Easy Energy Saving Tips

10 Energy saving Ideas

In addition to the tips mentioned below, <a href="/node/904911">check out this infographic</a> for more ways to lower your energy bills this spring. | Infographic by Sarah Gerrity, Energy Department.

Here are just a few simple things you can do to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home as warmer temperatures arrive:

1. Service your air conditioner. Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. Also, the first day of spring could serve as a reminder to check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels.

2. Open windows. Opening windows creates a cross-wise breeze, allowing you to naturally cool your home without switching on air conditioners. This is an ideal tactic in spring when temperatures are mild.

3. Use ceiling fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.

4. Cook outside. On warmer spring days, keep the heat out of your home by using an outdoor grill instead of indoor ovens.

5. Install window treatments. Energy efficient window treatments or coverings such as blinds, shades and films can slash heat gain when temperatures rise. These devices not only improve the look of your home but also reduce energy costs.

6. Caulk air leaks. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps warm air out — and cash in your wallet.

7. Bring in sunlight. During daylight hours, switch off artificial lights and use windows and skylights to brighten your home.

8. Set the thermostat. On warm days, setting a programmable thermostat to a higher setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent.

9. Seal ducts. Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption. Sealing and insulating ducts can go a long way toward lowering your electricity bills.

10. Switch on bathroom fans. Bathroom fans suck out heat and humidity from your home, improving comfort.


Make The Most of Your Money

Make The Most of Your Money

1. Mind the traps. We all tend to think we’re good at spotting a deal – but actually we will spend more money for a cheap car in an auction just because the luxury car sold before it went for a lot of money.

2. If you pay by card rather than cash you tend to spend more money and buy unhealthier foods. Try paying by cash more frequently for your smaller purchases, particularly at lunchtimes. Even better – make yourself a packed lunch.

3. Your personality plays a big role in how good you are at saving money. Sometimes people mistakenly think our attitude towards money comes from our upbringing and our parents, but have you ever noticed that siblings can have very different attitudes towards spending? Stable extroverts are more open, comfortable and carefree about their money. Whilst people who score high on conscientiousness are better savers.

4. The rule of threes: shops and online stores often lay things out in groups of threes. Imagine you’re looking to buy a cheap computer…there will be three items of a similar spec laid out in front of you. The three items will range in price from cheapest to most expensive. By showing you the one that’s more expensive, at least two out of three consumers will always buy the computer that is the middle price, rather than purchasing the cheapest item. This is the ‘compromise effect’ that most people fall for. We are most sensitive to disadvantages when shopping and often avoid the cheapest one in case the product is no good.

5. Not all money is worth the same. You will get more pleasure from winning £25 in a lottery one week followed by £50 the next, rather than £75 all in one go. Be mindful of your money and try and enjoy any winnings, no matter how much.

6. Beware the prices that end in a nine. £2.99, £3.49 or £59. People tend to think that these prices are better value, simply because the number nine is so often used to signal a discount. Amazingly, this will have the effect on people’s minds that if they see something priced at £39 next to something valued at £35, they’ll actually buy the one costing £39 because they think it’s a discount!

7. It’s not in a name. Some studies have shown that people will buy according to their name. So for example, if your name is Frank, you might be quite likely to go for something valued at £55 because of the letter ‘F’. Crazy, but true. Fortunately, only people with certain letters in their names need to worry about this one.

8. We care about fairness. A study was done about snow shovels and whether it was ok to double the price of a snow shovel when there has been a heavy snowfall and the shovel is in demand? People were fundamentally against this because it’s not fair.

9. ‘Reference points’ are important to a buyer. This is when a consumer will be looking at the previous price prior to a discount to see what their savings could be, or they compare the price they’ve seen to what other stores are pricing the same item at. Sellers have a lot of trouble trying to control what a customer’s reference points are – if they can control which reference points you see (think shopping online or the mark-down prices in stores) they can control what price you’re willing to pay.

10. Keep your eyes peeled for tricks. The shops change their tactics fairly regularly, because consumers tend to realise after a year or so what is going on. What supermarkets tried 10 years ago isn’t what they’re doing today.

How Easy Is it to switch Utilities ?

Tips on Switching Utilities

By now you’ve probably heard the message that switching can save you money hundreds of times. But still some people get put off, thinking it’ll be too much hassle and too complicated. But is it?

A survey by comparison site GoCompare has looked at just how easy people find switching, and found home and car insurance the easiest to change, with more than 80% of adults who have switched saying it was easy.
Switching your banking accounts – whether credit card, current account or savings account – were viewed as almost as easy, with around 75% saying it was simple to switch. Positive comments about changing gas and electricity were about the same.
Communications such as broadband, mobile phones and landlines didn’t fare as well, with under 70% feeling it was easy, while mortgages were viewed the most difficult. However, more than half (61%) still said it was easy.
The difficulties with switching
For those that struggled, the survey found a third of people thought it took too long to switch. A quarter also found the process too complicated.
How to switch
The process is different for what you’re trying to switch.
For most, including insurance, credit cards, energy and telecoms, it’s well worth using a comparison site. You’ll be able to filter by the different deals and find what works best for you.
You rarely need to tell your old provider you’re leaving them, but it’s important to check. Some, including insurance policies, may auto-renew if you don’t cancel.
Others, such as most phone and broadband switches, and all energy changes, will talk to your old supplier on your behalf.

