Monday, August 25, 2008

Save Energy: Sleep Naked

In my efforts to be creative about saving energy, I have tried to cut down on laundry and especially using the drier. I was noting that I don't have to wash any PJs for my husband because he sleeps au natural. It actually cuts down on a lot of laundry, assuming one would wear sleep wear once and throw it into the wash. That's 365 items! That's got to be a lot of laundry! So, I decided to join him in this conservation effort. After all, less laundry means, less energy used, less water used, and less work for me! Here's a pastel drawing of someone contributing to this cause. If you'd like to see more of my art work you can visit my art blog: Banba's Artful Realm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Minimal Daily Routine

I just found a great site by a Texan called The Fly Lady. She is really encouraging. She starts from the idea that if you're reading her site, you're probably feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations, and your house my have become cluttered and dirty. That is not where I am, but I am always looking for new ways to give myself more time. She suggests baby steps that build into a routine over a month. If followed, by the end of the month one's house should have improved dramatically. I 'm not going to go into complete detail because you should really check this lady out, but here's my routine. (Bear in mind I keep house for a 79 lb boxer and fluffy cat as well as for my husband and myself.)
Morning Routine:
Make Bed, Wipe down upstairs sink and toilet
Shower, Get dressed
Take down glasses and one garbage pail
Put in a laundry load and empty either garbage, recycling, or compost bucket
water backyard and scoop poop
Clean Kitchen & Sweep floor

Afternoon Routine:
Wipe down guest bathroom, dust living room, wash hardwood floors
Fold and put away one laundry load
Hit a hot spot for 15 minutes

Possible hot spots: ( Anywhere clutter accumulates or places you rarely get to)
My closet and chair
Brian’s closet
Bathroom drawers
Bedroom end tables
Hall closets
Spider webs, vacuuming
washing walls and windows

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Minimalist Living: Fifteen Ways I Have Saved Energy

1. By turning off the lights! Sounds simple, but when I really became conscious of it, I realized we left lights on all over the place. Outdoor lights left on during the day were a big offender.

2. I connected surge protectors to both our TVs and now turn them off there. This cuts down on standby energy drain. I do keep my DVR cable box plugged into the wall though because I record only what I want to watch and then watch it when I'm in the mood. This has cut down on my TV watching as well.

3. I plugged in my make up mirror, flat iron and blow dryer into a surge protector. This helped me because I turn them all off at once on the surge protector and I never leave one of them on by mistake any more.

4. Every time a light bulb goes, I replace it with a compact fluorescent bulb. I like to get the longest lasting bulbs possible because that means I won't have to deal with it for a long time. Our house has some tall ceilings and stairwells!

5. I installed floor to ceiling thermal curtains in the hottest parts of our home. They keep it cool in summer and warm in winter.

6. In the winter time when it's cold, instead of cranking up the heat, I fire up the stove and do some batch cooking. It warms up the whole house!

7. I placed umbrella tables on my front and back decks in front of large windows to block some of the sun as a tree would. They also provide shade for my cat and dog.

8. I set my Energy Star washer to the quickest setting - 35 minutes. Everything seems to come out just as clean as they do on a longer cycle.

9. I hang up a lot of the wash. I try to have a hang up load and then a dryer load. I don''t have a clothes line,  just a tension shower rod in my laundry room where I hang things on hangers. (It's mostly shirts and my fluffy skirts.)  Socks, towels and jeans always come out better tumbled I think. I also set throw rugs and comforters outside to dry.

10. The refrigerator is supposed to be the most energy thirsty appliance in a home. They run better when full, so I fill the freezer with bags of home made ice, bread and frozen homemade food. My husband does a pretty good job keeping the fridge filled up with beer! I also vacuum the coils regularly and try to have an awareness about not leaving it ajar!

11. We installed a programable thermostat and turn the air or heat off when we leave the house.

12. I alternate between sweeping and vacuuming the hardwood floors.

13. I bought a Voltair Solar Backpack and keep it on our super hot deck and charge our cell phones, iPods, and rechargable battery charger with solar energy.

14. I set our Energy Star dishwasher to the lowest setting - 35 minutes. The dishes still get clean and I don't have to wait around so long to put them away.

15. We moved into the city. This saves us gas because we walk a lot, and a lot of stove time because we hit every happy hour in our neighborhood!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Feeling a bit broke? Start cleaning your house!

If the price of gas has got you down, here are some hidden resources you already have that you can tap into:

1. Get out the vacuum and vacuum your house from top to bottom. Get rid of the spider webs, vacuum our curtains, vacuum under the beds and the mattresses, under the couch cushions and inside your closets. Now open up all the doors and windows to air your house out. You have just improved your air quality greatly without spending a dine except for the electricity. You will undoubtedly find a lot of change along the way. Put that aside for now.

2. Take everything out of your closets and see what's in there. We have a way of not appreciating what we have. I know right now I have clothes in my closet that I bought without trying on but never returned for whatever reason that still have the tags on them! They are perfect for a consignment store. Whenever I go through my closet I always find clothes that I have forgotten about too.

3. Take out and dust all of your books. Are there any you don't really care about? If so, you can sell them back to a used book store or trade them for a new one. Now you have a book to read that didn't cost you a dime!

4. Take out and dust and alphabetize all of your DVDs and CDs. This really gets you in touch with what you have. You can resell these either on line or at a used record store. Or give them away to friends - hey free gifts!

5. Go through your kitchen cupboards and see what's in there. Wipe them all down. Check for expiration dates on cans. Challenge yourself to come up with dishes that you have everything for. Invite a friend to dinner and watch a DVD you haven't seen in awhile. hey- free entertainment!

6. Remove all non essential items from your bedroom, wash all the dirty clothes and sheets and bedding. Make up your bed as if it were in a luxury hotel. Pick some flowers from your garden and put them in a vase on the dresser. Now snuggle up in bed with your new book or favorite snuggler. You get the idea!

7. Here's the best part! go through all of your drawers, coat pockets, and anywhere else that change can be found. Add it to the change you found in step one. Take it to the bank and have them spin it for you. Now you have money in your pocket and are no longer broke!

Why do I have to do all that cleaning? Why can't I just look for change and stuff to sell? you may ask. We live in a time where we are practically ordered to consume more and more. We feel broke if we can't buy something new. It's all too easy to forget about what we already have. If your house is a mess, then you're not taking care of what you have already spent your hard earned money on. Dusting books and alphabetizing DVDs puts us in touch with the disorder that too many posessions cause. And lastly, creating a peaceful, serene environment is the best way to feel rich.