Comparing Utility Company Rates to Cut Your Expenses

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 12:45 PM
Many consumers aren’t aware that there are actually more than one company in the local area that is providing utility services to consumers and therefore the customer can easily compare the prices that are available for the services, reducing the cost of the household expenses.
Researching the local utility companies that serve the area can be an effective way to reduce the overall expenses in the home. Sometimes, a fraction of a percentage of the base power or heating costs can actually lead to a chunk of money saved through the course of the year.

In addition, there are some utility companies that provide the customer with a bonus for obtaining a quote from the company or signing up for services. These types of bonuses can be an effective way to save money while making use of the utility services and can help to ensure that the homeowner is not paying more than they should be for the utility services that are being provided.

Using the internet, the customer can compare the costs of the utility companies. This way, the customer can easily find that they are able to compare the base rates for the utility companies and determine whether there are any credits or fees that are applicable to the customer changing utility companies. This way, the customer can easily compare the cost of the utility companies without having to make a special visit to the company or even use time making phone calls to the companies.

What should the consumer consider when it comes to comparing the rates of the utility companies? Some companies offer the customer introductory rates, which should be considered in the overall costs. Considering when these rates increase can be an effective way to have an accurate portrayal of the costs from changing companies.

How to Save Money on Your Electricity Costs?

Consider making your home more energy efficient by performing a free energy audit of your home, which will show you the places responsible for heat loss in your home and give you options for installing energy efficient upgrades and retrofits such as eco-insulation and energy efficient exterior improvements. You can also take a simple step towards better energy efficiency in your home by replacing conventional light bulbs with CFLs or even LED light bulbs that cost quite a bit more upfront, but add up in energy savings over time.

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How to Mix Cement

Posted by Sasha Kirey On 12:09 AM
Mixing cement for use around the home is not necessarily a rocket science, but it should be approached carefully and systematically. While it might seem simple enough to combine water with sand, gravel, and cement - if your final mixture is off by even a little in the proportions, you can completely ruin your project. In addition, safety is just as important when mixing cement as when using power tools. For instance, if your skin is exposed to fresh concrete for an extended time it can burn. Always remember to be safe when working with cement by wearing rubber boots, gloves, goggles, and a shirt with long sleeves.

Many projects around the house require cement; building a patio, filling decking and fencing post holes, or fixing a sidewalk or a crack in the foundation of your house. There are also many trendy projects that you might like to try, like creating a birdbath or planter, pouring a new kitchen countertop or even a floor. Understanding how to work with and mix cement can be handy knowledge for all homeowners!

While there are pre-mixed formulas of cement in which all you need to do is add water and stir, it is helpful to understand how to make your own cement from separate ingredients so that you can understand and appreciate the need for proper measurements and proportions. Your quantity of cement might vary, but the recipe is always three parts gravel, two parts sand, and one part cement. When you do not need gravel in the mixture, adjust the ratio to one part cement and three parts sand. If you choose to use pre-mixed cement you should read the label on the package to make sure you are still mixing the ingredients in the correct proportions. Typically, the formula is one part pre-mixed cement powder, 1 part sand, and 1 part crushed gravel. In either case, water is the one ingredient that is never clear-cut, so even if the bag of ready-cement specifies an amount, add slowly and carefully.

Mixing cement in small batches can be accomplished with only a bucket or a wheelbarrow and a spade or shovel. Keep in mind that mixing cement is a physical job and your muscles should be ready for quite a workout. Normally a small spade is easier to work with than a shovel. Larger batches should be mixed in a portable cement mixer that is powered either electrically or mechanically. Both types of mixers are usually available at do-it-yourself home centers or hardware stores.

Begin by mixing your dry ingredients. The sand, cement, and gravel need to be combined very thoroughly. If there are any other dry specialty ingredients that need to be added, do so now. Next, add water to the mixture in small amounts. Although it might be tempting to pour in a bunch of water and start to stir, it works best when you add the water slowly and mix it well in between each addition. You are looking for a medium consistency that is neither too wet nor too dry. While you do not have to rush to blend the mixture, it will eventually dry out, so work as quickly as you can while taking enough time to do the job properly.

When you think you have the proper consistency test it by scooping out a bit of cement and placing it on a piece of wood or other flat surface. Make a few ridges in the cement and see how they look. Ragged ridges mean the mixture is dry, while ridges that fill back in means the mixture is too wet. Adjust your cement mixture accordingly by adding a bit more water or a bit more cement until you achieve the perfect balance. With some practice, your cement mixing talents will be perfected and will ensure the best project outcome. Remember that mixing the cement properly in the first place is the only way to create a successful DIY project.