Friday, December 18, 2009

How To...

Have a low electric and gas bill.  We just got our bill that covered one month of electric and two months of gas (that's unusual, normally it will be one month each).  It was less than $175, and that included a $40 payment for the deposit (they spread it out over a few months).  Our gas bill for 2 months was less than $20, and in actually our usage was less than $7 (the chunk of it all was delivery costs...damn).  And as I danced around the room happy as a clam that we were well under budget I realized that maybe I should share how this has been possible.  

First off, we keep the house cold.  And I mean cold.  Usually at 60F, but definitely no higher than 63F unless we're going to be downstairs and not cooking.  If we're cooking or drinking tea/coffee then we leave it at 60F.  That is why there are things called blankets and quilts.  I have a thick wool blanket with info about Lewis and Clark that was a wedding gift.  Why Lewis and Clark?  G and I are from Missouri, it was a gift from family friends in Australia (one of them lived with my mom as an exchange student in high school and they are still friends....she was a twin, so there are two women I think rock! And they're mother is pretty damn nice as well), and the friends like history.  It's an amazing wool blanket and I keep it wrapped around my legs and feet while we sit drinking tea and I sew.  If need be I also throw on my sheep (Irish fisherman's sweater) and G throws on a sweater and we drink warm drinks.  It's quite cozy, and as much as I am always cold, it works for us.  Most people think we're nuts for keeping it so cold but that leads me to last night:  "the night I turned it down to 57".  You see, we live in a 3 story home.  Heat rises.  Our bedroom is on the top level.  It was 60 in the house and we were burning up upstairs, so down it went.  It's still under 60, because I'm going to be baking.  When we bake our kitchen heats up, and as that is the heart of our home we tend to be in there.  

Secondly, my husband is like my own personal furnace.  He is generally warm, and so at night even if I were to get cold (I don't, we even have to sleep with the fan on to keep it from getting hot and stuffy) I just snuggle up to him.  Body heat from cuddling is a wonderful thing.

And thirdly, as for our electricity?  Well, it's quite simple.  We don't use much of it.  We keep the lights off a lot, use candles to eat by (because we love it that way, not for the bill).  When we're in the dining room sitting drinking tea and watching a movie while I sew, we turn off all the lights in the kitchen except the over the stove light.  Most days when G comes home the house is dark, because I'm lying upstairs with the dogs watching a show or checking e-mail.  I don't need lights on for that, so we keep it dark.  And we were lucky to buy a house that had been renovated and every major appliance (including the computer, printer, telephone and microwave I believe) except the dryer is energy star.  And our washer gets our clothes so dry what little we do use the dryer for (much gets hung up) it doesn't take more than 20-30 minutes in the dryer, even for towels.  Last night for 2 towels I think it took 15 minutes, in fact I was worried it had malfunctioned when the music started letting me know it was done.

I wanted to share things I think everyone can do, and please feel free to add ideas in the comments or tell me (and the other readers) about things you find effective.  

Blankets.  Collect them, and use them.  Same goes for warm sweaters and socks.  Let your body do it's thing to keep you warm.  (for those of us interested in keeping our waistlines down, I've read that not using too much heat or air conditioning, allowing your body to regulate like it's supposed to helps your metabolism loads!)

Cook at home.  Use the oven to bake some warm bread and you'll see how quickly it heats up the room.  

Turn lights and electronics off.  Get the switch that shuts things like your t.v. down at night (but keeps your DVR plugged in).  Consider not using lights in the house until it's dark.  If it's a grey day, open your curtains, grey days still bring light.  If you need light for a project consider a low watt (CFL's) lamp.

Run errands at night.  We're night owls so we do this naturally.  But think about it....when you're not home your lights aren't on, and you can turn the heat down.  

Any suggestions?  Let me know!  

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