Why do people install impact windows and doors?

Installing impact windows or doors at home is more of a necessity than luxury especially for people who live in storm prone areas. In case, you avoid installing these windows and doors at home, you are simply inviting storms to wreck havoc at your place. With any severe kind of winds, the window frame and glass simply bends and create small exposed opening where water can simply penetrate. Hence the best solution to rely is to install impact doors and windows.

Besides, you enjoy a number of other benefits of installing them, which are as discussed below. Having the impact doors Miami FL installed at your place, you can also enjoy some other benefits too. Storm and doors helps in reducing the traffic noise coming from outside. So, in case if you belong to a place where you get to see such disturbances too often from the vehicle movement, you can for sure consider these windows and doors and find the peace of mind. Therefore the home owners who are based somewhere near to the busy intersections, highways or heavy traffic generally install these doors and windows and make the noise attenuation solution.

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Closing down the house

Winter weather preparation

The nights are getting chilly and depending on where you live, you may have already seen snow. Windows that were open all summer letting in a cool breeze are not shut up tight. Winter heating bills loom on the horizon. You can stay warmer and lower those bills by taking a few minutes to properly prepare your home for cold.

Start with the windows doors. Make sure all the windows and doors close snugly. Light a candle and hold it near door and window seams. If the flame moves, you have a draft. Drafts get expensive as the temperatures drop! You may need to install new weatherstripping or caulking, which takes only a little time and is fairly cheap. Draft dodgers, which lay along the bottom of doors, further help keep the cold out and the heat in.

For badly leaking windows, consider installing clear plastic. The plastic adheres over the window and is almost invisible when installed properly. It creates an air pocket of insulation between the glass and room. Insulated curtains are a more expensive but attractive alternative. If your home has storm windows, put them on before it gets too cold!

If you don't use your fireplace it may be letting heat out of your home, even if the flue is closed. Cut a piece of foam board to fit the opening. Slide it over the opening and place a decorative fireplace screen in front of it to camouflage the foam.

Your furnace should be serviced yearly to ensure it's working its best and not wasting energy. At the very least, replace the filters. Also, vacuum the dust from the heat vents throughout the home. Close the vents in rarely used rooms and shut their doors. Just don't do this in rooms with plumbing, or you may experience burst pipes.

Offset Mortgages. A dream for well off homeowners

Offset mortgages represent one of the biggest mortgage innovations seen in recent years. Six years ago there was hardly an offset mortgage to be seen. Now they and the current account mortgage, to which they are closely related, account for 10 out of every 100 of new lending.

What's more, one of the UK 's large lenders believes that 25% of existing mortgage holders would be better off with an offset mortgage. So if you're in the market for a mortgage you need to know what they're all about. Otherwise you could be missing out.

Firstly, how does an offset mortgage work?

The basic idea is that besides borrowing money from the mortgage lender, you also run savings or deposit accounts with them. Then you are charged interest not simply on what you have borrowed but on what you have borrowed less the balance in your savings and deposit accounts. So, if you had an offset mortgage of 100,000 and had 20,000 in their savings account you would only be charged interest on the difference, 80,000. In these circumstances, no interest is paid on your savings - the interest is offset.

It doesn't sound like a ground breaking idea - where's the benefit?

Quite simple. Whilst the full benefit of your savings is reflected in a lower interest charge on your mortgage account, legally you have not received any interest. If you have not received interest you can't be charged tax on the interest. Step away Mr Taxman!

This means that offset mortgages are especially attractive for higher rate taxpayers who would otherwise pay-away 40% of the interest they receive in tax.

Consider some figures. If you had a 100,000 mortgage paying a competitive rate of 4.69% plus 20,000 on deposit, how would the figures work out? Well over a typical 25 year mortgage, without offset you would pay 85,351 in interest but with offset you would pay just 41,998 - that's a saving of 43,353. What's more you would repay the mortgage five years and eight months early. That's because the monthly repayments are based on the full mortgage debt before offsetting is taken into account so borrowers are effectively overpaying their debt each month.

