Sunday, March 3, 2019

Frugality: Things That I've Tried This Past Year and the Results (good and bad) 2019!

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You would think I would know everything about being frugal (yeah right) but there are always new things to me that we need to try or even old ways that we need to try again.   

Here are some of the frugal things I've tried this past year, the good and bad.  

Saving electricity:

This past year has been all about seeing if we can get our electricity costs down to normal range.  In the past, we received letters from the power company that basically said, "you are using more electricity than the rest of the residents around you."  I would read and think really, what are they doing that we are not?   So I started watching you-tube videos and tried some of the ways mentioned. Some of  those ways must have worked because our electricity bill has been lower in the past couple of months.  Then in the  last week or so, we received a golden letter stating something like, "congratulations you achieved normal electric use."  Yeah!

I think one of our best power saving ways was to turn off all the lights when we left a room or went to bed.  When we went to bed we had always kept one on in the kitchen for those people, who for some reason. need to get up and look in the fridge.  I dug out the pretty night light my sister gave me a few years back and we started using that right away.  Listen, it lights up everything and I'm even able to use it a lot in the mornings before sunrise.  Yep, I get up before sunrise!  

Not everything was a good idea:  Next I read somewhere that if you have a cordless house phone with multiple chargers to unplug them except for the main one.  Listen, I did that for a couple of months and it was a mess.  You think you will get up and switch the phones so the others can charge, but you won't believe me.  When it rings you will be running your head off to find one that will work.  Husband could only put up with this for so long (me too).  I woke up one morning and thought, this is crazy.  

We did unplug every thing everything right away after using them.  Toasters, blenders, mixers, everything that we could we unplugged.   For instance, the coffee machine gets plugged up in the morning when I have my coffee then unplugged till three hours later when he wakes up.   Then it's unplugged in the evening after his third cup of coffee (he doesn't like to plug things up again).

We also put things on power strips that we don't use often. 

Saving on everything besides electricity:

All of us girls around here go through a lot of ice tea.   It doesn't matter if it's winter or summer, we will go around with a glass of tea in our hand.   I started saving the used tea bags this past year in the freezer.  I find that 10 used tea bags will make another pitcher of tea. Now, this is a  secret, so please don't tell the girls. If you do, then they will tell you they knew something was wrong and that is why it tastes so funny.  

Tupperware hamburger freezer containers. I used to have these when we were younger and for some reason had gotten out of the habit of using them. Then one day I saw them for sale at a garage sale and knew that is what I needed to use again.  If the grand kids or one of us are hungry I just grab a hamburger patty and we are happy.  Make sure to buy them used if you can, it was unbelievable how much I these are going for new at a Tupperware stand.  

The Jury is still out:  Our newest cost saving purchase (hopefully) is the Food Saver Vacuum sealer.   We got our income tax back this past week and splurged and bought one new on Amazon.  We also bought both the small and large mouth jar sealer attachments too. 

What caused this sudden desire to want one?   Well I've have a friend on Facebook who loves hers and then I watched a you tube video about stocking up by Wendy Dewitt (I'm not of her faith but she has some great knowledge of pantry building) .  She did so many things with her type of jar sealer (no longer available) that I knew it would be a great investment for our family.  I've went wild this past week using it.   I think this is one thing I'll have to update again later to let you know if it works for me.

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Cheryl Kimbley said...

the small and large mouth jar vacuum sealers are on my list as well. I think I may get them in the month or so. It sure seems like a wise investment.
You did great with the electric. I never leave a small appliance plugged after using them. I have read to many horror stories about coffee pots and blenders goin up in flames. Night light is all we use after dark as well.
We will keep your secret on the tea bags!!!!!!!

Lana said...

I have been wondering about a vacuum sealer. The thing that has kept me from buying one is the cost of the bags.

Vickie @Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

Thanks Cheryl for keeping my secret! Yes I hope it's a good investment. It wasn't bad for the price. I hope we will more the recoup the cost in food savings. Have a great day!

