Budgeting Saving

5 Best Gadgets for Saving Money Around the House

I don’t consider myself the kind of person who looks for a quick fix to big problems. I definitely roll my eyes at too-good-to-be-true diet pills and get-rich-quick schemes. When you feel out of control with your finances, there are vultures out there waiting to catch you in a vulnerable moment.

I’m a big believer in staying focused and doing the work required to change your life and your habits. Frugality is all about taking a good look at the way you live and changing it for the better to prioritize what really matters most.

All this is to say that I don’t usually advocate spending money as a frugality tip, but sometimes you need to prime the pump. Buying a gadget sounds counterintuitive when it comes to frugality, but the right ones can be a great investment. Spend a little bit on these set-it-and-forget-it life changers, and you can sit back and watch your checking account reach equilibrium before the year is out.

Without further ado, here are my favorite money-saving gadgets, in no particular order of awesomeness:

1. Smart Outlet Strips

A Smart Strip is like a surge protector with a vampire-slaying superpowers — because you definitely do have vampires in your house.

Energy vampires are all kinds of appliances that draw a little bit of power even when you’re not using them — they don’t even have to be turned on! If the cord has a little adaptor on the end, or if the appliance has a clock or display light that’s always on, you’ve got an energy vampire sucking down electricity 24/7 and driving up your bills.

The biggest culprits are your computer and TV, plus all the related gadgets that go with them.

Enter the Smart Strip, which has a “control” outlet that automatically shuts down the vampires. For example, plug your TV into the control spot but your DVD player, cable box, video game console and surround-sound speakers into the auxiliary spots. When your TV is off, the control switch shuts down power to all the other side appliances as well, saving you money on your electric bill without even thinking about it.

2. Programmable Thermostats

Surely you’ve seen that fancy-schmancy Nest thermostat by now. You know, the one that’s smart enough to figure out your habits and turn down the heat when you’re not at home? It can save you a lot of money, but it’s not cheap.

Turns out you don’t need a mind-reading thermostat if you take the time to program one instead. A classic programmable thermostat can be yours for as little as $20, and it takes 10 minutes to press the little buttons to tell it when you leave for work in the morning and when you get back at night. When you’re home, set the temperature the way you like it; when you’re away, knock it back to 58 or 60 degrees and watch your heating bills drop like a stone.

3. Shower Alarms

If you love a long, hot shower, you’re probably in there a lot longer than you think. For each extra minute you let the shower run, you’re pumping up both your water bill and your water heating bill. To help keep track of the time you spend sudsing up, try hanging a waterproof clock with a timer from your shower arm or a nearby towel bar.

In an ideal world, you’d be able to get in and out of the shower in five minutes flat, but if you’re currently hovering around 20 minutes, you’ll need to do some training to get faster. Set the timer for a few minutes less than you’d normally like, and gradually dial it back a bit each week until get eight-minute showers down pat.

By the way, this is an excellent solution for dealing with time management-challenged teenagers without policing their bathroom time on a daily basis.

4. Light Timers

If you love your shower timer, you’ll also love timers that turn your lights off automatically. Light timers just plug into your regular outlet and sit there keeping an eye on the clock. Just plug your light into the receptacle on the timer, and you can decide exactly when you want your lights to flip on and off each day. Most timers allow for several settings, so you can even have the lights on already when you head downstairs for your morning cup of coffee.

It’s the automatic shut-off that’s the real money saver, though. If you — or those meddling kids! — tend to leave your lights on when you leave the house for work or after you head to bed for the night, this will be a major electricity saver for you. Just remember to adjust the times to account for daylight savings and seasonal changes so you don’t let your lights come on while the sun is still out!

5. Battery Chargers

If you’re like most people, you have a house full of bleeping, blooping, blinking electronics — and a whole lot of these either use batteries themselves or have remote controls that will eat AA batteries on a weekly basis — I’m looking at you, video game consoles!

If you’re sick of buying batteries for Wii remotes and all those handheld games, make a small investment in a battery recharger and some rechargeable batteries to go with it. Sure, it’s a little more expensive up front, but your life is going to be amazing when you don’t see AAs and AAAs on your shopping list ever again.

Before you dive into this change, just be sure to count up how many batteries you use in all your remotes at any one time, and get that amount plus enough to fill your recharger so you’ll always have a fresh set on hand.

Closing Thoughts

Not every gadget is right for every household. If you already take short shower with military precision, you won’t get much out of a shower alarm. Ditto on the battery recharger if you’re a Luddite who hates video games. Your mileage may vary, so consider your needs and prioritize this list in a way that makes sense for your lifestyle, and you’re sure to get the most out of all that these money-saving gadgets have to offer!

How do you save around the house?

About the author

Beth Trach

Elizabeth Trach is a writer and editor living in Newburyport, MA. She also sings in a band, grows almost all her own food, and occasionally even cooks it. You can catch up on all her adventures in frugal living and extreme gardening at Port Potager.

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