And doesn't Mr Taxman look sorry! In theory, a standard tax payer saved 9,538 in tax and a higher rate taxpayer a whopping 17,341 in tax.

Flexibility can also be a major advantage. You can typically pay off capital without penalty, underpay and take payment holidays so long as you've made sufficient overpayment throughout the years.

Too good to be true - where's the catch?

Historically borrowers have had to pay a higher interest rate for the benefit of an offset mortgage. But the good news is that with banks and building societies fighting for a bigger share of the offset market, offset interest rates are falling.

This means that you need to look carefully to ensure that the apparent tax savings you could make are not eliminated by the slightly higher interest charge. Quite honestly this is not an easy calculation so it's best left to your professional mortgage adviser.

But as a guide, a standard taxpayer needs around 20,000 in savings behind a 100,000 mortgage to make the offset deal better value than a traditional mortgage. For a higher rate taxpayer the savings requirement drops to around 10,000. (These figures are based on a typical 4.69% fixed offset rate, compared with a typical 4.49% rate for a tracker.) These figures will change as interest rates vary and, in all probability, as the cost differential between an offset and a traditional mortgage closes.

Not all Offset Mortgages are the same!

As you would expect, with the offset lenders fighting for your business lots have added bell and whistles to the basic concept. Free property valuations and free legal work are relatively common. Then some banks will include your current account in the offset calculation, some lenders enable two nominated savings accounts to be offset, some will even agree an additional borrowing facility with a check book that can be used at any time.

On the interest rate front you're bound to be offered a low starting rate fixed for six or twelve months. You might also be offered a tracker which is below the Bank of England base rate for six months and which only rises above after six months or a tracker which exactly tracks base rate plus a tiny premium for a few years. There are lots of variations.

The interest rate can also depend on what percentage of the house valuation you want to borrow. For example, one lender is currently offering 5.6% if you are borrowing less than 50% rising to 6.45% for up to 99%.

Like so many things, whilst the basic concept is simple, it then gets complicated! This clearly underlines the need to talk things through with an independent mortgage adviser. It's their job to ensure you get the right type of mortgage and the best deal.

If you have savings, there's a big chance they'll recommend an offset mortgage.

*Indicative figures correct as at November 2005

Portable generators: Useful resource when the power's out

Brand name generators save money.

When you look into your home, you may think that you should not have any issues at all because everything inside of your home is perfect. Then when you lose your power, you notice that it is going to be impossible to have that perfect home that you dreamed of. That is when you should know the reasons why you should purchase name brand portable generators vs. the non-name brand models.

One reason to purchase name brand portable generators is that they generally will have more information available about them. Since they have more information available about them, you should have the ability to determine if they can do the work for you or not. Then you can read all the reviews that are present to see what model people recommend for use.

Another reason to consider name brand portable generators is they will typically allow you to find more spare parts than what you think. Since you can find more spare parts, you should be able to see that you can do all the repair work yourself without having to find a part that will fit for the job.

Something else that you will discover is that the name brand models will allow you to experience more of the good quality that they have used to build their name. Since they have this good name to stand behind them, you should notice that any of the problems that you have could be solved rather quickly.

Being able to know about the reasons why you should purchase name brand portable generators is a wonderful thing to do for the sake of your home. Once you know about the reasons why you need to purchase this type of portable generator, you will notice that it is going to be possible to have the extra power that you need at any point that you lose electricity. Then you should not have to worry about your home being without power anymore.


Which CFL will give me the same light as my current bulb?

Check out the lumens.

Compact fluorescent bulbs can help you to save energy in your home.  A common question when it comes to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, is which bulb should you use to get the same light output as your current incandescent light bulbs?

