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.

Saving energy in winter

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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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13 comments on “Saving energy in winter

  1. Dorothy cripplewing
    November 10, 2016

    Anita I have one of those electric bed warmers as well and love mine. I have no heat on at night and am toastie warm. I actually bought mine at the Salvation Army second hand store for $10….! I was so lucky!

    • Anita
      November 14, 2016

      Yes, that was a really lucky find for sure. I feel so warm that its difficult to drag myself out of bed into a cold house each morning.

  2. Donna
    October 23, 2016

    I think this is a grand idea! Saving dollars is always good. I try to make it a game of savings-me against the expenses. Somehow I get more satisfaction when I win. 😇

    • Anita
      October 24, 2016

      Yes, me too.

  3. sarasinart
    October 23, 2016

    All good plans! Stay warm and keep us posted how it’s going.

  4. Margie in Toronto
    October 22, 2016

    I’m lucky in that the heat is included in my rent. It’s an old building so we have hot water rads which are wonderful for warming clothes on! The only rad on at the moment is the bathroom one as it does get a bit cold in there as there is a large window. I rarely turn on the heat in the living room before Christmas as I hate it to be too hot – I’m on the top floor and heat rises, plus I face west so lots of afternoon sunshine. I never turn it on in the bedroom as I sleep so much better when it’s cold – but I do like my bed to be warm. Have you ever used a hot water bottle? I have a few of them – love them in the evening when I’m reading or watching TV and want to feel cozy. I have some heavy duty ones bought from INDIGO (Amazon probably has them as well) but our local drugstores sell the cheaper ones for around $5.00.

    • Anita
      October 24, 2016

      You are very lucky to have heat included in the rent. There used to be places like that around here but not anymore since the cost of utilities went up several times. Yes, I’ve used hot water bottles. Same idea as for the rice bags. Both get cold too fast for a full night sleep. I don’t mind the room being cold but if I’m cold the whole night then my body is stiff and barely able to move the next morning.

  5. Randal Oulton
    October 22, 2016

    You may wish to research at some point how much energy slow cookers use. It’s been a while but I saw some convincing pieces that they were less efficient than using ovens, because their heating elements run non-stop. In contrast, modern ovens are insulated and only actually run periodically to maintain a certain heat level. Thus the dangerously hot sides of slow cookers: that’s energy bleeding off them non-stop into the air.

    So the argument is, that it can be cheaper to use an oven than a slower cooker, despite the popular myth that they are cheaper. Several people out there have run the numbers and come up with a convincing argument.

    I sidestepped the question by giving away my classic slow cookers, and investing in an insulated one. With no hot sides, it’s safer to handle which is nice with kids and pets around, and, it’s cheaper to run. It wasn’t very much. I only use the word “investing” because the old ones had many years left in them and I wouldn’t have replaced them otherwise, I just didn’t want to pay through the nose to run them. Here’s the insulated one I got: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lTnonGP27M which is less expensive to run.

    • Anita
      October 24, 2016

      Randal I had no thoughts about the cost involved in using the crockpot until you mentioned it. It makes perfect sense though. If its hot on the outside its loosing energy to the air around it. In the winter this may be ok but not in the summer. Now you have my curiosity going. I’m definitely interested in learning more. I’m already thinking my crockpot is about to get recycled and investing in a newer one. Hmm…. Christmas is just around the corner maybe I’ll get lucky.

  6. kjane
    October 22, 2016

    I’ve followed your blog for quite awhile, but never commented. Just wanted to let you know that your electric mattress pad was an excellent energy saving purchase. We have had one (different brand) for five years and wonder how we ever lived without it in the winter. Generally, we turn on ours to high before going to bed, then set it to the lowest setting-or off-for the night. Getting into bed and having immediate toasty toes, while saving money, has been awesome. You will love yours.

    • Anita
      October 24, 2016

      I’ve only used it a couple of times and now I wonder how I lived without mine so long. Its a totally different experience than sleeping under an electric blanket. I have turned it down to a 2 setting which feels the most comfortable for me. Thank you for letting me know about yours. I did notice that when I get up in the morning I don’t have as much stiffness as I’ve had in the past. Love that part the most.

  7. janeisgreen
    October 22, 2016

    I use hot water bottles in the winter time. I have two; one for near the top and one for near my feet. They stay warm for quite a long time under the duvet. My furkid helps, too. 🙂 I’m going to go back to read more of your tips to see if there’s anything more I can do.

    Lucky me, a friend who has more than enough money gave me a financial gift, so I bought a cord of firewood yesterday (I didn’t think I could afford one this year). That helps more than anything, and it’s there for power outages.

    • Anita
      October 24, 2016

      Aren’t those financial gifts great! I like knowing I can get exactly what gift I want instead of re-gifting something I’d never use. Thank you for reading. I hope there is something you find useful. IF not now, maybe as I continue to find more frugal things.

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