Starting early can make a world of difference when it comes to teaching children to save and make sound financial decisions.
Luckily, there are simple ways to teach kids about money and help youngsters learn smart saving techniques. Here are some approaches to teaching children the valuable art of saving.
1. Teach kids about money with actual money
In a world where anything can be purchased with the swipe of a card or typing of a password, the simple reality of cash can help teach the value of a dollar. That’s why using physical currency can be a smart way to teach kids about money. Counting coins and bills can also help preschoolers with hand-eye coordination and math skills.
2. Give an allowance
Giving children their own money is a good way to start teaching them how to save. Kindergarten is a great age to start a weekly or monthly allowance. A good rule of thumb is to pay $1 for every year of their age, so the incentive grows as they do. Make sure the allowance is based on completed chores, though. That way, kids understand that money is earned.
3. See the savings
Using a clear container as a bank can help give kids a sense of accomplishment watching the coins and dollars stack up. Make goals visible by marking a line on the side of the container as a target to reach. Not only does this teach children about saving, it makes reaching goals exciting and fun!
4. Teach children to allocate their savings
To introduce money management, as well as delayed gratification and charity, encourage your child to divide their money into three piles: savings, spending and sharing. You can do this online with the website Threejars.com, where kids can track their earned allowance and even earn interest on savings.
5. Set saving goals
Help your child develop savings targets to make sure savings isn’t an open-ended concept. The first goals should be reachable, fun and defined by both the parent and child. Sure, it may seem silly to save for a small toy, but the sense of achievement is worth it.
6. Teach kids about saving money in a bank account
As your child matures and has accumulated at least $100 in long-term savings, look into a bank savings account. Most major banks offer children’s savings accounts that can be opened online or at a local branch. A trip to the bank may be a new and fascinating experience for your child, inspiring a sense of maturity and financial responsibility. It’s also a great time to teach kids about other money concepts, like interest and risk.
7. Have conversations about saving
The best tool for money management is conversation. Parents should talk to their kids about money matters like budgeting and investing. Aim to mirror good money behaviors, but remember it’s also okay to admit to your own money mistakes.
Show your kids what smart money management is.
Looking for a perfect family getaway at a budget-friendly price? You do have options beyond the staycation or the grandparents’ house for a getaway. With a little creativity and planning, you can cut vacation costs without missing out on any of the fun. Here’s some ideas for planning a family vacation on a budget.
1. Signup for online fare alerts
Begin planning your vacation with a long view and you can really develop an eye for good deals. Sign up for fare alerts at websites like Kayak, TravelZoo or DealBase to get a feel for your price range.
2. Look for discounted vacation packages
Look at family vacation packages being offered on discount sites like Groupon and Living Social, which can result in real savings if you have some flexibility in your schedule. Here are some more places you can look for an affordable vacation package.
3. Take advantage of off-peak pricing
Ever been to a mountain ski resort in the summertime? Or to a beach resort very early or very late in the season? Or take a cruise after cruising gets some very bad PR? Some vacation destinations can be even more charming, more relaxing and definitely less expensive during times when fewer fellow tourists are around.
4. Book mid-week flights
If you have some flexibility in your plans, see what a change in date will do to the bottom line. Even changing the day of the week you fly can cut costs—fly mid-week instead of on Friday or Saturday for better rates.
5. Double-check online travel sites
When you do use travel websites like those mentioned above, check their sources. Aggregator sites are great at helping you find general prices for flights, hotels and rental cars. But before you book a family vacation with one of these sites, check first with the airline, hotel or car rental company directly to make sure you are getting the lowest rate.
6. Cut back on little extras
Often, just trimming some extra expenses will lighten your vacation budget. Stay at a hotel with a substantial free breakfast to eliminate the cost of one meal per day. Or save even more money on meals by scouting hotels or resorts where kids eat or stay free, or booking a room with a kitchen and cooking a few of your own meals.
Fliers can sign up for a frequent flier program to get waived baggage fees. Drivers can cut gas costs by using Gas Buddy, an app that finds the cheapest gas near you. Wherever you travel, remember to exploit any potential discounts—including senior, student, military and, of course, AAA.
If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you check passport requirements so you have enough time to apply or renew without having to pay a fee to expedite the process.
7. Think outside the traditional hotel room
Adventurous families can find plenty of comfortable, low-cost travel alternatives that make for a more interesting vacation. Large families might consider renting a vacation home, which can accommodate big groups at a much lower cost, especially for long stays.
