Time to Save Some Money

>> Monday, November 17, 2008

I picked up some booklets from Co-Op America while at the Green Festival and have been perusing them the past couple days. One is about Sweatshops, and is amazingly depressing, and the other is about Fair Trade, which I already know a bit about so that makes it a little less depressing but still guilt-inducing.

I got some birthday money from my dear mom and dad and was planning on heading over to the Gap Outlet to pick up a couple pairs of much-needed jeans, but after reading about sweatshops and how much Gap pays their CEO, I don't want to give them my money.

On the other hand, sweatshop free clothing is sooooo expensive, and I'm still getting over issues with thrift stores (to be discussed later).

This is my constant dilemma. I want to give my money to companies I like, but they're always more expensive. I don't think I can afford them. On the other hand, buying sweatshop free, fair trade, organic, etc. is the right thing to do, so shouldn't I find a way to do it?

I'm determined to find a way, so I'm on a quest to save money. One of the other booklets I picked up from Co-Op America was about energy efficiency, so here are their recommendations:

Baby Steps

  1. Turn off lights you're not using.
  2. Schedule an energy audit.
  3. Don't heat or cool empty rooms.
  4. Let your dishwasher breath. (Air dry your dishes.)
  5. Shift your load to off-peak times.
  6. Turn off your electronics when not in use.
  7. Eliminate "phantom load."
  8. Eliminate your second fridge, and show the first a little love. (Clean the coils every six months.)
  9. Wash clothes in cold water.
  10. Give the dryer a rest.
Jogging Stride
  1. Plug your air leaks.
  2. Reduce your water use.
  3. Cut waste through windows. (Seal the edges of your windows.)
  4. Help your water heater. (Add an insulating cover.)
  5. Install ceiling fans. (And reverse the direction in winter.)
  6. Get a programmable thermostat.
Marathon Runner
  1. Upgrade your appliances.
  2. Upgrade your water heater.
  3. Green your roof.
  4. Save energy through landscaping.
  5. Replace your windows.
  6. Don't waste energy on TV.
So I'm going to start with the baby steps, and I'll see what I can do toward saving me some money.

How energy efficient is your household? Do you have any other energy saving tips?

I'm grateful to have energy to keep my house warm and cool, to power my oven which I used all day baking bread and muffins and pitas, to power my washing machine and dryer which got my clothes clean today, to give me lights so I can see after sunset, and to power my computer so I can write this blog. Now, if only I can learn to use that energy more efficiently.


Maren Hansen November 18, 2008 at 12:15 PM  

Just a couple that everyone is probably already doing:
1. Keep air exchanges clean (I vacuum them).
2. Replace furnace filter as often as needed to keep from using the blower more. Also, use a long-term one rather than the cheap, one month (or less) ones.
3. Drop the temp in the winter (65F at night, 60F daytime for us!) and raise it in the summer. I figure sweaters and undershirts are cheaper than energy!
4. Unplug appliances when vacationing. Even a turned-off appliance uses a small amount of energy if plugged in.
5. OF course, swap out standard light bulbs for CFLs.
6. Build muscles: buy a reel mower (lighter than a gas or electric too), rake instead of blow, cut with tree pruner instead of electric shrub trimmer when possible.
7. Repair, reuse, recycle items. I despair of seeing my kids want to throw away a bag because the seam ripped. How easy is it to just sew it up and reuse it? I saw in Real Simple this month that someone repurposed a Croc shoe as a hanging planter. And of course, if you have to use plastic water bottles, make sure you are cleaning and refilling them (and eventually recycling them) rather than doing the single use thing.

Sorry, that's all pocket change, I know, but it tends to add up quickly in a family of 6...

Erin aka Conscious Shopper November 18, 2008 at 7:51 PM  

Holy cow, Maren! Are you really keeping your house at 60 degrees during the day? I am just a wimp when it comes to cold. Our house is at 68 in the day right now, and that's as low as I can bring myself to go.

Maren Hansen November 19, 2008 at 8:28 AM  

well, it hasn't actually gotten to 60 yet as it's still been quite warm till yesterday... we got a low of 62 yesterday, a new record. i must admit, I was getting COLD, but I steeled myself and put on a fleece and was fine. i dress the kids REALLY warm and they don't notice at all! :) crazy, i know...

Joyce November 19, 2008 at 9:55 PM  

I wanted to emphasize the idea of getting rid of the second fridge, which is usually an old one, and often kept in the garage or basement. So many people have one, and we did too for a long time. When we finally got rid of that old energy hog, our electric bill dropped almost by half!! Ask yourself, how important is it to have that much cold pop and beer around? Is it worth hundreds of dollars a year to you?

Erin aka Conscious Shopper November 20, 2008 at 8:07 AM  

Maren, Do you have houseplants? I've been wondering if I drop my temperature really low is it going to kill my plants? Or my beta fish?

Joyce, Thanks for the input! What do you think about deep freezers? I don't have one because I'm in an apartment, but I keep thinking it would so nice to have one. I could make tons of pitas and pizza crusts and freeze them. And soup stock, and beans so I don't have to use canned, and berries while they're in season so I could have berries for smoothies all year. I could make double portions of dinners and freeze half so we would never need to eat processed convenience foods. You're right about extra fridges (and freezers) being an energy sucker, but would the time savings be worth it? Anyone else have an opinion?

Joyce November 20, 2008 at 9:09 PM  

I've never had a deep freezer, just the extra freezer space that was in the extra fridge. Now that our kids are grown I don't think it would be worthwhile for us, but when they were all at home it would have been great! From what I understand, the biggest thing is to put them in the house, not the garage, because they don't run efficiently when it's too hot or too cold.

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