Archive for July 2013

6 Tips to ensure your summer is not ruined by a nasty hydro bill

It is summer and it is July and it can only mean one thing: hot and soaring temperatures that can only be weathered by a cool and

lower hydro bill during the summer

Taking some simple steps can ensure a lower hydro bill during the hot summer months, while still enjoying a cool home.

blasting AC! But we all know what that means for your pocket: a nasty bill at the end of the month or cycle. So how can you ensure you enjoy your summer without having to worry about a high hydro bill? here are some of the best tips to save on electricity this summer while still enjoying it:


Plan ahead

Scan the weather forecast for the next 5 days. Those days with temperatures of 30° (90 °F) or more and with high humidity, it is best to spend them somewhere in a cool place, be it a mall, the beach etc. Unless you are at work, spending these hours outside of your home can add up to significant savings, as you won’t have to turn on your AC.  And if you have a programmable thermostat (Nest Learning Thermostat is a good one) , your job will be easier: you can simply program your unit to either turn off or put it on a more energy-saving mode when you are not home.


Avoid cooking

Cooking, especially those dishes that make use of the stove for more than an hour, can heat up your home even more than it already is. On these hot days, avoid using the stove (if you have an electric one, that will add even more to your hydro bill) and just eat a sandwich or something cool (fruits, vegetables etc.)


Use a Fan

Using a fan, together with the AC, will ensure the cool air is transported to other areas of the house without having to crank up the AC to the full. Fans don’t cost much to operate so be sure to use one or more in your home. In fact, when the temperature is not too hot, using a fan without an AC will suffice.


Keep your AC at or above 25 C (78 degrees F)

This is by far one of the most effective methods for a lower hydro bill during the summer. At this temperature, your AC doesn’t have to work as hard and as a result won’t have to use too much electricity. It may still feel hot at this temperature, but after a few minutes, you will get used to it and feel comfortable.


Keep curtains closed

This is an easy one and doesn’t take much effort.  keeping the sunlight from your home will ensure it remains cooler. And the sooner you close them, starting at around 11 AM, the better.


Maintain your AC Unit

Last but not least, much like a car, your Air Conditioner needs to be maintained and tuned for proper and optimal operations. One of these is to change the filter, something you can do yourself. And for an annual maintenance check, call a licensed HVAC tech. These will save you at least 5-10% if not more, savings that can add up together with other measures already mentioned above.


Like already mentioned, there are literally hundreds of methods by which you can lower your hydro bill. A simple google search will give you more ways and tips on how to do this. You will be surprised at how many things you currently do-or don’t do-that contribute to a higher bill.


Making the minimum payment on your credit card balance is a trap

When you see the ‘minimum payment’ (MP) field on your credit card statement, think of it as your credit card’s way of making

Don't fall for the bank trap of paying only the 'minimum payment' on your credit card balance!

Don't fall for the bank trap of paying only the 'minimum payment' on your credit card balance!

you feel good and not to worry. It is their way of telling you “Don’t worry, though you have thousands to pay us, you only have to pay us a fraction of it this time”

It sure makes some of us feel good, that things are not as bad as we thought they were. Let us say your credit card balance is close to $2000, a pretty heavy balance. If your CC company tells you that your minimum payment is only $30, you sure will think it is no big deal and that you can pay it. But problem is, these minimum payments are not there to make you feel good, even though it does help. It is a way for the credit card companies to get you further in dept and at the end of the day earn more interest money from you. Remember, the bigger and the longer your balance lasts, the more interest you will be paying.

It is a trap that credit card companies don’t want us to get out of, despite what they tell you or try to portray as trying to help you pay your balance.  The only good thing about making MP is that it is the limit at, or above which you won’t be penalized by the your CC company.

How is the minimum payment on credit card balance calculated?

There is no standard or universal formula for what the minimum payment is. Each credit card company has their own way of calculating it. Other factors that come into play as well include the balance, the interest rate, your credit standing etc. But generally speaking, the following formula is a good way to find out:

1-Find out your credit card interest rate: Let us assume this is the standard 18%
2-Find out your balance: Let us say this it is $2000

Based on the information above, your minimum payment can be calculated as follows:

($2000 x 18) / 100 =  $360 / 12 months =  $30           (18 is your interest rate)


($2000 x 0.18) / 12 = $30

-I generally prefer the second method but it is a matter of preference and what you are comfortable with.


How much should you pay?

Depending on each individual situation, the minimum payment can vary from person to person. If you are really struggling and can barely make a minimum payment, then by all means, that should be your maximum payment. Otherwise and if you are doing OK, it is best to at least double or even triple your MP. So if your MP is $25, try to pay $50 or even $75.  Another way is to alternate each month, with one month paying double your MP and tripling it next month and so on. This way, and assuming your balance doesn’t go up further, you will be paying your payment a lot sooner.

Another way to pay off your balance sooner is to commit to a specific timeline. For example, you can specify 12 months as the time you will need to pay off your balance and bring it to zero. The monthly payments – or those in between- will obviously be bigger but at least you will save on paying more interest.  To be specific, given a balance of $2000 and APR of 18%, you would need to make monthly payments of about $190 to eliminate your balance in one year. This would cost you only $201 in interest for 12 months. Compare that with making only minimum payment of $40 per month. It would take you some 20 years and $3,863 in interest!


So, make it a rule and a habit: when you see ‘MP’ on your credit card statement, just ignore it completely and instead, multiply it by 2 or 3 at least, if not more. That is the payment you should be making.


The following links are useful for helping you calculate your CC interest rates, minimum payments, balance etc: