- Tips to Lower your Electric BillPosted: 2 days ago
- 5 Easy Home Improvement Projects & Upgrades For the WinterPosted: 6 days ago
- Benefits to buying in the winterPosted: 1 week ago
- Cash In with a Cash-Out RefinancePosted: 7 months ago
- Mortgage MythsPosted: 7 months ago
- Q&A: All About Flooring — Hardwood, Carpeting, Tiling, LaminatePosted: 9 months ago
- Tip: 3 Foolproof Social Media Marketing TipsPosted: 11 months ago
- Tips for Hosting a Stress-Free Holiday DinnerPosted: 12 months ago
- Is a Mortgage Refinance Right for You?Posted: 1 year ago
- Check Your Disaster Supplies KitPosted: 1 year ago
- Create an Early Holiday Shopping BudgetPosted: 1 year ago
- 9 Ways to Make Moving Day EasierPosted: 1 year ago
- July 2018 Market Update – Twins Cities RegionPosted: 1 year ago
- Fall Homeowners ChecklistPosted: 1 year ago
- Scam Alert: Spoofed IRS Phone NumbersPosted: 1 year ago
- 15 Years of First Class MortgagePosted: 1 year ago
- How to buy a second homePosted: 1 year ago
- Q&A: Lawn Watering SecretsPosted: 1 year ago
- Troubleshoot Your Air ConditioningPosted: 1 year ago
- Your Mortgage, What to Expect: Clear To ClosePosted: 1 year ago
- Twins Cities Region Monthly Indicators – APRIL 2018Posted: 1 year ago
- Your Mortgage, What to Expect: UnderwritingPosted: 1 year ago
- Your Mortgage, What To Expect: Property AppraisalPosted: 1 year ago
- 3 Tips to Improve your Credit Score and Score a Lower Interest RatePosted: 2 years ago
- Changing Interest Rates Have A High Impact On Purchasing PowerPosted: 2 years ago
- The Myth of Multiple Mortgage Credit InquiriesPosted: 2 years ago
- Things to do BEFORE you buy a home.Posted: 2 years ago
- March Tech Tip: Pack Smarter With PackPointPosted: 2 years ago
- 4 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage EarlyPosted: 2 years ago
- Clean House in a HurryPosted: 2 years ago
- Your Mortgage, What To Expect: Document ReviewPosted: 2 years ago
- Chill Winter Utility BillsPosted: 2 years ago
- Six Tips to Help Your Home Sell This FallPosted: 2 years ago
- 4 Things to Know About Closing CostsPosted: 2 years ago
- Understanding Your Credit ScorePosted: 2 years ago
- Equifax Data Breach: What should you do now?Posted: 2 years ago
- Should You Refinance Your FHA to a Conventional Loan?Posted: 2 years ago
- 6 Ways to Save on Paint ProjectsPosted: 2 years ago
- Q&A: Mortgage InsurancePosted: 2 years ago
- How to Keep Your House Cool this SummerPosted: 2 years ago
- Mortgage Education: “What’s the Point?”Posted: 2 years ago
- Q&A: Spotting a Spoof SitePosted: 2 years ago
- Moving ChecklistPosted: 2 years ago
- Squash Marital Money SquabblesPosted: 2 years ago
- April 2017: Twin Cities Real Estate Market UpdatePosted: 2 years ago
- Your Spring Guide to Home StagingPosted: 3 years ago
- March 2017: Twin Cities Real Estate Market UpdatePosted: 3 years ago
- Don’t be a Victim — Four Ways Protect Yourself from Refinance ScamsPosted: 3 years ago
- Local Market Update: Minneapolis Area Association of RealtorsPosted: 3 years ago
- First-Time Homebuyers: Where to startPosted: 3 years ago
- Dear First Class Mortgage:Posted: 3 years ago
- First Class Mortgage. Our Expertise, Your Peace of Mind.Posted: 3 years ago
Tips to Lower your Electric BillPosted by
If you are like everyone else these days, you’re trying to come up with ways to lower your electric bill. And although there are some areas that have been subject to slightly warmer winters or cooler summer conditions, the habit of manipulating things within our homes to achieve an ideal temperature is always there. But don’t succumb to that temptation! All you need to do to lower your electric bill this winter is to be mindful of a few simple tips.
- Use a programmable thermostat.
The source of our largest expense at home is heating and cooling, but based on external temperature and personal preference, it can be subject to large spikes. You can reduce the energy you consume and lower your electric bill by resisting the urge to turn up the heat or turn the thermostat down, but when that isn’t enough you should consider installing a programmable thermostat. With this device, you can simply program the temperature according to time of day without the need for adjusting it manually. This will allow the thermostat to make the changes automatically which will not only help your home to be more energy efficient, it also allow you to circumvent some of the traditional expenses of heating and cooling. This can be done by having your thermostat set the temperature to more cost-effective levels during periods in which no one is home or when you’re asleep. This will save you money and is even better because you can have your thermostat ready to set things right for the time you awake or arrive home.