Check out HomeAway.com for a list of nearly a half-million rental lodgings all over the world. If you live in an interesting spot, look into HomeExchange.com, where homeowners in 154 countries list homes available for short-term exchange if they are interested in yours. If you’d prefer a room but don’t need a lot of frills, there are some surprisingly nice hostels to be found if you know where to look. Start at Hostelz.com, where travelers review thousands of spots.
And really nothing says family vacation like a campsite. If you love the outdoors, you can find some amazing campsites (including spots with beaches/water activities, fishing, golf, horseback riding and more) on ReserveAmerica.com.
8. Avoid checked bag fees
Most airlines charge fees for checked bags, and a whole family’s worth of luggage can add up. Try to pack light and efficiently to avoid fees and reduce the risk of something being lost or stolen.
Unexpected incidents can turn your vacation upside down. Travel insurance can help protect you and your loved ones and keep your trip on the right track.
Save big by learning the best times to buy.
The best bargain shoppers know that timing is everything in deciding what to buy when. Different products follow different cycles of pricing, depending on everything from holidays to weather to annual trade shows. Check out our month-by-month suggestions for the best deals and steals.
Fitness equipment: Maybe they want to help you stick to your New Year’s Resolution, or maybe they just know an easy sales opportunity when they see it. Either way, retailers tend to cut prices on fitness equipment at the start of each new year. Wearables, like step and fitness trackers, see price drops at this time of year as well.
Winter apparel: Everyone asks for winter clothes for Christmas, and department stores know it. After the holiday passes, they’re left with quite a bit of merchandise that they need to move in order to make room for spring fashions. This is your time to snag that heavy parka you’ve had your eye on, or maybe some outdoor snow gear—it’s still going to be cold for a while.
Linens, bedding, and towels: Some historians claim the “white sales” that January is known for were started by merchant John Wanamaker. He wanted to drive business during the winter months, so he slashed prices on bed linens, which at the time, were only available in white.
Modern retailers continue this tradition, but with a more colorful spin. Look around stores and online for a variety of linens, towels, and more this January.
Tax software: The closer it gets to tax day, the more likely you are to find deals on tax processing software.
Mattresses: For some reason, Presidents Day weekend seems to be prime time for mattress sales. Sleep is important, so take time to pick a really good mattress. If you wait until February to buy it, your splurge can actually earn you some savings!
Boats: After the close of boating trade show season, prices will take a nosedive. And while boat insurance prices don’t dip in March, if you buy a boat, it is also a good idea to shop for coverage.
Luggage: Holiday traveling is over, but summer vacations are still a distant dream. This means interest in travel related goods is low, and retailers are lowering their prices on luggage to drive product interest and ride out the sales lull.
Electronics: The Japanese fiscal year ends in March, which means Japanese-made goods like electronics are on their way out of stores to make room for new models. These discounts might even be better than February’s Super Bowl TV sales.
Thrift items: It’s spring cleaning season. Clear out your house, hold a yard sale, and use the extra cash to purchase some select secondhand items.
Houses: If you’ve already begun your home buying research, April is a good time to start looking for the perfect place. Prices aren’t quite at the rock-bottom lows they reach during winter but they’re usually well below the summer listing prices, that tend to peak right as the school year ends. There are also more houses on the market than there were in the winter, so you’ll have more options to choose from.
Vacations: It’s not traditionally a vacation month, so it’s a great time to book a vacation. The weather is pleasant in many locations, and prices haven’t hit the peak season highs that usually come May. Cruises are especially affordable this month. Don’t forget to do your research on where to find the best travel deals, as member discounts and loyalty programs can go a long way.
Memorial Day Sales: Clothing, party supplies, cookware, swimwear and more are all available at discounted prices as Memorial Day sales stretch throughout the entire month.
Refrigerators: New refrigerator models are released this month, so department stores offer last year’s stock at reduced prices.
Tools and hardware: It might be cliché, but dads seem to like tools, and retailers seem to like offering Father’s Day sales with deeply discounted power tools, hardware, and more.
Gym memberships: Many people prefer to exercise outdoors once it gets warm – so gyms try to lure you back inside with promotional rates.
Dishes and housewares: As wedding season peaks, the prices on wedding registry gifts (like dishes and kitchen appliances) tend to dip.
