As I present the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches around the country, I get questions about how to save money. One of the best place to start is in our own homes.

A big expenditure for most of us comes under the heading of home energy and maintenance costs. Following are some tips that will help you keep the home fires burning without spending as much cash:

• Watch the thermostat. A little bit of change can make a big difference. Some experts says that in certain locations, it is possible to cut heating and cooling costs by up to 40% by setting your heating thermostat 4 degrees cooler and your air conditioning 4 degrees warmer.

• Wear more clothes in the winter. If you're chilly, put a sweater on or curl up under a blanket before going crazy with the heater.

• It won't help to turn the heat way up, or the air conditioning way down. Heaters and air conditioners usually run at only one speed. Set the thermostat at the temperature you want. Setting it much higher, or much lower, won't get you there any quicker.

• Use zone heating and air conditioning. Heat only the rooms you plan to use. (Experts warn that you can damage your system by shutting off too many vents. Read the system instructions or check with an expert.)

 Put an overcoat on your home. Put rolled towels at the base of exterior doors in the winter. When you're not using the fireplace, shut the damper. Avoid opening and closing the doors too frequently. Consider insulating your water pipes.

• Remember the sun. To keep your home cool in the summer, close the shades on the sunny side of the house. Conversely, in the winter, use the sun's heat by opening shades during the sunny hours.

• Go where the house is the most comfortable. If you live in a two-story home, use the laws of nature to your advantage. Heat rises, so in the winter plan activities on the second floor. Conversely, in the summer, spend more time downstairs.

• Contact your local energy company. Frequently they will have great ideas on how to reduce energy costs in your home. Some utility companies even offer home energy surveys to help customers use their resources more efficiently. These studies can help you determine the amount of savings you can enjoy by adding roof turbines, attic insulation, etc. (In some parts of the country, a properly insulated attic can pay for itself within 3-4 years.)

• When buying new appliances check to see how energy efficient they are. Data about the energy efficiency of major appliances (air conditioners, hot water heaters, etc.) is found on the Energy Guide Labels required by federal law.

• Use your washer and dryer conservatively. Try washing with cold water-some experts say it can save over 50% of the cost of washing. Wash and dry only full loads. Dry consecutive loads. Keep your filters clean.

• Save water. Use low-flow showerheads. Some estimates say they can save over $200 per year. Turn down water pressure in the kitchen and bathrooms.

• Put up an inside-outside thermometer. It will tell you when to open and shut the doors and windows.


Steve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at www.stevediggs.com or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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