I sometimes think the greenest technology has already been invented. We just forgot about it, or it fell out of vogue. In fact, you probably already own some of the greenest gadgets ever invented. But, if you're like most people, you have them tucked away in a closet at home and haven't used them for years.
It's time to go back to the future and break out some of these oldies but goodies. Pull them out and start saving money at home, now. They're easier on the environment, and they'll save you a bunch of greenbacks, too.
Slow-Cooker and Fondue Pot
If you don't already have a 70's era slow-cooker ("aka "Crock Pot") collecting dust in your kitchen cupboard, you can buy a new energy sipping model for about $30. I call mine my "mean, green, recession fighting machine," because it costs only a few cents to operate and turns inexpensive ingredients into the comfort food we crave to get us through these tough economic times.
And, talk about a money-saving throwback to the 1970's: I challenge you to go into any thrift store in America and not find at least one or two virtually unused fondue pots (usually in mustard yellow or avocado green) priced at just a couple of dollars. I sometimes wonder if any of us who bought new fondue sets during the Nixon administration actually used them. The great thing is, fondue is truly fun, delicious, and cheap. In fact, fondue was originally invented as a way of using up leftover bits of cheese, wine, meat, and stale bread. Pickup a used fondue pot at a thrift store and give it a try. Who knows; if fondue pots make a comeback, maybe key parties will, too.
Laundry Rack (or Clothes Line)
Drying your clothes outside on an old fashioned clothes line or indoors on one of those accordion-like laundry racks will not only save you about $200 per year on the cost to own and operate an electric dryer, but it can make some garments last up to twice as long. Read more low-tech, money saving tips for making your clothes last longer.
Electric Blanket and Heating Pad
My grandparents kept their thermostats set at meat-locker temperatures during the winter, but stayed cozy with an electric blanket on their bed and an electric heating pad on each of their favorite easy chairs. At the time I thought my "plugged-in grandparents" were funny heating just their bodies, instead of their whole house - but now I realize that Granny and Gramps were once again ahead of their times. Electric blankets and pads cost little more than many non-electric comforters, and only use about a nickel's worth of electricity per night to operate. Yet according to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every degree you turn down the heat during the winter, you'll probably save about one to three percent on your total home heating bill.
Removing the water from food products in order to make them last longer and concentrate flavors and nutrients is one of the oldest food preservation methods known to man, and it's making a comeback. If you don't already own an electric food dehydrator, you can buy one for about fifty bucks. It works with most fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs, nuts, grains and even some dairy products. Dehydrated foods last for months sometimes even years when stored in airtight containers. You can save big money on your grocery bill by buying bulk quantities of in season and on sale items and dehydrating them for future use.
Ice Chest and Thermos Bottle
Talk about simple genius: Keeping foods cold or hot through mechanical means (i.e. thermal insulation) rather than with electricity saves energy and money duh! But the last time most of us carried a thermos bottle was back in fourth grade in our George Jetson lunchboxes. Carry your coffee to work in an old fashioned thermos rather than buying a cup or two of designer java every day, and pack the ice chest full of picnic supplies and snacks next time you take a family road trip -- you'll likely save hundreds of dollars a year if you do.
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