Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reduce Paper Products!

Paper products are not only bad for the environment but are also costly. We started reducing our use of paper items and I was SHOCKED at how much money we saved. So here are a few suggestions for getting started:
  • Don't use paper towels to dry dishes, hands, counters etc. Buy a few dish towels and dish rags. I have found that investing in quality ones makes all the difference. Williams-Sonoma makes the best and they last FOREVER. They are highly absorbent and wash up well.
  • Use real plates instead of paper plates. While you're at it use real silverware and cups too.
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. They have the added bonus of looking prettier too.
  • Bring a ceramic mug to work and rinse it out rather than using paper cups for coffee or tea.
  • If you bring a reusable coffee cup to Starbucks they subtract ten cents from your bill (of course you save a bundle making your own coffee at home).
  • Use old t-shirts not suitible for donating to make rags. I use these to clean the bathroom, scrub the floors, wash windows etc. I wash them and reuse them until they fall apart.
  • Get a microfiber duster that you can use and then wash. We have a Oxo Good Grips Double Duster and I love it. Old socks work well too.
  • Use flannel fabric to make hankies instead of buying Kleenexes. They are easier on your nose. 
  • Use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. The average baby will use 3,796 diapers (source: National Geographic's "Human Footprint.") That's a lot of diapers taking up space in a landfill. Using a wet washcloths instead of wipes when possible also helps reduce waste.
I haven't completely eliminated paper products from our home. I'm not quite ready to get rid of toilet paper! I also keep a roll of paper towels in the kitchen to clean up Daisy's occasional messes. But cutting back has really saved us a lot of money and has reduced our trash production significantly. Putting the occasional dish towel in with our laundry costs us nothing extra but really makes a difference over time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Refrigerator Maintenance Can Save You Money!


Refrigerators are certainly not the most exciting things to write about but they are one of the appliances that use the most energy in our homes.  In 2001, U.S. households on average consumed 1,462 kWh for refrigeration (source). A small amount of maintenance can payoff big time!

One the most important things you can do to help your refrigerator run more efficiently is to vacuum the coils. They are usually located either on the bottom front of your machine or on older models on the back. The coils are like magnets for pet hair and dust. The debris makes your refrigerator work harder to keep your food cool. This costs you more money on your electric bill and wastes fossil fuels thus hurting the environment. I use the hose on my vacuum to suck up the hairy mess. My Dyson vacuum makes this an oddly satisfying task since I can see all of the gross debris in the cylinder! It's also neat to see how much colder your fridge is ten minutes after you clean the coils. I had to turn the temperature up on ours after I cleaned it the first time because all of our produce froze!

Another thing you can do is make sure that you keep your temperatures set correctly. The refrigerator should be set between 38 and 41 degrees F and the freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees. You should also try to keep your freezer full since the frozen food will keep things cooler. If you don't have an over packed freezer like I do you can fill bottles with tap water and keep them in the freezer. The frozen water will keep your freezer cooler.

Using an incandescent light bulb in your freezer is also a bad idea. A lot of people switch their regular bulbs in their homes to compact fluorescent or LEDs and forget about the refrigerator. Incandescent bulbs generate light through heat which will heat your refrigerator and make it work harder to cool after having it open. You can switch to an LED or just not use a bulb at all in your refrigerator. Personally, we just never bothered to replace ours when it went out and truth be told we don't miss it at all!

Finally, avoid using the top of your refrigerator as storage ( I'm still working on this). The stuff on top of your refrigerator will block airflow especially if you have a cabinet over it and air flow is necessary to make your compressor efficient.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Frugal Bible

Anyone who is new to frugal living and doesn't know where to start needs to pick up a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. It is FULL of great ideas, recipes, and tips. Amy's writing style is lighthearted and her title of the "frugal zealot" is well-deserved. Although some of her ideas are a little extreme, it is easy to pick out the ideas that appeal to you. I love the way she makes use of things that might otherwise be thrown away thus saving money and helping you be "green." This is a must read for anyone looking to live a more frugal lifestyle.

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog! I will discuss ways to live frugally while still enjoying a simple and green lifestyle. I look forward to helping others find joy in simple living and frugality.