How Much Will a Well-Insulated House Save You?

A new type of prefabricated “stackable apartments” are being built to help curb the problem of homelessness. In addition to being made with renewable materials, these apartments boast the latest in energy-efficient design. How energy efficient? The special insulated walls are so powerful that the apartments don’t need any extra heat. Imagine living in a home where you don’t have any heating bills, but you’re still nice and cozy during the long winter months.

These new insulation walls could become a game changer in future home design. As the weather starts to cool, you’ll be paying a lot more attention to your thermostat and utility bills. Is your home as insulated as it should be? The answer to that question could mean huge savings for your family.

According to Shrink That Footprint, a well-insulated home can get away with using the power of the sun, heat from people’s bodies and appliances to keep everyone warm. If you find yourself shivering in the cold, then there could be a problem with your insulation.

Is Your Home a Leaky House?

The leaky house is the home with the weakest levels of insulation. Typically, this will mean construction that uses solid walls along with an uninsulated floor. The leaky house will also likely have single-glazed windows.

In this type of home, it’s easy to see where all the energy would be “leaking out.”

To keep a leaky house warm, you would need to generate 300-kilowatt hours of heat energy per square meter. Translation? An enormously high power bill.

Is Your Home a Modern House?

Once it was determined that insulation matters in home construction, every new home was built to allow insulation between the walls. That includes insulation up in the attic and under the floorboards. The goal of insulation is to trap heat inside and to act as a buffer to prevent any outside cold from seeping into the home. Insulation becomes your home’s “wool sweater.” In a modern house, the power usage for heating drops to 150-kilowatt hours per square meter — a significant drop from the leaky house.

Is Your Home a Passive House?

Think of the passive house as the “Super Insulated Home of the Future.” Not only is there active insulation throughout the entire home, but the windows are triple-glazed. In fact, this type of home is so sealed up that it might require a ventilation system just to keep the air fresh and circulating — kind of like what you would have on an airplane, only fresher.

With the passive house, you need only to devote 15-kilowatt hours per square meter per year toward heating. The bulk of the heat for the passive house will be provided by a heat recovery system that is part of that ventilation unit.

Heating Bills

How does all this break down in terms of heating bills? Look at these estimates:

Leaky House: $1500 per year

Modern House: $750 per year

Passive House: $100 per year

Obviously, the amount of insulation in your home can indeed have a huge impact on your expenses. The issue before you now is how can you improve your home’s insulation — short of moving into a home with better insulation, that is?

Best Methods for Cutting Heating Bills

There are many proactive measures you can take to improve your home’s insulation issues and cut your power bill:

  • Replace weather-stripping. You probably have some type of weather-stripping around your doors and windows. When was the last time you got close to see what kind of shape it was in? Replacing the worn weather-stripping or redoing the caulking around windows is a simple way to plug up those heat leaks. A great tip is if you can see daylight coming from your doorframe, it’s time to “plug it up.”
  • Plug exterior holes. There are other potential heat leaks zones in your home. For instance, some of your outlets can actually cause a small draft. You can eliminate those drafts by filling the gaps with acrylic latex. That same approach can be taken for any plumbing pipe entry points. The major culprit can usually be found down in the basement.
  • Utilize a portable heater. Doesn’t it seem silly to heat an entire house when you’re only spending time in one room? Even a small home would still benefit from a portable heater that can be utilized in a single room. Anytime you can turn down that thermostat, the better off you’ll be. Just be sure the portable heater you’re using meets safety regulations. For instance, it should have an automatic shut-off if tipped over.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. Not only will a programmable thermostat help cut your heating bills, but it will also keep you from running back and forth to adjust the temperatures.

You can program your thermostat to keep the heat low during the day when no one is home and at night when everyone is sleeping. It can also be set to turn on the heat just before you get home from work to ensure a cozy welcome. Once you embrace the concept of lowering your thermostat during those “off” hours, then the programmable unit will do the work for you.

Now that you know about insulation, are you ready to get your home in shape? No matter what time of the year it is, always remember winter is coming eventually.


This article came from our friends at Phroogal, and can be found on their website here. It was originally posted on September 23, 2015.

Fall Purging: Throw a Killer Yard Sale

Before you batten down the hatches for a winter-long hibernation, decluttering and organizing your home will help ease stress and make the season go more smoothly.

Packing away summer clothes and sandals, beach toys and sunscreen is a good start but before you stow it away, ask yourself if you will need it again next summer. If it doesn’t fit you or your kids will grow out of it soon, why not purge it?

Fall is a great time to throw a killer yard sale, so here are a few tips to make the most of it.


Many yard-salers are old school and will look for ads in the local newspaper. Make sure your ad contains the address, the date and times you will be open for sale, and a list of key items that may draw people in. Do you have any antiques or collectibles that you know people search for?  Do you have a lot of name brand clothes or large pieces of furniture? These are all things that will draw shoppers to your yard in search of great deals.

