Garden Bird Houses: A Sanctuary for My Feathered FriendsGarden Bird Houses: A Sanctuary for My Feathered Friends


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Garden Bird Houses: A Sanctuary for My Feathered Friends

I'm a dedicated nature lover. Anything I can do to ensure the well-being of my feathered friends makes me happy. Observing avian wildlife in my backyard is even better. This is why I own several birdhouses. My favorite is the acrylic birdhouse that clings to my French patio door. This birdie sanctuary is transparent and crystal clear. It allows me to view nesting birds without disturbing them. The themed birdhouses I've purchased at various garden stores and specialty shops add a splash of color and exciting decor to my yard. In my small collection are farmhouse themed birdhouses, nautical themes, colonial themes and even a birdhouse "mansion". As you can tell, these birdhouses bring me as much pleasure as their intended occupants. You might say these pieces are "for the birds", but I know they're more than that.

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4 Easy Ways To Save Money On Your Heating Bill

When winter arrives, everyone offers his or her advice about how you can lower your heating bill. From your grandfather to the anchor on the evening newscast, people offer lots of clever tips and tricks to help you save a few pennies or a dollar here and there on your heating costs.

But perhaps you don't want to bother with small, time-consuming things like insulating your outlets or applying plastic to your windows. Aren't there easier ways to save significant money on your heating bill? As it turns out, there are simpler ways to save, and they'll help you save more than just a few cents. Here are four easy ways to reduce your heating bill.

Turn the thermostat back while you're out or sleeping.

You probably know that keeping your thermostat at a lower setting during the winter can save you money, but who wants to be uncomfortable at home, right? The good news is that you don't need to sacrifice comfort while you're at home to net these savings.

Keep your thermostat set to 68 degrees while you're awake. When you go to bed or before you leave the house, turn the thermostat down by 10 degrees. Although it may sound chilly, you'll be warm and snuggly underneath your blankets, so you won't notice the difference anyway. The 10-degree difference for just 8 hours can save you 5 percent or more on your annual heating bill.

Turn the thermostat off completely.

One of the most common myths about heating your home is that it takes more energy to heat a home back up after turning the heat off than it does to leave the thermostat on all the time. This simply isn't the case.

Energy loss takes place any time you heat your home no matter how well insulated it is. You'll either use up a burst of energy to get the temperature home back up after you've been gone or you'll simply lose heat all day and all night long if the thermostat is always on. However, it's important to note that the better insulated your home is, the less energy you'll lose.

Keep in mind that you should not turn your thermostat off if temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. You could put your water pipes at risk or endanger your pets. This method is best used for chilly days rather than in frigid winter weather.

Use personal heating devices.

For some, the 68-degree mark is uncomfortable. That's where personal heating devices come in. Warming slippers, electric blankets and heating pads can all help keep you toasty without the expense of trying to heat up an entire room. Warming your own body is much more affordable. These devices are also good to have on hand if your heat goes out, because you can stay reasonably warm in chilly temperatures while you wait on the heating repair technician from a place like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy.

That said, you should dress warmly during the winter, even when you're inside. If you're wearing shorts and t-shirts indoors during the colder months, you'll pay big bucks on your heating bill.

Use portable heaters.

Space heaters are another great way to save despite the myth that they're more expensive to run than central heating. When you need to heat your entire home, central heating is the practical option. But when the entire family is in one room, as they usually are at dinnertime or in the evenings after school, it's best to use portable heaters for those areas while turning the thermostat down. After everyone goes to bed, turn off the portable heaters and rely on the central heat instead.

All of these tips require minimal effort, but the savings are big. Most of the heat energy that you lose doesn't seep out through outlets or underneath your door—though some does. It comes from an inefficient use of your resources. Now you know how to better manage your heating devices and maximize your savings.