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16 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill

Do you know that you can lower your energy bill by as much as 25% with only minimal tweaks to your everyday use? With the heat pumping on overdrive, the winter months can make the cost of your utilities skyrocket. That’s why we’re giving you our top 16 tips to lower your energy bill, from lighting, water, heating and cooling, and everything in between.

Heating and cooling

Home heating and cooling are 10 of the biggest culprits behind hefty utility bills — and the best places to look for cost-cutting opportunities.

  1. Watch your thermostat. When you’re asleep or away from home, set your thermostat back 10 degrees. You can cut your annual heat and cooling costs by an estimated 10% by doing this for just eight hours. You may also want to think about upgrading from a conventional to an energy-efficient smart thermostat, which can save you up to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. They can also adapt to your temperature preferences and adjust your settings depending on when you’re home and when you’re away.
  2. Check seals on windows, doors and appliances: Make sure your fridge and freezer are well sealed to keep the cold air where it belongs. Same goes for your doors and windows. A bad seal allows energy to seep out, draining your wallet in the process. Also consider installing Low-E windows (one of McKee Homes staple energy-saving home features). Low-E windows help save energy by reflecting harmful UV rays from the outside of the home and reflecting radiant heat back into the room. This keeps the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  3. Repair leaky heating ventilation and air conditioning ducts: If the ducts are poorly sealed or insulated, they are likely hiking up your energy bill significantly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces are known to increase your heating and cooling bill by hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.

    What’s the purpose of the ducts? As one of the most important systems in your home, they carry the air from your home’s furnace or heat pump and central air conditioner to rooms throughout your house.Insulate or seal ducts, a very cost-effective process, in order to increase your system’s efficiency.

  4. Give your thermostat a nudge: Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat will do the work for you.
  5. Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature: To make your refrigerator and freezer work less hard to maintain the internal temperature, set your fridge temp to 38 degrees and your freezer to 5 degrees. And don’t worry, your food will still stay fresh at these temperatures.

Water

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, hot water use comes in second on the list of highest utility expense. Try cutting back your hot water usage in the following ways:

  1. Stick to warm or cold water when doing laundry
  2. Cut 2 minutes of your shower: Just this little amount can trim your water usage by 10 gallons a month.
  3. Install an efficient shower head: The Environmental Protection Agency says to look for one with the WaterSense label, which can reduce your water usage by close to 3,000 gallons a year.
  4. Be mindful of leaky faucets: Although the drip is slow, it adds up.
  5. Use energyefficient appliances: Buy energy efficient versions of the appliances you use most often: refrigerator, washer, dishwasher and water heater, for long-term savings. A normal dishwater uses 10+ gallons of water during one cycle compared to the new Energy Star label dishwashers that only allow 6 gallons at most to run.
  6. Adjust temperature of water heater: Lower your water heater temperate to 120 degrees (only 20 degrees lower than normal) to reduce your water heating costs by 10% or more. Remember to turn your water heater to the lowest setting when you’re away from home to max out your savings.

Power and lighting

Allowing lights and electronics to run accounts for an estimated 12% of a household’s energy bill.

  1. Educate yourself analyze your home energy usage graphs provided with your monthly bill. Becoming aware of your energy sucks can help you make alterations going forward.
  2. Get an energy audit. On top of educating yourself, request an audit from your energy company. They’ll come out and conduct a thorough inspection, sometimes for free, to identify ways for you to conserve energy.
  3. Use LED bulbs: Using bulbs with the Energy Star seal can save you upwards of $75 per year.
  4. Replace your power strips with smart power strips: Power strips never truly turn off so they are sucking power continuously! By using a smart power strip, the current is cut off to plugged-in electronics when not in use.
  5. Use light dimmers: Set the mood and save electricity all at the same time! By lowering the brightness of your lights, you conserve usage, creating savings in the long run.

 

With these tips, we hope you can lower your energy bill so you can put those savings to more important things, like experiences with family or outfitting your brand-new McKee home 😉

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The Stress-Free Guide: Hosting Your First Thanksgiving in Your New Home

Thanksgiving every year is a holiday families look forward to. But this year is extra special … you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving in your brand-new home. We know you’ll want to make this year even more memorable than usual without the added stress of doing “more.”

Try our helpful tips for creating a day that’s extraordinary yet easy for you and your family!

 

TIP 1: Plan ahead. Fail to plan, plan to … be stressed!

