Condo Blues: saving energy




Showing posts with label saving energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label saving energy. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Warm a Winter Room with Free Heat!

To save energy and heating costs I don’t turn on my furnace until it’s consistently 40 degrees (F) outside. That makes for some nippy nights when the outdoor temperatures dip down to 40 degrees in the evening. BRRRR!

I put extra blankets on my bed to snuggle under. However, my bedroom has a pitched ceiling. I loved the high ceiling in that room when we bought the house until the first winter - because heat rises.  It is a spendy room to theat and even then it’s still cold.

Reversing the blades on a ceiling fan would do the trick but I don’t have a ceiling fan in that room. Not to worry, I have a free space heater for my bedroom and I bet you do too!



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How Low Does Your Furnace Go?


My friends and family consider me the Energy Saving Maven because I reduced my home’s natural gas and electric use by 32% using cheap home improvements and new habits. So it wasn’t a surprise when a friend of mine asked me to come to his house and help him lower his sky high heating bill last winter.

I trudged through the new fallen snow on his sidewalk and rang the doorbell. He answered it wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

It was easy to find the answer to his high energy use and heating bill.

I don’t expect you to lower your daytime temperatures to my frigid 58 degrees (F), but if you accept Crunchy Chicken's Freeze Your Buns Challenge and lower your heating temperature by only a few degrees it will do a world of good. In the case of my friend, he has rescue birds so he came up with lowering his daytime temperature from 75 to 68 degrees (F.)

This year, I’m using the One Million Acts of Green Give the Gift of Green Facebook app to send my friend a reminder to not to jack his furnace this winter.



You can use the One Million Acts of Green Give the Gift of Green Facebook app this November trough December to send a green act as a “gift” that publishes to their News Feed. If the person isn’t on Facebook, you can send your message to them as an e-card.

How low does your temperature go during the winter?

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Disclosure:  Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with  Cisco are compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation. See what the other ambassadors have to say about One Million Acts of Green: Crunchy Domestic Goddess, Green Your Décor and Green and Clean Mom.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Fix a Running Toilet

The water in my toilet tank ran after each flush. I did a temporary leaking toilet fix by turning off the water to the toilet by turning the knob at the base of the toilet.

The toilet sat with the water turned off for at least 3 months.

The running toilet is in the guest bathroom so it wasn’t a hardship on the family. I just never got around to fixing my leaking toilet until I saw Fix a Leaking Faucet on Green U as part of Cisco’s One Million Acts of Green and Three to Green Contest. It was the kick in the seat I needed to fix that running toilet.

How to Fix a Leaking Toilet

I took the lid off the toilet tank and quickly saw what was causing my toilet to run. The flapper was all whopperjawed because I used to put those bowl cleaning tablets in the toilet tank in between bathroom cleanings. I don't use those tablets anymore.

1. Turn the water was turn off at the bottom of the toilet.

2. Flush the water out of the toilet tank.
     
Notice how the warped sides of the flapper do not seal properly. This causes the toilet to run.

3. Remove the damaged flapper.

4. Cut the replacement flapper valve to fit in the your type of flapper bracket.fitting according to the directions on the packaging or to the type of of my toilet flusher assembly thingy (are these terms getting too technical for you?)
    It is just me or does the new toilet flapper kinda look like a little spaceship?


    5. Slip the flapper into the flapper bracket.

    This bracket has two knobs that slits on the side of the flapper fit onto.

    6. Attach the flapper chain to the flusher arm.
      My chain has a clip on the end that attaches to flusher arm.
      7. Turn the water on to the toilet and let the tank fill up.
      8. Do a test flush. Make the flapper chain shorter or longer if needed.
      The new toilet flapper 
      9.You’re done!
        This $5.00 fix took about as much time to complete as an Ace of Cakes commercial break and saved me a $50 plumber fee. If I had let the toilet run, I could have wasted over 22,000 gallons of water in one year! Not bad for a quick five dollar fix.

        Best of all I was able to mark Fix a Leaking Faucet off my Green U list which was the third act of green I needed to receive one entry in Cisco’s Three to Green Contest. The winner gets a $5,000 shopping spree to BuyGreen.com. Do you realized how many sets of bamboo sheets that will buy?!

        You can participate too. All you have to do is register for the contest on One Million Acts of Green  or by connect via Facebook and pledge and complete those acts of green.You get one entry in the contest for every three acts of green you complete until October 31, 2010.

