Finding a way to lower your electricity bills is appealing to everyone, but in this day and age we are also very concerned about our environmental impact. People are making greener choices all around.
If you would like to make some adjustments at home, and you are keen to remain green, here are some tips on how you can save money and be more energy efficient:
Adjust your everyday habits
You can achieve great savings through simple adjustments of your daily habits. Get yourself into the habit of turning your lights off when you leave a room, unplugging your devices when they are not being charged and only running the dishwasher and washing machine when needed.
Convenient electrical switches
An efficient option for your home is to ensure you have quality electrical switches located in convenient places. This way, you have better access to them and can easily flip the switch to “off “. You could, for example, place a light switch near your front door so you can turn the lights off when you leave the house or a switch to disconnect power from a gas furnace in a place that is easy to get to.
Better light bulbs
Low-voltage and efficient products avoid waste. You can switch over to greener light bulbs, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, to cut your electrical bill down.
High quality electrical devices and products with A++ rating have the most efficient energy rating and can help you save money and energy without having to make huge changes to your daily activities. Simply check the quality of the next device or appliance you buy.
Prepare your house for even greater efficiency
When you have energy efficient appliances and products, you must take measures to retain energy in the home. The appliances and products can only get you so far, so it is important to ensure your home is ready for greater energy efficiency.
For example, your windows are extremely important. If they are inefficient and have an air-leak or another issue, it is easy to crank up the heat or air conditioning without realizing there is actually a problem with your windows. You could invest in new, efficient, double-glazed windows or improve your existing windows by sealing and draft-proofing them.
Overall, it takes a combination of paying attention to your day-to-day habits and ensuring you have an efficient home set-up to improve your energy efficiency. In turn, you will have lower energy bills, and thus more money in your pocket, and help save our planet at the same time.
When the cool weather of fall rolled around I got the itch to decorate for fall like so many women out there. Unlike the masses though I am minimalist and very much inspired by nature. I don’t crazy with decor and I actually prefer that most decor around my home be items I can use year round if I want to. So for the most part I want simple, timeless, decor that I can then tie into a few small seasonal items that rotate throughout the year. This is why I love to use candles for decor and ambiance because they are simple, lovely, enjoyable (especially scented ones), and I can put them away if the scent or appearance screams ‘Fall’ or ‘Christmas’.
The scent is just another reason to love candles. A beautiful fall wreath is lovely to look at but does it make you have all the warm, cozy feelings that a pumpkin spice candle does? Does a pretty snow globe make you want to curl up by a roaring fire or are those feelings more likely to be induced by a lovely smelling candle of pine or balsam fir? Smell can deeply affect moods and bring back warm memories of seasonal fun and festivity. I absolutely adore candles for this reason and always have.
I recently added some candles from the Chesapeake Bay Heritage collection to my own home for fall/winter. I love their classic look and wood lids. They go perfect with theme of my decor which is less traditional fall and more “fall in wine country”. The previous homeowner had a definite Tuscan theme going on and traditional fall colors kind of clash so I concentrate on purples, browns, greens, and cream colors.
We will end up renovating the home completely and go with something more modern but while we get to know the home and we save for the changes we eventually want to make, I am rather content with the Tuscan feel and colors. The dining room, which you can see below, is painted in a dark wine color. The fall candles and purple and brown acorns our buffet cabinet give me that touch of fall I want and it keeps with the wine country feel.
Of course, as I mentioned previously it is all about the scent right? Well, the scents are amazing. They transport you immediately to that fall state of mind. Pumpkin Latte, Vanilla Biscotti, and Firewood Fig. Yum!
In addition to burning these candles in the dining room during our family meals I also like to bring them in the kitchen. The kitchen is the literal and figurative heart of our home so the smell disperses throughout the home and makes it smell cozy, warm, and amazing. And as you can see the Tuscan theme evolves from wine country in the dining room to Italian cafe in the kitchen. I am not generally a wallpaper person but this cafe border has grown on me.
For scents that are more winter and a little less fall, we enjoy Balsam Fir, Snow by the Shore (Cedarwood and Lemon), and Cinnamon Spice. Since they are sitting on the buffet they are easy to grab and light for the evening meal. Eating together is mandatory in this house and anything we can do to add those comfy, cozy, special touches is a plus with me. Dinner is when we celebrate good company.
The small glass vase where I house the extra acorns or all of them when not in use is elevated by the temporary addition of a Chesapeake Bay candle I think.
Do you decorate with seasonal candles?
This post was written in partnership with Chesapeake Bay Candles. All words and opinions are mine.
