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The Harmful Side of CFL Light Bulbs

August 25th, 2012

Most apartments come unfurnished; however they do come with light-bulbs already installed. When it comes time to change out the bulbs, many renters simply swap out the original bulb with an identical replacement. Others take a more energy efficient approach and install CFL light bulbs; while their energy efficiency is many times greater than incandescent bulbs, yet CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) can pose a serious health hazard. Is the energy benefit worth the danger? The question is a complex one.

Energy Efficient CFLs Reduce Power Costs

Undoubtedly CFL light bulbs possess certain advantages over older technology. An incandescent bulb may last for as long as 1,000 hours, while CFL bulb life can extend to 15,000 hours. This long life means less frequent replacement and a reduction in the use of component materials. A CFL bulb also uses far less energy than a comparable incandescent bulb. The reduction in energy use, around 75%, adds up to big savings in energy bills. One estimate of the national savings is $600 million annually.

A Smaller Carbon Footprint

Environmentally speaking, most of what CFL bulbs offer is positive. Needing to replace fewer bulbs means factories produce fewer bulbs. CFL bulbs also create more light with less electricity than incandescents. Because their increased energy efficiency requires the use of less power, CFL bulbs burn up less fossil fuel. Potentially, the use of these more efficient bulbs could reduce annual carbon emissions by 230 million tons.

 The Hazards of Mercury

The reduction in amount of waste and the smaller carbon footprint of CFLs come at a price, however. CFLs, like all fluorescent bulbs, run on mercury vapor. The vapor moving inside the tube interacts with a phosphorescent material and this creates light. There is no CFL without mercury, and mercury is toxic. Easily absorbed through the skin, mercury can cause nerve damage, skin burns and is associated with a number of diseases. The thin glass shell that is a light bulb creates a fragile home for this volatile substance. CFL bulbs can and do break. They are no sturdier than the incandescent variety. The potential for a mercury leak, then, is not insubstantial in a household that uses CFL light bulbs.

CFLs and the EPA

With this danger in mind, the question then becomes one of relative benefits. Is the increased energy efficiency of CFLs worth the risk of possible mercury exposure at home? And conversely, are the more wasteful incandescent bulbs a better choice for safety? Considering the weight of both sides of the issue, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises the continued use of CFL bulbs. Despite the chance of a mercury spill, CFL bulbs still introduce less mercury into the environment than do incandescent bulbs. This is because energy efficient CFLs use less coal power to work, and coal itself releases mercury when burned. This is reassuring, but there still remains the larger question of what to do with the millions of mercury-charged CFLs now in circulation. Tossed into landfills as the years pass, these bulbs will create a cumulative danger as mercury seeps into the land and water nearby.

The Importance of Recycling CFLs

In order to reduce the environmental hazard of CFLs, many retailers take part in programs to encourage their proper disposal. Once accepted at a drop-off point, CFL light bulbs return to manufacturers who can reuse most of their elements. Here are a few of the places CFL bulbs are reclaimed. Check with your local store for exact policies.

  • Lowe’s
  • Menard’s
  • IKEA
  • ACE Hardware
  • True Value
  • Home Depot

Mail-in programs offer those far from these centers the chance to recycle CFL bulbs. Taking action to control the effects of burned-out and broken CFLs helps to minimize their harm. In the long run, they may be a better choice than incandescents, but personal responsibility plays a large role.

Traveling students often find themselves living in apartments. In addition to making wise financial decisions about energy efficient light bulbs, students should consider purchasing travel insurance such as that which can be found at www.kanetix.ca/travel-students-to-canada. Make wise financial decisions in all you do.




Getting Acquainted with Credit Rating Agencies

July 26th, 2012

In the credit rating business, there are a few main players in the arena. This is one of the most controversial and monopolistic businesses to enter, and many individuals and organizations depend on services offered by credit rating agencies. Each company has its own guidelines for reporting credit scores, and each may vary in the way it grades potential clients. Knowing how these companies operate can be helpful for everyone, since they do retain a surprisingly high amount of responsibility. So, who are the primary companies and how are they similar and different?

