Wealth, Personal Finance & Money

Lower Your Bills While Keeping Your Cool

As utilities throughout the U.S. propose rate increases of as much as 70 percent, many homeowners are looking for ways to lower their energy bills. Simple steps such as home sealing can lower a home's heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent, saving homeowners hundreds of dollars.

"Having an energy-efficient home is just as important in the summer as it is in the winter. Home sealing is a simple way to keep cool air in, stay comfortable, and reduce energy bills," says Steve Baden, Executive Director of the Residential Energy Services Network, a non-profit energy efficiency organization. "One of the first steps homeowners should consider is properly sealing the home. Air leaking through gaps and cracks can add up to as much airflow as an open window, and an air conditioner is one of the largest summer energy expenditures."

Sealing the home with silicone sealants limits the costly escape of cool air from air-conditioned environments. A typical home can be sealed with four tubes of GE Silicone II, meaning that $20 could save a homeowner hundreds of dollars in energy costs.

GE offers a variety of silicone and acrylic home sealing solutions that can help a homeowner have a tighter, more energy efficient home. Jeff Davis, General Manager of GE Sealants & Adhesives, recommends a premium silicone sealant for summer home sealing.

"Silicone sealants provide homes with an air and water-tight seal that creates the highest level of efficiency and protection against the elements," says Davis. "And because of its unmatched durability and adhesion, homeowners only have to seal a home once with silicone."

Money Management 101

Managing your money is a big task. But if you want to get by in this world, it’s something you have to do. It can be too painful for some, so it gets avoided. But for the people who realize it, the pain/reward relationship is well worth the trouble to spend a few minutes managing your money.

After all, money makes the world go ‘round, so make sure you get your share! And the good news is: it’s as easy as controlling what you’ve got!

Here’s what you need to make sure that you have control over your financial situation. Here are some valuable budgeting techniques to guide you in your expenses and income.

The first thing you want to do is make sure that you pay for your utilities on time and in full every month. Don’t wait until it’s too late to pay them. The second thing you need to do is make sure that you don’t have too many credit cards. Only a few credit cards are necessary to get by in life. You should consider cutting up the rest of them. And the third thing you should do you, if your bills have gotten the best of you, is to consolidate them into a single loan. This will enable you to pay them off over time without getting slammed with high interest rates.

Finally, establish a budget for yourself. This seems difficult and that’s why most people don’t do it. And because people don’t have a budget they find themselves in financial straits.

The easiest way to establish a budget is to take a draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left, write down your after tax household income. Be sure to write down the after tax amount as you want to measure available income only. After all, you don’t get to spend the before tax amount, right?

In the right column, list an average of each monthly bill. But you should also include your typical spending habits as well, like eating out, or impulse shopping. Don’t forget to include paying off your credit card as part of the bills!

Now that you have a list of income and expenses, see if there’s a way to increase your income, or reduce your expenses. Usually you’ll find a way to do a little to both.

While it seems so simplistic, so few people do it. And yet, creating a budget and sticking to it often separates the successful people from everyone else. What’s stopping you from doing it right now?