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How To Save Energy and Money at Home
Did you know that the average family spends close to $1300 a year on
their home's utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy
is wasted. By using a few inexpensive energy efficient measures, you can
reduce your energy bills by 10% to 50%.
This information shows you how easy it is to reduce your home energy
use. It is a guide to easy, practical solutions for saving energy
throughout your home, from the insulating system that surrounds it to the
appliances and lights inside. These valuable tips will save you energy and
money and, in many cases, help the environment by reducing pollution and
conserving our natural resources.
Also This Month...
The 9 Step System To Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar
Buyers are far more discriminating now than in the past, and a large
percentage of the homes listed for sale never sell. It's more critical
than ever to learn what you need to know to avoid costly seller mistakes
in order to sell your home fast and for the most amount of money.
Common Mistakes Made With Money and How to Avoid Them
Everybody makes mistakes with their money. The important thing is to keep them to a minimum. And one
of the best ways to accomplish that is to learn from the mistakes of others. Here is our list of the top
mistakes people make with their money, and what you can do to avoid these mistakes in the first
How To Save Energy and Money at Home
Did you know that the average family spends close to $1300 a year on
their home's utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is
wasted. By using a few inexpensive energy efficient measures, you can reduce
your energy bills by 10% to 50% and, at the same time, help reduce air
The key to achieving these savings is a whole house energy efficiency
plan. To take a whole house approach, view your home as an energy system
with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a
furnace, it's a heat delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers
heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. You may have a
top-of-the-line, energy efficient furnace, but if the ducts leak and are uninsulated, and your walls, attic, windows, and doors are uninsulated, your
energy bills will remain high. Taking a whole house approach to saving
energy ensures that dollars you invest in energy efficiency are wisely
This information shows you how easy it is to reduce your home energy use.
It is a guide to easy, practical solutions for saving energy throughout your
home, from the insulating system that surrounds it to the appliances and
lights inside. These valuable tips will save you energy and money and, in
many cases, help the environment by reducing pollution and conserving our
The first step to taking a whole house energy efficiency approach is to
find out which parts of your house use the most energy. A home energy audit
will show you where these are and suggest the most effective measures for
reducing your energy costs. You can conduct a simple home energy audit
yourself, you can contact your local utility, or you can call an independent
energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination.
Energy Auditing Tips
- Check the level of insulation in your exterior and basement walls,
ceilings, attic, floors, and crawl spaces.
- Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors,
light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can
leak air into or out of your home.
- Check for open fireplace dampers.
- Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly
- Study your family's lighting needs and use patterns, paying special
attention to high use areas such as the living room, kitchen, and exterior
lighting. Look for ways to use daylight, reduce the time the lights are
on, and replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescent
lamps or standard fluorescent lamps.
Formulating Your Plan
After you have identified places where your home is losing energy, assign
priorities to your energy needs by asking yourself a few important
How much money do you spend on energy?
Where are your greatest energy losses?
How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for
itself in energy savings?
Can you do the job yourself, or will you need to hire a contractor?
What is your budget and how much time do you have to spend on maintenance
Once you assign priorities to your energy needs, you can form a
whole house efficiency plan. Your plan will provide you with a strategy for
making smart purchases and home improvements that maximize energy efficiency
and save the most money.
Another option is to get the advice of a professional. Many utilities
conduct energy audits for free or for a nominal charge. For a fee, a
professional contractor will analyze how your home's energy systems work
together as a system and compare the analysis against your utility bills. He
or she will use a variety of equipment such as blower doors, infrared
cameras, and surface thermometers to find inefficiencies that cannot be
detected by a visual inspection. Finally, they will give you a list of
recommendations for cost effective energy improvements and enhanced comfort
Checking your home's insulating system is one of the fastest and most
cost efficient ways to use a whole house approach to reduce energy waste and
maximize your energy dollars. A good insulating system includes a
combination of products and construction techniques that provide a home with
thermal performance, protect it against air infiltration, and control
moisture. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your
heating and cooling needs by up to 30% by investing just a few hundred
dollars in proper insulation and weatherization products.
- Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget
when selecting insulation R-value for your home.
- Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral
ceilings and on exterior walls.
- Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and
reducing summer cooling bills. Install attic vents to help make sure that
there is one inch of ventilation space between the insulation and roof
shingles. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to
help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic, helping to make a
home more comfortable and energy efficient.
- Do not block vents with insulation, and keep insulation at least 3
inches away from recessed lighting fixtures or other heat producing
equipment unless it is marked "I.C." - designed for direct insulation
- The easiest and most cost effective way to insulate your home is to
add insulation in the attic. To find out if you have enough attic
insulation, measure the thickness of insulation. If there is less than
R-19 (6 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 5 inches of cellulose) you
could probably benefit by adding more. Most homes should have between R-19
and R-49 insulation in the attic.
- If your attic has ample insulation and your home still feels drafty
and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, chances are you need to
add insulation to the exterior walls as well. This is a more expensive
measure that usually requires a contractor, but it may be worth the cost
if you live in a very hot or cold climate.
Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home
during the winter can waste a substantial portion of your energy dollars.
One of the quickest dollar-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and
weather strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save
10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home.
Sources of Air Leaks in Your Home
|1. Dropped Ceiling
||9. Chimney penetration
|2. Recessed light
||10. Warm air register
|3. Attic entrance
||11. Window sashes & frames
|4. Electric wires & box
||12. Baseboards, coves, interior trim
|5. Plumbing utilities & penetration
||13. Plumbing access panel
|6. Water & furnace flues
||14. Electrical outlets & switches
|7. All ducts
||15. Light fixtures
|8. Door sashes & frames
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy
dollars than any other system in your home. No matter what kind of heating,
ventilation, and air conditioning system you have in your house, you can
save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your
equipment. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with
appropriate insulation, weatherization, and thermostat settings, you can cut
your energy bills and your pollution output in half.
- Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
- Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
- Clean warm air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed;
make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators once or twice a season; if
in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.
- Place heat resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and
- Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 1 hour,
these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off
as soon as they have done the job.
- Keep draperies and shades open on south facing windows during the
heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home; close them at night
to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house,
such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating
for that room or zone. However, do not turn the heating off if it
adversely affects the rest of your system. For example, if you heat your
house with a heat pump, do not close the vents - closing the vents could
harm the heat pump.
- Select energy efficient equipment when you buy new heating equipment.
Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for
different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage.
Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate
climates, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of
energy they consume in electricity. There are three types of heat pumps:
air-to-air, water source, and ground source. They collect heat from the air,
water, or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside. Heat
pumps do double duty as a central air conditioner. They can also cool your
home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it
outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating
as much as 30% to 40%.
Heat Pump Tips
- Do not set back the heat pump's thermostat manually if it causes the
electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, which is
often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive.
- Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the
system according to manufacturer's instructions.
Using the sun to heat your home through passive solar design can be both
environmentally friendly and cost effective. In many cases, you can cut your
heating costs by more than 50% compared to the cost of heating the same
house that does not include passive solar design. Passive solar design
techniques include placing larger, insulated windows on south facing walls
and locating thermal mass, such as a concrete slab floor or a heat absorbing
wall, close to the windows. However, a passive solar house requires careful
design, best done by an architect for new construction or major remodeling.
- Keep all south facing glass clean.
- Make sure that objects do not block the sunlight shining on concrete
slab floors or heat-absorbing walls.
- Consider using insulating curtains to reduce excessive heat loss from
large windows at night.
When you cozy up next to a crackling fire on a cold winter day, you
probably don't realize that your fireplace is one of the most inefficient
heat sources you can possibly use. It literally sends your energy dollars
right up the chimney along with volumes of warm air. A roaring fire can
exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which
must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside. Your
heating system must warm up this air, which is then exhausted through your
chimney. If you use your conventional fireplace while your central heating
system is on, these tips can help reduce energy losses.
- If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
- Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the
damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter;
it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
- When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the
bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly,
approximately 1 inch, and close doors leading into the room. Lower the
thermostat setting to between 50 and 55°F.
