save energy http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7193/all en-US Best Money Tips: How to Save Energy This Summer http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-save-energy-this-summer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-how-to-save-energy-this-summer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/207088990_9b29833708_z.jpg" alt="hanging laundry" title="hanging laundry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on saving energy this summer, updating your job skills on the cheap, and redecorating your bathroom.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://onecentatatime.com/15-ways-to-reduce-summer-energy-consumption">15 Ways to Reduce Summer Energy Consumption</a> &mdash; Take your laundry out to dry in the summer sun. [One Cent at a Time]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2012/07/16/15-cheap-and-free-ways-to-update-your-job-skills/">15 Cheap (or Free) Ways to Update Your Job Skills</a> &ndash; Find out if your local junior college offers Free College Class Day. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://notmadeofmoney.com/blog/2012/07/how-to-redecorate-your-bathroom-on-a-budget.html">How To Redecorate Your Bathroom On A Budget</a> &mdash; Install bright lights to accentuate the colors in your bathroom. [Not Made of Money]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/remedies-for-morning-sickness-during-pregnancy">25 Remedies for Morning Sickness During Pregnancy</a> &mdash; Try carbonated water with a slice of lemon. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://manvsdebt.com/budgeting-for-clothes/">How We Buy Our Clothes: When Frugal Isn&rsquo;t Cheap</a> &mdash; Aim to have below a certain number of items in your wardrobe. [Man vs. Debt]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/saving-money/car-repair-mistakes-to-avoid.html?WT.qs_osrc=WIB">Jalopy love: 5 dumb car repair mistakes to avoid</a> &mdash; Don't skip routine maintenance checks. Follow the schedule in your owner's manual. [Insurance.com]</p> <p><a href="http://financialhighway.com/cheap-fitness-gear-solutions/">Cheap Fitness Gear Solutions</a> &mdash; Use foam pool noodles to do fitness moves in the water. [Financial Highway]</p> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2012/07/why-you-dont-need-long-term-care-insurance.html">Why You Don&rsquo;t Need Long Term Care Insurance</a> &mdash; Only a little over 2% of the people who pay for long-term care insurance make claims. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://freefrombroke.com/6-steps-to-take-in-a-financial-emergency">6 Steps to Take in a Financial Emergency</a> &mdash; Before you do anything else, evaluate your situation and figure out what your options are. [Free From Broke]</p> <p><a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/stock-market-alternatives-investing/">7 Alternatives to Investing in the Stock Market</a> &mdash; Peer-to-peer lending allows you to become the banker to a borrower. [Good Financial Cents]</p> <h2>&nbsp;</h2> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-save-energy-this-summer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-black-google-save-you-energy">Can Black Google Save You Energy?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-wonderful-uses-for-witch-hazel">15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living best money tips save energy Fri, 20 Jul 2012 10:00:21 +0000 Amy Lu 943103 at http://www.wisebread.com Energy Star Office Equipment for Your Small Business http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/energy-star-office-equipment-for-your-small-business <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/energy-star-office-equipment-for-your-small-business-thursday-bram" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/energy-star-office-equipm...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/energy-star-office-equipment-for-your-small-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000006184314XSmall.jpg" alt="Energy efficient equipment" title="Energy efficient equipment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Energy Star-rated appliances are popular for homes because they can offer significantly more energy efficiency than the alternatives. You can get similar benefits for the office by choosing office equipment that has earned approval from Energy Star. Energy Star options are available for many common pieces of office equipment, from computers to copiers.</p> <h3>What the Energy Star Rating Means</h3> <p>While purchasing energy efficient office equipment sounds like a good idea on the surface, you can run into a dilemma when you actually start shopping: many companies describe their products as energy efficient, especially when they're marketed to offices. The Energy Star rating is intended to eliminate confusion about just how efficient printers, scanners, and other office equipment actually are. In order to receive an Energy Star rating, a piece of office equipment must use at least 30 percent less electricity than standard equipment. That includes accessories, such as power adapters.