Blog :: 06-2014

Keeping some of the 'Sizzle' out of your Summer Electric Bill

Some Options to Consider:

Turn your Thermostat up. By keeping your home at 78 degrees vs. 70 degrees, you can cut air conditioning costs nearly in half. To save even more, try setting your thermostat a few degrees higher when expecting to be out of your home for an extended period of time. Programmable thermostats, which can be bought for a few hundred dollars, make this process easier by following a schedule based on your personal preferences, and can ultimately save you up to 20 percent of your electrical usage.

Use Ceiling Fans. If turning the thermostat up to 78 degrees sounds drastic, try using ceiling fans to lower the temperature of your house by three to five degrees.

Keep Windows and Drapes closed. Since sun streaming through windows accounts for about 50 percent of the heat that enters a house, closing windows and drapes are efficient ways to reduce the amount of money spent on cooling. With less heat coming in, there is less of a need for air conditioning to run.

Turn off the Lights. Most people do not realize that the average American spends 15 percent of his or her electric bills on the costs of lighting his or her houses. Lights give off heat and use electricity, so try turning lights off when you leave a room for a cooler home and a cheaper electricity bill.

Be creative when Cooking. To avoid heating up your home, try using your kitchen appliances less and barbecuing and outdoor eating more. To avoid the unwanted air conditioning costs that accompany the heat produced by ovens, switch your cooking style to outdoor grilling, or even use a slow cooker. Also, rather than thawing food in the microwave, take advantage of the summer heat, a method that does not generate electricity or cost you money.

Unplug, unplug, unplug. Many appliances consume power, even when not in use. Since many devices are not designed to save power when turned off yet plugged in, make sure to unplug gaming devices, hairdryers, toaster ovens, etc., when not in use. Another way to conserve energy is to stagger the timing of keeping devices or appliances plugged in, such as washing clothes and dishes at night, when the air conditioning is not using as much energy.

Perform routine maintenance on Air Filters. Replacing or cleaning your air filters monthly can save you as much as 10 percent on your electric bill by not restricting air flow, thus allowing your air unit to work more efficiently.

Get to know your Utilities' "Time of Use Plans." Understanding what plans your Utilities provide allows you to schedule high energy activities on off-peak hours. There are also payment plans that allow for budget billing to be spread out more evenly over the course of the year.

Though investments do have a cost, the following investment options have a relatively short payback time, which occurs when the savings on your electrical expenses surpass your initial investment cost.

Invest in Shade Screens. Though these screens can be pricey, possibly costing over $300 per window, you should keep in mind that 50 percent of the heat that enters your home comes in through your windows. Placing these screens on the windows on the Southside of your home, or those that are often in the sun, will repay your investment before you know it.

Plant Shade Trees. While some people choose to plant trees for their beauty, others plant trees for the monetary benefits these trees can provide. After shade-bearing trees reach maturity, they enable you to save up to $50 per year on electrical expenses, by blocking some of the heat from entering your home. Many utilities have programs that support the planting of these trees with minimal costs.

Replace that old Refrigerator or Freezer. Replacing an old refrigerator or freezer with a new, more efficient one can decrease your electric bill by $40 a month. Some of these new appliances even show energy usage on the label, so you can calculate what your savings and payback period will be, prior to buying the fridge or freezer. Along the same lines, for those with swimming pools, investing in a more efficient pool pump can also save a similar amount of money per month.

Install weather stripping. Even when houses are well constructed, with cold and heat expansion and contraction, a house can start to create small gaps on windows and doors over time, where heat can enter. Either weather stripping or caulking will solve this problem, two options that are attainable at low costs.

Give your Home an Energy Check-up. Almost all Utilities offer a home energy audit for a nominal charge, often around $100 per audit. Going through your home with an expert can be beneficial for seeking out energy inefficiencies and their solutions.

Switch to Fluorescent light bulbs. Last but not least, when a bulb burns out, investigate these more efficient florescent bulbs, which have a slightly higher cost but burn cooler and last longer.

Here is the Bottom Line.

Energy inefficiencies can result from a variety of factors, but luckily, many have easy fixes. By trying a few of these ideas, even if you save just $1 per day, imagine all you could do with that extra $365 per year. Try a few more of these simple ideas and who knows how much you can save.

 

Ready for some Hot Music & Steamy Nights This Summer?

Columbus Park is the place to be for some serious summer fun...great music & dancing - some really good times are on the horizon!

Jazz Up July

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This outdoor summer jazz concert series spotlights live music from national and regional headliners. The event takes place on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm, July 9 through July 30.

This year’s series has been expanded to include several different genres of music (not just Jazz).

Alive @ Five

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This year marks the return of Alive@Five vets Blues Traveler, who performed at the series in 2008, and Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth, who appeared the following year. The Beach Boys closed out the series in 2010, and it was awesome! New faces include KC and the Sunshine Band, Barenaked Ladies, Ed Kowalczyk of the band Live and Jake Miller.