- Install tempered glass doors and a heat air exchange system that blows
warmed air back into the room.
- Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
- Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
- Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the
fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
It might surprise you to know that buying a bigger room air conditioning
unit won't necessarily make you feel more comfortable during the hot summer
months. In fact, a room air conditioner that's too big for the area it is
supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and less effectively than a
smaller, properly sized unit. This is because room units work better if they
run for relatively long periods of time than if they are continually,
switching off and on. Longer run times allow air conditioners to maintain a
more constant room temperature. Running longer also allows them to remove a
larger amount of moisture from the air, which lowers humidity and, more
importantly, makes you feel more comfortable.
Sizing is equally important for central air conditioning systems, which
need to be sized by professionals. If you have a central air system in your
home, set the fan to shut off at the same time as the cooling unit
(compressor). In other words, don't use the system's central fan to provide
circulation, but instead use circulating fans in individual rooms.
- Whole house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the
house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when
operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
- Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The
less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower
your overall cooling bill will be.
- Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you
turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and
could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
- Set the fan speed on high except in very humid weather. When it's
humid, set the fan speed on low. You'll get better cooling, and slower air
movement through the cooling equipment allows it to remove more moisture
from the air, resulting in greater comfort.
- Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air
conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home
without greatly increasing your power use.
- Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air conditioning thermostat.
The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air
conditioner to run longer than necessary.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block
the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less
electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by
simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can do this
automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback
or programmable thermostat.
Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the
heating or air conditioning according to a preset schedule. As a result,
you don't operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the
house or part of the house is not occupied. (These thermostats are not meant
to be used with heat pumps.) Programmable thermostats can store and repeat
multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you
can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly
Your home's duct system is one of the most important systems in your
home, and may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. It is a branching
network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from
your home's furnace and central air conditioner to each room.
Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated
properly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds
of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts that
are in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost effective. If you are
buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already
Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts
are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawl space.
If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air can be forced out
unsealed joints and lost.
Although minor duct repairs are easy to accomplish, ducts in
unconditioned spaces should be sealed and insulated by qualified
professionals using the appropriate sealing materials. Here are a few simple
tips to help with minor duct repairs.
- Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be
joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
- If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with
the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades,
cracks, and loses its bond with age.
- Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement
colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are un-insulated, consider
insulating the basement walls and the ducts.
- If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both
supply and return registers in the basement rooms.
- Be sure a well sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the
insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture build up.
- Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts.
Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home. It
typically accounts for about 14% of your utility bill.
There are four ways to cut your water heating bills: use less hot water,
turn down the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater,
and buy a new, more efficient water heater. A family of four, each showering
for 5 minutes a day, uses 700 gallons of water a week; this is enough for a
3-year supply of drinking water for one person. You can cut that amount in
half simply by using low-flow showerheads and faucets.
Water Heating Tips
- Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water
in a short period.
- Insulate your electric hot water storage tank and pipes, but be
careful not to cover the thermostat.
- Insulate your gas or oil hot water storage tank and pipes, but be
careful not to cover the water heater's floor, top, thermostat, or burner
compartment; when in doubt, get professional help.
- Install aerators in faucets and low flow showerheads.
- Buy a new water heater with a thick, insulating shell; while it may
cost more initially than one without insulation, the energy savings will
continue during the lifetime of the appliance.
- Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it's best to start
shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some
research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most
appropriately meets your needs.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters at a setting
of 115°F provide comfortable hot water for most uses.
- Insulate your water heater to save energy and money.
- Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove
sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your
- Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the
average household. You use 1525 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less
than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.
- If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate,
consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are
environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend
with the architecture of your house.
Solar Water Heaters
If you heat with electricity and you have a non-shaded, south-facing
location (such as a roof) on your property, consider installing a solar
water heater. Solar water heating systems are also good for the environment.
Solar water heaters avoid the harmful greenhouse gas emissions associated
with electricity production. During a 20 year period, one solar water heater
can avoid over 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Windows can be one of your home's most attractive features. Windows
provide views, daylight, ventilation, and solar heating in the winter.
