Frugality,  Housing

Winter Conservation and Solar Homes

It was rainy this morning. My daughter had set her alarm and was getting dressed in hopes that I would let her go to school, for they were having a play today. The child slept most of yesterday and was obviously still ill, so I kept her home. She cried and was upset. I am so thankful that I have a daughter who wants to go to school!

It seems a bit quieter in here with one less computer running at all times. Every little thing I manage to turn off is one less thing adding to my electric bill. I tell myself this every day.

My microwave and toaster oven are both without those digital displays so common in the machines. My cook stove has an electric clock, but it is not digital. I wonder if digital one would use less energy but it would cost more to replace this perfectly functional stove than I would save. Perhaps one day should this one fail I can invest in a propane stove and oven. There are some videos about a man who has salvaged a propane stove and refrigerator from a camper and is now using them in a cabin he built:

“I have 6 video clips on you tube describing my simple solar homestead, solar cabin, and the systems I use to run the homestead.

Each clip is about 5 minutes long. you can watch them all or pick the ones you are interested in.

1- Solar Homesteading Introduction:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=lXu45MHrnTk

2- Simple Solar Homesteading Intro continued…

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=QyPkT5P5ysQ

3- Solar electrical system:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=KLnZLypphgk

4- Cabin Interior:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=FacIm3bHbYc

5- Composting toilet and solar tv:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=QdG6hOqFTd0

6- Loft and office:

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=UZLJ3CkgdZE

I hope you like those videos! I hope to use some of his ideas to reduce my current electric usage more. Perhaps if I create a small solar setup I can use it to provide electricity to my smaller devices like the laptop and the cellphone?

My electric bill last month, even using air conditioning on the rainy (and sweltering) days was $51. That also included running the clothes dryer for my obsessive cleaning. I do not have extraneous items like electric clocks – my alarm clock is my cell phone and our two wall clocks are battery operated, only requiring a AA battery once a year (which I recharge). We don’t have a television, DVD, VCR or game machines, but we do have a desktop computer that we use for radio, television etc. Eventually that desktop will be replaced with a more energy-efficient laptop. Since there are two of us and we both tend to use the computer simultaneously at times, two computers are a must at this point.

I am in hopes to keep it down year round, but all I have to go on is the previous occupant – he said the highest electric bill he ever had here was in winter – and that it was $184. The goal this winter is to keep from going over that amount. Perhaps by closing off the back bedroom I will accomplish that goal? The room is 12 foot square, so that will reduce the square footage by 1/5 if I close that room off.

I moved the coffee table into the back room yesterday, and have placed the rattan loveseat back there today and brought my futon out here and closed that room off. I will still have to go into that room for my clothes and various items, but if I keep the door closed it will still save energy. The living room looks quite bohemian! I took a picture of the new couch and uploaded it here. It is low-slung, but works for us.

I told my auntie what I was doing, moving my futon into the living room and closing off the back bedroom for this winter, and amazingly she thought it was a wonderful idea! At first that surprised me, but come to think of it my grandparents did the same thing in the winter – I remember going to their house and discovering a full-size bed in one corner of the living room – perhaps that is where the idea came from, just from watching my frugal grandparents!

I repurposed some white plastic bags to seal off the vent in the back bedroom, and plan to use more of them to insulate the area that contains an unused central air return duct.

I am researching more options to save on energy this winter. If anyone has any ideas please leave them in the comments.