We are inevitably going to be divided into two groups — the people who can’t live without their gadgets, and those who believe that the saturation of gadgets in our everyday lives has simply made things more complicated. However, we can all agree that there is a place in our lives for the gadgets which can save us money and luckily, if you’ve ever thought “there should be something to help me do this better/faster/more easily/more cheaply…” then there probably is.
That’s because this is the 21st century, we’re living in the future and science fiction is now; whether you think gadgets are a necessity or a nuisance, there is no denying that there are gadgets out there which can actually save you money, not to mention time. Compiled here is a list of 21 gadgets which actually will save you money in the 21st century, so get out there and make the most of the future!
Money Saving Gadgets for Your Home
1. Low flush toilet
If you’re anything but mellow about the amount of water your loo uses, you may try and implore your family to remember to use the half flush as often as possible. However, to save even more water you can now take advantage of a specially designed low flush toilet. A low flush toilet will use around six litres of water for each flush, where a standard toilet uses double that amount. In cutting your water bill in half you’re sure to notice the immediate savings of this gadget.
2. Power usage meter
It’s all very well to resolve to turn off more lights and use less appliances after you’ve received yet another inflated electric bill, but what if there was a gadget which could actually save you money before your next electric bill? Well all you need is an electricity usage monitor which you can plug into any electrical device in your home to see how much power it is really using. With this method you’ll soon track down the culprit who has been consuming the most power and you’ll be able to see right away just what that usage adds up to. You’ll also find that even when TVs and game consoles are not in use, they’re still using power if they are plugged in.
3. Solar panels & back to the grid
Solar panels have not been a hugely popular money saving gadget due to the often significant initial outlay for installation and setup. However, with global warming coming to the forefront of just about every political agenda in the world, many governments are offering grants and subsidies for homes which install solar panels on their roof. Once installed the solar panels start collecting all of that free energy to power your home. If your solar panels are able to collect more power than your home can use, and this excess power is sent back to the grid — you and your family can then actually begin to profit from your solar panels as you’re credited on your electricity bills for the electricity you have generated.
4. Energy saving light bulbs
Not too long ago, every new home built would be adorned with a smattering of flood lights, and adding these ultra modern lights were a popular way to update the look of an existing home. However, before long these home owners realized just how hot their flood lights were getting in their roof, and in turn, how much power they were using.
On the other hand, a fluorescent light bulb can run for hours without using anywhere near the same amount of power as a flood light, or even an ordinary incandescent bulb, but strips of fluro lights are not always an option. Luckily compact fluorescent light bulbs have been developed to fit into the same sockets and light fittings as an ordinary light bulb, saving the average home around $100 a year.
5. Programmable heating and cooling
A timer on your heating and cooling system is a great money saving gadget for your home as it means you can set and forget the climate control in your home, without it adding up to a massive power bill at the end of the season. Setting your heating and cooling to automatically turn off means you know your system will remember to turn itself off when you leave for work, or in the middle of a moderate night.
Programming your heating and cooling just a few degrees warmer in summer and a few degrees cooler in winter can also save you money. For example, in summer set your air conditioner at 24o C (75o F) instead of 180 C (64o F) because for every degree you raise the temperature, you can save up to 10% on your power bill.
Money Saving Gadgets for You
6. Space heating
Space heaters are a great money saving gadget — the theory is sound too. Heating (or cooling) just the space you are in at the time is going to significantly reduce your power bill at the end of the month. But, before you race out and get a space heater, why not simply select the room you are in at the time on your ducted heating system, rather than heating every room.
7. Filtered water
Filtered water may seem like a hassle to organize but when you add up the $2 or $3 for each bottle of water you buy over a week or month, you’ll soon realize you don’t need to be paying for that convenience; especially not when there are so many water filter gadgets out there to save you money.
There are filter jugs which you fill up from the tap and store in the fridge, from which you can fill drink bottles before you leave for work or school. There are also gadgets such as filter water bottles, with the water filter inside, so you can fill up anywhere, anytime. Or, if you’re looking at buying a new fridge, some will even come with water dispensers which filter the water inside, for the ice and water dispensers in the door.
8. Slow cooker
Slow cookers belie their name as they are so quick and easy to use. A simple combination of ingredients before you leave for work in the morning and you have a healthy and filling meal waiting when you get home. There are always going to be plenty of nights you don’t feel like cooking and if you need to feed a large family the thought alone can be enough to drive you to the drive through.
However, a small initial investment can save you hundreds of dollars every month in take away food, not to mention you and your family will be healthier for the switch. Plus, slow cookers thrive on inexpensive vegetables and the cheaper (tougher) cuts of meat.
Once you have a blender on your kitchen bench you will find hundreds of ways for this gorgeous gadget to save you money. For example, a night out at a cocktail bar is likely to cost each person around $100 (if not more) for drinks, entry to the club and a taxi home. However, a girls’ night in with a blender and the shared cost of a few bottles of liqueur is going to be a lot more fun, and a lot cheaper.
Or you can whip up a huge batch of soup — blend up your affordable vegetable ingredients once they’ve cooked together and freeze batches of soup to save on endless cans from the supermarket.
