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apartment lighting

Apartment Lighting: Getting More for Less

Apartment Lighting

Something to think about when getting a new apartment is the lighting. It is not something that is always at the top of a prospective tenant’s list, but apartment lighting can be something you’re not happy with after moving in. You also might be sure how you can improve on it if it is bad. Sure, you can add floor lights or lights on end tables, but there are some other ideas that might help the situation even more. Here are some of the easiest solutions you can implement when it comes to improving apartment lighting.

Improving the Natural Light

The best way to improve light is to rely on natural light. You’ll have to have an eye for it when you are touring apartments, but you can also still optimize the natural light that you do have. If you don’t want any blinds or shutters you can take them down and store them for when you move out. If you would rather leave them up, be sure to leave them open during the day to maximize the amount of natural light.

Overhead Lighting

Most rentals have overhead lights and/or ceiling fans, but they might not provide enough light for your tastes. You can go to any hardware store and purchase your own new ones if you know how to safely install fixtures. These fixtures can stay up throughout your time in the apartment and come back down when it is time to move out. Just be sure that you can safely store the original fixtures and put them back up.

Amplify Light with Mirrors

While mirrors don’t make their own light, they do reflect other light sources and can amplify the light you have available. They make rooms feel larger as well. If you can hang mirrors or reflective metal surfaces across from windows, natural light sources, or lamps it will help brighten up almost any room.

Small, Portable Lights

Many stores now sell small lights that can be placed almost anywhere via Velcro or command strips. These lights are great for being put underneath a counter or on a wall and can be turned on with a simple touch. The downside is that they run on battery power, so they are not connected to the electrical grid of your apartment. Still, they are good for ambiance and can be placed in any number of spaces. They are also great for closets.

Decorative Lights

A great way to make your apartment more festive is to hang decorative lights across the ceiling light Christmas lights. These can work best in bedrooms or hallways, but can also be strung up virtually anywhere. As long as you have access to a power outlet you can hang Christmas and other decorative lights all over the place.

Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Written by Kris Lindahl REALTOR® CRS CLHMS
CEO/Owner The Kris Lindahl Team at Kris Lindahl Real Estate
2407 109th Ave NE Suite 110
Blaine, MN 55449
www.krislindahl.com
twitter.com/krislindahl
linkedin.com/in/krislindahl
www.minnesotacommercial.com

 

One can’t go wrong when taking steps to conserve energy use in their apartment home. Besides helping to save precious natural resources, residents can also save a good bit of money by making a few small changes in their units and in the way they live. These five useful tips for reducing utility use can ease one’s conscious as well as those monthly bills.

1.  Kitchen Energy Efficiency Tips

The use of ovens and dishwashers can make the kitchen one of the hottest rooms in the home. In warmer months, experts recommend using these devices in the evening time when it’s cooler to reduce the AC’s heat load. Furthermore, utility use can be further reduced by disabling the second rinse and heat cycles on the dishwasher and allowing them to air dry. Another way to keep the kitchen cool is to install small LED lights beneath counters to reduce use of heat producing and energy draining overhead lights.

2.  Smart Power Strips for Modern Households

In a gadget loving society, most households have numerous appliances, consoles and chargers plugged in at all times.  Whether they are being used or not, such juice drainers are called ‘energy vampires.’ However, today’s smart power strips are designed to save energy and money by shutting down energy flow. These modern accessories cost around $40, feature multiple outlets, provide surge protection and also power down connected devices when they aren’t in use.

3.  Water Wise Conservation Tips

Many apartment communities include water with rental rates as an amenity, so low-flow shower heads and toilets are likely already installed to minimize water use. However, some steps renters can take to further reduce water use and energy costs include:

  • Doing laundry in large loads and using cold water.
  • Running the dishwasher only when it’s full adjusting settings to shut off second rinse cycles and heat drying.
  • Keeping showers short or taking baths in lieu of showers to expend less water.
  • Collecting rainwater in buckets to use for watering plants. It’s free, and plants prefer it over tap water.

4.  Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Lighting

Traditional incandescent bulbs may provide ample lighting but are rather inefficient in a number of ways. They tend to burn rather hot and increase cooling costs. They also draw more energy than today’s modern options such as LEDs and compact fluorescent light bulbs that are far more efficient. Furthermore, energy-efficient options have a greater lifespan that incandescent bulbs, so renters can save even more over the long term. Changing the most commonly used five bulbs in the home can have a noticeable impact on utility bills whole reduceing one’s carbon footprint.

