Updated on 04.28.16

25 Gadgets That Actually Save Money

Trent Hamm

I admit it: I’m a gadget addict. I like little devices that do neat things. At the same time, I also like to save money. What is a poor modern man to do with these two conflicting interests?

Simple. I buy gadgets that can pay for themselves (and even see a bit of return) over the long haul. This usually means I look for energy-efficient gadgets, but it also means that I try to evaluate things in terms of whether or not they can potentially return money to me. What’s nice is that many of these gadgets that save me money in the long run make a great deal of environmental sense as well.

Here’s a list of twenty five neat items I’ve found that can save a lot of money, along with their cost and the amount of time that it will take before their extra cost is paid for by their utility. Since they’re gizmos, they make for great gift ideas, plus you can use the argument that “this will save money” when suggesting the purchase of one of these items to your significant other. In fact, I actually started this list as justification to my wife for a few items I wanted to buy for myself.

Three water bottles1. Filtered Water Bottle
Sample Model: Katadyn Exstream Personal Water Bottle Purifier
Price: $39.95 + $32.95 cartridge refills
Time Until Break Even: 180 days of daily use

If you drink a bottle of water each day (as you should), but you buy bottled water instead of drinking tap water, you can pay for this nifty device in half a year. You can fill it from any tap and the internal filtering device will clean the water for you, eliminating viruses and bacteria. Thus, each day you use this bottle, you pay off a little more.

2. Battery Charger
Sample Model: Rayovac Universal Battery Charger
Price: $17.95
Time Until Break Even: How many kids do you have?

My son has a bevy of toys that just gobble batteries. It seems like every day I’m dropping more and more batteries into these devices. Thankfully, a battery recharger can trim the costs down really quick. Just take your Rayovac AAs, toss them in this, plug it in, and they’re good to go again. It’s absolutely perfect for parents that have children with lots of battery-powered toys.

A power strip3. “Smart” Power Strips
Sample Model: SmartStrip LCG4
Price: $34.95
Time Until Break Even: 60 days

If you use a desktop computer at home, it won’t take long until this device is a money saver for you. Simply plug in your main unit into the control outlet and all of your other peripherals (monitor, printer, speakers, etc.) into the other outlets. Whenever you power on your computer, the other devices power on; whenever you power off your computer, the others power off. Even better, it actually functions as a switch, so when your main unit powers off, there is no phantom “standby” electricity being drawn to the other peripherals. Not only will you save money on the powered-down peripherals, but you’ll save money from the lack of phantom charge.

4. Blender
Sample Model: Oster Classic Beehive Blender
Price: $47.99
Time Until Break Even: 6-12 months

A quality blender (like the one above) can save tons of money if you use it regularly. You can switch to grinding your own herbs, spices, coffee beans, and so on. A regular kitchen user can make back the price on herbs alone if they buy fresh herbs and grind them in the blender for long-term storage. Plus it’s invaluable for making drinks at home when you have guests, which ends up being much cheaper than a night out on the town. Get a good one, though, so it will chop and cut what you want.

An electricity monitor5. Electricity Usage Monitor
Sample Model: Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
Price: $24.99
Time Until Break Even: 3 years

With this device, you can see how much of a phantom load your powered-down electrical devices are still pulling through the wall outlet. If you discover devices that are pulling a significant load, unplugging them (or using an appropriate device to stop the drain) will save you money over time. This device is also useful for figuring out how much power various home devices are draining and, with some quick calculations, exactly how much it’s costing you.

6. Flash Drive
Sample Model: Kingston Data Traveler 1 GB
Price: $17.95
Time Until Break Even: 1 month

I find countless uses for my flash drive, the best of which is for an emergency backup of key files. A flash drive has saved my cookie during hardware crashes and it has also saved a lot of money in terms of burning CDs for software installation packages off the network. In short, it’s invaluable.

High end solar calculator7. High End Solar Calculator
Sample Model: Texas Instruments TI36X
Price: $10.99
Time Until Break Even: 2 years

I like to keep one of these in my pocket for doing calculations at the grocery store. Which package is the better deal per unit? It’s always a good idea to figure this out before blindly making a purchase at the store. Plus, with a solar calculator, you don’t ever have to worry about batteries or anything else – just keep using it.

8. Efficient Power Supply
Sample Model: Antek EA 380
Price: $81.00
Time Until Break Even: 1 year

A high-efficiency power supply not only protects you from electrical faults, it also ensures that your devices drain electricity at the minimum rate, which means your power bills go down. If your home has any sort of questionable power distribution, this device is essential for protecting your electronic equipment, but even if you have normal power, you can save money with this gadget because of the power drain that it reduces.

9. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Sample Model: GE Soft White Spiral T4
Price: $1.79
Time Until Break Even: 4 months

CFLs can easily save $100 a year, plus they look a lot cooler than ordinary bulbs. The simple fact of the matter is that by merely replacing a regular bulb with a CFL, you’ll save about a dollar per bulb every two months or so.

An efficient shower head10. Efficient Shower Heads
Sample Model: Niagra Conservation Earth Massage Showerhead
Price: $15.99
Time Until Break Even: 10 months

High efficiency showerheads save money by reducing the amount of water that needs to flow through your hot water heater. An average American household can save as much as 15,000 gallons of water per year by installing high-efficiency shower heads. Even better: that’s 15,000 gallons of hot water that your heater doesn’t have to heat, cutting down on your energy costs as well.

A scooter11. Fuel-Efficient Scooter
Sample Model: 2006 Vespa PX 150
Price: $4,200
Time Until Break Even: 4 years

A high-efficiency scooter is perfect for people who have a relatively short work commute that’s just a bit too far to walk every day. Leave that car in the garage and travel on a scooter. Plus, you can scoot around town and quickly run errands on this thing. Of course, a bicycle is even less expensive, but scooters are much faster and won’t leave you sweaty when you arrive.

12. Solar Outdoor Lighting
Sample Model: Silicon Solar Innovision LED
Price: $12.95
Time Until Break Even: 180 evenings

This is a great choice if you want to light your yard and patio in the evening but don’t want to spend on electricity all the time. Solar powered outdoor lighting will provide adequate lighting for much of the night after recharging themselves during the day. Their design incorporates solar panels, a nice geek factor, and they can provide wonderful low light in the evening, perfect for a nice ambience.

13. Dance Dance Revolution
Sample Model: DDR Extreme 2 (plus peripherals)
Price: $200
Time Until Break Even: 8 months ($25/month gym fees)

If you use the gym for a cardio workout, cancel your gym membership and get a home video game system, DDR, and a good quality dance pad. The game itself provides all the motivation you need, plus you have to be in pretty good shape in order to play the game for extended periods. I lost about 20 pounds playing DDR instead of going to the gym once upon a time.

14. Self-Cleaning Electric Shaver
Sample Model: Braun 8995 360 Complete
Price: $169.13
Time Until Break Even: 8 months of daily shaving

A top-quality self-cleaning rechargeable electric shaver saves significant money for each shaving over disposable razors and shaving cream. Although there are still upkeep costs (recharging, a rare replacement of the blades, and facial wash), the costs are much less than what you’ll incur with shaving cream and blades. Plus, you get the unbridled joy of owning a new gadget.

15. Espresso / Cappuccino Machine
Sample Model: Gaggia Carezza
Price: $200
Time Until Break Even: 80 visits to a coffee shop

Do you stop by Starbucks each day to pick up a fresh cup on your way to work? If you invest in a decent cappuccino / espresso maker, those visits can go right out the door; you can make it at home and it tastes at least as good as the stuff at the shops, especially chain ones like Starbucks where they have the “process” down to an art form. Plus, once you get used to using it, you can experiment a lot with different beans and grindings and make some truly sublime homemade coffees.

