Lowering the Energy Bill

It’s that time of year! Energy bills are starting to creep up, just in time for holiday shopping. Paying more for energy is not something that we do. In fact, I went to my online compare my bill to those around me when paying my bill this month. We are at the bottom of the chart. Here is how:

1. Our furnace is super efficient. We have a 99% efficient furnace. Before moving in, all the HVAC had to be replaced in the house. It no longer even turned on. Instead of going builder grade, we opted to spend a little more on the Bryant Evolution System. The furnace is super efficient and is made to work in houses like ours, old and holey. The extra expense for the furnace will pay for itself within the first 5 years.

2. The thermostat is kept low. We keep it at 62 during the day and 56 at night on a schedule. I know that sounds crazy to most people, but it’s not as bad as you might think. We tried going down to 60 during the day (we both work from home) and that was too low. To keep warm, we have extra blankets on the bed and during the day an extra sweater.

3. All the appliances are energy star and not super sized. In addition to the HVAC system, all new appliances had to be purchased as well. We stuck to the basics–washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, oven (yet to be installed), and microhood. The refrigerator is a basic model. No water, french doors, or 10,000 cubic feet. It is now considered on the lower end of sizes, but it meets our needs. It also helps keep the energy bills down by not having extra space that needs to be chilled. Eventually, we may splurge on a larger one when we remodel so I cook once a month and have freezer space, but for now this helps keep the bills low.

4. We re-insulated the attic with R50 insulation. The attic was not properly insulated and air sealed before this fall. We also did some air sealing ourselves in the basement to prevent air leaks and energy leaving the house.

Total Electricity Gas
Congratulations! Your home used less energy than most of the similar homes in your area.

Here are some things we haven’t done yet that will help lower our bill even further:

1. Window treatments on all of the windows. Right now only the living room has any. Adding window treatments will help keep the warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

2. Move the vents from the baseboard to the floor. This will help so all the warm or cold air does not blow right up and out the window.

3. Reside the house and add house wrap. Next year, we are hoping to replace the siding and add Tyvek to the house. This will help keep more cold air out in the winter.

4. Replace windows. Next year with side hustle and savings, we would also like to replace as many windows and doors to cut down on energy loss through old windows. Some are higher on the list than others. So it does get to be diminishing returns.

Are you changing anything this winter to save on energy bills?

The Good, The Bad and The Ruggies

There are a ton of impulse purchase opportunities during the holiday shopping season. Here are a couple that I have tried lately and what I have learned:

Just like in the Ruggies commercial, my rugs are constantly curling in the corners. Ruggies, as in the informericals, looked like the answer to my rug curling problem. I installed the Ruggies according the instructions. After installation, I had one problem–they did not stick to my rug. To the floor, they stick like a champ. It’s an Ikea rug that is a sisal type fiber. I recommend a pass on Ruggies.

My Curling Rug Problem

My Curling Rug Problem

My Ruggies on the floor, not under the rug

My Ruggies on the floor, not under the rug

The next purchase had much better results. I have been wanting to hang my white erase board in my office for some time, but I didn’t want to put more holes in the wall. Things will move around once the room is finished. I found Command Strips for hanging pictures on sale and so it was worth the risk after the Ruggies experience. After a week and using the board, the Command strips are working like a champ. I love not adding extra holes in my walls in my pre-finished office space.

Command Strips Holding Up the Whiteboard

Command Strips Holding Up the Whiteboard

Command Strips At Work

Command Strips At Work

Have you tried a new product lately?

Better Luck Next Year…Improving 2014

As 2013 is wrapping up, we are looking forward to next year…and all the changes to come around the house. I can name about 10, actually more like 100, things that I want to work on next year. Today I am sharing what did not go so well this year and how it be less of a fail next year:

1. Composting: I had dreams of making tons of compost this year and less in the garbage going to the landfill. I bought a pail to store stuff in the kitchen before bringing it out to my bin. Yeah, I didn’t get the amount of compost I wanted. The one load I got did a fabulous job of fertilizing grass seed I planted late in the season.

Next year: Now that the bin is set up, I can get going right away. I am not trudging out to the compost bin this winter. Entire branches will not go into the compost bin which never break down. I will also break my kitchen scraps into smaller pieces so they break down quicker maybe even through in the blender. The bin will be monitored as everyone says on pinterest…make sure things aren’t dried out and composting.

2. Tree Planting: The county offers a program where you can buy 1-2 year old trees for about $1 a piece in bundles of 25. This year I bought a bundle and had plans of planting them around the yard. The trees sat together bundled up for about 4 weeks before they were planted. Most of them did not make it.

Tree Ordering Form Already Arrived!

Tree Ordering Form Already Arrived!

Next year: Before the trees are available for pick up I will have my yard marked by the utility companies. Last year I didn’t do this until after the trees arrived…and they sat around for a couple of weeks. The sooner I get them in the ground after pick up the better. Also, I will actually water them at least once a day through the summer so that they stand a fighting chance of making it once they are in the ground.

3. Gardening: This year I had a small container garden using Miracle Gro Gro-ables. The containers and the number of plants I had were not in the right proportion…so I didn’t get as many tomatoes and peas as I hoped. I did not follow the directions in other words. Lesson learned!

This winter, I will plan out my garden. I am not sure if I will have a full on garden in my yard…there are a lot of projects and the garden may have to wait. That’s ok because there are tons of places I will always want containers, like in my front entry area and around the patio.

4. Project Planning: Looking around the yard and the house, you can’t turn a corner without seeing a project in flight. In 2013, I was guilty of project jumping…starting multiple projects without really finishing any of them.

Next year: I am sticking to the one at a time plan. I have a need to see the house complete but I also don’t want to look at something 6 months later and say that could have been done better. Therefore, before picking up another paint brush or Spackle, we are embarking on some serious project planning.

How are you going to improve 2014 from 2013? What projects do you have lined up for next year?