Every Day

I Got Another Utility Bill

Our August natural gas and electricity bill came on Monday. I was very nervous about this bill because so many people online were telling about how their bill had almost doubled.

I was thrilled when I got it. The total was $126.80 for 29 days. We used 5 ccf’s of natural gas which was cooking and 594 kwh for electricity which was for everything else.

Our August 2021 bill was $ 125.01. That month we used 775 KWH and 3 ccf’s of natural gas.

So our current bill was $ 1.79 higher than last years. But not bad considering how rates and supply and delivery have gone up.

As you can see we kept our kwh’s way down but ccf’s were a lot higher. But for this time of year 5 ccf’s are not bad. I believe I used the stove top more often. I will try to get that down this month.

These are the things we have been doing to keep our usage down:

Our A/C is set at 75. On the days that are cooler, we turn it off.

We only run the dishwasher and washing machine with very full loads. I use cold water for washing clothes except if I have a really dirty load. Then I use warm. I only use the regular wash on the dishwasher. The cycle is shorter.

We wear our outer clothes for about 2 days if they don’t get soiled. Being retired we don’t get very dirty.

We use LED bulbs inside and outside our home.

I dry our clothes by hanging them for the most part. I do use the dryer for towels and sheets. In the dryer, I use wool balls to cut the drying time down.

We try to use our grill and small appliances for our meals. If we use the crock pot, I put it outside on the patio so as to not heat up our home.

In the summer, we grill outside and make sandwiches and salads a lot.

I get all of my meat for the week out of our chest freezer on Sundays and put it in the refrigerator. That way the freezer only gets opened once for weekly meals. When I open the refrigerator, I quickly get out what I need. I don’t keep the door open browsing.

I turn off and unplug my computer when I am not using it. We only have the TV on when we are watching it. If we leave the room, it gets turned off. We don’t leave it on for noise.

My chest freezer saves us more energy than an upright. I have to defrost mine but it saves more energy than a frost free one.

We have a thermostat set automatically so that we can lower the heat at night in the winter an hour before we go to bed. Then it goes back up at a set time in the morning.

We do not use any lights or lamps during daylight hours.

We keep our energy saving shades down on sunny windows in the summer and we open them to let the sun in during the winter.

We have kept our heat on at 72 during the winter but this year I plan on lowering that number. Hubby will just have to layer up.

When we cook on top of the stove, we keep covers on pots and pans. Things cook faster especially when boiling water and it keeps the stove top cleaner.

We put a little water in the sink to wash veggies and fruits. We do the same with any pots or pans that we are washing. We never waste hot water by just letting it run down the sink. If I need to warm up water, I catch it in a bowl or pot to water our garden or flowers.

We turn off the water, after we wet the brush while brushing our teeth. Hubby turns it off while he is shaving.

The water softener is set to only run twice a week.

I catch water in a bucket when warming up shower water. We use it to clean with or flush a toilet.

I know there are many other things we do but I am drawing a blank right now so I will end it here.

What do you do to save on your utility bills?

Every Day

Saving With My Large Pressure Cooker

By using my large pressure cooker, I save 70% in energy over using the stove top. It is amazing how energy efficient they are. This one is not an Instant Pot but cooks just the same. I had this one long before I ever heard of an Instant Pot. I will be using it a lot this fall and winter.

The bonus is that it is easy to cook the food in and doesn’t take much preparation time. So dinner is on the table in a matter of minutes.

Last week, I did a roast beef along with red potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery in it. The celery I added along with the roast beef. That only took 50 minutes. After taking the roast beef out, I added the onions, potatoes and carrots which only took another 10 minutes. Prior to cooking the roast beef, I was able to brown it right in the pressure cooker. Sorry, I have no pictures of the roast that but I was having a lot of trouble with my camera last week. Hubby has now fixed it. The picture at the top of this post is an old one.

On Saturday, I cooked 4 chicken breasts in Hickory Smoked SF BBQ sauce. That only took 6 minutes. I cooked up some fresh broccoli and Hubby cooked some corn. We had a delicious meal. The leftovers are pictured above. I sliced up the last two chicken breasts so that they would marinate in the sauce before I heated them up for dinner on Sunday. Hubby had his on rice and I had mine with some cauliflower rice. 

So the next time you are planning out your dinner meal, think about using your pressure cooker to save on your utility bill. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, think about what you do have that will cook your meal more energy efficient. Most small appliances are more energy efficient than your oven or stove top.