16. Programmable Thermostat
Sample Model: Honeywell 5/2 Programmable Thermostat
Price: $39.99
Time Until Break Even: 6 months

If you have central air conditioning, you need programmable thermostats. They provide very precise temperature control and can be programmed to automatically lower your air conditioning and/or heat use while you’re not home. Just program it and forget about it; it will automatically adjust things for you so that you aren’t wasting electricity and money.

Coin sorter17. Coin Sorter
Sample Model: FastSort Electric Coin Sorter
Price: $95.99
Time Until Break Even: 2 years

Most banks will no longer count change for you, but they will accept pre-rolled coins as deposits. CoinStar, on the other hand, will cash out change for you, but they have a 10% surcharge. Why not just sort and roll them yourself? Keep this device on the dresser, dump in your pocket change each night, change the rolls in and out (the device comes with a bunch of coin rolls), and when you go to the bank, take in a bunch of coin rolls and deposit them. Over time, the device pays for itself over the amount you would lose using CoinStar.

18. Efficient Space Heater
Sample Model: Honeywell HZ-315
Price: $19.95
Time Until Break Even: One cold winter

Small, efficient space heaters can save a lot of money because they allow you to not have to spend lots of extra energy keeping some rooms heated (such as the bathroom). Instead, just put in a space heater and turn it on when you take a shower. It’s substantially cheaper than keeping that spare room heated. Plus, you can use them when working in the basement or other rooms that you don’t bother to heat, or in the bedroom at night if you lower the house heat during the nighttime hours.

19. Solar Christmas Lights
Sample Model: Silicon Solar LED Christmas Lights
Price: $59.95
Time Until Break Even: 2 Christmas seasons

Instead of buying strands of electric lights for outdoor Christmas decoration, get a set of solar LED Christmas lights. They eat no electricity as they charge up during the day, come on automatically in the evening, and stay on most of the night. You can just set them up and let them be with no maintenance cost or effort at all. The start-up cost is a bit high, but the cool factor of LED solar Christmas lights, plus the energy savings, quickly makes up for it.

20. Remote Control Power Strips
Sample Model: Lacrosse RS-204
Price: $29.95
Time Until Break Even: 2 years (depending on use)

Quite often, we find ourselves plugging lots of lights and decorations in during the Christmas holidays, and it becomes a hassle to power them all off and on, so we often leave things on more often than we’d like, sometimes even overnight. To solve this problem, install a remote control power strip. This device can be turned on and off by remote control, meaning that you can have all of the cords out of the way and flip the Christmas tree lights on and off with just a button click.

High efficiency washing machine21. High Efficiency Washing Machine
Sample Model: Whirlpool Duet Front-Loading High-Efficiency Washer GHW9150P
Price: $859
Time Until Break Even: 3 years

If you buy a large-load high efficiency front loading washing machine, you’ll do many fewer laundry loads per month and each load will take less water than before. A machine like this can easily save $10 over a regular machine in water usage in a family home per month; even better, a large load machine will save a lot of time. Given the cost of a normal low-end washer, it should only take three years or so for this machine to pay for itself.

A laptop22. A Laptop
Sample Model: Dell Inspiron E1505
Price: $819
Time Until Break Even: 1 year

Now that laptops have reached a usability and reliability standard that approximates desktops, it becomes a serious choice whether or not to replace a desktop with a laptop. If you make the leap, you’ll find that the energy savings are tremendous. I often run it from battery at home and charge it using available outlets in other places, such as the local bookstore, meaning I have very little home energy use from the laptop. It won’t take long for this savings to make up for the differences in cost, plus you’ll have all of the laptop portability advantages.

23. TiVo
Sample Model: TiVo Series 2 80 Hour Dual Tuner
Price: $49.99 + $9.95 a month
Time Until Break Even: 6 months

If you have cable and a TiVo, your needs for DVD purchases and rentals will almost disappear simply because of the plethora of programming you’ll be able to watch commercial-free. This will begin to save you money before long, plus it will give you a much greater control over what you watch on television – I skip a lot of programs simply because of the commercials and the inability to pause them to chase my child.

24. A Hybrid Car
Sample Model: Toyota Prius
Price: $22,175
Time Until Break Even: 5 years

If you compare a hybrid side-by-side with a non-hybrid, the hybrid costs more up front. The savings, though, kicks in over the life of the car with much lower fuel costs. Plus, it has a great “geek factor” and it’s a solid environmental decision.

A windmill25. A Residential Windmill
Sample Model: Skystream 3.7
Price: $8,500 (including installation)
Time Until Break Even: 8 years

If you want to be “king geek” in your area, few things will top this. $8,500 will get you a windmill on top of your house, which can, by itself, take care of almost all of your home electrical needs. It looks like a high-tech antenna up there, quietly whirring away, using the wind to provide your juice. For an average household, the device will pay for itself in eight years; after that, it’s all gravy. Plus, you’re helping the environment by almost eliminating your load on the power grid.

Sometimes, you can buy gadgets to save money.

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  1. Jeremy says:

    I wanted to briefly comment on number 17, the coin sorter and roller. Around here most banks will not accept coins already rolled, only loose change. I know, it seems odd. The banks will let you bring in a bucket of change and they will count and cash it in for you at no cost as long as you have an account with them.

    So, for that one I’d check with your bank before buying a machine.

  2. Another great article Trent!


  3. I’d also like to say that many CoinStar machines will not charge you a fee if you get a gift certificate to Amazon.com. I use the gift certificate to buy more gadgets of course.

    I also save a lot of money with my Treo 700P. It can double as an Internet connection, sometimes saving me $70 a week on vacations (7 x $10/day at a hotel). It includes a calculator as well. Plus, I can compare prices on the Internet and decide if I’m really paying a good price.

    I’ve been thinking of getting DDR. Sounds like a great tool. I might have to look to pick one up on Ebay for cheap.

  4. Mark Petersen says:

    This is not an ad, I just love this thing!

    Disposable razor sharpener. MUCH cheaper than an electric, pays for itself before you know it.


  5. Ralthor says:

    Usually I love your advice, but I think this article has some major problems. Several of them are pretty much impossible to justify by the means of ‘saving money.’ You also should have tossed out the calculations you used so that people can figure out what they are likely to save based on their lifestyle.
    Hopefully I got my quick math at least close to correct.

    #1 $40 (base cost) + $33 * X/160 (33 dollar refill for 160 uses per their website) = $cost of a bottle * X
    Where X is bottles of water.

    If we simplify this:

    Bottles of water before it pays for itself = $40/(Cost per bottle – .21)

    To make it easy if you are paying 1.21 for a bottle of water at a gas stations (about right) it will pay for itself in 40 bottles. Obviously it will take longer if you are buying your bottles in build for like .50 a pop.

    2. This ones complicated. Base cost is $18, you can buy a 4 pack of AAs rechargeable for $15, and 4 pack of Duracels for about $4.

    The base equations is this:

    ($18 + (Cost per rechargeable)*Number of rechargeable)/Cost per regular battery = Number of batteries to break even.

    With the above information this is:

    (18 + 3.75*4)/1 = Number of batteries

    So if we buy the 4 pack of rechargables we will have to replace 33 batteries for it to break even.

    If we buy 2 4-packs it will take 48 batteries (but assuming they are all in use it will happen twice as fast).

