Na Na pinches her pennies

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.

One watt at a time

Based on a warning from the Old Farmer’s Almanac and another warning from the utility company to expect higher heating bills I’m preparing myself and my house for the worst winter in a century. If it happens I’ll be prepared. If it doesn’t happen I’m still ahead. Our utility company got a 21% raise back in January and another 35% raise this month. There is already another increase due to take effect in 2022. I can’t do anything about the cost but I certainly can do something about the amount I’m using. My mission is to cut back as much as possible…..one watt at a time.

For the new followers of my blog I thought I’d once again explain my frugal old lady interpretation of how weather stripping and insulation works. So here goes:

Even though insulation and weather stripping is one of the most important (and boring) issues of today, many people just don’t know how it actually works.  I certainly don’t. I’ve read dozens of articles in my how to books and done countless internet searches to read online websites about how to insulate and weather strip my home.  I found they are all full of technical terms I truly don’t understand.  Like, for example,  this line from a tube of caulking.  ”When caulking your windows, be sure to put a one-eight-inch bead of polyvinyl-butylacetate caulking between the jamb and the main soffitt, adjacent to the eve cornice, taking care not to dislodge the….”

Now honestly I’ve looked at my windows and I cannot for the life of me locate any of those things.  All I have in my windows are pieces of wood and poisonous spiders.  I don’t have the vaguest idea where to put the caulk.  This is a problem because, as you may have noticed, caulking guns are designed so that as soon as you pick them up the caulk starts oozing out.  It keeps oozing out until there is none left.  This is a clever ploy by the caulk manufacturers to keep themselves employed when many others are getting layed off.

Well anyway, I end up standing outside the window searching for the eve cornice with caulk oozing onto my flip-flop clad feet.  After several long minutes I finally give up, smear some caulk on the spiders, and go inside.  Forget weather stripping, now its time to think about the insulation.  Thank goodness I’ve actually learned some things about it.

So I thought, as a public service for my blog readers, I would explain home insulation in laymen’s terms. Laymen’s terms is a secrete code for…. “words that any idiot can understand”.   To make it easy for me to write, and for you to read, I will use a handy question and answer format.  That’s where I make up some questions and then answer them too. Sort of like talking to myself.  Yes, I do that.  I hold some pretty good conversations with myself when no one’s looking.  And heck, it’s a lot easier than answering real questions.  Besides, if I’m holding a conversation with myself, or having a really heated argument with myself about something, as I walk down the street waving my arms and poking a finger at myself, even would be muggers stay a wide distance from me.

Ok, so here goes:

QUESTION:  How does insulation work?

ANSWER:  Try this little experiment.  Make yourself a good stiff gin and tonic.  Be sure to put in plenty of ice.  Now drink it quickly.  Notice how cold the glass feels in your hand?  Now make yourself another stiff gin and tonic…. only this time  wrap a paper towel around the glass before you drink it quickly.  Notice how much warmer your hand feels?  Even your stomach feels warmer doesn’t it?  Try this experiment a few more times and you’ll have all kinds of insight into insulation.  It works fairly well on understanding the government budget talks too.

QUESTION:  What is “R-value”?

ANSWER:  Nobody knows.  It’s just one of those terms the professional insulation guys make up and toss around to confuse the heck out of us laymen.  They get paid more for using big words.   ”Relative humidity” is another example of those terms.

QUESTION:  Should I use blown in insulation?

ANSWER:  Hmm… blown in insulation is fine…. if you don’t mind the taste of insulation in your mouth and wads of spit covered insulation all over the place.

QUESTION:  How much insulation do I need?

ANSWER:  The equivalent to about 10,000 yards of quilting stash fabric worth.  Or a comparable amount of other craft stash stuff worth.  I’m a quilter so I think in fabric.  If you are a shoe person it would be 6,000 pairs of shoes worth.  Anyway, you want the insulation to fill every hidden nook and cranny you can find.  Just like when you hide your newest fabric find or newest shoe purchases from your significant other.

QUESTION:  How do the energy tax credits work?

ANSWER:  As I understand the law, if you sincerely believe in conserving energy, you can deduct all the money you spend on anything that claims to save energy.  Go back and do the drink test again.  It will help you understand the tax credit much better.

Well, I guess that’s enough clear, step by step information to get you started on insulating your home.  If you have any further questions write them on a three by five file card, lay it on the work table of your craft room or home office, and wait a few days.  In no time at all you won’t worry about unanswered questions.  Can’t find the table?  Put the card into your file cabinet where it will be fine.  Nobody ever looks in there anyway.

