Ask your insurance company for a ‘black box’ for your car

Several weeks ago, my insurance company made an irresistible offer: if I agreed to install a tiny gadget in my car, they would reduce my car insurance premiums.

I agreed, and they sent me a little data monitoring ‘black box’. It took under a minute to install, and it sends info about my driving habits to my insurance company (specifically hard braking, sudden accelerations and total distance driven). In return, my premiums have dropped by 5%, and depending on how I drive, they may drop by as much as 25%. I get a weekly report card by email, which serves as a regular incentive to do better.

But I’m saving on gas too, because the driving habits the insurance company likes best – gentle starts and stops – also give me the best mileage. It’s well known that gentle driving can improve mileage by as much as 20%.

So – if you’d like to save on gas and insurance, contact your provider and ask for a ‘black box’ for your car. (Read a column with more detail on this here.)

If possible, avoid using that hair dryer

Looking good is an important priority, and the morning routine of many people involves a hair dryer.

Alas, hair dryers use a lot of energy: many use over 1500 watts, which is enough electricity to light over 100 CFL or LED light bulbs (IE enough to power every light in three average houses, all at once). In fact, the European Union is considering new regulations to outlaw high-wattage hair dryers as part of a larger effort to save energy and fight climate change.

So what to do if you’d like to save energy but would still like your hair to look nice?

  • Good: reduce the amount of time you use a hair dryer
  • Good: choose a lower wattage hair dryer the next time you need to replace yours
  • Better: use a low heat setting if your dryer has one
  • Better still: use a no-heat setting (that blows room-temperature air) if your dryer has one
  • Best of all: see if you can live without a hair dryer