utilities http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8781/all en-US Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-635966758.jpg" alt="Woman wondering if she should pay bills with a credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the smartest &mdash; and easiest &mdash; ways to earn more credit card rewards is to charge as many regular bills as makes sense. By using credit instead of your checking account to pay bills you normally pay anyway, you can increase your rewards without spending money you don't have.</p> <p>First step: Get out your monthly bank statements and make a list of expenses you pay on a regular basis. These might include utility bills, insurance premiums, and even rent.</p> <p>Next, determine whether you can pay these bills with credit. Using a credit card to pay your bills allows you to rack up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">cash back</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards?ref=internal" target="_blank">hotel points</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-co-branded-airline-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">airline miles</a> a lot faster, but there are some downsides you need to consider, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a>)</p> <h2>Beware of Fees<strong> </strong></h2> <p>While some businesses let you use a credit card without an added fee, others might charge a fixed or percentage-based convenience fee for using credit. This is because companies are charged a fee for processing credit card payments.</p> <p>If a fee is involved, it's usually not worth it to put the payment on your credit card. That additional fee would cancel out (and sometimes be more than) any rewards you'd get for the charge.</p> <p>Let's say you want to pay your $100 cellphone bill with a credit card, but your service provider charges a flat $1.95 fee for doing so. If your credit card offers 1% back for each dollar you spend, you would earn $1.00 in rewards for a $1.95 fee. You'd clearly be better off using some other payment method.</p> <p>On the other hand, if you have a rewards card that offer 5% back on cellphone purchases, you'd earn $5.00 in rewards on that $100 cellphone bill in exchange for a $1.95 fee. That's still a pretty good deal.</p> <h2>Don't Get in Debt for Rewards</h2> <p>No matter what, you should never charge bills you can't afford to repay right away. There is no amount of rewards that would be worth the interest credit cards charge for carrying a balance. Before you charge any bill, you should make sure you have the cash to pay your bill in full when it's due.</p> <h2>Don't Use Convenience Checks</h2> <p>Don't think you can bypass the fees by using those convenience checks credit cards send you, either. Those are considered cash advances, and you will not only not earn rewards using them, but you will be assessed interest the moment they are cashed. The interest on cash advances are much, much higher than the standard APR, too. So never, ever use those checks to pay your bills!</p> <h2>Overlooked Bills You Can Pay With Credit</h2> <p>With all of those caveats in mind, consider this list of bills you might not currently be paying by credit card:</p> <ul> <li>Cable/Internet/cellphone bill &mdash; Depending on which telecommunications service providers you use, you may be able to charge these bills to a credit card online or over the phone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Car/homeowners/renters insurance &mdash; Most providers of these types of insurance let you pay your premiums with a credit card, though you may have to pay a fee. This is true whether you pay your bill monthly or just once or twice a year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>College tuition &mdash; Not all schools accept credit cards for tuition, and many that do charge a fee. For all the rest, charging your bill to a credit card can help you earn points and miles quickly. Because this tends to be a large bill, it's especially important to point out that this only pays off if you can pay the credit card charges in full at the end of the month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Day care &mdash; Many larger daycare centers let patrons charge their weekly or monthly day care expenses. Smaller providers may also accept credit cards, though they are more likely to charge a convenience fee.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Electricity, gas, water &mdash; More and more utility companies let consumers charge their bill payments to a credit card.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Health insurance &mdash; If you buy your own insurance on the open market or through the exchanges, you may be able to pay for your premiums with a credit card. Although some large health insurance companies have dropped this option, there are still some providers who allow it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Income taxes &mdash; The Internal Revenue Service authorizes three providers to accept and process <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/pay-taxes-by-credit-or-debit-card" target="_blank">federal income tax payments by credit card</a>. All of them charge fees, but at least part of the fee may be tax deductible. If you want to charge state income taxes, you'll need to check with your state for rules and additional details. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-ever-pay-your-taxes-with-a-credit-card?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Ever Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card?</a>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Kids' sports and activities &mdash; If your children are in baseball, ballet, or any other activity, don't forget to charge their activity fees or dues. You may also be able to charge equipment rental and uniform fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Offerings at your house of worship &mdash; An increasing number of churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship accept credit card donations. If you tithe or regularly contribute to the offering plate, this is an expense to consider charging, keeping in mind that part of your donation will go to pay for credit card processing fees.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rent &mdash; For a few lucky tenants, paying rent with a credit card is an option. Some landlords provide this service for free. Otherwise, there are companies that will accept your credit card payment and then pay your rent or mortgage by check, but the fees are almost always greater than any rewards you could earn.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Subscriptions and membership dues &mdash; You can usually charge your fees for a gym, video streaming service, dating service, magazine, and other subscription services. Most large organizations will also let you pay for membership dues with a credit card.</li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card">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/dont-make-these-6-credit-card-sign-up-bonus-mistakes">Don&#039;t Make These 6 Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Mistakes</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/7-ways-to-save-loads-of-money-using-credit-cards">7 Ways to Save Loads of Money Using Credit Cards</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/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-annual-fees">The 5 Best Credit Cards With Annual Fees</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-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement</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-get-back-on-track-when-youre-behind-on-your-bills">How to Get Back on Track When You&#039;re Behind on Your Bills</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards autopay bill pay bills budgeting credit rewards utilities Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:30:36 +0000 Holly Johnson 1893287 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_money_moves_63337017.jpg" alt="Couple asking questions before signing a lease" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you've been searching for a place to live. You've looked at a bunch of different homes and apartments, driven all over town, and have finally decided on the one you want. It's perfect. But before you whip out the pen and commit to something, ask the following 10 questions. They could prevent you from making a very costly &mdash; and time-consuming &mdash; mistake.</p> <h2>1. Which Utilities Are My Responsibility?</h2> <p>Depending on where you live (and how generous the landlord is), utility responsibility may vary. If you're living in a large apartment complex, you may find that a lot of utilities are covered by your rent. In other cases, it may only be water and sewage, or in the worst case scenario&hellip;nothing at all. So make sure you know exactly which utilities are going to be your responsibility, <em>and </em>see if you can get a history of the bills at that address. Some homes are more energy efficient than others, and some homes have additional costs you may not consider (such as fees for constructing new pipelines). When you get the complete picture, you may discover that the utility bills put a unit beyond your reach.</p> <h2>2. How and When Do I Pay My Rent?</h2> <p>You already know what the rent costs, but you also need to know how and when to pay it. These days, many larger apartment leasing companies will take payments online, or through an automated debit system. Private landlords will most likely take a check or banker's draft, and may want you to mail it, or hand it over in person. There may also be fees for paying online or by check, so ask about that. And of course, ask about late fees and grace periods. You may get up to five days to pay your rent without incurring a penalty.</p> <h2>3. Do I Have to Have Renters Insurance?</h2> <p>Any kind of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-definitely-need-renters-insurance?ref=internal">renters insurance</a> is good to have, even if it covers the bare minimum. But times are tough, and you may not have the money to afford it right now. Your landlord or leasing agency may not care. Or, they may have a very strict renters insurance policy, which could once again put you over your monthly budget and make the apartment off limits. If you are required to have it, shop around and get multiple quotes. Use these quotes as bargaining chips with each insurance company to get the best possible rate that covers more of your possessions.</p> <h2>4. What Is Your Guest Policy?</h2> <p>In this day and age, the vast majority of landlords are not going to care if you have guests for long visits. But, it never hurts to check the rules of the apartment complex or landlord. Even then, it's a very tricky rule to enforce, so it's doubtful anything will happen. The problems usually come with guests staying for an extended period of time. If your best friend suddenly becomes homeless and asks to stay in your spare room for a few months, that could have ramifications. And if you decide to move your partner in to live there permanently, you will have to consult the landlord. It's possible a background check will be needed.</p> <h2>5. Can I Make Improvements?</h2> <p>When you move into a new place, you want it to feel like home. That often means personalizing it with paint, wallpaper, new curtains, maybe even new carpet or tile. This should all be openly discussed with the landlord before you ever sign the lease, and put in writing. It's quite possible that any improvements you want to make (even a simple coat of paint), will have to be approved first. Even if you think you're making the place even better (adding a wooden floor for instance), the landlord has every right to take your security deposit when you move out.</p> <h2>6. How Long Is the Lease?</h2> <p>It may seem like an obvious question, but not all leases are created equal. Some landlords may be renting their home out for the summer, and want a tenant for six months or less. Some apartment complexes offer discounts for longer leases. Some leases are month-to-month. You need to know this up front, and also, what kind of fees you will pay to break that lease. It's possible you'll be asked to pay two months' rent to get out of it, and may also lose your security deposit. Other places may be much more relaxed, especially if you find someone to take over the lease.</p> <h2>7. How Much Is the Security Deposit and Do I Get All of It Back?</h2> <p>The typical amount for a security deposit is one month's rent, but it can vary from place to place. Some may only want a nominal fee &mdash; say $300. Now, by law, any kind of security deposit is refundable, that's why it's called a security deposit; you put the money down as insurance for the landlord, you get it back if all is well. However, different landlords have different thresholds for wear and tear, and it's possible you won't get the whole amount back, especially if you have pets.