    Now if we usually buy Maxell Batteries as 40 packs then we are talking $.25 per battery and the time it takes to become profitable is really getting long (depending on how often you go through batteries).

    Number 3:

    Only helpful if you actually turn off your computer.

    Number 4:

    A 50 pack of cds is about $10, memory stick is roughly $20, so it will take 100 cds that you saved before this is profitable.

    Number 7:

    You really can’t justify this from a cost point of view. Every cell phone has a calculator on it and even if it doesn’t (or you don’t have one) almost every item at the grocery store (at least at Smiths where I shop) is already broken down into cents/oz or dollars/lb allowing for easy comparison.

    Number 11:

    Vespas get 60 -80 miles per gallon. If we take 70 mpg and gas is $2.50 and your car gets 20 mpg it will pay for itself in:
    $4200 / $2.50/gal = 1600 gallons.
    If will pay for itself after you have save 1600 gallons of gas. Every 70 miles you have save 1.5 gallons
    of gas, so you would have to drive your Vespa almost 75,000 miles to pay for itself on gas alone. Driving 15,000 miles a year this would be 5 years.

    Of course if you are driving 15,000 miles a year you have probably completely replaced your car so that could save you a huge amount of money by selling your current car or buying a vespa instead of a new car.

    If you buy a $500 bike and replace your 20 mpg car you can pay for that in:
    $500/$2.50/gal = 200 gallons
    Every 20 miles saves 1 gallon of gas so you would pay it off in 200 miles.

    Number 17:

    Other people have already commented, but Coinstar doesn’t charge you if you get a gift certificate (and they offer them to a lot of places). Even if you don’t get gift certificates you would have to convert $1000 in change to pay for it with the service fees. I guess if you assume that the loose change will go completly unused if you don’t buy the change counter then it will pay for itself in $100 of loose change, but there are much more profitable ways of converting loose change.

    Number 21

    The Energy star site claims you can save up to $110 a year with an energy star appliance vs. a pre 1994 washing machine, not against a modern washing machine. This means if you have an old washing machine you could go out and buy this new one and have it pay for itself in 7 to 8 years. The savings will not be that great if you are buying a new washing machine and you buy an $850 energy star vs. a $550 modern non energy star washing machine. That being said many many communities offer significant rebates for purchasing energy saving devices which could significantly offset the cost. (Same is true with the programmable Thermostat and possible the efficient water heads).

    Number 22:

    Not a chance you can justify this by ‘saving money’ on electricity. I calculated the amount it costs to leave my computer on 24/7 and I think it was are $10 a month. This didn’t include the monitor, but it assumes that the computer never goes into power saving mode (which should more than offset the cost of the monitor). Assuming that you leave you computer on 24/7 and you never use your home electricity to power your laptop it will take you 8 years to pay for itself (which is a quite a while for a computer to last). Laptops are also much harder and more expensive to upgrade piece by piece as it gets outdated.

  6. akamai22 says:

    Your calculations on the Prius leave out the cost of replacing the battery pack every 6-7 years, which is expected to run $3~5k, plus the potential for horrendous environmental impact if those things end up in the landfill. Also, in the real world, the car gets about 35 MPG, or about 70% better than the Corolla on which it is based. Unless gas goes way over $3.50, I don’t believe a Prius ever pays for itself. A small diesel, on the other hand, will pay for itself, which is why they are so popular in Europe. Now that we have low-sulphur diesel fuel available in the US, this is going to be a cheaper solution. Not as nerdy or PC, but cheaper.

  7. Dave! says:

    Some great finds on the list! But I would question your math on the hybrid car…

    I did a little looking recently, and I found that the Prius MSRP for the top model was $23070, compared to the Corolla MSRP for the top model at $15,415. That’s a price difference of $7655.

    Now, let’s assume I drove 300mi. per week (which is the U.S. Average, per the EPA) and that gas costs $2.50 per gallon. Using the MPG ratings published by Toyota, the Prius gets 60MPG city, and the Corolla gets 30MPG.

    That means the average fuel cost per year for the Prius would be $650, the Corolla, $1300. A savings of $650 per year. If that’s the case, then it would actually take over 10 years to “break even” on the cost of the hybrid. I *strongly* suspect those numbers are also similar for Honda’s offerings as well.

    That’s not to say there aren’t other valid reasons for buying a Hybrid (lower emissions, less out of pocket on gas weekly) but I think the argument that the savings in fuel costs will “break even” in the long run is disingenuous.

  8. Pete says:

    Instead of the car/scooter, try a bike! If you get a used one (available for $20), time until break even: 1 week.

    If you sell your polluting, expensive car, time until profit: 0 minutes!

  9. David says:

    We use those “Smart” Power Strips and they do actually save money on the electric bill.

  10. Billy says:

    A hybrid is a waste of money and resources.

    A diesel run over a long period beats it hands down for running costs and fuel savings.

    European Diesels have a high geek factor and waste less resources and money than a hybrid Lexus or Prius. Especially when run on biodiesel.

  11. Erling Andersen says:

    Funny compilation. I must admit, you’re a cheapskate if you save electricity by not powering up your laptop at home – and instead charge it somewhere else ;)

  12. Craig says:

    23. TiVo – You can save even more money by building your own HTPC(Home Theater PC) because you can buy software that does not have a reoccurring fee like TIVO. Check out SnapStream(windows), Media Center(win), or a bunch other Linux based solutions.

  13. Bill says:

    I agree with all save the Prius. You can buy a used Civic four door for half the price of the Prius, the Civic WILL get up to 48 MPG on the high way/35 city, AND you can buy a LOT of gas for what you saved. Enough to power the Civic for many years.

  14. akamai22 says:

    Your calculations on the Prius leave out the cost of replacing the battery pack every 6-7 years, which is expected to run $3~5k, plus the potential for horrendous environmental impact if those things end up in the landfill. Also, in the real world, the car gets about 35 MPG, or about 70% better than the Corolla on which it is based. Unless gas goes way over $3.50, or you drive well over 15k miles per year, I’m not sure don’t a Prius ever pays for itself. A small diesel, on the other hand, will pay for itself, which is why they are so popular in Europe. Now that we have low-sulphur diesel fuel available in the US, this is going to be a cheaper solution. Not as nerdy or PC, but cheaper.

  15. Scuba says:

    Great article! Lots of nifty tips there.

    In regards to “13. Dance Dance Revolution”:

    That $200 can become about $25 quite easily, with a dance mat off eBay and the free dancing simulator Stepmania. It’s basically the same game as DDR, but with the ability to add custom songs and its for PC. Check it out here: http://www.stepmania.com/wiki/Downloads

  16. six says:

    I’ve been playing DDR for years. I’ve gone through countless diets and 2 gyms. They all suck, big.

    Play this game for 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a week and you will be in seriously good shape. Get rid of that Christmas gut while dancing to ridiculous J-Pop and american song remixes.

    The best part is the more you play, the better you get, so your exercise naturally increases in intensity as you play and harder songs become available. Not to mention it’s the only form of exercise I’ve ever been addicted to.

    There is also an exercise mode that counts your calories for you based on your weight. I rarely use this feature unless I want to know how many calories Paranoia on heavy burns.

    Get some upper-body/arm action for bonus calorie murdering.

    I highly recommend the Redoctane Ignition pads. They’re about $80 @redoctane.com, but the high quality cushions make it wayyyyyyyy worth it on your feet. They are excellent quality, I’ve used their original design for two years now and it’s still in excellent condition. I used one of the skinny plastic “official” dance pads for a couple months and almost had to quit the game because my feet hurt so damn much.

