Spring Cleaning for Savings!

When the weather finally warms up and the days are longer, we almost instinctively open the windows, and freshen up the house. Did you know that adding a few more things to your Spring Cleaning regimen can actually save you money whether you are a renter or a homeowner?

Switch Your Fans–  Make sure your ceiling fans are going counter clockwise in the warmer weather.  This will help rooms feel cooler than they are, helping you get the best mileage out of your AC.

Vacuum the Coils Behind the Refrigerator– As dust, dirt, and pet hair build up on the coils behind the fridge, it runs in a less efficient (read: more expensive) way. Vacuuming away this stuff annually is a good way to increase the efficiency of an appliance that one of the biggest energy draws in the kitchen!

Dryer Vent Clean Out– It is important to clean out the dryer exhaust (the robot arm looking, flexi-pipe thing that comes out of the back of the dryer) twice a year. Dryer lint and a surprising assortment of dryer stuff ends up in there and it impedes air flow, which causes that dryer to work harder. Clearing this away allows the dryer to work better, saving you money, and maybe even more importantly can help prevent a dryer fire.
Clearing this vent is a little more complex than vacuuming the back of the fridge so here is a wikihow Cleaning a Dryer Exhaust  as well as a youtube video How to Clean a Dryer Vent 

Dust- I cast thee out! Take some time to clear dust off of electronic devices and any household vents. You may need to break out the vacuum for this task, but it’s worth it.
Many electronic devices have a fan inside keeping them cool, which means they have an air intake, which means there is a little area probably caked with dust on there somewhere. Clearing this away allows the machines to run cooler and, you guessed it, more efficiently. Taking the time to do this may also prolong the life of your devices!

Program Your Thermostat Many thermostats allow for programming based on the time of day and the day of the week. Consider setting your thermostat a little higher when you know people will be away or at night. Experts recommend setting the temperature to 78 degrees F during the summer months, allowing for comfort while preventing your AC from running excessively. This combined with your counter clockwise ceiling fans may even feel cooler than that.

Change Your Filters (no, not your Instagram Filters) If you’re an average person with a busy life, it’s probably time to change your whole house filter. The often forgotten, rarely changed (is that just in my house??) HVAC filter plays an important role in the air quality in the house and the efficiency of the HVAC system. Regular changing of the filter allows for unimpeded air flow and can cut down on the amount of pollen and other allergens in the air. Spring, with it’s rush of pollen, is a good time to change the filters and give everyone a breath of fresh air.

Check out this graphic made by AMBITENERGY that covers the above and more.

Health is Wealth– Cleaning a house is a big job and we are taught to reach for harsh cleaners that are often filled with chemicals, fragrances and other toxins. This year consider cleaning with some very effective, non-toxic cleaners that you can make yourself for MUCH cheaper than the cleaners you have already been using.

Wellness Mama is a great blog for information about homemade cleaners. Here is a link to her blog post on Natural Cleaning

Her blog has suggestions, recipes,  and tips for cleaning everything from the staples like floor and glass cleaner to things like laundry stain treaters and ways to clean urine (parents and pet owners!)

STAY TUNED FOR THE PARTNER POST TO THIS: Spring Home Maintenance for Savings!

Well, that playtime in the snow was nice, Now What?

Hopefully our last blog post Snow Day Fun led to a magical day of playing in the snow!

photo: istockphoto







It seems another round of snow is upon us. Break out the last post, enjoy the snow and then when they’re too cold, and someone gets snow up their sleeve, or a snow-covered ice ball to the face, bring them inside, wipe away the frozen boogers and check out our new post about spending the rest of the day inside (where it is WARM!).
Here are some great tips for keeping busy and keeping sane while avoiding……

Child Painting his Baby Brother's Face






Make Valentines for the Grandparents (or other loved ones)

You know who loves a handmade gift? Grandma and Grandpa, Nana, Gramps, Poppy, Mia, Grammy or whatever you call them. They all LOVE handmade items from the kids with positively no regard for the workmanship (as it should be with grandparents). What a great opportunity to burn off some creative energy with the kids and make a lovely gift for the upcoming holiday.

photo: woohome

Here is a blog that has 30, count ’em 30 ideas! Some of my favorites were the make-your-own crayons and the heart garland.

Make Bird Feeders

When it’s cold outside, birds have to work extra hard to find food and stay warm.
Here are some blogs with clever ideas and clear pictures for making them.  Kids can build something and feel good about helping the birds.

1) Soda Bottle Bird Feeder
This is a great way to recycle some old items. I bet it would work well with clean paint stirrers instead of wooden spoons as well.

Click here for directions on how to make it

2) Recycled Materials Feeders
This blog focuses on using recycled materials like empty milk cartons to make the feeders. Change those pumpkins to snowflake stickers and you’re in business!

photo: sustainablog

Click here for directions on this and 4 other plans!

3) Heart Shaped Valentine Feeders 
Here is an early Valentine you can make for loved ones while you are cooped up in the house! These are so sweet and can be made into any shape depending on what you have in the kitchen.

photo: wineandglue

Click here for the blog post. This was one of the more informative blogs I have come across about this!