What do you cook in your pressure cooker?

Every Day

Saving on Utilites By Using Your Toaster Oven

My toaster oven saves us so much money. We use it for most meals instead of our large oven. Granted we are a family of two but I make meals for 2 nights in it sometimes.

We have small pans that fit in it. It even accommodates small foil pans that I can prepare meals in advance in and then freeze. It is so easy to just pull them out of the freezer when needed and put them in the toaster oven.

Not only do we make casseroles, roast meat and veggies in it but when Hubby wants a pizza, it fits nicely on a small pizza pan and cooks  beautifully in it. I have also baked cakes, brownies and a few cookies at a time in it. I have made biscuits too.

The cost to operate it is so much less than heating up the large oven. If I choose to use it when the A/C is on, I can easily transport it to the patio or garage and plug it in there so that I am not heating up the air in the house that the A/C just cooled down. 

I bought an expensive Breville and it has served us well for a long time. If it died tomorrow, I would replace it without even thinking about it. That is how much I love it. But there are many less expensive toaster ovens that you can use that will do the same thing.

So the next time, you go to turn your oven on, see if you can’t cook your item in the toaster oven and save  yourself some money. 

Do you have a toaster oven What do you cook in it?

Every Day

Saving Energy By Using The Gas Grill

It’s summer and time to use your gas or charcoal grill. We have a gas grill and use it whenever we can which really means using it for dinner or lunch when we are not having salads, having something that grills well, or when the weather permits.

Sure it costs us money to fill up the gas tank every year but it is a lot cheaper than using our ovens or stove top. We usually only use one tank a season. It costs us $ 19.35 including tax to fill it up(20 lbs.). That is a lot cheaper than using natural gas most of the summer.

Even when we used a charcoal grill we saved money over cooking inside. When we lived in Arizona, we used it almost every day. Here not every day is as hot.

If I am not grilling out, I use small appliances out on the patio or in the garage.

This saves energy two ways. One by doing it cheaply outside and secondly, it doesn’t heat up your house. That is especially important when you have your central air conditioning on. You do not want to create heat in your home that the air conditioning has to work harder to remove. That is the costly way to do things. 

We can cook hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, kabobs, and any chop on the grill. I have even roasted a chicken or turkey breast over the years that we have used grills. I have a pan I use on the grill to do most vegetables. I can make foil packets with the meat, fish, or shrimp and veggies inside and grill them. With the pan I can cook almost anything that I can cook on top of the stove, even bacon and eggs. I love doing fajitas with the pan. Corn on the cob cooks in foil. Just use your imagination and you can probably find a solution to cook it on the grill.

We have been married almost 52 years and I think this is the fourth grill we have purchased. It would have been three but Hubby hated the grill we purchased when we first moved here and we replaced it. So the upfront cost over those years has not been that much. Even with buying the grills we saved money. 

So if you don’t have a grill, think about getting one. It will save you on your utility bills by using it. I used to use it in the middle of winter when we lived in Eastern NY but not here. Our winters are brutal so the grill goes into our storage shed. 

Do you use your grill all summer?

Every Day

Saving When Using Your Stove and Oven

Today, I want to give you some tips on saving energy when using your stove top and oven.

I have a gas stove but these tips will save you energy even if you have an electric stove.

When using your stove top, choose pans that fit the burners. You don’t want to put a small pan on a large burner or a large pan on a small burner and waste all that extra energy.

Get in the habit of using covers when you cook. Your food will cook faster especially if you are heating anything with water in it. If you are cooking something like spaghetti or hard boiled eggs, only use as much water as is necessary to cover these things. Filling the pot when unnecessary will waste  energy.

Don’t use your stove top to heat just water. Use your microwave; it uses a lot less energy.

Use the proper heat setting. Most things cook just fine on medium heat. 

Keep your stove top clean. When you allow food to blacken and burn on, it reduces the efficiency of the burner.

Buy good quality pans. A warped pan can reduce the energy by 50%. A flat pan uses all of the energy.

Plan ahead and defrost all of your food that is going into a pan or the oven. It will take less time to cook. Choose easy meals that don’t take a lot of cook time. 

Get in the habit of turning off your stove top burner a few minutes before your food is done. The burner heat will finish cooking your food. Do the same when baking or roasting in your oven.

