6 Energy Efficient Home Improvements That Will Make You and Your Wallet Happy

Boosting your home’s energy efficiency can have positive effects in numerous ways. You won’t just help save the environment and your wallet; you’ll also help make your living situation more comfortable and healthier for all residents and guests!

By adopting these 6 energy-saving tips, you can lower your bills and improve indoor air quality all while helping the environment!

Insulate Your Home – Did you know that 40% of the circulated air in your home is lost to leaks in your attic, crawl spaces, and the tiny cracks that lead outside? A go-to method for insulating your home is, of course, adding more insulation in your attic, doors, and walls. However, giving a fresh seal of caulking to your windows or replacing worn and torn weather stripping around your doors will also prevent air leaks. These methods can help ensure a cool home in hot summer months and a warm, cozy home in the cold winter months and will also take some pressure off your furnace and air conditioner!

Overhaul Your Windows – Your old windows are scorching your piggybank! Usually single paned and aluminum framed, your windows allow for easy heat transference. By replacing your windows with argon gas-filled double or triple panes, you will notice keeping your house at appropriate temperatures will become effortless. If buying new windows doesn’t fit the budget, tinting windows where the sun is most intense will also help.

Plant Trees – Not only are trees great for building awesome trees houses, but they also act as a natural sun blocker during peak temperatures of the day in the summertime. Giving the opposite affect in the winter, the bare trees will allow warm sunshine to beam into your home, providing you with natural heat. An added bonus – sunlight is 100% free!

Replace Ancient Appliances and Fixtures – Older appliances and fixtures equals less energy efficient. Less energy efficient equals more money leaving your wallet. A simple fix is installing a programmable thermostat to reduce the amount of energy being exerted when you aren’t there to reap the benefits! If you’re in the market for new appliances, research various brands that are “Energy Star Certified.” Also, low flow appliances and high efficiency, on-demand water heaters are easy to maintain.

Switch From Incandescent to Fluorescent – The initial cost of fluorescent bulb may scare some off, but if you can get past spending a little more upfront, they will pay for themselves in the long run – lasting 8-12 times longer! Even mixing the two will have a noticeable impact.

Install or Utilize Ceiling Fans – Surprising fact: ceiling fans actually cool the air in your house more efficiently than your air conditioner does. Not only are they a convenience for summertime months, but they actually work well in winter months, too! Most ceiling fans have a reverse switch so the blades will counter the rising heat and push that heated air back down.

Even implementing one of the above strategies in your home will make a notably big difference in your wallet in the coming seasons! Explore other ways to save money by reviewing your homeowners insurance policy with Madison Mutual. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to talk to your agent or find us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

4 Signs Your Reliable Car Is Becoming A Safety Hazard

Our cars are the heart and soul of our daily lives. It gets the kids to school and practice. It gets you to work, happy hour, and the gym. And at the end of a long day, it gets you home. On average we spend about 10 hours a week in our cars. That’s almost half a day!

Even though car manufacturers are cycling out new models annually, the average age of vehicles on the road today is 11.4 years old. In car years, that’s pretty old! And many of us are unknowingly driving our cars under hazardous conditions.

Here are 4 signs your car has become more of a safety hazard than a reliable tool to get you from point A to point B (and how you can fix it!).

Tire Troubles – Tires play a key role in getting you to your next destination, and it only takes a penny to know if they are treading water. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head by placing a penny downward into the tread, it’s time to get a new set of wheels. Also, misaligned, improperly balanced, and under-inflated tires can deflate your steering’s effectiveness, causing hazardous conditions. By taking your car in for regular maintenance, you can determine if your car falls short in any of these categories.

Windshield Wiper Woes – Windshield wipers are vital to transparent visibility in rainy and snowy weather! Squeaky, skipping, smearing, and streaking wipers could mean the rubber squeegee has cracks, tears or missing pieces. This can cause blurred vision while driving and make for hazardous situations. With a short lifespan, especially in desert areas, it’s important to replace your wipers every 6 months.

Headlights and Taillights – Headlights and taillights are paramount to your safety – they alert other drivers of your presence. Cloudy, tarnished, and discolored headlights greatly reduce the brightness of your headlights, making it difficult for other drivers to notice you on the road and, likewise, preventing you from having proper visibility. Also, faulty brake lights make it difficult for other drivers to judge when you are slowing down. You can perform simple brake light checks by backing up to a window and looking at the reflection or asking a friend to watch from the side.

Brakes – Putting the pedal to the metal is not an ideal situation when it comes to your brakes! Screeching brakes are a good indicator that your brake pads have been worn down, causing your brake pedal to travel farther than it used to. Don’t lose your stopping ability when you need it most. Pay attention to any pulling to one side, increased breaking distances, or grinding noises when coming to a stop. Those are all issues that your trusted mechanic should know about sooner rather than later.

