Found a neat link from Rather-be-shopping.Com, where he talks about his father's "neat" frugal ideas.
-He puts a brick in the back of the toilet tank...
- He puts a five gallon bucket in the shower and when it gets filled he uses the water in the bucket to water his garden..
- He has a wood burning stove and the furnace is NEVER to be turned on...
Our place has a metal farm gate which we open and close each time we leave and return home. I timed it and it takes about 30 seconds to get out of the car, close or open the gate, then return to the car. Since I leave home on the average of twice each day that is four opens/closes of the gate each day. That is 120 seconds or 2 minutes per day. Two times 350 days per year (I am not home every day) is 700 minutes or 11.7 hours that my car idles needlessly. I believe it would require 9 gallons of gas to idle that long. At $3 per gallon that is $27 per year I save by turning the the engine off when opening and closing the gate
Wow, I don't know what to say man, I'm just kind of baffled from reading both. But maybe I have a strange sense of Frugality with a very big bent on "my time is important".
Why don't you just install a remote opener and save yourself 11.7 hours/year + part of the overall energy? You're worried about saving $27/year, I'd be worried about saving 11.7 hours/year.
Brick in the toilet? That's basically just saying "Hey my toilet uses too much water" and all things considered the brick is pretty imprecise. Why not just install a toilet that's built to use less water / flush? Then you'll save water and you'll get a correct flush every time. In fact, why not just find/build a toilet with 2 flush buttons (cleverly named #1 and #2) so that you can get a variable amount of water / flush?
The wood burning stove is only "cheaper" if he can chop the wood himself (and his time is worth very little) and he has the place to put the wood. Depending on location, electric heating may be more efficient (such as in Manitoba, Canada, land of Hydroelectric dams). Again, if he wanted to be really efficient he would move over to a high-efficiency pellet stove which is currently getting the most heat/$. A buddy of mine is involved in the manufacture of these (pellet, gas and wood stoves) and he says that the pellet ones are efficient enough that greenhouses have actually started buying them to maintain heat.
As to the "bucket in the shower", well I can't argue with that for utility. However (and this is a personal beef), I really wish that this wasn't actually efficient. I'd really like to see a day where homes had more efficient use of their own water, such as an in-home filtration unit. Right now we basically have "in" pipes and "out" pipes, so water that could be reused isn't being reused. By the same measure we could be capturing rain run-off into our own filters (if we had them) and then we wouldn't need to use as much "public water".
I mean, if you have a roof and a lawn that are about the same size, then every time it rains, you could actually "water" twice. However, right now we're just sending that extra water into the storm sewers. We already have eaves, if we could pipe the stuff into a reservoir, then we can water the lawn two days later using the water we were just going to send away. If we wanted to get fancy, we could run the bath water through the filters and send part down the sewers and part into the reservoir, so now it costs less to water the plants and the lawn.
Don't get me wrong, you and your father are definitely "frugal", but it's worth looking at the old "penny-wise / pound-foolish" deal. You spent 250 words talking about conserving $27 in gas; but didn't seem to care that you were "wasting" nearly 12 hours of your time. At what point do we start talking about the efficiency wonders of driving a manual transmission and when do we finally cave in and say "I was sick of trying to save small money, so I just bought a Toyota Prius (or other Toyota Hybrid) and decided to save big money for the rest of the life of the car". These are all neat ways to "squeak out" a little more efficiency, but the tips are actually just capitalizing on the poorly-designed inefficiencies of the existing systems.
Why not just make a better system?