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Sat Aug 3, 2013, 06:33 PM

Efforts at frugal living-Part II

The ex has left for a job in Chicago so I'm back at the big house to live. 2700 square foot home on 5 lots.

The heating system is a two stage high efficient LP gas furnace.

The water heater is an electric heat pump so it extracts the heat from the air in the basement to heat the water.

I mow the lawn with a Great States reel mower. A job that kicks my ass and of which I have to spread out over 2-3 days.

I cancelled the cable tv here and am going to reactivate my Netflix account soon. Maybe later today. Would much rather pay $7.99 then $47 a month.

The washing machine is a Frigidaire front loader and the water bill is $51 a month pretty much regardless how much water I use. So I'm not saving shower water to use to flush the toilet anymore. The dryer is electric but I have a clothes rack here which I'll use to hang dry most of the laundry except for sheets and other big items.

I put the 3 big screen TVs and my laptop on power strips so I can shut them all off easily when not in use. I also unplug the toaster and coffee pot.

Purchased a 125 cc Kymco scooter and that's my primary means of transportation now. At least till it gets too cold to ride! I get about 70-80 miles to the gallon and that is nice!

It cost about $1500 to heat this house last winter but I ought to be spending less then that this winter as I set the thermostat to a lower temp then my ex could tolerate. 55 degrees at night, if I'm gone for much of the day or I'm busy enough to keep warm and about 65 during the day when I'm home doing not much of anything should be fine.

Got some wood pallets from the former father-in-law and I'm going to use them to make a compost bin. Will do that tomorrow.

I have plenty of shelf space and a chest freezer in the basement so I ought to be able to preserve and store quite a bit of garden produce.

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Efforts at frugal living-Part II (Original post)
Kaleva Aug 2013 OP
hollysmom Aug 2013 #1
Squinch Aug 2013 #2
Flaxbee Aug 2013 #3
IrishAyes Aug 2013 #5
Squinch Aug 2013 #6
Flaxbee Aug 2013 #7
Squinch Aug 2013 #8
IrishAyes Aug 2013 #4
Kaleva Oct 2013 #9
Kaleva Oct 2013 #10

Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Aug 3, 2013, 06:49 PM

1. Sounds good

your heating bill is way lower than mine, but you must pay a lot of water since I pay about 20 a quarter - but i don't water the lawn or veggies, I haul water from the washing machine outside to do that. excellent idea about pallets to make a compost bin. i just pile mine up behind my neighbors garage.

I use an electric mower that cost 300 when I bought it refurbished, pennies in electricity - requires almost no maintenance.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Aug 3, 2013, 07:51 PM

2. For the big dryer items, have you ever tried a spinner?

You spin the stuff for about 5 minutes to wring out the water, and then when you hang it, it is bone dry in about an hour. I use it for everything and it costs a fraction of the energy of a dryer.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #2)

Sun Aug 4, 2013, 06:54 PM

3. just saw this spinner - hadn't thought of them before but think whenever I

get a washer of my own I'll also get one of these (or similar):


Thanks for the suggestion!

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 4, 2013, 09:17 PM

5. Thanks for the link.

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 4, 2013, 09:26 PM

6. And here's where I get really crazy:

I don't have a washer. I use one of those crank hand washers (about $40) for the vast majority of my laundry. It takes about 5 loads for a week's laundry for 2 people, including sheets, and the laundry comes out cleaner than it did with the washing machine because you can build in an hour's soak, or even an overnight soak if you want. It also stores pretty easily. I bring comforters to the laundry 6 times a year, and that's all I use the machines for.

I also make my own laundry soap, which works better than store bought, and costs about a dollar a gallon.

So laundry, which used to cost me $40 or $50 a month is now almost free. But mostly I do it because it uses almost no electric, and is very green.

Edited to add: the washer is called a "Wonder washer"

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Response to Squinch (Reply #6)

Sun Aug 4, 2013, 09:42 PM

7. OK, so how hard is it (physically) to use the crank washers?

I'm not opposed to hard work and am actually pretty strong - but how does it generally work? Is it any easier on your clothes? Somehow I envision tortured, twisted clothing items, but that may just be vague memories of "I Love Lucy" wandering through my head.

