Frugal Living, Thrift, and Saving Money
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Keep your attic cool, and your whole house will stay cooler.
One options is to install attic fans. They will cool down your attic, and reduce
the temperature in your home significantly. You should also have vents in your
attic to let out the air.
If you live in a hot climate, and have windows on the west
side of your home, consider installing awnings over the windows. You will use
the rooms more, and they will pay for themselves over time.
In the summer we barbecue a lot to keep the temperature down
in our homes. However, there is another option. Most of us love our slow
cookers. We also have power in our garages. Think about making a feel meals in
the slow cooker in the garage. If your garage is attached to your home, it won't
be difficult- and with the lid on all the food should be protected.
If you are handy, it is an easy job to install a
dimmer switch to operate some of your lights. They save electricity and prolong
the life of your light bulbs.
Your dryer uses a lot of energy, and runs up your electric
bill. To shorten drying time, be sure and keep the lint screen clean. Wash your
filter with soap and water on a regular basis to make sure it is totally clear.
You may also want to buy one of the flexible brushes that will go down through
the lint screen, and catch lint further down in the vent. This can be a fire
hazard, and you just can't see it. Your dryer should be vented to the outside,
and not under the house. You can check to make sure air is coming out when it is
running, but there could still be built up lent.
If you have heat that comes up ducts in the floor, be sure and
use a flashlight and see if there are gaps between the ducts and under your
house. Not only do you lose heat, but insects will come up from under your home.
This is easily fixed with spray foam and silicone.
If high humidity is a problem in your area, and
you don't want to run an air conditioner, think about using an evaporative
cooler.. Air always feels cooler when it is less humid. Evaporative coolers,
also known as "swamp coolers" work by running cold water over air, and then
circulating it through your home or room. They do a good job of keep your home
cool, unless it is humid outside.
Last year we purchased a freezer that was not frost free
because of the energy savings. I was worried that it would be high
maintenance, but the ice does not build up quickly, and we have yet to manually
I've heard it said the 40% of the electricity you use in
your homes is from items that are not even turned on. That seems high to
me....but if you truly want to save money on your electric bill, unplug
everything with an LED light (that is in standby mode) until you use it.
Letting Clothes Sit
Another way to reduce the amount of time your
dryer needs to dry your clothes is to always give your clothes an extra spin in
the washing machine before you dry them. I always let my towels sit over night
in the washing machine before I dry them. They are still damp in the morning,
and it takes much less time to dry them.
Lights and Motion Detectors
If you get tired of telling everyone to
turn off the lights when they leave a room, install motion detector light
switches. They will pay for themselves in a short time, and your family life
will be more harmonious. Another option- use florescent bulbs and just leave the
on. The bulbs are most expensive, but last 4 times as longer and are meant to be
left on for long periods of time so they don't break.
If you have an electric stove, you know that it remains hot
for several minutes after you turn off the burners. Most of us turn the heat off
before the last few minutes of cooking time. Another way to cut cooking time is
to use dark pans of substantial weight. Anything dark absorbs heat better, and
the same is true with pans. The dark color in the pan will warm it up quicker
and start the cooking process faster. Also, always be sure to match the size of
the burner to the pan you are using.
Consider installing timers on your bathroom lights. Children
are not very good turning off lights. Free yourself up from having to run
around turning off lights after family members, and when you have company.
This is particularly convenient when you have a bathroom upstairs.
Upgrading Your Machines
If you have the money...the new washing
machines are very energy efficient. The washing machines spin so fast that the
clothing is very dry and requires much less time in the dryer.
Don't forget to thoroughly clean your furnace before
winter. A well maintained furnace operates at peak efficiency, and can cut your
heating bill by as much as 10 percent. Change your filter every 3 months, and
have a professional inspect your furnace every few years for safety and
Improve your heating bill with landscaping. If you have
trees on the southern side of your home, they should be deciduous. The leaves
should come off in the winter to let in the sun, and be on it to shade your home
during the hot summer months. Take down a tree, move one, or plant a new one.
Think of the future, and make changes now that you will appreciate in the years
If you have a newer home, you probably have a lot of
recessed lighting. These bulbs are expensive, and there are probably many more
than you need. Leaving some in that are burned out. If you still have adequate
lighting, keep it that way.
If you have a window on the southern side of your home, it
lets in enough light and heat to keep the room warm on a mild winter day without
the furnace. Take advantage of rooms that have a southern exposure. Keep the
drapes open, and let the sun work for you.
When money is extremely tight, just drop your long
distance all together and use phone cards. You may also be able to get rid of
all the taxes and fees that go with long distance carriers- depending on the
State or county where you reside.
