Sunday, November 16, 2008

Heat and Electricity 101

-- Inflation Fighter --by Amy L. Thomas Dollar Stretcher
Establish good conservation habits for now and the future

I always heard ways to save money, but I never listened to them. After all, the people telling me these ideas were my parents, those older people who did not know how things are in today's world, how people my age wanted to live. Cue up an
economic crisis and costs that are rising as we speak, and now I have a different perspective. I just opened up my electric bill, and decided that something has to change. I cannot pay over my family's hard-earned money for a simple utility.

I called my mother to ask, very politely, what were those things that she and Dad did to save money on their heat and electricity? I am very sorry I scoffed at the idea last year, since saving $300 for a small change in convenience seems like
a wondrous thing. As luck would have it, my mother is a very understanding person, and she quickly reeled off ideas that have been put into practice and work.

1. Don't just turn off your technology, unplug. Those little lights that keep on while we are asleep or not using the VCR, DVD player, cable box, coffee maker, etc. do use electricity while they are not in use. Go around your home and find how
many things you have that are inactive but are sucking away at a current. You will be amazed.

2. Shut your computer and printer completely down. I had always been under the impression that this was not a good thing. I thought that it actually took more electricity to boot up your PC, Mac, laptop, and printer than it did not just
leave it on all of the time. Not true. I called a computer manufacturer and asked. It does not take any more to boot up your system than it does to turn on any other appliance. Keeping these off when not in use can save a lot, especially in today's household when there are often multiple computers going. When you leave for a vacation or are spending time away from home, you can also shut down your Internet cable box and your wireless hubs, connectors, etc. Why spend money to have a
signal come into your home when no one is around to use it?

3. Only keep lights on in rooms that are occupied. This sounds simple, but how many of us think that we will be returning to the upstairs, basement, or another room only to get sidetracked and never get there? Also, shut off all garage lights and outside lights when they are not needed. If you like to keep some light on outside overnight, invest in a few solar lights that use a free resource to keep any space or
walkway lit up.

4. Shut the door of any room or bedroom that does not have to be used during the winter months. Place towels or door cozies around the bottom of the door, and shut the registers to that room. The heat will be redistributed to the other areas you
want it, and you will save big time. Why heat something that is not being used or is used very little?

5. Taking a bath is a definite luxury for some, but the amount of water used and the energy spent heating it makes it a pricey indulgence. Limit baths to an occasional treat. Shower smart by using the coolest water temperature necessary, and only turning the water on as needed for rinsing, not letting it run continuously as you soap, shampoo or shave. While kids love to take long showers, you may need to limit their time by using a kitchen timer to remind them to only use the length of
time that is necessary.

6. Kids can use lots of energy and utilities if they are not kept in check. You sure do not want to sound like a drill sergeant, but as my mother delicately put it, you cannot afford to raise them to be wasteful and unaware of the cost of living. I once came home to find three people in my house with almost every light on, two televisions running but not being watched by anyone, three air conditioners blasting in rooms that were not occupied, and a shower being taken that lasted for over fifteen minutes. No more. have become the utility manager in my house, and have sat down and explained that while I want to keep the luxuries we have, if things do not
improve, we will have to give up some creature comforts. This did the trick. No one wanted to give up the televisions, computers, air conditioners, etc., so they all decided to be smarter about their use of these things. It worked. I also told them they would appreciate my "guidance" when they were on their own and had to pay their own bills.

7. Clothes should only be washed in cold water and rinsed in cold water. With today's laundry detergents, there is no need to use warm or hot water.

8. Your thermostat should stay at a constant temperature. Pick the lowest temperature that works for your family when everyone is at home, and leave it on that. If your house will be empty for a long weekend or a vacation, you can drop the
temperature for that time period, but keep it consistent on a day-to-day basis, rather than dropping it during the day when no one is home and then raising it at night.

Saving money and saving energy is important for any family. Taking a few tips from your elders and those who are frugal can help you and those in your household establish good conservation habits for now and the future.

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Note from Lucy: How many of you have other tricks to save electricity or gas this winter. I think some of the best ideas came from our parents or grandparents. To put humidity in the air, when I was growing up, my dad used to put an old coffee can full of water on top of the gas heater at night. I don't remember us having a humidifier back in those days, but it worked like a charm. TF and I have also have put 1 liter soda bottles filled with very warm water under the blankets at night to keep our feet warm....You would be surprised how long those bottles stay warm under a blanket.
Let me hear some of your stories.......Have a great week everyone!


At 12:31 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

These are all GREAT tips! Some I already do, but some I will start to do, now! I'm afraid I don't have anything to add tothis. Thanks for these Lucy.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

We dont' run our heat high or our air low. Ceiling fans going year round to circulate the air.

Warmups, flannel pj pants, slippers/socks, cover with a blanked when watching tv. We prefer it a bit cooler.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

The note about the warm bottles of water under the blankets reminded me of that Sarah Ingalls Wilder book The Long Winter. They had to take something heated to bed with them at night to stay warm. But they didn't have to worry about utility bills. They didn't have utilities.

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Jess said...

Great post... we have a hot water bottle to keep our tootsies warm. And instead of heating the whole house to keep Emmy warm, we have a small electric heater for her at night.

Have a blessed week

At 12:42 AM, Blogger Diane@Diane's Place said...

We're very fortunate that our utilities are included in our rent, but we're pretty frugal anyway. We don't take advantage of our landlord just because we can.

I often bake several things at the same time instead of using the oven for only one dish.

Almost every light bulb in our apartment has been changed over to energy saving florescent bulbs.

Hope you have a great week, Lucy. :o)

Love and hugs,


At 10:31 AM, Blogger Greg C said...

Here are a few things that we do. First off that ceiling fan idea is a good one but turn it off when you are not in the room. They add heat by the way.

We turn our hot water heater off and only turn it on when we want hot water. Usually that is for a short time in the morning and again in the evening. I have heard that this is not a good idea but we are saving big time.

For Thanksgiving I will cook the turkey and some of the other things outside on the grill. I hardly ever bake inside in the oven. My turkeys come out great too by the way. There is room to put potatoes and veggies in with the turkey too.

We use a wood stove with a ceiling fan in the same room and our heat never comes on. It is set at around 40 just in case there is an emergency and we run out of wood but it hasn't been on in over 5 years. Our winter time electric bills are in the double digits.

We keep the mini blinds shut in the winter unless there is sun shining from that direction in which case we let the sunshine in.

Great tips it all adds up.

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I'm a stickler when it comes to turning off lights when I leave a room. I also try to keep the heat temp down to save money. Our summer bills are not as high as our winter bills. Apparently, it costs more to heat our house than to cool it, so I monitor the thermostat.
Good tips here. Thanks.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Oh great One said...

In winter I open curtains to let in the warming sunshine and keep them closed in summer to block it out. I also will put that thin plastic film over windows in the winter to block out any drafts. They really work well.

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Granny Annie said...

All of these things are second nature to my spouse. He is Mr. Frugality! On the other hand, I am a spoiled, indulgent gal who gets a headache thinking about conservation. Okay, okay, I'm getting with the program!

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Putz said...

we had a couple bob and barbara rather who broke up over just this thing...they lived out of town in a house where you had to bank the coal stove up to keep it going and they could't do it and she almost froze[SO SHE SAID] so he ended up going north and she returned south

At 12:17 AM, Blogger NoSurfGirl said...

another tip: winterproof your home! Especially if your home is older, and your roof doesn't have insulation, or you've got only single-pane windows. Saves a whole lot of heat. A neighbor of mine just insulated his attic and says he thinks their gas bill might be down by half!


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