Any good suggestions on saving money and energy?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Tweetybird, Oct 14, 2005.

  1. Tweetybird

    Tweetybird Well-Known Member

    Oct 14, 2005
    Southeastern Massachusetts
    I am new here as far as posting, but having been reading this site on and off.
    I was wondering what you are doing about preparing for the winter What are all of you doing to save on fuel and wood, so that we can stay warm and comfortable this winter?
    With the steep price increases for these I am worried. Unfortuneately I am still stuck on the grid, want to get off it but do not have the money to do so. I would love windpower or solar energy so I can be independant of the grid. Unfortunately I have some medical problems and disabilities that require electric power, otherwise I would do withouit electicity. What do you who are on a limited income do in this front?
  2. SolarGary

    SolarGary Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2005

    You might take a look at

    I put together a list of 10 energy conservation and solar projects that have pay back periods of a year or less. There is a link to it on the home page (above). All of the solar projects are space heating or water heating, because the payback for solar heating is much better than for solar electric, and because most people's energy use is mostly for space or water heating.

    If those projects don't work for you, take a look at the "Projects" page -- there are dozens more there.

    Good Luck!


  3. LvDemWings

    LvDemWings Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2005
    Solar Gary I've read through your information and while your projects work for a homeowner what ideas do you have for a city renter?

    I'm in Buffalo and we get more than our fair share of cold, snow and clouds durring the winter. As a renter so I can't modify this house.

    I do the traditional plastic on the windows, heavy drapes and draft dodgers at the doors.

    Have any ideas?
  4. whodunit

    whodunit Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 29, 2004
    Here are a few suggestions to decrease your electrical useage:

    Use screw in florescent lightbulbs in all your fixtures

    Wrap your water heater with insulation

    Turn down your water heater thermostat from 150 to 120

    Plug any electrical device into a power surge strip and shut off the power to it every night when you go to bed (anything that has a power light or digital clock is using power constantly and it can all add up)

    Insulate your hot water pipes

    Close off any rooms that are not in use, so your don't have to heat them

    We are also looking at using our wood stove to pre-heat water and hope to save a couple hundred dollars a year in water heating costs.

    Cook more than one portion at a time. There's no sense heating up your entire oven or stove for one item.

    Use the microwave to re-heat

    Dry your clothes on a line
  5. katlupe

    katlupe Off-The-Grid Homesteader Supporter

    Nov 15, 2004
    Upstate NY
    Make sure you buy the compact fluorescent light bulbs and replace all your lights in your home with those. They cost more upfront, but save alot and last a long time.

    I live off the grid, but many of the things I do a person on the grid can do too. Electrical appliances, such as microwaves, toasters, hair dryers, curling irons, anything that uses heat uses more electric. So I would limit those. When I lived on grid, I put my electric on the night rate, which was less.

    Another thing you could do is go to and just read their articles. I think you can download the magazine for free. They give some great ideas for saving money on your power bills.
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    You probably have more than one problem.

    First starting late in the game and limited income are not good. It can be very site particular. Really need to do a comprehensive survey to see exactly what your house needs and where money is best spent. Many electric companies will do this free.

    In general you want to cut the air infiltration to the minimum. This usually means the big ticket items are things like windows and doors. The attic is prime real estate to explore. Want lots of insulation. The trick is to get the big wasters of energy first. Usually that is the big air leaks.

    I bought my present house in late spring this year. Was freezing. The prior old boy insulated the walls but had old leaky windows, doors and the attic was open to the interior volume of the house. No amount of heating would probably have made it comfortable, plus would kill you on the heating bills.

    I spent the summer doing a survey and replacing all the windows, rebuilding the attic structure and making it air tight, doing a lot of insulating in the attic area, replaced all doors except one. The results are dramatic. The windows don't just leak thru the glass, a prime area is in the weight boxes and framing around the window jams. I wound up completely opening all the walls in these areas as I was also remoding the house. Stuffed everything with insulation. Got it tight as possible to make a window, also got the new Low E type windows.

    Cute tricks usually don't cut it if the windows are just totally shot. Quick fixes aren't a replacement for comprehensive energy saving programs. You don't have to pay big bucks. Look around for the discount type building supply places. I bought all the new windows / doors direct and installed them myself which saved tons of money. Plus them other guys don't do the quality type work I wanted. All the new windows and doors cost ~ $2500 but I should get a lot of that back this winter.

    I also replaced the gas furnace with a new >90% one. With the work I did, house remains >60F all night with no heat. Still haven't turned on the new furnace. Lots of good ideas out there but difficult to get good results if the windows and doors are leaking like crazy. Good fixes are not always going to be cheap but neither is fuel these dazes.

    I will run around and stuff up all the cracks as it gets colder. Also going to look into adding solar heat next year. Lots of good ideas but you have to get the big ticket items tamed first. Insulation beats more heat production just about every time for the dollar spent. ;)
  7. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Feb 26, 2003
    New York
    I'm on the grid, but my electric consumption is minimal. I just don't use much power. I heat with propane and I drive 56 miles round trip to work, so that's where I'm going to feel the financial pains.

