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Thanksgiving on a Budget – 5 Tips for Saving Money This Year

Many of us are guilty of over-spending. Some of us are seasonal over-spenders and some of us are chronic over-spenders. Regardless of where we fall on the spending spectrum, when we choose to, we can almost always find ways to reduce our expenses, especially during the holiday season. Here we will discuss five tips to skinny down your spending for Thanksgiving without sacrificing a delicious meal and wonderful memories with family and friends.

Our first tip is to take an honest look at your guest list. It is easy to over-invite, especially during the holidays, but often this can lead to overextending ourselves monetarily and with regards to our time commitment. While perhaps uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, it is ok to say no or to let past guests know that you’re hosting a smaller group this year. In addition to saving money, a smaller guest list will allow for greater face time with each guest.

Regardless of the number of guests on your list, asking your invitees to contribute to the dinner will not only assist you in keeping your budget in line, but also reduce your own workload. Nearly everyone has a specialty dish or a favorite item that they would be happy to share with the group, which will also give your gathering more character.

It can be easy to try to please everyone on your guest list and fall into the trap of making too much food. Not only is this a budget killer but can also be a mood killer as the added stress of trying to remember exactly what each guest’s preferences are can be exhausting. Sometimes less is more and that can certainly apply in this situation.

Additionally, most grocery stores will be offering sales on Thanksgiving staples in the weeks leading up to the feast. Shopping these sales, and shopping smart, can help you keep your budget on track. Curate a menu, take inventory of the ingredients that you already have on hand and then make a list in anticipation of the sales, being careful to buy only what you need.

Our final suggestion depends on a number of variables so it will be up to you and your guests to decide if it works for you, but dining out may just be a less expensive option to hosting and preparing a Thanksgiving meal. Many restaurants that choose to open on holidays have a flat price, all-inclusive meal option and the only preparation required is making a reservation. While you sacrifice some control in this scenario, it can also all but eliminate the stress associated with hosting a holiday in your home.

5 Ways You Can Maximize Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Whether or not we’re ready for it, the time has come when we must again begin to use our furnaces. If you have somehow managed to postpone the inevitable, we salute you, but are also a bit cold just at that thought. While none of us enjoy forking over increased sums of money to the energy companies this time of year, it is a part of life in New England that we must accept. Here we will suggest five simple strategies for reducing your energy consumption (and consequently, your bill) this heating season. Even employing just one strategy will positively impact your wallet so choose those that will work best for your family.

Clean your furnace: First and foremost, we suggest scheduling a cleaning for your furnace. This should be done annually and will not only ensure that you are ready when it is time to flip that switch but will also help you prepare for any additional maintenance costs that may be lurking around the corner. We also recommend having spare furnace filters on hand and swapping them out at least once a season (although greater frequency is recommended in a home with pets).

Smart Thermostats: While your trusted HVAC professional is at work on your annual furnace maintenance, perhaps they can recommend a smart thermostat. These devices can quickly pay for themselves both monetarily and in terms of convenience as they can be controlled from your mobile device allowing you to never have to get out of bed in a cold house again! Additionally you can monitor the heat in your home while you are out for those days that you’ve forgotten to turn the heat down before leaving for the day or a weekend away.

Passive Heating: When it comes to saving money on your heating costs, the sun can be your seasonal best friend. Does your home offer excellent daytime sun exposure? Make the most of this positioning and open your window treatments during the day to allow your home to bask in natural light and slowly warm up. While your furnace takes a rest your bank account will be growing.

Cooler Nights: Sleeping in a cooler room is not only good for your financial health but your physical health as well. While you’re saving money sleeping in a colder bedroom your body is benefiting by working harder to stay warm (consequently burning more calories while also putting you into a deeper sleep). Additionally, a colder bedroom helps your body better produce melatonin, which not only helps with sleep quality but also promotes anti-aging.

Utilize your Ceiling Fan: Many of us live in homes equipped with ceiling fans but they often sit unused during the winter months just collecting dust. By simply changing the direction of the blades to a clockwise motion helps to trap the heat inside the room with the ceiling fan making it feel warmer.

There are a number of simple and often subtle changes that we can make to our homes and in our daily routines that can positively impact both the health of our environment and finances. If you’d like more information on how you can make your home more energy efficient this winter, give Family Danz a call at 518.427.8685, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Preparing for Winter? Heating Maintenance is an Important Step!

The chilly, rainy days we’ve been experiencing this fall will turn to the white stuff soon enough, and that means it’ll also be time for your furnace to start working overtime. Probably, you’ve already fired up your home’s heating system, and there will undoubtedly be more to come. Have you had your heating system maintained yet this year? If not, you should.

