August 18, 2014

“Energy Efficient”

You like me, might be diligent about clipping coupons, hunting for bargains, and comparing prices while shopping, but I was recently reminded that if you're not paying more attention to your home, you could be losing money by holding onto old appliances like refrigerators which eats up your electric bill like crazy along with your air conditioner, etc.

My last appliance purchases were about 12-13 years ago and I did make sure they were all “Energy Efficient” with that yellow sticker on them.

I have my computer to remind me to change my a/c filter monthly even though there are filters out there that claim they will last for three months.  My a/c guy said, it is best to change it every month and don’t buy the cheap ones.  They also help with allergies and dust mites.

I’m guilty of having my TV on almost 24/7 for company.  I need to hear the noise and voices in the background even if I maybe reading a book or on the computer! 

Energy efficient appliances are in the spotlight these days.  But, sometimes I wonder if they really make sense at all.  I know that the rebates are designed to help reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases by replacing energy-guzzling home appliances with newer, more efficient models.  I always looked for the Energy Star large kitchen appliances.

I had a repairman tell me that consumers should weigh the cost and benefits of new appliances carefully before making a purchase. You may save some money by replacing your 22-year-old refrigerator, but junking a 7-year-old working dishwasher may not save you enough to make the purchase worthwhile.  Some repairs make sense and most means to replace.

The average household energy spends nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling, according to Energy Star. Of the rest, about 14 percent goes to heating water, 12 percent to lighting and only 13 percent for appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers.

I’m sure today's refrigerators are at are more efficient than those made 20 years ago. And although a refrigerator usually accounts for only 5 percent of a home's energy consumption, some homeowners could be spending twice as much as they should be by using an older model.

Even Energy Star says homeowners shouldn't be so quick to replace just any appliance. The rating system is designed to help consumers make more educated purchasing decisions, but they should still put more focus on the heating and cooling of their home.

I had Florida Power and Light come to my home and they do a checkup for free to try and save you money on your electric bill.  He provided a lot of good information.  He also told me that I can turn off my water heater if I will not be home for a while.  It only takes about 15 minutes to heat up again.

After following all of the suggestions, my bill was lowered by just a few dollars!  I was hoping it would be a good savings of at least $20. or so.
I tried!

August 16, 2014

Those little words "Contains Sulfites"!

I was in Costco a couple of weeks ago and an older gentleman was standing behind me in the checkout line.  He noticed two bottles of wine in my cart and he told me that he stopped drinking wine cold turkey because he said if I knew the additives in wine, I wouldn’t drink it.  He also added, he is a retired doctor. 
So, of course, I researched this information online.  The only thing I knew about wine was it did contain sulfites and not good for pregnanat women to drink it.  Ironically, my Primary Care doctor advised me to drink a glass of red wine every day as it is good for your heart.  Those exact words are what my own father told me when I was young. Well, here is what I found out:

Those little words “Contains Sulfites” on the bottom of a label often stir up concern. What’s even more confusing is that the US is one of the only countries (along with Australia) that require bottles be labeled. So what gives? How much sulfites are in wine and how do they affect you?

Time to get to the bottom of sulfites in wine and how they’re not as bad as you might think.
Sulfites are Not bad for most people. Sulfites aren’t the cause of red wine headaches which I have experienced now and then. There are some notable exceptions to this rule.

Depending on the production method, style and the color of the wine, sulfites in wine range from no-added sulphur (10-40 PPM) to about 350 PPM. If you compare wine to other foods, it’s placed far lower on the spectrum. For example, many dry red wines have around 50 PPM.

Sulfites are a preservative to wine, which is a volatile food product (ever open a wine and it’s bad by the next day?). Wineries have been using sulfur around wine for a long time, as far back as the Roman times. Back in Roman times, winemakers would burn candles made of sulfur in empty wine containers (called Amphora) to keep the wines from turning to vinegar. Sulfur started to be used in winemaking (instead of just cleaning wine barrels) in the early 1900′s to stop bacteria and other yeasts from growing. It also helps in the extraction of pigments in wine, making red wines "redder".

Very sensitive tasters have been noted to smell sulfites in wine at around 50 PPM. What’s interesting is that the warmer the wine, the more molecular sulfur it releases. This is why some wines have a nasty cooked-egg aroma when you open them. You can fix this issue by decanting your wine and chilling for about 15-30 minutes.  Chilling the red wine helps a lot even though I was always told to drink it at room temperature.  It actually made the red wine taste better.

Living in a hot climate like Florida and since most wines are made in cold cellars, it makes sense to chill red wine.  It takes a lot to time to transport wine to various states, so sitting in a hot truck for weeks at a time does not help either.  Then sitting on the shelves of stores that the room temperature is not exactly what it should be for wine is another culprit.  And we all know that stores like Costco do not have air conditioning like your Wine Stores!

If you have sensitivity to foods, you should absolutely try to eliminate sulfites from your diet. Eliminating wine could be necessary. Perhaps start your sulfur witch hunt with the obvious culprits (like processed foods) before you write-off wine!

My Father and my brother-in-law’s  homemade wine was the best!  Yes, it was strong but good.  No sulfites needed and was made in cold cellars!

August 9, 2014

A place where stress is left at the door!

Your home - whether big, small should be your sanctuary, a place where stress is left at the door.

The color you choose for your walls suggest a mood.  My daughter’s beautiful photographic artwork on my walls provide a cozy environment and definitely bring calmness into my life.

Your home should provide shelter from noise and distraction.  Also, clean out the clutter.  A Low maintenance home is refreshing after a day of hectic meetings, errands and chores. 

Fewer items can mean less frustration.  But we all love our collectibles and display of meaningful gifts from loved ones and photos of family and friends.  I’m still trying to de-clutter!  I just have a hard time parting with certain lovely gifts that I treasure and the memories that go with them.  So, I think it is o.k. to hold on to some, as long as it is displayed neatly.

So, are we hoarders or just sentimental?

Surround yourself with wonderful memories and happiness!  Enjoy your home and the calmness it should bring to you.

Time to clean out another closet!

August 3, 2014

Do you use your turn signal religiously?

Do you use your turn signal religiously? Does it annoy you when others don't?  Are there times when it's okay to ditch using a turn signal? 

Well, it is never okay to ditch using a turn signal.  Just like it is never okay to drive without a seatbelt on.

It’s simply amazing how many drivers change lanes, merge or turn without using their turn signals. And it’s not just limited to the public; I’ve even seen police officers fail to signal.

I got so flipping mad the other day trying to drive out of a shopping center and not one but five cars not using their directional signals to let me know they were entering where I was trying to get out????  Yikes, so much disrespect on the road.

Bad enough we have to worry about others texting while driving and using their cell phones to their ear and driving with one hand.  While doing all this, they have babies in a car seat. That is when I go totally insane!  And, gals...put your makeup on at home and stop using the rear view mirror to re-apply your lipstick!

The turn signal is a vital safety feature that is not only required to be built in as a standard equipment on all vehicles, but their use by the driver in everyday driving is required by law!  Listen up folks!

Pleeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzzze be responsible?