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Mortgage Rates May Stay Low for a Long Time

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

Why aren’t they rising? Are they the new normal.

shutterstock_114626293In November 2012, the interest rate on a 30-year home loan averaged just 3.31%. That was an all-time low. Simultaneously, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged just 2.63% interest and the rate on the adjustable 5/1-year loan fell to 2.74%.1,2

Nearly four years after Freddie Mac reported those numbers, mortgage rates are back near those levels. The 30-year FRM has averaged less than 4% interest all year, declining from a high of 3.97% in Freddie’s January 7 Primary Mortgage Market Survey down to the vicinity of 3.5%, in its September 15 PMMS findings.3

Are ultra-low mortgage rates here to stay? They could be. When the Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate in December 2015, analysts thought mortgages would gradually become more expensive. That hasn’t happened. An overseas economic development helped to keep them in check. After voters in the United Kingdom approved the Brexit in June, U.S. investors raced to buy Treasuries. Their yields hit record lows as prices jumped, thanks to demand.4

While the yield on the 10-year Treasury quickly rebounded, the Brexit caused Freddie Mac’s analysts to revise their view of where rates were headed. In July, they forecast that rates on conventional home loans would stay at 3.6% or lower for the rest of 2016, and average around 4% in 2017. Kiplinger analysts predict that the average interest rate on the 30-year FRM will be no higher than 3.7% at the end of 2017.4,5

Mortgage rates tend to move in relation to expectations about Federal Reserve policy. You may see rates move north appreciably when the Fed hikes, but they could fall again thereafter. In fact, that was exactly what happened in the first half of 2016.6

The Fed’s dot-plot forecast of near-term interest rates posits that the federal funds rate will be under 5% for the balance of this decade. With the central bank setting those kinds of expectations, there is an excellent chance that you may see relatively low mortgage rates for the next few years. (Historically, interest rates on conventional mortgages have averaged around 8%.)6,

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

«RepresentativeDisclosure»

Citations.
1 – realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2016/07/15/mortgage-rates-stay-near-record-low [7/15/16]
2 – freddiemac.com/pmms/archive.html?year=2012 [9/19/16]
3 – freddiemac.com/pmms/archive.html?year=2016 [9/12/16]
4 – washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2016/07/14/mortgage-rates-remain-low-and-look-to-stay-that-way-for-a-while/ [7/14/16]
5 – kiplinger.com/article/business/T019-C000-S010-interest-rate-forecast.html [9/16/16]
6 – cnbc.com/2016/09/12/mortgage-rates-finally-break-higher-what-you-should-watch.html [9/12/16]
7 – businessinsider.com/fed-dot-plot-june-2016-2016-6 [6/15/16]

Homeowners Insurance – Hard to Place Homes

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

pexels-photo-164522Although it’s always important to purchase homeowners insurance to protect your investment, some homes are harder to insure than others. These homes, referred to as “hard to place homes,” are usually exposed to a large number or variety of risks, and insurance providers are more hesitant to provide coverage for them.

Here are some common reasons that homes can be considered hard to place, and steps you can take to make insurers more likely to cover your home:

  • Natural disasters: Homes in areas of the country that are more prone to disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes and hurricanes can be harder or more expensive to insure. Take steps to install weather-resistant additions to your home, such as a reinforced roof and shutters.
  • Vacation homes: If you don’t use your home throughout the year you may not be aware if it suffers damage, such as a break in or broken water pipe. If you own a vacation home, be sure to install a security system that will alert you if any damage occurs.
  • Dangerous features: If your yard has equipment such as a playset, pool or trampoline, or if it’s located near natural hazards such as a steep drop or body of water, you could be held liable for damage done to anyone on your property. Be sure to install fencing to guard against natural hazards and prevent strangers from trespassing on your property.
  • The age of your home: Older homes may have outdated electrical or plumbing systems. Additionally, architectural features that add to its aesthetics could be costly to replace. Be sure to keep your Liberty Insurance Agency representative aware of any improvements you make to your home to make it easier for insurers to assess.

FAIR Plans

Even if you take steps to insure your home, it’s possible that you won’t be able to find a policy on the standard insurance market. However, every state has home insurance programs called fair access to insurance requirements (FAIR) plans.

