Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

What is a Real Estate Agent and why do you need one?

As many of you know I have been spending the last few weeks becoming a real estate agent.  Real Estate is very complex and takes a long time to understand all of the different wareal estate flow chart from listing to soldys to own it, work on it, finance it and transfer it.  There are also a ton of government rules and regulations regarding real estate, and then there are industry standards that must be followed so that we all can work together and speak the same language.

So really it is a system, with its own jargon, rules, laws, institutions and much more.  It is really a business ecosystem and it works much the same way that computer ecosystems work in.  You simply need to follow the rules and the format, copy and paste the code, and you have a contract.  There are about 70 different contracts and 100’s of forms to amend or support these contracts. You can think of it much like WordPress and how you can snap in a plugin that you need.  Working a real estate deal is much like this.  After going to all of these classes I now see who the whole system works and it is very elegant and complete.  It is mostly the same across the nation but each state has a few minor tweaks.

real estate agentSo I always resented the cost of real estate agents, heck that is one of the main reasons I want to be one, was to reduce them on my actions.  I have always used an agent for things I have done, even though there was a cost. Now that I am an agent I am glad I did, we have heard 100’s of stories of the pitfalls of real estate.  There are so many ways to mess up, and when you mess up it costs people money and if you are at fault they will make you pay.  The system is so complex, and there are so many rules that it is almost impossible to not mess something up if you don’t get expert help, and often even with expert help things go wrong.

On top of taking care of the system, and making it all smooth for you a Real Estate agent has access to the databases of listed houses. Of course they created this gated database just for this reason, that you need to come to them to access it.  Unless you are an expert, in the US today you really need an agent to make your transaction work without a headache.  This is the advantage that some investors have, and why they can consistently make money, there are too many people who still have problems, and there is a lot of opinions of what something is worth, it is not a totally efficient market.  A good agent can help you find the best deals, and stay away from the overpriced inventory.  There are many good deals to be had, and just as many overpriced duds on the market.

So next time you need to buy or sell a house make sure you use an agent.  And if you happen to live in Arizona give me a call, I will either help you myself or refer you to someone who can.

The Opportunity Fund

There is so much talk on the internet in the world of personal finance (PF) about having an Emergency Fund. I agree that an Emergency Fund is important; you want to make sure that you have enough cash to take care of a stolen laptop, or your AC going out in the middle of summer. There is a lot of focus on building this up quickly; most PF writers say that this is more important than paying down debt, which I also agree. 

But my opinion, another important thing to create is what I call an Opportunity Fund.  This is a fund of special money that you keep aside for in case a really good opportunity comes up.  Opportunities come up much more than Emergencies, so this is the fund that I focused on first. I felt that this fund was critical to future success so I used many of the tactics that people like Dave Ramsey suggest when you are building your Emergency Fund.  Such tactics include Selling Something, and cutting back on expenses, especially those recurring ones that most people don’t really notice, then finding extra income opportunities.

Most PF writers suggest ways with no investment to work hard and make extra income but with an opportunity fund helping out you can supercharge this and quickly pay down debt, build all of your funds up, and if you are doing really good you may even make a business out of your fund.

So I started building my fund about 5 years ago.  We looked for people who needed to sell items quickly, to pay their bills or because they were moving, I stuck with electronics and computers because I knew the market and knew I could flip the items quickly.  Most people who are selling things are not selling to get the most money, most people sell because they need quick money, or want the item gone.  Almost every week I buy a laptop from a parent who took it away from their disobedient child as punishment for something the child did.  Most of these parents have no urge to get the most for their money, they just want the item gone.

I only use the fund to buy things that I am fairly sure I can flip quickly.  I don’t want to deplete the fund so I make sure I can turn the items over and get my original money back along with a nice profit.  Time is money so the longer I think something will take to sell the lower % of my projected sales price I need to get.  My general goal is to double my money in 30 days.

