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17Jan
0

One thing many Americans struggle with is maintaining a good credit score, which has a huge impact on finances and can even provide access to the most competitive interest rates for home and auto loans. For those whose credit score still has room for improvement, a proactive approach must be applied. The 3 tips below are designed to help individuals with low credit scores to improve their credit.

Review Annual Credit Reports

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans have the legally protected opportunity to request a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies once each year. (Requesting all three reports at once will allow the individual to make sure there are no errors with any of the companies, while requesting just one at a time will allow the individual to monitor his or her credit more frequently at no cost.) These credit reports may not include a credit score, but they do provide a detailed report of all information pertaining to the individual’s credit history.

It’s a good idea to make it a habit to review each page, debt, and line of the credit report at least once annually. During the review, keep an eye out for both areas of opportunity for improvement and errors on the report. Some errors could be small, such as a closed account still showing as open—while others could be as large as an unauthorized credit account. If these errors are not identified, they can wreak havoc on a person’s credit rating.

Pay All the Bills On Time

There are many factors that can negatively impact an individual’s credit score. While allowing debt to go into collection is an obvious one, paying bills late is another. One way to ensure that all the bills are paid in a timely manner? Forbes contributor Curtis Arnold suggests setting up automatic withdrawal for all of their bills. This can be set up either through an individual’s bank or directly through the company to which money is owed. Just keep in mind that every time a new bank card is issued it will be necessary to update billing information with all the companies to which payments are regularly made to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

Find a Legal Service to Start Repairing Credit

Those who have a good or above average credit score and who are simply looking to boost their credit score may just need to make a few minor changes to their financial habits. However, those who have a low or middling credit score are likely to have far more areas with room for improvement. By working with a legal service that specializes in repairing credit, individuals can gain access to their full range of options. This could include methods by which bad debt can be removed from a credit report.

The experts who offer this kind of legal service know the appropriate steps to take to ensure that errors on credit reports are removed in a timely manner, as well as how to help repair credit after identity theft. They are also experts at negotiating with creditors to improve credit. While a legal service may not have success removing or repairing all bad debt, the individual will still be able to get his or her credit back on track faster than going it alone.

 

16Jan
0

The holidays are an interesting time of year. Many families’ traditions are all but set in stone, while other people feel free to bounce from place to place.

No matter which category you fall into, it’s worth considering doing something unique this year. Instead of sticking with the same holiday destination or experience, why not go out of your comfort zone and try a brand-new experience?

While the holiday season tends to be packed with travelers, there are plenty of less-crowded places to take your loved ones. Start searching today and begin planning for a remote holiday that’s far from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life.

Heavy travel volume expected for 2014 holidays

If this Labor Day was any forecast of the amount of travel we are apt to see this holiday season, airports and roads will be packed. AAA estimated 34.7 million Americans traveled at least 50 miles over the Labor Day weekend, which was the highest volume since 2008.

According to AAA COO Marshall Doney, “This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation. Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year.”

Weekend travel has continued to rise since September, and that strongly suggests Americans will be comfortable taking extended holiday vacations at the end of the year. While most opt for traditional holiday destinations like New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, others are looking for a different experience.

Reports indicate not a few people are considering trying something new and unique. Here’s one big example.

Safari holiday

While the term may seem new to many people, African safari holidays have grown in popularity over the past few decades. What was once a rudimentary industry with limited appeal to, say, outdoor enthusiasts has now become a popular vacation option for travelers of all ages and lifestyles.

Safaris are popular across the continent, but most of the commercial resorts and best viewing experiences may be found in Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, and Rwanda. Safari holidays usually last anywhere from four to fourteen days, and are often customized in response to personal requests.

Top reasons to choose an African safari holiday

If the idea of an African safari holiday is completely new, it can take some convincing for first-timers. Here are a few of the top reasons to consider a safari this holiday season:

  • The escape. People often say they want to escape from reality for a while by taking a vacation, but many of them fail to follow up on that desire. Instead, they choose to visit a big city or crowded beach. If you really want to escape, try the African veldt. You’ll get a complete change of scenery, enjoy wide open spaces with nothing but nature and wildlife, and find a place to recharge and refresh. It’s unlike any other experience.

  • Last call. Sadly, many species in Africa are in danger of extinction. This means you only have a limited time to see them. While many can say they have seen elephants, lions, and rhinos in a zoo, experiencing them in their natural habitat is profoundly different.

