All posts by Julie

outdoor-nature-lagoon-home

Should I Use a Mortgage Broker or a Bank

Getting a mortgage is one of the most important steps in the life of any person, a step that needs to be performed with care. One of the crucial things you need to take into account is whom you are contracting the loan from. One of the main options you have is either a mortgage broker or a bank. Both come with advantages and disadvantages, so you nee to be aware of both before taking into account any of the two options.

Despite the fact that mortgage brokers have been around for quite a while, people are still weary to work such an important loan from them because in the past some of these brokers added hidden costs that increased the overall cost of the loan, something that was fixed recently with a law specifically created for this alone.  Mortgage brokers offer homeowners more choices and more education than you would typically see at a bank.

Many people with non-traditional circumstances also benefit from working with a mortgage broker.  People with mediocre credit or self employed people may find a mortgage broker the better option when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage.

The mortgage broker is basically the middleman. He won’t loan you the money, instead he will find the best loaner that you need at an accessible price. This can be either a commercial bank, community bank, credit union, or even a mortgage bank. Some of the most important banks in the country are Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. In Canada, you have Toronto Dominion, RBC, Scotia and BMO as some fo the major national banks. One of the main advantages of a mortgage broker is that is offers you a wide range of variety when compared to the bank, meaning that you have access to a wide range of services from multiple lenders, and you, as a client, only need to select the one that you want. This makes the overall experience a lot more convenient, something that we definitely want.

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On top of that, as a borrower that contacts mortgage brokers you will save a lot of time because the broker will do whatever it takes to fin the best deal for you, according to your own parameters. Brokers also handle the paperwork and meetings with the lenders, so all you need to do is sign the papers and the money will be delivered to you as fast as possible. This surely makes the service very convenient and it’s specifically created to help busy lenders.

The banks on the other hand are the ones in control because they make the decision of lending the money. If a borrower is a longtime client of a bank then he might be able to receive some favorable terms when it come to contracting a loan. Getting the loan using the services of the broker means that you need to pay a fee, while contacting the bank directly will remove that fee. Remember that in the end the bank is the one that sets the interest rate, so the broker is basically a middleman that will help you find the best deal without worrying. However, this comes with a cost.

To sum up, you need to figure out how much time you have to speak with the lenders and take care of the paperwork. If you can do that on your own, then the services of a mortgage broker are not required, but if don’t have the time to do that, then the broker might be a good option. It’s a good idea to find out the fees first, so you won’t end up with unpleasant surprises.

manual-therapy

What Is Manual Physiotherapy?

Manual therapy is a practice that has become very popular in the last few years. Manual therapy is mainly an approach used by physical therapists to find out the causes of the injury and then treat the joint structures as well as the soft tissues, with the final purpose being of modulating pain, eliminating any tissue inflammations and so on.

Moreover, manual therapy is also useful if you want to facilitate movement, improve various body functions and induce a sense of relaxation, something that is needed in a stressful society such as ours.

Manual therapy is basically a way of performing therapeutic techniques without the use of technical equipment. Instead, people known as manual therapists use their own hands to treat injuries or joint problems for example.

A manual therapist is a person that has an advanced training as a physical therapist and which, of course, has obtained a certificate in this field of work. This means that a physical therapist has a lot of knowledge regarding clinical terms and conditions.

There are different types of manual therapy that can be performed. One of the most popular ones is mobilization and manipulation. This one includes different types of high velocity and small amplitude therapeutic movement, all of them combined with the main purpose of helping you move better and easier.

Then there’s the muscle energy technique that specifically uses the contraction of the patient muscles against a counterforce from a certain position towards a certain direction. This particular technique is suitable for engaging the joint restriction barrier without stressing it.

Moreover, there’s the strain-counterstrain technique which places the body in a position of comfort with the sole purpose relieving pain by reduction.

Another technique that is very popular is the soft tissue mobilization that breaks the restrictions between muscles and decreases hypertonus. The hypertonus is usually associated with muscle tightness, which can cause different problems.

The high velocity, low amplitude thrusting techniques is another one suitable for joints, this time it makes it easy to restore the gliding motion of your joints so you can close and open them efficiently. It’s a little more aggressive than the other one, but if it’s used properly it brings a decrease in the muscle tone as well as an increase in mobility.