I often buy things that are on huge sales.  I built up my fund the entire summer and early fall my first year because I knew I could take advantage of Black Friday, so when November hit I made sure I sold as much as I could and made this fund as large as I could, then I spent a few days looking over the ads, and I targeted the things that had the largest amount below normal prices.  Anyone can get things for cheap online, so I made sure that I was buying at a price low enough that even if I sold online I could make a large profit.  On black Friday most people look for things for their house, they buy and hold on to these items until they are worthless, so even if you buy at the lowest price you still lose money financially. So many people focus on the TV’s and such but the real money I have found is in the smaller items, the ones that there are no limits on.  My first black Friday doing this I focused on External Hard Drives, that were selling for 40% of normal price, bought a whole cart of them. I found wireless mice for less than 30% of retail price, got over 100 of them, found 32 GB USB Drives for just $9.95 each, still a good buy today, a few years later.  I also got laser printers for $39 each, 22” Monitors for $89 each and many other good buys that most of the people just did not see. (Quick Tip, I use the site ShopLocal to find the best sales on new items.) I then listed these items on craigslist for more than I paid, also called up people I knew and asked them if they wanted any of these, I offered to come over and set up the items and show them how to use it.  I spent $3000 that y

ear, and less than 30 days later I had the $3000 back into my Opportunity fund, AND I still had about half of the stuff left!  I now do this every year, it is crazy the good deals that these places put out on small items, most of these prices are less than the cost to make the item.

CAM00449

But the real, supercharged creation of money from my Opportunity fund came from used items.  I know a lot about computers, so I offered to buy peoples headache computers off of them.  I have focused on laptops, and I have purchased over 150 laptops each year for the last 5 years in a row from private sellers.  By the time 2011 came about I was doing this so much, and needed more room and space that I opened a computer store.  By that time I had built my fund up to over $10,000 along with $10,000 or so worth of computer parts.  So I used it all to move into a store.  I was able to get a very nice store on a shoestring budget, never stopping buying and selling.  I then quickly moved into buying and selling much larger amounts of items.  I depleted my fund to build the store but worked hard and smart to build it back up.  I was putting all of the profits into building out the store, and getting extra inventory, it took a year to finally have in stock all that I wanted to have, then I started building up the fund quickly, once I had enough I quickly became free of consumer debt, for the first time in my adult life. I bought a car for my wife, bought a work truck for the business, then a new SUV for myself.  I also have build up my opportunity fund again.

SanteFe
The Santa Fe, with my truck in the background.

When a good friend of mine came to me trying to sell some items he needed sold quickly to help him with a fine he needed to pay, I was there able to help.  When others needed to borrow money, I was there to help.  When a deal comes across for 300 monitors at crazy low prices I am able to jump on it. When a computer store goes out of business I have the funds to buy all their inventory for pennies on the dollar. When a banner making company wanted to sell their plotter I bought it, now I can make vinyl letters for people, expanding my business.  When a school auction went up I bought 50 chairs and 100 tables, sold 60 tables on craigslist and more than paid for it all, now I have the rest to use and help organize the store.

I am able now, with the combination of a nice Opportunity fund, a large moving truck, a warehouse, staff, and a store to move $15,000-20,000 worth of stuff per month, with only about 40% going into what we buy stuff for, and 30% going into overhead, the other 30% goes into build up the business, giving money away, helping people and saving up to buy our building.  And yes the business has an emergency fund equal to 3 months of expenses, and so does our household.  We have just meet these goals in the last few months, this will allow us to start to really do good things and help people out.

So I have said all of this to show you how thinking different, and building up a fund to take advantage of Opportunity is so important.  Do it in the area you know about, if you are an expert on cars, then buy and flip cars, if you know about guns, there is great money in that, if you know about antiques, I know people who made fortunes in that, real estate works also if you have enough money, if you don’t have enough you can always use other people’s money.  In 2010 and 2011 I did some large deals, and my Opportunity fund was not large enough, I was not shy at all about borrowing the money, doing the deal and paying back the money.   Doing this allows you to follow your passion, to earn money by doing something that you love to do, and of course you can do it as little or as much as you like.  I am sure 80% of the people who read this would never turn it into a business, most people just aren’t wired for that. But maybe you can use this fund to get out of debt, or buy that house you wanted, or even to build one massive Emergency fund, which you can always borrow from when a really good opportunity comes along.

 

The Big Box stores can’t seem to get seasonal right for Arizona.

The Big Box stores can’t seem to get seasonal right for Arizona.