Unfortunately, they can also account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill.
During the summer, sunny windows make your air conditioner work two to three
times harder. If you live in the Sun Belt, look into new solar control
spectrally selective windows, which can cut the cooling load by more than
If your home has single pane windows, as almost half of homes do,
consider replacing them. New double pane windows with high performance glass
(e.g., low-e or spectrally selective) are available on the market. In colder
climates, select windows that are gas filled with low emissivity ( low-e)
coatings on the glass to reduce heat loss. In warmer climates, select
windows with spectrally selective coatings to reduce heat gain. If you are
building a new home, you can offset some of the cost of installing more
efficient windows because doing so allows you to buy smaller, less expensive
heating and cooling equipment.
Cold-Climate Window Tips
- Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce
your heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%. Storm windows should
have weather stripping at all moveable joints; be made of strong, durable
materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints. Low-e storm
windows save even more energy.
- Install tight fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel
drafty after weatherizing.
- Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day.
- Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar
Warm-Climate Window Tips
- Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away
from the house.
- Close curtains on south and west facing windows.
- Install awnings on south and west facing windows.
- Apply sun control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to
reduce solar gain.
Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to keep your home more
comfortable and reduce your energy bills. In addition to adding aesthetic
value and environmental quality to your home, a well placed tree, shrub, or
vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce overall
Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a typical household's
energy for heating and cooling. Properly placed trees around the house, can
save an average household between $100 and $250 in heating and cooling
energy costs annually.
During the summer months, the most effective way to keep your home cool
is to prevent the heat from building up in the first place. A primary source
of heat buildup is sunlight absorbed by your home's roof, walls, and
windows. Dark colored home exteriors absorb 70% to 90% of the radiant energy
from the sun that strikes the home's surfaces. Some of this absorbed energy
is then transferred into your home by way of conduction, resulting in heat
gain inside the house. In contrast, light colored surfaces effectively
reflect most of the heat away from your home. Landscaping can also help
block and absorb the sun's energy to help decrease heat build up in your home
by providing shade and evaporative cooling.
Increasing your lighting efficiency is one of the fastest ways to
decrease your energy bills. If you replace 25% of your lights in high use
areas with fluorescents, you can save about 50% of your lighting energy
Use linear fluorescent and energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
in fixtures throughout your home to provide high quality and high efficiency
lighting. Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs
and last 6 to 10 times longer.
Indoor Lighting Tips
- Turn off the lights in any room you're not using, or consider
installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount
of time your lights are on.
- Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus
the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under cabinet
lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets.
- Consider three way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels
low when brighter light is not necessary.
- Use 4-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic
ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas.
- Consider using 4 watt mini fluorescent or electro luminescent night
lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent
counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch.
- Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home.
- For spot lighting, consider CFLs with reflectors. The lamps range in
wattage from 13 watt to 32 watt and provide a very directed light using a
reflector and lens system.
- Take advantage of daylight by using light colored, loose weave
curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while
preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect
Many homeowners use outdoor lighting for decoration and security. When
shopping for outdoor lights, you will find a variety of products, from
low-voltage pathway lighting to high sodium motion detector floodlights.
Some stores also carry lights powered by small photovoltaic (PV) modules
that convert sunlight directly into electricity; consider PV-powered lights
for areas that are not close to an existing power supply line.
Outdoor Lighting Tips
- Use outdoor lights with a photocell unit or a timer so they will turn
off during the day.
- Turn off decorative outdoor gas lamps; just eight gas lamps burning
year round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average size
home during an entire winter.
- Exterior lighting is one of the best places to use CFLs because of
their long life. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to buy a lamp with
a cold-weather ballast.
Appliances account for about 20% of your household's energy consumption,
with refrigerators and clothes dryers at the top of the consumption list.
When you're shopping for appliances, you can think of two price tags. The
first one covers the purchase price - think of it as a down payment. The
second price tag is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime.