10. Solar party lights
If you’re having a party at your place you want to ensure the right atmosphere, so you may be thinking of splurging on a collection of fairy lights. However, solar garden lights can light up your night for much less, as they have charged themselves from the sun during the day. You can also choose flattering soft solar lighting to achieve a fairy like atmosphere for your backyard parties.
Money Saving Technology
11. High efficiency appliances
While rushing out to replace your appliances isn’t the best way to save money, when it comes time to replace a tired appliance, make sure you look at the energy ratings listed. On appliances such as fridges and televisions the energy rating will be in kilowatts per year and you can calculate how much you will save with a more efficient appliance, by remembering that one kilowatt equates to around 20 cents per year on your power bill.
On appliances such as washing machines there will be both a water and power rating and again, look for low usage machines. You also don’t have to do without a dryer to save money as these previously energy hungry hot boxes have experienced a revolution. For example, the Spin-X dryer uses centrifugal force to dry your clothes quickly and efficiently. It rotates at 3,300 rpm and is able to remove a quart of water from your clothes using the same energy a regular dryer uses in just the first 15 seconds.
12. Shower head
Using a more water efficient shower head will not only save you water, but also power. A water saving shower head can save the average household over 50,000 litres (13,200 gallons) of water a year, that’s water which isn’t going down the drain, and water you’re not paying to heat.
13. Power boards and strips
Plugging in your computer for example also requires powering up your monitor, your internet router, your printer, scanner…and the list goes on. Therefore, by hooking your computer hard drive into a Smart Power Strip power board, you can plug everything else you need at your desk into the supplementary plugs, in this way when your computer is on so are the other devices and when your computer is off, the other devices power off too.
Similarly you can use a remote control power strip which means that you don’t have to navigate your way to the back of the TV each night to turn everything off, nor are you tempted just to leave your TV, DVD player, speaker system and games console turned on. A simple remote control turns everything off and saves you paying for your appliances on standby.
Paying for a gadget which brings you more TV, more often to suit your schedule may not sound like it’s saving you money. However, when you no longer have to buy DVDs or movies and don’t have to trek to the video store (and try and avoid those late fees) TiVo is a gadget which can actually save your family money.
15. LED TV
One of the major complaints about flat screen televisions was the amount of power they used, and how hot they became while running. To combat this power consumption, Samsung have created a TV which really will save you money on your power bill. The Samsung LED range of televisions use up to 40% less power than an ordinary flat screen television of a comparable size.
Money Saving Gadgets for the Office
If you are looking for a way to save your office money, or perhaps you work from home but miss that delicious caffeine hit from your favorite cafe, invest in a coffeemaker to save you money at the office. If you and your staff are heading out of the office two times a day to pay $3 to $4 for a coffee, with a coffee machine in your office you’re not only going to be saving time in leaving the office, you’ll also save your staff money. If you still want to charge your staff, you can even begin to profit from a coffee machine at work as a 50 cent deposit will more than cover the cost of the beans, while your staff get a quality coffee without trekking across town.
17. Social savings
Let’s face it anyone who is in front of the computer for any length of time is inevitably going to gravitate towards their Facebook page, or feel compelled to check Twitter, eBay or even post to a blog. Well to save time, and therefore money, in the office, there are a number of gadgets you can download to streamline your social life on your computer.
For example, Vista allows a download in which you can drag and drop photos into Facebook, there is also an eBay Account Watcher application which can keep track of all your items on your desktop. You can also download an application to allow you to upload to your Blogger account straight from your sidebar.
18. Clipboard history
Saving you more time and money is the clipboard history download for Vista. If you often copy and paste and copy and paste, this program saves your clipboard pastes so you can find them quickly and easily if you need to reuse them.
19. Memory saving
Your Vista sidebar can also keep a track on your recently opened documents in a neat list on your desktop. This gives you quick access to what you were doing this morning, what you need to be doing, what you’re doing now…
Laptops can now function in the same way as an ordinary desktop computer and can therefore easily replace the space and power consuming box on your desk right now. Laptops can use on average around half of the power of a desktop setup and can run for hours and sometimes days on just their battery power.
21. Gadget insurance
If you stopped to think about it, you would probably be surprised by the amount of gadgets you already have, and how many of them you take with you every time you leave the house. Now think about how much you would have to spend to replace all of the gadgets you have with you right now if your handbag or briefcase was stolen, or even if you just lost your phone or laptop bag. That’s right, it adds up to a lot, but there is a way to save money on replacing your gadgets.
It’s also not just your own absentmindedness you have to worry about, but also the savvy thieves who know how much your handbag is really worth with your phone, iPod and laptop stashed away, and just how much personal information you carry on these gadgets.
There are a range of ways you can insure the gadgets you have with you right now, and even the ones which are at home saving you money on your power bills. Often it is very affordable to include your gadgets on your household insurance and some policies will even include coverage for items damaged or lost outside of your home, on the same policy; you may already have insurance for some or all of your gadgets, but wouldn’t it be worth checking, for your peace of mind, and for the money you can save in replacements in the future.
Contributor’s articles are written by members of the personal finance community. Each article was reviewed Moolanomy’s editorial team before its publication.