- Extra-insulate your home.
In the winter months, the bitter cold of the outside temperature can threaten the comfort within homes. There can be many causes for this but one of the most prevalent stems from poor insulation. Insulation is the protection that enables your home to maintain its temperature, both the heat during the cold months and the cool during the summer months. And because of its capability, insulation enables you to save energy and ultimately money. As a result, it is important to check the insulation in your home, from your walls to your pipes, to reduce the need for heating and to cut the cost of your electric bill. You can even wrap extra insulation around pipes to give your water heater a break from working so hard during the winter months and to prevent the pipes from freezing.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
One of the most effective ways to keep yourself comfortable within your home throughout the year without spending a lot of money is to dress up or down based on the temperature. While in the comfort of your own home, don’t hesitate to bundle up a bit more in the winter or go for short sleeves and a pair of shorts in the summer and spring. As you make the adjustment to your attire, you can manage how you’re feeling without utilizing any electricity-draining appliances or devices to regulate the temperature. This will keep you feeling cozy while still preventing you from running up your electric bill unnecessarily.
- Replace your air filter. As you go about doing your housekeeping, be sure to keep an eye on your air filter. The purpose of the air filter is to catch debris like dust, pollen, and lint, and circulate the clean air throughout the cooling and heating system. This helps to keep the HVAC in proper working order which is the key to energy-efficient central air and heating systems. The process of replacing your air filters also helps to ensure your system is working optimally, which utilizes less energy than a system with dirty filters. This reduces the work your HVAC system has to do, in turn saving energy and lowering the amount you’ll have to pay on your electric bill.
- Lower the temperature on the water heater.
Coming in a close second to the cost of heating and cooling within the home is the water heater. This is the appliance that is responsible for distributing hot water to sinks and showers, along with laundry machines and dishwashers. A portion of the expense comes from the heater maintaining a store of warm water in a tank. There are tankless water heaters, however the majority within homes come with a tank. By lowering the temperature a few degrees, you can shave some money off your electric bill. The ideal temperature for heaters to be set at is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In the event you ever go on vacation or are spending an extended period of time away from your home, turning off the water heater while you’re gone is another way you can save money.
- Balance Electricity use by using appliances strategically.
Using your appliances strategically can be very helpful when striving to lower your electric bill as it often allows us to be more efficient with the things we do. This can be seen in a number of contexts, as everything from the dishwasher to the laundry machines can be gamed to reduce their expense. One example of this is drying loads of clothing consecutively rather than waiting between loads, which minimizes energy consumption because the unit remains warmer longer. Even when you’re doing dishes you can lower your electric bill by fully loading the machine before washing instead of only partially filling it. Strategies can vary, especially based upon your current consumption behaviors, but doing your best to use them wisely is a surefire way to put money back in your pocket.
- Save Electricity by Washing clothes in cold water.
The process of washing clothing involves a lot and when it comes to energy, there are several ways to make it more efficient. One of the best methods for doing so involves adjusting the temperature of the water you use when washing your garments. In order to provide warm water to your washer, the water heater has to work hard and use a considerable amount of electricity. This energy use can be mitigated however by washing your clothes in cold water. It is still an effective means of cleaning your wardrobe but it won’t cost you as much to do so.
- Reduce Heat Waste by Checking doors and windows for leaks.
It is absolutely essential to check your doors and windows for leaks, openings, and broken seals. Over time these openings appear in our home and can go undetected, having a number of effects on our environment with the most profound likely being their contribution to a high electric bill. Caulking, weatherstripping or replacing seals on your windows and doors as necessary will keep cold air from coming in or hot air from escaping. This will keep you from spending unnecessary money and will improve the overall feel of your home.
- Check that your appliances work properly.
Appliances that don’t work properly are an energy drain on your home. Part of keeping them in tip top condition involves checking them regularly as well as using them. Be sure to check that all appliances are cleaned, repaired, and working properly on a regular schedule. For many larger appliances, a single annual check up is all that is needed and though it may cost you money at the time, the amount you’ll save on needless electricity use and problems that could arise if devices go uninspected is more valuable. If you prefer to simply replace your appliances, be sure to do so with Energy Star models that focus on efficiency.
- Consider a prepaid electric bill plan.
One option not often discussed is the possibility of switching from a long-term contract to a prepaid service plan with an electric company that gives you the option to pay only for the electricity you use. This can be particularly helpful for those trying to cut down on their electricity use or stay within a certain budget as service is only provided up to the point of the payments. Over time, households will be able to track the circumstances of their usage and the causes of spikes in energy use, which can better help them plan and budget for energy use moving forward. As is to be expected, seasonal variation does occur so keeping an eye out for that will prove beneficial in ensuring year-round savings.
5 Easy Home Improvement Projects & Upgrades For the WinterPosted by
Before you throw your hands up in despair, why not break the monotony by working on your house? After all, you’re stuck inside anyway, and you’re probably searching for something to do that doesn’t involve watching endless reruns of Glee while eating any carb that will stand still. Plus, some home improvement projects will increase your property value, save money on your utility bills, and potentially prevent larger, more expensive issues from developing.