    Do yourself a favor.

  17. JK87 says:

    Who on earth is paying $170 (which doesn’t even factor in electricity) on razor blades and shaving cream in just 8 months? Are you buying a new Gillette Fusion blade EVERY DAY?

  18. JK87 says:

    Ralthor…either you have a REALLY old computer with a tiny power supply, or your electricity is ridiculusly cheap. (Or your math is terrible.)

    It is ridiculous to suggest STEALING electricity from a bookstore (and yes, that is what it is, author, as those power supplies are not for custoemrs to recharge batteries.) But a computer left on 24/7 is not only stupid, but it costs far more than $10 a month.

  19. Jim C. says:

    #1 **************

    Save even more money and just drink tap water. Unless you hate the taste of your water or you have hard evidence that there’s bad stuff in it, there’s no reason to drink filtered or bottled water.

  20. JK87 says:

    6 months of Tivo costs $110. If you are spending $110 on video rentals, you have far greater problems to deal with than saving money. Like getting a life.

  21. Sean says:

    How did you figure for a 3 year break even on the Kill-A-Watt? I figure I broke even on mine in 2.5 months, and if you count my roommates’ decreased energy consumption as well we broke even in under a month.

    I used to run my computer 24/7, just shutting off the monitor at night. After seeing how much it was costing me (about $22/month for my entire desk, measured from the power strip’s cord) I decided to experiment with different power saving measures. First I started shutting the computer down at night unless I had a large download queue waiting (even then I set it to turn off after it’s done). Then I switched to using my notebook for browsing, e-mail, and IM; keeping the desktop suspended unless I needed files from it or wanted to use the larger screen to code. Finally I enabled Cool and Quiet, which cuts my clock speed in half and drops the processor voltage when I don’t need the speed (95% of the time).

    All these steps cut the total power consumption of my desk in half. The computer now being off 6-10 hours a day was most of that, with the rest splitting the remaining $1-2 of savings.

    All three of my roommates did similar things which resulted in our electric bill dropping by nearly $35 (they had already been turning their computers off nightly, so their impact was less).

  22. Jeremy says:

    I think it was Ralthor that posted the item about the recordable CDs vs memory stick. Anyway, regardless if you can get the same amount of storage on CDs for less money, you can’t throw a spindle of CDs in your pocket easily or use them transferring data to and from work.

    For me anyway, we can easily have 100-200MB a day come through for work in spreadsheets, powerpoint, documents, you name it. It is not practical to save a few dollars and constantly burn these to multiple CDs when they can easily be thrown on a memory stick type device in seconds and then accessed on any computer.

    Yeah, recordable CDs may be cheaper, but when it takes 10 times the amount of time to save the data to them and then access it, have you really saved anything?

  23. mathew says:

    I see some commenters have fallen for Detroit’s myths about the Prius.

    Real world MPG is around 50, highway and city. To get as low as 35 MPG you have to drive really badly and keep the AC on full all the time.

    Battery life is a minimum of 10 years–that’s what they’re warranted for.

    The batteries are completely recyclable.

  24. yes yes says:

    umm, that water bottle isn’t for filtering tap water to give it better taste.. it’s for filtering stream/river water to remove the harmful particles..

    Tap water (at least in the US) is (most of the time) already safe to drink..

    Just save even more money and drink the tap water..

    man, who wrote this thing?

  25. Dave! says:

    @mathew: the Hybrid math still doesn’t work. I didn’t use “Detroit” numbers, I used Toyota’s published numbers (for the cost of Prius vs. Corolla and for MPG for both). It doesn’t break even for slightly over 11 years… which still puts you outside the warranty on the battery.

  26. Chip says:

    Interesting list, but I disagree on the coin sorter. They’re not worth spending your money on, and I’ve never been charged when I bring in my annual coin collection (anywhere from $70-$250 in the past few years) in paper bags, so long as I had an account at that bank. Also, I wonder about some of your “break even” times, it’s almost a shot in the dark estimate on the windmill, and the hybrid car figures are constantly being debated.

  27. Fredrik says:

    I’m a motoring expert and – short story – the hybrid is crap. Can’t recommend it for either economy or enviromental reasons. In fact – it’s worse for the environment than a normal car because of the batteries.

    The only possible use for it right now is to minimise smog in city areas. But one car will hardly solve the problem – and you’d end losing lots of money on it.

  28. dude says:

    How about using a Brita or Pur water filter for $25…last 3-4 months and you can fill up any old water container.

  29. Charlie says:

    Nobody’s ever had to replace a Prius battery pack.

    I’ve been running mine since 2002 with average fuel economy of 48 mpg over that time period. Note that’s the “old model” less efficient Prius, not the newer, significantly more gas-saving one.

    The battery pack thing is a myth, and everybody knows that you don’t get the EPA rated mileage from *ANY* car (although the old Prius gets closer than most), but you still shouldn’t buy a Prius just to save money on gas. It’s not a wise investment if you only calculate based on gasoline.

    But, there are plenty of good reasons to buy a Prius. For one, 90% less emissions at the tailpipe means fewer of your children dying of lung cancer…

  30. walter says:

    Unfortunately, its anything but quiet when a windmill is whirring away on your roof. They can be amazingly loud.

  31. stoykish says:

    well i can suggest the slingbox, it doesnt directly save you money it just allows you to use your cable or dish payements to their fullest especially if you travel alot.

  32. bitter says:

    Save even more money – your municipal tap water ensures you have healthy virus and bacteria free water and has regulation on contaminants in fact bottled water has no regulation and can have as many viruses, bacteria, or contaminants in it as it wants

  33. Ralthor says:

    JK87..My math could be bad or my memory, it was quite a while ago, maybe I should get a kill-a-watt and see for sure. I expect it is a lot closer to $10 than it is to Sean’s $22. There are actually have four computers on 24/7 + 2 laptops that are almost always plugged in. Only 1 of them is more than a few years old. I live with four other people and our electic bill is usually between $90 – $120. If each (newer) computer was taking $20 a month that only leaves $30 – $60 for the other one, the laptops, two printers we usually forget to turn off, modem, three routers, AC, lights, washer, dryer, fridge, dishwasher, tv’s, tivo, dvd players, speakers & receivers, half a dozen consoles, and the tons of other gadgets plugged in all over the places (NDS, PSP, iPod, cell phones, battery rechargers, etc).

    The monitors go to sleep, but the computers never do, maybe they are taking up the majority of that bill, but it doesn’t seem like it compared to how much power we have running through this house.

    Either way with all of us in the house it ends up being really cheap and it would be impractical for us to turn them off. Bandwidth needs to be available during the day, so downloading is usually resevered for the sleeping hours. We are all in IT/CS fields and rather than worry about always having the right file with us we connect up to our computers remotely to access data.

  34. David says:

    Hi! Great article! I also have a comment on #17. It took about one year, not two, to get a 100$ in coins :) get up the great bloging

  35. MJ says:

    I’d add a bicycle (or several). Saves me rather a lot on my 10 mile commute. And certainly saves more than a Scooter or a Prius. And it is user-serviceable, so you don’t have to pay someone to fix it (and if you do, it is relatively cheap). Don’t scrimp on the initial purchase tho’.

