Things Are Heating Up (but shouldn’t)

Getting the most heat for your money is more important than ever. I’ve discussed ways to increase furnace efficiency, but what about the heat losses in your home. Windows and doors are the most common areas of concern, but there are other places where heat may escape. Let’s see what steps we can take to keep warm air in and cold air out this winter.

The seals around windows and doors wear out over the years. Older, single pane, windows may not have had any weather-tight seal when they were installed. In either case, a wide range of aftermarket weatherstripping products are now available. Some products may use tape to adhere to the window or door casing. Be careful when using any product which adheres to the surface. Often, a layer of paint will come off when removing the tape in the spring. Sometimes, too, the tape may leave a sticky reside on the surface. This can be removed with lighter fluid, or naphtha. Just use a little at a time on a clean white cloth. And make sure to test the surface in an indiscrete area to see if the naphtha blemishes or dulls it. Often, with a little research, you can find replacement parts, including seals, for your windows or doors. If you can’t find it at your local hardware store, online stores such as may have a close match to the original seal.

Modern building practices pay much more attention to sealing up air leaks before the siding goes on. In older homes there is often a poorly insulated area between the window and door frame and the casing.  Even if there is a tight seal between the window and frame. There can be large heat loss between the window frame and the house. On a cold, windy day, check for a cold breeze blowing out from between your window casing and the wall.  If you can feel a breeze, apply a bead of caulk where the casing meets the wall, or at any other place where air is blowing through the casing. 

The weather seal at the bottom of the entry door, including the door sweep, experiences daily wear and tear. They’ll often start to split and/or gap, leaving a great place for heat to escape. Not to mention, crawly things to get in (okay, technically, I did mention it). There’s a wide range of these to choose from at the store. I recommend trying to find one that most closely matches your existing sweep in order to minimize the trim work required to get a snug fit.

The last recommendation for this post, is also the least expensive. Close the fireplace damper when it’s not in use. An open fireplace damper lets harmful combustion gases and smoke escape up the flue. It should always be open when there is any heat coming from the fireplace, no matter how small an amount. Likewise, if the fireplace is not in use, an open damper is like having an giant hole in your wall for heated air to rush out and cold air to rush in. If you do close your damper, it’s a great practice to place something in front of the fireplace to remind you that it’s closed, and prevent you from building a fire without opening it.

These are just a few steps to reduce your homes heat loss and increase its overall efficiency. We’ll discuss some other, more challenging, steps in my next post. Until then, look for more tip for home maintenance at

Thanks for reading. Please like and share!
And remember to take the next step…

PS: I’d love to hear any cost-saving or home maintenance tips you may have as well.

End-of-Summer Savings

Fall is nearly here. The hotter weather is on the way out and end-of-season sales will soon be in full swing. The fall months are often when retailers reduce prices to clear out inventory of spring and summer items. Here are a few items typically on sale at this time of the year:

  • Spring and Summer clothing
  • Winter clothing
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Lawn mowers
  • Barbeque grills
  • Summer sporting equipment
  • Water sports equipment
  • Cycling equipment

If you’ve been considering purchasing some of these items, here are a few steps you can take to help guide your purchases.

  1. Know your budget. Always know what you can afford BEFORE you go shopping.
  2. Keep your eyes on the local sale flyers and take some time to look at store websites for sales.
  3. This is also a great time to shop locally for these items because local, smaller, stores are often more motivated to reduce inventory with the changing seasons.
  4. Don’t forget fall garage sales as well. People often take the cooler weather as an opportunity to get rid of yard equipment and outdoor furnishings they do not want to store for the winter. There may just be a larger-than-usual supply of slightly-used exercise equipment making its way to the driveway this year as well.
  5. Stick to the budget. Remember, the holidays are just around the corner!

While you’re at it, you may want to think about having a yard sale of your own, or selling items online. But that’s a future post….

