Energy Savers Part 3

Well, curses!  I actually had this post on energy savers finished several days ago.  Just needed to add the finishing touches.  I was on the ipad and must have done something wrong, because I went to finalize things and it was gone.  I mean really gone.  It was a brilliant post and contained the secret to getting a million bucks in cost savings.  Wouldn’t you just know it?  And now it is just like my elusive lottery winnings.  It doesn’t exist.  All kidding aside, I had to start all over.

This is the last in my energy cost savings series.  We’ve taken a look at insulation, doors, windows and thermostats and more.  Today, I’ll share a few more tips to help you save money on energy costs:

Lighting.  Consider switching to the (not so) new energy efficient bulbs.  They make several different kinds, they look Efficient Lighting Optionbetter and have a range of pricing too.  I’ve switched over most of my house where I could.  This includes lamps, hallways and closets.  I remember telling my electrician that I didn’t want to switch the hallway by the stairs because of the slight delay in light.  I had to laugh when he asked if I were running races in my hallway.  I’ve known him for a long time, so I cleaned up the real sarcasm he used, but the point remains:  it only takes a sec and you get used to the delay quickly.  The best part, the changes dropped my electric bill by at least $5 a month in the old house and more in the new one.  Seems small till you add it up for a yearly figure of $60 to $100.00.

The new house also has a lot of recessed lighting.  The bulbs are on dimmers and old enough that they don’t work with the energy efficient bulbs.  Having new switches installed is not in the budget right now, so what to do?   Use table or floor lamps instead.  The strategy is working.  The other thing I’ve found is that if I turn OFF the dimmer light switches instead of just turning them down, the bill is cheaper too.  Small change adds up.

Pipe Insulation.  This is fairly inexpensive.  It can either be in tape form that you wrap around your hot pipes or in a Pipe Insulation Optionfoam that you just slip over the pipes.  The idea is that you don’t lose the heat from the pipes.  This keeps you from running the hot water longer than necessary, keeping your water bill down, as well as the gas to heat the water.   I’ve also started using it on the cold water pipes – same theory – except here, it seems like the water coming out of the tap is colder.  So, I don’t run the water too long to get it cold.

Ceiling Fans – or room fans if you don’t have ceiling fans.  Running them makes it feel either a few degrees colder in the summer or warmer in the winter.  Adjust the direction of the fan so that air rises in the summer and pushes down in the winter.  Cold air falls and hot air rises, hence the direction flow depending on the season.  This keeps you from adjusting the thermostat in ways that cost you money.

Did I leave any tips out?  What things do you do to save you money on the utility bills?


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Energy Savers Series – 2

Continuing the Energy Savers Series…some more tips to help you save money while you are saving energy.

The Doors:  do you need to replace the weather stripping?  This is inexpensive and easy to do and will help stop energy loss and drafts.  Think both the storm/screen door and the main door.

Why does stopping drafts make a difference?  When you eliminate drafts, your heating and cooling system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you comfortable (or run as often).  And, as you enact these tips you might find that you can adjust the thermostat a few degrees – which again, will save you money.  Even one or two degrees in the thermostat makes a difference.   I’ve been able to adjust mine and it really does make a difference.  IMG_2361

Speaking of the thermostat – get a programmable one — change your setting while no one is home (school and work) and in the winter, drop the heat at night – you are sleeping and under covers and probably won’t even notice it.  Just program it to start warming up a little more before you wake up.

Running a Window Air Conditioner?  Make sure you use foam insulation around the window openings.  It is just a piece of foam cut in strips.  You just cut it to fit your needs (i.e. window width) and put ‘er in.

Block off rooms you don’t use.  So, close the vent, close the door.  This redirects airflow to rooms you do use.

Another tip — close closet doors.  Do you really need to heat or cool your clothes?

Window Film – this is a film that you can purchase to block the sun’s rays.  It keeps the heat out.  It is easy to install, just cut to fit and smooth it over your windows, like a window cling or those removable .  It also isn’t permanent, so if you are renting, it can come with you.  And it is tinted so you gain privacy as well.