So what’s in your pillow? For a better night’s sleep you may want to try a pillow with a natural fill. The synthetics like polyester that you find in conventional pillows draw on non-renewable resources and can be more hospitable to allergens. The chemicals can also lead to headaches. So try a natural fill and even organic if possible.
A quality pillow can cost anywhere from $40.00 to $250.00 but if you take care of it…it can last a decade. Here are some of your options:
Goose Down – This is one of the softest fills available and is optimal for people who sleep on their stomach. You can care for this pillow by exposing it to fresh air and sunlight several hours a month. You can also usually machine wash on a gentle cycle and tumble dry along with a towel on low heat.
Organic Cotton – Cotton is a good option but it does tend to compress over time. Machine wash on gentle in cold water. Tumble dry with cool air and throw in a dryer ball or tennis ball to break up clumps. Because cotton is easy to clean it is less prone to mildew and bacteria.
Organic Wool – This fiber offers firm support and it is also a natural insulator and helps regulate body temperature. Throw it in the dryer for a few minutes with a dryer ball or tennis ball to renew the loft. Freshen in direct sunlight and open air for several hours a month and use a vinegar/water solution to spot clean.
Natural Latex Foam – Natural latex pillows are molded and they conform to the contours of your body. Dust mites find it inhospitable and mildew cannot thrive in it. It is a healthy alternative for many allergy and asthma sufferers. Hand wash with warm water and a mild soap. Press with a towel to dry and keep out of direct sunlight.
Hulls – Sleeping on buckwheat hulls can help relieve muscle tension but it can take some time getting used to. Since hulls are irregularly shaped, air circulates around them and dust mites and microbes have a hard time taking root. Look for a “triple cleaned” label to ensure that dust mites and mold have been removed. To clean, remove the hulls from the pillow and rinse in a tub of cool water. Lay out to dry. Machine wash the empty case in hot water twice a month.
No pillow – There is some scientific evidence to suggest that no pillow at all is better for our health and well being. Per the recommendations from the comments section Katy Bowman’s books are a great resource if you want to know the reasoning behind it.
After you select your perfect natural pillow make sure to cover it with a zippered protector made from tightly woven organic cotton. When placed under your pillow case it blocks allergens as effectively as vinyl alternatives without exposing you to toxic chemicals.
It is typically much cheaper to fix things around the home than it is to replace them. It is also way better for the planet. Corporations are selling cheaper goods and hoping we will buy new fairly often but we don’t have to fall into that trap. We can start by buying quality goods that last, made my reputable companies. We can go a step further by vowing to repair rather than replace when they wear out or break down.
When something or breaks as yourself…it is just dirty, can I take it apart without destroying it, can I buy replacement parts, can I find a Youtube video with repair instructions, and can I do the repairs myself? You will be surprised how often you actually CAN fix things. You have plenty of resources nowadays…Youtube tutorials, manufacturer’s web sites, online parts stores, online forums, and local sites where you can find repairmen. Don’t toss if you don’t absolutely have to!
Vacuums – Repairs shops still exist for vacuums but they are also easy to fix on your own. A broken belt or a clogged up hose can be repaired in 20 minutes or less.
Shoes – Shoes that are separating from their soles can be fixed with shoe goo. Hiking, snow, and cowboy boots can easily be resoled. Broken heels can be fixed, sandals can be sewn or glued.
Computers – If you buy custom built desktop computers rather than massed produced ones then you can fix and repair for years and years when they get slow or parts wear out or break down. I have had the same computer for eight years! It has gotten a new motherboard and some new memory but it is still going strong. Our kids also have units that we custom built and then we repair rather than replace.
Cell phones and tablets – Cracked screen?? There are many companies nowadays that offer screen repair services so that you don’t have to get a new phone or tablet. You can also google a video on how to fix these issues and try it yourself….parts from recycled phones can often be found online.
Washers/Dryers – Washers often end up in landfills just because they have a clogged pump filter that can removed and cleaned. Dryers often need a new thermostat or heating element. Instead of buying a whole new unit spend $40 dollars to buy a new part!
Furniture – Parts and lumber can be bought to fix sofas and reclining chairs that break down. Upholstery fabric can be bought to recover furniture as well and give your home a fresh new look at the same time. Repaint or stain wood furniture that has been scratched or stained.
Garage door openers – Youtube videos abound that teach you how to diagnose the issue and what parts you need to repair or replace to fix it. You can also buy new remotes, garage door receivers, and safety beams online.
