# 1 - Hot Water/Showers - Heat is one of our highest costs and if you don't have to pay the bill then the more heat the better. So why not take a nice long hot shower, not once but maybe twice or more a day. What is the big deal - ah wasted water and wasted heat and both cost money/resources! I'm happy to report we try to limit our time in the shower to what is necessary...and an occassional treat of a little longer one. That said my son has discovered that cold water showers are actually healthier for you - yeah! And he may be on to something check out this link 7 Healthy Benefits for Cold Shower or hydrotherapy.
#2 House Heating - Heat for our housing was also a biggie. Now in Canada the winters can be cold and most people heat with oil, gas or electric (some passive solar and/or wood too). Picture this: teenage son in his room and he flicks up the heat since it is 'freezing in here' he says as he is dressed in only boxer shorts. Before he goes to bed he opens his window (February of course), since he needs fresh air and heat. Yep - it happens, been there...but not any more - we live in a passive solar house so there is no heating to waste, at least that we pay for....he can open the window in February but then he will have to put on a sweater....moo ha ha.
#3 Food Waste - From my experience our families really want short order cooks in the kitchen 24 hours a day. Want and need are two different things and while my mother told me if you don't like what we are eating, you can make a peanut butter sandwich - I thought I will encourage my children to cook. And they are very good at cooking, I might add, one is a chef and other one could be if he wanted. Now while this is a great skill for them to the have when they move out, not so great for when they live home. Why you ask? Well now they don't eat what we eat (telling you after you made it), they also cook at any time of the day.....creating a greater potential for food waste. Leftovers present the greatest problem for food waste...that and having your fridge so full you can't see what you have. We are working on this one but leftovers are few and far between now, and we buy enough for a few days rather than fill the fridge all at once. Article on from CBC on wasted food.
#4 Electric Waste - It seems so small but it can sure add up leaving things plugged in. Ipods, computer cords, phone chargers and the list goes on and on. It is called phantom load check out this article on it. Now if the cord is attached to the device ok but most of the time you find the plug in the wall with no device to be seen in sight. Another awesome resource is Maritime Electric's house tour - very informative and nicely done.
#5 Leaving appliances/lights on - Have you ever left home and returned to find that every light is on in the house (Lights are on but no one is home!) - oh and no one is home. In our new house we put in motion sensor outdoor lights so if you aren't within a certain area they don't turn on. Great savings.
#6 Overuse of Appliances - Here is a good news/bad news type of situation. Son washes his own clothes - yes! Then removes one shirt and turns the dryer on a full load....not so good. For months we played the mom unplugs the dryer since she doesn't use it, while son plugs it back in to touch up his shirts so they are warm! New house has no dryer - problem solved. :-) Another good one is using the stove's oven part to heat up a few fries rather than the toaster oven. If the appliance is heat based then this has the potential to create wasted energy use...of which you pay for. We found that when we starting fitting the use to the appliance that we didn't actually use the oven much sold it with the house and bought a Breville Smart Oven - love it and it is easier on electricity.
#7 Buying stuff you don't need - This is a hard one. We have struggled and although we are getting better, it is difficult. We found asking the following helped: 1) Do I need it or want it? need buy, want no. 2) Do I have something else already that can be fixed or altered to work? yes - don't buy, no-buy. 3) Can you borrow it, if it only a temporary or one time use such as equipment? Yes -then borrow, no - consider renting and if you need it then buy 4) Can you get it at a lower price? or Get it second hand? Yes then do it. etc. You get the idea. The next very useful thing we did was become accountable to each other on our spending by writing it down - this saved some purchases! We also found in our new house that we intentionally limited our storage space so that we wouldn't be tempted to get 'stuff' since now we also had to think - where will it go?
#8 Banking - Banksters was a term I saw that made me laugh - Best advice - question everything and review everything, yes they do make mistakes. Consolidate your banking accounts (chequing) to one joint account since you will save time and money by reducing your service fees. Look closely at your savings vs your interest being paid. One person told me they have money taken off each cheque to go into a Canadian savings bond but they have a balance they pay interest on their credit card. You earn 1% on the savings bond if you hold it for a year while you pay 8%-30% on the outstanding credit card balance - pay down the debt on the credit card makes more sense. Pay off your loans/mortgages as fast as you can - Mort (Death) - Gage(Pledge) or Death Pledge to translate your mortage.
#9 Transportation - It would be lovely to own an electric car powered by renewable energy, however that costs money and we will save for it. In the meantime we are very good to group our trips and map out our errands to save on gas/mileage. Bike, walk and car pool where we can too. It all adds up.
#10 Housing - smaller is easy to heat, clean, maintain, and prevents accumulating stuff! We downsized from 2,600 square feet to 1,600 square feet to our now 1,200 square feet house. Three bedrooms and 1 bathroom, all I need to clean :-)
So tell me - what are you doing to save money and the environment since they seem to be related :-)