Avoid ugly utility bills this winter with easy makeovers for the most expensive rooms in your home.
Because food is one of the largest expenses, buying smart can yield massive savings. Kelly Whalen, founder of The Centsible Life (thecentsiblelife.com), champions cooking at home from a pre-determined, repeating meal plan. Whalen encourages taking one day each week to `clean out the fridge' of leftovers and things that need to be eaten. After all that home cooking, open the oven door to let the heat warm the house. Another trick: Stop the dishwasher and open the door to let dishes air dry.
For such a tiny space, the laundry room consumes a lot of resources. The primary culprit is the dryer. Use an indoor rack to cut down on dryer use. A good washing machine will help cut costs by extracting the most water from the clothes and using less water for washing. Washing in cold water will cut the heating bill, but is not always practical. Consider replacing old tank water heaters with heat pumps that only heat water as needed. (This saves money in the bathroom, too!)
In the living room, avoid cranking up the heat by investing in cozy blankets so you can cuddle up. Whalen recommends decreasing cable services, renting games and DVDs instead of buying, and being a smart consumer of big ticket items like TVs, sound systems and gaming consoles.
Lela Davidson is a former CPA with foam on her garage door and a scribbled meal plan in her purse.