Whether you’re hoping to ease your impact on the planet or just want to save a few dollars, reducing your energy use can help you get there. In fact, 10 percent of renters said that utilities are their biggest monthly expense, coming in third after monthly rent and groceries.
Heating and cooling your apartment, especially those in regions with extreme temperature shifts, can be among the more expensive components of your utility bill. Luckily, making some easy adjustments in your home can dramatically reduce how much you spend on energy.
Here are several tips to reduce energy consumption and maintain comfortable temperatures in your home this winter:
1. USE THE SUN TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
That bright orb in the sky should be the focus of temperature control in your residence throughout the year. Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during winter days to bring free heat into your home. Close your window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.
2. BUNDLE UP
This is one of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill. Instead of turning the heat up, put on a cozy winter sweater and warm socks. Keep throw blankets on your couch, and add an area rug to insulate the floor.
3. USE CEILING FANS
Homes that have better ventilation and airflow can be more energy efficient in the summer and winter months. If you have ceiling fans in your apartment, you have more control over ventilation than you know. Ceiling fans can be used strategically to achieve better airflow: counter-clockwise will push hot air up in the summer and clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months. Turn your ceiling fan on a low setting to gently push hot air back down.
4. THERMOSTAT ADJUSTMENT SETTINGS
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10 percent per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. Consider investing in flannel sheets and a warm comforter for your bed and keeping your apartment cooler when you sleep.
5. WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
If you have rooms that you never use, like guest rooms or large storage areas, close and seal off the vents in those rooms to be more energy efficient and direct the flow of air to the rooms you use most. Energy bills run, on average, $183 per month. By using a space heater in the rooms where you need it and setting the thermostat to 62 degrees, you can save approximately $200 each year.
6. FURNACE MAINTENANCE
Keeping your furnace and vents properly maintained will reduce energy consumption and help you save. Check your furnace filter monthly, and replace it when it gets dirty.
7. GET A HUMIDIFIER
The air inside your home can become very dry. Moist air feels warmer and holds heat better, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable when your thermostat is set at a lower temperature. You can also increase the humidity in your apartment with a collection of house plants.
8. INVEST IN INSULATION
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs are lost each year due to escaping heat and cold air in homes without proper insulation. Get some inexpensive insulation from your local home improvement store, and cover up all those areas where heat might escape. Start with foam weather stripping for your doors and windows; it’s cheap and is extremely easy to apply.
9. USE LED LIGHTS
Buy new LED holiday lights, which use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than older, incandescent lighting. In addition to consuming less energy, LED lights don’t emit as much heat and are more resistant to breakage, making them a safer alternative. Bonus tip: Always unplug your holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house. As with all appliances and electronics, your holiday lights will continue to draw power even when not in use, which adds unnecessary expense to utility bills.
10. ONLY USE EXHAUST FANS WHEN NECESSARY
Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom pull the hot air that rises to the ceiling out of your apartment. Use exhaust fans sparingly, and shut them off when you are done with them.
Now that Halloween has come and gone, it’s probably time to address those fallen leaves in our yards. To some, this is a dreaded chore and gets delegated to a landscaper or a young neighborhood (future) entrepreneur. The problem with hiring a landscaper to do your fall leaf cleanup isn’t necessarily the $250-$500 plus price tag, it’s that this is not a once-a-season job. In many regions of the country, autumn lasts weeks and weeks, so it takes a handful of cleanups to keep your property neat and tidy. (This is especially true if you have a neighbor who waits until absolutely every branch is bare before he’ll lift a rake, ensuring that his leaves continue to blow onto your lawn until the first frost glues them to the ground.)
The good news is that DIY leaf removal doesn’t have to be a blister-raising, hamstring-stressing effort. With the right tools, the leaves can be gone before the weekend. Here’s what you need to make that happen:
THE LAWNMOWER TRICK:
Throughout the spring and summer, setting the mower to maximum height is one of the best things you can do for your lawn’s health. But come fall, drop it down as low as it’ll go without scalping the turf. Short grass gives leaves less to get caught on as they drift around the neighborhood. It also means the mower will vaporize any leaves that have already fallen (assuming a light coating). You should use a mulching mower, meaning the kind without a bag that pulverizes clippings and drops them back into the turf to feed it.