Summer clothes: Next month marks the start of back-to-school season, and stores need to make room for the accompanying fall fashions. That makes July a great time to pick up summer essentials and still get a few months use out of them.
Outdoor furniture: Take advantage of mid-season discounts to upgrade your patio.
Laptops and computers: Back-to-school specials mean great deals on computers – whether or not you’re actually going to school.
Office supplies: Back-to-school sales don’t have to just apply to students. Pens, paper, notebooks, organizers and more are on sale this month, to the benefit of professionals and academics alike.
Airfare: Off-season offers make air travel especially affordable this time of year.
Lawnmowers: The grass-cutting season may be ending, but now’s the time to buy a new lawnmower for next summer.
Bicycles: As new bike models come out at the beginning of fall, you can take advantage of sales on existing stock and score yourself a set of new wheels.
Cars: Car dealers need to clean out their lots to make way for new inventory this month, so it can be easier to negotiate a good price. Don’t assume you’ll be getting the best price however. Here are 5 things you should know before buying a car to help you get the best deal, regardless of when you purchase.
Gardening tools: True to the principle of supply and demand, garden tools become less vital as the temperature drops, so prices drop right along with it.
Appliances: If you can handle the Black Friday crowds, this is the best time to snatch up a deal on high-end appliances.
Toys: The holiday season is here, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are a great time to get great deals on the latest and greatest toys.
Wedding dresses: Are you or someone you know getting married next year? Bridal shops are clearing their inventory to make space for next year’s gowns, so current stock will be discounted.
Gift cards: Prices on gift cards can fall to nearly 20% of their value this month, which means your money can stretch further.
Golf clubs: Few golfers are hitting the links this month, so sporting goods stores tend to price their clubs below retail value.
Champagne: New Year’s Eve toasting traditions mean Champagne distributors must compete for sales. Stock up now for a year of celebrations.
Your car payments and auto insurance payments may stay the same each month but gas prices can fluctuate wildly during the same period. Gas prices differ by state, by city, by season and by gas station, just to name a few variables, but consumers who shop wisely can trim their monthly car expenses.
These easy tips can help you find the best gas prices and save money:
Figure out what you’re currently spending on gas
The first step to finding cheap gas is to track what you’re currently paying to create a baseline. For example, if you traditionally get gas at the same station because it’s convenient, your habit may be costing you extra money.
Start looking at gas prices when you drive by different stations so you can see the variations. Notice whether the prices change on weekends versus weekdays, and which brands have higher costs than others.
Download a gas app
Many people like to use gas apps on their phones, especially when on vacation in unfamiliar areas. The apps may let you plug in your zip code, or it can automatically find your location using GPS tracking. These apps show gas stations nearby and their prices, as entered by other app users. Some will also show the average gas prices for the state or city. To find the best gas app, check your phone’s app store and look at reviews.
Try different locations
Gas stations often charge more if they’re in a prime location, like close to a freeway exit or at a major intersection. People will pay more for that convenience, especially if they don’t know the area. If you can wait, it’s easier to find cheap gas farther away from a main drag.
Only get premium gas if your car needs it
You may think getting premium gas will improve engine performance, but that’s not necessarily the case for all cars. In fact, some higher performance cars actually do just fine with regular gas. Learn more about whether premium gas is right for your car, so you aren’t wasting money with no return.
Pay with cash
Some stations offer a discount for cash versus paying with a credit card. Over time, this can add up. It can be worthwhile to keep extra cash on hand for gas purchases to pay the best gas prices.
Use a station loyalty credit card
Some gas stations offer loyalty credit cards, giving you a discount on gas prices when using that card. If you tend to shop for gas at the same station frequently, it might be worthwhile to use a loyalty card. Consider if you have to pay a yearly fee for the card and the interest rate if you don’t pay your credit card off in full each month.
Shopping smartly for gas can help you spend less on your car. Finding the right auto insurance policy can also save you money – especially if you qualify for a car insurance discount.
Car batteries are an essential part of an automobile. From getting your car started to charging your phone on-the-go, batteries provide the zap your vehicle needs to keep rolling. That’s why it’s so important to know when to start considering a car battery change, as well as what you can do to extend its lifespan.