When you get annual maintenance for your furnace, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. Maintenance not only helps your heating system operate more effectively and enjoy a longer life, there are other benefits you might not be aware of.

Heating system maintenance helps with:

Maintaining your system warranty. Too often, homeowners don’t realize that a part of their equipment warranty states that annual maintenance is required in order for the warranty to stay in effect. For you as a homeowner, that’s important. It means if you don’t get the maintenance outlined, the warranty may become void, and you’ll have to cover expenses.

Maintaining better indoor air quality. It just stands to reason that when air is being circulated through a dirty system, and being forced through a dirty filter, those particles are going to enter into the air you and your family breathe. Not to mention, the dust, dirt and buildup make it that much harder for your heating system to work. Getting the maintenance you need keeps your system running smoothly – and the air you breathe contaminant-free.

Keeping your system efficient. Without heating maintenance, it’s simple – your system will have to work harder, and that will make your utility bills go up. The dirt and buildup in a poorly maintained system keep it from running effectively and efficiently. But, by getting proper maintenance you’ll know you have a clean filter and a cleaned and lubricated system – allowing your system to function at its efficient best.

At Family Danz, we’re pleased to provide you with the maintenance you need.

When you purchase one of our maintenance plans, you’ll not only get the seasonal tune-up your system needs for optimal operation. You’ll also receive these benefits as well:

  • Priority Scheduling for Emergency Services
  • 15 Percent Discount on Parts and Labor
  • 24-Hour Emergency Service
  • No Overtime Rates

Getting the furnace maintenance you need is important, but it’s also as easy as calling Family Danz. Simply contact us at 518.427.8685 and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Save with Our Bryant® Bonus Special

Have you been thinking about installing a new heating system in your home before the cooler weather arrives? There’s no time like the present – right now, Family Danz is offering our Bryant Bonus Heating & Cooling System Special. You can count on us for the best products and installation available, and you can save some significant money in the process.

When you take advantage of our Bryant Bonus Heating & Cooling System Special, you’ll be eligible to save up to $2,975. Here’s how:

  • $1475 Utility Rebates
  • $600 System Rebate
  • $400 Family Danz Dealer Discount
  • FREE Humidifier ($500 Value)

To take advantage of this special, simply fill out our convenient contact form by clicking here. One of our friendly associates will get back to you soon. This offer is almost over – it will only last until November 15th – so take advantage today!

Fall Into Autumn with a Beautifully Decorated Front Entrance

Your front entrance is important, as it is often the centerpiece of your home. A thorough cleaning, updated painting, color and hardware can make a powerful first impression on visitors to your home. Once that project is out of the way, you may want to tackle some seasonal decorating to enhance your newly updated entrance.

One of the many aspects of fall that we can’t help but love is the colors. There’s something about the deep reds, vibrant oranges and golden yellows that elicits our desires for everything from sweaters and scarves to slow cooker meals and seasonally flavored coffees. To enhance your enjoyment of everything fall, we suggest spending a little more time on that entrance to incorporate some seasonal elements.

Planters & Urns

Our first suggestion is to invest in some planters that you can use year round. If you have the space, consider using urns because they’re versatile and add some height to entrance. The extra height is visually appealing and ensures that your entrance does not swallow up your plants as they balance out the proportions. Urns come in a variety of styles and materials so you’re sure to find something that will work within your budget.

For those of you working to be financially conservative, we suggest opting for a plastic version and weighing it down with sand or stones to ensure that it won’t tip over and crack (and thus compromise your plants). Our final recommendation relative to urns is to opt for black. A black urn is preferable for planting because it will almost always provide a beautiful complement to the other colors and materials that make up your entrance.

Plants, Flowers & Gourds

As you head to the greenhouse to purchase plants to fill those urns, we have to insist on at least a couple of mums. These seasonal gems are a must have and can be mixed or matched and will always be a beautiful addition to your outdoor decor. While the mums often steal the show, we must also suggest some other favorites such as ornamental grasses that always create some interest in your planters or greens, such as cabbages and kale.

These choices offer an unexpected contrast to the brilliant colors of the mums and add to the visual appeal of your arrangement, keeping your eyes moving about. Last but certainly not least, pumpkins, squash and decorative gourds can be used to accessorize your planters and be worked in around stairs, railings or mixed right in with your seasonal landscaping to bring some color and interest to your home.

Fall is often a great time of year, filled with fun, family friendly activities and nearly indescribable natural beauty. We hope you get out and take advantage of special time of year and enjoy decorating the entrance to your home to further enhance your enjoyment of the season.