However, manual physiotherapy can’t solve all problems, that’s why patients are always encouraged to use various types of treatments. Combining these with exercises for back pain and some aerobic can definitely improve the condition, as this is a great exercise for any patient.

In the end, the main goal of the manual physiotherapy is to help the body recover from stress or any other issue. By combining it with other activities you will have the opportunity of living a much better and healthier life.

Electric-Car

Going on a Road Trip in an Electric Car

With range still being a huge issue surrounding electric cars, they are clearly far from ideal vehicles for long-distance trips, but it doesn’t mean that going on a road trip in an EV is a mission impossible. While most people would not dare to start such an adventure, given that electric cars are more suitable for city driving, or for short-range commutes, because of their limited range, longer trips in an electric vehicle are actually quite feasible, as long as you plan your route accordingly and make sure you use driving techniques and behavior that help extend your car’s range.

Obviously, the biggest challenge of an electric car road trip is finding charging stations along the route, and recharging your car’s battery as quickly as possible, so you don’t have to take long breaks too often. Maybe a couple of years ago, this was an issue that was difficult to get around, but now, there is a relatively good charging infrastructure, albeit only in certain parts of the country, which allows you to cover longer distances in a reasonable time. Even so, you must choose a route that will allow you to be near a charging station during the whole trip, so that you don’t get stranded with an empty battery, and no station in sight.

If you are driving through an area that doesn’t have any charging stations, you can go to an RV park, since most such parks have designated spaces with hookups, that usually provide RVs with electricity, but can also be used to charge electric vehicles. No matter how many stations there are along your route, bringing an emergency recharging kit along is always a smart move. It’s basically a device that is called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, which includes a portable charging cable and a couple of power adapters, allowing you to connect your car to a standard household outlet, and recharge your battery fairly quickly. This way, you will get enough range to get to the nearest charging station and fully charge your battery, before you can continue your trip.

Another factor you need to take into account when driving long distances in an electric car, is that your driving habits and road conditions may affect your car’s range. There are a few driving habits that can drain your battery pretty quickly, such as fast acceleration and hitting the brakes too hard, and driving at high speeds for longer periods of time. Additionally, excessive use of the car’s air conditioner decreases range, as well. Climbing hills, and driving in stop and go traffic can cause a battery to go empty much sooner than expected.

Even with all these challenges and the extensive planning that is required, electric car road trips can be quite fun and fulfilling, given that one of the biggest downsides of electric cars – long recharge times, can make your trip that much more rewarding, as it will give you some extra time to stop and enjoy the beautiful sights and discover some new places along the road.

The Many Health Benefits of Using a Hot Tub

Did you know that almost 80% of Americans suffer from some sort of back pain?

From an increasingly lethargic lifestyle to foods that are making us sicker then healthy, the human body and our backs are suffering.

After stretching,  which is my #1 recommended way to keep your body fit and healthy, relaxing in a hot tub might be my second favorite.  Winters can be quite long, sometimes the Spring and Fall combine to create one giant Winterfest, so being able to relax the body in a nice hot body of water definitely helps.

Relaxation is an often overlooked health benefit.  We are so used to a go go go mentality with work, family and play that we often forget to stop sometimes and unwind.  A hot tub is a great way to stop the clock and recharge the body and mind.  It’s a great way to relieve stress and to relax the muscles in your body.

While I still love getting a massage now and then from my favorite day spa in Charlotte, being able to walk out into my backyard whenever I want to relax in my swim spa is just an awesome feeling.

A good swim spa not only lets me relax, it is also a great form of exercise.  It has a smaller footprint than a regular swimming pool and I can take it with me if I ever decide to move.  And if you live in a colder climate, you’ll get a lot more use out of it during the course of the year.

Check out the infographic below that gives some visual representation on the health benefits of using a hot tub.