</p> <p>The Energy Star system is not perfect and relies on manufacturers to offer up information of their own accord; however, it remains one of the most reliable labeling systems used for products in the U.S. Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the European Union have also adopted the system. Some European-manufactured products may alternatively bear a TCO Certification, which is a combined energy usage and ergonomics rating.</p> <h3>Purchasing Energy Star Office Equipment</h3> <p>Looking for the Energy Star label on office equipment can help you quickly narrow down your choices for servers, copiers and other equipment. The <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_find_es_products">Energy Star</a> website maintains information about purchasing a variety of types of office equipment, but you generally do not need to go through the Energy Star program to find specific products. Many online retailers allow you to easily search specifically for various types of office equipment with Energy Star ratings and if you're looking at stores, you can find labels right on the boxes of the products. Among the office equipment that can qualify for Energy Star ratings are the following:</p> <ul> <li>Computers</li> <li>Monitors</li> <li>Servers</li> <li>External power adapters</li> <li>Battery chargers</li> <li>Copiers</li> <li>Fax machines</li> <li>Printers</li> <li>Scanners</li> <li>All-in-one imaging devices</li> <li>Mailing machines</li> </ul> <p>The Energy Star program is also working on specifications that will allow them to rate a variety of products in the future, including data center storage, uninterruptable power supplies, and other equipment useful in an office setting.</p> <p>Equipment that stays on for long periods of time can provide the most significant change in your energy usage when you replace them. Copiers and computer monitors are just two examples that most workers prefer to leave on throughout the work day. Most of the energy savings for more efficient office products comes from the time that the equipment spends in a rest or low-power mode, between uses. Many monitors can power down over a timed period so that they don't waste power, but they also don't affect your ability to get back to work quickly.</p> <h3>Finding the Right Price</h3> <p>Depending on the office equipment you're purchasing, you may notice that prices are higher than their-less-efficient counterparts. The general assumption is that the reduced electricity bill that comes with making the switch to more efficient equipment covers the added expense. But since an Energy Star label simply states that a product is more efficient and does not necessarily guarantee that it will make a significant difference in your monthly bill, it is important that you carefully compare products before making a purchase.</p> <p><strong>1. Consider the reviews of the product's overall performance.</strong> Make sure that it meets your business needs</p> <p><strong>2. Look for estimates of the product's expected lifespan.</strong> A scanner might be expected to save you $7 per year in energy costs, but may only have an expected lifespan of a few years with heavy use. If the price of a particular scanner is more than the <a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218395199;41474888;e?http://www.plumcard.com/?eep=17460">savings</a> you can expect over the course of its lifetime, it may not be the right scanner for your business.</p> <p><strong>3. Check what practices will get the best results with the equipment you're considering</strong>. Some are more efficient in sleep mode, but you may be required to turn some products off entirely to get the best results.</p> <p><strong>4. Consider benefits beyond efficiency. </strong>Products with Energy Star approvals tend to produce less heat, which reduces heat-related equipment failures as well as reducing air-conditioning costs in offices.</p> <p><strong>5. Check how new products will work with your current office equipment. </strong>For instance, if you use a Local Area Network (LAN), you may need to check that your new computer's power management feature is compatible with your existing network system.</p> <p><strong>6. Check the Energy Star website for information on the particular type of equipment you're purchasing.</strong> Energy Star lists details like how much money you can expect to save over the lifetime of a product, as well as the specs that a piece of equipment must meet to receive the Energy Star ratings, including details like power management features.</p> <p>Unlike some upgrades that you can make to increase energy efficiency, there is no tax incentive associated with purchasing office equipment that meets the standards of the Energy Star program. However, your purchase is still a business expense and that fact should be taken into account when choosing a product, especially if you're purchasing a large piece of equipment that you will depreciate.