        What little green tasks have you been putting off until tomorrow?


        Did you enjoy this post? Get more like it by subscribing to the Condo Blues RSS Feed  or to Condo Blues by Email.

        Disclosure:  Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with  Cisco are compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation. See what the other ambassadors have to say about One Million Acts of Green: Crunchy Domestic Goddess, Green Your Décor and Green and Clean Mom.

        Sunday, September 19, 2010

        Ceiling Fans with Lights, Energy Efficient Yes. Stylish? Yeah or Nay?

        Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to cool and heat (by running the blades in reverse during the winter) your home. I had a ceiling fan and an attic fan in my old rental and between the two, they kept the place cool during the summer until the temperature climbed into the humid 90’s.

        Too bad that ceiling fan with lights was from 1976 and for as well as it cooled our apartment, it didn’t do it with any sort of style. I can do ceiling fans. I can do lights. I cannot do ceiling fan and light combos. Can. Not. Do. Ick.

        I recently got a very nice email from Del Mar Designs. She wrote:

        “I’ve read how much you loathe ceiling fans with lights. My company Del Mar Designs offers a wide selection of decorative ceiling fans that are also energy efficient.

        I have put together a few of our most popular energy efficient decorative ceiling fans with lights and was wondering if you found them appealing?”
        Well. Gosh, now I feel like a heel because I have a constant reader and I’ve knocked what she does for a living. What’s the harm in taking a look?

        10 Stylish Ceiling Fans with Lights

        The Monte Carlo Vectra Titanium Flush Mount Fan with  Light  is a flush mount which would be great for someone who has low ceilings like me. This one’s not too bad with the light and fan combination but I lean more towards the model without the light.


        The Minka Aire F518-ORB Concept II Bronze Flush Mount with Light is another flush mount in Bronze, which is very hot this year in fixtures. I like the old timey ice cream parlor look.




        Quorum Colton Oiled Bronze Ceiling Fan with Light is a fan I think it would look best on a mid to high ceiling. Again, it reminds me of an old timey ice cream parlor look, which is a plus because my favorite local ice shop has ceiling fans similar to these but without lights.


        The Hunter Fanaway Brushed Chrome Ceiling Fan changed my mind. If I were to choose any fan with a light for my house, it would be this one. I like the retro modern design. I especially like that the fan blade stay hidden until you turn on the fan. The only downside to this fan is that the blades aren’t reversible for winter. However, that wouldn’t be such an issue for me because I’d put this fan in my computer room to cool down the room with the big computers that act like space heaters.


         

        I’ve seen the Hunter Sonic Brushed Nickel Energy Star Ceiling Fan with Light  in real life. A friend had it installed in her living room with the cathedral ceiling of  her condo. It worked with the retro 50’s vibe she had going on in her kitchen and living room.




        I dig the Quorum Bronx Satin Nickel Ceiling Fan with Light. It is similar to the Hunter Sonic but I keep came coming back to it because it’s retro, it’s modern, and the blades remind me of an airplane propeller. Like.


        I had to include this piece of eye candy. The Casablanca Chandelier Oil-Rubbed Bronze Uplight Ceiling Fan with Light is rustic elegance. The candles are actually electric powered flames so there’s no worry of fire hazard or changing the candles. Spendy, but it would look great in a lodge setting or in a room with a pitched ceiling like say, my bedroom.



        I think I’m becoming a convert. Is it me, or is this crow tasting pretty good?

        I wanted to feature the Quorum Jellyfish Chrome Ceiling Fan with Light  because it’s design is nothing like I’ve seen before. I like the blade shape and the cables. I’m not too sure of the light, it’s an odd shape that reminds me of a jellyfish which is cool but also reminds me a bust line because my mind goes to there sometimes. What do you think? (Besides the whole I make inappropriate analogies thing. I know that already.)


        I kept coming back to the Emerson Highpointe Brushed Steel Ceiling Fan with Light too. I like the cable detail although I’m not sure if the blade design is sparse/simple = good or sparse/simple = bland. What are your thoughts?




        The Minka Aire Gauguin Bahama Beige is an Outdoor Ceiling Fan with Light but I’m including it because I like the blade design and the Bahama feel.  If they had an indoor version, I’d consider adding it to a room for a tropical vibe. Come February, I’m usually dying for anything that reminds me of summer, my favorite season. It makes me want to pour a nice tall glass of something and stick a paper umbrella in my drink.