    As to saving money, here's my idea......I have been spending an extra $10-20 every two weeks on groceries. You know the loss leaders on the first page of the sales circular? Buy one get two free or whatever? I've been stocking up. Only on the stuff I would normally purchase anyway, but little by little I've accumilated quite a full pantry (really, really full).

    Now here's the twist, because as you know, many of us have a full pantry. I intend to stay out of the food store for the first 6 months of 2006. It's not that crazy an idea, and since I live alone I think it can be done. I love personal challenge. See, I'm weak when it comes to the grocery store or Walmart. I can go in to buy three things and come out with 5 bags full. So if I stay out, avoid it like the plague, I will save a lot of money. Bottom line, I can't blow money if I don't go in the store. I have some debt that I've decided will get paid off in '06, no matter what. It may be a year of some degree of deprivation, but it will benefit me tremendously in the long run.

    My point is that IF we can all identify out weaknesses and put a plug in it, we can save a few bucks here and there. Mine happens to be going to the store (and it's funny, I'm not as bad as most people I know!) We'll get through this.
  8. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Tweetybird: You may want to check out the "tightwad tips" thread on the Countryside families forum here. We share ideas--big and little about saving money and saving on heat and electricity (since those are big money areas). Hope to see you there.
  9. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2002
    The best way to save money is to not go shopping--stretch a one week shopping trip to two weeks and then to 3 or 4. Make detailed lists and do it all one day a week. Several years ago I started adding up my Walmart receipts and vowed to stay out of that store...could always find stuff we "needed". Amazingly, I didn't suffer at all and I saved,literally hundreds. Be inventive with what you have. Ask....Do you need that? Do you want to trade? Neigbor had three metal garbage cans sitting empty by her barn...DH said you want to sell them and she gave 'em to him. Now all our grain is in mouse-proof containers for this winter. Another had a huge Ash tree cut down when electric company trimmed this fall...he actually loaded it on trailer and brought it down to our farm to get rid of it...heats with propane,pity the man! Call your local tradio show and get rid of excess stuff...we recently made $500 for the savings account selling a gas dryer,frig,freezer that were cluttering up our garage...and we didn't have to leave home! Half to savings,half to pantry storage foods. If I have the oven on I always make double...two meatloafs,4 loafs of bread,double batch of cookies and freeze the extra. Double the soup pot and freeze the rest for a busy day. Everywhere you look is a way to save $$$. We approach each problem with how we can do it free--last choice is buying something. JB Weld has kept our pool pump working for 3 years...they wanted $200 for the fix. When you do spend buy the best you can afford--our local shops will generally match any Wallyworld price but thay have that special extra...service after the sale! We are trying to live on DH's fixed income as much as we can. I can work as much as I want but we don't think more money is the answer, spending wisely and saving is. DEE
  10. Jan Sears

    Jan Sears Well-Known Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    Eastern Ontario
    My best way of saving money was by cutting up my credit cards. By doing this I was able to save $500/month. :D :happy:
  11. Tweetybird

    Tweetybird Well-Known Member

    Oct 14, 2005
    Southeastern Massachusetts
    It was mainly energy saving, I was looking for, as the price of oil is so high. Its that I lost my job due to my health declining and I am trying to find ways to reduce energy useage.
    I have "shut off" the cards completely, and grow my own when I can, and use food banks, fuel assistance, and I have been on the list for weatherization. I have a very dear friend who is VERY frugal, maybe we need to get her to give me info for this site. She lived through the great depression and is wonderful at saving money, and doing it with dignity.

    I was able to save alot of money, as I had a fantastic plumber, just redo ALL my water pipes for only $500.00. I could not beleive it, as all the other plumbers wanted to charge so much. He did it as a side job and gave me a womderful break. Now I am searching for insulation and pipe insulation. I posted it on our local freecycle. I also posted something on this site, and hoping someone from the area has some leftovers.

    I am starting up a tutoring busness and just printed up some flyers to be distributed to the private schools and public schools in the area. I am also posting some around town. This should help give me some extra money to help.

    I think I was just very frightened over the cost increases of electricity and oil. I would love to set up a windmill and some solar panels to suppliment or replace the grid, but right now money is not available.

    I am really pleased at some of the information that I found here. I find the help here wonderful as it is all practical, and makes snese. I am going to pull out the sewing machine and make some of those "snakes" to put at the bottom of the doors, for starters. I am also going to contact some of the plumbing places to see if they have good, but useable 2nd hand pipe insulation. You know, the styrafoam or foam kind. Then the next part is to get someone to put it on the pipes, my friend's daughter is willing to help me.

    I will look at the "Tightwad" section. I thank you for your information and help.
  12. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2003
    i just popped in to say howdy! i grew up in north tonawanda, still have some family in the area. do NOT miss those winters.... can't say i've seen anyone on here before from where i grew up.:)