These plans act as an insurer of last resort, and can only be obtained if you’ve taken steps to seek out other insurance and have made improvements to your home to limit potential liabilities.

© 2016 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Could Insurance Save Your Retirement?

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

The right coverage might help to insulate you against a money crisis. 

pexels-photoMost people begin insuring themselves when they marry or start a family. They buy coverage in response to two potential calamities – disability during their working years, and death.

Somewhere between youth and death comes retirement, and in retirement, the role of insurance is often downplayed. Does a retired multimillionaire really need a life insurance policy? Now that he or she is not working, what is the point of having disability coverage?

Make no mistake, insurance can play a vital role in retirement planning. It may help to keep a retiree household financially afloat in a money crisis. It can also be used creatively to address other financial concerns.

What can life insurance do for a retiree before he or she dies? Many permanent life insurance policies accumulate cash value over time. Potentially, that cash value could be tapped to pay off medical expenses, education debt, mortgage debt, or debts owed by a business. It could fund a buy-sell agreement. It could go into an investment vehicle that could later pay out income. While the death benefit of a policy may be reduced as a consequence, the trade-off may be worth it for the policyholder.1

What else can life insurance do for a retiree household? It can help the kids. Sometimes a retired dad or mom is 20-30 years older than his or her spouse, and the kids are minors. If the older spouse dies, the death benefit can help to provide for these minor children, who could have special needs.1

There is also the matter of income replacement, even in retirement. When a retiree receiving a pension dies, the surviving spouse may subsequently get far less pension income. A life insurance death benefit may help to make up for it. In another scenario, a widowed spouse may elect to live on a life insurance policy’s lump sum death benefit for a year or two, as an alternative to drawing down tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts.1,2

How about disability insurance? In some households, one spouse retires, but another spouse keeps working well into his or her sixties and earns a large income. A couple or family would definitely miss that income if it went away. Keeping disability insurance coverage may be very wise in such instances.2

Long-term care coverage is expensive, but not compared to the cost of eldercare. Imagine paying $6,235 a month for a semi-private room in a nursing home. Outrageous? No. Merely average. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, that is the average monthly cost for such care today. That comes to $74,820 annually.2

Financially speaking, that kind of expense could break the back of a retiree household. Medicare and disability insurance will not absorb the cost – one that could deplete a retiree’s entire savings, with the next step being Medicaid or turning to adult children (who will be retired or approaching retirement themselves). When eldercare is needed, the daily benefit from long-term care coverage can feel invaluable. That benefit can also fund home health care and assisted living services.2

Liability insurance may come in handy. In certain states (such as California), retirement accounts are not protected against creditor lawsuits. So if a judgment against a retiree in one of those states is large enough, retirement account assets may be seized to satisfy it if liability limits on an auto or homeowner policy are too low. This is why an umbrella liability policy may have merit for some retirees.2

Insurance should not be a “missing piece” in your retirement plan. You may need life, disability, long-term care, or liability coverage more than you think.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

«RepresentativeDisclosure»

Citations.

1 – investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/010716/do-you-need-life-insurance-after-you-retire.asp [1/7/16]
2 – money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-09-13/4-kinds-of-insurance-that-can-save-your-retirement [9/13/16]

3 Bills To Pay Off Before You Retire

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

It’s one year till retirement, and the clock is ticking. Sure, you knew better than to pay for junior’s $30,000-a-year college tuition, but you did it anyway because he’s a good kid, and, as parents, we want to give them a head start, right?

Now, the looming mortgage balance and the credit card debt (that vacation to Italy was nice) have your financial future in flux. “It’s not that you failed,” says Ivory Johnson, founder of Delancey Wealth Management in Washington, D.C. “But you had a good time when you were working, and the money that you should have saved you didn’t.”

Well, you’re not alone. According to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 65.4% of American families with heads of household 55 and older held debt in 2013.

The good news? It’s not too late — no matter what your age — to pay off debt. Here are three bills to tackle, along with expert advice on how to get it done.

• Unsecured debt. “Get rid of any lines of credit or revolving credit cards because they reassess every month,” says Johnson. If you have $10,000 on a credit card with 12% interest, for example, it’s going to take more than nine years to pay it off if you’re only making $150 payments, according to Credit Karma’s calculator, and you’d pay almost $6,600 in interest.