</p> <h2>8. How Will the Apartment Be Prepared and How Should I Leave It?</h2> <p>These are two different questions, but both relate to the cleanliness and appearance of the apartment. Before you move in, you need to know if the entire place will be cleaned and repaired. You may well be viewing the place before any of this has happened, and may be in for a shock if you move in and the carpets are stained and the lighting is broken. So, get in writing how the home should be delivered and returned. Also, when you move out, you may have to pay for some of those very services that make the home ready for the next tenants. So, ask if you have to have the carpets shampooed, or the place professionally cleaned. If you do, and don't do it, this fee can come out of your security deposit.</p> <h2>9. What's the Pet Policy?</h2> <p>Landlords don't like pets, often for good reason. They sometimes leave a smell, they can tear things, they're noisy at times, and they can leave nasty surprises on the carpet. For this reason, most places will have some kind of pet policy in place. It may be as simple as &quot;Yes, pets are fine, but don't let your dog bark all the time.&quot; Other places could impose a nonrefundable fee for the term of the lease to cover additional cleaning, or impose a monthly fee, known as pet rent. Even if you don't have a pet now, ask about it. You don't want to have to move out later because you want to get a dog or a cat.</p> <h2>10. How Do You Deal With Maintenance and Emergencies?</h2> <p>Again, this will vary depending on the kind of place you're looking at. Big apartment complexes usually have a maintenance staff on site, and a simple call to the front desk can be all it takes to get an issue resolved. If you're renting a home from a private landlord, you'll want to know up front what kind of response you will get, and how soon. If it's just a guy renting his house out, and your fence blows down, will it take weeks for the repair to happen? Can you call someone to make repairs, and remove the cost of service from your rent? Do all repairs have to go through the landlord, and are there preferred providers? All this should be asked up front.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been burned by the hidden terms of a lease?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">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-7"> <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/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</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-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</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-questions-landlords-cant-ask">10 Questions Landlords Can&#039;t Ask</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/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed</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/7-ways-to-rent-an-apartment-with-bad-credit">7 Ways to Rent An Apartment With Bad Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments breaking a lease insurance maintenance pets policies renters agreement renting security deposits signing a lease utilities Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1782899 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Hidden Housing Costs New Homeowners Don't Expect http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_tired_painting_000067183647.jpg" alt="Man finding hidden housing costs he didn&#039;t expect" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're a new homeowner &mdash; congrats! The hardest part is over, for sure. Saying so long to most of your savings isn't easy, after all. But the money hemorrhage isn't finished just yet. There are several under-the-radar and often overlooked fees and expenses that accompany homeownership that a newbie like you might miss. Keep tabs on these expenses with this list of hidden housing costs to help soften the blow.</p> <h2>1. Moving Expenses</h2> <p>Your belongings have to get from A to B somehow, but have you considered the method? If you plan to enlist the help of your friends, you'll save a huge chunk of change, but if you have more than a few truckloads, it's probably best to hire movers &mdash; and movers aren't cheap. Depending on how much stuff you have, how many flights of stairs the movers are going up and down (my fourth-floor movers <em>haaaated </em>me), and the distance they need to travel to deliver it, the cost could reach upwards of $10,000. With so many other expenses coming down the pipeline, this isn't one you want to forget about. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses?ref=seealso">Don't Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</a>)</p> <h2>2. Furnishing <em>All </em>the Rooms</h2> <p>Your eyes opened wide to the four-bed, three-bath colonial when you first saw it &mdash; all that space! But those rooms aren't going to furnish themselves. This is important to keep in mind if you're coming from a much smaller dwelling. You likely don't have enough furniture to outfit the entire new home, which means that you'll have to buy new items to make it livable. Beds, dining tables, couches, sofas &mdash; any or all of these may be required, and none of it is cheap. Otherwise you can take the easy way out and assign two of your empty, furniture-less rooms to &quot;storage,&quot; like I've seen some of my friends do. You'll just have to accept that somebody (like me) is totally judging you, lazy.</p> <h2>3. Window Treatments</h2> <p>When I moved into my first apartment in Manhattan, I assumed that the place would come with blinds. No such luck. What was worse was that my landlord wouldn't supply the blinds&hellip; and the ones I had to order if I didn't want nosy neighbors watching me do <em>everything</em> had to be custom made. The cost was an extra $500 or so that I didn't plan for, which is annoying when it's for something as silly as window treatments. Although, according to interior designer Tiffani Stutzman, I got off pretty easy.</p> <p>&quot;New homeowners are always shocked at the price of window treatments,&quot; she says. &quot;The average cost of a very basic blind or shade for a medium-sized window is normally around $500. Most homeowners should budget around $1,000 per window as a good rule of thumb. However, the cost can increase significantly for very large or tall windows or windows with non-standard shapes like arches. If you are interested in using custom fabrics or other features such as motorized shades, expect much higher costs per window.&quot;</p> <p>Yeah, I definitely got off easy, and I made half my money back by selling the window treatments to the renter who was coming in after me. Business is business. For your own reference, I used Blinds To Go, which was extremely affordable compared to Stutzman's estimates, and the process was a cinch.</p> <h2>4. Utilities and Other Day-to-Day Usage Expenses</h2> <p>If you previously lived in an apartment where your utilities were included in the rent, you're in for big sticker shock your first few months of energy usage. Gas and electricity isn't cheap, and if you've been taking advantage of the built-in amenities that your rent covered, you better brace yourself. To make the transition smoother, ask the seller if you can see a copy of a recent utility bill so that you can somewhat prepare. Knowing is half the battle. Tread lightly initially, too. Stay conscious of lights, heat, and A/C running only when necessary to help slow down the speed at which you're accruing new bills.</p> <h2>5. HVAC Inspections and Upkeep</h2> <p>Heaters and air conditioners are crucial to climate-controlled living (I'm so uppity I won't even spend the night someplace without an air conditioner; I get <em>hot</em>, bro), and they don't fix themselves. Unless you have these very specialized skills to handle their maintenance, you'll have to hire the work out. Of course, it's wise to ward off major catastrophes with annual inspections &mdash; which will still cost you &mdash; but not nearly as much as early replacement of a furnace or A/C unit that's been neglected.</p> <h2>6. Termite and Pest Treatments</h2> <p>Before you move into your new home, you should get the all clear that it's termite-free. Your inspection will reveal the pests, and it should fall on the owner to address the problem. If not, you have the right to walk away. That's not always the case, however. The owner is not <em>required</em> to rid the house of pests, but only to disclose the existence of the pests. If you choose to move forward with the sale knowing that there's an active pest problem, the problem is on you if it's not negotiated that it will be exterminated by the time you move in.</p> <p>And if you don't mind me saying so, it's an incredibly dumb move on your part to accept the pests, as they can be very costly to eliminate. You also want to check for roaches, ants, mice and rats, and bedbugs. None of these critters are signs of good fortune.</p> <h2>7. Landscaping and Other Outdoor Maintenance</h2> <p>I do a lot of things myself to cut costs on having to pay for someone else to do it, but I draw the line at mowing the lawn and other yard maintenance. I hate it. Thus, I bring in the big guns to do the dirty work, and it costs about $800 a year. Other hidden costs to new homeowners can include, but aren't limited to: snow removal, roof maintenance (which can be a <em>huge </em>expenses if there's a serious problem), gutter cleaning, and outdoor pest removal, like the hornet's nest that set up camp in my own backyard.</p> <p>&quot;Lawn mowing services can run roughly $25 a week or more, but that's just for cutting the grass; that doesn't include tree trimming, fertilization, and other landscaping services,&quot; says Ryan Farley, co-founder LawnStarter, a lawn-care concierge service. &quot;If you go the DIY route, lawn care involves an expenditure of both time and money; it's hard to put a price on your time. If you prefer to let someone else take care of your lawn, be sure to include that cost in your monthly housing budget. Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that a well-landscaped lawn can easily boost the value of your home by 10%, and a lousy looking lawn can cause you to lose money when you're ready to sell.</p> <h2>8. An Eventual Increase in Property Taxes</h2> <p>There are only two certainties in life &mdash; death and taxes, and the latter will keep increasing until you wish the former would come faster. While you should be aware of your expected property taxes before you purchase the home, you may not expect the rate at which they will increase over the years.</p> <p>&ldquo;When you buy a home, most sales are reported to the taxing authority, which means your property taxes will be raised to the value &mdash; or the price you paid &mdash; for the house. For many buyers this can be a 20% to 30% increase in their property taxes,&quot; says Sissy Lapin, co-founder of ListingDoor.com, a DIY home-selling resource.</p> <h2>9. Homeowner's Association Dues</h2> <p>If you're moving to a fancy neighborhood, you can bet there's a homeowner's association, which, in my opinion, is just a congenial title for &quot;a sanctioned group of nosy neighbors who like to tell other people what to do&quot; &mdash; but I digress. Either way, you'll have to pay up to be part of the club, whether you like it or not. But, hey, at least you get an awkward holiday party out of it at the end of the year.</p> <p>&quot;While these fees are likely disclosed during the purchase, and may bring many benefits, they are an additional cost to owning a home in many parts of the country,&quot; Lapin says. &quot;Furthermore, there can also be periodic 'one-time' additional assessments to cover special projects or budget deficits by the association.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Special Assessments to Cover Special Projects</h2> <p>Special assessment fees generally don't apply to single-family homeownership, but they can be a surprise aspect of condo living if you're not prepared. Recently, we had to replace the roof on our building in Manhattan to the tune of more than $1 million. Uh huh. I needed a minute when I heard that, too. With only 12 units in the building, the cost was divvied up between the owners based on the shares we held in the building. Needless to say, it wasn't cheap for anyone, and special assessments like these can force you out of your home if you're not financially capable of paying your share.</p> <p>Furthermore, if you're forced to move because you can no longer afford the mortgage plus fees, it can be difficult finding a buyer given the financially-strapped circumstance of the unit and the building. There's no real way to prepare for things like this &mdash; it's more of a roll-with-the-punches situation &mdash; but it's certainly something to consider before buying a condo.</p> <p><em>Are you a new homeowner? What are some of the pop-up fees you weren't prepared for? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-hidden-housing-costs-new-homeowners-dont-expect">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-3"> <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/23-hidden-costs-of-buying-an-old-house">23 Hidden Costs of Buying an Old House</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/dont-forget-to-budget-for-these-unexpected-moving-expenses">Don&#039;t Forget to Budget for These Unexpected Moving Expenses</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/heres-how-much-life-in-the-big-city-will-cost-you">Here&#039;s How Much Life in the Big City Will Cost You</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/how-to-save-100s-on-your-next-move">How to Save $100s on Your Next Move</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/moving-dont-skimp-on-these-critical-expenses">Moving? Don&#039;t Skimp on These Critical Expenses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing expenses furniture hidden costs moving new homeowners utilities Windows Mon, 18 Apr 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 1689028 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Move to a New City to Reduce Lifestyle Costs? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_city_view_000064735719.jpg" alt="Man deciding if he should move to a new city to reduce costs" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Moving to a big or popular city is often associated with higher housing costs. But even so, it may be worth it when you're able to change your lifestyle for the better &mdash; while reducing overall costs elsewhere.</p> <p>This is the exact decision that my husband and I faced a few months ago when we decided to move across the country to be closer to family.</p> <p>If you're considering whether or not you should move to pursue a better career or lifestyle, here's why you may want to move to a new city <em>even</em> if rent or housing costs more. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-mid-sized-cities-for-millennials">The 5 Best Mid-Sized Cities for Millennials</a>)</p> <h2>Why I Chose to Pay Double the Cost of Rent</h2> <p>Compared to our previous apartment near Dallas, TX our Boulder, CO rent is nearly double the price. Basically, the <a href="http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=United+States&amp;country2=United+States&amp;city1=Boulder%2C+CO&amp;city2=Tyler%2C+TX&amp;tracking=getDispatchComparison">average price per square foot</a>&nbsp;to buy an apartment in Texas is $100, while Colorado is as much as $383 per square foot.</p> <p>Our one bedroom rented apartment in Texas only cost $900, whereas here in Boulder it's $1,660 &mdash; not including utilities. But we looked at our budget and took <em>all</em> our lifestyle costs into account before deciding that moving was the best option. Here are four reasons we decided to move to a new city despite the higher housing costs.</p> <h3>1. Lower Utility Charges</h3> <p>One of the biggest factors to your budget, aside from rent and housing costs, are your utility costs. This can include your water, electricity, gas, Internet, TV, and other small things like trash and sewer maintenance.</p> <p>Depending on whether you live inside or outside the city limits, these costs could be quite high. Added together, my husband and I used to pay close to $400 per month towards our utility bills. But now that we live in a more cost efficient city, we're able to save nearly <em>half </em>of that each month.</p> <p>Check your utility costs against those of your potential new city by making a list of your current bills. Compare those utility costs to your potential new place. (You can compare the costs online via the utility company's website, or calling the local phone number.) Be sure to check:</p> <ul> <li>Internet</li> <li>Phone</li> <li>TV/Cable</li> <li>Electricity</li> <li>Gas</li> <li>Water/Sewer</li> <li>Trash/Recycling</li> </ul> <p>Even though we may pay a lot more in rent, the amount we save every month by having low-flow faucets and more cost effective heating/cooling is definitely worth the move to us.</p> <h3>2. Food Costs and Waste</h3> <p>Groceries are a non-fixed expense that can eat into your budget if you're not careful. In our previous city, we had limited options of grocery stores to choose from, which left us little choice of saving money on food. We could either spend a fortune at a small boutique grocery store, or sacrifice the quality by going to a big chain store. We chose to spend a bit more for organic food and had a grocery bill upwards of $800+ per month &mdash; just for the two of us!</p> <p>Since moving to Colorado, we have access to 10 different grocery stores (seriously, we counted!) and can find what we need at a <em>much</em> lower price. In the past several months we've knocked an average of $230 off our grocery bill, and it keeps declining.</p> <p>Better quality organic food at one-fourth the cost has been well worth the move to a new city. In addition, we're able to buy less food and avoid so much going to waste. Having more options has allowed us to save money while still getting the organic and healthy food we want.</p> <h3>3. Environmental Impact</h3> <p>One of the main reasons my husband and I wanted to move from Texas to Colorado was to be more environmentally aware of the impact we were making. This city has a built-in recycling program so we no longer have to take weekend trips to the recycling center.</p> <p>And because of the climate, there's no air conditioning unit in our apartment. During the cold months, we simply use a gas-powered furnace. When you compare the cost of a electric heater versus a gas furnace, prices for gas <a href="https://www.mge.com/images/PDF/Brochures/residential/RentersGasVsElec.pdf">typically cost much less</a> to operate than electric ones.</p> <p>According to the EPA, the fuel from a gas furnace comes from natural gas production, which burns much cleaner and poses less of an environmental threat. It's important to evaluate your impact on the environment, as well as your overall lifestyle costs. Consider how this change could save you money and help better the local community.</p> <h3>4. Transportation Costs</h3> <p>Since settling into our life here in Boulder, my husband and I have only filled up the car with gas twice in the past three months. Our gas and car maintenance budget used to be $250 per month, but now it's down to around $40&ndash;$50 for all our transportation costs.</p> <p>Because this new city has <a href="https://bouldercolorado.gov/goboulder/other-great-options">several different transportation choices</a>, including a bus system, carpooling, and car sharing options, we've stopped using our car as much. We now bike or walk to work or while running errands.</p> <p>This allows us to save <em>over $200 a month</em> on gas and maintenance costs for our car. In addition it allows us to put less emissions into the environment.</p> <p>All-in-all, we increased our housing costs by $760 but are currently saving $610+ in lower utility, transportation, and food costs. For us, this was definitely worth it.</p> <p><em>Are you thinking of moving to reduce lifestyle costs? What are some other things that impact your decision?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs">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/5-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford</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/avoid-these-7-things-when-living-with-roommates">Avoid These 7 Things When Living With Roommates</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/book-review-off-the-grid">Book Review: Off the Grid</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/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</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/5-simple-ways-to-live-rent-free">5 Simple Ways to Live Rent-Free</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing environmental impact food costs housing costs rent transportation utilities Thu, 21 Jan 2016 12:01:03 +0000 Carrie Smith 1642415 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Common Household Leaks You Can Fix Without a Plumber http://www.wisebread.com/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/plumber_fixes_pipe_000020436717.jpg" alt="Learning which household leaks you can fix without a plumber" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you live in a house or an apartment, leaks are so common that you definitely don't want to hire a plumber every single time it happens. Pick up a few supplies, take an afternoon and try these easy and cheap ways to fix household leaks.</p> <h2>1. Shower Leak</h2> <p>If your shower is leaking, it is likely due to one really simple-to-fix issue. The showerhead slowly gets loosened from the pipe stem over time. Usually you just need to tighten the hold by <a href="http://www.hometips.com/repair-fix/how-to-repair-leaky-shower-faucet.html">reattaching the showerhead</a> and using <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVBIS9K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00DVBIS9K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=HQBFR3AAGNZQQCGJ">pipe tape</a> to seal the pipe around the showerhead. The tape is available at nearly any hardware store or on Amazon for about $10. You'll also want to check the washer (also called an &quot;o ring&quot;) on the inside of the showerhead.</p> <h2>2. Faucet Leak</h2> <p><em>Drip. Drip. Drip. </em>Not only is that really annoying, but it's wasting gallons of water per day. The most common reason for faucet leaks is just a worn out gasket. So it's usually very easy to fix this one.</p> <p>First, remember to turn off your water line under the sink before opening up your faucet, and place <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NUCYV82/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00NUCYV82&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=GRTUBF6FGXXJ5DID">drain stoppers</a> in all drain openings to prevent losing parts. Then, cover the faucet exterior (handles, etc.) with tape so your wrench doesn't scuff them up. Next, you take apart each piece and screw them back in, after replacing the worn-out gasket or washer. Try watching one of many <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/video/leaky-faucet-0129099">online video tutorials</a> on the subject to get the visuals down.</p> <h2>3. Water Heater Leak</h2> <p>The water heater looks like a pretty intimidating appliance, which is why most people are afraid to tinker with it. However, did you know that the water you find pooling at the bottom of your water heater may not actually be a leak? It could easily be the condensation from the outside of the heater dripping down to the floor. If you've ruled that out because water is spraying from the hose, immediately shut off the water valve (should be a red handle located near the pipe). If the temperature release valve is leaking, it might be because the temperature setting is too high, which can fixed with the manual's instructions with a wrench you have a home. </p> <p>If you detect corrosion or other more dangerous defects, don't take the risk &mdash; call a plumber.</p> <h2>4. Toilet Leak</h2> <p>This might be among the scariest of all leaks, because who wants anything to seep out of their commode? If the leak is coming from the bottom of the toilet, you likely need to tighten the bolts securing it to the floor. (For more instructions, check <a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,202149,00.html">This Old House.</a>) However, one of the leading causes of toilet leaks is one simple item: an over-worn <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000DZF73M/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B000DZF73M&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WVFSTMZZACKDSX76">toilet flapper</a>. That's the rubber gasket that makes the flushing mechanism work. They tend to just wear out or build up mineral deposits and decay. It's such an easy replacement, you don't need a tutorial or a plumber. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-plumbing-repairs-that-dont-require-a-plumber">10 Easy Plumbing Repairs that Don't Need a Plumber</a>)</p> <p><em>Have you repaired your own leaks? