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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Michigan
Member since: Sun Feb 24, 2008, 10:46 PM
Number of posts: 29,366

Journal Archives

An update

It must be well over a month now when I turned the gas valve on the water heater to pilot only and I haven't run out of hot water yet.

The water I capture after taking a shower has been enough to flush the toilet and I haven't needed any fresh water to flush the toilet since I began doing this. And I've been saving the rinse water from washing the clothes to use as wash water the next time zi do laundry.

I continue to cut up into small pieces cardboard, heavy brown paper, and other non-glossy paper products to put into my compost bin. I'm filling up my 4th 20" wide x 18" deep by 16" box now. If anyone wants to do a job that requires no thinking; this is it! The compost pile is doing quite nicely as I turned it over today and the stuff is decomposing rapidly. The urine I've been capturing is dumped on the compost pile every night.

I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the windows in the living room was broken. I have some old storm windows in the garage and I measured them and with a some careful cutting with my circular saw, I was able to replace the broken out window with one of them. i also replaced tow other cracked windows the same way. The only thing this cost me was the tubes of silicone I bought on sale to caulk the windows.

Speaking of windows, I not only replaced the completely broken out window and replaced two cracked windows but I've recaulked, where needed, all the other old windows and the windows on the living room door and wooden storm door. I also scrapped, cleaned, primed and painted where needed and did adjustments so all shut nice and tight. Today, I put plastic on 8 of the windows and have three left to do but one of the boxes of 3-M window insulator kits was missing a roll of double sided tape so I'll have to go to the hardware store to get a roll so I can finish the last three windows. Other then the tape which I'll have to get, the only thing I've had to buy for this project is 5 tubes of general purpose silicone at $1.99 a tube (it was on sale).

Hanging my clothes to dry on the clothes lines I put up in the basement has worked very well but the clothes were stiff. Yesterday I made a batch of homemade liquid fabric softener and washed a load. The clothes are soft and have a nice fragrance to them! Here is the recipe:
6 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
2 cups of hair conditioner (the conditioner was left here by the person who lived here before)

Next time I make a batch, I'll put the hair conditioner in the container first and then heat up the water and vinegar in a pot on the stove and then slowly add that as I stir so it all mixes good. I had added the conditioner last yesterday to cold water and vinegar and it took some time stirring before it was well mixed.

After making the fabric softener, I made some antiseptic mouthwash with water and apple cider vinegar which I have in a Planters Peanuts glass container in my bathroom. I did not bookmark the website where I got the recipe from but there are numerous sites that give such directions with various ingredients. As I had apple cider vinegar on hand, I used that recipe.

I'm getting alot of apples now so this weekend I'll begin making my own apple cider vinegar. I should have a few gallons of the stuff by spring.

A couple of days ago, my former father-in-law came and got me and we went thru his garden to pick what he didn't need. i got 4 heads of cabbage which must weight about 20 lbs. each and I'll make sauerkraut with that. I also filled two milk crates heaping with tomatoes. He also gave me 5 1 gallon size glass containers. I worked late into the night cleaning and sorting the tomatoes. The good ones I put into the glass containers and filled with a brine solution to preserve them. The instructions I got for that was from this site. The rest of the good ones I'll freeze. A number of the tomatoes had bad parts and I thought I'd make homemade V-8 juice out of them by with the good parts of those tomatoes. But it looked so good as it was cooking on the stove as per directions that I decided to make a soup out of it instead by adding several cups of long grain brown rice that I had cooked last week and was in the fridge. With crackers, this turned out quite delicious and quite filling! This is going to last me for a few days as I can only eat one bowl before feeling very full.

I've been keeping the thermostat set at 55 and it's been down to 57 in the house with the cooler weather we've been having and during the day when I'm active and at night when asleep, that temp has been fine. But during the evening such as now, I've found that 62-63 is my minimum comfort level. So in the evening, I turn up the temp on the thermostat to 63 and when it gets to that temp, then I set it back down to 55. An electric space heater I have maintains that temp in the living room by coming on once in a great while. When I go to bed, I turn off the space heater and unplug it. I imagine come winter, the space heater will run steady in order to maintain that temp and with electricity costing 19 cents a kilowatt where I live, that'll add about $18.00 to my monthly electric bill if it where to run continuously for 4 hours every night at its low setting which consumes 750 watts per hour. I'm going to do some more research on this as it may be cheaper to just leave the thermostat at 63 during the evening and turn it down to 55 when I do go to bed.

If I understand my gas bill correctly, my furnace will burn up about 47 cents of natural gas in a little over one hour of operation (this doesn't include the cost of electricity to operate the furnace blower). The space heater will cost 57 cents to run for 4 hours steady at 750 watts an hour. I may have to adjust what I use according to outside conditions. The space heater may not be able to maintain temp when it gets very cold outside unless I set it to high. Right now it's 48 degrees outside and the space heater hasn't come on for some time and the temp in the living room is 62.

There's much more I've been doing but I'm very tired right now and it's time to watch some Netflix while I snack on apples. I'll add more to this update at a later time. And the space heater just kicked in so I'll be feeling some nice heat directed my way as I sit in the big, comfy chair watching tv!

