3 Tips To Save Money On Your Electric Bill

We all like to save money whenever we can, and with energy prices at an all-time high saving money on utilities bills is a must. The problem

is, most people just get the bill and write the check without a thought of how they can possible save money. There are a lot of things that can be done to cut the cost of your electric bill, and they don’t take you spending a lot of money up front to do so.

Here are a few tips:

save electric bill money with the best outdoor grill

Courtesy of Derrick Leung

Turn Off Vampire Electronics 

While in the Spring electric bills tend to be at their lowest because we’re doing things like cooking on our best outdoor grills rather than in the kitchen, or not using the air conditioner or furnace, you can still do small things to save money this time of year. One of the best

things you can do is simply unplug things you’re not using. It sounds so easy, but people simply do not do it. People leave their computers running day and night, their TVs and DVD players plugged in, and even a lights running 24/7. Anytime you see that little red or blue light on something that you’re not using, you should know that is costing you money. They call these things vampire electronics because they are literally sucking money from your bank account while doing nothing for you.

Things like the DVD player, TV, microwave, DVR, computer modem, etc. should be unplugged anytime you’re not using them. You may think that it would be a pain to unplug everything you’re not using and plug it back in, but if you install power strips you can unplug and plug them in, in a matter of seconds. Allowing appliances to cost you money while they’re turned off makes little sense. It’s estimated in the United States that the average person spends $100 per year on electronics that are turned off. How would you like to have an extra hundred dollar bill in your pocket at the end of the year for simply turning things off? It’s a no brainer.

Off Peak Hours

Not everyone is aware of this, but most electric companies charge different rates depending on the time of day that you use things. Off-peak hours are the best times to do things like: wash and dry clothes, use the dishwasher, have several TVs on, etc. Peak hours are usually from 6-10am and 3-9pm, but they aren’t set in stone. Be sure to call the customer service number on the back of your electric bill to see when exactly peak hours are for you. You can save anywhere between 30-60% on your electricity rates during those hours if you use things at off-peak times. It’s another simple tip that can save you money.

Insulation

It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how many people don’t have adequate enough insulation in their homes. Is your electricity bill way out of whack in the winter months? Chances are that you could turn everything off and only use electricity at non-peak hours and you’d still have a high electric bill (especially if you have an all-electric home). There is nothing better someone can do to lower energy bills than to insulate their home. Adequate insulation can save you up to 30% on your energy bills, and keep heat from escaping through your roof (Remember 5th grade science where you learned that heat rises?), which in turn keeps your furnace from running constantly. It also helps your home to stay cool in the summer for the same reason.

The best way to find out if you have adequate insulation is to call your electric company to see if they have an energy audit program, if not your state’s Public Utilities Commission may provide one. An energy audit is nothing more than a certified tech coming to your home to tell you whether or not you’re losing heat, how much more insulation you’ll need, as well as other money saving tips.

Photo courtesy of Derrick Leung.

Japanese Maple Trees

Japanese gardens are becoming very popular among garden enthusiasts who possess a deep love for that style of plants and layouts. The Japanese Maple is one of the most popular trees for Japanese gardening.

 

japanese maple treesJapanese Maple Trees

They are very popular among gardeners and hobbits alike and with a little know how and a basic understanding of the needs of this tree, you can have a great deal of success and get a lot of enjoyment out of them. The maple tree species in general has several weak points and vulnerabilities.

If you have maple trees, and especially Japanese maples, you need to know how to properly care for them so you can enjoy them for years to come.

 Proper Care

A couple of problems can spring up when the temperatures rise and the drought conditions strike. During these times your Japanese maple trees will respond well to some mulching to help with moisture retention. Typically one tree needs 2-3 bags of mulch.

This will help protect the tree from drying out and will also offer some cooling for the root system as the heat rises.

 Watering

You will also need to water your trees generously at least two times a week. Newly planted trees will require more frequent watering as will those grown in a container rather than in the ground.

Japanese mapleLeaf Tip Burns

Japanese maple trees are fairly susceptible to leaf tip burns. Many people think that this burn and drying of the leaves is due to the tree being in the sun too much. However this is not true.

It is due to watering issues where either too much or too little water is being applied to the tree. Under watering causes the leaf tissue to dry out and burn and over watering causes the tissue to rot and die and then dry out too.

A newly planted maple tree or one grown in a small container are the ones most likely to experience lead burn.

Fertilizer

If you use too much fertilizer  you can do a lot of damage to your Japanese maple. The worst thing many novice gardeners do is they load up the fertilizer when they first plant a new tree or when the tree is under stress. This is very very bad.

