Editor's Note: This is the second installment of an ongoing series.
Money Morning/The Money Map Report
Penny pinching is back in style.
We decided on a couple of quick, inexpensive fixes that balance our desire to use less and save more. The moves have had an immediate impact.
First, we installed compact fluorescent lights throughout our home. Just a few years ago, bulbs like these emitted a bluish-green hue that might've served as a homing beacon for Marvin the Martian – and were overpriced, to boot – but today's models give off a pleasant glow, and aren't all that expensive, given their long life. Ours were $6.88 for a four pack at the local Château Depot [The Home Depot Inc. (HD)].
True, they're not as cheap per bulb as incandescent lights, but they use less electricity per hour of use, and burn for a longer period of time. At a national average of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, replacing a typical 75-watt incandescent bulb with an equivalent 18-watt compact fluorescent bulb works out to a staggering savings of $68 per bulb over the bulb's 10,000-hour lifespan.
Ballpark, we figure our light-bulb-related power consumption just dropped a double-digit amount – though lacking a home version of the Consumer Reports testing lab we can't give a precise estimate.
One thing we've noticed, though, is that there seems to be a good deal of variation in quality. We had two bulbs burn out almost immediately after installation. Home Depot replaced both without hesitation.
After replacing the bulbs, we checked all of our plumbing for leaks. Believe it or not, even a small drip can result in hundreds, or even thousands, of gallons of wasted water per year – leading to a water bill that's much higher than necessary.
That may not surprise you, but it sure surprised us when we learned that approximately 40% of all the water used by U.S. homes is actually wasted.
We didn't have any leaking pipes, but we can't say the same for the toilet bowl, judging from the food coloring, which appeared in the bowl 10 minutes after we dropped it in the tank. A quick check with the Beaverton Water Department revealed that this could cost an extra $100 a year or more if the leak gets worse.
To deal with the problem, we bought three Whisper Fill Valve and Flapper kits at $9.96 a package, and installed them ourselves. Not only are these things quiet as the name implies, but they completely shut down incoming water when the commode isn't being used.
By doing this, we also eliminate the possibility of future leaks – which is really important with our two boys and their friends constantly in the house.
Every watt and every gallon counts.
Next up, trimming 66,572 gallons for $85…
[Editor's Note: Money Morning Investment Director Keith Fitz-Gerald is on a mission to reduce his personal energy consumption by 25% through conservation – without altering or compromising his family's lifestyle. This is the second installment in a periodic series in which he'll update us on his progress.]
About the Author
Keith Fitz-Gerald has been the Chief Investment Strategist for the Money Morning team since 2007. He's a seasoned market analyst with decades of experience, and a highly accurate track record. Keith regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand. In addition to heading The Money Map Report, Keith runs High Velocity Profits, which aims to get in, target gains, and get out clean, and he's also the founding editor of Straight Line Profits, a service devoted to revealing the "dark side" of Wall Street... In his weekly Total Wealth, Keith has broken down his 30-plus years of success into three parts: Trends, Risk Assessment, and Tactics – meaning the exact techniques for making money. Sign up is free at totalwealthresearch.com.