Benefits of a Programmable Thermostat

The cost of heating can really take a toll on us over the colder fall and winter months. Having a programmable thermostat can help in cutting heating costs and still staying warm. But just having one isn’t enough – you need to know how to use it to its full potential!

Programmable thermostats have the ability to be programmed so that you can have multiple temperature settings through out the day. The benefit of this, is not having to think about turning down the heat before you leave for work, or cranking it up when you get home. Instead, you get heating at the exact temperature you want, when you want.

So what temperatures should you set it to exactly? While you are home and awake, setting it to 68 degrees is a pretty standard temperature. While you are away from home, or sleeping, reducing it to 58 degrees should be tolerable. Of course, reducing the temperature even more than that while you are out of the house is possible, just don’t make it too low and freeze your water pipes.

Reducing your thermometer by 10-15 degrees for 8 hours (like while you are at work) you can save 5-15% off your heating bill. So the benefits can really pay off for reducing your heat while you are at work. For example: if you pay $200 a month in heating, reducing the heat by 15 degrees during the day will save $10-$30 a month which can add up to $60-$180 for the year if you use the heat for 6 months.

Finding ways to cut costs is important to everyone during tough economic times. Every penny counts. So add this money saving tip to your list and you could start racking up the savings.

Top Remodeling Projects

More and more homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes and remodel. Homeowners who stay in their homes will eventually sell their home so it is important to make sure to choose a remodeling project that will get a good return on investment. Homeowners will also want to make sure to choose the right project for their living situation. The following are some helpful hints and a guide to the values of home remodeling projects.

First, you will want to ask yourself a few questions before you begin:

What is your budget?

What is the reason behind the project? Are you looking for more space? Updates?

Are you trying to improve your quality of life?

Is the goal to create more value in your home?

If you are looking to get the most resale value from your remodeling project, Remodeling Magazine has published a survey on how much some projects can increase the value of your home.

Here are just a few popular projects and their values:

Garage Addition 63.7% increase

Home Office Remodel 43.6% increase

Roofing Replacement 62.9% increase

Window Replacement (vinyl) 71.2% increase

For a full list of projects and how much you can expect to recoup you can read the Remodeling Cost Value Report by Remodeling Magazine.

 

 

Choosing the Right Contractor

Are you considering a large-scale home remodel?  Whether you are looking for a project intended to increase your home’s value, or you’re splurging on a pleasure project for your family, many of you will be turning to contractors to carry out the work that needs to be done.  However, not all contractors are equal.  It is important for you to outline your priorities for the project.  You’ll want a reliable contractor that can perform satisfactory work for a reasonable price.  Here’s a few tips to help get you started.

1. – Find yourself an insured and licensed contractor.  Don’t just pull a number from the classifieds and run with it without doing some proper homework.  Licensing ensures that the contractor in question is qualified to do the work being discussed.  To find out if your prospective contractor is licensed, contact your state license board and check up on them.

Insurance is another matter.  Insurance protects the workers the contractor will be employing, and your home from accidents resulting in damages.  Ask your contractor to provide you with proof of insurance.  If they can’t provide this, then move on to a new contractor.

2. – Referrals and reviews – Before you strike out on your own, ask your friends and family if they have anyone that they’d recommend.  Many times, the best contractors are found word-of-mouth.  Every contractor on the planet wants his clients to think that he’s the best for the job, but results speak for themselves.  Again, make sure any referrals are licensed and insured.  You don’t want to take the chance of incurring additional damages to your property due to negligence and accidents.  If no referrals can be found, then check online for reviews of local contractors.  Most reputable contractors will have solid online reviews that are easily accessible.  Contractors that operate their own websites are a plus.

3. – There’s no such thing as a stupid question.  If your contractor acts annoyed with you for asking too many questions, then you should probably consider someone else for the job.  Questions to consider asking are

– How long have you been in business?

– How much will this project cost in total?

– Have you performed this type of work before?

– What is the protocol if the project goes over-budget?

If you don’t like the answers given, then continue looking for a contractor you feel comfortable with.

4. – Don’t pay too much up front.  Paying up to a third of the total estimate up front isn’t unheard of.  This initial payment will more than likely be used to hire employees and buy supplies.  However, be wary of giving the contractor any more money until after your project is finished.  Also, don’t be afraid to get a rundown of how that initial payment will be spent.  Be thorough if you want to be.  The contractor should be able to give you a pretty good picture of the project in terms of cost and time.

5. – Get a contract – No matter the size of the project being undertaken, a contract should always be written up.  This will ensure a legally-binding agreement between you and the contractor exists in the event of the unforeseen.  Without a contract, there is no way to hold the contractor accountable in the event he performs an unsatisfactory job.  And trust me…Any hassles you may incur in securing a contract is nothing compared to going to court without one in the event something goes awry.  A proper contract should include the following information.

  • When the project will start and end
  • How and when you or the contractor is in default of the contract
  • How any disputes will be rectified
  • What happens if there is a delay due to weather, available materials, and so on.

Stay Out of Tax Trouble

With the tax deadline come and gone it is important to know that not paying your taxes can have significant repercussions. Tax laws and even worse the fallout from not paying your taxes can be a complicated mess. You could get stuck with a tax lien, if this happens to you here are tips on what can you do to remove a tax lien?

First, what is a tax lien? It is a legal way for the IRS to get an individual to pay tax debt. Liens can be placed on personal or real property when you fail to pay taxes within a given period of time. The lien is usually filed at a local County Clerk’s office and is a public document. It can also be filed with the Secretary of State.

Through the lien the IRS gains legal claim on property until the lienor can pay the tax that is owed. Tax liens are not only inconvenient but they can also affect your credit rating. The sale of any personal property will also be difficult or even impossible.

Your top priority should be to remove a tax lien as soon as possible. Here is what you need to know:

1. You have 30 days to respond to a tax lien after receiving a “Final Notice of Intent to Levy”.

2. Tax liens can expire but this may not be the best option. For tax liens more recent than November 6, 1990, the tax lien becomes unenforceable after 10 years. For all liens prior to November 6, 1990, the tax lien becomes unenforceable after six years.

3. A tax lien can show on your credit report forever. Even if it expires the lien will remain on your credit report, whether the IRS acts upon it or not.

4. Pay the tax that is owed. If you choose this option, your tax lien should be removed within 30 days. It can be removed from your credit report as well.

5. Prove a financial hardship. If you can prove to the IRS that levying money in your bank account will cause more harm than good and that it may cause you to never be able to pay them what you owe them.

6. Your best option is to consult with a tax professional to help you create a realistic tax payback plan or correspondence with the IRS.