The fertilizer is basically a stimulant that causes the plant to grow rapidly, thus expending its nutrients and that is the last thing you want to do to a stressed out tree or a new planting.

Fertilizer should be applied in small doses and very sparingly.

 Fall Season and Pruning

The fall season is the time for maintenance and is the best time for you to conduct an overall check up of your Japanese maple trees. This is the time of year you need to prune and trim the trees to help with the overall shape and heath of your trees.

Do not prune to control the size of the tree as heavy pruning can really stress out your trees and cause many other problems. Trim dead or crowded branches but never cut back more than ¼ of a branch length at one pruning.

With these simple tips in mind, you can enjoy yourJapanese maple trees all year around. You can enjoy these beautiful and majestic tree in your own garden or landscape.

Optima Brand Batteries Review

Batteries comes in all shapes and sizes and they can be used for a wide variety of uses. When looking for the perfect battery for your vehicle, there is one name that is becoming more and more popular.

Optima batteriesOptima batteries unique components are made of 99.99% pure lead. This allows the battery to conduct electricity faster since there are no impurities to get in the way. With electricity flowing faster, you end up with a higher and stronger burst of starting power.

This also allows it to charge faster and hold a charge longer when it is being used.

Special SpiralCell Design

 

Each of Optima’s six cells uses AGM – or absorbent glass mat- plates that are specially designed to hold the acid in place. These are configured in spiral cells and inserted directly into the battery cell case. This Spiralcell design allows for more surface area and provides extra support to protect the battery cells, even during intense use.

Unique Case

These batteries also have a case, completely sealed to withstand the harshest of environments and wear. With this unique battery system there are no leaks, no contaminants, and virtually no maintenance.

Benefits of Optima Batteries include:

  • Up to 2X Longer Life, Durable construction
  • High resistance to extreme temperature and vibration
  • Strongest 5-Second Starting Power
  • Instant Starting Capacity
  • Leak-Proof & Maintenance-Free
  • Specially designed battery cells allow for a tightly sealed setup
  • Resistant to All Damaging Factors

Optima batteries are corrosion resistant and can be used in all types of weather ranges and temperatures.

RedTopThe REDTOP

This Optima battery brand offers high-performance and is considered by many to be the ultimate starting battery. It is designed to deliver a powerful burst of power for the ignition and provide a reliable start up the first time, every time, on a wide range of vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. This Optima battery will outperform traditional batteries and will outlast the competition as well. Its reputation as a reliable and powerful battery is unsurpassed in the automotive world.

 YELLOWTOP

This is another high-performance AGM battery deigned by Optima that has everything you need. A true dual-purpose automotive Optima Yellow Topbattery, it is ranked among the best and performs above expectations in many cases. It is commonly used as a tractor battery, forklift battery, or for other heavy duty vehicles.

It is designed for heavy use and this battery can repeatedly be drained and then fully charged time and time again. If you need high power output for towing, hauling, sound systems, or other vehicle needs, this is the Optima battery you want to keep in mind.

BLUETOP

This is a very high-performance Optima battery that is idea for any boat or RV as it has extended running time and more recharges than any other battery. It’s the perfect marine battery and can handle the heavy towing loads for RVs. It has outstanding vibration resistance and also has an efficient power delivery and faster recharge time.

This means more fun and less worry day in and day out. This flexible  battery is ideal for those who need a reliable and powerful battery.

Portable Garage As An Option

The garage is the safest place for your vehicles to protect them from damage and weather related wear. But you cannot always be in the comfort and protection of your home garage. That does not mean you Portable garagehave to be at the mercy of the elements either.

A portable garage and portable carports offer you quick access to a temporary shelter to protect your car, truck, SUV, camper, RV, boat, lawn equipment, or anything else. They can be used short term as a temporary garage or they can be used as storage sheds on a more long term basis.

As you will see these shelters have multiple uses and that there is likely to be one to fit your needs- whatever they may be.

Composition

The composition of the portable garages varies with many different options available and that of course impacts the price range. Some of Car Coverthe set ups are simple tent like structures designed to keep rain and snow from damaging your vehicles. These are easy to carry and store and offer quick set up and tear down.

This type is ideal if you’re traveling to visit friends or family for the holidays. Others are more permanent and are made of steel pipes and canvas siding. These are still relatively easy to install but are a little more labor intensive and are bigger and bulkier in storage area requirements.

