As the cost of living increases across the country, many people are looking to cut costs inside the home. Household expenses add up quickly, but you can avoid a high cost energy bill by following a few simple guidelines.
Update Appliances and Fixtures
Sometimes regular repair and maintenance of older appliances does not always solve a home energy problem. When it costs more to repair your equipment than replace it, it is time to consider updating. Typically, it is time to replace your heat pump or air conditioning unit if is more than ten years old. You may also find that the newer, energy-efficient models will cut down energy usage in your home. To help pay for these new appliances set up goals using your SmartyPig 1% cashback rewards card, to save 1% on all your purchases to put towards your new more energy efficient appliances and other goals you may want to set up.
When you upgrade appliances, look for energy-efficient models. For example, verify that it is an Energy Star® certified central air conditioner which has a higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) than standard models. This makes it about 14 percent more efficient than regular models. Efficiency is greater in models with a high SEER.
Double Check Your Bill
This may sound simple, but many people opt for paperless billing and never log online to see their balance. Take a moment each month to not only review your total, but also scope out your energy usage. Are you using more or less compared to a prior month or year? If you notice your household is consuming more energy, try to monitor the possible causes. There could be a discrepancy on your bill or perhaps a larger problem within your home like a leak.
Change Your Habits
Small changes to your daily routines can maximize your energy savings. Turn off lights in rooms you are not in and open curtains during daylight hours. Dust light fixtures so they operate at their maximum capacity and try to minimize the use of large appliances. Try hanging your clothes to dry or washing dishes by hand. If you do need to use your washer and dryer, dishwasher or other appliance that need a lot of energy, try using it on the lowest heat setting.
You can also shop around and look for energy savings. You may be surprised that you have options, and it is important to get educated about choices you have.
Using Fans Over A/C
Heating and cooling accounts for about half of home energy costs. Avoid high energy bills by strategically placing fans in your home. Ceiling fans can create a significant impact in temperature and allow air to circulate while keeping your family cool. A few fans paired with an overall plan to reduce air-conditioning usage can slash home energy costs.
Maintaining Your Home
Never delay appliance repairs as these leaky faucets, old refrigerators, and broken water heaters can all be sources of energy usage spikes. By having your appliances serviced regularly, you can avoid costly repairs or replacements, and you may reduce your overall home energy costs. Dust your computer vents, change out your air-conditioning filters regularly, and frequently clean out the lint trap on your dryer. These dusty appliances do not function at their highest capacity which results in more energy use.
It is also wise to do a home assessment and check windows and doors for insulation issues. You can replace single pane windows with double pane windows or fitted storm windows. This investment will lower heating and cooling costs and make your home more energy-efficient. Additionally, The U.S. Department of Energy has a home insulation assessment that determines if your home is insulated properly for the area of the country that you live in.
You can replace also start using compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs are long-lasting and do not require as frequent changes. Replace the bulbs you use the most first, then replace the rest as they burn out.
Don’t forget to use weather stripping and caulk to seal up your home appropriately. This will trap air inside and lessen air conditioning or heat use.
Use your SmartyPig Card for your Bills
While taking all of these money and energy saving tips into account, save even more money by paying your electric bill with an FDIC insured pre-paid SmartyPig 1% Cash-Back rewards card. It’s a fast and simple way to ease the cost of paying for electricity and it’ll ensure that you get a little money back every time you pay your bill to either save or put towards anything else you’d like.
Utilize these tools to find ways to make your home more energy-efficient. Having a more energy-efficient home will also result in a lower energy bill.
JT Ripton freelance writes to inform and intrigue and is also huge on saving every penny possible
The average 2013 wedding cost $28,400. Are you thinking of all the things you could buy right now with that kind of money? I am. One of the most important days of your life certainly warrants a nice price tag, but wouldn’t we all be grateful for a saved dollar or two thousand? One bride cut out $21,000 off her wedding budget, and made it look easy in the process.