        I begrudgingly admit that ceiling fan with light designs have thankfully come a long way from the traditional white 1976 style fan with lights that was in my last apartment. If you notice, most of the lights I like either fan is subtle or the light is subtle because that is probably what I would go with if I bought a fan with a light for my own home

        What do you think? Are you a ceiling fan person? Do you give ceiling fan with lights the thumbs up or the thumbs down?

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        Disclaimer: I was not paid to mention any of these fan in this post and opinions are my own. I thought you should know that.

        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.

        Friday, April 30, 2010

        Crock Pot Slow Cooker Lasagna

        No matter what you call it - by its brand name Crock Pot or the more generic name slow cooker that bad boy is one of my best cooking friends! I put food in it in the morning and by evening I have dinner for pennies worth of electricity. All on it's own.

        It's better than having cookie baking elves living in a tree in my front yard I tell ya.

        What does this have to do with making lasagna in a Crock pot? Well, one of the foods I remember my material grandmother making for family dinners was lasagna. However I haven’t made it in oh forever because it is a massive cholesterol bomb and takes a long time to make. Time is something we usually don’t have a lot of in the evenings around dinnertime and who needs more cholesterol in their diet?

        I heard that you could cook lasagna in a slow cooker. I did an Internet search. Some insisted you have to use no boil lasagna noodles while others didn’t. Some used jarred spaghetti sauce (cheater!) while others made their own which didn’t sound as good as Grandma’s sauce.

        So I decided to adapt Grandma’s lasagna to bake in the slow cooker. I also tried to make Grandma’s lasagna it a little less of a cholesterol bomb too. Several people on Twitter and Facebook asked me for my recipe.

        Here it is.

        Crock Pot Slow Cooker Lasagna a la Lisa

        You will need:

        Sauce Layer

        Olive oil
        1 pound ground turkey
        1 chopped onion
        3 cloves crushed garlic
        2 small cans of tomato sauce
        1 tsp oregano
        1 tsp basil
        1 pinch of hot pepper flakes (My addition. Totally optional)
        Salt to taste
        Pepper to taste
        ½ package of fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional. I had some mushrooms I needed to use.)


        Cheese Layer

        1 carton light cottage cheese (instead of ricotta)
        1 package shredded mozzarella cheese


        Cook it!

        1. Strain excess liquid from the cottage cheese if desired. (Mine was very soupy when I opened the carton so I drained it. Depending upon the brand your mileage and desire may vary.)

        2. Drizzle olive oil in a frying pan. Brown the ground turkey, and onion until translucent.

        3. Drain any grease from the mixture and return it to the pan.

        4. Mix in the tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, tsp basil, hot pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and mushrooms to taste and set aside.

        5. Mix together mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese in a separate bowl and set aside.

        6. If you want to oil the slow cooker, so it doesn’t stick while baking do it now. I didn’t do this because I forgot and it didn’t stick to the sides of the crock. As always your mileage may vary.

        7. Layer it. Spoon a layer of the sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker.

        8. Add a layer of uncooked noodles. Break the noodles into pieces so they fit into the Crock pot if needed (chances are it will be needed.)

        9. Spoon a layer of the cheese mixture over the noodle layer. Make sure you cover the noodle layer completely with the cheese layer.

        10. Alternate noodle layer, sauce layer, and noodle cheese layer until you’ve reached the top of the slow cooker. Important: Make sure you begin and end with a sauce layer.

        11. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

        12. Cook on warm/low for 8 hours.

        13. Chow down!

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        Thursday, April 15, 2010

        10 Ways Kids Can Go Green for Earth Day

        I did one of my informal polls of the neighborhood kids. I asked them for ideas on kids how kids can go green for Earth Day. I got some interesting answers.

        “You should get solar panels!”

        Um, no. I’ll stick to my solar garden lights. Solar panels aren’t a good year round return on investment in central Ohio.

        “You should get a hybrid car!”

        Why is it that all of these suggestions are things I can do that would benefit a kid living in my house?

        “Recycle!”

        Well that’s a little closer to what I was looking for but recycling still depends upon an adult setting up or overseeing the program at home.

        “Those are good ideas,” I said, “But what can YOU do as a kid, without a grown up’s help, do to go green?”

        Silence

        Blank stare

        *Blink*

        After a little prodding, we started brainstorming. We came up with a list of green things kids can do to go green for Earth Day without a grownup’s help.

