With the recession still in full swing, now seems as good a time as any to investigate the potential of money saving gadgets and devices. While the market is flooded with products that claim to save you money, not all of them actually do. Many so-called money-saving gadgets would be more accurately described as convenient or trendy gadgets. Today we’ll roll up our sleeves and examine 10 gadgets that produce bottom line savings for their users, independently of marketing hype or anecdotal hearsay.
Long a favorite of the frugal, low-flow toilets are a must have for anyone truly serious about savings. According to MotherEarthNews.com, low-flow toilets, “…save the average U.S. household (2.64 people) about 25 gallons of water per day, or more than 9,000 gallons per year.” Typically, a low-flush toilet uses about 6 liters (1.6 gallons) per flush as opposed to the 13 liters used by conventional models. In the average home that cycles through ten or twenty flushes per day, it’s not surprising to see a device that uses half the water for each flush amounting to savings by the end of each month.
Filtered water bottles
Americans drink more bottled water today than ever before, with many people purchasing dozens of bottles at a time to consume throughout the week. Those bottles add up awfully fast to a giant sinkhole in the food budget ; one way to drink the same amount of water and spend far less is using a filtered water bottle. Just fill up from any ordinary faucet and the bottle’s internal filter zaps any bacteria lurking inside. The more often you use it, the faster it pays for itself and the more money you save.
Pocket change hoarders face an inevitable dilemma – devote an entire afternoon to tediously hand-wrapping the change they’ve been dumping into coffee jars for the last year, or let Coinstar do it and lose 10% of the money. Luckily, coin sorting machines offer an appealing third route. Simply buy coin rolls and let the machine wrap your change for you. If it turns out you saved $100 in change, using the coin machine lets you keep the $10 you would’ve paid Coinstar. Over several uses, the machine pays for itself and then some.
Electricity usage monitor
Contrary to popular belief, your TV, XBox or laptop doesn’t just suck juice when they’re on. Simply having them plugged in pumps current through the wires, and over the course of a year, the extra cost of paying for that is not negligible. For those who need this quantified with exact numbers, the electricity usage monitor is ideal. Just plug any device into it and you’ll discover what that device’s “phantom load” is while off and plugged in. You can even go around the house with it, figuring out the total electricity usage of every gadget and gizmo you own.
High-efficiency power supply
Electricity usage monitors are great for measuring the juice your devices suck down, but it still presses upon you the responsibility for taking corrective action. That’s where the high-efficiency power supply comes in. In addition to protecting your valuable equipment from storm surges, high-efficiency power supplies actually regulate the electricity flowing to your devices so as to ensure that they use the least amount required to run. Laptops, for instance, have energy-saving modes which use less power to function. With a high-efficiency power supply, you can rest assured that every gadget it powers is running with as little juice as possible.
High-efficiency washing machines
One of the biggest energy expenses in the typical home is washing and drying clothes. Powering a big machine that soaks and spins dirty clothes is costly no matter how you slice it, but how efficient your washer is can make a huge difference. That’s why it pays to invest in a high efficiency model rather than the bargain basement clunker that saves a few hundred dollars up front. If the better machine saves even $10 per month by using less water, it should pay for itself twice over inside of five years.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs
Of all the hyped-up money saving inventions out there, compact fluorescent bulbs are truly worthy of acclaim. Said to save $100 or more per year, CFL’s pay for themselves in spades as you substitute them for the old, energy-sucking bulbs you currently have. For those eager to quantify the savings they themselves could receive, free online tools like GE’s Smart CFL Savings Calculator will let you punch in the numbers and see exactly how much money you are leaving on the table without switching.
Gone are the days of simply “turning on the heat” (or air conditioning) and letting it indiscriminately bleed your wallet to make the house comfortable. With programmable thermostats, homeowners can precisely specify the exact times at which heating or air conditioning should run, and at which temperatures. Practically speaking, this allows one to specify that nothing should be running when everyone in the home is away at work or school. Just set it once and forget about it forever.
Efficient shower heads
Now, we concede that some people are just not willing to use a shower head that doesn’t pummel them with hard jets (a famous Seinfeld episode comes to mind about low-pressure shower heads). For all others, however, efficient shower heads offer the opportunity to save the average American homeowner up to 15,000 gallons of water per year, according to SimpleDollar.com. And it’s not just the water bill savings – 15,000 fewer gallons used means 15,000 fewer gallons you have to heat, which translates to significant energy savings as well. It’s the ultimate two for one.
The truly frugal (and smart) realize that it it is pointless to heat an entire house if there are several rooms you are never or seldom in. Spare bedrooms, third bathrooms, and attics usually fall into this category, and nine times out of ten, money spent heating these rarely occupied spaces constitutes a waste. Instead, pick up an efficient space heater from your local hardware store. It costs far less money to just heat an auxillary area while you are actually in it than round the clock, and if you are looking for a quick way to drop your electric bill, this could be exactly what you need to get it done.