Energy Bill Savings Tips for Arizona MOMs

As MOMs in AZ, there’s lots we have to think about and energy efficiency certainly is at the top of the list.  It’s not only important for a comfortable home environment for the fam, but it’s also beneficial to the household budget. 

There are several ways to keep the house comfier and the wallet happy during the summer months.  Here are our great suggestions from our MOMs:

  1. Get sunscreens, especially on the windows in direct sunlight.  Sunscreens come in many different sizes ranging from 60-90% sun coverage. They not only help block the heat but also provide some privacy.  Sunscreens can make a really big difference in the overall comfort of your home, and also offer major relief on your energy bill.  
  2. Sunshades are a must and we LOVE the automatic version.  There are many options and colors of shades that are programmable.  Once the sun hits a certain level, the shades come down.  It’s great!  Manual versions are also available and are a bit more cost effective while still offering the savings on the monthly energy bill.  Check out one of our favorite, and very popular, manual sunshades here.
  3. Nest Thermometer! This programmable thermostat learns your habits and saves approximately 15% on your cooling bill. The coolest part is that it can be controlled by your smart phone.
  4. Check out energy rebates and usage programs from SRP, APS and SW gas.
  5. Check your insulation levels.  Having the correct amount of insulation is super important, and at least 90% of AZ households do not have sufficient insulation.  Speak to a professional to determine the appropriate amount of insulation and appropriate R-value. Here’s some more info.
  6. Energy efficient windows are a great investment and will definitely help reduce the energy bill.  When selecting new windows, consider their energy performance ratings with respect to climate and home design.  You can expect at least a 20% savings on your energy bill if not more.
  7. Make sure your “extra” fridge in the garage is up for the challenge.  Higher temperatures can stress it by forcing the motor to run constantly, especially if your garage exceeds 110 degrees.  The energy bill will spike and you run the risk of the machine failing and risking food spoilage.
  8. Service your AC unit ASAP if it has not been regularly maintained.  You’d be surprised how much more efficient a regularly maintained AC unit is and you might even find that it makes sense to upgrade and replace the unit with a higher SEER rating for maximum efficiency.  Be sure to change your AC filters regularly; it may seem small but this helps keep the unit running efficiently.
  9. Speaking of AC units, don’t forget about your ductwork.  This is nearly as important as the unit itself.  Look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and for obvious holes. Don’t want to do the work yourself? Consult a pro.  Ignoring this could mean a 25% to 30% energy loss.
  10. Seal energy leaks around doors, windows, etc.  If you can see the light of day, you are losing energy.  Caulk and/or apply weatherstrip to doors and windows. Caulk to seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets. You can even install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  11. Moving air is cooler that turning on your air conditioning because it creates quick evaporation of moisture from the skin.  Ceiling fans are found in almost all homes in the Phoenix, AZ area and help create a more comfortable environment by moving air.  Don’t think there’s a fan for you? Ceiling fans come in many styles and colors to fit any design scheme!
  12. Go solar! Solar power popularity is on the rise and you can now either purchase or lease the systems.  There are still several options and incentives available for installing solar panels on top of the already big savings on energy bills.
  13. Upgrade to energy star appliances, and don’t forget the water heater.  These appliances save a ton on energy but they don’t slack on performance.  Upgrade your dishwasher, freezer, refrigerator, washer, dryer and water heater.
  14. Keep the fireplace damper completely closed while not in use!  Consider adding glass doors and keep them closed to increase energy efficiency.  
  15. Planting the appropriate trees in strategic places around your home conserves energy and reduces your energy bills.  Be sure to consult a professional as planting an inappropriate type of tree or placing it in the wrong area can be damaging to some major systems of your home including the roof, foundation and plumbing.
  16. Purchase black out shades or blinds and place on all windows affected by the sun.
  17. Consider purchasing a home with North / South exposure.  This is the most optimal orientation in the Phoenix AZ area.  Search Phoenix area homes for sale here.  

