Take advantage of recession bargains and rebates
Saving money is something most people strive to do in everyday life. The economy is not great right now, but it has some benefits for you as a consumer. Consumer Reports has put together a four-part blog at consumer reports.org that lists the best recession bargains now. These bargains, along with some simple adjustments to your home life, can save you money now and later.
Desktop computer prices dropped from $575 to $475 between 2007 and 2008, so now is the time to find that new computer you want. CR recommends looking for deals on older models in early fall or right after the December holidays. Order online and customize your PC or laptop to your own needs. That way you're not paying for features you don't want. Find special deals at sites like www.dealcatcher.com and www.cheap stingybargains.com, or visit the site of your favorite manufacturer and type in "deals."
Even if you're not in the market for a new computer, there are ways to save money with your current desktop. According to Energy Star, enabling power management features not only saves electricity but allows the computer to emit less heat, which means your home cooling system also saves energy. Setting your computer to automatically switch to sleep when not in use also helps the equipment last longer.
Many electronics in your home still use energy when they're turned off. Save money by using a power strip for these energy siphons. That way you can turn power off at the source. Using a power strip with surge protection can also save costly electronics in the event of a power surge.
Another bargain you can look for is major appliances. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes $300 million to pay for state-issued consumer rebate programs for Energy Star-qualified appliances, according to www.energystar.gov. For a list of programs currently available in Florida, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.
Not ready to buy new? There are small adjustments you can make to save with your current appliances.
Heating water for the washer accounts for 90 percent of the energy used to wash a load; only 10 percent of the energy goes to power the washer motor. "Switching to cold water can save the average household more than $40 annually with an electric water heater, and more than $30 annually with a gas water heater," according to Energy Star. Washing full loads can save you more than 3,400 gallons of water each year.
How about your refrigerator? If your fridge was made before 1993, it is using twice as much energy as a new Energy Star qualified model. These units can cost $90 or more per year to operate, and replacing your older model can save you $45 to $65 per year.
Use the right pot size on stove burners. A 6-inch pot on an 8-inch burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat and slows cooking time. Better yet, take your cooking outdoors to a gas or charcoal grill and keep the kitchen cool.
Rinsing dirty dishes before loading them into the dishwasher wastes water and energy. Scrape instead. The wash cycle and detergent will take care of the rest in today's efficient models.