</p> <h3>Beyond Office Equipment</h3> <p>Depending on your business, you may be able to consider a wider variety of equipment that Energy Star has approved as particularly energy efficient. Such equipment includes a variety of commercial food service equipment, as well as materials for upgrading your office space as a whole. From windows to plumbing fixtures, you can make your office as energy efficient as possible. You don't even need to do major renovations to improve the energy efficiency of your office. Even changing out your light bulbs can make a major difference.</p> <p>You can even find vending machines and water coolers that have Energy Star ratings if you're ready to make your break room more energy efficient, along with changing out refrigerators and other appliances for more efficient models. Energy Star offers options far beyond new printers and computers.</p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "plum"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/energy-star-office-equipment-for-your-small-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10 Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money">4 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Green Living Small Business Resource Center energy star office equipment save energy small business Wed, 10 Mar 2010 20:05:45 +0000 Thursday Bram 5391 at http://www.wisebread.com The good life on less energy--even in the US http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bicycle-on-rural-road.jpg" alt="Bicycle on rural road" title="Bicycle on Rural Road" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="185" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whenever I write a post about energy, I point out that we know it&#39;s possible to have a high standard of living while using less energy--people in European countries do, so it must be possible.  That always draws comments from people who say that things are different here.  When it comes to opportunities for saving energy, that&#39;s simply not true.</p> <p>Oh, sure, the Europeans have a much better train system.  In the US we&#39;ve spent that money on airports and highways.  But we do have <a href="/travel-on-amtrak">passenger rail</a>, and it&#39;s actually a pleasure to ride.</p> <p>Many European cities are also more compact than many US cities, making it easier to get around on foot or by bicycle.  But there are plenty of nice, compact US cities.</p> <p>Mass transit is spotty in the US compared to Europe, but there&#39;s <a href="/high-tech-for-mass-transit">good mass transit</a> in many US cities.</p> <p>Many European cities are more friendly to bicycles than many US cities, but there are plenty of cyclists in the US, and many US cities are bicycle-friendly.</p> <p>So, all these things exist in the US; <strong>they&#39;re just not widely distributed.</strong></p> <p>I&#39;d like to make two points in relation to that observation.</p> <p>First, as fuel prices continue to rise, all these energy-saving advantages that the Europeans have will become more widely distributed in the US as well.  As long as you live in a town or city (as opposed to a <a href="/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">rural area</a>), these advantages will come to you eventually.</p> <p>Second, you can choose where to live:  In a compact, bicycle-friendly city that&#39;s on an Amtrak line and has good mass transit, or someplace else.  </p> <p>Making a drastic change like where you live is not something to be done lightly.  Doing it smoothly may require a long lead time.  There may be jobs to find--even careers to change.  There may be houses to sell.  There may be elderly relatives that you&#39;d rather keep in their long-time home than move to another city.  There may be children who&#39;d much rather graduate from school with their friends then at some new school where they don&#39;t know anybody.  But, even taking all that into account, you still choose where to live--now and in the future.</p> <p>I&#39;d like to gently suggest that waiting for these advantages to come to you is probably the wrong choice, for three reasons.</p> <p>First, you miss out on the advantages in the meantime.  You&#39;ll be having to buy more fuel than people who live in communities that support efficiency. </p> <p>Second, as those advantages come to more and more places, you&#39;ll be stuck paying for them.  If you move someplace where these advantages already exist, you&#39;ll be taking advantage of ones that have already been paid for.  If you stay where you are, you can expect taxes to go up to pay for bringing rail and mass transit to you.  No doubt the costs will end up being spread around--but that just means that the people who get these advantages last will have been paying longest for everyone else.</p> <p>Third, these advantages will increasingly be reflected in property values.  It&#39;s already started.  A couple decades ago, being on a bus route was a negative.  (It brought undesirables--i.e. poor people--to the area.)  More recently, it&#39;s been pretty much a neutral.  (Even poor people have cars, so who cares?)  Just very recently, though, it&#39;s begun to boost property values.  (Quick test:  look in real estate ads and see if they&#39;ve started mentioning being on a bus line as a positive.  They&#39;ve always done it for apartments.  Now they&#39;re doing it for houses too.)  Property values in communities without these advantages haven&#39;t suffered much yet, because communities that provide no services can have low taxes.  But as the taxes go up anyway, the lack of services will drive property prices down.</p> <p>As fuel prices continue to rise, these &quot;European&quot; advantages will spread.  But they&#39;ll spread pretty slowly.  The US has spent trillions of dollars on infrastructure that really only useful for cars and planes.  Things like nationwide passenger rail and citywide mass transit systems don&#39;t just pop up overnight--they&#39;ll cost trillions of dollars as well (although a just a few billion will bring us much closer to the Europeans).</p> <p>Some of you--probably many of you, given the sort of people who read Wise Bread--already live someplace that has some or all the advantages that Europeans have enjoyed for decades.  As I see it, the rest of you can move to where you have these advantages as well, or you can stay where you are.  But, if you make the latter choice, you&#39;ll not only lose out on the advantages, you&#39;ll do so while still having to pay taxes to provide them for everyone else, and then you&#39;ll have to sit back and watch as your property values decline and the values of the properties in places that have them go up, making it more and more expensive to move in the future.</p> <p>Is your local area on the leading edge for any of these things?  Are you on an Amtrak line?  Do you have a good bus system?  Are there places to live that are within walking distance of shopping and jobs?  Are the roads safe for bicycles?  If you&#39;ve got some of these things, and the rest are coming, then you may be set already.  If not, be sure your plan for the future includes not just higher prices for fuel, but also higher taxes to pay for the infrastructure improvements your area needs.  If that doesn&#39;t appeal, be sure your plan includes moving to someplace that supports a lower-energy lifestyle.</p> <p>We know there are ways to have a high standard of living while using less fuel.  The Europeans have demonstrated one for us.  We&#39;re heading that direction as well--our present course simply isn&#39;t going to be affordable much longer.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-your-electric-bill-with-solar-panels">Cut Your Electric Bill With Solar Panels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-hidden-advantages-to-getting-rid-of-your-car">7 Hidden Advantages to Getting Rid of Your Car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-infrastructure-destiny">Is Infrastructure Destiny?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-a-walkable-neighborhood">The Benefits of a Walkable Neighborhood</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living Real Estate and Housing bicycling bike buses clean energy conserve energy energy mass transit rail save energy train train travel walk walking Thu, 10 Jul 2008 12:18:50 +0000 Philip Brewer 2227 at http://www.wisebread.com Non-financial investments http://www.wisebread.com/non-financial-investments <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/non-financial-investments" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/garden-gateway.jpg" alt="Gateway in formal gardens at Allerton Park" title="Garden Gateway" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Talk about investments and most people think stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, plus maybe real estate and commodities like precious metals. Let's call those &quot;financial investments.&quot; You buy them with money and you hope that they will eventually return money in the form of interest, dividends, rent, or a profit when you sell it. Financial investments are great, and everybody should have a plan for building a portfolio of them, but there are also non-financial investments, and non-financial investments can often yield a higher return.</p> <p>I divide non-financial investments into two categories. One kind you buy with money, but get your return not in cash but by avoiding future expenses. The other kind may well pay your return in the form of money, but at least part of your investment is not.</p> <h2>Ones that you buy with money, but the return comes in avoiding future expenses</h2> <p>Whenever you're in a situation where you can pay money now that lets you avoid spending money later, it's possible to evaluate the expense as an investment. For example, you can buy a gift card or other sort of stored-value card, and then use it to get stuff at some future time. On the face of it, it's a terrible investment--you turn perfectly good money into crappy non-money that can only be spent at a limited range of places (and that can lose value in several different ways). On the other hand, if you can buy a $25 stored-value card for $20, your investment return may well outweigh those disadvantages.