Here in Phoenix we have much different weather than most of the rest of the nation, and every year this leads to tons of odd problems with seasonal items at stores.

214560_K_LA few weeks ago the pump on the swamp cooler for the warehouse of my store went out.  A swamp cooler is a large air blower that sucks air through large pads that are sprayed with water and forces the cool air into your building.  It only works when it is dry outside, and is really only useful when the temp is below 90 degrees or so.  So in Arizona the time of year that it is 75-90 as the high is March-April and again from Mid-September until early November.  We have very hard water here in Arizona so these things usually break about every 2 years; they only are $20 replace and are a 2 minute job so no big deal.

icon_home-depot-vs-lowes

The problem comes in finding them; very near my store is a Home Depot so I went there.  To my surprise they said that they are seasonal items and are only stocked from May until August.  They said that is when it is the right time of the year to use them in the rest of the country and that Home Depot does not sell enough to make them a major item.  My theory is that they don’t sell enough because they have the seasons for it wrong. I called up Lowes and they also said it is seasonal BUT they have a special exemption for Arizona and carry them in different seasons.  One company is smart one is dumb.  I guess I won’t even bother to shop at home depot anymore.


Home Depot is not the only one that has problems with regional seasonal planning.  Wal-Mart seems to also have major problems with this in their clothing section.  Right now it is mid-September here in Phoenix, and so far this month we have only had 3 days where the high was in the 90’s, the rest were all over 100 degrees, BUT Wal-Mart put all their shorts and summer clothes on clearance a month ago and they are sold out, while now half of the clothing section has sweaters, flannel long sleeve shirts and other things that are only worn here from late November until February. 
Maybe that is why Lowes stock grows twice as fast, they are smarter.

Most stores have a problem with this to some level; the solution to this problem would be to have a regional manager who is in charge of seasonal items for each abnormal region.  I often wonder if Wal-Mart sells sweaters in Miami or did they at least figure that out…

 

Why do you do what you do?

Today I have been thinking about WHY I run this business.  Most people spend so much time on how they are going to do things, and What they are going to do.    Today, I wrote this and printed it out and posted it on my office wall, “Focus on Why we do what we do, If you do it for the right reasons What you do and How you do it will fall in line and success will follow.”

When I moved my business to its much bigger location I have only a rough idea of what we would be doing.  I had a few basic ideas of areas where money could be made, because I was already making money in those areas and my old business made money in those areas, but I was open to doing something else.  It turns out that now my most profitable part of my business was something I never did at my old shop.  It now accounts for 60% of sales and over 80% of profits, that is recycling computer products.

Once you know the what the “HOW” is very simple and obvious.  But I am here to talk about the Why….why do I do what I do?  Why am I a business owner and don’t have a job, why do I choose to work with technology?  For me that “WHY?” comes down to a few key things that I believe.

First I loved technology, it is always amazing to find out what is new, and to be able to actually play with it, not just read about it.  By owning a computer store I get the ability to design and build things for clients, forcing me to become an expert many different tech issues.

Next, I must have adventure  I also have found that I don’t like to spend much time on things once I figure them out, and technology is ever changing, allowing me to always be engaged.  For example here are some things I have done in the last month, I took apart a top of the line new Asus ultra-thin laptop to see what was inside, it was amazing how it is more like a Cell phone than a laptop.  I have explored new database ideas for WordPress, and how to import from XLS files to make carts on something that was designed for blogs.  I have had time to play new games. I played a lot with running windows 8 on a big screen TV with wireless keyboard, touchpad.  And the list goes on and on.  Every day is a new adventure, always learning and always teaching.

Next I love to share my passion for tech with others.  Spending time showing someone the new gadget, or the next big thing in the tech world is something that I love.  I also love to help people, to give them tools to make their life and their business better, then I love to see them a few months later and how what I did really changed their life.

Next I love a good deal.  I love to find good deals, I love to share them and I love to give them to others.  It is so fun when I can do something for someone better than they thought it could be done and under the price they thought it could be done in.  The side effect of this is that we have never been highly profitable.  I am always giving people deals and slashing prices.  For me it is often more about the sale than the profit, I have sold many things well below cost to make someone happy.  Recently I have been forced to charge most people a bit more to cover costs.