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5 Steps to a Zero Waste Home

When it comes to helping the planet, every little helps and whilst attitudes have changed in recent years with the use of household recycling bins and the rise of the reusable bag, there is still much work to do in order to achieve a ‘waste less’ society. Here we reveal the five steps every household can take to cut waste…

 1. Love food, hate waste

Food waste puts a huge burden on our landfill sites, and a recent survey showed that over a quarter of waste thrown away by UK households is food. With rising food costs, you’d think that everyone would take on a ‘waste not, want not’ approach, however as a nation we are still buying and throwing away too much food.

Being savvier when it comes to food shopping is the best step to reducing food waste and the amount that you spend at the checkout. Take a look in your cupboards before you leave to see what you need and write a list concentrating on creating meals for the week ahead.

2. A bag is for life…

Talks are still underway regarding enforcing a charge for the plastic bags found in the supermarket, and whilst the reusable ‘bag for life’ has risen in popularity, many people still rely on using plastic bags. We understand that it’s not always easy to remember your bag for life every time you hit the shops but by carrying one in your car, you will always have a bag for life to hand. Cloth bags also work too!

3. Recycle or reuse

As well as household waste, many individuals throw their household furniture and fixtures in the trash too. Instead of visiting your local tip, aim to recycle or reuse these items. There are many ways in which you can recycle household goods, kerbside recycling schemes pick up unwanted items or you could give something back by donating to charity.

4. Profit from your recycling prowess

There’s even an opportunity to earn a quick buck from unwanted household goods, salvage yards pay good money for good quality items. These items will then be sold on to their customers, who are certain to repurpose and breathe new life into products that you find tired or unusable in your own home.

5. Say ‘no’ to junk mail

Whilst many of us have become pros at recycling paper goods, there is still 550,000 tonnes of paper used to create unsolicited mail in the UK alone. If we all work together to say ‘no’ to junk mail, we could save over 9 million trees and 16.5 billion litres of water! Use a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker to tell your postman and other visitors that your home is no place for junk mail.

This post was written by the UK’s leading salvage and reclamation specialist Cheshire Demolition. Their Macclesfield-based yard is the perfect place to buy and sell unwanted household items.

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Reducing Your Impact on the Environment When Washing the Car

There are many ways in which we are harming the environment and waste resources on daily basis, but few of us consider car maintenance (and the associated costs) to be one of them.  For instance, car washing has a huge impact on the environment, since it wastes huge amounts of water, and the wash water that is created in the process, containing petroleum, dirt, oil, cleaning agents, goes into storm drains, which then carry it to the nearest water bodies. That’s why people should be very careful when they wash their cars in their yards, and do whatever they can to avoid polluting nearby bodies of water and wasting large amounts of water while doing it.

When washing your car at home and in your garage, you probably don’t think too much about where the wash water goes, or how much water is wasted. The waste water contains various potential pollutants, such as rubber, mud, detergents, grease, and it usually enters storm drain systems, that transport it to lakes, rivers, or oceans. Alternatively, it can also go directly into the ground, which also pollutes the environment. As far as the amount of water that is wasted, various studies suggest that on average, people waste 10 gallons of water per minute when washing their cars in their yards.

If you want to save some water while washing your car, you should try and follow a few simple tips.

For starters, you can put a quick-action shut-off nozzle on your hose, or a trigger hose, to prevent wasting water when the faucet is on, but you don’t need to use the hose. Also, you can save a lot of water if you use a bucket.

When it comes to the wash water and what to do with it, it’s important to know how to dispose of it properly. A lot of things depend on the area you wash your car on. If you wash it on your driveway, the waste water will probably run into a roadside drainage ditch, a gutter or a curb inlet, which means it will end up in a nearby lake or river. That’s why it’s better to do it on your lawn. This way, the wash water will run off directly into the ground, and you prevent it from flowing into the street and entering the drains. However, you need to be very careful when washing your car on your lawn or garden area, and prevent the waste water from running off into an area that’s close to your vegetables or fruit trees.

The best way to save water and prevent wastewater from entering your storm drains is to take your car to a commercial car washing facility, where water is treated before it is disposed. They clean the water, removing all pollutants that may harm the environment, and then discharge it in the sewer. They also recycle it and reuse it several times before disposal. Additionally, they waste much less water, as they use more sophisticated, automated equipment, which is far more efficient than using hoses and buckets.

energy-efficient-garage

How to Improve Your Garage’s Energy Efficiency

High utility bills are a common issue for many households. When people get high electricity bills for a couple of months in a row, they usually think that it’s due to inefficient appliances, lighting fixtures, or boilers, or poor insulation, which is true, in most cases, but many fail to take the their garage into consideration, which can have a great impact on a home’s energy efficiency.