Her key piece of advice is, “No matter what I spent money on, I always found a way to get it for less than full price – whether that meant negotiating with a vendor, waiting for a sale or using ‘rewards’ points…” She also recommends that you not be overly accommodating. Brides tend to be nice and pleasant; don’t feel badly asking for price cuts if your vendor can’t deliver to your expectations. You can never go wrong negotiating. And my favorite, call on talented friends. Hire your friends band, enlist your sister to do your hair and nails, or borrow a sweet car for your post-vows ride. These are great gifts from friends and family, and save you big bucks , too!
Wedding season will be here before you know it. Don’t spend more than you have to, and don’t forget the best place to save for the big day: SmartyPig!
Wishing you successful saving.
Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman
Solid personal finance begins with debt elimination and saving. And while these behaviors may not be categorized as glamorous, writes David Kansas at the Wall Street Journal, “getting this first piece of your financial life right will help make everything else fall into place.” We could not agree more. His main tip: delaying instant gratification. This is what we at SmartyPig help you do best.
SmartyPig helps people save for things they want, but cannot afford to buy today. Forgoing impulse buys and saving up first allows you to stay in control while still getting what you need and want. You incur zero debt. You earn high interest. And when it comes time to cash out that goal, SmartyPig has myriad retailers that offer cash back options on your travel, home improvement, electronics and clothes.
Work your inner frugal today by cutting costs, delaying purchases and putting those newly found funds towards the things you really want!
Wishing you successful saving.
Sarah Foss, SmartyPig’s Media Mad Woman
Each year, more than 75% of Americans plan to take some sort of summer vacation. But returning home with a couple thousand dollars on your credit card at 18% interest can make those two weeks away from the daily grind feel more like five years… in prison.
Release yourself from the shackles of credit card debt AND start making your dreams of that much-needed summer retreat a reality by setting aside money every payday in a new SmartyPig vacation goal. You’ll earn one of the highest interest rates in the country (1% APY) and have the opportunity for even more cash when you redeem your goal.
Start saving for some fun in the sun today!
The SmartyPig Team
Almost no ones takes any tax related resolution during the New Year. It is mainly health related pledges, or finance related ones which most consider. However, tax planning is one of the most important things you need to consider. If you pay heed to the tax preparations, it can help you save money. Therefore, planning your taxes can actually help in attaining your New Year financial resolutions. With tax planning and preparations, you can save a decent amount of money and if you can get the help of SmartyPig, it would be even easier for you to save up more.
Saving money won’t be tough with SmartyPig by your side. If you do not know how to start with saving money and what steps you need to take in order to be able to save money, SmartyPig can help you in all of these. Therefore, if you can manage to plan your taxes and prepare it well too, and in addition if you can go on to get help from SmartyPig, it can help you in securing more money than usual.
Set up the tax file for 2014 – You will have to look for all the documents which you would require to prepare for the taxes. You will also have to collect all kinds of documents in relation to the transactions made through the year. These things can have an effect on the tax returns. It would be required of you to look through all of these documents, so that you can go on to submit these as and when required. Some of the most important documents which you will be required to submit and thus scan through are the retirement savings forms, escrow papers for purchase, W2 forms, and any other such receipts.
You can get help of a tax preparer – Before you can actually go on to get the help of a tax preparer, you will have to first determine if you would at all require help of a professional. You need not waste money, simply because, everyone is of the opinion that it is better to take help. Rather consider your situation and your knowledge, and then get help of a tax preparer.
Read the forms thoroughly – In order to avoid making any mistakes, start early and read through the forms thoroughly, so that you can go on to avoid making any mistakes while filing your taxes. In addition, try to remain organized. This may help you in saving more through the tax filings.
So, this is how you can go on to prepare your taxes for 2014. However, you will also have to couple this with proper saving which can be done through the help of SmartyPig. This way you may be able to save more than what you usually do every year.
Audric Stevens is a financial expert and a contemporary writer. He is involved in various online activities through which he imparts financial lessons to people with diverse needs. In addition to that, he is closely working with the ‘Debtconsolidationcare community’ at the moment that has several interesting and prudent financial tips for people to use.