Home Buyers’ Warranty: How a Home Warranty Protects New Homeowners

Home Buyers’ Warranty: How a Home Warranty Protects New Homeowners

Most of us know about the myriad of insurances available: auto, home, renters, etc. The list is vast. But there is another thing that you can invest in to help protect yourself and your home: a home buyers warranty (HBW). Buying a new (or new to you) home is a stressful thing, but real estate agents and warranty companies have found a way to make this stressful time more comfortable for you. They do this by providing a backup plan in case something happens that your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover.

What is a Homebuyers Warranty?

So what is a home buyers warranty exactly? A home buyers warranty is a service agreement between a homeowner and warranty company that protects your home’s appliances and systems from accidental breakdowns due to age or mechanical malfunctions along with everyday wear and tear. This kind of warranty helps protect you from large, out-of-pocket expenses for replacements or repairs.

How Does it Work?

Warranty companies like Home Service Club make arrangements with approved service providers so that if a covered item does break, you as the homeowner can file a claim and the warranty company will take care of the rest—they will dispatch a service provider to evaluate and fix the problem. You will only be responsible to pay the small service fee that will be detailed in your warranty contract.

Your new home warranty will act similarly to an insurance plan where you pay a monthly fee to keep your warranty active. Then when you make a claim, you will pay a set Trade Service Call Fee rather than paying the full retail cost of replacing or repairing that covered item out of pocket. You are also responsible for any costs not covered in your home warranty, but those details can be fleshed out with your agent at the time of signing so that you aren’t surprised or caught off guard by any fees or costs.

What Does it Cover?

Every company’s contracts are different and they may have tiers that start with simple coverage and grow to cover far more items depending on the warranty plan. But in general, most home warranties cover major systems and appliances against breakdowns caused by everyday wear and tear or age.

The most common items you will find covered on a warranty include:

  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • Dryers
  • Water heaters
  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwashers
  • Stoves
  • Washing machines

More extensive warranties may cover swimming pools and septic systems.

Why Get a Home Buyers Warranty

American home buyers warranties protect new homeowners by offering reassurance. Additionally, buyers and sellers alike can rest easy knowing that any covered appliance or home system will be taken care of it they were to break or malfunction, without anyone having to pay an exorbitant amount out of their pockets.

It’s important to note that homeowners insurance generally covers events that can lead to damage, whereas warranties cover events that are expected to happen like the aging of appliances and systems. Although certain appliances may be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty, these kinds of warranties will only last for so long (such as a year or two after the purchase date). Home warranties will provide protection regardless of the buy date or age of the system or appliance.

Since home insurance is limited in its coverage, it’s wise to buy home warranty so that every inch of your home is covered and protected in the case of damage or normal wear and tear. Some warranties will cover nearly 120 different items, imagine the cash you will save yourself in the long should a refrigerator stop working, or a washing machine breaks and floods your home.

Give yourself a bit of confidence as you go into the home buying process knowing that everything is covered with a home warranty. And remember that your home doesn’t need to be under new construction to get a warranty; you can easily add this onto your existing home today!

Turn Up the Heat: How to Use a Convection Oven

Turn Up the Heat: How to Use a Convection Oven

Not too long ago, convection ovens were all the rage for passionate cookers and bakers. They weren’t often seen outside of professional kitchens, but were thought to cook far better than regular ovens. Today, just about every modern kitchen has one, or at least the option to select convection baking, but very few actually know how to use this setting.

Before you get years down the road, only to realize you’ve never utilized this convenient option on your oven, check out our “how to use convection oven” explanation below along with some helpful tips.

How Does a Convection Oven Work?

To start to understand how to use convection ovens, you should know that “convection” is actually a setting on your oven, not the oven itself. You can turn this setting on by pushing the “convection” button or turning the switch on, depending on your model. Once this setting is selected, your oven will begin baking using convection heat. With this off, it will bake as a regular oven.

But what does convection heat mean exactly? Convection ovens will heat just like regular ovens, but a fan and exhaust system will also engage by blowing and pulling hot air throughout the oven around the food. This means that the air around your food will maintain a steady temperature, rather than rising and falling. This allows your food to cook more quickly and more evenly. Plus, with the exhaust system, moisture will be pulled out of the oven making your food crisper and browner.

