10 Ways to Conserve and save Money

In October Kiplinger’s released what they called their “Green Issue” in which they basically dedicated the entire issue to “Green” living. A buddy of mine recently asked me for a copy of an article in the issue called, “29 Ways to Conserve and Save.” So, I figured I would share it with the CPF readers as well. I picked out my 10 favorite from the article.

  1. Use compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) instead of traditional bulbs. Kiplinger’s mentions that, “if every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL, the emissions savings would be comparable to taking three million cars off the road for a year.” Supposedly the bulbs pay for themselves (from the energy savings) over the course of a year or so.
  2. Add extra insulation to your water heater. If you have a water heater built before 2004, you can wrap it with an insulating jacket and save about $30 a year on your water heating bill.
  3. Have your furnace tuned every two years and you will, “save about 1250 lbs of carbon dioxide and 10% on your heating bills.”
  4. Lower the temperature on your thermostat. For every degree that you lower your home’s temperature during the cooler months, you can subtract about 5% from your bill.
  5. Use cold water to wash your clothes and you can save 50% of the energy that you would use if you used hot water. I honestly don’t know what effect this has on the clothes themselves, so I will have to check with my wife on that one :)
  6. Get a programmable thermostat. This wonderful tool allows you to program the temperature of your house on an hour by hour basis. So, it can be cooler when you are gone or asleep and warmer when you are around.
  7. Use a weatherstrip around your front and back door and you can save about $30 a year on energy costs.
  8. Set your water heater to 120 degrees (Fahrenheit for the international folks). Even if you don’t have a temperature gauge on your water heater, they suggest turning it down, “until the water feels hot, not scalding.” I think my parents need this one – I just about got second degree burns from washing my hands while I was visiting the other day. (Mom, Tell Dad to turn it down – money doesn’t grow on trees!! Remember?)
  9. Adjust your lawnmower to the 3-inch setting. They say that longer grass holds moisture longer, so you will not have to water as much.
  10. Have a pro wash your car. Kiplinger’s mentions that, “the commercial car washes save up to 100 gallons per wash over the do-it-yourself kind” and if every American, “took the lazy way out just once, total savings would amount to 8.8 Billion gallons of water.”

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25 Comments
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  1. Wow, 100 gallons per wash?! Supposing it were true that using a 2 gallon bucket for suds and 98 gallons to rinse my car were true…

    My water rate in CT is $5.68 per thousand gallons. By going pro, I would save 57 cents in water costs. However I would lose close to (more than?) $20 going pro?!

    I see this argument like “Going out to eat conserves and saves. The chefs are already cooking things, so the oven/pan/stove/etc is already hot. You save an unquantifiably high number of kW’s by eating out.” The cost of the service outweighs the savings.

    It is easy to flame an entire article over a few lines. That said, I do agree with all the other tips. CFL’s are great, both from a power consumption and lifespan point of view. Programmable thermostats are great. I hardly ever water my lawn because I keep the grass about 2 inches tall. I wash cold and see no difference between hot and cold.

    This is good list of things to do right now that will save you money over and over. Keep it up.

  2. We’ve used Tide Cold Water detergent for about a year now and the clothes come out just as nicely as they did using warm or hot water. Our hydro bill is very appreciative of the switch. The only thing you might want to keep in mind is that cold water doesn’t kill stuff like mildew or bacteria, so I still wash my bath and kitchen towels in hot water.

  3. Better yet, be really lazy and don’t wash your car at all. Just wait until it rains. Imagine the savings!

  4. @CBus
    You know, now that I think about it 100 gallons does seem like a lot, maybe we should ask Kiplingers about that ;)

    @Fedundy
    Thanks for the feedback, I will keep that in mind next time my wife makes me do the laundry!! ;)

    • Happily, the heat from the dryer will kill mildew and bacteria. Just make sure to switch it over sooner than later.

  5. You can use a clothes line instead of a dryer. Not only does it save the cost of running the dryer, but the UV light from the sun kills bacteria better than hot water or bleach. And your clothes smell nice :).

    • In my city, clotheslines are against city ordinances. Also, the clothes turn out stiff and scratchy!

