Sara Halfmann, NMLS #411698

Energy Saving Ideas

Posted on February 14, 2013. Filed under: Sara Halfmann, NMLS #411698 |

Winter in Wisconsin is a great time of year.  There is so much for the outdoor enthusiast to do.  Skiing, snow-shoeing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing – you name it, we’ve got it!  But, eventually even the most avid Wisconsin winter wonderland aficionado must come in to warm-up.  And, keeping the indoors warm and inviting can be costly.  

The following list provides simple suggestions on how to cut-down on energy consumption to help keep winter season energy bills low.  

  1. Maintain your furnace.  Clean your furnace filter monthly.  A clean unit runs more efficiently.
  2. Use insulation.  Insulate your attic, walls, and sill box to the recommended R-value for the type of heating used in your home.  Proper insulation allows you to use less energy to keep your home warm.
  3. Insulate around windows and doors.  Weather-strip and/or caulk all areas with noticeable leaks.  Removable caulking is convenient for windows that you wish to open in the summer months.
  4. Change your thermostat settings.  In the winter, set your thermostat at 60 degrees F when you are sleeping or not at home.  Set the thermostat to 68 degrees F when you are home and awake.  This can save 10 percent or more on your heating bills every winter.
  5. Let the sun in.  The sun’s energy can have a noticeable effect on the temperature in your home.  Keep window shades open during winter months to let the sun’s radiant heat in.
  6. Use the fireplace sparingly.  Many older natural fireplaces are inefficient and draw more heat out of the house than they produce.  Close the flue to eliminate drafts when not in use.
  7. Use a humidifier.  Humidity makes you feel warmer in colder months.  With the proper humidity level, you’ll be able to turn your thermostat down to a lower temperature, save energy, and stay comfortable.  
  8. Purchase an energy efficient furnace.  Select a furnace model with a AFUE rating of 90 percent or greater.
  9. Purchase energy-star windows.  If your windows are single-paned, make sure you use storm windows during the winter months.
  10. Unplug electronics, computers, and small appliances when not in use.  Energy is used by appliances and other devices, even when they are turned off!

 These tips will not only save you money on your energy bill, but will also help to warm you on the inside knowing you are helping the environment as well as your wallet.  For a complete list of year-round energy saving tips visit

 In addition to energy savings, don’t forget to review your mortgage for money saving opportunities.  At Denmark State Bank our helpful Mortgage Bankers would be happy to take a look at your existing mortgage to make sure you are in the best loan to fit your needs.  And, if your energy saving plan includes upgrading windows and major appliances, Denmark State Bank can help with our flexible home equity lending options.  Call a Denmark State Bank Mortgage Banker today!

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Spring Cleaning

Posted on June 14, 2012. Filed under: Sara Halfmann, NMLS #411698 |

There is perhaps nothing better than spring in Northeast Wisconsin.  Not to discredit the other seasons; after all, it is the beauty of the changing seasons that lure many to call Wisconsin home.  But, spring is different.  There is just something about being able to enjoy the green spaces and flowers for the first time after a long winter that gives spring a slight edge over the other seasons. 

For home owners, spring is the perfect time of year to give your home a thorough once-over.  The warming weather allows you to check for minor maintenance needs that may have been hidden by the winter snow.  Add the following to your annual spring cleaning to-do list to ensure the continued enjoyment of your home year-round:

  • Chimney:  The end of the heating season is the perfect time of year to have your chimney inspected and cleaned.  Make sure the damper is working properly and keep it closed to keep the cool air in once the dog-days of summer hit.
  • Smoke Detectors:  Smoke detectors should be tested every six months.  Making this part of your spring cleaning routine will help to keep your family safe.
  • Air Conditioning:  Replace and/or clean your A/C filters.  Or, have your A/C system serviced by a licensed HVAC company.  This is also the perfect time to change and/or clean your furnace filter as well!
  • Windows:  Wash your windows!  Not only will clean windows make for clearer views, it is the perfect way to check for cracks, gaps, and holes in screens.
  • Gutters:  Gutters collect debris, twigs, and leaves in the fall and winter months.  Keeping them clutter free will allow spring and summer rains to drain safely away from your home’s foundation.
  • Dryer:  Even if you clean your dryer’s lint trap after every use, the vent can become clogged with lint over time.  Especially during winter when snow often covers the exterior exhaust outlet. 
  • Roof:  Check the roof for any damage the winter snow may have hidden such as missing shingles and holes.  This might be a good one to leave to the professionals!
  • Lawn Mower:  Tune-up your lawn mower and sharpen the blades.  A little maintenance now will keep your machine running for years to come. 
  • Basement:  Check the basement for water, dampness, and seeping.  Make sure the sump pump is operating properly.
  • Deck:  Winter can be harsh on wood decks and fences.  Resealing in spring will ensure you can enjoy your deck all season.

