Painless Ways to Save Money
Sneaky Ways to Save Money (And Energy)
These sneaky ways to save money are so subtle you will never feel them. Even other family members probably won't realize you are doing it.
Most of these savings changes work on the principle "a little means a lot".
Rethinking is important. Try not to think of something as being only a few cents savings. Multiply the savings out by a month or a year.
For example: Don't think it's only 10 cents a day saved, think $36.50 a year saved. Think how many groceries that will buy. Think of it as buying an oil change -- a free oil change for your car.
Most of these little changes also are environmentally conscious.
What if you can't dry your clothes outside?
Often we are told that line drying clothes will save a lot of electricity, but not everyone has the ability to do this. Many apartment or condo dwellers don't have an area for this.
In some upscale neighborhoods, there are neighborhood organizations that forbid line drying clothes outside. (Yes, this is true.) Apparently, drying clothes outside isn't classy and takes away from property values.
But there is still something you can do to save drying time. Simple, when you wash your clothes, don't put them in the dryer right away. Open the top of the washing machine if it's a top loader and shake the the clothes lose from the sides. If you have a front loader, rather than have an open door stick out, you might want to consider putting the clothes in a laundry basket rather than leave the door open and burn the light out.
According to my rough estimate and it is rough, for every 2 hours you expose your clothes to air, you can reduce drying time by 5 minutes. Times are going to vary according to how airy and warm your laundry room is. When I was working, I would do my wash in the morning, open the cover before I left, and put them in the dryer when I got home. I would save about 20 minutes of drying time a day.
Again, don't think of it as 20 minutes of drying time. Think BIG! If you do 2 loads of wash a week, that's 40 minutes a week and 2,080 minutes a year -- or 35 hours.
Dryers are a high power usage appliance.
Be careful not to let your clothes over air dry in the washing machine or the wrinkles won't come out.
These are wonderful! Dryer Balls - Never buy fabric softener again
I first bought my first set of dryer balls about 10 years ago. Back then, they had a little different construction to them and were solid blue and just had raised spikes. They really didn't prevent static cling. I would have to add a balled up piece of aluminum foil to the mix to stop the static. ( A household hint I found in one of the women's magazines.)
The new pink and blue or pink and purple ones are almost always effective in stopping static cling. The have both raised spiked and smooth round surfaces. Once in a while when I have a lot of synthetics, there is a little static, but 99% of the time they are just fine.
These are absolutely fabulous. They are a big money saver. You never have to buy dryer sheets or fabric softener again, and.... they cut drying time. They pay for themselves very quickly.
It's also ecologically sound to use these rather than adding more dryer sheets to the landfills and more chemicals to the air and soil.
The bonus for me is that I can never coordinate the liquid softener adding time, and the dryer sheets leave little particles that make my back itch like crazy.
I used the plastic dryer ball for about 20 years, but switched to the wool about 3 years ago. When the plastic balls got older they dried out and pieces of them broke off. I would find them in my lint trap, but worried some of them might lodge in the exhaust.
A sample of an energy calculation for a clothes dryer
The formula is:
Number of Watts X Hours Per Day Used X Days Per Year Used divided by 1000 to get Killowatts Kwh X Kwh rate = Your cost per year
I found the average number of Watts a Dryer uses by Googling "Appliance Watts" . You can just go to the Department of Energy website. I have links further down on this page. I found the average clothes dryer uses 3,400 watts. I usually dry my clothes for a 1/2 hour. I dry clothes twice a week so that 104 days a year. My service rate is $0.20376 (found on electric bill)
3,400 watts X .5 hours drying time X 104 days dryer used per year = 176800 watts. Divide by 1,000 to get Kwh = 1768 Kwh X $0.20376 rate = $360.24 cost per year
But remember that is my cost. I only have to dry clothes for a half hour on average as I let the clothes air dry and I use dryer balls. If I didn't do this, it would probably be close to twice that. So I have $360.24 to spend on something else.
And, remember, this is just the annual savings on the clothes dryer. Save some other ways and it all adds up.
Read the back of your laundry detergent for how much you need to use.
Newer laundry detergents are more concentrated. If you are still automatically adding a full capful, you are probably wasting detergent. You can probably use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup. Meaning you will buy detergent 1/4 to 1/2 as many times a year.
Links to the Department of Energy Website
Here you will find more information on how much energy you are using and what it is costing you.
- Energy Saver Guide: Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home | Department of Energy
Find simple tips in the Energy Saver guide to save money and energy at home and on the road.
- Average Watt Usage of Appliances & Calculating Usage
Here you will find a drop down list of common household appliances and their typical wattage. Then, it shows you how to calculate the annual cost of your usage of that appliance.
Rags to Riches
Save Money & Save the Environment
I used to save things that were too shabby to donate to charity -- ripped tee shirts, pajamas, and sheets. Mostly we used them for cleaning paint brushes or something oily having to do with the car.
Then, I noticed that I accumulated an awful lot of rags. I came up with this idea:
I wash them first. Then, cut the rags into little squares, about 6 inches by 6 inches. They don't have to be exact. I do it while I'm watching TV or waiting for a pot to boil it's painless.
