Friday, July 17, 2009

Thoughts on Frugality and Being "Green" - Part 2

In my last post on frugality I talked mostly about our switch to "green" and enviro-friendly cleaners in our home. I also mentioned our grocery budget and its considerable ascent as we have tried to get chemicals out of our diet. I thought for this post I would blog about some changes we are making to try and be more frugal and green in all areas, not just our grocery budget. Hopefully these changes will create wiggle room for more fun, more freedom and allow for a little higher grocery bill for some products. These changes will also be good for the environment as we work to be good stewards of all God has granted to us.

Conserving water...my boys and I are trying to be hyper-diligent in this area. Trying to save money on our water bill and save one of earth's most precious resources at the same time!
  • We have added a filled water bottle to the tank of each potty in our home. I remembered learning you can save water by adding a brick in the tank but this article mentions that a water bottle is better. Bricks can disintegrate over time causing future plumbing problems. You can save up to 1/2 a gallon per flush by doing this!
  • I have a "water bowl" by my kitchen sink. Each time I need hot water for something I catch the cold water in a bowl until it starts heating up and use that to water the planters in our butterfly garden. I rarely need to use additional water now that I have started this. I have found extra water for all sorts of places, too. For example, last week when we went to the beach, instead of dumping the ice out of our cooler, I set it out to melt in the sun. Once it got warm I used that to water the garden. When we finally got rain, I put out several buckets on the patio and caught enough rain to water my planters for the rest of the week.
  • I am being extra diligent about every drop of water we use. Instead of putting the plates in the right sink and rinsing one at a time on the left, I just pile all of them on the left side. I find as I wash one the run off water gets the others 80% clean. Then I can just turn off the water, give the others a gentle rinse and throw them in the dishwasher. I have also been filling the sink with an inch of water instead of keeping the water running when I am rinsing dishes at times.
  • Our boys are taking baths rather than showers to conserve water and I am trying to really limit my time in the shower to under 10 minutes. While the weather is so warm I am even turning off the water in those moments when I don't need it. Now come winter, this cold-natured girl may not feel so inclined to do this! ;)
  • We are also turning off the water while brushing our teeth.
  • Any other ideas?
Conserving Gasoline...
  • We are filling up in the mornings to get more gas per fill up. You can read here exactly how this helps. Basically though, gas expands in heat. If you fill up at 4:00 PM when the temperature is at it's hottest you are getting less gas than if you fill up when the gas is at a cooler temperature.
  • Accelerating more slowly and coasting more. After reading this tip on a blog, I googled, "accelerating slowly to save gas" and came up with pages and pages of documented research that saying you can dramatically increase your mpg just by taking it easy on the gas pedal. I had no idea! Read this article from the Wall Street Journal if you want to learn more.
  • Only getting out a few times a week and grouping as many errands together as possible. This has been a hard one for this mommy because I like to get out almost every day. I love my home but I start to feel like the walls are closing in if I don't get out at some point each day. I am trying to just spend some time in the back yard or sitting under a tree reading while the boys are at rest time to fill this need.
Conserving Energy...
  • We hardly ever turn lights on during the day anyway, but we are trying to be even more careful now. The boys are great about turning lights out as soon as they leave a room in the evening as well.
  • We have turned our AC up to 80 degrees. With Houston's humidity this means our house feels several degrees hotter than that but we have adjusted and it doesn't bother us anymore. Plus, a little sweat never hurt anyone! ;) I am eager to see changes in our bill as the hottest months are about to be upon us in July-September. I have read that for each degree you turn up your thermostat you can save anywhere from 2-4% on your electric bill - every source says something a little different. We may go a degree or two higher in August and September, our hottest months.
  • I am washing almost all our clothes in cold water and I have always been one to run the dishwasher only once a day, too.
  • Dh has turned the thermostat down on our water heater as well, too. It had been set higher than it should be b/c I am somewhat of a germ-o-phob; I love to have crazy hot water to wash my hands. I am hoping to see changes in our bill from these things, too.
More ideas to come later!

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7 comments:

Nicole said...

This sounds incredibly cheesy, but one thing I do is shut off the water in the shower when I am shampooing my hair (and also when I put conditioner in my hair). I shut off the water when I brush my teeth, and it's basically the same concept. I figure I save a little bit of water that way.

my5wolfcubs said...

Hi Jennefer!
Love your tips! I will be applying the gas in cooler temps!
In addition to the bucket by the sink, I have a low container under my AC drain. It fills up quickly and there is plenty of water for my yard plants!
Lee

Julie said...

Great tips. One that has saved us a lot of money on our electric bill is installing a hot water heater timer. We have it set to come on in the morning for those who shower then and then shut off until the evening when I give the little ones their baths and run the dishwasher. We have a rather large heater and we haven't had any "out of hot water" issue yet. :)

Jennefer said...

Lee,

Hi friend!!! So great to hear from you! :) I love the idea of putting a pan to catch water from our ac drain. Will be doing that, too. Hope you are well. Miss you!

Jennefer

Jennefer said...

Julie,

I have never even heard of a hot water heater timer. I will definitely be looking into that. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

Jennefer

Tracie said...

Excellent tips! We need to be more diligent with our water. We rarely have lights on ever. We keep our thermastat 77 during the day and 74 at night. I'd love to turn it up higher in the day, but we have a coral fish tank that can't get too warm.

I tried some vinegar/baking soda tips from Part 1. Works, but peeeuuu! Thinking about trying homemade washing detergent soon.

Kendra said...

Great tips! I too had never heard of the hot water heater timer. I will be looking into that. Robert just sent me something about a 2 flush toilet system. It uses less water for liquid waste and then more for a solid waste flush. http://www.twoflush.com/ is the website he sent me. I had heard about them before. We made solar screens for our back windows and that helps in keeping our living room cooler. We take them off in the winter to help heat it up. We love our programmable thermostat! Such an easy way to save energy!