Improving Your Front Entrance for the Changing Seasons

The leaves are starting to change, pumpkin spice everything has burst back onto the scene and the temperatures are gradually beginning to dip. We’re beginning to turn our attention to prepping the exterior of our homes for winter and making other, routine but mandatory, adjustments for the change of the seasons. While much of our effort over the coming weeks will be utilitarian, the temperatures are still agreeable enough to make some end of season cosmetic changes.

When was the last time that you gave your front door a good look? Does your family even use the front door or do you primarily enter and exit through the garage? Perhaps you use only the front door and beat it up with bags of groceries as you’re trying to carry everything in one load? Do you ever find yourself pushing it open or closed with your foot? Quite often, the front door is the subject of a great deal of use and abuse.

Your front door is often the first part of your home that guests come into physical contact with.

It is also their first introduction into a very personal part of who you and your family are. Once you open that door to someone, the sights, sounds and smells of your home flood your visitors and they make a statement, whether or not you want or intend for them to. Why not take a moment and look at your front door, the entry to your home, with a critical lens and make a few upgrades before the harsh winter winds force us inside?

The first, and perhaps most obvious, step you can take is to give your entry a through cleaning.

This will allow you to clearly assess the condition of your front door, the paint and the hardware. The next step you will want to take is to consider both the condition and the color of the paint. Does the color still speak to you? Does it make a positive statement? Have you considered changing it? The color schemes of most homes lend themselves to a multitude of options when it comes to the front door. We suggest that you narrow it down to a few that you really like and paint sample areas to determine which looks the best and most inviting.

Finally, you will want to address the hardware on your front door.

Does it feel solid when you’re opening and closing the door? Does it coordinate with your other design choices, in terms of both finish and style? Door hardware comes in a variety of styles, finishes and prices from which you can pick the perfect complement to your makeover project.

Spending a couple of hours breathing new life into your front door will not only beautify it for your daily enjoyment, but also enhance the value of your property and set the right tone for visitors to your home.

Need a Heating Upgrade? Count on Bryant® Home Heating Equipment.

Maybe last winter you noticed that your home’s heating system wasn’t operating as efficiently as it did in the past. Utility bills were higher, and your home wasn’t as comfortable as you’d like. Maybe it needed repairs that were costly and inconvenient, or maybe it’s just an old system and you’ve been counting down the days until it finally breaks down. If you’re concerned that last winter was the final one for your home heating system, you might want to consider installing new Bryant® heating equipment.

At Family Danz, we provide Bryant to both our residential and commercial clients because we believe it’s among the best home comfort equipment in the industry. As a Bryant Factory Authorized Dealer, we’re committed to bringing you premium Bryant products, installed to perfection by our highly trained technicians. They’ll make sure the job is completed to your 100 percent satisfaction.

When you choose to upgrade your equipment, we’ll make sure that we discuss all of your options with you, and then provide you with a system that has been sized to heat your home to the utmost effectiveness and efficiency. We offer a number of different Bryant heating products, so we’re sure to find just the right one for your home – and your complete comfort.

Count on Family Danz to provide these quality Bryant products:

  • Gas Furnaces
  • Oil Furnaces
  • Boilers
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps
  • Heat Pumps
  • Packaged Systems

Family Danz is pleased to provide our customers throughout Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Troy and the surrounding areas with comprehensive heating services, including professional installation of quality Bryant equipment. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you enjoy greater comfort – and energy savings – this winter, simply call us at 518.427.8685, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

There’s No Time Like the Present to Install a New System

Have you been thinking about installing a new heating system in your home before the cooler weather arrives? There’s no time like the present – right now, Family Danz is offering our Bryant Bonus Heating & Cooling System Special. You can count on us for the best products and installation available, and you can save some significant money in the process.

When you take advantage of our Bryant Bonus Heating & Cooling System Special, you’ll be eligible to save up to $2,975. Here’s how:

• $1475 Utility Rebates
• $600 System Rebate
• $400 Family Danz Dealer Discount
• FREE Humidifier ($500 Value)

To take advantage of this special, simply fill out our convenient contact form by clicking here. One of our friendly associates will get back to you soon. And remember, you can trust Family Danz for all of your home comfort needs, including heating and cooling maintenance, repair and installation.

Preparing Your Home for the Cooler Months Ahead – Inside and Out!

