(Published on - 10/19/2017 7:18:25 AM)
Better end-of-life decisions
It’s a most unpleasant topic.
Everyone hopes for an easy exit.
Few really want to ponder the end.
But author and physician Atul Gawande does just that in his book Being Mortal. He takes on end-of-life challenges and our obsession with chasing cures, and offers insight about making the last days better.
PBS’s “Frontline” also did a documentary based on Gawande’s book. If you’re up for such reading and viewing, see: http://atulgawande.com/book/being-mortal/ and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/being-mortal/.
Guard your keys
You’re probably already careful about handing over just your car key – not the full ring with your house keys—when you’re having your car serviced or when you turn it over to a valet.
Now you have to be even more careful about keeping an eye on your keys.
New technology makes it possible for someone to scan a key with a smartphone app and either go to a self-service key-making kiosk to get an extra key made or upload the image and get a duplicate mailed.
Though the service -- provided by companies like by KeyMe (https://www.key.me/app), MinuteKey (www.minutekey.com) and KeysDuplicated (https://keysduplicated.com) -- is a huge convenience when you get locked out or you want spare keys for a house guest or a dog walker, it’s also a boon to thieves.
So that means the days of leaving keys unattended or lying around on a table in a public place are over. You really need to guard a ring of keys the same way you protect a credit card or a bank password.
Learn more at:
Lower Your Utility Spending
When you’re living on a fixed or low income, you look at all of your spending to see where you can save. Every dime counts.
One way to reduce expenses is by slashing spending on utility costs.
Maybe you’ve looked into ways to save energy and found that the upfront costs for some projects are too much to afford.
It might be worth a second look, especially when you consider some of the free services available through utility companies and through other affordable weatherization programs specifically designed for seniors and low income households.
Utility company freebies
Each utility company’s services differ, but most have some type of home energy assessment program and many offer free products.
For example, Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida offers assistance to low-income homeowners to lower their energy bills.
That help could include simple strategies, such as installing energy efficient light bulbs and low-flow showerheads or more significant projects like installing attic insulation or replacing inefficient air conditioners and appliances. Senior citizens and families with young children are given priority. For more, see http://www.miamidade.gov/socialservices/housing-assistance-weatherization.asp.
In Chicago, ComEd, the electricity provider, offers free energy audits to help all its customers reduce energy consumption.
It also provides certain free products, including programmable thermostats, low-flow showerheads, and CFL bulbs. See program terms and conditions: https://www.comed.com/home-savings/Pages/default.aspx
Another example is the Weatherization Assistance Program (http://www.massresources.org/weatherization.html) aimed at helping low-income Massachusetts homeowners and renters lower their energy costs by making energy efficiency changes.
Seniors get priority for services, which could include insulating attics and walls, sealing cracks, wrapping water heater and pipes, or installing storm windows.
Small changes, big impact
If you’re skeptical about the value of small changes, consider what you could save by changing habits.
Lighting – Replace your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with models that have the ENERGY STAR label. Savings: $40 per year. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=lighting.pr_lighting_landing. Turn off lights. It costs almost $20 per year to leave one light on for 8 hours per day.
Water – According to the EPA’s WaterSense, just one leaky toilet could waste 200 gallons of water per day. And by replacing just one showerhead with a WaterSense-labeled model, you could save $70 per year on water.
Find water rebate programs in your state at: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/rebate_finder_saving_money_water.html
Also see: Shower Better http://www.epa.gov/watersense/docs/ws_waterenergy508.pdf
For more simple ways to save on energy costs, see http://www.ase.org/informed/tips/home
And if you’ve tucked away some money for a more significant home upgrade project, consider getting an energy audit to see where that money would be best spent. Keep in mind, bigger projects, such as upgraded insulation, new windows, a high-performance furnace, or energy-efficient appliances, yield bigger energy savings.
Start your search for weatherization assistance by contacting your utility provider. Also search for rebates and incentives and contact information for state and local utility providers at http://www.dsireusa.org/.