Every Day

More Changes to How We Use Power in Our Home

The PSC who regulates our electric and gas company has passed this 3 year rate plan through just in time for the height of the heating season. The media is saying the average residential customer’s bill will go up by $200. this winter. We are a regular residential customer. There is no time of use here. However we are not an average customer. We always are above average no matter how hard I try to conserve.

Notice the increase in therm prices which is our natural gas. If you use under 50 therms, the increase will be 2.298 cents per therm. However if you use over that, those therms will increase by 3.754 cents per therm. They are even increasing our gas and electric meter charges( which is a set charge just for having their meter on your house) by $ 2.00 a month for each. With the winters here, no one will be under 50 therms. I read my meters yesterday and submitted them for our November bill and we are over the 50 therms already and it hasn’t even been that cold.

The company says they needed the rate increases because of their increases and to recover revenue shortfalls for the period May 1, 2023 to November 1, 2023. Is that company mismanagement or just the fact that people cut the amount of power they used from May to November? It seems like we can’t win but I will continue to try.

An average electric customer will have their bill go up by $9.94 per month. Again we are not average no matter how hard we try.

So we need to make some drastic changes starting with not using our gas stove unless we cook a large turkey or a number of turkey breasts at once. I will only bake bread in my bread maker. When I do roast turkeys, the entire oven will be used to do other things with them. I will not use the gas cook top if I can use a small electric appliance like my air fryer, crock pot, instant pot, electric fry pan, toaster oven, or microwave, etc.

I am trying to change my sleep patterns. I usually go to bed by 8 PM unless we have a night football game or we are out somewhere. Most of the time, I get up at 4AM. That has to stop so that I can only be up during daylight hours. I would have to use a light in the kitchen until sunrise which would be about 3 hours after I get up. Last night I went to bed at 10 PM and slept until 7AM this morning. I will continue to use this sleep pattern. It was still a little dark when I got up but I only turned on the light on the stove which was enough to get my coffee until it turned light outside. Then I opened the curtains on the sunny side of the house. Hubby does not go to bed until 11PM and sleeps to 9 or 10AM so he is always getting up in the daylight.

My other idea is to use our emergency lantern in the kitchen if it is still dark for a little bit. It will light the entire room and uses rechargeable batteries that I already have. We also have a lot of regular batteries in case of a power outage.

At night we only keep one LED light on in the room we are in. We do keep outside lights on for security reasons but they are all LED’s.

We have to decide to only use one outside door all winter. Since the garage stays warmer than the outside, I think we will use that door that comes into the house. Our garage door opener uses electricity but that is minimal compared to the cost of heat. The front door lets all the cold and wind in. We will only use that if company comes. We will try to keep our going out to a minimum over this winter. The front door and breakfast room door will have cloth snakes in front of the bottoms to keep drafts out.

We keep our heat at 70 during the daytime because Hubby is always cold. I am going to talk to him about pushing it down a degree or two. Our heat is set to go down at 9PM each night to 64. At 7AM, it comes back up to 68 and at 9AM, it goes to 70. Perhaps he would be willing to go down to 69 and then 68 to see if his body adjusts to it. But even with the heat at 70, he is wearing a jacket so I don’t know if that would work for him. We are warm enough at night because we have flannel sheets and two blankets on our beds.

I want to be more conscious about how much hot water we use also. We do have a tankless hot water heater but it is run by natural gas. So if I can use cold water instead of hot, I will. We already use cold to wash clothes and for cleaning. But there must be more things I can do that would use cold. Any ideas?

I need another cup of coffee so I will end this here. I plan on talking more on this topic this week so stay tuned.

Every Day

How We Are Trying To Save On Our Electric and Natural Gas Bills (cont.)

I forgot to tell you that we have a King size bed so we have a dual control electric blanket. I can set my side independently from Hubby’s. While I don’t sleep with my side on all night, Hubby does.

We also had a humidifier installed on our furnace. Humidified air feels warmer. We change the filter on that once a season. It does not get very dirty. However, we check our furnace filter on the first of every month. If it is dirty, it gets changed. We want to keep our furnace working at top efficiency.

We have our furnace checked by a professional every Fall. When we called for an appointment this Fall, we had to wait over 6 weeks. Seems everyone is getting their furnaces checked this year since there is the threat of a “dark cold winter”. So it is not being checked until after Thanksgiving.

Every morning once the sun comes up, I open the window treatments on the sunny side of the house to let the sun help with the heating. I open and close them all day as the sun moves. We had these custom window treatments made for our home when we moved in. They are these:

They have saved us a lot of money since we have a lot of large windows.

