Best. Project. Ever.
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve your life while saving money is to install a programmable thermostat. It took me about 6 weeks of suffering through getting out of bed in a cold house (yep, too cheap to run the heat at night!) before I looked into this.
It turns out that you can get a decent programmable thermostat for about $35. If you do the math, that's about 25 cents a day to be able to wake up in a warm house every day for one winter. So worth it! And that's not even counting the savings on your electric/gas bill!!!
I chose one with a 5/1/1 setting, meaning that I can program Monday through Friday to do one thing, Saturday to do something different, and Sunday can be different again!
Taking the old thermostat off was easy, and I labeled all the wires as I disconnected them (mine had 5, but some systems have more). The colors weren't quite what the directions had promised they might be, but I figured it out.
Maybe another 10 minutes of work got the new thermostat installed. I turned it on and... the screen was messed up. So of course even the seemingly simplest of projects required a second trip to the hardware store! Now I'm doubly pro at installing thermostats, since I got to do it twice.
In the months since I installed it, I think I've been saving a good 20% on my electric bills. Plus, it's really luxurious to have my apartment the right temperature when I get out of bed, when I'm at work, when I get home, and when I go to bed again. Now I'll just have to decide if I'm going to leave it in my apartment for the next people once I move out!