Saving on heating costs this winter by freezing my butt off

I paraphrased a title of an article I read a few days ago and thought it so funny I laughed for sometime but there's alot of truth to it. A generally agreed upon opinion backed up by research is that for every degree lower the thermostat is set at, there's about a 3% reduction in heating costs.

During the winter of 2010/2011, this house was unoccupied and I had the thermostat set at 50. At the setting, the gas bills for the winter was in the $40 plus to $60 plus range. 50 is too low but I'm going to try dressing warmly and give 55 a shot. I may have to settle on a temp in the low to mid 60's during the day and 55 at night but even that alone will be much cheaper then having it at 72 all the time like I did when I lived here full time years ago.

There's loose fill insulation the attic and it was a pain to go up there as every time one opened the access cover, a bunch of it would fall into the house. There also was no insulation on the access cover itself so a couple of days ago, I started work on fixing that and finished the job yesterday morning. I first made a new access cover and then the loose fill away from the opening. Then using left over 3/4 particle board, I nailed that to the area around the opening. As the loose fill had settled over the years and wasn't evenly distributed, I got my leaf rake and went up into the attic and fluffed it back up with the handle and used the rake to even it all out. After that, I layed down three layers of R-11 batt insulation on the particle board and put three layers on the back of the access cover which I loosely secured with nails and two wire hangers. I know there isn't enough loose fill or batts of insulation to get the minimum of R-48 recommended where I live (R-60 is preferred) for attic insulation but what I did is a big improvement over how it was. As I can afford it, I can add more insulation over time.

The relative of my ex-wife's who stayed her for awhile left three boxes of 3-M window insulation kits. Enough to apply to the 9 old single pane windows I have. At the 3-M website, there's a energy savings estimator where one can enter in the size and number of windows one has plus some other info and get an estimate of how much one can save using the product. My results with the temp set even as low as 55, the potential savings is $122 for the heating season. At 65 during the day and 55 at night, the savings is $137. Of course I'll be burning more gas but with the savings, it wouldn't be much of an increase in cost.

I'm also continuing to cut up scrap wood to burn during the sub-zero days in January. It looks like I'll have just a weeks supply of wood but even that will help cut down heating costs. While it often seems like most everyday here in winter is sub-zero, in reality, there's only a few such days a year like that where I live. Being just a short walk from Lake Superior, the nearness to the lake makes it much warmer here during the winter then even just 10 miles further in land.

So, with little expense on my part, it is quite possible that my heating costs could be well under a $100 a month.

An update

My gas bill came in and not including the standard charge just to have gas to the house, it was $4.16 which is a little over a dollar less the then last month's bill. As I've had the water heater on pilot only for some time now, I don't think I can get the gas bill down any lower then it is right now although I can't recall exactly when I stopped using warm water to wash clothes and set the water heater gas valve to pilot only.

I think my utility bills are about as low as they can be. Even if I cut my water consumption in half, that's a saving of $8.00 a month. Then with winter coming, the gas and electric bills will go up as the lights will be on more with fewer hours of daylight and the furnace will be running.

There is an old woodstove in the basement and today I cleaned that out. I cleared out an area by the property line which overgrown with wild grape vines and lilac shoots from the nearby lilac tree. There's a pile of wood scraps in the garage from when I remodeled the kitchen which I began today to cut into pieces that will fit the woodstove. I don't know how much wood I'll get from the scraps but I have enough from to pile maybe 2/3 of a cord. There is an old shower curtain in the garage too which I'll use to cover the pile to keep the rain and snow off the pile. That's not much wood but I'll only use it for very cold stretches of days so the furnace doesn't run near steady during those times.

In the previous two days, I used some of that scrap wood to build a compost bin which I put in the area I cleared out and the woodpile will be right next to it. The dimensions of the compost bin is 4' wide by 3' deep by 3' high which is pretty close to the what is recommended by various sites discussing compost bins.

For the compost bin I first put in a layer of cut up cardboard and paper that had filled a big cardboard box down in the basement. Cardboard and paper that I had spent alot of time cutting up with scissors for just such a purpose and also to provide bedding and food for the indoor worm composter later on. I still have another big box still in the basement half full of such cuttings. After putting in the cardboard and paper into the bin, i dumped in two ice cream pails of coffee grounds and kitchen scraps and covered that with leaves I had raked up out of the cleared area and chopped up fine with my mulching lawn mower. Then I dampened the pile with about 5 gallons of grey water mixed with a gallon of my urine.

I've been saving my urine everyday (I produce close to a gallon of it daily) and in the evening I mix it about 50/50 and apply it to the lawn. This has also cut down the number of times I have needed to flush the toilet and the grey water I save after taking a shower has been plenty enough to flush the toilet. I haven't had to use fresh water for the commode for about a week now.

The food bill is averaging about $4.50 a day and it's possible I could cut that down but even if I do, I'd like to spend that savings on more varieties of food. I'm getting a wee bit tired of potatoes, cabbage, carrots, rice, and beans. Last night I was so tired after walking to the hospital to have my blood thickness checked and back (my scooter has a flat tire) and spending the rest of the day working outside, I just made toast for dinner and that's all I had for the day. I was too tired and sore to even wash, cut up and boil a potato and cabbage dinner.

As I've stated in a previous post, my costs weren't that high to begin with before I started doing all of this so I can never achieve a dramatic savings. But I am enjoying it and it is keeping me active.

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