Leaky faucets and toilets – Look for youtube videos outlining how to fix these usually simple issues. Buy the parts and you have a DIY project. We fixed two leaky toilets and a non functioning turn off valve just this year.
Clothing – Learn the basics of hand stitching and you are now armed with the knowledge you need to stitch holes in socks or rips in jeans and pants. I have a sewing machine but I always grab a simple needle and thread for mending.
Bathtubs – Refinish your fiberglass or cast iron tub with a home refinishing kit. It only costs about $40 and your bathtub will look like new for a couple years. For a longer lasting solution you can have it professionally refinshed for about $200-400.
Dishwashers – When dishwashers stop working or start overflowing it is usually because food and debris are blocking the drainage basket/screen inside the unit. Unscrew a couple screws to remove the basket, clean it out, and use a shop vacuum to clear any gunk. Broken racks and baskets can be fixed with cable ties.
Bicycles – With so many bicycle repair shops around it is silly to buy new when you can simply fix the one you have.
Don’t be a mindless consumer and keep buying new whenever something wears out or breaks. Get creative and get to fixin it yourself!
The average US household wastes a lot of food. I know I have definitely been guilty of this myself in the past. If we have to clean out our fridge once a month and throw half the contents away spoiled, unused, and moldy then we are wasting food and wasting money. How much of our monthly food bill is actually tossed in the garbage? $20? $30? This has an impact on your finances and it impacts the planet because we use more than we need. So how do we nip this problem in the bud? Here are 8 ways that I have tamed this monster over the years.
1. List the leftovers. This is an incredibly simple and incredibly useful way to remind you to eat the leftovers! Put a magnetic pad on your refrigerator, you can usually get one for $1 at the dollar store or in the dollar bin at Michael’s Craft Store. When you put leftovers in the fridge, note the item and date. Aka “Sweet and Sour Soup 2/10”. The list will look right at you when you go to browse for your next meal or snack, even if the leftovers end up out of sight in the back of the fridge. It is also useful for spouses who are looking for something to take to lunch and perhaps didn’t know there were leftovers.
2. Freeze whatever you can. If you buy in bulk, buy those food items that can be frozen. For instance I buy almonds and other nuts in bulk and freeze most of them. Periodically I fill glass jars I keep in the refrigerator with the nuts until all are used. Freeze refrigerated leftovers after 3-4 days.
3. Discover some creative uses for your leftovers and unused food. Shepherd’s pie, vegetable soup, and casseroles are just some of the creative ways you can use your leftovers. Vegetables that are getting old but are not yet bad can be used to make vegetable stock that you can use immediately or freeze. Stale bread can be used to make bread crumbs and croutons, which you can freeze if you do not need them right away. Stale bread can also become bread pudding. Leftover meat can be incorporated into salads, burritos, soups, and stews.
4. Store refrigerated foods in the right places. The back of your refrigerator is colder than the front, and the door shelves are warmer still. Relegate dairy foods that are prone to spoilage to the back of the fridge, and keep items such as condiments and salad dressings toward the front or in the door.
5. When it’s too late, compost your spoiled food. Then you can use the compost to grow your own food. The circle of life baby…
6. Skip the counter top fruit bowl if you aren’t going to use fruit within a day or two and refrigerate it instead. Some foods, such as tomatoes, do not do well under refrigeration but apples, oranges, grapefruits, and lemons last much longer in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Make green smoothies if your fruit is starting to look sad.
7. Plan your grocery shopping and meals carefully to avoid waste. Go through your pantry and frig and make menu decisions based upon what you already have. If you have cilantro wilting in the frig then use the Internet to search for “cilantro recipes”. Look for recipes that utilize ingredients that you have already for the most part. Doing this allows you to use items before they go bad and you get to try new recipes.
Another tactic to go along with this same planning theme is buy up the bulk of what you need minus the produce. Then on the way home from work, errands, etc pick up the mushrooms you need to go with the beef and mushroom stew you are making that night. This way nothing sits in the fridge and you can change your menu without wasting food.
8. Cook the same thing 2-3 times in a row. I do this often. If I buy a bunch of ingredients for a certain dish then I want to use them up. Occasionally I used to make chicken scallopini (before going paleo) for instance and it uses white wine and cream (2 things I usually don’t buy or use). I would often make this meal 2-3 times in a single week until I used the wine and cream up. Last night we had Sweet and Sour soup and today I made it again for lunch because I had ginger and green onions to use up. My philosophy is to make food so good my family won’t mind repeats!
So how do you avoid wasting food?
Recommended Reading: Save Money on Organic Foods