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.
Since this is my first winter in this house and I really don’t know what to expect I’ve been worried about paying high energy bills as well as a mortgage payment with my limited budget. I’m investing every spare penny into ways to conserve energy to keep the usage low. If you want to see more of the posts I wrote about energy saving things just click on this link. NA NA’S ENERGY SAVING IDEAS There are currently 29 posts and this one will be number 30 with more planned. Some posts are from the old house and some are from here. I’m hoping at least some of my ideas may be helpful if you are looking for practical ways to cut your utility bills that are not so boring. Yes, boring. Its boring to do a search for energy saving ideas and get thousands upon thousands of sites with the same old blah blah blah. The number one tip at every site is “turn down the thermostat” Yeah, I’ve done that so now what?
I don’t know if the furnace in this new house is energy efficient or not. I won’t know for sure until after I’ve spent my first winter here. There is a man who will be going under the house to install a vapor barrier and insulate the duct work before really cold weather. He also knows about my furnace and will give me instructions for its operation. It has a humidifier and I’ve never seen one before.
In the meantime I’m doing all that I’m able to conserve energy. Less use means less I’ll have to come up with to pay the bill. I was very happily surprised to see the difference in my electricity usage from last month to this month. (click the photo for a larger view)
It shows I cut the electric usage from 563 to 336. A $21 savings. I have to give those LED bulbs and surge protectors I bought credit for a significant part of the savings. Yes, of course, they were expensive on my limited budget. You gotta spend some money to save money. I believe it will take about four months to recover the investment costs and then it will be pure savings. Now let me say that no energy saving device will work if you don’t USE it. If you don’t need to save money why are you reading a frugal living blog?
My gas usage went up from 0 to 1. That’s because I hadn’t used the gas stove at all when it was hot. I used a crock pot for meals and I’ve just started back canning again. The water heater is electric. Even with zero gas use it cost me $18.89 in fees.
This is the temperature of the house when I woke up this morning. You can see the furnace is off. I’m going to see how long I can wait before turning it on this winter. Safely of course. I don’t want to freeze in my sleep ya’ know. I really hate trying to sleep when I’m cold. I changed the bed sheets from summer cotton to winter flannel a couple of weeks ago.
When I was a kid my grandma mama would warm bricks by the wood stove to put into my bed to warm it for me. I don’t have a wood stove but I did think about making some rice bag bed warmers. It was then that I realized I want my bed warm all night, not just when I get into it or until the rice cooled. Neither did I want to be getting up during the night to walk through a cold house to re-warm the rice. I needed something better but also it needed to be frugal.
I found it. I invested $120 and bought this. It’s an electric bed warmer. Sort of like a blanket but it goes under you instead of over you. Works just like a rice bag only much better and its frugal. Used it for the first time last night. The furkid and I were snug and warm all through the night.
I’m not affiliated with this at all but I still want to tell you about it. Its waterproof and I couldn’t feel the wires at all. It goes under the bottom sheet. It automatically cuts off after ten hours in case you forget to turn it off. It has a converter box (similar to game sets) which switches the house current to less than 25 volts of DC power just in case you are worried about the effects of AC.
It has an automatic bed warming feature which heats up on high for about five minutes to warm the bed then goes to whatever number I’ve set it. It uses 10 kWh at the lowest setting of 1 and 14 kWh at the highest setting of 10. Or about one half kWh increase for each number. I set it at 5 last night and was comfortable all night under one sheet and one quilt. That means I used an estimate of about 12 kWh of power each hour for 6 hours. Hmm… about 72 kWh to stay warm instead of heating the whole 2 story house with a furnace. Yup, warming the person instead of the space is definitely much more frugal.