Making ends meet during these tough economic times can be Ö well Ö tough! For me, nothing is more annoying than watching my monthly utilities spike upward during even the worst economic times. Then, adding insult to injury, it seems government just canít be happy without dipping even further into my bank account to fund some sort of new legislation, resulting in higher taxes.
To help offset the constant siphoning of my hard-earned money, I have no reservations about clipping out a coupon to save a dollar on cottage cheese or driving an extra block or two to save a few cents per gallon of gasoline. When I eat out, I refuse to have a Coke with my burger. I drink water instead. Itís free (and itís much healthier).
It makes me feel good that Iím saving a little here and there to defray my overall monthly expenses. But in the end, those measures only help a little. Itís the big monthly "siphons" of my hard-earned money that really get me riled.
Ask yourself, "what are my biggest monthly expenses and what can I do about them?"
I mentioned utilities. Next to a house payment, your monthly gas and electrical bills can be among your biggest constant monthly expenses. They come to us rain or shine. Monthly. You either pay them or youíre cut off. But rest assured. They. Will. Come. Every month.
Let me share something I learned several years ago regarding my gas and electric bill. I live in a cold climate in a remodeled 2000 square foot rambler with a full basement. I have two furnaces to heat 5 bedrooms, an office, two living rooms and one family-kitchen great room. During our first 6 years, after the remodeling, we controlled both furnaces thermostatically to keep the whole house warm and cozy.
Then, about three years ago, it occurred to me that I spend 90% of my time on those cold winter nights in just one large room in the house. I said to myself "duh! Why donít you just heat the room youíre in? Why heat the unused or unoccupied rooms when I spend most of my time with the family in just one room, especially during the hours of 5:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M.?"
Think about it. Conceptually, most central furnace systems are designed to heat every room simultaneously, with no regard for room occupancy during the heating cycle. Then how is it possible to heat only one room at a time? The answer is Ė drum roll please Ö GET A ROOM HEATER! Thatís right, turn your furnace down or off and use a room heater to only heat the room youíre in.
Sounds too simple, right? Yet true. All you need is an electric room heater, vent free gas heater, wall heater or direct vent fireplace. I call them zone heaters. By operating a zone heater or fireplace solely, youíll be surprised how well you can heat fairly large living rooms and even connected spaces. No more heat wasted through ductwork into unoccupied areas. In my case, Iím able to heat my entire upstairs living space just by operating my 25,000 BTU direct vent fireplace. I run it for long stretches on the coldest days, and for shorter periods on milder days.
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