Those are the reasons I am in the IT industry, but now I think “WHY?” did I do it on my own instead of working for someone else.  Well I really enjoy my freedom, I also highly value spending time with my Family and friends.  I love to be able to sleep in a bit, knowing my shop is taken care of, then spend some time with the kids while they are still kids, and then be able to take them and my wife to work with me.  It is nice to be able to take time off when I need it.  I also like it when people count on me, when I can show someone…”Yes I built that”.

I guess it all comes down to the fact that if you love what you do then it never seems like work.  Most of the time it does not feel like work, it feels like fun.  There are there rare times where I told a client Yes to something I should not have because it is something I don’t like to do or don’t want to learn, and in those cases I have found that subcontracting is a great idea.

So what is your “Why”?  If you are in business, why are you in business, why did you do what you do, and why do you do it the way that you do it.  If you have a job, then why do you work where you work, does it fit in with who you are?  If the main answer to your “WHY?” is money then you will likely never live a very happy or fulfilled life.  Now-a-days there is also a large part of our population that lives off the government, why do you feel entitled to do that?  If you served in the military, or if you are retired after 45 years of work I can see why you would feel that way, but many feel entitled who need neither of these.  Do you feel that you could have somewhere else to serve, to make this world better?

You should work to make the most of your short life here, and doing things with no reason why is one of the easiest ways to waste your life.  Here are some questions that really helped me focus on what is important…Why do you surf the internet so much, do you really need to read Facebook that many times per day, do you really need to watch that TV show, what will you get out of playing that video game.

Watch what you do and see if it lines up with your why.

A Special thanks goes to today’s episode of the Glenn Beck show for getting my thinking about this again.

 

A Month into our new business..here is what I am thinking.

Well our new computer store is now a month old.  It has been a crazy month, lots of hours worked, and lots to do to set everything up.  Everyday we are still setting up a major part of the business.  The website is mostly done, the marketing is done, just finished training two techs on how to do things the “Emerald” way.  We got networking done last week along with setting up the reception area and my wife’s office, and this week we put art on the walls.  All this while making enough money to keep all the bills paid.

Building a quality infrastructure is important, having all the tools in the right place and working correctly will result in massive amounts of efficiency later on in the process.  One major tool that has been lacking is my old Aztek SUV…yes it still gets us from one place to another, but there are many problems so I am thinking of upgrading.  The next piece to the puzzle is to hire and build up our sales force, at this time it is just me doing sales and that is not enough because I have so much else to do.

I am still hopeful, I just need to get the thing put together right so that we can go to the next level.

Don’t make the geeks mad!

The world is moving to the internet, and more and more people research things before they plan to spend money. The smart company manages their online presence with a good website, SEO, and they ask clients who are happy to leave positive feedback for them on one of the many sites that have been created to rate companies.

Most of these sites really use this as a way to find companies to sell advertising to but that is a whole different blog. I have been helping a few companies get online recently. Last month I helped a company with a fairly negative review history to create a new blog, website and then create profiles on many of these pages. I then created a page that he can send happy clients to so that they can review him. It makes the world better, he will feel more responsible to make people happy, and these happy clients will send more clients to him to make him more successful. Everyone is happy. He now gets a client or so per week from the web.

The odd thing is that many of these businesses have little or no knowledge of these online boards, that vast majority of business owners are oblivious, and sometimes it is really to their determent. I have seen time and time again companies that have a large number of negative reviews, often right on Google maps (The number one way people find you). A business may see 100 clients in a day but many of them won’t even receive 10 reviews in a year, and when 8 of them come from ANGRY and RANTING clients, that business will see very little traffic from people who research online.

Being a geek and knowing the power of this, I know that you NEVER want to make a geek mad at your business. One good geek can really hurt your online presence, a few and you are dead online. Geeks know this, and sometimes they even use to to hurt your business if you are their competition.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo9mCS9H9Lo
This computer repair guy really must have made someone mad, he has pages full of bad reviews about his company. Click HERE to see for yourself.

Also see MY PAGE.  I had one fake, negative review, so I asked my Facebook friends who were clients in the past to post an honest review for my company.  Look at the results.

