Condo Blues: Ditch the Disposable




Showing posts with label Ditch the Disposable. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ditch the Disposable. Show all posts

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Purge and Recycle Old Electronics

I swear our house is shrinking. Once upon a time, had storage space to burn. (Don’t. It wastes a perfectly good space and might catch the rest of your house on fire.)

It didn’t take any great detective work to determine why our house is shrinking. The answer is easy.



We have stuff we don’t think/aren’t sure if there is a place to recycle or responsibly dispose of it. The last time I checked this wasn't the case, or if there was such an animal, it was only accepted those things on that one day during a full moon when cows do backward sneezes kind of thing. Hello hazardous household waste collection, I’m talking to you.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Decorate a Cooler with Mod Podge

I wrote our name on the lid in marker on the lid of our cooler when I first bought it. After many adventures, the name faded and needs a redo. 




I want to decorate and personalize our cooler with some personality. Decorative painting is out. The texture on the big cooler will make stenciling and painting it a nightmare.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Covered Kitchen Storage Boxes

My kitchen is shrinking.

Not really but it feels that way.

We have one cupboard we use to store food. The rest of the cupboards hold dishes, cups, and stuff we want  to keep but don’t use often. In my dream kitchen all of these special dishes and things would live on the tippy top shelves of cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling so they are accessible but not in the every day way.

A kitchen remodel isn’t in the plan this year. Moving to a bigger house is too much work. I need to find some space in the kitchen I have.

I found it!

Kitchencabinetstoragebox




I know I’m supposed to like having a decorating space on top of my kitchen cabinets. I tried hanging plates on the wall because that is what you are supposed to do in a kitchen, right? I didn’t like it. I tried groupings of doodads on top of the cabinets - meh. I just can’t make it work.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Save Money: Use an Electric Razor

Summer is my favorite season! I take full advantage and wear skirts and shorts almost every day.

Learn how I made an Anthropologie knock off skirt from a tablecloth here 

 That means my legs are on display and are in need of occasional deforestation. 

Up until now, I’ve taken care of the fuzz with a disposable razor even though I’m not a great fan of throwaway disposables. Preserve sells a disposable razor they take back for recycling but I haven't tried it.

 Beth of My Plastic Free Life uses a metal safety razor with recyclable blades but I am chicken. I have a gift for nicking the crap out of my ankles and knees with just about every razor I use including the disposable razors that are supposed to be nick free.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

9 Sneaky Green Ways to Save Money

I always struggle when it comes to writing an Earth Day post because everyday is Earth Day around here.

Frankly, my mind is more on trimming the fat from our family budget to pay for Blitzkrieg’s medical bills, and rebuilding our emergency fund which keeps getting knocked back after last year’s Back Luck Summer

A conversation with my newest sister in law Mrs J2 last weekend lit the CFL light bulb of inspiration over my head. (What other kind of light bulb would expect to go off over my head? An energy wasting incandescent? Pea-shaw!)

She and her new husband (I never get tired of saying that. I’m a gushy romantic - sue me.) are in Newlywed Money Saving Mode. I started kicking around ideas with her from Condo Blues. She politely said she wasn’t into the green thing so much because it is expensive. Her new family is more interested in saving enough money to buy a house.


The funny thing is, back when I was a newlywed and in Newlywed Saving Mode most of the things we did and still do to save money are green, only back then green was a color, not a movement.

Sister in Law, here’s a little list of  ways that save money and just so happen to be green. This isn’t a I Do All of These And I’m So Much Greener than You list. Everyone is different, has different priorities and preferences, and some green ways conflict with other green ways (which most people don't mention.) Consider this list a Swiss Army Knife of Money Saving Green Options, Not Absolutes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Six Pack Carrier turned Covered Storage Box

World Water Day was a big fat fail.

I celebrated by fixing a leaky pipe and exploding garage disposal that made a lovely mess of the kitchen cabinet and dishwasher. After I cleaned that up, I dropped just about everything I used to make hummus onto the floor. Then the beans exploded out of the blender and all over me. I steam cleaned the kitchen floor again. Ran two loads of dishes in the dishwasher (don't ask), and did a half load of laundry (hangs head. I always do full loads) because every dog towel, dishtowel, and towel I cut down to use instead of paper towels were soaked.

