Friday, June 27, 2014

Frugal Appliances: Slow Cooker

During the summer months, I try to keep the heat down in the house any way I can do so.  One of my tricks is to use a slow cooker.  A slow cooker will heat your house only a fraction of what an oven would do, and it also costs less to operate.  (When researching the cost savings, there seems to be an argument about how much of a savings it is between a slow cooker and oven.  It apparently goes by size, and whether or not you are cooking more than one thing at once in the oven.)  But I take it one step further.  The slow cooker in the photo above?  It's sitting on a TV tray in our sun room.  I set it up outside, then shut the door on the heat.  :)  In a few hours, our dinner will be ready and the house will have remained cool the whole time.

It's the end of June now, and we had our air conditioner on yesterday. The humidity was wretched, and I decided saving the money wasn't worth being that uncomfortable.  That was the 3rd time we turned the air on since the weather started turning warmer.  Luckily, our house is surrounded by very old, tall trees and the resulting shade saves us money on heating in the summer.  We also have ceiling fans in every bedroom, and lots of windows for cross-breezes.  Of course in the fall when the ENTIRE half-acre is covered in leaves?  I don't feel quite so grateful.

Hope you are keeping it cool wherever you are!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Frugal Habits: Clothesline Drying

It is officially too hot to garden outside during Benji's naptime.  All of a sudden, time has opened back up to get back to blogging.  Works for me!  The spring is such an important time for my garden to get started that I pretty much devote every free moment to it.  I have strawberries sprouting, tomatoes growing and flowers aplenty.  The cantaloupe and cucumbers seem to be taking their sweet time, and the quick change from spring to summer killed the remaining lettuce and cabbage instantly.  I hope to have a lot of fresh produce to show for all this work in the coming months.  Only time will tell on that front.

In the meantime, we are officially in the high 80s and love 90s temperature-wise, so my fair skin has taken a needed break from afternoon gardening.  Not to mention that I hate the heat.  I seriously should have been born and raised in Maine.  Benji came out with me this morning and only lasted about 30 mins before asking "to go home."  I am really surprised since he has spent the last few months crying to go outside, and banging on the sun room door.  It looks like he isn't moving to Florida anytime soon either.

Since it is flaming hot, I washed a lot of Benji's clothes this morning, and put them out on the line to dry.  The easiest way to save money in regards to laundry is to line dry your clothes. In the winter, we have to use drying racks and the clothes can take a while to dry.  In the summer, we have a line that runs from the deck to a nearby tree, and these clothes will be dry within the hour, no doubt.  Since many people do not line dry their clothing, I came up with a list of reasons you might want to try it out. So...

Here are 5 reasons to line dry your clothing:

1.  It saves money.  

Have you seen the energy efficient dryers?  No?  That's because they don't really exist.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy to dry clothes, and they are very expensive to run.  A clothes dryer accounts for 12% of electricity use for a typical household.  At a sample rate of $0.15/kwh and 7.5 loads per week, you can save $196.00 a year by line drying your clothes.

2.  It keeps your house cooler.  

The heat from the dryer is now warming your house, and I certainly don't appreciate that with these temperatures.  Even if your laundry is in a basement, it will still add to the feeling of warmth in your house.  Keeping the clothes dryer off not only saves money from the dryer itself, but also the money it takes to cool your house back down.

3.  Your clothes will last longer.

That lint in your dryer used to be part of your clothing.  The more the clothing gets put in the dryer, the shorter its life span.  If you are worried about stiffness, you can use vinegar in your washer where you would normally use fabric softener.  The only fabrics that still remain stiff are towels.  I just call them our loofahs in the summer. :)

4.  It uses fewer chemicals.

We no longer have to use bleach, even with a toddler in the house.  The sun's natural bleaching capacity is enough to keep our whites white, and nothing smells better than line-dried clothing.  A lot of my friends who use cloth diapers swear by the line-drying as the way to keep the diapers looking bright white.

5.  It eliminates static cling.

I do not know the science behind this, but I always had static cling with my work clothing before I started line drying.  Immediately after- gone.  This also plays into the fewer chemicals point, because it eliminates the need to dryer sheets.  And since those are filled with a crazy amount of chemicals, good riddance.


Some other random tips for line drying clothing is to always use clothespins rather than folding them over the line, and be sure to use the vinegar in your rinse cycle to help with softness.

And as a bonus- it kept Benji occupied outside for an extra 10 mins today.  He enjoys handing me each clothespin.  May that never grow old.