We all depend on our wheels to get us to our next stop safely, but when they fail, you can count on Madison Mutual for all of your auto insurance needs. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or find us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

The ABC’s of Saving for Your Vacation

Friends and family are taking vacations, and you’re not planning on missing out. But finding the money to go away for a week or even a weekend can be tough. With all the costs of your day-to-day routine, extra cash ends up going toward that unexpected car repair or replacing a broken window. Saved money quickly becomes spent money. Paying for that hard-earned vacation may seem nearly impossible!

Luckily, we’ve put together the ABC’s on how to save up your money to help get on the road and see new places (or at least the first 6 letters). Check out our list below!

Advance Prep – Planning ahead is a great goal, but it is difficult to do. Let travel agencies and tourism companies help you out by signing up for free email notifications and newsletters! Most of the time you can find great deals to fun locations as long as you plan ahead. Plus, many of these companies will have all-inclusive packages that will help you cut down on costs once you’re on vacation! Many travel companies even let you build your own vacation online! If you don’t want to go the traveling agent route, you can do some quick researching yourself through sites such as Trip Advisor or Kayak to help you along the way.

Bye-Bye, Barista! – That gourmet cup of coffee you pick up every morning can really put a hole in your pocket! Getting a cup of straight black costs you a little over $2 a day, or over $325 a year if you’re buying a cup 3 days a week! If you need that morning cup to get going, save yourself a bundle by brewing your own in-home. One pound of high-end coffee beans costs around $15 and will make anywhere from 30 to 60 cups of Joe depending on how strong you like it. That’s only 25-50 cents per cup!

Cable Check – How many of those TV channels do you really use? Many people don’t use most of the channels they’re paying for. Instead, check out online streaming and subscription options. You can see your favorite shows without paying the monstrous cable or satellite bill! Plus, you’ll have more control over when and where you watch your shows instead of building your evening around catching the latest episodes!

Direct Deposit – Choose where you’re going well ahead of time and build it into your budget. Begin saving months in advance by setting aside money each budget period for your vacation fund. Set up a separate savings account with your bank that’s wholly dedicated to vacationing, and schedule automatic transfers to keep it growing! Don’t touch this fund until it’s time to pack up the car or buy those plane tickets!

Eating Out – A family with kids under the age of 6 spends around $240 a month on restaurant food alone! No matter your situation, eating out, even if it’s not all the time, can really cost you. Look for restaurants with “Kids Eat Free” deals and daily specials, or cook some simple meals for yourself and your loved ones at home.

Free Fun— Most cities and vacation spots offer free attractions and events. Begin looking in advance at events that offer little to no cost to participate! If you’re the outdoorsy type, most state and national parks have relatively low parking fees and admission is free. Plus, local communities often offer free concerts, fairs, and shows that you can attend with your family! Oftentimes, these free events and locations shape the fondest vacation memories.

Wherever the road takes you, we hope these tips can help you get there! By saving up beforehand, you won’t have to be worried about money when you get there, making it more enjoyable for you and your travel companions. While you’re away, know that Madison Mutual is watching over the things you can’t live without. Call 1-800-766-MMIC or see your local agent to make sure you’re ready to go!

7 Easy Tips to Help You Spend Less on Gas This Summer

It’s summertime, the most traveled time of the year! Whether it’s venturing out on a road trip or driving around town, everyone wants to save money when it comes to paying at the pump. Believe it or not, the way you drive, fuel, and maintain your vehicle can all have an effect on your gas mileage.

Be sure to check out these 7 handy tips to get the most out of your gas purchases!

Keep It Light – Most people don’t think about what’s actually in their car and how it affects the car’s handling. For every 100 extra pounds carried, your vehicle loses about 2% in fuel efficiency. So give your car a good cleaning and take out the extra things that could be weighing it down!

Do the Proper Maintenance – Simple things like keeping your tires filled with air and keeping your air filter clean can save you money in the long run. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tires that are underinflated can lower gas mileage by 0.4% for every 1-pound per square inch (psi) in pressure. Also, the cleaner the air filter, the better the airflow mixes with the gasoline.

Pump Up the AC – Rolling down the windows may sound tempting, but contrary to popular belief, air conditioning can actually save your gas mileage if you’re going over 55 mph. Cars these days are designed to be aerodynamic, so adding additional drag from open windows actually uses more fuel than air conditioning.

Look For Low Prices – Don’t stop at the first gas station you see because there’s a high chance they’ll be pricey in exchange for your convenience. Websites and apps like Gasbuddy and Gascubby can help you find the cheapest gas along your route.

Don’t Stay Idle – Keeping your car running at a stop or in traffic can take a toll on your gas. Instead of keeping the car running to keep it cool, turn off the engine and roll down the windows.

Keep the Road Rage at Bay – Aggressive driving could have a serious impact on your gas. Rapid accelerations and sudden stops could reduce fuel economy by as much as 33% on the highway. So turn on the cruise control and chill out to your favorite tunes instead!

Give the Pedal a Break – Fast driving increases the aerodynamic drag, which leads to more gas being used. Studies show driving at 62 mph vs. 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by almost 15%.

We hope this list will be helpful in saving on gas during your summertime travels. If you need assistance with your insurance needs, look no further! Stop by to see your agent at Madison Mutual or call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to make sure your insurance is up-to-date!