle theft, arson, larceny, or burglary. (Source)

So what can you do to protect your home? Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Don’t Make You Home An Easy Or Attractive Target

In most cases, home burglars are looking for easy, lucrative targets, so a few simple things can significantly lower your chances of having your home burglarized.

  • Always lock your doors and windows when you are away and at night. Secure your sliding glass door with a piece of wood, and don’t forget to lock the door that connects the house to the garage.
  • Install a deadbolt or chain lock on your doors to make it even harder for burglars to get in.
  • Don’t leave a spare key outside your house under a rock or in a pot. Give your key to a trusted family member or neighbor instead.
  • Avoid leaving expensive items in plain view from windows. You should also be careful when throwing away boxes for new expensive items such as laptops, televisions, and smartphones. If these boxes are easily visible, burglars will know that there is something new, valuable, and easy to sell in your home.

2. Increase Visibility Around Your Home

Make it easier to spot intruders by keeping the area around your home open and well lit. This will deter burglars in the first place, but it will also make it easy for you and your neighbors to notice suspicious activity. Keep motion detector lights working outside, and trim bushes and trees near your home.

3. Invest In A Security System

Something as simple as a security system sign will discourage many burglars. The security system itself will add extra protection and make it easier to monitor your home when you’re away. In some cases you may receive a discount on your homeowner’s insurance policy if you invest in a security system.

4. Take Extra Precautions When You’re Away From Home

Burglars are much more likely to invade your home when you’re away, especially if you’re gone for an extended period of time. Take the following steps to give your home extra protection when you’re out of town.

  • Don’t advertise your vacation dates on social media. This makes it easy for hundreds of ‘acquaintances’ to know that your home is less protected.
  • Have the post office hold your mail, so an overstuffed mailbox doesn’t announce that you’re gone.
  • Set your lights on a timer so that your house still looks lived in.
  • Tell a trusted neighbor that you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior.
  • If you can, it may be best to hire a house sitter to stay in your home and feed your pets, water your plants, and make your home look occupied.

Although there are many precautions you can take, you can only do so much to protect your home—you can’t control the actions of others. This is why it is essential to invest in a homeowners insurance policy that will cover damages if you are the victim of a burglary. Visit Heuer Insurance to learn more about protecting your home and other investments.

 

 

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Fall Maintenance For Your Home

fall matienence

With fall now in full swing, it’s time to make sure your home is adequately equipped for the coming winter months. By properly maintaining your home now, you can ward off expensive repairs and harmful damages in the future. These four essential fall maintenance tips help to make preparing your home easier than ever.

1.     Organize and Evaluate Outside

Maintaining the exterior of your home should be one of the first steps you take when preparing your house for fall and winter.

  • Stow your mower with fuel stabilizer and run your mower dry before putting it away for the winter.
  • Deter any drips by removing garden hoses from outdoor faucets and shut off any valves on exterior water faucets. Drain your hoses and store them in the shed or garage.
  • Drain your irrigation and sprinkler system. If you don’t have drain valves, hire a professional to properly shut down your system.
  • Evaluate the exterior siding and use color-matched caulk to seal up any cracks between trim, siding, windows, doorframes, pipes, wires, etc.
  • Unclog gutters by removing leaves, twigs and other debris. Keep an eye out for sagging, damaged gutters and downspouts while you’re at it.
  • Inspect your roof for buckled, cracked or missing shingles, rust spots or any loose or damaged areas that should be fixed immediately.
  • Make sure the soil around your foundation slopes away from your house so that water won’t soak into the soil and damage your foundation with cracks and leaks.
  • Prune plants so that all limbs and branches are at least three feet from your house. This will prevent any dripping or moisture from damaging your exterior.

 

2.     Inspect Your Interior

By going methodically through the interior of your home, you can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs during the winter months.

 

  • Cut down on drafts by applying weather stripping and caulk to air leaks from windows and doors.
  • Hire a licensed heating contractor to have your heating system checked for fuel efficiency and other potential problems.
  • Ensure your woodstove and fireplace are in working order. Be sure your fireplace’s flue opens and closes properly and that it’s free of branches, leaves or other debris. Also be sure the firebox isn’t missing any bricks or mortar and have your chimney professionally swept every other year.
  • Change the direction of your ceiling fans to create an upward draft that distributes warm air from the ceiling.
  • Clean humidifiers frequently during the heating season to avoid the build up of any bacteria in the water tank.

