Petty things I have done to save money


I switched to LED bulbs when the price came down. We bought 6 Philips bulbs for $1 each in a special offer at Home Depot. They were to last 10 years but “only” lasted 6 years. The energy they consume is a tiny fraction of incandescent bulbs. With traditional Xmas decorations outside and inside our January power bill usually went through the roof! With all LED lighting we hardly notice the difference.

The decorations in “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase must have needed special wiring and a power board. A 100 amp service would not do it!

The only place we still have an incandescent bulb is in a clothes closet, used 5 minutes per day; it is now 10 years old and when it goes it will be replaced with an LED one that will outlast me.

Ask your friend what his Kilowatt Hour consumption is per year. And compare it with yours.

Our house is a 4 bedroom, 3 bath model and we have 2 fridges, 2 freezers, 2 microwaves. 3 TVs, 3 computers, and numerous other electrical gadgets. Kitchen range is a Whirlpool electric range.

Our yearly consumption is about 9000 KWHs. I measure the consumption of various gadgets. Our large screen 2008 Plasma TV uses 800 KWHs per year, the greediest thing we own. It will be replaced next year with an LED model which uses a lot less.

Before all these efficient gadgets, in the 70s, our consumption was 14,000 kwhs per year.


About 20 years ago, the Student Council at my school held a fund-raising project by selling incandescent light bulbs, and I was more or less obligated to buy a quantity of bulbs from them.
I switched to compact fluorescents about 10 years ago, and I began to convert to LEDs about 2 years ago, when the prices began to decrease. At this point, the only incandescents in my house are in the garage door openers. In my basement, I still have a box with most of the incandescents that I bought 20 years ago.


Our local power company has an incentive program for energy savings. I was able to get the church I attend in on this program. For each 4 foot T12 fluorescent tube we replaced with an LED tube, the power company gave us $6. I was able to get LED tubes for $6.95. I relamped 30 fixtures with four tubes per fixture. The total cost was less than $120. It did involve removing the ballast transformers and rewiring the fixture. However, not only is the energy savings significant, but I haven’t had to replace an LED tube in the two years they have been in service. With the fluorescent tubes, I was replacing several tubes a month. Often, I would have to replace the ballast transformers as well. I am glad not to be up on a ladder replacing bulbs.


Certain things are certainly worth it to save money. LED bulbs are a good example. I still have a few flourescent fixtures holding on and they don’t use that much more power than the LEDs so I am leaving them in service. I actually have LED replacements on hand but don’t feel like getting up on a ladder until I need to. Also, if I replace them as the fail, they are a lot easier to recycle with my local community recycling programs. They are filled with mercury so considered hazardous waste. I can take one or two in at a time but if I take in a whole box, I have to make some special 15 minute time window appointment only on Wed. That is a pain so it is easier to run them to failure and replace when needed. Again, this is another reason to replace them with LEDs when they fail. They were dropping like flies for a while but I have a few that seem to be in it for the long haul. I also had a couple ballasts fail with nearly new bulbs so I kept those as spares. I will not buy new bulbs though if the bulbs all fail and the ballast is still good on any of the fixtures. I will go straight to LEDs.

I have only had one LED fixture fail for no good reason and am not sure why. My GF has some older fixtures and I think the bulbs simply get too hot and fail, not because they are pulling to much power. They are nowhere near the rated limit of the fixture so it has to be the heat. I replaced them with some CFLs that someone on a job was going to throw away to replace with LEDs and they have been fine.

I have overvoltaged some in experimenting with them and that reduces the lifespan really quick. Harbor Fright is always giving away a nice little blue puck type worklight that is really nice for being free. I decided to hardwire some to an AC-DC adapter and they are not forgiving to being a tad on the high side. One let go within days and another lasted about a month. Now that I have the voltages in spec there are some that have been running for a year or longer and show no signs of slowing down. I have these in the room where my cat pans are located so I don’t have to leave a large light on. They are basically a nightlight.

I have met plenty of people who believe changing the oil is a communist plot. Amazingly their cars often do a lot better than one would expect but their older higher mileage ones do burn significant oil. They just take note of this and add oil as needed. I also take note to NEVER buy a car from them!

