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How to save on your energy bill?

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How to save on your energy bill?

Your energy bill or electricity bill is what you are charged for using electric power. It is difficult to imagine a life without electricity. Many a time, we tend to use electricity when there is actually no need to use it. An air conditioner that is on all the times, a TV that is switched on always and lights left on in rooms where no one is present are some ways where we tend to waste energy. Taking small corrective measures can help you in cutting down your energy bill easily. It is estimated that a family spends $2,200 annually for utilities. Taking simple measures can help you easily reduce your bill by at least 25%.

There are various things that you can do to reduce your energy bill. Here are a few things that you can start doing today to cut down your bill.

  1. Do an energy audit

Most utility companies offer a free energy audit for their customers. You can contact them to get one done today. In case, your provider doesn’t offer this service, you can do it on your own by looking for resources on the internet. An energy audit involves doing a thorough check on the different ways in which you are using electrical energy. The results of the audit can be used to decide what changes you need to make in your home to save power.

  1. Reducing energy use on air-conditioning

The air-conditioner is on most times in houses. You can first start by switching off the air-conditioner when it is not required. Many a time, you would forget to switch off the air-conditioner when you leave a room. Ensuring that you use the AC only when it is needed is an effective way to reduce energy use. Keeping the air-conditioner in good condition ensures it consumes optimum energy. Regular maintenance can ensure this. Also, ensure the vents are clean and kept open. Closed vents can increase energy consumption. Replacing the air filter regularly is important to keep the AC in good condition.

  1. Adjust temperatures

You can adjust the temperature of your air-conditioner as well as the refrigerator to ensure that it is at an optimum temperature. For example, you can set the refrigerator temperature at 38 degrees Fahrenheit, which is optimum for your fridge to work. It reduces the workload for the fridge and ensures optimum power consumption.

  1. Reduce cost of heating and cooling

Control the thermostat setting to adjust the temperature when you are sleeping. Reducing the temperature by even 10 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours a day can help you save quite a lot of money annually on your energy bills.

  1. Fill the fridge and ensure the door is shut

When the fridge and the freezer are full of things, it helps in reducing the time needed to cool it. This reduces the load on the fridge and can help to save your energy bill. Also, ensure the fridge door is closed all the time.Check whether the doors are properly sealed. Any gaps lead to more workload for the fridge, thereby increasing energy consumption.

  1. Keep food in the fridge covered

When food kept in the fridge is uncovered, it causes condensation. This increases the workload of your fridge, leading to higher power consumption.

  1. Don’t keep hot food in the fridge

This is more like a common sense tip. But many people in a hurry would put a hot dish inside the fridge. This increases the temperature inside the fridge and makes it have towork more to keep things cool.

  1. Use ceiling and standing fans

If the temperature is not too high, you can consider using ceiling fans or standing fans to ensure a cooling effect. This can help you switch off the air-conditioner or reduce its usage, while still ensuring proper airflow.

  1. Cool your home down by blocking sunlight

Sunlight can heat up your room and increase the need for air-conditioning. Keeping the sun out by ensuring curtains and blinds are closed is a very simple and effective way to prevent the room from being heated up. You can also consider using tinted windows to block out sunlight. This helps you cool your home naturally and reduce the load on your air-conditioner.

  1. Use greenery and open windows to cool your home

Try to get natural air into your home to cool down the interiors. Also, use greenery outside your home to provide shade from the sun. All these help to keep your home cooler. It avoids use of the air-conditioner, thus saving energy.

  1. Use blankets instead of the heater

On a cold day, use an extra blanket or two instead of turning on the heater. Electric heaters consume a lot of energy. Use them sparingly, only when it is too cold.

  1. Insulate your home

To ensure that you don’t overuse the heater, ensure that your home is well-insulated. You need to do a check of your home to find out any gaps where a draft can get in and reduce warmth. Use weather stripping to close such gaps, so your house is insulated. Making proper use of insulation can help you reduce a lot of money that you spend on home heating. If you live in a cold region, consider using insulating paint that keeps your home warm and reduces heater usage.

  1. Finish your laundry and dishwashing all at once

When you use the washing machine and dishwasher, plan your work so you use them once to finish all the work. Using the machine multiple timesleads to excess power consumption. Plan your work so you can use energy in an optimum way.