For more information on budgeting household management, please visit

And remember to take the next step…

Gardening and Investing in Your Future

It turns out that many people are new gardeners these days. While they have been social distancing, many have planted gardens with hopes of receiving beautiful flowers, or fresh fruit and vegetables. As some know, and others will soon find out, a garden will reap great rewards with a little effort, determination, and consistency. One of the great things about gardening is that most of the work is done at the beginning; planning what to plant, preparing the soil, and then planting the seed or starter plant. Then with a little assistance from nature, and periodic maintenance, the hard work will earn results. Why not take the same principles to grow a “money tree”?

Sure it sounds a little cliché, but there are similarities between gardening and investing. Both require and initial investment in planning/effort/money/time to get things started, and the determination to protect and maintain your investment as it grows. The savings, like the garden, will be under constant attack from those “weeds” that pop-up threatening to drain the life from your investment. Some gardeners raise their beds to reduce their chances of attack from weeds or pests. Some lay down something between plants to block out the sun and prevent weeds from growing, Others use a hoe daily to remove the unwanted threats to their investment. Without a doubt, it’s life’s unforeseen expenses that pop up like weeds, which pose the greatest threat to savings. In order for a savings to grown, you have to plan to protect it with an emergency expense fund. So here are some “Gardening” Steps For Today:

  1. Plan for it – People usually plant something they love in their garden. Likewise, having an intended purpose for which your savings will greatly enhance your determination to stick to your plan. With this in mind, determine how much you can save each month. No matter how small, it is a start. Use this to create two separate savings; one for paying off debt and long-term growth, and the other for emergency funds. Initially, you’ll want to use all savings to grow the emergency fund to $1000. Then, apply all savings towards paying off debt by paying off those accruing the most interest first. After this is done, the savings amounts should be split 50/50. Next, when your emergency fund has built up to an amount worth 4 to 6 months of household income to protect against unemployment, then you can finally switch all towards long term savings, and replenish the emergency fund as necessary.
  2. Prepare the soil – To have savings, you must have a place in which to set aside the funds. Create 2 separate places in which to start your savings. If you can, set up 2 savings accounts which will receive automatic withdrawals from your paycheck direct deposit account. If you can’t do this at the time, then put cash it in 2 separate containers until you can. The point is to have a location separate from your monthly expense funds.
  3. Plant the seed – I know some may currently think this next to impossible, but there has to be an initial investment. So no matter how small the initial amount. Even if it’s $2. Split it and save it. One word about using savings for debt here. If you have debt that is accruing interest, it is best to apply your savings towards eliminating the debt first. Still fund the emergency fund account, but use the savings funds to get out of the debt hole before it gets deeper.
  4. Nurture it – Just like a garden needs water, sunshine, and nutrients, in order for the savings to grow, it will require a routine amount of new funding to grow. At the very least, but more often if possible, make a monthly installment into your long-term and emergency savings.
  5. Protect it – The emergency fund is there to protect the long-term savings. But what protects the emergency fund? Well, that is you and your determination to make a change. But there are actions you can take which will support your effort. You can plan a small reward for yourself with each installment. Even it’s just an activity which you enjoy. It will bolster your habit to make the investment. Sharing your progress with your friends or family will also create an appropriate feeling of accountability to continue the action.
  6. Appreciate success – As with looking upon a growing garden, there is a certain feeling of success that comes with periodically reviewing your hard-earned investment. So remember to look past the weeds and work to review your accomplishment periodically.
  7. Enjoy it – As with a garden, it takes a while before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. But there will be a day when you’ll reap the rewards for your hard work.
  8. Plan for growth – Most experienced gardeners will tell you that as their confidence and skill grew, so too did their garden. Look for opportunities to add to your savings. It may be an one-time additional fund, or reduction in monthly expenses which can go towards savings. But if you’re fortunate, and your income grows, so should your savings.
    When your savings starts to grow, you’ll start to think about investing it in something that generates interest or provides a dividend. That’s when the real money tree will take root. But that’s a topic for another post.

If you have children at home with which you have shared your gardening, this would be a great opportunity to show them how a money tree works as well.

As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…