Frugal Living 

9 Quick and Easy Penny-wise Frugal Home Tips

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PennyLast week, I wrote a post about how you shouldn’t work so hard to save very little. The basic premise is that there are a lot of things you can do to save money that, when you calculate the time and effort involved, aren’t worth it. In some cases, the tips are dangerous and, should your luck go south, will end up costing you more in the long run. The post seemed like one of those “don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish,” which is an idea I think we can all agree with, but that doesn’t mean I won’t take a second to pick up a penny.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of easy frugal home tips that don’t take a long time to complete and, while the savings won’t pay for a new Bentley, will cut out a bit of the waste in your life.

  1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Guaranteed to save pennies off your water bill, shutting off the water when you brush your teeth can save you gallons of water each year. It’s wasteful to just watch that water go down the drain for no reason, so save yourself a few dollars and the Earth some of its potable water by turning off the tap.
  2. Turn off the lights you don’t use. When I was younger I remember our family had a rule – one person, one light. If you went from one room into another, you turned off the light in the first room unless you were going to return shortly. There’s no reason why a dozen lights should be on when you’re watching TV in your living room, right?
  3. Turn off surge protectors to limit “vampire” appliances. Many appliances continue to draw power even when in the switch is the off position. Buy a few surge protectors, which have the added bonus of protecting your appliances from surges, and turn them off if you aren’t using any of the plugged in appliances.
  4. Set your thermostat lower (or higher) and dress accordingly. Adjust your thermostat one degree (down in the winter, up in the summer) and change what you’re wearing to save a few percent on your energy bill. This chart illustrates the potential savings on your energy bill. One degree away from 78 degrees in the summer is a 1% of savings and one degree away from 68 in the winter results in a 1% savings.
  5. Make your own cleaning supplies. Making your own cleaning supplies not only saves you some money but allows you to make more sustainable, earth-friendly products. It also saves you a little bit of space since you can make cleaning supplies on the fly as needed, so you won’t need to store as much. Search online for some easy recipes from the things you probably already have in your closet.
  6. Line dry your clothing. Line drying your clothes not only reduces your energy bill, it also extends the life of your clothes. If you can’t line dry outside because of the weather, get a rack to use in your home. If you can’t bear to line dry your clothes, consider line drying the heavier items that take longer to dry like towels and denim.
  7. Shut closet doors, unused rooms, and their heater vents. Reduce the square footage of your living space so the HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard.
  8. Use your microwave more. This tip is more about cooking smarter and is most applicable in the summer. Use sources of heat that are kinder to your AC system, like your microwave and your stove. Avoid using the oven, the last thing you want your AC to fight against is a 400 degree oven!
  9. Put a brick in your toilet’s reservoir. We went the step of installing two-stage toilet flushers, but before that all you really needed was a brick to take up space. Just make sure the flush is still “effective.” 🙂

Those are ten quick and easy frugal home tips that won’t save you a lot of money but also don’t take more than a few minutes of your time to do. Being penny-wise isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t take forever to do!

Now here’s where you come in… what’s your favorite quick and easy frugal tip?

(Photo: stevendepolo)

{ 28 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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28 Responses to “9 Quick and Easy Penny-wise Frugal Home Tips”

  1. Beth says:

    One of the best things I’ve bought for my kitchen was a convection toaster over. It’s perfect for cooking for one or two people (like chicken and potatoes or a frozen pizza), and great for reheating. I only turn my regular oven when I’m baking cookies.

    • Shirley says:

      I also use my crockpot whenever possible, rather than the oven, especially for roasts. Besides the (hopefully) electricity savings, it also allows me to use less expensive cuts of meat that come out fork-tender with the slow-cooking method.

  2. lostAnnfound says:

    #6,line drying indoors can serves two purposes in the winter – saving energy by not using the dryer and putting some humidity back into air in the house. Don’t know if it’s true, but someone once told me that if the air is a bit more humid inside during the winter, one feels warmer and vice versa for the summer by using a dehumidifier, which I then take the reservoir bucket when it’s full and use to water the potted plants on the deck.

    • Shirley says:

      Line drying heavier items that take longer to dry like towels, sheets, and denim won’t leave them ‘hard and scratchy’ if you pop them into the dryer for just five minutes first.
      That’s still a big saving over using the clothes dryer exclusively and doesn’t cause complaints from unhappy family members.

    • Strebkr says:

      Yes, humidity is a large part of heat in the air.

  3. zapeta says:

    Great tips. 2, 3, and 4 together can save you quite a bit on electricity costs.

  4. classic tips – always good to be reminded of these.

  5. live green says:

    What’s nice about all of these tips is that they help conserve water and energy and are easy things to do.

  6. Sheila says:

    My quibble with tip #2 is that with CFLs, you’re only saving $ and energy if you aren’t coming back to the same room within 15 minutes. #8 could include a toaster oven–I get mine out in the summer in particular.

  7. govenar says:

    I already always use a microwave instead of an oven, but my reason is just convenience.

  8. Rusty Kean says:

    ANY liquid soap, shampoo, or shower gel — I pour the origional into a PUMP container, be careful to label each one, and pump just what you need. I found that a small pump of shampoo is perfect, I dont pour a handful and waste most of the shampoo.

