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America’s Cheapest Family (Part 4): On Utilities

America's Cheapest FamilyThis is an ongoing series of book reviews – in parts, on money-related books.

The first is this series is called America’s Cheapest Family – Gets You Right on Money by Steve and Annette Economides. According to them, this is the guide to living better, spending less, and chasing in on your dreams!

Here’s what they have accomplished so far:

    – Paid off a house in 9 years on limited income (average income approx $35k/yr)
    – Paid cash for all their cars
    – Remodeled kitchen without a home equity loan
    – Enjoyed fabulous debt-free vacations
    – Fed a growing family (of 2+5) on a grocery budget of $350/mth
    – Put savings in the bank!

On Utilities

Lower your utilities by employing cost-saving methods.

Alternative Cooling and Heating Methods:

    1. Evaporative Coolers: Costs 66% less than conventional central air. Only works in low humidity.
    2. UpDux: These vents move cool air up to the attic when the coolers are running. Circulating air in the house cools off the house considerably.
    3. Fans: Portable fans and ceiling fans are relatively inexpensive. It’s better to invest in a better ceiling fan that has a larger-better built motor and is quieter.
    Upgrading your equipment: If your air-con unit is ancient, getting a new one which is more energy efficient can save you money.
    4. Programmable Thermostats This would only apply if you have central cooling systems that run all day.
    5. Energy saving bulbs:Use for areas where you live lights on for hours at a time.
    6. Surge Protectors: Plug all your computer components into a surge protector power strip and turn them off with the flick of a switch.
    7. Use other fuels: For them, gas appliances were cheaper to run than electrical ones.

[Editor’s note: 1, 2 and 4 are not really relevant for us.]

Reducing Water Usage

    1. Time your showers
    2. Turn off the water when you don’t need it
    3. Use high pressure/low-flow showerheads
    4. Fix dripping faucets/leaking toilets
    5. Put a filled water bottle in the toilet tank to reduce flush usage

Other ways to save electricity around the house

    1. Vacuum refrigerator coils yearly. Dusty coils make it inefficient.
    2. Hang your clothes out instead of using a dryer.
    3. Window coverings (eg. curtains) can help lower temperature by cutting out sunlight.

Managing Internet charges

    1. Would you pay for a 2nd phone line just for dial-up internet?
    2. Subscribing for DSL or Cable internet would eliminate that problem.

[Editor’s note: Nowadays, many Singaporeans rely mainly on their cellphone, and seldom use the house phone. In such cases, it might not even be neccessary to maintain a line. However, if you use dsl like Singnet, you would still have to keep your phone line, as your DSL requires it. The alternative is signing up for Broadband on Mobile with any of the 3 major telcos. My current 1Mbps BBoM plan costs me just $12.10/mth! It’s cheaper, and more mobile.]


Others in this series:
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 1): On Grocery Shopping & Budgeting
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 2): On Cars
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 3): On Housing
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 4): On Utilities
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 5): On Debt
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 6): On Staying Healthy, Entertainment & Recreation
America’s Cheapest Family (Part 7): On Vacation and The Final Payoff


America's Cheapest FamilyAmerica’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides was checked out of the National Library for the purpose of this book review. It can be found at English 332.02400973 at your Library.

Check online to see if it’s available, and check it out for free!

(Free up some money in your entertainment/education envelopes!)

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