Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Snackwell Effect: Small Binges Create Large Electric Bill

Monitoring the electric bill is an ongoing project in my home. Unfortunately, like inconsistent dieters, our money-saving results spike and wane from month to month. My home bill may suffer from the ''snackwell syndrome,'' according to the Alliance to Save Energy, a coalition of government, business, environmental and consumer groups. Here's a list of habits that can sabotage efforts to contain energy costs:

• Self-deception: ''Snackwell dieters'' are those who binge on low-fat or low-calorie treats. Driven by this form of self-deception, some dieters fail to realize that large servings of small calories can create hefty gains. Likewise, with energy consumption, our purchases of energy-efficient gadgets and appliances can be sabotaged if we use those appliances more often or unwisely.

• More gadgets: My energy bill has grown as my children have aged. Our home is wired for two desktop computers, one laptop, video game consoles and several radios for my teenage and tweenage children. The addition of other products, including big-screen televisions and other gadgets, can spike energy consumption. Therefore, if you are unhappy with your energy bill, ask yourself about recent purchases and increased use of electronics and gadgets, the Alliance says.

• Homeward bound: In tough economic times, home entertainment has become popular, and some frugal consumers are spending more time watching DVDs or recorded television shows. But a portion of the money saved from the entertainment budget may be reflected in higher electric bills. Likewise, if you're saving gas and time by telecommuting, your home energy bill may be slightly higher, according to the Alliance.

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