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Kaleva

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Michigan
Member since: Sun Feb 24, 2008, 10:46 PM
Number of posts: 13,514

Journal Archives

New update

Still haven't run out of hot water yet with the gas valve on the water heater set to "pilot". Was a little disappointed that I had only reduced my water consumption by 300 gallons with my water saving efforts but it's a step in the right direction. I had used 1000 gallons in August and 700 gallons in September.

My gas bill for September was the same as it was in August and that was $17.31. Looking at the long range forecast for the rest of this month, I don't expect my gas bill for October to be much higher as I've adjusted to living in the house with temps in the low to mid 50's. Occasionally, I'll turn on the furnace in the evening and run the temp up to 63 and when it hits that, I'll shut the furnace off again and turn on the electric space heater in the living room at low to maintain temp till I go to bed when i shut that off too.

There's an old metal filing cabinet in the garage which I'm slowly filling up with small pieces of scrap metals such as screws, bent nails and what not. As for the cans, I keep them in a plastic bag in the sink cabinet and when I have a several, I'll put them in the sink basin after washing dishes and let them soak for an hour or two. The paper then peels right off the soup, sauce, tuna and whatever can and I wash them out, rinse them and then bring them down to the basement to dry out. Then I crush them flat and put them in the filing cabinet in the garage. I know some people who collect scrap to sell for extra cash and when the filing cabinet is full, I'll call them and tell them they can have it for noting.

I continue to cut up papers and cardboard to add to the compost pile. I'm on my 7th big box now. I add my urine to the pile every night and it's cooking along nicely.

There were two old bed box springs in the garage left by the relative of my ex-wife's. I cut off the fabric as neatly as I could, took apart the wood frames to set aside for various projects and then realized the box springs themselves will be perfect as trellis's for vine tomatoes, sugar snap peas and pole beans. As they are 5' wide and 80" long, layed on their side, I couldn't ask for a better trellis. The felt pads I cut to appropriate widths and made draft stops for my outside doors, my walk in closet door in my bedroom and for the door of the unused and now unheated bedroom which I rolled and then tied with old, thin wire that I found here in the house and garage. The rest of the box spring covering I folded into a 3' x 4' shape and tied together with short pieces of 14 gauge wire and layed that over the compost pile to help retain the heat during these cold days. There was very little of the two box springs that was put in the garbage. I was very pleased with myself for finding multiple uses of those two old box springs.

There are 7 big maple trees in my lot and the two adjoining lots and the leaves have been coming off of them steady. I rake about every other day and chop up the leaves with my mulching lawn mower and now have a nice layer of mulched leaves on my flower beds, next years garden and around the the small ceders in my front yard. The rest of the mulched leaves I'm putting in my compost pile.

I made about 10 gallons of sauerkraut out of the 5 big heads of cabbage my former in-laws gave me. My attempt at pickling tomatoes turned into a high school science experiment gone bad and I ended up pouring the brine down the sink and tossing those tomatoes into the compost bin. I have lots of apples, enough to last me much of the winter, and with the cores, I'm making apple cider vinegar.

This is the 2nd month in a row where I've had some money left in my account by the time my SSDI came in. I pay my bills on time, have plenty of food, and am paying down debts. By next August, I should be debt free and I can then use the extra money for improvements on the house such as new windows, doors and such. Altough I do plan on buying a new scooter next spring for which I ought to be able to make $100 to $150 a month payments on but even with that, I should have an extra $200 a month spending money by next August. I'll feel like a rich guy! It took some adjusting but I'm doing quite fine on $1071 a month plus $16 in food stamps (which is actually a debit card).

People have been commenting on how much weight I've lost. Some have said it looks like I've lost about 30 pounds. A big factor in this is that as I have to walk to the grocery store, I sure as shit am not going to carry anything more then the absolute essentials the 1 1/2 mile hike back home. So I haven't had much of any so-called junk foods to eat since about the middle of August when I got a flat tire on my scooter and thus began walking everywhere I needed to go in town. Being active most every day doing projects around the home and doing the walking has also played a big part in the loss of weight. This past Wednesday after my SSDI came in, I spent about 2 hours walking taking care of business, paying local bills, going to the post office to send out other payments on bills and did some grocery shopping. I was in a great deal of pain by the time I got back home and couldn't do much of anything for the rest of the day and I'm still limping from that effort.

