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35 Brilliant Ways to Save Money Around Your Home

You don’t have to cut corners to cut costs. These simple projects and maintenance tasks will help you achieve the thing we love most about DIY: saving money!

Young man driving in the modern carGoran Bogicevic/Shutterstock

Drive 55

Speed kills your gas mileage and your wallet. Yes, you've heard it before, but how about some real-world numbers to, ahem, drive the point home? Aerodynamic drag is a minor concern in city driving, but it really kills your gas mileage at speeds over 55 mph. In fact, increasing your speed to 65 increases drag by 36 percent! If you do a lot of highway driving, getting to your destination a few minutes early could cost you an extra $510 a year. Keep it closer to 55 mph and use your cruise control. It will pay off. You know what else will pay off? These 36 car detailing tips the pros don't want you to know.

modern independent heating system in boiler roomnikkytok/Shutterstock

Install a water heater timer

This device allows you to program the times when your water heater activates and deactivates during a 24-hour period. Each household is different and you must determine, based on your hot water use, if a timer is right for you. Better yet, check out these amazing tech tools for the home, including one that will allow you to shut off the water at home.

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Replace your cabin air filter

A clogged cabin air filter can damage your car's blower motor and cause your AC to run longer and harder in the summer. Cabin air filters are easy to access and replace and you'll save about $30 by doing it yourself. It's one of at least 100 car maintenance tasks you can do on your own. Buy a replacement cabin air filter at any auto parts store and ask the clerk to print out the installation instructions. Cabin air filters are usually located in the air ducts behind the glove box in late model vehicles. However, some car makers locate them in the cowling or console area. Just remove the access covers and slide out the old filter. Note the direction of the airflow arrows so you can install the new filter in the proper orientation. Then reinstall the covers and you're done. See how to remove and replace your cabin air filter here.

Interior of used furniture storesirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Repurpose used furniture

One man's junk is another man's treasure. Many furniture pieces, especially those from the late 20th century were manufactured using higher quality materials than today's offerings. Whether you plan to refurbish it or break down the piece for materials, this practice can really provide you with an opportunity to save a few bucks. The cost of hardwoods and exotics such as cherry, oak, maple, and teak has risen steadily over the years. Old furniture can provide you with a free or inexpensive source for these materials.

Close-Up Of Man Checking Tread On Car Tyre With GaugeSpeedKingz/Shutterstock

Keep tires in alignment

Keep your car aligned and save about $140 per year. If your tires are bowed out of alignment by just .017 in., it's the equivalent of dragging your tire sideways for 102 miles for every 20,000 you drive. That'll cost you $150 a year in wasted gas. It will wear your tires faster, costing you $70 more a year. Here's an easy way to check your alignment without taking your car into the shop. Buy a tread depth gauge ($2) and measure the tread depth on both edges of each tire (rear tires too). If one side of the tire is worn more than the other, your car needs to be aligned. An alignment costs about $80, so you'll still save $140 the first year alone. Learn more about tires here.

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Restore your deck

After a few years, your deck is sure to show some wear and tear. Don't rush to replace boards that are otherwise in good condition. With a deck restoration coating and a few days in the sunshine, your deck will look as good as new. Get the full how-to here. See the lighting options you need to add to your deck to make it shine at night.

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Replace a failing thermostat

A thermostat that opens too quickly or stays open can dramatically lower the coolant temperature and put a mega-chill on your gas mileage. All you need to check it is an inexpensive infrared laser thermometer. Simply aim it at the thermostat housing. If your engine is warmed up and the thermometer reads less than 160 degrees Fahrenheit, you're wasting gas and it's time to replace the thermostat. (To reduce reflection errors, spray the thermostat housing with black paint prior to testing.) A new thermostat costs about $10 and is easy to replace. Learn how to replace your car thermostat and save gas money.

Set of cleaning up stuff isolated over white backgroundgrublee/Shutterstock

Make your own household cleaners

You can help the environment and save a few bucks by making your own household cleaners. For instance, instead of using store-bought glass cleaner, mix 2 cups of water with a 1/2 cup of vinegar to create your own. Another easy formula for all-purpose cleaning is mixing 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water. Check out a complete list of homemade cleaners you can do.

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You can refinish your own hardwood

Intimidated by this seemingly daunting project? Don't be. If you have the will and a whole day (or two) to yourself, you can refinish the hardwood floors in the major areas of your home. You don't necessarily need to sand, but if the floor is damaged enough to warrant buffing, check out your local hardware store and rent the equipment for anywhere from 4-48 hours. Here's how to refinish your hardwood floors.

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Keep an eye on warning lights

Pay attention to your warning lights. Car owners think a glowing check engine light isn't important because it just means you've got an "emissions problem." Guess what? Emissions problems are almost always caused by an incomplete burn and that means you're not getting the most bang for your buck. In other words, a check light means you're wasting gas. Worse yet, all that extra gas goes right into your expensive catalytic converter, causing it to fail early. A new catalytic converter can run upwards of $1,000 to replace and then you STILL have to fix the underlying problem that turned on the check engine light in the first place. Many times the check engine light comes on due to a bum sensor or vacuum leak. Replacing a sensor or fixing a vacuum leak can save far more than what you'll waste in reduced MPG. Stop thinking those warning lights are hieroglyphs and learn how to decipher them.

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Originally Published on The Family Handyman