by Kimberly Blackford
Saving money can be a seemingly impossible task in today's consumer driven world.
Busy schedules keep many families hopping and require, a mind-boggling number of expenses to keep up the pace. Isn't it appropriate then, that your home can be a place of rest and rejuvenation - without draining your extra money? Incorporating a few simple habits in your daily routine can save more than pennies:
Photo courtesy of Kohler
- Saving Water – We have all heard the numerous platitudes about saving water in our homes. Even small children are encouraged to turn of faucets while brushing teeth so as not to "waste." It's important to remember that wasting water is not just about wasting resources- water also costs homeowners money! This especially comes into play when looking at how homeowners water lawns and gardens. While the landscaping of your home is certainly important, it is unnecessary to leave the sprinkler on at all times of day and night. Setting watering systems for off-peak hours saves resources, both natural and financial. Another idea is the use of grey water irrigation. Grey water systems collect "dirty" water from clothes washers, showers, and bathroom sinks and re-purpose the water in gardens. This is a great system for the landscaping and the wallet!
- Temperature Control – Everyone is familiar with at least one family that keeps their home air conditioning running so hard in the summer, the family is often seen sitting around the house in blue jeans despite the sweltering outdoors. What a waste! Programmable thermostats go a long way in keeping energy bills as low as possible. These systems can be set to specific temperatures at designated times. For example, when the house is empty during the long winter day the thermostat may be set lower. Homeowners can program the thermostat to turn up a few degrees in the afternoon when the family is expected to arrive home. There is no point to heating the empty house, but once home, comfortable temperatures are waiting.
- Gadgets – This is an age of technology. Almost every household has a computer; many have several. Fancy televisions and multi-purpose gadgets fill every room.
How much time do each of these different medias get put to use? Probably not often enough to justify the costs of owning and operating. For the home phone bill, eliminating call-waiting and caller ID can save the average family up to 150 dollars per year! Sticking with an answering machine will allow calls to be screened without all the extra cost. Computers should be turned off when not in use or at least switched over to "sleep" modes. Not only will this simple task eliminate unnecessary power drain, but it will also preserve the life of your machine. Computers left on every minute of every day will not have that many days in its lifespan. Also pay attention to your lighting. While it's a good idea to turn lights off when not in immediate use, it is just as smart to examine the light bulb. New CFL bulbs use less energy, emit less heat, and last much longer than the average light bulb.
Photo courtesy of Kohler
- Maintenance – Though more time consuming than simply switching the computer off now and then, home repairs are an absolute must for keeping down home costs. Little leaks can turn into big problems. And big problems are often quite costly, especially when unseen damages are finally accounted for. One way to avoid these big costs is to routinely have heating and cooling units inspected. Another is to take the time to fix small problems as they arise. Cracks, leaks, and drafts should be dealt with immediately. 11% of heat is lost through small crevices around windows and doors. Simply upgrading insulation or weather stripping can nearly eliminate this problem. Remember that exterior maintenance is just as important as interior. Roofs, siding, and foundations should be examined regularly.
- Landscaping – Lawn maintenance is one of the great pains of owning a home. Rarely do people enjoy cutting the grass, weeding the flowers, or hauling fertilizer on a warm day. However, all that work you do in the garden may be saving you money! Homegrown food is often healthier and much less expensive than grocery produce. Also, certain vegetation can work to block the home from wind and sun; both of which can place strain on a home's energy consumption.
- The Cost of "Stuff" – Look around your room. How much stuff is around? Does it all get used regularly? Most likely not. One way to cut costs at home is simply by cutting unnecessary spending. Money saved on random junk can be used purposefully and will often reap greater joy. Would you rather buy 6 new DVDs or rent the movies from the library (for free!) and put that money into new area rugs that liven up the decor? Weed through the accumulation and start putting together agarage sale. Even if little money is made, the purging of items will leave you with a blank slate perfect for doing something new.
Living "green" is the trend right now and economic hardship is placing more urgency on cutting back consumption. However, life goes on and needs to be enjoyed. Taking the time to pinch some pennies around the home can reap big rewards overall. Turn these tips into habits and saving money will become part of every day living rather than an extra chore.
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