Garages are often overlooked when thinking about energy efficiency, but they actually drain a lot of energy, mostly because a garage’s door is opened and closed numerous times over the course of each day, and because homeowners fail to insulate their garages properly, so they are oftentimes the main reason for rising energy costs. But, the following tips might help you improve your garage’s energy efficiency and lower your electric bills.

Insulate Your Garage Door

Poorly insulated garage doors are among the main causes of low efficiency. If you feel that you are spending too much money on electricity, one of the first things you should do is check your garage’s door and see if it’s insulated well. If it’s not insulated correctly, you can either buy a new door that is insulated properly, which is obviously the easier, but a considerably more expensive solution, or you can insulate your current door on your own, which costs much less. All you have to do is buy an insulation kit, that you can get for as little as $50 – $60, and apply the radiant barrier sheets on the inside of your door. Also, look for air leaks around the door, and if you find some, seal them with some weatherstripping.

 

Insulate the Walls

To do this, you will need an R-value insulation, which should be put between a garage’s joists, or blown into the drywall. This will provide great thermal insulation, which many garage walls, especially in homes that were built a couple of decades ago, don’t have.

 

Check the Windows

Another thing that can affect the energy efficiency of your garage is old windows that don’t provide any insulation whatsoever. That’s why you should either replace your old windows with ones that are Energy Star certified, but they can be a bit expensive, and if you want a cheaper solution, you can apply insulation strips to the existing windows, which can do a good job of keeping the cold air out and the warm air in.

 

Get More Efficient Light Bulbs

Garage lighting is another huge energy drainer. Most homeowners don’t think that the light bulbs in their garage consume a lot of energy, but regular bulbs are pretty inefficient and may increase your energy bill significantly. That’s why you should replace your old bulbs with LED or CFL lights, that need much less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

 

Install Solar Panels

This is arguably the most expensive solution for making your garage more energy efficient, but it’s definitely the most effective one. If you install solar panels, you won’t depend on electricity to warm up your garage, and you will save a lot of money in the long run.

 

List made by:

Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “car tech” expert. He is full-time contributor to DMV.com, a collaborative community for US drivers.

bamboo-wood-energy

How to Lower Your Home’s Energy Consumption

As homeowners, we’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption and in turn lower costly heating and electricity bills, which can easily spiral out of control in the autumn and winter months when plummeting temperatures hit our homes.

We have compiled our top five ways to reduce energy consumption within your home so you can look forward to more manageable costs all year round…

Alter your everyday habits

The first and perhaps most important step of reducing your household’s energy consumption and carbon footprint is by altering how you operate on a daily basis. Just a few simple changes can dramatically cut your energy costs resulting in major savings for you and your family.

When appliances and other gadgets are not in use, unplug and save energy. Even when everyday household items like televisions and audio equipment are in standby mode, electricity is still being used so prevent this by hitting the off switch. Computers are a major consumer of energy so customise your sleep mode to conserve electricity. Lighting can also drain your energy supplies, don’t forget to switch these off when you leave the room.

Control temperature throughout your home

Making use of the thermostatic valves on your radiators and the timer features on your boiler will ensure that all heat generated is used effectively within your property. Adapt your temperature controls from room to room, lowering your temperature in areas of your home that you use less such as spare bedrooms. Rooms that are prone to high humidity such as your kitchen, bathroom and utility room will also require less heat as heat is generated naturally via showering, bathing, washing dishes and clothes, and cooking.

In addition to this, your timer can be adjusted to regulate temperature at different times of the day so you use less energy when in bed or at work.

Invest in humidification

The main reason why you increase the temperature of your central heating system is to enhance your property’s warmth and comfort, however, you can achieve a more comfortable atmosphere without increasing your heating bill. Humidifiers can be used to add moisture to your home environment and create a more comfortable ambience. Humid air also holds heat better ensuring any heat generated by your radiators and other energy sources is retained effectively and efficiently.