  36. Simon says:

    Or the new USBCELL AA Rechargeable batteries that can be recharged without an external adaptor, so are easier to re-use and recharge hundreds of times, so can save you money as well as reduce waste in the environment, without the hassle of finding/carrying a charger ever again. Available in North America and Europe from http://www.USBCELL.com

  37. > It won’t take long for this savings to make up for the differences in cost, plus you’ll have all of the laptop portability advantages.

    Assuming you doesn’t consider 10+ years long, then yeah, it won’t take long. Here’s the thing about electrical power in America: it’s cheap. An inefficient desktop run 24/7 will cost you around 80 bucks a year.

    >25. A Residential Windmill
    >Sample Model: Skystream 3.7
    >Price: $8,500 (including installation)
    >Time Until Break Even: 8 years

    A better idea: put $8,500 in a mutual fund earning 10% a year. In less than 8 years you’ll have enough to pay for your electricity bills on the interest alone. And unlike a windmill, after the 8 years the amount will just keep growing and growing, rather than incurring maintenance costs.

    etc, etc.

    I don’t think you’ve done the math on any of these items. Pretty poorly thought out article.

  38. JoE says:

    I’d just like to point out that in the showerhead one, you spelled Niagara wrong… Don’t worry though, I’m from Niagara Falls, I’ve seen pretty much everybody spell it wrong.

  39. Keith says:

    With regards to the shaver, I have an older version of the Braun and it requires that you replace the cleaning solution every 6 months if you clean the shaver once a week. And at about $75 for two solution bottles, it isn’t much (if any) savings.

  40. biefje says:

    About the batteries.
    6,5 pounds a piece….get a life!
    + some usb hub to put them in.
    Normal NIMH batteries are aprox ,70 Eurocents + a charger (4,95).
    And they are almost double capacity ( 2200+ vs 1300mAH )!

  41. Al says:

    re. Battery charger.

    You failed to mention that one must purchase rechargeable batteries. Careful shoppers will find rechargeable NiMh AA cells for $2-3 each.

    Since Costco AA cells are about $.25 each (and brand name batteries up to $1.00 each) I calculate that one must use the rechargeable batteries 9-12 times to break even (not counting the cost of the charger)

    In some devices, like digital cameras, NiMh rechargeable batteries last longer – in my camera more than twice as long.

    My camera uses four AA cells. I have two sets and they get recharged once a week. At that rate of use they have a lifetime of two to three years.

    So in a year I would have used 200 AA batteries ($50 at Costco). Instead I bought the charger ($18) and used eight rechargeable batteries ($20).

    Total savings first year = $12
    Savings in second year = $50.

  42. Joe D says:

    > If you buy a $500 bike and replace your 20 mpg
    > car you can pay for that in:
    > $500/$2.50/gal = 200 gallons
    > Every 20 miles saves 1 gallon of gas so you
    > would pay it off in 200 miles.

    This is incorrect.

    200 miles = 10 gallons = $25.00.

    200 gallons of gas will get 4000 miles out of the 20mpg car, so you’d have to ride the bike for 4000 miles to break even.

  43. Paul says:

    I investigated electricity generating windmills for my father-in-law this year. The starting point has to be location. You must be in an area with significant average windspeed for it to be worthwhile. In our area (Southern Ontario) annual average windspeeds are considered to be marginal, at best, for cost effectiveness. The numbers I looked at suggested that a break even point for us would have been greater than twenty years, and that assumes never having to pay for any maintenance on the system. A couple of minor repair bills, and the whole thing could never pay for itself.

  44. J-Berg says:

    Even if the math is a little off on some of
    this stuff, it’s still a good thing. If it makes
    you take an interest and do some research of your
    own, it’s successful. And it’s a plain and simple
    fact that a percentage of our population “get off”
    on being the spoiler, or naysayer, because it
    powers their ego’s. If your willing to spend extra
    money to help our environment than hats off to ya.
    If it actually saves you some money, AWESOME! And most of the naysayers I know have no “vision”
    beyond their front door as it were. Eat one.

  45. rob says:

    compact flourescent bulbs: theoretically save you money, but as soon as a couple of them crap out you’re in the hole for years. Even with a guarantee from the company, unless they pay postage both ways, you’re not going to save money.
    CFLs also are also HAZARDOUS WASTE.


    low flow showerheads: half the water flow = twice the length of shower. Not worth it because they don’t rinse quickly. take shorter showers or turn off the water.

    electric shaver: compare this to other electric razors, not disposables. People who use blades frequently do so because electric razors suck.

    coin sorter: been covered. Pointless. My bank does it for free and mails me a receipt. I give them a tupperware container with the account number printed on it.

  46. Tod says:

    Re. #21, Whirlpool Duet washer. What you’re neglecting, and what Whirlpool neglects to tell you, is that while you’re saving energy, your clothes aren’t getting as clean. They’re fine for older folks with no kids who don’t spend time in the yard, but if you have kids, don’t waste your money.

    Having to wash loads two and three times, on “Extra dirty” and “extra rinse” cycles just to get things as clean as a traditional top-loader’s normal cycle does not make for many savings in energy, water, or time.

    Plus, the matching dryer makes a twisty ropey mess of sheets, long sleeves, and pants legs.

    Worse couple of grand I ever spent.

  47. Tod says:

    “worst” not “worse.” You know what I meant.

  48. >compact flourescent bulbs: theoretically save you money, but as soon as a couple of them crap out you’re in the hole for years.

    Huh. I’ve never had one go bad on me and my house is full of them. Forget the cost savings, personally I like almost never having to change a lightbulb. A minor modern convenience, perhaps, but nice.

  49. PC says:

    I see a lot of people disagree with you regarding the hybred car. And they are all correct. I own an 1986 VW and I averaged out my gas usage for 6 months. Then I removed the gas engine and replaced it with a used diesel I picked up at a salvage yard. and again averaged out my fuel usage. I allowed myself the same money for fuel each month, only the money not spent went into the bank. In 1 year I have recovered the cost of the engine change out, and I now drive more then I did before. I have friend that bought a hybred at the same time I re-engined my VW. I am getting 55MPG while he is getting 41MPG and my car is 19 years older then his. This is all city driving. As an added bonus I can use Biodeisel which is saving even more fossil fuel. So the answer is to go deisel not hybred or battery powered. Tell the politicians to make the car manufacturers use more diesels and we can all save money and start growing our fuel rather then pump it out of the ground.

  50. Bob says:

    You don’t really do this do you?

    “I often run it from battery at home and charge it using available outlets in other places, such as the local bookstore, meaning I have very little home energy use from the laptop.”

    The same guy who complains about the price of books? Oh right, Why buy any if you can read them there? Plug in your kids battery recharger there too. In fact leave the kids there and save on childcare!

  51. Michael Montemarano says:

    if i could add something, i recently installed an app called LocalCooling. its very user friendly and gives users a good view on what components in their computer is drawing the most power, and energy savings using the program.


  52. Erik Hovland says:

    Just wanted to say that although buying an espresso machine is a great idea. Buying the Gaggia Caprezza is not the best choice (see number 15).

    Consider ponying up some more money and getting either a Gaggia Classic or a Rancilio Silvia. If you must go for the $200 range of devices, get a Krups. The Caprezza is a frustrating machine made out of substandard parts to get the cost down.

  53. Justin says:

    Sorry, Don’t really see the Prius as an environmentally sound solution. Do you what the most inefficient means to deliver energy is? Well its a battery…. Do you what one of the most harmful things to the environment is. Yes, you are correct it is disposable batteries. You are really just putting off the inevitable.

  54. John says:

    >low flow showerheads: half the water flow = twice
    >the length of shower.

