There’s an old saying about boats and how they’re a hole in the water where you keep throwing money. Your home isn’t quite that bad—after all, you get equity and a place to sleep when it’s raining—but household costs can easily get really expensive.
But these household costs can also be easily cut down. Not every home saving hack applies to every household or lifestyle, so we’ve assembled a “Master List” of 50 of the most effective, popular, and recommended. Give some a try!
Some of the Most Common Household Savings Hacks
- Nonsense Beauty Items. Shaving cream, mouthwash, lip primer, any and all anti-aging products, and body-shaping products are things you can either do without or replace with far cheaper options.
- Use a Clothesline instead of a drier during the hot and dry months. Calculations by Mr. Electricity suggest it will save you close to $200 a year.
- Use Cash Back Apps like Checkout 51 or Ibotta, which can get you rebates based on receipts you scan after you shop.
- Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes. Wrapping them in a 10-dollar length of pipe wrap saves up to $50 a year.
- Caulk Household Gaps. Those little caps around your windows and doors are the equivalent of a 3-foot-square hole in the wall. Seal them up.
- Do the Kool-Aid Test. A 10-cent packet of grape Kool-Aid in your toilet tank will reveal costly leaks by seeping color down into the bowl.
- Zip Your Pants Before You Wash Them. Zipper teeth can be as hard on your clothes as they would be on what they cover when you wear them. Close them up to make everything in the dryer last longer.
- Use Gift Card Exchange Sites like Cardpool and Gift Card Granny to buy gift cards below face value and use them for your most common purchases.
- Carry $100 in Cash for daily spending money. Studies show you’ll spend less in cash than you will on your card, and it limits your maximum “splurge” to something manageable.
- Skip the Service Plans, even though they seem cheap and important. None of the experts think they’re anything but a waste of money.
- Do the Dollar Test. Place a dollar bill on the gap in your refrigerator door. If it sticks, your seals have gone bad and are costing you money.
- Call Your Insurance Company. Most will qualify you for better rates if you’ve been with them for a while, and better rates still if you suggest you might leave them. Use this method with caution, though.
- Plant Trees Strategically in Your Yard. Getting some shade over your windows will reduce your cooling bill all summer. The same trees will offer a heating-saving windbreak come winter.
- Use the Library. This one feels obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t. Also, did you know they have videos and music in there, too? And passes to local museums?
- Stockpile Your Staples. This only works for things you know you’ll use over the course of the year, but buy in bulk when those things go on sale.
- Switch Your Ceiling Fans Twice a Year. They have two settings. One brings up hot air in the summer, and the other blows hot air down in the winter. Change the settings when the weather turns.
- Install Outdoor Window Shades. If the sun never hits your window, it drops the temperature in your home by a few degrees. That’s a few degrees your a/c doesn’t need to fight against.
- Have Your Vents Cleaned every other year to improve airflow. Use a Groupon or similar deal to get the lowest price possible.
- Observe the Rule of Two. Set your thermostat 2 degrees cooler than you want in the winter, and 2 degrees hotter in the summer. You’ll get used to it, and your utility bill will lower immediately.
- Graduate to LED Lightbulbs. Each one can save you $4 per year. If you’ve got 10 or 20 lights, the savings go up a lot.
- Use the Dishwasher. It uses less water and electricity than doing dishes by hand. (Not everything on this list is bad news).
- Buy Just One Water Bottle. Make it a durable one. Fill it when you leave the house, and at drinking fountains while you’re out. Never spend money on bottled water again, and you’ll save the environment while you’re at it.
- Unplug Your Electronics. The small drain from “standby” mode and even gear you’ve “powered down” can represent as much as 70% of your electric bill (not counting the fridge and water heater).
- Get off the Organic Bandwagon. Very few fruits and veggies actually benefit from being organic. The rest you can buy just regular, without any worries.
- Insulate Your Water Heater. Though most use the same bottle-in-a-bottle you get in a good thermos, there’s still heat lost. A blanket slows that loss and saves you money.
- Go Big With Web Coupons. Any time you buy something—from pizza delivery to new furniture—search for “(That Thing) Coupons.” Most of the time something will come up. Some of the time, that thing will be surprisingly large.