The Average Car Battery Life
On average, car batteries last between 2 and 5 years. One of the most important factors that affects how long a car battery will last is the weather. A running engine under the hood is already producing high levels of heat. Throw in a scorching hot day and you have a severe drain on your car battery, which can lead to an increased chance of a dead battery if you don’t take proper summer driving precautions.
Within 24 hours of driving in hot weather, a car battery will begin to discharge. That’s why the average car battery life in hotter regions is about 2 and a half years, compared to almost 4 and a half years in colder regions. So when estimating how long your car battery life will last, consider the climate you will do most of your driving in.
Regardless of the temperature you drive in, properly taking care of your car battery can help keep it running. Check out the 7 tips below on extending the life of your car battery:
1. Limit Short Rides
Quick car rides prevent your car’s battery from fully charging. Maintain your car’s battery power by driving it frequently and for longer periods. If you don’t use your car often, consider investing in a portable car battery charger. These portable chargers can jump start your battery without another vehicle in case you’re ever stranded.
2. Keep Your Battery Tightly Fastened
A battery that’s not securely fastened could end up vibrating, potentially resulting in internal damage and short circuits. Have your battery terminal checked regularly, especially if you frequently drive on bumpy roads, to ensure it is tightly and properly positioned in the mounting bracket.
3. Turn Off All the Lights When You Exit
Accidentally keeping your headlights and car door lights on can put a heavy toll on your vehicle’s battery. To keep yourself from forgetting, here are some tips – post a note on your dashboard, attach a sticker reminder on your car remote or park in a direction where you must walk past your headlights to get to your destination.
4. Control the Corrosion
Battery terminals corrode over time, but keeping them clean from buildup is a great way to extend the life of your car battery. Scrub the terminals with a toothbrush dipped in a baking soda and water mixture. Then, using a spray bottle with cold water, rinse the mixture off and follow up with a thorough drying with a clean cloth.
5. Test Your Battery Often
Knowing the condition of your car battery matters when you want to maximize its life. Test your battery’s output voltage level with a car battery tester to keep track of how well you’re maintaining it and if you’re due for a new one.
6. Don’t Use Electronics When Idle
Turn off functions like the radio or air conditioner when your engine isn’t running to put less wear and tear on your battery power. Extended periods of idling also can wear a battery down.
7. Care for Your Car as a Whole
Your car is comprised of many parts working together. The battery is just one, so properly maintaining your car is vital for extending its life and the life of your battery.
No matter how well you maintain your car battery, you can’t always foresee when it may die. Learn more about roadside assistance and how it can help you in the event of an emergency.
The congratulatory calls and engagement parties have waned. Now what? It’s time to get down to serious wedding planning. Fun? Yes! Overwhelming? Oh, yes. But don’t fret. We’ve compiled this pre-wedding timeline and wedding planning checklist for soon-to-be brides and grooms.
16-9 months before your wedding day
1. Create a file or binder to keep wedding information organized and together
Favors and Gifts 2-3%
Wedding Rings 2-3%
When planning your budget, it’s a good idea to avoid piling up bills that you’ll be paying back for years to come.
3. Set a date and reserve a venue for the ceremony and reception
Research listings and compare features, cost, size, etc. Arrange visits and bring a list of questions to ask venue planners. Also, consider wedding insurance for protection in case of a cancellation or damage to the venue.
4. Create the guest list
5. Choose your wedding party
6. Hire a wedding planner to help with details
7. Have the engagement ring appraised
You will most likely be able to have your ring appraised for free at the jewelry store where the ring was purchased. In the event your ring is lost or damaged, it’s a good idea to keep the appraisal and receipts in a safe place.
8. Insure the engagement ring for protection
Research your options when it comes to insuring your ring. You can contact your agent for more details on the steps you should take.
9. Choose an officiant for the ceremony
8 months before your wedding day
10. Select a photographer and videographer
11. Decide on entertainment
When choosing between a band or DJ, consider the following:
12. Choose a caterer
Schedule a tasting of what you want to serve and find out exactly what’s included, such as plates, silverware, table linens, etc.
13. Plan attire for the bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer
Schedule fittings and keep track of dates. Don’t forget jewelry, bag, shoes, bridal veil and other accessories.
14. Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests
15. Register for gifts with at least three retailers
Print out a wedding registry checklist to avoid missing any essentials.
16. Look into coverage options for any new gifts you receive
Check your homeowners or renters policy to find out if new gifts are already covered. If not, look into different property insurance options that could insure your new items.
