With everyone scrambling to cut energy costs, I thought I’d pass along a few of my family’s timely tips:
1. Replace energy-sucking halogen lamps (350-watts) with fluorescent floor lamps (63-watts) for the equivalent illumination. I got mine at one store, then of course promptly found them at a neighboring store for two-thirds the price. When you factor in the cost of gasoline in returning the original purchase, I probably saved fifteen cents. But as my dad used to say, “If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.” Or was it, “Take care of the dollars because the pennies don’t matter a hoot?”
2. Replace all light bulbs with fluorescent ones. These bulbs are not to be used on a dimmer, on a 3- way switch, or in a top-heavy floor lamp. They also shouldn’t be used in recessed receptacles because given the fact that they don’t recess very well, they look as ugly as sin. That leaves about three sockets in the house, but the savings will add up.
On the package, it says that when used outside these lights need protective enclosures; but inside, they need to be ventilated and not totally enclosed. I’m not sure I completely trust a bulb that schizophrenic.
Oh, and by the way, don’t break one indoors or the Hazmat guys show up. These bulbs contain mercury; and though saving you money, they will kill you!
3. When our electric lawn mover died a year ago, we replaced it with a man-powered mower (Notice I didn’t say woman-powered!). It gives the grass a good healthy cut, and the only noise pollution you hear is the lactic acid pouring into your strengthening muscles.
4. With my blow dryer sucking a whopping 1875 watts, I quickly blow dry the front of my long hair then let the back air-dry. If I want shape or curl, I use a curling iron for only 13 watts, or hot rollers for about 63. But if worse comes to worst, I can pretend I’m going for the retro ‘60s look and just scrunch and run (which only looks attractive when you’re 16; when you’re . . . older, you look homeless).
5. I have been planning meals around the mysterious food in our freezer, much of which has been hiding in there for months and years! After emptying it, I’ll turn it off for the summer and perhaps indefinitely, unless I get tempted by the free Thanksgiving turkey deals which, in the end, cost more than steak when you’ve stored them for another nine months.
6. Traipsing around after the kids, encouraging them to turn off lights and close fridge doors not only saves energy loss but also provides a great aerobic workout. The accent of yelling and screaming also provides healthy cathartic release.
7. I haven’t resorted to taking my wash down to the rocks at the dam yet, but I do hang the laundry out to dry on a line in the backyard. Some things I let dry fully, others I dry to just barely damp and then put in the dryer for 5-10 minutes. This helps items like our plush towels to fluff up nicely and not feel so much like sandpaper. The fact that the clothes come in covered with ants is not really a headache. The nasty little critters eventually find their way in anyway, so why not let them arrive in style.
8. Those long rows of vanity lights that line the top of our bathroom sinks have been allocated only 2-4 low-watt bulbs, depending on the size of the bathroom. With every bulb burning, there’s enough electricity to supply the strip in Las Vegas. You not only don’t need all that juice flowing, but the more diffused light erases wrinkles and takes years off your face.
9. In the summer, if we need to run the air instead of the swamp, we set the thermostat to 84 degrees. If the heat gets unbearable, I just take four Motrin and sit in front of a fan sipping ice water until my face returns to its normal color.
In the winter, the heat goes off at night, but I’m warm enough under my buffalo robes (The smoke inside the teepee is a bit irritating, though.). In the day, I sneak it up a degree or so when hubby isn’t home, or I can always find excuses to wash my hands in the bathroom closest to the water heater. It’s hard to type when you have no feeling.
10. Gone is the electric can opener. A manual costs 6-7 bucks and with the settlement for the carpal tunnel syndrome I’ll develop, I should be set for retirement . . . as well as any summer rolling black outs.
11. If all else fails, I’ll get a long extension cord and plug it into the neighbor’s outside outlet. Or perhaps I can install a windmill for the top of the roof—sure to be a homeowner’s association favorite. We haven’t tried these last two yet, but after our next bill arrives, we may consider adding these to our long list of energy saving measures.