Monday, June 9, 2008

12 Ways to Save Water in Your Home

Clean running water, an absolute necessity to our very survival, is also incredibly handy around the house. So handy, in fact, that most of us use it wastefully at least part of the time. As our growing population strains our water resources and infrastructure to the limits, costs for providing water will escalate. We can minimize those costs by employing a few simple water conservation methods in our homes.

We benefit in many ways by cutting down on household water use. Using water wisely by taking short showers, for example, or running only full loads in the washer or dishwasher results in additional savings by using less energy and less detergent.

By practicing water conservation at home we encourage our children to accept that natural resources are not in endless supply - a reality their generation will be forced to accept - a reality our generation too often chooses to ignore.

Saving water at home helps reduce or eliminate costs for infrastructure such as new or upgraded reservoirs, water treatment facilities, or sewage treatment plants. These are huge expenses which are passed on to homeowners through municipal taxes.

Enough said. Here are 12 ways to save water in your home:

1. Check for leaks. If you have a water meter, read it before and after a two-hour interval when no one is using any water. If it doesn't read exactly the same, you have a leak somewhere in your house.

2. Find and fix leaks. Replace washers on dripping faucets. A drip rate of one drop per second wastes 1,000 liters per month (about 3,000 US gallons per year). Toilets are another common source for leaks. Check by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If the color appears in the bowl after about half an hour, you have a leak. Replace worn parts. They're cheap and the repairs are easily done.

3. Toilets are responsible for 30-40% of household water use. Avoid flushing unnecessarily. Don't put anything down the toilet except toilet waste. Don't be afraid to let it mellow if it's yellow. Tissues, dead spiders, hair balls and other assorted trash belong in the garbage can, not the toilet.

4. Replace older toilets. The current standard is 1.6 gallons per flush. Toilets 10 years old or older may use anywhere from 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush.

5. Take shorter showers. If you don't have a low flow showerhead, get one that uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute. You'll never notice the difference. In fact, if you have low water pressure, you'll get a better shower with a low flow showerhead. Some models have a control to let you easily stop the flow while you suds up, then resume for rinsing. What a great idea!

6. Turn down one tap rather than turning up the other one to adjust water temperature. It's just as effective and uses less water.

7. Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth or shaving.

8. Put aerators on all the faucets in your home.

9. Run only full loads in the washer or dishwasher, or adjust the water level for smaller loads. Choose water-efficient appliances. Front-loading washers use about a third less water than top-loading. Some washing machines are available with a suds-saver option that drains wash water into your laundry tub to be reused for another load.

10. Start a compost pile in the yard to avoid wasting water by using a kitchen sink disposal.

11. Keep a jug of water in the fridge for drinking so you don't have to run the tap waiting for the water to cool. If you're on municipal water, this practice has the added advantage of reducing the chlorine content as some of the chlorine escapes from the water into the air while it sits in the jug.

12. Collect the water that would otherwise be going down the drain while you're waiting for the hot water to reach your faucet. You can use it for watering plants or cleaning.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An Introduction To Home Warranties

A common trend among homeowners, especially new homeowners, is to purchase home warranty protection to protect their investment. A home warranty is very similar to an insurance policy in that it protects the homeowner in case a covered system or appliance is in need of repair.

There are several companies that offer home warranties, and many of them now have deals with real estate agents, brokers, and loan officers to include home warranties anytime a new piece of property is bought or sold. The fact that home warranties are often included in new real estate transactions is the reason why they are very popular with new homeowners. New homeowners are often given this protection for a year as part of their home purchase, and since oftentimes they will use the service at least once during that first year, many of them continue to buy the protection after that first year is up.

Although it varies from company to company and location to location the standard price range for a home warranty is typically between $300 and $500 per year. Although the first year is usually paid ahead of time for the entire year, after the first year many homeowners choose to pay on a monthly basis, normally between $25 and $40 per month.

Particular coverage again varies company to company, but generally most household systems are covered. Examples of systems that are commonly covered are the plumbing system, the heating and cooling system (including the air-conditioning unit), ceiling fans, electrical systems and exhaust fans. Most policies also include some or all of the appliances such as the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer, dryer and microwave.

Most of the home warranty companies work on a national basis therefore it would be impossible for them to send a repair person from their company out to each individual's home. Not to mention that each individual's problem may require a different type of technician. For example, if you are having a problem with your kitchen sink you may need a plumber, however, if you're having a problem with an electrical outlet you'll need an electrician. The way the home warranty companies handle this is they have contracts with individual contractors in each city that they have members. When a covered member is in need of repair they call the home warranty company who then contacts the contractor in the member's city and schedules an appointment for the repair. In the event that a covered system or appliance cannot be repaired it will generally be replaced by the home warranty company by a new system or appliance of equal value.

All in all home warranties can be an excellent and affordable way to protect your real estate investment. The average home warranty owner uses their home warranty service twice per year. Wouldn't you like to be protected in the event something goes wrong in your home?

Five Tips for Buying a New Refrigerator

Buying a refrigerator is a big investment and one that you don't want to waste your money on. If you are in the market for a new refrigerator what questions should you ask and how should you decide which refrigerator suits you best?

Here are five questions you should review before purchasing your refrigerator:


With the cost of energy these days you would do well to look for the new energy efficient models that are available on the market. The energy usage can be as low as 25% of what older models cost to run.

Many countries have a seal of approval for the most efficient models. If you are buying new you may be able to ask for more detailed information about the energy consumption and costs at the store. Be aware that you may even be entitled to a rebate from your utility company when you purchase an energy efficient model.


Depending on where you live you will find that a standard fridge is either under the counter height or full height with a freezer included. Most American style refrigerators include the freezer as either a side-by-side configuration or on top or below the main fridge.

If you do not need regular access to the freezer section you may prefer the lower drawer style, although it has not yet become popular and is usually more expensive. Side-by-side configurations often have extra features such as in-door water dispensers, areas that chill prepared foods or allow for defrosting as well as needing less space for door clearance.

Determine your needs, including amount of storage needed, configuration, ease of cleaning as well as the space you have for the fridge. Take into account the doorways you will need to move the fridge through and the depth of counters and height of overhead cupboards or you just might not get your fridge to fit easily in.


Use consumer reports or your friends advice. Fortunately most popular models rate good to excellent in dependability and use. Your refrigerator should easily last 10 years or more.


If you are renting, on a tight budget or just looking for a second fridge for the garage you may only need to spend $100-$300 dollars for a secondhand fridge. Expect to pay more for secondhand appliances at stores as opposed to private sellers.

Brand new appliances can run from $500 for a basic model up to nearly $4500 for a SubZero fridge. Expect to pay about $1200-$1800 for a good model with extra features. Note that some styles and options will up the cost a great deal.


When buying new check out the warranty before you buy. When arranging delivery find out if installation is included, especially if you need hook up for a water dispenser.

When buying secondhand make sure you see the fridge plugged in and in working condition before taking it home. Check the cooling coils are not overly covered in dirt and hair which could cause excess wear on the engine. Most importantly check door seals close tight and that there are no cracks or holes in the interior since these are difficult to fix and will increase the cost of running the appliance.