Thursday, July 19, 2012

Staying Frugal In the Heat

As I write this news reports air that half of the US is in a drought.  Summer rages on, and the impact is taxing both our wallets and the planet.  Here are ten things our frugal household has done to keep down costs and walk a little lighter on the earth:

  1. Unplug items when they are not used.  Tiny improvements add up.  I unplugged the clock radio in our bedroom and realized we never use the alarm function, our phones serve that purpose now.  Into the SAVERS donation bag it went.  It will find a new home, cut down on our energy use, and free up space.
  2. Focus on compost.  Make sure you are putting brown into your compost pile.  This includes empty toilet paper rolls and shredded Sunday newspapers.
  3. Make a plan for depressed or dead lawn.  Since moving into our home I've wanted to tear up the grass in the front and replace it with perennials.  Mother nature has given me a head start.  We have not watered the front and I plan to put down cardboard with mulch soon.  We'll leave it over the Winter (assuming we have one) and in the Spring it will make for easy flower beds.  Work with what life gives you.
  4. Stay home.  Driving costs money, wears on your car, pollutes the air, and keeps you sedentary.  Instead of trips to places that are cool we read books on the hardwood floor and play in the shaded backyard.
  5. Use water from kids play to water trees, plants, and grass.  There is a nice green ring of grass where my kids spend time splashing in the backyard.
  6. Maximize food from farmers' markets.  You cut out the middle man, buy local, and eat fresh.  If you are lucky you work or live close enough to walk or bike, cutting down on care use.
  7. Cook with covers.  We keep cooking to a minimum because it heats up the house, but when we do we make sure the pots are covered.  You'll reach the boiling point faster, using less energy.
  8. Turn your thermostat up one degree, and dress for the weather.
  9. Keep shades and drapes drawn as much as possible.  Blocking the sun will keep the room cooler and decrease energy use.
  10. Explore the use of gray water for our landscaping -- some claim it can cut water use in half.  The cost of keeping plants and trees alive will be far less than replacing them next season.  Plus most trees and plants help filter water.
Those are 10 of our steps.  What are you doing to make the most of the heat and still stay frugal?

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  1. 1. I run my dishwasher at night. It usually cools down at night, so the added heat does not affect the need for AC as much.
    2. Use fans to increase circulation of AC around your home. This will decrease the amount of time you need to keep the AC on after it has cooled everything down.
    3. Place a fan right next to the bed at night. Having direct moving air on you will cool you down enough where AC is not necessary at night. This also applies to if you are just relaxing on a couch or in a chair.
    4. Take a cooler, and shorter, shower. Not only will you not be as hot when you get out, but there will be less added humidity and heat to your home. On the plus side, you're also saving water by decreasing shower time.
    5. Let your hair air-dry. Don't use blow dryers in extreme heat. It will make you hot and sweaty and it uses a good amount of electricity when used on a daily basis.
    6. This one I have not tried yet, but I read that you can save water used for boiling pasta in a watering can and use this to water your plants.

    1. Katie --

      Yes, the direct fan is a great method to keep smaller areas of a home cool instead of running the a/c all night.

      And funny, but just before I read you comment I dumped the cooled water I a boiled the sweet corn for dinner on a plant out the front door!

      Thanks for reading, and for posting!