Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winter Utilities and Frugal Living -- Reduce Heating Bills

For most of the country, winter means an increase in utility bills. Heating in most areas of the United States is more expensive than cooling, although in Texas, cooling usually wins out. Your electric company may have an average billing, allowing you to pay the same amount each month. This can work to your advantage if you don't have the discipline to do this on your own.

If you can average your own electric bill, you can earn a little interest on the money before the electric company takes it. Here's how it works: If your electric bill is $150 in the summer and $250 in the winter, your average bill works out to about $200 a month. Every month that your bill is less than $200, pay yourself the difference in a savings account. If you can't make the total payment when the bill goes over $200, draw the money you need from the savings account. If you do this all year, you are averaging your own electric bill. The advantage is that you do not pay amounts early and you have that money earning interest until you need it.

Save money on your heating bill this year by turning the temperature down two degrees. If you keep the heat on 70 degrees, leave it on 68 degrees this year and save about 10 percent on your utility bill. Wear warmer clothing in the house and use a microwaveable bag to keep your feet warm. These bags are available at the drug store, and are sometimes on sale. One goes by the name of Bed Buddy and looks like a sock with sealed rice inside.

You can make your own microwaveable pal with rice in a bag. You don't even need to know how to sew. Use a fine weave fabric for the inside bag so the fine broken rice can't escape. A cup or two of rice is all you need. Pour it into the bag and tie or sew the bag closed. Place this bag in a cotton sock and sew or tie it closed.

Place this bag in the microwave for a minute to heat the rice and use it whenever you need to get warm. It works well to take to bed on a cold night or to set your feet on it while watching television. You can make one for everyone in the family much cheaper than you can raise the temperature in the house by two degrees. This microwave bag stays warm for an hour or so and can be heated over and over.

Your cat or dog may appreciate the microwaveable bag, too. If your pets stay outside in cold weather, you can cozy up the doghouse or cat bed with a warmer. The whole family gets one!