In addition, look at your highest-interest debt and consolidate. “If you transfer a balance from a high-interest-rate credit card, some companies offer zero percent interest for 12 months on the transfer,” says Delvin Joyce, managing director at Prudential Financial in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Eliminating debt means you have to make sacrifices, so sit down, go through your budget and figure out where you can trim the fat.”

• Student loan debt. “Keep in mind that your child can finance their education, but you cannot finance your retirement,” says Tracy East, director of communication and outreach at Consumer Education Services in Raleigh, N.C. While experts don’t advise that you stop saving for your future, if you’ve taken on the responsibility of paying for your child’s education, start repaying loans as soon as they come due, make more than the minimum payment, and as soon as your child gets a job after graduation, have them contribute a certain amount each month to paying down the debt. Also, encourage them to raise their grades to become eligible for scholarships, take only the classes they need to graduate and consider saving for the first year to lessen the total amount of the loans. The bottom line: Don’t shoulder the burden if you cannot afford it.

• Mortgage debt.  Nearly 33% of Americans’ total expenditures in 2015 went toward housing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One way to shave down your mortgage is to apply extra money toward the principal. But not so fast, say some financial planners. “I consider a mortgage ‘good debt,’” says Joyce. “If you’re a retiree, or soon to be, your kids are likely out of the home, so your home may be one of your only tax shelters.” He advises clients to take advantage of this low interest-rate environment to refinance their mortgage to pay lower rates, save more in interest, and get a higher return on their biggest investment, their homes.

If you’re close to retirement and you’re having trouble digging out of debt, you may have to bite the bullet and work longer than you had planned. “Every year you work, that is one less year you will have to  fund in retirement and another year to accumulate savings,” says Lori A. Trawinski, a certified financial planner and a director at the AARP Public Policy Institute. And if you’ve already retired, think about going back to work. Become an Uber driver, teach an online course or go to work at your favorite retailer for a couple of years and funnel every dime toward your debt.

If you still need to raise cash, leverage your assets. “The money you pay into a life insurance policy grows tax-deferred, so when you borrow from it, it is not considered a taxable event. You don’t pay on the taxes until you pass away,” explains Johnson. But if you cash out any money from your 401(k), the plan’s administrator will automatically withhold 20% of your withdrawal for taxes and you will be subject to a 10% early withdrawal fee if you are younger than 59½.

“A lot of Americans take the head-in-the-sand approach to managing debt,” says Joyce. “If you sit down with a financial adviser who can help you chart a path, you can eliminate the debt responsibly.”

Tanisha A. Sykes is a writer and editor who specializes in personal finance, career development and small business. Follow her on Twitter @tanishastips. 

Source: usatoday.com

October, 2016 – Monthly Economic Update

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Monthly Economic Update

october2016-monthly-economic-update

Pittsburgh Haunted Houses for Halloween 2016

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
lamp-halloween-lantern-pumpkinPittsburgh haunted houses are some of the scariest haunt attractions in Pennsylvania and the United States.  Enjoy a great scary night out with your spouse, date, or friends.  Expect the ghosts, zombies, and clowns at these haunted attractions to scare you.  For the price of a movie ticket you can be part of the action as you come face to face with terror.  State of the art animatronics, great props, Hollywood sets, and actors with makeup beyond belief create a thrilling Halloween experience.  You will be frightened.

The souls of steel workers who manned the mills and lived amongst the soot still haunt the historic houses of Pittsburgh. They’re a bit more mellow now that they are located in one of America’s most livable cities, but they’re still pretty bitter about the past.

Castle Blood – Monessen, PA
Operating for over 20 years, Castle Blood is “Pennsylvania’s most unusual haunted attraction”. Expect to find lots of vampires, scenes of the dead, and supernatural creatures. Tickets are $20. Castle Blood is open most Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in October. Castle opens at 7 pm. Ticket booth closes at 11 pm on Friday and Saturday or 9 pm on Sunday.

Cheeseman Fright Farm – Portersville, PA
For over a decade during Halloween season the Cheeseman Fright Farm has been operating this wonderful haunted attraction. Tickets are $20. The attraction runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sundays starting September 23rd. Arrive early and do not keep the tractors waiting. The Haunted Hayride starts at dark.