Get organized early and you’ll fly through the holiday with ease. Start here:

  • Create a menu & grocery list of all ingredients and supplies:
    • Include alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to provide options for those that don’t drink or aren’t of age
    • Look up the grocery store’s current promotions & coupons to save as much as you can
    • Don’t forget non-food items:
      • Festive napkins
      • Appetizer plates
      • Table cloth
      • Tables and chairs
    • Create a guest list and send invites well in advance
      Most families plan ahead for the holidays. Get the word out that you are hosting and encourage people to RSVP as soon as possible. As a nice gesture, create a mail-delivered or specially-designed online invite to show your closest friends and relatives that you would really enjoy their company!
    • Prepare a schedule for the weeks leading up to dinner. Assign roles to different family members to help with the prep.
    • Think about logistics: Where will you set up tables? Where will the guests sit? Where will the food be served – on the dinner table or buffet-style in the kitchen? Will you have a separate help-yourself bar? Are you serving appetizers prior to dinner? Where should you designate the kids-only area? Do you need to acquire more tables and chairs? Will sports or music be playing? If yes to music, create a festive playlist that would appeal to everyone’s tastes.

TIP 2: Decide on your decorations.

Since you’re fresh off a new home build, your dream home is likely to look like just that … a dream. That means you just need to spruce it up with a few seasonal staples, and they don’t even need to be fancy or expensive!

  • Go out in nature to grab holly or berries.
  • Get a couple bouquets of flowers and mix and match them throughout the house (Trader Joes has fabulous floral finds that are budget friendly). The best fall flowers are Snakeroot, Sweet Alyssum, Goldenrod, Helenium (comes in red, orange or yellow), Pansy and Purple Fountain Grass. Mums are also a pretty touch to the front porch.
  • Mini pumpkins and gourds in a variety of colors and sizes to sprinkle on the dinner table, entry way bench, bathroom vanity and living room side tables.
  • Small and large bowls of season fruits for an extra aesthetic “pop”

TIP 3:Prep the high-traffic rooms beforehand.

Begin the day with a clean kitchen, as well as empty dishwasher and trash cans (don’t forget the small bathroom ones). Remove breakable items and fragile furniture so they aren’t ruined by hyper children or red wine sipping guests. Double line your trash cans so when one bag fills up, you can easily move to the next. Make room in your hallway closet for guest’s shoes and coats.

 

TIP 4: Prepare for overnight guests:

For the planned overnight guests and the ones that may have indulged a little too much in your bloody mary bar … follow the below check-list to ensure they have a hotel-like stay:

  • Make guest beds with fresh linens
  • Set out large towels and washcloths on the beds
  • Stock the guest bathrooms with necessities. Grab a few mason jars and fill with q-tips, cotton balls, face wash toothpaste and extra tooth brushes, mouthwash and any other consumable your guest might need during their stay.

TIP 5: Get your stash of cleaning supplies ready to go …

Thanksgiving never goes by without a spill or two! For all-natural home cleaning remedies, be sure to read our previous blog. Here’s a quick guide though:

    • Coffee splatters: White vinegar
    • Red wine spots: White wine (believe it or not)
    • All other major food and drink slips: Tide to Go or baking soda in warm water

TIP 6: Cook in Advance:

Don’t bring on unnecessary stress for yourself by cooking everything on Thanksgiving Day. When creating your menu, make sure to include a timeline for yourself, too. Outline which dishes can be made ahead of time and which ones need to be cooked the day of. For a quick reference, foods that can be pre-made:

  • Casseroles
  • Chopped veggies (slice and bag, but don’t cook)
  • Stuffing, rice or any pasta-based concoctions
  • Salads

Rule of thumb: Almost everything can be pre-made besides the turkey or meat of choice. The rest can be prepped, so it’s ready to be popped in the oven or on the stove top.

TIP 7: Set the table as well as the appetizer and drink area a few days before.

Taking care of smaller tasks, like setting the table, will lessen your load leading up to the “big day.”

A little word to the wise: When planning a seating chart, place yourself closes to the kitchen and seat lefties at the corners, so they’ll be able to eat without hitting their neighbor. Have a “grown ups” table and a “kids-only” table and use place cards to make people feel special (and to avoid any confusion come dinner time).

If you’re providing a drink and/or appetizer bar, neatly line up wine, beer and cocktail glasses, lay out cocktail napkins, appetizer plates and serving china (or dishes). Serving and regular utensils can be placed in a decorative basket for easy organization.

TIP 8: Set-Up a Kid-Focused Area/Room

Well all know that parents enjoy their mingle time on holidays. To make sure the kids are taken care of and enjoying themselves too, designate a specific room or area that’s in sight and outfit it with toys, games, crafts and other activities. Mom and Dad will thank you.

TIP 9: Add a nice holiday scent to your home.

Light candles or add air freshers to the main rooms that your guests will be enjoying themselves: the bathrooms, kitchen and living room. Pumpkin Spice, Apple Cinnamon, Pine Needles or Fireside Smores are the best fragrances for the Fall season.

Not settled in your dream home yet, but would love to enjoy the holidays in it? It’s your lucky day. Our Year-End Savings promotion is going through the end of the year: put a contract on a new home and get up to $5,000 in closing costs plus a “Move-In Package” complete with a FREE Whirlpool washer, dryer and refrigerator!

Give one of our friendly new home specialists a call today (910- 672-7491) or fill out the form below to ask any questions and/or schedule a tour.

From the McKee Homes family to yours, we wish you a magical Thanksgiving season!