 

My planned speech on HB2677

On Wednesday the 16th I plan to go to the capital and speak about HB2677, here is what I plan to say.  If you read this and can think of something major to change please leave a comment.   This is my first time trying to change a law.  At the end I suggest a change to the bill that would actually result in the intent being accomplished, with almost no negative side effects and a few positive ones.  Here is what I plan to say.

Hello. I am Jason Dragon, I am an elected PC and State Committeeman in the Republican party. I am here to talk to you today about HB2677.

The intent of this bill is to find a way to tax people who are here illegally and use the money to build the border fence, but it fails miserably in both of these goals. I think that we do need to protect our border, and I am for building a fence but I am against this bill.

The first, and main reason that it fails is that it will tax everyone who sends money using a wire transfer service to any nation for any reason. The bill says that this is refundable, but it is only to the extent of a tax obligation. On top of the sender will need to wait up to a year so that they can file their taxes, and then they will need to keep records of these sends, and if needed will likely be required to provide these to the DOR. The majority of citizens in Arizona do not have an Arizona tax obligation due to many deductions or other credits and not enough income; all of these people will not receive a refund. In addition many other people and businesses may send money from Arizona who do not reside here, and thus will not be able to receive a tax credit.

Illegals don’t use these services. Existing state laws, designed to stop money laundering and criminal activity, already have strict ID requirements to send money using these services. They can not pass these ID requirements if they are here illegally unless they have very professionally forged documents, so the vast majority of illegal immigrants don’t send using the services this bill intends to tax. They often will hand the money a friend who can send.

As someone who has lived overseas, operated a business overseas and sends money overseas often I know that there are much easier and cheaper ways to send money than using wire transfers that this bill simply does not cover. Illegal’s and legal’s often also use these methods to send money. The most common way would be to open a bank account in the US and receive a debit card, or buy a PrePaid credit card and simply mail that card to your receiver in the foreign nation. Once they have it you simply deposit money into that account here in the US and the person in the other nation goes to an ATM and withdraws it. They also could choose to use the card at any major merchant for purchases. Because these are withdraws and not wire transfers they are not taxed. This does not even touch on the ability of people to simply mail a check or cash to a loved one overseas. Before this law even goes into effect I would bet that some smart company located in another state will offer a service where someone can send money to them and they would resend it overseas, and they only need to charge a fee slightly less than the tax charged by Arizona to get a lot of business.

The government is going to severely hamper these money transferring businesses, while other methods will prosper. The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.

This bill would also make our state even more business unfriendly. We would pass the burden of collecting and tracking this tax onto local businesses. We also would harm businesses that import, have overseas offices or overseas workers, taxing the money that they pay. I for one have freelance web programmers in a handful of nations in Asia, this would cost me more to pay them. I also send money every month supporting kids in Christian schools in Asia, this would cost me more to do that. I have already been contacted by missionaries who receive support from Arizona who are shocked by this bill and hope that it will not pass. I have figured that this bill would cost me about $800 per year if it passes, and the rate of 5%, as has been published in the media, would be charged.

And that leads me to the next major problem in this bill, the fact that the actual rate of the tax is not set, we should not leave ANY tax rate up to the discretion of some unelected director to decide. Where is the oversight?

Because of the complexity of international money and other existing laws this simply is not a workable bill, and it will never generate the funds needed to build a complete fence.

I don’t like to speak unless I have a solution to the problem. I have an idea of a way to amend this law to make it actually achieve the advertised goal without creating a new tax and by only targeting illegal aliens. Basically you would strike this text and replace it with text that would create a law enforcement activity, stating that during the course of law enforcement activity if someone other than a victim was discovered to be an illegal alien they would have their real and personal property confiscated. This property would then be auctioned off to generate funds to build the fence. Some protection would need to be put in there to make sure that property of a business or citizen is not swept up. You could even expand it to include people who apply for social services but are found to be here illegally. Then once the fence is built and a maintenance fund established, extra funds would go to help pay for education. Such a bill would likely be about as popular as SB1070 was. It would also function as a great deterrent to an illegal committing a crime or asking for social services in Arizona.

Thank you for your time.

