Green Living Tips For Your Home

GREEN LIVING TIPS FOR YOUR HOME

Live Green in Every Room in Your Home

Living green, building green and surrounding yourself with earth-friendly products minimizes
the negative impact you have on the natural world. By abiding by green living principles in your home, not only are you keeping your family from getting sick, you are also looking out for Mother Nature’s limited resources. 

Here are some earth-friendly tips for your home:

  • Install Energy Star appliances certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Use recycled, chlorine-free toilet paper, facial tissues and petrochemical-free cosmetics.
  • Use baking soda, vinegar and tea tree oil to disinfect your bathroom as opposed to traditional cleaning products made with harsh chemicals.
  • Line dry your clothes instead of drying them in the dryer.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and only turn it back on to rinse.

  • Keep your heat low. For every degree that you turn your thermostat below 70, you can save 320 pounds of greenhouse gases (natural gas heat) or 236 pounds of electric heat.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) throughout your house to significantly reduce your electricity bill and the amount of energy used.
  • Increase insulation in your attic, walls and flooring.

Safety First

Growing native plants in your garden is much friendlier on the environment since they have evolved to survive in the climate in which you live. These plants do not need much help to grow and require less than half the amount of water to survive as compared to non-native plants.

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6 Tips to Save on Energy Costs

1. Wash Clothes with cold or eco-warm water when possible.

2. Use LED and CFL lighting.

According to one estimate, replacing 20 incandescent bulbs with LEDs could result in a savings of more than $3000 over the lifespan of the new LED bulb[1].

3. Some utility companies offer time-of-use rates

You may be able to save money by using electricity during off-peak hours instead of during the day. A time-of-use change requires running your more expensive utilities at night such as the dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer.

4. Seal your home.

Covering drafty windows with plastic and installing weather stripping around doors can add up to substantial savings.

5. Install and use ceiling fans.

Make sure to reverse the fans rotation for winter months.

6. Change shower heads to low flow shower heads.

The low flow shower head can decrease water consumption by 40% or more, meaning less work for your water heater and lower water utility costs[2].

With cold temperatures moving in, many are looking for ways to cut down on utility costs. In a previous article from Central Insurance Companies called  “The Thermostat Wars”, they discuss how adjusting the thermostat can save you a bundle. But here are a few other tips for saving money:

1. Wash Clothes with cold or eco-warm water when possible.

2. Use LED and CFL lighting. According to one estimate, replacing 20 incandescent bulbs with LEDs could result in a savings of more than $3000 over the lifespan of the new LED bulb[1].

3. In some cases, utility companies offer time-of-use rates and you can save money by using electricity during off-peak hours instead of during the day. A time-of-use change can help you save money by running your more expensive utilities at night such as the dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer.

4. Seal your home. Covering drafty windows with plastic and installing weather stripping around doors can add up to substantial savings.

5. Install and use ceiling fans. Make sure to reverse the fans rotation for winter months.

6. Change shower heads to low flow shower heads. The low flow shower head can decrease water consumption by 40% or more, meaning less work for your water heater and lower water utility costs[2].

Finally, make sure to check with your utility provider. They may have cost-saving programs available or incentives for changing out things like old appliances.

[1] https://greenisbetterinc.com/light-bulb-showdown-led-vs-cfl-vs-incandescent/

[2] https://www.brothersplumbing.com/plumbing/benefits-of-using-a-low-flow-shower-head/


 Post authored by Joe Meyer. Originally published November 6, 2018. View original post at:  https://wp.me/p1Iv7E-2WfProducts underwritten by Central Mutual Insurance Company and affiliated companies. Copyright © 2018 Central Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

When Guests Harm Your Home, Who Should Pay for Property Damage?

When Guests Harm Your Home, Who Should Pay for Property Damage?

WHEN A GUEST DAMAGES YOUR HOME:
Expectations and Reality

Who Should Pay for Property Damage?

Framing the Situation

Part of the benefit of being a homeowner is being able to entertain friends, family and other guests. But what happens when something goes wrong and a guest causes damage? While in a perfect world the guest would apologize and offer to cover the damage, the reality of the situation can be much more complicated.

When a guest causes damage.

