Helpful Heather's Tuesday Tips: Conserving Ultilities


Conserving Utilities

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, we as mom’s wear many hats and there is a variety of things that fall under the umbrella of our responsibility. In my house, one of those things is trying to look for ways to conserve (time, money, energy) so that we might be able to pool our resources elsewhere. I learned long ago, that I only have 24 hours in my day – same as everyone else – however, if I approach the use of that time, wisely, then at the end of my day I am feeling more content or satisfied with how I used the 1,440 minutes I had been given.

With the economic situation where it is today, we are all looking to make our dollars stretch a lot further. One of the ways I have found that to work for us is to maintain and care for the things we currently have. For example, I received in the mail last week a notice telling me that I could purchase new filters for my microwave/stove hood. (my microwave is installed above my kitchen stove and under it is my stove vent) In the notice it mentioned that it was *very* important for me to keep those clean so as not to start a fire or have a problem. I have cleaned these previously, so I knew that I didn’t have to purchase new ones, just clean the old. Yet, I don’t always think about that. Like the rest of us, companies are trying to find ways to keep money coming in, thus the solicitation, I suppose. So, here is where one of my tips comes in. I removed the metal mesh vent filter ( I had two, small, rectangular ones) and immediately threw them into a small amount of hot, soapy water to which my husband pointed out that if they were all metal, couldn’t we put them in the dishwasher. Going for broke (since I knew I could purchase more as was illustrated by the solicitation I received) I threw them in and it worked! De-gunked and sparkling they now are back to their permanent residence.

That little experience got me to thinking about what other filters and general maintenance things I do without much thought:

– Our heating/cooling filters are changed once a month. Since my family has horrible allergies, we thought we would try the more expensive allergy filters – unfortunately they over-worked our system, so we are back to the very inexpensive once a month filters. ** In order to stretch your dollars a bit more, you can turn to vacuuming these, but it is not recommended to do so for more than an additional month or so. Instead of purchasing 12 of these filters, you could stretch your dollar and only purchase 6 with vacuuming once in the in-between month. Also look for these filters in multi-packs. A local hardware store allows me to purchase three or four of each of the two filters I use in my home preventing me to have to A) remember to purchase a new filter every time and B) saving me a little money by getting more than one at a time.

– Your trusty vacuum. Ours has a Hepa filter as well as an engine filter. I use my vacuum a lot (again, those allergies) but am not always good about remembering when to change that filter. So, I have taken to marking the date on the filter when I change it. I am not always great about remembering then either, but at least I don’t have to rely on my memory to figure out when I last changed the filter. * Typing this made me think that it has been more than 6 mos, so I guess I will put that on my to do list this week!

– Refrigerator: Something fell on the floor in front of my fridge and almost went under it the other day and when I got down to pick it up, I realized that behind the grate/front plate there was a lot of dust. So I took off the front plate at the bottom and gave the coils a good vacuum. This helps the fridge to circulate air and in an essence “breathe” So, again, trying to mark certain times that I will make a point of checking that on the calendar; possibly using my computers calendar reminder system to send me an email every three to six months.

Our fridge has water in the door. I have come to *not* trust the signal light on mine that is supposed to tell me when to change it, but if you set a date (like when you change your clocks ahead and back) that may be a help to you – especially if you are like us and drink a lot of water.

We also make a point of changing the batteries in our smoke detectors at this same time of year. It helps us to remember and it is another way to keep our family safe.

– The dryer: If you are like me, you or possibly one of your kids cleans the dryer vent out close to every time you change the loads out of the dryer….but what about behind the dryer. At my house, our laundry room is not bigger than a closet, but I try to at least once a year, drag the dryer out to get to the accordion tube like thing that comes out of the back of my dryer and vents to the outside of the house. Taking that accordion vent off, vacuuming the back of the dryer, inside the tube its self as well as the metal tube inside the wall venting to the outside helps to reduce the risk of fire, but also enables my dryer to run more efficiently. Oh! I hope that most of you also know to not put a lot of stuff on the tops of your dryers especially while doing a load of laundry. Many of the heating elements are in the tops of dryers so the more stuff that is on top of the dryer insulates/reflects the heat back and your clothes don’t dry as quickly.

– Lastly, as I was thinking about what other vents I had in my house, I thought of my bathroom vent. I can honestly say that I have *never* thought of it before and so I can only imagine the horrors that await me there – but like the other things, I will stick this on the calendar because if I take care of my house and the things that I need regularly to run it, it/they will take care of me by saving me money.

Are there other things you do to help stretch your family’s dollar? Even without thinking about it? Feel free to post a comment or send us an email, we’d love to hear from you!

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