I personally deal with customers all the time who just buy cheap to try and save a buck. Often the cheap stuff breaks down or doesn’t perform well enough to do what it was bought for. I explain this and they still don’t understand. They still think they got a good deal because it is cheap. Then I have to replace it and they pay for new equipment and service so they saved NO MONEY by going cheap. This time of year brings lots of storms. I see thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment plugged into a $5 power strip. They think it is a protector but it is not. Again, they bought it because it was cheap. I tell them to use it for lamps or Christmas lights but it has no place protecting sensitive electronics. I look at the rating at it is either nothing or just barely better than nothing. They are always shocked to have something fried because of this. Some still do not upgrade, figuring that it was just a fluke this time around.


A few years ago our local power company had an overzealous promotion department.

They told housewives to let food cool down to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator!

Out annual power bill that year was about $900. But our family grocery budget was $9000!. Trying to save a few pennies and spoil fool while endangering your family’s health is nuts!

The “help” bulleting was quickly withdrawn.

When taking stuff out of the freezer that we will eat the next day, we put it in the fridge section where it will thaw while saving on cooling power.


One of my grandpas was too cheap for his own good. The one thing he actually didn’t totally cheap out on was cars. He would always buy last year’s model of a large car like a Caprice or Crown Vic and get a new one every few years. He passed a few of them down to my parents and there was nothing ever wrong with them. I drove a few of them as a teenager back in the day. They had a nice ride and lots of power. You can see why old people like them as it was a lot of comfort for not a ton of money.

Saving electricity was certainly one of his faults! He had all these strange habits about cooling the house down in the early morning hours before the sun came up and then turning off the air conditioning until the sun went down. He would cool it down some before bed and then turn it off, and then the cycle would repeat the next morning. Then there was the heating. My grandma looked like she was about to turn blue and my mom no longer wanted to visit because it was just basically warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing. And then there were the light bulbs…

He would buy like a 20 watt bulb or whatever the lowest wattage was. You couldn’t see anything in that house as it was so dark! He started to get really bad towards the end of him living in that house. He would save all the burned out light bulbs and replace bulbs with burned out ones to save energy and wondered why none of them worked! Yeah, this worked to save power but you really couldn’t see then. I was noticing all the lights were not working one day and we tried to replace bulbs with others from his stash. Most were burned out. Some were obviously bad with the filament being loose inside while others were not quite as obvious. I threw them in the trash but he pulled them out and did it again. I could tell they were the same bulbs the next time around so took them home to my parents house and put them in the trash there.

My mom finally got ahold of utility bills and got them changed over into her name. He didn’t realize the the bills were no longer showing up and she tried to just turn up the heat or whatever but he would notice and it would be cold the next time she arrived.

My parents finally got them into an assisted living facility that was nice and everything was taken care of. The climate control was run off a central system and my grandpa didn’t need to worry about saving energy. My parents paid all the bills. They had no clue what it cost and that was a good thing! They were happy and comfortable and that is what mattered. I swear my grandpa would have been happier if there was a dummy thermostat on the wall so he thought he could control things though.

The sad part about all this was that my parents inherited a surprising amount of money. They had started to think they were just scraping by but that was apparently not the case. Enjoy it while you are living as you can’t take it with you. My parents didn’t need the money and would have rather had memories of them not screaming at them or the grandkids about not taking a short enough shower or not turning off the light when we left the room.


Shouldn’t have to worry about needing to be a bat when we get to our grandparents age. With low power LEDs being as bright as they are, we’ll be able to see AND save money at the same time.

But, then again, most of our grandparents lived through the Great Depression and World War 2, so rationing EVERYTHING was commonplace and carried over into their adulthood and twilight years.


For a possible take of $100.


I’m from the time of 3,000 mile oil changes. I’m quite happy with my current 5,000 mile/6 month schedule.


My penny-wise/dollar-foolish friend (the one who washes his dishes in cold water in order to “save money”, and then has to call in a plumber due to the congealed grease in the drain) suffered a cracked thermopane bathroom window a few years ago, due to falling ice.

He called-in a glazier, and when he was told the price for replacing the window, he threw the guy out and called him a thief. His solution was to simply cover the broken pane with cardboard. The problem–aside from aesthetics–is that his bathroom has gotten down to temps in the upper 40s during really cold weather, and he frequently cannot bathe because it is so damn cold in that little room. When I stated that this should be a good motivation for replacing the window, his response was, “No, think of all the money that I’m saving on soap!”


I wear my glasses as little as possible so I don’t wear out the lens by looking through them. Also, I bought an eye patch and alternate patching the right eye and then the left eye so that I am using only one lens at a time and thus double the life glasses.
Now, may I get first prize for being cheap?


No. Remember hearing about a family that spent friday evening splitting 2 ply toilet paper into 2 rolls, i have 2 pairs of glasses, the right lens missing, can’t see out of that eye anyway.


