Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
Hello, my dear budgeteers! It’s been another exciting week in the McClure household. The hubs and me officially inhabit our new apartment on Wilmington Island and so far it’s pretty wonderful. I don’t know if it’s the salt in the air from the beach five minutes away, the “island time” attitude of the locals, or the fact that me, my husband, my parents and our three animals are no longer crammed under the roof of a house that was beginning to feel like I had gone a little too far down the rabbit hole, but never the less, I can officially say again with confidence that I am an independent woman.
There was the typical bumps: The cable in the living room doesn’t work (this was deduced after four hours of troubleshooting over the phone), setting up the Internet was a nightmare, and I can’t manage to fit all of my clothes in our closet, but those things are to always be expected when one moves. Luckily for me, spending the greater part of my life as an Army brat has made me very well adjusted in terms of moving and getting acquainted with unfamiliar spaces.
The only downside to all of this is that while everyone was out enjoying themselves on the Fourth of July, I was busy moving boxes and unpacking. Despite my bitterness towards the predicament, I was delighted to see that many of my most favorite budgeteers (i.e. those who actually like me on Facebook) actually utilized the budget road trip tips in my last column. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing Instagram pictures of well-packed snack baskets. So, in addition to getting an A+ for listening to me, here are some more general money-saving tips that will help you get through the rest of the summer.
Splish, splash in moderation.
During the summer months, your water bill is often at its highest. Your filling up pools for the kiddos and fur babies, your munchkins are running around in the sprinklers, and your showering more often because of sweating and swimming. Now I’m not telling you to cut back on the outdoor fun, and for the love of God, please don’t frequent the shower less, but I am encouraging you to take shorter showers. If possible, limit the length of your shower to five minutes or less. I know this is a little impossible for women, especially when you’re having to shave everyday to stay smooth for those shorty shorts, but just keep this in mind: According to the Mother Nature Network, reducing showering time by just one minute can save 1,000 gallons of water a year.
Another cost-effective way to help lessen the blow of your water bill is to buy a water-saving showerhead. You can find these for as cheap as $10. To help put the importance of a low-flow showerhead in perspective, here’s another tidbit from the Mother Nature Network: The average non-conserving shower head has a flow rate of five to eight gallons per minute, and a water-saving unit uses about 2.5 gallons.
I’m not going to be completely insane and tell you to turn off your air-conditioner.
Let’s be realistic, while running your AC is the number one thing driving your power bill up during the summer, it’s South Georgia and unless you want to see me go all “Honey Boo Boo cray cray” on someone, you better keep my air on. Instead, there are other ways to cut costs.
One way is by letting some of your clothes air dry outside instead of running the dryer. Not only are you saving energy by not running the dryer, but this will also keep your AC from having to work overtime because you won’t believe how much heat those suckers give off. If you must run your dryer, do it in the evening when it’s cooler outside and you do not have to run the air as heavy.
You can also replace your standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. While the bulbs are initially more expensive (a pack of five fluorescent bulbs will be about $30 while a five pack of standard bulbs will be less than $10 roughly) in the long run you are saving money because you will not have to replace them as often and they will be saving you money in two areas. First, they use less-energy to light a room but they also give off less heat, which means it is one more less thing for your AC to combat.
Turning down your hot water can also save you on your energy bill. If you’re like me, you crank that sucker up in the winter because let’s face it, we delicate Southerners are just not adapted for the cold! However, in the summer, there’s no need for it to be that high. Heck, there are times when it’s so hot outside that I have to wait for my water to run cold. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, we spend $310 to $400 or more each year heating water for our homes. Turning down the hot-water heater is simple and incredibly cost effective.
If you want to be truly dedicated to reducing your power bill, there is a slightly more realistic money-saving technique when it comes to your AC. Keep this in mind: According to the Huffington Post, for each degree you reduce your air-conditioning, it’s estimated you’ll save 3 percent on your utility bills. Also, it’s always smart to turn the air up when you leave the house. I personally put mine between 77 and 78 degrees. It really doesn’t get that hot in the house when you’re not there with the television and lights on.
Well, budgeteers, those are my big money-saving tips, but just because I like you so much, here are a few more quick ones for you to tuck away in your brain bank:
— Make your own frappuccino. I actually just discovered a really cool way to do this on Pinterest. Take your left-over morning coffee (there’s always some left that doesn’t quite make a cup) and pour it into ice trays and freeze it. When you’re ready to get your frap on, toss some cubes in the blender, pour in some milk, add some sugar, and bam! You’re good to go. You can even get fancy and add chocolate syrup, whip cream and so much more.
— Water your lawn between 5-8 a.m. If you wait and water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., the heat and sun will evaporate your water.
— Keep your front and back door shut. In the words of my father: “Don’t let out all the bought air!”
Well, my dear budgeteers, I could go and on, but they only give me so much space to write. Be sure to like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrittanyDenneyMcClure and follow me on Twitter @BudgetBrittany