You'll be paying on that second price tag every month with your utility bill
for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the appliance. Refrigerators last
an average of 20 years; room air conditioners and dishwashers, about 10
years each; clothes washers, about 14 years.
Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. The Energy
Guide label estimates how much power is needed per year to run the appliance
and to heat the water based on the yearly cost of gas and electric water
- Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's
recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements
that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature.
- Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or
prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned on or dried on
- Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded.
- Don't use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled
dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
- Let your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air dry
switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door
open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
- Remember that dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand,
about 6 gallons less per load; dishwashers also use hotter water than you
would use if you were washing the dishes by hand, so they can do a better
job of killing germs.
Refrigerators with the freezer on top are more efficient than those with
freezers on the side.
The Energy Guide label on new refrigerators will tell you how much
electricity in kilowatt hours (kWh) a particular model uses in one year. The
smaller the number, the less energy the refrigerator uses and the less it
will cost you to operate.
Refrigerator/Freezer Energy Tips
- Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with
this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the
cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same
thing as an "anti sweat" heater. Models with an anti sweat heater will
consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
- Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended
temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the
refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section. If you have a separate
freezer for long term storage, it should be kept at 0°F.
- To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a
glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours.
To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen
packages. Read it after 24 hours.
- Regularly defrost manual defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost
build up increases the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running.
Don't allow frost to build up more than one quarter of an inch.
- Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by
closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in
and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out
easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
- Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered
foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
- Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser
coils once a year unless you have a no clean condenser model. Your
refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.
Other Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips
- Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold
position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot
position uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the
- If you need to purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an
automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves gas -
typically 41% in the oven and 53% on the top burners - because a pilot
light is not burning continuously.
- In gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the
gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed.
- Keep range top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the
heat better, and you will save energy.
- Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses
- Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
If you cook with electricity, turn the stovetop burners off several
minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay
hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity. The
same principle applies to oven cooking.
- Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than
your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much
energy as a full-sized oven.
- Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to
do so. They can save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.
About 80% to 85% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating
the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for
washing clothes - use less water and use cooler water. Unless you're dealing
with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will
generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature
setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half.
When shopping for a new washer, look for a front loading
(horizontal axis) machine. This machine may cost more to buy but uses about
a third of the energy and less water than a top loading machine. With a
front loader, you'll also save more on clothes drying, because they remove
more water from your clothes during the spin cycle.
When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture
sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry.
Not only will this save energy, it will save wear and tear on your clothes
caused by over drying. Keep in mind that gas dryers are less expensive to
operate than electric dryers. The cost of drying a typical load of laundry
in an electric dryer is 30 to 40 cents compared to 15 to 25 cents in a gas
- Wash your clothes in cold water using cold water detergents whenever
- Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the
appropriate water-level setting.
- Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter weight
- Don't over dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor,
- Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air
- Use the cool down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the
residual heat in the dryer.
The 9 Step System To Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar
The Real Estate Market Has Changed . . .
"Buyers are far more discriminating, and a large
percentage of the homes listed for sale don't sell the first time. It's more
critical than ever to learn what you need to know to avoid costly seller
mistakes in order to sell your home fast and for the most amount of money."
Remember not so long ago, when you could make your
fortune in real estate. It was nothing then to buy a home, wait a short
while, and then sell it at a tidy profit.
And then do it all over again.
Well, as you probably know, times have changed. As good as the market
is right now, home prices are still below what they were at their peak.
Buyers are far more discriminating, and a large percentage of the homes
listed for sale never sell. It's more critical than ever to learn what
you need to know to avoid costly seller mistakes in order to sell your
home fast and for the most amount of money.
The 7 Deadly Mistakes Most Homesellers Make
- Failing to analyze why they are selling.
- Not preparing their home for the buyer's eye.
- Pricing their homes incorrectly.
- Selling too hard during showings.
- Signing a long term listing agreement without a written
- Making it difficult for buyers to get information on their
- Failing to obtain a pre-approved mortgage for ones next home.