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber">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-2"> <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/10-simple-household-repairs-every-frugal-person-should-master">10 Simple Household Repairs Every Frugal Person Should Master</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/flashback-friday-our-61-best-home-improvement-hacks-ever">Flashback Friday: Our 61 Best Home Improvement Hacks Ever</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/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</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/the-5-best-air-fresheners">The 5 Best Air Fresheners</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-starbucks-drinks-you-can-easily-make-yourself">4 Starbucks Drinks You Can Easily Make Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Home DIY home household leaks plumbing utilities water meter Wed, 18 Nov 2015 16:15:37 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1614921 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Savings Mistakes Even Smart People Make http://www.wisebread.com/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_piggy_bank_000035836870.jpg" alt="Smart woman making classic savings mistakes with finances" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You're not a finance expert just yet (that's probably why you're reading Wise Bread), and I don't expect you to make all the right moves with your money. The truth is, everybody makes mistakes &mdash; even yours truly &mdash; but it's important to check yourself before you wreck yourself when it comes to your cash. Take a look at these savings mistakes than even smart folks like you and I make and consider how to avoid these potentially costly financial faux pas.</p> <h2>1. Funneling Money Into Modest Growth Plans</h2> <p>Even avid savers can make mistakes when it comes to funneling money away for a rainy day or a future investment. Because if it's sitting in a modest growth plan, it's not doing you much good, and it'll take you much longer to reach your savings goals.</p> <p>Joe LoPresti, registered investment advisor and creator of the Investment Education Institute, agrees.</p> <p>&quot;I think the biggest savings mistake that smart people make is putting a lot of money into modest growth plans like low APR savings accounts, CDs, bonds, mutual funds, or just simple 401(k)s, without putting some money aside for active investment &mdash; investments that will grow their money while their still earning it, not just preserving it for later,&quot; he says. &quot;Buying 'safe' assets is something that smart people do, but what they don't consider is that those safe investments will not significantly grow the nest egg you're trying to establish. In fact, locking your savings up in low-yield investments may actually prevent you from growing your wealth during the up-swinging market that we're currently experiencing.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Avoiding Credit Cards at All Costs</h2> <p>While I'll never encourage you to be a spendthrift with your credit cards, driving yourself into debt, that doesn't mean you should ward off plastic altogether. Having credit builds credit, and you need it to make large milestone purchases like a new home. Just be smart about the cards you keep. Read the fine print and choose the best card for your needs to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about">maximize the benefits</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=seealso">Should I Choose a Cash Back or Travel Rewards Credit Card?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Sticking With Commodity Providers to Avoid the Hassle of Switching</h2> <p>I see this all the time within my circle of friends and among family members, and I can't say that I'm entirely innocent, either. But sticking with commodity providers &mdash; like cable, Internet, and cell phone service &mdash; because you don't want to fuss with the hassle of switching, can cost you big bucks over the long term, and give you a major headache. It may be in your best interest to at least research other options. Ask for employer discounts, switching incentives and other discounts, like military or student savings.</p> <h2>4. Buying on Impulse Instead of Cost-Comparing</h2> <p>Before you buy anything &mdash; an-y-thing &mdash; you should compare its cost to other retailers and available options. Whip out your phone right in the store and do a bit of amateur cost comparing to see if you can get it elsewhere cheaper. If you can, cool your jets and save that cash.</p> <h2>5. Saving Too Much &mdash; Yep, There's Such a Thing</h2> <p>Saving too much is impossible, right? Wrong. You can absolutely save too much if you have no plan for the money you're saving. What good does a load of cash do you if it just sits in the bank your whole life? Investing your money is how you'll make more of it (considering that you're investing wisely, of course), and you should start establishing savings milestones and planning the investments you'll make with the money if you want to enhance the quality &mdash; not quantity &mdash; of your life. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-easy-ways-to-invest-your-first-1000?ref=seealso">4 Smart Ways to Invest Your First $1000</a>)</p> <h2>6. Waiting for a Monetary Milestone to Invest</h2> <p>&quot;All investment professionals will tell you to wait until you have $5,000 to $10,000 before you should invest. That's wrong!&quot; cautions Samuel Rad a Certified Financial Planner and instructor at University of California Los Angeles. &quot;The only reason they tell you this is because it's not worth it for them to deal with you until you have enough money. The best advice is to start as early as possible with as little as possible.The quicker you get started on investing, the more compounding you will get. If you place all of it in a bank and wait until you have a big lump sum to invest, you will have lost time.&quot;</p> <p>Rad provides an exercise analogy to drive his point home:</p> <p>&quot;Similar to lifting weights, you don't want to walk into a gym and try to lift 300 pounds if it's your first time lifting,&quot; he says. &quot;Start with 25 pounds and work your way up.&quot;</p> <p>I agree with Rad, but only if you don't have a large investment in mind. For instance, I'm saving for an investment property for which I'll need to put a substantial down payment. I'm not particularly interested in jeopardizing this investment by playing the market in the meantime, so I'm sticking to my milestone. In these cases, I think it's okay to stick to your original plan, but, like Rad says, if you don't have one, there's really no reason to wait to invest. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-silly-reasons-people-dont-invest-but-should?ref=seealso">9 Silly Reasons People Don't Invest</a>)</p> <h2>7. Failing to Consider the Fees Associated With Investment Accounts</h2> <p>Sure, you've saved a good chunk of change and you're super excited to invest, but have you considered how much it'll cost you on the backend? Nothing in life is free, and there are fees associated with your investment accounts.</p> <p>&quot;Not paying attention to the costs associated with administering your 401(k) or investments is a big mistake,&quot; warns Fat Wallet's Bryan Marsden. &quot;They auto-deduct money and put it into 401(k) or other investments without looking at what the fees are for that account/investment. This is especially true if investing in mutual funds. Some of them have much higher fees than if you would pick, say, an index fund. When someone looks at an investment fee of .08% versus a .07% they don't think much of it. But if you take that and extrapolate it over 30 or 40 years, the differences can be significant in how much you pay out for fees.&quot;</p> <p>If you'd like a bit of tech in your corner in this regard, Vanguard has a <a href="https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/low-cost">nifty expense tool</a> to show you the difference between a 1.02% and .18%.</p> <p>&quot;Considering that some index funds can be around .06% and mutual funds can get at or over 1.5%, you get the idea,&quot; Marsden adds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/exchange-traded-funds-the-low-fee-investment-option-you-dont-know-about?ref=seealso">ETFs: The Low-Fee Investment Option You Don't Know About</a>)</p> <h2>8. Keeping Savings in a Low-Yield Checking Account</h2> <p>You're not married to your bank, so you don't have to bank with that particular institution for every financial aspect of your life. While you may be happy with your checking account, your institution may not offer the best savings account options, so it's important to look around before you decide where to stash your cash.</p> <p><em>Are you committing any of these money-saving sins? Do you have other savings mistakes that smart people make that you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-savings-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">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/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</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/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think">Getting by on a lot less money: 3 ways it&#039;s easier than you think</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-ways-to-win-the-war-against-this-summers-electric-bill">4 Ways to Win the War Against This Summer’s Electric Bill</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-sleek-marketing-ploys-aimed-at-getting-more-of-your-grocery-money">5 Sleek Marketing Ploys Aimed at Getting More of Your Grocery Money</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/looking-at-your-expenses-with-new-eyes">Looking at Your Expenses with New Eyes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living cost comparing savings utilities Tue, 14 Apr 2015 04:59:58 +0000 Mikey Rox 1379726 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways You're Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-cooking-oven-176826878-small.jpg" alt="woman cooking oven" title="woman cooking oven" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With energy prices on the rise and antique power grids patched together with gum and twine, it's time to take some control and get serious about reducing your use of the juice. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill?ref=seealso">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a>)</p> <p>Here are eight ways you're probably wasting electricity without realizing it.</p> <h2>1. Plugging, But Not Playing</h2> <p>Forget about the zombies; it's much more likely that your home is filled with vampires. Energy vampires are those devices and appliances we tend to leave plugged in 24/7 whether we're using them or not. And &mdash; on or off &mdash; every item that's plugged in is sucking power vampire-style. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, <a href="http://energy.gov/articles/are-energy-vampires-sucking-you-dry">vampire energy can add as much as 10%</a> to a consumer's monthly energy bill.</p> <p>Let's use your microwave as an example. How often throughout the day do you use it to prepare food? And yet, it remains plugged in, digitally displaying the time and silently sipping electricity in the process. It's a like a 30-pound clock with a motor and rotating cooking tray. Any appliance that uses energy to do virtually nothing should at least pay you a sincere compliment every time you walk by it (a feature that industrial engineers should diligently be working on, in my humble opinion).</p> <p>Help drain energy vampires by unplugging electronics and appliances you seldom use. And if you're a gadget hound, read up on the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RGF29Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000RGF29Q&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=C4OGZYRT3FH5G6LE">Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor</a>. For around $30.00, this handy little product calculates the energy consumed by keeping any electronic appliance plugged in and forecasts your related costs weekly, monthly, and yearly. Just plug it into an outlet, plug your device or appliance into it, and get a digital read-out. Once you see how the numbers add up, it'll be difficult to leave those vampires alone.</p> <h2>2. Cranking Up the Oven</h2> <p>When it comes to cooking a single item, an oven is often the &quot;nuclear option.&quot; That single-serving pizza or leftover tuna casserole could be warmed up in the microwave and then finished in the toaster oven. For little jobs, consider how to cook in stages using smaller appliances that sip electricity instead of automatically gravitating toward the power-sucking behemoths.</p> <h2>3. Getting in Hot Water</h2> <p>According to EnergyStar.gov, simply <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_save_energy_at_home">heating the water accounts for 90% of the total power</a> it takes wash a load of laundry. That's a whole lot of wattage. For regular loads, switch to cold water for a month and see if you notice any difference in the cleanliness of your duds. Reserve warmer water settings for fighting oil-based stains. Your budget will thank you for it.</p> <h2>4. Dish-Drying</h2> <p>Hot water helps your dishwasher do its job, but drying with heat is added energy drain that's largely unnecessary. Today, most dishwashers feature a heated drying option that you can simply choose not to use. And though heated drying does help avoid spots on dishes, you can get the same benefit by adding a rinsing agent.