(Family Features) Between navigating stores, searching for items at the top of wish lists and preparing for inevitable delays and last-minute requests, shopping for the holidays can make the most wonderful time of the year one of the most stressful times as well.
Even though the holidays seem to creep up faster and faster every year, and inflation adds an additional worry, there is still hope for your budget this season. To help reduce stress and avoid overspending on gifts, consider these money-saving tips from Regina Conway, consumer expert for Slickdeals, a one-of-a-kind online community of shoppers working together to shop smarter and save more.
Avoid procrastinating. Due to shifting shopping habits, there may be excess inventory in certain categories such as home goods. While it’s possible categories with extra inventory may see deep discounts later in the holiday season, don’t expect every item you want to be available at the last minute.
Set your budget with hidden costs in mind. When setting budgets, many people stop at the number they think they’ll spend on gifts alone. Make sure to factor in additional costs such as child or pet care services, shipping fees and travel costs so there are no surprises.
Tap into technology. Whether shopping for toys and technology or travel and home goods, starting your search by visiting a site like Slickdeals can help you find the best deals this holiday season. Deals from top retailers are vetted and voted on by a community of 12 million shoppers working together to save to help ensure you’re getting the best products at the best prices. You can also set Deal Alerts to be notified when a deal matching your criteria gets posted.
Buy online, pick up in-store. Where available – including at many big box retailers – shopping online then picking up your purchases in-store (or curbside for even more convenience) can help you avoid paying shipping fees and confirm your items will arrive on time. Some retailers even offer exclusive discounts for curbside or in-store pickup.
Take advantage of membership programs. If you haven’t been a member before, many retailers that offer memberships allow for free trials to test the perks, which often include free shipping. However, remember to cancel the trial before it auto-subscribes you for a full year. If you’ve previously done a trial, consider buying just a one-month membership to take advantage of the benefits during the holiday shopping season.
Abandon your shopping cart. When shopping online, add items you’re interested in to your cart, go through the check out process to the point where the retailer has your email address then simply close the browser or tab. Often, if you have not shopped from the site previously, the retailer will send you a discount code or coupon to incentivize your purchase decision.
Stock up on discounted gift cards. Taking advantage of discounted gift card sites is a simple way to save some cash on holiday purchases. Not only can you give a gift card you bought at a discount as a gift, you can also use it to shop. Just be sure not to overbuy or you may end up wasting unused cards.
Ask for a price match or adjustment. If you bought something and find a lower price within a week of that purchase, ask the retailer for a price adjustment. While this typically won’t work with special promotions, many stores, both online and brick and mortar, will price match during the holiday season. If you’re shopping in-store, take your smartphone with you and ask for the retailer to match online pricing, which can sometimes be a better deal. Asking for this match can save you time and money on shipping fees you might incur ordering online.
Check return policies. Many retailers offer extended return windows during the holiday shopping season. Make sure you look at the details of retailers’ policies to ensure you understand how much time you have to make returns and don’t have to pay return shipping or other unexpected costs.
Find more tips to get the best deals on holiday gifts at Slickdeals.net.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
7 Ways to Reduce Home Energy Costs
(Family Features) When building your budget, utility bills – especially the electric bill – are likely one of your largest monthly expenditures. One of the biggest culprits: home heating and cooling, which account for more than half of the average American household’s annual energy consumption, according to estimates from the Energy Information Administration.
In fact, 83% of homeowners are concerned about the impact of energy bills on their household budgets, according to a survey conducted by Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS), with 54% saying it cost “somewhat more” or “much more” to heat their homes this winter compared to last year.
To help dial down your energy costs, consider these tips from the heating and cooling experts at METUS.
Adjust the Temperature
While you’re sleeping or away from home, adjust your thermostat up 5-10 F in the summer or down 5-10 F in the winter, which can help lower annual heating and cooling costs if done consistently. A smart thermostat can monitor your energy use and behaviors then automatically adjust to make your home more energy efficient.
Look for Incentives and Rebates
Qualified homeowners may be eligible to save money on qualified home energy improvement projects. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) offers tax credits and rebates, including a credit of 30% (up to $2,000) for qualifying heat pump installation, an energy-efficient option to replace fossil fuel-burning furnaces. Other incentives under the IRA include offsetting costs of electrical panel upgrades and rebates for homes with energy usage reductions of 20% or more.
Switch to a Heat Pump
Among survey respondents, 54% ranked government incentives like the IRA as one of the top reasons they would consider installing a heat pump to replace a traditional air conditioner. Options like Mitsubishi Electric’s all-climate heat pumps use two units – an exterior heat pump, which replaces your existing air conditioning condenser, and an interior unit installed on your furnace – to deliver cost-effective, eco-efficient, year-round heating and cooling. These smart systems not only improve air conditioning efficiency on hot days, but also determine the best source of heat (gas or electricity) on cold days, so your HVAC system is always running at peak efficiency and comfort.