Window Coverings – this is an upcoming project for a different blog, but my point here is to have them.   There are a ton of options here.  You can line them with a thermal covering to block out sun rays and drafts.  You can use a sheer fabric to filter the light – which in turns creates a cooler feeling in the room.   A simple sheer on a tension rod does the trick.  In a pinch, they even make the (admittedly cheesy) paper blinds.  They just stick to the window and you raise and lower them yourself and clip them open.  Where are they good?  Got a room you never use, like an upstairs where all you really need is to block the sun?  Perfect.  They are between $5 and $10.00.

I’ll got a few more energy savers to share….stay tuned for the next post in the series.


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Energy Savers Series

Oh the Energy Bills!  With the recent heat wave, and the arrival of the Edison bill, it got me thinking about all the energy saving moves I’ve made that are starting to really pay-off.  And by pay-off, I mean big savings last month.  And for this family on a pretty strict budget, that was welcome news.  So I thought it appropriate to do an Energy Savers series with tips and tricks that result in real-world pocket book savings.

Most of the items on the list are not new — you can find them in a number of sites and articles.  I thought I’d share with you what I’ve done and how it is working out.  Some of this would make for some boring pictures, so I’ll break the posts up into a few to help make it easier to read.

Caulking — when we moved in, we went around and repaired or replaced the caulking on the outside windows and door frames.  This was great, but I still kept feeling a draft in certain areas and then I remembered to caulk around the inside of the windows.  So, I purchased clear caulk and went around the window trim; top, sides and bottom (under the sill).  I also went along the thresholds of the doors (you know, the part you step on when coming through the door).  No more drafts – or at least significantly reduced.  Drafts make the room (s) feel colder which might lead you to turn up the heat.  And, although you don’t feel it, you also lose the cooling effect of the air conditioning in the summer.   I think the average cost of good caulking at the local diy center is in the $5-$7 dollar range.

Insulation (basement):  Admittedly, this is a larger project, but also one that can be done little by little when using the roll kind.  I think that a roll of insulation is in the $30 range, depending on what you get.  Honestly, most of my insulation came free – I mentioned to friends and family that this was a project and was amazed at the “donations” of left over insulation from their own projects, not to mention some left over from my previous home.   If you have a basement, there is a space between the top of the wall and the floor above.  (If you are like me, you have to remove the ceiling tiles to see it).  It is usually between each joist (I think I got that term right.)  This space is a pretty big energy waster and should be filled in with insulation.  It really doesn’t take that long to do and you don’t have to be “perfect” with your cuts, as you can always stuff a little more in to close the gaps.   This is also something that doesn’t have to be done all at once – I did mine over a few weekends as I had extra time to spare, but really could have done in inside of a day.   I didn’t get this completed until this spring – but I do notice a difference in my energy bill and the temperature of the floor above by the walls.

Duct Work Tape (sorry don’t know what else it is called).  This is a special, silver colored tape that you put over the seams in your duct work and outside of the furnace.  Basically, anywhere you see a seam.  Kinda like taping a tear in a piece of paper.  This tape is designed for the heat of the system – you can’t just use any ‘ol tape.  Good news is that it easy to use and isn’t expensive.  I may have used a whole role and it cost me in the $10 range.  What it does is stop air leaks at the seams.  This makes your heating/cooling system more efficient, as air is directed to your rooms instead of lost in the basement ceiling.  Doing this has proven twice now (old home and new one) to be a big energy saver – and the rooms have a more even heating and cooling.

I’ll add a few more tips and things I’ve done in my next post, along with some cost savings that I’ve seen.

You might also see a few more posts weekly from me – I hope that is ok.  To help grow my little business and the blogging effort, I entered into a challenge to post more.   If you have subject ideas that fit with my overall business and site, please feel free to suggest some.

