7 Ways You Can Save Money and Energy This Summer

While the frigid winter is the common culprit for high-energy expenses, people also use a fair share of electricity during the summer. Air conditioners are running almost all day long, electronics seem to be blasting from every corner of the house, and there’s seemingly never-ending summer laundry to do.

Summer fun requires lots of work. Fortunately, if you’re looking to lower your utility bill, there are ways to be smart about how you use household appliances in the summer. 

Don’t let your high summer utility bill make you wish you’d melted away long ago. Keep the following tips in mind if you’re looking to save sanity, money, and energy this summer.

1. Go Easy on Your Thermostat Use

The more you can avoid cranking up your air conditioning, the more energy you can save. If you’re out, don’t have it on at all or set it to go off at a specific time. Or, it might not be a big concern if your home is configured to be adjustable from your device.

2. Use Fans When Possible

Don’t discount the power of a good fan. They are effective and can help maintain similar comfort as air conditioning. Ceiling fans and portable ones are good at covering larger areas.

3. Don’t Let the Cool Air Get Out

Summer is a wonderful time to feel the fresh warm air on your skin, but it can feel like a constant battle when trying to keep the heat out of your house. “You can avoid using air-conditioning altogether if you have adequate insulation and keep the curtains drawn when the sun is at its hottest and open the windows during cooler times,” remarked Steve Lewis, president and CEO of an air conditioning repair service. 

Landscaping can be done strategically to block the sun from streaming right in. Planting vines, trees, and shrubs is a decorative and natural way to help save money on your energy bill.

4. Switch to LED Bulbs

If you want to reduce your inside energy usage, stop using incandescent light bulbs. LED light bulbs don’t produce as much heat as incandescent bulbs and will work for much longer.

5. Cook Outside to Keep It Cooler Inside

It can be difficult to spend an hour cooking in a hot kitchen without airflow. Cooking outside can conserve electricity since you won’t have to cool the house down again afterward. Plus, it allows everyone to get some fresh air. 

6. Make Sure Nothing Is Blocking Any of Your Vents

All vents should be clear to have proper airflow. Air conditioning can’t move through the house if something obstructs the vents, so it’s best to move all of the furniture and rugs away from them. It might also help to point them toward the middle of the room if they aren’t pointed there already. 

7. Try Not to Run Hot Water

A great deal of energy is required to heat water, so even running loads of laundry on warm or cold can conserve electricity. Afterward, save more energy by hanging clothes to dry instead of running the dryer. Your home will also stay cooler without having to run the dryer. 

While the summer months are sure to be hot, you can be proactive so that your energy bill isn’t too high. Hopefully, these reminders can help you stay one step ahead of the heat this summer without costing you an arm and a leg.

5 Hacks to Help You Afford Car Repairs

If you’ve ever had a car break down, you know how much financial stress it can cause. Car problems can occur randomly, but routine maintenance is also something that also needs to be considered. While mechanic costs can add up fast, the following guidelines can help you keep maintenance and repair expenses low.

Do Your Research

Those who don’t have the best idea of how to estimate a car repair can benefit greatly from doing a little research before they send their car to the mechanic. One study found that people can end up with a better cost for the repairs if they make an effort to look into the problem beforehand. Knowing what the fix should be priced at can work in your favor. Websites like Driverside and AutoMD can help you determine where the problem might lie and how much it should cost to have fixed.

Even those who don’t have in-depth knowledge about their vehicle can have better luck at the mechanic’s shop. “Look into the problem beforehand, ask as many questions as you want, and if you feel unsure about anything, move on to a different mechanic. If you haven’t signed anything, you’re not obligated to work with them,” explained Jason Chalik, car accident lawyer in Plantation. The peace of mind will assure you that you’re on the right track.

Look for Discounts and See What Your Warranty Covers

Sometimes, Pep Boys and Meineke put coupons online, and even these can save you some cash. Warranties on new cars usually last until 36,000 miles or three years. Repairs will likely be taken care of if your car is still within those time restrictions. Used cars can also be covered if you purchase an aftermarket warranty.

Look for a Reliable Mechanic that You Trust

An honest mechanic can save you a great deal of money. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence endorses mechanics after they have demonstrated proficiency in every aspect of car maintenance and repair, and their website is the best place to locate a mechanic if you haven’t found one yet. AAA also recommends mechanics. Or, see which repair shop your family and friends take their cars to. Reviews can also prove useful as a last resort, and get a second opinion if you’re in doubt.