To understand the difference with how to use convection ovens versus regular ovens — or your oven with the convection button switched off — you should note that regular ovens cook by your oven heating the air around your food. This heat is then conducted throughout the rest of the food. Basically, the outer parts of the food are heated by the hot air of the oven, and the inner parts are heated by the already-heated outer parts of the food. In other words, the food cooks itself. However, since the outer parts are exposed to higher temperatures roasts turn brown on the outside, pie crusts get crispy while the filling stays soft, and so forth.

How to Convert Recipes for a Convection Oven

Every baking or cooking recipe that uses an oven will specify the time for baking along with the temperature. However, because convection ovens cook differently than traditional ovens, you will need to convert the cook time or the temperature from what it says in the recipe.

Thankfully, converting is extremely easy and is a simple matter of either shortening the cooking time or lowering the temperature (sometimes you may need to do both). The simplest approach is to set your convection oven 25 to 50 degrees lower than your recipe calls for. For example, if the recipe says 400 F, you will want to drop it to 350 or 375 F.

Take note though: Some convection ovens are smart enough that they will adjust the heat for you. This means that if you set it to 350 F according to the recipe, your convection oven may reset itself to 325 F to compensate. To know whether or not your oven will do this, check the owner’s manual.

Your adjustments may also depend on what you’re baking. If you’re wondering how to use convection oven for baking cookies and pies, you will want to lower the temperature by 25 degrees. For roasting meats, you’ll want to lower by 50 degrees. If you want to take the guess work out this, most owner’s manuals will also specify the correct adjustments you need to make for that specific model.

As a different approach, you can adjust your cooking time rather than the temperature. To do this, simply shorten the recipe cooking time by 25 percent.

Extra Tips for Using a Convection Oven

Here are a few more helpful tips for how to use convection oven.

  • Because convection ovens push hot air around, the surface of your food will cook faster. This means the convection setting is great for roasting large cuts of meat like prime rib or beef roasts. Note, however, that the outside of your roasts can dry out quickly, so take this into account while adjust temperature and cook time. Your manual should offer guidelines with respect to the positioning of your shelves.
  • Roasts and beef can be consumed with semi-uncooked centers, but meats like turkey and chicken must be cooked thoroughly. You can either lower the temperature or shorten the cooking time to compensate for different meats.
  • Additionally, since convection ovens will use a fan to blow the air forward, you will want to use pans with low sides to maximize this effect. Also, don’t cover your food, unless the recipe specifically calls for it.
  • Not all foods will fare well in convection ovens. These are generally foods that start off as liquid batters such as quick breads and cakes.
  • Since convection ovens produce even heat, it will eliminate hot spots; you won’t need to rotate your pans when baking cookies.

How to use Convection Oven Microwave

Similar to convection ovens, there are many wonderful convection oven microwaves on the market today. Although they tend to be more expensive than other microwaves, they are more affordable than ovens and take up less space and power. This means that if you are renting or have a small kitchenette for an AirBnB or trailer, a convection oven microwave may be the better option over a bulky oven.

Knowing how to use convection oven microwave is very similar to a standard convection oven, they use the same technology to evenly heat and cook whatever you place in there. However, some will give you the option to cook with microwave radiation only, convection only, or both at the same time.

Note that when you are microwaving something you would use a traditional microwave — such as when popping popcorn or reheating leftovers — you simply need to use the traditional microwave setting and follow all other microwave rules: no metal pans, utensils or racks, and cover the food.

You would then select the convection setting for baked goods, or other things you want to have a crispy exterior like vegetables or roast meat. Be sure to elevate the food with a rack so the hot air can also circulate under the pan.

Knowing how to use convection oven microwave is really as simple as following the above steps. It can also pay off to study the manual once you first get your microwave oven to ensure that aren’t any other helpful tips or tricks for your specific model.

How to Save Water at Home

How to Save Water at Home

Knowing how to save water at home is not only important for our ecosystem, but it’s also a big help on your monthly bill. With droughts becoming more common it’s important for us to not take our clean water for granted, but instead start practicing better ways to save water.

Repurpose Water

Start learning how to capture and repurpose waste water from every day chores or activities. For instance, one of the best ways to save water is to put a bowl or bucket under the colander when rinsing vegetables or fruits to capture the runoff water. Take this water and save it to either water house plants, flush a toilet, or water a flower bed outside.

You can also place a bucket under a bathtub faucet to help capture water as you’re waiting for it to heat up for your bath or shower.