7-6 months before your wedding day
17. Design invitations
18. Plan your honeymoon
Planning your honeymoon well in advance can help avoid any last minute problems and can save you money. It’s also a good idea to get travel insurance so you’re protected if an incident affects your trip.
19. Send save-the-date cards
20. Reserve things like portable restrooms and outdoor lighting if needed
21. Book a florist
22. Create a music playlist, including a list of no-play songs
23. Arrange transportation for guests
5-4 months before your wedding day
24. Finalize the menu
25. Choose a wedding cake
Schedule a tasting with bakeries so you can try different types of cakes, ask questions and review the bakery’s portfolio.
26. Address wedding invitations
Consider hiring a calligrapher to make your invitations more elegant and consistent.
3 months before your wedding day
27. Map out the ceremony with your officiant
28. Choose wedding favors for your guests
29. Create a list of who will be toasting at the reception
Be sure to allot time for speeches in your day-of schedule.
30. Purchase bride and groom wedding bands
2 months before your wedding day
31. Confirm times with all vendors
Send your day-of schedule to vendors and confirm appointments for hair and makeup.
32. Buy gifts for your wedding party
33. Send invitations
1 month before your wedding day
34. Get your marriage license
35. Separate RSVPs as you receive them by “attending” and “not attending”
The RSVP date should be 2-3 three weeks before your wedding in order to give the caterer a head count and set your seating chart a week ahead of time.
36. Schedule the timing for all day-of activities, such as the cake cutting and the first dance
A wedding planner or coordinator can help.
37. Put together gift bags for out-of-town guests
Week of the wedding
38. Assign seating for the reception
Create a seating chart at least a week before the big day. A site like seatingarrangement.com can help with the task.
39. Confirm honeymoon details
40. Deliver gift bags to guests at the hotel
41. Put tips and final payments for vendors into separate envelopes
42. Pack for your honeymoon
Check out our tips for efficient packing, and our guide to following TSA carry-on rules so your honeymoon isn’t derailed at the airport.
43. Breathe and enjoy as all your planning comes together!
We may not yet have the robot butlers that science fiction promised would be serving us by now. But we’re at the dawn of a new age: the “Internet of Things,” in which everyday mechanical objects – street lights, cars, office buildings and home appliances – will communicate and cooperate in ways we’re just beginning to discover.
Imagine your home filled with devices that tell you when they need to be fixed, update their own warranties, and even order their own replacement parts. Check out some of the most promising smart home appliances.
Smart smoke alarms
The smoke alarm may be the gateway device to the Internet of Things. Current models offer simple and fairly inexpensive ways to upgrade the defense of your home. If you’ve ever been startled awake by the irritating “chirp” of a dying smoke alarm battery, you may justify spending $35-$99 for an upgrade that sends a more gentle low-battery alert to your smart phone.
One example is the Roost, a $15 smart lithium battery with a 5-year lifespan that snaps into your smoke alarm’s 9-volt battery slot. When it detects smoke, it dials your smart phone. The $99 Leeo plugs into an electrical outlet. When it “hears” your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to go off, it calls you or an emergency contact list. And the Birdi, not quite on the market yet, can monitor air quality and warn of impending natural disasters.
The U.S. Department of Energy advises that careful regulation of your thermostat – turning it down when you’re asleep and away, for example – can cut about 15% from your utility bill. But rather than you constantly tweaking the settings, smart thermostats, while costing more than $200, can quickly pay for themselves in utility savings and keep you comfortable.
Consider the Nest, which senses when you’re home and when you’re not, and sets the temperature accordingly. After you’ve adjusted the temperature a few times, it “learns” what you like and mimics your preferences.
Or the Ecobee3, which adjusts the temperature of your home depending on how many people inside. A big dinner party? Ecobee3 lowers the temperature to compensate for all those bodies. A screen even displays energy savings.
Smart smoke alarms and thermostats are key components of a larger smart-appliance network that also includes lights, security and locks--the Wink system communicates with hardware from 27 different brands and lets you program them from your phone or a wall-mounted control center.
Smart room cleaners
Robot vacuums, like 2002’s Roomba, were among the first smart appliances to gain wide acceptance. Now, simple apps allow cleaning cycles to be altered and specific areas to be cleaned.