In addition to household maintenance, spring is the perfect time of year to check on your mortgage as well.  At Denmark State Bank our helpful Mortgage Bankers would be happy to take a look at your existing mortgage to make sure you are in the best loan to fit your needs.  And, if your spring once-over reveals the need for extensive work, Denmark State Bank can help with our flexible home equity lending options.  Spring cleaning should not be limited to just the house and yard; call a Denmark State Bank Mortgage Banker today!

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Keeping it Local

Posted on December 13, 2011. Filed under: Sara Halfmann, NMLS #411698 |

Who is your mortgage lender?  Who services your mortgage loan?  These might sound like simple questions, but when you actually think about it, do you really know the answers?  With the multitude of megabank mergers and mortgage brokers closing-up shop, you may be surprised to find you do not know the answers to these questions.  Doesn’t it make sense, then, to finance your mortgage, your home, with someone you know?

At Denmark State Bank we offer a wide variety of mortgage options to suit your needs, many of which we service locally.  Our helpful Mortgage Bankers will work with you every step of the way, from application to closing.  But wait, it gets better.  After closing you are not given an 800 number to an out of the area call center.  If you have a question about your loan after closing you can call your Mortgage Banker.  That’s right, a live person – someone who lives in, works in, and cares about your community just as much as you do.  Someone you know and trust.

So next time you need a mortgage, skip the megabanks and mortgage brokers and call Denmark State Bank, your community bank.  You’ll be glad you did!

Member FDIC|Equal Housing Lender
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Are You Ready to Become a Homeowner?

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Sara Halfmann, NMLS #411698 |

“It’s a great time to buy”, “rates are at all-time lows”, and “it’s a buyer’s market”.  Do these phrases sound familiar?  It seems you cannot avoid talk about the housing market.  Whether its coverage in the press, advertisements from lenders and/or realtors, or advice from family and friends they all seem to be saying the same thing:  now is the time to buy. 

 Deciding to buy a home is a big deal.  It is likely the largest purchase and biggest, long-term financial commitment you will ever make.  And yes, now is a good time to buy.  But, before you run out and make an offer on your dream home you must first determine whether or not now is really a good time for you to buy.   

 The following are five questions every prospective buyer should answer before deciding to become a homeowner:

  1. How much home can you afford?  Underwriting guidelines may vary from lender to lender; however, on average no more than 34% of your gross monthly income should be allocated toward your total monthly housing obligation.  This amount includes your monthly principle and interest mortgage payment, property taxes, home owner’s insurance, and any other applicable items such as private mortgage insurance premiums, flood insurance, and homeowners association dues.
  2. Do you have sufficient funds for closing?  There are very few loan programs out there that allow for 100% financing.  While gifts are typically allowable, you should have at least 3% to 5% of the purchase price available from your own funds for down-payment.  In addition to down-payment, be prepared to pay for loan closing costs, escrow deposit, home inspection fees, and your first year of home owner’s insurance premium at the time of or prior to closing.
  3. Do you have adequate reserves?  It is recommended you have at least six months of your total housing obligation in liquid reserves to cover any unexpected expenses such as household repairs or to supplement a temporary loss of income.
  4. What are your short and long term financial goals?  Make sure you consider all of your financial goals (i.e., retirement, college funds, vacation plans, child care, and weekly entertainment) before deciding to buy.  Spending 34% of your gross monthly income on your monthly housing payment is only recommended if you can continue to comfortably support your other financial goals.   
  5. Do you have an adequate, acceptable credit history?  Underwriting guidelines have become stricter in recent years.  A weak credit rating and/or lack of credit history can keep you from receiving a loan approval.  

Doing a little homework upfront will help you to decide whether or not you are ready to take the next step.  And remember; if you do decide to move forward, always meet with one of Denmark State Bank’s experienced lenders for a pre-qualification consultation before viewing homes and/or writing an offer to purchase.

Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender
NMLS 411698
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