10 Techy Ways to Slash Household Costs

10 Techy Ways to Slash Household Costs

This post originally appeared on All You.

Looking to cut costs around the house? Invest in these money-saving gadgets—they'll pay for themselves in no time!

1. Make Your Own Soda

Spend a fortune on fizzy drinks? You’re not alone. The average family of four consumes 2,400 sodas annually―totaling nearly $1,080. With a home fountain machine, you can save money and have fun making everything from soda water to diet root beer. After purchasing a startup kit, you buy refill canisters of CO2 and syrup. A liter of sparkling water is 21 cents, compared with $1.50 or more for the store-bought variety, and flavored soda costs roughly 25 cents per 12 ounces.

SAVE about $720 per year for a family of four (you’ll also produce less household waste).
GET IT The SodaStream Fountain Jet starter kit (comes with a soda maker, carbonator and two bottles), $100; sodastreamusa.com.

2. Get Free HDTV

Since TV went digital, you no longer need cable to receive local broadcast network HDTV channels. For static-free reception, all that’s required is a digital antenna (and a converter box if your TV is analog instead of digital). To find out which antenna will work for your location and which channels you’ll receive, simply enter your address at antennaweb.org. Although you won’t get paid cable channels anymore, you may be amazed at how many HDTV channels are free (the number varies based on your location).

SAVE the $700 or more a year you spend on cable.
GET IT Antennaweb.org lists antennas ranging from $40 to $150. Or spend less by making your own for about $15 with the instructions at current.org.

3. Lower Your Cellphone Bill

With XLink, you can gab all you want―at home―without having to pay a monthly landline bill. Just route your cell phone calls to a regular phone through the Xlink console (via a Bluetooth signal). Your cell phone’s caller ID and voice mail will transfer over, too, and you don’t even need a landline for the console to work.

SAVE about $33 per month (depending on your phone usage).
GET IT XLink, $80; amazon.com.

4. Cut Heating and Cooling Costs

The average household spends a whopping $1,000 per year on home energy, and much of that cash goes toward heating or cooling when you’re asleep or away from home. One smart solution: a programmable thermostat, which you set to power-down energy consumption during low-use periods. Look for one that allows different settings for week and weekend schedules.

SAVE approximately $180 per year (depending on your usage).
GET IT You can find basic thermostats for less than $50 online, but a higher-quality one, like the Emerson Blue Easy Reader ($120; prothermostats.com), provides upgraded features such as a 6-inch display and a seven-day programmable mode.

5. Lower Grocery Expenses

When ALL YOU asked readers for their favorite money-saving purchases, FoodSaver vacuums were a hit. Just put your food into one of the reusable bags, seal it with the vacuum, then store it in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer to extend freshness many times over.

SAVE the approximately $600 per year the average family loses each year on wasted food.
GET IT Starting at $100; foodsaver.com.

6. Save On Electricity

Few things are more irksome than family members leaving a room and neglecting to turn out the lights (hello, huge electric bill!). To cut costs, install motion-activated sensors in place of regular switches, then program them to turn off automatically after a set period of time. If you want to settle down for a quiet read, you can override the sensor manually.

SAVE 10% to 70% off your electric bill, depending on your habits.
GET IT Consider the affordable Decora Manual on Occupancy sensor ($28; cableorganizer.com). Not only does it give you the option to manually switch on and off, but you can also select how long lights should stay on (from 30 seconds to indefinitely).

7. Avoid Wasting Energy

The amount of power frittered away when home electronics (computers, televisions, kitchen appliances) are plugged in but not in use can reach up to 22 percent of all appliance consumption. Rid your house of such “phantom loads” by bundling AC cords into a power strip. New models allow you to turn off some devices and leave others on (so you can turn off the TV without losing the settings on your cable box, for example).
SAVE from $50 to more than $100 per year, depending on your level of use.
GET IT SmartStrip Power Saving surge protector, $31; cableorganizer.com. Or Conserve Energy Saving 10-Outlet surge protector, right, $60; belkin.com.

8. Use Fewer Batteries

Why anybody still uses alkaline batteries is a mystery, since eco-friendly rechargeables last longer and are simple to use. Be sure to get pre-charged ones, which boast an even greater life span.

SAVE $80 annually (up to $250 if you use many portable devices).
GET IT Duracell Value charger with 4AA pre-charged rechargeables, $15; amazon.com.

9. Get Free Home Phone Service

When you plug the MagicJack into a telephone and your computer’s USB port, your calls (in the U.S. and Canada) are absolutely free, using your high-speed Internet connection. The service also comes with call waiting, voice mail and caller ID, at no extra charge.

SAVE from $30 to $100 per month, or however much you normally spend on your phone bill.
GET IT MagicJack, $40; magicjack.com.

10. Spend Less on Water

Typical showerheads use nearly 40 gallons of water in a five-minute shower. Install a low-flow showerhead and you can save 8,000 gallons per year. Aerators, which also thin out flow, are a cheaper alternative―they cost as little as $5, while low-flow showerheads start at $8.

SAVE 20% on bills with a kitchen faucet aerator, or shave $250 off your yearly water bill with a 1½-gallon-per-minute (GPM) showerhead.
GET IT ½ to 1½ GPM faucet aerators, $6; eartheasy.com. Evolve Roadrunner Low-Flow showerhead, left, $40; evolvesshowerheads.com.

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