Sent to you by Chris Hunter via Google Reader:
Let's face it – there are a lot of items out there on the market that claim to save you money, but either don't actually do what they claim or don't actually provide the savings they're promoting.
Here, I'm going to tell you about three things I've tried in the past several months that have actually exceeded my expectations, saving me money in the long run and also working exactly as promoted.
LED bulbs for our ceiling fans
I've been trying out LED bulbs since they first hit the market a few years ago. The potential has been there for a long time – an LED bulb will last 20,000 hours, compared to an incandescent bulb lasting 1,000 hours, and it uses about 8% of the energy, too. The drawback is that they're expensive and that, with every one I've tried, the light produced has been too cold, looking almost blue.
These LED bulbs are the first ones I've been happy with. I've been using them in our ceiling fans in our home for quite a while now and none of them have blown out or reduced in light quality. In the ceiling fan in my office, they've lasted for several months, whereas the incandescent bulbs would blow out about every two months.
Let's assume that these bulbs reach the average of 20,000 hours that they proclaim to be able to reach. They cost $14.70 apiece at the link I provided and use 1.8 watts. On the other hand, a virtually identical incandescent bulb costs $0.72 and uses 40 watts. Let's assume also that electricity costs $0.12 per kWh.
Over 20,000 hours of use, I'll use one of the LED bulbs (costing $14.70) and it will consume 36,000 watt-hours, or 36 kWh, costing $4.32 for energy, bringing the total cost to $19.02. Over that same time, I'll use twenty of the normal bulbs (costing $14.40) and they will consume 800,000 watt-hours, or 800 kWh, costing $96 for energy, bringing the total cost to $110.40.
Assuming one is perfectly happy with the light quality – and I am – this is an upgrade well worth doing. I strongly encourage you to check out LED light bulbs. Give one of them a try and see if you're happy with the light quality. If you are, you will save money over the long haul.
Razor blade sharpener
For the last several months, I've been using the Razorpit razor blade sharpener on a regular basis and you can't even tell I've used the sharpener at all. At about every fourth shave, I put just a bit of soap on the Razorpit, run my razor blade on it a few times, and it's pretty much like new. I've increased the use of each razor I use by about five times because of this thing.
Let's say a new disposable razor blade costs me $0.50. They're going to vary a lot, of course, depending on what exactly you're getting, but we'll use $0.50 as a baseline. Let's assume that I shave every day and that the razor is getting rough after five normal shaves. That means, over the course of a year, I'm running through 73 blades, costing me a total of $36.50.
Now, if I run a blade on this thing every fourth or fifth shave, I can now get 25 uses out of a single blade. That means, over the course of a year, I'm running through about fifteen blades, costing me a total of $7.50. That's a savings of $29 over the course of a year. I've been using the sharpener for several months and it's basically identical to when it was new, so wearing out the sharpener isn't a significant issue.
If you use more expensive blades than that, the annual savings will go up. If you shave less frequently or manage to squeeze more shaves out of a blade, the savings will go down. Still, most of the time, the sharpener will have paid for itself well within a year.
I was really dubious about trying . The idea behind them is that they keep things moving better in a typical drum-style dryer, which helps reduce drying time. However, after using a dryer ball quite a few times, I'm a believer.
These balls are basically little rubber things with tentacles all over them. Inside your dryer, they bounce around, keeping smaller items from sticking to the corners inside your dryer drum.
I tried them in a few different loads. With heavy items, I didn't notice a whole lot of difference. If you're doing a load of jeans and towels, they don't seem to help much.
Where they seem to make a very big difference, though, is in loads full of smaller stuff. Socks. Underwear. Children's clothes. Children's socks. Wash cloths. A dryer ball shaves about 30% off of the drying time on these (that's my best estimate, anyway, as it's hard to get an exact amount due to all of the variables of drying).
Let's say you dry three loads a week where a dryer ball would help. Mr. Electricity estimates that, with a typical electric dryer, if you do three loads a week that require 60 minutes to dry at $0.12 per kilowatt hour, you're spending $82 annually on drying. If you cut that down to 45 minutes per load, which seems completely reasonable based on my experience with a dryer ball, you drop that down to $62 annually, a savings of $20.
A dryer ball costs $1.75. Even if you just save a fraction of that amount, a dryer ball still pays for itself pretty quickly.
As always, don't rush out and buy these things. However, if you see an LED bulb or a razor blade sharpener or a dryer ball at a particularly low price, pick one up and give it a shot. I've found all three to be very economical in our home.