I always heard ways to save money, but I never listened to them. After all, the people telling me these ideas were my parents, those older people who did not know how things are in todayís world, how people my age wanted to live. Cue up an economic crisis and costs that are rising as we speak, and now I have a different perspective. I just opened up my electric bill, and decided that something has to change. I cannot pay over my familyís hard-earned money for a simple utility.
I called my mother to ask, very politely, what were those things that she and Dad did to save money on their heat and electricity? I am very sorry I scoffed at the idea last year, since saving $300 for a small change in convenience seems like a wondrous thing. As luck would have it, my mother is a very understanding person, and she quickly reeled off ideas that have been put into practice and work.
- Donít just turn off your technology, unplug. Those little lights that keep on while we are asleep or not using the VCR, DVD player, cable box, coffee maker, etc. do use electricity while they are not in use. Go around your home and find how many things you have that are inactive but are sucking away at a current. You will be amazed.
- Shut your computer and printer completely down. I had always been under the impression that this was not a good thing. I thought that it actually took more electricity to boot up your PC, Mac, laptop, and printer than it did not just leave it on all of the time. Not true. I called a computer manufacturer and asked. It does not take any more to boot up your system than it does to turn on any other appliance. Keeping these off when not in use can save a lot, especially in todayís household when there are often multiple computers going. When you leave for a vacation or are spending time away from home, you can also shut down your Internet cable box and your wireless hubs, connectors, etc. Why spend money to have a signal come into your home when no one is around to use it?
- Only keep lights on in rooms that are occupied. This sounds simple, but how many of us think that we will be returning to the upstairs, basement, or another room only to get sidetracked and never get there? Also, shut off all garage lights and outside lights when they are not needed. If you like to keep some light on outside overnight, invest in a few solar lights that use a free resource to keep any space or walkway lit up.
- Shut the door of any room or bedroom that does not have to be used during the winter months. Place towels or door cozies around the bottom of the door, and shut the registers to that room. The heat will be redistributed to the other areas you want it, and you will save big time. Why heat something that is not being used or is used very little?
- Taking a bath is a definite luxury for some, but the amount of water used and the energy spent heating it makes it a pricey indulgence. Limit baths to an occasional treat. Shower smart by using the coolest water temperature necessary, and only turning the water on as needed for rinsing, not letting it run continuously as you soap, shampoo or shave. While kids love to take long showers, you may need to limit their time by using a kitchen timer to remind them to only use the length of time that is necessary.
- Kids can use lots of energy and utilities if they are not kept in check. You sure do not want to sound like a drill sergeant, but as my mother delicately put it, you cannot afford to raise them to be wasteful and unaware of the cost of living. I once came home to find three people in my house with almost every light on, two televisions running but not being watched by anyone, three air conditioners blasting in rooms that were not occupied, and a shower being taken that lasted for over fifteen minutes. No more. I have become the utility manager in my house, and have sat down and explained that while I want to keep the luxuries we have, if things do not improve, we will have to give up some creature comforts. This did the trick. No one wanted to give up the televisions, computers, air conditioners, etc., so they all decided to be smarter about their use of these things. It worked. I also told them they would appreciate my "guidance" when they were on their own and had to pay their own bills.
- Clothes should only be washed in cold water and rinsed in cold water. With todayís laundry detergents, there is no need to use warm or hot water.
Saving money and saving energy is important for any family. Taking a few tips from your elders and those who are frugal can help you and those in your household establish good conservation habits for now and the future.
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