Life Hacks with Farmers Insurance

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Want to spend between 5 – 33% less on gas? The key could be your brakes.

Think about driving, braking, and gas in terms of energy.

Every time you brake, you’re sending tons of energy into your brake pads, and pulling it away from the energy that gets your car moving again. The more efficiently you brake, and the better your brake pads, the more efficiently energy is used in your car, the less gas your car uses, and the less often you have to fill up.

Long story short, braking correctly and finding the right brake pads for your car can improve your gas mileage, improve your ride, and save you money.

The Right Brake Pads for Your Car

Your brake pads are what convert the movement of your car into the friction that slows and stops it. The better they are at their job, the less energy it takes to brake.

To improve your ride with the right brake pads for your car, it’s important to understand the types of pads available today:

  1. Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic brake pads are mostly composed of ceramic fibers.

  • Pros: they’re extremely resistant to wear and tear, quiet, don’t produce a lot of dust, and don’t wear down brake rotors as quickly as other pads.
  • Cons: not surprisingly, they’re usually the most expensive brake pads out there.
  1. Non-Asbestos Organic Pads (NAO)

Asbestos isn’t used in domestically-produced brake pads anymore, but it’s still something to look out for when purchasing foreign-made pads. Made from glass, rubber, and similar materials, NAO pads are non-toxic and safe to use.

  • Pros: they’re pretty quiet and free of toxic materials.
  • Cons: they tend to wear down quickly and because of that, produce a lot of (non-toxic) dust.


  1. Low-Metallic Non-Asbestos Organic Pads

Metallic and semi-metallic pads are meant for high-performance vehicles, but they’re specially-designed to be gentle enough for use in everyday cars too. These pads are similar to non-asbestos organic pads, but they contain small amounts of copper and steel.

  • Pros: the added metal makes for smoother braking and aids in heat transfer, preventing wear and tear without wearing down your brake rotors.
  • Cons: they’re typically pretty noisy and can produce high levels of (non-toxic) dust.
  1. Semi-Metallic Break Pads

Semi-metallic brake pads are made from 30-65% metal. They’re essential for high-performance vehicles like race cars and heavy duty trucks, but can also be used in everyday vehicles. 

  • Pros: extremely durable and resistant to wear and tear.
  • Cons: can sometimes wear down brake rotors faster than other brake pads, and can be pretty noisy in most cars.

Braking Correctly

Smooth, gentle, and correct braking techniques can extend the life of any brake pads (whichever you choose for your car) and improve your ride. That means:

  • Gradually pushing down on the brake instead of stomping on the pedal.
  • Coasting slowly towards a stoplight and braking gently, instead of accelerating towards it and braking at the last minute.

The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only, and is not meant as professional or expert advice. Every attempt is made to ensure accuracy and timeliness, however all content is presented without guarantees.

Welcome to Farmers Home Renovation Series. Covering everything from bathrooms to roofs, these articles provide suggestions to help you plan your renovation, speak confidently to a contractor, and get the biggest bang for your renovation buck.

It may not be as glamorous as a new kitchen or sun room, but a roof renovation can mean the difference between a beautiful, safe home, and a shabby, leaky one. After all, the roof over your head protects you from the elements. Without a secure, strong roof, your other renovation projects (and the rest of the house) could be at risk.

Where do you start?

To get the roof you want, and not waste time or money, it’s important to know:

  1. Do you need a roof renovation?

Unless your living room is perpetually peppered with buckets catching leaks, or you hear your neighbors gossiping about your outdated roof, chances are you’ve probably never considered replacing it. Waiting until those leaks get worse though, or for other serious problems to arise can be a costly mistake. On the other hand, being proactive and replacing or repairing your roof can save you time, money, and frustration in the future.

In addition to protecting your home and its contents, a new roof can give your house a more contemporary look, improve energy efficiency, increase your resale value, and possibly earn you ahome insurance discount!

Most people can’t do it alone, though. If you’re thinking of replacing or renovating your roof, or thinking about it now that you’re reading this, it’s time to find a trusted roofer or contractor to partner with through the process.

  1. How to Find your Roofer/Contractor?

Hiring a contractor or roofer is a pivotal decision. Some homeowners may want to do it themselves, but typically, a roof replacement is too complicated and too important to DIY.

To make life easier, and make sure the job is done right, take the time up front to find a trusted contractor or roofer in your area. That way, you can work together from day one. A few good methods for locating a roofer or contractor are to:

  1. Talk to friends, family, and neighbors who may have had a roof renovation in the past.
  2. Take a trip to the local lumberyard or hardware store and ask for names of experienced roofers or contractors.
  3. Look in the Yellow Pages™ and make a few phone calls.
  4. Search the internet. Sites like Angie’s List™ and the Better Business Bureau� are helpful resources.
  5. Ask for a list of licensed roofers or contractors in your area from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
  1. Would minor repairs be enough?

Do you need to completely replace your roof or would some repairs and refurbishment be sufficient?

Honestly, you might not know off the top of your head. That’s where your roofer or contractor comes in. They can get up there and help evaluate your roof.

