It’s been a bit stifling recently, and air conditioning is probably causing a spike in everyone’s bills. So we thought we’d share some tips for staying cool while saving money. (See our previous post on saving on air conditioning for additional tips and tricks.)
Use your ac wisely by turning it off while you’re not home, adjusting the temperature at night, and using any energy saving mode your unit might have. For example, here at the Alvern Gardens leasing office, we set our ac to “energy saver mode” where it shuts off as soon as the desired indoor temp is reached, and then it turns back on if it gets too warm.
Circulate air with ceiling and floor fans to spread the ac’s magic throughout your home.
Close doors to closets and unused rooms to make the work easier on your ac. The smaller you can make the space, the faster it will cool off, and the more energy you save.
Open your windows at night to let cooler air in, then close them in the morning before temperatures start to rise to trap that nice cool night air inside. If you have a box or window fan, run it in your open window at night to suck even more cool air in.
Close your curtains and blinds to block out added heat from direct sunlight. This works especially well if you have insulated energy saving curtains.
Avoid cooking when you can, and definitely don’t bake. There are plenty of no cook/no bake meals and desserts out there, so there’s no need to add to the heat in your home by using the stove. What a great excuse to add some new recipes to your repertoire!
Hang out in cooler places like the basement or under the shade of a tree. Better still, spend a day lake- or pool-side.
Looking for a pet sitter or kennel to take care of your fur baby while you go on vacation? There are plenty of options in the South Hills for these services and more. From pet taxis to dog walking while you’re at work, these are the top hits for getting pet care in the area.
Camp Bow Wow
If you’ve driven or ridden the T through the South Hills, you’ve probably seen Camp Bow Wow on Killarney Drive (they also have locations in Greentree, Highland Park, and the North Hills, all of which appear in Yelp’s top 10 for pet sitters and boarders in Pittsburgh). It’s a day camp for dogs that also offers overnight stays and obedience training. Dogs stay in “cabins” with beds and blankets and get access to indoor and outdoor play areas. You can even check on your pup while you’re at work or on vacation with the Online Camper Cams. Plus, you can have your dog groomed while it’s there.
You might not think of a dog camp as a place to adopt a dog, but Camp Bow Wow also fosters adoptable dogs. So if you’re on the market for a furry friend, consider checking them out.
The Dog Stop
The Dog Stop advertises itself as an “all-inclusive dog care facility.” As their name suggests, they only offer services for dogs, but those services are indeed all-inclusive. They have their own doggie day care and grooming services, but they also offer boarding while owners go on vacation, dog walking, in-home dog care, and training.
It seems that, because they’re dog specialists, they offer more specialized services. For example, their in-home care ranges from simple pet sitting to in-home obedience training. They also have a pet taxi and a concierge that delivers food, treats, and toys right to your home.
Fetch! Pet Care
Fetch! is number 4 on Yelp’s top 10 pet sitters in the Pittsburgh area. They offer dog walking as well as routine visits for cats and small caged pets. You can also schedule an “almost overnight” visit where one of their pet sitters visits your pet for 2 hours in the evening and again for an hour in the morning. Their concierge matches your pet with the best sitter for them, and they also offer free consultations for when you’re thinking about hiring one of their sitters.
Just like Camp Bow Wow offers services both while you’re on vacation and while you’re at work, Fetch provides pet care when your pet needs it.
Park Your Paws Pet Care
Park Your Paws offers in-home boarding where a background checked and insured pet sitter stays with your pet while you’re away, or your pet stays in the pet sitter’s home. If that’s not your style, they also offer potty breaks and walks. You could even hire a regular dog walker through Park Your Paws to let your pooch out while you’re at work. If you’re leaving for vacation and are strapped for time, Park Your Paws also has a pet taxi service for taking your pet to the kennel.
The service employs pet sitters who are experienced with cats, dogs, bunnies, ferrets, birds, reptiles, and more.
If you’re curious, the company offers free meet-and-greets between you, your pet, and the pet sitter before you sign up for services.
Park Your Paws offers many of the same services as Fetch!, but what sets them apart from Fetch! is their Doggie Day Care, a service much like Camp Bow Wow and The Dog Stop.
As most dog owners know, leash laws vary from place to place and the rules about whether your dog is allowed off leash in a certain area or not aren’t always clear. When in doubt, keep your dog on its leash.
Even dogs that are well trained and obedient when running off leash can become unpredictable in new situations. Some of the worst areas to let your dog off the leash are high traffic areas where cars and people, some of them with other dogs, pass by frequently. This area might be right outside your front door and your dog might think of it as an extension of its territory, but that doesn’t mean it will stay put no matter what. A new dog or a new person might come by and provoke a reaction. Even if your dog wants to run off just to say hi, it’s still running off and out of your control. Especially if it turns out that the other dog isn’t friendly, things could get ugly. Another scenario to consider: what if your dog wants to greet a person who is afraid of dogs? You might assure them that your dog is friendly and won’t hurt them, but that’s like trying to tell Indiana Jones that the snakes in the pit don’t mean him harm. As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to not only keep your dog safe, but to make sure it respects other animals and people who don’t want to interact with it.
