Another easy part of the budget to control is the amount of energy used in the home. I vividly remember many of the things my parents did during the "Energy Crisis" and have been applying all of them to increase the sustainability of my lifestyle and create the money needed to fuel my dreams. After being sure that the home you live in is properly insulated, you will find that the following tips will also help to decrease the amount of energy you use, and therefore, the amount of money you spend. This will leave you with more money to spend on what you truly value.
- Turn down the thermostat in the winter and turn it up in the summer. Keeping the temperature below 70 degrees will make a big difference in your heating bill. I keep ours at 62 once the place is warmed up. In the summer, the higher you keep the thermostat connected with your air conditioner, the less energy you will use and the lower your electric bill will be.
- Cover your windows with plastic. In the winter months, cover you windows with plastic. You can buy kits to do this at your local hardware or home improvement store. They come with plastic, tape and little insulators to put around your window and outlets. This will considerably cut down on drafts and will help keep your heat from escaping.
- Cover the doorways of low traffic rooms with a sheet or blanket. This will keep heat out of those rooms and in the rooms you use more often. My parents even took it one step further the year they put a door on the stairwell leading to our second floor. It helped control the temperature year round, not just in the winter months.
- Put on a sweater, drink something warm. This is a "no brainer". If you're physically warmer, the heat won't need to be as high for you to be comfortable. I take it one step further by wearing a knit cap around the house in the winter. I even sleep in it. In the summer months, don't be afraid to sit around the house in a tank top and shorts. If you do this, and sit in the vicinity of a fan, you will remain quite cool. We have window air conditioners that I didn't for three summers. This summer, we pulled one out during the record breaking heat, and put a fan in front of it and at various spots around the house to keep the air circulating.
- Don't dry your clothes. Find a corner of your home where you can hang some clothesline, preferably a room that isn't used often. This is a clear memory from my childhood. I remember my mother hanging clothesline in the living room. And it's easy to take down when company comes over. In the summer months, we hang laundry on our porch. Some laundry will still need the dryer. I found that towels and rags did better in the dryer. Only drying towels has decreased our dryer usage 75%.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. It costs you money every time you heat up the water you are using. There are several laundry soaps made specifically for cold water loads. I found that homemade laundry soap works well in cold water loads too.
- Don't use your dishwasher. You are throwing money out the window, heating up the water needed to run your dishwasher. Fill one side of your sink up with hot. water, dish soap and dirty dishes. Fill the other side up with hot water. Wash your dish and dip it in the clear water. Then put the dish in a dish drainer and your done. Tah Dah! This is how we did it in the old days. Our dishes were perfectly sanitized and I never got any weird viruses or diseases. I did get some viruses, but those were always courtesy of my school chums. ;~D
- Unplug unnecessary appliances. You can buy one of those $50 power strips that will do this for you, but it is just as easy to turn them off yourself and about an eighth of the price. I have my television, VCR DVD player, antenna, conversion box and Xbox all in the same power strip. When we aren't using the television we simply flip the power switch on the power strip and we're done. We don't keep our microwave plugged in. It's only plugged in when it's being used. We saw a $15 drop in our electric bill when we first did this.
- Turn Off The Lights! The jury is still out on the sustainability of the fluorescent bulbs Al Gore pushed in An Inconvenient Truth. They may last a long time, but the affect on the environment, once they are disposed of, does not look good. Soooooooo... That being said, we have a couple of these bulbs still functioning, so those we leave on because this actually uses less energy. But, traditional light bulbs are easy. Just turn them off when they aren't needed and listen to the money falling into your pocket.
As you can see, this list of ideas will not only decrease your carbon footprint, it will help you to seriously shift how you are spending your money. At this point, though, I have to share my favorite way to make money with your utility payment. It has been brought to my attention, that if you have solar panels, the energy created all goes into "the system". If you don't use as much energy as you create, the utility company sends you a refund. Now, how cool is that?
P.S. ~ Not Sure What It Is You Truly Value? Click Here For Three Free Worksheets I Created To Help You Out! :)