On the upside, I Spring Cleaned the under sink cabinet. 

On the downside, the six pack carrier I use to hold clean up towels was toast.

This is a good thing. Every once and awhile, I notice Mother-in-law’s look of motherly concern when she opens a cupboard or the refrigerator and sees the contents stored in a beer six pack carrier. We don’t drink that much but I hang onto the caddys for projects and of the craft beers we try that have crazy names.

However, my cupboards are starting to look like a fraternity house.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is the Strangest Thing You Do to Save Money?

I watched the Extreme Cheapskates special on TLC. True to reality TV, they presented and edited the people featured as weird in the lengths they go to save money even though I read many of those tips, like washing and reusing plastic zipper baggies (heck! I do it myself) on blogs and in The Tightwad Gazette books long before this show was a twinkle in a producer's eye.

Our green and frugal ways mean the amount of our weekly household trash is usually one small plastic bag of trash. 

Frugality, just like green living, is all about balance. What works and is normal for some, others just can’t go there. I’m all for boxing up and taking my restaurant leftovers home with me (a quick, easy, and cheap lunch option for the following day!) but I personally draw the line at asking other people for their leftovers at the restaurant, while one guy on the show does it all the time – to his wife’s embarrassment which makes good TV.

If I left these amazing homemade tortillas at the restaurant it would have been a crime!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Make Popsicles!

Last summer in between racing from shop to shop tasting as much locally made ice cream as our stomachs could hold we snarfed down frozen fruit and juice Popsicles with abandon. A box of four lasted two days max.

What can I say? We’re fruit piranhas. 

Sure, I recycled the box and chucked the wood sticks into the compost bin if I didn’t find a reuse for them. The small mountain of unrecyclable plastic wrappers on the other hand, grew exponentially in the kitchen trash can. Not to mention to expense when I started buying Popsicles four boxes at a time to keep up with the demand.

Do you know how much waste that makes?

Lots.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Make Orange Essential Oil Extract from Orange Peels

It’s clementine season! I snatched a box up the first minute I saw them in the grocery store and raced home. As usual I ate so many so often I got canker sores in my mouth from the citric acid. I don't care. At least I'm safe from scurvy!

The orange peels piled up. I can’t compost citrus. I used most of the ideas I wrote about 10 Ways to Use Orange Peels. I still have a pile of orange peels. If I had the distillation equipment I could make pure essential oil from orange peels but I don't. Since I want to use this to give a citrus oil cleaming oomph to in my homemade cleaning products, I will make an orange oil extract (this is also called a tincture) instead. Orange oil extract is a bit less potent than a pure essential oil, so it doesn't really work well for aromatherphy, candle, or cold process soap making. I save real orange essential oil for those things.

However an orange oil extract (tincture) works well for things like DIY cleaning products, melt and pour soaps, and homemade room sprays.  You might need to use a bit more since an extract is less concentrated than a distilled essential oil depending upon how prominent you want the scent in your project.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Do You Use Cloth Panty Liners?

I’m kicking off the New Year and my January One Small Green Change in an up close and personal kind of way. So if you are any of my male relatives or current or feature employers this post is probably not for you because I’m going to talk about lady bits.

Lately I’ve had the need to wear a daily panty liner. Strangely wearing a disposable panty liner has lead to a few bladder infections. Odd, since I haven’t had any issues with disposables until now.


Going without is doable but not very comfortable ifyouknowwhatImean.

I though making cloth panty liners would be a good use for my fabric stash. I searched Craftster for patterns and emailed Crunchy Chicken a few fabric and construction questions.

Epic craft FAIL.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Three Great Gift Bag Ideas

Oh gift bags how you make wrapping gifts so speedy! Gift bags are fabulous for wrapping odd shaped gifts like soccer balls and stuffed animals. Gift bags can easily be reused from one year to the next, which makes them an easy and  inexpensive way to go green without being so In Your Face Trying To Send a Message. 

Don’t you just love it when the cheapest and easiest way is the greenest way?