        1. Clean your plate - It takes a lot of energy to grow and cook food. Eating all you take reduces waste. Don’t worry about leaving stuff behind to feed your home compost bin, I’m sure Mom or Dad will have more than enough food scraps from peeling and preparing vegetables for dinner to take care of that. 
        2. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth - Not wasting water is really important, especially if you live in an area that has a drought. By the way, forgoing brushing your teeth or bathing is not a good way to save water – don’t even think about it. 
        3. Turn off the lights when you leave a room – It takes a lot of energy to make electricity. Turning off the lights when you leave the room saves electricity and helps lower your parents’ electric bills. Don’t believe me? Turning off the lights to unused rooms helped me lower my electric use by 32%.
        4. Take care of your toys, clothes, and belongings – When you throwing a broken toy away it go right into the landfill. That’s not cool. If you take care of your toys, clothes, and other belongings you can give them to kids who don’t have any and nothing is thrown away.
        5. Take off your shoes when you enter the house – Shoes protect your feet from stepping in yucky stuff. If you take off your shoes at the door of your house, you’re not tracking that yucky stuff all over the house. Your parents may be able to vacuum less often and trust me, for that your parents will thank you. 
        6. Dress for the weather. Shorts in the summer, sweaters during the winter. That way mom and dad can set the thermostat a few degrees lower in winter and higher during the summer and save energy. 
        7. Use a cloth napkin at dinner and lunch. Instead of using disposable paper napkins try asking your parents to switch to cloth napkins for dinner or ask them to put a cloth napkin in your lunch box. Don’t have any? Try winning a set of Fabkins children’s cloth napkins
        8. Bring home your reusable containers, lunch box, water bottle home from school or activities – There’s a reason your parents harp on you to bring your lunchbox, water bottle, and stuff home from school each day - so you can reuse them! Step it up, take responsibility and keep track of your stuff. 
        9. Unplug the video game console after you save and shut down your game – See that little that stays on the video game console after you’ve closed the game and turned off the machine? That little light means the box is sucking a little bit of electricity from the socket just to light that little light. We call that vampire power and it’s wasteful. By unplugging my Wii when I’m done playing was another way we reduced our electricity use by 32%.
        10. Join The Great TV Rebellion -  Sign the pledge to turn off your television and turn on nature during Earth Week.
         What do you think kids can do to go green?

          Saturday, February 27, 2010

          Five Unusual Ways to Keep Warm in a Cold House

          Welcome Weather Channel viewers! This morning I did another 58 Degree Challenge interview on The Weather Channel. I talked about how my family stays toasty warm in snowy Ohio with our daytime thermostat set at 58 degrees (F). Here are five ways we stay warm in a cold house.

          1. Dress in layers. Sweaters are good but fleece layered over another long sleeved shirt is my favorite. I must have ice water running through my veins because I get cold more easily than Husband. I sometimes wear long underwear under my clothes too. Not only at home but sometimes in cold office buildings. Because like I said before, I get cold easily.

          Sunday, February 21, 2010

          Expensive Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Can Sill You Save Money

          Welcome Columbus Dispatch readers! Today The Columbus Dispatch wrote an article about me "Energy Audit First Step to Cutting Utility Bills" in today's paper about how I save money by reducing my use of electricity and natural gas use.

          One way I saved electricity is to change the energy hogging incandescent light bulbs in my house to a combination of electricity sipping halogen, compact florescent (CFL), and energy saving incandescent light bulbs.

          Photobucket
          CFLs come in (from left to right) soft light, bright white, and daylight varieties just like incandescent light bulbs


          According to Energy Star, lighting accounts for up to 20% of the average home’s electric bill. That being the case, if you switch at least 25% of the incandescent light bulbs you use most often in your home to energy efficient light bulbs you can slice a serious chunk off of the amount of electricity you currently use to light your home.

          You can further reduce your electricity use by opening the curtains and using natural light to light rooms as much as possible. You can even try using the One Person One Light Rule: turn on only one light for every person that is in the room. This isn’t always practical but it might make you think a little bit more about turning on all of the lights in a room when only one or two will do the job just as well.

          Lazy environmentalism. Just the way I like it.

          For giggles, I counted the number of light bulbs in my house so I could calculate my current household percentage of energy efficient light bulbs before The Great Light Bulb Switch Out I made during my 20% Energy Reduction Challenge in 2008.

          I have 58 light bulbs in my house.

