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10 Ways to Save Money Every Month
If you commit to the following recommendations you can save as much as $500 a month in utility costs (phone, TV, heating, electricity and water). And, once you have made the changes, you will continue to reap the financial benefits for years to come.
1. Phone Service
Utilize services such as iTalkBB (www.italkbb.com) or Vonage (www.vonage.com) that provide telephone service via the Internet for as little as $5.00 per month. Skype (www.skype.com) offers internet phone service right from your computer enabling you to see the person you are talking to, just about anywhere in the world. There are several companies out there now offering packages that include long distance, continent-wide or world-wide, for a fraction of what the big carriers like Bell or Rogers charge. Many will also include a phone messaging service that will automatically send you a text/email message when there is a missed call. If you currently pay about $20/month for phone service you could save $15 per month or more.
2. TV Cable Service
For approximately $50 you can buy a state-of-the-art antenna and mount it on the roof of your house (or direct your condo board to have it mounted on the roof of your condominium building for all residents to use). In most cases it will be necessary to install 3 or four antenna's (they can all be mounted on the same pole) in order to have one pointing in each direction (i.e. to pick up signals from various directions as necessary). You can read all about what's available in your area and which way to point your antennas at TVFool.com (http://tvfool.com/). In the picture below you can see three antennas mounted together on a single pole, each one has two rectangular pieces.
Currently 91% of broadcasting DTV (Digital TV) stations are on UHF (Ultra-High-Frequency). The large networks broadcast in high-definition so NBC, ABC, PBS, CBS, Fox, CBC. CHCH etc. etc., including most international stations, are available. For more information on how to set up an antenna to receive digital high-definition TV for free you can check out this site HDTV Antenna (http://www.hdtvantenna.com/). There are other sites out there that have answers to most questions such as http: www.antennasdirect.com ; www.antennaweb.org ; www.solidsignal.com . Wikipedia also has plenty of information including lists of all the broadcast channels available for each country.
The stations you won't be able to get via an antenna, are the ones that do not broadcast their signal, such as many of the specialty stations. So, you have to ask yourself if it is worth it to you to pay for your TV cable/satellite package (which might be anything from $50 to $250 per month depending on your package and your provider) just to have the additional specialty channels you can't access via the antenna, or just go with the TV broadcast channels for the one-time cost of installing an antenna (approx. $200 to $300 one-time-cost). Imagine watching all the regular TV shows in high-definition, for free! Keep in mind that you can borrow an excellent selection of movies from public libraries and you can also access many programs via the Internet by connecting your TV to the Internet (but that's part of the following step). You could be saving about $200 per month after the one-time cost of the antenna!
3. Internet Package
It is important to sign up for an "unlimited internet package" in order to fully benefit from the above step. Although the telephone service over the internet does not require much bandwidth, TV/movies via the internet do require a lot of bandwidth.
Most people simply sign up with one of the big providers like Bell, for a (limited) package that provides you with a defined amount of data uploading/downloading capacity, with additional changes if you go over those mounts. However there are companies that will provide unlimited packages such as Distributel ( www.distributel.ca) or YesUpNet ( www.yesupnet.com). You will need to find a supplier in your area that will provide you with an unlimited internet package.
Once you have your internet setup with sufficient bandwidth, utilize services such as GoogleTV ( google.com/tv/), Netflix (signup.netflix.com), Hulu (www.hulu.com), Crackle (www.crackle.com) or Yahoo (connectedtv.yahoo.com) for content - there are several to choose from. You will then have have free high-definition TV (via antenna) plus free movies and documentaries over the internet through one or more of these services. You also have the added benefit of no commercials! And, you will be able to watch videos from youtube on your TV - just think of all the music and more. If you currently have a limited package and find you are paying for overage - you could be saving money and at the same time - have the peace of mind in knowing exactly what you bill will be each month.
To take advantage of the steps above you will need a TV that has a digital tuner (note: all the new TV's have digital tuners built into them or they wouldn't able to receive high-definition signals). If your TV is an older model you will need to buy a separate digital tuner box (or update your TV ). Note: Plasma versus LED TV's - plasma TV's use significantly more energy then LED TV's - so if you're buying a new TV make sure it's an LED TV (they might cost a little more to buy but you will save significantly on your electricity bill over time).
To take advantage of the internet via your TV (e.g. googleTV, Netfix or youtube etc.) you will also need to connect your TV to your Internet connection via a USB, landport or wireless hub. You can learn more about this at http://www.ehow.com/how_5792911_connect-internet-television.html or check out youtube for video's that show you how to connect your TV to the internet.
Use compact florescent light-bulbs or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs which, are becoming available for many light-fixtures. It might not seem like much but if you make the initial expenditure to buy compact florescent bulbs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp) to replace all your old incandescent bulbs you can save $30 to $50 per month on lighting alone depending on how many lights you have.
