A good New Year's resolution is to slash your monthly bills. In case you've tried to do so without success, I've included some great tips, compliments of ShopSmart magazine and the publisher's penny-pinching experts that center around energy and water-savings changes.
Blinds and shades: Open them on sunny days to bring in heat. Solar heat is free. To keep heat inside, close the shades/blinds at night.
Computer: When not using it, put your computer to sleep and save $75 or more yearly.
Body heat: Expecting guests? Lower the thermostat before they arrive since a crowd generates lots of heat.
Dishes: Stop pre-rinsing them. Just scrape off food and load the dishwasher. By doing this, you'll save up to 6,500 gallons of water a year and about $75 in hot water costs.
Dryer: When a pretty day arrives, consider line drying your clothes to give the dryer a rest. Also, avoid overloading the dryer to prevent also overloading drying time.
Ducts: Insulate and seal these to cut annual heating and cooling costs by 30 percent.
Fridge: Clean it regularly; check the door seals for damage and wipe them clean to prevent leaks. Clean the coils underneath or behind the appliance.
Washer: Use cold water to save about $60 a year.
Water heater: Place a water-heater blanket that costs about $20 around the tank. This helps keep the heat inside, especially if the water heater is in a cold basement or garage.
Toilet: Upgrade the toilet; low-flow ones can save about 4,000 gallons annually, compared with about 8,000 gallons for older models.
Video games: To save as much as $125 a year, turn off and unplug the video games.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumer firstname.lastname@example.org.