According to an article on Lehman’s blog: “We throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of year.  This amounts to 25 million tons of extra trash.”

Wow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Green Bag Lady

I don’t support laws that ban plastic shopping bags because it ends up hurting people that cannot afford to buy reusable shopping bags. I’d rather a store or city offer incentives for using your own bag because I think you get more flies with honey than vinegar. That’s why I had to interview Teresa VanHatten-Granath when I heard about her Green Bag Lady Project.


In an attempt to make her corner of the world greener, Teresa makes and gives away free cloth shopping bags! The project started in her own college classroom. She now has people using her free cloth shopping bags around the world!


Green Bag Lady Bag Number 111170.


How long have you sewn? How did you get started making shopping tote bags?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Identify BPA Free Plastics the Easy Way

I mentioned to Husband's aunt that I want to replace our small plastic food storage containers with glass when they wear out (due to spousal management issues.) She lamented, "It’s so confusing. Now we're supposed to use glass! I can't open glass containers with my arthritis. I can't remember what the plastics are with that stuff in them."

Me, "BPA?"

Husband's aunt,"Yeah, that!"

I love moments like this because it slaps me into the reality that not everyone has the same green needs as I do. This was double that day because we were trying to window shop with a toddler in tow who wanted to pick up and hold everything in the store - especially the very expensive and very breakable glass items (at least the kid has taste.) For Husband's aunt and the toddler's mom, easy to open, non-breakable BPA free plastics are necessary.

I took advantage of this and used it as a Teachable Moment in the store. Aunt K I promised you I'd write everything down  - this one's for you! It's a good reminder for me too.

How to Identify BPA Free Plastics – The Long Answer
AKA The CYA so I Don't Get Sued Version

The little numbers stamped on the bottom of a plastic container tells you or your recycling center what type of chemicals the plastic it is made from. There are seven general categories of plastic. The BPA free plastics are (brace yourself for some big scary sounding words but I will translate them I promise):

  • #1 Polyethylene terephthalate. It uses the abbreviation PET or PETE and can be for example, thin plastic pop bottles.
  • #2 High-density polyethylene. It uses the abbreviation HDPE and can be for example, some reusable plastic food storage containers.
  • #4 Low-density polyethylene. It uses the abbreviation LDPE and can be for example, plastic grocery bags.
  • #5 Polypropylene. It uses the abbreviation PP and can be for example, some reusable plastic food storage containers.
  • #6 Polystyrene It uses the abbreviation PS and can be hard plastic lke disposable cutlery or soft plastic like foam drink cups. Polystyrene is difficult to recycle in most areas of the US.
I like to remember them this way:

1
2
(Skip 3)
4
5
6

What about #7 Plastic?
Number 7 is what I like to call Mystery Plastic. Number 7 plastic is any type of plastic that doesn’t fit into the other categories. Number 7 plastic can be made from compostable corn based plastic but it can also be made from polycarbonate which may contain BPA. This makes Number 7 plastics difficult to recycle in most areas of the US.
Is your head spinning with numbers yet? Let’s make it easier.

How to Identify BPA Free Plastics – The Short Answer
AKA The Real Answer to Her Question

Say you want to buy a BPA free plastic reusable water bottle or food storage container. You walk into the store and start flipping things over to read the number printed on the bottom of the plastic container. The safer and most common BPA free choices for reusable plastic food and beverage containers are:

I remember them with a corny little rhyme I came up with:

Number two is cool,
Number five no jive.

Told you it was corny! However, it helps me remember those two numbers when I’m feeling overwhelmed during a next pop quiz at the store.

Did that help? How do you remember which numbers are BPA free plastic?


Help Lisa Nelsen-Woods Win My Dream Dream Job as the Salada Tea Spokesperson!

The Salada Tea Spokesperson voting is open and the votes are very close. I can't thank all of you enough for your on going votes and social media support. Your daily vote makes a difference!

One of the things I do professionally is to develop on-line training courses that translate complicated technical topics and computer geek jargon in to real world easy to understand language like this post. It would be a dream comes true if I could use my professional translation powers to demystify green living and healthy eating ideas on a budget for Salada Tea drinkers.