The minute it gets dark, I make sure that they are all down to help keep the cold out at night.

We do not turn on lights when it is light outside. The only exception is if we have a very dreary day outside. But then we only use one light in the room or rooms that we are in. We leave that room, we turn it off. That is the rule here. I have been trying to teach my grandson this. When he stays he leaves lights on all over the place.

We have a window in our master bath which gives plenty of light to take showers and even do my makeup. So that light is only used after dark too.

We never leave the TV’s on when we are not using them. I watch You Tube more than anything else. I make sure not to turn on the cable box when I am watching. Those boxes draw a lot of power. If you are not watching cable TV, you do not need the box on.

Hubby uses the DVR to record all of his shows so that he can marathon binge watch them at one time. He hates commercials and so do I. This way he can fast forward through them. This also saves energy because the TV is not on as long.

We looked for leaky windows and doors in September before we turned the heat on. We had a huge gap under the front door. You should have seen the light it was letting in. Hubby fixed that by adjusting the door sweep. Our windows were good.

I don’t go out a lot in the winter. I do not like driving in snow. Since I run most of the errands, the outside doors don’t get opened much. That is a good thing since the hot air in the house just pours out when we do. I have my dentist and doctor appointments finally set up to avoid winter. I am very happy about that.

I don’t sleep well some nights. I make sure there are plenty of large throws in the great room to keep warm with if I am up when it is 64 in here. I don’t want to have to turn the heat up.

The other large expense is the heating of water in your home. We had an on demand tankless water heater installed when we built our home. It only heats the water when we turn on the tap. It takes a bit sometimes to get hot depending on where in the house I am using water. But I collect the cold water in a large pot to use during the day while the water is heating up. We have saved so much money by having this and not having to keep a very large tank of water hot all day. The heater is getting older now and we might have to replace it soon. But we will replace it with another one because of the energy savings.

I take navy showers so as to not have to use so much hot water as it would use if I just let it run. I air dry my hair. My blow dryer gets used more to defrost my chest freezer than to dry my hair.

I try to heat water in the microwave rather than on the stove. I cook the little bit of spaghetti we use around here in the microwave.

We use stainless travel mugs for our coffee in the morning so that it stays nice and hot and we don’t have to reheat it.

I have always had chest freezers over the years. They are more energy efficient than the stand up freezers. I have an organization plan so that I can find things easily.

Don’t stand there in front of your open refrigerator and decide what to have for dinner. Plan before you open the door. Then get in and get out!

Also as a reminder, if you are going away for Thanksgiving, turn your heat down but not so low that your pipes freeze.

I have been sitting here writing to all of you as I listen to my furnace running. It is 37 degrees outside. The bills are going to be high. I will let you all know how much my bill is when I get it next week. I am hoping not too bad since we saved energy over the month. Time will tell.

These are all of the things that I can think of right now. I would be happy if you have others that you could share with us. It helps others and me too.

Every Day

Watching The Large Expenses

I have always said that watching the small expenses is extremely important. Those small ones add up to huge amounts in one year’s time. They can sink your entire budget.

But you also have to watch the large expenses. You may have a mortgage or a home equity loan and could find the money to pay a little extra on the principal each month. This will not only pay off your mortgage early but save you a fortune in interest charges. 

Saving up the cash to buy a new or used car will save you the interest that a car loan will cost.

Watching your grocery budget each month by shopping sales and menu planning will keep you from wasting many dollars.

But one of the largest expenses you have every year are your utility bills. They cost a fortune. It is a battle for us to keep them low. 

We just got our one month gas and electric bill. We  had frigid temps here this past month and I was expecting our bill to be quite large. It didn’t disappoint. The electric portion of our bill was $ 82.10 for 645 KWH. The natural gas portion of our bill was $ 177.24 for 198 CCF’s. Then the company charges us a $ .87 payment charge just to issue the bill and post the payment which I find ludicrous. But NYS allows it. So the total bill was $260.21 for 33 days with an average daily temperature of 24 degrees fahrenheit. It was one of the highest winter bills that we have ever had since we moved back to New York. 

Of course, the company gets a rate increase every year or two because we all know the price of everything always goes up. So between the rate increases and the cold temperatures in the winter and warm ones in the summer, it is an every day battle to keep these bills down.

The last twelve months have cost us $ 2216.33 in just electricity and natural gas.