Area and Space

 

They also take up more area when they are fully set up so that needs to be a consideration for your choice too. You can also get portable garages that function much like storage sheds and have paneling and such. These offer the best long term protection but are difficult to set up and take up a lot of room for storage, even when fully disassembled.

Multiple Sizes

The smaller more versatile tent like portable garages can be used for other things as well. They make great temporary storage areas for tools or farm equipment. They can be used as animal shelters and feeding areas. You can use them as display tents are flea markets and fairs and vendor tables. You can also use them as tents or picnic areas while traveling and set them up alongside your RV or motor home and have a protect outdoor area to enjoy. There are many uses for these portable garages beyond simply keeping your vehicle safe.

Pricing

Prices of the portable garages can vary greatly depending on the size of the structure and the materials used. Simple tent like structures can cost a few hundred dollars while the more advanced and sturdy ones can run several thousand dollars. What you end up using depends on a number of factors such as: what you will use it for, how often you will use it, where you will use it, what your price range is, and much more.

But there are plenty of options available to you to choose from and each has its own set of pros and cons. We have touched on these briefly and now you have a basis for conducting your own research as you search for the portable garage.

ScoopFree Litter Box Review

Anyone who has had cats knows how difficult it can be to keep that litter box odor down and under control. It is head enough with one ScoopFreecat but with multiple cats, it can seem almost impossible. Well there is an answer to all of your litter box woes and it is easier than you may think. The ScoopFree self cleaning litter box system is the best litter box out there and is designed to minimize odors and clean itself so that all you have to do is do a simple clean once a week or so!

Hands-Off Convenience
Superior Reliability
Unbeatable Odor Control
Quick and Easy set up
Super Easy to Use
Maintenance Free
Designed and tested to mimic high use of a multi cat home
Tested for long term use
Unique trays hold waste and lock odor in
No more seeing or touching yucky waste90-day money back guaranteeNo messy clumps
Hands come in contact with clean surfacesOne-year limited warranty for purchaseSpecially designed litter crystals stop odor

 

Reviews and Testimonials:After trying several other products on the market, I was totally amazed just how the ScoopFree product lives up to its name! Every bit of what it says it does, it does. I never touch it no scooping, no unclogging, no cleaning and best of all NO odors! I’ve told all of my friends with cats that they have to have one. The best money I’ve spent on my cat – ever!

-Joe Hill

 

I wanted to thank ScoopFree for having a product that does what it says. I have purchased three other ‘self cleaning’ litter boxes and all have failed except for ScoopFree, it is a foolproof automatic cat litter box system and a must for any cat owner.

-Wally Rutherford

 

I want to let everyone know that the customer service that this company provides is second to none!  I have had my box for about 8 months and all of a sudden it wasn’t working.  I went online and looked up the manual, but still couldn’t get it to work.  I emailed the help desk and had an email answer within a day. They gave me instructions (which worked) but also told me that they would exchange it out if that didn’t work.  To have a company stand by their product like that is something out of the 50′s!  I truly appreciate the customer service they provided, and they actually followed up with an email to be sure their directions worked.

-Kathy Keenan

best litter boxAs you can see, the ScoopFree self cleaning litter box system is the best thing to happen to cat owners. No more messy litter, no more scooping and dumping, and no more odors! Give it a try and see for yourself why these and other customers rave about the best litter box system out there today!

Cutting It Up With A Chainsaw

When it comes to having to get heavy lawn work done or when you trimming shrubs with chainsawhave a big construction project to tackle, you need to have a strong and powerful chainsaw that is as ready for the task ahead as you are. There are thousands of chainsaws available and they all come in a wide range of sizes, styles, power, and set ups.

From the small light weight chainsaws perfect for quick occasional jobs to the heavy duty chainsaws perfectly designed for the all day construction projects, there is one out there that is just right for you.

It is important to find the chainsaw that is best for your needs so you can get the job done right quick and easy. Below are three very different but equally useful chainsaws that might be just what you are looking for. Read the chainsaw reviews and decide for yourself what is best for you.

