Five Ways to Cut Your Bills and Not Your Lifestyle
I am a pretty big cheapskate but I still like having modern conveniences like AC, running water, TV...shoes....food. These expenses really add up, but thankfully some of them can be reduced with the awesome alternatives on the market.
1. Cut the cable for good. Cable and satellite packages leave you very little room for options. You have to pick one of their packages and essentially pay for a bunch of channels you'll never watch. Is it too much to ask for an ala carte option? Sadly, aside from the illegal monopolies major companies are turning into, packages are where these providers make their money. They design the packages in a way that doesn't leave the customer an option.
You still have an option. Internet streaming devices are flooding the scene right now and these devices let you decide what you want to pay for. What Roku started has turned into quite a thing. You can even buy TVs that have the streaming device built in. Roku lets you stream Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu, and even YouTube on Roku 2 and newer. In fact, these alternative providers like Netflix are a great way to save money and still see your favorite shows. You have to wait longer but the joy of binge watching an entire season is so worth it.
2. The notorious electricity bill...you have no control over it...right? You have more control than you think. You can install LED bulbs and cut back temperature control when you're not home. You can buy up all high efficiency appliances and open windows on cool nights. This will help in the long run. What about alternative power? Solar power is a great choice. Some places actually offer tax rebates and other incentives. Arizona allows the system to add to your property value but the increase is not taxable. Wind power is also an option for places with good, steady wind.
If you can't afford a system outright, why not lease one? It's completely free up front. Typically you will have to commit to a term which can be lengthy, but if you're going to be living there anyway, why not save on electricity? It's estimated that electricity costs rise by 5% each year. What the lease does for you is lock in a rate for the term of the lease. Essentially you'll save 5% more each year on power. Sounds like a winner! In fact, the only advantage buying a system has is that power companies have to pay you for power you put into the grid when usage is less than production.
3. Eliminate gas bills by replacing the need for gas with another source of heat. If you have a fireplace, why not use that to help heat the house when it gets cold? Look on Craigslist for free wood. Invest in a fire brick maker and turn your junk mail throughout the year into heat. Replace your big water heater tank with an efficient, tankless water heater. The water heats up rapidly as soon as water flow is sensed. No need to keep a bunch of water heated 24/7! Imagine how much you'll save with that alone!
4. Button up the house and reduce drafts and escaped air. Replacing old weather stripping and caulk is simple, cheap, and saves money instantly. There are many ways to find leaks in windows and doors. The first step is to look at existing stripping and caulk to see what condition it's in. Anything work should be replaced. It's a fairly quick job. Take a lit candle around windows, being careful not to get close to flammable materials, and identify places where the flame flickers. You have found the draft when it bounces around. Seal that baby up! If you have a fireplace, be sure to keep the flue closed when not in use.
If you have old, single-paned windows, it may be time to replace them for a long term savings. If the day time sun is heating up the house through the windows, buy some tint. It can reduce the amount of heat that gets through drastically.
5. Do laundry and other heat producing activities during the evening. Also, do full loads. It's more efficient than smaller loads. You can hang your clothes up until mostly dry, then throw them in the dryer to soften them up, save money, and reduce the heat entering your house. Speaking of heat, cooking inside during the winter helps increase heat and cooking outside in the summer reduces it. Buy a grill. They're just all around awesome.