Choose Low-Flow

Saving water at home can be as easy as upgrading your showerheads and toilets to run on lower flows. Toilets account for nearly 30 percent of a home’s indoor water use. Older models use about 6 gallons of water with each flush, but newer, better efficient models use about 1.28 to 1.6b gallons. Even better, get a dual flush toilet that can switch between what kind of waste needs to be flushed. These types of toilets use even less water.

More efficient showerheads, such as those with the WaterSense label use 2 gallons or less of water a minute are a great investment.

Capture Rainwater

Invest in a large water tank or 55-gallon drum that you can put under your gutter spout or to leave in the yard during large rainstorms. You’ll be shocked at how much water can be collected and reused. Some models of the 55-gallon drum come built with a water spout that you can hook a garden hose up to, which will allow you to use that water for watering your lawn or garden. You could even use it to wash a car or rinse of the side of the house. Be sure to keep your barrel or drums covered when it isn’t raining to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Turn off Faucets

Get in the habit of turning off your faucet. This can be when you’re brushing your teeth, washing your face, shaving, cleaning your hands, and even while washing dishes. It can actually save you a ton of water to have a dual sink installed. This way, when hand-washing dishes you can fill one side up with hot soapy water, and the other side with cool water for rinsing. This awesome tip for ways to conserve water at home can help you use only half of what you normally use to hand-wash dishes.

Bathroom faucets run at 2 gallons of water per minute according to the EPA, by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth and shave you could save hundreds of gallons of water a month. This is also a good time to check for drips or leaks in your sinks.

Get a Float Booster

Whether you buy one or make your own, a float booster can be placed in the back tank of your toilet as one of our ways to save water. A float booster is put in the bottom of the tank to help raise the level of the water in the tank, faking out your toilet into thinking there’s enough water in the tank but allowing you to have the toilet run on a lower flow. To make your own float booster, fill the bottom of a bottle with sand or pebbles and then fill the rest with water. Place the bottle in your toilet water tank, like in one of the corners. If your tank is large enough, try putting two bottles in. Using a float booster can save up to 10 gallons of water a day. Be sure that at least 3 gallons of water remains in the tank, this is all you will need for the toilet to still flush properly. If there isn’t at least three gallons in the tank, users will have to either flush twice or hold the flapper down longer which will result in more water being used.

5 More Tips to Help You Save on Your Electric Bill

5 More Tips to Help You Save on Your Electric Bill

There are countless ways to learn how to reduce electric bill. We shared a few on here already but for some of us, we get so excited about saving that we can’t stop with just a few suggestions.

So we’ve rounded up a few more tips to help you save on your electric bill. Before you know it, you’ll be making a huge dent in that monthly bill and you’ll start to see the savings really rack up. Check out these new tips on how to save on electric bills.

1. Go by Motion

We’ve mentioned turning off lights in rooms that are unoccupied before, but sometimes, you may have a roommate or family member, or even a tenant that may really struggle to remember to do this. Whether it’s forgetfulness or not, one great solution that can help lower your energy bill is to switch some of your lights to motion-sensing sockets or using motion detectors. Motion detectors lie the E-Age Adjustable Motion Sensing Socket or GE Indoor 120-degree Motion-sensing Light Control are both great solutions. They turn on when they sense a person in the room and turn off once they no longer detect any movement.

These nifty products simply get screwed into your empty light socket and then you screw your light bulb into the motion detector—remember to use energy-efficient bulbs! Motion sensors like these can cut wasted light electricity by 30 percent! That could turn into a good chunk of change on your energy bill.

2. Replace Showerheads

Of course, no list on how to save on electric bill would be complete with a “take shorter showers” suggestion, but we’ve already covered that! So what else can you do the bathroom to make a dent in that energy bill? Replace your showerheads! All of them, too. By replacing your showerheads, you can help save a little more energy, even on the days you really do just need a long hot shower to relax. Energy-efficient showerheads can help reduce your water use by 2,700 gallons per year.

Check for showerheads that have a WaterSense label. This label means the showerhead is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and meets its efficiency criteria.

3. Ask About Discounts

It may not be common knowledge, but some utility providers offer cheaper rates during certain times of the day. These discounted rates can equal a 5 to 25 percent dip in your utility charges on your bill. Generally, these kinds of rates mean that you can and/or should do energy-intensive chores like laundry or washing dishes during set off-peak times.