One way to compare light bulbs (and probably the best way) is to compare the lumens emitted by each light bulb.  You will typically find the lumens output on the package of the light bulb.  In many jurisdictions, the lumens are required by law to be printed on the packaging.  All you have to do is find the lumens on your current light bulb and buy a CFL with comparable lumens to achieve the same light output.

Sometimes the CFL package makes it easy by providing information in a conspicuous place on the packaging.  For instance, it may say something to the effect of “This bulb replaces a 60 watt incandescent bulb.”  In the case of a 60 watt incandescent bulb, a CFL will produce the same amount of light while only using 13 watts of energy.  Keeping on that train of thought, a 100 watt incandescent bulb will be replaced by a CFL using 23-25 watts of energy.  If you have any doubts, take a look at the lumens of each bulb, they should be comparable.

The initial price of a CFL may be a little bit shocking when compared to the low cost of an incandescent bulb.  Keep in mind that the CFL will most likely last much longer saving you money on the bulb in the long run.  Also keep in mind that the CFL will save you money in energy costs every month.  The CFL looks more costly initially but will actually end up saving money over time.

Dimmers for LED & compact fluorescent light bulbs

You've replaced the light bulb, but don't forget the dimmer.

If you have a dimmer switch in your house, chances are that you are pretty confused about the new compact fluorescent or L.E.D. light bulbs and how they relate to dimmers.  Let's take a look at a couple of things that you should be looking for beginning with the light bulbs.Light Bulbs:  First of all, all of the incandescent and halogen light bulbs are dimmable.  That's not the case with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.  The compact fluorescent and LED bulbs need to say "Dimmable" on the packaging.  Usually the word "Dimmable" is quite prominent on the packaging in a red field.  Putting a regular compact fluorescent bulb on a dimmer makes it blink on and off.  When the dimmer is on the lowest setting it will blink slowly.  When it's set to the brightest setting it will blink really fast.  It'll blink so fast that you can't tell it's blinking when you walk into the room but you'll notice it blinking as soon as you go to read something.
Dimmer:  Not only do you need to make sure that you get a dimmable light bulb but you also need to get a dimmer compatible with compact fluorescent bulbs and LED bulbs.  A regular dimmer used with compact fluorescent or LED's will hum just slightly.  A dimmer that is compatible with compact fluorescent and LEDs will also work for incandescent and halogen bulbs.
The key to dimmers and dimmable bulbs is to look at the labeling.  Following the labels on both dimmers and bulbs will save you a lot of time and trouble after installation.  Installation, by the way, is the same as it has always been.  That's one thing that hasn't changed.


Housewarming gift idea: gift cards

The idea behind a housewarming gift is to give a new homeowner something for the new home. Candles, wreaths and picture frames all make good housewarming gifts, but they all have one main problem: they cause clutter. While you may want to give something more personal as a housewarming gift, homeowners may be more appreciative if they receive something else: gift cards.When you give candles, pictures and other personal items, you risk getting a scent or a style the homeowner does not like. You also risk adding clutter to a home that is already full of boxes waiting to be unpacked.  No matter how thoughtful your gift, it may get tucked into a closet or set in a box and eventually forgotten about.

By giving a gift card, you give a new homeowner something that does not take up a lot of space and you also ensure she will get something that fits her personal style. Gift cards from home improvement stores and to garden centers are helpful for homeowners who are planning to spruce up the inside and outside of their homes.  Giving a gift card to a large discount store may also be appreciated.

If you want to be more creative with your gift or prefer to give something special, consider a gift card to a place that is a little more unique. For example, you can get a gift certificate to a local shop that sells artwork or other items for the home or purchase a gift certificate from a favorite seller on Etsy.

T-12 change-over to T-8

Get ready!

The 1.5" fluorescent tubular bulbs are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  Effective July 14, 2012, manufacturers are no longer allowed to manufacture these light bulbs according to a federal mandate.  Retailers will sell out of their current stock but no more will be brought in to replenish that stock.  New construction homes, for the most part, have already put up fixtures that take the thinner and more energy efficient T-8 bulbs. 