When damage to your property occurs, you may wonder, “Does my homeowners policy cover damage caused by my guests?” In general, the answer is yes. However, the real question you should be asking yourself is “Do I want to use my homeowners policy to cover damage caused by my guests?” The answer to this question can be much more complicated. Your guests are responsible for the costs involved with fixing any damage they cause. By instead using your homeowners policy to cover the damage, you may end up costing yourself in the long run in the form of increased rates and premiums.

What is covered under homeowners insurance can vary from policy to policy. You should review your policy for any situations excluded from coverage. Things to watch out for:

Your policy may only cover the house or structure, meaning things like walls and floors.

The coverage in your policy may only apply to damage caused by an accident.

If you have to “wonder” whether you have the appropriate coverage for a certain situation— seek confirmation proactively. Always consult your policy to make sure you and your family have the protection you need. By knowing the situations where you would have to pay for property damage caused by a guest, you can avoid or prepare for those situations appropriately. When in doubt, contact Davis & Towle Insurance Group for answers.

Guest Liability

When a guest gets hurt on your property as a result of a danger they were not warned about, you are liable for their injuries. However, if a guest damages your property they, not you, are liable for the cost to fix it. Dealing with friends or family who are reluctant to pay for damages can be a sticky situation, but they do have a legal responsibility to reimburse you for the costs you incur. If they refuse to pay, you may have grounds for legal action.

Pay for Property Damage

Get answers about damage caused by guests, and competitive coverage for whatever comes next.

Davis and Towle will help you find the policy that provides the most valuable combination of tailored coverage, quality service and fair pricing.

This flyer is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional advice.
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8 Ways to Proactively Prepare Your Home for Winter

Prepare your home for winter: The proactive homeowner's guide

1. Amp up your entryway storage

Prepare your home for the overflow of boots, jackets, gloves, scarfs, window scrapers, shovels, more jackets and wet socks. Add storage for organization to make getting ready and returning home a safer and easier process. Here are some affordable and easy to store options that look great in the winter.

2. Stock up on winter supplies

Your house should have the supplies needed to  combat a typical winter, as well as resources for emergency situations. Here’s our list of necessities to grab before the winter weather sets in.

3. Check Safety Devices

Smoke detectors should get new batteries. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your home. Expired extinguishers won’t do much good so check the date and make sure it is current. 

Just like your smoke detectors, all carbon monoxide detectors should be tested and have their batteries replaced.

4. Defend against drafts

To prepare your home for winter, repair and seal the drafty areas. Over time structural elements can become warped and their deviation from the intended shape may leave undesirable gaps where cold air or critters could sneak in.

With residential properties, weather stripping and caulking are commonly used to prepare your home and stave off whipping winds.

If the area is a fixed, unmoving gap, caulking is a good choice. It’s great for areas where one building material meets another like windows, faucets, and other small cracks. Alternatively, weatherstripping is ideal for moveable joints such as window tracks or door sweeps.

5. inspect and clean heat sources

It’s important to clean your heating units before they are called into action.

Clean your furnace vents to improve efficiency, safety and comfort. Ongoing vent cleanings are recommended throughout the winter; while the furnace is in use.

If you have a fireplace or furnace that uses a chimney, consider cleaning that smokestack out. A little side note; chimney caps are great. Animals seek warmth during the winter and a chimney can be the perfect escape from the cold. Chimney caps are an easy way to prepare your home and prevent unwelcomed house guests.

6. Clean out those gutters

A cornucopia of issues can crop up  if your gutters or downspouts have clogs, corrosion or breakage. Safety precautions are a must when cleaning out the exterior drainage fixtures in your home. The heights and tedious nature can pose a challenge for many. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to hire a qualified contractor for the job.

Back-ups and standing water can become an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos and other insects…Insects that aid the spread of serious illnesses and could threaten the health of you and your family.

Drainage issues can also cause property damage from the outside in. Left unattended, issues with gutters and downspouts can create extenisve interior and exterior water damage.

7. Check exterior for repair needs and safety issues

Walk around your property surveying the following features:

  • Your Driveway: Extensive cracks, potholes and drainage issues should be addressed.
  • The Roof: Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. Moss growth should also be looked into.
  • The Foundation: Do you see any cracks or discoloration?
  • Walkways: Repair major cracks or breaks in a path.
  • Overgrown Trees: Remove dead or diseased branches near your home.

