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Savings Guide

8 simple ways to reduce household costs in 2013

Reduce energy and save moneyThe question of how to reduce our environmental impact, reduce energy consumption, and reduce energy costs can seem enormous – too big for any one person to tackle. It’s understandable why this perception persists when you consider that everything is described on a global scale, and it’s easy to feel powerless. But there is great power in collective action, and even simple, low-impact changes to our lifestyles can have a huge effect on the global situation. If everyone followed these eight simple, easy steps in their everyday lives, the collective result would be staggering.

1. Research Before You Buy. Purchasing an Energy Star rated appliance (television, washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.) can save you over $4000 in operating costs than buying less efficient appliances. For example, an energy-efficient television will cost the average owner $57 a year to operate, while a less-efficient television will cost $183. This not only represents a monetary saving, but significantly lower energy consumption.

2. Don’t Rely on Standby Power. Your appliances use energy even when they’re not being operated. Even your television, dark and silent, is sipping energy from the grid at all times. While most modern appliances operate in ‘standby’ mode which is designed to use less energy, there’s an even better solution: Turning them off altogether when not in use. The easiest way to do so is with an EcoSwitch, which allows you to switch off several appliances at once with a single simple switch. The introduction of just one EcoSwitch can save the average household a significant amount on their annual electricity bill.

3. Use Less Hot Water. Water is a precious resource that needs to be conserved as well. Consider setting your water heater’s temperature to a lower setting to save heating costs, and limiting your showers to four minutes. Installing an efficient low-flow showerhead can save up to $100 in water and energy costs as well. If you’ve got the right property and the gumption, a solar water heating system can reduce your water heating bills by 50% every year.

4. Wear More Layers. While a warm home in the cool months is a joy and a comfort, reducing the thermostat in your home to 18 – 20 degrees can save a lot of money and energy. Every degree you increase the temperature in your house raises your cost by 10%. A thick pair of socks, some slippers, and that nice Christmas jumper your Nana knitted can make sure you’re comfortable.

5. Full Loads Only. Using your washing machine and dishwasher at capacity will make for the most efficient use of energy. If possible, consider drying your clothes on a line as opposed to running the dryer – this alone can save you up to $150 in energy costs, and make your clothes smell amazing.

6. Careful Lighting. Changing all the globes in your home to the newer energy-efficient type can reduce your energy costs by 20% (and reduce the number of times you have to get the ladder out of the garage, as the new globes last 8-10 times longer). Remembering to close lights as you leave rooms or the house can also have an impact on your energy footprint. If you can, install skylights or solar tubes as these can eliminate the need for electric light during the day, further saving you money.

7. Insulate! Having a professional inspect and assess the insulation of your home is a great way to reduce costs and energy usage. Proper insulation, especially around windows, can reduce heating costs by up to 40% in the cold months. Even in the warmer months, insulation works for you by maintaining the interior climate.

8. Carpool and Bus Fare. Taking public transportation or sharing a car with co-workers or co-shoppers can shave your energy use and expenditure on your car. Joining an on-demand car service like GoGet allows you to forego a second (or even primary) vehicle, and shares the fuel and maintenance costs of the cars among a wide number of people, reducing everyone’s impact. Finally, if you must have a car, consider a ‘green’ vehicle – the government can help you shop for one at