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 saving ideas again

Even the tiniest amount of energy savings are important when funds are limited.  Using the energy saving items and ways that I’ve already done; I was able to decrease my electric usage from 336 Kwh in September to 277 Kwh in October.  That was a savings of 59 Kwh.  Hey, these energy saving things really work!  My gas usage went from 6 ccf to 16 ccf and offset the electric savings made.  But, I’m happy anyway.  I’m not sure how much of the difference was because of weather change though.


I’m actually enjoying finding new ways to save energy even though they are actually based on the things my grandparents did when I was a child or on history.  Speaking of history, one of the things done during WW2 rationing was to limit bath water to only five inches.  Supposedly to save energy on heating water.  Of course, this saving tip was for those who had indoor plumbing and hot water tanks.   Well, I don’t take baths I take showers.  I wanted to do an experiment to see how much water I was using for my shower.  I measured to find where the five inch mark would be for the tub.  It came to just touching the bottom of the shower curtain.  Before I started my shower I closed the drain to capture the water.   After I finished I could see that the water came to just below the end of the shower curtain.  Great! I was being frugal without knowing it.

During WW2 rationing years it was also recommended the warm water be allowed to stay in the tub until cold.  The idea was to capture the heat to help warm the house because heat always moves to cold.   So I did that too.  Instead of opening the drain to let all that hot water go down to the sewer I left it there.  I saw no absolute need to empty it right away.  I need that heat more than the sewer does.  Every time I shower now I close the drain and capture the heat from the water before letting it drain.  Does it really help heat the house?  I don’t know for sure but it doesn’t hurt anything to let it set until cold.  The heat has to be going somewhere so maybe its to the cold room around it.


Here is another idea about capturing heat.  You may have heard of opening the oven door after baking to allow the heat to warm the house? Well, have you ever heard of using fire bricks inside a fireplace or wood stove to capture the heat?  The idea is that the bricks are heated by the fire then after the fire is gone the bricks give off the heat they captured.  Grandma Mama had bricks inside, on top of, and underneath our pot belly stove.  At night the fire was allowed to die down but the bricks gave off their captured heat.

Grandma Mama also had fire bricks inside the oven of her kitchen stove for that same reason.  The bricks were soap stone I believe.  I can’t remember exactly.  Soapstone has long been a common fireplace surround stone.  When her baking was finished she opened the oven door to help warm the house.

I thought why not use stones in my oven?  I did some research looking for a place to buy only a couple of stones.  What I found was people using pizza stones and some people were using un-glazed paving stones from the hardware stores.  I also found that using common bricks was dangerous because of the moisture content causing them to explode.

I kept asking myself, what would Grandma Mama do?  Then it dawned on me.  She kept her empty cast iron pots in the oven even when baking.  Right next to those fire bricks.   Great idea Grandma Mama!  Hmm… many old recipes using cast iron cookware say “put into a warm pan or into a hot pan” which may have come from hot cookware stored in the oven.  I’ve always stored my cast iron cookware in the oven but would take them out to bake stuff.  I’m not taking them out anymore unless I really need the space.  From now on the cast iron will be used to capture the heat.  It works as good as any bricks.


When I had decided to give this idea a try I baked a turkey breast.  My daughter asked me why I was baking a turkey when it wasn’t Thanksgiving?  For lunch meat baby girl.  Store bought turkey lunch meat doesn’t taste right to me.  Too much salt and chemicals.  This time of year is a good time to find bargains on turkey.


Um… I can’t have turkey sandwiches without bread can I?  I baked a loaf of bread too.  I was hungry so I ate before getting out the camera.


After the baking was done the oven door was left open and the heat from the cast iron helped keep the kitchen warm for awhile.  Next morning I made another discovery.  The toaster gives off heat when its toasting.  DUH!  I knew that.  But really hadn’t paid much attention to it until I started living in a really cold house.  Anyway it was good for warming my hands in a cold kitchen.  These days I’m noticing even the smallest amount of heat source.  Every little bit helps.

16 comments on “Energy saving ideas again

  1. mem37814
    January 20, 2017

    I use red nail polish on the inside of bath tub to remind the kids not to fill tub over the red mark when they r old enough to run their own water.

  2. mem37814mildred
    January 1, 2017

    never thought about letting bath water stand until cool but I do save the water and use my broom to clean the tub an shower walls-also cleans the broom- then I use the water to flush the commode.. now I will let water cool to get the heat..thanks

  3. Helen Baczynski
    November 17, 2016

    We’re encouraged to use led light bulbs to save on electricity, but those old incandescent bulbs gave off good heat too. Not good in the summer, but helpful in the winter.

    • Anita
      November 18, 2016

      Hey, I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.

  4. Jasna
    November 15, 2016

    Thank you for the tips!!!

    November 15, 2016

    Dear Na-Na,
    What kind of pan is the left rear one in the picture of the cast iron pans in the oven? Mini Bundt pans?? Just curious…

    • Anita
      November 15, 2016

      Grandma Mama called it a muffin pan. Used to make muffins or cupcakes.

  6. camcoogan
    November 15, 2016

    Love the history you share. There is so much to learn from the earlier generations. Thanks for the little tips that help to pinch those pennies.

    • Anita
      November 15, 2016

      You’re welcome.

  7. Melinda U.
    November 14, 2016

    I hold my hands over the toaster to warm them also! I do this over the tea kettle as well.:)

    • Anita
      November 15, 2016

      Good idea. I don’t have a tea kettle but I’ve been planning to get one soon.

  8. Nancy Lotzer
    November 14, 2016

    And here I thought that my mom and grandmother keep the cast iron in the oven just because that was a place to keep it. I never asked why. I’m guilty of making a cup of hot tea water just to warm my hands. : )

    • Anita
      November 14, 2016

      Yeah, I thought that too until now. 🙂

  9. captnmike
    November 14, 2016

    I think the stuff in the oven is a false savings – just changes the time the heat is released – should take longer for the oven to heat up because of the extra mass in the oven – but that heat would be released slower after the oven was turned off – I think a zero sum heat usage

    yes you save a bit of energy with letting the shower water cool down before pulling the plug

    good work on the other savings – a bit here and a bit there and soon you have real savings – hang in there and good job

    • Anita
      November 14, 2016

      You’re right it won’t cut the amount of energy used. I was thinking more about the heat being released to keep my kitchen warm. The temperature inside my house is ranging in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Any extra heat helps.

  10. craftytadpole
    November 14, 2016

    Good tip on storing cast iron in the stove. Thanks.

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