Monday, May 17, 2010

Saving money on utilities for renters (and owners) - Part 2 Electricity

Last time I spoke about how to save money by conserving water.  Now it's time to talk about how to save money and energy with some simple changes.

Saving energy can be simple by just turning off lights when you leave for the day to completely changing appliances.  Well be talking a little bit about both here beginning with the simplest to the more difficult/expensive.
  • Turn it off - Turning off the TV, radio, lights, and everything else that isn't actively being used will immediately save you money.  Not only that, it can save you money by not needing to replace the devices as frequently too. 
  • CFL lightbulbs- Right now is the time to change these light bulbs, not when they blow.  You're probably thinking, the cost of them is too high to change now, I'll slowly integrate it into my bills by replacing them as they go, this is wrong.  Yes, you certainly will have a higher cost up front, but you'll instantly see a drop in your electricity bill as well, especially if you always keep your lights on.  Technology has increased to the point now where CFL are much better than they were years ago.  The buzzing along with the dim effect of where it takes a few minutes to light fully are completely gone now.  Changing these light bulbs will also free up a few minutes for you because they typically last for 8 to 15 times that of a regular light bulb or put into hours, I typically buy CFL's that last 10,000 hours, while regular light bulbs last about 1,000 hours.  In addition to having a lower energy bill you might need less of your air conditioning during the summer months since CFL's run much cooler than regular light bulbs.  Check your local energy company for discounts or rebates, sometimes they'll even give them to you for free!
  •  Programmable thermostat - A programmable thermostat like the Honeywell RTH230B is a 5 +2 day thermostat which means you can program during the week and a program for the weekend.  This change alone can save you up to 33% on your heating and energy bills! 
  • Killing the vampire energy - For electronics that are capable of going into low power mode or have create "warts" on the wall, smart strips are the way to go to get rid of them.  These power strips know when the electronics aren't being used and will automatically turn them off, saving you money.  To know what's slowly stealing your power, a great device to use to check would be the kill a watt, this device can determine how much energy you use and how much it adds to your energy bill once you enter the rate you're paying.
  • Switch to Energy Star - When your next appliance dies, it might be a good time to switch to an energy star device, they will not only save you money, they are typically of a better quality from what I've found and will last you a lot longer.  Check with your local energy company for discounts or rebates.  Currently most of the appliances we've bought are energy star and it's amazing how low that bill can go!  
  •  Get rid of it.  Life is so complicated with all of this technology around us.  In my apartment, I just have my laptop, NAS to back up the data, ipod for the cat, and cell phones.  No TV, no DVD player, no game systems, nothing.  And let me tell you, when I come home, I feel so relaxed because I'm away from all of those distractions, complications, wires, etc.... Life is simple, the way it should be.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Net debt- May 2010

Student loans: -$82,569.14
Car loan: $0.
Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
Net debt: -$82,569.14

Alexa ranking: 12,675,786

Yes, I still have 82.6k worth of student loan debt, but it's getting chipped away one day at a time and I'm making a tremendous amount of payments each month usually putting in more than one payments worth each month.  Which will hopefully save me a ton of money.

Solar Fest in San Antonio

Yesterday was the solar fest in San Antonio.  While I was there I was able to see several very interesting things and learn a fair amount in the short stay.

First of all, this was not the stereotypical hippy "buy solar or die a gas guzzling SUV-driving capitalists" type of place.   As we walked into the park, we were greeting by a row of car that were converted into pure electric and I think there might have even been a hardcore electric-gas hybrid truck.  I have to note that one of the cars was even a DeLorean!  "Back to the Future" Baby!!  Live music was powered completely by the sun, and a solar pump to charge up that electric bike of yours that you rode in on. 

While there I was able to see how easy it is to green up both your home, car, office and everything in between.  There were booths on transporting natural light from outside of the home into your home, solar panels, wind energy, vespa's (for those of you who want great mileage but not the hassle of recharging),  among many other great things.

For those of you with kids, they were able to play catch with all of the different mascots running around, they included a sun, fox, and smoothie (from the smoothie king stand) all of the while the adults listened to the music watching the kids play.  They also had face painting and a Radio Disney stage available. 

The expo showed, I believe, a great insight into all things that were renewable and sustainable living.  They had talks from local companies, HEB, CPS, and others talking about what they were doing to help and show how you can afford to purchase the units.

For example, a 4kW system would cost you around $32,000 to $40,000 but after all of the tax credits and CPS credits it'll end up about half of the cost or about $18,500.  And a nice note is that CPS among other companies is trying to make sure you can add it to your mortgage.  No, this may not be something you do to your house if you plan on moving soon, but for those who have a home and really plan on staying there, this is a great investment into retirement!  Imagine owning your home without any mortgage and having solar on top meaning your bills really would be almost nothing with just your basic phone, water and gas.  Simply Amazing.

From what I read there was expected over 4 thousand people attending and a great success.  And for those of you who live in Texas or other sunshine states and own a home, I can't stress it enough how great an investment solar is, both financially and sustainably, for you.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I'm a member of Yakezie now!

As suggested by my friend Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, I've joined the Yakezei Challenge.  It's a dynamic website ranking operated by Amazon who is trying to get us money bloggers ranked 200,000 or less.

You may think that being ranked at 200,000 is a horrible ranking however, it's quite prestigious.  To help me and other bloggers/websites out there all you need to do is download this free toolbar here and it'll help start ranking us immediately!

Please take a look at Financial Samurai's more detailed explanation here since I'm not doing it justice.  Below are some of blogs that are joined as well to the cause.

Yakezie Member List:

151 Days Off
20s Money
Beating Broke
Bible Debt
Bible Money Matters
Blog Income Life
Bucksome Boomer
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
Budgets Are Sexy
Canadian Finance Blog
Car Negotiation Coach
Chasing Prosperity
Cool to be Frugal
Couple Money
Credit Card Chaser
Deliver Away Debt
Downturn Living
Early Retirement Extreme
Eliminate The Muda!
Enemy Of Debt
Engineer Your Finances
Evolution of Wealth
Financial Samurai
Fiscal Fizzle
Foreigners Finances
Free From Broke
JOB's Money - Free by 30
Joe Tax Payer
Learn Save Invest
Money Beagle
Money Crush
Money Funk
Money Reasons
My Budgetting
My Journey to Millions
Narrow Bridge
Out of Debt Again
Personal Finance Ninja
Personal Finance Student
Planting Dollars
Punch Debt in the Face
Rainy-Day Saver
Saving Money Today
Simple Life in France
Stay at Home Mom CFO
Suburban Dollar
Sweating the Big Stuff
The Amateur Financier
Ultimate Money Blog
Wealth Pilgrim
Well-Heeled Blog
Young and Thrifty

If you are a Yakezie member and don't see yourself on this list, please shoot me an email.  Thanks!