  • The big five. How many people can say they’ve seen the “big five” in person? The African lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo comprise the big five that are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. You can also view animals like hippos, gorillas, giraffes, and cheetahs. It’s a firsthand viewing experience unlike any other.

  • A strict budget. Many people are intimidated by travel because there unexpected expenses too often pop up and make the experience more costly than planned. Most African safari holiday packages protect you against this. They typically include everything from accommodations and food to sightseeing and game viewing in one all-inclusive price. This relieves you of the stress of tracking and documenting expenses along the way.

  • Relaxing. Safaris are actually quite relaxing. If you choose one with an experienced tour operator, you can sit back, unwind, and take in the sights and sounds without worrying about the logistics. It’s a remarkably hands-off-the-wheel vacation.

  • New friends. Though you may be able to fill your own safari with friends and loved ones, you’ll often be joined by other groups. This is a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world and make new friends. You’ll also find plenty of time to meet local citizens and develop friendships with knowledgeable tour operators.

The top African national parks and safari holidays

An African safari holiday is an excellent chance to encounter and witness the landscape, as well as its flora and fauna, at its finest. The daily cycles of countless animal species are put on display for visitors to observe without disturbing the natural order of things. According to research, some of the best individual locations to take a safari holiday include:

  • Serengeti. Spanning more than 30,000 square kilometers, Tanzania’s Serengeti hosts more than 500 unique animal species in its grassy plains. As RohoYaChui.com says, it’s one of the best places to “get a glimpse” of Africa’s famed big five.

  • Kruger. This is considered southern Africa’s grandest national park. It has almost 20,000 square kilometers of forest, waterways, and grasslands. With a multitude of terrain types and wildlife species, Kruger is one of the top safari opportunities in the world.

  • Victoria Falls. This breathtaking waterfall – the world’s largest – sits at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Not only are there beautiful sights to see, but safaris also allow visitors to see some of the most natural and raw wildlife in the region.

  • Ngorongoro Crater. This portion of Tanzania is home to 30,000 animals, including unique species of lions, zebras, elephants, and rhinos. It’s also one of the most paleo-anthropologically rich sites in the entire world. Here you can experience a large volcanic crater, lush grasslands, and wonderful wildlife.

Consider an African Safari holiday

While it may strike you as an unusual idea for a vacation, don’t let the fear of novelty keep you from choosing an African safari holiday this year. As the holiday season approaches, the time to plan a trip is now.

Whether it’s Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, or any of the other beautiful nations of the African continent, try researching the option today.

 

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15Jan
0

With the new year upon us, many people have made it a priority to put fitness first. While most resolutions have been pledged by now, the trick is to actually keep them going strong throughout the whole year. Many people facing these new goals find it easier to accomplish their resolutions through a refreshing take on exercise. Check out these four ways to ramp up a stale workout into a fun and energetic one this new year.

Pilates

Add Pilates to the routine for a unique way to create core body strength, balance and control, according to Pro Sports Club. With a focus on the fluidity of movement in the body, Pilates is the perfect way to regain control, build core muscle strength, boost athletic performance and even recover from injuries. Side benefits of Pilates? Increased flexibility, flatter tummy, reduced joint pain, and better overall posture. Adding Pilates to a well-rounded fitness routine can help fit-minded individuals accomplish their healthy goals easily this year.

Swimming

Many people think of fitness as a land-based activity, but the truth is, swimming can help shed those calories just as easily. Plus, it’s fun. For a solid cardio and strengthening routine, start off by walking laps through the water, followed by a swim, then adding resistance with water weights, noodles, belts and hand webs, suggests Fitness and Wellness News. Swimmers can burn 500 calories in just one hour when doing a water aerobics routine, which helps lose weight through endurance and resistance training.

Switch it Up

One big pitfall people seem to fall into over time is doing the same routine in the same order for the same amount of time. Experts say this can lead to lack of motivation due to boredom. Plus, those same boring routines may lose effectiveness over time. This is why it’s recommended people switch up the order of their routine and shorten the amount of time they spend on each exercise. The catch? Increasing the intensity of the workout within that shorter time span to get the max benefits.

Make it Fun

A fitness routine is certainly a great basis for losing weight and toning muscles. But instead of spending all their time in a stuffy gym, many people find it adds another element to their workout routine when they do something different such as participate in team sports or games. You can even try changing your current routine by just adding a little imagination, according to Eric Ravenscraft at Lifehacker. Using a variety of apps, you can challenge your current routine by pretending to be running from zombies, you can set up a reward pool in your group of friends who work out consistently (and punish those who don’t), and even participate in a Google augmented reality game in your city. The possibilities are endless.