My take on Arizona’s HB2677

If you have not heard there is a house bill that was introduced that will dramatically raise the cost of sending money internationally.  It is called HB2677.  It will tax everyone who sends money internationally with the intent to build a fence between Arizona and Mexico.   The problem with this bill is that it is a large new TAX.  They are going to use it for one of the favorite causes of the tea party, to build a border fence, but let’s not get suckered into that.  The tea party is first and foremost an anti-tax group, even if they will use the money for one of our favorite causes.   It is just a bribe, and I am shocked and dismayed that the leaders of the tea party have gotten behind this new tax.

The major problem with the bill is that it taxes “Any entity” that sends money overseas.  That means that the next time there is a natural disaster in some faraway place Arizona will have their hand out, take money from the poor and hurting who are in crisis.  I have heard from some sources that they want a 5% fee on all transfers.  The typical fee right now is about $3.50 for the first $500.  This would add $25 to that fee, an outrageous amount.

Another problem is that it is easily circumvented.  People who are smart will avoid this law by setting up intermediaries.  An example would be that someone would set up an office in Nevada, and have their offices in Arizona collect the money, send it to Nevada and then it would be wired from Nevada to the receiver.  They would do this for a fee but it will be well less than 5%.  People are smart and this would really reduce the amount that is collected.

This bill is designed to build a wall between us and Mexico, so I would be FOR this bill if they restricted it to only personal remittances to Mexico.  They may even include Central American nations if they like, but adding this tax to everyone who sends to any location is way too broad.

The key to success for Arizona is to be free to do business and this bill puts a transaction tax on any money sent out of the country from Arizona. The bill does not state the rate of the tax but I know the fence will be costly so it will likely be at least a few %. Most importers have very slim margins and such an added cost will make them flee our state to go to ones that don’t have this cost.

This punishes people like me who want to do nice things and send money overseas. This bill will dramatically increase the current cost of sending money. Right now I use Wells Fargo for most sends and it only costs $3.50 no matter how much I send. Sometimes I use MoneyGram and they charge $10 for the first $500. Even a 3% tax on these transfers would take money and food out of the hands of the people I try to help.   I also send all of this money to either Asia or Europe, and that has very little to do with a fence between us and Mexico.

I would be for this if they changed it to state that it would only effect personal wire transfers going to Mexico, or even Mexico plus central and South America. But this idea of doing it for all business, charity and personal wire transfers for the entire world is a crazy dumb tax that should not be passed.  I am shocked that someone as conservative as Judy Burges would put her name on this totally unfair and punitive tax.

Jason Dragon

Peoria South Tea Party Leader

Area Coordinator, PC and SC in the Republican Party in LD9.

Business Owner, Importer and Entrepreneur.

ALERT: I just posted a follow up to this CLICK HERE!

I’m Back Again.

It has been a while, about 11 months, from the last blog entry.  I did this because I really needed a break.   I had posted a lot of stuff, but I started to feel that I was simply rehashing things that others had said, and that they said much better than me.  But this is no longer the case.  I have done a ton of reading, a ton of meeting with people in the interim.

For the last 8 months I even ran for office.  I ran for city council here in Peoria Arizona.  It was a hard fight but at the end of it all it turns out that people in this area much rather have big government than someone who will sit there and stop the goodie train like I would try to.  I ran for office because I wanted to make a change and simply being a leader in the Republican party was NOT enough.  I also am active in the Tea Party movement.  But after doing all of this I decided I wanted to do more, so I ran for office.  I basically put my life on hold.  It cost me about $2700 to run but the real cost was my distraction from my normal life, from the business I enjoy, the family I love and even from blogging.  I did learn a lot, and I got a new perspective on life.  All told I am glad that I did it, and looking back I made a few mistakes that if I had not made them I would have won.  I think the biggest mistake was being so openly Republican in an area that is mostly democrat.  The next biggest mistake was trusting people so quickly, and having these people become traitors and use the information I gave them in confidence against me.

But now that this is all over I am going to make life simple again.  Focus on making money, getting my thoughts together by blogging, focus on my family, and I will even try to get into shape.

10 simple ways to save money in tough times, #9 Be more energy effecient

#9 SAVE ENERGY

There are many ways to save energy and therefore money.  Some do a lot while others are more of a myth.