Voting won’t cost you anything put a mouse click. You don’t have to sign up for anything either. In fact, Salada Tea will give you a coupon for 75 cents off any Salada Tea product just for voting! Please visit Salada Spokespeson and vote for me, Lisa Nelsen-Woods. You can vote once a day every day until the voting closes on August 1, 2010.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

8 Ways to Eat Healthy When Camping

Someone complained that it is hard to eat healthy while camping during a recent Girls Night Out (#gno) Twitter party. I disagree! Every vacation of my childhood involved camping of some sort. My parents often referred to our camper as their hotel room on wheels. Because we brought a kitchen with us, we ate healthy while traveling.

The first summer we were married, Husband and I road tripped from Ohio to South Dakota tent camping all the way. People pitied us because they thought we ate crappy food. Not so. Even when camping in a tent, Husband and I always eat very well. Generally our kitchen is a cooler, a propane grill, and an electric teakettle. (You may consider the electric teakettle cheating but I need caffeine in the morning or else I will turn into a grizzly bear, ‘K?)

Here’s how we eat healthy while camping in a tent. If you have a camper with a little kitchen it’s even easier.

  1. Plan ahead – I don’t do a weekly meal plan at home but I do when we were camping. That way, I can pack the car and cooler with what we need for our trip and nothing more since space is at a premium. My mom used this strategy to counter fussy kid eaters. We only have room in our small camper kitchen to bring certain food so that was what we ate or we didn’t eat. 
  2. Make what you normally would at home – Most of the food you normally eat at home can be cooked at a campsite with a few tweaks. You can stir fry vegetables in olive oil on a camp stove just as easily as you can on your big kitchen stove at home although you might consider serving it with pasta because it has a faster cooking time than rice and will use less propane to prepare. 
  3. Make things up ahead of time – Sadly, there isn’t room service at a campground, which means that the family cook doesn’t get a vacation. If you make things up ahead of time like Sloppy Joe or a cold salad, you can easily cook from scratch at home and have a quick healthy meal while camping. I like to make hummus at home and pack it in the cooler. Hummus makes a great sandwich spread and vegetable dip while on the road! 
  4. Sometimes you might want to take a cooking shortcut – While I’m a big advocate of cooking from scratch, sometimes the convenience or space saving aspect of prepared food will win out during a camping trip. Some of my favorites include spaghetti sauce and whole wheat pasta, veggie burgers, tabouleh mix, deli made stuffed grape leaves, and red wine. Yes, I consider stuffed grape leaves and red wine roughing it because I drink my wine out of a coffee mug. To save space I leave the stemware at home. 
  5. Take advantage of cooking outdoors – You can grill meat, veggies, fish, and kebabs on your patio just as easily as you can on a grill them at campground. Grilled bananas make an excellent camping treat! 
  6. Fruit as snacks – Fresh fruit is so much more refreshing on a hot day than salty snacks. In addition, you can easily park the kids outside when fruit juice dribbles all over their chins instead of letting it dribble all over the inside of your RV or tent. 
  7. Popcorn over the campfire (or camp stove) – As long as you don’t slather it in sticks of butter and pile on a mountain of salt, popcorn can be a healthier snack choice than potato chips.
    • Tip: Try sprinkling oregano or basil or both over your popcorn to make Popcorn Pizza – yum! 
  8. Think healthy drinks – Consider bringing iced teas, lemonade, and bring your own water from home if the water at the campground may bother your tummy (sometimes this happens with me.)
    • Tip: To save money and cut down on waste, fill up reusable water bottles with drinks for the family throughout the day.
    • Tip #2: Put your drinks in a separate cooler to keep the kiddos from opening and closing the camper’s refrigerator or the food storage cooler so often. This goes double if you’re tent camping and you have to keep your food cold in a cooler with ice.
While going on a camping vacation you can eat just as healthy as you do at home. Although I do let that slide a little bit when I’m on vacation because who can resist making and sharing s’mores with friends over a campfire? Not me!

How do you eat healthy while on vacation or camping? Or you do you follow the 80-20 Rule and figure that vacation or camping is the 20% of the time you can throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want?


Reminder: Help me Win my Dream Job!