Three of the major credit rating agencies are Fitch, Standard and Poor, and Moody’s. Each of these companies has a different marketing strategy, and they each have holds on various verticals. Entities contact credit agencies before giving a loan, before selling expensive items such as houses and cars, and even before signing people up for a cell phone plan much of the time. Credit agencies came up with a pretty genius business model for a service in demand- they determine financial risk, offer third party financial predictions about the future of a company or individual’s credit risk, and give an “opinion” that ends up having a very significant impact on investment. With so much competition between the three largest rating agencies, each company has to set itself apart using strategy.

Standard & Poor

One of the credit rating giants of the world, Standard & Poor, also referred to as S&P, public their rating methods, and they also rates everyone from individuals to corporations with the same rating techniques. When they rate, a committee decides as a group on what the rating score will be. They rate based on four criteria, two time based criteria and two based on other factors. Their system is largely based on mathematical probability, and they claim a large number of internal watchdogs that help keep their rating system public, transparent, and at times educational.

Fitch

Another rating agency that you have probably heard about, if not been rated by, is Fitch . have rated a variety of different companies across the world in almost every different sector. Unlike S&P, Fitch uses a different rating criteria for each sector they examine, and they also do not publish the criteria publicly on their website, unless users register with them.

Moody’s

The big one in the news recently has been Moody’s, a credit rating agency famous for rating some of the biggest companies and banks in the world. They recently gave Ford a higher rating, which helped the company re-brand and move forward with higher stocks. However, they also gave a couple of Swiss banks that previously held a very high standard, two lower ratings, creating chaos with their investors and lower stock shares. Moody’s publishes their rating process publicly, but only after the credit score has been issued, and in contrast with S&P, publishes in-depth text based descriptions of their rating decisions.

If every company and big bank, and even countries and territories rely on their credit ratings to encourage investment in its plans for the future, and to get a higher stock they need high credit ratings. Almost all of us rely on the credit rating agency to determine our financial future. Credit rating agencies really have a hand on many different business interests, and many responsibilities around the world. Knowing who the biggest players are will help you understand just how prolific these entities have been able to make themselves, and how much all business relies on them.

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Tips for Taking Inventory of your Home

June 10th, 2012

The common saying goes that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but in the instance of home insurance, a picture can actually be worth a thousand dollars- or even thousands and thousands of dollars. Taking a home inventory is a great way to ensure that all of your household items and valuables are correctly documented and covered by your home insurance policy.

There are things that happen every day across this nation. Natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes strike and destroy homes without any warning whatsoever, electrical wiring problems create a spark which results in a house being burned down, a water pipe bursts and floods a whole house while the people living inside were out for dinner.

There are tons and tons of things that can happen to a home, which can destroy not only the home, but what is inside the home- which tends to be much more valuable and important to the people living inside of it. These reasons are why it is a good idea to have homeowners insurance, especially a homeowner insurance policy that covers all of your valuable belongings and cherished heirlooms.

There are many ways to document and take inventory of your home belongings, and thanks to the internet and modern technology, there are many new applications and software programs that will help you along the way. Back in the day, home inventory had to be taken through keeping track of handwritten notes, typing them up and then attaching them to Polaroid pictures of your belongings.

It was even necessary in some cases for insurance agents to take a tour of the home in order to verify that the actual items included on the home inventory indeed existed. But, these days, home inventory can be logged on computer software, which will do all the hard work for you. There are also some home inventory mobile phone applications, which will also help guide you along the process and help you along your way.

Some things that are always needed are descriptions of all the items on the home inventory list. Each item needs a short description, the value of the item when it was purchased (sometimes receipts are also needed,) and the current state of the item in question.

Each item on the list should also be grouped into certain categories, as a way to ensure the ease of finding the items when needed. Photographs should also be taken to accompany the items. This is especially important for items that are worth a lot of money.

A good alternative to photo evidence of the home inventory items is to take a video camera and make a recording of the items on the list. When everything is unpacked in the home is a good time to do this. Usually, it is best to just take a walk through the house and record each item.

The benefit of doing this, when compared to photo evidence, is that you can narrate the inventory list as you tape, and thus cut down the amount of time it takes to do the inventory list and the time it also takes to go through and updated or change the home inventory list as needed. Sometimes, the more expensive items of the home inventory list may need a separate insurance policy altogether, so it is important to consult with an insurance agent about those items.

It is very easy to lose receipts, but it is pretty important to keep the ones you can find. This is the only primary proof usually available regarding what the items on the list were worth when you purchased them, and thus informs the insurance provider about how much the insurance policy should cover for the items.