As the dog days of summer are quickly coming to a close and we begin to turn our attention all things fall, there is much to look forward to. From apple picking to corn mazes, from chunky sweaters to boots, and lest we forget, all things pumpkin spice, the signs and symbols that tell us another brilliant New York autumn is just around the bend are plentiful. While we rush fill our weekends with adventures to the countryside, football in the den and hearty meals in the Crockpot, we must also carve out time to care for our homes. Winter will quickly sneak up on us and if we haven’t taken the time to adequately prepare, our homes will surely let us know.

Starting on the outside of the home there are a number of tasks that we should address before the snow begins to fall. Take time to tend to your landscaping by cutting back plants, raking leaves and trimming bushes and trees. Pay special attention to those trees that look as if they could be vulnerable to losing branches in a wintertime storm, especially if they are close to the house.

The fall is also an excellent time to do a final walk around your property before the snow covers everything to look for areas of the roof and siding that could be susceptible to leaking. Patching a weak spot in the roof or caulking cracks in the siding that have crept up on you over the summer can be all it takes to keep moisture out of your home during the winter months and interior water damage at a distance.

Finally, if you have an exterior air conditioning unit, make sure you cover it to protect the unit from the elements. Patio furniture, grills and other outdoor summertime staples should also be either stored inside or at the least, covered to ensure that they are in excellent working order when spring once again knocks on our door.

As we wrap up the work on the outside of our homes and move inside, we can start at the very door we use to enter the house. We want to check the quality of the seal between the door and the frame to ensure that it is not cracked or dried out. Seals that are showing signs of aging are an invitation for heat to escape and energy bills to soar. To fight back against energy loss, simply replace the seal around each exterior door, as well as the windows to help keep your home airtight and reduce your heating expenses.

Autumn is also an excellent time to schedule annual routine maintenance for your furnace, as well as changing the air filter. Regularly having an expert come into your home to clean your furnace will also allow you the opportunity to ask questions, share concerns and get a timeline for when you may be likely to experience problems. This will allow you to budget for repairs as well as have any issues addressed before they escalate and you find yourself without a heat source in the middle of a long winter’s night.

In just a few weekend hours, spread out over the course of a couple of weeks even, you can have your home, both inside and out, ready to take on another New York winter. With this maintenance behind you, there will be plenty of time for stress-free evenings and weekends in front of a roaring fireplace while surround by the ones you love.

Too Much Stuff? How to Get Your Garage Organized & Decluttered.

Do you ever feel possessed by your possessions? Does it almost feel as if you’re a slave to your stuff? Have you ever wanted to put an end to that cycle and take back your space? Your life? If so, then it’s time to organize. Here are some strategies to help you purge what you don’t need, better organize what you do and live a simpler life that provides you with more leisure time.

It can be hard to resist the allure of a great deal and for many of us, the psychology behind that way of thinking has led us to continuously buy more than we need and consequently, overcrowd our homes. It is never too late to break these habit loops and make a conscious decision to declutter and simplify both your home and your life.

Regardless of the size of your home we suggest that you start with an overall plan and then begin tackle the project one room at a time. Do you want to reduce the amount of clothing that you have? Perhaps scale back on the holiday decor that is taking up valuable real estate in your garage, basement or attic? Clean out the toys in the kids’ rooms? Whatever your goal may be, begin to visualize it and then get to work.

Now that we are close to summer’s end, perhaps the garage is a great place to start. You’ll want to take inventory of what you have in order to determine what you want to keep so it is best to pull it all out so that you can see everything. While this may be a bit overwhelming for some, it is a necessary part of the process. From here it is time to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you really need and want to keep and what you’re willing to part with.

Separate your items into three categories in different areas of the garage and first decide how you want to free yourself of your unwanted possessions. Anything that is irreparable, unusable or simply junk should be thrown away. As for everything else, if you have the time and patience, organizing a garage sale, either at your home or virtually through Facebook or some other electronic venue can bring in some additional cash. If you’d rather just be done with this part of the process, there are a number of organizations that will take your gently used and unwanted belongings and many will even offer you a tax-deductible receipt.

Armed with a collection of what you plan to keep, you will want to ensure that you organize these items in a logical manner so they are easily accessible when you need them. Clear plastic totes are a great way to do this for seasonal items and they are relatively inexpensive and easily procured. For your tools and other garage necessities, most hardware and home improvement stores offer a number of options to neatly display these items on a wall-mounted system. This allows your floor space to be free of clutter and makes it easier to maintain.

With the garage now an organized showpiece of minimalistic consumerism, you have the know-how and confidence to move on to the next room. As you tackle and work through each room, apply the same techniques discussed here and in no time you’ll feel both as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and that you’re living in a completely new space.