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There is an old marketing adage that insists that for a business to make money, it has to spend money. There's truth in that for business, but when it comes to personal money management, don't count on it unless you have a clear strategy. That's exactly what these inexpensive yet handy gadgets offer: clear strategies to reduce the high cost of energy, your home's electricity, water and gas.

Don't get me wrong; I am not saying that you cannot reduce your energy consumption without buying a gadget, but the following gadgets sure do make the job a lot easier, which means you're more likely to carry through and see the net savings!

OUTLET SEALERS

Electrical sockets and switch plates on exterior walls can be hidden sources of drafts that may lead to high heating and cooling costs. Socket sealers are really easy to install and act as a buffer between your home's inside and the outdoor air, helping to keep conditioned air in and outside air out. The Duck Brand 283333 Socket Sealers Variety Pack comes with 16 outlet sealers, 6 switch plates and 2 decorative covers, gadgets that save money.

WINDOW SHRINK FILM

Chilly winter or hot summer weather can send the home heating and air conditioning bills through the roof. But a little insulation goes a long way. You can cut a chunk out of your power bill by making your home more energy-efficient with window shrink film. It's easy. Just use use a conventional hair dryer and the Duck Brand 281506 Indoor 10-Window Shrink Film Insulator Kit that insulates the equivalent of 10 3-by-5-foot windows.

REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER THERMOMETER

Keeping your refrigerator and freezer cooling at the proper temperature ensures that you aren't wasting energy by keeping it too cold and not wasting food by not keeping it cold enough! A monitoring thermometer like the Rubbermaid Commercial Refrigerator/Freezer Monitoring Thermometer is a very cost-effective way to make sure your temps are just right.

SURGE PROTECTOR/AUTO-SWITCH

Stop for a moment and think about all the electronics you have plugged into your home outlets. They're using energy 24/7. Stop the phantom power drain with a surge protector that automatically turns off power when not in use, saving energy and reducing your power bill. The 7-Outlet Smart Strip SCG-3M Energy Saving Surge Protector with Autoswitching Technology is just the ticket. (You may need several to accommodate all your stuff.)

POWER-CONSERVE SWITCH

What about your coffee pot, electric grill, heater and electric fans that are plugged in all over the house? Rather than a large multi-outlet power strip, use individual power-conserve switches -- one per electrical item. The Conserve Power Switch completely shuts off power, including standby power, with the flip of a switch. Take a look at the Belkin Power Conserve Illuminated Switch. It's easy to use and a great way to bring your electricity bill down month after month.

KILL-A-WATT

With this handy gadget, you can easily figure out which appliances are actually worth keeping plugged in. Simply connect these appliances to the Kill A Watt EZ and it will assess how efficient they really are. The large LCD display will measure consumption by the kilowatt-hour -- the same way your local utility company figures it -- letting you calculate your cumulative electrical expenses and forecast by the day, week, month or even the entire year. With the amazing P3 International Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor, you'll know (get ready) watts killing you!

SHOWER HEAD

A really good low-flow shower head will radically cut your water consumption per shower without giving the person showering any sense of deprivation, and your water bill will certainly show the difference. This Niagara 1.5 GPM Chrome Shower Head is spectacular with its nine-jet adjustable turbo massage that easily rotates from a gentle needle spray to a forceful jet.

For more specific information about these money-saving gadgets, go to www.everydaycheapskate.com/gadgets.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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