I saw one of those washers that you can attach to your sink (like a dishwasher) the other day and started to lust for it -- smaller, compact, on wheels, uses cold water (which is fine by me); I'd like to have small dryer for some items in the winter when it's icy outside, but the spinner as an in-between washing and line drying for most items sounds ideal.

How do you make your soap? Have you posted a 'how to' here and I've just missed it? I've considered doing that, too just to eliminate unnecessary chemicals from our daily lives.

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #7)

Sun Aug 4, 2013, 09:52 PM

8. The washer is called a Wonder washer I think.

It really isn't hard at all. I have a shelf in my shower and I just put it there. I load it up, turn it for 30 seconds in one direction, 30 seconds in the other direction, go about my business for an hour, turn it for 30 and 30 again, and then let it drain, then rinse it twice (let it drain, fill it again, turn it 10 times in each direction, let it drain again.) There is a little conduit so you can put it next to the sink and drain it into the sink. The crank turns really easily.

Don't ask me how it works, but there is some vacuum action in there that makes the stuff come out clean. I've noticed that sometimes whites look dingy when they come out of the washer, but then after I put them through the spinner they're bright white.

Here's my link for the soap: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/02/no-grate-homemade-laundry-soap.html

It uses dish soap instead of needing to grate soap into the mixture, so it's easy. You can also put a few drops of essential oil in there if you like. For summer, I'm using lavender and lemon, which smells great.

Edited to add: I think it's actually easier on the clothes than the washer. This isn't the old fashioned wringer washer, it's a capsule that you rotate to agitate the water.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #2)

Sun Aug 4, 2013, 09:17 PM

4. I just double back and run the washer's spin cycle again.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Wed Oct 2, 2013, 09:14 AM

9. Update 10/02/13

Last edited Wed Oct 2, 2013, 10:37 AM - Edit history (1)

It's taken awhile to get into a groove here but enough time has passed where I now have enough info to get a good idea of the costs here.

Water is cheap here compared to the other town where I lived last year and without even really trying to save on water, I'm using less then 1000 gallons a month and the bill is still $10 less a month then at the other place.

I have the Rheem heat pump water heater set at the lowest setting and the water is warm which is good enough for me for taking showers and for hand washing the dishes. I've started keeping track of the electrical consumption by reading the meter last week and this week. I've used 57 kWhs in the past 7 days. Electricity is expensive here and it looks like my monthly bill will run about $60. Which really isn't bad considering the that I have an electric heat pump water heater, a chest freezer and a electric dryer.

I haven't turned the heating system on yet and I don't intend to until the middle of November and then I'll keep the t-stat set at 55. I'll shut the furnace off again about the middle of March.

Mowed the lawn for the last time this year last week. The reel mower worked very well. Considering what I used to spend on gas for the riding lawn mower we once had, the reel mower will probably pay for itself in 2 years.

The scooter has worked out very well for transportation and I'll keep on using it as long the weather allows. It's nice being able to travel about 80 miles on 1 gallon of gas.

Been spending less then $100 a month on food for myself. I'm going to increase that amount though so I can restock the shelves here.

Heating, electricity and water I'm estimating will run me about $300 a month this winter. Utilities run about $100 a month now but there will be a jump when I turn on the heating system.

The phone, internet and Netflix cost $68 a month.

Called the local VA clinic yesterday and the nurse said they'll get back to me about setting up appointments. I'm on blood thinner medication and I'll be going to the VA for all my medical issues and prescriptions now.

I qualified for a reduced rate dental plan and I pay 40% of the bill. It looks like I'll have enough money within a month or two to set up an appointment for a cleaning and checkup. It also looks like I'll have enough money for an eye exam and a new set of glasses. I'm years past due for that!


Was outside doing yard work and thought of a few other things while out there which I'll jot down here while taking a break.

Garbage pickup cost me $25 a month at the other place but it's free here. With a burn barrel in the back yard, I have less then a 13 gallon bag a month of non burnable garbage and I bring that down to my ex in-laws and put that in the pickup. When my former father-in-law wants to make a run to the landfill, I go with him and do the unloading.