The best thing is to scan them onto the computer and save them that way. Doing this will expedite the entire insurance process when and if a claim is ever made. After all of that is done, it is a good idea to keep the home inventory list in a very safe place.

If you’re still not in a home, it may be time to speak to a mortgage broker – they’ll be able to set you on the right path when it comes to the whole process – snag a free quote now by visiting: http://www.personalhomeloanmortgages.com/broker – get on the right path today.




Making Moving Day More Manageable

May 13th, 2011

Planning a move can be extremely stressful. Not only are you starting out on a brand new life, but you have to worry about safely getting all of your possessions boxed up and moved from point A to point B. While there’s no way to completely eliminate the stress of a move, you can make the whole process a lot simpler by having a plan and sticking to it. You first step, of course, is to have your moving day lined up. If at all possible, try to move on a weekend when more people will be available to help you. Also make sure that you call the gas, phone, electric, and other companies ahead of time, so that all of your necessary services will be on in your new place.

Your fist step, of course, is packing up your belongings. Before you really dig in, however, pack yourself a small overnight bag containing items you will need to have easy access to as you move. This should include things like as many changes of clothes as are necessary, your showering and grooming goods such as your toothbrush, and anything else you absolutely cannot be without. Once you have that squared away, it’s time to start safely packing your items. A good idea is to put all the things that will belong in one particular room into one or several boxes and to label them with the name of the room in which they will go.

When it comes time to move your actual boxes into the moving van, you have several choices. You can hire a moving company for a nominal fee, or you can opt to do it yourself. If at all possible, have friends and family members on hand to help you load up the truck if you choose this method. If you can’t do this, you might think about posting an ad on Craigslist or at a local college or university for movers willing to help you for a small fee much less than what professional movers would charge. Even if you think you don’t need help, planning for it will make your life and your move so much less stressful.

When you finally arrive at your new apartment, you will have a couple of choices. If you’ve hired movers, many will unpack and arrange your items according to your instructions for a fee. If you want to spare this expense, then simply move the labeled boxes into the room where they belong. As you unpack each item, find a place for it and put it away. Before you know it, you’ll have your entire apartment spiffed up and ready to go. That way, your first night in your new home will be a peaceful, restful one instead of one filled with stress and anxiety over finding the time to put everything in its place. If you follow these tips carefully, you should enjoy your new apartment and your new life immensely.




Therapy for Your Apartment can be Therapy for You

May 10th, 2011

If you’re new to apartment living, then you may not be familiar with the term “apartment therapy.” Don’t let the odd name fool you, however, the process of apartment therapy simply involves transforming your living space into one that is more comfortable, less cluttered, more relaxing, and that leads to a better organized, less stressed, happier, healthier you. So, when you choose to do apartment therapy, you’re not just making over your apartment, you’re making over your own life as well. The phrase “messy bed, messy head,” is true in so many ways, and having a cluttered, disorganized apartment is an easy way to send your life soaring off the tracks.

To regain control of your life and transform your apartment in the process, your first step should be to really “listen to” and “feel” your apartment. This means that you should walk around your place, paying special attention to your thoughts and emotions. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious in a space, it might be suffering from too much clutter or from negative energy. If you feel good and relaxed in a particular spot, then you’ll know that’s an area of your apartment you need to do something special with. If this is too new age for you, you can also just walk around the apartment and note things that you do and do not like about it and think of ways in which you would like to change the areas that you do not like.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to start getting rid of unnecessary things. Go through your dresser drawers, your closets, and any other storage areas and throw out or donate things you don’t need or use. A good general rule is that if you can’t remember the last time you used something or a time within the next three months or so when you plan to use something, it can probably go. The less clutter you have in your life the better – and the more space you’ll have in your apartment. If you haven’t completely unpacked yet, then this is a great opportunity to open up those boxes and get rid of things that were broken in the process or that fall into the “don’t use” or “don’t need” category. In general, there should be no “storage” areas left in your apartment once you are complete, and everything you keep will have a purpose or a use.

When your apartment is organized, you’ll already be starting to feel better and less hectic in your life. Add little touches that brighten your mood and make you feel good. This can be as simple as buying a couple of scented candles or a package of incense or as intense as covering the walls with a fresh coat of paint. Just check your lease before making any major changes to be sure that your plans are not a violation of the rental terms and agreement.