Cheryl Pendenza's Blog
Everywhere you turn people are saying "go green". More and more people are looking for alternatives to heat and power their homes. One alternative is solar energy. There are both benefits and pitfalls to solar energy. The Benefits •Solar power is predictable. It is easy to predict how much electricity your system will produce because the amount of sunlight that hits your roof doesn't vary that much. This means it is also easy to predict how much you will save in electric bills. •Solar power will lower your electric bill. Solar power will offset the usage of conventional electricity especially in places where the price for grid power is high — like California, Hawaii and much of the northeast. •Solar power is safe and clean. Solar energy systems produce emissions-free electricity. •Installing solar panels may also help you qualify for a tax credit. For more information on energy tax credits click here. The Pitfalls •Solar power can be predictable but it is also variable. In other words, it can be predicted on a long term basis but not on a daily or even weekly basis. For example, solar panels won’t produce electricity at night. •Solar power can be a more expensive alternative in the short term. The price of solar panels continue to fall but there are many aggressive financing options. If your state has no tax incentives and electricity prices are relatively low solar would be an expensive option for you. •Some homes just don't work. The roof must be in good condition with an unobstructed southern exposure. If the house is surrounded by trees and tall buildings solar panels will probably not work. A ground-mounted system is an option only if you have sufficient space in your yard.
Groceries can be one of the biggest monthly expenses in a family's budget. It seems the prices just keep going up and up but there are ways to slim down your weekly grocery bill. Here are some strategies to help you save at the grocery store. Make a list: If you want to avoid impulse make a list and stick to it. If you don't have a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. You may also forget to purchase the items you need causing unnecessary trips back to the store. Look for expiration dates: Avoid buying items that will go bad quickly. Pay attention to expiration dates especially on things like milk, meat, eggs, and yogurt. Look for meat markdowns: Butchers mark down their meat either early in the morning or in the evening saving you 30 to 60 percent. If you ask most butchers will tell you when they mark down their meat. Buy in bulk: When you find things like cereals, tinned goods, rice, beans, pasta, coke, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, toilet paper etc. on sale buy in bulk. You might also want to shop at warehouse stores for these items. Buy generic: Generic store brands can save you money. Most generics are just like or very close to the name brand product without the hefty price tag.
Are you considering a large-scale home remodel? Whether you are looking for a project intended to increase your home's value, or you're splurging on a pleasure project for your family, many of you will be turning to contractors to carry out the work that needs to be done. However, not all contractors are equal. It is important for you to outline your priorities for the project. You'll want a reliable contractor that can perform satisfactory work for a reasonable price. Here's a few tips to help get you started. 1. - Find yourself an insured and licensed contractor. Don't just pull a number from the classifieds and run with it without doing some proper homework. Licensing ensures that the contractor in question is qualified to do the work being discussed. To find out if your prospective contractor is licensed, contact your state license board and check up on them. Insurance is another matter. Insurance protects the workers the contractor will be employing, and your home from accidents resulting in damages. Ask your contractor to provide you with proof of insurance. If they can't provide this, then move on to a new contractor. 2. - Referrals and reviews - Before you strike out on your own, ask your friends and family if they have anyone that they'd recommend. Many times, the best contractors are found word-of-mouth. Every contractor on the planet wants his clients to think that he's the best for the job, but results speak for themselves. Again, make sure any referrals are licensed and insured. You don't want to take the chance of incurring additional damages to your property due to negligence and accidents. If no referrals can be found, then check online for reviews of local contractors. Most reputable contractors will have solid online reviews that are easily accessible. Contractors that operate their own websites are a plus. 3. - There's no such thing as a stupid question. If your contractor acts annoyed with you for asking too many questions, then you should probably consider someone else for the job. Questions to consider asking are - How long have you been in business? - How much will this project cost in total? - Have you performed this type of work before? - What is the protocol if the project goes over-budget? If you don't like the answers given, then continue looking for a contractor you feel comfortable with. 4. - Don't pay too much up front. Paying up to a third of the total estimate up front isn't unheard of. This initial payment will more than likely be used to hire employees and buy supplies. However, be wary of giving the contractor any more money until after your project is finished. Also, don't be afraid to get a rundown of how that initial payment will be spent. Be thorough if you want to be. The contractor should be able to give you a pretty good picture of the project in terms of cost and time. 5. - Get a contract - No matter the size of the project being undertaken, a contract should always be written up. This will ensure a legally-binding agreement between you and the contractor exists in the event of the unforeseen. Without a contract, there is no way to hold the contractor accountable in the event he performs an unsatisfactory job. And trust me...Any hassles you may incur in securing a contract is nothing compared to going to court without one in the event something goes awry. A proper contract should include the following information.