Mama Said No said...

Congratulations on lowering your bill! We turn off lights also. At night we leave the hood light on over the stove, since I have to get up around 3:45 to greet the Redneck when he comes home from work. Also, I unplug everything too. Our microwave is plugged into a power strip, and we just flip it on when we need to use it, then flip the switch off when done. We keep out TV in an extra bedroom so it's not tempting to just let it run in the background. It's also plugged into a power strip, so it doesn't leach electricity when not in use. I use smaller appliances whenever possible, instead of the oven. I only use the dishwasher on weekends when we are too busy to do them by hand, and I make certain that the machine is as full as humanly possible before I run it. Our biggest electric usage in winter is the heat lamp in the well house, that helps to prevent our well freezing up. I turn off the heat every time there is a mild day, and I fling open the windows for fresh air. Until I can fix a water drainage problem--my washer is draining straight out to the base of my clothesline--I still have to use the dryer, but I try to only dry clothes that I can't just put on a hanger and put on the porch. Good job!

Vickie @Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

They are a lot of money it seems. I read if you want to reuse them to make sure you leave enough space before you seal. One lady said she has found replacement bags at garage sales. I hope we do that too! Have a great day Lana!

gardenpat said...

I actually use my jar sealers more often than the bags! Since our humidity in Ohio is always present, after we open a bag of chips or anything that is packed in a bag, I use the “Seal only” setting to resealthe bag so they don’t lose their crispness!
Wendy DeWitt ( She is of my faith) was the way I knew that when I got the 35 pound box of mini-heath bars that I could seal them in mason jars to keep them fresh, just like she did with after Halloween chocolate! 😉

Jenny said...

I've thought about a vacuum sealer but I just don't think I'd use one often.

I didn't know electric companies would send letters out for using too much power. We've received checks at the end of the year quite a few times for overcharges. I guess they estimate how much you'll use then charge but then they go back & actually see how much we's fun to get the check but I'd rather keep the money in the first place.

I used to use the burger keeper s as well. I got rid of mine too but I guess they would be better than plastic bags that I use now.

Vickie @Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

Yes I can't wait to do that with the chocolates too. Where do you put your chocolates? Oh my goodness never thought about sealing chips! ok this may have to go on the counter! I hope you know i didn't mean anything about the faith part I just wanted people to know it's just not for that church. The knowledge she gives is good for everyone. Thanks Pat.

Vickie @Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

Yes we have received those letters for so long and I had given up on saving electricity i think. It was good to finally get a great letter! Since we got our smart meter there is no meter reader and there are no estimates. It would be good to get a check but like you say it's better to keep the money in the first place. Burger keepers...thanks for the name of them! They are much better than my old system of using wax paper between burgers and then storing them in plastic bags. Have a great day Jenny!

Anonymous said...

Hi Vickie and it is good to hear that you have got the wonderful letter about using less electricity :).

I think with rising power costs everywhere we are all thinking of this.

Our electricity bill has been the same for about 10 years now despite from what I read power prices going up around 40 % in that time here in Australia. It will go up with using pumps now.

So I thought I would offer you some suggestions we use which work and are -

- Once you hot (electric) water system is heated turn it off at the power box with the switch. From our experience it will keep water hot for around 48 - 72 hours if it is well insulated. Then when the water starts to get cool turn it back on to heat and then turn it off again and repeat.

- See if you have a economy rate with your power company that you can have for your hot water and pumps. We have it here and had our pumps and hot water connected to this tariff.

This is one of the biggest parts of all of our electricity bills is heating our hot water being from reading 25 - 30 % of our bills.

- Still trialing this as a pump turns on everytime we turn on a tap. To reduce electricity costs we put our daily water in a 10 - 15 litre water barrel with tap and fill everything from that during the day rather than the pump kicking in every time we turn on the taps. In our mind it will save a lot of electricity that way with the pump kicking in less often. We also put full soft drink bottles full of water beside each sink and hand washing water in a bucket in each bathroom to use as well for the day.

