10 Ways to Save Energy and Lower Your Utility Bills

Here are 10 ways to save energy and lower your utility bills at home:

  • Consult a professional.
  • See what’s using the most energy.
  • Use smaller machines for work and entertainment.
  • Update old appliances.
  • Change out old lights.
  • Replace your showerhead.
  • Pay attention to your thermostat.
  • Insulate and reduce air leakage.
  • Have your HVAC serviced.
  • Put solar panels on your roof.


Ralene Nelson, REALTOR®

SOLD – 400 Rutland Dr. Rio Vista

Enjoy a little bit of history, 1915 Craftmans style home sitting on an elevated lot makes for a great family home. Detached garage with space behind the garage provides space for playroom, craft/sewing room or work/office space. Remodeled kitchen, w/ rustic farmhouse appeal, w/new corian counters, white subway tile backsplash & wainscotting. READ MORE

PENDING – 733 Brookside Ln. Rio Vista

Lovely Yountville model with Solar is located in the Trilogy Active Adult Community. Home boasts of charm with decorator colors. Tile floors, fireplace, french slider & shutters create a cozy great room. The kitchen is a chef’s delight with granite counters, Tile backsplash, 5 burner gas stovetop, an island for prepping & Reverse Osmosis. The Butler area provides pantry & serving Space for your chef. READ MORE

Fun Things You Can Still Do This Fall

Making useful things with your own bare hands can be extremely satisfying and increase your happiness quotient, especially when they are good for the environment. Whether it’s repurposing recyclable objects or building simple devices from scratch, these green DIY projects are a great chance to get creative and save the planet at the same time.


Make the most of an old hanging shoe organizer by turning it into a space for growing fresh vegetables.
Hanging pocket shoe organizer
Pole and attachments (curtain pole or pipe fittings, screws)
Utensil hanging hooks
Selection of plants or seeds
Piece of wood 2″x2″ as long as the width of the pocket store to keep the base of pockets away from the wall
1. Attach pole with metal fittings to a shed or wall.
2. Use strong hooks or wire to attach the shoe store.
3. Pour water into the pockets to check the drainage, if they don’t drain then make a few small holes in each of the pockets.
4. Fill each pocket with compost.
5. Add plants or seeds.
SOURCE: Instructables

Photo courtesy Instructables


The disappearance of bee colonies poses a serious threat to how our fruits and vegetables are grown. Play your part in solving the issue by building this super simple habitat to house native bees in your area.
Scrap wood
A drill
Drill bits ranging from 3/32″ to 3/8″
1. Take the scrap wood and drill holes that go in roughly 3-4″ deep. Space the holes at least 3/4″ apart.
2. Turn the bee habitat over, so the holes face the ground, and tap out any wood shavings from inside, so the bees will have a nice, spacious home.
3. Place the bee habitat in your backyard, making sure to choose a place where the holes can face south or southeast, so they get morning sun.
SOURCE: Crafting A Green World

Photo courtesy Crafting A Green World


Made from plastic bottles, these easy to assemble herb planters will form a self-watering garden in your home.
Sturdy 1-liter plastic bottles with caps
Utility knife
Label remover or vegetable oil
Potting soil
Herb seedlings
1. For each planter, mark a line 5 inches from the bottle’s base. Use the utility knife to puncture the bottle at the mark, then use scissors to cut all the way around the bottle at the mark.
2. Remove the label, using the label remover or vegetable oil to get rid of any extra adhesive.
3. With the cap in place, invert the bottle’s top portion and insert it into the base. Fill it part way with soil.
4. Transplant a seedling, adding soil and pressing it gently until the seedling is secured in the planter.
5. Lift out the soil-filled top portion and remove the cap. Add about an inch of water to the planter’s base, enough to cover the lip of the inverted bottle top when you replace it.
6. Give the seedling some more water to help it get established, then place it in a sunny spot.
7. Following the care instructions that came with the herb, add water as needed to the planter’s base.
SOURCE: Spoonful

Photo courtesy FamilyFun Magazine


Put some old pallets to good use by making an organized space for composting your garden waste.
Wood screws
Chicken wire
Black plastic
Shipping pallets
Door hinges
1. Screw the pallets together to create a three-sided box with a floor. Line the box with chicken wire, stapling the wire to the wood.
2. Attach the remaining pallet to the top, affixing the hinges so that you can open the top of the bin. The top will prevent leaves from blowing away.
3. Cover the top with black plastic.
4. Place the finished compost bin on bare ground.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Pat Joyce


Plastic bags pose a great risk to the environment because of the extremely long time it takes for them to disintegrate.  These coasters are a creative way to use up plastic bags you have lying around.
At least 3 thick plastic bags
An iron
1. Set the iron for 3.5 or near ‘Rayon’ setting.
2. Cut handles and bottom seam off bags, and cut down one side seam to obtain a flat piece of plastic.
3. Depending on the thickness of your bags, you’ll need about 6 layers, which is either 3 bags cut in half, or 6 bags totally disassembled and flat.
4. Lay a piece of unprinted paper on the ironing board, place your six layers on top of the paper, and another piece of paper between the iron and the plastic.
5. Work in a well ventilated area as melting plastic can emit fumes!
6. Working in sections, iron each section for 10-15 seconds. This should fuse the first few layers.
7. Within the small sections, move the iron around as much as possible. If you hold the iron in one place for too long, you’ll get dimples where the steam holes are. It is recommended to iron in straight lines to keep track of where you’ve been.
8. Don’t lift the iron to check the progress until you’ve counted 10-15 seconds, and then check on the sides.
9. After working on one side,flip the plastic over and iron the second side too.
10. Layer bags according to what you’d like to see on the outside.
11. Find a round object that is the size of the coaster you’d like to make and use that to trace circles onto your plastic fabric.
12. Use scissors to cut out the circles.
SOURCE: Creative Jewish Mom

Photo coutesy Creative Jewish Mom

How your credit score affects your mortgage rate

Your credit score is one of the most important factors lenders consider when you apply for a mortgage. Typically, the higher your score, the lower the interest rates you’ll qualify for.

Before you look at houses, it’s smart to check your credit score and pull your credit reports from the three major credit agencies. Addressing credit issues early on can help you raise your score before you apply for a mortgage. You can check your score on Bankrate to see where you stand.


Mortgages that require no down payment or a small one

Buying a home is a goal for many Americans. Unfortunately, saving for a down payment can feel like a daunting task. The good news is that a down payment doesn’t have to be an impediment to getting a home loan. In fact, many people think they need 20 percent down, which is just not true.

There are no down payment home loans, as well as mortgages that you can get with a small down payment. Here’s what you need to know about buying a home with a small down payment — or even no money down.


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