A few months ago I was paying $107 a month for a $125k life insurance policy. As I was no longer married, I didn't see the point of having so much and I called around for a basic $10-15 burial policy but am considered too high of a risk and no insurance company would accept me. I cancelled my policy anyways as all my siblings make over a $100 grand a year and they can afford to spend a few bucks to plant me in the ground when the time comes. Even though I may have just a few years left in me, I still think my best years are yet to come and I'm enjoying doing what I'm doing each and every day. I may be piss poor money-wise but quality of life wise, I feel like a wealthy man.



An update

It must be well over a month now when I turned the gas valve on the water heater to pilot only and I haven't run out of hot water yet.

The water I capture after taking a shower has been enough to flush the toilet and I haven't needed any fresh water to flush the toilet since I began doing this. And I've been saving the rinse water from washing the clothes to use as wash water the next time zi do laundry.

I continue to cut up into small pieces cardboard, heavy brown paper, and other non-glossy paper products to put into my compost bin. I'm filling up my 4th 20" wide x 18" deep by 16" box now. If anyone wants to do a job that requires no thinking; this is it! The compost pile is doing quite nicely as I turned it over today and the stuff is decomposing rapidly. The urine I've been capturing is dumped on the compost pile every night.

I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the windows in the living room was broken. I have some old storm windows in the garage and I measured them and with a some careful cutting with my circular saw, I was able to replace the broken out window with one of them. i also replaced tow other cracked windows the same way. The only thing this cost me was the tubes of silicone I bought on sale to caulk the windows.

Speaking of windows, I not only replaced the completely broken out window and replaced two cracked windows but I've recaulked, where needed, all the other old windows and the windows on the living room door and wooden storm door. I also scrapped, cleaned, primed and painted where needed and did adjustments so all shut nice and tight. Today, I put plastic on 8 of the windows and have three left to do but one of the boxes of 3-M window insulator kits was missing a roll of double sided tape so I'll have to go to the hardware store to get a roll so I can finish the last three windows. Other then the tape which I'll have to get, the only thing I've had to buy for this project is 5 tubes of general purpose silicone at $1.99 a tube (it was on sale).

Hanging my clothes to dry on the clothes lines I put up in the basement has worked very well but the clothes were stiff. Yesterday I made a batch of homemade liquid fabric softener and washed a load. The clothes are soft and have a nice fragrance to them! Here is the recipe:
6 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
2 cups of hair conditioner (the conditioner was left here by the person who lived here before)

Next time I make a batch, I'll put the hair conditioner in the container first and then heat up the water and vinegar in a pot on the stove and then slowly add that as I stir so it all mixes good. I had added the conditioner last yesterday to cold water and vinegar and it took some time stirring before it was well mixed.

After making the fabric softener, I made some antiseptic mouthwash with water and apple cider vinegar which I have in a Planters Peanuts glass container in my bathroom. I did not bookmark the website where I got the recipe from but there are numerous sites that give such directions with various ingredients. As I had apple cider vinegar on hand, I used that recipe.

I'm getting alot of apples now so this weekend I'll begin making my own apple cider vinegar. I should have a few gallons of the stuff by spring.

A couple of days ago, my former father-in-law came and got me and we went thru his garden to pick what he didn't need. i got 4 heads of cabbage which must weight about 20 lbs. each and I'll make sauerkraut with that. I also filled two milk crates heaping with tomatoes. He also gave me 5 1 gallon size glass containers. I worked late into the night cleaning and sorting the tomatoes. The good ones I put into the glass containers and filled with a brine solution to preserve them. The instructions I got for that was from this site. The rest of the good ones I'll freeze. A number of the tomatoes had bad parts and I thought I'd make homemade V-8 juice out of them by with the good parts of those tomatoes. But it looked so good as it was cooking on the stove as per directions that I decided to make a soup out of it instead by adding several cups of long grain brown rice that I had cooked last week and was in the fridge. With crackers, this turned out quite delicious and quite filling! This is going to last me for a few days as I can only eat one bowl before feeling very full.

I've been keeping the thermostat set at 55 and it's been down to 57 in the house with the cooler weather we've been having and during the day when I'm active and at night when asleep, that temp has been fine. But during the evening such as now, I've found that 62-63 is my minimum comfort level. So in the evening, I turn up the temp on the thermostat to 63 and when it gets to that temp, then I set it back down to 55. An electric space heater I have maintains that temp in the living room by coming on once in a great while. When I go to bed, I turn off the space heater and unplug it. I imagine come winter, the space heater will run steady in order to maintain that temp and with electricity costing 19 cents a kilowatt where I live, that'll add about $18.00 to my monthly electric bill if it where to run continuously for 4 hours every night at its low setting which consumes 750 watts per hour. I'm going to do some more research on this as it may be cheaper to just leave the thermostat at 63 during the evening and turn it down to 55 when I do go to bed.