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The Porch Redo

I think I’ve finally finished the front porch redo.  Ok, as with a long-held, and borrowed, motto about not letting excellent get in the way of good enough — I’m considering it ready for prime time.

We purchased a foreclosed home so I’ve been slowly trying to revamp the front of the house.  I live on a corner and was tired of  ducking every time someone drove by.  I have a nice sized porch, but it was rather blah looking with no character, except for the overgrown bushes!  Not the image I want.


The trellis and bench

I wanted to add some height to the porch, so I started with an old, rather rusty trellis.  Then I pulled in a wrought iron bench that was also in need of a redo.   This was great, as neither cost me anything, they were items I already had so I think of it as recycling them.   Next came deciding on colors.   In keeping with my frugal nature, I have a good amount of paint from previous projects.   While I could reuse one or two for an accent color, I did discover that a trip to the local home improvement store was in order.  Out I came with 3 quarts of paint.  Two for the current project and one for a future project (hey, I was there and I consider it gas and time saved).  I also purchased some throw-away brushes.   Total cost was about $18.00.

porch redo2

I painted the trellis a metallic aged copper, it looks great, but I’ll talk more about my thoughts on that in a minute.   On to deciding the colors for the bench.   I decided on an almond for the bench seat and trim, with an orange for the back inset.  I pulled in the copper to tie the two together.  When I got done and took a look at the porch, the front door was screaming for help.  You can see it in the corner of the photo above – it was really faded and yucky.  So I gave that a redo with the copper and I think it looks great.

porch redo photo

pull it together

The finished project:


Now, about that copper trellis — I can’t help but notice that it fades into the brick a little too much.  I’m at a loss as to what to do, so I thought I’d open it up for suggestions.   Any thoughts on improving the trellis?  Use the comments box to let me know.

Oh, and by the way, the wooden chair is slated for a redo in the near future.  I plan to make it match the mailbox.

This was a great project.  It had a few too many rain delays, but I got to involve my daughter (who loves to paint), I got to recycle some hardscape items as well as old paint and the whole (porch) project probably cost me about $12.00.   And I’m so much happier with how my porch looks.

Now to speed up getting the bushes tamed!


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Busy Week!

I hope everyone enjoyed the 4th and the weekend festivities continue to be fun.   It’s been a busy week for us.   My daughter learned to ride her two-wheeler, so we’ve been going on lots of bike rides.  If you followed my last post on inexpensive summer activity ideas, you’ll remember that this was one of the suggestions.  We’ve been having a great time exploring the neighborhood.  And another benefit?  Exercise for us.

We’ve also been working on redoing our front porch furniture. With all the rain in SE Michigan the past week or so, the project has encountered several rain delays.

Porch Redo Project

Sneak Peak Porch Preview

We are giving a rather rusty trellis, a metal bench and an old side table or two a new lease on life while giving our front porch some character.   The whole project is costing under $20 and is providing recreation and activity for my daughter as well.   I’ve given a sneak peek of before in the photo above.   We haven’t lived here for long, so another, longer-term project is to tame the overgrown bushes too.

The business is going well.  We had to make a new batch of laundry soap this week to keep up with orders.  A big thank you to all our friends who are helping to spread the word about our new little business.

Our Facebook page is now live – check it out at  I’m excited to have that completed.   And, I created the page for the hot/cold packs!  CheckGreen Leaf Hot/Cold Pack it out under the “products” menu.  If you hover over the menu item, you’ll see both the laundry soap and hot/cold pack pages to choose from.  Now to get the Pay Pal button working for the new items.  Please bear with me in the meantime and use the contact us link to email us for orders.

With cleaning up after the rain, trying to finish the porch project, keeping up with the bike riding fascination, getting Facebook live, launching the new product page and all the other things that come with daily life, I think the next post will focus on ways to stay organized!  I’m feeling a bit challenged in that area lately.

How about you?  How do you stay organized when it gets busy?  What summer projects are you working on?   Use our comments link to let us know!