For several years I used to only turn the water heater on for 15 minutes in the morning then shut it off until the next morning. This gave me a shower and still enough warm water to wash dishes later. The water heater was the only gas appliance. My gas bill was $25/month and $15 of that was just the minimum service charge.
Edit- I forgot, the stove was gas also, so $25 for hot water and stove.


I also used to cancel the cable every year and renew to keep getting the promo package deal price. I eventually just canceled cable TV and phone altogether and only pay for cable internet. The cable TV is completely worthless, especially in this day and age.

To keep it car related, I haven’t used a car wash in decades…way too extravagant.


I like the LED light quality of LED bulbs for home use, and enjoy the energy savings, but I continue to have problems w/their radio interference. I’ve had to resort to orienting my AM radios 90 degrees to the emi interference coming from the light bulbs. High tech, while great in other areas, isn’t really doing a quality job for me with light bulbs.


Saving money cost me $10.000. If you don’t believe it, let me explain. Western NY weather is hard on roofs. As my house we regularly get 70 mph straight line winds out of the Southwest and there are no houses or buildings st my South west for a few miles.

I had lost a few shingles on my south facing roof but I figured I could a couple more years out of it by getting up there with some spare shingles nails and some roofing tar.

Two years later I started calling roofers for estimates. The estimates I got were shockingly high. 3 times what I had paid for my last roof. I asked the last roofer what was going on. He said " It’s too bad you didn’t replace it 2 years ago, the price of shingles has doubled since then."


Speaking of saving money, my gas central heat unit went out last December and the deal I was offered on a heat pump system looked good because my AC was so old that it had the obsolete refrigerant in it and was 30+ years old and replacing only the gas heat would require a great deal of extra labor. So far I am happy with the performance but as summer approaches I wonder how this thing compares $$$ to the old unit and if winter temperatures drop significantly will this thing keep me warm. Has anyone made the upgrade to a heat pump and been happy with the overall performance and cost?


@Rod_Knox. I have a heat pump backed up by a gas furnace. The heat pump supplies the heat down to about 40 degrees. The heat pump then shuts off and the gas furnace supplies the heat.
I don’t know in what region of the country you reside. If you have an air to air heat pump, and no gas furnace backup, then I would imagine that there are electric resistance coils that kick on to supplement the heat from the heat pump. In my region of East Central Indiana, when the electric resistance heat turns on, the power consumption really goes up. The church I attend has one section of the building with the heat supplied by heat pumps with back up resistance heat coils. We had a cold January and our electric bill went through the ceiling. We are considering replacing the resistance coils in the air handlers and putting in hot water coils with the water heated with a gas boiler. Our son lives in middle Tennessee. The climate there is mild enough that a heat pump backed up with resistance electric heat is economical. In other words, down to about 35 degrees, a heat pump is more economical to run than gas. At lower temperatures, the gas is much cheaper than supplementing the heat with electric resistance coils. The gas heated forced air feels warmer than the heat supplied by a heat pump. In the summer, the heat pump operates just like a regular air conditioning system. In the summer, the heat pump pumps the hot air outside. In the winter, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and pumps it into the building.
@oldtimer_11. Have you considered s metal roof? They are coming back in my part of the country. The initial cost is higher, but they last 100 years or more.


I live in north Mississippi and we do occasionally have some arctic blasts that get the temperature below 20* for a day or two. It has gotten down to zero on a few very rare occasions. In fact the week after having the system installed the temperature was in the mid 20s to mid 30s for a week and I was comfortable. And there is an electric coil in the system, the thermostat has an EM HEAT setting to turn that on and hopefully I won’t need it often. My old gas unit was becoming dangerous due to a deteriorating plenum. I’m usually the last to switch to modern upgrades and hope this was a good decision.


@Rod_Knox. In northern Mississippi a heat pump makes sense. You are “pumping” the heat from the outside air into your house. The heat in the air exists down to zero degrees on the Kelvin scale. At zero degrees Fahrenheit, there is still heat in the air.
Geothermal systems are becoming more popular in my area of the country. These systems extract heat from the earth below the frost line where the temperature is about 55 degrees. In the summer, the heat from the building is pumped below the frost line. This type of heating and cooling is very economical.
As we find more economical ways to generate electric power, through solar panels and wind turbines, electric heating costs will be less than gas heating costs.
I think about the heating system in our house is similar to a hybrid car. We heat with electric energy until our heat pump.can’t pull enough heat from the air. Our system then switches to gas.