Every Day

Saving With The Small Pressure Cooker

I love pressure cooking. I have two, a large one and this tiny one.
Remember the smaller the appliance, the less electricity it takes to operate.  I believe I paid $19.99 for this and I have more than gotten my money’s worth.

I use this over and over again especially to cook rice.  Hubby loves rice and I hate the mess it makes when I cook it on the stove. I usually end up with a spill all over my burner.

Besides rice it makes just enough macaroni and cheese for two to three. I no longer eat pasta or rice but it is perfect for 2-3 servings when we have the grandchildren.

It is also perfect to make those rice mixes or even Kraft macaroni and cheese which I do sometimes for West. Many days I have made soup in it. It is just enough for us.

It takes so little energy over what it costs to use a burner on my stove. I  measured it with my KWH meter and it is just a few cents to operate. I only use my larger pressure cooker when I am cooking a larger piece of meat, making a stew, a pot roast, or when we have company.

So if you want to save money on electricity, think about the size of the appliance that you are using. Use the smallest one that will cook what you want efficiently.  And remember in the heat(summer or longer where you live), use it outside on your patio, porch, or garage.

Do you use any small appliances to save on energy costs? Please share with us in comments so that others can learn from you. 

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

Phantom Energy

So you say “What is phantom energy?” Phantom energy is the electricity that items in your home are using when they are turned off but still plugged in.

Do you have any idea how much this phantom energy is costing you? I didn’t until I actually took the time required to research it. How did I do this? Well, there are two ways to do it.

You can use an energy meter like mine which is pictured above or you can purchase one of your choice on Amazon or another store. I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of money on doing this because cheaper meters are pretty accurate for our purposes.

Mine measures the watts used for each item and converts it into a monthly or yearly cost. I have owned it for years. You first have to plug in how much you are paying per kilowatt hour. If you can’t figure it out from your bill, call your electric company and they will tell you. It works well enough for me to be able to decide which items in my household are drawing the most phantom energy. Because it also tells me how much energy we are using each month for each item when it is being used and plugged in, it helps me determine what the “energy hogs” are. 

If you don’t want to spend any money to find out, you can use a
calculator like this one to figure it out. Personally, I like using my meter. It is a lot less time consuming although it will take you a while to get all of the usage for all of your items that are run by  electricity.

My meter has to be plugged in for at least 45 minutes to get an accurate reading. So it takes a while to do this with every appliance in the house both plugged in and turned off and when the appliance is turned on and being used. Although it isn’t much hands on time.

So you ask, did I find any surprises?  Yes!  I found that the cable boxes that my cable company is providing me with are drawing 18.2 watts even when we are not using the cable TVs. We have three televisions in our home so this adds up to quite a bit of money a year. So we have plugged the TVs, cable boxes, dvr’s, etc. into power strips in each of the three rooms so that we can easily turn it all off when they are not being used. That way they are drawing 0 kwh’s.

I also found that our dehumidifier in our basement is not at all energy efficient. It is probably because it is 9 years old. We will be keeping an eye out for a more energy efficient one on sale. We only use it in the spring and summer months so we have time to get a good deal.

Our refrigerator and our freezer are pretty energy efficient considering they are plugged in 365 days a year for 24 hours a day. They and the dryer are some of the biggest usages of electricity in our home along with the A/C in the summer. A clothesline or drying racks are a whole lot cheaper than paying to dry your clothes.

We found that LED bulbs take hardly any kwh usage. We have replaced all of the bulbs in our home with LED’s and it dropped our electric bill by about $15.+ a month. Yes, it is expensive to replace all your light bulbs with LED’s. However the LED’s last 10-15 years so you only have the upfront cost during that time period. But we are saving a fortune in electricity during those 10-15 years. If I didn’t replace them, I might as well have just thrown $15. in the garbage every month.

So you say, it seems to be a lot of work to get all of this information and use it to your benefit. Is it worth my time? Of course it is. I don’t know what you pay for electricity every year but I paid a total of $ 1937.87 for both electricity and natural gas for my household in the past year. That is a significant amount of money! No matter how much income you have a year, it is to your benefit to do the research and save as much money as you can on your bill.

If your income is being cut or you are in debt, do the little bit of work it takes to figure this out and reduce your yearly outgo for this expense. Every little bit will help you pay your other expenses and get rid of your debt.

I actually like gadgets so I enjoyed this little project. It was fun. And it lets me be aware of how I can reduce my utility bills in 2019. Our gas and electric company has stated that they expect prices to go up 5% this winter. Do I want to pay 5% more? Heck no! So I will be finding ways to make up that difference and more.

So where have you been all week American Dreamer? We have been doing some projects around our home. One was this tracking electricity project. We are trying to get some other projects done so that we will start the New Year feeling ready and good about 2019.

We are also enjoying this time of year by spending time talking to old friends and going out to dinner with our Buffalo ones. And of course, family is always on the top of our list.

So I will pop in once in a while as I have time but we will be mostly taking the next few weeks off and just enjoying things and getting things done. I hope you are enjoying yourselves this month too and getting ready for 2019.

Every Day

Saved A Bit Of Energy Yesterday

Right now I am in getting prepared for Thanksgiving mode. Shopping for our dinner, finishing up Christmas gifts, and getting the house ready to receive my family is what is what I am working on.

Yesterday, I cleaned the kitchen. The reason I picked the kitchen was because it is the room I hate cleaning the most. Usually I clean it last. But this time I reversed things. It’s easy to keep it clean on a day to day basis. However the grease and grime from all of the cooking builds up so quickly. 

So I scrubbed the stove top and the outside of the stove.

Every year about this time, I run the self cleaning function to clean my oven. I hate using that function because it takes 6 hours at very high heat. It majorly increases my electric bill when I do it. 

Knowing that we use small appliances a lot to save on energy, I assessed whether the oven needed to be cleaned using the self cleaning function. The oven really was not that dirty. So I proceeded to wipe out the entire oven with dish soap and water. It cleaned up very well with a little elbow grease. I was ecstatic that I saved all of that electricity. 

My stove top is now immaculate. That is not a stain that you see in the front of it. It is the overhead light with a reflection. All in all the oven and the stove top are in great shape for being almost 9 years old. 

While I was at it I cleaned the toaster oven. 

Next I did the microwave. To do that I just put a cup of vinegar and water into it and set it for 3 minutes. When I take it out the inside wipes out easily. 

Lastly I cleaned the outside of the dishwasher. The inside had been cleaned a week or so ago. 

Everything else (like the refrigerator) is kept clean on a daily basis. Hubby will clean and polish the hardwood floors in a week or so.

It feels good to know that the kitchen is super clean and that I saved 6 hours of electricity while doing it. 

I have started my Christmas shopping but I have a lot more to do. 

Today is senior citizen discount day at Top’s so I plan on doing some shopping for the food I need for our Thanksgiving dinner and other meals while my family is here. I might as well get it at a 6% discount.

Lastly, don’t forget to vote today. It is one of the most important things you can do.