The old adage “a penny saved is a penny earned” carries a lot of weight. This article outlines 13 frugal living tips for homeowners. Save money by cutting waste and reducing energy costs around your home.
1. Switch to Energy Star Products
According to energystar.gov, folks saved upwards of $30 million on their utility bills and helped to reduce greenhouse gases by using Energy Star-rated products. These super-efficient products include CFL and LED light bulbs, household appliances, building materials such as windows and doors and HVAC equipment among many others. Not only is switching to Energy Star products one of the best frugal living tips, but it also allows you take advantage of their energy savings and may qualify you for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit.
2. Install a Clothes Line
A simple clothesline allows you to dry your clothes for free using the power of the sun instead of expensive electricity. Electric clothes dryers can really put a dent in your pocketbook (up to $85 a year in electricity costs), especially if you have a large household. While a clothesline does require a bit of manual labor to hang the clothes, you will enjoy a fresh, natural smell in your laundry as well as a reduced utility bill.
3. Install a Water Heater Timer
This device allows you to program the times when your water heater activates and deactivates during a 24-hour period. Each household is different and you must determine, based on your hot water use, if a timer is right for you. Better yet, check out these amazing tech tools for the home, including one that will allow you to shut off the water at home.
4. Clean Furnace and Air Conditioning Filters Regularly
Cut down on energy costs by maintaining your HVAC system. A dirty filter can really drag down the efficiency of your heating and cooling system as well as shorten its life expectancy. Replacing the filter every couple of months will suffice for most folks, but it really depends on your household. Pet owners, for instance, might need to change or clean the filter more often due to dander and pet hair.
5. Repurpose Old Jars and Containers for Free Garage Storage
Back in the day, it was common for grandfathers to organize their hardware in mason jars. The simple practice entailed fastening the lid to a shelf bottom and simply screwing on the jar. Other useful containers for free storage include laundry soap bottles, shoeboxes and many more. Use your creativity and keep these items out of the landfill. Books can look beautiful as repurposed items like as a knife block, see how.
6. Make Your Own Household Cleaners
You can help the environment and save a few bucks by making your own household cleaners. For instance, instead of using store-bought glass cleaner, mix 2 cups of water with a 1/2 cup of vinegar to create your own. Another easy formula for all-purpose cleaning is mixing 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water. Check out a complete list of homemade cleaners you can do.
7. Repurpose Old Clothing
Purchasing cotton rags for painting, cleaning or dusting projects can get expensive. Make your own rags for free using old T-shirts and other unused garments. A few minutes with a pair of scissors or utility knife set up like this is all it takes to convert unwanted clothing into useful rags.
8. Install a Ductless Mini Split HVAC System
When it is time to replace your HVAC system, consider switching to a ductless mini split. The super-efficient systems require less labor during installation, do not require air ducts and allow you to cool/heat your home in zones instead of the entire house. This can have a profound effect on your energy costs in a good way. See 10 other clever ways to save money on energy costs.
9. Repurpose Used or Leftover Building Materials
Salvaging used or leftover building materials is a great way to save a few dollars. Visit a nearby construction site and speak to the project supervisor. Often, they will allow you to dumpster dive for discarded materials. Not only is this good for your wallet, but also the environment by keeping it out of the landfill. In addition, used materials often have a unique patina, which could add extra appeal to your project. You might even be able to build a tiny house like one of these with repurposed materials.
10. Repurpose Used Furniture
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Many furniture pieces, especially those from the late 20th century were manufactured using higher quality materials than today’s offerings. Whether you plan to refurbish it or break down the piece for materials, this practice can really provide you with an opportunity to save a few bucks. The cost of hardwoods and exotics such as cherry, oak, maple and teak has risen steadily over the years. Old furniture can provide you with a free or inexpensive source for these materials.
11. Basic Car Maintenance
You can perform routine maintenance on your automobile to cut the costs of repair and upkeep. All that is required is some basic knowledge, some common hand tools and a little elbow grease. It is not that difficult to change your oil, change an air filter, replace wiper blades or swap out a burnt turning-signal bulb. Folks who are just not mechanically inclined can take advantage of free services offered by many auto parts dealers. Many retailers will install wiper blades, batteries and even air filters for free if you purchase the items directly from their store.
12. Growing Your Own Vegetables
Growing vegetables at home can be a great activity that is fun for the entire family. You don’t have to rent a plow and tractor to grow a few tomatoes in your backyard. Many vegetables—tomatoes, squash, radishes, etc.—are easy to grow in containers. This garden practice utilizes containers such as a simple wooden box or even 5-gallon buckets for planting vessels. Aside from the fun you will have growing your own vegetables, the next time you need a tomato, you will save time, money and gas when you can just pick it from your own garden.
13. Rent Versus Purchase
Many DIY projects such as tile removal require a special tool—a jackhammer—that can be quite expensive to purchase. You can rent a tool far cheaper than you can purchase it. Common tools you can rent by the hour or day include pressure washers, jackhammers, hammer drills and carpet cleaners. Chances are good that your local tool rental center will carry the tool you need for your project.