This window of off-peak times will be set by your utility company and is generally a time of the day when most other households aren’t doing these kinds of chores. You may never know if your utility provider offers discounts like this unless you ask. There’s really nothing to lose, but lots to save!

4. Use Wool Dryer Balls

A recent trend with eco-conscious groups is using wool dryer balls rather than dryer sheets when doing laundry. A set of three wool dryer balls can cost a mere $10 but they can help decrease your drying time for your clothes. Additionally, they can help you by allowing you to skip fabric softener as well, a small saving on your household budget.

By replacing two products with one—dryer sheets and fabric softener—you can save a little bit while also better protecting your clothes. Fabric softeners leave a conditioner-like film on your clothing, which is what gives them this “soft” feel, but it can also deteriorate your clothing faster. Ditch the softener and grab some inexpensive wool balls today. If you are still dealing with static electricity with the wool balls, simply hook a large safety pin through one or two of the balls to prevent this. You can also toss a small scrunched-up ball of aluminum foil in with your dryer load.

5. Upgrade Your Appliances

We’re not suggesting you toss all of your appliances away today, but keep this in mind as your current appliances age and suffer normal wear and tear. Replacing appliances like refrigerators with better energy-saving options can help you save a fair amount on your energy bill. This is a great tip for learning how to lower electric bill. Not only can you shave off a little bit on your expenses, but you can sometimes receive tax exemptions for these types of purchases as well.

By following these simple changes, you can easily lower your utility costs each month. Sometimes all it takes to know how to save on electric bill is fixing a few small things around the home to make a larger change happen. Although some of these tips for how to lower electric bill may cost you a bit now, it will pay off in the long run.

Shooting the Breeze: How to Clean Air Ducts

Shooting the Breeze: How to Clean Air Ducts

If you’ve started to notice dust gathering quickly on your furniture, or have lost an item or two down a floor register, you may find that cleaning out your air ducts is an impending necessity. Fortunately, air duct cleaning isn’t that difficult with the right tools, and can quickly become a regular DIY chore. Not only is it easy, but you can also save yourself a good chunk of cash by not having to hire a professional. Check out our step-by-step process below on how to clean air ducts.

Supplies Needed:

  • Broom
  • Cleaning brush
  • Screwdriver
  • Heavy-duty vacuum
  • Furnace filter

How to Clean Air Ducts

  1. Start by turning off all the power connected to your air conditioning and heating system. You don’t want it to suddenly turn on while you’re cleaning.
  2. Using clean rags or paper towels, cover the supply registers (the openings that supply heated air into each room). Doing this will prevent any dislodged dust from drifting into the rooms as you work, doubling your workload.
  3. Unscrew the covers or grilles on your air ducts from the walls. Take your cleaning brush to brush out the grates thoroughly. These are a big spot where dust can build up and is generally the most noticeable spot for it to collect. If there is any grimy or oily residue you may want to use a bit of warm water and dish soap to really clean them off.
  4. Knock loose any old buildup of dust in your ducts by using the handle of the brush and tapping on every accessible part of the duct. This will help dislodge dampened dust from the ducts.
  5. Using one of the hose attachments on your vacuum, vacuum out the duct as best you can. The attachment will allow you to get to those hard-to-reach places as you are working through this DIY duct cleaning process. If you don’t have a heavy-duty vacuum, consider renting a shop-vac for this project. Your average household vacuum may not be powerful enough to get deep into the crevices of your air ducts. Since mold and mildew can also build up in your ducts, make sure that if you do rent a vacuum that the hose is long enough for you to reach deep into the ducts.
  6. Next on your DIY air duct cleaning list is to clean the grilles in your ceiling. Since these are above you, it may be wise to wear some protective eyewear and a handkerchief to avoid inhaling any dust or having it get into your eyes. Using a ladder, climb up with your brush to wipe out the outside of your grilles. Then remove them with the screwdriver and vacuum them out just as you did the ones in the wall. If you don’t have a ladder, grab a broom and use that to dust away the build-up.
  7. If your heating system is powered through a furnace, you will want to clean out the return air boot and blower compartment. This step is important in our how to clean air ducts process as the ducts alone aren’t the only part of your heating system to get dust buildup. To clean these, remove the panels from the front of the furnace to access the blower compartment and return air boot. Use your vacuum to sweep away any dust that has built up in them.
  8. Clean off your furnace fan while you have the panels off the front of the furnace.
  9. As one of the final steps in how to clean air ducts, you will want to replace your furnace filter. A clean, new filter can help cut down on the amount of dust that blows into your home. Better filters will need to be changed often, but they also extend your blower motor’s lifespan since it won’t have to run hotter to get air to the fan through a clogged filter. To know how often you need to change the filter, you will need to take into account your home’s situation. This includes whether you have pets and the region you live in.