  9. Capt. Monterey Jack says:

    #9: You shouldn’t actually put a straight brick in the tank. Bricks will begin to disintegrate in water, and can eventually damage your plumbing. Might be a good idea to put it in a plastic bag first, or just use a different object.

  10. Shirley says:

    #7 – Check with your H/AC manufacturer before you close vents. Ours said that closing the vents in unused bedrooms could very possibly blow out the vent ducting, or at least cause leaks in it at the joints.

  11. Briana Germundson says:

    When we use the oven we make sure that we are cooking more than one thing. For instance, on Sundays we try to cook our meals for the week. We heat up the house once, we dirty the kitchen once, and fill up the dishwasher once. Plus it makes the week much easier. During the summers here in AZ we try to use the BBQ to cook as much as possible to avoid heating the house.

  12. Joan Skelton says:

    When using an electric stove, turn off the element or oven BEFORE the required cooking time. There is lots of heat left in the element or oven to finish the cooking job.

  13. Elloo says:

    My parents were Depression era kids, who grew up poor in the Bronx. They saved, recycled and re-purposed everything out of necessity. I picked up their habits. For example, when I was a kid my mother would never dream of using paper towels to mop up spills, wash windows etc. She cut up old sheets, towels, Dad’s work shirts, and pillow cases and stuffed them into a rag bag that lived under the kitchen sink. The rags were washed and reused over and over until they fell apart. I now do this as well to save money (and it’s more environmentally friendly).

  14. roommate says:

    Here are a few way to save tons of money.
    1. Don’t have kids because a kid costs over $500,000 AKA half a million dollars if you Compound it @ 12% after 20 years. Assuming the kid leaves the nest at age 20.

    2. Don’t get married because it will cause you to have kids which will make you lose half a million dollars. Over half of all marriages end in divorce so you lose half your house, bank account etc. Michael Jordan lost $150 million to his wife because he got married.

    3. Live with a room mate because he will cut your mortgage and utility bills in half. I live in a small cheap $80k house and my mortgage is $600 per month but I only pay $300 and my roommate pays me the other $300. My internet bill is $20 but I only pay $10 per month.

  15. Mike says:

    Great tips. One thing that has helped me save money around the house is learning how to repair smaller problems on my own.

  16. Wilma says:

    I do pretty much most of what you’ve mentioned. I don’t need fluffy towels. I hang my wash always. Hanging in the house in winter helps put moisture in the air. I have oil forced air heat and it dries out my sinuses.

    My toaster oven is my main baking and left over reheat source. No need to heat up the big oven for a casserole. Crock pots save here too. I’ve always done my cooking for the week on a day off and reheat till nothings left. Saves water and keeps clutter in the sink down.

    Oils expensive so sweaters and lap blankets are always in use. I have a rancher. Very easy to maintain even heat from room to room.

    I always use, use, use, and reuse till it can’t be used again. Old cloths become rags to clean with or go into a rag quilt for a future present. Egg shells, fruit and vegie food scraps go to the compost pile. If some thing is so broken it must be thrown out I harvest the good parts. Example screws, nuts & bolts, springs, attachments, hoses, etc.Joined to get things given away if I can’t sell them so they don’t end up in the land fill.

    As far as the room mate thing goes, you really need to be careful on that one. I got one who was the extreme opposite as me on the frugality scale. She arranged the furniture in her bedroom according to beauty and not common sense. When she complained about how cold her room was I saw she had her dresser in front of the heat vent. She wouldn’t move it and went and got a space heater. We had many memorable frugality and common sense issues while she lived here. No it didn’t save me any money while she was here.

  17. bepositive says:

    Knowledge of any product we use also helps us to avoid unnecessary costs. For example, if you know how the computer works and with a little free help from the web, you can make your computer work faster and smarter. Upgradation of any system needs to be considered only when the effeciency and the capacity usage of the product is very very high.

    Also perhaps it is more easier to understand this concept with this example. If the car is big you need a bigger garage. Or if the garage is small you need a smaller car. So understanding the garage dimensions maybe the first step to choosing your car !!


  18. Michelle says:

    There are 9 tips, the article says 9 tips, but after number 9 you wrote:

    Those are ten quick and easy frugal home tips

    Am I the only one who actually reads?

  19. Frugal in Florida says:

    I would like to add that I save approx. $30 a mon. on electric by not using my dishwasher. About the same if during summer months you turn off the water heater & take military showers,use antibacterial dish soap. Invest in some cheaper, thinner wash clothes and towels that will dry quicker then use the delicate cycle on the dryer and check the clothes every 10-15 minutes and take them out as soon as they’re dry or just fluff and then hang to dry. Don’t flush that toilet every single time, only when needed. When boiling eggs or other veggies, don’t pour that water down the drain, let it cool and use to water plants, they love the minerals.Vinegar is a natural antibacterial, put some in a fine spray bottle in the bathroom and kitchen and use to clean everything and also as a room spray to get rid of odors. The vinegar smell only lasts a minute and the odor causing germs are gone.For stained washcloths and dish rags, place a small tub in the laundry area, add small amount of bleach and fill half way with water. Place stained clothes in the tub after use and allow to soak until wash day. Buy bar cloths at Walmart, they’re great for face and body instead of loofah’s and special body scrubs.

  20. James Tylor says:

    Thanks for sharing so many useful tips to conserve non-renewable resources like water. Not only do these tips help in preserving the environment, but all help in cutting down energy bills.

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