Contact me to discuss your energy efficiency level.  I have great referrals for professionals to help with any of these suggestions and love to get to know MOMs!

 

This house just SOLD! Want to see properties just like it? Click the image or visit: http://bit.ly/2tJVI7v

Katie Halle Lambert
Associate Broker
Team Evolution at 
Revelation Real Estate
480-250-0023
www.EvoAZ.com

4 Simple Tips for Organizing Your Playroom (and Life)

Hi Moms! This is fellow Mom and resident MOMnationAZ professional organizer Katy Krupnik of The Tidy Cottage. I love my kids, I love the way they enjoy their toys, but man toys can be a literal pain in the butt (or feet in the middle of the night).

Read on for tips to create a tidy toy room so those pesky toys stay out from under your feet!

1. Pair Down the Duplicates

We don’t even realize that our kids are playing with a lot of the same toys. Our kids don’t need three types of pretend laptops or four different types of train tracks. In fact, if our kids have only one or two options for each style or type of toy it will be less overwhelming to choose what to play with.

For example, this last year we bought my son a train table and it came with a bunch of little knick-knack wooden trees and signs, some tracks that built a bridge and around a mountain. Then my husband bought a box of different train tracks from a garage sale so they would have plenty to play with. So cool right!? Except it was a pain! My kids would get really frustrated and upset every time that bridge fell apart and they would fight over the wooden knick-knacks, and then the different track pieces would overwhelm them. It was such a frustration for all of us! I did not want to hear them running over complaining about it one more time so I took all of the bridge pieces and knick-knacks and non-wooden tracks away one evening, just to see if they would mention it or miss it. And life went on…with less arguing and running to mom complaining about something breaking or someone stealing a little piece, it was awesome!

Pairing down toys to just their favorites and what they enjoy the most is helpful, it eliminates the clutter and focuses in on what your children want to play with – which brings more peace into the home.

2. Purge the Broken and Worn Down Toys


If the puzzle has missing pieces or the wheels are off the car, it’s time to toss the toy. These are only cluttering the playroom or area and add frustration when played with.

Group “like with like” toys. Similar toys should be kept together. All cars together, all little people toys, music toys together, doctor kits together…etc. This will help your kids to be able to play with one type of toy at a time and make it an easy reset for the whole family. Everyone will know where cars go because they will all be together. It will be very obvious if a toy is misplaced, the car will look very funny next to all of the play food.

3. Clear Containers

If your kids tend to throw everything into baskets or bins, store toys in separate clear containers with lids. Kids can see what they want to play with, take it out and then put it back after they are done. They can’t go back to the habit of tossing toys together.

4. Take the Puzzles Out of The Box.
Take puzzles and memory games out of their boxes and put them in clear pencil pouches or ziplock bags with the cover of the puzzle or memory game cut out and placed in the bag. Then you can put the puzzles and memory games in one basket instead of taking up a whole shelf or area in your home!

I hope these tips help you on your journey to tidy the toy rooms in your life, we as Moms deserve to enjoy the wine at the end of the day without sitting on those pesky toys!

Katy Krupnik
Owner of The Tidy Cottage
www.thetidycottage.com

Want to see more organization and home design inspiration? Follow along @thetidycottage on Facebook and Instagram

12 Things to Know About Dealing with Scorpions in Arizona

Our family business has always been bugs. Growing up, my dad owned a pest control business, so I’ve been around bugs my entire life. I can vividly remember when I was little, my dad would bring home jars of scorpions, spiders and all kinds of things that he would catch while out working. He would place them on the kitchen window seal (I’m sure my mother just loved that!) and teach us about them.

While I never did grow fond of our house visitors,  I did learn a lot. Sure, I still run from the room screaming if I see a spider, but running a pest control business in Arizona means knowing the importance of being knowledgeable about all insects, especially scorpions.

The truth is, that no matter where you in the valley, scorpions are likely there. Maybe you are one of the lucky few that have never seen one inside your home, or perhaps, like many of us, you’ve found one in your shoe!