I've been selected as a finalist for the Salada Green Tea Spokesperson contest. Your vote will help Salada pick the winner. Please vote for me Lisa Nelsen-Woods and help me win my dream job promoting green living and healthy eating on a budget. You may vote once a day, every day from now until the contest ends on August 1st.

I would be promoting simple healthy meal ideas just like the one in this post. It would be a dream come true!

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My No Impact Day Experiment Sucked

 The sky went dark as if turning off a light switch.

The rains came suddenly. BOOISH!

The thunder. CAR-RACK!

The lights went out.

“WHIRRR-EEEEEEEEE!” The nearby tornado siren screamed.

Husband, Blitzkrieg, and I holed up in the laundry room – our safe room since we do not have a basement.

Blitzkrieg knows my Blackberry takes pictures and he barked until I took his photo as we waited for the all clear. Even in a crisis, my dog is a diva and comic relief.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ditch the Disposables: Try Reusable Produce Bags

One thing we haven’t switched over to is reusable produce bags. Husband is convinced that food stays fresher longer in a disposable plastic produce bag in our refrigerator. (Anyone? True? False? Any tips?) When I’ve attempted to not use a produce bag for something big like an eggplant at the store, Husband sticks it in a plastic disposable produce bag when I’m not looking. In the interest of martial harmony, I go along with it. I figure I can always use the empty produce bag for doggie duty.

Given the current empty produce bag population at our house, Blitzkrieg better get a lot more roughage in his diet. We buy fresh produce as much as possible and he has a lot of empty produce bags to fill. Just sayin’

Fortunately ChicoBag came to my rescue. ChicoBag has developed a line of reusable produce bags, called The Produce Stand Collection. The Produce Stand Collection is made up of three reusable produce bags that fold up into a little apple pouch. There is a Hemp-Cotton bag is for leafy greens or grains, a Mesh rePETe bag is for fruit, and a solid rePETe bag is for squash, carrots, etc.

ChicoBag offered to send me a set for review. I thought that if this product worked well enough to pass Mr. Skeptical’s test not only would I have one less thing cluttering up my house (and ultimately the landfill), but it must be a better than good product. While Husband doesn’t like waste or products with harmful ingredients that could poison our dog, he isn’t always gung ho just for greenness sake. The product has to be green AND work as well or better than its more conventional equivalent. I love this because he keeps me real.

My first test was kind of a cheat. I used the Produce Stand Collection at Trader Joe’s. I didn’t have a problem with using the reusable produce bags there or at the farm market. Oh, and the produce bags were the just the right size when Mother in Law gifted me with some rhubarb from her garden.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

7 Areas for Easy Kitchen Spring Cleaning and Clutter Busting

Today’s spring cleaning topic is clutter. Who doesn’t have some of that? Hands up? Anyone?

Good to know I’m not alone.

Once upon a time I had a roommate who though my decorating style was sparse. I thought her style was cluttered. Who’s right? I don’t know. How do you know when you have too much clutter, not enough, or if everything’s just right?

For me it came down to one thing – kitchen towels.

One day I grabbed a fresh kitchen towel out of the drawer and lamented how worn and faded it was. The rest of the towels in the drawer looked just as pathetic. I decided right then and there to purge the worn kitchen towels as an incentive to replace them with new ones.

Guess what? I found that I had more than enough newer kitchen towels I deemed them “too pretty to use” (Help me - I’m turning into my mother!) and in the bottom of the kitchen drawer. I also found that I had enough to keep the towel rotation short so they wouldn't be so faded and worn in the long term.
After my kitchen towel clean out, it felt like I had more items not less, because I could find the nice towels easily and use the pretty ones every day.

Of course me being me, I cut the old towels in half and stashed them under the sink to use instead of paper towels. Save a tree, save some money, creative reuse, and all that stuff - high fives all the way around.

But finding new stuff in my old stuff gave me the incentive to purge each area in my kitchen. Fly Lady suggests setting a timer and doing this in 15 minutes increments so you won’t get overwhelmed. That works too. Although I find that when I’m in a mood, cleaning and organizing snaps me out of it. I like the metaphor of cleaning and organizing my outside surroundings to help me clean and organize what’s going on inside my head. As always, your mileage may vary.