5.  Take Control of Heating and Cooling Costs

Depending on the age of the apartment building, there may be a traditional thermostat or a smart home thermostat installed. Regardless of the type, lowering the thermostat by one degree can reduce energy costs by 3 percent. However, energy rated smart thermostats can help renters save much more, as they can be controlled at will even while away from home. These are ideal for those away from home for several consecutive hours and want to reduce use but prefer to return to a cozy temperature.

At the end of the day, every small change made can add up to big savings. While upgrades are certainly helpful, habits can make a huge difference when they’re consistent. If you’re looking to help the environment or just want save a little bit more every month, these changes can get you headed in the right direction.

Save Money with a Roommate

8 Tips to Get Your Budget on Track

8 Tips to Get Your Budget on TrackGetting back on track with your budget can be disheartening, if not a source of anxiety. How will you eat out four times a week if you’re putting all the money you make away for twenty years? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Heed the following reasonable, simple steps to get back on track with your budget.

Set a Goal

Your goal must be realistic, measurable, achievable, and timely. Are you aiming to have just $50 at the end of every week? Want to save $100 for the holidays? Do you plan to move when the lease is up and hope to put money down on a house? Think about your future, what you’d like to achieve or obtain, and set a timespan in which you can reach your goal, and measure your progress as you go along.

Monitor What You’re Spending Monthly

Begin your budget by maintaining detailed records of your expenses for 30 days. Track every purchase down to the cent. This will help you win back control of your budget by knowing exactly where your paycheck is being spent, and it’ll provide a guide to set a realistic spending budget with. It’ll also give you indications where you can change your spending behavior.

Set a Spending Budget

You now know where all your money is going, so setting a realistic spending budget will be easier. You will have to make adjustments to understand what will work best for your way of life, so do not be afraid of change, yet also don’t be afraid of sacrificing immediate pleasure for long-term gain. You won’t have to cut out all the fun stuff, but sticking to your spending budget will assist you in reaching your goals.

Choose a Savings Account Thoughtfully

Savings accounts can differ greatly with regards to interest, fees, and minimum balance requirements, so do your homework and find the account that’s best suited for you.

Save Automatically

All of us have weak moments when we intend to put money into savings, but something comes up. Maybe that birthday you forgot about, or your car gets a flat tire. Avoid the situation three months from now when you look at your savings to discover you only have $10 in it by making your contributions automatic, establish direct deposit from your payroll and avoid a saving’s plan derailment. You may also have it automatically drafted from your bank account into your savings via  tools on your bank’s website.

Establish an Emergency Fund

What would you do if you lost your job or were in an accident causing extended hospitalization? Do you have enough money to get you through if have to take off work for a few months? While your savings account could be utilized for a significant purchase like a brand new car or a down payment on a brand new home, an emergency fund is an account you fund and don’t touch unless there’s an actual emergency. Financial experts say you should have four to seven months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund.

Be a Clever Shopper

Look for ways to save. Sign up for rewards or programs loyalty, shop at the warehouse and club stores, use coupons and plan your trips strategically to take advantage of the best offers. When shopping online utilize cost comparison websites.

Get App Savvy

You’ll find an application for almost everything. So look for applications that can help you be a better saver. There are budgeting applications, ones that assist you in finding the best local deals and applications which will help you to sell your old items to other people. Consider YNAB (You Need a Budget), although coming at a price of $50 a year, it connects to your bank account and updates your charges from your budget automatically, and it is totally customizable.

As you get your budget on track, don’t be discouraged by hiccups along the way. The great thing about a budget is it’s flexible, and you actually have built-in safeguards for emergencies and unexpected events. If you get anxious, just put more money toward those areas for a while. Getting back on track with your budget will save you time, money, and put you in the best position to succeed in the future.

7 Quick Ways to Conserve Energy and Save Money

7 Quick Ways to Conserve Energy and Save Money

7 Quick Ways to Conserve Energy and Save MoneyWith so many things to do in a day, the idea of having to worry about saving energy in addition to everything else just isn’t attractive. So what happens? Many people pay it no attention. Yet, energy conservation is important as it helps the environment. As much of our current energy sources are created from dirty sources like fossil fuels, daily energy use produces pollution. Saving energy reduces energy demand and therefore lowers the amount of pollution generated. To begin is really quite easy, just follow these 7 tips to get started!