Before you send anyone up a ladder though, ask yourself a few important questions:

  • Does your roof look old? Older, dirty, or discolored roofs may only need to be cleaned. However, discoloration can also be a sign of water damage, which could require a renovation.
  • Does your roof chronically leak? If you find yourself dealing with a leaky ceiling every season, it might be time to replace your roof.
  • Do you have heating and insulation issues? If your house has a hard time heating up, or you find air leaks, it may be time to renovate your roof and improve your insulation.

If you and your roofer or contractor have decided you need a roof replacement, it’s time to think about what kind of new roof you’d like.

  1. Which material is right for you?

Outside of choosing your roofer, selecting roof materials is maybe the second most important decision you’ll make when replacing your roof. Material choice affects the look and performance of your roof, and is the major indicator of total cost.

There are many materials to choose from, but keep in mind local building codes, styles, availability, roof angle, and your own budget may limit your choices. First things first, talk to your trusted roofer or contractor about what’s available and what materials could work for your roof.

It may also help to learn more about the materials out there before making any decisions:

  • Asphalt composition shingles – generally the least expensive and most widely used roofing material, these may not be the most stylish shingles, but they work for a variety of roof angles and styles.
  • Clay / concrete tile – overlapping concrete or clay tiles can be stylish and effective. Both have a long lifespan, require minimal maintenance, and offer natural insulation.
  • Wood shingles / shake – a high-quality but expensive choice, wood shingles or shake offers a beautiful, natural look, even as it ages, and can last up from 30-50 years, if properly maintained. These might not be available in your state.
  • Metal roofing – a durable and versatile choice, metal roofs come in many styles, and are fairly maintenance-free. Metal roofing is hard to come by though, is one of the more expensive materials, and may also be susceptible to denting.
  • Slate roofing – stone slate offers a natural, rustic style along with natural waterproof, fireproof, and insulating qualities. It is fairly heavy and expensive though.
  • Composition slate – made of recycled synthetics, this material is a lightweight, more affordable, and less slippery substitute for true slate roofing.
  1. How long does the job take?

Professional installation is an added cost, but it’s a small price to pay for knowing the job will be done right and in a short amount of time. This minimizes the risks of leaving parts of the job unfinished for weeks. In fact, a professional roofer or team of roofers can usually finish an installation job in just a few days! This typically involves:

  • Removing existing shingles.
  • Repairing or replacing roof wood.
  • Installing flashing.
  • Installing insulation and water-barrier material.
  • Installing roofing shingles or shake.

The exact timing of the job depends on a variety of factors, like the material, size of the roof, weather, and number of people working on it. Get an estimate from your roofer or contractor of time and cost before starting any work.

The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only, and is not meant as professional or expert advice. Every attempt is made to ensure accuracy and timeliness, however all content is presented without guarantees.

Making your house a home takes love, time, effort, and sometimes, a great remodeling project. If all goes to plan, the results can be incredible. More space, updated styling, improved functionality…they’re all good reasons to renovate.

An increase in your home’s resale value doesn’t hurt either!

But before you jump into anything, know that your remodeling project might not net you the return on investment (ROI) you expect. For instance, year after year, kitchen and bathroom renovations continue to be the most popular projects. So it might surprise you to learn that statistics show remodeling those rooms doesn’t pack the biggest ROI punch anymore!

That’s not to say updating a kitchen or a bathroom, or adding new rooms can’t do wonders for your home and its resale value. But an annual study conducted by Remodeling Magazine shows that for the money, there are other projects that’ll get you a better ROI*:

Top 5 remodeling projects by ROI (from Remodeling Magazine):

  1. Replacing the Front Door with a new Steel Door – 96.9%
  2. Adding a wood Deck – 87.4%
  3. Replacing older Siding with fiber-cement Siding – 87%
  4. Building an Attic bedroom – 84.3%
  5. Replacing old Garage Door with a new Garage Door – 83.7%

*Resale value as a percentage of construction cost.

What do these findings suggest?

It looks like, in today’s market, you’re more likely to get better ROI remodeling home basics than by renovating a bath or kitchen. But why?

Kitchen and bathroom renovations are the most popular, but they can also be the most expensive projects (around 25% of your home’s value for a kitchen and 12-15% for a bathroom, according toRemodeling Magazine). Instead, faster, cheaper renovations like new windows and siding can maintain the existing structure and make your home look great without breaking the bank. They can also help your home sell for more!

Durable, low-maintenance materials are also a plus, since they lower the operational and maintenance costs of your home.

Realities of Remodeling

As telling as this info is, it’s only a national average. So you might not get exactly 87.4% back in a sale after you build a deck. What you do get back on your investment will always depend on the quality of your project, when you sell, and your housing market, region, state, city, or even neighborhood.

What can be said is that the value of remodeling is on the rise. So if you’ve been thinking about it, now might be the time.

Just remember, that (usually) remodeling projects are for you…not the next guy. If you want to remodel (especially if you don’t plan on moving anytime soon), then remodel your way. Don’t worry as much about the ROI, and enjoy your new deck, bathroom, office, kitchen…whatever!

And remember to tell your insurance agent about your remodeling project. Talk to them and make sure your Home insurance limits provide the amount of coverage you want after the renovations or additions.

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