When you cook, prepare extra food for another meal. Heat that 2nd meal up in the microwave, not on the stove top. When cooking pasta, make extra to keep in the fridge. Use it to make a pasta salad or another dish that can easily be cooked in the microwave. Be sure to coat it with olive oil so that you can easily dish out what you need to use. 

When using your oven, bake or roast more than one item. Do not use foil on your racks, so that you can stagger your pans and get good airflow. I have done four things at a time in my oven many times.

I only use my oven for roasting when I am doing a large piece of meat like a turkey or the 10 lb. ham I heated up last night for a few dinners this week. I also roast large chickens or legs of lamb that won’t fit in the toaster oven. Small pieces of meat like chops or chicken thighs or breasts bake very well in my toaster oven. Cook your steaks outside on the grill. That tastes the best! I have even done them out there in the middle of a snowstorm.

Keep your oven clean by wiping it out after it has cooled down. This will allow you to not use the self clean so often. The self clean feature is an energy hog. A clean oven is also an efficient oven.

If you have a convection oven like I do, use it. It saves 25% of the cook time which saves a lot of energy.

Preheat your oven when it is necessary, after you have your dish made. Don’t preheat it and then let it sit while you are preparing your food.

Using glass and Pyrex pans in your oven lets you use a lower temperature to cook.

While you are using the oven don’t peek. Every time you peek, you lose about 25 degrees of temperature.

And finally, the best way to save the energy of your stove top and oven, is to ask yourself this question when you are about to cook something. Can I cook it cheaper in the toaster oven, microwave, air fryer, pressure cooker, crock pot, electric skillet or any other energy saving small appliance that you might own?

How do you save energy when using your stove top or oven? 

Every Day

When Can We Turn Off The Heat?

It is May 16, 2019 and we still have our heat on. It is 42 degrees outside. As I sit here writing this, I am listening to it running full force in the basement. Oh that reminds me, I will be right back! I went down and changed the air filter in it. It can’t run efficiently with a clogged filter.

But seriously, will we still be running this monster in June? I sure hope not. By now, we usually have the heat turned off. My electric and gas company just prompted me to read the meter and submit the reading. I will do that today. I am sure that this monthly bill will be much more than the same bill last year. I can’t remember such a cold spring!  I was hoping to have a break with a low utility bill at least one month before we have to turn on the A/C. But it doesn’t look like that will happen. It looks like we will go from winter to summer this year.

But now that we have put in a full length storm door on the back door, I will have Hubby change the window glass out for the screen as soon as we are able to turn the heat off. This will not only give us more light in the breakfast room but it will give us good air flow for there, the kitchen, and the great room. 

So the plan is to “air condition” the indoors using that and our screens. I am hoping not to turn on the A/C for as long as we can do it this way. We like fresh air! As long as it doesn’t turn humid, I think we can go without A/C for a while. Fingers crossed!

So to make up for the extra heat, we need to save on the bill other ways. One of them is making good use of our gas oven which we try not to use too often. If I can use the toaster oven to bake, our air fryer, pressure cooker or some other smaller appliance I will. They take a whole lot less energy. Plus we love our outside gas grill. 

But when I have to use the oven I will make really good use of it. So when I baked the cranberry orange bread for the hostess gift, I also baked a second loaf for when my family comes one day this weekend.

Before I get going with my day, I will hang the laundry that I washed late last night. Not using the dryer saves quite a bit each load.

When I take my navy shower today, I will use a bucket in the shower to catch the water while it is warming up. That water will be used to wash both bathroom floors. What a waste to just let it go down the drain! If I do that I pay twice; once for the water and once on my sewer bill. When I am done with it, I will water some bushes outside. I use no chemicals when I wash floors, just natural products.

It has been a busy week here in AD’s home. Today is going to be no different. I have a follow up appt. from my last hospitalization late afternoon in another town with my doctor.  Afterwards I have an errand to run. Then we have to have dinner and I have a party to go to at 7PM. It’s a Thirty One party which I hate but I need something and I enjoy the socialization.

Hubby knows how rushed I am going to be so he told me to call him when I am done with the errand and on my way home. He will have dinner waiting when I get there. He has to cook a vegetable and some salmon which should be easy for him. The salmon will be cooked fast on the stove top or baked in the toaster oven. The veggies will be done in the microwave.

So Thursdays will be saving on utilities day. Whether that be natural gas, electricity, water or sewer, you will read about it here.

As usual feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions.