Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Americans spend about $11 billion each year on air conditioning? That might not be such a surprise if you’re the one who writes the check for your household energy bill every month.
Believe it or not, you can spend less on cooling costs while still keeping cool in Minnesota. Here are five things to do before you reach to adjust the thermostat:
1. Make sure your house isn’t part of the problem. If your home isn’t insulated and sealed well, warm air could be leaking in, sabotaging your efforts to cool things down. Make sure all cracks and openings are sealed, along with your ducts. The DOE says air loss through ducts can account for 30 percent of the energy a cooling system uses.
2. Keep that breeze flowing. Natural ventilation is a great way to decrease the temperature in your home without using any energy. Open windows in the mornings or evenings when the air is cool and get a cross-breeze going throughout the house.
3. Check that the heat isn’t on. You might be heating your house in the summer without realizing it. How? By using the oven, stove or other appliances that generate heat. Cook outside whenever you can, and use the dishwasher and clothes dryer at cooler times of the day if possible.
4. Create your own personal cool zone. Cooling the whole house might not be necessary if you’re only using a few rooms. Set up fans (ceiling fans will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher), drink plenty of cool liquids and eat cold foods, which can help lower your body temperature. You might even consider wearing a damp shirt to stay comfortable or putting an ice pack on your forehead, the back of your neck or your wrists.
5. Don’t forget the basics. When it’s sunny outside, keep your curtains closed. Minimize your use of lights, as they generate heat. And, when the outside air is warmer than the air in your house, close the windows to keep the cool air in. We can’t promise these tips will keep you just as cool as when you kick back and turn on the AC full-blast. But saving money every month? That’s pretty cool, too.
So, you’ve decided to reward your graduate with a car (or help him/her purchase one, at least). That’s great! Adding a car to the family can make life easier for everyone — as long as it’s the right car.
Now, how do you figure out which car is the right car? Whether you’re shopping for a new or used car, here are a few things we here at Sentinel Assurance Group would like you to consider.
It’s easy to find out which cars did well in crash tests (and which didn’t). Visit these sites for current and past ratings, and other useful tools:
The National Insurance Crime Bureau allows you to enter a car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to find out if it’s been reported stolen or flagged as a salvaged vehicle.
Reliability and Usage
Sources such as Consumer Reports can give you a good idea of the experience other owners have had with the models you’re considering. Warranty coverage is included with new vehicles, of course, but also some used cars that have undergone a certification program. Depending on how your grad is going to use the car, you’ll want to look at mileage estimates and features such as all-wheel drive.
The Importance of an Inspection
Buying used? It’s crucial that you get an inspection from a trusted repair shop. Get as much history on the car as you can, from owner records to a report from Carfax or a similar service. And, if you feel the sellers aren’t being forthcoming, walk away. Don’t let their problems become your problems.
Cost of Ownership
Certain cars cost more to repair and maintain than others, and insurance costs can vary widely as well. We would be happy to help you determine the impact different models can have on the price of coverage. When you get further along in your search and have a few choices in mind, give us a call to get a few quotes!
When you find the right car, not only will your graduate be thrilled, you’ll look on with confidence – and pride – as your grad drives off toward the future.
High school is full of defining moments for our Rosemount teens and two of the highlights for most are prom and graduation. Both Danielle & Amy have sons graduating this year, so this topic hits close to home!
However, this time of year often sees other, more tragic defining moments – serious car accidents involving teens who are distracted or even under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
At Sentinel Assurance Group, we want to help make this season one to celebrate for you and your teen. So, with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are some tips that can keep your teen safe.
First, encourage your teen to follow these general safe-driving rules:
Absolutely no alcohol
Always use seat belts
No cell phone use (including texting) while driving
Of course, special events such as prom and graduation often present special circumstances. There may be dinner with dates before the dance, and parties before or after either event. It’s a good idea to discuss your expectations well before each event, putting some guidelines into place before your teen heads out for the night. Here are some ideas:
Make sure you know the itinerary of the evening, as well as who else will be with your teen. You should have contact information for everyone.
Have a way to contact your teen at all times. You may want to require them to check in with you once or twice over the course of the evening.
Set a curfew, whether they are coming back to your home or staying with a friend. If they are staying elsewhere, make sure the curfew will be enforced by a responsible adult.
Discuss with your teen how to handle difficult situations, such as facing pressure to drink, or accepting a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. It’s a good idea to provide your child with money for a taxi just in case.
Offer a “no-questions-asked” ride home, should they need one during the evening.
If you’re worried about your teen driving, consider alternate transportation. A car service or limousine will provide a responsible, experienced adult driver. You also will be able to limit changes to the itinerary and contact the driver.
Prom and graduation are special times in a teen’s life. And just a little common sense will go a long way toward making sure your young adult is around to enjoy the other milestones that are sure to come.
No matter what season is winding down, the next season is just another reason to spend on the water in the boat with rod in hand. One of the best ways to enjoy boating and fishing in Minnesota is to share the fun with others – especially your kids or grandkids.
Amy & Danielle both LOVE to fish, here are a couple of pics from the trip we took up to Lake of the Woods last fall for some Walleye fishing!
While expert anglers tend to know the ropes of both boating and fishing on Minnesota lakes and rivers, there are still many mishaps that can occur if the excursion is not well-planned and strategically executed. This is especially crucial when you have little ones along for the ride.
The next time you’re gearing up to go after the ‘big one,’ make sure that it’s as enjoyable as you anticipate by considering the following guidelines.
Only if weather permits. Check the weather forecast in detail, using your favorite app, before you head out onto the water. In many climates, weather can change quickly and drastically, ushering in unexpected storms that could scare your children and put you all in harm’s way
Dress yourself – and your little ones – for the adventure. Though it may seem obvious, it can get slippery out on the boat or the dock! Ensure stable footing for all by making sure you and your kids are wearing shoes that grip boat floors and slick rocks and docks.
Make safety a game. It’s important to be equipped with everything you need for safety and protection – from flashlights and sunscreen to plenty of water and life preservers – but you can also make it fun for the kids. For example, make them the keepers of the radio or the person who makes sure everyone is wearing a hat or sunglasses for protection from the sun.
Be hyper-vigilant about dangerous items. The sport of fishing is accompanied by some sharp items – hooks and knives to name just two. Make sure you have these items in a locked tackle box to ensure no one accidentally gets hurt.
Follow boating rules. Make sure your boat is in good standing by adhering to all the laws of the lough. To find these, research the body of water you’re going to be fishing on before you head out.
At Sentinel Assurance Group, we hope your family fishing outings become lifetime memories!
It’s every bargain hunters favorite time of the year, Garage Sale season! Here in Rosemount, we have an annual city-wide sale coming up on May 11-13th and you won’t want to miss it! Click here for a list of the official addresses and let us know in the comments below what your fave garage sale finds are!