The 9 Step System to Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar
Selling your home is one of the most important steps in your life. This
9 step system will give you the tools you need to maximize your profits,
maintain control, and reduce the stress that comes with the homeselling
1. Know why you're selling, and keep it to yourself.
The reasons behind your decision to sell affect everything from setting a
price to deciding how much time and money to invest in getting your home
ready for sale. What's more important to you: the money you walk away with,
or the length of time your property is on the market? Different goals will
dictate different strategies.
However, don't reveal your motivation to anyone else or they may use it
against you at the negotiating table. When asked, simply say that your
housing needs have changed.
2. Do your homework before setting a price.
Settling on an offering price shouldn't be done lightly. Once you've set
your price, you've told buyers the absolute maximum they have to pay for
your home, but pricing too high is as dangerous as pricing too low. Remember
that the average buyer is looking at 15-20 homes at the same time they are
considering yours. This means that they have a basis of comparison, and if
your home doesn't compare favorably with others in the price range you've
set, you won't be taken seriously by prospects or agents. As a result, your
home will sit on the market for a long time and, knowing this, new buyers on
the market will think there must be something wrong with your home.
3. Do your homework.
(In fact, your agent should do this for you). Find out what homes in your
own and similar neighborhoods have sold for in the past 6-12 months, and
research what current homes are listed for. That's certainly how prospective
buyers will assess the worth of your home.
4. Find a good real estate agent to represent your needs.
Nearly three-quarters of homeowners claim that they wouldn't use the same
realtor who sold their last home. Dissatisfaction boils down to poor
communication which results in not enough feedback, lower pricing and
strained relations. Another FREE report entitled "10 Questions to Ask Before
You Hire an Agent" gives you the straight, to-the-point questions you should
be asking when you interview agents who want to list your home. You can
obtain a FREE copy of this report from my website.
5. Maximize your home's sales potential.
Each year, corporate North America spends billions on product and
packaging design. Appearance is critical, and it would be foolish to ignore
this when selling your home.
You may not be able to change your home's location or floor plan, but you
can do a lot to improve its appearance. The look and feel of your home
generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. Clean like
you've never cleaned before. Pick up, straighten, unclutter, scrub, scour
and dust. Fix everything, no matter how insignificant it may appear. Present
your home to get a "wow" response from prospective buyers.
Allow the buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. The decision
to buy a home is based on emotion, not logic. Prospective buyers want to try
on your home just like they would a new suit of clothes. If you follow them
around pointing out improvements or if your decor is so different that it's
difficult for a buyer to strip it away in his or her mind, you make it
difficult for them to feel comfortable enough to imagine themselves an
6. Make it easy for prospects to get information on your home.
You may be surprised to know that some marketing tools that most agents
use to sell homes (eg. traditional open houses) are actually not very
effective. In fact only 1% of homes are sold at an open house.
Furthermore, the prospects calling for information on your home probably
value their time as much as you do. The last thing they want to be subjected
to is either a game of telephone tag with an agent, or an unwanted sales
pitch. Make sure the ads your agent places for your home are attached to a
24 hour prerecorded hotline with a specific ID# for your home which gives
buyers access to detailed information about your property day or night 7
days a week without having to talk to anyone. It's been proven that 3 times
as many buyers call for information on your home under this system. And
remember, the more buyers you have competing for your home the better,
because it sets up an auction-like atmosphere that puts you in the driver's
7. Know your buyer.
In the negotiation process, your objective is to control the pace and set
the duration. What is your buyer's motivation? Does s/he need to move
quickly? Does s/he have enough money to pay you your asking price? Knowing
this information gives you the upper hand in the negotiation because you
know how far you can push to get what you want.
8. Make sure the contract is complete.
For your part as a seller, make sure you disclose everything. Smart
sellers proactively go above and beyond the laws to disclose all known
defects to their buyers in writing. If the buyer knows about a problem, s/he
can't come back with a lawsuit later on.
Make sure all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the
contract of sale, and resist the temptation to diverge from the contract.
For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no.
Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through.
