Get Smart With Your Thermostat
Take your programmable thermostats to the next level. The newest models can actually regulate temps for maximum energy efficiency based on changes they “sense” or learn, such as humidity, ambient light, your activities and, in some cases, your energy company’s peak-time rates. Many models are also Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to control them remotely from Web browsers or smartphones. While they cost anywhere from $100 to more than $400, you could save $180 per year on your energy bill, according to Energy Star.1
Clean the Clothes in Cold
Once upon a time, laundry detergents needed hot water to work properly. But heating that water could account for nearly 90 percent of your washing machine’s energy usage.2
To the rescue: modern detergents designed expressly to work in cold water. So flip the switch on your machine and set yourself up for savings!
Don’t Just Cool It — Cut the Heat
Here’s a challenge: Keep your home chilled without racking up energy bills. How to do it? Start by clearing those weeds and other debris from around your air conditioning unit (or evaporative cooler), so it can crank out the cool most efficiently. Next, think about installing ceiling fans, which can lower room temperatures while reducing the workload for your other cooling equipment. Also, consider cooking with the microwave or outdoors on the grill instead of using the stove or oven, which can pump up the heat inside your home.
Light Up With Better Bulbs
A quarter of your home energy budget may be going toward electric lighting.3
You could dramatically reduce that impact by replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. While both cost more upfront than incandescents, they use less electricity and last longer — yielding savings over the long run. In fact, one report calculates a potential energy savings of more than $6,000 over 50,000 hours of usage!4
Strategize Your Grocery Outings
According to research, most people regret 80 percent of their non-essential purchases within a year.5
That’s a lot of wasted money. To avoid costly impulse buys at the grocery store, plot a shopping list centered on meal plans and household needs and “wants” that you’ve carefully considered. Then maximize your savings by matching your list with sale items and coupons.
The bottom line
Reducing your household expenditures doesn’t have to be painful — small, simple steps really can add up. (Quick tip: Get the kids involved in cutting costs, then help them save, too, with a Minor Savings Account.) But be careful not to let those savings slip away. Instead, put them to work in a savings account.
4 More Simple Ways to Save
• Clean your refrigerator’s radiator to improve efficiency
• Add a water filter to your kitchen tap and carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable water bottles
• Opt for Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime instead of movie theaters or cable
• Search out free and low-cost fun, such as community concerts, festivals, high school plays and your local library (most have DVDs and music as well as books and magazines)
- “4 Smart Thermostats That Save Money and Energy,” Katherine Gray, USAToday.com, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/story/2012-05-06/smart-thermostats/54750056/1, posted May 7, 2012, accessed June 18, 2012
- “How to Reduce Household Bills,” Alexandra Kerr, Investopedia.com, http://finance.yahoo.com/news/reduce-household-bills-204210249.html, posted Apr. 13, 2012, accessed June 18, 2012
- “Energy Efficient Lighting,” eartheasy.com, http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm, accessed June 25, 2012
- “LED Light Bulbs: Comparison Charts,” eartheasy.com, http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html, accessed June 25, 2012
- “How to Prevent Buyer’s Remorse: Audit Your Spending Habits,” Jeff Yeager, TheDailyGreen.com, http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/save-money/buyers-remorse-spending-460209, posted Feb. 2, 2009, accessed June 25, 2012
The information contained in this article is intended for general educational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal, tax, or financial advice. Please consult with your own legal, tax or financial advisor for guidance with your own particular circumstances.