Keep in mind that one 18 watt compact florescent bulb or one 12 watt LED bulb provides the same amount of light (lumens) as a 100 watt incandescent bulb. A typical cost for electricity might be about 13 cents per kilowatt -hour (i.e. 13 cents for every 1000 watts you use per hour). Therefore, for 13 cents/hour you could have 10 (100 watt) incandescent bulbs OR you could have 55 (18 watt) compact florescent bulbs or 88 LED bulbs. Check out this comparison chart for more information. 13 cents might not seem like much but remember most people have several hundred watts of light in the kitchen alone.
If you have your lights on for 2 hours in the morning and 6 hours in the evening (8 hours a day) - and say you use the equivalent of at least 10 (100 watt) incandescent bulbs during that time - that's 13 cents X 8hrs = $1.04/day or about $30/month.
If you change your bulbs to 18 watt compact florescent bulbs the same amount of lighting would cost about $6.00 per month - a savings of $24/month (after-tax money). That's a modest estimate of the savings because most people use much more electricity for lighting.
This math goes for all your electrical appliances. Consider the fact that your TV likely uses about 70 watts even when it's off and it uses about 250 watts when it's on. Your coffee pot likely uses more than anything else at about 1500 watts per hour (approx. 20 cents per hour while your coffee is sitting there warming on the burner).
Knowing this, why not just make the coffee then pour it into a thermos carafe to stay warm instead of leaving it on the coffee-maker burner. And, plug your TV into a power-bar and just turn off the power (on the power-bar) during the day when it's not being used or at least when you go away on vacations etc.. Note: the TV will take a few seconds to power on again).
If you have your coffee maker on for one-less hour per day, at 20 cents and hour - that's a savings of about $6.00 per month. If you have your TV turned off (unplugged) for 8 hours a day, that's a savings of about 5 cents a day or $2.40 per month. Together, those two simple steps could save you at least $8.40 per month.
You can simply look at an energy use chart for major appliances to add up what you are using for lights and appliances now, then compare that cost with what you would use if you changed your incandescent bulbs to compact florescent and turned off any appliances you can when they are not in use. The savings will surprise you
6. Peak Engery Use
In Canada there are "peak" energy use times and "off-peak" times. It really pays to use energy off-peak if you can. For example clothes washers and dryers use a lot of energy so try to do the laundry in off-peak times (i.e. evenings or weekends). This is particularly important for air-conditioning and heating. In the summer, cool the house down at night while you're sleeping and then set the temperature a little higher during the day - do the reverse in winter. If your home is well insulated then it will hold the cool/warm air respectively, quite well during the day. Therefore - spend the money to insulate well - it will pay for itself many times over!
A well insulated home saves a lot of money over time. Make sure your windows , doors and walls don't have air leaks - there are many sites devoted to explaining the ins-and-outs of good home insulation.
8. Attics that work
A key component of good home insulation involves your attic. It may seem counter-intuitive but you want really good air flow though your attic to keep it cool and dry in the winter and the summer. In other words - you don't want a warm attic in the winter. The snow should not be melting easily on your roof. Snow should be staying nice and thick (snow actually become another layer of insulation for the house in winter - but only if you aren't paying for your heating system to melt if off). In the summer it should not be sweltering up there either. You want the attic well ventilated to help keep the house cool (hot air rises and you want it to escape, not stay trapped in the attic). Good ventilation is also important to prevent condensation (in the winter the warm air wants to condense as it hits the cold attic air and in summer the air-conditioned air will condense when it meet the hot attic air. You count on a well ventilated attic to minimize this condensation (keeping the attic temperature closer to the ambient temperature outside the house) and ventilation also increases air flow/movement to help the wood and insulation in the attic stay dry. In the picture below you will see an example of good vents that keep the attic cool in summer and dry all year around.
It is important to ensure the attic is insulated from the rest of the house and that there are no drafts between the attic and the house interior. You should think of the attic as a space that is in-between the outside and the inside of your house (i.e. not as part of the interior) - with an ambient temperature close to the outside temperature, with good ventilation and with good insulation between it and the interior house. This will save you money on your heating and air-conditioning, and it will also help keep your house dry and free of mold.
Think about the cost of water when you think about landscaping. There are many sites devoted to "Xeriscaping" but if you don't want to go that far at least consider mixing your grass seed with clover seed.
If you look at most national/state/provincial parks you will notice that they usually mix clover (white clover) and grass together. They do this because clover sets much deeper roots and therefore requires much less water to thrive. Clover also helps keep weeds down because (unlike grass) it is hardier and competes better against the weeds.
Also, consider using a rain barrel to collect water for watering the garden. The un-chlorinated water is better for the plants and you will save significantly on water costs.
10. Ceiling Fans
Finally, use ceiling fans. You will find that you need much less air-conditioning if you have fans going. Ceiling fans use very little energy and are generally very quite and efficient at moving air around an entire room..