6 Ways to Save on Your Apartment Energy Bill this Spring

We all dread seeing that gas and electric bill come in the mail each month. Now that spring is here and the warmer weather is arriving, we can start turning off those heating sources and start saving a little bit of money. In addition to turning your heat off, here are 5 ways YOU can save on energy in your apartment this spring.

1.    Unplug/ turn off

Be sure to turn off all lights when you leave a room.  This not only helps with the electricity, but it will help keep the room cooler for any lights that give off any heat. Same goes for fans; be sure to turn off all fans when you leave a room.  No need to use a fan when you are not in the room.  Unplug appliances while not in use, like your coffee maker, computers and TV’s. Even though you’re not using them, having them plugged in still uses some energy.
light siwtch

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Home Office Solutions for Your Apartment

home office in your apartmentIt can be difficult to work from home when you live in a smaller space, or have to share a space with roommates.  Although it may seem impossible, it definitely is possible.  Below are some ideas, tips and tricks to turn your small or shared space in your apartment into a comfortable home office area.

Finding the Perfect Space for Your Home Office Area

Think about where your ideal work space would be in your apartment.  A place where you can work comfortably and efficiently.  Do you need a quiet space? Do you want to be away from any noises that others are making in the home while you work?  Or are you okay with a little noise and can work through anything?  These are just a few of the things to consider when choosing where your home office space will be.  The second thing to think about is space.

If you are wanting something quiet and away from any other action in the house, think about using a spare bedroom, unused closet, or part of your bedroom.  Think of somewhere that you will not be distracted.  If you are okay working in an area that has lots of traffic or noise when anyone is home, then try to find an area in your living room or hallway that would fit your office space.
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Decorating your Apartment for the Holidays, Plus a Chance to WIN!

Just because you live in an apartment, or have a small space, doesn’t mean that you can’t make your space look great during the holidays. We’ve hit up Pinterest to give you the best holiday decorating ideas for your apartment or small space.
 
Let’s start with the tree…
 
Christmas Tree:
Do you like real trees or faux trees? If you love real Christmas trees, check with your landlord first to make sure they are allowed in your building. Faux Christmas trees are a great alternative and although they may be a bit pricey at first, you can use them year after year, so you get your money’s worth. They even make pine scented ornaments now that will make your apartment smell like you have a real tree. Make sure you pick the right size tree to fit in your space. If you have a small space and don’t have much room for a tree, try a tabletop tree, or a half tree as shown below. You can still decorate them just like any other tree, but they don’t take up as much space as a regular sized tree. Don’t have space at all for a tree? There are several alternatives to choose from instead of a tree. Take advantage of your wall space and use lights to create your own tree. Use chalk on a dark wall or create a tree shape with wood pieces or branches on the wall as shown below. We also love the idea of using your books to create a tree against your wall. You could do this on the floor, on a shelf or even on a table.



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Preparing the Apartment for Break

beach walkIt seems like the winter break would never come! It doesn’t really matter where you’re headed to; the time away is going to be amazing. Before you even start packing, there are some things you should take care of in your apartment first. You don’t want to spend your whole time worrying about stuff that could be happening at home.

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Things to do in Madison this Summer

Madison SummerIf you are going to be in town this summer, you are definitely in luck. Madison has a lot to offer when it comes to enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  Summer is arguably the best three months of a Wisconsin year. Without studying and Badger Athletics to occupy your time, you can spend your summer checking off the items on our:

“Summer in Madison Bucket List”