Sing a Song


This blog has a long list of adorable songs to sing and dance to set to tunes we all already know. Click here for the full list.

Some indoor ideas are tried and true for a reason and Legos are a great go- to in bad weather. Here are some links that have free printable plans for legos, which can give new life to a tired old Lego set. I even included an educational one (maybe you can sneak them in somewhere).

Balloon Powered Lego Car

photo: thecraftymummy

Make a Lego Maze

photo: science-sparks.com






Lego Free Instructions– Lego’s website has free plans for most if not all of their sets!

photo: lego

Indoor Scavenger Hunt


 Click here for the list! This blog gives some good starter ideas as well as suggestions for coming up with your own custom lists.


Fun with Everyday Items

This blog has some great ideas for use with stuff you truly do have lying around the house. I am pretty crafty and there were a few projects even I had never heard of! Check out the Sandpaper and Yarn or the Indoor Ice Skating. Click here for the full post.

photo: innerchildfun.com


 Watch a Movie

Ok, you’ve done lets of fun activities together, now it might be time to put on a movie for the kids so you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (hey, it’s been a long day cooped up with the kids- need I say more?)

Here is a list from Scholastic Books of the 100 best kids movies. This was really helpful as it was arranged by age, making choosing an appropriate one easier.  Some of my favorites include


Snow Day Fun


istock photo

Winter is in full swing and snow is everywhere lately! While we might want to cuddle up inside where it is warm until spring, as parents, we know that being cooped up in the house with the kids can get…..out of hand!

We’ve scoured Pinterest and the internet to come up with some great ideas to keep the kids busy in the snow, and then hopefully very tired when they come back in!

Snow Obstacle Course

There’s nothing like a competition to get kids moving! This blog shows some great tips for setting up a fun, challenging course  http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/snowy-obstacle-course-kids/#_a5y_p=2974398

As an added bonus you could make a throne out of snow for the winner to sit in!


photo: Kindra Clineff

Parents Magazine (http://www.parents.com/fun/activities/outdoor/snow-activities-kids/?viewAll=true&page=4#page=4 ) Has some great ideas in this article from Tic Tac Snow, to some really cute “Snow Creatures”. There are also directions for making a bird feeder out of an orange and some sticks!

photo: Heather Weston

Snow Sensory Bin


If there’s snow on the ground, and you really can’t get out, consider making a sensory bin with the snow. This blog http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2012/01/warm-way-to-play-with-sonw.html gives lots of great ideas for keeping kids entertained with the snow while YOU stay warm.

Some of my favorites include the Snow Mr and Mrs Potato Head. There is even a science experiment!

This is also nice for younger children who can’t play for very long outside in the cold.

Enjoy the snow day!
Be sure to follow our blog, and stay tuned for a complimentary post with fun activities for when you can’t go out and play.

Resources for Getting Kids Involved with Building

pulling nails

Ella B removes some old nails. Great job remembering your safety gear!

Way to Go, Girls!
We are so excited to see what you’ve been up to. From raking leaves and tearing down drywall to laying tile and doing fantastically on our Tools Quiz !

You have 3 weeks left to participate and we thought you could use a little inspiration!
Here is a collection of links that outline some great skills to learn, and examples of age-appropriate projects.

Workshop Safety for Kids

5 Do-It-Yourself Skills That Every Child Should Have

DIY for Kids

It’s never too early to build the skills of future DIYers!



Mya L. helps to lay some tile. Nice work, Mya!

Official Rules for Frozen on Ice Tickets Contest

PHH Family 5 Pack to Frozen on Ice in Boston Complete Rules 

  1. ENTRY:  No purchase necessary to enter or win. Participants can obtain an entry three ways
    a) compile a tool box as specified on our blog and send photo tocontest@pennyhanley.necoxmail.com
  2. b) Pass with a grade of 70% or higher the Tools Knowledge Quiz on our blog   com
    c) send us a photo or video at contest@pennyhanley.necoxmail.com showing the completion of a repair skill from the official list on our blog. Entries are limited to 100 entries per household. Each household may only receive entries for the compilation of toolboxes for children living in the house. Tool ID quiz may be submitted for an entry only once per person.
  3. ELIGIBILITY: This contest is open only to legal CT. residents, over the age of 2. Employees of Penny-Hanley and Howley (along with its contractors, affiliates and subsidiaries) and their families are not eligible. Void where prohibited by law.  Contestants residing in those areas where the contest is void may participate in the contest but may not win any prizes. All participants MUST complete and Submit an Email for the Household Naming Contestants with a valid CT address and working phone number. When you submit photos and videos, be sure to put this same information in the email so your household is credited!
    *Eligible entries are those completed by a participant who has registered via email with valid CT address and working phone number from 12:01amEST October 24th-11:59pm EST December 5, 2014
  1. WINNER SELECTION:  A winner will be randomly drawn from eligible entries on December 14 and announced via our blog December 15th. Top 5 Fan Favorite Frozen Themed submissions will be voted on from December 15 until December 20th at 11:59 p.m. Results will be posted on our blog Sunday December 21st.
  2. PRIZES: Grand Prize (1) Family 5 Pack of Tickets to the February 14th ,11am performance of Disney Presents Frozen on Ice at the TD Garden in Boston
    Fan Favorite Prize pack (1) Containing a variety of Frozen Merch not to exceed $40.00 in value

    5. WINNER NOTIFICATION: Winners will be notified within 5 days after the determination date.  Inability to contact a winner may result in disqualification and selection of an alternate winner. If we can not get ahold of you within 7 days of notification, we will choose another winner.