Demon House – Monongahela, PA
“We will scare the living soul out of you.” Demon House will unleash the evil demons upon you. They run a special one night lights out glow stick specials .They are open 7 pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday or 10 pm on other nights. Starting on September 9th they are open most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through November 5th.

Freddy’s Haunts – Aliquippa, PA
Tickets are $12. Freddy’s Haunts opens at 7 pm. It is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from mid-September through October. Closes most nights at 10:30 pm.

Fright Farm – Smithfield, PA
Begin with the Festival Midway with music, celebrity appearances, concessions, face painting, bonfires, classic horror movies, and haunting entertainment. Opens September 30th. Then expect to be terrorfied in the Terror Maze, Paranoia, Frightmare Mansion, Hallow Grounds, and Dead End Hayride attractions. Now celebrating 26 years of frightening folks. The General Admission tickets gets you into five attractions for just $25. Open every night except Monday and Tuesday. Lots of special and discounts available.

Haunted Guyasuta – Sharpsburg, PA
On October 22nd Camp Guyasuta puts on a one night Saturday fright featuring a hayride, haunted trail, zip line, climbing wall, and pumpkin patch. Activities run from 3:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Souvenirs, food and snacks available for purchase.

Haunted Hills Estate – Uniontown, PA
Back again with new characters, new scenes, new themes, and new horrors. Enjoy the Spooky Street which contains the bonfire, Black Cauldron Concessions, and Crow’s Nest Novelty Shop. In business for 3 years, Haunted Hills Estate puts on three great haunt attractions named The Curse Challenge Trail, Legends Hotel, and The Twisted Nightmare. The doors open at 7 pm. Tickets prices are based on the day of the week and the haunt you want to go through. Visit any Friday and Saturday for $15 for one adventure, $20 for two, or $25 for three. Sunday and Thursday tickets are $1-3 less. Open from September 16th through November 3rd.

Hundred Acres Manor – Bethel Park, PA
Six attractions all for the one low price of $20 per victim. Hundred Acres Manor operates a 7500 square foot haunted house. The attractions are Dead Lift, Damnation, The Family, The Maze, Brine Slaughterhouse. It takes about 45 minutes to go through this haunted house. Doors open at 7 pm and close at 11:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and at 10 pm on other nights. Runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting September 9th plus lots more weekdates in October. Check web page for details. Also available is a Live Zombie Paintball attraction for additional price.

Huston’s Haunted Hollow – Rockwood, PA
A great value for only $20. They have a bonfire, refreshments, and concession stand along with 4 haunted attractions. Haunted Boarding House (evil in the hollow), Twisted Barn 4D ( a high startle graphic experience), Haunted Hayride and Toxic Swamp Walk, and Dead End Cornfield. Huston’s Haunted Hollow is open from dusk until 10 pm. Open every Friday and Saturday night starting September 30th.

Lonesome Valley Farms Valley of Terror – Greenbury, PA
They operate two haunted attractions and two non-haunts on this Pennsylvania farm. The haunts are advertised as “Where you are the Harvest.” They are open every Friday and Saturday starting September 23rd. Open Sundays starting October 9th. Opens at 7 pm. The non-haunts open at 6 pm. Tickets are $23 for the Valley of Terror Haunted Hayride and Maze Trail combo ticket with the Slotter Farm House & Barn. The non-haunt ticket is $10 for the Corn Maze and $7 for the Country Hayride. During the day the farm has a hayride, barrel train rides, barnyard animals, and a kids pumpkin patch playland for just $10. Open weekends.

Phantom Fright Nights Kennywood – Pittsburgh, PA
Now celebrating over 15 terrifying years, Kennywood will once again operate Phantom Fright Nights. The weekend attraction is open every Friday and Saturday night in October starting September 30th. This attraction is open from 7 pm until 1 am. Tickets are $33.99 at the gate. Save $4 with online tickets. They advertise intense spectacles of sheer terror with Biofear, Voodoo Bayou, Mortem Manor, Villa of the Vampires, and many more attractions.