I purged the excess and kept only the best of the following:

1. Reusable travel coffee mugs. We had several freebies that leaked and went into the recycling bin. By keeping 2 travel mugs per person we no longer have dribble drinking problems. It also keeps the kitchen sink from being cluttered up with dirty travel coffee mugs waiting for a hand wash.

2. Reusable water bottles. Same deal with the coffee mugs. The stainless steel bottles stayed. The plastic bottles that didn’t have a recycling number 2, 4, or 5 (the BPA free plastics) went into the recycling bin. I realize that those bottles are still usable but I feel like a hypocrite giving someone else a BPA plastic water bottle just because I don’t want my family using it.

3. Pens and pencils. Most of the pens and pencils were again, freebies from events and many were out of ink. I threw away the empty single use disposable pens. I replaced the empty ink cartridge on the refillable pens instead of chucking the pen back into the drawer and using another one (I’m sure you never do that – right?) I put the rest into a bag and sold the lot at a yard sale.

4. Storage containers. To keep Husband the Head Cook happy, we have some small plastic storage containers. Well, here’s a clutter busting tip: if you try to pull one container or lid from the cupboard and the rest of them routinely fall out of the cupboard and on to your head it’s time to purge! This purge was actually the easiest but most time consuming because apparently I never throw anything usable away. :)

  • First I matched the lids to the containers. The orphans went into the recycling bin.
  • Next, any container that wasn’t glass or didn’t have a recycling number 2, 4, or 5 (the BPA free plastics) went into the recycling bin. 
  • Finally any nicked, stained, or containers with cracked lids went into the recycling bin. I don’t microwave in plastic but red sauce and turmeric still stains my plastic containers.
5. Potholders. I purged the burn ones and washed the rest. Then I felt stupid for not realizing until that moment that my potholders are made of cloth and I could have washed them before they were so stained and burnt that I didn’t care what happened to them – idiot.


Amelia Sprout made and gave me this potholder at BlogHer last year. I should use it more often even though it's (say it with me), "too pretty to use!"

6. Chipped coffee mugs and orphan silverware – Most of these were around since our college days. I sold them at a yard sale two crafters took them. One makes wind chimes from old silverware the other makes mosaics from smashed mugs. Of course I could have repurposed my items doing the same crafts but I know me. I didn’t have a need for wind chimes or coffee mug mosaics. That stuff would have cluttered up my craft room instead of my kitchen because I’d never get around to doing those projects. It’s best to give them to someone who will use them right away. If I ever get the hankering to do these crafts, I can easily get the materials for cheap at a thrift store or Freecycle.

To keep everything in check, I started being a bit more selective about what useful freebie items I take when I’m offered them at street fairs, the mall, etc. because that’s where the majority of the not so great coffee mugs, water bottles, and pens and pencils came from. I’m also selective about product packaging when it comes to buying food items. I try to find something reusable/compostable/recyclable as much as possible.

What are your kitchen spring cleaning and purging tips? Have you found that you have a very large number of  items you only thought you had one or two of, like chip clips?

This post is part of the Get the Junk Out! Carnival where the topic is clutter hosted by Mandi at Organizing Your Way.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ditching the Disposables – Furnace Filters

When we talk of ditching disposables the most people talk about ditching plastic and paper shopping bags, take out coffee cups, and replacing tissues with handkerchiefs. Have you considered ditching your disposable furnace filter for a reusable electrostatic furnace filter?

This reusable furnace filter is similar to the filter we purchased.
You can learn about it here.

This choice and purchase was Husband’s idea and it was a good one. The reusable electrostatic filters are easy to clean by vacuuming them with the hose attachment of our upright vacuum cleaner. You can rinse them off with water but ours take about a day to dry. Since our furnace won't work without a filter and it's winter and I'd rather not chip ice off of the dog after a day with no heat we don't use the water method often.

Ditching my disposable furnace filter for a reusable filter means that I’m much more likely to change/clean the furnace filter each month and keep my furnace running at maximum efficiency in order to keep our energy bills - and use - as low as I can.