  • Regularly inspect areas inside your house such as hoses, connectors, and taps to check for any leaks. Repair as needed. Particularly ensure you have no leaky faucets. Even a slow drip of warm water can add a great deal to your monthly energy bill.
  • Place open water containers outside and use them for a wide range of outdoor maintenance activities like watering plants, washing concrete surfaces, outdoor tools, and the like.
  • Take showers instead of baths. Not only will this use less warm water, which requires more energy, but less water generally. Secondly, take shorter showers, and utilize a low-flow shower head. Have a faucet aerator in each faucet to conserve water and heat and maintain high water pressure.
  • Wash garments and dishes with cold water whenever possible.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use, to reduce ghost power usage, also called standby power, that uses energy even when the appliance is not in use. One way to do this is to connect all appliances to an intelligent power strip. Then when you use a certain appliance just switch the strip on, and when you’re finished turn it off and don’t worry about it.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They utilize 70-90% percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs, last 10 to 25 times longer, and save $30 to $80 in power cost in their lifetime, according to the ENERGY STAR government site. Similarly, use products that have earned the ENERGY STAR certificates meeting strict energy efficiency recommendations.
  • Insulate your water heater to prevent any loss of heat. This may retain heat for a longer period of time for the water inside and reduce the amount spent on energy monthly. Insulate the connecting pipes as well to further prevent the loss of heat.
Budget Worksheet

How to Create a Basic Budget

how to save moneyMoney in the future isn’t a matter of relying on every paycheck coming in exactly as expected. If you save up, the future looks a lot different. You can plan trips and large purchases ahead of time. It’ll take all the stress out of spending, and it’ll take a lot of stress out of living. Here are some tips to get you started.

Establish Goals

Why do you make money? To pay bills? What else? Do you want to fund a hobby, go on a trip, plan for a future child’s schooling? If you create goals, you’ll be able to reach them with financial plans—estimate how much you need, how much you make, and how much time you’ll have, then the rest is easy. These considerations are the foundations for any budget.

Basic Budgeting

Some people hate this word. But budgeting is the only way to get your money to work for you. Of course, you work to earn money, but have you thought about the ways in which you can, now, become more independent from your earnings? That’s what making your money work for you means.

When you’re hanging out with friends, or that new video game is released, it’s easy to blow the latest paycheck. In these situations, it can seem like your always chasing that next payday. Create an expense sheet. List all your monthly expenses—estimate if you need to, for your food and gas costs, for instance. Then add all your income per month together. Now subtract your expenses from your income. The money left over is free for you to save or assign to different goals or wants for the rest of the month. It’s a good policy, however, to try to save at least ten percent of what you make monthly in a savings account. And many people recommend only spending about 5% of your monthly budget for entertainment.

This is just an extremely basic budgeting strategy. But there are plenty of strategies available online. Whatever you do, plan ahead!

4 Ways to Save Energy and Money

Untitled-1Saving energy can translate into big savings in your wallet. Here are 4 easy, cost-effective ways to save energy and money.

Use Power Strips

Yes, your phone charger does consume electricity, even if you aren’t using it. And your television. And your lamp. This “phantom load,” according to the EPA, can cost the average home about $100. Try to plug all these objects into the same power strip. Then you can just switch it on and off without unplugging any cords.

Change Lightbulbs

Lighting represents about 11% of your home’s energy bill. By replacing incandescent, old lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs, you can save up to 75% on your annual lighting bill. You could save that money up for a new fuel efficient car.

Change Shower head

The typical shower head flow rate is about 4 gallons per minute (if your home is older than 1980, it could be above 5 gallons per minute). For a ten minute shower, that amounts to 40 gallons of water! However, by installing a low-flow shower head, the flow rate could drop from 2.5 gallons per minute to as low as .75 gallons. That’s about 25 gallons of water compared to 40 gallons per ten-minute shower.

Toilet Tank Hack

Toilets use anywhere from 3.6 gallons of water per flush to 1.6 gallons. A quick, cost-effective way to reduce toilet water consumption is by filling up an old 2-liter bottle, or one-gallon jug, with gravel or sand and placing it in the toilet tank. That’ll save you at least a gallon of water per flush. Think about how many times the toilet is flushed per day.

Saving energy doesn’t have to break your bank. In fact, it can put more money in your pocket. Try out these energy-saving tips and let us know other ways you save energy!