If I understand my gas bill correctly, my furnace will burn up about 47 cents of natural gas in a little over one hour of operation (this doesn't include the cost of electricity to operate the furnace blower). The space heater will cost 57 cents to run for 4 hours steady at 750 watts an hour. I may have to adjust what I use according to outside conditions. The space heater may not be able to maintain temp when it gets very cold outside unless I set it to high. Right now it's 48 degrees outside and the space heater hasn't come on for some time and the temp in the living room is 62.

There's much more I've been doing but I'm very tired right now and it's time to watch some Netflix while I snack on apples. I'll add more to this update at a later time. And the space heater just kicked in so I'll be feeling some nice heat directed my way as I sit in the big, comfy chair watching tv!






Saving on heating costs this winter by freezing my butt off

I paraphrased a title of an article I read a few days ago and thought it so funny I laughed for sometime but there's alot of truth to it. A generally agreed upon opinion backed up by research is that for every degree lower the thermostat is set at, there's about a 3% reduction in heating costs.

During the winter of 2010/2011, this house was unoccupied and I had the thermostat set at 50. At the setting, the gas bills for the winter was in the $40 plus to $60 plus range. 50 is too low but I'm going to try dressing warmly and give 55 a shot. I may have to settle on a temp in the low to mid 60's during the day and 55 at night but even that alone will be much cheaper then having it at 72 all the time like I did when I lived here full time years ago.

There's loose fill insulation the attic and it was a pain to go up there as every time one opened the access cover, a bunch of it would fall into the house. There also was no insulation on the access cover itself so a couple of days ago, I started work on fixing that and finished the job yesterday morning. I first made a new access cover and then the loose fill away from the opening. Then using left over 3/4 particle board, I nailed that to the area around the opening. As the loose fill had settled over the years and wasn't evenly distributed, I got my leaf rake and went up into the attic and fluffed it back up with the handle and used the rake to even it all out. After that, I layed down three layers of R-11 batt insulation on the particle board and put three layers on the back of the access cover which I loosely secured with nails and two wire hangers. I know there isn't enough loose fill or batts of insulation to get the minimum of R-48 recommended where I live (R-60 is preferred) for attic insulation but what I did is a big improvement over how it was. As I can afford it, I can add more insulation over time.

The relative of my ex-wife's who stayed her for awhile left three boxes of 3-M window insulation kits. Enough to apply to the 9 old single pane windows I have. At the 3-M website, there's a energy savings estimator where one can enter in the size and number of windows one has plus some other info and get an estimate of how much one can save using the product. My results with the temp set even as low as 55, the potential savings is $122 for the heating season. At 65 during the day and 55 at night, the savings is $137. Of course I'll be burning more gas but with the savings, it wouldn't be much of an increase in cost.

I'm also continuing to cut up scrap wood to burn during the sub-zero days in January. It looks like I'll have just a weeks supply of wood but even that will help cut down heating costs. While it often seems like most everyday here in winter is sub-zero, in reality, there's only a few such days a year like that where I live. Being just a short walk from Lake Superior, the nearness to the lake makes it much warmer here during the winter then even just 10 miles further in land.

So, with little expense on my part, it is quite possible that my heating costs could be well under a $100 a month.



An update

My gas bill came in and not including the standard charge just to have gas to the house, it was $4.16 which is a little over a dollar less the then last month's bill. As I've had the water heater on pilot only for some time now, I don't think I can get the gas bill down any lower then it is right now although I can't recall exactly when I stopped using warm water to wash clothes and set the water heater gas valve to pilot only.

I think my utility bills are about as low as they can be. Even if I cut my water consumption in half, that's a saving of $8.00 a month. Then with winter coming, the gas and electric bills will go up as the lights will be on more with fewer hours of daylight and the furnace will be running.

