Keep Cool — While Keeping Your Energy Costs Down

open windows
Two-thirds of households in America have air conditioners, according to the U.S. Department of Energy — and they spend a total $11 billion each year running them.
Our guess is that most of those households (which may include yours!) wouldn’t mind spending a little less to keep their homes cool. Because as great as it feels to escape the heat of summer, having some extra money in your account at the end of the month might feel even better.
Here are some tips to help you beat the heat without having the AC on — and the meter running — all day long:
Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. The Department of Energy says that ventilation is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool your home. One of the best ways to do this is to open windows to create a cross-wise breeze indoors. It’s best to do this in the mornings or evenings when the air is coolest.
Get those fans going. Ceiling fans can provide enough cooling power for you to raise the thermostat a few degrees without noticing the difference. Smaller ones can help as well, but make sure you turn fans off when you’re not around — they cool people, not rooms. Finally, whole-house fans, which bring air in and exhaust it through the attic, can help cool things down even on the hottest days. They should be installed by a professional, though.
Don’t unwittingly turn the ‘heat’ on. Are you making something in your oven? Cooking something on the stove? You’re also adding heat to your house. Even clothes dryers and dishwashers can create unwanted warmth, so use those appliances in the morning or evening. When it’s time to cook, try grilling outside — or eating more cold foods! They can help lower your internal body temperature.
Remember the little things — they add up. Keep your curtains closed on the sunny side of your home. Turn off lights whenever you can, because they produce heat. And if it’s warmer outside than inside, keep your windows closed.
Bigger projects can have big benefits, too. Make sure your attic and walls are insulated well, with cracks and openings sealed so warm air doesn’t leak into your home. Check your ducts, too, because air loss through ducts can account for as much as 30% of a cooling system’s energy consumption. And if you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, installing and setting one can help you save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs.
If you’re already following all of these tips and you’re still too hot, there are a few more options: Get your shirt damp with cold water and put it on. Make a cold pack with some ice cubes and keep your forehead and wrists cool. And you can create a “chill pillow” by keeping a bag of rice in the freezer and putting it in a pillowcase at night. It should stay cool for a couple of hours.
Or, of course, you could just bite the bullet and turn the AC back up a bit. We won’t judge — we promise.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user Steven Miller used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Swimming and Summer are a Perfect Combination — but Make Sure to Include Safety

pool with palm trees in the distnace

When the sun is out and the weather gets warm, people flock to the water — whether it’s the beach, lakes, rivers or a backyard pool. But wherever there’s water, there’s also danger lurking beneath the surface, even if you don’t live in an area with alligators or other threats.

That danger? Drowning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people drown every day — and two of those are children 14 or younger. And while this story is about swimming, don’t think that’s the only time you need to be vigilant. A baby can drown in just 1 inch of water, and a curious toddler can drown after falling into a toilet, bucket or even a fish tank. So keep the bathroom door closed if you have young ones at home, always supervise bath time, close toilet lids and make sure buckets are stored indoors and empty.

Swimming safety
The biggest risk for most people comes during recreational activities around water, though. That’s why it’s so important to know how to stay safe — and help others if the need arises. Here are some general tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Swim in designated areas with a lifeguard present.
  • Use the buddy system — don’t swim alone.
  • Don’t ever leave young children unattended, or supervised by another child.
  • Teach children to ask permission before going near the water.
  • Maintain constant supervision, without distractions, and have weak swimmers and young children wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Avoid alcohol or drug use during water activities.
  • If a child is missing, always check the water first.
  • Know CPR and other life-saving measures.
  • Finally, make sure everyone in your family learns how to swim well.

Of course, not all water outings are the same, and although the tips above are a good start, different situations require different safety precautions, too.
At the pool
Among children 1 to 4 years old, most drowning deaths occur in home swimming pools — a statistic the “Pool Safely” campaign from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission aims to combat. Here are some additional tips if you have a pool, live near one or visit one often.

  • Only dive or jump into a pool where signs indicate it is safe.
  • Follow rules such as no diving, no running, etc.
  • Know the location of life-saving equipment, such as life rings or reaching poles.
  • Instruct everyone to stay away from drains — powerful suction from a pool or spa’s drain can trap and seriously injure a child or adult.
  • For owners: Install a fence at least 4 feet tall, use self-closing and self-latching gates and ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers. Consider installing an alarm.

At the beach

According to the American Red Cross, you need different skills to swim in the ocean, so make sure you’re comfortable beforehand, and follow these guidelines:

  • Before diving, check for depth and obstructions — and go in feet-first the first time.
  • Watch children and elderly people closely at the beach, because waves can easily knock them off their feet.
  • Beware of rip currents, which can form in any large open-water area.
  • Look out for aquatic plants and animals.

Additional tips for lakes, rivers and streams

  • Always be mindful of currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water.
  • Watch for obstacles and other hazards, including plants and animals.
  • Don’t swallow the water, which can cause illness.
  • Check the weather and be aware of the potential for changing conditions.

If someone is in danger in a natural setting, reach out to them using anything that can extend your reach — a pole, tree branch, even a towel. You also can throw a floating object to them for support. But typically, you shouldn’t go in yourself, as that can put you in just as much danger. Let the professionals handle water rescues.

Summer fun in and around the water is for people of all ages — just keep in mind that some people need more supervision than others, and everyone needs to keep safety in mind at all times. See you out in the sun!

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®

Top image by Flickr user Tony Hisgett under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Home Insurance Agent Seattle, WA

Home or Lifestyle Changes During COVID-19 & How It Could Impact Your Insurance Policy

Home Insurance Agent Seattle, WAMany people have used the COVID-19 pandemic to assess their current living situation. Whether it is finally getting to those home improvement projects, getting out in your yard or garden. Others felt inspired to make some major renovations to their homes. If you fall into this category, clearly you are not the only one making changes as you stood in line outside The Home Depot, Lowes or your local home & garden department store.

If you have made some significant updates to your home this year, it’s important to relay this information to your insurance agent.

Review the scenarios below and reach out to us if you have made any of the following changes:

  • Updated your kitchen or bathroom
  • Added square footage to your home
  • Built a detached structure such as a shop, garage or office
  • Made energy efficient improvements such as solar panels on your roof

Why Do I Need to Share This Information With My Agent?

Any major update you make to your home can impact the current value of your home. If you ever have to experience a home insurance claim, your insurance carrier has an idea how much it will cost to replace what has been damaged. As your agent, we want to make sure your home has an accurate value for your home insurance policy so you can be reimbursed at the appropriate value.

Has COVID-19 caused long term changes to your lifestyle?

With some major companies extending a work from home approach into the fall season or even the remainder of the year, some people may consider finding a way to work from home permanently. If this applies to you, you may want to create a designated home office to work from. Learn how to work from home effectively here.

If you are a small business owner who now is looking to work permanently from home, be sure to let your agent know. Some changes to your home insurance policy may be necessary.

If You Plan To Drive Less, Reach Out To Your Agent

Some people who mainly used their car to commute to and from work, may be finding they are barely using their vehicle. Reach out to your insurance agent to see if can qualify for any auto insurance discounts. Some insurance carriers can provide a discount to individuals who drive less than 10,000 miles a year.