Scorpions tend to come out more when it’s hot, so with the extreme weather we are having, we felt it was important to remind you of the basics in scorpion safety. Being educated and knowledgeable about scorpions, and all dangerous desert critters, is essential to protecting both you and your family:

  1. Scorpions are not malicious and they do not hunt humans.
  2. Most scorpion stings are caused by accident, by being  accidentally stepped on, or by aggravating where a scorpion is sheltering
  3. Scorpions seek warm places, so use caution when putting on shoes, or taking out towels from the closet.
  4. While scorpions are mostly found outside, they are attracted to heat sources inside of homes such as cars, hot water heaters, and attics. Always check storage boxes that are stored in the garage and attic before bringing them inside your home.  
  5. Scorpion mothers have anywhere between 25-35 babies which she will carry on her back until they are ready to survive on their own, at around two months! Yikes! Can you imagine having 25 babies?
  6. If the mother scorpion cannot find food, she will eat her babies. She would have to be pretty hungry though because scorpions can go up to a year without eating.
  7. Scorpions can live up to 20 years but average about 6.  Scorpions can also live underwater for about 2 days. So if you see one in your pool, use extreme caution, as it may not be dead.  
  8. Scorpion venom is a neurotoxin designed to immobilize their prey.
  9. An adult scorpion knows how to control its venom when it stings.
  10. A baby scorpion does not know how to control its venom, so their sting can be much worse. This is why you will often hear that small scorpions are more dangerous than big scorpions.
  11. Everyone is different in how they react to a scorpion sting, but most adult humans will not need any medical treatment. Symptoms will last for several days and include a feeling of pins and needles, numbness, shortness of breath and pain at the sting site.
  12. A sting for a very small child, elderly person, or ill person can be very dangerous and immediate medical treatment is advised.

So, what can we do about these creatures that have been on earth for longer than humans and multiply at alarming rates? Here are 3 proven ways that we recommend to help stay safe, and not just from scorpions, but all kinds of creepy crawlies:

  1. The first and most important thing is to have your home sealed. You can do this yourself or hire a professional. If you look at your doors and you can see daylight underneath, then your house is inviting all types of bugs in. This can be a simple fix at Home Depot. If you have a hole in your ceiling where a ceiling fan was installed, this needs to be patched and sealed! No matter how much pesticides are laid down, if your house has openings, scorpions, and other bugs will find a way in.
  2. Make sure your yard is de-cluttered and free of debris that scorpions can nest in, including keeping your grass is trimmed down. Also, make sure your palm trees are debarked and kept trimmed. Scorpions LOVE palm trees for their moist shade and protection they provide. Do not place any type of shed or outdoor container directly against your home. Place it along a fence away from your home. In fact, do not have anything touching your home; keep a minimum 6-inch gap. This includes shrubs, trees or any vegetation.
  3. Have regular pest control service. Don’t wait until you’re having a problem. If you’re not seeing a lot of activity, think about having bi-monthly or even quarterly service. This will kill off the food source of scorpions which will help keep them away. We also recommend having your attic dusted at least twice a year.

What about the babies? Keeping our littles safe from scorpions is really important, and luckily there are a few easy things we can do:

  1. Do not place a crib directly underneath a fan, air vent or can light. Bugs can come through very very tiny openings and fall from the ceiling if they are residing in the attic.
  2. Do not place a crib directly against the wall as several kinds of bugs can crawl up the wall and into the crib. Some people have resorted to placing glass jars on the legs of the crib – this would be because scorpions and spiders cannot climb slick surfaces.

If you or your child is every stung:

  1. Stay calm and get away from the scorpion.
  2. Some scorpions can make themselves flat so it’s hard to smash them. Try to capture it in a glass jar or throw a cup over it and come back to it later.
  3. Clean the area well with soap and water.
  4. Apply an ice pack or cold cloth to help relieve the pain and stop the venom from spreading.
  5. We recommend calling your doctor or pediatrician as soon as you can for their further recommendations.