Facing 2015 is a breeze when incorporating an invigorating workout into the mix. It’s too easy to let those resolutions slide. After all, who wants to engage in a boring fitness routine every day? Switching it up every now and then will provide inspiration to keep going and actually make fitness goals work for each individual.

 

14Jan
0

Those who are thinking about moving from one home or office to another need to consider many factors before making the big decision. From placing items in storage in the interim to choosing which professionals to hire, moving can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be this way with the right preparation, thanks to these five tips to consider before moving.

1. Hire a Professional or DIY?

This is one big consideration when moving. Hiring professionals costs more money, but they provide quick and seamless moving services from start to finish, with no hassle on the part of the homeowner. The DIY approach saves some money but puts all the burden of safe loading and transport squarely on the homeowner’s shoulders. It may be wise to hire a professional if there are many valuables, large items and collectibles at stake so that they can be moved and transported with the utmost professionalism and care.

2. Need Storage?

Many times, there is a gap in time between moving from one house to moving into another. This begs the question of where to keep all the stuff until it’s time to move in. The answer to this question is simple: storage. People in this situation may want to consider renting a storage pod, which affords a certain amount of convenience and hassle free moving, according to Door to Door. Pods or containers are dropped off at the residence to be filled and packed up by the homeowner, then are transported off site to a storage facility until it’s time to move in. Storage pods can even be delivered directly to the new home, making unpacking a breeze.

3. What About Truck Rental?

This one requires careful planning and consideration of what has to be moved and when. For those with a lot of stuff, particularly large items like furniture, a truck rental is a good idea. Trucks can be filled up and transported easily to the new site with fairly minimal hassle. Homeowners can do this on their own and return the truck when they are done moving, without needing to pay the full expense of hiring professional movers. Those with smaller items or who don’t have that much stuff to move may be able to get away with transporting the items in their own vehicles, but this could still involve several trips back and forth. Just make sure the truck gets returned during business hours, or the company could charge exorbitant late fees, writes Christopher Elliot for Daily Finance.

4. Any Fragile or Specialty Items?

Getting an estimate in writing is critical when considering specialty items that need to be moved, such as playground sets and flat screen plasma TVs, advises ABC News. Getting that estimate in person is even better because the moving company can more effectively estimate the cost when they can determine exactly what they’re dealing with. This also gives the mover time to decide which way is the best way to pack and move the items in question.

5. DIY Packing or Professional Assistance?

Many people prefer packing up their own stuff so that they can take the extra care to properly wrap delicate items in bubble wrap and the like. They enjoy peace of mind knowing every box is labeled how they like it with a clear destination. Others don’t have time to pack up their stuff, and rely on professional movers to handle this task in addition to actually moving and transporting the items. This is a big consideration not only due to cost but also as regards personal preferences.

 

14Jan
0

It is late in the evening, and you have just seriously injured yourself. The sight of your own blood, rapidly drips from an open wound on your forehead, making you feel a little queasy and faint. Since you cannot stand the sight of your own blood, you feel yourself start to panic and sweat a bit. Your wife quickly accesses the number to a local free-standing ER center, but you insist that she can just drive you to the hospital instead.

Cleaning the blood off your forehead, you decide to place a cold press over the swelling that is forming into a decent sized bump. Your wife grabs her keys, and the both of you head out the door, pile into the car, and head across town to the hospital. When you get to the check-in desk at the emergency room, you notice the place is completely packed with people. You sign in, find a vacant seat, and the waiting begins. A woman finally calls you back, takes your vitals, and eventually you get to see a doctor. The doctor looks at your head, takes an x-ray, tells you nothing is wrong, and sends you home with a huge bill that stings more than the bump on your head.

Avoiding the Emergency Room at the Hospital

Often people imagine that when they are seriously injured, the best place to seek treatment is at the local hospital in their area. It is a trend that has been strongly reinforced by popular media and television shows. However, in many cases, walk-in clinics and free-standing ER-centers are actually better choices. In many stand alone facilities today, the wait is only a few minutes. At the emergency-room in the hospital, the wait can extend to being many hours. This is hardly efficient in light of the fact that you may need immediate attention and care. When you can get in quick and get scanned quick, this means that the nature of how serious your condition truly is can be assessed much faster and more efficiently. According to an American College of Emergency Physicians fact sheet, because hospital emergency-room triage-policy is to take the most severe patients first, patients with less serious injuries will end up having longer delays in receiving patient care.