Either way it’s worth checking your final bill. It’s possible you could be owed money by your old account and it’s not always sent back to you unless you chase them.
Current accounts are slightly different as you can have more than one account at any time. To take advantage of switching offers you need to make sure your new bank is part of the switching service which guarantees payments will be automatically transferred. You’ll also need to tick a box that says you agree to fully close your old account.
If you want to switch your mortgage, pay attention to the fees and charges with both your old and new lender. You might find it’s actually more expensive to move once these are taken into account. It’s worth talking to a mortgage adviser to help find the best deal for you.

12 Money Saving Tips

12 tips for how to save your pennies

The first months of a year can be tough: our pockets are empty and it feels like a long way to the next payday… Don’t panic – clawing back cash doesn’t have to mean big changes. After all, we all know the old adage: look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves.
Here are thirteen simple tips for how to reign in the expenditure and build your bank balance back up. It’s time to have fun being frugal.

1. Check your statements

It’s not a thrilling way to while away the hours but going through your bank statements will give you a realistic sense of what you’re spending your hard-earned pennies on – and it might throw up a few surprises. It’s easy to make online purchases after a few too many glasses of wine; we can set up direct debits and forget all about them; and ad hoc golf magazine purchases can really add up. See if there’s an obvious area where you can cut back – and be on top of all your outgoings.
2. Cut back on coffees

A takeaway flat white on the way into work might not seem like an extravagance at the time, but if you’re buying a handful every week it can add up to hundreds of pounds annually. Invest in a thermos cup and take your own brew on the way to work. Or if your own concoction won’t cut it, many coffee shops including chains offer a discount if you bring your own cup.
3. Switch energy suppliers

One of the easiest switch-to-save measures is to change energy suppliers. Shop around for the best deal going and you could save hundreds of pounds. The same applies to internet and mobile phone providers. It’s also worth a haggle: ring your current provider to find out whether they can give you a better deal. If you have found some good alternative contracts out there, use them as leverage. Don’t be lazy, do the leg work!
4. Keep warm for less

To keep your heating bill down, put an extra jumper on before turning up the thermostat. Put a chunky duvet on your bed, rugs or carpets on the floors, insulated curtains in the windows and a furry blanket on the sofa. Toasty! It’s also worth going around the house and plugging any drafts under doors, or cracks in the windows, to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
5. Sell your clutter

Who needs 24 egg cups? If you have stuff you don’t need anymore, get busy on auction websites. There are websites where you can list items for free – it’s a great way to make a little bit of cash whilst clearing your house of clutter.

How to save money when abroad

Eddie Mair talks to Simon Gompertz, Personal Finance Correspondent.
6. Car share

Sharing long-distance travel on a commute to work or a journey can cut costs, with the driver getting a contribution to petrol and the passengers saving on pricey rail fares. Do you know anyone living near you who would be keen for the company? If not, websites like Liftshare.com or GoCarShare.com can help, and some companies actually offer workplace car share schemes. And remember, parking can cost an arm and a leg – particularly near a busy event or in the centre of town. Websites like parkonmydrive.com give you access to the residential driveways nearby that are sitting empty. Cheaper than a multi-storey and less corners!

It’s worth your while checking your bank statements: we can set up direct debits and forget all about them.

7. Swap ’til you drop

Why buy something if you can get it for free? Users of Swapz.co.uk can register for free and exchange a wide variety of goods and services, from futons to flying lessons. Swishing.com shows you how to organise a clothes swap party with friends.
8. Join a library

You can swap books, but you can also join a local library where you can access hundreds for free. And it isn’t just reading material that’s up for grabs. Most will offer CD and DVD rental too, as well as reading groups, film nights and great rhyme and story sessions for children.
9. Home cinema

Rather than heading to the flicks, bring the silver screen into your own home by finding a suitably large white wall and rigging up a projector. There’s an upfront cost but you’ll soon make that back. (The cost of cinema pick ‘n’ mix alone could get you a small horse.) The Oscar winning films are often available on subscription services – you might just have to wait a year or two to catch up.
10. Make do and mend

Do you know how to darn a sock? If not, it’s time to learn. Upcycling old clothes – rather than splashing out on new items – is a great way to save. Seek out some free online tutorials and learn how to mend, make alterations and even create clothes from scratch. Gok Wan eat your heart out.
11. Bulk up on veggies

A good way to save on your food shop is to cut back on meat and bulk up on the vegetables. It’s worth remembering that loose fruit and veg can be cheaper than those wrapped in plastic and pre-bagged. Think cabbages and cauliflowers! Frozen veg can be cheaper still and popping peas back in the freezer means less wastage.
12. Plan your meals

Planning out meals for the week means you know exactly what you need to buy, and will keep wastage to a minimum. Fewer trips to the supermarket also means fewer opportunities to impulse buy! Cook up some hearty casseroles, stews or soups and take leftovers for lunch to avoid exorbitant sushi purchases.