It seems like everyone is trying to tighten up on spending these days and it has gotten me to thinking about painless ways to save money.  You know, things that don’t really affect your life style.   Here are six random things I thought of:

Fix Leaking Toilets

It is amazing the amount of water that can be wasted by a leaking toilet.  Toilets usually leak for two different reasons.

Defective toilet fill valve.  This valve fills the tank after the toilet is flushed.  When they go bad they usually just run continuously.  They aren’t hard to change.  Probably 20-30 minutes.  I think that the supply line feeding the toilet should be changed at the same time.  The total product cost would be under $15.

The most common leak culprit on a toilet is the flapper valve. The flapper lets the water flow from the tank into the bowl when the handle is pushed.  It is designed to stay open long enough to let the tank empty before closing.  Flapper valves are made of rubber and become brittle with time.  They are easy to change and cost under $5.  It is common to hear the fill valve cycle on and off when a flapper is leaking.  To check for a leaking flapper, put dye in the toilet tank.  Do not flush.  Wait a few hours and check to see if the dye has gotten into the bowl.  If it has the flapper is leaking.

It is amazing how much fixing a leaking toilet can save.  It is not uncommon for a leaking toilet to waste several hundred gallons of water a day.  I had 2 leaking at my house.  After I fixed the leaks my water bill dropped $40 the next month.

Use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent bulbs or CFLs really offer a serious saving over the standard incandescent bulbs.  A 20 watt CFL puts out the light that a 75watt incandescent bulb would.  The makers of CFLs also claim that they have a longer life.  I haven’t necessarily found that to be true.  I think usage patterns have a lot to do with longevity.

The early CFLs didn’t produce a particularly pleasing light.  It was a sort of blue color.  The new ones are much better.

Electricity is priced per kilowatt hour. 1000 watts usage for one hour.

We pay around 10.8 cents per kilowatt hour.  So if we compare the cost for 100 hours of use for a standard bulb and a CFL we find that the standard bulb will cost 81 cents and the cfl will cost 21 cents

Fix Leaking Faucets

There is nothing more annoying or costly than the drip of a leaking faucet.  Most faucet leaks are easy for the homeowner to repair.  The only problem is that there are hundreds of different types of faucets.

Washer and Seat style.

Stem  Seats

These are usually the older faucets. They are also sometimes some of the best. They work when a stem (part the handle is connected to) presses a rubber washer onto a seat to stop the flow of water. Stems, seats, washers and other parts are easily replaceable on most faucets. The best way to match them up is to bring in your old stem.

Washerless faucets are not usually hard to repair either.  They work in different ways but usually have replaceable parts. Again the best way for us to match them for you is to bring them in.  Some of these are always easy to take apart.  If you have trouble, come by and we will show you how on our Demo faucet.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

If your house is not occupied for a period of time during the day you may be able to save a few hundred dollars a year by installing a programmable thermostat. They usually cost between $30-$60 depending on the model you get.  The more expensive ones are capable of more elaborate programs.

These aren’t always easy to install.  If you aren’t careful, it is easy to damage your heating system.

Insulate Your Doors and Windows

Check all of your doors and windows for drafts.  Doors are especially prone to have gaps at the bottom.  Door bottom strips  are made with a piece of soft rubber at the bottom to stop leaks.  Be sure and check garage doors too.   There is special weather stripping made for the sides and bottoms for them.  Basements and garages, while not usually heated; still should be made as weatherproof as possible.  Stand in a darkened basement during the day and look for light coming in from outside.  Anywhere you see light you will have an air leak.  Large irregular gaps can be filled with expanding foam like Great Stuff.  It really does expand though so be sure not to use too much.

It is impossible to tell how much all of this will save.  It depends on the condition of your house to begin with.

Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes

If your pipes past through basements, garages and other unheated spaces you can save some money by insulating them.  Rigid foam pipe insulation with adhesive slits is the easiest to use.  This doesn’t save a huge amount ($50 – $200 a year) but it adds up.  If your water heater is more than 5 years old it will also help to use an insulating blanket on it.  The newer heaters have enough insulation that they don’t really need any additional.

Another thing I really like about insulating the water pipes is that I don’t have to wait as long for the water to warm up when I turn on a faucet.