Husqvarna 440E  16 in. – Price  $280- $300

  •  Item Weight: 9.8 pounds, Shipping Weight 19 pounds
  • Tool-less chain tensioning, 16 inch bar
  • Quick release air filter to facilitate cleaning and replacement
  • Forged 3-piece crankshaft for maximum durability
  • CARB Compliant

Black and Decker chainsaw

Black & Decker 20V Max Lithium Ion 8-In. Chainsaw -Price $120-$150

  • Shipping Weight: 8 pounds
  • Up to 150 cuts on a single charge, up to 1-1/2-inch diameter
  • Powered by 20-volt MAX lithium-ion battery
  • Handles both soft and hard wood measuring up to 8 inches
  • 8-inch reduced kickback bar and low kickback chain
  • 2-year limited warranty includes battery and Energy Star charger

Poulan Pro PP5020AV 20-Inch Chainsaw- Poulan Price $180- $200 

  • Shipping Weight: 24 pounds
  • DuraLife Engine
  • Super clean air filter system
  • Effortless pull starting system and reduced vibration handle
  • Automatic chain oiler
  • Carrying case and on-board locking

As you can see, these chainsaws can cover a wide range of tasks and tackle a good number of projects. Depending on what your needs are and what exactly you are looking for, one of these might be just what you are searching for.

You can find these and other chainsaws at local hardware stores or online. Read through the chainsaw reviews wherever you do decide to get yours from and check the customer reviews so you can be sure you are making the right choice.

Light Bulb types and how to know what you need

There are many types of light bulbs available for use in the home. Each type has its pros and cons and some rooms need a certain type of light and some light bulbs work better in one room than another.

It make take a little bit of research to comb through the different types in order to see where each should be used and what works best where. With this handy guide this should be easier than ever to sort through the light bulb types.

Incandescent

This is the type of light bulb most people think of and is the most common type. It is easy to use, fit sin many fixtures and is usually the least expensive. This light bulb type has a warm and softlight bulb typeslight and does not bleach out of discolor skin tones and other colors.

Incandescent bulbs are good from anywhere between 700 to 1,000 hours and can be used in dinner switch fixtures. However, they are not the most energy efficient bulb and there are others types that last much longer.

Halogen

This light bulb type is a variation of the incandescent bulb. They produce what is known as a white light and is the closest we can get to natural daylight. Colors appear sharper with halogen lights and they too can be used on dimmer switches.

They are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, but cost more and burn much hotter.

halogen light bulb typesThey are common used under range hoods or in recessed lighting in the ceilings and in some fixtures. It is important not to handle these bulbs with your bare hands.

They get so hot that the oil from your hands can cause super hot spots to form on the bulb which can cause them to shatter or explode.

Fluorescent 

These bulbs give off a flat, cold light, that is often described as being bluish in color and it can be very harsh on the eyes. It is similar to fluorescent ceilingdaylight but cannot be put on dimmer switches. There are many types of fluorescent light bulbs available.

They are commonly used in offices and stores and the most common ones are long tubes that fit within ceiling mounted fixtures. Fluorescent bulbs work well to light large areas.

 

Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs)

This is a light bulb type that consumes a quarter of the energy needed Fluorescent bulbto light the standard incandescent bulbs and they will also typically last 10 times longer. Unlike the other types, these bulbs have warmer, color-corrected tones so they do not discolor and affect light quality. They do contain trace amounts of mercury, but are fine so long as care is taken and broken bulbs are discarded correctly. Because of the mercury content, when CFLs burn out, they should be recycled so the traces of mercury does not pollute things.

LED

It stands for “light-emitting diode,” and is a light bulb type that is long-lasting and extremely energy-efficient, and burn cold to the touch. They are not a good replacement for general bulbs thought LED bulbbecause they offer directional lighting.

They are best used for spot lighting such as under a display case or such, but not where diffused light is needed- like in a room.

Also, at prices from five to six times higher than other bulbs, these are not for everybody and every situation, but they are being used in more and more places.

Create Your Own Bamboo Gardens

Bamboo is a very common plant in many different styles of landscapes. There are many  wonderful and unique ways to use bamboo in any garden design that you may come up with. You can create privacy walls andbamboo gardens screen, natural looking backgrounds for your gardens, cozy little areas to sit, or mazes to wonder through. The options are endless and all you need is a little creativity and a little knowledge of how to care for bamboo. Bamboo mixes well with most other plants and can be used in traditional Japanese gardens as well as more modern looks with bamboo gardens.

There is a lot to know about bamboo but having a basic understanding is all you need to start enjoying this beautiful garden plant. Bamboo is a type of grass and has a colony growth type since it forms large dense clumps. There are over 1200 types of bamboo and as many as 200 species can be easily grown in North America.

Here are some points you will need to consider when choosing the type of bamboo you want in your bamboo garden:

Two Types

There are two types bamboo plants as far as their growth habits and root systems go. One is called runner and other is clumper. Runner types send out shoots from the main roots that sprout new bamboo stalks. These are very invasive and can spread rapidly. Many people hear horror stories about these way these bamboos can take over a yard.

