7 Ways to Stay Cool and Save Money As the Temperatures Rise

Americans spend up to 70% of their summer electricity bills on air conditioning. All that juice adds up to $11 billion a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s more than the yearly operating budget of Oklahoma — and about a dozen other states.
Air conditioning keeps us comfortable, but it also creates a lot of waste and costs a lot of money. Sure, you could shut off your A/C altogether, if you don’t mind being ridiculously (and dangerously) hot. Like most problems, the best solution is somewhere in the middle.
Here are a few expert tips for dialing back the A/C, saving cash and staying cool this summer.
The breeze from an ENERGY STAR® rated ceiling fan can make you feel up to 10°F cooler while adding less than $5 to your electricity bill annually. If you turned down your thermostat 10°F to get the same effect, you’d be spending hundreds of dollars more over the course of the summer.
Does your setpoint sit at 72°F all summer? Raise it a few degrees and speed up your ceiling fan at the same time. You’ll save up to 5% on your cooling costs for each degree you raise your thermostat and feel just as comfortable thanks to those breezes.
Prefer to let technology do the work? Seek out smart home products, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat or Big Ass Solutions’ own Haiku connected ceiling fans. These cutting-edge devices have built-in sensors that track the temperature. You can also schedule them to shut off when you’re not around. And after an initial setup, you’ll never have to lift a finger again.
Turn off the A/C when the temperature outside dips and open windows on parallel walls to create a cross breeze. If it’s hot during the day but cool at night, crack the windows while you sleep, then shut them in the morning to lock in cool air.
Much of the heat in your home is the result of sunlight coming in through the windows. Plant bushes and trees or install awnings, shades or shutters to keep unwanted heat where it belongs: outside.
Everything that draws electricity generates heat. Energy-efficient indoor appliances create less heat, but some appliances, such as ovens, produce heat by design. Consider using those appliances less this summer. (As if you needed another reason to grill out…)
Regular maintenance will keep your A/C unit running at peak efficiency. Change your air filter every three months, and get your system inspected by certified HVAC technicians every year, especially if it’s more than 10 years old. If you do have an older system, don’t just Frankenstein it back together every time it breaks. Installing a new, energy-efficient system will save money in the long run through reduced repair costs and lower energy bills.
Want to implement the above tips? Big Ass Services can help with most of them.
Stop by the Central KY Home & Garden Show THIS WEEKEND, March 31- April 2 at the Lexington Conv. Center and talk with Big Ass Fans in more detail about how they can save you money!
The service arm of Lexington-based Big Ass Solutions offers installation, troubleshooting, maintenance and repair for Big Ass Fans, Big Ass Lights, HVAC systems, smart-home products and plumbing.

Smart Shoppers Guide to Outdoor Entertaining Areas

The Smart Shoppers Guide to Adding an Outdoor Entertainment Area -7 Tips to Bank on!
1. Dream Big, but then carefully consider your budget. Looking through magazines and planning or idea books is an awesome way to get ideas for your new space. One downside can be dreaming way beyond what is realistic for your budget. A quality product is achievable on any size budget.. The baseline for your consideration is what can you comfortably afford to spend? Having a plan before you begin is the best way to insure you love the end product.
2. Features and accessories can make a plain space spectacular! Design elements can easily be incorporated into your project without breaking your wallet. Wherever possible combine features to maximize efficiency space and time. For example, if you have a retaining wall around your fire pit, add a bench for seating. Want an outdoor kitchen and bar? Do both at the same time best utilizing your space and combining counter space. Water elements can be as simple as adding a bubbling fountain in your landscaping, a pond-less waterfall in a flower garden or a pond.
3. Decide on the scope of your project. How big does your paver patio need to be? Do you want steps and coordinating sidewalks? What about adding walls around existing landscaping? Are you going to add sod to give an immediate “finished” appearance? Determining your details on the front end saves time, money, and frustration on the back end. In most cases, it’s much easier to buy the materials and do the work in a sequential order rather than back tracking and adding to what was already completed. This of course is more time efficient which in turn keeps you to your budget.
4. Realistic time expectations go along with the scope of your project. This one may save more frustration than money, but is important to address. Quality work takes time. The company you choose should have an estimate of the time it will take his crew to complete your job which is then figured into your cost. Remember though, that even the best contractor is not in charge of the weather. One day of rain usually costs two days of work-the day it rains and then a day for the ground to dry.
5. Materials matter. The adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies in terms of landscape and hardscape companies. Fortunately, for you as a consumer, there are multiple options available. There is sure to be an option in your price range! Quality Landscaping is able to suggest options based on your dreams and budget. Due diligence in selecting the best materials for your space and project will save you future headaches and money.
6. Choosing a reliable and reputable landscape company is your best defense against spending too much money. Select a landscaping company with a great reputation in the community and a history of quality work. Select a company that can do all aspects of your job such as irrigation, landscaping, and hardscaping. Ask if the company you are considering has a website with a portfolio, literature with pictures, written testimonials from customers? Ask if there is a cost involved in obtaining a quote. A reputable contractor will be happy to break down the pricing so that you know exactly what you will be paying for before you sign a contract. Another thing to look for is industry credentials. What companies do they represent? Being an “authorized dealer” is a difficult status to obtain which means the company is dedicated to it’s craft
7. If you are really interested in saving money, sooner is better than later! Take advantage of seasonal specials-getting discounts for early booking or bundling services. Ask if there are show specials and if yes, be prepared to take advantage of them. Getting on the schedule early means you have a great chance of enjoying your outdoor space while marshmallows can still be roasted and wine glasses toasted!
These awesome tips are provided by Quality Landscaping, LLC of Lexington Kentucky! Stop by their booth at the Home & Garden Show March 31-April 2 at the Lexington Center to learn more!

Ready to get outside the season, but don't want to fight the mosquitos?

We know, you have tried it all! And you have bathed in OFF and NOTHING WORKS… UNTIL NOW!
Mosquito Shield can give you several reasons why they’re the leader in residential tick and mosquito control, but the real vote of confidence comes from their customers. Over 90% of Mosquito Shield® and Tick Shield® customers repurchase season after season. To help bolster that confidence, only Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield carry an unconditional satisfaction guarantee. Something we’re happy to say mostly collects dust.
With that said, several things clearly set them apart:
• Their proprietary Mosquito Protection Blend™ (MPB) is the product of over 15 years of continual research and development — more than any other mosquito control company of whom they’re aware. And, they’ve enlisted the help of leading companies like Bayer to assist in the testing of our products to help ensure their impact and effectiveness.
• Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield provide provide your property with multiple modes of control working to both kill harboring mosquitoes, no-see-ums, black flies and other flying insects as well as ticks, while simultaneously repelling airborne insects and working to prevent new infestations within the treated perimeter.
• Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield were the first to provide customers with flexible treatment schedules that help to improve results during seasonal periods of mosquito breakouts or peak populations. They don’t sell treatments because a single treatment simply doesn’t work. By monitoring the weather and mosquito population, they are able to provide a worry-free, season-long solution.
• State-of-the-art routing software enables them to deliver on their flexible treatment schedules and better serve and communicate helping to improve operating efficiencies and satisfaction. Meanwhile, their sprayer equipment may look similar, but it too has been engineered to deliver product more effectively and efficiently while Mosquito Shield and Tick Shield technicians receive more training. Their technicians aren’t just trained on how to properly apply the product, but also on mosquito and tick behavior and species identification, helping to improve the overall service they provide to their customers.
Come learn more by stopping at booth number 207 at the Austin Spring Home & Garden Show, March 24-26 at the Palmer Events Center!