Condo Blues

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Insulate a Hot Water Heater the Easy Way

While on the hunt for ways to reduce The Condo’s energy use, I did some poking around in my utility room. I found a big energy hog – my hot water heater.

Sure, I keep my hot water heater set at 120 degrees (F.) Set any higher and a hot water heater uses a lot more energy to heat water than I care to pay for and is a scalding risk. Set any lower and harmful bacteria can grow inside the hot water tank. That’s something you do not want.

 As like everything else that came with The Condo, the hot water heater was new but it is not Energy Star rated. I did some research and found that if I replaced my current practically new and working hot water heater with a comparable Energy Star model, I would only reduce its natural gas consumption by about $5-10 a year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How to Make a Braided Fleece Pet Toy

I had some scrap fleece leftover from a sewing project. I also had a friend whose Boston Terrier puppy was still going through that Chew And Disembowel Every Toy I Have phase – did I mention his name is Chopper? Yeah, the little guy is living up to his name.


I put that scrap fleece to good use and made Chopper and Blitzkrieg some braided dog toys. These homemade braided chew toys will work well for a dog or a cat. Cats like to play with the longer braided toys, though.


Friday, January 9, 2009

How to Make and Keep New Year's Resolutions on Your Time, Not New Year's Day

I’ve been hesitant and dragging my feet about writing, a post about my New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I don’t make them. I do . I don’t usually make my New Years Resolutions on or around New Years Eve because I end up making and ultimately breaking those hastily made resolutions.

I find that I’m better at keeping my New Years Resolutions if I make them when I need them. Usually several months before or after January first. Sometimes I even make them in the middle of the year. For example, my 2008 New Year’s Resolution was to reduce The Condo’s natural gas and electricity usage by 20% because of a big utility bill that we received in the fall of 2007. Well things really didn’t get rolling with the savings until March of 2008 because I had to examine and change some habits and do some small upgrades to The Condo but for the most part, I ended up meeting my goal and thereby keeping my 2008 New Years Resolution that I made in November of 2007.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge – December Update & Tips

It’s the last month of my 2007 20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge! Let’s see how I did at reducing my home's electric and natural gas consumption by 20% in December.

December Electricity Usage

Even with putting up electric holiday lights and decorations, I significantly reduced how much electricity we used in December. I’m sure that I could have reduced that number by not putting up any holiday lights but I really didn’t want to do that. One of my goals of the 20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge was to prove that I could reduce my electricity and natural gas consumption and not have to endure major hardships or put in huge sacrifices. I like Christmas with all it’s trimmings including holiday lights. To me ignoring the whole thing, as some Greenzillas would prefer the world to do, is a major hardship and huge sacrifice for me. I think that life is a balancing act and yes, you can still have some holiday decorations if it makes you happy just try not to overdo it so that you have so many incandescent lights up that you can see your house from space. Of course, your mileage may vary on this issue.

However, my personal balancing act is paying off. Last December I used 641 Kwh of electricity, approximately 21 Kwh a day. This December I reduced that load to 449 Kwh of electricity, approximately 15 Kwh a day. That’s a 70% reduction in electricity for the month of December! Whoo-hoo!

How I Lowered My Electric Bill in December

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Organize Your Life with Six Pack Containers!

In The Condo, we like our condiments, lots of condiments. Husband is one of those people who always have a full compliment of hot sauces on hand at home and even at work to fulfill all of his lava-eating needs. In fact, Husband’s appreciation of the hottest of hot sauces once resulted in the gift of an exclusive gift pack of Dave’s Insanity Sauces for our wedding.

Me? Well, I’m a wuss when it comes to ultra spicy hot food. However, I do have an affinity for mustard. Spicy brown, Dijon, and wasabi have at one time or another joined the bottles of hot sauce stored on the shelves of our refrigerator door.

Unfortunately, all of those small bottles on the refrigerator door shelves liked to tip over after I opened or closed the door. They often looked like a load of passed out people at some shipboard party gone horribly wrong. Especially the brands of hot sauce whose bottles look little people. Clearly, an intervention was in order.

Fortunately, the answer to tidying those wayward bottles was a recycling bin away. I used an empty paper six pack holder to hold and organize the condiments on my refrigerator door.


If you don’t like the look of the paper six pack carton as is, you can certainly pretty it up by decorating your six pack organizer using paint, paper, or fabric.

Monday, January 5, 2009

3 Meals from Leftover Turkey Bones

When planning a get together with Family (both my side and Husband’s), I usually get the “bring some extra containers for leftovers” reminder. This Christmas it paid off – we got the leftover Christmas turkey carcass!

We knew that if we rendered the turkey we could easily cook a lot of the remaining meat off those bones for a second meal as well as make a huge heaping helping of homemade turkey stock for future meals.

So yes, as we drove the 150+ miles home, we changed the words to the song, “I’m Getting Nothing’ for Christmas” to “I Got A Carcass for Christmas!” because we were anticipating a couple of meals to come out of those smoked turkey bones.

My apologies to my vegetarian readers because this post is going to be all about cooking meat. While Husband and I do eat many vegetarian meals, we like to satisfy our carnivore instincts too. Chances are I will use the word carcass quite a bit because you never really get to use that word in polite society anymore. OK, well, ever. In the meantime, you vegetarians can kick back and make Husband’s vegetarian friendly Homemade Orangina instead – it’s yummy!

How to Render Bones into Soup Stock/Broth