Month: April 2008

Thirteen Ways to Save $$$ on Energy Use TT #11

1. Take a flier on fluorescents. They no longer buzz, flicker or turn faces blue — and they represent one of the brightest ideas yet for cooling down the atmosphere and your electric bill. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) approximate the glow of incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. If every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent, the emissions savings would be comparable to taking three million cars off the road for a year. Don’t let the price of CFLs — as much as $7 each — turn you off. The lights not only last ten times longer than incandescents but also save up to $60 in electricity per light over their lifetime.

2. Vanquish the vampires. Remember James Thurber’s story about the aunt who worried that electricity was leaking out of the wall sockets? She had a point, of sorts. Appliances that include a clock or operate by a remote, as well as chargers, are all sucking electricity even when you’re not using them. Of the total energy used to run home electronics, 40% is consumed when the appliances are turned off. The obvious way to pull the plug on so-called energy vampires is to do just that — pull the plug. If you don’t want to keep rebooting your PC, you can reduce the juice to it by putting both the monitor and the computer itself in sleep mode when they’re not in use. Computers operating on snooze control use about 95% less electricity than those running on full power.

3. Harness the wind. Once you’ve cleaned up your own act, help clean up the power grid by buying so-called green energy — electricity generated by wind or solar power or a blend of renewable resources. You’ll pay about a half-cent to a few cents more per kilowatt-hour for green-powered electricity compared with electricity generated from nonrenewable resources.If companies in your area haven’t yet gone with the wind, you may still be able to pay a small premium on your utility bill to support green power elsewhere. Or you can subsidize it separately, with so-called green tags or renewable energy certificates.To find certified renewable-power sources in your state, as well as programs that sell green tags or renewable energy certificates, go to the Green Power Locator at http://www.epa.gov/, or to http://www.green-e.org/.

4. Insulate your water heater. The newest electric water heaters have plenty of insulation. But if you have one built before 2004, wrap it in an insulating jacket (Thermwell, $20 to $30 at http://www.amazon.com/) and save 10% — about $30 — annually on your water-heating bill.

5. Cover the hot tub. Hot tubs lose heat even with the top on. Float a plastic thermal cover ($32 at http://www.hottubessentials.com/) under the hard cover and cut energy use by one-third.

6. Service the furnace. Have your furnace tuned every two years and you’ll save about 1,250 pounds of carbon dioxide and 10% on your heating bills.

7. Turn down the heat. For every degree you lower your home’s temperature during the heating season, subtract 5% from your bill, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. An Energy Star programmable thermostat ($70 at http://www.livingincomfort.com/) saves more than twice its price within a year.

8. Set the washer to cold. Use cold water to wash your clothes and save 50% of the energy you would otherwise use for hot water. Set your dryer on the moisture sensor, not the timer, and cut energy use by 15%.

9. Dim the lights. Install light dimmers, which cut electricity use by the same percentage that they lower the light.

10. Stop drafts. As your father would say, don’t heat the great outdoors. Put weatherstrip around the frames of your front and back doors and save about $30 per year in energy costs.

11. Lower your water temperature. Set your water heater at 120 degrees F. If your heater does not have a temperature gauge, dial down until the water feels hot, not scalding. (Before going too low, make sure your dishwasher has a booster heater, which gets the temperature back to 140 degrees F, necessary for proper cleaning.)

12. Insulate pipes. Wrap precut pipe insulation around exposed hot-water pipes, including pipes traveling through crawl spaces.

13. Use timers on lights. Install occupancy sensors or timers on lights in areas you use only occasionally and for exterior lights, which tend to get left on during the day, says Crissy Trask, a green-living consultant in Spokane, Wash. The devices start at $25 per switch at http://www.homecontrols.com/. Anyone with basic wiring skills can install them.

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WFMW – Kids and Money

This week, my eleven year old daughter opened up shop on her very own business. She is selling handmade candles door-to-door and to local businesses to earn extra spending money — mainly for trendy new clothes and to raise money for her summer youth camp, but she is also learning and developing important money management lessons in the process. My husband and I are encouraging her that after tithing her 10%, she should be paying herself at least 10-20% of everything that she makes. If she continues with this throughout her life, she should easily be a multi-millionaire at retirement age. {An aside – my husband and I meet people every day in our own business who just weren’t taught this simple principle and therefore have nothing saved – so we help them find ways to reduce debt and free up money so they can invest.}

I highly encourage you to buy this book if you have kids who are age 12 or older. It is jam-packed with informative and insightful information on how to teach your kids to avoid the debt and credit card traps so many parents are facing today.

