Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Five Ways to Save When Cold Weather Brings High Energy Bills

When the temperature goes down, our energy use and heating bill goes up. According to the US Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for the largest energy expense in most homes. But, making a few simple adjustments around the house can help keep temperatures up and costs down.

 

So whether you want to ease your impact on the planet or save a few bucks, using less energy can help you do both.

 

Here are 5 quick tips to reduce energy consumption while keeping your home comfy:

 

1-      Turn down the thermostat – You can easily save energy in the winter months by turning your thermostat back while you’re asleep or away from home. By turning the temperature down 10-15° for eight hours, you can save 5 to 15% a year on your heating bill.

 

2-      Lower the temperature on your water heater– Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home, typically accounting for about 18% of your utility bill. Turn down the temperature of your water heater and save 3-5% for every 10 degrees of setback.

 

3-      Use the sun – Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to let the sun warm up rooms, and close them when the sun goes down to help keep heat inside.

 

4-      Only heat rooms you use – If you have rooms you never use, like large storage areas or guest rooms, close the door and seal off the vents in those rooms. This directs air flow to the rooms you use the most, increasing energy efficiency, and could reduce heating costs up to 25%.

 

5-      Keep heating systems clean – A dirty furnace will slow down air flow and make the whole system work harder to keep you warm. Replace filters at least once a month during heavy heating or cooling season. Monthly replacement of furnace filters can save as much as 5% on heating bills according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

 

What other tips and tricks do you use to stay without breaking the bank when cold weather sets in?

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Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2014

Bowl for Kids’ Sake, the largest annual fundraising campaign for Big Brothers Big Sisters, is coming up in February.   Big Brothers Big Sisters is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network. The organization makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers and children. You can learn more about the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters through their website here.

 

Williamsburg branches of Chesapeake Bank have participated in Bowl for Kids’ Sake for a number of years, and they are joining the cause again this year. Three branches (Five Forks, Lightfoot and Lafayette) are challenging each other to see which branch can raise the most funds for the campaign. The branches are raising money through different activities, from bake sales to mini bowling set up within a branch location.

 

“The youth of today are our future,” said Donna Mitchell, branch manager at our Lafayette Street location. “Big Brothers Big Sisters gets kids involved with positive activities at a young age, and it’s a great organization to support.”

 

All of the participating branches get to feel good about supporting the community, and the branch that raises the most will get a prize – and most importantly, bragging rights!

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Looking Back: How did you Shop Local this Holiday Season?

The holiday season has come and gone. Here at Chesapeake Bank, we celebrated with delicious food, time with family and friends and gifts from local retailers. Speaking of presents, The National Retail Federation  has reported that holiday sales increased by 3.8 percent this year.

 

This TIME.com article discusses 10 consumer trends from this 2013 shopping season,  including everything from shopping kicking off even earlier than normal this year and there being no “it” toy that made it on every child’s list.

 

The article doesn’t discuss one thing we want to hear about, though. How did you Shop Local this holiday season? What was the best local item you gave or received, and where did you find it?

 

We’d love to hear about your experiences from this holiday season in the comments below.

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Personal Finance Resolutions for the New Year

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions; lose weight, quit smoking, eat better. While these are great resolutions, how many of us make resolutions that affect personal finance decisions? We’ve put together three great finance resolutions with some resources to help you accomplish (and maintain) them in 2014.

 

  • Get more organized: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the first step to getting control over your finances is getting organized. Find a system that works for you; whether it’s utilizing an expandable file folder or tracking expenses or managing budgets on your computer software of choice. Schedule a weekly or monthly time to document your spending.
  • Make more strategic purchases/donations: When planning your budget, get the most out of your charitable giving. Do you know what is deductible on your taxes when it comes to charitable giving? This article answers a lot of those questions.
  • Seek help when needed: Whether it be filing your taxes or making decisions about your 401(k), retirement or other major financial decisions, consult with the experts when things get lost in translation. Your bank account will thank you.