Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Energy diet

My household budget is feeling rather strained because the cost of just about everything has gone up.  The costs have risen much faster than my income.  There is also uncertainty over the long term effects of the government shut down and how it will effect prices later on.  Any excuse is used to raise the price.

Household energy prices rise with the cost of gas and oil.  We all know how that’s gone up many times over the last five years.  So does the cost of just about everything else starting with food.  As the cost of your house energy goes up it may become necessary to shift money from your other budget categories to pay for it or else significantly reduce the amount you use.

I’m concentrating on reducing my utility usage in preparation for another cost increase.   I call it preparedness practice.  If I can accomplish using less then I’ll be better prepared if it becomes necessary to shift budget money.  Instead of focusing on the dollar amount of my bill I’m focusing on the usage amount.  How many kilowatts I use or the number of  feet of gas I use per month.  There are many variables with this so I really can’t do a math comparison.  For example:  How cold was it each day?  What kitchen activity did I do each day?  Was I canning all day or did I simply warm up left overs?  Did I have company using the whole house or was I able to stay in one room?

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Grandma Mama didn’t have electricity or gas for her house.  We used a wood burning cook stove and a pot belly heat stove.  Heating the house during the winter wasn’t easy.  The house had inside walls made from cardboard boxes and newspaper instead of plaster board.  Imagine a house that only had studs and the outside boards.  Uneven wood boards do not keep out cold air or keep in warm air.  Grandma Mama, like many women in that time and area, used what was available to cover the leaky walls.  Some houses used a plaster mixture over lath boards to make inside walls.  Some families, like Grandma Mama, couldn’t afford the lath board or the plaster mix so they used cardboard and paper and paste to make walls.  Paper is really good at stopping air flow which does help stop some of the escaping heat.  It’s hard to describe and I couldn’t find a photo example either.

I figure if Grandma Mama could keep us all warm and fed without the grid and without real walls then I can surely cut the amount I use by imitating what she did.  After all I do have a house with real walls and it’s fully insulated.  There were many years when my utilities were turned off every spring and didn’t get turned back on until late fall.  I was just like many low income households.  I couldn’t afford the luxury of household energy year round.  Every spring there would be the “LGE field day” when a person would see the utility trucks going down the block turning everyone’s utilities off.  I do not want to go back to those days if I can avoid it.

I’m voluntarily rationing my natural gas and electric usage.  I’ll be doing all that I can remember Grandma Mama did and all that I’ve learned over the years.  Some stuff may look bizarre and some may be trivial but everything should save at least one little bit of either gas or electricity.  Those little bits will add up to substantial savings.

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I want to go beyond the standard talk of “insulate, weather strip, and use florescent bulbs” to save energy.   I’ve heard the same energy saving tips for years.  I’ve done them all already.  My house is well insulated.  My water heater is insulated.   I wear extra layers.  I turn down the thermostat.  And so forth.

I want to go the extra mile so to speak.  I’ll be putting into practice some type of energy saving strategy every week.  Umm…. or as often as possible.  I’ll be writing about what I do and how.  I hope others will join me by voluntarily cutting utility usage too.  I’m always interested in reading what others are doing to save energy too.  Got any energy saving tips for me?

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