Posts tagged: save energy

Ways To Conserve Energy Use At Home

Ways To Conserve Energy Use At Home

Each year, Americans are spending troubling amounts of money on their energy expenses. In fact, the average family will spend close to $2,200 on their utility bills during the course of a year. The truth of the matter is that many individuals are spending more than necessary because they are not making an intentional effort to conserve energy in their home.

For some, it’s easier to neglect energy conservation practices because, for whatever reason, it simply isn’t a high enough priority. For the readers of My Family Survival Plan, we know this isn’t the case. You care deeply about saving money and minimizing the impact your day-to-day choices have on the earth. So, let’s take a look at some the best ways to conserve energy at home.

Heating and Cooling

Heating and Cooling account for just about half of energy-related expenses in the average family home in the United States. Because of this, focusing your efforts on conserving heating and cooling energy could be the most effective starting place.

Use a smart thermostat to program your HVAC unit to adjust based on your needs each day. Adopt the recommendations provided by Energy.gov, setting your air conditioner at 78 degrees during the day and bumping it up to 80 degrees while you are away from home or asleep. During the wintertime, opt for bundling up so you can lower your heater’s settings to 68 degrees during the day and as far as 60 degrees while you are away or asleep.

As much as 20 percent of heating and cooling energy is wasted because air is leaking through ducts, doors, and windows. Spend the time and money to regularly check for and repairs leaks and you may see a significant difference in your heating and cooling costs over the long term.

Lighting

Your typical American family can expect to spend 10 percent of their utility budget to the lights in their home. Lessening the energy consumed by lighting is all about making a few smart habits and sticking with them for the long term.

An easy fix is to switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs, which not only last a lot longer before needing a replacement, but also use up to 75 percent less than traditional light bulbs. When it comes time to replace your bulbs, always recycle your old bulbs and check with your local power company about rebates or discounts for CFL bulbs.

lighting
Via Modernize

Appliances and Electronics

The electronics and appliances in your home have this annoying trait: they use energy passively even when they are not in use. Cutting back on this passive energy consumption can be accomplished with a few different strategies.

Use a power strip for your electronics and turn it off when they are not being used. Give up your desktop computer for a laptop, which consumes significantly less energy. If you stick with a desktop, set it to hibernate when it is not being used instead of using a screensaver.

When it comes to appliances, they key is to use them less. Hang your clothes to dry instead of using your dryer, and opt for warming food in a toaster oven instead of heating your conventional oven. If it is time to replace an appliance, chose an energy-efficient model whenever possible, using the guide provided by Modernize for making the best choice for your needs.

Don’t stop here! Approach energy conservation with your whole home in mind, developing a holistic plan to include each room, appliance, and electronic device. Involve your whole family in your energy conservation efforts, educating them on the effect their day-to-day choices have on the budget and the well-being of the world we live in.

Mary Sauer is a writer who has been published by Babble, Mom.me, and What to Expect. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two young daughters.

Survival Cooking 101: How To Cook Without Electricity

Survival Cooking 101 - How To Cook Without Electricity

A serious prepper and survival enthusiast has to be ready for everything, cooking included. Sure, you could survive on stored and canned goods; it’s a good way to survive, but not a very good way to live. In order to raise the standard of living in an SHTF scenario, cooking is a great way to make each passing day more bearable. Doing it Boy Scout style, over an open campfire would be the easiest and most affordable method: simply add a layer of bricks to set the pot on or just hang the pot from a beam over the campfire. But there are other methods available, that require small investments, but they give you more control over the process of cooking itself.

Most people are familiar with outdoor barbecuing or grilling. These techniques are a secret to no one and the food is to everyone’s liking. Grills are a household item and getting a barbecue going is really easy if you have the right stuff (coal, wood, and matches). However, it’s very limiting when it comes to the variety of what you can serve, as only meat and a few vegetables do well over an open fire. Luckily, there are other options out there, and next, I’m going to walk you through of some of the best survival cooking gear and methods available.

General Camp Stoves

It’s an item that you can easily find in your local department store, some in the price range of $70 – $100. They use propane as fuel, which comes in a small 1 pound cylinder that costs about $3 – $5. The “fuel battery” is more than enough to last you about 8 straight hours of cooking. As an alternative to propane, there are also unleaded gasoline stoves and even some (more expensive) that use multiple fuels. They will come very handy in case you’ll find yourself short on one type of fuel. If you have your heart set on buying a general camp stove, make sure you never use it indoors, as the buildup of CO2 emissions can be harmful to your health, possibly fatal.

Propane camp stove

Propane/Butane Camp Stoves

These types of stoves are very similar to regular, household stoves because there’s no difference when it comes to cooking results. The butane stoves cost about $90, their cylinders cost %5; they last for about 8 hours of straight cooking. The RV 2 propane burner types are available everywhere and are very reliable because of the way they work: you can even do pressure canning, as the flame is constant and delivers heat evenly. The price varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but for the bargain hunters out there, you can find them at garage sales for as little as $5. To have it working properly you’ll need to get all the attire required, like pressure regulator for the stove and a pressure hose, which you can purchase brand new at you propane dealer for no more than $20. As for fuel, the best way to go is with the classic 18-gallon tank, which costs about $35 (and about $9 per refill), and can last even up to a month of daily usage.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Unbeknownst to many, open campfire cooking can be used for more than just roasting or making stews. You can bake just as easily. All you need is a covered, large cast iron pot, named the Dutch Oven and you are set. Just grease heavily the interior of the pot, place the dough in and put the lid on. Next, simply make a hole in the ash near the fire and line it with burning coal. Cover the coals with an inch of ash and place the Dutch Oven over. Repeat the procedure with the burning ash all around the pot and place burning coals on top of the lid. Keep as much of the burning glowing coals covered in ash as possible, as this will reduce heat loss. Whatever it is you’re baking should be done in about 30 -35 minutes.