</p> <h2>5. Fighting the Flow</h2> <p>As obvious as it sounds, if your home features a central air-conditioning and heating system, check your vents. Vents have a way of blending into the background of our homes; many get closed inadvertently and that can result in systems that have to work extra hard to do the job. While you're at it, make sure vents, ducts, and any filters are clean and installed properly. If you find dirt or debris that's unreachable, or if you see visible signs of mold, it may be time to have your <a href="http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html#deciding">air ducts professionally cleaned</a>.</p> <h2>6. Lighting Up for the Holidays</h2> <p>Still using your dad's old string of holiday lights from 1975? Well, those incandescent bulbs are using just enough electricity to drain your gift-buying budget. Ditch the old and switch to new LED lights. You'll get hours of twinkling for a tiny fraction of the electric output.</p> <h2>7. Fridge-Gazing</h2> <p>It's a popular pastime, but standing in front of that open fridge trying decide if you have enough ingredients for a decent turkey club isn't doing your electric bill any favors. Ponder before you open the fridge or after you've quickly scanned its contents and shut the door.</p> <p>And while we're on the subject, make sure you're doing all you can to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips">help your refrigerator last for years</a>.</p> <h2>8. Ignoring Power Hours</h2> <p>Though it might not cut your electricity consumption, reserving energy-intensive tasks for off-peak hours can reduce the rate you pay. Since many power companies offer discounted rates after 8:00 p.m., focus not only on <em>how</em> you do things, but <em>when</em>. Check with your local power company to determine if it offers an off-peak discount and when off-peak hours begin and end. Then, whenever possible, schedule your laundry and dishwashing tasks to fit within that period.</p> <p>It's easy to think of electricity as a mysterious force coursing through power lines that magically illuminates all we do. But in reality, it's a concrete resource that we have direct control over. Luckily, we don't need to understand electricity to conserve it. So the next time you plug in, charge up, turn on, or warm up, think of ways to do each smarter.</p> <p><em>How do you save energy in your home? What methods have the greatest impact on your electricity bill?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">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-2"> <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/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</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/30-household-products-vinegar-can-replace">30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace</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/6-things-in-your-kitchen-that-get-rid-of-bad-smells-naturally">6 Things in Your Kitchen That Get Rid of Bad Smells Naturally</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/10-ways-to-reuse-common-household-items">10 Ways to Reuse Common Household Items</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-high-cost-of-keeping-warm">The High Cost of Keeping Warm</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home electricity utilities Wed, 08 Oct 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Kentin Waits 1227736 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-470351123.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My family is looking to move into a new house in the near future. With all the added rooms and exciting DIY projects on the horizon, I realize we'll also need to more carefully watch our utilities costs. More space equals more places to heat, plug in lamps, and otherwise use electricity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-win-the-war-against-this-summers-electric-bill?ref=seealso">4 Ways to Win the War With Your Electric Bill This Summer</a>)</p> <p>Whether you live in a small studio apartment or a sprawling McMansion, there are some smart, easy ways you can cut down on your electric bill. And many of these tips are things you can implement today to garner savings immediately. As always, if you have more tips to share, please leave them in the comments!</p> <h2>1. Open and Close</h2> <p>For some of us, switching on lights is more habit than necessity. So, in the daylight, avoid using lamps and other illuminating devices. Instead, open blinds to let the sun flood in. On the other hand, you can keep a home considerably cooler on hot days by closing curtains. I know this from personal experience! Before hitting high on your AC unit, you might want to try this trick.</p> <h2>2. Set the Bar</h2> <p>Have you looked at your water heater lately? Chances are your temperature might be set above the energy efficient suggestion of <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/does-turning-down-my-water-heater-really-make-a-difference.html">120 degrees</a> (or often marked &quot;warm&quot; or as a triangle on your heater's settings). If you need scalding hot water for tea or cooking, heat it on the stove.</p> <h2>3. Maintain It</h2> <p>Something as silly as a dirty furnace filter can cost you money when it comes to heating costs. The same goes with any other machine or component you must maintain. Plus, keeping your operations up-to-date is safer than neglecting them, and it may extend the life of the appliance &mdash; meaning even bigger savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips?ref=seealso)">Make Your Fridge Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>4. Unplug Yourself</h2> <p>This tip is twofold: Unplug your electronics when they're not in use &mdash; including battery chargers and power adapters &mdash; they still suck power from outlets and power strips even when off. Better yet, truly unplug by heading outdoors to read a book or to exercise. Totally free!</p> <h2>5. Negotiate</h2> <p>Take stock of your bills from the past year and see if you can strike a deal with your provider(s). You may also explore spreading out your costs so they are the same each month versus fluctuating seasonally to help make your budget more predictable. Don't be shy to shop around if there's more than one electric provider in your area.</p> <h2>6. Shift Your Day</h2> <p>While you're at it, ask your provider if there are &quot;off peak&quot; or &quot;time-of-use&quot; rates or times of the day when electricity costs less. You can choose to do your laundry, blow-dry your hair, cook a great meal, wash your dishes, or do any other task at the cheaper rate.</p> <h2>7. Slow the Flow</h2> <p>I think we all remember the &quot;<a href="http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheShowerhead.htm">Seinfeld&quot; episode</a> with the superintendent switches out the showerheads to low flow. If you're really into pinching pennies, swapping yours out can mean <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2008/mar/14/switchtolowflowshowerheads">less water to heat</a> over the course of your shower. Limiting yourself to a shorter shower, too, is another drop in the bucket.</p> <h2>8. Upgrade Your Thermostat</h2> <p>When we had to upgrade to a new furnace (ouch!), our contractor also updated us to a programmable thermostat. By setting designated temperatures for night and day, we have definitely saved money. Plus, now I don't have to remember to adjust the temperature every night before bed.</p> <h2>9. Survey Bulbs</h2> <p>By now I think most of us are familiar with compact fluorescent bulbs as a great alternative to conventional incandescents. But did you know there are other energy efficient options like LED? A little extra money up front can mean <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/detail/light_bulbs">up to $40 to $135 per bulb</a> over a bulb's lifetime.</p> <h2>10. Put Your Laptop to Sleep</h2> <p>Enable your computer's energy savings features, they could save you upwards of <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficient-computer-use">$30 each year</a> on electricity costs per computer. Sounds like an insignificant amount, but it's still your money and a super simple fix.</p> <h2>11. Put a Damper on Things</h2> <p>If your home features a fireplace, be sure to close the flue when its not in use. Otherwise the outdoor air, whether hot or cold, will infiltrate your home and suck energy (to adjust your home's temperature) along with it.</p> <h2>12. Fan Yourself</h2> <p>No matter the time of year, ceiling fans can be useful for inexpensive temperature control. In the summer, run them on low to keep air flow up and air-conditioning costs down. In the winter, use the switch to reverse the blades to draw warm air down into a room from the ceiling.</p> <h2>13. Cook Smart (I)</h2> <p>Use the correct sized burners when heating up a tea kettle or dinner on the stove. For example, using a &quot;six-inch pan on an eight-inch electric burner can waste <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">more than 40%</a> of the heat produced.&quot;</p> <h2>14. Cook Smart (II)</h2> <p>While you're at it, resist the urge to check on baked goods by opening the door, which can drop the temperature by <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">up to 25 degrees</a>. If you need to use your appliance's self-cleaning option, try planning it after cooking a meal to use less energy heating to the highest temperatures.</p> <h2>15. Switch It Off</h2> <p>And one of the simplest ways to save money on your electric bill is to always remember to turn off lights or other electronic devices when you're leaving a room. It sounds ridiculously easy, but it can take some getting used to for the whole family. You may wish to place a reminder note at each switch as a first step in the right direction.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve energy and keep your electric bill in check? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">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/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</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/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">You&#039;re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead)</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-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash</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/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</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/refactor-your-budget-categories">Refactor Your Budget Categories</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home conservation electric bill saving energy utilities Tue, 27 May 2014 08:12:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1140317 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for These 4 Sneaky Charges on Your Monthly Bills http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-4-sneaky-charges-on-your-monthly-bills <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-these-4-sneaky-charges-on-your-monthly-bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finances-175127556.jpg" alt="bills" title="bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your days are undoubtedly hectic. And if you&#39;re always on the move, you may do everything fast &mdash; eat fast, drive fast, work fast, and even pay your bills fast. But while the Internet makes bill paying painless and simple, you could end up paying more than necessary for certain services. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash?ref=seealso">10 Monthly Bills You Can Cut</a>)</p> <p>Be honest with yourself. When you receive a credit card statement or utility bill in the mail, how well do you scrutinize it? Do you check your most recent activity to ensure everything is accurate? Or do you quickly glance at the balance and pay &mdash; no questions asked?</p> <p>Just because a bill looks accurate doesn&#39;t mean that it is. Sneaky fees &mdash; regardless of how minute the amount &mdash; can creep onto monthly bills and add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.</p> <p>Let&#39;s see if we can spot a few.</p> <h2>1. Modem Fee</h2> <p>If you have Internet service through your cable company, the cable company probably supplied a modem when hooking up your service. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-free-or-cheap-internet-access?ref=seealso">How to Get Cheap Internet Access</a>)</p> <p>Like many people, you may think that this modem is available at no charge for as long as you&#39;re a customer. And once upon a time, this was the case. However, many Internet companies have started charging customers a monthly modem fee, which can range anywhere from $6 to $8.</p> <p>Because cable companies don&#39;t openly advertise this new charge, you could be unknowingly paying this fee each month. Although you cannot avoid this fee if you decide to use your cable company&#39;s modem, you can purchase your own modem for as little as $50, which saves money in the long run.