Stay on Top of Recommended Maintenance

Some services might not be absolutely necessary, but prioritizing certain maintenance tasks can save you a lot of grief later. Check your owner’s manual to see what your car needs, and avoid spending money on work that doesn’t need to be done until you reach a certain mileage. Certain checks can be done yourself, such as looking at the fluid level or changing the oil. Many instructional repair videos are available on AutoZone and other reputable websites that can help get you started.

In summary, being proactive can save you a great deal of expense and frustration when it comes to your vehicle. Do you have any other tips for finding a good mechanic fast? What do you look for when taking your car in for a tune-up?

Keep Calm and Unclog that Toilet Like a Pro

A clogged toilet is everyone’s worst fear- especially if it happens at someone else’s house! Despite how little it is talked about, clogged toilets happen more often than one might think. So the next time you’re faced with rising water in the porcelain throne, don’t panic! The following tips will help get your plumbing back to normal in no time.

Teach Children How to Properly Use the Toilet

Many clogged toilets could be avoided if children kept their toys out of the toilet. Teach children that the toilet is not a Jacuzzi or water ride for their GI Joes. Additionally, teach children the proper amount of paper that is needed when using the bathroom.

Practice Toilet Maintenance

A properly maintained toilet is a happy toilet. Clean the bowl weekly with a brush, being sure to clean the jets in the bowl’s edge. Jets that are not functioning at full capacity will diminish the power of a flush, which could lead to more frequent clogging.

Purchase the Right Tools

The most effective tool for unclogging a toilet is a plunger. However, not all plungers are created equally. The best kind will allow for a good seal between the rubber and the toilet bowl. Funnel-cup plungers tend to provide the best seal. They have an added piece extending off the bottom of the rubber cup of the plunger.

Consider purchasing an auger to have on hand for more difficult clogs. Augers are found at most hardware stores. An auger is a cable-like tool that is snaked through the hole in the toilet to help loosen a clog.

Keep the Water from Rising

If the water in the toilet bowl keeps rising and is threatening to overflow, remove the lid from the top of the tank and close the toilet flapper. The toilet flapper controls the flow of water from the tank into the bowl. Closing the flapper prevents more water from traveling into the bowl, which should prevent your bathroom from a mini flood.

How to Unclog a Toilet

The first time you  have to unclog a toilet can be scary, but keep calm! There are many steps you can take to give you the best chance of success. And – if you truly panic – there are many helpful guides online to guide you through how to unclog a toilet.

1.Warm up the plunger by running it under hot water. Softened rubber will allow for a better seal, which will make plunging more effective.

2. Be sure you are using the plunger correctly. Be sure the plunger is forming a solid seal over the hole in the toilet bowl. Push down and pull up equally, as both movements are essential to the unclogging process.

3. Consider adding hot water and dishwasher detergent to the toilet bowl. Let the mixture sit a few minutes, and try and flush. The hot water and soap help break up the clog. Hot water alone has been known to break up a clog, which could be useful when you’re at a friend’s house, and you’d rather not suffer the embarrassment of telling them you clogged their toilet.

4. If plunging and hot water doesn’t help, consider using an auger. Simply place the cable in the hole, and start turning the crank on the end until the cable reaches the clog. It will either break the clog apart or hook onto it. If it hooks onto the clog, you will need to pull it out of the toilet hole and discard excess waste. Plunge the toilet a couple of times to be sure any blockage is cleared.

5. If none of these tips work, it could be time to call a plumber. Keep an eye on sinks and showers- if they are filling or backing up with water when you flush, it could be a sign of a clogged main line.

How to Maintain your Car

If you want to keep your car in top cosmetic and running condition, it’s important to keep up on some basic maintenance tasks. Cars today don’t require the constant upkeep that they used to, so people tend to forget that any maintenance at all is needed. But if you don’t pay attention to the scheduled maintenance of your car, it will slowly degrade and break down, perhaps even causing an accident. In the end, it will cost you much less in both effort and cash to regularly maintain your car than to fix it after it breaks.

The most wear-and-tear on your car happens under the hood, so it’s crucial to take care of your engine at scheduled intervals. Check your oil monthly and change it if necessary. Be sure your car is parked on a level surface so the dipstick will read accurately. If you’re losing oil, get the leak checked out by a professional and fixed fast. Running your engine on low oil can result in disaster, sometimes causing damage that costs too much to justify repairing. Aside from checking the oil, have it changed according to the mileage or date scheduled from its last change, and don’t forget to change the oil filter too. Also under the hood, check the air filter, fuel filter and spark plugs.

