15 Minutes is Worth More Than You Think


Want to stop spending so much of your hard earned money on utility bills? Check out these clever gadgets that will keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket—not your utility providers’—year after year. Each of these projects can be completed in 15 minutes or less and requires no advanced skills or special equipment.


HOT WATER-SAVING SHOWERHEAD. If you multi-task while waiting for your shower to warm up—making the bed or pot of coffee—the hot water could have been running for minutes, wasting water and adding unnecessary dollars to your utility bills. The Ladybug Showerhead adapter saves the hot water. At about $20, Ladybug is so smart, it senses the moment the water is warm and stops the flow to a tiny trickle. When you’re ready, just flip a switch to restart the normal flow. This adapter saveS $75 in hot water cost plus 2,700 gallons of water each year, based on a family of three showering daily and saving one minute of hot water per shower.

SOCKET SEALERS. You can cut 10 percent from your energy costs by properly sealing and insulating areas around the home to make it as air tight as possible. Start with all of the light switches and electrical outlets. Install foam inserts (about 10 cents each) to stop warmed or cooled air from being sucked out of the house through the air gaps around every switch and outlet. Simply remove the cover plate, pop in a gasket and replace the plate.

WATER HEATER BLANKET. Just like insulating your walls or roof, insulating your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency and save you money each month. Check to see if your tank has insulation with an R-value of at least 24. If not, consider insulating your water tank up to 9 percent in water heating costs. You can find pre-cut water heater blankets for around $20. If you don’t know your water heater tank’s R-value, touch it. A tank that is warm to the touch is heating the water but also the area in which it is located and needs additional insulation.

SMART POWER STRIPS. Turn off all the lights then walk through your home, and you’ll probably see eyes peering through the darkness. All of those glowing LEDs, clocks and power switches are sneaky electronic vampires. This phantom power drain costs you money, and wastes electricity. Smart power strips, starting at about $25, work to reduce your power usage by automatically shutting down power to products that go into standby mode (no more crawling under desks and furniture to manually switch a power strip to OFF. Smart power strips will save you some serious cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption in an average home ranges from 5 to 10 percent of your household energy consumption.

Question: What 15-minute money-saving project have you tackled recently?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Petoskey

    Who starts the water for their shower, then leaves the bathroom to make their bed or start a pot of coffee? Seriously? I realize that depending on where in your house the water heater is compared to the distance to the bathroom, that it may take a few minutes for the warm/hot water to flow – but who the heck just leaves the water running to warm up while you do something else?

    • Steve R.

      I do… In my condo it takes at least 5-6 minutes for the water to get warm because of how the pipes are set up. I don’t want to sit there touching the water every 30 seconds to seeing if its hot yet so I take care of something while I wait.

      • JN

        I use the time waiting for the hot water for a few tubside exercises. I know exactly how many sets I can squeeze in before the water’s ready.

      • Ann,NC

        I guess it goes without saying that at the same time, let the tub partially fill, so you can be soaking your feet when you get into the shower, and/or saving the water. Get a little timer so you don’t let it run over, since you already know it is 5 minutes.
        Everybody happy..

    • Colleen Mitchell

      Uh me. My bathroom is not heated and is on an outside wall so when it is cold outside I need the room to warm up a bit before I can get nekkid!!! I never intend to leave for more than a minute or two but have been distracted from time to time ….

  • raimerword

    When I see a worn bath/hand/dish towel, I mend them by zigzaging around all edges and repairing holes before they get too big. The towels we have are 15 years old and now, after a 15 time frame on the sewing machine, they are ready for a few more years of use.

    • Ann,NC

      I love your idea! Nice chance to practice your flat-felled seams, too,
      if you want to piece that way!
      (Probably easier on non-terry cloth, like plain dish towels)
      Cut and re-piece like a quilt. I had not thought of that, but I have a working sewing machine, so now I will do that, too! Thanks!

  • Beck

    Once a year I go through all our bills and look for ways to reduce them. I have just this past month stopped in at the phone company went over my phone plan and internet plan ended up getting free long distance and faster internet service upgrade and a new router free. We have to keep a land line due to the lack of cell service in our area so we bundle it with our internet to save money. I also have all bills on monthly budget so bills are not huge in the winter and smaller in the summer it is easier to budget when the gas and electric are the same every month

  • DianaB

    A couple of years ago I got rid of my old electric hot water heater sitting in a closet in my single level house, wondering how old it was and when it was going to rust out and flood my house. I replaced it with an on-demand water heater that DOES NOT SPEND all its time and energy reheating the water in the tank because there is no tank in which to heat it. Turn on the hot water and in about a minute you have all the hot water you need for showers, baths, dishes, laundry. Best investment I ever made and I will never have to worry about a flood in my house. You can have them installed inside or outside the house. Inside is best if you live where it freezes outside regularly as it will shut itself off to make sure nothing gets damaged. Check them out through your gas or power company. You might be glad you did. The only drawback is that the boys think they should never get out of the shower until the paint peels off the walls…lol