T-12 bulbs still account for roughly 1/3 of light bulb sales.  Typically T-12 bulbs use about 40 watts of energy where a T-8 bulb uses only 32-watts of energy to produce the same amount of light.  That doesn't sound like much but multiply that by how many hours the light is used and then multiply that by the number of fixtures throughout the country.  It adds up. T-12 light bulbs are the fluorescent light bulbs that many of us have grown up with.  Chances are that if you have an older home and you have a fluorescent light fixture that was put in the home originally, then this mandate will affect you at some point.  At some point people will have to make a decision whether to:

A:  Replace the entire fixture with one that accommodates T-8 bulbs or another type of bulb altogether.
B:  Stock up on the old T-12 bulbs and hope for the best.
C:  Attempt to replace the ballast in the existing fixture with one that accommodates the T-8 bulbs.  Be forewarned however that the ballast may be as expensive to replace as the fixture thus making it somewhat cost prohibitive.  Replacing the ballast isn't hard but it is sometimes more labor intensive than just replacing the fixture.
As we shift to more energy efficient products in the United States, expect more changes in the products that we have traditionally used.  Light bulbs are just the tip of the iceberg.  We are already looking at alternate forms of energy for our homes and alternate forms of fuel for our vehicles.


Keeping cool in a hot house

Beating the heat without A/C.

Record breaking heat has affected nearly every state in the U.S. these last few weeks. For many of us, especially those of us in older homes, central air conditioning isn't available. Even if you have air, the heat and heavy use could be taxing the system or your wallet when the electric bill comes in. How do you beat the heat without breaking a sweat?

If you don't have air conditioning, take advantage of natural cooling. Open the windows in the evening or early morning when the outdoor air is cooler, then shut them tight before it warms up. Keep your curtains closed so the sun doesn't shine in and heat up your home. If you must open windows during the day, open those on shady sides of the house so it's cooler air coming in. When possible, open two opposite windows for cross ventilation. If there's a breeze, open the window that will catch it.

Fans don't generate cold air but the breeze across your skin cools you. Use ceiling fans in every room possible and floor or pedestal fans elsewhere. Sometimes a fan alone is enough to make a hot house feel comfortable.

On those exceptionally hot days try this trick we used to do when I was a kid. Freeze a baking pan full of water. When the heat gets unbearable set this pan of ice in front of a floor fan. The breeze from the fan picks up a chill that helps cool you and the room as it blows across the ice. Keep a couple pans in the freezer so you can replace one once it melts.

What type of ladder do you need?

How are you going to use it?

What kind of ladder should you buy for your household?  The answer to that question depends on how the ladder will be used.  When thinking about what type of ladder you'll need you'll also need to consider what type of material it should be made of as discussed previously.  Let's look at some different types of ladders and how they are used so that you can decide which one is best for you.
Extension:  Extension ladders are used primarily outdoors.  If you have a higher pitched roof, a two story home or you just need to get up high, then this is probably the ladder for you.  Extension ladders extend out to sometimes 32 or more feet.  Be certain to follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines on the ladder.Step Ladder:  Step ladders are handy both indoors and outdoors.  Extension ladders need to be leaned up against a structure where a step ladder stands independently.  Step ladders are great for installing or repairing ceiling fixtures or even for painting walls above the reach of the roller.  Here again, make certain to follow manufacturer safety guidelines particularly the recommendations about how high to climb on the ladder.
Scaffolding:  Sometimes you may need to rent scaffolding if you're going to be up in the air for an extended period of time.  Scaffolding offers a further range of reach as opposed to a ladder which may only allow you to reach a few feet from the ladder before you need to climb down and move it again. 
Rolling ladders:  You'll find rolling ladders primarily in warehouse or retail environments.  Due to their size and weight, they aren't really practical for the average homeowner.