          Before the Great Light Bulb Switch Out, twenty five of those light bulbs were some form of energy efficient light bulb: a combination of fluorescent, compact florescent, halogen, and Verilux Full Spectrum incandescent light bulbs. The Verilux light bulbs are the most expensive light bulb I have in my house. They are supposed to use less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb and show colors more accurately than standard incandescent light bulbs. They are also supposed to help combat the winter blues during gray Ohio winter days because they emit full spectrum light. More importantly, I got them on sale, which is why I decided to give them a try.

          Now that I have the numbers, was my percentage of  light bulbs in my home were energy efficient?

          25 energy efficient light bulbs divided by 58 total household light bulbs = 43% of the light bulbs in my house were energy efficient.

          Cool.

          And yet 43% of energy efficient lighting goodness wasn’t reflected on my not-yet-lower electric bill.

          I wanted immediate energy saving results. I decided that I did not want to wait until each incandescent light bulb burned out to replace it with a CLF, although you can certainly do so, actually, I recommend it. A couple of times since I made the switch, I’ve walked into a room, flipped the lights and all of the light bulbs have burnt out at the same time, leaving me fumbling in the dark. Because, you guessed it, I switched all of the light bulbs in that room over at the same time in that room instead of waiting until each bulb burned out on its own before I replaced it with a CFL. Don’t be me.

          I made the financial hit a little less by buying one three pack of CFLs every time I go grocery shopping. It took a little longer to do the switchover, but at least I didn’t have to shell out the money for 33 new CFLs all at once, which was around $200.

          I bought the majority of the new CFLs at Aldi and Dollar General because they were less expensive than buying so many CFLs at the home improvement store. I picked up some store brand bulbs at Meijer too. The cheaper CFLs are working and lasting just as long as some of the more expensive name brand CFLs we have in the house before we made the Great Switch.

          Yes, the Sylvania CLF light bulbs I bought at Aldi and Dollar General are still a little more expensive than energy hogging incandescent light bulbs, but it works out in the end because the CFL light bulbs last approximately 10 years. Traditional incandescent light bulbs last approximately three years. So not only am I saving electricity, I won’t have to buy or change another light bulb until 2014. Nice!


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          This is a revised version of my original April 8, 2008 Condo Blues post Why a Switch to Expensive Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Will Save Me Money

          Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using the Amazon link in this post, I earn a small commission (really small) which will help me with my goal of making Condo Blues a self hosted blog at no additional cost to you.

          Thursday, February 11, 2010

          How Do You Fight Dry Winter Air In Your Home?

          During the winter, furnaces keep our houses warm but they also dry out the air. If you find ways to add moisture to the dry heated air in your home during the winter, it makes you feel warmer because moist humid air feels warmer than dry air, reduces static electricity, and if you’re me keeps your skin from drying out and itching and driving you crazy.

          I keep the thermostat set at 58 degrees during the day but the heater still drys out the air in my home.

          To add moisture to the air, I have

          Tuesday, February 2, 2010

          Make Insulated Roman Shades

          My bedroom has a pitched ceiling and is cold during the winter because, as all you sciencey people know, heat rises. I’m trying to keep my energy use and bill as low as I can. I didn’t want to use a space heater in that room if I could help it because Blitzkrieg likes to cuddle up to heat sources. While I like that all of the girl dogs find Blitzkrieg smoking hot at the dog park, I didn’t want him literally smoking hot because he decided that his tail and Mr. Space Header should be close friends.


          The bedroom is on the south side of my house. I tried opening the curtains to let in the winter sun shine in, basically using passive solar heat instead of a space heater to warm up the room.  It worked OK, but the room wasn’t as warm as it could be. I did some research. Build it Solar had the answer to my problem:

          “Adding some form of insulating thermal shade to the window will greatly reduce night heat loss. While windows are very good collectors, they do lose a lot of heat at night, so some form of insulating shade is very important to reduce night losses.”

          The Color of Money easily took care of the same problem with a pair of thermal backed curtains. However I already had a pair of unlined curtains that I liked for that room

          I decided to make a thermal window shade. Some people call them window quilts. My thermal window shades are the same concept except I didn’t make a quilt pattern on mine. I wanted mine to look like an insulated roman shade.

          Photobucket

          I made them from materials in my sewing stash – so the price was right. Free! The construction was simple.

          1. I measured the length and width of the window and added an extra inch to the measurements for a seam allowance. I added an extra four inches to the length so I could make a little flap over rod pocket hoochie bobber to hide the tension rod I used to hang it in the window.

