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Saving Money Simply Starts at Home

When on a tight budget and trying to cut costs on the home front, buying new appliances may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But conserving electricity around the home and reducing your electrical bill doesn t have to involve buying the most expensive energy-saving products. For those looking to reduce their electricity bills a little, several small options exist.

To start, disconnect appliances that are plugged in and not in use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, close to 75 percent of all electricity is used to power devices that are plugged in but switched off.

Daniela García, director of the NationalUniversity s Sustainable Campus Program, said the most common devices that are not in use but still draw electricity are phone chargers, laptops and coffeemakers.

An average electric coffeemaker draws about 750 watts when in use and can still use close to 50 watts when idle. In Costa Rica, at up to ¢50 ($0.09) per kilowatt-hour, an un-perked pot of coffee can spoil your electric bill.

Though it seems simple, many people tend to forget about disconnecting the little things, García said. But with a little extra thought, decreasing the month s spending can be easy.

Reducing the consumption of electric energy is important for the home and the environment, she said. In this way, you can gain in life quality and in money for your pocket.

García also recommended opening doors and windows instead of using a fan or air conditioning and taking advantage of natural light whenever possible.

As for lights that must be turned on, Genier Guzmán, administration manager for La Cusinga, an eco-lodge near Uvita on the southern Pacific coast, recommends Best Value lightbulbs. These high-efficiency bulbs cost a bit more than normal bulbs about ¢2,000 ($3.50) each but Guzmán said the return is quick and worthwhile.

My wife changed the bulbs in her parents house to Best Value and the bill came down by about 15 to 20 percent, he said. Best Value lightbulbs use only 10 to 20 percent of the energy typical light bulbs require.

Though energy-efficient appliances have helped Guzmán reduce energy costs over the years, he agrees with García that the easiest way to cut costs is by doing the simple things.

He recommends checking electrical wires to make sure they are installed correctly and all the cables are up to date. A simple change of an outdated wire can provide a 30 percent reduction in electricity consumption, he said. And for those interested in the hotel management side of things, Guzmán has a few tips to help cut bulk purchase consumption.

La Cusinga uses only liquid soap in the showers to eliminate the need to throw a useful bar of soap away after a guest leaves. With liquid dispensers, clients use only the amount of soap necessary, without leaving behind waste.

The hotel also uses compost to improve soil and eliminate the cost of buying fertilizer for its garden all in the name of waste and cost reduction.

It s simple really, he said. You just have to make the best use of things. If you reduce a little bit each month, in the end it will make a big difference.



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