Here are some terrific guidelines for teaching kids about money:

Preschool. Start with the big picture, by showing children that money can be exchanged for other things. Let them put coins in a vending machine or use their birthday money to buy something at the dollar store. They can play with fun savings banks, learn the difference between a penny, a nickel and a dime, or collect state quarters. Keep it simple, and don’t expect too much.

Ages 6-7. Set up an allowance. Kids are learning about money in school and becoming more sophisticated. They understand that four quarters equal $1, and they have some sense of how much $1 will (or won’t) buy. Making choices about how they spend their own money is a great hands-on learning tool. Think of it as stealth budgeting.

Ages 8-9. Open a bank savings account. Of course, you can start saving for your kids when they’re much younger, but they have to be a bit more mature to appreciate how a bank works. It takes them a while to understand (and accept) that if they deposit, say, a $10 bill, they’ll get their money back — but not the same $10 bill.

Ages 11-12. Expand the allowance to include additional responsibilities, such as paying for mall excursions with their friends and buying gifts. This is also a good time to introduce kids to the basics of investing — namely, owning shares of stock means being part owner of a company whose products they use or whose stores they shop in. In our business, many times, we open what is called an UGMA account for the child and the parent contributes the child’s money into that.

Ages 14-15. Encourage kids to get a job, at least over the summer. Teens this age are permitted to work in offices, amusement parks, movie theaters, restaurants, supermarkets and other retail stores. Arrange for them to have an ATM card, so they can deposit and withdraw their earnings from their own savings account.

Ages 16-17. Put teens in charge of a clothing allowance. If they don’t already have a part-time or summer job, now’s the time to get one. Now’s also the time to open a checking account and get a debit card, so they can learn how to manage their money before they head off to college (co-sign the account if the bank requires it because they’re not yet 18).

Age 21. Young adults are ready to apply for a credit card, after they’ve had experience managing their money at college or on their own.*
*Source: Kiplinger Magazine

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head on over to Shannon’s at Rocks in My Dryer.

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You don’t bring me flowers anymore…

While attending a Marriage Seminar dealing with communication, Tom and his wife Grace listened to the instructor, ‘It is essential that husbands and wives know each other’s likes and dislikes.’

He addressed the man, ‘Can you name your wife’s favorite flower?’
Tom leaned over, touched his wife’s arm gently and whispered, ‘It’s Pillsbury, isn’t it?

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Important Life Lessons… Learned from my Cat?

My poor, poor cat. She’s cycling in and out of her misery again. And yes, yes…I’m going to get her spayed…just as soon as I get back from New Orleans – we have an appointment for next week at the vet. But on the bright side, she has taught me a thing or two in the last couple of weeks.

The other night, as I was watching her wallow around in her fleshly desire, miserable and unable to get any relief – it dawned on me. That must be how I look to God when I get all caught up in my own desires and want to feel sorry for myself. Not a pretty picture, is it? Except I’m not an animal, so there’s really no excuse for me. Ugh.

Instantly, my disgust for her behavior changed – and I began to feel the tiniest bit of compassion for her. (Not that I know how it feels to be in heat, mind you, but I do know misery and the frustration of not getting something you really, really want)That was when I made the decision to call the vet and (gulp!) no matter what the cost was, have her spayed. ($87, thank you. And you can contribute to the cause here, if you so desire.) She is dependent on me to do the right thing by her, much like I am dependent on God to do what His Word says He’ll do. It’s that whole Faith thing again…without it, you just can’t please Him.

Which brings me to my next point. Petitions.[To make application to a higher authority, as to a court of law] She has been consistent in her petitions for relief from her malady. Her prayers have been fervent and effectual – can I say the same for myself? How many times a day do I bring my petitions to the Lord? Do I remind Him of His promises and truly stand on His Word? James tells us that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” More than that, those fervent prayers are faithbuilders for me. It’s not like God needs to be reminded of His awesome power, but maybe I do.

Cats are such funny creatures – and ours is no exception. She is at the end of her cycle and will soon forget the last two weeks. But the frustration of dealing with her these last two weeks have done more to shape me as a Christian than you could possibly imagine. Crazy, isn’t it? The things you can learn from a cat?

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