 

3.     Get Your Garden Winter-Ready

Organize your garage, store your summer gardening tools and clean up branches and leaves around your yard. Fall is also a great time to reseed patchy areas of grass and to plant bulbs for the spring. Also, be sure all of your winter equipment (snow blowers, roof rakes, shovels, etc.) are all in working order.

 

4.     Porch and Deck

Ensure your porch and deck will look their finest come spring. Check the supports, stairs and railings on all porches, decks, handrails, etc. Remember many of these surfaces will likely face harsh temperatures and cold elements in the coming months. Also, clean and cover all porch and deck furniture and empty all soil from pots and planters to avoid cracking and breaking of frozen, clay pots.

 

For more information on how to properly maintain your home year round, or to learn more about protecting the investment of your home with reliable homeowners insurance, visit Heuer Insurance Agency, today.

8 Ways To Stay Cool and Save Money

Stay cool & Save Money

Did you know that the average residential electric bill costs more that $110 per month? What else could you do with that money? Nice dinners out, airplane tickets, weekend activities… the list goes on and on. Save yourself some money this summer by following these 8 easy tips and cut costs on your monthly air conditioning.

 

Cut Your AC Bills

 

  1. Set your thermostat to 78 degrees. Experts say that for every two degrees you raise your thermostat, you’ll decrease your cooling costs by nearly 10 percent.
  2. Use drapes or curtains in the heat of the day. Keeping the direct sun from streaming through your windows will help your home stay significantly cooler.
  3. Regularly change your HVAC filter. Air conditioning systems with dirty filters tend to use 5 to 10 percent more energy.
  4. Make minimum use of your oven and stove. These appliances heat up your kitchen to unbearable temperatures and require your air conditioning to work harder.
  5. Change your light bulbs to energy-efficient LED bulbs. Not only do LEDs save you money and last for years, but they also generate less heat than incandescent bulbs.
  6. Line-dry your laundry outside. The benefits of this tip are many: your clothes get freshly air-dried, you save money on electricity from your dryer and you don’t add extra heat to your already warm home.
  7. Use fans. Whether they are ceiling fans, stand fans or tower fans, you’ll be able to use a lot less energy and add cool circulation in your home.
  8. Fully shutdown all unused electronic devices. Since many electronics have transformers, they put out a substantial amount of heat. Turn off any TV, entertainment system, computer, etc. not in use.

 

For more money saving tips or to learn more about ways to responsibly insure and care for your home visit Heuer Insurance Agency, today.

The Difference Between Renters Insurance And Homeowners Insurance

homeowners insurance

There are a lot of similarities between renters insurance and homeowners insurance—but they aren’t exactly the same. It is important to understand both types of insurance so you know exactly what your policy covers.

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Homeowners Insurance 101: The Basics

homeowner

Adequately understanding the basics of homeowners insurance policies can be vital when rebuilding or replacing your home and personal belongings. The following information covers the basic essentials of homeowners insurance and everything you need to know when considering its benefits.

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Is Buying a New Home the Right Choice for Me?

buying a new home

Buying a home is a huge decision, and whether you are buying a brand new home, or buying a previously lived in home it will be a difficult choice to make. As you decide whether or not to purchase a home, there are several factors you should keep in mind.  Here is a quick guide to the pros and cons of buying a new home.

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Can My Dog Affect My Home Insurance?

Having a pet is an exciting and important part of many people’s lives, however, there can often be serious repercussions to home insurance costs if you own a “risky” dog.  The experts at Heuer Insurance are here to help you understand the impact of dog ownership on the cost of your home insurance policy.

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How to Decide Between Buying and Renting

When you are deciding between buying or renting a home, your comfort and happiness should be your top priorities. But when you could be happy in either a rented or owned home, your decision becomes a bit more complicated.
Here are a few of the most important factors to keep in mind as you look towards your future home and plan your renting or purchasing decisions.

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