The concerts start on July 10th and continue every Thursday until Aug. 14th at Columbus Park in Downtown Stamford.

Hope to see you there!

Happy Father's Day!

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Father’s Day celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in 2010. Of course there is some debate on where the idea for Father’s Day originated in the US. Some believe that it was in July 1908 in a West Virginia church in a sermon in memory of 362 miners who had died in an explosion. This was meant to be a one time commemoration, not an annual holiday.

The following year a woman name Sonora Smart Dodd, known as “The Mother of Father’s Dayâ€, tried to establish an equivalent of Mother’s Day for Fathers. Her Mother had died when she was 16 and left her and 5 younger brothers for her Father to raise which inspired her to propose equal recognition for Fathers. She lobbied throughout Washington State and was successful in having the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.

fathers day calendar In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day, however many men were not in favor. During the 1920’s & 30’s a movement rose to scrap both Mother’s Day & Father’s Day in favor of a single holiday – Parents’ Day. The Depression and struggling retailers derailed that effort and strived to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas†for men.

When World War II began, advertisers argued that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday but it was a national institution.

#1 Dad In 1966 President Johnson signed a proclamation that the third Sunday in June be recognized as Father’s day and requested flags be flown at all government buildings and finally, in 1972, President Nixon signed a federal proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

Scholars believe that the real origin of Father’s Day can be traced to the ruins of Babylon where a young boy named Elmesu carved a Father’s Day message on a card made out of clay nearly 4,000 years ago wishing his father good health and a long life.

Today over 50 countries around the world, from Antigua to Zimbabwe join in the Father’s Day celebrations.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Keep Your Lawn Lush and Healthy this Summer

lush lawnIf spring lawn care is about getting your lawn healthy and green, summer is about KEEPING it healthy while temperatures soar and rainfall becomes a fleeting memory. Here are some tips for keeping your lawn in shape over those long, hot days of summer.

After the spring growing season, summer brings quite a bit of stress to your lawn. We want our lawns lush and green for outdoor activities, and we try to fight nature by continuing to fertilize, water, and coax new growth out of our lawns no matter what the weather. However, by understanding and respecting the seasonal changes of turf grasses, you can take steps to care gently for your lawn as the mercury rises.

Once temperatures get into the 80s and above, lawns will begin to struggle a little. Growth will slow, color may fade, and lawns will show signs of wear and tear as they are less able to recover from stress and traffic.

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  • Lawns need at least one inch of water per week, and more when the heat is severe.
  • Water deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-tolerant roots.
  • Water early in the day to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.
  • Either water your lawn regularly and deeply, or don’t water at all. Don’t let your lawn go brown and dormant, then try to “water it back to life.†If your lawn goes dormant in summer, it should stay that way until fall – don’t worry, it should recover once the weather changes.

Mowing Tips

  • Raise your mower blade in the summer. Taller grass is more drought-tolerant, grows deeper roots, and helps shade the earth to prevent weed seeds from germinating.
  • Mulching grass clippings helps keep moisture levels steady. mowing
  • Mow regularly, to prevent cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. This keeps your grass healthier and prevents the clippings from smothering the grass.
  • Keep mower blades sharp. Make sure your mower is cutting your grass, not tearing it, to minimize stress during hot temperatures.

Don't Over Fertilize

If your lawn is looking straggly in midsummer, resist the urge to fertilize. In fact, it’s best to stop fertilizing about 30 days before summer temperatures arrive. Applying extra fertilizer in the heat of summer can burn your lawn and create a flush of tender growth that will struggle in the hot summer weather. Never fertilize dormant lawns – wait until they green up in the fall.

High-Traffic Areas

By summer, many lawns begin to show signs of wear, especially in a few popular pathways. Consider installing stepping stones to minimize damage to your grass, and try to minimize traffic on dormant, brittle lawns. If you’re getting plenty of rainfall and your lawn is actively growing, you can apply a bit of fertilizer to these areas to help the blades recover faster.

Control Weeds

Summer is the season to get those growing weeds removed before they bloom and disperse seed for next year. Targeted postemergent herbicides are designed to kill broadleaf weeds without harming turf grass, but they must be applied when temperatures will be below 85° F for a few days. Keep in mind that during the heat of summer, ANY product can be damaging to already-stressed lawn grasses, so use sparingly or hand-pull weeds instead. weeds

Insects and Diseases

  • Dormant or drought-stressed summer lawns can be more susceptible to insect infestations, such as chinch bugs, cutworms, armyworms, sod webworms, fire ants, fleas, and mosquitoes.
  • Summer is also the time for fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew and brown patch. Apply fungicide if needed, and avoid watering in the evening to keep nighttime moisture at a minimum.
  • Grubs will begin hatching in your lawn over the summer. If grubs typically cause problems in your lawn, you can begin applying grub control around midsummer.

Can Greener Grass translate into more "Green" in Your Pocket? Call and Let's Chat.