  • Law Park: Water Ski Show: Starting Memorial Day weekend all the way to Labor Day, The Mad-City Ski Team has home ski shows on Sundays in Law Park. Go for the Junior Team show at 5:30 and stay for the Main show starting at 6pm.
  • Farmers Market: Every Saturday from 6am to 2pm you can visit the Capitol Square for locally sourced and grown foods.
  • Brat Fest: Memorial Day Weekend, May 22nd – 25th join in the 3.5 million brat grill out!
  • Dane County Fair: July 15-19th #ExperienceIt at the Alliant Energy Center. Exhibits, Carnival, Food, Music and all day entertainment.
  • The Zoo: The Henry Vilas Zoo is open 9:30am-5pm daily and it’s Free!
  • Picnic Point: Bring friends, your walking shoes and a picnic! The historic area and trails right along the lake are absolutely beautiful on a sunny day.
  • Betty Lou Cruise: Lake Monona or Lake Mendota, Betty Lou has just the tour for you.
  • Terrace Entertainment: Live Music 4 days a week at the Union Terrace!
  • Rooftop Dances: Starting in June, the Monona Terrace hosts Rooftop concerts and then rooftop dances starting in August!
  • Mallards Game: The “Duck Pond” at Warner Park hosts family friendly Minor league baseball thought-out the summer.
  • Clean Lakes Festival: Most likely the last weekend in July again this year, this event allows you to enjoy many Lake activities for free or low cost in order to build awareness about lake cleanliness.
  • Bike Trails: Madison is pretty bike friendly! There are a lot of resources to help you find a new route or trail. Click the title and you can interact with the Bike Madison website.
  • Pool Day: The Goodman Community Pool is open from 1pm to at least 6pm most days this summer!
  • Sailing: One well known Madison Group to take sailing lessons from is the Madison Hoofers. Find out more by clicking the sailing title.
  • Kayak or Canoe: It’s pretty easy to just get a day rental from the union and get out on the lake!
  • Arboretum and Hiking: If you are looking for a stroll in the great outdoors, the arboretum is a great place to start!
  • Mini Golf: Vitense Golf is the place for indoor and outdoor mini golf in Madison!
  • Concerts on the Square: Wednesday nights at 7pm hear performances from the Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra on the Capitol Lawn. Bring a blanket and some snacks.
  • Veterans Museum: In case it rains one day, you can always visit the Veteran’s Memorial Museum on the capitol square. Admission is free and it’s open 9am-4pm
  • Olbrich Gardens: Another great rain or shine activity is Olbrich Gardens! Their outdoor gardens are fabulous but the indoor exhibits are pretty spectacular as well.

There will be something going on every weekend in Madison this summer. Our best advice is to enjoy your surroundings and try new things with the people you love most.  #LiveMPM

10 Gadgets to Add to Your Life

New things come out all the time, so it’s hard to keep up. We did a bit of research to find some great gadgets for Madison residents. Here’s what we found!

 bike

Magnetic Bike Lights

Don’t worry about finding one that fits your bike. This is one size fits all! Keep it in your pocket/bag and clip it on when you’re ready to go.

 

 watch

Fit Bit

Be a little more contentious about your daily activity. Please include a short explanation of what it does. Set goals for yourself and track your progress.

 

 backpack

Charge Pack

Spend the whole day out and about! You can study outside and keep your phone charged throughout your busiest days.

 

 travel

Heated Travel Mug

Gosh, that just sounds amazing during a week as cold as this past one.

 

 coffee

Wi-Fi Coffee Maker

Have coffee ready before you step foot in the kitchen. If you have a waterproof phone case, you might even be able to have it start while you’re in the shower!

 

 projector

Smartphone Projector

Watch YouTube on the “big screen” with the roomies.

 

 makeup

Cosmetic Holder

Keep your counters and drawers clean.

 

 carabineer

Carabineer Bands 

There are a lot of creative ways to use these. They are especially great for bike commuters!

 

 hangers

Folding Hangers 

Not sure if these work, but they sure are intriguing. If you have them, let us know how they work.

 

 alarm

Dashboard Alarm Clock/Thermometer

This looks cool, but it also seems handy. Allow yourself to be phone-free for a little bit in the mornings. A recent study found that phone-free mornings may actually help you maintain a routine and lower your stress level. It might be worth it!

 

 

While gadgets make your life easier, they could also just be a fad. Be smart; research a product before you buy it online and ask around. Personal experience is the best way to know if something is awesome or not. Feel free to comment with any of your own recommendations.

No Time for Cleaning?

Your apartment is a mess. You’re sick of it. If you have to look at that pile of clothes for one more minute, you might throw it out the window…but studying for your upcoming exam seems way more important, so you just don’t have time to clean.

You know you would feel better if you got it over with. It’s amazing how living in a clean environment can take some stress out of your life and even help you work more productively within your space. It’s easier to clean up now than to hope you will magically have more time later on.

Don’t let the prospect of tidying up overwhelm you; cleaning doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. Even dedicating just 5 or 10 minutes of your day to cleaning one room of your home will make a world of difference!

