Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Easiest Way to Save Electricity... not to be at home.  Mr. B had a job interview six hours from home Friday, so we made a weekend and took the family camping.  Not only were we not using electricity at home, but we didn't use it there, either.  That weekend hiatus probably canceled out the two weeks that Miss F has been leaving lights on in the playroom.  In one respect, it's nice that I can send her downstairs to play without even going down to turn the lights on for her.  But at the same time, she's not tall enough to turn them off without a chair or stool, so they tend to get left on for quite a while.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Stress of Moving

It's been nearly two years since I quit my full time job in order to be a stay at home mom.  Since them, I've held a number of part time jobs to make ends meet.  When Miss C was born, I wasn't able to keep a steady part time job, and instead tutor on an as-needed basis for former students.

When we had full gardens in our backyard and complete control over our surroundings, life was not easy but not very stressful, either.  In January 2014, we prepared to sell our house by cleaning, painting walls and cabinets, and removing 75% of our belongings and putting them in my dad's garage.  We went on the market in May.  From that day on, our house was no longer ours, but someone else's that we were staying in.  Our first realtor told us that people liked gardens, and we could leave them.  Last summer, we planted a moderate garden.  It wasn't as much as we'd like, but we 'knew' that we'd be somewhere else come the next spring with bees and chickens and food forests as far as we could see.  We got very few showings with that realtor, switched to a new one in November, and tucked in through the holidays.

Come January, we still weren't getting showings.  We tore out the old floors in the first floor of our house and replaced them ourselves with wood laminate flooring.  We replaced the dated sink in the main bathroom, and removed all of the wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom and repainted the entire basement a more neutral color.  We removed the wallpaper border and curtains in the kitchen to make it look cleaner and removed even more of our belongings.  We finally tore out our garden beds and seeded the lawn this spring.It was a sad day and even worse if we can't sell because that is a significant amount of our food

In that year, we've also dropped the price by 10%.  At our current price, we'd break even.  We started getting showings, but no takers.  For every bit of feedback, we'd tweak something about the house.  We were told by our most recent showing that we were overpriced.  After talking to our agent, it seems we are.  We have to either drop our price significantly or put in an HVAC system as we have baseboard and window units right now.  Either way, we'd lose all of the money we have in savings for buying another house.  We also learned that our fall back plan - renting the house out and buying another house - is impossible as one needs to have two years of being a landlord as income on tax documents in order to procure another mortgage.  So right now, we're stuck in a holding pattern.  We can't afford to stay here, and we can't afford to move.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A New Project for May - Electricity Awareness

It's been quite a while since I've had a new project.  I'm pleased that many of my projects from two years ago - no microwave, no artificial sweeteners, no 'poo - have stuck around.  Many others - once a month grocery trips, gas mileage over 30 mpg, countless diets - have fallen off.  We've had a very large project looming over our heads recently.  As of May 4th, our house will have been on the market for 1 year, as yet unsold.  I'm tired of waiting to move for more projects, so I'm working with what I have.

I've been reading The Non-Consumer Advocate quite a bit recently.  I struggle frequently with reducing our food costs as a means to getting our budget under control.  It costs about $500 per month to feed our family of four.  I'd never paid much attention to our electric bill or gasoline bills.  I was shocked when we were hit with an erroneous $330 electric bill.  The real bill was $160, which was still startling given that we haven't been using our baseboard heaters.  I realized the other day that there's a lot we can be doing to reduce that bill.

So today starts our electricity awareness and reduction project.  Our two biggest drains come from using lights when we don't need them and keeping chargers plugged in constantly. Miss F has learned to turn on some of our lights, and tends to leave the lights on in her playroom pretty frequently.  The baby monitors are left on all the time, the Keurig heating water for no reason, phone chargers plugged in... You get the point.

Last month, we used 1432 kWh.  At 9 am this morning, our meter read 13015 kWh.  My goal is to be at or under 14250 kWh on June 1st.  Hopefully, what is difficult at first will become habit rather quickly.