    Flat wrong – One time at the state fair I saw them being marketed as increasing pressure, so I bought one since showers were taking forever because of my poor water pressure. I was amazed, but it actually works.

    >>compact flourescent bulbs: theoretically save
    >>you money, but as soon as a couple of them crap
    >>out you’re in the hole for years.

    >Huh. I’ve never had one go bad on me and my house
    >is full of them. Forget the cost savings,
    >personally I like almost never having to change a
    >lightbulb. A minor modern convenience, perhaps,
    >but nice.

    Yeah, modern incandescent bulbs are cheap devices which are overly sensitive to vibration. (I say “modern” because they used to be built better, but like any product these days, why build it to last when you can screw people over and make more money if they break all the time).

    Strange thing, though – I’ve only had to replace three incandescent bulbs in our house since we bought it 3 years ago, and we certainly have more incandescents then compact flourescents. My thinking is that my house is built of brick and has an oak frame (yeah, it’s an old house), and so it doesn’t rattle much, if at all (and I live one of the main roads in town – many busses, semis, fire engines, and all sorts of heavy vehicles drive by on a daily basis).

  55. the other Dave says:

    Americans standards for “drinking” water is far different from the rest of the world…in many places it wouldn’t be able to fit the bill.

  56. Max says:

    A few more comments, trying not to duplicate others:
    1. I pay about 15 cents for a liter bottle of water in the 24 packs. Can you re-run the math to tell me how long it’ll take for this filter thing to pay off? Oh, and I mostly drink tap water anyway.
    4. How does a grinder save money on coffee? I’ve never seen a store that charges extra to grind the beans. I grind them myself for freshness. And do you seriously suggest asking people over to your house rather than taking them out simply because you have the capability of mixing drinks for them?
    7. Most stores have unit pricing on the tags; you don’t need to figure the comparison yourself. Even if they don’t, do the calculations in your head. It’s good for mental acuity.
    11/13. I ride a bike, almost as fast as an average scooter, and I don’t belong to a gym. Tell me again how to save some money here?
    17. Don’t let coins accumulate. Always keep a buck or so of change in your pocket, and pay with exact change whenever possible. Don’t need to buy a sorter, don’t need to make trips to the bank or the cash machine, and (as in #7) it’s good for the brain to do the exercise.
    You stress the “cool factor” on many of your items, but last time I checked coolness had no monetary value.

  57. Mark Abell says:

    I thought these products were very cool and also technologically advanced. What I enjoyed about the article was that there are products with a great deal of innovation incorporated into them in order to save energy. Bravo.

  58. T Man says:

    Some good suggestions here, but like others, I find some of them a little questionable.

    If you use a bank that doesn’t give you free coin counting, find another one. In the east we have Commerce Bank. They have something called the Penny Arcade and it will do the counting for your at 100%. You don’t even need to have an account to use this service. Besides, they are open 7 days a week, which could theoretically save you fuel if you happen to be passing by a location on a Sunday, plus save you some frustration.

    The windmill was a cool one, and if I had the money I would do it. Although, don’t forget about geothermal heat pumps. Not ideal for a lot of areas, but they can pay for themselves in a short period of time, as well as improve your comfort level (assuming you have an older unit).

    The savings on a TiVo are suspect. First, if you are to use such a service, many cable companies will offer a DVR service for about $9.99/month, with no upfront equipment costs, saving you the $50+ of sunk costs, and many times without any contract.

    Calculators are so cheap, but if you have any cell phone manufactured in the last six or so years, it will have a calculator, as well as double as an atomic clock. Many even have a tip calculator, which can help you if you are bad at calcing tips (like myself).

    The solar Christmas lights are also suspect. I was able to get at the Home Depot 50-LED sets for about $5-7/set. True, they are still plugged in taking up juice, but at less than 10% of normal Christmas lights, the saving over these solar lights can be great. And when you consider that most Christmas light sets really don’t last too long, you may never make your money back with the solar light sets. Although, it is cool.

    For the water bottles, I use the Brita bottles, and I believe you will save more in the long run than those very expensive bottles.

    I did like your ideas about the CFL’s. I have them wherever I can put them (the dimmer versions are still a little too costly to make it profitable). If everyone in the US were to replace their most used light with a CFL, it would not only drive the cost down on the CFL’s, but would also save some very substantials amounts of energy (possibly also lowering costs).

    I’ve also been considering a portable space heater, since I’m warming a lot of unused space. Don’t forget about an air circulator or ceiling fans for the summer, which could reduce your use of A/C.

  59. ole Paul says:

    NiCad batteries are almost passe’. They were
    best in walkie talkies (police) that you droppped
    in the charger every night. Nickel Metal Hydrid
    cells are the new stuff for cameras with a TV
    type display on the back- wants lots of current.
    The closeout store, Big Lots, has 4 cell pack
    (2000 mahr) for $4.95. For an extra dollar you
    can get included 4 C cell and 4 D cell adapters.
    For $12.95 you get 4 cells and a charger.
    Get a charger that has auto cutoff, if you can.
    Check the charger to see if it does Ni-MH.

  60. David Mackey says:

    We use CFL’s and a highly energy efficient front load washer. Thanks for the tips.

  61. Re: electricity usage monitor.
    I bought mine several years ago when the cheapest you could find it was $100. So I spent $100 on a device to measure power consumption. Obviously, I will never recoup that by finding wasted power. I just like it cos I’m a geek and I like to know how much power something draws. The thing about power is it’s so darned cheap. Invariably when I measure something I find out that I could run it 24/365 and it would only cost me like 4 bucks. “Huh, well eff it then, I’ll just leave it on” I then think. It gives you the peace of mind to waste as much power as you like, basically.

  62. dip says:

    #22 looks fishy. While it’s true that laptops generaly consume less power than desktops, you’re essentially suggesting to steal electricity from the others. If you start exploring that area, there are better profit margins out there – robbing banks saves you money at a much faster rate ;)

  63. Oguz says:

    Some of them are useless but overall list sounds good…

  64. Davin says:

    Rather than DDR you can also consider getting stepmania for free, and just buying a USB pad off ebay for your computer.


  65. stoykish says:

    about the tivo thing. why not a monolithmc hd instead, it has all of the functionality of tivo and more plus it waives monthly fees. consider it at least.

  66. Norbert Rug says:

    I have to take issue with #2 on your list. In the early 70’s Sylvania Electronics did a study of the cost of recharging vs. buying new batteries. They found that it cost more to recharge batteries than it would cost to buy new ones. Keep in mind that this study was done 30 years ago and with the changes to battery technology and the changes in electricity charges, this study may no longer be valid. I would like to see a current test of this hypothesis.

    Norbert Rug
    Akron Grove Bath Products

  67. Chili says:

    “Americans standards for “drinking” water is far different from the rest of the world…in many places it wouldn’t be able to fit the bill.”
    the other Dave @ 12:11 pm December 21st, 2006

    What are you smoking? Your remark is completely wrong and simply subjective. Even NYC tap water has won awards for taste, lack of contaminants and mineral content. Please educate yourself on the US water supply please. Many sudies have shown that bottled water is s total rip off. Rant off.

    I like the list over all. The one thing about computer power usage is that it is a personal choice. Mine is on 24×7 because I am running Grid programming that can help cure cancer, decode the human genome and model global warming. I think I can handle the $80 bucks a year and I can make a contribution to the understanding of important issues. Just my $.02.

  68. A different Matthew says:

    Interesting List. I agree with the general premise on saving energy sometimes that means paying more to do it.