</p> <p>There are investments of this sort that are huge wins.</p> <h3>Energy savings</h3> <p>Money that's invested in things that avoid future energy costs, especially the less expensive such things like insulation, weatherstripping, compact fluorescents, or a bicycle that you commute to work on, will almost certainly provide a higher return (in the form of lower energy bills) than investing the same money in stocks and bonds.</p> <p>At the more expensive end of the range of such investments, such as new doors and windows, a car that gets better milage, a windmill or solar cells for home power generation, they probably don't provide a greater return than a diversified portfolio of financial investments. But they do add considerably to your diversification, and there are some scenarios in which those investments might beat the market (in particular, if the market does poorly, or if energy prices rise sharply).</p> <p>All of these can pay off in non-financial terms as well. A snugger, cozier house is worth something beyond the lower energy bills, as is the fitness that comes from bicycling to work.</p> <p>The key to this category of investment is that you're using (still relatively) cheap energy today to avoid the need to pay for more expensive energy in the future. I've written about this topic before in <a href="/fix-energy-in-tangible-form">Fix energy in tangible form</a>.</p> <p>This is an especially big win if energy prices are going to continue to increase, which I think is rather likely.</p> <h3>Stockpiling products that you use</h3> <p>You can invest in stuff that you're going to use anyway, by buying it ahead when it's available at a good price. The return comes in the form of using the cheap stuff you've got instead of going out and buying the stuff when it would be expensive.</p> <p>I've written before about the <a href="/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">Huge tax-free investment returns</a> this strategy offers. It only applies if you buy stuff that you'd buy anyway, but the investment return can easily beat anything you'll find in the stock market. This kind of investment is an especially big win during times of inflation.</p> <p>It's easy to fool yourself when you're thinking about spending money this way. There is really no end to the range of possibilities where you pay now to save money later, but in most cases, the savings is small (or even imaginary). Timeshare vacation homes, for example, were sold this way, but almost never provided a return as good as putting the money into a bank account and then using it to pay for your vacations. (Many didn't provide a return as good as putting the money down a rat hole, because they left you on the hook for unending future expenses. With a rat hole, at least you can stop putting money down it.)</p> <p>Is it an investment when you buy a tool that lets you do something yourself, rather than having to pay someone to do it for you? When you buy a new interview suit to improve your chance of getting a better job? When you buy a Bowflex so you don't need a fitness center membership? Maybe--but you need to evaluate it like any other investment. A new interview suit is not a liquid investment.</p> <h2>Ones where the return is money, but that you don't pay cash for</h2> <p>Working for wages or a salary isn't really investing (although proving yourself a competent, diligent worker can pay dividends in the form of a higher pay for future work). However, it's often possible to turn your work into something that pays an on-going return.</p> <h3>Investing only time</h3> <p>The purest form may be royalties on a copyright or a patent. You create a book or a song or a useful invention, after which people pay you to use it. This is so cool that it tempts people into spending huge amounts of effort with nothing but a vague hope for some future royalties.</p> <p>If you evaluate it as an investment, the return per hour spent writing or performing or inventing is pretty poor for most people. The problem is that you're competing with people who will do it for free. Even if many of them are lousy at it, there so many of them that a few will probably be better than you.</p> <p>The bottom line is that this sort of investment is hard to justify in economic terms, unless you have a track record of success. Still, if it's something that you enjoy so much that you'd be willing to do it for free, then by all means go ahead and do so--that's how you develop the sort of track record that lets you know that this may be a good investment for you.</p> <h3>Investing time and money</h3> <p>If you're able and willing to invest a little money along with your time, there are lots of ways to make outsized returns:</p> <ul> <li>Working at a family business (or starting your own)</li> <li>Being a landlord</li> <li>Buying run-down houses cheap and then fixing them up</li> <li>Going back to school for a degree that will let you earn a better income</li> <li>Selling your <a href="/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">art or craft items</a> (or garden produce at a road-side stand)</li> </ul> <p>The &quot;outsized&quot; part of the return comes from your own labor. Don't expect to come out ahead if you buy a run-down house and then hire a contractor to fix it up for you.