There is an old woodstove in the basement and today I cleaned that out. I cleared out an area by the property line which overgrown with wild grape vines and lilac shoots from the nearby lilac tree. There's a pile of wood scraps in the garage from when I remodeled the kitchen which I began today to cut into pieces that will fit the woodstove. I don't know how much wood I'll get from the scraps but I have enough from to pile maybe 2/3 of a cord. There is an old shower curtain in the garage too which I'll use to cover the pile to keep the rain and snow off the pile. That's not much wood but I'll only use it for very cold stretches of days so the furnace doesn't run near steady during those times.

In the previous two days, I used some of that scrap wood to build a compost bin which I put in the area I cleared out and the woodpile will be right next to it. The dimensions of the compost bin is 4' wide by 3' deep by 3' high which is pretty close to the what is recommended by various sites discussing compost bins.

For the compost bin I first put in a layer of cut up cardboard and paper that had filled a big cardboard box down in the basement. Cardboard and paper that I had spent alot of time cutting up with scissors for just such a purpose and also to provide bedding and food for the indoor worm composter later on. I still have another big box still in the basement half full of such cuttings. After putting in the cardboard and paper into the bin, i dumped in two ice cream pails of coffee grounds and kitchen scraps and covered that with leaves I had raked up out of the cleared area and chopped up fine with my mulching lawn mower. Then I dampened the pile with about 5 gallons of grey water mixed with a gallon of my urine.

I've been saving my urine everyday (I produce close to a gallon of it daily) and in the evening I mix it about 50/50 and apply it to the lawn. This has also cut down the number of times I have needed to flush the toilet and the grey water I save after taking a shower has been plenty enough to flush the toilet. I haven't had to use fresh water for the commode for about a week now.

The food bill is averaging about $4.50 a day and it's possible I could cut that down but even if I do, I'd like to spend that savings on more varieties of food. I'm getting a wee bit tired of potatoes, cabbage, carrots, rice, and beans. Last night I was so tired after walking to the hospital to have my blood thickness checked and back (my scooter has a flat tire) and spending the rest of the day working outside, I just made toast for dinner and that's all I had for the day. I was too tired and sore to even wash, cut up and boil a potato and cabbage dinner.

As I've stated in a previous post, my costs weren't that high to begin with before I started doing all of this so I can never achieve a dramatic savings. But I am enjoying it and it is keeping me active.





My efforts at frugal living

My natural gas water heater has been on pilot only for over 2 1/2 weeks now and I haven't run out of hot water yet. I wash my clothes in cold water only (edit: which I started doing at the end of last month or beginning of this month), take a shower every day and wash my dishes with about 7 gallons of water every couple of days. The pilot flame alone puts out enough heat to heat the water and keep it hot.

All the lights in my house are cfl types and I make sure they are turned off when I don't need them. The only two things I have in this house that have power to them 24/7 is the fridge and charger for my cordless phone. The coffee maker, tv, Netflix & DVD player box, wireless router, microwave and laptop are all unplugged from the outlets when not in use. I stopped using my electric dryer the last time I did laundry. I really need to get one of those clothes dryer racks as i hung my clothes off of nails in the basement to dry.

I cleaned out the pantry in the basement, washed down the shelves, and put up insulation in the ceiling and interior walls. I'll be using that as a cold storage room this winter for the apples I get from my apple tree.

Been working on my garden of 160 square feet to get it ready for next year. I have the bins ready for my worm composter but as i donated to DU this month, I put off getting the worms till next month. In the meantime, I've been cutting up cardboard boxes, heavy brown paper, flyers and any other non-glossy papers I have into very small pieces to use as worm food and to work into the garden beds. I've also been saving kitchen scraps for the same. I have three big maple trees in my yard and I'll use my mulching push mower to chop the leaves to work into the garden bed and put the rest into a pile for use as a mulch next year.

Since yesterday, I've been collecting my urine to use as a fertilizer for the lawn, the shrubs I have and for the garden bed. I'll also use it on the few indoor plants I have.

Going to have a small indoor garden this winter and I'll start small with radishes and with the chives I'll transplant from outside to ice cream pails I have saved to be used for indoor growing. I cleaned out enough room in my spare bedroom and set up a table for the plants to be set there.

The water I have saved from taking a shower has provided more then enough to be used to flush the toilet. I put in a plug in the tub drain before taking a shower and then bail the water out of the tub into a 13 gallon plastic container after the shower. Following Fumesucker's suggestion, I'm going to save the rinse water from washing my clothes to be used as wash water the next time I do laundry. doing that and with using grey water to flush the toilet, I ought to save about 400-500 gallons a month. Next spring, I plan on using a bio-compatible detergent so I can use the excess water from showering not needed to flush the toilet, the water from the bathroom sink and the wash water from the clothes washer to water the garden, shrubs, apple tree, and lawn as needed.

