Strapped for cash? With the economy scaling back, we predict that you will too. Here are 15 tips to help you save money in various areas of your home.
Around the home
1. Get a home energy audit with your power company every couple of years to find ways to cut costs.
2. Save on electricity by trading your standard incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. Prices on CFBs have dropped dramatically, and they are more energy-efficient, last for years instead of months, consume little power and generate little heat.
3. Buy major appliances that sport the Energy Star sticker. That shows the appliance meets or exceeds standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
4. When building a home or replacing a roof, select a roof based more on energy efficiency than on how it looks. Light-colored roofs — such as white, galvanized metal or cement tile — do the best job of reflecting the sun, and they cool quickly at night.
5. Every few months, comparison shop to see if you’re paying too much for your telecommunications services — Internet, land line phone and cable or satellite service. Many times, competing companies will offer better deals to new customers. If you find a better deal, contact your telecom providers and negotiate — or switch.
6. Cancel all the extra services you don’t use, such as call waiting, caller ID, voice mail, call forwarding and three-way calling. For cell phones, block add-ons like text messaging, Web surfing and music downloads if you don’t use them.
7. To save on energy on heating or cooling, buy a programmable thermostat, especially if no one is home most of the day. Set it to turn on a half-hour before anyone arrives home.
8. Analyze your homeowners or renters insurance to see if there is any coverage that you can do without, and take higher deductibles if you have cash on hand to cover them.
9. Condo owners need to know what the condo association’s insurance policy covers so as not to double-insure.
10. Some home improvements can reduce the cost of homeowners insurance. Something as simple as installing a fire extinguisher or a deadbolt lock can take a significant bite out of your insurance bill.
11. Cancel private mortgage insurance, or PMI, once your mortgage reaches an 80 percent loan-to-value ratio.
12. Make extra mortgage payments, whether monthly, once a year or on some other schedule, to get to 80 percent LTV and cancel PMI more quickly. One way for those on a 26-pay-per-year salary schedule is to make an extra mortgage payment in months where you get three paychecks instead of two.
13. Fix leaky faucets — one drip of hot water a second is 20 kilowatts a month.
14. Be house-wise. Sell the big house or don’t buy more house than you need. Get an affordable townhouse or a smaller home if a family member moves out.
15. Rent out a room in your home if you have more space than you need. If you have grown-up offspring living with you, negotiate with them to pay monthly rent for the privilege.
Posted January 12, 2009 1:31 AM