Check out these creative Mail Boxes–let us know if you have a favorite.
With cooling systems working harder to handle rising temperatures, summer is the ideal time to focus on ways to save energy, and save money on cooling.
- Set your thermostat on the highest comfortable setting. If you’re leaving for the day, turn it up a couple of degrees. Don’t turn your cooling system off unless you’ll be gone for an extended period of time.
- Clean or change your filters monthly. Dirty filters can increase operating costs.
- Use a ceiling fan or portable fan to supplement your air conditioning. A fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler so you can set your thermostat a few degrees higher and save on cooling costs. Use in occupied rooms since fans cool people, not rooms.
- Switch your central air conditioning to “auto” for better cooling and humidity control and costs you less than keeping the system switched “on” continuously.
- Close blinds, drapes and shades during the hottest part of the day to keep the sun’s rays from heating your house.
- Choose a high-efficiency AC with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 14 or greater. Not only will your AC be more efficient, you could also be eligible for a rebate up to $350.
- Closely monitor older air conditioning equipment – especially temperature settings, hours of operation and filter condition.
- Sign up for EnergyWise Home℠, a free program that can pay you over $147 a year to help manage Florida’s energy use.
- Properly insulate your home. In existing homes, wall insulation may be too expensive to install, so concentrate on attic and floor insulation. In Florida aim for the following insulation levels:
- Ceiling: R-19 or R-30
- Wall: R-11 in frame wall, R-5 in CBS walls
- Floor: R-11 (suspended frame only)
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. –
Duke Energy’s Florida customers will once again see lower electric rates if the company’s annual rate filings for 2016 are approved by the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC).
The company today filed its annual projections for fuel used to generate electricity and purchased power, also known as capacity.
If all 2016 rate filings are approved and the company issues low-interest bonds as planned, customers will see a decrease of approximately $4.18 per month to a rate of $117.41 on a 1,000-kilowatt-hour (kWh) residential bill. This represents more than 3 percent in savings when compared to the current rate of $121.59.
“We continue to work hard to provide the best possible price for our customers,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy state president – Florida. “Our successful cost management and careful planning is helping lower customer rates while we invest in affordable, clean energy and improve reliability for our customers every day. If approved as planned, our customers will be paying nearly 15 percent less for electricity than they were six years ago.”
|2-year Duke Energy Florida Rate Decrease per 1,000 kWh residential rate*|
|2014||2015 (Jan. – April)||2015 (May – Dec.)||Est. 2016**|
*Bill totals include the state’s standard gross receipts tax but do not include any local taxes or fees that vary by municipality.
** 2016 estimate as planned for as early as February requires approval and issuance of low-cost bonds.
Business customers will also see similar rate reductions compared with current rates, depending on a number of factors including rate class and type of service.
Individual electric bills vary greatly and depend on the amount of electricity used.
Each year, Duke Energy Florida files estimates for the following year, as well as any adjustments needed for the current year, to recover costs for fuel and purchased power, energy-efficiency programs, environmental improvements and nuclear cost recovery. These components are reviewed annually by the FPSC and adjusted to reflect changes in the actual costs incurred.
The proposed decrease in 2016 is due mainly to lower natural gas prices, which are the primary driver for the more than 20 percent decrease in retail fuel costs. Duke Energy Florida works to actively manage its fuel contracts and keep costs as low as possible for customers. The company makes no profit from the fuel component of rates.
Following the annual hearings in the fall, the rates approved by the FPSC will go into effect in January 2016. The company plans to issue low-cost bonds lowering costs associated with the Crystal River nuclear plant in early 2016. Prior to the proposed bond implementation, the estimated January 2016 rate would be slightly lower – $114.15 per 1,000 kWh (residential).
Duke Energy Florida
Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.
With its Florida regional headquarters located in St. Petersburg, Fla., Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.3 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international energy business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.
Contact: Suzanne Grant
National spending on home remodeling projects will hit a new high in 2016, another sign of a strong housing market, according to a new analysis from Harvard researchers.
Home improvement spending will grow 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2016, but at an even faster pace, 7.6 percent, by the third quarter of the year, according to the analysis.
“2016 is looking to be a stronger year for home renovation activity compared to 2015, thanks to the continued recovery in the owner-occupied housing market,” Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, said in a news release.
“Rising house prices are bringing more homes to the market and increasing sales, which is a large driver of home improvement activity,” Herbert said.
The biggest trend in home design going into 2016 is personalization, fitting the house to the needs of each member of the family. Remodeling this year is all about tailoring your home to fit your lifestyle.
The three parts of the home drawing the most attention are bedrooms, kitchens and get-away spaces, either in the home itself or standalone space on the property.
Convenient Bedrooms with Plenty of Storage
Adults and children spend a good deal of their time in their bedrooms and remodeling trends reflect this. Homeowners want spacious master bedrooms, with dressing areas and a bathroom within the space. They want to walk just a few steps to find everything they need for relaxation and grooming.
The biggest request is for lots of storage space in the form of built-in drawers and cabinets and walk-in closets. For children’s rooms, parents want toy space, shelving for books and areas to display hobbies. Upgrading for the plethora of electronics is also a primary demand when it comes time to a home remodel.
Requests for bathroom upgrades in the master bedroom involve spa-like conveniences, turning a utilitarian room into a peaceful retreat. Additions to bathroom in average homes include extra-big tubs, enough space for a chair and long counters.
Open, Light-Filled Kitchens
Kitchens have always been the one room in the home where owners are willing to spend the most money for remodels. Modern homeowners are asking for kitchen remodels that include spacious, airy kitchens, even if it means removing a wall or adding windows.