      • then your city isn’t very earth friendly. I love to hang clothes outside and if they aren’t soft enough just a few minutes in the dryer vs. hours in the dryer is all it takes to do all the loads of laundry in my house!

  6. Reverse the thermostat direction for us southern folk! Crank it up to 78! I know my air conditioner is responsible for at least half of my electric bill every month. Can’t wait for winter!

    Anyone have any experience with tankless hot water heaters? I’ve heard they pay for themselves very quickly.

  7. @Michelle
    Good tip – I often find that there are good reasons for doing things the “way they used to be done” – looks like a clothes line is just another one…

  8. I suggest flushing once a week.

  9. Minimum Wage

    Water does not disappear simply because it is used to wash a car. Ultimately it goes back into the ground and becomes available for re-use. So what is the basis for the idea that 8.8 billions of gallons of water would be saved if everyone washed their cars commercially?

  10. Limewater

    @Minimum Wage:

    I think the idea is that it saves quite a bit of energy and chemical use involved in water purification. And while we have plenty of water on the planet, we do have a limited supply of freshwater. Water desalinization is a particularly expensive process.

    Though, to be narrow-sighted for a moment and only worry about the U.S., the Southeast is under a pretty severe drought right now. Water lost to the ground really isn’t becoming available for reuse, at least for the forseeable future.

  11. @Scott – you are probably joking, but I never cease to be amazed by people and some of the unique things that they do. So, I am sure there are some that adopt that policy :)

  12. daydreamr

    Scott isn’t too far off, I’ve heard of putting bricks, etc. in the tank so every flush uses less water.

    Regarding the idea of washing clothes in cold water, I use cold water 98% of the time and my clothes last a long time. Hanging clothes on the line is great too. Unfortunatly, I live in an apartment so I use a clothes rack. I also put an extra shower curtain rod in my shower to hang more clothes. If you don’t like the stiffness, throw the clothes/towells in the dryer for a few min. to ‘fluff’ them up a bit. Also, those dryer balls have cut down on the drying time by about 20 min. They work better with 4 balls though.

    My favorite suggestion is to shut the TV off. I don’t use mine (it’s mostly for display). One month, I had company and we watched a handful of movies. I noticed that my electric bill went up about $20 for a handful of movies, imagine what that would save for the chronic TV watcher?

  13. @daydreamr
    in addition to the financial savings gained, many people could gain back countless hours of their lives, rather than wasting them in front of the TV. (of course, not all TV watching is worthless – i.e. The Office ;) )

  14. A few things:

    1)if you use a brick in the tank BE SURE IT IS WATER SEALED! If not, it will dissolve slowly and bad things will happen to your toliet. The previous owners of our house did not have a water sealed brick in the toilet, which is how I learned about this.

    2)just turning off the TV is not enough. Do a google search for VAMPIRE APPLIANCES (I have some good links from my blog) and you will see just how much your turned off TV is still costing you. We set up a power switch we can turn off and on the whole entertainment center (we watch so little TV and don’t record anything that we don’t care about losing presets). :)

    3)we use cold water on all our washes (unless someone got sick). We put vinegar in the rinse cycle (it makes a GREAT fabric softener replacement!), and vinegar is a natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti- …well you get the idea. :) We put it in the automatic fabric softener release and our clothes are just as soft and, no, they do not smell like vinegar. :)

    BTW-I have really been enjoying your blog (and it’s archives). Thanks!!

  15. Paula,
    thanks for sharing about the brick thing – that is a good warning – I had no idea… and I have heard so many useful things about vinegar – I need to use it more than I do…

  16. anjelina

    this is gonna help me with me science fair

  17. hahaha i used this for my drama pentathalon presentation. (:

  18. I know this is about 4 years to late as I only stumbled upon this blog today but if you really wanna help out the environment go to russia and fix the oil pipes that are leaking more oil in to the lakes and oceans than the oil spill that happened here every day!

  19. Great ideas! I also use white vinegar as a natural fabric softner. A tip to cut down on drying time is tennis balls. If you toss a couple in they cut drying time by about 25% while fluffing bulky items at the same time!

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