If you are computer savvy, advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or any other form of social media you have an account for. Online advertising makes it easy to share pictures of items you have for sale as well as provide updates throughout the day if you drop prices or extend hours. Sometimes people will ask you to hold a certain item that you post until they can get there, so you must decide ahead of time if you will allow holds and for how long.

Directional signs are also important on the day of your yard sale. You want to make sure that people can find your yard sale and navigate to it, especially if they decide to shop on a whim.  Find major roadways to place signs with your address, directional arrows and the date and times your sale is open. Large, clearly written lettering is best.

Rock-Bottom Pricing

Yard-salers are deal seekers and hagglers. If you charge one dollar for an item, someone will offer 50 cents for it. If you really need to make a certain amount of money for an item, think about posting it on Craigslist or another online forum where less haggling is expected.

There are a few other ways to handle hagglers. One is to price everything slightly higher than what you actually want to make from it so when someone offers a lower price, you can simply accept it. This has pros and cons: The pro is that you are more likely to make more money on each item and the con is that non-hagglers might be scared off by higher pricing.

Another way to handle hagglers is to get into the game and find joy in it. If you really don’t care about how much money you are going to make on each item, you are more likely to sell things.  If the point of the sale really is to clear out things you don’t need, you might as well let it all go at rock-bottom prices.

Selection and Display

Combining yard sales with friends and neighbors or doing a community-wide event will draw more shoppers in because they know they have a one-stop shop with a large selection and variety. You can amp up the fun factor by providing hot cocoa or apple cider to shoppers on a crisp fall day.

When displaying your selection of items, group them together in related categories. Keep housewares collected, sort clothing by size and gender, and pile all the toys together. Make sure items are clearly marked with a price. And maybe keep some chairs and cushions out so people don’t have to sit on the concrete pavement when they are tired.

Having a clearly advertised “free” section will help draw crowds as well. Children will especially love getting a free toy. Happy Meal toys, carnival prizes and small stuffed animals are all great things to throw in a free kid’s box.


The more visible your sale is to passers-by, the more traffic you’ll draw. If you do not live in an easily accessible or highly visible location, combine your yard sale with a friend or family member who has a better location. Not only will you get the added benefit of advertising as a multi-family sale, you’ll benefit from impulse buyers.

If you don’t have any friends or family members interested in joining you for a yard sale, look for community events or indoor flea markets that you can participate in. Charities will often hold group yards sales as fundraising events. You can purge your old stuff and help out a good cause at the same time.  It’s a win-win.

After the Sale

Have a plan for how to handle items that didn’t sell. Will you box them up and take them to a charity or will you stick everything back in the garage? If you decide to keep it all for a future yard sale, don’t undo all the cleaning that you’ve already done — keep your garage neat and organized.

With the holiday season right around the corner, fall yard sales are a great time to purge the old and make room for the new. Clear out those garages, attics and closets!


This article came from our friends at Phroogal, and can be found on their website here.

Fast and Easy Airport Travel Hacks

I’m writing this while waiting to board my flight from NYC to Charlotte, NC. I just finished eating a delicious all-natural peanut butter and banana sandwich on wheat which I made earlier today. It’s cheaper (and not to mention healthier) than eating airport food. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to take your own food through security if it’s for eating during the trip. Don’t expect to get a massive bag of groceries through security. I also brought a bag of mixed dried fruit, dried and pitted dates, wheat thins, unsalted peanuts, and almonds. Airport travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Bringing your own food is just one of many ways for how to save money on air travel.

Before coming to the airport, I booked my flight about 50 days in advance. That’s ideal.  For doing this, I went to a flight comparison website. I prefer Kayak. It took me a good 30 minutes but I was able to configure a smokin’ deal. You could do it faster but my flight is 2,000 miles and I had fun choosing my layover destination and picking the travel times.

Some travel sites and credit cards offer price watch. That means that if a lower price is offered for your flight, the site or credit card will refund the difference. It’s pretty amazing. If you can get this perk, book your flight as far in advance as possible. That will give you the most time for the price to drop. You should be able to snag the lowest price no matter what. But watch out. Some credit cards only price watch for 30 days.

A third way you can save on air travel is by having someone drop you off at the airport. Ask a close friend. Do them a favor in return. This will save you from paying parking. Parking is so expensive at airports. It’s free to pickup and drop-off.

Checked-bag? What’s that? Many airlines offer generous carry-on options. Delta, for instance, allows you to take a backpack and a rolling carry-on. That’s quite a bit of space! Other airlines offer to check one bag for free.

This sounds small but it may make a significant difference. Consider choosing layover locations that offers free Wi-Fi. I’m at LaGuardia right now. They offer 30 minutes of free internet and after that, it gets expensive. Charlotte’s airport where I’m going to next offers free Wi-Fi for 45 minutes. I kind of wish I would have opted for a layover location with free airport. I could get a lot more work done. Time is money. Make no mistake.