Scarehouse – Etna, PA
“Pittsburgh’s Ultimate Haunted House”. Scarehouse is three haunts for one price. All parking is at the Pittsburgh Zoo or PPG Aquarium then ride the shuttle. The parking address is 7340 Butler Street. The attractions are The Summoning, Creepo’s Christmas in 3D, and Pittsburgh Zombies. Tickets are $19.99-24.99 depending on the night. Reserve your tickets for half hour entry times. Consider Scarehouse as a living tribute to the Zombie capital of the world. Also for 2016 is The Basement. Here you will be touched, restrained, hooded and scared out of your mind. The Basement is something different for adults with high voltage effects, sexual content, water, live animals, and violent situations. Tickets are separate. Scarehouse is open Friday and Saturday nights starting on September 16th. Runs every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October.

Source: funtober.com

Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

pexels-photo

It’s Autumn. Pumpkins glow in golden fields. Shorter days, crisp mornings signal winter’s approach.

Can the holidays be far behind?

Use Autumn’s brisk and breezy days to conquer deep-cleaning chores for a clean and comfortable winter home, and to wrap up summer’s outdoor lifestyle.

Our Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist will help you prepare home and hearth for the coming of winter:

Outside The House

Summer’s come and gone–and left its mark on outside the house.

Time to come inside for winter! Outside the house tend to these autumn chores:

  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, children’s summer toys.
  • Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
  • Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
  • Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping, door thresholds if needed.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.

The Inside Story:

Autumn’s the time for “spring cleaning”! With winter coming, it makes sense to tuck the family into a freshly-cleaned home via fall cleaning.

Deep clean now to take advantage of good weather and to welcome approaching holidays with a clean and comfortable home.

To learn how to clean efficiently, check out the Clean House Guide for more information on cleaning fast and furious.

  • Focus on public rooms: living room, family room, entryway, guest bath.
  • Clean from top to bottom. Vacuum drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and window wells. Vacuum baseboards andcorners.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have professionally cleaned if needed. Move furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it.
  • Wash interior windows.
  • Turn mattresses front-to-back and end-to-end to equalize wear.
  • Launder or clean all bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters. Tuck the family into a warm and cozy winter bed.
  • Schedule professional carpet cleaning early this month! Warm October afternoons speed carpet drying. Carpet cleaning firms get busy by the end of October, so schedule now for best service.
  • Prepare the kitchen for holiday cooking. Clean and organized kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans and equipment.
  • Clear kitchen counters of all appliances not used within the last week. Clear counters look cleaner–and provide more room for holiday cooking.
  • Pull refrigerator away from the wall, and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.
  • Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.
  • Inspect each appliance. Does it need supplies? Stock up on softener salt now, and avoid staggering over icy sidewalks with heavy bags.
  • Check and empty the central vacuum’s collection area.
  • Clean electronic air cleaner elements monthly for most efficient operation. Wash them in an empty dishwasher (consult manual for specific product recommendations).
  • Clean or replace humidifier elements before the heating season begins.
  • Inspect washer hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Check dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds’ nests! Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.
  • Schedule fall furnace inspections now. Don’t wait for the first cold night!
  • Buy a winter’s supply of furnace filters. Change filters monthly for maximum energy savings and indoor comfort. When the right filter is on hand, it’s an easy job!
  • Drain sediment from hot water heaters.

Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips

October 24th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

pexels-photo-176860

This article will help you find strategies to help you save energy during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

If you haven’t already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.

Also check out no-cost and low-cost tips to save energy during the spring and summer.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HEAT FROM THE SUN

Photo of a window with the curtains open. Sun is shining into the room and snow-covered mountains are visible outside. Copyright iStockphoto.com/Giorgio Fochesato.

  • Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

COVER DRAFTY WINDOWS

  • Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
    Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.

ADJUST THE TEMPERATURE

  • When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
    Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings. Also see ENERGY STAR’s June 5, 2008, podcastfor video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.

FIND AND SEAL LEAKS

MAINTAIN YOUR HEATING SYSTEMS

  • Schedule service for your heating system.
    Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently.
  • Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
    Find out more about maintaining your furnace or boiler.
  • Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
    Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.

REDUCE HEAT LOSS FROM THE FIREPLACE

Photo of a fire in a brick fireplace. Copyright iStockphoto.com/Oliver Malms.

  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly–approximately 1 inch–and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
    Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance’s efficiency.
    Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.

LOWER YOUR WATER HEATING COSTS

Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.

  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.
    Find other strategies for energy-efficient water heating.

LOWER YOUR HOLIDAY LIGHTING COSTS

Source: energy.gov
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