9. Don't move out before you sell.
Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is
vacant because it looks forlorn, forgotten, simply not appealing. It could
even cost you thousands. If you move, you're also telling buyers that you
have a new home and are probably highly motivated to sell fast. This, of
course, will give them the advantage at the negotiating table.
For more information about any of our innovative homeowners
programs, give us a call.
Common Mistakes Made With Money and How to Avoid Them
Everybody makes mistakes with their money. The important thing is to keep them to a minimum. And one of the best ways
to accomplish that is to learn from the mistakes of others. Here is our list of the top mistakes people
make with their money, and what you can do to avoid these mistakes in the first place.
1. Buying items you don't need...and paying extra for them in interest. Every time you have an urge to do a little
"impulse buying" and you use your credit card but you don't pay in full by the due date, you could be paying
interest on that purchase for months or years to come. Spending money for something you really don't need can
be a big waste of your money. But you can make the matter worse, a lot worse, by putting the purchase on a credit
card and paying monthly interest charges.
Research major purchases and comparison shop before you buy. Ask yourself if you really need the item. Even better,
wait a day or two, or just a few hours, to think things over rather than making a quick and costly decision you may
come to regret.
There are good reasons to pay for major purchases with a credit card, such as extra protections if you have problems
with the items. But if you charge a purchase with a credit card instead of paying by cash, check or debit card
(which automatically deducts the money from your bank account), be smart about how you repay. For example, take
advantage of offers of "zero-percent interest" on credit card purchases for a certain number of months
(but understand when and how interest charges could begin).
And, pay the entire balance on your credit card or as much as you can to avoid or minimize interest charges,
which can add up significantly.
If you pay only the minimum amount due on your credit card, you may end up paying more in interest charges
than what the item cost you to begin with.
Example: If you pay only the minimum payment due on a $1,000 computer, let's say it's about $20 a month,
your total cost at an Annual Percentage Rate of more than 18 percent can be close to $3,000, and it will
take you nearly 19 years to pay it off.
2. Getting too deeply in debt. Being able to borrow allows us to buy clothes or computers, take a vacation or
purchase a home or a car. But taking on too much debt can be a problem, and each year millions of adults of
all ages find themselves struggling to pay their loans, credit cards and other bills.
3. Learn to be a good money manager. Also
recognize the warning signs of a serious debt problem. These may include borrowing money to make payments on
loans you already have, deliberately paying bills late, and putting off doctor visits or other important
activities because you think you don't have enough money.
If you believe you're experiencing debt overload, take corrective measures. For example, try to pay off your
highest interest rate loans (usually your credit cards) as soon as possible, even if you have higher balances
on other loans. For new purchases, instead of using your credit card, try paying with cash, a check or a debit card.
There are also reliable credit counselors you can turn to for help at little or no cost.
Unfortunately, you also need to be aware that there are scams masquerading as 'credit repair
clinics' and other companies, such as 'debt consolidators', that may charge big fees for unfulfilled promises or
services you can perform on your own.
4. Paying bills late or otherwise tarnishing your reputation. Companies called credit bureaus prepare credit reports
for use by lenders, employers, insurance companies, landlords and others who need to know someone's financial
reliability, based largely on each person's track record paying bills and debts. Credit bureaus, lenders and other
companies also produce "credit scores" that attempt to summarize and evaluate a person's credit record using a
While one or two late payments on your loans or other regular commitments (such as rent or phone bills) over a
long period may not seriously damage your credit record, making a habit of it will count against you. Over time
you could be charged a higher interest rate on your credit card or a loan that you really want and need. You could
be turned down for a job or an apartment. It could cost you extra when you apply for auto insurance. Your credit
record will also be damaged by a bankruptcy filing or a court order to pay money as a result of a lawsuit.
So, pay your monthly bills on time. Also, periodically review your credit reports from to make sure their information accurately reflects the accounts
5. Having too many credit cards. Two to four cards (including any from department stores, oil companies and other retailers)
is the right number for most adults. Why not more cards?
