As temperatures drop and days get shorter, you may be fearing the impending winter season based on last year’s unusually frigid weather. Luckily, a recent forecast from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) expects temperatures to be warmer this season compared to last winter. This piece of news doesn’t just mean you’ll save your fingers and toes from frostbite — you’ll also save yourself some money on your home energy bill. In fact, heating takes the biggest bite out of your monthly utilities, accounting for a whopping 43 percent of costs.
While Mother Nature is going easy on you this winter, it’s important to prep your home and ensure your heating system is functioning properly to avoid wasting money. Most homeowners can’t afford a complete overhaul of their HVAC system, but there are simple ways to make sure your system heats efficiently. Follow this checklist to prep for winter and save on those monthly bills.
The easiest way to maximize your heating system’s efficiency is to change your air filters every two months. Depending on the brand and model, this is a minimal cost ranging from $4 to $20. Set a reminder on your phone to complete this task regularly, as it often falls under the “out of sight, out of mind” category of oversight!
To heat your home, hot air generated by your HVAC system circulates through ducts to deliver comfortable temperatures in each room. However, according to the EnergyStar.gov, 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks. Ultimately, that lost air translates into lost dollars. Examine any exposed ducts in your attic, basement, and crawl spaces and plug up any leaks.
Windows and Doors
Doors and windows represent the biggest culprits for air leaks in your home, so check for drafts! And if you find any leaks, apply caulking between the frames and walls both inside and outside to prevent precious heat from escaping. If you’ve never caulked anything before, don’t be intimidated: it’s easy! Follow these helpful tips from Dummies.com.
Most people don’t think to use their fans during the winter, but switching them to a clockwise rotation will blow warm air down to the floor. Heat rises, so this is an important step in keeping your home comfortable and maximizing the use of your heating system. Energy Star recommends keeping your ceiling fans on a low speed and adjusting your thermostat down to further save on energy costs.
If you use an air conditioning window unit, it’s important to remove it before the winter to prevent drafts of cold air coming into your home. If moving your unit is too much work, you have other options like covering them with insulated liners. Ultimately, you don’t want any drafts that will let hot air escape or cold air enter.
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, you’re likely wasting unnecessary energy and money to heat your home when no one is there. Using a programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 a year on your utility bill. Devices that contribute to the “smart home” trend are costlier than basic thermostats, but do allow maximum control via smartphone. If you’re in the market for one of these gadgets, look for coupons to offset your costs. For example, you can find coupons to Home Depot through sites like CouponSherpa.com, or deals for a host of other home stores to help you save.
Some HVAC problems require the help of an expert who can review your system. Before you hire someone from the yellow pages, contact your energy company; many offer free home audits to help identify where your home is losing heat. If you do require professional assistance, be sure to get multiple bids and ask about any new customer offers or promotions.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized shopping expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.
xDroid Takes The Fun Of Video Racing Games Into The Real World
Want something that brings the thrill of racing video games into the real world? It’s here and it is called xDroid. At last the best features of RC cars and racing video games come together. You can race, drift, jump, play with friends and even code your own games. And you get to control everything from your smartphone.
xDroid brings the best parts of video game racing to the real world. You can play demolition derby, capture the flag and much more. It uses three main elements to work its magic: The mobile gaming app, the xDroid car and the xPoint.
The xDroid is a 1:16 scale hobby-grade smartphone-controlled car, but if you already own an RC car, you can use your own by upgrading it with an xCore. The xPoints are basically small interactive checkpoints that you can position along the route. These will let you collect bonuses, earn scores, and get power-ups. The app has the games, acts as a controller and also a social platform.
I don’t know about you, but I have often dreamed of a Mario Kart type game that I could play in the real world with RC cars. xDroid makes it possible to play this and other video game type racing games.
I can see people really getting into this to the point where it becomes a real sport. The system seems like it has everything you need to play and create good games right out of the gate. You can check out the Kickstarter for more info. This is going to be fun.
Equipment and Supplies Necessary For A Hunting Trip
Hunters can not head out on a hunting trip without first gathering the necessary equipment and supplies. They won’t be able to take down the prey without having the means to do so, and they can’t keep themselves safe without the right gear. Bringing the right equipment and supplies out hunting will be the difference between a successful trip and an unsuccessful one.
Rifle or Bow
There is one main piece of equipment a hunter needs, and that is their weapon. It’s difficult to take an animal down without the proper weapon to do so. The season in which you’re hunting plays a major role in determining whether you should take a rifle or bow. A bow is often the preferred hunting method because it’s quieter and the arrows can be reused time and time again. Shops like James River Archery offer the latest technology in hunting equipment, including the Micro Hex Hunting Stabilizer.
