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Don’t let high electricity bills burn up savings

With household debt at historically high levels, small surprise thatnearly half of all Canadians confess to living paycheque to paycheque.

With household debt at historically high levels, small surprise that nearly half of all Canadians confess to living paycheque to paycheque.

And, judging by my inbox, many of you despair about ever getting ahead.

Forget the big picture for the moment. It just makes your head ache.

Instead, focus on creating a little financial buffer by saving a few dollars on everyday expenses.

With winter approaching it’s an excellent time to reduce your electricity footprint. I tackled mine three years ago.

My husband and I live in a leaky 160-year-old stone house so our experience won’t match a townhouse dweller.

Still, every buck not spent is a buck back in your pocket.

With very little effort we saved at least $150 a month, or $1,800 a year.

1. I had an ancient fridge in my basement chugging away.

The Ontario Power Authority hauled it away (and will still do so) for free.

Check your own jurisdiction. BC Hydro, for instance, picks up 10 to 24 cubic foot fridges gratis and gives you $30 to boot.

2. I’ve always been pretty good at turning off lights but I went one step further, turning off power bars, the satellite receiver and everything else that had a standby setting.

3. We changed to incandescent bulbs in low traffic, non-reading areas.

We initially switched everything but found they didn’t provide enough illumination for intensive reading or computer work.

4. We weather-stripped, caulked like crazy and applied plastic film to windows facing the north westerly’s.

5. The temp got tweaked and we adapted pretty well to higher air conditioning and lower heat settings.

I estimate that about $80 of that $150 monthly savings was through heating and cooling alone.

6. It’s become a matter of pride in our house that we use the dryer only for emergencies — for example, when it’s 10 p.m. and someone forgot to hang out the sheets.

I now actually prefer the crinkly feel of air-dried clothes and no longer use those icky anti-static sheets.

Voilà! $150 saved monthly=$23,636 over 10 years at an average five per cent rate of return. Even more if you put it in your RESP or RRSP.

Alison Griffiths is the author of the upcoming book Count On Yourself: Take Charge of Your Money. Reach her at alisongriffiths.ca or griffiths.alison@gmail.com.

 
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