    One thing on the Prius nobody has pointed out yet (although Dave! gets close):
    quote “I did a little looking recently, and I found that the Prius MSRP for the top model was $23070, compared to the Corolla MSRP for the top model at $15,415. That’s a price difference of $7655”

    The cost of the Prius may even be much more expensive in the long run. Why? Interest!!!! All the math assumes one paid for it up front in cash. Financing the more expensive Prius means more interest over the life of the loan. And since the Prius is so popular, Toyota doesn’t give as larger of price break or offer as low interest rates on the Corolla in general. And if you pay for the eventual battery maintenance with the old Visa, that $3-5K jumps. Not that that would be any different than the maintenance on a vehicle’s internal combustion engine.

    And one more thing….
    @mathew – “keep the AC on full all the time” in some parts of the country/world that is pretty much required…

    waiting for a decent hybrid/very low emission truck…

  69. A different Matthew says:

    as low interest rates on the Corolla in general.

    that is supposed to read:

    as low interest rates compared to the Corolla, generally.

  70. Ira carlin says:

    You can safely and effectively use a “Battery Xtender” to recharge “disposable” batteries and save money and the environment by extending the useful life of AA, AAA, C & D 1.5V alkaline batteries a minimum of 10 times. You just have to recharge frequently and not when they are depleted to almost dead.
    You can also recharge “rechargeable” 1.2V batteries at the same time as your charging alkaline. The Battery Xtender has a buit in micro processor to safely control charging and auto shutoff. More information and reviews can be found at http://www.BatteryXtender.com

  71. Loretta says:

    I have never tried DDR, but I have tried Yourself Fitness.

    Its Fantastic. It really is like having a personal trainer! You can play it on the major game systems, or if you are like me, on a PC. It has everything from weight training to yoga. At first the avatar was a little creepy, but I got over that quickly. The only thing is, get your copy soon. A stupid lawsuit by someone claiming to have invented the idea might just put the company out of business. Strange they are not sueing DDR, but there you go…

  72. Doug says:

    While buying a hybrid car seems to be the environmentally friendly thing to do, it’s not the best way to go. Buying a efficient used car is actually much friendlier as that’s one less car that will end up in the junk yard and one less car that needs to get produced on the assembly line (which produces years and years worth of the green house gases you’d “save” by buying a hybrid).

  73. Pinky says:

    I bought a plastic coin sorter at a garage sale for $1 and I just sort the coins while I’m listening to the radio or watching TV. Since I collect around $40 in coins per month, I use it for my summer vacation mad money.

  74. Susan says:

    On #15: Why buy an expensive espresso machine when you can just buy a stovetop espresso maker (Bialetti is the best) for about $30-40? It has three parts, which almost never break, and are easy and cheap to replace if they do.

    You can also buy either a battery-powered milk frother or stovetop frother (which looks like a french press), which are also inexpensive. Frabosk makes a good stainless steel milk frother.

    A $200 machine seems an awful waste of money, especially with the upkeep and parts replacement. I’ve had my stovetop maker for years, and haven’t rreplaced a part except for the rubber O-ring, which cost about 50 cents.

  75. JasonR says:

    Only TWO mentions on how to save heat! #16 and #18
    are good starts but what about sealing your fireplace up with a chimney balloon. Or buy a high efficiency power vent furnace. Heat is a big cost in these cold winter states and we could save bigger cash whittling away on that.

  76. D-Money says:

    @ A Different Matthew, re: financing.

    Depending on the state (CA, for example), there are tax breaks for buying a hybrid car, which may offset the interest on the financing or more. I’m too lazy to go figure out all the math myself, but I just wanted to add to your “things you forgot to mention about hybrids” list.

  77. #21 High Efficiency Washing Machine

    You nailed this one! In addition to having a HE Washer in my house, my 3 Laundromats all have them as well. Not only do they clean way better than a top load washer, use half the water, half the electricity, and ¼ of the detergent, they are gentler on your clothes because there is no agitator pinching and ripping your clothes. The reason they clean better is because the mechanical washing action of the clothes impacting the side of the wash drum bends the clothes much better than swirling around in a tub of water. (Remember before washers people use to beat their wet cloths on rocks). Plus I really like the fact that they are super quite. When we replaced a bunch of top load washers in one of our stores, the noise level in the store dropped substantially!

  78. Sara says:

    re: Laptops

    Another great thing about laptops is the LCD screen uses less energy than desktops with CRT monitors.

  79. mike says:

    Buy a laptop to save on electricity? That’s rediculous. How about buying a laptop so when you can work from Starbucks during the day, thus bypassing the need to keep your house at a decent temperature through heating and/or air conditioning? (Not to mention the constantly-updated reference section!)

    Also, have fun trying to play most games on a Dell laptop. If you don’t pay upwards of $3000 for the XPS, you probably won’t be able to. For those of us who need a desktop, we can opt for the ‘green’ version of AMD’s athlon x2 series (or whatever is the ‘latest’ now). They start out at 54 Watts and max out around 64, which saves loads of electricity compared with the wasteful Pentium 4s.

    Also, newer technology means less electricity, no matter which type of computer you get. DDR2 RAM runs at twice the speed of its predecessor, DDR, and uses nearly half the voltage. Think of how much you could save if every component in your old system was upgraded!

    I’ve also experienced more cost savings with a standard Gillette Mach 3 razor (disposable heads, not the ones that have plastic handles) rather than an electric, and you can’t beat a razor with a real blade for closeness and smoothness. If you use the original Mach 3 blades instead of the Turbo, Fusion, etc, the blades cost around $2 each. If you buy the bigger packages, they’re even cheaper. I think I bought a 12 pack for $21 that lasted about 14 months while shaving every day; I had no need for shaving cream.

    Electric razors are messy, too. My friends have them, and their bathrooms have facial hair strewn about.

  80. Louise says:

    As a scooter lady, I have to say only the most uninformed consumer with cash to burn or a wealthy enthusiast/collector would spend more than $1000 on a scooter. If you are comparing scooters to cars, you need to compare the $4000+ scooters to something like a $60,000+ car. Or something like that. I’m no car lady. I’m just saying, scooters don’t cost that much – and you haven’t even factored in how easy it is to maintain them yourself. No mechanic fees!

  81. Steve says:

    some great ideas on gadgets that pay for themselves (the windmill intrigues me), though some of them truly won’t save you money (ie the prius). Overall, a fun read. Thanks.

  82. Chris says:

    On the CFL bulb, as far as extending the usage of the bulb, try using bulbsavers . They go between the socket and bulb itself and transform the AC current to a pulsating DC there-by eliminating traces of flicker and causing less stress to the filament. I am an industrial electrician and install these in 90% of the buildings I construct that use incandescents.
    While I’m here, I use a straight-razor, mine cost about $300 but you can get one for around $50 brand new if you go with a plain jane model. Learn to sharpen it yourself and never buy another razor again. But be careful, if you drop it and nick the blade, it can’t be fixed and you’ll have to buy a new one.

  83. The “Smart” power strip is a great idea. A recent study shows that standby power can account for as much as 10% of an electric bill.

  84. I am surprised that the solar phone/mp3/laptop charger wasn’t included in the list. Since it is the item that keeps on giving

  85. TechMojo says:

    Some folks are VERY missinformed about hybrids. I saw a post where someone said you must switch out the batteries every 6-7 years in a Prius. TOTAL BULL. Toyota has NEVER has a single battery failure (out of hundreds of thousands of hybrids, many on the roads for over 10 years now, Prius has been available in Japan several years before the U.S…it is now 11 years old) that required the replacment of the battery systems. These are Nickle Hydrid, they don’t suddenly die. At the end of about 6 or 7 years they begin to lose about 2 to 3 % efficieny per year. They never go “dead”. Over the course of 15 years you might see a 15-20% drop in recharging efficiency. The batteries could easily last 20 years. Do your research before you post.