- Try à la Carte Subscriptions. Cancel all of your subscriptions services, and instead buy their components individually. For example, cancel cable and buy episodes on Amazon. Cancel your magazines and buy the issues you want at Barnes & Noble. Only renew subscriptions that actually save you money.
- Spring for a Programmable Thermostat. These cost as little as $20, but save up to 15% of your energy bill.
- Ditch Your Cable. Unless it’s packaged with your internet, you can get everything it offers for a fraction of the price via streaming video services.
- Clean Your Lint Trap. The trap intentionally blocks air flow. That’s how it catches lint. When it’s full, dry air travels less effectively and clothes take longer to dry.
- Delete the Payment Information from your main computer. When you have to go get your wallet and pull out your card every time, you’re less likely to succumb to online impulse buys.
- Embrace YouTube DIY Tutorials. There’s one for every minor repair you can imagine, and most are easy to follow. You’ll pick up skills and save $100 or more on each repair you make.
- Shut Your Doors. Not just the outside ones, either. Shutting your closet and bathroom doors reduces the area your house needs to heat or cool.
- Sign Up for Time-of-Use Utilities. Most power companies offer this option, giving you discounts for not using power during peak times. If your lifestyle matches the offer, go for it.
- Turn Down Your Water Heater. This is a lot like the “rule of two” from earlier. Your water heater’s default is 140 degrees, but most people won’t notice a setting of 120 degrees anywhere but in their wallets.
- Replace Air Filters in your heating and air conditioning. Clear filters = better air flow. Better air flow = saving money. The same is true for the air filters in your car.
- Shift to a Laptop for your main computing. Those battery-powered gizmos use far less electricity than the desktop models. Just be sure you unplug the power cord when you’re not using it.
- Never Buy Any of the Following Items New: cars, exercise equipment, power tools, baby clothes, DVDs, CDs, books, jewelry, timeshares. All of them have a good second-hand market, and are just fine used.
- Raise Your Insurance Deductibles. Just bumping from $250 to $500 can save you a few hundred on your premiums each year. Since you’ll likely only make a few claims in your lifetime, this is a good bet.
- Learn to Love Your Dollar Store. Get to know it well enough that you’re familiar with what they have that you’re willing to use, and what you need to spend the extra on.
- Plant an Herb Garden for basics like green onions, basil, rosemary, and mint. It’s the simplest garden to maintain, and smells great in the summer as a bonus.
- Switch to Autopay and eStatements. The first means you stop making late payment fees. The second often comes with a small discount because you’ve saved them paper.
- Organize Your Pantry. A cluttered and messy pantry means accidentally buying food you already have, some of which will go bad and cost you extra.
- Make Your Own Surface Cleaners instead of buying name, or even store, brands. Choose from the hundreds of easy and effective cleaning product recipes online and spend just a few cents per bottle.
- Shift to Rechargeable Batteries. An investment of just $20 to $30 at the beginning can save hundreds even in the first year. Plus you’ll be saving the planet, which is nice.
- Repurpose Containers in your kitchen, closets, attic, storage, and drawers. There’s no need to spend a premium on overpriced “home organization” products.
- Shop Your Cell Plan. Do it both with your current provider and a couple of local shops. This can easily drop your bill by $100 a month for a family.
- Use Gift Bags instead of wrapping paper. You can use them multiple times over the years.
- Cancel Your Storage Unit. If you have one, you’ve got too much stuff. Have a garage sale and a Craigslist week, and pare down to what you can manage within the space of your home.
- Gift Experiences Instead of Possessions. The science is in about this: experiences make people happier than things do. So give the gifts that make your loved ones happiest. Or you could potentially gift some of those things in your storage unit…
One final bonus hack: use the savings you accrue to kill your consumer debt faster. This interest savings combined with the money you save daily will snowball into an even lower expense-base for your household.
Like we said at the beginning, not every single one of these hacks works for every single person… but why not try one every other week this year and see what kind of results you get?
Aaron Finkle is a thrifty shopper who’s mastered the art of keeping his expenses down on a daily basis.