September 19, 2011 8:59 AM
With the exception of a mortgage payment, the largest homeowner expense is utilities and energy is the major component. There are lots of contributing factors such as air leaks, insulation, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters and lighting.
It's estimated that 75% of the electricity to power home electronics is consumed when the products are turned off. Computers, monitors, TVs, cable and satellite boxes, DVRs and power adaptors are spinning your electric meter even when they're not being used.
Unplugging devices can actually make a difference in the size of your electric bill. Plugging several of these offenders into a power strip with a single on/off switch may make the task easier. Most computers have options to put them into sleep mode or even turn off when not in use.
Take 3 1/2 minutes and watch Energy 101. Considering hiring a professional home energy auditor or do-it-yourself. The Department of Energy has a checklist with some valuable suggestions.
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May 10, 2010 7:11 AM
Got a little extra money every month that you're trying put away for a rainy day but you're feeling frustrated about finding a good yield on the savings? The answer may be a lot closer than your thought...you can invest in the the equity of your home by paying down the mortgage.
The interesting thing about this approach is that if you were to invest in a CD, you would owe income tax on the interest earned each year. On the other hand, you're reducting the amount of interest you would be paying on your mortgage which will save you money and not create a taxable event.
In today's market, a money market account might earn .81% compared ot the 5% paid on the mortgage would be over 6 times the yield.
If a person does embark on this program, it will be their responsibility to verify that the lender is applying the money to the principal each time as opposed to being placed in the reserve account for taxes and insurance.
Another consideration would be how soon you might need the money. If you were going to need it in the immediate short term, it could be more costly for you to retrieve it from your equity unless you use a home equity line of credit which would probably carry a higher interest rate than your first mortgage.