</p> <p>Like any investment, these all have risks. There are lots of people who bought run-down houses and fixed them up, only to find that a really nice house doesn't sell for as much now as a run-down house sold for a year ago. You can tie up your capital and invest your labor, and end up with a smaller return than a savings account, a negative return, a total loss, or even worse (if your business fails but still owes money on a lease, for example).</p> <p>Many people treat this sort of investment as an all-or-nothing choice. Starting a small business can easily take all your capital plus every working minute of every day to make it a success. But that's not the only way to do it. There are all manner of very small business that you can start with minimal effort and capital that can earn a good return. For some examples of that category, see Tim Ferriss's <a href="/book-review-the-4-hour-workweek">The 4-Hour Workweek</a>.</p> <p>Anything that you buy or make that either pays you a return or reduces future expenses is an investment and can be (and should be) evaluated as such. All the same considerations that apply to any investment--risk, return, liquidity, diversification, tax implications--should be taken into account when you make a non-financial investment.</p> <p>Don't discount such investments, though, just because they're non-financial. Especially those first few I mentioned, such as improving your insulation and stocking up on sales, will probably pay a much better return than you can expect in the financial markets.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/non-financial-investments">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-game-over">Book review: Game Over</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-investors-with-better-returns-than-warren-buffett">5 Investors With Better Returns Than Warren Buffett</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-estate-investing-is-cheaper-and-easier-than-you-think">Real Estate Investing Is Cheaper and Easier Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dumb-401k-mistakes-smart-people-make">5 Dumb 401(k) Mistakes Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-your-401k-is-a-good-or-a-bad-one">How to Tell if Your 401K Is a Good or a Bad One</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment energy extra money investing non-financial save energy stockpiling Fri, 29 Feb 2008 17:24:00 +0000 Philip Brewer 1865 at http://www.wisebread.com Can Black Google Save You Energy? http://www.wisebread.com/can-black-google-save-you-energy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-black-google-save-you-energy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/black_google.jpg" alt="dark room" title="dark room" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An Australian company, Heap, has come up with a search engine that could <a href="http://ecoiron.blogspot.com/2007/01/black-google-would-save-3000-megawatts.html">Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year</a>. How will they do it? They&#39;ve turned Google black. </p> <!--break--><!--break--></p> <p>According to their <a href="http://www.blackle.com/about/">website</a>:</p> <p><em>&quot;Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black. &quot;Image displayed is primarily a function of the user&#39;s color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen.&quot; </em><a href="http://enduse.lbl.gov/Info/LBNL-48581.pdf"><em>Roberson et al, 2002</em></a>&quot;</p> <p>From what I&#39;ve read, there is some debate on whether the energy saving is significant or not. This <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/does-a-darkened-google-really-save-electricity-104/"><em>Wall Street Journal</em> article</a> mentions a test which was performed using different screens and websites to compare the actual energy saved. On the LCD screen, there wasn&#39;t a remarkable difference, but on a CRT screen (the bulkier PC monitors) you could save from &quot;5-20%&quot;. However, it is noted that the test was loosely run.</p> <p>For those who are wondering, Google claims it has no affiliation with Blackle. The two websites actually bring up different results so perhaps, even if it doesn&#39;t save a significant amount of energy, it could be useful as an alternative search engine. </p> <p>And to see for yourself, of course, visit <a href="http://www.blackle.com/">www.blackle.com</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joann-hong">Joann Hong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-black-google-save-you-energy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-wonderful-uses-for-witch-hazel">15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water">Do You Really Need “Soft” Water?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living blackle save energy search enging Thu, 26 Jul 2007 11:44:55 +0000 Joann Hong 904 at http://www.wisebread.com