In our family’s my never-ending quest to save money, water, energy, and the environment, I’ve tried lots of ways to save more by using less. Here are some ideas that will help you save too!
1. Cook with your toaster oven, electric skillet and slow cooker whenever possible. Small appliances use less energy.
2. The oven retains heat (and food keeps cooking) after the oven is turned off. Save energy by turning the oven off 5 minutes before your food is done cooking. Put lids on pans to retain heat and save energy too.
4. Use rags or old tee shirts instead of paper towels.
6. Only fill the sink halfway with water when doing dishes.
7. Rinse and reuse ziploc bags (except those that have held raw meat). Every time we run out of homemade waffles, I make another batch and refill the bag.
8. Keep the rubber bands from broccoli, asparagus, etc to use around the house. This is especially handy if you don’t get the newspaper anymore.
9. Turn your hot water heater down to 125. Anything hotter will scald you (or the kids). Besides, soap is more important for getting rid of germs than warm water.
10. Powdered milk is much cheaper than regular, but we just can’t get used to the taste. It works great in recipes though–so keep a box on hand to reduce your cooking costs!
11. Mix cooked lentils in with your taco meat to stretch it (one of the many things I learned from The Everything Beans Book).
12. Use less sugar when making cookies. The recipe on the chocolate chip cookie bag calls for 3/4 cup EACH of brown sugar and white sugar–I just use 3/4 cup of homemade brown sugar and they taste great.
13. Get your sweets/chocolate fix by eating a few M&Ms instead of a whole candy bar.
14. Don’t add unnecessary ingredients just because “they’re always included.” For example, fried rice doesn’t need an egg to make it authentic or filling.
15. Real maple syrup and olive oil are expensive! Keep yourself from over-pouring by transferring them from the original bottles to a durable squeeze bottle.
16. Use a pea-sized bit of toothpaste. The big globs you see on commercials make you overuse so you run out faster and buy more!
17. Put shampoo and body wash in a pump bottle to prevent spills or over-glugging.
18. Crimp the toilet paper roll so it doesn’t spin freely. This keeps you from grabbing too much and keeps the kids from unrolling it just for fun (ask me how I know).
19. Put a rubber band around the shaft of the soap pump to slow it down. This keeps the kids from pumping a zillion gallons of soap into their hands (again, ask me how I know).
20. Don’t wash your hair every day, and only put conditioner on the ends of your hair.
21. Fill the bathtub halfway or less for the kids. Splashes will be less devastating and you’ll save on water.
22. When you open a container of mouthwash/shampoo/toothpaste/etc, write the date on the container. When it runs out, challenge yourself to make it last 10% longer next time.
23. Try cloth toilet paper. Really!
24. Trim your bangs yourself (or guys, trim around your ears) instead of paying your stylist to do it.
25. Ask your stylist which drugstore products you could use to get the same look.
26. Air dry your hair instead of blow-drying, curling, flat-ironing, etc.
27. Don’t take a multi-symptom cold medicine if you only need to treat one symptom.
28. Use a Diva Cup instead of disposable monthly products.
29. Replace your department-store beauty products with drugstore versions whenever possible. An eyeliner pencil that costs $20 at Clinique is $4 from Cover Girl!
30. Make your own laundry detergent with just three ingredients.
31. Quit using dryer sheets, or cut them into halves or fourths. Use each sheet twice.
32. Spot-clean laundry instead of washing it fully.
33. Hang clothes to dry (especially jeans, to retain their color and save on dryer time).
34. Don’t rely on the dryer’s automatic settings. Set the dial for a certain amount of time, check and adjust accordingly.
35. Make your own laundry freshener instead of buying chemical products.
36. Grab the scoop or whatever measuring device comes with your detergent. Fill it up to the recommended amount and then dump that into a measuring cup. Use half that much and see if it gets your clothes clean.
37. Check and empty your dryer’s lint filter with each load. If air can’t flow freely, clothes will take longer to dry–using more energy.
38. Ask your energy provider if energy costs more during peak times (typically business hours). If so, do laundry/run the dishwasher/watch TV at off-peak times for extra savings.
39. Walk or ride your bike for short errands to save on gas.
40. Turn your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer.
41. Use lower-watt lights in hallways or anywhere bright light isn’t essential.
42. Use only as many lightbulbs as you need. We have a 4-light fixture in the bathroom, and one of the bulbs burned out. There’s still plenty of light to do everything without replacing that bulb.
43. Make gift bags instead of buying gift bags, tissue, ribbons, and wrapping paper.
44. Try your local college for free entertainment. We’ve gone to free movies, concerts, and more!
45. Have you noticed that as diaper sizes go up, the number of diapers in the box goes down? Use a smaller size for as long as possible.
46. Teach your kids to save and help them make healthy choices when eating out. If they choose water over soda at the restaurant, pay them $1. That’s less than the soda would cost you, and helps them get a good habit going.
47. When you change the fishtank water, use the “old” water for the garden. Veggies and flowers love fishy-poo water.
48. Always print double-sided.
49. Use envelopes, junk mail, etc as scratch paper.
50. Use big cans of tomatoes/beans/etc instead of buying hand weights.