Solar Oven

Believe or not, solar cooking is a viable option. And it’s not so out of reach as you might consider it. All you need is the contraption (which I will explain), the patience to turn it in order to face the light source every 30 minutes or so and enough sunlight to get the job done. Making the oven itself shouldn’t cost more than a couple of bucks, because the entire device is nothing more than a cardboard box painted black on the inside, a few aluminum foils glued to the cardboard panels and a sheet of window glass. The principle behind the solar oven is really easy: get enough sunlight to cook your food! The first step is to set your food inside the box (set it on a plate or in a clean surface, so it doesn’t come in direct contact with the painted cardboard box). Next, you have to make sure that the glass sheet that goes over the opening of the box is a firm as possible. Once this is done, tinker with the cardboard panels cover in aluminum so that you get as much amount of light in the box as possible. Every 20 – 30 minutes change the position of the box towards the sun, in order to assure a constant temperature in the interior of the improvised oven, until whatever it is you’re cooking is done. When removing the food, make sure to always use pot holders, as the temperature inside can easily build up to 325 °F and keep constant as constant as the light source.

As I said before, just because you’re devoid of the modern conveniences of electricity doesn’t mean you can’t still have nice, home-cooked meals. The possibilities are available to everybody, you just have to get your hands dirty and invest wisely a few dollars. Just like with pretty much everything else, you’ll get better at survival cooking with practice. And once you’ve mastered it, you can consider yourself a fully trained survival cook.

by My Family Survival Plan

15 Ways To Get MORE Money And Buy MORE Survival Food – Part Two

15 Ways to Get MORE Money And Buy MORE Survival Food Part2

As promised, here are 8 more ways to cut expenses in your household so you can finally invest more in survival food.

8. Make sure your doors are fully isolated.

Even the tiniest leak in your door can waste heat or cool air. So what you need to do is isolate your doors with rolled up towels or rugs.

Or you can use weatherstrip – which comes in different types and sizes, for practically anything you need to isolate. You’ll find weatherstrip at almost any home & garden store. When using it to isolate a door, make sure the surface is clean and apply it on the entire door jamb.

9. Replace your ordinary light bulbs with LED light bulbs.

There’s an up front investment but changing all the bulbs in your home with this economical type of light bulb can save up to 7% of your energy costs.

It uses up to 75% less energy than the traditional light bulb and it produces up to 75% less heat. This means it will most likely reduce your air conditioning costs as well! Last but not least, it prevents a great amount of greenhouse gas emission.

Note: compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury (very poisonous) and are very easily broken. They should be avoided.

10. Back to the basics: dry your dishes by hand.

You can save a lot of money by simply giving up some of the machines you use in your household. For instance, try not to use your dishwasher for a month.

Simply use a towel to dry them or just leave them outside until they’re all dried up. At the end of the month, compare your bills and see how much you’ve earned by giving up this small habit.

11. Don’t turn up your thermostat at night.

Get the woolliest, warmest pajamas you can find. Or even a tracksuit, if you’re comfortable. Get an electric blanket. It will consume much less that your thermostat, that’s for sure.

For every 1 degree Fahrenheit you turn down, your thermostat you will save up to 3% on energy costs.

12. Turn off unused lights and devices.

You might not pay attention to how many devices are working in your home every day, but try to count them. You’ll realize you’re probably not using 50% of them (even though you’re paying for them!). It’s just in your habit to keep them turned on and plugged in all the time. So turn off the devices you don’t use, even during the day.

You’ll save up energy and you’ll keep your home cooler in the summer, so you can cut air conditioning expenses.

13. Do all your baking at once.

When holidays approach, we all tend to go a bit overboard with cooking and baking. Now, I’m not telling you to cook less, but I suggest that you do a cooking and baking marathon.

If you schedule all your cooking and baking in 1 or 2 days, you won’t have to preheat the oven so many times. This way, you’ll save on propane or electricity.

But maybe you can’t pull that off in the busiest time of the year. So here’s what you can do: just bake everything a week or two before and keep it in the freezer until due time. Most baked goods maintain their taste and freshness for weeks, if they’re kept in the freezer.

14. Invest in a thermostat with a timer.

This way, you don’t need to leave your thermostat on during the cold winter days. You can just program it to turn itself on 30 minutes before your arrival. You can also schedule it to turn off at a certain time after you go to bed. Believe it or not, you can save a lot on your electricity bill by just doing that.

15. Isolate your attic windows and door.

If there’s very little or no snow on your roof in the winter, that’s probably because you have a lot of unused heat in your attic.

If you want to use that heat to your advantage, just seal the windows and door of the attic. Yes, it’s that simple and you’ll be surprised at the results!

These are the energy saving solutions I use in my home. I hope they come in handy and I’d love to hear how much you saved by following my tips!

Back to Part One