Cell Phone Chargers
Many people have dropped their land lines, and only
use cell phones to save money. However, others are afraid to do it because they
are afraid if they lose power in their homes, their cell phones will not charge
and they will lose their phones. There is a simple remedy for this. Buy an
emergency cell phone charger. They are not expensive, and many models can also
charge flashlights and radios.
Cell Phone Protection
Here's a recycling tip for those who wear glass
and carry cell phones. Most of us keep the last couple of pairs of glasses we've
owned for emergencies. However, the older ones we finally let go. Toss the
glasses, (or turn them over to charity) but keep the case. It should be firm
enough, or well cushioned, and do a good job of protecting your cell phone in
Finding Phone Numbers
Save the cost of directory assistance by using
your computer. If you need a phone number, just Google it. It is quick, easy,
Do you have a phone line that you use exclusively for your
computer? Be sure and call your phone company and see if they will take the long
distance off that line. You may be able to save fees and taxes for a service you
are not using.
If you don't want to use a cell phone, one of the most
inexpensive ways to make long distance calls is to use VOIP technology - Voice
over Internet Protocol. There are several companies that offer this service.
Write it Down
Here's a tip to save a little money when you make a long
distance phone call. Always write down ahead of time the things you want to
discuss. When you are talking you might get distracted, and will forget all the
things you wanted to say. You will waste a lot of time trying to remember what
Many disposal companies offer different rates
depending on the size or your trash can. Be sure and call and ask. Compress your
items before you throw them away, or use a compactor to save money. This isn't
an option for all people, but you can save money by disposing of your own trash.
If you have a truck and can easily access a facility or place to take it, you
might think about it. If you don't have a lot of trash, you can even take your
trash to a friend/neighbor/relative's house, perhaps sharing the expense.
Brushing Teeth and Showers
Approximately 14 percent of our energy
bill comes from heating our water. If we turn off the tap water while brushing
our teeth, and install low flow shower heads, we can save as much as 30 percent
on our hot water consumption.
The biggest expense in running your dishwasher (80%), is
the money that it takes to heat the water. Most dishwashers use the same amount
of water, no matter how many items you put in them. Make the most of your money
by always running your dishwasher as full as possible.
Do not not turn the heat
completely off if you leave your home. If your pipes
freeze, insurance will not cover the water damage to
your home if they break.
Be sure and check your water meter to make sure it is
accurately reflecting how much water you are using. You can lose water when one
of your pipes gets a leak, either under your home or in your front yard. Turn
off all the water in your home, and write down the reading on your meter. Then
run your tap water in your kitchen. Measure it carefully, and make sure you
remove enough water to show up on the meter. If the amount of water you have run
from your tap and the change in the reading on your meter differ, you may have
problems. You can run up a huge bill if you have a leaking pipe in your front
yard, and it is not covered by insurance.
Be sure and test your toilet
periodically to make sure it isn't wasting water. Just
put a little food dye in the tank, wait 30 minutes, and
then see if any of it has transferred to the toilet
bowl. If it has, you have a leak, and may need to
replace the flushing mechanism.
Turning off your water
If you plan on leaving your home for more
than a couple days, be sure and turn off the main water valve that leads to your
home. Everyone should know where it is, and keep a wrench handy, so that you can
turn it off in case of an emergency. Pipes get old and break, and if you are
gone, you can come home to find your house in two-feet of water, your floors
warped, and your possessions soaked.
No matter where you live, water is a valuable
resource, and should not be wasted. It also costs money. Here are a couple of
tips to save on water.
1. Always water your plants and lawn in the morning, so you don't lose water
through evaporation. It is also best for your plants. If you leave water on your
plants overnight, it can lead to mold and fungus.
2. Keep a milk jug handy to save cold water while you are waiting for the hot
water to come through in your faucet. Recycle that water for in or outside your
No one needs their water heater set higher than 120
degrees Fahrenheit. Tap water at 156 degrees can cause third degree burns to
your skin in only one second. For each 10 degrees Fahrenheit reduction in
temperature, you'll save 3-5 percent in heating costs. Be safe, and save money.
Water Heater Blankets
Save money heating
water by putting a water heater blanket around your
water heater if it is an old model. Going without a blanket around your water
heater is like not having any insulation in your
exterior walls. The money you will save from insulating
your water heater will more than make up for the cost of
the blanket in just a short time. If you have a newer unit, they are
already insulated on the inside.