Other Important Benefits of Free Standing Medical Emergency Centers

According to SignatureCare Emergency Center, the injured have access to more medical services than what local hospitals are able to ration out to patients. Many stand alone emergency care centers have state of the art medical equipment. These facilities compete with hospitals with convenient 24-hour service as well. They utilize the services of board-certified physicians, take most major insurance plans and sometimes provide ambulance service to patients in need of emergency transportation to their facilities. Since many of these clinics are much smaller than emergency-rooms at the hospital, it is easier to keep these facilities clean and free of infections that are present within many larger hospital settings. With many of these facilities, the patient volume is much lower than at the hospital, which makes it possible to get more one-on-one care from an on-staff physician. In some ways, the free standing emergency care facilities make the entire hospital-based emergency-room experience seem antiquated.

14Jan
0

You’d think that a piece of technology sent to Mars would have flawless tools, software, and of course plenty of memory to capture and store everyone discovered. However, the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity seems to be suffering from flash memory problems that just aren’t being addressed. In the rover’s defense, it’s been scouring Mars for over ten years now, hanging on for several months past the initial three-month mission it was meant for in 2004. While some experts blame general wear and tear for the issues with memory (which are causing “amnesia”), others are saying it just didn’t have the best memory to begin with.

With the Mars Rover, two tiers of memory were used including non-volatile and volatile. While this type of memory is specific for space technology, it shares many similarities with flash vs. RAM (what we use here on earth). For more information on flash and RAM, check out Computer World’s explanation. With volatile memory, everything gets “forgotten” when the power is turned off, but non-volatile memory remember everything (or at least it’s supposed to).

Red Rover, Red Rover…

“Rovering” around the Red Planet has been quite the task, and astronauts were committed to making sure the data collected was safeguarded. This was done with non-volatile memory, so that when the rover had to reboot (each “night”), the information would be secured. However, there’s only so much non-volatile memory can handle, and it’ll eventually wear down.

According to NASA, they’re planning to simply let the rover “die” in space when the memory totally fails, but they’re not giving up hope quite yet. There have been many experts coming up with ways to keep the rover going, even with failing memory. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found the issue in the last of seven non-volatile memory banks the rover’s been using. If they program the rover to not use that seventh memory bank, memory loss should be a thing of the past.

Houston, problem solved

John Callas, a NASA Program Manager, says updating that software will only take a couple of weeks and it shouldn’t take long to figure out if the move is successful. Extending the rover’s time on Mars is beneficial to everyone; just check out Space’s photos of some of the most stunning images captured by the rover in the past decade.

Currently, the rover is near Marathon Valley and it’s crawled over 26 miles since being deployed. As the world record holder of rovers, does it have what it takes for a few more months or years? All signs point to yes.

13Jan
0

Whether you are launching a startup, or looking for ways to maximize success in a well-established or struggling business, many business owners struggle with the exact direction to take. Even if the business owner is fairly confident in the direction they want to go, if all does no not go as planned—they may not be able to clearly identify where things went wrong. For business owners and company executives who have yet to seek out the expertise of a consultant, the benefits are many.

Identify The Most Favorable Areas Of Opportunity

One of the many reasons companies seek out the expertise of an outside consultant is because it is so easy to become so caught up in the daily workflow, that daily operations continue as usual without second thought. A consultant will provide a fresh set of eyes, and an outside expert opinion, whose primary focus is to help companies achieve and/or maximize success. Consulting will help to identify where to focus more energy, as well as where to focus less energy. It will help to eliminate redundancies, and help to increase efficiency and productivity.

Innovative Ways To Grow And Expand Your Business

It is essential that companies do not spread themselves too thin by offering so many services or products, which can make it challenging to give each product and service the level of attention required for success. That being said, a consultant can provide invaluable insight as to the most effective ways to grow and expand a business. This may include scaling back on some services and product lines, and offering add-ons and up sells to other services and product lines. This could also include innovative ways in which branching out into other sectors of an industry can prove to be beneficial. This may also include focusing energy on a new or secondary target audience. The bottom line is customer service and improving the customer experience, according to a blog by Michelle Nowak of CSG International.