  1. Don’t overload the washing machine

When you fill clothes into the washing machine, don’t fill them to the brim. You need to ideally leave 25% space. If there is no space, hot air will not circulate easily to dry the clothes. You can increase the efficiency of your washing machine by not overloading it.

  1. Avoid hot water cloth wash

Most washing machines come with a hot water wash facility. Try to use this sparingly as heating the water requires a lot of energy. This is an area where you can save money by using hot water for laundry only if highly essential.

  1. Use the clothesline

On a sunny day, you can skip the use of the drier after you wash clothes. Instead, hang the clothes out to dry on a clothesline, if possible. This is a small and simple way by which you can reduce your energy bill. Remember that it is a number of such small things that put together makes a difference.

  1. Use appliances during non-peak hours

Some utility providers have the provision of non-peak hours. This is where the rates charged for electrical power would be less. Try to use appliances like washing machine and dishwasher during such times to save money. Find out what time non-peak rates are applicable and try to do maximum dishwashing and laundry at these times to save power.

  1. Buy energy efficient equipment

You would be using different kinds of electrical equipment in your home. From the TV to the washing machine, and the fridge to the dishwasher – look for energy efficient equipment. Look for equipment that is energy efficient and would thus help you save energy. This is a good way of reducing your energy bill.

  1. Cut down on shower times

If you take a hot water shower, try to reduce the total time you spend in the shower by just two minutes. That can help you save a lot of energy spent on heating water. Also, use an efficient showerhead that prevent wastage of water and overheating.

  1. Adjust the water heater temperature

You may not need boiling hot water for your shower. Try to reduce the temperature of water. A 10 degree Fahrenheit reduction in temperature can save you a lot of money on power consumption. During summer months, you can reduce the temperature and increase it again during the winters.

  1. Use an on-demand water heater

The conventional hot water heater heats water in a tank and consumes more electrical power. An on-demand water heater would heat and deliver hot water instantly. You can use as much as you need instead of heating a tank full of water. This helps you to reduce your energy bills.

  1. Go solar

If you live in a place with good sunlight, harness the power of the sun. Installing a solar water heater is a great way to get hot water from the sun. You can reduce your water heating bills to zero on sunny days. This is a great way to reduce your energy bill.

  1. Use solar lights

Solar lights can be used outdoors in your lawn and even for the garage. These lights would use the power of the sun during day times and provide lighting at night – a good way to save on bills.

  1. Save power while cooking

Reduce the time you use the oven or electric stove. Switch it off a minute or two earlier, the existing heat will keep the food warm. Every minute of power saved can help you cut down your energy bill. Where possible avoid pre-heating the oven to save costs. Try to finish the cooking and heating jobs at one time to save energy. While cooking, keep the lid on the utensil closed so that heat is retained and it cooks fast, allowing you to save on power.

Try to use the microwave more as it consumes less power, as compared to an oven. When you take out food from the fridge to cook, don’t put it on the stove or oven immediately. Let it thaw out and come to room temperature. Then put it to heat, this way it heats faster and saves power.

  1. Switch off lights and appliances when not used

This is again a basic common sense tip, which unfortunately many people don’t follow. Doing this religiously, every day can help you save a lot on your energy bill. Keep lights on only where it is needed. Switch off the TV and computer when not used. Don’t keep it on sleep mode, shut it down to save power.

  1. Keep an eye on the TV

The TV is one device that is on most of the time, even when no one is watching. Keep an eye on the TV and switch it off when not used. Switch the power off to save electricity. Encourage kids to play outside instead of watching TV. Not only is it healthier, you save power as well.

  1. Use LED lights

LED lights are extremely efficient in saving power. Use LED lights as much as possible to cut down on your power consumption. Check all the lights you are using in a room and try to replace them with a single bulb that can provide more light. Also, use energy efficient lighting through the house.

  1. Use smart surge protector

You may be using surge protectors for your electrical equipment. Even when the device is on, keeping it plugged in leads to usage of power.It may not be much, but small things count. Use a smart strip surge protector. This would switch off power, when the plugs are not used.

  1. Use motion sensors for lighting

Instead of keeping the lights on everywhere, make use of motion sensors. They ensure lights are turned off and would automatically turn it on, only when someone enters a room. This is a smart and efficient way of saving energy and cutting down your energy bill.