Investing in a home humidifier won’t break the bank, and will make sure you feel the effects of a well heated home without having to ramp up the temperature.

Take advantage of energy saving appliances

Many modern appliances are equipped with handy energy saving features which many homeowners fail to take advantage of. Computers, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines can be switched to power saving mode to conserve energy by making more efficient use of the appliance. Take a closer look at the settings of your home appliances to make energy saving a priority in your home.

Energy saving bulbs are also available and will dramatically cut costs year on year.

Insulate your home thoroughly

A well-insulated property will retain energy more effectively and prevent costly heat loss. Make sure your attic space and cavity walls are sufficiently insulated and windows and doors throughout your home are sealed correctly to avoid waste and high energy bills.

About the author – Martin Davies works for Airandwatercentre.com. As the leading specialists in humidification and air quality, they assist thousands of homeowners across the globe looking for more energy efficient and comfortable properties.

Going Green In Canada

The Green Movement is going strong in Canada.

Canada is one of the forward thinkers when it comes to green energy and conservation.  They’ve instituted recycling and composting programs that are still years away from happening for most of America.

Even private sector energy companies are making efforts encourage energy conservation.  Energy companies like Power Stream in Ontario offer businesses subsidies to converting their high power halogen lighting to more energy efficient florescent and LED lighting systems.

And big energy companies aren’t the only ones encouraging you to go green.  Traditional companies like Mortgages.ca, a Canadian mortgage company, offer “SMART” thermostats to their customers as a gift and incentive to use less energy.

If you’re looking for a career in the growing green industry, Canada has a green sector that is growing faster than the pace of most traditional industries.  Take a look at the infographic from Talent Egg below to see how a green career might be a great opportunity for you in Canada.

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energy-efficient-highway

Are Electric Highways Possible in the U.S.?

Electric vehicles are facing several hurdles on the road to becoming a viable alternative to conventional, gasoline-powered cars. One of the biggest hurdles, apart from limited range, is charging time, as it takes several hours to fully charge an electric car’s battery, which is not very convenient. That’s why automakers that manufacture electric vehicles, as well as various tech companies, are trying to come up with a solution that would help reduce charging time and make these vehicles far more viable.

Some of those potential solutions include the wireless charging technology, an idea that was recently proposed by Swedish car maker Volvo, and designated charging lanes which could charge cars as they go.

The concept of wireless, or inductive charging has been around for a while, and this method is being used to charge small portable electric devices, such as cell phones. But, inductive charging technology can be used to charge electric cars’ batteries, as well. This idea is the basis of the TEV (Tracked Electric Vehicle) Project, an open source initiative for prefabricated roads that can power electric vehicles as they move along. The TEV Project was founded by Will Jones, a mechanical engineer and owner of Philadelphia Scientific, a company that designs industrial batteries, and some of its proposed solutions are expected to be implemented in the UK and in India in the near future.

The TEV concept has the potential to eliminate the need of stopping along the road to recharge your electric car. It involves specially designed roads that are supposed to be built alongside existing roads, equipped with electric tracks, where cars are controlled by a centralized computer system. Drivers would only have to enter their destination code, and the acceleration, the steering, and the braking will be done by the computer.

Although the TEV initiative is far from being widely adopted in the U.S., there are some similar projects that aim to bring so-called electric roads to the country. For example, there is the idea of a charging system developed by a team of engineers at Stanford University, which could make it possible for electric cars to recharge their batteries while in motion. Their system employs transmitter coils embedded in the road, which send electric currents that are received by several coils installed in electric cars. This inductive charging technology could be placed on dedicated charging lanes on highways, which would only be used by electric vehicles. However, integrating such a system into the existing traffic infrastructure would be a very expensive venture, and the government would obviously be hesitant about committing to such a project before some extensive research is done, primarily in terms of financial feasibility.

But, considering that highways in America are in a pretty poor condition, and they obviously need to be significantly improved in order to reduce congestion and enhance road safety, which requires a very heavy investment. The government has no choice but to build new highways or try and repair the current highway system, and it might decide to install this type of technology while trying to achieve that.

Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “green cars” expert. He is a regular writer for a collaborative community for US drivers.