Time of Use plans

One of the best ways to save a lot of money is to select an energy plan for your house that fits your usage model.  When a utility makes electricity they do it in a few different ways.  Most power comes from what we call BASE power plants.  These are plants that are always on, day, night, 24/7.  Most of these are Coal and Nuclear.  This electricity is cheap and efficient.  Wind and solar energy are not really created under the control of the utility.  A utility tries to have enough base power to provide all the power that their customers need at least 80% of the time.  For the rest they turn to DEMAND power.  This is power that they can either buy or turn on as needed.  Hydroelectric is a great example.  These plants are mostly turned off during the night, but during the top of the demand time they could be at full force.  In addition power generated in cold climates can be sold to warmer clients during the summer and visa versa.

Because of the much higher cost of this DEMAND power electric companys want you to not use it, so they offer programs to encourage you to shift your usage to non peak times, and they also have programs to encourage you to use a more steady amount of power during these peak time.  So it is simple, here is in Arizona I have APS, and I use a program called Combined Advantage.  With this program I pay only 4 cents per kWh from 7pm until noon each day.  But from noon until 7pm on weekdays I pay 6 cents during the winter and 9 cents during the summer.  On top of that I have a demand fee of $13.40 per kW used during the highest 1 hour of usage during peak time.  What this means for me is that I can use almost as much power as I want from 7pm until Noon and pay almost nothing.  I just have to keep my usage down during the peak time.  I have been able to never go above 6kW during my peak hour.  By using this model I used 20% more power than last year but enjoyed bills over 30% LESS.  Last year I was on the 9pm until 9am program, but it had no Demand Charge.  I already had them look into how much it would cost if I was on the normal rate program and it would be over DOUBLE what I am paying now.   So change your plan and cut your power bill in half.

Space Heaters

Here in Arizona it does not get that cold.  We have found that it is not a good idea to heat the entire house.  When you heat with your large central heating system as much as half the heat you create escapes out of the unit itself or through the duct system.  Even if you have a very efficient Gas heater like I do it is still much cheaper to just heat the rooms you need, especially if you are on a time of use electrical plan and only use it during the off peak time.  When we stopped using the central heating system our gas bill went down by over $70 per month while our electric bill for the space heaters was only $10 more than the previous year.

Fans

Fans are another way to save money, a good ceiling fan will make you feel 5 degrees cooler than it actually is.  With a fan an 80 degree room will feel like 75 degrees and that fan costs just pennies a month to run.  Invest in ceiling fans and save money.  Another way to save is to have door and window fans to draw in the outside air during the times of day that it is cooler.

LCD Monitors

I am a computer guy so of course I need to talk about technology a bit.  An LCD monitor is much more efficient than the older CRT monitors, in fact the average 19″ CRT uses over 300W of power, while a LCD uses less than 25W, a HUGE difference.  If used 40 hours a week, at the normal power rates this adds up to about $9 per month per monitor.   With the cost of an LCD being about $120 that means that you would save about enough money in the first year to pay for the new monitor!  So why are you still reading this on an OLD CRT.

While we are talking about saving money with computers, modern computer use MUCH less power than older ones.  The NEW cpus use laptop technology to scale back power usage and use less power and less cooling.  A new computer could be faster while saving as much as $3-5 per month in electricity.  If you are like me and leave it on 24/7 that comes to more like $15-$20 per month.

Vehicle

Your car also uses power, in the form of Gas.  You can do all the normal things like Tune up your car, and keep your tires inflated and you will receive a good 20%+ boost in the amount of mile you can drive.  Of course you can also reduce unnecessary weight in your car, select routes that have fewer left turns but it turns out that one of the best things you can do is to NOT drive a steady speed.  Don’t accelerate too fast, I try to keep my RPMs under 4000 at all times.  It will use much less fuel if you accelerate for a time, then coast for a time, going back and forth, you could increase your MPG by 20% or more by doing this.

There are many more simple ways to save energy, many power companies will help you pay for an Energy Audit.  This is where an expert will come in, usually with a infrared camera, and look for cold or hot spots on your house where you leak energy.  Most energy is spent to heat of cool things so this is a real eyeopener.