          2. I cut out the exterior and interior liner fabric liner according to my measurements.
          • I used white fleece fabric for the back part of the shade. This is the fabric faces out toward the window.
          •  I used a remnant of purple microfiber upholstery weight fabric for the front of the shade that faces into the room. Side note: What do you think of the wall color? Some days I like it, others I don’t. What do you think?
          •  I used 3 layers of leftover terrycloth for the thermal lining instead of the traditional batting because I was trying to use up my fabric stash. You could use thermal batting too.
          3. To make sure that the shades hung straight. I sewed a pocket in the bottom of the shade. I cut an el cheapo curtain rod to size and slide it in the bottom pocket for weight A wooden dowel rod would work too but this is what I had left over from my Early Need Something Cheap Because It’s My First Apartment Dweller Decorating Style so that’s what I used.

          Photobucket
          I pulled the rod out of the pocket for this photo

          4. I didn’t buy ring tape and string or a roman shade kit so I could open my shade like well, a roman shade. When I first made my insulated window shade I didn’t think I’d open it to let in the winter sun and heat. Also the sting and loop kit thingy I bought looked like a pain to install so I returned it.

          • Instead I used a couple of plastic clips from the temporary paper Redi Shades we bought to cover the windows when we first moved in and stayed on the windows longer than I care to admit. I recycled the paper shades long ago but kept the plastic clips thinking I could do something with them.
          Photobucket
          I pulled back the curtains so you can get a good look at the clips

          No one really sees this because the curtains hide the sides of the shades and the clips. Besides visitors don’t come in my bedroom anyway, so I’m keeping the semi-ghetto clip system.

          Don’t tell my neighbor the interior designer this OK? He thinks I have a good design sense. If he saw my plastic clips he’d kick my butt 8 ways to Sunday, I’m sure.


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          This post is part of Metamorphosis Monday, The Persimmon Perch, Market Yourself Monday, Trash to Treasure TuesdayDIY Day, Today's Creative Blog, Penny Pinching Party. The Girl Creative, Toot Your Horn Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, and Show and Tell.
            Visit thecsiproject.com

          Sunday, January 31, 2010

          9 New Habits to Keep You Warm During Winter

          Welcome Weather Channel Viewers!

          Today Weekend Vew on The Weather Channel interviewed me about how we keep warm when we have our thermostat set at 58 degrees (F) for their 58 Degree Challenge segment.




          I find that the best way to stay warm when the temperatures dips is to find and fix air leaks and drafts in your home. This also goes for renters and apartment dwellers.

          Sunday, January 24, 2010

          Keep in the Heat: How to Easily Insulate Outlets and Light Switches

          In my effort to keep my natural gas use and heating bills low I sealed all the gaps and air leaks around my windows and I put door sweeps on the outside doors. In certain areas of the house I felt a little chill. I found the culprit when I put my hand up to an outlet on an outside wall and it was cold – another air leak.



          Looks like I’m not the only who has air leaking into their home from outlets and switches on outside walls. Val, Mike and Brax asked me:

          “We noticed the other day there was actually frost forming on one of our electrical outlets, accompanied by a very heavy freezing cold breeze blowing out of the outlet holes! My first concern is that condensation/moisture and electricity don't typically go well together, besides the fact that it was like an AC blowing in our house. This outlet is on an exterior wall, of course. How do you fix this? Right now we just have those child proof plugs in the outlet holes!”

          Wednesday, January 20, 2010

          13 Ways to Lower Your Electricity and Natural Gas Bills

          Welcome 10 TV viewers!

          Today 10 TV News interviewed me and did a little house tour about how I slashed my home energy bills by 32%. My 1500 sq. ft. house now uses an average of 15 Kwh of electricity a day.




           Save this post to your Pinterest Boards! Share it with your friends!

          My interview was just one more way to show how real people with real budgets can save energy with some new habits, a few basic home improvements, and a little touch of humor.

          If you’re visiting Condo Blues for the first time and like more information about how I keep my gas and electric use and bills low, please check out the following posts.

          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.

          Wednesday, January 6, 2010

          Save Money! Find and Fix Air Leaks and Drafts

          It’s a sad fact of life that every home has air leaks in its  walls, windows, foundation, and attic. Even a newly built home like mine. Of course, how much a home leaks air will vary depending upon the design and construction of the home, and practices of its occupants.