We hope these quick cleaning tips will help even the busiest individuals get down to it:

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  1. Preparation

    1. Have a cleaning bucket ready to go with all of your cleaning supplies.
      1. Rubber Gloves
      2. Window Cleaner
      3. Paper Towels
      4. Rags
      5. Multi-Purpose Cleaner
      6. Sponges
      7. Dustpan and Brush
      8. Scrubbing Brush
      9. Toilet Bowl Cleaner and Brush
      10. Swiffer
    2. Set a timer. If you are really in a time crunch this will help you work harder without worrying about what time it is.
    3. Put some beats on! Playing music while you clean will make the time fly, and the task will be more fun. We suggest listening to something upbeat and fast paced like this playlist: http://8tracks.com/pistolproof/sorry-about-the-mess

 

  1. Quick Cleaning tips

    1. Clear the clutter (Hint: Decorative baskets and bins are a great way to hide items that you can’t find a home for anywhere else.)
    2. Wash the dishes.
    3. Wipe down all surfaces, the shine will make the room feel much cleaner.
    4. Vacuum or sweep; it won’t take as long as you think and will make future mopping much easier.
    5. Make your bed.
    6. Fluff the pillows.
    7. Spray some Febreze and crack a few windows to make your place smell fresh and clean.
  1. Keeping it Clean

    1. Straighten up regularly. Now that you have experienced how quickly you can clean up, it won’t be so painful to do it more frequently. It will be a lot less work too.
    2. Organization systems help. Use your bins, boxes, and baskets; and clutter will be less likely to pop up.
    3. Consciously put things away when you’re done using them, and clean up messes as they happen. If you are quick to react, you will be on your way to faster relaxation.

Roommates, Shared Space and a Happy Face

These three ideas should define apartment living, but all too often, the dynamic between roommates can change after the honeymoon stage of a live-in friendship has worn off. Cohabitation isn’t the easiest thing to master, but we have a few suggestions to keep in mind as you navigate the ups and downs of sharing your space with others.

The most important aspect of a relationship with your roomies is communication. A lack of good, clear communication is the root of many heated debates and can cause extreme tension between cohabiters.

It might seem silly, but being upfront about your expectations is crucial before moving in with someone.  To make sure everyone remains on the same page, we recommend reviewing these expectations within the first week of living in your new home.  Setting ground rules makes it much easier to have a mutual understanding of your shared space, and exceptions to these rules can always be discussed on a case-by-case basis when unique circumstances arise.

Conflict can occur, even between the most amicable of roommates.  If a roomie does something that irks you, it’s important to address the issue right away so resentment doesn’t build over time.  Although it’s important to be open and honest, we recommend doing so with a conversation rather than a confrontation.   Whether it’s asking your roommates to check with you before throwing a party on a Tuesday night or having a conversation about which food items you are and aren’t willing to share, your roommates are much more likely to understand your point of view if you talk with them respectfully.  Along the same lines, be open to a little constructive criticism from your cohabiters and be and willing to compromise or make some changes in your behavior.Roommates

The following are little tricks you and your roommates can implement to maintain positive communication in your household:

Cleaning/Chores

  • Create a chore chart so each person can clearly see what needs to be done.
  • Assign permanent duties for each person. (e.g. you will always clean this and your roommate will always clean ) This system will ensure that responsibilities are clear and easy to remember.
  • Set clear expectations for when regular cleaning should occur.
  • Clean up after yourself.

makeupBathroom usage and Organization

  • Talk about schedules and come up with a routine so your roommate isn’t late to work because he or she has to wait for you to finish your 30 minute shower in the morning.
  • Make sure each person has a designated shelf/drawer/etc. so finding your own toiletries is easy.
  • Have a caddy or bin that you can easily access so you can take part of your morning routine into your bedroom as needed.
  • Be courteous of your roommates’ privacy, and understand that their hygiene routines may be different from yours.

Kitchen Use

  • Decide if you and your roomies will buy food together and share it or if you’d prefer to keep your groceries separate. Either option can work well (as long as all parties are on the same page).
  • Talk about doing dishes, sharing appliances, filling water pitchers, re-stocking ice cube trays, and other shared responsibilities.

Paying Bills

  • If you are sharing and splitting bills, make a calendar that denotes when bills are due.
  • Stick to payment deadlines.
  • Have a white board on your fridge where you can clearly write out/divide the bills so each person knows exactly how much he or she owes and why.

Shared Space– Parallel play

  • You don’t have to hide out in your own bedroom to do something that you want to do alone, and it’s important to feel comfortable near your roommates without feeling the need to partake in their every activity. A great way to hang out together while still taking some time for yourself is called parallel play. Realize that it is completely okay to be in the same room with your roommates while doing different things.  Parallel play can even be a bonding experience of sorts.

If you and your roomies utilize some of these tips this year, we’re confident that your living experience will be a great one!

 

Making Your Apartment More Livable

As a renter, you may feel like you are limited in your options to customize your temporary home. This is especially difficult for students, who are moving from place to place throughout college. Make a small apartment more livable by decking it out with cool furniture arrangements and funky personal touches. Use these tips to maximize the space in your place:
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