Every couple years, you’ll want to get the cooling system drained and flushed, and the transmission fluid replaced. At the same time, replace the drive belts and hoses. An important component to check and replace is your timing belt, if it has one instead of a chain. If your timing belt snaps while you’re driving, the damage could be catastrophic. For all of these components, check your owner’s manual for the mileage indicating when a change is due.

Check your tire pressure once a month and before long trips. Not only does air slowly leak from all tires, but the pressure changes according to temperature. So in the summer, when it’s hot, your tires can reach pressures ten PSI higher or more than in the winter months. Don’t inflate to the maximum pressure indicated on the tires themselves, but instead check your manufacturer’s recommended pressure. You’ll find this information in your owner’s manual, but it’s also usually written on a sticker in the driver’s door jamb or inside the glove compartment. When checking your tire pressure, also check for uneven wear or anomalies like cuts or bulges.

Wash your car regularly to keep it free of dirt, road grime and salt. Be sure to wash inside the fender wells and under the bumpers. After you wash the car, apply a wax coat for extra protection.

If you get into an accident, your car will probably need some repairs. After you work out compensation from the insurance company, they might recommend a mechanic or body shop. Even so, you may ask the question, should I use the auto body shop my car insurance company recommends? The short answer is, you don’t necessarily need to go to their recommended service provider.

For other maintenance tips, consult your owner’s manual, and consider setting up reminders on your smartphone.

The Most Dangerous Automobile Defects

Our cars work so well today that we hardly think about all the things that could go wrong. We pile into vehicles with friends and family and don’t even think twice about the potential risks of dangerous automobile defects. This is normal, and you shouldn’t be scared to ride in a car, but knowing the deadliest defects should prompt you to keep an eye out for malfunctions and industry recalls.

Defective fuel system. If you’ve ever seen the charred and smoking remains of cars after a wreck, you’ve seen the results of defective fuel systems. Gas tanks, fuel lines and components like pumps and filters are designed to prevent fires and explosions even in the event of a crash. When they fail, the results can be deadly.

Defective steering system. If a problem occurs in the steering column or hydraulics used for power steering, the results can be disastrous. If you detect any looseness in the steering of your car, get it checked out immediately. The problem could simply be related to underinflated tires or bad joints near the wheels, so you won’t necessarily face a huge bill for getting this very important issue fixed.

Defective brakes. Brakes rely on applying friction near the wheels using pads and discs, so these parts naturally wear down through use. If you hear squeaking when you brake, you need new pads. But defects in the braking system, such as with brake fluid leaking from the lines, can also lead to disaster when you’re driving at speed down the road. Anti-lock braking systems can also experience defects. If your brakes feel squishy, you need to have a mechanic take a look.

Defective seats. We don’t think much about the seats when we’re driving, as long as everything is going well, even though this part of the car is where we make the most contact. In the event of a crash, seats are designed to keep you secured, upright and away from the cabin. If the seat-back collapses or the seat itself breaks free, your car’s safety will be seriously compromised. For this reason, make sure your seat adjusters are working properly, and if they’re not, it’s a sign of a defect you can’t afford to ignore.

Defective seat belts. Closely related to the proper function of seats are the seat belts, which are the most important safety feature in your car. The locking mechanism in these devices, both at the buckle and retractor, must be in proper working order to provide any safety at all. If you’re having trouble pulling out your seatbelts, locking them into place or getting them retracted, have a mechanic check it out. Sometimes these problems can discourage people from using their seatbelts at all, which leads to the worst-case scenario in an accident.

Defective airbags. Last but not least, airbags are in installed in new vehicles today as a mandatory safety feature along with seatbelts. What should you know about defective airbags? When they malfunction, airbags can become the most dangerous component in your car. For this reason, keep an eye out in the news for manufacturer recalls, especially regarding airbags.

Holiday Gifts for the Hair Care Guru in Your Home

Everyone has that one person in their life who is impossible to buy a gift for – either because they’re extremely picky or they already have everything! With the holiday season upon us, that time has come again, to find the gift for the person who is hard to please, who has everything. It can be a difficult, if not impossible, task.

When it comes to buying something that they can both use and will enjoy using, it helps to think about what nearly every woman cares about: their hair.