These aspects of your property should be inspected to avoid liability claims or injury to you and your family. Furthermore, your home is an investment and structural issues that sit through the winter time often become exponentially worse.

8. Turn of and store exterior faucets and water outlets

Locate all exterior faucets on your property. Disconnect any hose attachments and store the hose inside. Find the pipe inside your house that leads to your outside faucet. Look along the length of pipe for the safety shut-off valve. Turn the knob, or pull the lever, to the off postion. Go back outside and open the connected faucet to allow remaining water to drain out.

Did you know?!

Water damage from freezing pipes is one of the biggest sources of home damage during winter months. While this is generally a covered claim on your homeowner’s insurance policy, some carriers may consider it preventable if they can prove your negligence, and deny the claim.

We hope this blog helps our clients and community prepare their home responsibly so that you never have to face an uncovered claim.

If you seek year-round guidance that leads to reliable claim coverage, contact us. We will size up your current policy against other options we have access to.

Airbnb Hosting Hazards and Short-Term Rental Risks

Airbnb Hosting Hazards and Short-Term Rental Risks

Airbnb Hosting Hazards & Short-Term Rental Risks

Properties, second homes and spare rooms that are otherwise vacant can easily be transformed into a source of income these days. So yah, sometimes it’s hard to say no to a little extra cash in the pocket. But the benefit of Airbnb hosting and other short-term rental situations, don’t come risk-free. 

If you decide to rent out your home, spare bedroom or other accommodation, you should do so cautiously. It’s important to be aware of these and other common pitfalls so that you can successfully manage the risks of renting your property on a short-term basis.

Potential Insurance Gaps

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies are designed for personal risks, not commercial use.
If you are considering renting your property through Airbnb, your first step should be to contact your insurance broker to review your current coverage. Each insurer and policy have their own restrictions and possibly exclusions. If you don’t discuss your plans with your agent to make sure you are adequately covered, you could end up financially vulnerable.

In our experience, most insurers at this time exclude coverage for property while it is being used specifically as an Airbnb rental. Safe to say – carriers will have to assess this trend in property use and, as it develops, adjust their coverage options to reflect the level of risk.

But what about  Airbnb provided protection?

Airbnb backs every one of its bookings with its host guarantee program at no cost. They claim that this program will reimburse eligible hosts for damages up to $1 million. However, Airbnb readily admits that its host guarantee is not insurance and should not be considered a replacement or stand-in for homeowners or renters insurance.

Moreover, payments through the host guarantee are subject to a lengthy list of terms, conditions and exclusions. Hosts should go through all of Airbnb’s host guarantee to fully understand when coverage will be available, and when it will not apply.

Airbnb Risks to Condo Owners Or Renters

While Airbnb opens its services to condo owners and renters, multi-unit buildings often have restrictive bylaws, association rules or lease terms that could impact one’s ability to host guests through Airbnb.

In many instances, commercial activities like renting out accommodations—even for short period of time—are forbidden by lease or condo board policies. In some cases, hosts will need to contact their landlord or condo board before subletting or renting out any accommodations. Failure to do this can result in eviction or other forms of legal action.

Even if you are allowed to rent out your condo or apartment through Airbnb, hosts should be aware that doing so can cause tension with neighbors. There’s the potential that your guests may not be respectful to property in common areas. You can picture it; acting inappropriately, being noisy…making people generally uncomfortable.

 

local laws and renting on airbnb

In response to the rising popularity of Airbnb, many states, cities and towns are moving to regulate short-term property rentals through their municipal codes or zoning regulations. In some cases, home rental services like Airbnb could be prohibited altogether.

If you break these local regulations, purposely or otherwise, you could face penalties and fines. As Airbnb states, alignment with laws and regulations is the responsibility of those renting out accommodations.

airbnb risk summary

Again, you’ll want to minimize potential financial fallout by reviewing your current coverage, making the proper adjustments, or purchasing additional protection.

To discuss these options further, contact Davis & Towle Insurance Group today. We’re here to provide honest insight and meet your specific needs.

 

 

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This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2016-2017 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.