Water Heater Maintenance
Be sure and drain the sediment out from the
bottom of your water heater once a year. Your water heater will last longer, and
run more efficiently. Just turn off the power to the water heater, and open the
valve at the bottom of the heater to let out the water and particles from the
bottom of the tank. Attach a hose to the drain valve and let the water drain out
in your yard. One word of caution- the water that comes out will be hot. Be
careful not to scald yourself.
Most of us are familiar
with the valves behind our washing machine that let us control the flow of hot
and cold water into our machines. What you may not know is that you can also
control the water pressure in your bathrooms. If your children are letting the
water run too often, turn the pressure down. Less water will come out, saving
Everyone is always looking for new ways to reduce their
heating bill. Most savings come from turning down the thermostat or insulation.
Here are a couple things that are commonly missed.
1. Check to be sure animals have not gotten under you home or into your attic
and messed up your insulation.
2. Insulate your plug and switch covers by cutting styrofoam trays to fit the
Ceiling fans are not just for keeping you cool in the
summer. Most ceiling fans have 2 directions, one to push air down, and one to
pull air up. In the winter, heat rises. Set the fan so that it pushes the heated
air in your home down lower where you need it to stay warm. Your furnace will
run less, and you will stay warmer.
No one likes to crawl into a cold
bed in at night before they go to sleep. There are a
couple of things you can do if your bed gets really
cold. The first one is to use flannel sheets. The are
soft, cozy and warm. The other idea has been used for
centuries. Take a brick and warm it up in your
fireplace. Then place it in your bed for a short time
before you get into it.
How are your heating bills? Do
they seem too high, especially when you compare your
bills with your neighbors' comparable homes? If so,
think about getting an energy audit from your utility
company. They usually do these audits for free. They
also may offer incentives for improvements to make your
home more energy efficient that will save you money. As
smart as we sometimes think we are, if you have an
audit, you will probably be made aware of an area where
you are losing energy that you have missed.
While fireplaces may look great
burning wood, you are not really saving money unless you
have a glass covering over the opening of your fireplace
to prevent your household air from being sucked into the
fireplace and out the flu. A fireplace insert is a good
investment. If you like to look at the fire, buy one
with glass doors. I also like the ones
that have a shelf, so that you can cook on
them if the power goes out.
If it is very hot, and you either don't have
air-conditioning, it is broken, or don't want to use it, your best chance to get
to sleep is to sleep in a hammock. I'm not talking about canvas hammocks.
The ones that work are made out of a netting type material. They use them
in the tropics.
Here is a substitute for a
humidifier for when it is very dry inside. Use a slow
cooker. Fill it with water, and turn it on low. There
are a lot of health reasons to keep the air from drying
out in your home. Also, moist air is easier to heat.
Boost the heating quality of radiators by making
reflectors from aluminum foil. Most radiators are placed near windows. Cover a
piece of cardboard with foil, and place on the wall to deflect the heat into the
Unless your house is very new,
and very well constructed, chances are you are going to
have some areas that just do not heat as well as others.
If you spend a lot of time in those areas, you may want
to turn up the heat. A better alternative is to get a
space heater. The safest and most economical to run are
the ones that are filled with oil. I have 2 of them in
my home. When the weather is cold, I just flip the
switch, and I am fine. It beats heating up the whole
Here's an energy statistic that
might motivate you to save money. Turning the thermostat
on your furnace down 4 degrees, or your air conditioner
up 4 degrees, will save you as much as 40% on your bill.
Also, there is no sense heating or cooling your home
when you are not there. If you have extended periods of
time when you are away from home, install a programmable
thermostat. Program the thermostat to turn the
temperature up or down 10 degrees while you are away.
Some people also like to do the same when they are
Turning Down the Heat
All serious hikers know that to keep warm when
climbing in cold temperatures, you must cover your head and keep your feet warm.
If you are going to turn down your thermostat, be sure that you at least keep
your feet warm, even at night. Put on a pair of
stockings before you go to sleep, and you will keep much warmer. A knit cap is
also a good idea.
If you paid a deposit on your utilities when you
moved into your home, and you have been there over a year, check with them to
see if you can have that money refunded. The money is usually refunded when you
move, but if you ask, and you have established good credit with them, they may
refund it early.
If you love quilts and pretty rugs, hang them on the
outside walls inside your home to accessorize your home. they provide good
insulation from the outside air. If you have a large fabric collection, you
think about storing it on a shelf placed on an outside wall also.
If your windows are single pane, and
you cannot afford to replace them with energy saving thermopane windows, think about covering them with one
of the many plastics available at your home improvement
center for the winter. You won't be able to open your
windows, but this will provide an air barrier and you
will retain a lot more of the heat put out by your
furnace or other heat source.
Resources for Frugal Living