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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
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Smart Home: Green + Wired

For great ideas on how to save money and be green, visit Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry's new exhibit, Smart Home: Green + Wired.

The house – and the exhibit is actually a full-scale house – is a modular home powered by solar energy and a wind turbine. Everywhere you turn in the house is another motivating idea or innovative product. I was completely jazzed after my visit. If you live near Chicago -- go see this exhibit. If you don't, visit their website for a virtual tour.

One thing about visiting this type of exhibit, while we can't easily do all the things the home shows us about energy conservation, there are many ideas that we can incorporate into our own homes to save energy and money.

Here are some ideas that you can do today:

  • Reverse the rotation of your ceiling fan blades. In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the clockwise direction. While standing directly under the ceiling fan you should feel a cool breeze. The airflow produced creates a wind-chill effect, making you "feel" cooler.
  • Unplug chargers for cell phones, portable music players, or other portable devices; these devices draw energy even when they're not being used. OR, purchase a plug strip that will turn off this power drain when the item is in "sleep mode." This is a new gadget I've recently purchased for my home.
  • As your light bulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Replacing six incandescent bulbs with CFLs can save more than 4% on annual energy costs.

Saving money on energy is a big plus. However, it's not only our own budgets that suffer when we don't practice energy conservation -- our society's budget suffers too. Pick a few new conservation practices that you can adopt this summer. Every little bit makes a difference.

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