The new-gen Roomba floor cleaner – the $900 Roomba 980 – is wi-fi equipped, so you can operate it from wherever you are with its home app for iOS and Android. At $200, the Neato XV features 2 high-performance filters that minimize dust and allergens, and a blade and brush system specifically for pet hair.
Smart washing machines
Smart washing machines can even diagnose their own ailments or malfunctions. And if the smart power grid comes online as predicted, washers and similar smart appliances can save money by operating only when it’s most economical.
Whirlpool’s Smart Front Load Washer and the LG “Smart ThinQ” Washer both have smart phone integration that can alert you to updates, repairs, warranty issues and other inefficiencies. Whirlpool’s “6th Sense Live” technology also determines the washer’s energy usage. The LG, with various smart systems like “Smart Diagnosis,” lets you monitor your load remotely, set the washer to run when utility rates are lowest and troubleshoot problems.
Smart ovens and grills
Smart technology is making cooking simpler, more efficient and safer.
The Dacor Discover IQ 48-inch Dual-Fuel Range has a wireless tablet that lets you view recipes and cooking tutorials. Later, when your food is ready, the range goes to warming mode and alerts your mobile device. A smaller, countertop stove, like the June Oven, weighs your food, recommends a cooking program and uses a high-def camera to stream your food cooking to a mobile device. The outdoors Lynx Smart Grill can actually learn your cooking preferences and call your smart phone when it’s time to flip the burgers.
Smart appliances don’t do you much good if they’re damaged or stolen. Homeowners insurance and renters insurance from Nationwide will help keep your home and everything in it covered.
When you and your teen are shopping for a new car, safety should be top priority. The increase in smart technologies in vehicles means there are more ways today to help keep young drivers safe.
The 10 small and midsize cars listed below are top safety picks by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, which Nationwide is proud to be a member group of. These 2017 models earned advanced or superior ratings for front-end crash protection. Looking for a safe first car for your teen? Check these out:
2017 Vehicle model IIHS safety ratingsSafety features
Chevrolet Volt Chevrolet Volt safety features
Hyundai Elantra Hyundai Elantra safety features
Mazda 3 4-door hatchback Mazda 3 4-door hatchback safety features
Subaru Impreza Subaru Impreza safety features
Toyota Corolla Toyota Corolla safety features
Toyota Prius Toyota Prius safety features
Honda Accord Honda Accord safety features
Mazda 6 Mazda 6 safety features
Nissan Altima Nissan Altima safety features
Subaru Legacy Subaru Legacy safety features
Since safety features continue to evolve, we’ll publish our updated list of safest cars for teenage drivers next year. In the meantime, here are 3 ways to save on teen car insurance and 7 tips to make your teen a better driver.
* Above information is accurate as of 3/31/2017 based on 2017 Top Safety Pick+ list from IIHS.
If the Farmer’s Almanac is correct, this winter will be a repeat of last winter – and even more scientific predictors agree. Here are five steps you can take to winterize your roof and help prevent roof damage.
Clean your gutters and downspouts
Before the temperatures drop and snow starts falling, clear out all gutters to allow water to run freely from your roof to your gutters and away from your home. Clogged gutters can result in water backing up into the foundation and can ruin trim on the exterior. Also, make sure the downspout isn’t clogged.
Trim overhanging tree branches
Check for large overhanging tree branches that could get heavy with snowfall and potentially break and fall onto your roof. You will want to have those branches trimmed before the snow starts falling. Low-hanging branches can also scrape your roof and damage shingles.
Inspect your roof
Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak as well as shingles that are curling, lifting or buckling. Inspect your roof for moss or mold, which can lead to early deterioration of shingles. After a severe storm with hail or high winds, it is a good idea to check your roof for damage. You also might consider having your roof inspected for damage by a professional at least once a year.
Consider asking a home-energy auditor to examine your roof for leaks as well as the area of your siding that meets the gutters, to make sure there is no potential damage.
Insulate your attic
If your attic isn’t properly insulated, it can promote the formation of ice dams when there is as little as one to two inches of snow, says Anne Marshall, owner of Marshall Building and Remodeling in Riverside, R.I. When heat rises during the day, your attic will heat up and so will your roof, causing the snow to start to melt, she says. When the temperature drops again, the snow will refreeze, potentially forming an ice dam. “Prevention is the best solution when it comes to an ice dam,” she adds.