How To Remain Competitive, Without Sacrificing Company Culture

Companies must remain competitive in both their primary service area, as well as within their industry. However, sometimes the competitive nature of business—both internally and externally—makes it challenging to maintain the desired company culture. Maintaining company culture is essential for both employee and client retention. Forbes contributor Micah Solomon maintains that your business must remain “customer centric” regardless of changes in dynamics. A consultant will ensure that an action plan is put in place, to confirm that all short-term and long-term goals are created with strategies and tactics to ensure a business remains relevant within their industry—as wall as a desirable company to work for.

How To Restructure, And Maximize Success In Times Of Growth

As exciting as it is when a company experiences a surge in business, if the surge in business is not properly managed—there may be some downsides. Even if the growth and business has occurred gradually over time, companies must reevaluate both their daily operations—and how their departments are organized. Growth will not only require companies to onboard new team members, but is likely to create the need for entirely new positions. For example, if one person currently manages all aspects of marketing, a secondary role may need to be created solely for social media marketing. This will ensure that the initial marketing professional is not spread too thin, and that focus on all relevant aspects of marketing is not lost along the way.

Around 80 percent of businesses fail within their first 18 months, according to Eric. T Wagner, a Forbes contributor. Many more achieve success that they are unable to maintain—turning to a consultant can help businesses continue to grow, expand and manage change in a healthy manner.

 

12Jan
0

Even the most accomplished of professionals must take a proactive approach to their ongoing professional development. The most common types of training professionals seek out is industry specific training, or the ongoing training provided by their employer. While both of these types of training are essential, professionals must not forget the importance of expanding their technical and computer skills with training that is transferable across all industries. The five reasons below are just a few reasons corporate professionals of all skill levels should consider online training in software they are familiar with, as well as software they may want to begin utilizing.

Improve Quality Of Work

Once a professional invests in online training that introduces them to new software, or features they were unfamiliar within the software they currently use—they are likely to learn several ways in which they can improve the quality of their work. This could be as simple as new methods to keep their daily to-do list more organized, or ways in which they can create powerful and organized reports and presentations. Employers should consider encouraging more ongoing training, as it shows their team that they are invested in their success, according to Victor Lipman, a contributor to Forbes. Not only that, ongoing training is essential for maintaining a fulfilling and challenging career.

Increase Productivity

While many professionals are proficient in 2 or 3 software programs within the Microsoft Office Suite, few are familiar with more than that. Without training in the other software programs within Office, corporate professionals may not be aware of what tools are available to increase their productivity. On top of that, many professionals are unaware of the full range of capabilities that even common software programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have to offer.

Increase Value

Knowledge truly is power. The more learned, the more valuable professionals become to their employer. Once new training is applied, professionals can pass their skills along to other team members, or simply allow their new skill set to shine through in their work. Taking the initiative to invest in ongoing technical training will also show employers a higher level of commitment and dedication. Both the desire for additional training, as well as the increased skill set make employees more valuable to their employer.

Remain Competitive

Industry-specific training is essential for remaining competitive within an industry, but online computer and software training helps professionals to remain competitive within the business world as a whole, as outlined by CBTNuggets. Even if online training is not paid for by an employer, professionals should consider making the investment because the skills they gain provide a competitive edge.

Increase Creativity

Many professionals walk away from their online training feeling inspired. Not only do they have new skills they can apply to their daily professional life, but the training often opens their mind to new areas of opportunity. This could include anything from expanding the services they offer, to taking an entirely different approach to their current job duties.

With computers and technology playing a primary role in group presentations, the daily workload, and internal and external communication—increased technical training is essential. By turning to online training courses, professionals can gain the additional training they require at their convenience—without traveling or taking time off of work. In fact, most online training courses can be complete in small blocks of time spread out over several days.

11Jan
0

Whether moving into a first home or apartment, or reevaluating the monthly household bills—bundling cable, phone, and internet is a topic that is sure to arise. Below are the most compelling reasons to bundle these services, which are of benefit to the consumer, the service provider—or both. Bundling services is available for both private residential and business needs, and there are many different bundles designed to address a wide range of individual needs.

Reducing Monthly Costs

One of the largest benefits consumers experience when they bundle their services are the cost-saving benefits; by purchasing a home phone line, cable and internet access all from one company and on one plan, most customers save money over paying for each service separately. And bundles are becoming increasingly customizable, which is good news for consumers and vendors alike, according to Jonathan Wilner of Wired. When it comes to home phone, cell phone, Internet and cable, turning to a separate provider for each often leaves individuals paying premium pricing. Think of bundling these services as being similar to the cost-saving benefits of bundling home, life, and car insurance policies.

