Does Paragliding count towards flight hours for "Total Time" in either commercial license 250 or the ATP 1500? If not, what are the cheapest ways to acrue raw "total time" hours? Can one do powered parachutes?
In the U.S., you can count the time as aeronautical experience in your logbook. But, that aeronautical experience can not be used to satisfy the requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 61 unless the paraglide, powered parachute, or other aircraft meets the following stipulations per Part 61.51:
(j) Aircraft requirements for logging flight time. For a person to log flight time, the time must be acquired in an aircraft that is identified as an aircraft under §61.5(b), and is—
(1) An aircraft of U.S. registry with either a standard or special airworthiness certificate;
(2) An aircraft of foreign registry with an airworthiness certificate that is approved by the aviation authority of a foreign country that is a Member State to the Convention on International Civil Aviation Organization;
(3) A military aircraft under the direct operational control of the U.S. Armed Forces; or
(4) A public aircraft under the direct operational control of a Federal, State, county, or municipal law enforcement agency, if the flight time was acquired by the pilot while engaged on an official law enforcement flight for a Federal, State, County, or Municipal law enforcement agency.
This would eliminate the use of any aircraft flown under Parts 103, 105, & 107.
One less expensive way of getting flight time would be to fly as a safety pilot for someone flying simulated IMC using view limiting devices. If you are instrument rated, you can fly as PIC while someone else is the sole manipulator of the controls of the aircraft in real IMC under IFR.
To supplement Dean's answer, once you have a PPL, the cheapest way to build time is to get a tailwheel checkout, join a glider club and tow gliders. Towing gliders kept me flying in the 90s when I had a young family and probably would have given it up otherwise.
The next best way is to find several partners and buy a good simple airplane like an Aeronca Champ, or an old Cessna 150, ponying up, say, 6000 dollars each or whatever it takes, and fly the hell out of it. With the fixed costs dispersed among several owners, you will get the total hourly costs well under $50 if you fly it enough.