Have HVAC Systems Serviced Regularly
For best performance and efficiency, regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system is imperative. Keeping outdoor units free of debris and changing air filters are tasks most homeowners can handle on their own but bringing in a professional – usually in the spring and fall – can help ensure your HVAC system and all its components, including electrical and ductwork, are functioning properly.
Improve Your Insulation
Poorly insulated attics, walls, ceilings, floors and crawl spaces can lead to energy waste and increase costs by requiring more energy to heat or cool your home. Because air can escape through these spaces when your HVAC system pushes air through your home, adding insulation can help reduce losses and keep your home more comfortable.
Use Appliances During Non-Peak Hours
Rather than using your oven, stove or clothes dryer from noon-6 p.m., peak time for many electricity providers, consider doing so in the morning or later at night. Using these appliances outside of the peak timeframe, when conventional heating and cooling systems are often running full bore, can help lower energy costs. Some utilities may also offer plans that incentivize limiting energy use during peak hours.
Consider upgrading to an all-climate, multi-zone heat pump, which can seamlessly connect to multiple indoor units, revolutionizing the way you experience comfort in your home. By eliminating problematic hot and cold spots in your home, this system ensures personalized comfort tailored to individual zones and optimizes energy usage by directing it only to the areas requiring heating or cooling. Replacing an outdated HVAC system with a multi-zone solution can also help achieve cost and energy savings. By efficiently managing temperature in different zones, you can experience improved energy efficiency, resulting in a more sustainable and economical solution for heating and cooling.
Find more solutions for improving your home’s efficiency and increasing energy savings at MitsubishiComfort.com.
Alpha Motor Corporation’s Ride-Along Event: Shaping the Future of Electric Vehicles
Alpha Motor Corporation shapes the future of electric vehicles through customer-centric ride-along events. Experience the journey at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA.
Alpha Motor Corporation recently celebrated the successful completion of its ride-along event, a pivotal moment in their quest to revolutionize electric vehicles. Guided by valuable feedback from potential customers who experienced the ride, Alpha is dedicated to tailoring electric vehicles to meet consumer needs effectively.
This milestone event, captured in all its glory at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA, underscores Alpha’s commitment to customer-centric vehicle development. Following the WOLF truck’s impressive performance in the Southern California desert last summer, this ride-along event solidifies Alpha’s dedication to creating vehicles that resonate with the mainstream market.
Alpha’s ride-along event is available for viewing at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA.Tweet
Amidst varying weather conditions and challenging terrains, the WOLF truck effortlessly navigated a designated course, showcasing its prowess in handling, speed, and efficiency. Impressively, the vehicle utilized only 20% of its battery capacity during the eight-hour event, with a speedy total charge time of just 30 minutes.
Alpha Motor Corporation aims to leverage the insights gleaned from these ride-along events to enhance vehicle development continually. By incorporating feedback from participants and analyzing driving experiences, Alpha ensures that their electric vehicles not only meet but exceed consumer expectations.
Looking ahead, Alpha plans to host more ride-along events to gather valuable feedback, further refining the driving performance of its modular EV platform. This platform, shared by various models like the WOLF+, SUPERWOLF, REX SUV, and JAX Crossover, embodies Alpha’s commitment to delivering high-quality electric vehicles with accessible design, performance, and ownership experience.
As a trailblazing American automobile company based in Irvine, California, Alpha Motor Corporation is devoted to crafting sustainable transportation solutions that benefit both people and the environment. Through cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices, Alpha is reshaping the automotive landscape, one electrifying vehicle at a time.
(Source: Alpha Motor Corporation)
3 Ways to Use Propane in Your Home
(Family Features) A reliable, environmentally friendly energy source, propane can help power key home systems and appliances. Readily available in the United States, the portable, low-carbon energy source is stored on-site, meaning it’s always accessible to help keep homes running regardless of severe weather or other interruptions to the power grid.
Watch this video for helpful tips this season!
Consider these ways to integrate the clean energy source into your home from the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council:
Whether you use a furnace, fireplace or boiler to heat your home, propane can power your heating source in any climate. Propane-powered heating sources are highly efficient, typically cost less overall due to their longer expected lifespans and emit fewer greenhouse gases than electric or wood- or oil-burning alternatives.
When power from the electric grid is interrupted, a propane-powered generator can provide supplemental power in as little as 10 seconds to keep vital systems like smoke and fire detection, refrigeration, heating and cooling, Wi-Fi and other health and safety equipment operational for several days and nights. Plus, propane doesn’t degrade over time, unlike diesel or gasoline, making it an ideal standby power fuel.
Because of their high performance and energy efficiency, propane-powered appliances such as cooking ranges and stoves, clothes dryers and tankless water heaters can increase the value of a home and decrease the strain on the electrical grid. Generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their electric counterparts, propane-powered appliances can heat and cool quicker, reduce standby losses and dry clothing faster, reducing energy usage and cost.
Learn more about propane and its benefits at Propane.com/ForMyHome.
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