Easy Ways to Trim Household Costs (Part 2)
By Shannon M. Medisky
When walking to the mailbox has you dreading the contents, you know it’s time to start taking a second or even third look at those little envelopes that come calling every month. So here’s a second look at even more ways to trim costs all around the house:
- Opt for showers rather than baths. Not only will you save money by not having to heat up as much water, you’ll significantly cut down on your water bill as well. (An inexpensive, easy-to-use kitchen timer can be a great energy-saving tool. Keep one in the bathroom to help keep the length of showers under control.)
- Consider cutting costs when it comes to heating your water, too. After all, your hot water tank can account for 14 to 25 percent of your utility bill. Keep this cost in check by purchasing and installing an inexpensive insulation blanket for your water tank (available at any hardware store) and keeping the tank thermostat at 120°F.
- Wash clothes in cold water as 90 percent of the energy used (in a traditional top-load washer) is used just to heat the water. The average cost of using hot water to wash a load of laundry is about 69¢ versus only 14¢ per load in cold water. For a household doing an average of four loads each week, that’s a potential savings of $2.20 each week or $114.44 each year.
- Don’t depend on your dryer to tell you when a load is dry. Doing so could keep your dry clothes tumbling longer while slowly draining you of more money. Instead, consider the size and contents of each load to avoid allowing the dryer to run longer than necessary. (Avoid wear and tear and excessive costs by not overloading each dryer load as well. Allowing room for clothes to move while in the dryer will ensure they dry much quicker.)
- Make an effort to dry loads of laundry back-to-back whenever possible. Heating the air inside the dryer is the most costly part of doing laundry. You can maximize your dryer’s efficiency and minimize your cost by taking advantage of the heat that’s already in there.
All around the House
- Check for drafts everywhere around your home. A rolled-up towel, a piece of foam piping or even a small door mat can be strategically placed near a drafty door to keep you comfortable while saving you money. Older windows can be easily caulked indoors and/or outdoors with waterproof clear silicone in order to quickly and easily seal up small gaps.
- Cover older, metal-framed windows with clear plastic film and immediately start saving 10 percent or more on your heating bills. For consumers who currently pays an average of $120 in heating bills each month, investing in plastic film for metal-framed windows can save a minimum of $12 per month instantly.
- Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) all around your home in order to lengthen the life of your bulbs while at the same time bring down your electric bill. While CFLs do cost more upfront, you will save significantly on your electric bill over the course of the bulb’s life. (Psst! You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to saving money on your utility bill. Many utility companies offer courtesy (a.k.a. “free”) energy audits to help you determine how you can make your home more energy efficient. To learn more and to start saving money, call your local utility company and request your energy audit today.)
- No matter what form of heating you use in your home, make sure it’s clean to keep it in prime (and energy efficient) working order. Periodically vacuum out and dust baseboard units, radiators and forced air registers to make sure dust and debris isn’t interfering with your heating system’s efficiency.
- Whenever you purchase a new appliance, make sure to select one that is energy efficient. An easy way to do this is to look for the Energy Star logo and rating. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy have joined efforts to identify appliances that not only help save environmental resources, but can save you valuable money over the lifetime of the appliance. Generally speaking, the higher the Energy Star rating an appliance features the more energy it will save and the more money it will save you. Need more convincing? The Energy Star program even offers rebates for some purchases. (For more information, see the A to Z resource guide near the back of this book.) While purchasing an Energy Star washing machine at a cost of $750 versus a regular washing machine at $450 might initially seem foolish, the potential savings over the course of the appliance’s lifetime is considerable to say the least. For example, an Energy Star washer, with an electricity usage of only 38 kWh versus 86 kWh of a regular washer, has the potential to save consumers roughly $10,640 over the course of appliance’s life.
Photo credit: katerha
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