According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical U.S. family spends approximately $1,300 a year on home utility bills, of which 44 percent goes for heating and cooling. In fact, the average American household's annual utility bill is expected to rise to about $2,000 by 2015.
If your home has a fireplace that is not adequately "weatherstripped," it's like leaving a door or window open. You're losing expensive warmed air in the winter and cooled air in the summer. Today's first reader has a terrific recommendation for how you can easily take care of this problem and pocket some serious energy savings.
Heat lost up the chimney. Last year, I bought two Battic Round Fireplace Plugs. They look a lot like little life rafts. You insert them up against the flue and inflate them, sealing out the draft. The difference in our heating bill the month after installing them was astounding. Flues rarely fit snugly, and so much heat is lost up the chimney. I have no affiliation with the company, but I certainly have not been shy about recommending it to my friends.
- Chris, email
Freeze the marinade. My family loves to eat beef, and it's easy on my food budget to be able to use less expensive, tougher cuts and have them turn out great because of the marinade. Whenever possible, I stock up on meat, whip up different marinades and freeze the meat in the marinade after the flavors have had a chance to mix. I write the marinade flavor on the outside of the bag and pop it in the freezer. Because I began marinading the meat before it was frozen, it's ready to cook once it thaws.
- Kim, email
Lone earring ideas. I am sure every woman alive has lost one earring from a pair. I don't throw out the lone earring. Instead, I use it for other things, like creating a little stick pin for a lapel, scarf or coat. I also make candle decorations, heating the earring stud with a flame and sticking it into the side of a candle while it's still hot.
- Lyn, email
Timers save on standby power. I use timers to limit standby power. I have a timer on my home computer, printer, router and other peripherals. I have the timer set so that these machines are off when people are not home or are asleep. I figure the timer uses less energy than if all the other units are on standby.
- Glen, Wisconsin
Frozen milk saves. Living alone, I was constantly throwing away milk because it spoiled before I could drink it. Finally, I decided to fill empty eight-ounce water bottles with milk and freeze them. Now I take out one at a time to use and no longer throw away milk.
- Annie, California
Down pillows great in the washer. I have had very good luck machine-washing my down pillows. Drying takes some time in the dryer, but they come out fluffy and nice.
- Doris, email
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