Week 1: Utilities

I can't think of a less fun way to part with money than by throwing it away on utility costs. And you already know the basics: turn off the water when you brush your teeth, use low-flow shower heads, only run dishwashers & washers when they are full, and something about if it's yellow... Feel free to add more at the end!

1. If you have a tank-type water heater, lower the setting to as low as you can bear. You don’t need to pay to keep that water scalding! (If the water heater goes out, look into Bosch's tankless water heaters.)

2. Change out your light bulbs for energy-saving bulbs. LEDs have come a long way to give out warm white light, and use almost no energy.

3. Re-evaluate your washing machine. Sometimes buying a new energy saving washer will pay for itself within a year with water and electricity savings.

4. Clotheslines rock. And getting your clothes “clothesline fresh” is free! You can even set up a clothesline indoors.

5. Do you have a utility deposit with the utility company? Sometimes, they make you put down a deposit when you start service. If you have been paying your bills on time for two years, you can get it back. This is YOUR money they are holding interest-free!

6. Check for water and irrigation leaks. That’s literally money going down the drain.

7. Look into grid-connect solar panels. There are some serious state and federal incentives expiring at the end of this year. The panels could be earning you money in as little as three years.

8. Fake grass. There are many companies doing this, but good fake grass looks good all year, requires no water, requires no landscaping, and stands up to dogs like a champ. Some of it is even made from recycled plastic.

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