Saturday, February 26, 2011

You SAY you want to save money - or - HIPFT, part 1

Prices of everything are going up; many say out of control.  Produce, fuel oils (gas went up 19 cents in one day here), corn, wheat, rice, cotton, coffee, chocolate… isn’t going to get any better people.
Then we complain when the monthly bills come in the mail.  Electric and natural gas rates went up.  The phone company’s list of added charges are long enough to require two additional pages.  Your cable bill is actually three digits long (not including the numbers to the right of the decimal point).  Your land line phone, which you hardly use anyhow, steadily goes up. And that’s just the stuff you get in the mail.
The majority of the people will do absolutely nothing about the price increases (except complain).  Not that you can just go to the store & say, “I’m only paying $1.20 for that bag of apples”, but you can do other things to reduce your spending.  I strongly believe that one of the reasons our country is in such a mess is that nobody is willing to work for what they want or need.  They will bitch & moan about this or that, but won’t personally lift a finger or change the teeniest habit in order to make a change.  I bet you know of at least one person that’s sucking on the fed/state tit in the form of welfare, but are more than capable of providing for themselves.
Sorry for the rant.  Now, back to what I was getting at:
So what are you going to do about it?
No.  Really.  What are you going to do about it?  Besides griping?
I know it stinks.  You haven’t seen a raise in several years.  Your paycheck doesn’t automatically adjust itself for cost of living increases (unlike some of our politician’s paychecks….nice, hugh?)  So how do you compensate for the disparity between what your paycheck brings in and what you lay out for living expenses?
You get cheap.  You start thinking to yourself, “How can I spend less on _______”, and then you make a list of ways to do that, and implement those ideas.
Start with one thing.  Like your electric or gas bills.  Heating anything, be it your stove, your hot water or your clothes dryer, costs money.  Your electric bill has gone up 20%, so make a conscience effort to cut down your usage by that much.
But how can I do that?  By planning & always thinking, “Hey, I’m paying for that!” 
If we had a device on every electric appliance that had a real-time read out of what it was costing us to run it, I bet there would be a lot more frugal minded people out there.  But since we only get that utility bill once a month, we tend to forget that running our dryer on high for an hour for a half load of towels cost us x dollars or that baking a single loaf of bread in the oven costs x dollars.
Here are some of the things we do here to save on our electric bill.  Hopefully it will inspire you to take some cost-cutting measures yourself.
Heat.  We are fortunate enough to not only have a wood stove, but timberland enough to keep us in firewood, even just using downed trees or standing snags.  If you don’t have a wood stove or furnace, can you try lowering your thermostat down a degree or two?  Don’t think you can live with a 65 degree household?  Then keep turning down the heat just one degree at a time.  Close doors to rooms that aren’t used and close the vents to those rooms.  Close your blinds or curtains during the night to reduce the heat loss through the windows.  Better yet, buy or make yourself some insulated curtains.  Thrift stores around here usually have a boatload of insulated curtains.  They are usually butt-ugly, but you can either sew a different material on the front or just use them behind the “nice” curtains & just pull them down during the evening.  Oh, and wear sweaters or socks…I know you have them. 
Turning off the water heater.  The main reason we have hot water is to bathe.  And since this usually occurs in the early morning, why are you paying for heating the water for the other 20 hours of the day?  Remember…..”Hey, I’m Paying for That!”  (I think I’m going to have to make that into a common acronym around here; H.I.P.F.T!  Catchy, don’t you think?) 
You can manually turn the water heater on & off, but if you’re like me, you’ll end up forgetting and have to wait a half hour for hot water (which really isn’t that horrible) or take a very invigorating – and quick – shower.  Your local hardware store should have a timer for the water heaters.  Invest in one.  I plan to very soon.
Clothes washer & dryers.  You don’t have to wash your clothes in hot, or even warm water all the time.  With the exception of really, really dirty clothes or a load that needs some major bleaching, I wash everything using cold water.  I also line dry our clothes as much as possible.  And if you just can’t bear the thought of crunchy clothing, try line drying until your clothes are almost dry, then put them in the dryer for the last few minutes to fluff them up.
Lighting.  I think everyone knows that fluorescent lights use less electricity.  And even if you have the new bulbs, turn the stinking light off if you’re not in the room!  I sound like your Mom, don’t I?
Electric phantom loads.  Things like your tv & computer are using electricity even when they are turned “off”.  We use a power strip for our tv / dvd player & stereo system.  Everything gets plugged into the strip & the strip is turned off after the stereo or tv is turned off.  If you’re a big computer user, use the sleep mode so it powers down if you’re not using it; better yet, just turn it off.
Cooking.  Try to bake several items at once.  With the exception of some cakes, cookies or other “picky” baked goods, most recipe temperatures can be fiddled with either up or down a bit.   Better yet, save some time and make several nights worth of dinners in one day.  It takes a little planning, but imagine how much better you’ll feel when you can just take a pre-cooked meal out of the fridge, pop it in the microwave & say, “Dinner’s ready!”
I’m sure there are plenty of other ways you can reduce your electricity usage but the heak if I can think of any more right now.  Do an online search or go to your library & check out some books.
Remember my new favorite saying….HIPFT!  
Hmmm……it’s not the easiest thing to pronounce.  Kind’a sounds like I have a lisp.  So much for making that the new household word.

1 comment:

  1. Very Good post. I never thought about the water heater. Great Idea!