You probably use Groupon quite a lot. But have you considered using it while you travel? Choose your restaurants based on if they come with a Groupon. This could easily shave 30% off your travel food budget. You can’t eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches all the time. Even consider getting a massage or haircut while on the road. This opens you up to many money-saving opportunities you may not have at home. After all, most services only accept one Groupon per customer. You may have gotten discounted massages from all the places near your home.

How do you save money when leaving the airport? You could use rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. You should be able to snag your first ride for free. If ridesharing isn’t your thing, look at bus options. I’m heading to a large hotel downtown. Turns out Charlotte has a hybrid bus system that goes from the airport to the hotel every 20 minutes. And it only costs $2! Taxis are expensive. But if you can’t help but get a cab, try to split it with someone else.

Combine all these tips together and you’ll save hundreds on your next big outing. It may even be enough to extend your trip! Enjoy the flight!


This article was originally posted on September 18, 2015 and can be found here:

10 Cheap Dating Ideas for College Students

Dating and college seem to go hand in hand. Whether you’re just dating casually or you’re looking for something serious, the fact is that dates in general can get expensive over time. It is possible to have a good time without spending a fortune. You just have to know how to get the most out of every cent you spend. Here are 10 cheap dating ideas for college students.

A Walk in the Park

A simple walk in the park can make for a cheap and romantic date. You can get a chance to have a nice conversation with your date and experience what’s going on in your local community. You never know what you might come across in the park – interesting animals, street performers, local artwork, etc. If you both have dogs, use this as an opportunity to take your dogs out for a walk together. There are plenty of options here and none of them cost any money at all.

Bargain Movies

Most movie theaters have bargain movie times throughout the day or week that have half price tickets and food. If you want to see a movie but don’t want to pay a lot for it, you can use these bargain movie times to save a ton of money at the theater. You may also want to see if there are any movie watching opportunities on campus as those will be much cheaper than what you’ll pay in theaters. If you’re lucky enough to have a drive-in theater in your town, check that out too. It’ll be a cheap date worth remembering.

Dinner at Home

Want to impress your date with your mad cooking skills? Schedule a dinner date at your place. This works well for dates early on in the relationship because it gives you a chance to have a long conversation with the other person and get to know him or her better. It can also work well for anniversaries or other special occasions if you make the dinner equally special. Just make sure you clean up the place ahead of time to set a good tone for the date.

Movie Rentals

If movie theaters aren’t your thing, you could opt for watching a movie at home. Either choose from the latest rentals at Hastings or Redbox, or dig through your DVD collection for something you haven’t seen in a while. You can tie this in with the option above to have a classic dinner-and-a-movie night. Best of all, you won’t have to pay $10 for a bag of popcorn in your microwave.

Hiking Adventures

If you and your date are both into fitness and outdoors, you could go for a hike together. This will give you a chance to see the beauty of nature and get some much-needed exercise at the same time. If you want to go all out, have a picnic prepared that you can eat at the top of a mountain, hill, etc. The romance will come out all on its own.

A Scenic Drive

If hiking isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy nature by going out for a scenic drive. You need to have a well-working car to do this to minimize the chances of breaking down. Assuming your car is in proper working order, you can go out on a back road that leads you out of town. Try to discover a small town close by that neither of you have ever seen. Visit the antique stores and ask some of the locals what the town is best known for. You never know what you might find!

Game Night

A simple night of board games at home may be just what you and your date need to have fun. This is also a great idea for double dates because a lot of games require four or more people to play. Cranium, Blokus, Name 5, and Skip-Bo are all great 4+ player board games that you could use on a double date. If you want to keep it between the two of you, try games like Connect 4, Battleship, and checkers that are built for two players only.


Why not help your community and your relationship at the same time? You could spend a night volunteering together and get to see a whole new side of your partner. The volunteer act could be something as simple as serving food at a soup kitchen or hanging out with seniors at a nearby nursing home. Exchange stories with each other and with other members of the community, and you’ll gain a bond like you never imagined.

A Trip to a Museum

A lot of small museums have cheap entry fees that give you a lot to do without spending a lot of money. Of course, you will spend a lot if you end up getting something at the gift shop or restaurant in the museum. Bring your own snacks and find an exit away from the gift shop, and you should be just fine. Visit an art gallery or a history museum that gives you something to talk about with your date. Once the conversations start flowing, you will have no choice but to have a good time.

On-Campus Events

Seminars, cookouts, and other events on your college campus aren’t always thought of as a dating ideas for college students, but they are often interesting and probably won’t cost much to go to. You can hang out with some of your mutual friends while spending time with your date, and you can be in an environment you are both comfortable with. Check the bulletin boards on campus or look at the calendar of events on your school’s website. You can find all kinds of cheap dating ideas there to keep your dates going strong.


This article was originally published on August 3, 2014, and can also be found at

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