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Monday, May 31, 2010

#12 Reduce your energy and water bill

I know that everyone in the world is changing their bulbs to CFLs, but many stop there. It saves energy when you install a CFL where an incandescent bulb was. But if you leave that light on all the time, the difference is too small.

When you leave a room, turn off the light. Open your drapes and curtains, let in the natural light.

Wash your clothes in cold, bleach with Hydrogen Peroxide. Hang a clothes line and air dry your clothes. I know that winter negates the possibility of hang drying your clothes for most, but the difference it makes when you can, can be great.

I take short showers, and one of my girls will turn off the water while she is lathering and scrubbing, but the shower is the place we can all make a difference with our water consumption. For the most part we don't turn on the hose in our back yard, with the exception of watering the bunnies. We water the garden with water from the rain barrels out back. We have four, but only three are set up with spigots. This still gets us enough water for about two weeks of watering our small garden. In the NW this is usually good enough to get us through to the next rain, but not always.

When we leave for a camping trip or an overnight with family, we unplug everything that is not vital to the survival of our house. This is where power strips come in handy, I also press the test button on my GFCI plugs in the kitchen (this turns off all the outlets in the kitchen).

There are many ways to reduce your energy consumption, these are a few of the ways we do it, I hope to learn more.

#11 Network

I do not mean hang out on Facespace or Mybook. I mean get to know your friends and their friends. Get to know your neighbors, your family, the people you work with.

You never know how much you can learn from the people that are around you every day. Or how much you can help them either. Share and share alike.

Offer your help with problems you have a unique ability to help with. Ask for help from those that have their own unique abilities. I have a brother-in-law that is a mechanic and I am good with computers, we help each other with those problems we, ourselves, are not experts at. This is networking at its finest. You can save a lot of money by utilizing the strengths of those around you, and always share your strengths with those around you (within reason of course).

When you have something to give/share people do the same in return. This the best way to build community.

#10 DIY

Do it yourself as much as you can. I try to do everything myself, with the plethora of information available (Internet,library, and otherwise) there is hardly anything you can't find some writing on.

When we think of a project that we need or want to do around the house, we check for DIY feasibility first. There have been only emergency situations where we have called in professionals (except the drywall in our bathroom remodel, I hung it, but we paid someone to tape and mud, I hate that part). We had to call a plumber in to snake our sewer-line when the big sugar maple in our front yard decided it needed that space for roots. But a year later when we ended up with another root/sewer-line problem, I just rented the power snake and did it myself, saving $700 or so (sewer snaking is apparently a lucrative business). The first time our furnace went out, I got out the ol' digital multi-meter and traced the circuit to find a bad board, and soldered a new trace on the board where the old one fried. Now we have a pilot light problem and I am sourcing a replacement part for the next furnace repair.

I did the entire bathroom remodel in our home myself (save the afore mentioned mud/tape). I demo'd the old room, put in the new tub with a drain opposite the old. Plumbed and wired it in (jetted tub from clearance section of Lowe's), and made a concrete counter-top for the sink to sit on. I did the tile surround and the tile floor, countersunk the medicine cabinets, put in the new toilet, and put in a floor to ceiling tile back splash for the sink. Now, I have helped with remodels in the past and have worked for a general contractor when I was younger so some of this was already well inside my skill-set, but even if it wasn't, there is plenty of help available on line. I am not writing about this to brag or boast, rather to demonstrate the possibilities of doing it yourself.

I have found information on every subject I have searched while trying to learn about it.

Welding? Check.
Gardening? Check.
Bicycle repair? Check.
Cooking? Check.

Instructables.com is my friend. So is google.

It sometimes is not very easy, sometimes outright hard. But almost always gratifying beyond comprehension. The whole ends up being so much greater than the sum of its parts when you do it yourself.

Try doing it yourself first. Chances are you can.


"Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you are absolutely right." Henry Ford