Money Talk with Danny Seo

Your money has never looked greener! “Making a few changes to end our wasteful habits can mean big savings. No more money in the trash, down the drain or out the window,” says Danny Seo, author of the syndicated column “Do Just One Thing.” Check out his top tips to greenify your house and fattify your wallet—to the tune of $1,000 or more a year! Plus, enter to win our Danny-approved Eco-Friendly Gadgets Giveaway!



1. Pop Star

Twenty-five percent of your heat could be going right out the windows—if they’re poorly insulated. Double your windows’ heat efficiency with an easy trick used by top plant nursery owners: Each winter spray your windows with water, then stick sheets of bubble wrap (or heavy-duty plastic) onto the glass. Savings: $166 a year, if you spend the U.S. household average heating cost of $665 each winter


2. Chimney Sweep

“Letting heat escape can cause a huge money loss,” Seo says. A big part of the blame goes to leaky chimneys, which can suck up about 8 percent of the warmth you’re paying for. Trap it inside with a no-cost chimney plug. Cut a piece of cardboard or foam core to fit snugly inside the flue. Just remember to take it out before you light a fire. Savings: $53 a year, if you spend $665 on heating


3. Finishing Touch

The next time you paint a room, pick semigloss or satin-finish paint instead of flat. The sheen on those paints reflects more light so you can use fewer lamps. And while you’re at it, make sure bulbs have had a good dusting: Dirt dims light, and clean bulbs can increase brightness by 50 percent. Savings: $48 a year, if you use five fewer lamps and clean your bulbs


4. Black Out

It’s simple but bears repeating: Turning off the lights can put easy money in your pocket. Turn off lights you’d usually keep on all day long and you can save up to 5 cents per bulb, per day. So next time you leave the house for the day, hit the switch. Savings: $37 a year for every two bulbs you turn off for eight hours or longer


5. Wash In

Doing more laundry may not be high on your fun list, but adding to the pile can save you serious cash. Check your clothing labels carefully: A label that says “dry clean only” means a trip to the cleaners, but if it says simply “dry clean,” like many do, wash at home on the delicate cycle and hang or lay flat to dry. Savings: Up to $150 a year, what the average American household spends on dry cleaning annually


6. Freshen Up

Ease up on the laundry detergent! High-efficiency washing machines use less water, yet most of us still pour in the same amount of detergent—on average, double what we actually need. Not only is that wasteful, but that extra detergent leaves clothes stiff and faded— and can even create mold in your washer. Savings: Up to $62 a year when you wash 300 loads (the annual U.S. average)


7. Hot Stuff

We love a good hot shower, but most water heaters are automatically set higher than they need to be, at 140°. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lowering yours to 120°—a temperature difference your family won’t even notice—will save you $5 a month on your electric bill. Savings: Up to $60 a year


8. Tire-Less

Ditch your spare tire— even car manufacturers are doing it! Carrying that extra weight (an average of 50 pounds for the tire and tools to change it) can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency; losing it saves you about 3 cents a gallon. “Keep a can of tire inflator in the trunk instead,” Seo says. Savings: $26 a year, if you spend $2,900 annually (the U.S. average) at the pump


9. Cruise Around

Use cruise control when you’re driving long distances. Setting your speed means no more gas-wasting acceleration surges. Staying at an even speed between 55 to 70 mph will improve fuel economy by up to 15 percent. With current gas prices averaging $3.30 per gallon, that’s up to 50 cents off a gallon! Savings: Up to $200 according to the Center for Automotive Research


10. Curb Appeal

Mulching your yard or garden can cost you a pretty penny. Instead of buying mulch at the store (which costs about $4 per bag), get it for free from your local parks or roads departments, which regularly haul away fallen trees and limbs and grind them into mulch that’s free for the taking. Savings: $48 for a 24-by-12-foot garden with a 2-inch layer of mulch

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