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May 10, 2012

Cut the costs associated with your commute

If you commute to work every day, you know how much of a headache it can be. From traffic to the cost of gas, tolls and parking, just getting to the office every morning can be extremely stressful.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can reduce the cost of your daily commute, according to a report from the Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, version of the local news site Patch. One of the easiest ways to do this, for millions of people across the country, is to start relying on public transportation more often. These options are becoming very popular again because of the rising price of gas, but can also provide you even more savings because in some states, you are allowed to use a tax deduction for an annual discount of up to $500 on your federal filing. Your car insurance company might also give you a discount.

Taking public transportation will obviously not only help you save significantly on the gas you buy every month – even if you still have to drive a short distance to your nearest train station, bus stop or park and ride location – but will also give you more time to relax either before or after office hours, or even get some extra work done.

Of course, another great way to save money on your commute is to stick with an old standby: the carpool, the report said. Finding three people or more from your office who live in your area to share a ride to work sometimes or even every day can help to significantly reduce the amount you pay for fuel every month. Think of it this way: If you get four other people to drive to work with you every week, you’re only driving your car one day instead of five, saving not only on gasoline, but also on wear and tear on the vehicle. In addition, some states also have ride-sharing programs that allow consumers to find other people in their area who would want to participate in a carpool. Some states even incentivize participation by providing gas cards to consumers who enroll for the first time.

“From taking transit to carpooling, there are many ways commuters can save time and money getting to work,” Barry Seymour, executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, told the site, adding that these measures also have a positive impact on the environment.

But even if those measures won’t work for you, and you still have to head to the office by yourself every day, there are still a number of ways to save, the report said. The simplest is to change your driving habits so that you’re not using as much fuel. During a commute, it can be easy to fall into aggressive driving habits like speeding, braking hard and so forth in order to get to work faster, but doing so also burns significantly more fuel. In fact, aggressive driving tactics often cost consumers as much as 33 percent of their vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Further, having a lot of junk in your car can also slow the vehicle down, with every hundred pounds reducing its efficiency by as much as 2 percent.

If you want to make sure your car is running in tip-top shape, you should also stick to the routine maintenance schedule provided by its manufacturer, as well as making sure your tires are properly inflated and using the right kind of oil, the report said.

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November 23, 2011

How to Save Money on Electricity Now

The electric bill is the highest bill homeowners and renters have to pay. It is the next highest bill to the rent, which is not a variable bill. The best way to save money all around is to find ways to manipulate the variable bills. Variable bills include electric, cable, food, cell phone, and fuel costs. You can change these expenses by making minor adjustments. The following are smart tips that focus on cutting your electric expense. These tips will aid in knocking your electric bill down so you can use the extra funds for something else:

1. Take Time to Compare

When you first move to a new home, you should conduct a search for all utility companies in the area. Then, compare the costs. Each company may charge a different amount of cents per kWh. The charges may vary, but the cents can add up very quickly. Even if you are already receiving service from one company, it will benefit you to check out other utility companies. You can calculate the average amount of energy you are using each month by reviewing your electric bills. Next, plug that number in to figure how much money you would save if you moved to a different provider. If the savings are large enough, say goodbye to your current provider.

2. Insulate

Whether it is wintertime or summer time, proper insulation plays a huge part in your monthly bill. If your windows and doors are poorly insulated, your heat and coolant can escape. This causes the equipment to use more electricity to keep your home at a certain temperature. Have a technician come out and investigate your insulation. Caulk the cracks and repair broken windows. Make the necessary adjustments and you will save money.

3. Use Fans Instead of Air Conditioners

Fans use far less energy than air conditioners. They are quite effective in the summer time. One of the best tricks to getting most out of a fan is sticking it in the window and facing it toward you. That way when the wind blows, the fan will suck in the cool air and blow it your way.

4. Single Room Heaters

Using small single room heaters is another excellent way to save on electricity. They are very inexpensive and can make a room quite toasty within minutes. Once the room heats up, close the door and keep it that way. Single room heaters often have settings to turn off once the room reaches a certain temperature. That is a great money-saving feature.

5. Turn off Sleeping Appliances

When you are not watching television or using the computer, turn these items off. You may only be saving a small amount of money but remember, change adds up.

6. Maintain Your Equipment

Make sure to perform proper maintenance on things like air conditioners and heating systems. Change the filters frequently and clean the units on a regular basis. Anything that causes a device to clog will force it to work harder and use more electricity.

7. Energy Saving Light Bulbs

If you are attempting to conserve energy, you should use energy saving light bulbs. Fluorescent light bulbs and lower wattage bulbs will help to conserve the amount of energy being used.

Remember, every move you make will save you more cents for electricity. Start with these tips and think of additional creative ways to cut electricity costs. You can monitor your progress by checking your electricity bill for the next two to three months. If the new strategy appears to be working for you, continue with it.

Kelsie Larson likes to write about saving money, personal finance & credit score ratings.

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