Fall is here and the leaves are changing color and beginning to drop. I have the compost bin made and have been adding to it. A step-son has my mulching mower and I'll get that back to mulch up the leaves here to work into the vegetable garden, the flower gardens and a bunch in the compost bin.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Oct 10, 2013, 06:07 AM

10. Low impact man

With the days getting shorter, I went around the house and redid some of the lighting in the rooms I use the most. instead of using 3 13 watt cfls in a ceiling light here in the office, I now just use a small table lamp with 1 13 watt cfl. In the master bathroom, I took out 3 of the 4 13 watt cfls there. The kitchen is now lit with 1 13 watt cfl instead of 4 40 watt incadensents. The master bedroom now has 2 13 watt cfls instead of 8 13 watt cfls.

The heat pump water heater is set to vacation mode which provides warm, not hot, water and that's fine for me taking showers. I wash clothes in cold water only. When washing dishes in the sink, I get a gallon or so of warm water up to boiling on the gas stove and add that to the wash water.

Been keeping track of electicity use by reading the meter every week on Tuesday and it looks like I'll be using less then 200 kWhs of juice for the month. Looking at past bills at my other place, my estimate is the electric bill will be in the $50-$60 dollar range when all the extra fees and charges are added in.

The furnace is still off and will remain that way till about the middle of November. Depending on how cold it gets or how realitvely warm it stays. The lowest it's been in the house so far is 53 during a cold snap in September. It's 64 in the house right now as I write this.

Garbage here is minimal to say the least. A couple of days ago I went with the father-in-law to the landfill to help him unload his pickup full of garbage. My addition to the load was a small plastic bag that contained 2 empty cans of hair spray and 2 glass bottles plus a coffee can of broken glass. With metal cans, I'm doing the same thing here as at the other place and that's putting them soaking in the dish wash water after washing the dishes for about an hour. That way the paper peels right off. Then I wash them a bit and rinse them. After they dry, I bring them down to the basement where I crush them flat using a cement block.There's a lady in town who told me she brings her cans to a recycling place in another town. When I get bunch of flattened cans here, I'll give her a call and she can come and pick them up to bring to the recyclcing place. Non-glossy paper and cardboard I cut up into small pieces and put them in the compost bin. Glossy paper and plastic I burn in the burn barrel.

Been buying clothes at a second hand thrift store located in another town and I use my scooter for transportation. Might go there today or tomorrow to get a couple pair of blue jeans, heavy shirts for winter and maybe a pair of shoes if they have a set in my size. Altough I do have an appointment at a VA clinic in another town next Tuesday where there is a Goodwill store and a Salvation Army thrift store and the selection is much better then the little store here. So I may just hold off on clothes shopping till then. I do check out what's in the local store but finding anything my size and what I need is very much hit or miss.

The scooter has been great for transportation and I'll keep on using it as long as the weather holds up. Sure is nice spending just under $4 a week for premium gas. And that's if I drive it alot. The gas tank holds 1.3 gallons and I've been getting about 75 miles to the gallon. This allows me to make 3 round trips to town and back before having to gas up. My ex wife's SUV burned a gallon just to get to town.

The electric drip coffee maker is getting slow again so I'll clean it with white distilled vinegar, rinse it out good and then put it away. I'm making 2 quarts of cowboy coffee on the stove now for the first time here. When I was a kid, most everyone made their coffee that way. As I prefer my coffee room temp or cold, I'll let the cowboy coffee cool down to room temp before pouring it thru a fine mesh sieve into a 2 quart container to keep in the fridge. The coffee grounds will go into the compost bin.

Never was much of an ice tea man till this summer. A box of Lipton tea bags (100) doesn't cost much and store brands are even cheaper. I use 4 bags for 2 quarts so a box of tea bags lasts me for some time. The used tea bags go in the compost pile and the empty box I cut up into small pieces and put that in the compost bin also.

I've been keeping up on raking the yard of leaves which I've been putting in a pile in the fenced in garden. However, the trees still have most of their leaves yet so the major raking is yet to come!

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