Clumper

However, there the clumper bamboo is much easier to control. These Bamboobamboos grow in dense clumps and while they do spread, the distance and speed at which they spread is much slower and easier to control.

The size of your bamboo garden and other garden features will help determine what type is best for you. Bamboo also comes in a variety of heights and all can be pruned to maintain their height.

If you do prune you want to do it when the cane stalks are young so you do not end up with bare dead canes sticking up all over your garden.

Spring

In the spring, bamboo plants will go dormant, their leaves yellow and then drop. This is normal and in healthy bamboo plants this is a gradual process and new leaves will soon replace the ones that have dropped.

A healthy bamboo will have old leaves, yellow leaves and new leaves at the same time. Bamboo is a hearty plant and can take a lot f abuse but it still needs to be cared for, Bamboo plants generally needs some direct sun but well established plants can tolerate the shade that they create.

Watering

When it comes to watering, new plantings need to be watered at least once a day until it becomes established. Older plants do not need much watering and should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Do not let the plants stand in water or remain in soaked soil for too long or it will cause rot and decay to kill your bamboo garden.

Bamboo can benefit from some fertilizer now and then but does not need as much as many other landscape plants. In most cases you can use the same fertilizer that you would use on your lawn- since bamboo is technically in the grass family.

As you can see, bamboo is a very interesting and relatively easy to care for. You can achieve many wonderful effects and looks in your garden by adding in bamboo. So whatever look or style you are going for, consider making a bamboo garden part of your next project.

Fairy Gardens Are A Must Have

Using a variety of plants, trees, and flowers, along with small-scaled accessories, you can create your own miniature Fairy Garden – an enchanting display sure to attract fairies to visit your home or lawn. Certain Celtic Nations believe that fairies have magical powers and many people construct landscapes specially built for fairies.

Fairy Gardens

Fairy Gardens can range from using flower pots and raised containers inside to utilizing sprawling landscapes and shaded trees outside.

Fairy Gardens in a Flower Pot or Container

If you decide to create your Fairy Garden in a flower pot or container, be sure to use one that has drainage holes and then fill the planter or container with high-quality potting soil. Next, sketch the design in the soil by drawing with a stick where you plan to place the plants and flowers along with any accessories such as benches or decorative items.

 

Fairy GardensIn order to install the plants, remove enough potting soil from the container to fit a boxwood shrub as a small tree, Irish moss as grass, and other plants and flowers. Add pebbles to form a path through your Fairy Garden and complete it with chairs, benches, or a Fairy House.

If you want to build your Fairy Garden outside, determine the best location that offers shade, sun, or water. You can nestle your garden against hills, rocks and stumps, or create it next to a pond or creek.

 Next Step

The next step is to select the perfect plants for the perfect Fairy Garden.  Visit a local nursery to see what type of plants, trees, and flowers are best for the area where you live. You can also get an idea of what is available by looking online at the Miniature Plant section at websites such as Enchanted Gardens.

 

Popular Plants in Fairy Gardens

 

These plants are popular to use in creating Fairy Gardens:

Wooly thyme (Thymus Lanuginosus)

  • A favorite ground cover that spreads quickly. It is perfect for outdoor gardens because it is also heat and drought resistant.
  • Ornamental strawberry (Rosacae)
    This miniature ground cover is heat tolerant and features white blossoms in the spring and tiny strawberries in the summer.
  •  Irish moss (Sagina suulata)
    This ground cover is ideal to use for any hills or miniature mountains in your Fairy Garden.
  • Blue Star Creeper (Isomtoma)
    A little taller than other kinds of ground cover, this one grows up to six inches and offers bright blue colored flowers.

 

Choose certain accessories, such as tiny chairs, benches, mini mushrooms as tables, houses, figurines, gnomes, miniature watering cans and garden tool sets, small sized wagons and lamp posts to include in your Fairy Garden. You can find many items online at websites that offer a Fairy Garden Department.

 

Let your imagination soar when creating your own Fairy Garden! Select a theme, such as nautical or whimsical, and build your garden from that point. Using Google, you can also find hundreds of examples and photos of different types of Fairy Gardens. Pinterest offers an entire section using these keywords: miniature fairy gardens, miniature garden, and garden fairies.

 

Another place to get instructions for constructing your own Fairy Garden is to visit the websites of media companies, such as HGTV and the Gardening section of Better Homes and Gardens.