If an ice dam does form, the best way to melt it is to fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt and place it on top of the ice, says Marshall. Try to position the stocking vertically across the ice, with a bit overhanging the edge of the gutter. Only use calcium chloride, not rock salt, which will damage your roof, but be aware that shrubs and plants below the gutters or near downspouts could be damaged by the calcium chloride.
To better insulate your attic, seal areas where exhaust fans, attic hatches and small holes allow heat to escape from your house and get into the attic. If your attic isn’t already insulated, you can purchase foam insulation and weather stripping at any home improvement store and add those to the plywood or drywall in your attic.
Ventilate your attic
To prevent ice dams, you also need to make sure your attic is well ventilated. This will keep the underside of your roof cold and prevent the snow from melting and refreezing, Marshall says. Proper ventilation will keep the attic temperature closer to the outside temperature to prevent snow on the roof from melting and refreezing at the eaves.
If your attic ventilation is poor, water vapor generated from bathing, cooking and cleaning can reach the cold underside of a roof deck and condense. If this isn’t properly addressed, moisture build-up could damage your roof deck, insulation and drywall.
If a large amount of snow does collect on your roof, it’s a good idea to rake it off. However, Marshall says, you need to be careful because you can scrape off some of the protective mineral surface from the shingles if you rake too hard.
Installing energy-saving technology is a great idea, whether you’re moving into a new place or upgrading your current home.
Different devices and types of technology can increase the comfort of your home and help you save money. They can also help you become more environmentally conscious.
There’s an increasing array of devices and software programs that can help you increase your energy efficiency. Below you’ll find 6 ways that you can use green home technology to help the environment and your wallet.
1. Programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat is easy to install, and you can program it to change the temperature at times when you don’t need as much heating or cooling, including when you’re at work, on vacation or asleep. Some thermostats allow you to control them an app on your phone or on your computer, making it easy for you to change the temperature when you’re not home.
2. Smart home automation systems
Smart home systems integrate and can improve various functions. For example, a smart alarm system combined with cameras or sensors that monitor specific areas can keep your home safer by letting you know via your smartphone when someone is there. Smart thermostats can adjust and control temperature automatically Other programs control lighting with similar precision and efficiency. For example, with some of the latest lighting systems, you can turn off lighting by room or area, or create a schedule for when certain lights should switch on or off. That way, even if someone leaves the lights on in one room, they’ll still turn off at a designated time. Some systems control smart appliances, turning on an oven, for instance, so it’s already pre-heated when you get home; turning off a coffee maker you accidentally left on; or closing a garage door at your command.
3. Energy-efficient windows
Energy-efficient windows can decrease your heating and air conditioning costs. Switching from single-pane to double-pane windows requires an initial investment, but the cost savings will add up as you spend less on energy bills. Older windows allow hot or cold air to escape through cracks, and single-paned designs don’t retain heat or cool air as well. If you aren’t ready to upgrade your windows, you can insulate each window, which can cut some of the air leakage.
Window coverings can also help. By keeping windows shaded on hot days, you can cut down on air conditioning usage. On cold days, keep those same window shades open to allow in natural, warm sunlight.
4. Energy-efficient air conditioners
In addition to using an energy-efficient air conditioner (look for one with an Energy Star rating), energy-savings solutions include closing off air conditioning vents in parts of the home you might not be using. That way, you’re not cooling an area that’s sitting empty, which is a great way to save energy during the summer. Also, consider raising the thermostat temperature a few degrees higher from where you normally set it. A new normal for you might mean lower energy bills, and you’ll still be comfortable. If you’re using a window air conditioning unit, be sure there’s a tight fit so air doesn’t escape out the window.
5. LED lights
Controlling your lighting makes your home more comfortable, makes it easier to see and helps you relax. You can do this with automated systems by changing out some your light bulbs. LED lights use less energy and are cooler when running than traditional incandescent lights, and they also last longer. Swapping out light bulbs helps your home go green and can save you money in the long run. Consider installing smart bulbs for even more control over your home lighting; these devices pair with a smartphone app, so you can turn them on or off or switch their color remotely.
6. Energy-saving devices
Home appliances including refrigerators, hot water heaters, dishwashers and clothes dryers consume a lot of energy. Consider purchasing energy-efficient appliances with Energy Star ratings if you’re in the market for new appliances or are looking to upgrade. Their energy-saving technology is an easy way to reduce your energy usage.
Are you on a roll with saving energy around your home? Keep up the momentum.
SPI Reflections Blog
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