So where is it OK to let your dog roam off leash? Your local dog park is the ideal place. The area is fenced in so Fido can’t run far, and the whole point of it is to have a safe space for friendly dogs to socialize. Many dog friendly apartment communities like Alvern Gardens and Cloverleaf Village have dog parks for their residents to enjoy. These parks are designed for those who don’t have a fenced in yard of their own to give their dogs exercise in a safe place. So why even bother letting your dog off the leash anywhere else?
Consider this as well: if you live in an apartment community, your landlord might have rules about keeping your dog on a leash when walking the community grounds. Abiding the rules of your community is important not just because the rules are in place for a reason, but because breaking the rules has consequences. For example, if you let your dog off the leash in and your landlord has prohibited this, you could lose the privilege of having a pet in the apartment at all. You could even be evicted for breaking the terms of your lease.
Whether you already have a dog or are thinking about adopting one, familiarize yourself with the leash laws of your county and state, as well as any ordinances that might be in place in your municipality. If you do choose to let your dog off its leash, always have the leash handy to reel your dog back under your control if needed.
Have you been to a Rooftop Shindig before? If you haven’t, we’re here to tell you you should go. There are two more slated for this season, so you can take your pick (or go to both!).
What’s cool about these events? For starters, admission is free, and if you bring your own seating for the movie screening, you won’t even have to pay for a seat. Though you can buy a folding chair at the event for $12. When we were there last month, the chairs were those snazzy camping chairs complete with a cup holder in the arm rest and a pouch for convenient carrying.
Now, these events offer more than just excellent live music and outdoor film screenings. There’s also a giant chess board and a giant Connect Four to kill time before the show starts.
At the June 3rd event, Fireball Whiskey had a booth of free samples set up. Patrons 21 and over were able to sample 3 different mixed drinks made with Fireball Whiskey that were available for purchase at the next booth over. They were also handing out free Fireball Whiskey swag.
In addition to drinks, there were some seriously good eats for sale (hello bacon wrapped hot dog!) from pulled pork sandwiches to vegetarian egg rolls and fried rice. The Chicken on a Stick stand was also selling some delicious lemonade squeezed from real lemons for anyone not up for (or old enough for) alcohol.
It gets cold up on the roof after sunset, so bring a blanket as well as sweatshirts and windbreakers for layering. If you’re bringing little ones (or if you’re an adult with sensitive hearing) bring ear plugs, because the volume of the movie will be cranked up full blast to reach the back row.
If you’re worried about parking, put your mind at ease and take the T or bus instead: the Theater Square Garage is just a short walk from Wood Street Station.
The next Shindig is at 6 p.m. on August 26. Bastard Bearded Irishmen will be playing, followed by a screening of The Warriors.
Here at Alvern Gardens, visitors frequently ask if we have a gym. We don’t, but we do have a pool and a dog park. We’re also close to several gyms and yoga studios. So for the convenience of current and prospective residents, we’ve rounded up a list of places close by where our residents can get their exercise.
Fitness 19 seems to be one of the most affordable gyms in the area, and Alvern Gardens residents frequently receive mailers with special offers.
Healthtrax is an affordable gym in Bethel Park, and based on their website, a friendly place for people of all fitness levels who are looking to get healthy and stay healthy.
We have not one, but two LA Fitness clubs close by. One is in Bethel Park, and the other is in Bridgeville. Both offer a variety of amenities for about $30/month.
Club One Fitness, reportedly the best gym in Pittsburgh, has a South Hills location on Castle Shannon Blvd. They’re pricier but it looks like they might be worth it.
If you’re looking for a 24-hour gym, consider Snap Fitness in South Park. If you join before the end of the month, you’ll get 50% off!
Because there are quite a few places to do yoga around here, we thought we’d round up some of the most affordable, convenient options.
The Mt. Lebanon Public Library hosts a free weekly yoga class Wednesday evenings. Participants don’t have to register, but they do have to bring all their own equipment.
Health Thru Yoga is the closest studio to Alvern Gardens (walking distance!). There are discounts for seniors and T riders as well as free classes for military families. You can even schedule a private session if you’d like.
Yoga Innovations is a little yoga studio in Bethel Park. They offer kids yoga and Mommy and Me Yoga, as well as a pay what you can class for adults every Wednesday evening. The studio welcomes walk-ins, and they even rent mats if you don’t have your own.