  1. Use dimmer switches

Dimmer switches allow you to control the intensity of light on your bulbs. You can use more light only when you are reading or working. Else, you can reduce the light intensity and reduce power consumption.

Hope you found these tips useful. Try them out and we are sure you will thank us at the end of the month, when you see your energy bill.

Finance

2020: the year mortgages went digital

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2020: the year mortgages went digital 1

By Francesca Carlesi, co-founder and CEO, Molo

It’s safe to say that the past year has changed everything. With restrictions in place that limited almost every aspect of our lives, from work to socialising, it’s no surprise that some industries were decimated and others were left severely shaken. The mortgage sector was no exception, as it also underwent a vast transformation which may have changed the course of mortgages forever.

The industry saw a paradigm shift, which was driven by consumers being forced online. This was the case for everything from mortgage applications to online house viewings and property valuations. As expected, this resulted in an increased demand for digital mortgage solutions with more flexibility.

While the industry was already slowly shifting, the pandemic has accelerated this and now the traditional process of getting a mortgage is increasingly coming under threat. We’ve seen a number of somewhat surprising trends over the last year that support this argument and suggest that consumers are embracing the change. For example, compared to March last year, we’ve seen the number of people aged over 45 applying for a mortgage loan increase by 70%. This indicates that consumers who may have previously resisted applying for a digital mortgage saw no alternative option in lockdown.

It seems that this paid off, as our data suggests that overall consumers were more satisfied with the simpler and quicker process.

A shift in behaviour

It’s clear that the pandemic did nothing to discourage those seeking a mortgage from doing so and the industry continued to grow. For example, in October last year, the UK mortgage industry saw a 13-year high, where over 97,500 loans were approved – the highest figure since September 2007, the month at the start of the financial crisis. But what led to this and why?

In a post-pandemic world of financial uncertainty and instability, the idea of purchasing property is now being perceived by many as a safer bet than investing in the stock market or other investment options.

As a result, buy-to-let properties are becoming an increasingly appealing option and Google has now coined it as ‘breaking out’. Not only did Google trends observe a 5000% increase in the search term ‘how to get a buy-to-let mortgage’ last year, but at Molo, our own data also supported this and found a significant rise in the number of first-time buyers who were mortgage hunting.

Despite being introduced twenty years prior to buy-to-let mortgages, let-to-buy mortgages also saw huge growth in 2020. The pandemic has led to increased numbers of remote workers and commuting has become a thing of the past. UK cities are seeing somewhat of a mass exodus as the priorities of city dwellers are changing and many are going in search of more space. Let-to-buy mortgages offer the flexibility to facilitate this. Investing in this kind of mortgage means that families, for example, can afford to rent out their property in the city and move to locations that are more rural.

We’ve also seen the industry pivot slightly in terms of regional demands. While there is continued demand from London and the South East, for example, we’ve also seen growth in areas such as the North West and we predict this won’t slow any time soon. One of the cities with especially high demand was Blackpool, where growth in demand was twice the national average.

Future gazing: 2021 and beyond

We’re expecting that the changes seen across the industry over the past will stick. After all, if even the sceptical customers were happy with the ease and simplicity of the online mortgage application and approval process, why on earth would they go back?

It’s important that we learn from these observations and use them to draw insight into the future of the mortgage sector. For instance, while Coronavirus has certainly caused disruption for lenders and consumers alike, it’s also highlighted the need for a more advanced, digital offering. It’s shown that digital mortgages really have become the best option for customers. The pandemic has been a test run for businesses and has proved that, even after restrictions are lifted, there is no good reason for mortgage providers to return to the traditional but slower business-as-usual.

At least in the property world, 2020 could well be remembered as the year that mortgages went digital. While it’s true that the pandemic was the catalyst for this shift, it’s now gone beyond the virus. The changes we’ve seen over the past year are likely to shape the mortgage industry for years to come.

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Finance

EU finance chief says UK’s Northern Ireland move a breach of trust

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EU finance chief says UK's Northern Ireland move a breach of trust 2

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The European Union’s finance chief said Britain’s decision to make unilateral changes to Northern Irish Brexit arrangements raised questions over whether it can be trusted in future trade negotiations with any partner.