Ready to keep your house safe from scorpions? Give Creepy Crawly Pest Control a call at 480-969-2926. Be sure to mention this post!

Special thanks to Jessica Nelson with Photos By Jessica for the photo.

The Postpartum Style Struggle #2

Hey there Mamas!

Okay, so now you’re holding your sweet little bundle of joy, the birth is over, you’re sitting there in your hospital bed, probably still in your gown and now sporting hospital panties and a pad the size of a crib mattress. You’ve never felt more glamorous! Am I right? 😉 Well, now may not be the time for glamour, but it can be the time for comfort and confidence! 

Let’s get practical (and cute!) 

If you’re anything like me, those hospital panties don’t even come close to staying up on their own. Like not even close. So definitely let’s do the pants thing. Stay away from dresses for now, you’ll want everything down there to feel secure and in place. Pants can help. My recommendation for your first “mama outfit” would be leggings and a tunic. Get some soft, stretchy leggings preferably black, (just in case your pad betrays you) and wiggle your jiggle into those. They pull everything together and just hold it there. Now, you look like a toddler in a diaper under your clothes, so make sure the tunic you choose, covers your behind all the way. That way, there’s no lumpy bumps hanging out in the back. 

Oversized tunics are pretty forgiving and hide a lot, so if you’re feeling super self-conscious about your postpartum pancake belly, join the club and throw on something that’s fitted in the bust and flows over the stomach. You can even find tunics that have been engineered to come apart around the boobs for easy access if you’re breastfeeding! Nifty! 

Here’s the nitty-gritty about why this look works:

When you look at the model above, where do your eyes go first? Her boobs? Probably. Let’s face it mamas, if we’re going to try to flaunt our assets (one of which is covered in an adult diaper at the moment), we may as well go for boobs. That’s why we want the tunic to be a bit fitted at the bust. Dressing yourself strategically is all about drawing the eye away from where you don’t want it to go. Don’t want people staring at your belly? Get a tunic fitted in the bust, throw on some cute chunky earrings and if you’re heading out for grocery run, or just out to Target to try to stay sane, some cute flashy flats will also help keep the attention in a long line from head to toe. A tunic with a large print will also minimize your belly. The general rule is: large print= area appears smaller, small print= area appears larger. 

Bottom line here, mama friends, don’t stress about it! This outfit is all about no stress and comfort, which is where you want to be right now. Now go snuggle that sweet squishy little newborn and smell his head for the rest of us. My kids’ heads just smell like dirt and maple syrup now. 

Hugs Mama Friends,

Ashley 

Stylist/Owner 

Metro Image Consulting L.L.C.

www.metroimageconsulting.com

Want me to come help you “Shop Your Closet” and learn to style yourself? Contact me on my website or text: STYLE to 480-296-4851. Be sure to mention MOMnation for a special discount! 

Special thanks to Sarayah Blackburn with Blackburn Photography

How our MOMs Survive on the Surface of the Sun 🌞

It’s getting hot in the Valley of the Sun!!  Our MOMs have great tips, tricks and advice for surviving these next 5 months of heat with kiddos!

At Home:

Most of our Mama’s keep the AC set to 78.  Infants are usually comfortable in thin material pajamas with long pants and sleeves especially those that are too young for bedding.

Drink water!  Keep sipping water all day even if you don’t feel thirsty.  It’s very easy for anyone to get dehydrated during the summer months in the Phoenix area.

Beware of the water that comes out of the faucet.  Both sides will be hot and could be too hot for little hands.  The same goes for the water in the garden hose.  DO NOT let your child use the garden hose without running the water until it’s cool first.  The water that comes out initially will be scalding.

Little feet should have shoes or sandals on at all times.  Even the “kool” decking around the pool is scorching hot in the midday sun.  Wear shoes while walking outside at night as well, even in the back yard.  Scorpions can be found in many areas at night.

Stay away from the bees.  Summertime is bee season in Phoenix and bees could be harmful to people and animals.

For the house, sunscreens for windows and covered patios make a difference in energy efficiency and comfort.

