6 Tips to Save Money on Winter Heating Bills

Brace yourselves, winter is coming. As such, it is never too early to start planning ahead for the annual rise in winter heating costs.

A common misconception is that the most effective ways to decrease energy costs is by resorting to expensive, large-scale solutions such as installing new insulation throughout your home. Sure, that will definitely work at keeping you warm, but it will also cost you an arm and a leg to do so. The truth is that there are a number of small things you can do right now to help chip away at the overall amount of energy you use this winter. If done correctly, these small changes will lead to big savings. The key is taking the time to assess your needs and choosing the approach which best matches your goals while limiting your expenses.

Stay warm with these six tips to saving money on your winter heating bills.
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Supplemental Heating: The Easiest Way to Cut Energy Costs in the Fall & Winter

Spot Heating

As the mercury starts to drop, most homeowners will see their energy costs start to go up. In attempt to stay warm, most homeowners will simply crank up the heater, but unfortunately, that’s one of the least efficient ways to stay warm. Instead of heating up your entire house, why not just keep the area you’re hanging out in warm?

This strategy is called Supplemental Heating, and it’s one that more and more homeowners are starting to turn to. Without a doubt, supplementing the heat in your home is the absolute easiest way to lower your energy bills without sacrificing your overall comfort. There’s a number of ways you can utilize this technique to stay warm. But first, let’s learn how it works.

What is Supplemental Heating?

Supplemental heating is a straightforward strategy more homeowners are turning to as energy prices continue to rise. Instead of raising the internal temperature of your home to a consistent level throughout the entire house, only specific areas are heated while the rest of the house remains cool. The logic behind this is simple. If you are not going to be moving throughout the house, from room to room, on a regular basis there is no reason to keep every room the same temperature. A more economical solution is to only heat the spaces you are currently occupying.

There are a number of benefits to adopting a supplemental heating strategy in your home. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common benefits of this strategy.
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3 Common Misconceptions About Washer Dryer Combos

There are many misconceptions about laundry units in small places. Many people believe that you have to use the small, compact, stackable units when living in smaller spaces. The truth is, you have a wide variety of options for your laundry needs, even if you live in the smallest of spaces.

Washer Dryer Combo

EdgeStar Washer Dryer Combo

Consider a washer dryer combo. If you think they use too much energy, or take too long to dry, then think again. In many cases, the easiest way to fit a full-size washer and dryer into the smallest living spaces is to combine them into one unit. You do not necessarily have to use apartment or dorm room style washer and dryers when you have a small space to work with. You can use a full-size unit, just combine it into one machine.

There are many benefits of having a washer dryer combo. Not only does it save you a considerable amount of space, but they’re incredibly easy to use and gentle on your clothes. Most combo washer dryers don’t need to be vented, like a standard stand-alone dryer does. This allows you to use your unit anywhere there is electricity and a water connection.

1. Long Drying Times

For example, the EdgeStar FastDry Ventless washer dryer combo allows you to wash and then dry your clothes in one unit. Back in the 1980s when these type of units started to appear, they did take a long time to dry, which made them an unpopular choice for anyone other than a boat or RV owner. Modern units blow those misconceptions out of the water with dry times of as little as 45 minutes for a full load. There are a couple models of washer dryer combos that run on a mere 110 volts, instead of the stand alone units that use 220 volts and may take a little longer, sometimes around 90 minutes.

2. Inefficient Energy Usage

Another misconception is that a combo washer dryer has poor energy usage. Many people assume that they used more energy than the regular units, because they have more features. The truth is, condensing dryers use anywhere from 50-70 percent less energy than vented dryers. They are designed to be very energy efficient and economical for the daily needs of a consumer.

3. Lack of Moisture Control

Other common misconceptions include the worry about moisture being put back into the area surrounding the dryer. But, this is also not true. The condensing dryers use a closed-loop system to prevent any heat, lint or moisture from being released into the air. The units use a dehumidfying process to ensure that there is no release of moisture into the air. While many people believe that the units’ load capacity is tiny, in most cases, the loads are comparable to that of a full-size unit.

