Your “Burning Love” should not ignite the house!
What could be better for creating that perfect romantic Valentine’s Day mood than a favorite dinner at home, gazing out at that moonlit ocean or mountain range by candlelight?
But be careful with those candles so that you don’t ignite something you don’t intend! Take these tips from the National Candle Association on how to use candles safely:
- Be sure all candles are extinguished before you leave the room
- Keep clothing, blankets, pillows and other flammables away from lit candles
- Keep them out of reach of pets and children
- Place candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface
- Use a holder designed specifically for candles
- Burning candles should be at least three inches apart, and not near vents, ceiling fans or other air currents
- Ensure the room is well ventilated/li>
By taking these precautions, you can spend Valentine’s Day the way you planned—and not by filing a home insurance claim!
Everyone at Apollo Insurance Services wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
How Efficiently (or inefficiently) Do You Use Your Heat?
Many homeowners in California see their energy bills each winter and think, “How can I be spending this much when the house isn’t even that warm?”
To get an answer to that question, you should start with some other questions that will help determine just how efficiently you’re heating your home.
- Where is the warm going? If you’ve got a leaky house, you’re costing yourself money, plain and simple. Heat ends up escaping and cold air keeps flowing in, which means you either turn up the thermostat or just shiver in your living room. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends getting an energy audit so you can find and seal the gaps.
- When is the heat on? Are you keeping the house the same temperature all day and night? Even when you’re sleeping or at work? There’s no reason to, and programmable thermostats mean you can still have a warm house when you wake up and when you get home.
- How often do I use space heaters? If you find that you’re using space heaters to supplement your main heating system, you could be masking a bigger problem and actually increasing your energy costs.
- Am I maintaining my system? A lot of homeowners simply forget to do things such as changing their air filter regularly or getting periodic examinations of their heating system. These routine tasks can not only prevent more costly problems down the road, they can help you more effectively heat your home right now.
- Is my fireplace hurting more than it’s helping? It could be, if you always leave the damper open even when you don’t have a fire going. And if you have the damper closed, a leak can make it yet another place where warm air gets out and cold air seeps in. Check the seal around your damper, and consider using a chimney balloon when you aren’t using the fireplace.
Taking some time to answer these questions can increase your efficiency, decrease your bills and perhaps even prompt another, more pleasant question this winter: “Is it too warm in here?”
Your friends at Apollo Insurance Services hope you have a warm and cozy winter.
Tips for Buying a Used Car
Buying a used car can be scary – especially if you worry about being scammed. There’s nothing worse than seeing a car you like online, checking it out in person and making the purchase – only to realize the previous owner ‘forgot’ to mention some serious mechanical issues. Pretty discouraging to say the least. I have only ever purchased used cars, so I’ve learned a thing or two about getting the right bang for your buck and lucky for you, I’m going to share it!
- The first step when buying a used vehicle is to determine your budget. It will narrow down your choices while searching the local area for deals, and you’ll be able to calculate your monthly payment if you decide to finance it. If you do plan on financing the vehicle, research your options! You may find that a loan from your bank will have a lower interest rate compared to the dealership or manufacturer.
- Next, decide if you want to purchase a used vehicle from a dealership or a private owner. If you’re leaning towards a dealer, expect a bigger price tag. Used vehicles in their lot may include an extended warranty or service program, meaning these cars must be refurbished in order to meet warranty standards. Wondering where these cars came from? They’re usually acquired from auctions or trade-ins.
- If you prefer buying from a private party, expect to do all the leg work. When you meet with the owner, be prepared with a list of questions regarding ownership history, maintenance upkeep and the current condition of the car. Do a walk-around and take note of any bumps or scratches on the car, as well as any leaks. Remember, as the buyer, you are in control of the sale! Feel free to ask as many questions as you want about the vehicle you are interested in buying – especially if you don’t know much about the make of the car. It will save you financial headache in the long run. Want to investigate the car’s history yourself? Write down the VIN number (usually located on the driver’s side door) and you can run a report online for a small price.
- Whether you are purchasing from a dealer or private owner, ALWAYS take the car for a test drive! During the drive, it’s a good idea to drive on hills, highways and in stop-and-go traffic. You’ll get a better feel for how it drives and decide if you feel comfortable driving it.
- Finally, after negotiating a price, it’s time to close the deal! Before you negotiate, make sure the car is priced fairly (you can find out it’s worth on a vehicle valuation website). After a price is set, you should never pay a private seller with cash. If something goes wrong and there’s no paper trail, it may be tough to get your money back. Along with the car, the previous owner should provide the title, a dated receipt for the sale signed by you and the seller and a spare key if available. Call your friends at Apollo Insurance Services prior to taking possession of the car to insure the new vehicle.
Who doesn’t love delicious chocolate dipped strawberries for Valentine’s Day? Juicy, fresh strawberries covered in decadent dark chocolate are the perfect surprise for your sweetheart. Make them with extra love!
- 1 teaspoon shortening or vegetable oil
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips or white vanilla baking chips
- 1 pint (2 cups) medium-large strawberries (18 to 20 strawberries)
Gently rinse strawberries and dry on paper towels (berries must be completely dry).
Line cookie sheet with waxed paper. In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Dip lower half of each strawberry into chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip back into saucepan. Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until chocolate is firm, or until ready to serve. Store covered in refrigerator so chocolate does not soften (if made with oil, chocolate will soften more quickly at room temperature).