“It does open a question mark about global Britain, if this is how global Britain will negotiate with other partners. Our experience has been not an easy one to put it mildly,” Mairead McGuinness, who is negotiating post-Brexit financial services terms with Britain, told Irish broadcaster RTE on Thursday.

“We have to be very clear that when something happens that is not appropriate and indeed in our view breaches both trust and an international agreement, then we have to call it out. It wasn’t a good day yesterday but this morning we have to work for practical solutions, with the UK, not separately.”

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by John Stonestreet)

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The Benefits of Starting A US Non-Profit: The Latest Tax Regulations

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The Benefits of Starting A US Non-Profit: The Latest Tax Regulations 3

Starting a nonprofit organisation can be a very effective way of significantly improving your society’s welfare, and truly assisting those in need. Ultimately, however, understanding all the prerequisite steps mandated to start a nonprofit– as well as the legal obligations and privileges that can be associated with such a process, is crucial before fully committing to and moving forward with your business plan.

Growing a prolific, successful, and impactful non-profit can be a very tedious process and can commonly involve years of consistent effort, diligence, and determination. Consequently, this article will take a deep dive into the relative statutory and federal legislation and critically analyse the plethora of economic, monetary, and social benefits that starting a nonprofit can bring in for you.

Non-profit Organisations: A Quick Overview

Regardless of whether your goal is to address a particular societal issue, form a trade organisation or perhaps create a social club, if you are looking for the opportunity to earn a profit on top of accomplishing your stipulated goals, forming and operating a nonprofit organisation may be the way to go.

Contrary to most social clubs- which are formed to solely provide benefits for their specific members, nonprofits are generally created to provide benefits to the general public. These can include corporations created for educational, scientific and charitable purposes and- as we will further analyse below, are commonly exempt from paying corporate income taxation in accordance with Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Financial and Structural Benefits of Starting a Non-profit

As briefly touched on above, forming a nonprofit organisation can provide a plethora of benefits for you, these include:

  1. Tax Exemptions- companies that are categorized as ‘public charities’ in accordance with section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code are generally exempt from paying corporate income tax on a state and on a federal level. Additionally, after a company has obtained their aforementioned ‘tax exempt’ legal status, a person’s or company’s monetary donations to them is tax-deductible.
  2. Grant Opportunities- There’s a prolific amount of both public and private bodies that unilaterally limit their charitable donations and grants to public charities only. This is because nonprofits can- and commonly do, offer tax deductions to such individuals or corporate entities on an exclusive basis.
  3. Unique Corporate Structure- A nonprofit organisation operates as its own unique legal entity- completely separate from its owners and founders, and consequently is in a position to place its own interests and corporate ethos above the interests of the persons that may be associated with it.
  4. Limited Liability & Perpetual Existence- On top of having a statutory right to exist in perpetuity, nonprofits also have limited liability under the law. Therefore, any damages that may arise from potential legal disputes are limited to the real assets of the actual nonprofit, and not the assets of its founders and/or owners (subject to specific legal exemptions).

Final Overview: The Potential Disadvantages of Forming a Nonprofit

Despite all the advantages laid out above, it should be duly noted that there are a couple of potential disadvantages to forming a nonprofit that you may want to consider before moving forward with your plan.

Firstly, the process of forming a nonprofit can take a significantly long period of time and this is commonly associated with a great deal of both effort and capital. Moreover, in order to apply for some of the benefits listed above- including federal tax exemption, a monetary fee is required and the process also often needs a present attorney or corporate accountant to serve as a corporate consultant.

Furthermore, there are a couple of practical disadvantages to starting a non-profit organisation. These include: a) excessive paperwork- as all nonprofits are legally required to keep detailed analytical records of their practices and submit them to their relevant state de[artment and to the IRS, and b) limited personal control over the organisation- this is particularly the case in states that require nonprofit organisations to have more than one director.

Finally, nonprofits are commonly subject to prolific levels of public scrutiny- especially in relation to their finances, which may act as a disincentive for some private individuals.

Overall, starting a nonprofit can bring in a plethora of economic, monetary, and social privileges for the individuals involved, and- although the process can come with a few potential inconveniences, they are arguably a small price to pay. Companies like TRUiC advise on the varying benefits of different states when it comes to US formations. It is worth conducting thorough research before making your next move.

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