You all know that we do our best to try to do everything to cut these costs. This winter, we added a storm door to our leaky back door. I closed off 2 bedrooms by closing the heating vents in those rooms so that they don’t cost a fortune to heat when no one is using them. I use cloth snakes against our basement doors to keep that cold air down there. I also put one on the bottom of our back door since we don’t use that door during the winter so it doesn’t have to be moved every time we go in and out.

And we try to watch all of the things that I have written about before: herehere, and here, .

I wish I could turn the heat down but Hubby is always cold. We keep the temp at 71 during the day in our home and even with that Hubby wears a sweatshirt jacket and sometimes a winter jacket in the house. He is always cold. 

I do a pretty good job on the electric bill by washing clothes in cold water and hanging laundry. If I use the dryer, I use my wool balls to save on that energy.  I also try to use small appliances as much as I can to save on that bill because they are cheaper to use. 

We keep lights turned off in the daytime unless it is a dreary day and we need them to read. I try to keep the energy saving shades down in the winter. I defrost my chest freezer when it needs it so that it runs more efficiently. We use power strips on some of our TV’s so I can turn them totally off at night. It is too hard to get everything plugged in that we have in the great room behind the cabinet so we don’t do that one.

When I cook. I try to keep covers on pans especially when I cook on the gas stove. There are so many things that I do that I can’t remember them all.

I hope I am not missing anything but I would love to hear how you keep your utility bills down. Could you please share with me and everyone who reads here how you do it by leaving a comment. I will be checking them during the day to get them posted right away so that they can help other people.


Every Day

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

Well, what have we been up to the last couple of weeks?  We have been hiding in the house except to go to Doctor’s appointments, one trip to the grocery store and to shop for an appliance. It has been freezing cold here and we have been dealing with one storm that dumped 18.5 inches of snow on us and it seems to have snowed every night since. Lake effect seems to be in full force. When is Spring going to get here?

My almost nine year old microwave bit the dust about a week ago. We had our local repair people come out to look at it on Thursday at the same time the cable people came to deal with an issue.  Dan, the repair man, determined that the magnetron was dead. So it is going to be taken out. After paying $86. for the service call, he told us that the new magnetron, service call for the repair, and taking out the old one and installing the new one would be over $300. We said no. It wasn’t worth putting that into a 9 year old microwave.

So Hubby and I went shopping and purchased a new one which will be installed sometime this week. It cost a lot more than the repair but it is new.  I never really thought I would miss a microwave but it seemed like I have needed it a lot. I don’t like heating up leftovers on the stove or in the toaster oven. I was also extremely happy that we have funds tucked away for appliance replacements so we didn’t have to think twice about buying a new one.

On Thursday, I finally went to the grocery store after not going almost two weeks. I am very thankful for my stockpile. We needed a few things since we are going on the South Beach Diet. So I picked up some fresh vegetables, Canadian bacon, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Sprays, Smart Balance, egg beaters, mozzarella sticks, shrimp, and frozen spinach. My total bill came to $ 46.00. So after picking up some sausage a while ago and this bill, I have $160.98 left of my $300. grocery budget for the rest of January. It really does pay to stay home and not grocery shop. Since I will not be going shopping until a week from next Tuesday, the leftover money will be used in February. I will just get enough money at the bank to bring the grocery budget back up to $300.

We got a pleasant surprise yesterday. We were figuring our electric and gas bill was going to be extremely high because of the temperatures being below zero to about 20 here the last couple of weeks. So we were ready for a $250. to $260. monthly bill.  Our bill was $ 221.22. It was $15.21 less than the same bill last year even though it has been a lot colder and even though there has been a rate increase during that year. We used 100 less KWH and 50 less therms of gas. So being diligent about conserving has again paid off. 

So many times, I have told you that it pays off to take the time to write companies. Well look what I got in the mail a few days ago from Chobani. They sent these because I e-mailed them to tell them how much I love their yogurt. Not only did they send seven coupons but they sent a beautiful Thank You note for taking the time to write them.

Other than these things, we have just been cleaning, cooking, watching some movies, and playing cards. Nothing really exciting.
This is what we do in the winter when we are stuck in the house.

My son and West are coming to visit and have breakfast this morning. We have not seen them in a while because of the snow.
West’s birthday was last weekend and I still have his gift sitting here. He is going to love it even though it is a week late. I can’t believe that he is 9 already.  

I really am missing my son, DIL, and granddaughter. I wish that the airline would start up the flights to where they live again. It would be so easy to jump on a plane for 45 minutes and go visit. It beats driving in this weather. 

I hope you are all well and staying out of the cold if you are up north. Hopefully spring will be here in a couple of months.