Have you ever checked your credit report? Many years ago we began checking our report regularly after finding credit cards we did not own, as well as one agency had Andrew and I as deceased. It is not easy to get the credit reporting agencies to change your report, but is well worth the time and work in the end. Last year Wells Fargo bank offered a free fraud protection plan for three months. We signed up, ran our reports for free and then canceled at the end of the three months. There were a few old items on our reports that we were able to get cleaned up, with the help of Wells Fargo.
We are now considering freezing our credit reports to add a level of security against fraud. By freezing your credit you can temporarily seal your credit report. You will be issued a pin number that allows only you to thaw your report. When you freeze your reports it prevents thieves from establishing new credit even if they are able to obtain your name and identification.
Whether you freeze your credit report or just check your free credit score regularly, it is good to know what is on your credit. Now days credit reports are used to evaluate your rates for auto and homeowners insurance, determine an interest rate for credit cards, home and auto loans, and your credit report is even evaluated for obtaining a new job.
Winter is coming and the weather is getting cooler out. Living in Georgia we may have a few days in the 70's and then the temperature may drop to the 30's. On Saturday the day started very chilly but by lunch time we all had a sunburn and it was 65 outside. With the constant weather change it is difficult to convince the little ones that shorts season is over and it is now time to put on something warm. They will put on shorts and a t-shirt and then talk about how cold they are while doing their school work...we are all learning!
Our home has older heating units that are not efficient to run. Over the last year we have lived in this home we have learned several ways to cut our electric and propane bill considerably. Here are a few tips we have used...
- Use portable oil-filled heaters instead of heating the whole house. We purchased 1500 watt electric oil-filled radiant heaters and they save us considerable money. We started by using them in the basement for the bedrooms down there that get much colder in the winter. We found the savings to be so significant that we purchased them for all the bedrooms. Each unit has it's own thermostat. We turn the heaters on about an hour before bed to heat up the bedroom. The heater will then cycle off and on as needed to reach the set temperature. Huge cost savings from heating the entire house!
- Wrap the hot water heater. A simple insulated blanket for your hot water heater can save 4-9% on heating costs. The older boys wrapped ours last year. Every little bit helps!
- Put on a sweater or jacket. Okay, this one seems simple, but how many times do we dress in a short sleeve shirt and then turn up the heat. I just purchased my little girls leggings and long sleeve dresses, my newborns stay in warm pajamas in the winter and the boys put on a sweatshirt if need be. Putting on an additional layer of clothing may be enough to warm you up and allow you to reduce the temperature on the thermostat.
- Throw an extra blanket on the bed...or two. In our home the little ones wear feet pajamas in the winter because they do not stay under the blankets very well. Everyone has a heavy comforter and the little boys have sweats to sleep in. Adding a few extra blankets at the end of the bed, something easy to pull on if we get cold, allows us to keep the rooms a bit cooler while we are all snug in our warm beds.
- Switch your ceiling fan direction. Many people don't bother to switch the direction of the fan, but it does help to push the warm air down keeping the room much warmer.
- Open and close window blinds at the right time each day. My mom is the best at this! She, and I, both like a well lit house. The key is when to open and when to close the blinds or curtains. It is best to open the curtains in the morning when the temperature begins to rise...usually by 8 am or 9. Right after dinner time we are usually ready to close up again before it gets too cold outside and the cold air begins to make its way through the windows. Even if you don't have heavy curtains or insulated blinds, simply closing what you have will keep the bulk of the chill from coming in!
- Change the filter in your heater and vacuum all ducts. Keeping a clean filter will help your heating unit to run more efficiently and more cost effectively. Also have your chimney cleaned. While speaking with a group of firefighters this last weekend, we learned that build up in chimneys is the number one cause of house fires in our area. Have your chimney cleaned every year or two depending on how much you burn!
- Cooking in crock pot or roaster will cut down on electric or gas cost. Put dinner in the crock pot each morning and let it heat up during the day. In fact put soup in the crock pot and you can warm up the family as well! The cost to run a crock pot for 4 hours a day is less than 14 cents a day, according to the Seattle City Light in Washington. The cost to run an electric over for an hour a day is over 70 cents a day. Over a few months this savings can add up!
I would love to hear what ways you are using to save energy this winter. Last year our propane bill was enormous. We used over 100 gallons a month. We also had a large electric bill. Now that we have been in this home awhile we are looking for ways to cut the costs, maximize our heat and stay warm! Any ideas? Please share...
Watch for more great giveaways coming soon!