fifty nifty tricks for big diy savings
photo: Wendell T. Webber
Buy firewood in the spring and season it yourself to save $100 per cord
Remember when the tightfistedness of relatives raised during the Depression was amusing? Our grandparents' certificates of deposit and plastic couch protectors seemed downright quaint when our own home-equity and retirement portfolios were ballooning. Suddenly, though, the pot-roast-and-potatoes ethic doesn't seem quite so kooky. We'd even say it's worthy of a salute. So tip your cap to all your penny-pinching kin and read on for the best why-didn't-I-think-of-that ideas for shrinking your household expenses, from getting free trees from your town's public works department to installing an under-sink filter to cut costs on pricey bottled water.

SAVE UP TO $50

1. Shorten your dryer-vent hose. First, disconnect it and vacuum it out. Then trim the hose length so that it's just long enough for you to pull the dryer a few feet out from the wall. A short and unobstructed line makes your dryer run more efficiently.
Cost: Free.
Savings: $25 a year on electric, gas, or propane.
Bonus: Your clothes will dry about 20 percent faster.


2. Borrow specialized tools—gas-powered post-hole diggers and table-mounted routers—from a DIYer in your area for a small fee. Go to Zilok for far better deals than rental retailers offer.
Cost: $1 to $100 per day.
Savings: $50 or more for the same tool at a rental center.
Bonus: Getting to know fellow renovators in your neighborhood with whom you can swap tips.


3. Close closet doors to lower the square footage you're heating (and cooling). Shuttering closets along exterior walls also helps to insulate the house.
Cost: Zilch—although it may take a few minutes for your clothes to reach room temperature before you put them on.
Savings: About $50 per year off your energy bills.
Bonus: You and your guests won't see closet clutter.


4. Choose one neutral trim paint for the entire house rather than buying a gallon of a particular color for each room and using only a fraction of each can.
Cost: You have to forgo the trendy color combos in the paint manufacturer brochures.
Savings: $50 on paint for three rooms.
Bonus: Crisp white trim is always in style, and you'll never have to rummage around for the right can for touch-ups.
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