Dad was right. Turn off the TV when you leave
the room. Using less energy is a painless way
to save. Heat and air conditioning are the largest
home-energy hogs. The U.S. Department of Energy
points out that during each 24-hour period, you
will save about 3 percent on your energy bill
for every 1 degree that you lower the thermostat
setting (or, conversely, raise it when air conditioning
is the big cost).
For example, let's say you normally
keep your thermostat set at 73 degrees in summer.
If you raise it to 76 degrees, you will save about
9 percent (3 degrees times 3 percent) or 9 cents
for every dollar you spend on air conditioning
costs. If you're spending $2,000 per year, that
small change will save you $180. Buy a programmable
thermostat and turn the system up 10 degrees during
the day when no one's home, and you'll save much
Here are some other quick fixes
for savings that add up to an additional $400:
Switch to U.S. Energy Star-approved light bulbs
and save $60 a year. Running a 32-inch TV four
hours a day costs $3 per month, but many families
use the TV for background noise, letting it play
24/7. You can save more than $200 a year just
by turning off the TV when nobody's watching it.
Washing clothes in cold water is good for another
$60 a year and powering down your computer at
night saves $70.
4. Dig gardening.
Not only does gardening burn lots of calories, but also a nice yard
adds value to the house. If you do it all yourself, it's pure profit.
Assuming a modest savings of $300 per summer for mowing your own
grass and another $200 for such related expenses as applying your
own weed killer and fertilizer, a $500 savings is easily attained.
Bonus idea: Assign jobs like shoveling, raking and
car washing to Junior, who's always good for hitting you up for
money. While you might shell out $200 for him to do these chores,
it's a savings, considering that you were going to give him the
money whether he worked for it or not.
Go small or stay pet-free.
Fido and Tabby are lovable, but they can cost a
bundle. If you're considering a pet, keep the cost
of their upkeep in mind. Pawprints and Purrs, an
animal adoption agency based in Keithville, La.,
tells its clients to expect to pay these annual
costs of pet ownership: cat, $640; small dog, $780;
medium dog, $1,115; large dog, $1,500. Obviously,
smaller is cheaper. The difference between a large
dog and a small one is $720 per year -- that's a
lot of kibble.