NOTE from Na Na:

This story was a part of a book I attempted to write back in the 1970s around the time of the oil embargo.  That book, like many others I attempted to write, never got finished. Why?  Life got in the way.  Anyway, it’s once again re-written for the readers of this blog.  I updated it a bit to fit today’s world. I hope you enjoyed it.

27 comments on “One watt at a time

  1. Jasna
    November 13, 2021

    I always enjoy reading your blog, Anita. Thank you for the laughs. Much appreciated these days!

    Hugs from Ireland.
    Jasna

    Like

    • Anita
      November 15, 2021

      Jasna, how are you? I’m hoping you are well and staying safe.

      Like

  2. tracypacesplace
    November 11, 2021

    Do you still hang the window quilts?

    Like

    • Anita
      November 13, 2021

      So far I haven’t been able to get them up. I do have double pane windows though.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Selena
    November 11, 2021

    Caulk is like using a pastry bag for frosting (except you don’t have the option of different size tips). A 1/8 inch bead means don’t do a full squeeze on the handle (which gives you a 1/4 inch bead). So in pastry terms, a thin line of frosting.

    Jamb is what is around your door/window. Talking about the soffit makes zero sense to me because that is what you see when you look up to see under your overhang – google “picture of soffit”.

    And depending on how wide the gap you need to caulk is, more than 1/8 inch bead may be required. Just *don’t* caulk shut your weep holes (allows water that hits the window to escape, not sit and rot your window.

    Like

  4. Jean Bontrager
    November 11, 2021

    You are hilarious! Eric and I ended up buying a new cordless driver and will send when we finally get it!!!! The other was left in the rain and ruined!
    I love your writing and wish you would post the whole thing as a book!
    Jean

    Like

    • Anita
      November 13, 2021

      Thank you Jean. Over the years that’s pretty much what I’ve written about on my blog except for a few things I did when forced to live off grid several years because I couldn’t pay the utility bill. That was in the days before solar and wind power were invented and the days when people died from no utilities in extreme weather conditions.

      Like

  5. Silver
    November 10, 2021

    This made me laugh, thank you, I have needed that this week ^_^

    Like

    • Anita
      November 11, 2021

      Thank you Silver. I believe a lot of us did too with all the depressing news these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sandy
    November 10, 2021

    Hilarious!

    Like

  7. kaythegardener
    November 10, 2021

    I measure the windows, add 2″-3″ inches on each dimension & look for window film insulation kits in the closest size at the local hardware store. Then apply doublefaced tape or thin channels, cover with plastic film, & add inserts if using channels. Then put blow dryer on lowest setting & gently heat film till it shrinks to fit.
    I did a client’s mobile home this way & no drafts all winter!!

    Like

    • Anita
      November 11, 2021

      Good idea. I did that at my previous house. Also putting bubble wrap with large bubbles on windows helps too.

      Like

  8. Donna Jones
    November 9, 2021

    Finish your book it will be a hit. You might even end up with your own tv show!

    Like

    • Anita
      November 11, 2021

      Thank you Donna. My blog is my book. I thought everyone (including me) could use a bit of humor with all the depressing news these days.

      Like

  9. Conni
    November 9, 2021

    Read it to my husband and we both laughed…I’m still smiling. Thank you, Anita. We need all the humor we can find these days!

    Like

  10. Jackie
    November 9, 2021

    😂🤣

    Like

  11. oldfashionmama
    November 9, 2021

    you made me laugh. i think you could write s great book!!

    Like

    • Anita
      November 11, 2021

      My blog is my book. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  12. Linda
    November 9, 2021

    You are so amusing 😂. I wish you had finished a book – I would have bought it. Btw, I have a gin and tonic in my hand!

    Like

    • Anita
      November 11, 2021

      Thank you, My blog is my book. In stressful times a bit of humor helps.

      Like

  13. Lana
    November 9, 2021

    The best thing we ever did here in our drafty old house was to put insulators behind every plug and switch plate including the inside walls. The difference was amazing. You can buy them or cut your own from Styrofoam produce trays.

    Like

    • Anita
      November 9, 2021

      You’re right. It saves a lot. I’ve done that myself.

      Like

  14. erica
    November 9, 2021

    Good fun, thank you for the chuckle 🙂

    Like

    • Anita
      November 9, 2021

      You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  15. 9091p
    November 9, 2021

    Funny and (ALAS!) accurate! Thank you!

    Like

    • Anita
      November 9, 2021

      You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

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