Buyers …If you are buying a home and applying for a loan these are the 10 things you must NOT do until the loan is funded:

#1 Thou shall not changes jobs or become self-employed

#2 Thou shall not buy a car, truck or van unless you plan to live in it

#3 Thou shall not use your credit cards or let your payments fall behind

#4 Thou shall not spend the money you have saved for your down payment

#5 Thou shall not buy furniture before you buy your new house

#6 Thou shall not originate any new inquires on your credit report

#7 Thou shall not make any large deposits into your bank accounts

#8 Thou shall not co-sign for anyone

#9 Thou shall not change bank accounts

#10 Thou shall not purchase anything on credit until way after the closing

Energy-Saving Holiday Decorations

32774493_sSaving money on holiday lighting while still having a beautifully decorated home is a win-win. This is the time of year when many people pull out the storage tubs from their hiding places and take inventory of the holiday decorations that they have to work with.

As you are assessing your holiday decorations and devising your plan of attack, keep these energy-saving tips in mind:

  • If any of your stands of lights are not LED, make sure to replace them. LED lights use more than 65% less energy than tradition light strands, making them a great investment. The bulbs actually burn brighter than tradition bulbs, and there is no filament inside so there is no risk of a bulb burning out. After Christmas sales offer a deep discount on holiday decorations, so you can get an even better deal on all new lights for next year also.
  • If you are out doing some shopping, look for holiday decorations that offer a mail-in rebate. Energy Star offers rebates and coupons with most of their decorations and usually come with a three-year warranty.
  • Create a schedule for your holiday decorations. Rather than keeping your decorations on all hours of the day, make a schedule so that they are only on for a few hours. For instance, once it is completely dark outside you can turn your lights on and then leave them on until you go to bed. This helps to reign in the amount of time that you are running your lights and thus how much energy is used.
  • Rather than choosing the inflatable lawn decorations that required power to inflate, choose statues made of wood or plastic to place in your yard. The inflatable decorations use quite a bit of electricity, and if you are using them in addition to lights, you could see a significant spike in your power bill. Wood or plastic lawn decorations still add a nice element of holiday decoration, without the added power usage.

As you are planning your holiday decorating for the year, think about these tips to make sure that you are keeping the holiday spirit without adding too much to your power bill. Also, you can talk with professional holiday lighting installers to learn about how to get the most impact from your lighting display with the least impact on your bill.

Electrical Safety Tips For Holiday Decorating

15035785_sIf you are planning on decorating your home this holiday season – either inside or outside – make sure that you are being thoughtful of electrical safety.

Each year, thousands of homes suffer damage from house fires caused by misuse of electrical appliances and gadgets. In addition to the extra electrical activity around most homes this time of year, there are various storm patterns that can cause damage to electricity.

To avoid any kind of disaster ruining your family time this holiday season, make sure to follow these electrical safety tips:

  • While candles are not electricity, they do come in handy if the power goes out. However, there are some things to consider if you have to burn candles during a power outage. If you have small children, make sure that the candles are not set on a surface that is within their reach. Children are very curious and if they see a lit flame in the darkness they will be drawn to it. Also, make sure to blow out the candles before you go to bed, or if you plan on leaving the house.
  • If you have a decorated tree in your home this season, make sure that it is kept watered if it is live. A live tree can quickly dry out inside of a home, especially with the heater going and drawing the moisture out of the indoor air. Keeping your live tree well-watered will dramatically reduce the chances of it catching on fire. If you have an artificial tree, there is much less danger but it should be purchased from a reputable store and it should be labeled “flame retardant. Also, if the tree comes with lights already on it, make sure they are labeled and certified by Underwriters Laboratory.
  • As you pull out any inflatables or strands of lights to decorate (both indoor and outdoor kinds) look carefully at the cords and plugs. Check for any damage or chewing. During the off season it is not unusual for rodents to chew through cardboard boxes that are stored. A damaged strand of lights will pose a serious fire hazard to your home.

Keep yourself and your family safe this holiday season. Stay mindful of electrical safety and don’t take for granted that all of your decorations that require electricity are safe to use. Double-check everything before you install and being using them.


Be Safe About Combustion Appliances This Fall

37910646_sFor homeowners and renters alike, the fall season inspires more time spent indoors. The days get shorter, darker, and colder making it difficult to spend several hours outside. The warm days of fun in the sun have passed, and now is the time to think about how to stay warm and what kind of delectable stew or casserole will be warming you up for dinner.

With all of the extra activity around your home comes more use of your appliances. If any of those appliances require natural gas, oil, wood, or propane for combustion – you should be aware of how to keep yourself and your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas that is emitted when propane, wood, oil, or natural gas are used for combustion. For instance, if your water heater uses gas to power the heating element, then carbon monoxide is produced. When the appliance is working properly, the carbon monoxide is not at levels that can be harmful. But, if the appliance is malfunctioning or, if the area around it is not properly ventilated, then the carbon monoxide will build up in the air and can become harmful – possibly lethal.

Make sure that you follow these safety tips for protecting yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do not leave your car running in the garage, even if the door is open. A car that is parked in the garage and left to idle can build up enough carbon monoxide to be lethal in under 10 minutes. Pull your car into the driveway and leave it to idle if you need to warm it up.
  • Make sure to have all of your combustion appliances serviced annually. This is especially true if your heating system requires gas. Your heating system is a seasonal appliance that sits idle for several months throughout the year, make sure that nothing has been damaged during the spring and summer that could cause a release of deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Make sure they are installed in the hallways outside of rooms used for sleeping. They should be affixed to the wall near the ceiling or, to the ceiling itself.

Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to register carbon monoxide in the air before it is to a deadly level. They are the best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.