News From Our Blog

How to Protect Your Home from Wildfires

Summer heat can bring wildfires. If you live in an area where they are common, there are steps you can take to minimize damage.

The best thing you can do is use fire resistant building materials. If this isn’t possible, be sure to remove flammable materials, such as leaves, from your roof and store gasoline away from occupied buildings.

Get more tips for protecting your home from wildfires.

Checking out something I received in the mail. It’s from Home Information Center, Dallas Tx 75380-9664. It said that the U.S. Congress has made available up to $20,000 for you to improve your home through the Federal Home Improvement Loan Program. This program is made available for energy conservation with home improvements. Improvements may include lifetime vinyl siding, energy-efficiant windows ,doors, and insulation. Is this for real or a scam?

Asked by Sandy on Facebook.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has information about federal loan programs for home improvements and repairs. If you’re interested specifically in financial assistance for energy efficiency, there are federal tax credits available. You might want to review this information to see if it matches the details in the letter.

Be aware that the Home Information Center is not affiliated with the federal government. You can see if other people have filed a complaint against the company by contacting the Better Business Bureau or your local consumer affairs department. You may also want to review these tips about how to spot and report fraud.

Basic Tips for an Eco-Friendly Home

Many people think that having an environmentally friendly house means spending thousands of dollars on solar panels or planting a garden on the roof to keep the house cool during the summer time.

That’s not really the case. There are many things you can do to help the environment without having to transform your home, or even spend too much money. In fact, you might end up saving hundreds of dollars per year in the process.

The following tips will help you get started.

Use ENERGY STAR Appliances

Refrigerators. Microwaves. Air conditioners. Heaters. Dishwashers. These are the appliances that eat up more than half of the $2,200 an average family spends in energy costs per year. However, you can do your part to help the planet and also save up to 30 percent of the electricity bill by using energy efficient products that have the ENERGY STAR symbol.

To enjoy some of the benefits of appliances with the ENERGY STAR symbol,

  • Replace the five most used light bulbs in the home with energy-efficient bulbs. This could save you $65 per year in electricity bills.
  • Replace, whenever you can, old and energy inefficient appliances such as air conditioning units and heating equipment. These devices alone typically consume more than half of the energy in a house.

The ENERGY STAR website has tips for saving energy and finding ENERGY STAR products.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

An easy way to reduce damage to the environment is to use cleaning products that are biodegradable and have low toxicity levels. These products could also make your home safer, as the lower toxicity might reduce the chance of accidental poisonings.

To use eco-friendly cleaning products:

  • Avoid those products that are highly flammable and are labeled as dangerous or poisonous.
  • Buy solvent free or bio-based products such as those made with citrus or pine.
  • Buy products that are certified by third parties such as Green Seal or Scientific Certification Systems.

You can also clean your house by using simple, non-toxic household substances such as white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and borax. However, be careful because these substances don’t work well on all surfaces.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

The Environmental Protection Agency says that recycling is one of the best ways to help the environment. But beyond recycling, it’s important to properly dispose household items like cleaning products, oils, batteries, pesticides and other products containing hazardous components that can harm both humans and the environment.

Your local government recycling program can give you more information on which products can be recycled and how to dispose of dangerous household items.

If you need help deciding what papers to keep and what to throw away, our guide to managing household records can help.

Controlling Pests This Spring

Most places across the country have experienced a milder winter than normal. The milder temperatures will increase the chances of homes getting infested with pests earlier and perhaps more frequently this spring.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers many do’s and don’ts of pest control and tips on how to prevent them in your home:

  • Prevent pests by safely storing food in sealed containers
  • Check any loose plumbing so that no water accumulates
  • Close off cracks and crevices where pests can enter your home

If pests do enter your home, make sure to carefully and correctly follow the instructions on any pesticide containers. It is also important that you dispose of them correctly in case of any hazardous waste.

Get more tips on controlling pests from the EPA.