</p> <h2>2. Service Call Fee</h2> <p>Are you having problems with your Internet, cable,or phone connection? Your utility company or service provider may gladly come to your home to fix the issue, but it&#39;ll be at your expense, and you may discover an unexpected fee on your next billing statement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-fees-you-need-to-stop-paying-right-now?ref=seealso">8 Fees You Need to Stop Paying Now</a>)</p> <p>Known as a service call fee, some utility providers charge customers for home visits, regardless of how big or small the problem, or whether the problem is on the utility company&#39;s end &mdash; which hardly seems fair. The rep who schedules your appointment may conveniently forget to mention this fee, at which time the service call is charged to your account.</p> <p>Anytime you call to schedule a service, inquire about fees. If the fee is ridiculously high, ask tech support to troubleshoot with you over the phone. Often, they can walk you through different options to correct the issue, and there&#39;s no charge for this service.</p> <h2>3. Paper Statement Fee</h2> <p>Although there&#39;s the option of e-statements, you may prefer paper statements. This way, you can physically touch bills as they arrive in the mail, and bills are less likely to get lost in your inbox.</p> <p>However, taking the traditional route can cost you, and if you&#39;re not checking your statements carefully, you may already be paying a fee for paper statements. This fee can be as little as $2 or $3 dollars a month, but can add up over a year. These fees are charged by banks, mortgage companies, utility companies, and cell phone companies.</p> <p>You can call your bank or utility provider and ask to have this fee removed from your bill, but they don&#39;t have to comply. To ensure you never get hit with this fee again, enroll in paperless statements and have all statements delivered to your email.</p> <h2>4. Gray Charges</h2> <p>If you don&#39;t carry a large balance on your credit cards, it&#39;s easy to detect sneaky charges that pop on your statement. But if you do have a balance, &quot;gray charges&quot; may go unnoticed, costing you hundreds. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>These are unwanted charges that fall into a variety of categories, such as auto-renewal and memberships fees that continually show up on your credit card bills, although you cancelled the services, Then there are phantom charges, which occur when a simple online purchase results in ongoing monthly payments or a charge for a product you never requested.</p> <p>Gray charges &mdash; although sneaky &mdash; aren&#39;t always fraudulent and typically occur when card users do not read the fine print when buying items online. For example, if you agree to a two-week trial offer, the fine print may clearly state that you&#39;ll be charge a specific amount if you do not cancel within the two-week period. Additionally, if you order a so-called free credit report online, the fine print may clearly state that you&#39;ll be enrolled in credit monitoring. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-truly-free-credit-report?ref=seealso">How to Get a Free Credit Report</a>)</p> <p>These unwanted sneaky charges are usually 100% avoidable. Whenever you buy online, always read the terms and conditions before completing a purchase.</p> <p><em>Do you know of other sneaky charges we should look out for? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-4-sneaky-charges-on-your-monthly-bills">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-3"> <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/should-you-pay-your-bills-with-a-credit-card">Should You Pay Your Bills With a Credit Card?</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/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt</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/the-6-monthly-telecom-bills-you-can-negotiate">The 6 Monthly Telecom Bills You Can Negotiate</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/8-smart-money-moves-to-make-in-the-new-year">8 Smart Money Moves to Make in the New Year</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/15-ways-to-prevent-your-smartphone-from-wasting-data">15 Ways to Prevent Your Smartphone From Wasting Data</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living bills fees utilities Mon, 13 Jan 2014 11:24:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1110359 at http://www.wisebread.com Shrink Your Utility Bill by Plugging These Surprising Home Energy Leaks http://www.wisebread.com/shrink-your-utility-bill-by-plugging-these-surprising-home-energy-leaks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shrink-your-utility-bill-by-plugging-these-surprising-home-energy-leaks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/chores-5318992-small.jpg" alt="washing dishes" title="washing dishes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average family <a href="http://www.greenprintdenver.org/getinvolved/save-energy/">spends more than $1,600 annually on utility bills</a>. This breaks down to about $133 a month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-americans-can-learn-from-how-the-rest-of-the-world-saves-energy">How The Rest of the World Saves Energy</a>)</p> <p>After a close evaluation of your utility bills, you may discover that your annual energy costs are higher than the average. There&#39;s plenty you can do to lower your costs. And while you probably know the benefits of buying Energy Star appliances and replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL bulbs, you may be unaware of these surprising routines that drain energy and ultimately increase energy costs.</p> <h2>1. Icemaker</h2> <p>I didn&#39;t know this was possible until recently, but you can turn off the automatic icemaker on your refrigerator. Having the icemaker on is certainly&nbsp; convenient, because you don&#39;t have to fill ice trays. And if you&#39;re entertaining guests, an icemaker ensures a generous supply of ice. Yet, there&#39;s a price to convenience.</p> <p>Automatic ice machines work around the clock, constantly draining energy, and they can increase your refrigerator&#39;s energy use by 14% to 20%, says <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=refrig.pr_refrigerators">Energy Star</a>. But if you turn off your icemaker feature and make your ice the old-fashioned way (with an ice tray), that&#39;s extra cash in your pocket.</p> <p>Look for an on/off switch on the front of the icemaker, or check your manual for specific instructions.</p> <h2>2. Hand Washing vs. Dishwasher</h2> <p>Hand washing may clean your dishes better, but if you&#39;re looking for ways to conserve energy, you better learn to love your dishwasher. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-dishwashers">Top 5 Dishwashers</a>)</p> <p>You need hot water to clean dishes. And since it takes energy to heat water, it only makes sense that the more hot water you use, the higher your energy costs.</p> <p>Maybe you feel it&#39;s greener and more cost-effective to give your dishwasher a rest and hand wash your cups, forks, plates, etc. But at the end of the day, it&#39;s all about consumption. And since the <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/kitchen-design/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener.html">average dishwasher uses only about 4 to 6 gallons of water per cycle</a>, and the average faucet outputs 2 gallons of water per minute, running your dishwasher can save time and money.</p> <h2>3. Electric Ovens</h2> <p>Large electric ovens require a lot of energy, and if you use your stove every day of the week, this will drive up your energy costs. Of course, you have to eat. If you do the math, cooking your own food is probably cheaper than grabbing a bite to eat. So even though the oven is one of the biggest energy drains in your house, you really don&#39;t have much of a choice, right? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/19-tips-to-cut-costs-by-using-your-oven-efficiently">19 Tips for Efficient Oven Use</a>)</p> <p>Well, not exactly. There is no rule that says you have to use your oven when preparing meals. Several vegetable and meat dishes can be prepared with smaller appliances, such as a slow cooker, a microwave, or an electric grill. You can use a toaster oven for meals you would normally cook in the oven, or maybe a rice cooker or steamer for items you usually prepare on the stovetop. Switch to <a href="http://www.unitedpower.com/mainNav/yourEnergyOptions/energyTips.aspx">smaller appliances, and you can use about 75% less energy</a>.</p> <h2>4. Taking a Bath</h2> <p>Maybe you prefer a nice hot bath instead of a shower? Sure, baths take longer, considering you have to wait for the tub to fill with water. But what better way to relax and recharge after a long day? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-have-energy-after-work">Easy Ways to Have Energy After Work</a>)</p> <p>An occasional bath isn&#39;t going to skyrocket your utility bills. However, if this becomes your nightly routine, expect your energy costs to be slightly higher than the average household.</p> <p>Just like running your dishwasher, the cost of taking a bath all boils down to water consumption and the energy it takes to heat the water. Water constantly flows while showering, and like many others, you may feel that baths use less water and energy. But when you compare the average water usage for showers and baths, the facts might comes as a surprise.</p> <p>The average bath requires <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/myths/shower_vs_bath.html">30 to 50 gallons of water</a> &mdash; a major energy drain, especially when a four-minute shower with a low-flow head only uses about 10 gallons of water. Not bad considering how a family of four can each take a quick shower and use less water than a single bath.</p> <h2>5. Empty Fridge and Freezer</h2> <p>If you grocery shop every Saturday and only buy enough for a week, you may not have a stockpile of food in your fridge or freezer. You&#39;re probably thinking&nbsp;&mdash; what does my shopping routine have to do with home energy?</p> <p>Well, there&#39;s a connection. The less you buy, the less items inside your refrigerator &mdash; and empty space doesn&#39;t exactly save energy. Emptiness provides just enough space for warm air to circulate &mdash; an energy killer.</p> <p>The temperature in your kitchen is obviously warmer than the temperature inside your refrigerator. When you open the door, warm air rushes inside; the fridge then works extra hard to maintain a cool temperature. But when you keep your fridge and freezer fully stocked, this doesn&#39;t leave much room for warm air. The cooler your fridge stays, the less energy it uses.</p> <p><em>Do you know of other surprising energy drains not listed here? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/shrink-your-utility-bill-by-plugging-these-surprising-home-energy-leaks">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/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</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-high-cost-of-keeping-warm">The High Cost of Keeping Warm</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/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead">You&#039;re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead)</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/how-low-can-you-go-taking-the-no-heat-challenge">How Low Can You Go? Taking the No Heat Challenge</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/living-without-air-conditioning-can-save-big-bucks-this-summer">Living Without Air-Conditioning Can Save Big Bucks This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living conservation energy energy consumption utilities Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:21:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1044964 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Surprising Ways to Save on Wireless Bills http://www.wisebread.com/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/phone-5219826-small.jpg" alt="woman using phone" title="woman using phone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&#39;ve found yourself gasping for air after opening your wireless cell phone bill lately, take a deep breath &mdash; there may be discounts you aren&#39;t taking advantage of. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/part-time-jobs-that-can-get-you-serious-discounts">Part-Time Jobs With Serious Discounts</a>)</p> <h2>1. Join Your Employer Discount Program</h2> <p>Take advantage of employer discount programs simply by contacting your wireless carrier&#39;s website (or visit their store) and submitting your work address to find out if you are eligible to receive offers and discounts. Once the email address is validated, and you qualify for the discount, you&#39;ll start saving on access charges, and in some cases, receive discounts on accessories too.