Knowing how to clean air ducts is a very useful tool for homeowners. Doing so can ensure the air in your home is clean, preventing allergies or asthma attacks. It can also help you save money on air conditioning and heating, plus knowing how to do it yourself can help you save a few bucks. However, if you are moving into an older home or have an exceptionally large issue with dust, you may need a bit of professional help in the beginning. After one good clean though, it will be easier to stay up on yearly, bi-annual, or even quarterly cleans.

Can’t See the House for the Trees? Here’s How to Trim a Tree Properly

Can’t See the House for the Trees? Here’s How to Trim a Tree Properly

Whether you’re looking to scale down a large-growing species or give a shaggy tree a bit of a haircut, smart trimming can improve any tree’s appearance. Some trees can even show off their beautiful flowers or attractive bark better when effectively pruned. Take the time to learn how to trim a tree to give your landscaping a refresher.

Trimming Small Branches

Follow these steps to learn how to trim a tree by a single branch.

  • You’ll need to start with a sharp and clean pruning tool.
  • Acquaint yourself with the parts of each tree: The branch bark ridge is the area between the trunk and branch that is raised just a bit higher than the branch. The branch collar is the portion of swelled-up area under your branch that connects it to the tree.
  • Locate where you want to cut, you want to aim a bit beyond the branch collar so you’re not cutting the collar itself but are close enough to not leave a stub.
  • For slim branches — about 1-inch or smaller in diameter — you want to locate the spot slightly past the branch collar and cut there at a 45 to 60-degree angle to the bark ridge.
  • If your branch is thicker, follow the three-cut rule: start about 10-15 inches above the branch collar and cut halfway into the bottom of the branch. Then, move just a couple inches past your first cut and cut into the top side of the branch letting the branch fall. Finally, make your final cut just past the branch collar.

Trimming Small Trees

Knowing how to trim a tree can come in handy if you have small or young trees where you can easily reach each branch. The process is similar to trimming a single branch, with just a few key differences.

  • Before picking which branches you’ll be cutting, take note of the clock trick: Keep the branches that grow at 2 and 10 o’clock angles from the trunk and trim any branches that grow at a funky angle. Trim branches that grow across the interior of the tree from side to side.
  • When trimming a tree, experts recommend that you don’t remove more than a quarter of the tree’s canopy at one time.
  • Start by trimming away any growth around the roots or base of the trunk. Prune twigs and dead branches and cut out any weak, stringy branches that are growing in clusters.
  • Lastly, trim your branches following the steps above.

When to Call a Pro

If you’re wondering how to trim a tree, recognize that it can be a labor-intensive job that also requires a bit of know-how. You can definitely teach yourself how to trim a tree if the branches are eye-level and in close range, but if you need to climb a ladder, you may want to hire a professional, because they generally come with the right equipment to keep themselves safe reaching such high branches. Trimming a tree should also be avoided if branches are near power lines or are too heavy to let fall straight to the ground. Large branches may require a chainsaw or another power tool which could require some extra precaution and a more difficult learning curve.

How much does it cost to trim a tree? On average, a tree trimming service could cost between $80 to $350 per tree. A medium-sized tree may cost around $150 , with more difficult jobs coming in closer to $250. For larger trees such as oak or pine, you should plan on spending between $300 to $1,000 per tree.

Winter Trimming

Some trimming or pruning should be done on a seasonal basis, but this will depend on why you are pruning. For instance, light pruning and removal of dead wood can be done any time of the year. However, major pruning is generally done during the winter after the coldest part has passed when trees are dormant. This pruning will result in a fantastic burst of new growth come spring.

Summer Trimming

Summer trimming is meant to help direct growth through slowing down branches you don’t want. It can also be done to dwarf the development of a branch or tree. This kind of seasonal pruning should be done soon after summer growth is complete. Summer pruning and trimming can also help to correct defective limbs a bit more easily.