  86. Shawn Hyde says:

    Your pricing is a bit high on many of those items.
    as for the car, anything that uses both gas an electric is a waste of your money. twice as heavy, more part, more cost, more resources to run it. Get a tesla http://teslamotors.com or get a bike at your local bike shop.

    As for the windmill you can build your own for much, much cheaper and then if something goes wrong well you’ll be able to fix it. They are very simple to build. (break even on self built windmill: 8-14 months)

    Also might want to add an on demand water heater, high effecientcy PSU’s.

  87. Eric says:

    I love the Tesla, price is a bit of a problem. Once there are plug in electrics that can do 65MPH and get at least 150 miles on a charge and are under $20k then I’ll be first in line to buy one. Though people who were laughing at the top of this thread the the prius would take 10 years to break even over a carolla guess $4+ a gallon gas wasn’t on their mind. I would also love to put up a windmill or do solar but where i live we’re already only paying 7 cents per KWH so it doesn’t make much sense at the moment. I’m sure in the future if the price of electric goes up or the price on windmills and solar panels go down then I’m all for it too.

  88. shoplocal says:

    I love the high efficiency showerhead. That’s a great idea. I’m going to pick one up this weekend. I’m interested to see how much I’ll actually save.

  89. Love money says:

    What a great article!! I love the way you have set it out.. Thanks for the great tips and calculations. I like the smart power strip because I am always running around and switching things off at the power point.

  90. Save Money on Amazon says:

    Vespas are cool! And they’ve got much higher mileage. Something like 100miles to the gallon I think.

  91. Claire says:

    I agree with most of this, except for the hybrid car. Gas is cheap enough now that you won’t break even with a hybrid. You neglected the cost of changing the car’s batteries after they go bad, which will cost a couple thousand dollars.
    The Prius you mentioned would be very efficient already if it were running 100% on gasoline, so your savings per year will be under $1000 with average use. So, it will take you more like 10 years to break even, and you would probably want to get rid of the car before that time.

  92. steve says:

    Set your desktop computer to go to “hibernate” mode when you press the power button. It is available on Windows (XP) under the setting>> control panel>>power options menu.

    Startup time will be reduced to about 20 second so you will be able to shut the whole thing down (including the power strip it is on) conveniently and power it up easily. In addition, all of your programs that you use will still be up and in the state you left them. This is a major time saver for me.

    Also, if you have a desktop computer and still don’t have a flatscreen, you can get them on sale for about $100 now. If you use the computer like 4 hours a day, it will pay for itself in electricity in about 2.5 years and the rest is gravy.

  93. Joe says:

    I was away from home for a whole billing cycle and a half (6 weeks and 3 days).
    The ONLY thing I left on was my computer. It did not and does not go into standby/hibernation/auto off as per my preference. The only other 3 things plugged in were the electric water heater(well insulated and in vacation mode), the refrigerator (low efficiency), and 19″ CRT (powered off but still plugged in). Everything else was unplugged/unscrewed/off.
    My bill for the complete billing cycle while away from home was $25 and a few cents. I don’t see it as far fetched for a computer that is nowhere near geared for energy efficiency to use around $10/month.

    I think the main power consumer on a desktop is likely to be the CRT monitor. But this is just my experience and not based on any other studies.

    F.Y.I.- Computer used a 500watt XFinity PS by Ultra which powered 4 HDD, 5 fans, an ASUS board, GeForce 7300GT Video card (SLi disabled) and an AMD chip. This was in Dallas, TX. and I had no previous credits or debts on my electric bill. Just clarifying the NON-EFFICIENCY. =)

  94. Kushiel says:

    Well, it seems quite well thought out. I hate to break this to you, but the cost of a hybrid right now does not justify the money saved – and you say 5 years? Well, considering your warranty is up in 3, and while you do not have to change the oil as much, there are a lot more expensive things that need fixing. Working in a shop, I see the amount of problems the hybrids out right now have, and also how expensive they are.
    The idea, and eventually the product will be a great money saver, but at this current time a Hybrid costs more in every aspect, so what you do not spend in gas, you spend in maintenance. Ontop of that, most of the hybrids out there today do not get substantially more gas mileage than other cars in the market, minus the prius – but seriously, if you’re willing to drive something that ugly I welcome you to it. Though, the price still doesn’t fit the savings.

  95. mike Foster says:

    Did you figure in the electricity you stole from the coffee shop when calculating the payback on the laptop computer?

    Mike Foster

  96. Cyber-Rain says:

    Wow, very thorough and many great ideas! Another great category to add about be “smart” sprinkler/weather-based irrigation systems. These are becoming better-known now are some, like Cyber-Rain, can saves thousands of gallons of water every year, which is a huge difference in times of drought. We also recommend great water-savings strategies, books and pro-conservation water districts in our blog, at http://blog.cyber-rain.com
    Hope to see you there!

  97. Brenda Greer says:

    Heating is so expensive for me.I have heard about going green many times.
    I am curious about the pellet heaters that are installed in the fireplace. Does anyone know about them ?
    Cost and will they be worth it ?

  98. rodgerlvu says:

    Another great article Trent!

  99. Dibbler says:

    Item 3 looked like a neat idea for $34.95 but when you go to the link it shows a price of $41.95 + shipping. :) Payback time just got longer…

  100. T-Bone says:

    I wanna add something that saves time and money on the long run.
    A user-friendly cellphone that has almost every feature available but not a very expensive one that has high specs but not really essential for everyday living.

    Q> What things or actions do we need, to save electricity on laptop usage and to keep the laptop safe and efficient?

  101. Lenore says:

    Lots of people have challenged and added to these tips, so I’m just going to offer some general feedback. While well-intentioned, many of these ideas seem unnecessarily or unreasonably expensive with dubious paybacks. Spending $170 on an electric shaver sounds crazy when my $30 Lady Remington is still going strong after 20 years. The $100 coin sorter simply made me laugh. Seeking secondhand and less techno versions of similar items might save money and keep the old ones out of landfills. The “geek factor” sounds like justification for compulsive shopping, and there’s nothing frugal about that.

  102. Allison says:

    Whoa. Until I read the comments here, I had no idea that so many people let their loose change pile up. I’m agreeing with commenter #56 and questioning why bother letting loose change accumulate. When I’m shopping, I actually use my change to make purchases, and I have completely avoided hassles with CoinStar, banks, or coin sorters…

  103. This list is kinda hit and miss. Some of the ideas are good, but some are ridiculous (a residential windmill?). Still, an interesting read.

  104. Daniel says:

    Recently I wrote a blog that readers of this article may be interested in. Here is the link,http://zoomley.com/great-business-idea/. I would really like to have someone take this idea and make it a success. Thank you.

  105. #21 High Efficiency Washing Machine

    Having a HE washer is one of the best purchases you can make because not only is the quality of the wash better for your clothes, but the cost will be lower to you as well. In the laundromat business, most owners are replacing their old top loaders with front loading HE washer because of this very reason.

  106. Jeremy says:

    Using a laptop will save money, but only if you already have a laptop and switch to using that more often instead of your desktop machine.

    As others have said, buying a laptop will take roughly 8 years to break even.

  107. Darnell says:

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