</p> <p>If you are self-employed, or your current employer doesn&#39;t qualify, you can always piggyback onto a spouse&#39;s plan. And the same discounts are available to students. If you attend a university, simply submit your student email address to your provider for validation. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-list-of-student-discounts">List of Student Discounts</a>)</p> <p>Check discount programs for <a href="http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/support/employee-discount-email">Verizon</a>, <a href="https://www.wireless.att.com/business/authenticate/">AT&amp;T</a>, <a href="http://mysprint.sprint.com/verify/?ECID=vanity:verify">Sprint</a>, and <a href="http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-4791">T-Mobile</a>.</p> <h2>2. Make Wi-Fi Calls</h2> <p>Keep track of, and cut data usage with free apps. Jon Lal of <a href="http://www.befrugal.com/">BeFrugal</a> recommends the iTunes<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wi-fi-finder/id300708497?mt=8"> Wi-Fi Finder</a> app to locate nearby Wi-Fi hotspots, and use a Wi-Fi connection to browse online instead of your data plan whenever possible. (For Android, consider <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jiwire.android.finder&amp;hl=en">WiFi Finder</a>.) &quot;This will help you get by on a much smaller data plan that costs less.&quot; Andrea Eldridge, CEO and co-founder of <a href="http://www.callnerds.com/">Nerds on Call</a> agrees. &quot;If you&#39;re not hooked up to WiFi, those minutes can add up fast. Try to make sure you&#39;re always connected to WiFi, and turn off apps that switch to the phone network when WiFi is unavailable.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-free-or-cheap-internet-access">How to Get Free or Cheap Internet Access</a>)</p> <h2>3. Get a &quot;Family&quot; Plan</h2> <p>Two lines (or more) are cheaper with family plans; wireless providers charge more, per person, for individual plans. This works even if your family members aren&#39;t living under one roof &mdash; or aren&#39;t related at all. As long as one person takes responsibility for the account, a group of friends can start a family plan, too.</p> <h2>The Last Word</h2> <p>Even if you don&#39;t take advantage of one of these money-saving techniques, check in from time to time with your current provider to inquire about unadvertised packages that may be a better fit for you based on your usage plan. And be sure to sign up for free alerts from your provider, just to be on the safe side, so that you are aware when you are reaching your data limit and don&#39;t have any overages.</p> <p><em>How do you save on your cell phone plan?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linda-condrillo">Linda Condrillo</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-surprising-ways-to-save-on-wireless-bills">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-5"> <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/5-painless-ways-to-lower-your-cell-phone-bill">5 Painless Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill</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/refactor-your-budget-categories">Refactor Your Budget Categories</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/looking-at-your-expenses-with-new-eyes">Looking at Your Expenses with New Eyes</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/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">Kick that Cell Phone Contract: Save with a Prepaid Plan</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/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cell phones data plan phone savings utilities Mon, 21 Oct 2013 10:00:03 +0000 Linda Condrillo 1034767 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Tips for Reducing Your Water Bill http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tips-for-reducing-your-water-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tips-for-reducing-your-water-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3227330677_4857a2eb11_z-1.jpg" alt="Tips For Reducing Your Water Bill" title="Tips For Reducing Your Water Bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></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 fantastic articles on tips for reducing your water bill, banking tips for 20-somethings, and early retirement risks.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://notmadeofmoney.com/blog/2012/08/5-quick-tips-for-reducing-your-water-bill.html">5 Quick Tips For Reducing Your Water Bill</a> &mdash; To reduce your water bill, go to the car wash. [Not Made Of Money]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Banking-Tips-20-Somethings-19936527">Helpful Banking Tips For 20-Somethings</a> &mdash; Make sure you know the fees associated with your bank accounts. [SavvySugar]</p> <p><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/early-retirement-risks/">4 Early Retirement Risks - and How to Avoid Them</a> &mdash; Avoid making the retirement risk of outliving your money by starting to save and invest early. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="http://financialhighway.com/5-considerations-for-getting-the-most-out-of-selling-your-home/">5 Considerations for Getting the Most Out of Selling Your Home</a> &mdash; Get the most out of sellilng your home by thinking eco-friendly. [Financial Highway]</p> <p><a href="http://www.biblemoneymatters.com/packing-for-a-blog-conference/">Packing For A Blog Conference: What Gadgets, Software, Clothing And Other Things Should You Bring?</a> &mdash; If you are attending a conference, make sure to bring an envelope for receipts as well as your hotel reservation confirmation. [Bible Money Matters]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://steadfastfinances.com/blog/2012/09/03/5-money-saving-car-maintenance-tips-and-tricks/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SteadfastFinances+%28Steadfast+Finances%29">5 Money-Saving Car Maintenance Tips and Tricks</a> &mdash; Want to save money on your car? Check to make sure your tires are in tip top shape. [Steadfast Finances]</p> <p><a href="http://www.carefulcents.com/simplify-your-life-by-going-digital/">7 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Going Digital</a> &mdash; To simplify your life by going digital, enroll in automatic payments. [Careful Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/disappearance-of-jobs-for-the-middle-class/">5 Tips for Dealing With the Job Shift Away From the Middle Class</a> &mdash; Deal with the job shift away from the middle class by getting more education. [Consumerism Commentary]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/guidelines-for-volunteering-at-school">8 Guidelines for Volunteering at School</a> &mdash; When volunteering at school, remember to be professional. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.doughroller.net/smart-spending/how-to-make-free-phone-calls-online/">7 Apps to Make Free Phone Calls Online</a> &mdash; Use Skype or Line2 to make free phone calls online. [The Dough Roller]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tips-for-reducing-your-water-bill">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-6"> <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/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</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/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber">4 Common Household Leaks You Can Fix Without a Plumber</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/3-great-home-gadgets-that-can-save-you-real-money">3 Great Home Gadgets That Can Save You Real Money</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/save-hundreds-by-getting-yourself-out-of-hot-water">Save Hundreds by Getting Yourself Out of Hot Water</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/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home best money tips utilities water bill Tue, 04 Sep 2012 09:48:42 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 954150 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Make Your Own Power http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-power <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-make-your-own-power" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/windmill.jpg" alt="Windmill" title="Windmill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever wondered how to <a href="http://www.littlehouseinthevalley.com/5-ways-to-live-greener">power your home</a>, small electronics, or a generator using natural resources? I know I have. Countless times I've forgotten to charge my cell phone and wished I had a solar powered source to trickle-charge it throughout the day. While riding my bike I've pondered how to harness my own pedal-power and charge a laptop, especially when I'm no where near an outlet. Generating your own power isn't just a lofty thought anymore; today there are a plethora of products that make it possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/houses-you-can-build-yourself">Houses You Can Build Yourself</a>)</p> <h2>Solar Power</h2> <p>One of the most abundant sources of energy available to us is solar power. The sun's rays <a href="http://www.briansager.com/docs/articles/Nature_Article.pdf">create more energy in one hour</a> than the entire world uses in one year. Though solar panels have gone through years of improvements, today portable solar devices such as the <a href="http://www.solio.com/">Solio</a> can charge small electronics within a few hours or help extend battery life by giving them solar-powered boosts. Larger solar chargers are also available through a few different vendors.</p> <p>Want to power your home off the sun's rays? Home solar panels can help reduce your dependence on other energy. If you produce more energy than you need, some solar systems allow you to store your energy for a cloudy day or sell it back to your utility company. Not only are you saving energy; you could be profiting off it as well.</p> <p>Many everyday items also have solar panels built right into them that can charge small electronics, like the Voltaic Solar Backpack, cell phones such as Samsung's touch-phone Blue Earth, computer keyboards and mice, calculators, outdoor lighting, and bicycles from <a href="http://www.therapyproducts.com/products_sunnybike.html">Thera-P Products</a> in Toronto to name a few.</p> <h2>Water Power</h2> <p>Much of the electricity I purchase through our utility company is created at Hoover Dam's hydroelectric plant. But did you know you can create your own hydroelectric energy if you have a constant water supply, like a lake or stream, near your house? An example of this in action is <a href="http://www.judyofthewoods.net/hydro.html">Judy of the Woods </a>in Wales. Using micro-hydro turbines, she turned her nearby springs into a source of energy.</p> <p>There are also water-powered gadgets such as clocks, calculators, or radios. However, I owned a water-powered clock a few years ago and couldn't get it to work. Maybe the newer products hold their charge better.</p> <h2>Wind Power</h2> <p>The concept of wind power via a windmill isn't new; it's been around for over 1,000 years. Yet today's personal windmills are mostly used on farms and ranches to pump water or mill grain. This doesn't have to be the case. Depending on your community's rules and regulations, you can erect your very own windmill to generate power to your home or to pump your well water. Smaller windmills can be used to aerate a pond or other stagnant water sources as well.</p> <p>The key to erecting a windmill boils down to where you live; the less dense the population, the less likely you'll have neighbors complaining about the towering structure.</p> <h2>Animal Power</h2> <p>Almost exclusively seen on farms or ranches, work horses can pump water while exercising or charge a generator by walking in a circle. Though this might not be an option for most people, animals can generate about 5-10 times the amount of energy that people do.</p> <h2>Human Power</h2> <p>Many small electronics now come in hand-crank versions: radios, flashlights, generators, even washing machines. You simply crank or squeeze the handle and the energy from your own body charges the item's batteries; it's simple and effective.</p> <p>Want your legs to do all the work? <a href="http://www.econvergence.net/electro.htm">Pedal-A-Watt</a> turns just about any bicycle into a stationery generating machine. Charge your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">cell phone</a>, laptop, or iPod while pedaling, or connect it to a PowerPak for later use. You can even find plans on the web to <a href="http://www.pedalpowergenerator.com/#FREE">build your own pedal-powered generator</a>.