 

In the Car:

Get a car seat cooler.  Popular styles have pockets in the material for four or five ice packs that you place in the seat when it’s not in use.  This usually keeps the car seat cool even if you are parked for several hours.

Use a sun screen in the front window.  It will help keep the car a bit cooler as well as the steering wheel.  If the sun isn’t beating down inside the car, usually the seatbelt buckles aren’t quite so hot.  Do be sure to cover those buckles or keep them in the shade somehow.  They can be branding irons for little kiddos if touched after sitting in the sun.

Get an extension hose/tube for the front AC vent so that the AC can be directed easily and more effectively from the front to the back of the car.  If your car doesn’t have designated AC vents in the back, it could get very hot for your small child / baby.

Always have lots of water!  The new aluminum or stainless steel water bottles keep the water cool even when left in hot cars for hours.

Keep a light jacket or sweater in the car for both Mom and baby.  It can be very cold in stores, restaurants and grocery stores during the summer months.  This can also be used to cover up leather seats when parking in sunny areas.  Leather seats can be very uncomfortable in the heat especially with shorts on!

Never, never ever leave a baby, child or animal in a hot car even for a minute.  The temperatures are extreme and can be very dangerous.

 

Is your AZ home as efficient as it can be?  CONTACT US and ask for a free copy of the “Efficiency Cheat Sheet” for tips on energy efficiency and tricks to maximize the comfort of your home and minimize your energy bill.

Home Maintenance Musts for AZ MOMs! 🏡

It’s so important for our AZ MOMs to keep an eye on these maintenance items regularly. Even renters should be aware!

Have the pest control company that regularly treats your home keep an eye out for signs of termites.  If you see a skinny tube hanging from the ceiling, that could be a termite tube.  They do tend to appear frequently on the stem wall and walls of the garage.

Change your AC filters per the manufacturers suggestions and get the AC unit serviced every spring and the heater serviced every fall.  Watch for signs of draining from the overflow drain pipe, that could mean there is a clog and a large leak could develop.

Keep an eye on the grading around the perimeter of the home.  Ask a landscaper to properly grade the ground around the home periodically.  This ensures the water runs away from the house vs pooling at the foundation.

Cut back trees from overhanging the house.  The debris from the trees could cause water pooling on the roof which could cause leaks and other damage to the roof.  Keep the roof and gutters clean of all landscaping debris.

If there’s a bathroom or other plumbing fixture (like a bar sink) that isn’t used often, run the water for a few seconds every week or so to keep water in the trap and to keep sewer gases and insects from coming into the house through dried up traps/pipes.

Check insulation levels in the attic and add or level as needed.  Check every few years and especially after having work done in the attic.  Be sure that insulation is replaced if disturbed.  This will help with energy efficiency.

Have roof checked every 3 years or so and especially if there appears to be an issue or a leak develops.

Sweep any active chimneys to minimize debris that could potentially cause a fire.  This should be done yearly.

Clean the lint trap on the clothes dryer between each use and clean (vacuum) the dryer vent / hose at least yearly.

Be sure to have anti-siphon devices on exterior hose bibs to keep the water from being disbursed back into the home water system after use.

Some homes do not have the anti-tip device installed at the kitchen stove and that could be very dangerous for a small child.  If you are unsure if yours is installed, pull your stove straight out and look in one of the corners closest to the wall.  The device will be installed at the base of the wall and secured to the floor.  One leg of your stove should slide into it and it will prevent the stove from tipping forward if there is weight put on the open door (like a child standing on the open door).

Check your windows periodically, if there is fog or “sweat” between the panes, there may be a broken seal and the energy efficiency of the window may be compromised.

Have your garage door and opener checked often.  Garage doors and openers can be very dangerous if they aren’t adjusted properly and if the reverse mechanism does not operate.

The access door between the house and the garage should be a fire rated self-closing door.  If it does not close on its own, it’s very important to have it adjusted so it operates appropriately.

Brought to you by Team Evolution Real Estate