FinanceHome & Garden

Every Home’s Free Heating and Cooling Devices

Who doesn’t love learning about a money-saving tactic or investment that results in a net savings of thousands of dollars a year? I sure do! And I can count on maybe two fingers how many of those I’ve managed to deploy in my home in the past decade.

It’s easy to think that the tiny things we can do to save money just aren’t worth the time and trouble. But they are because of the cumulative effect. Small things repeated often bring huge results. I call them little ways to save big.

Open or Close Your Windows

Your house or apartment is full of free heating and cooling devices. They’re called windows. Using your windows for more than letting in light is a great way to save some serious scratch. If you live where it’s cool at night and warm during the day open your windows at night to let the cool air in and close them in the morning to keep the warm air out.

Use your curtains and blinds to block out the sun and keep daytime cooling costs down. Of course, if you live in a colder climate, throwing your curtains and blinds open when the sun is shining can easily raise the interior temperature of your house a few degrees.

Unplug It

Time it, sensor it, put it to sleep and smart-power-strip it. One way or another, drive a stake into the heart of phantom power drains. You could enjoy a decent dinner and movie for you and someone special once a year (including a generous tip) with money saved by unplugging unused devices.

Smart power strips come in three types: timer, motion sensitive and current sensing. Think about which option is best for your situation. You’ll recoup the money you invest in these kinds of devices, many times over.

Discounted Gift Cards

Treat yourself to something special like dinner and a movie or that new power tool you’ve been eyeing and do it for 10-, 20- or even 30-percent off. Or get tricky with getting the supplies you need for a home repair or clothes you’ll need in the coming months for a lot less.

Go to to purchase gift cards at discounted prices. (This is a site that aggregates available gift cards from many sites on the Internet that trade, buy and sell gift cards on the secondary market.)

Now, combine your already discounted gift card with sales to double or even triple your savings.

Discounted gift cards are available in abundance at this time of year because many people received gift cards for Christmas that they could not use. Rather than get nothing, they sell them at a big discount to get something they can use (like cash)! Or they trade them for gift cards they can use. The result is that many gift cards become available for sale at a significantly-lower-than-face-value price — legally and legitimately.

Buy Off-Season

Who buys an air conditioner in January or a snow blower in May? Savvy shoppers looking for steep discounts, that’s who! It costs retailers more to keep seasonal merchandise in a warehouse until next year than it does to sell it at seriously discounted prices. The reason is that not only does warehouse space cost money, but it also takes time, fuel and labor to move goods from stores to warehouses and back again. Not to mention that when an item is in storage until next season, so is that store’s money. Whenever possible, plan your purchases for the end of seasons to save.

Cleaning Calendar

Clogged filters and vents on appliances, HVAC (heating ventilation air conditioning) and cars cause them to operate less efficiently, requiring more energy to operate. Unfortunately, they are incredibly easy to forget about, so put them on a rotation. Schedule these simple tasks on your kitchen calendar or smartphone on a regularly recurring basis. Make a day of it every three or six months. Call it Filter Friday and use that day to check, clean or replace each of your household, garden and automotive filters and vents.

This article was contributed by Mary Hunt.

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