I use AWS to run the various scripts used in data collection. I have been paying about $20 each month for a t1 micro instance since my free tier and academic credits ran out. That is quite a price to pay for 1 core and about 600MB ram. Maybe AWS is not the best option for long running tasks. The advantages of AWS (fast and easy to deploy) do not matter so much in the long run, and a more traditional hosting option may be more cost effective for those cases.
Still all is not lost, Amazon has been offering reserved instances since 2009. Reserving your instance up front rather than paying for it as you go can add up to significant savings. I recently switched to reserved instances and now my costs are less than 10$ per month for that t1 micro.