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.

I’m pretty confident that if you asked anyone who has ever owned a rental property you would get an overwhelming response that it’s not as lucrative or easy as they thought it would be. In fact, owning a rental property can be a major pain, and end up costing you a ton of money!

I certainly don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer”, and I know that if it’s done right it can be lucrative, but from an insurance agent’s perspective, I don’t see a lot of people doing it right.

So you’re probably thinking, “Well Chris, you are an insurance agent. What do you know about real estate or rental properties? Why should I take advice from you?”

I’m not a real estate agent, and I don’t own a rental property. However, several of my friends/family/clients/co-workers own rentals, and because I insure a bunch of their properties, I’ve had a first hand account of the process, and I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do.

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I was recently asked this question by one of our Arrowhead Insurance LLC clients, and thought I would share the answer here for our readers.

There are a lot of things that go into homeowners and auto insurance rates, one of them being credit. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who don’t like the fact that insurance companies use credit in their underwriting.

Some people have absolutely no idea that it’s used in the rate at all.

At the end of the day, there’s not much we can do about it though. Insurance companies have been using credit in their rates for decades, and that’s not likely to change.

By the way, insurance companies don’t pull your credit like a mortgage company or credit card company does. There is no negative impact on your credit as a result of an insurance company looking at it.

When I say “pull” what I mean is that the insurance company is doing what’s called a soft inquiry, which is not the same thing as having your credit pulled (hard inquiry).

When does credit play a role in insurance rates?
It’s important to understand that insurance companies don’t continuously check or monitor your credit. Usually, they only check it when you first get a quote and/or sign up with them in the very beginning.

This means that if your credit score increases (or decreases) your insurance company does not automatically know about it.

So, to my customers question of whether or not his increased credit score will lower his rates, the answer is not automatically.

What has to be done on our side as the agent is contact the carrier the insurance and ask them to do what’s commonly referred to as a “re-score”. This is when the insurance company can re-run the person’s credit (soft inquiry) to see if there is any positive bearing on the rate.

This isn’t something that the insurance company is going to let the agency do every single year, so it’s not worth even asking unless there has been a significant change in your credit score, and only you as the customer would know if that was the case.

If you’d like to get a better handle on your credit rating, it could be helpful to setup credit monitoring. We hope this was helpful! As always, leave us comment below if you have any questions.

Why do my auto insurance rates keep going up even though my car is getting older?  At Arrowhead Insurance LLC, many of our clients ask this question so I would like to address it from a couple of angles.

First things first, even though it’s called car/auto insurance, it covers more than just your car. It should technically be called “auto-owners” insurance, similarly to how home insurance is actually called “home owners insurance”.

It’s important to understand that there are a lot of variables that go into insurance premiums, and with auto insurance, it’s no different.

The insurance company is much more concerned with you crashing into someone and causing them (or yourself) bodily harm, or death, than they are about your car. A car is a material possession which can be replaced.

A human life is not.

When is the last time you looked at your auto insurance policy?
If you look at it you’ll notice there are a lot of different coverages on your auto policy.

Bodily injury
Property damage
Un-insured motorist
Under-insured motorist
Medical Payments
Loss of Income
Funeral Expense
Loss of use
Rental Reimbursement

These are all things that you are covered for on your auto policy. How many of them have to do with your car?

None.

How many of them have a price next to them on your policy?

All of them.

Your car isn’t the only thing you’re being charged for on your policy
That’s because auto insurance covers far more important things than your car as mentioned above.

Let me re-phrase that: your car insurance rate isn’t just based on your car.

You’re not the only one…
It’s also important to understand that you are not the only person your insurance company insures. You are one fish in an ocean of other fish, sharks, and sea creatures, all who have different characteristics and risk profiles.

Insurance is all about spreading costs over a large number (risk pool) of people, which each person paying their fare share. That risk pool is constantly changing, and is impacted by a ton of different things, including the overall economic climate.

This means that you are sharing in the cost of millions of other people, many of whom may have poor loss history and/or credit.

That’s what insurance is though — sharing in the cost.

The next time your auto insurance rates go up, take a look at the big picture. Make sure you’re looking at ALL of the coverages, and corresponding rates.

Hope this helps!  If you would like to know more about Car Insurance be sure to visit our page dedicated to it.