The more credit cards you carry, the more inclined you may be to use them for costly impulse buying. In addition, each
card you own - even the ones you don't use - represents money that you could borrow up to the card's spending limit. If
you apply for new credit you will be seen as someone who, in theory, could get much deeper in debt and you may only
qualify for a smaller or costlier loan.
Also be aware that card companies aggressively market their products on college campuses, at concerts, ball games or
other events often attended by young adults. Their offers may seem tempting and even harmless - perhaps a free T-shirt or
Frisbee, or 10 percent off your first purchase if you just fill out an application for a new card - but you've got to
consider the possible consequences we've just described. Don't sign up for a credit card just to get a great-looking
T-shirt. You may be better off buying that shirt at the store for $14.95 and saving yourself the potential
costs and troubles from that extra card.
6. Not watching your expenses. It's very easy to overspend in some areas and take away from other priorities, including your
long-term savings. Our suggestion is to try any system â€” ranging from a computer-based budget program to
hand-written notes that will help you keep track of your spending each month and enable you to set and stick to
limits you consider appropriate. A budget doesn't have to be complicated, intimidating or painful - just something
that works for you in getting a handle on your spending.
7. Not saving for your future. We know it can be tough to scrape together enough money to pay for a place to live, a car
and other expenses each month. But experts say it's also important for young people to save money for their long-term
goals, too, including perhaps buying a home, owning a business or saving for your retirement (even though it may be 40 or
50 years away).
Start by "paying yourself first". That means even before you pay your bills each month you should put money into savings
for your future. Often the simplest way is to arrange with your bank or employer to automatically transfer a certain
amount each month to a savings account or to purchase a Savings Bond or an investment, such as a mutual fund that
buys stocks and bonds.
Even if you start with just $25 or $50 a month you'll be significantly closer to your goal. The important thing is to
start saving as early as you can even saving for your retirement when that seems light-years away so you can benefit
from the effect of compound interest. Compound interest refers to when an investment earns interest, and later that combined amount earns
more interest, and on and on until a much larger sum of money is the result after many years.
Banking institutions pay interest on savings accounts that they offer. However, bank deposits aren't the only way to make
your money grow. Investments, which include stocks, bonds and mutual funds, can be attractive alternatives to bank deposits
because they often provide a higher rate of return over long periods, but remember that there is the potential for a
temporary or permanent loss in value.
8. Paying too much in fees. Whenever possible, use your own financial institution's automated teller machines or the ATMs
owned by financial institutions that don't charge fees to non-customers. You can pay $1 to $4 in fees if you get cash from
an ATM that isn't owned by your financial institution or isn't part of an ATM "network" that your bank belongs to.
Try not to "bounce" checks that is, writing checks for more money than you have in your account, which can trigger
fees from your financial institution (about $15 to $30 for each check) and from merchants. The best precaution is to
keep your checkbook up to date and closely monitor your balance, which is easier to do with online and telephone banking.
Remember to record your debit card transactions from ATMs and merchants so that you will be
sure to have enough money in your account when those withdrawals are processed by you bank.
Financial institutions also offer "overdraft protection" services that can help you avoid the embarrassment and
inconvenience of having a check returned to a merchant. But be careful before signing up because these programs come with
their own costs. Whenever possible, use your own financial institution's automated teller machines or the ATMs owned by
institutions that don't charge fees to non-customers.
Pay off your credit card balance each month, if possible, so you can avoid or minimize interest charges. Also send in your
payment on time to avoid additional fees. If you don't expect to pay your credit card bill in full most months, consider
using a card with a low interest rate and a generous "grace period" (the number of days before the card company starts
charging you interest on new purchases).
9. Not taking responsibility for your finances. Do a little comparison shopping to find accounts that match your needs at the
right cost. Be sure to review your bills and bank statements as soon as possible after they arrive or monitor your accounts
periodically online or by telephone. You want to make sure there are no errors, unauthorized charges or indications that a
thief is using your identity to commit fraud.
Keep copies of any contracts or other documents that describe your bank accounts, so you can refer to them in a dispute.
Also remember that the quickest way to fix a problem usually is to work directly with your bank or other service provider.