Peak Life

How to Slash Your Utility Bill

How to Slash Your Utility Bill

Winter heating can increase your energy consumption, but taking a few small steps around your home can bring your utility bill down a few degrees.

  1. Check your registers.  Be sure none of your vents or registers are blocked by furniture.  Obstructed air flow can cause your heating or air conditioning to work less efficiently, increasing consumption.
  2. Open south-facing windows.  During the day, open the blinds and curtains on only any south-facing windows to let in some natural sunlight and heat.  Close them back up at night to trap in the warm air.  If you don't have drapes already, installing drapery at each window can act as an insulating liner, keeping heat trapped in your home instead of escaping through windows.
  3. Lower the thermostat.  Lowering the heat by 1 degree during the winter months can save up to 1-3% on your electric bill.  Although it seems like a small difference, this could save you hundreds of dollars per year on your bill - especially if you lower the heat by a few degrees.  While out of the house for extended periods, set the heat to 65-68 degrees and turn it back up when you come home.  If you're heading out for a winter getaway, lowering the thermostat to 58 degrees will provide extra savings.
  4. Control standby power.  Also known as vampire energy charges, this refers to energy consumption by small electronics that can quickly add up.  New smart electronics consume energy, even when it appears they are shut off.  Plug televisions, game systems, and other electronics into a power strip.  Turn off the power strip when the items are not in use to completely stop their phantom energy consumption.
  5. Purchase energy-efficient lighting.  New LED bulbs are great energy savers and often use 80% less energy than traditional light bulbs.  While these may be more expensive on the front-end, they last significantly longer and use much less energy.  Over time, these bulbs more than pay for themselves.
  6. Conduct a nighttime inspection.  Before going to sleep for the night, walk through your home to make sure no lights, electronics, or other devices are left on and running unnecessarily.  
  7. Make use of small space heaters.  If you're spending most of your time in one room of your home, use a small space heater to heat it up instead of heating the entire house. 
  8. Take showers instead of baths.  Showers use less water and require less energy for water heating than baths.
  9. Wash only full loads.  Don't run your dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer when only partially full.  To make the most of your energy use, save running these machines for when they are completely full.

Do you have other tips you'd like to share?  Please leave them in the comments below!

#PeakFit: Work Out Without a Gym Membership at Your Community Fitness Center

If saving money and getting fit are New Year's resolutions for you, we can help!  Many of our communities have 24-hour fitness centers available to our residents, free of charge.  Save the gym membership fees and work out conveniently in your community.

Don't know how to begin?  There are so many resources online that can help you find the best workout plan for you.

If you're an aspiring runner, the website CoolRunning.com has training plans from "Couch to 5K" to advanced marathon training.  Downloadable apps for your phone can provide more customized options for you based on current fitness level, pace, and goals.  Try Nike+ Run Club, Couch to 5K, and Map My Run Trainer.  Share your runs with friends using Nike+ Run Club, Map My Run, or Strava.  These apps are like social media for athletes and can boost your motivation with fun challenges.  Use area walking paths, community roads and sidewalks, and our fitness center treadmills to train and you'll be able to stick to your new plan regardless of the weather!

Looking to gain strength?  We have your solutions with free weights, Precor fitness machines, medicine balls, and other strength training equipment.  Follow along with video courses using apps and websites like Daily Burn, Beachbody on Demand, Sweat with Kayla, and FitStar.  Many combine strength and cardio exercises and use HIIT to increase your metabolism while building muscle.

Indoor cycles and elliptical trainers are also available for a great low-impact cardio workout.  Cycling training programs can be found on the app CycleCast which specializes in gym bikes and indoor cycling workouts.  Peloton Cycle is another great app where you can live stream cycling classes to your smartphone or tablet.  Workout by Fitness 22 Ltd. is a full virtual personal trainer and workout tracker that can build custom workouts based on the equipment available, personal goals, and your fitness level.

If you have any questions about our fitness centers or other amenities, please contact our leasing team.  We are always happy to help!

Happy New Year!

Top 5 Tips for Finding a Pet-Friendly Rental Home

Pet Friendly Apartments Image

So, you’re in the market for a new home for you and your four-legged friend.  How can you distinguish communities where pets are allowed from those which are truly pet-friendly?   According to rent.com, 83% of apartment residents have difficulty finding housing to accommodate their pets.  A few simple tips can help you find the perfect new place for you and your furry companion.

1.       Check pet-friendly rental listings.  Websites and directories such as the Maryland Pet Gazette showcase apartment communities which are pet-friendly.  Major rental listing sites such as ApartmentGuide.com or Apartments.com have filters available so that you can find pet-friendly apartments, and even apply specific filters to properties that allow cats, dogs, or both.

2.       Look at the amenities in the community.  Properties that are truly pet-friendly offer services or amenities for pets such as fenced dog parks, pet cleanup stations, or dog wash areas. 

3.       Visit the property.  When touring, keep an eye out for other pets around the community.  Feel free to ask other pet owners about the community, what it offers for pets, and how they like living there.

4.       Prepare your pet’s records.  Most landlords require immunization records, license information, and photos of your pet when applying for an apartment.  Having everything prepared ahead of time will make your move-in process less stressful.

5.       Research additional policies, rent, and deposits.  Almost all communities require a pet fee, pet deposit, and/or pet rent.  Ask for this information up front so that you can prepare and budget accordingly.  Request a copy of the community’s pet addendum and other forms so you’re aware of everything expected of you as a pet owner. 

6.       Check for any restrictions.  Many buildings have breed restrictions and may not allow exotic pets.  It’s important to check for any weight, breed, species, number of pets, and other restrictions that may apply. 

With ample planning and a little research, you can find the perfect home for you and your pets. 

For more information or to schedule a tour of one of our pet-friendly communities in the Greater Baltimore Area, visit www.peakmgt.net or contact us at (410) 248-5100.