It wasn’t all that long ago that the term “frugal” meant being cheap, but times, they are a-changin’. It’s easy to say it’s all about the economy. The truth is, however, that a renewed sense of being green, as well as a greater awareness of more efficient ways to use our resources, means that being frugal has become a true cultural change.
One of the ways we know it’s a change in culture and not just a fad is the intentional advancement in technology designed to help you stretch a buck, to be more frugal. The combination of technology and good old common sense can go a long way toward being frugal today.
The Hot Water Heater
One of the first places you can start realizing savings is with your hot water heater. It’s in the nature of hot water heaters to embody a certain level of inefficiency. Most hot water heaters are set too high. Check yours. If it is set higher than 120 degrees, you can reduce it. Many are set to 160 degrees. Since up to 15% of energy loss comes from maintaining tank temperature, a water heater blanket will help insulate the heater and reduce energy loss. Finally, don’t be afraid to wash your clothes in cold water. There are a few laundry detergent manufactures that are making special “cold water” detergent. The less hot water you use, the less energy (and money) you spend replacing it.
Room temperature usually falls between 68-72 degrees. That means you can set your thermostat a little below room temperature (65, perhaps) and wear a sweatshirt and slippers. If you get to a point that is too cold for comfort, you can bump the temperature back up a degree at a time until you hit the sweet spot.
How much time do you spend heating an empty house? With a programmable thermostat, you can set your thermostat to lower the temperature when you are not home, and keep it warmer when you are home. It’s being frugal without sacrificing anything!
What about those alternate heat sources in your home? Pick the coldest day of the week and plan to do all of your baking on that day. In fact, save your laundry for that day, too. Using the extra heat from the oven and the dryer can help you keep your thermostat settings down when the thermometer goes down, too.
Look at your cable bill. How many movie channels do you have that you just don’t watch? My guess is that, if you are anything like I was, you picked up that great package of movie channels because the deal was too good to pass up. Then you realized you were just paying for something you never used. These days, I use Netflix. I get the movies and shows I want and I actually watch them! You can also use Redbox; get one new release for one night for $1. You can’t beat that.
Are you a reader? If you are not using your local library, shame on you. Even if your library is small, almost every library has book exchange programs that are district wide – even statewide in some cases. Do you have a lot of books that you are not going to read again? Sign up at bookmooch.com and start trading books with other readers.
Whether you use all of these tips, or even just a few of them, you can start saving money on the everyday things you do. It makes your life a little greener, a little more efficient, and yes, a little more frugal.
Brenda Hineman knows a thing or two about being frugal. She also writes about Halloween Costumes at StarCostumes.com.