Combo washer dryers are UL and ETL approved, making them an ideal solution for anyone. The common misconceptions about these laundry units in small spaces are all just that – misconceptions. The product flaws and features of decades ago have since been corrected, refined and enhanced to meet the needs of the consumer. The fact of the matter, is that if you are pressed for space and don’t want to compromise on the quality of your laundry appliances, then a washer dryer combo may just be the best fit for you.

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Beat the Heat: Choosing the Right Portable Air Conditioner For You

If you’re struggling to stay cool through the summer heat, there are plenty of air conditioning options that can meet your individual needs. If you’re sweating it out in a small enclosed space, portable air conditioners are going to be your best option.

Developed to make the small areas you inhabit cool and comfortable, portable air coolers are designed with either a single hose or a dual hose system. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two types of cooling systems.

Single-Hose Systems

Single-Hose Portable Air Conditioners

The single hose air conditioning system is the most fundamental option available to you. It works by using a compressor to suck air in, and then expels hot air and moisture out of the room. Because the warm air continually tries to seep back into the room to replace the negative air pressure, the single-hose air conditioners have to work harder to keep the room cool.

Depending on your living situation, the single-hose air conditioners are sufficient enough for cooling a small area and may the best option for you. However, the dual-hose system is usually the most efficient cooling system, thus it’s preferred by most people.

Dual-Hose Systems

Dual-Hose Portable Air Conditioners

As suggested by the name, the dual-hose air conditioning system implements two hoses. One hose pulls the hot air from the room, cools it within the unit, and then expels it back into the immediate area. Just like the single-hose design, a dual-hose portable air conditioner labors to perform its cooling function, creating heat inside the cooler. However, the difference with this type of system, the second hose pulls the cooled air from the room and uses it to cool the compressor and condenser coils. This allows your air conditioner to work more efficiently, providing better cooling in your small living or working space. While the price may be slightly higher than a single-hose cooling unit, the efficiency it provides is well worth the money.

Tips For Using Your Portable Air Conditioner

No matter which type of portable air conditioner you choose, here’s a few tips to get the most use out of your cooling system. Whether you’re cooling a bedroom or apartment, your air conditioner will work more effectively when you close all your doors and windows to the area you are cooling. It’s also a good idea to limit the overall amount of heat-producing sources, like electronic equipment and lights.

For optimal performance, turn your portable air cooler on early in the day when it’s still relatively cool. It’s far easier for your air conditioner to maintain a comfortable temperature, than to cool down a room that’s already reached high temperatures. Turning on a ceiling or rotating fan will also help boost the overall effectiveness of your air conditioner.

If you’re looking for a way to keep a small living or working area cool, a portable air cooler is an effective and economical way to do so. Review the pros and cons of the single-hose and dual-hose systems to select the unit that best meets your needs and budget. Follow the tips and recommendations to keep your unit operating at peak efficiency. You’ll soon see that portable air coolers are a great way to stay cool, even in small spaces.

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What are the Benefits of a Combo Washer Dryer?

Washer Dryer Combo

The key benefits of washer dryer combo units make them very useful in many different types of applications.  Below I have highlighted each of these benefits:

