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What Do You DO to Save on Utilites?    

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This year I took the "foam layer behind the switchplate covers" to a whole new level and it has made a big difference.  I bought a can of the foam insulation with the extended nozzle and sprayed foam inside the back of the electric boxes where the electric line comes through the box.  This really reduces the amount of air infiltrating through the boxes.  It takes pulling the electrical plug out in order to get access so I would recommend switching off the power at the main box (usually a breaker in the basement).

Dishwashers actually use less energy than doing them by hand according to Consumer Reports.  Here's an article with the info:

I have a friend who washes her dishes by hand and then puts them in the diswasher, leaves the door open and air dries them. That way she doesn't need a dish rack and drainer  and she can save on the electric bill.   It's such a simple idea but it never occurred to me.  If you don't want to hand wash, run your dishwasher when its full and not during peak hours.

Here is how we capped our heating bills:

Woodstove-- We have a fireplace inset that very efficiently heats the house.  We use seasoned firewood and a cleaned chimney.  Fires are run from about 4:00 PM until about midnight and then the embers continue to throw off heat for another two hours (here are my posts, http://divorceddadfrugaldad.com/2008/11/13/firewood-posts-revisited.aspx)

62 and dressed-- Our thermostat is set for 62 degrees and we don't run around in shorts and t-shirts.  You may think 62 is low, but with the fires the house, when we are home, is in the high 60s or low 70s.  The oil burner only kicks on around three times per day: around 4:00 AM, 10:00 AM, and 2:30 PM (when we sleep and when we aren't home)

Space heaters-- We don't have zone heating, so we sometimes use space heaters to warm targeted areas in early and late winter season or on exceptionally cold days

Doors closed-- We are hawks about the front and back doors, and most importantly, the garage doors


To save on utilities....

I installed foam insulators behind all switches & outlets on outside walls & put a strip of latex foam insulation under the window frames & around the doors.

I made draft stoppers for the entrance doors using old jeans... I inserted one leg into the other, stuffed them with plastic grocery bags, and used a safety pin at the bottom of the legs & the top of the waist to keep the bags from falling out.  We also hang a coat on the door handles when home to insulate the handle & block any draft not stopped by the foam strip.

I cut thick, solid foam that is used in construction (pink, 1 1/4" thick) in 2 sections to fit the bedroom windows.  Although not air tight they still provide extra insulation & it is balanced by the convenience of easy removal to open on nice days & being able to replace them at night in the winter or the reverse in the summer.  (An added bonus is in the winter & once nights get hot in the summer it keeps the bedroom dark for sleeping.) On windows in other parts of the house I put plastic over them during the winter.

We use heavy blankets on the beds but also use mattress heaters to preheat the beds while brushing teeth & then turn the mattress heater off for the night.  We keep our thermostat on 68 while home but turn down to 55 in the late evening.

When letting pets out we try to take them all out at once to minimize time the door is open.

We keep spare blankets/afghans in the family room & living room. 

In the winter we use a dryer vent sold at hardware stores that can vent inside the house. 

I dust mop the non-carpeted areas regularly to keep pet hair down & reduce the amount of vacuuming needed.


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