  4. Participants hereby grant PHH Insurance a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to broadcast, publish, store, reproduce, distribute, syndicate, and otherwise use and exhibit the Submission (along with their names, voices, performance and/or likenesses) in all media now known and later come into being for purposes of trade or advertising without further compensation. Participants represent and warrant that they have full legal right, power and authority to grant PHH the foregoing license and if applicable, have secured all necessary rights from any participants in, and contributors to, their Submission in order to grant such a license.
  1. Penny-Hanley and Howley is under no obligation to use any Submission or return the Submissions to participants.
  1. Winners will be required to execute and return a Certificate of Eligibility, Consent and General Release form within 14 days of notification. Non-compliance within this time period may result in disqualification and selection of an alternate winner.  Any income tax liability is the sole responsibility of the winner.
  1. USE OF CONTEST INFORMATION: All entries become the property of Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance. Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance reserves the right to use any and all information related to the contest, including submissions provided by the contestants, for editorial, marketing and any other purpose, unless prohibited by law.
  1. NOT ENDORSED BY FACEBOOK: By participating in this contest, you acknowledge that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook and release Facebook from any and all liability arising from or related to this contest. The information you are providing for this contest is being provided to Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance and not to Facebook, and will be used to notify you if you have won, and to inform you about special offers from Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance and our trusted partners.
  1. CONDUCT: All contest participants agree to be bound by these Official Rules.  Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance in its sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering with the entry process, the operation of its web site or is otherwise in violation of these rules.
  2. LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance is not responsible for late, lost or misdirected email or for any computer, online, telephone or technical malfunctions that may occur.  If for any reason, the contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention or technical failures of any sort, Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance may cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the contest.  Entrants further agree to release Penny-Hanley and Howley Insurance from any liability resulting from, or related to participation in the contest.

Win a Family 5 Pack of Tickets to the Only New England Stop on the Frozen on Ice Tour!


Are you here because you want to win some tickets to the 11am performance of Disney’s Frozen on Ice on February 14th at the TD Garden in Boston? Great, then you’re in the right place!

As part of our commitment to our community we would really like to encourage young kids, especially young girls to become confident and feel capable while building, fixing and working with tools. Because if they can swing a hammer, change a tire, and hang a picture, who knows what they can do! It’s also a great excuse to get the whole family involved in doing some small repairs, help fix that elderly neighbors’ wobbly step, or build Fido a doghouse before winter sets in!

Here’s how the contest works- as a household you can earn up to 100 entries (that’s right one hundred!)  And on December 19th we are going to do a random drawing from all eligible entries* and the winner will get the tickets!

Collecting entries is easy and you can do it 3 ways:

1) Compile your own basic toolbox (and take a picture and email it to contest@pennyhanley.necoxmail.com)

2) Pass our Tool ID Quiz online (this will become available on October 24th)

3) Complete a tool related job (change a tire), build or repair something and send us a photo or video to contest@pennyhanley.necoxmail.com


This wouldn’t be a Frozen contest without a Frozen-Related BONUS- If you wear a Frozen Costume in the pictures and videos, or make a Frozen Themed toolbox we will double your entries on that submission, For example, a Frozen themed toolbox will net you 2 entries instead of just one!

We will be accepting entries from 12:01am October 24th 2014 until 11:59pm December 5th. We will then spend some time sifting through entries until our drawing date of December 19th, and post the name of the winner on December 20th. We will also attempt to contact the winner by email and phone. If they do not reply within 5 days we reserve the right to hold another drawing to have an alternate winner.

Didn’t win the drawing? Don’t feel bad! If any of your submissions were Frozen themed, you can get your friends and family to vote for the Fan Favorite Competition! We will take our 5 favorite Frozen themed submissions and put them up for a vote on our FB page and the winner will get a Frozen Prize Pack!

Stay Tuned!
We will be posting regular updates to our blog with lots of tips and suggestions and one surprise day in November with be double entries day where we will double ALL submissions that day!

Safety First
Our motto at Penny-Hanley & Howley Insurance is “We Protect You” and the last thing we want is for you to hurt yourself participating in this contest. Please use caution, adult supervision, and appropriate safety gear at all times. Thanks!

*Please see complete rules for directions on entry and guidelines for what determines an eligible entry*

made in Connecticut red round grunge isolated stamp