2.21.2009

Frugal: The Energy Edition

I come from a family of penny pinchers. My mother rinses out and reuses plastic bags, hangs clothes to dry year round, and scrapes mold off of cheese - and I'm not talking about cheese that's supposed to be moldy. Think cheddar. Mmmmm.

She didn't acquire these habits on her own. My grandmother did all of the above - plus rinsed out aluminum foil to reuse, had an entire drawer full of twist and bread ties from the grocery store and when she died, we cleaned out her chest freezer to find frozen applesauce from 1964 (she passed in 1983). Though I was a little young to help out with the cleaning out of the house, I remember boxes and boxes of old school work, clothes still needing a button or patch, and several boxes in the attic full of rinsed out plastic sandwich baggies, waiting for a new life. I guess these practices border on - scratch that - are full on hoarding. But I can't really hold it against her - as a young adult during the Great Depression, she learned to stretch or save every cent.

After growing up in a household which always had plenty but every cent was accounted for, I became a bit of a rebel. While B and I were both employed, we did a lot of take out and barely reused anything. I have a closet full of half used hair and beauty products. I have WAY too many clothes. My kitchen is overflowing with hardly used gadgets and food products that we tried and then migrated to the back of the pantry. We don't have a lot of luxury or big ticket items, but we have a lot of excess. And now I find myself in a situation not as awful but certainly comparable to what my Grandmother experienced. I know, this recession is not on as grand a scale as the Great Depression, but most of us are going to have to learn to live with less and modify our over consuming ways.

Besides the obvious, which is spend less, I'm trying to figure out ways we can save money on bills - namely gas and electricity. Our gas bill this winter has been obscene - I know it was cold - but our house is only 1100 square feet. We have gas heat and hot water, and I'm sure where most of the cost is accruing. So, my newest mission is seek and destroy energy and natural gas suckers.

Some ideas:

- Hang dry laundry, especially jeans and towels. I let them dry almost completely then throw them in the dryer for a quick fluff.
- Always turn off the light when leaving a room. I've been keeping the blinds open during the day to take advantage of the natural light (when we have it).
- Showers instead of baths - except for George. He's not quite ready for the shower and is too wiggly to take one with either of us.
- Seek and destroy drafts. We have an ugly draft that leaks around our front door. And a huge draft from the cat door into the garage. I'm not sure how to fix these, but I'm going to do some research - I know we lose a lot of heat from these two areas.
- Only run the dishwasher when full.

These are just a few ideas that I can deploy immediately. I have others, like insulate the attic and buy a new, energy efficient refrigerator and furnace, but those things will have to wait.

Anybody have any other energy saving tips out there?

4 comments:

Andrea said...

turning down the heat is a good one. but I'm the wrong person to talk about conserving energy... I like to be warm and toasty and I like my clothes dried quickly.

megant599 said...

Unplug/turn off some of the electronics when not in use. They say they only use a little bit of energy but if you guys are anything like me, several t.v.s, cable boxes, computers and stereos add up. Keeping the fridge or freezer full is supposed to help too.

Andrea said...

I figured out your first sewing project. Sew a tube like creature and fill with rice to stop those nasty drafts under the door.

Heather D said...

That is a great idea! My mom helped me set up the sewing machine yesterday. Did I mention it is older than I am. The threading is crazy complicated!