Recession or not, money saving ideas are a great way to recover lost money from your budget. Your family will love you when they get to do something fun with it.
You can't get it back from the previous months, but you can prevent it from going down the drain in the future.
I know that most of us have heard of the usual money saving ideas, such as turning off the lights when you are not using them, washing clothes in cold water, using fluorescent light bulbs, etc. But how many of us even do those simple things?
It's not because we don't know about them. We just don't make the effort.
Why is that?
Maybe some people make enough money so that they don't really care about money saving ideas. They feel they can afford it and that's all that matters to them. But what about the rest of us that do want to save money and resources so we can spend it on important things. Not give it away to utility companies.
You have to want to do it. If you don't, you will just keep wasting part of your hard earned income every month.
So... the first money saving idea is...
I know, it sounds obvious. But was it at the top of your list? It must be if it's going to work.
Yes, do the usual; washing clothes in cold water when possible, pre-rinsing dishes off with cold water before you put them in the dishwasher (if that's necessary to do for your dishwasher), etc.
There are other ways to reduce hot water usage. Such as:
A- DO NOT use the hot water faucet for short uses when rinsing. If you only run it for a few seconds, which doesn't let any hot water make it out of the faucet, you have still removed that same amount of water from the water heater. That gets replaced with more cold water which the water heater then has to reheat. Leave it in the system and use the cold faucet instead.
B- If you are hand washing a few dishes in the sink, and one of them happens to be a large soup pot, rinse out the large pot first and use it as a mini sink to wash the other dishes in. It will probably take less water to fill than the sink, saving some hot water.
C- This is one of those money saving ideas that you will have to spend a little money on first. Wherever possible, wrap the hot water piping in your house with foam insulation to prevent heat loss. It's available at most home improvement stores and comes in different diameters for various pipe sizes. Be sure to get the kind with an adhesive strip already on the slit so it will seal up once you have it on the pipe. This helps to hold in heat, especially in cold spaces like the basement.
D- If you have an older water heater, you may want to wrap it with an insulating cover to help keep the heat in longer which can reduce how often it cycles on. If you have a gas water heater, make sure you don't cover up any vent areas on it. If you're not sure how to do it safely, then get some help from someone that knows.
E- If you have to replace any appliances, then you should try to purchase an "Energy Star" rated one. They are designed to use less power and/or hot water.
F- Take Navy showers. What does that mean? You only have the water running when you need it. Turn it on to get wet or to rinse off, but shut it off between those times. I don't see why you want the water running on you while you are trying to put soap on or scrub yourself anyway.
To make it easier, you can buy a small valve to install between the shower head and the pipe so you can stop the water flow, but leave the faucet on at your desired temp setting. We just use the faucet itself. We are so used to these money saving ideas that we don't even think about doing it anymore. It's just automatic.
This practice not only saves the power (or gas) it takes to heat the water, but saves on total water usage, reduces the amount of water that needs to be treated in the sewer system and produces less steam and condensation in your bathroom.
Which brings me to a seldom considered factor in energy consumption.
Most people don't realize that an air conditioner can only remove a certain amount of heat per minute or hour. It doesn't matter what you set the temp at, it still removes heat at the same rate. Fan speed can have some effect on it, but for a central air unit, the fan usually runs at a constant speed.
But if there is a lot of humidity in the air, the a/c unit will be condensing the moisture out of the air and pumping that heat out first. So it will take a longer time to cool the house (or car for that matter) to the desired temp.
Side trip: Run your car a/c on recirculate or max to cool it down quicker. I usually leave it on recirc so it's not constantly trying to remove the humidity from the incoming air. More efficient and comfortable.
So if you want your air conditioner to run less, then you need to do what you can to reduce the amount of humidity it has to remove. As I mentioned before, that's one plus of taking Navy showers. Less hot water into the shower = less steam produced.
You can also cook outside on the grill to reduce the steam produced by the food cooked indoors. Eat more cold foods/dishes.
Here's one of those money saving ideas that has a side benefit. Make the kids play outside more. Fewer bodies in the house means less heat and humidity produced. Better for them than watching TV too, and I'm sure they would love it if you joined them.
We could go on for quite a while on this topic, but you get the idea.
I know you are plenty smart enough to add a lot more ideas to the list. Like I said, it just takes a little thought and some practice. Ask your family for help. All of the things you do will add up. Every drop helps to fill the money bucket, or drop by drop it can be drained also.
You control the direction of flow with better ideas and action.
Mitch Ferguson, June 2009