          Its important to find and seal the air leaks and drafts you find in your home because if you don't, it will cost you money. Big money. Air leaks make your heating and cooling system use more energy and work harder to do the job you want it to do. In fact, experts say that if you don't seal all of the little air leaks in your home, you might as well keep a window open during the winter.

          How to Find Air Leaks and Drafts Outside the House

          Sunday, November 22, 2009

          Add a Blanket to Your Bed Giveaway

          My furnace is just a touch under the Energy Star rating, is less than 5 years old, and works well so we’re keeping it. However, I am able to make it run more efficiently by cleaning the reusable filter on the first day of the month (so I remember to do it) and by installing a programmable thermostat which sets the furnace to 62 degrees (F) when we sleep. Since I can’t sleep when I’m cold, I like to pile blankets on the bed during the winter. Make that a lot of blankets on the bed during the winter. Because I hate being cold. Hate. It.

          Sadly, I can’t cut down on bed blanket bulk with a warm and cuddly down comforter. Husband is allergic to down (drat!) I had to find an alterative. I was surprised to find it in a microfiber blanket. Oh excuse, me a Classic Plush Blanket by Select Comfort, you know the Sleep Number mattress people?
           
          I have to say I was intrigued because while I tried (and subsequently loved) cleaning with microfiber cloths I wondered what the heck makes a microfiber blanket any more special than a regular cotton blanket? Of course I realized right off the bat that a microfiber blanket is made with synthetic materials, so it isn’t a green product; however this was in its favor for us because of Husband’s allergy. As always, your mileage may vary.

          I took the cotton quilt off of our bed and replaced it the Classic Plush Blanket. Well I must say that this blanket is aptly named
          because it is soft and plushy and very, very warm which is surprised both husband and me because Classic Plush Blanket is quite thin. And warm. Did I mention the warm part? Much warmer than the cotton quilt the Classic Plush Blanket replaced (sorry Grandma.) So while the microfiber blanket itself isn’t a green product, it does allow us to do green things – keep our thermostat low during bedtime, use less energy, and not freeze to death. Yay microfiber blankets!

          Friday, November 20, 2009

          9 Fall Fix-Ups That Lower Your Winter Heating Bill

          Winterizing the outside of your home in order to lower your energy use, save money, and lower your heating bills is as easy as a walk around the house, a walk around the outside of the house that is. Let’s stroll outside so I can show you how I seal up outside air leaks to prep the house for winter and keep my natural gas and electricity use - and bill - low.


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          9 Things You Need To Do To Lower Your Winter Heating Bill


          1. Check for gaps outside of my windows. I have efficient double paned windows but even the most efficient windows will leak air because you’re still cutting a hole in your wall to install the window – duh. You can’t see it very well here because I calked the gap where the window frame meets the house with this clear silicone caulk. and caulk gun. I used clear because I wanted it to blend in and I didn’t want to have worry about finding the right color caulk for each area of the condo I needed. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.) 

          Wednesday, November 18, 2009

          Green Moms Carnival: Saving Money through Green Means

          This month, The Green Moms Carnival takes on the myth that going green means spending tons of money. I’m so excited to host this, my first Green Mom’s Carnival because the topic is close to my heart.
          Unlike the message we constantly see in the popular green media, my fellow Green Moms demonstrate that you don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of cash to green your life. Well, unless you want to, I suppose. Quite honestly, most of my favorite green living tips are the ones that save money as well as the world we live in. Yes, Virginia, you can have both.

          Enough of my prattling, on with the Carnival!


          Kid Stuff

          Monday, November 16, 2009

          How to Conduct a DIY Home Energy Audit

          Unlike some areas of the United States, my local gas and electric companies do not offer free home energy audits to their customers. After much digging on my gas company’s Website, I found a link to the Energy Star Website that allowed me to conduct a DIY home energy audit using their Home Energy Yardstick. Best of all this service is free. I like free. Free is good.



          I entered information about my home from the last 12 months of my natural gas and electric utility bills, clicked Submit and hoped for the best. The Home Energy Yardstick gave me an energy performance grade (Below Average to Above Average) and a score on a ten point scale.

          Once I found out how much energy my home used last year, I needed to check the energy efficiency of the structure and mechanicals. Pros do with this inferred cameras and blower door test gizmos. Fortunately I was able to find most of the same information on my own with a flashlight, a candle, and a some poking and prodding around the house.

          How to Do a Free DIY Energy Audit in Ten Easy Steps