Raking is hard work, but so is using a wimpy hand-held leaf blower. The typical plug-in version isn’t powerful enough to extinguish a birthday candle, never mind move a pile of damp leaves (or a single well-nestled acorn). If you’re strong enough to rake, you’re probably strong enough to handle a gas-powered backpack blower. These machines have flexible hoses and variable speed triggers, so you have plenty of power to remove those leaves stuck in your azaleas and also a gentle enough touch for cleaning up around a screen porch without sending dirt inside. Plus, they kind of resemble a proton pack from Ghostbusters, so you can re-live your youth. (Caution: Please wear ear protection and goggles.)
THE TARP TRICK:
Don’t try to transport a big pile of leaves all the way to the woods for disposal, Hercules. Conversely, if your municipality picks them up with a vacuum truck, don’t be “that guy or gal” that uses blower to relocate the leaves to a different destination. Instead, rake or blow them onto a tarp and drag them to their destination.
If you need to pack your leaves into brown paper bags for municipal curb pickup, check out the Leaf Chute ($9 at Lowe’s or Home Depot). It’s a low-tech, three-sided plastic tube that props open the empty bag and has a wide mouth for easy loading. Once the bag is full enough to stand on its own, remove the chute and pack in as many more leaves as you can stamp down.
MAKE IT A FAMILY EVENT:
Leaf pickup is an ideal chore for the young people who are eating you out of house and home. Start them with rakes and quality, well-fitted work gloves, and let them learn the old fashioned way. Then, once they’re capable rakers, understand the basics of the job, and are ready for power tools, let them grab a hold of that sweet new blower. After all, transference of chores in the household is the circle of life, isn’t it? 😉
Here is a list of five candy alternatives for Halloween that are practical in terms of expense, trick-or-treaters’ health, and the fun the treat delivers…without getting your residence egged for being “that house”:
GLOW STICKS AND LED LIGHTS
Glow sticks cost about $1 for a pack of 15, on par with the price of small pieces of candy, or about 7 cents each. Online, you can buy them in bulk for as low as a pack of 100 for $5. LED finger lights are much cooler, but will set you back $6 for a pack of 40, or 15 cents per kid. The only downside, which isn’t entirely insignificant, is that you’re creating a lot of trash for landfills.
MINI PACKS OF PRETZELS, DRIED FRUIT, ETC
These are somewhat acceptable by the kids, and you reduce the impact on landfills that glow sticks bring. But with these, you’re getting up into the 20-cents-per-kid range, and you likely aren’t saving any teeth. These foods may be lower in calories than a candy bar, but their carbohydrate base and ability to stick to the teeth ultimately promote tooth decay.
BATCH OF WARM COOKIES
Hear me out on this one. The kids will either eat them immediately and happily, or their parents will toss them out later because they don’t trust their origin. Either way, your house and wallet are safe.
With an amazing variety of choices, dinosaurs, butterflies, pirates, zoo animals, etc, you can probably please trick-or-treaters of any age. You can buy sheets of 100 or more tattoos for just pennies per tattoo.
NOISEMAKERS AND WHISTLES
Fair warning…their parents will hate them, but the kids themselves probably won’t. Unfortunately, you will probably have to demonstrate how to use them. Fortunately, you won’t be around for the heavy usage. As parents, we’ve been tortured by these handouts. Now it’s your turn to play the Halloween troll. 😉
As the saying goes, you can’t please everyone (except with a big bar of chocolate). So it may be wise to have a few chocolate bars on hand for those kids who look like they are old enough to shave. You know, just in case.
On October 23rd, 1976, Pittsburgh Panthers running back Tony Dorsett rushed for 180 yards in a 45-0 pummeling of Navy. In the process, Dorsett passed Howard Stevens to become the greatest rusher in NCAA history, setting the new record for the most rushing yards in a career at 5,206. Dorsett would end his career with 6,526 rushing yards.
This was the 15th straight game Dorsett eclipsed the 100 yard mark. The Aliquippa native also set a major‐college record of 931 career rushing attempts, eclipsing the mark of 918 set by Ed Marinaro in only three varsity seasons at Cornell, the last 1971. (You may also know Marinaro from Hill Street Blues and Blue Mountain State fame!)
In addition, Dorsett became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four varsity seasons. He totaled 1,586 yards as a freshman in 1973, 1,004 yards as a sophomore in 1974, 1,544 in his 1975 junior year, and the Hopewell alum finished his 1976 senior campaign with an astounding 2,105 yards.
Dorsett’s record held strong until the 1998 season, when Texas Longhorn Ricky Williams passed Dorsett in a game against Texas A&M.
Below is a highlight package from Dorsett’s magical day!