Another big trend in kitchen design is extra-large islands with sinks and cutting areas for food prep, stovetops for cooking, counter area for eating and stools for sitting.
With the increasing popularity of pets, many homeowners are asking for amenities for their furry friends. In the kitchen, dog doors, also suitable for cats, are just the beginning. Feeding stations in the kitchen and pet bathing areas in the utility room are also common.
Getaway, But Not Too Far
There is a trend for rooms made just for concentrated work and private downtime. Converting an extra bedroom into a study or home office fits in with the work-from-home movement. When doing their job, adults can lock the door and focus on work. The preference is for lots of light, bright colors and as much storage as possible.
There is also a trend for bigger children’s playrooms, with desks and electronic capability for homework, games and their digital social life. For younger children, requests are for lots of floor space and child-accessible places to put toys.
The tiny home movement is making itself felt among homeowners with enough room in their yards. Old sheds and garages are being remodeled into home offices and getaways. Outside the main house and actually just steps away, they have the feel of tiny cottages in the country. People are requesting these miniscule structures in a wide range of designs, including western cottages, New England clapboard and bungalows.
Customization is the big trend for remodeling design in 2016. What that means is designing your space to suit your needs, instead of the other way around.
A publication of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Many artificial trees are fire resistant. If you buy one, look for a statement specifying this protection. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. To check for freshness, remember: A fresh tree is green. Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches. When bent between your fingers, fresh needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry. Place tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating fire hazards. Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. Use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceiling. These wires are almost invisible.
Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled. To avoid injury, read container labels; follow directions carefully. Lights Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted! To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it! Keep “bubbling” lights away from children. These lights with their bright colors and bubbling movement can tempt curious children to break candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and attempt to drink liquid, which contains a hazardous chemical.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders. Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper. Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials. Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass “angel hair” to avoid irritation to eyes and skin. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles or plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children. In homes with small children, take special care to: Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children. Pieces could be swallowed or inhaled. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food. A child could eat them!
Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that flue is open. Keep a screen before the fireplace all the time a fire is burning. Use care with “fire salts” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals which can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting if eaten. Keep away from children.
When making paper decorations, look for materials labeled non-combustible or flameresistant. Never place trimming near open flames or electrical connections. Remove all wrapping papers from tree and fireplace areas immediately after presents are opened. Do not burn papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
General Rules for Holiday Safety
Keep matches, lighters, and candles out of the reach of children. Avoid smoking near flammable decorations. Make an emergency plan to use if a fire breaks out anywhere in the home. See that each family member knows what to do. PRACTICE THE PLAN! Avoid wearing loose flowing clothes— particularly long, open sleeves—near open flames – such as those of a fireplace, stove, or candlelit table. Never burn candles near evergreens. Burning evergreens in the fireplace can also be hazardous. When dry, greens burn like tinder. Flames can flare out of control, and send sparks flying into a room, or up the chimney to ignite creosote deposits. Plan for safety. Remember, there is no substitute for common sense. Look for and eliminate potential danger spots near candles, fireplaces, trees, and/or electrical connections.
In the spirit of Christmas giving, Ace Solves It All has a gift for you when you make a donation to Toys for Tots. First, select a new unwrapped toy. Next call Ace Solves it all to schedule a FREE tune-up for your home’s air conditioning. When the tech arrives and completes your free tune-up, simply give them your toy donation for Toys for Tots. Do it now, call 877-765-4223 or visit http://www.AceSolvesItAll.com
Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The program was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks
Collis Roofing has a giving spirit with action! They are providing a new roof for a elderly retired school teacher on Gorvale Lane in Orlando. The homeowner’s roof has been in serious disrepair and it was brought to Collis Roofing’s attention. They’ve pulled together with Suncoast Roofing Supply. Suncoast has donated architectural shingles and Collis Roofing is providing the installation of the new roof.
Here are some more examples of Collis Roofing’s giving spirit: Donation the roofing materials to the City of Davenport for Adair Field, helped raise money with SELF, a non profit lender in Florida, through KIVA for a widowed school teacher in Largo, FL, and Free Roofing completed for the Sanford American Legion, three roof installations provided to Habitat for Humanity…the giving Christmas Spirit is alive at Collis Roofing.
Americans are spending more on their homes.
And it’s on a lot of things — from small improvements like new faucets and lights to big-ticket items like roofs, counter tops and dishwashers.
The largest home improvement store in the country, Home Depot, said Tuesday that sales for those more expensive items — the ones over $900 — rose by almost 8% from the same period last year.
When people make pricy purchases, it’s a sign that American consumers are feeling confident about the economy and where it’s heading.
Overall, sales at Home Depot (HOME D) stores open a year or longer in the U.S. rose 7.3% compared to a year ago. The company’s overall sales — $21.8 billion — were up 6.4%.
“There’s a lot of momentum in the U.S.,” Carol Tome, Home Depot’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call Tuesday.
Related: How to buy a home without a 20% down payment
There’s been some concern about whether Americans are loosening the purse strings in 2015. Overall, Americans are buying a record amount of cars, and are going out to restaurants. But sales at department stores and electronics stores have been down recently.
However, there is momentum building in the U.S. housing market. Sales of new homes have been higher this year compared to last year, and sales for existing homes hit a pre-recession high in September.
Those trends bode well for Home Depot and other home improvement companies.
Home Depot’s stock bounced up 4% Tuesday morning. Home Depot is up 28% over the past 12 months. Shares for Home Depot’s biggest U.S. competitor, Lowe’s (LOW), are also up about the same over the past year.
CNNMoney (New York) November 17, 2015