  • Space Saving – This is probably the biggest benefit about a combination washer and dryer.  Instead of having two appliances, this unit combines both a washer and a dryer into one package.  They come in a variety of load capacities, however, most of the combo units are about the size of a full size dishwasher and are counter height so you can even install them under your kitchen counter.
  • Portable – You can purchase casters for most combination washer and dryers making them easier to bring out when you are ready to do laundry and move out of the way when not in use.
  • Efficient – Combination washer dryers use less water than your top load washers since they use technology similar to a standard front load washer.
  • Ventless – Most combo washer dryers do not need to be vented like your standard dryer does.  This allows the combo units to be used pretty much anywhere there is electricity and a water connection.
  • Electricity Requirement – The majority of combination washer and dryers only require a 115 volt plug instead of the 230 volt plug that is required by most of your standard dryer units.
  • Gentle – Combo units utilize a horizontal axis drum similar to that found in front load washers.  The horizontal axis drum mimics the washboard clothes washing action by raising the clothes out of the water and plunging them back in.  This method of washing is much gentler on the fabric than the agitator method used by top load washers.
  • Ease of Use – With combo units you have the ability to put your load of laundry in and it will both wash and dry them.  Most even come with delay timers so you can have the load finishing when you are ready.  Many people throw a load in before they leave for work and utilize the delay timer so that it will be finishing when they get home.

Do you have or have you ever used a washer dryer combo? Let us know in the comments!

 

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How to Use a Washer Dryer Combo

washer dryer combo

You needed a laundry solution.  You were tired of trekking to a wash room or laundromat (washeteria for my friends in Louisiana).  You did the research and figured a washer dryer combo is what will fit your needs.   Now that you have this beautiful piece of equipment, what do you do with it?  Here are some simple guidelines to follow to help you use your combo most effectively.

Choose Your Load Size

Most units have a 13 to 15 pound capacity, though LG makes a unit with a 22 pound capacity.  13 to 15 pounds is about 3 complete outfits (pants, shirt, socks and undergarments), or about 6 to 8 bath towels.  It is important not to overload the unit, as it will not get your clothes as clean as they can be and it will be harder for the unit to dry the clothes.

Combo Washer Dryer Detergent

Next comes the detergent.  It is imperative that you use a low sudsing, high efficiency detergent, something with that cute little HE symbol on it.

HE Symbol

"Cute Little HE Symbol"

Powder works best, but if you prefer a liquid, go for it.  With these units, about two heaping tablespoons is all you need.  Most units will also have a space for fabric softener.  This is highly recommended because it helps to cut down on wrinkles, and generally makes your load soft afterwards.  There will also be a place to add bleach.  As with the detergent, powder bleach will work best, but you can use liquid just fine.  Be sure not to use too much though!

Water Setup

If you have the unit hooked to separate hot and cold water outlets, then you just choose whichever setting will work for your load.  Now, if you have the unit hooked to just one outlet with a faucet adapter and Y connector, you should use just cold water.  If you want to wash something in hot, set the machine for hot water and the unit will heat the water for you.  Also, cold water helps the unit dry the clothes better than hot water (weird, I know, but trust me on this one).

Final Tips

Now, just load the clothes, put in the detergent, choose your cycle, and you are off and running.  Keep in mind, once the cycle starts, the door will lock and you will be unable to open until the entire cycle is finished.  You can set these units to wash only, dry only or both.  Generally, a full wash and dry cycle takes about 3 hours.

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FAQ: Electric Fireplaces

Dimplex Electric Fireplace          Dimplex Media Console Electric Fireplace          Dimplex Vienna Electric Fireplace

As a kid, my favorite room in the house was our family room.  It was large enough to have a full complement of furniture, an upright piano, a huge television, and a brick fireplace.  As an adult, finding a house that has the same kind of brick fireplace like the one in my parents’ house has been daunting.  Enter the electric fireplace!  Nothing enhances your space like an electric fireplace.  Whether you go with a mantel fireplace, a media console, a gel fireplace or just an electric stove, electric fireplaces will make any room warm and inviting.  Plus, with these units, there is no chimney or other type of venting required.  WINNING!!  #TigerBlood.  (Sorry, had a Charlie Sheen flashback…)  As with most home purchases, customers often ask some of the same questions, so I will try my best to address those.

