Pardon my absence yesterday and my failure to post the usual Tuesday cleaning tip. I had some errands to run and just got busy and forgot all about getting online and making my post. Actually, I did try to get on early in the morning and do it before I got too busy, but I think my computer was saying something nasty to me...or giving me the finger or something like that. It just wouldn't do anything I wanted it to. But today the ol' fella and I seem to be on better terms.
So to make up for yesterdays "failure to appear" I am going to post a few things on here. I am going to start with a repeat of an entry from last year. These are a few tips on things you can do to lower your energy bill.
1. Reduce Air Leaks
You can save at least 10 percent on your energy bill by simply reducing air leaks in your home. Air can seep through door and window frames, electrical outlets, and water and furnace flues. The question is, how can you find these invisible leaks? The U.S. Department of Energy recommends this trick: Light a stick of incense next to common sources of air leaks. (Make sure it's a windy day.) If the smoke travels horizontally, you have a leak. You can seal the leak with caulking or weather stripping. Another inexpensive option that will trap air and save energy is a clear film window kit.
2. Save Heating Costs in Unused Rooms
Shut out winter by simply closing the unused doors in your house and shutting the vents in unusedrooms, so that you limit the amount of space that requires heating.
3. Put a Lid on Energy Loss
Your attic is to your house as your head is to your body — a significant amount of heat escapes through it. Having the proper amount of insulation in your attic is crucial in cold-weather months. If there is less than 6 to 7 inches of insulation, then you probably need more, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
4. Enjoy the Sun Indoors
Even during winter months, the sun is still shining. Take advantage of the natural warmth of the sun's rays by leaving the curtains open or shades up during the day. Trap some of that heat and enjoy the natural sunlight indoors.
5. Turn Down the Heat
If the heat is on but nobody's home, it's a waste of energy. Reducing the temperaturefrom 72 to 56 degrees for eight hours a day, while you're at work or even while you sleep, can help you save up to 10 percent on your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can even invest in a programmable thermostat that automatically lowers and raises the temperature for you during programmed hours. These can be found at local home improvement stores with prices ranging from approximately $35 to $100.
6. Warm Thyself
If you're not one to turn the thermostat up past 65 degrees in winter — or maybe your spouse isn't — there are certainly plenty of ways to keep warm besides traditional heat:
Indulge in flannel pajamas and sheets. They'll trap heat better than summer cotton.
Warm your blanket before sleeping by wrapping it around a hot water bottle.
Place a hot water bottle beneath your pillow. By the time you go to bed, the pillow will be warmed for you.
Exercise is not only great for shedding that winter weight, but it also increases blood flow and releases your natural body heat.
My mom used to hang a sheet between in the doorway, between the small room where the front door was located and the living room. That helped keep the drafts, from the opening of the front door, from making there way into the house. That is why, last year, I had a silly looking sheet hanging across the back hallway, where the back door is. Rylie thought it was put up there expressly for her games of peek and boo, lol.
The following tips are from an article in the Wallstreet Journal.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. On average, they use 66% less energy. (I've heard this before. Although the initial cost of the bulbs is more than your regular light bulb, they last much longer and use so much less energy. Very cost effective from everything I've heard. Even if you just replace your six most used lights, you will save money)
- Keep bulbs clean. Dust can cut light output by as much as 25%.
- Don't let a preheated oven sit empty for longer than necessary. And don't open the door to check on food. You lose 25% of the heat each time you do so.
- Use a microwave oven instead of a regular oven. You'll burn about 40% less energy.
- Keep the inside of your microwave clean. It will cook your food more efficiently.
- Use the smallest pans possible. It takes energy to heat them.
- Use lids, which help food cook faster by keeping steam inside.
- Use glass or ceramic pans in ovens. They heat faster than metal pans.
Washing Machine and Dryer
- Wash and dry full loads. And don't over-dry clothes.
- Keep the dryer's lint filter clean.
- Wash laundry in cold water, unless you have very dirty loads.
- Don't add wet items when a drying cycle already has been started.
- Wash only full loads. It costs exactly the same to wash one dish as a whole load.
- Use the air-dry feature.
- If washing dishes by hand, rinse them in groups rather than one at a time. Don't leave water running.
- Check temperatures by putting one thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the fridge and another between packages in the freezer. You're losing money if temperatures are below 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit for the main compartment and 0-5 degrees in the freezer.
- Cover and wrap food. Uncovered food and liquids release moisture and drive up electricity costs.
- Let hot food cool before putting it in the fridge. This way the fridge will use less energy to cool it down.
- A full freezer runs more efficiently than an empty one. If necessary, fill up the space with plastic containers filled with water.
- Unplug a second fridge that's not being used. That move can save about $130 a year.
- Lower your temperature to 120 degrees and you'll cut your water-heating costs by 10% to 15%. But if you have an older-model dishwasher that doesn't have a booster heater (a device that heats up the water to the temperature the dishwasher needs to clean the dishes), you need to leave the water heater set to 140 degrees to make sure bacteria on dishes are removed.
- Insulate your storage water-heater tank. You'll save 4% to 9% on water-heating costs.
- Drain the sediment from the bottom of the water-heater tank every one to three years.
- Install low-flow shower heads and faucets, which use one-third to half less water. That can cut your water use and water-heating costs by an average 15% to 30%.
- Take showers. They use less hot water than baths.
I had this recipe sitting in my email and I can't remember whether or not I've already posted it. I send them to myself so I can save them on my one computer with all my recipes and photo's, but then don't remember if I already put them on here or not. Oh well, it's getting chilly here and this recipe is good for this kind of weather.
Vegetable Soup with Beef
This hearty soup, packed with vegetables, is a great addition to any meal.
2 cups canned or fresh tomatoes
2 cups cabbage
1 cup or 3-4 carrots, sliced
2 cups green beans
2 cups diced potatoes
1 lb. stew beef or leftover beef and stock from roast
1. If meat has not been cooked, cook until tender in 1-2 tablespoons oil.
2. Combine all vegetables with cooked meat. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer for one hour. You may add broth or tomato juice if additional liquid is needed.
Fat: 3.6 g
Carbohydrates: 18.5 g
Protein: 22.1 g
The next recipe comes from Better homes and gardens.
Prep: 30 min.
Chill: 2 hours
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 1 beaten egg
- 2 tablespoons light dairy sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups fresh raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or halved strawberries
For custard, in a small saucepan thoroughly combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the cornstarch; add the milk and egg. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat just until the mixture begins to bubble. (Do not overcook.) Immediately pour the custard into a small bowl; let mixture cool about 5 minutes.
Whisk sour cream into custard; add vanilla. Cover and chill custard for up to 24 hours.
To serve, divide berries evenly among four goblets or dessert dishes. Spoon chilled custard over berries. (If necessary, thin custard with a little milk before spooning over berries.) Set aside.
For topping, in a heavy small skillet or saucepan heat remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt shaking skillet occasionally to heat evenly (do not stir). Reduce heat to low; cook sugar until melted and golden, stirring as necessary with a wooden spoon. Quickly drizzle caramelized sugar over each custard. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
A cleaning tip, or two, that you may find useful. As I say on my Web page, these aretips that have been emailed to me, or that I have found on the Internet. I have not tried all of them and do NOT guarantee their effectiveness. If you do try one and it works, or if you have another one that works for you, please let me know.
Soiled Shirt Collars: Take a small paintbrush, or old toothbrush (NO, not your husbands current toothbrush!) and brush hair shampoo into soiled shirt collars before laundering. Shampoo is made to dissolve body oils.