I'm hoping that by using an indoor worm composter, collecting my urine and by using grey water, I'll be able to water my garden, fertilize it and have compost for it without any extra cost on my part and use the excess on the rest of the yard.

Next month I'm going to do much of my grocery shopping on line. I have no vehicle and the nearest stores that have decent prices are over 40 miles away. I'll continue to use the local store for fresh produce, bread, and dairy products.

As for tv, Netflix alone has been fine. $7.99 a month provides me with all the movies and tv shows I care to watch and I haven't rented a movie in months.

Things to do in the near future:

Quit smoking. That alone would save me $80.00 a month. I'm smoking the cheapest stuff I can get but quitting would provide me with the money to pay my property taxes, fire insurance and still have money left over for other things for the house.

Purchase a reel push mower. My gas powered mulching mower is near the end of it's long life. I'd like to keep it around for many more years to use to mulch up the leaves in the fall.

Put in a flue pipe for the woodstove in the basement. The old flue was rusted out and I threw it away. As my ex wants to replace her current fuel oil furnace with a high efficiency LP gas furnace and wants me to do the job (it's the work I did before I went on disability), I'll use the flue and elbows from that fuel oil furnace for my woodstove so that wont cost me anything. I have a bunch of scrap wood left over from remodeling my kitchen after it was wrecked from water damage last winter after my then wife's relative who was living here turned the heat off without telling me about it. The wood is in my garage so I can use it to burn to help cut down heating costs this winter.

Replace windows and doors as I can. The front door pretty much just keeps the wild animals out and prevents snow from drifting in during the winter. The windows, other then the new ones I put in the kitchen, are single pane. This winter I'll be putting on that 3-M plastic window insulation on all the old windows.

Learn how to preserve foods. I can borrow a pressure cooker and my ex knows how to do it. As we still get along quite well, maybe we can work together on such a project.

Things I've learned so far:

Frugal living can be labor intensive. Ten years ago, I could have done all this with no trouble at all but some of it now really kicks my ass. But truthfully, I'm having fun doing it. I look at it as a challenge. To be able to live well on $1071.00 a month (plus the $19.00 in food stamps I get).

Being single and a person who enjoys the simple things in life, my costs aren't that high and the savings I get from what I'm trying to do aren't that much. My food bill is averaging out to be about $4.50 a day. My water bill for this month was $16.00 and that's before I started using grey water to flush the toilet. My electric bill for this month is $19.00. I haven't got my gas bill yet but for last month it was $13.52 so that was before I turned the gas water heater to pilot only (edit) and before I started washing clothes in cold water only. Those costs don't include the standard costs for having the services provided to the house. Costs I can't do anything about unless I decide I can do without fancy dancy water, electricity or gas all together.

Edit: While some of my expenses are quite low, money is still very tight as I'm paying off bills. All of which were incurred when I was still married. We had the money to pay the bills but she wanted to buy other things. She still has those other things and I still got the bills. Shit happens.







Coffee pots

When I was growing up on the farm, what we had to make coffee was a stainless steel pot with a spout. You'd fill it with water, add how many spoonfuls of coffee as you desired and boiled it on the stove for a few minutes. One had to pour the coffee thru a hand held strainer when filling a cup to catch the coffee grounds but that's the way most everyone did it back then.

I have a programmable (a feature I don't use) electric drip coffee maker right now but when that craps out, I'm going to look for a stainless steel stovetop coffee percolator. They run about $20.00 to $35.00 (depending on size and quality) on Amazon.com and pretty much last a lifetime. Unlike the modern drip coffee makers which seem to last about a year.

Considering I love my coffee, I ought to look for one now so I have it on hand when my electric drip coffee make craps out. Or I could just give it to my ex who says her coffee maker is running very slow now even after repeated cleaning. She gets very hard water where she lives.

Here's an example of one for those not familiar with stovetop percolators:

http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-12-Cup-Stainless-Coffee-Percolator/dp/B0009PUQSM/ref=pd_sim_hg_3

And here are some tips on using stovetop and electric coffee percolators:

http://www.ehow.com/how_7449021_use-stovetop-coffee-percolator.html

http://www.talkaboutcoffee.com/how-to-make-coffee-in-a-percolator.html

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