Here are some easy winter projects you might want to tackle before spring hits.
You’ve been staring at your neutral colored walls every day for months. Want to brighten your mood? Try repainting! Go with a bright, cheery color to liven things up.Make sure you crack open the windows to let in fresh air while you’re painting. Or, consider going with an eco-friendly, low-VOC paint so you don’t have to worry about breathing in toxic fumes.
- Work on Your Floors
Is your carpet threadbare? Are your hardwood floors freezing your feet? Putting in carpet is a great winter project because it can increase the comfort of your home dramatically.Whether you do it yourself or have it installed, remember: the off-gassing from new carpet is tremendous. Make sure you open windows to allow those toxic fumes to escape. You can also ask your carpet retailer to air out the carpet several days before they install it in your home.If you don’t like carpeting, there are plenty of other home flooring ideas such as tile and laminate that you could also consider.
When Spring gets here, you’re not going to want to spend your time sifting through those piles of junk in your basement. You’ll want to be outside, enjoying the fresh air.Winter is a great time to work on getting organized. So, devote time every week to decluttering in general and organizing what you decide to keep.
Tip: Don’t try to tackle the entire house at once. Do this and you’ll find yourself with a broken spirit, huddled on the couch looking for the remote. Start small, and go slow. Focus on one shelf, or one corner, and work until you’ve got that space looking exactly how you want. This way you’ll be able to see the progress you’re making.
- Look at Your Bathroom
Is your grout gunky with unsightly mildew? Is your sink hopelessly outdated? Are you over the pale green paint you put on the walls three years ago?Updates like replacing a faucet, re-grouting tile, or repainting are relatively easy for the do-it-yourselfer. But if you get more ambitious (like, you want to replace the tile floor or buy a new toilet) you might want to call in professional help. Your sanity will thank you.
- Add Insulation
Okay, so adding insulation doesn’t exactly make your heart pound with excitement. But it will lower your utility bills, and help make your home more comfortable and eco-friendly.Crawl up into your attic. If you can see the floor joists, then you need more insulation. Since heat rises, you could save quite a bit by adding another layer of insulation up there. You can also add insulation in your basement and in crawlspaces to prevent heat loss there as well.
It’s easy to get cabin fever this time of year. We’re all going through it. But working on home projects is a great way to keep yourself active, add value to your home, and beautify or improve your living space. It’s a win-win!
Benefits to buying in the winterPosted by
Many would-be homebuyers assume that spring and summer are the best times to buy a new house. After all, the kids are out of school, the weather’s nice and it seems like that’s when all the inventory hits the market. Why not use the nice weather and extra time to your advantage?
In reality, though, winter can be a favorable time to buy. From fewer bidding wars to a faster, easier closing, here’s what buying a house in winter can offer:
- Lower Prices: There’s often lower demand in winter. Sellers will typically have to work harder to sell their homes during this season. That means price cuts, more concessions and maybe even some extra negotiation room for you.
- Less Competition: Fewer people buy in the winter, and that often means a smoother homebuying process. You’re also less likely to contend with cash buyers and bidding wars, making it easier to get into the home you want.
- Faster Timeline: All of the above means a potentially faster, more efficient closing. With fewer buyers to handle, inspectors, appraisers and agents are more likely to be able to work on your timeline. Movers, handymen and home cleaning services may also have more availability.
These are just a few of the benefits of buying in winter. If you’d like to learn more about what’s happening in the housing market right now or learn about your home loan options, get in touch today!read more
Cash In with a Cash-Out RefinancePosted by
High home values and low-interest rates have created some exciting new refinance opportunities. Don’t miss this chance to make sure your mortgage matches your financial needs.
A cash-out mortgage refinance allows you to switch into a new loan that could:
- Remove private mortgage insurance (PMI)
- Pay off a second mortgage or consolidate debts
- Purchase a lake cabin or investment property
- Make home improvements
- Pay tuition or educational expenses
- Satisfy a divorce settlement
Call us today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. Together we will determine whether or not refinancing your mortgage is right for you.read more
Mortgage MythsPosted by
Are you looking to buy a home this spring, but are worried you don’t have enough for a 20% down payment?
Good news! You can put down less than 20%. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, in 2018, 72% of first-time homebuyers made a down payment of 6% or less.
Though the 20% down myth has been around a while, there are several low- and even zero-down-payment loan options on today’s market.
FHA loans, for example, allow for down payments as low as 3.5%, while some conventional loan programs offer down payments of 3-5%. For veterans and military service members, VA loans offer mortgages with zero down payment altogether. Also, if you are considering a home outside of major urban areas, a USDA home loan is a zero down payment mortgage for eligible rural and suburban homebuyers.
Don’t let a misconception about down payments keep you from purchasing a home. Give us a call today to learn more about the variety of loan options or apply online today.