I place the stack under my kitchen sink and whenever there is a spill, I use these instead of paper towels. I now buy about 1 roll of paper towels a year rather than one roll a month.
Saves trees and the rags get used up.
I read this suggestion in a magazine. Instead of purchasing the replacement pads for dry mops, just use the cut up rags.
If you give them a little mist of water with a spray bottle they pick up just as well as the disposable ones.
Home, Home on the Range
Or....Baking in the Oven
We have all heard of ways to save cooking time and energy, and thus save money. The most commons ideas are: use the smallest pot possible for the job; cover the pot while waiting for it to boil and center the pot on the burner so the heat is directly below the pot. If you are using a gas stove don't let the flames extend outside the pot -- they are wasted.
I have a few more.
This summer I noticed it was taking forever for my pot to boil. Then, I realized my room air conditioner was blowing directly on it. A no win situation. From then on, I turned the air conditioner off for the 5 minutes or so it takes for my water to boil. In the long run it doesn't reduce the coolness of the room.
When I boil something such as pasta, I turn the burner down from the highest setting to just a little lower, as long as the water is boiling, it doesn't have to aggressively churn and roll.
For foods such as pasta that I have cooked before and know how long it takes, I turn the burner off 1 minute before its unusual completion. Guess what? There is still enough heat for it to continue to boil without using power.
When I am cooking fresh or frozen vegetables, I do the same thing, just cover the pot and let it sit. In fact, you will find using this method of the covered pot, you can turn off the burner several minutes before usual.
My oven is very good at retaining heat. When baking a cake, I turn it off 5 minutes before completion time. Just leave the door shut.
Almost all baked recipes have "preheat the oven" as the first instruction. I can usually judge by cooking instructions how long the prep time will be before I am ready to pop something in the oven. If, for example, it is going to take me a half hour before something is ready for the oven, I wait until midway through the prep to preheat the oven.
These are minute changes but multiply them out times the number of days and you will find you are saving hours of stove top and oven energy.
A small burner uses 723 watts
A large burner uses 1,252 watts
Oven (used for baking) 1,260 watts
Avoid Costly Disinfectant Cleaners
We very often use just plain rubbing alcohol (Isoproopyl alcohol) for cleaning and disinfecting. Considering, when you get an injection, your skin is disinfected with alcohol, it must be a good germ killer.
I am not saying this is ecologically sound, however, it is probably just as sound as purchasing disinfecting cleaning.
In the bathroom we put it on a sponge and clean the light switch, toilet bowl handle (plastic) and vanity sink top. I don't apply it to the metal fixtures as it will eventually dull and take the finish off. Our vanity sink top is one of the those cultured marble tops. So far it does a great job of shining it up. If you don't know how your sink top will handle it, test in a small inconspicuous spot.
We also put it on one of our disposable rags and do the top whole toilet seat. Our toilet seat is plastic; I would think this would not be good on a painted toilet seat.
I rub it on my kitchen counter after cooking with raw meat or chicken.
Checking out some prices:
Rubbing alcohol is $1.45 for 16 oz or 9 cents an ounce
Disinfectant cleaner Brand #1 is $5.99 for 30 oz or 20 cents an ounce
Disinfectant cleaner Brand #2 is $3.99 for 26 oz or 15 cents an ounce
Disinfectant cleaner Brand #3 is $5.29 for 22 oz or 24 cents an ounce
If you read most spray disinfectants they say to leave them on 10 minutes before wiping off in order for it to be disinfecting otherwise you have half killed mutant germs. Alcohol kills on contact.
Save Your Bleach Spotted Clothing
Household cleaning products, peroxide and bleach may splash and leave white spots on your clothes. Save them. Go to your nearest craft or art supply store and buy PERMANENT marking pens in a color to match the spot(s). Color them in. This works particularly well on printed fabrics, where minor print deviations won't be noticed.
Overcome Your Fear of Consignment Shops
The first time I went to a consignment shop, I noted with interest, the number of Jaguars and Mercedes in the parking lot. Hmmm...this stuff must not be too shabby. And it wasn't.
The markdowns in consignment shops are incredible. The merchandise kind of goes with the neighborhood. The more upscale the neighborhood, the more upscale the clothing.
If you don't like the idea of wearing something previously worn, take heart -- if you stop by often enough you will find clothing with the tags still on it, never worn. This is especially true in the childrens clothing -- probably a 1/4 of the clothing has never been worn.
What are we looking at here? - 2 to 3 more uses of any product in a tube
Yes. When you can't get any more product out of a tube, grab a pair of scissors and cut the bottom off. Get 2 to 3 more uses of hand creams, hair conditioners, toothpaste or any other other product in a tube.
Not going to use it right away? Close it with a clothes pin, chip bag clip or alligator clip.
Here's a Money Saving Thought - Beware of the Word "Cute"
I noticed that there are whole stores dedicated to things you don't need. Their items are just novel and enticing -- it's something like entering a souvenir shop on vacation. You have to buy.
Here is how I decide to buy or not buy -- if I find myself saying: "oooh how cute", then it's thinking time. Cute doesn't mean necessary and cute often means that in a few years I will wind up donating to a tag sale.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 Ellen Gregory