- Price a solar set up for your well pump with an electric backup for winter and or battery backup (stores the power the solar panels generate). This will also save a lot on electricity costs.

- Keeping your freezers full is another way to save electrity as a freezer runs on less electricity if it is full. You can also fill the gaps with frozen bottles of water too to help. Bonus is that in a power blackout if those bottles of water are still half or more frozen your meat will still be alright to use and it is a good gauge on saving money also by not throwing our meats etc unnecessarily.

- Set the temperature of your fridge to three degrees Celsius and your freezer to minus 18 degrees Celsius. We did this by getting a fridge and freezer thermometer. This again saved us $20 - $30 or more per quarter on our electricity bills. We have 2 x 400lt freezers and a 400lt fridge running.

- Another thing that uses a lot of power is your television we have worked out that if we turn the brightness and colour settings down till we were happy this saved us around $20 or more on our quarterly bills.

- Make sure your computer and laptop battery and power settings are set to eco or the lowest power setting which uses less power. Also turning down the screen lighting settings will save power and setting your computer so it goes into sleep mode when not in use for a period of time. Ideally they should be turned off all together when not in use.

- Turn off computer modems and routers at night or when not using them also saves a great deal on power costs.

- Replacing incandescant light bulbs with Led bulbs from reading saves around $300 a year on power costs. We just replaced all of ours as they stopped working.

We have a friend who is an electrician by trade and he recommended to us to turn off all appliances at the switch will save about 10 % off your electicity bill. Asking him on what is known as "monkey power" power going through power switches when appliances are turned off at the power switch he had not heard of. So we just turn them off at the switch and leave them plugged in. Note here your power in the United States could well be set up differently to ours and "monkey power" may apply to you.

I hope this helps offer a few more money saving tips on power that I thought I would pass on to everyone.

Have a great week :).

Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many times we have found unopened boxes of Food Saver bags at used stores. Even the big boxes of them Costco sells. For like $4. or less. We have had a food saver for 25+ years and love it. Yes we use the jar attachment on canning jars a lot too. It is true food does stay perfect Way longer. We use the jar attachment and put things in bags in the freezer the most. On an experiment I put some nuts fresh from Costco three ways using the For Saver system. One group I frozen in a Food Saver bag and some in a canning jar vacuuming the air out but not into the freezer just sat in the pantry. A third part vacuumed in a food saver bag only also stored only in the pantry. All were still great tasting 2 year later. Granny Miller that used to have a blog so many loved told me way back she just uses her Food Saver for nuts and puts hers in the pantry so I tried it. My pantry does Not stay very cool. I sat them though near the ground as it was the coolest my pantry gets. That was the best I could do in my situation. All in this experiment were walnuts. I have done it later with almonds. Sarah

Vickie @Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

I can certainly use a few of your tips thanks so much Lorna! I need to fill in the gaps in the freezer for sure. I'll do that today.
I have told my husband about the hot water suggestion and he is worried about it having a effect on the heating element, basically wearing it out. Have you had or heard of a problem?
that solar power for the well pump is a good one to investigate also. We may get a another letter!

Vickie @Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

I'm going to be looking a lot in the used stores and the garage sales now. You give me hope of finding the bags Sarah. I wish a Costco would come to our area. All we get though is a rumor. I was just thinking of my nuts that I stored in the freezer. I wish I had my food saver then but I guess I will be using them soon. It's so good to hear your positive results!

Anonymous said...

Hi Vickie and most welcome for the tips. We have a friend who is a qualified electrician and told us it doesn't affect the hot water system at all by switching it off and on when it needs heating.

We turned off our hot water system in our rental when it was heated and did this for around 4 years and the hot water system was still going strong.

In my view it would stop your hot water system wearing out as soon as it is working less than it usually does.

Have a great week ahead.

Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).