Hunters are meant to wear something orange, typically a hat or vest, in an effort to protect themselves. They may want to stay camouflaged and hidden from whatever animals they’re hunting, but they need to let other hunters in the area know they’re there as well. Seeing a bright orange color from a distance will let others know not to shoot in that direction. It’s a simple safety precaution that must be taken by every hunter.
Warm, Yet Protective Clothes and Boots
Hunting gear includes clothing and shoes. A hunter’s outfit must keep them warm no matter what temperature they’re in, especially since many tend to head out in the early morning hours when it’s still chilly. The outfit should also help protect the hunter, providing extra layers to keep the weather and insects and critters, from doing any harm. Both an inner and outer layer should be worn along with weatherproof and all-terrain boots that are comfortable for long treks through the wood.
Animals can often smell humans in the area without needing to see them. If they can tell that a person is nearby they’re more likely to wander off in the opposite direction. Using a scent-blocker on the clothing worn can help keep a person’s scent at bay so no prey knows they’re nearby. A more attractive scent can be used to attract the animal, such as doe urine to bring more bucks to the area thinking a female is near. Hunters will use different foods and scents depending on the type of animal they’re hunting. While deer enjoy eating corn and peas, rabbits will come to an apple cider scent or apples.
No one should ever head out hunting without first obtaining the proper license. There are only a certain number of game a person can tag and bring in to have processed and used for meat. People can face serious fines if found hunting without a license, so it’s better to start off each season with an updated version. Hunting and fishing licenses can often be obtained online or from a store that sells hunting gear. Hunting big game requires people to apply and be selected before they can continue.
The right equipment and supplies need to be worn and brought along on a hunting excursion. Without them, the venture would not be successful. Certain rules and requirements have been made for hunting for a reason, so all hunters will be safe and protected while they’re out in the wilderness.
From Smoke To Vapor: Is It For You?
Over the past few years, vaping has become incredibly popular. It’s proven to be a very strong competitor to traditional smoking, leading lots of people to ditch cigarettes in favor of vaping.
People are making that choice for several reasons. If you’re thinking about making the switch yourself, you may find it a little strange to think that you can just drop cigarettes in favor of vaping, and certainly the transition will take some adjusting. But in time, you may find that the advantages of changing will be easy to see, and they’ll give you plenty of reason to stay with vaping.
You Can Choose Your Product
Generally speaking, a cigarette is a cigarette. The flavor is the same, the nicotine content is the same, and even the appearance does not vary dramatically from brand to brand. About the only distinction is the carton, which spends most of its time in your pocket or purse anyway.
With vaping, you can mix things up a little bit. You can find vape and ejuice deals that will let you try any of a number of different flavors and levels of nicotine, all without spending hours digging through stores. They can range from the tame to the extreme, and if you don’t like them, you can change them.
Your vaporizer itself also reflects your personality. Because vapers use the same device for months or even years, they work hard to avoid designs that cramp their style and push them back to cigarettes.
It’s Smoking Without The Smoke
Clearly, vaping is not nearly as intrusive as smoking. The vapor does not carry the distinctive odor of cigarette smoke, making it far less unpleasant to those around you. The vapor doesn’t discolor clothing or leave your vehicle permeated with an almost-indestructible odor.
Vaping is based on water vapor instead of acrid smoke. It isn’t intrusive to those around you; it doesn’t burn their eyes or leave them coughing and sneezing anytime you’re around. And it’s short-lived, dissipating quickly into the air around you while still giving you that smoking look.
Vaping Is Safer & Cleaner
A fundamental component of a cigarette is the combustion. A tiny but incredibly hot area of tobacco converting to ash dangles delicately at the very end of the cigarette, ready to fall loose or to be dropped with the entire cigarette. Over the years, there have been countless cases of injuries and deaths from these small points of ignition, along with equally innumerable cases of damaged clothing, furniture, carpet, and other valuables that were on the receiving end of a dropped or falling cigarette.
Cigarette smoke also discolors your teeth, your clothing, your paint–you name it. It also leaves behind messy cigarette butts that clog storm sewers, fill trash cans, and create a fire hazard both in buildings and in the outdoors.
There is a lot of appeal to nicotine. Smokers enjoy the feeling they get from nicotine, but smoking has always been problematic in terms of its risks as a fire hazard as well as the unpopular and unpleasant impacts of the smoker on those around them who are not smoking.
Vaping eliminates both the fire danger and the troublesome smoke, allowing the vaper to enjoy nicotine without creating such an imposition on those around them. These benefits are the driving force between the growing popularity of vaping, and they suggest the trend will continue.