Home Energy Audits

During hot Ukiah summers, those of us who can’t live without air conditioning receive eye-popping energy bills. One way to reduce those bills is to stop using so much air conditioning, but who wants to sit around and sweat? A far more comfortable way to reduce costs is to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Energy … Read more

Mortgage Rules You Should Break

In early 2022, mortgage rates were down around 2.5 percent. Today, they’re closer to 7.5 percent. On a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, this means your monthly payment would be up by 77 percent. Talk about financial whiplash! Even though, historically speaking, interest rates have returned to normal for single family homes (between 6 and 8 percent), … Read more

Keep Your House Cool

As summers get hotter and hotter, it takes more energy to keep them cool. Here are some ways to keep costs—and temperatures—down. Shade trees One of the best ways to keep houses cool is to shade them from direct sunlight. Deciduous trees on the west and south sides of your home can reduce the overall … Read more

An Ounce of Prevention – Home Safety Edition Part IV

This is part of my series on home safety, and it continues on last week’s theme of protecting kids. Previously, I talked about indoor hazards. This week, I’ll talk about outdoor hazards and gun safety. Once kids get into the yard, dangers abound: power tools, sharp objects, low-hanging branches leading to tall trees from which … Read more

An Ounce of Prevention – Home Safety Edition Part III

This is part of my series on home safety, this time focusing on kids. Little kids explore and get into stuff. They put things in their mouths. They climb and leap from heights. It’s what they do. It’s how they learn. As adults, we must do everything we can to thwart their natural tendencies if … Read more

An Ounce of Prevention – Home Safety Edition Part II

There’s no way to be perfectly safe unless we live in a bubble. However, there are plenty of things we can do to reduce risk. This is the second in a three-part series on making your home safer, inside and out. During this time of year, it seems prudent to review ways to reduce the … Read more

An Ounce of Prevention – Home Safety Edition

Every day, hospital emergency departments are full of patients who didn’t expect to be there. Life has a way of throwing surprises our way—some good, some bad. Although we cannot avoid all the nasty surprises, we can reduce risk to increase our safety, and our homes are a great place to start. One of the … Read more

Homeowners’ Insurance Falls Victim to Regulation

Like most people, I don’t like paying high insurance premiums, but I do like being protected against catastrophic losses like those I would face if a wildfire tore through my neighborhood. In California, especially in rural areas like ours, the risk of wildfire has increased dramatically during the last several years; yet, the state limits … Read more

New Safety Law for Balconies

In June of 2015, a dozen or so UC Berkeley students were celebrating a friend’s twenty-first birthday out on the balcony of a fifth-floor apartment when the balcony gave way. Six people died and several others were injured. It was later determined that dry rot from improper construction led to the disaster. In response, then-Governor … Read more