Saving: Room by Room

March 11, 2008 6:46:13 AM PDT
If inflating bills make you cringe you are not alone. Rising gas prices, utility prices and grocery prices have forced everyone to reexamine how they spend. We went through two families homes to find out where they can cut costs with a home audit.

Catherine Guagenti and Stephanie Dudley have busy families and are always looking for ways to save money.

"It takes two incomes to run a household so anywhere we could cut some corners and save some money are all definitely appealing to a family," Catherine said.

Catherine's family of four lives in Pennsauken, Camden County. That's were we met up with Joe Fuhr from the American Consumer Institute and who's a professor at Widener University.

The first thing he noticed in Catherine's home was the clocks.

"You have a clock here and now you have a clock there you're using electricity for the clocks," Joe said.

His solution, plug into a power strip appliances that don't have to run all the time then shut the strip off when you don't need it.

That is especially important for your microwave.

"It uses more electricity to run the clock then it does to actually run the microwave during the year," Joe said.

He also doesn't suggest buying bottled water.

"People used to always use water bottles, now they go out and buy bottled water which is you know a tremendous cost," he said.

For groceries try to buy in bulk but remember to use it!

"If you start throwing some of the stuff away the bulk is not going to save you money."

Also do your math. Compare the sale prices to what the cost breaks down per ounce of the item. Just because the 32-ounce jar may be on sale, it may still be cheaper to buy two of the 16-ounce jars instead. And shopping online can help control impulse buying, especially if you shop with your kids.

Trim your water bill by placing water conservation devices on all of your faucets.

"That can cut back a third to half of the water being used at one time," Joe said.

"I never thought to do the faucets," Catherine said.

Another big cost cutter is to think about "operating" costs of things. Like that "free" printer you got with your computer that you still have to supply with ink cartridges.

"It could be anywhere from 2 cents to 13 cents that you're paying per page," Joe said.

Operating costs also apply to your razors! The actual razor itself may be inexpensive but the replacement heads are not.

"You have to take into account how much the blades are because that's what you use all the time."

And simply drying the blade after use will extend its life.

In Stephanie's Northeast Philadelphia home, she had a big no-no.

"The chargers are using a bunch of energy and you're not charging anything," Joe said.

"You caught me I'm guilty yeah."

Stephanie told us all her electronics were off but they are still using electricity.

"You have a light here, a light here and a light there."

Plug them into a power strip and flip it off!

"If you keep all your doors closed you know that keeps the heat in the room and not out in the corridor."

And wrap up your hot water tank to keep it warm.

"If you put a blanket around it it's going to cut back on its use."

For both families, Joe said they could save between $40 and $50 a month. Something Catherine and Stephanie both liked to hear.

Another tip, switch your bulbs to the compact fluorescent light bulbs. Each uses about 75-percent less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs and can last up to 9 years.