For the past six months, I have been on an efficiency kick. My wife calls it a cheap kick but I tend to disagree with her. During these last few months, I have been trying to limit my external purchases as well as my heating/electrical bill and gas consumption for my car.
What brings on this new found efficiency kick you may be asking yourself. I think the "cheapskate" mentality has always been ingrained in me but is now starting to come on full power. Being over 30 years old with a wife/kids/house mortgage will do that to a guy!
Another reason my efficiency meter is pointing towards "max" is the discovery of a website called www.mrmoneymustache.com this past summer. For those of you that have not heard of this website, you need to check it out!
Back to saving money. I have made a few simple changes to my lifestyle that I estimate will save me around 2,000 plus dollars this year. Not a bad chunk of change eh? 2,000 dollars might not sound like a lot but mrmoneymustache would point out that this 2 grand could potentially balloon past 35,000 dollars if I can keep the savings coming over a ten year period and invest it correctly.
The changes that I have made are very simple. Some I have read thousands of times on yahoo finance the other ones I have picked up through websites like mrmoneymustache.
The first change I made was to switch all of my lights in the house to the energy efficient ones. You all know the reasoning behind doing this one. You all have probably read about it a thousand times like me. You all probably say to yourself that saving a couple bucks on a light bulb per year is not worth your time.
It is worth your time though. Check out the DTE energy website. Switching an old light-bulb to an energy efficient one can save you around 5 bucks per light per year. That doesn't sound like much but multiply that by the 30 lights in your house and the money starts piling up.
The second change I made was to start concentrating on turning lights off when not in use. This one is another easy one. It was amazing the amount of electricity my house was wasting when I first started becoming a "light on" watchdog.
The first thing I discovered was that we ran a few lights 24/7. My daughter left her light on in her room all the time (4 lights plus a ceiling fan). We left a closet light on in the master bedroom all the time (2 more lights). We left our light on outside 24/7 (100 watt light). Needless to say, the light watchdog (me) does not allow these types of things to happen anymore!
The third change I made which is also an electricity savings is to focus on unplugging "vampire" devices. Vampire devices are things like cell phone chargers that are not charging cell phones or coffee pots that are on but not in use.
After I started concentrating on vampire devices, I noticed that my wife and I both always left our phone chargers plugged in all the time. We had a tv downstairs equipped with an old stereo system and a Nintendo Wii plugged in constantly although we used the whole package 2 times a year. We also left our coffee pot on 24/7 along with our computer at night. All of these things are now unplugged when not in use.
Those three things were the changes I made in terms of electrical savings. I know they are definitely working because my electricity bill is appx 50 dollars cheaper a month compared to the same months last year. I still have some work to do though.
More changes. I live 30 miles from my work so gasoline is a major cost for me. Mrmoneymustache would say to move closer to my work but my situation does not allow that. That being the case, I started thinking of ways to limit my fuel consumption to work.
The first thing I did to limit gas consumption was to plot out my trip to work on google maps. After doing this, I found out that by going a different route I could shave off a few miles from my commute. A few miles doesn't sound like a golden ticket but the miles I saved with the new route calculated out over the year equaled appx 100 dollars saved. Better than a sharp stick in the eye!
The second thing I am doing to limit gas consumption is one that anybody can do. SLOW DOWN. This sounds funny to say especially to those of you that have driven with me in the past but going fast is a waste of gas... sounds pretty catchy eh?
Before I started trying to cut costs, I used to drive very fast on the freeway. I would zip by all the other cars while making it to work in around 30 minutes. When I would drive like this, I would get 26-27 mpg in my HHR. I now drive 68-70 on the freeway. My commute is five minutes longer than it used to be but I get around 30-33 mpg. This is a savings of close to 700 bucks a year. I can leave five minutes earlier for that kind of cash!
The last thing I have added to my "cheap" repertoire is using a programmable thermostat. I have always had a programmable thermostat in the house but had "never gotten around" to programming it. That was a mistake. I now have the thermostat programmed at 68 during the day and 62 during the night.
I have only been doing this for a month but mrmoneymustache says you can shave 10 percent off of your heating bill by doing this. The temps do get a bit chilly at night but I am rarely up past 11 pm which is when the heat goes down to 62. I can add another blanket on at night for that kind of savings!
That pretty much wraps up the changes I have made in the past 6 months towards living a more efficient lifestyle. These changes along with the gardening/homesteading things that I was previously doing add up to a lot of savings for my family this year.
I urge anybody that reads this article to check out mrmoneymustache.com and to also challenge themselves to try to live a more efficient lifestyle. I am by no means living like an amish but the changes I have made have been for the better!