</p> <p>Charging my cell phone or laptop on the road no longer seems as baffling as it once did since I can choose from various clean, self-powered energy sources.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/little-house">Little House</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-power">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/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</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-to-turn-a-2-liter-bottle-of-water-into-a-50-watt-lightbulb">How To Turn a 2-liter Bottle Of Water Into a 50-Watt Lightbulb</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/hands-in-your-pocket-the-cost-of-standby-power-environmental-and-otherwise">Hands in Your Pocket: The Cost of Standby Power - Environmental and Otherwise</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/what-americans-can-learn-from-how-the-rest-of-the-world-saves-energy">What Americans Can Learn From How the Rest of the World Saves Energy</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/homemade-deodorant-is-it-worth-it">Homemade Deodorant: Is It Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY electricity make your own power solar power utilities Thu, 11 Aug 2011 10:24:21 +0000 Little House 655757 at http://www.wisebread.com Save Hundreds by Getting Yourself Out of Hot Water http://www.wisebread.com/save-hundreds-by-getting-yourself-out-of-hot-water <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-hundreds-by-getting-yourself-out-of-hot-water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3406535350_33fb5d6216.jpg" alt="inside washer" title="inside washer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An average household spends about $300 a year on hot water &mdash; about 12% of a family&rsquo;s total annual energy budget. But if you have family members who take long showers and generate loads of dirty laundry, that expense could easily double. If hot water expenses are putting the family finances in hot water, it&rsquo;s time to make some changes. The good news is that if everybody pitches in with some minor behavior alteration, water-heating expenses will definitely diminish.</p> <h3>1. Find a Better Way to Start the Day</h3> <p>Raise your hand if you use the shower to wake up every morning. If you don&rsquo;t need a shower to get clean, there are better ways to get your body going in the morning &mdash; like taking a few minutes to stretch or do light exercises, for example. This new wake-up regimen will save you time and money, and it could even help you lose weight and get in better shape.&nbsp;</p> <h3>2. Try Sponge Baths</h3> <p>If exercise or other activities make you feel like you need a shower, consider a quick, targeted wipe-down instead. This isn&rsquo;t always the answer, but you&rsquo;ll be surprised at how effectively some speedy sponge work can get you clean. Saving time and money is good motivation for making this change.</p> <h3>3. Start Singing in the Shower</h3> <p>By the time you finish belting out one of your favorite songs (in 3-6 minutes or so), you should be just about done washing up. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Shaving in the shower takes more time, for example. But for your basic shower, sticking to the single-song rule will add up in savings.&nbsp;</p> <h3>4. Upgrade Your Showerhead</h3> <p>A low-flow showerhead uses 30% less water than a conventional version. Don&rsquo;t let the &ldquo;low-flow&rdquo; label on these showerheads get you down. The best water-saving showerheads produce an invigorating blast while delivering just 1.5 gal. per minute or so. They do this by blending air into the water stream and using pulsing technology. For maximum savings, buy a showerhead with a built-in valve that shuts off the water flow while you soap up.</p> <h3>5. Clean Up at the Club</h3> <p>Are you paying for a health club membership without enjoying all the benefits? If you belong to a health club that has showers, shower more at the club so you can shower less at home.</p> <h3>6. Rinse and Reuse</h3> <p>Ever notice how many different coffee cups get used over the course of the day? Instead of filling up the dishwasher with multiple cups and glasses, try rinsing a single glass or coffee cup out when you&rsquo;re finished and simply reusing it later. Combine this rinse-and-reuse strategy with the practice of doing full rather than partial loads in your dishwasher, and you&rsquo;ll maximize your savings.</p> <h3>7. Give Your Clothes the Cold Treatment</h3> <p>About 85% of the energy consumed by your washing machine goes into heating water. If you do lots of laundry, you&rsquo;re looking at major savings potential here. Switch to a detergent designed for cold water and use the &ldquo;cold/cold&rdquo; setting on your machine.</p> <h3>8. Call in a Pro</h3> <p>Even the most frugal hot-water habits can&rsquo;t compensate for the extra money an inefficient hot water heater is going to cost you. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it&rsquo;s worth considering an upgrade to a new Energy Star model. If you have a tank-type water heater (the most common variety), a full-service plumber can assess the condition of this appliance and help you weigh the pros and cons of replacement. Less costly energy-saving upgrades include insulating your existing water heater, insulating hot water pipes, and simply turning the temperature setting down to 120 degrees or even lower. On most electric tank-type water heaters, you&rsquo;ll find the temperature setting dial beneath a metal cover plate on the side of the tank. The &ldquo;factory&rdquo; setting of 140 degrees uses more energy than necessary.</p> <p><em>For more ideas, check out Wise Bread's </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs"><em>7 Ways to Lower Water Heater Costs</em></a><em>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Tim Snyder. A journalist specializing in sustainability, energy efficiency, and home building topics, Tim writes frequently for <a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/">Dr. Energy Saver</a>, a nationwide network of energy improvement contractors. Read more about saving energy on Dr. Energy Saver:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/blog/2010/10/how-good-is-burning-wood/">How Good Is Burning Wood?</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/blog/2010/09/lessons-from-count-rumford/">Lessons from Count Rumford</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.drenergysaver.com/blog/2010/08/the-greenest-insulation/">The Greenest Insulation</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-snyder">Tim Snyder</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-hundreds-by-getting-yourself-out-of-hot-water">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-7"> <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/8-ways-youre-wasting-electricity-without-realizing-it">8 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Electricity Without Realizing It</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/4-common-household-leaks-you-can-fix-without-a-plumber">4 Common Household Leaks You Can Fix Without a Plumber</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/landscaping-for-energy-conservation">Landscaping for Energy Conservation</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/xeriscaping-to-promote-water-conservation">Xeriscaping to Promote Water Conservation</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/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home conserve water energy costs hot water utilities water heater Tue, 11 Jan 2011 13:00:09 +0000 Tim Snyder 301975 at http://www.wisebread.com Book Review: Off the Grid http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-off-the-grid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-off-the-grid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/off-the-grid-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of Off the Grid by Nick Rosen" title="Cover of Off the Grid by Nick Rosen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="199" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143117386?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0143117386"><em>Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America</em></a> by Nick Rosen.</p> <p>I've always used the term &quot;off the grid&quot; in a literal sense to refer to houses that aren't connected to the electric, gas, water, or telephone systems. When Nick Rosen uses the word &quot;grid&quot; he means more than that &mdash; something closer to what the 1960s counterculture types meant when they talked about <em>the system</em> or <em>the machine</em>.</p> <p>The book is fascinating. It's not at all a how-to manual. It's more an anthropological study of people who chose to live off the grid, together with some history of the grid itself.</p> <p>In the history, Rosen makes no attempt to present a balanced view. To him, the history of the grid is largely a history of corruption and cronyism; a history of monied interests using government influence (and often violence) to seize what belonged to ordinary people.</p> <p>In looking at the ordinary people who &mdash; for a myriad different reasons &mdash; have chosen to make their homes off the grid, though, Rosen shines.</p> <p>People choose to live off the grid for many reasons &mdash; several of which echo concerns that I've heard many times from Wise Bread commenters:</p> <ul> <li>Some want to own land, and land on the grid is too expensive.</li> <li>Some want to live very cheaply and would rather make do than pay the monthly bills for gas, power, water, etc.</li> <li>Some are so wealthy they can choose not to depend on polluting sources of power, building homes that are self-sufficient on solar and wind power.</li> <li>Some fear society is about to collapse and want to be self-sufficient when the grid goes down.</li> <li>Some fear the government and want to keep off its radar.</li> <li>Some hate the government and choose not to be complicit in its misdeeds.</li> </ul> <p>The book is a gentle, often almost loving look at individuals with all these motivations (and others). Rosen talks to (and often spends a night or two at the homes of) all manner of people: rich folks, their caretakers, poor folks, right-wing wackos, left-wing kooks, homeless people living in their cars, pot farmers, their neighbors, and ordinary, sane Americans who just want to live as best they can according to their own values.</p> <p>Having said that, Rosen does seem to have some odd reactions. He always notes whether the people he's interacting with are good-looking or not &mdash; and somehow the good-looking ones seem much more likely to come across as sensible, reasonable people. Perhaps related to that, his overall sense of his subjects' reasonableness is sometimes quite at odds with my own &mdash; but in a way that does no harm, because he clearly makes an effort to lay out their stories in a plain fashion before he presents his conclusion, leaving the reader free to draw his or her own.</p> <p>I was particularly interested in Rosen's take on Eustace Conway (having previously read Elizabeth Gilbert's book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0142002836?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0142002836 "><em>The Last American Man</em></a>, which is about Conway, the noted naturalist and self-sufficiency educator) and was pleased to learn that Conway has come to have more nuanced views on community sufficiency versus self-sufficiency.</p> <p>The scope of the book is broad enough that anyone with an interest in self-sufficiency or self-reliance will find things of interest. As I said, this book is not a how-to guide. Don't expect to learn how to size a solar power system or how to hook up a 12-volt inverter. But do expect to come away with a new appreciation for the many ways to live <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143117386?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0143117386"><em>Off the Grid</em></a>.</p> <p><em>Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission for any purchase made through these links.</em></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/book-review-off-the-grid">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/should-you-move-to-a-new-city-to-reduce-lifestyle-costs">Should You Move to a New City to Reduce Lifestyle Costs?</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-alternative-housing-options-you-can-afford">5 Alternative Housing Options You Can Afford</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-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</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/going-off-the-grid-is-a-lot-harder-than-you-think">Going Off the Grid Is a Lot Harder Than You Think</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/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing book review off grid off the grid utilities Thu, 16 Dec 2010 13:00:13 +0000 Philip Brewer 387795 at http://www.wisebread.com