- When the project will start and end
- How and when you or the contractor is in default of the contract
- How any disputes will be rectified
- What happens if there is a delay due to weather, available materials, and so on.
Choosing between satelllite television or a local provider in today's world is a lot more complicated than it was a decade ago. Cable TV has made a concentrated effort in the last decade to offer the channel variety of a satellite television service, while satellite television has tried to offer the same kind of bundle deals to their customers that make cable subscriptions so appealing to people who like the idea of an all-inclusive bill for their at-home entertainment. While both services can be very rewarding in terms of quality of service and variety, your family's entertainment needs will have to be ultimately considered if you want to make the best decision possible. In this guide, I will attempt to highlight the best features of each service, how they stack up to each other in terms of quality, and illuminate the potential drawbacks for each. Cable TV Cable television offers you an easy opportunity to condense all of your digital services into one package (Phone, tv, and internet.) While some satellite television companies offer similar packages, they usually have to hire a third-party company in order to be able to do so. And with cable television moving into the digital realm a little more every year, they are now finally providing picture quality that you could only previously get with satellite television. Additionally, you never have to worry about bad weather affecting your reception like you would if you were to chose a dish network. Also, many cable companies now offer DVR as part of their digital packages, which allows you to pause, record, and rewind any program you'd like, a service only previously available to satellite customers. If your family's home entertainment needs center around fast, high-quality internet service, and your television requirements can be satisfied without needing hundreds of channels, a cable television package will definitely suit your needs. Satellite TV While it may sound like Cable TV is the more appealing option at this point, you must consider a few things; namely, Satellite TV absolutely trumps cable in terms of the sheer variety of programs and content. Dish TV boasts a roster of 250+ channels, and the number is always growing. That includes over 80 PPV channels, whereas cable can only manage about 40. In addition, satellite television offers you a slew of international programming that a cable service simply cannot compete with. Dish TV also consistently outperforms Cable in terms of customer service ratings. But while Dish TV currently has the edge in terms of variety, your access to local programming is pretty limited. And, as mentioned previously, reception can be an issue during inclement weather. Your property will also need to have an unobstructed view of the sky in order to receive optimal reception, which can be a problem for some homeowners. As far as pricing is concerned, your television needs may be the determining factor. If having television in every room is a must for you, then opting for a cable package may suit your needs better. Satellite companies tend to offer per room fees, which can be expensive in the event that you would like the service to extend beyond one or two televisions. There is also the equipment cost to consider. While opting for a satellite package may cost you more money up front, your monthy bill will more often than not be lower than a cable package, as maintainance costs tend to be lower. For additional information on cable television, please visit www.comcast.com or www.verizon.com/fios For additional information on satellite television, please visit www.directstartv.com or www.dish.com
Who doesn't love a bargain? You can negotiate a deal for just about anything. Here is how to try your hand at bargain hunting at flea markets, yard sales, junk stores, antique malls, and thrift stores. Some helpful tips on how to haggle: Dress the part. If you are looking for a deal don't flaunt your designer handbag and shoes. You want the seller to believe you when you say you’re only willing or able to pay less. Be friendly. A smile and kind hello can go a long way when asking for a discount. Ask for the discount. You can't get what you don't ask for. Make a fair offer. If you offer too little you can insult the seller and they will be less willing to offer you a deal. Start your offer at a little more than half the asking price and expect to meet somewhere in the middle. Inspect the merchandise. If the item has a flaw nicely point it out to the seller. Make a group offer. Gather a group of items and offer one price for all of them together. This benefits the seller and they are typically more willing to make a deal. Pay in cash. Always buy in cash, sellers love cash (who doesn't). You may even want to take the money out of your wallet to show the seller you are serious.