Friday, January 16, 2009

Keeping Warm and Saving Pennies

It's the coldest here it's been in 4 years. Tonight's low is expected to be around 9F. Yep, single digits. What's an ex-Florida girl to do???

Prepare lots and lots of hot drinks. Hot cocoa, hot tea, hot SoyFee, even hot water with lemon added.

I mentioned before about how we're trying to cut back on power usage by keeping our house temperatures a bit lower. 64F is chilly to me! Anyway, the way I've figured things is, if the temps are in the 50's or above, we heat the house using our baseboard heaters in the basement only. (We have a split-level with a half-basement.) The heat rising thing keeps the whole house reasonably warm. If the temps are below 50F, then we crank up our kerosene heater and turn off the baseboards. My last power bills shows our usage down from last year by $.88 a day, potentially saving $26 per month. This is all, of course, subjective seeing as how I haven't analyzed the difference in daily temps from last year. However, I love still being able to see a 'credit' on my power bill. We pay equal monthly payments and have a settle up month in August. Usually, we get money back. I'm always aiming for as much money as I can get back. I also try to delay putting in our window AC units for as long as possible in the summer. I usually break down and demand them to be put in instantly by mid-June. :D I just can't sleep when I'm hot.

The 'No Flushing' is still going strong in our house. We're down 5 cu ft per day from last year this time. I didn't have to pay the water bill this month because I make equal monthly payments to them too throughout the year so I don't end up with a whopper of a bill in the summer months when watering the garden. This year I hope to be able to get some rain barrels installed to off-set any drought periods. A dear friend let us have theirs when they had to move. They are just used soap barrels from a car wash, but we're re-purposing them into rain barrels. Here's a great document showing how to do it. (it's a pdf)

I promised some pics of my greenhouse and while it's still a bit of a mess inside and out, here they are:

If you look towards the back, you can see a one white and one blue barrel. These will be the rain barrels. We have a total of seven.

I'll have to make sure and take pics in the summer when there are actually things growing around here. LOL

This is the baker's cart/rack that we got for free. The King then made several 'shelves' with wood and wire that can hold trays of seedlings or plant pots. I wish this picture were better because the King did an absolutely fabulous job on these! I was soooo impressed! (What can I say? I'm easy to please. ;D)

Radishes, brussel sprouts, cukes and cabbage are up. Some other things either aren't going to come up or are just taking their sweet time.

Lettuce that will continue to grow in this window box for fresh winter time salads. (I hope! This is the first year of trying it.)

Going along with the "Keeping Warm" theme, this is how I keep the greenhouse warm enough to grow stuff. I open the basement window and have a regular fan on low to pull warm air from the house into the greenhouse at night. It can get turned around during sunny days to pull warm air from the greenhouse into the basement. The greenhouse can easily heat to 90F-100F on very sunny days where the outside temps are in the 50's-60's. Even today with the outside temp at 28F for a high!, the greenhouse heated up to about 70F.

I also placed a space heater at the window for nights like tonight. It will need that extra boost of heat to keep it above 40F.

Sorry for the quality of the photos. I have a dinky digital camera that was a freebie from the phone company when I signed up for something a couple of years ago. I'm planning on a newer one, hopefully in the next couple of months. One where the batteries last for more than 30 pictures and where automatic picture taking will really automatically adjust the light and everything. I just don't have time to mess with a bunch of controls. If anyone has any suggestions for under $150, let me know!


live4evermom said...

I'd love to know how your lettuce turns out. Ok, now I need me one of them green houses. Love your ideas of the rain barrels too.

The Glasers said...

We have been on a thrift kick, too. I have been hanging clothes outside to dry and they smell so much better. I pop them in the dryer for only 10 minutes instead of 60 (or more when I lose track of time). We (or I should say Steve) put a glass door over our front door which leaked like a sieve! You could see daylight through the sides and we had no luck trying to attach weatherstripping. Now we can stand in front of that North-bound door and feel no air! We keep our house at 62, and I have a space heater in the kitchen where I hang out. We're doing it for the parakeet, of course! When we watch television, we snuggle up with blankets and I wear my alpaca poncho and thermal socks!

Uh, greenhouse? Before I convince Steve to build one, I would need to be able to grow plants that survived long enough to bear fruit!

Julie said...

Thanks SO much for that link to the rainbarrel instructions, just what I was looking for! We took out our water softener and have a large black drum where the salt was kept. I wanted to turn it into a rainbarrel. Hmmmmm do you think since it is black it will heat up the water too much??