Fewer Monthly Bills

Whether bills are paid via automatic withdrawal or monthly checks are sent in by mail, bundling allows for easier calculations because consumers only have one monthly bill, as opposed to three or four. This also means less wasted paper sent in the mail and fewer email reminders sent regarding the monthly billing cycle. As it turns out, bundling cable services could save more than just money: it could help save the environment, too!

Improve Your Range Of Services

When consumers set up their initial service, or revise their service, they may choose their range of services depending partially (or fully) upon their budget. Since most providers offer a competitive range of the most in-demand services in their bundling options, many consumers who bundle their services also choose to upgrade the services they receive. This could include upgrades to existing services, such as unlimited cell phone minutes, faster Internet speeds or a wider range of cable TV channels. Customers should also check if the provider offers free on-demand television, high definition or digital video recording as part of their packages, suggests Wave Broadband.

Drive Down Pricing

In order to remain competitive, providers must not only offer the services clients are most interested in—but they must also offer competitive pricing. In fact, it is for this reason that most providers offer bundling as an option. For example, if local or nationwide service provider only offered one service, they would surely lose customers to their competition. By bundling services, providers not only remain competitive, but strive to beat their competitor’s pricing, which is why Consumer Reports says it is crucial for consumers to shop around and even haggle with providers. Even if the service provider only offers one service, such as cable, they are likely to offer packages that allow for different variations of available channels and specialty features such as a DVR, streaming or satellite.

Bundling Helps Providers Expand Reach

The more consumers choose to bundle their home or business services, the more revenue each provider will generate. As the provider experiences an increase in revenue, they will invest more into expanding both their service area and the service options they offer. This means that consumers will have ongoing access to the services they want and need, without the hassle of switching service providers.

Many consumers are unaware of the benefits of bundling, if only because they have simply had the same services or service provider for so long. Even if bundling is not a good fit for a consumer today, they should check back with their service providers at least once per year to see what new options they have to offer. On the same note, providers must keep a close eye on the services packages their competition makes available to make sure they’re getting the most for their money.

 

10Jan
0

Homeowners may take their HVAC systems for granted—until they break down and give them a hassle. There are ways to stay on top of HVAC issues to stave off unnecessary repairs or replacement, but sometimes units simply fail—whether due to the advanced age of the unit, improper maintenance or a combination of both. Here are four signs homeowners can be on the lookout for to determine when their HVAC system is no longer working as it should and needs to be replaced.

1. Age

Most heat pumps will give homeowners between 10 and 15 years of service, according to Mark Huffman writing for Consumer Affairs. But after that, the heat pump may start to break down and need parts replaced or repaired more and more frequently. At that point, it may be best to simply install a newer, more energy efficient one. The Department of Energy says that when a heat pump that’s older than 10 years is replaced with one that bears the Energy Star label, it can save homeowners up to 20 percent on their heating and cooling bills. That’s a lot of cash.

2. Performance

When a heat pump fails to cool and heat like it did in the past, this is a sign it’s getting old and needs replacing—especially if parts have been replaced here and there only for them to wear out quickly soon after. When a heat pump fails to perform as it once did, homeowners will notice an increase in their energy bills because the unit has to work harder to produce the same result. Considering a replacement is a real possibility when performance starts to decline. One telltale sign of lack of performance is noisier-than-usual operation.

3. Energy Efficiency

People with failing heat pumps may notice some rooms are less comfortable—either too hot or too cool—than others within the home. The unit could be straining to perform at the level of expectation. Homeowners may notice that they need to turn up the heat more than usual or turn the AC’s cooling on full blast to achieve the same level of comfort they previously enjoyed at much lower settings. Again, this increase will likely show up on energy bills and should serve as a sign the unit is failing.

4. Sensor Failure

HVAC systems typically kick on when the temperature dips below or rises above a certain pre-set number. Units that fail to operate when they should may not be detecting temperature correctly. This could be a simple fix or it could indicate system failure due to old age. Sometimes a part replacement is all that’s needed, while other times a whole new unit may have to be installed. Only a professional can determine this after an inspection.

To determine the level of performance of a heat pump, it’s necessary to hire an HVAC technician to perform a full inspection, which involves removing dirt and debris, running a full check on all systems and performing a 37-point diagnostic, according to Washington Energy. Homeowners would be wise to schedule an appointment with their HVAC technician to determine whether their unit should be replaced or if a simple part replacement is all that’s needed. Having information at the ready, such as the original date of purchase and any work done on the unit, can help the technician with his or her diagnostic responsibilities.

 

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