Family 411: How to give your budget a boost without leaving home

(WKEF/WRGT)

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Spending during the holidays can add up so quickly, often leaving people looking for different ways to save.

Job Marcello and his 10-year-old daughter Gwen spent a day getting their home holiday ready. For him as a single dad, the holidays are a magical time, except when it comes to money.

He said that with Christmas comes months of budget cutbacks.

"I have to find a way to make ends meet," he said. "Usually it's things like not going out to eat as much, which is tough during the holidays."

It's an option that can be effective, but it's not the only one on the table. Energy consumption can be a key way to save that's often overlooked.

"I just think of think my energy bill is going to be the same no matter what," Marcello said.

Executive Director of the University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute Ben McCall said that's not the case.

"There are many steps a family can take to save 10 percent here and 10 percent there," he said, "and pretty soon, you're talking about significant savings."

McCall suggested starting with you doors and windows, as caulking or weather stripping can make a big difference. Then, check your attic insulation, because you may need more if you can see the joists.

A programmable thermostat that drops the temperature by just 7 degrees when no one is home can also save as much as 10 percent on electric bills, and while you're at it, turn down the hot water heater, too. By default, most are automatically set to 140 degrees while the EPA recommends 120, which can save you maybe $50 a year.

Finally, check your home for 'energy vampires', which are electronics that use power even when they're not in use.

For Marcello, cashing in on those energy savings won't be the only payoff.

"I found I've been able to have much better habits because I am an example as a parent," he said. "So where I may not have been as good about turning lights off in the past or being being less wasteful, I am trying to set an example and look ahead for her future."

A lot of power companies also offer rebates on energy-saving equipment like those programmable thermostats or even insulation. Before doing any updates, it's worth a call to your power provider to see if you qualify.

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