1. Should I go with gel or electric?

This basically comes down to personal preference.  But, before you can decide which one you want, you should understand the basic differences.  An electric fireplace needs to be plugged in (you’d be surprised how many people don’t know that), and most come with a blower that provides heat.  Gel fireplaces use gel cans or bottles to produce a smokeless flame.  Generally, they do not provide a lot of heat, and are used mainly for ambiance.  Also, gel fireplaces tend to be less expensive initially, however, they do not come with the gel, and you will have to buy gel cans separately.

2. How large of an area will an electric fireplace heat?

Everyone buying an electric fireplace asks this question.  Generally, an electric fireplace will heat up to 400 square feet.  Of course there are few models that will do more and a few that will do less, but 400 square feet is a safe overall bet.  Even the electric stoves will cover up to 400 square feet.  Most give off about 5,000 BTU’s of heat.  Also, you have the option to have the heat on or off, so if you just want the flames going, you can do that.  Additionally, you can just have the heat on and not the flame.  One more thing on heat.  The glass on an electric fireplace is cool to the touch, since most of them have a separate area where the heat is coming from.  So, you can touch the glass and not worry about burning yourself.

3. Can I place a TV on top of a mantel fireplace?

This is a fantastic question!  For the most part, yes, you can place a television on a mantel fireplace.  This is a great option in family rooms, especially if you get a corner mantel fireplace.  Just be sure to pay attention to the dimensions of the mantel, and the weight of the television.  Most flat screens will go on a mantel with no problem.  You just want to try keep the weight below 125 pounds.

4. Really?  A wall mounted fireplace?

YES!  A wall mounted electric fireplace!  To me, this is one the coolest things EVER!  You basically hang it on the wall like a picture.  You can get them with a variety of backgrounds, though my personal favorite has a black background with sandstone pebbles on the bottom.  There are also models that allow you to change the color of the flame.  Most of them require you to hard wire it so there is no wire or plug showing.  And, like a traditional electric fireplace, they will heat a room.  So, you get comfort and style all in one.  And, they come with a remote, so you can operate it from across the room.  Trust me, you get one of these and you are no longer trying to keep up with the Jones’.  You will officially BE the Jones’.

5. What if I have an existing fireplace?

The answer is simple!  You just get an insert.  You can get either an electric or gel insert.  The inserts work just like the full mantels.  The electric ones will provide heat; the gel ones need to have the gel replaced.  The thing you have to be certain of is the dimensions of your opening and the dimensions of your insert.  Generally, you want to get an insert that is about 1 inch less in width than your opening.  That just leaves you a little room to play with.  And, you can get a trim kit to fill out the rest, so you will be set.

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What is the Best Portable Air Conditioner?

Question: What is the best portable air conditioner?

This is somewhat of a tough question because there isn’t a single best portable air conditioner. Rather, there is the best portable air conditioner for your needs and requirements.

To determine the best portable air conditioner for you, you should consider the following:

  • How large is the room you are wanting to cool?
  • Is the room upstairs or downstairs?
  • What direction do the windows in the room face?

Each of these questions will help decide how powerful your portable air conditioner should be to keep your room cool. Just because a room is small doesn’t mean the smallest portable air conditioner will be able to get the job done. If the room is upstairs, it will naturally be warmer than downstairs rooms because heat rises. Also, if the room has windows facing west, then it will get warmer in the afternoons because of the direct sunlight coming in. By keeping these things in mind, you are more likely to find the right portable air conditioner for you.

PortableAirShop.com has this handy BTU calculator that will determine the total BTU needed for a portable air conditioner to cool your room. I’d recommend rounding the BTU up instead of down when making your buying decision — better safe than sorry.

Once you know how powerful your portable air conditioner needs to be, look for units in that BTU range and read reviews to see what other shoppers have had to say (i.e. Is it quiet? Does it cool effectively? Is it cost efficient?). Look at reviews for the same portable air conditioner on different sites too if you can. This will help give you a well-rounded picture of how the unit will perform.

 

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