Money-saving ideas around the home

If you take a look around your home, you’ll find that there are plenty of opportunities for saving. Here are a few.

Replace old bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED lighting draw less electricity and last much longer than conventional incandescent bulbs, helping you save on your power bill over the long term.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, compact fluorescent bulbs use 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb and can last ten times as long. LED lights use an amount of energy roughly similar CFL bulbs, but can last up to 25 times as long as the incandescent bulb. These bulbs may initially be more expensive, but their long operational life and reduction in energy use allow you to save money over the years that they’re in use.

Replace old appliances with Energy Star appliances. If you’re planning to buy a new washer, dryer, refrigerator, air conditioner, or other major appliance, look for an Energy Star appliance. To earn an Energy Star from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, the product has to energy-efficient, providing you with energy savings. If it’s more expensive than a similar traditional appliance, the product must make up the price difference by saving you money on your electrical bill within a reasonable period of time.

Use your air conditioner or cooling system with care. Take the time to perform basic maintenance and try to set as high a temperature as is comfortable for your family, to conserve energy and save on your electric bill.

Buy in bulk. You probably have many items in your home that you use over and over again, such as paper towels, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and dish soap. It’s often cheaper to buy such items in bulk. Buying large quantities requires fewer trips to the store, saving you gas as a bonus. Check the individual unit price on the item or use the calculator on your phone to make sure that you’re getting a good deal.

Buy used. If you need to cut down on expenses, consider used furniture and other used items for your needs. You can check the flea market, garage sales, stores that sell used goods, and ads on your newspaper, the radio, and online. Just remember to only buy the item if you need it, especially if you’re trying to trim your budget. Start with a list before you head out to search for deals, and stick to it.

Look for savings on your cable, Internet, and cell phone services. If your contract for a service is up, or if you don’t have a contract, take the time to look closely at your bills. The savings you find will add up, month after month.

You may find an add-on feature that you don’t use, or you may want to switch to a more basic version of the service or plan that you have now. Online services allow you to make calls and chat via video through the Internet, and this can help you shift to more basic service on your cell phone. A different provider may be able to give you a better deal, so be sure to look into different offers available.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com

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