Veteran hairstylist and founder of Sultra, Dana Story, had this to say, “When gifting something for a female in your life, why not gift them something to style or care for their hair? Every woman has hair. They take time styling it, so a styling tool can be a useful gift.”

Miropure Enhanced Hair Straightener Brush

Even if you have frizzy curls that do what they want, the Miropure brush can get the job done in half the time of typical flat irons sold for much higher cost.

R + Co Day + Night Set

For that on-the-go friend or the daughter pulling all-nighters, this kit has a dry shampoo and a blowout balm that will boost volume, all without having to get your hair wet.

Aquis Turban

Traditional towels can be rough on your hair, promoting breakage, damage, and split ends. End the hair torture by picking up the Aquis Turban. Cut the frizz and get shinier hair by using this microfiber hair turban.

Oribe Collector’s Set

Get 12 deluxe-sized samplers from the Oribe brand, including best-sellers and favorite hair care products like the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, Gold Lust Dry Shampoo, and Mystify Restyling Spray.

Tangle Teaser Thick & Curly Detangling Hairbrush

That girl on your list with the untamable kinky, curly, frizzy hair will simplye love this one. This brush will smooth single-strand knots and get those curls detangled, and she’ll use it every day.

T3 Source Handheld Shower Head

Don’t forget that styling and hair care begins with the water you use to wash! This T3 shower head gets rid of those unwanted minerals that can be lurking in your city’s water supply, including rust and dirt.

Sultra Bombshell 1.5-inch Clipless Curling Iron

This curling iron, voted a best in beauty by Allure magazine, creates shiny, voluminous curls. Even heat distribution and no clip means no line of demarcation to muss your fabulous do! From Sultra, the brand that helps treat your hair while styling, working to repair and prevent damage.

Hopefully, there has been something on this list to gift even the hardest to impress friend or coworker on your list. Gifting something that they’ll use every day means that you’ll never be far from their thoughts, and they might just thank you when you’ve cured their frizzies!

Improving the Sustainability of In-home Air Conditioning Units

If you’re wondering what the most effective method of lowering emissions by greenhouse gases is, you’ve come to the right place. There is an enormous need to improve the efficiency of air conditioning units.

Air conditioners don’t receive much blame for their impact on emissions and inefficiency of energy, and since they are used so prevalently and appreciated by many, it’s important to acknowledge the actions that we can take to ensure that our units are as efficient as possible.

Air conditioning units have been a favorite of mankind for many years, nearly as long as automobiles have been in existence. Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, once labeled it “One of the signal inventions in history”. Tropical climates can be much more productive than they would be without air conditioning. Over 70,000 deaths associated with heat waves in Europe have decreased 10x. It has even been found that children are able to get better grades in classrooms that are air-conditioned.

However, there is a definite need to improve the efficiency of air conditioners or produce energy without releasing carbon into the air so that the contribution to global warming can be mitigated.

Importance of Air Conditioning Unit Upkeep

The air conditioning models available today that are the most efficient only use roughly one-third of the electricity that average units use. If standards for energy-efficient units could be raised, this would make a drastic difference. Some countries don’t have air conditioning equipment standards at all.

Fortunately, there are signs that consumers can watch for to determine how efficient their AC unit is running. The 5 signs your AC may have problems include bad airflow, issues with moisture, odd sounds, strange smells, or a lack of cold air. If any of these are observed, it might be beneficial for your power bill and for the environment to have a licensed professional perform an inspection.

Also, manufacturers must find an alternative to harmful refrigerants. One type in particular, hydrofluorocarbons, is more than 1,000 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide in keeping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. Fortunately, an international plan to stop using this kind of pollutant is being adapted. This will begin to take place in 2019.

Implementing New Construction with Built-in Cooling Features

Finally, additional efforts can be taken to design malls, offices, and cities to use fewer air conditioning units to begin with. They can be immensely helpful, but the overwhelming quantity sometimes isn’t necessary. Decisions can be made before the construction phase to include self-cooling features, including balconies that create shade, natural systems of ventilation, or simply roofs that overhang. An easy way to make a noticeable improvement in air temperature is to use white paint for the roof.

While energy-efficient air conditioning units are a great starting point, cooling overall needs to be developed further. Air conditioning can still be made useful without sacrificing the environment. Manufacturers can make great strides if they can develop units that still allow air-conditioned luxury without contributing to heating the planet.