Wednesday, 4:17 pm
The scary little ghosties and hobgoblins should be arriving at the front door any minute now. I’ll be handing out itty bitty Snickers bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, with the hopes that there will be a few Snickers left over at the end of the evening.
Wednesday, 10:55 am
I’ve been a little remiss in reading my electric meter the past few days. I just went out to read it and almost fell over from shock. Good shock. In three days time, I’ve only used 6 kilowatt hours. Well, I’ll be darned.
You know what did it? I unplugged the fridge. The only reason I unplugged it was because there was hardly anything in it. No sense in cooling empty space. Now that Terry is gone, I don’t have to keep all my produce tucked away out of sight. And since the house isn’t exactly toasty warm inside, leaving the veggies on the kitchen counter works pretty well. I didn’t have anything particularly perishable in the fridge, so I stuck a couple of frozen cooler blocks inside and unplugged it until I went grocery shopping. The fridge was unplugged for about 36 hours. And that’s the only thing I’ve done differently in the past 3 days.
Well, what a pleasant surprise.
Which leads me to consider....if winter ever reliably arrives, I may just keep the thing unplugged and use blocks of ice (delivered nightly by mother nature) in the cooler, which, I think, is better insulated than the little fridge.
I suppose that may seem rather radical to some, but considering the size of my current fridge, I’d gain some food storage space with the cooler. And I still have to open the door on either one to get out what I want. The only difference is that one box is electrified and the other one isn’t. I’m willing to give it a go. Heck, if I can skate through winter on 2 kilowatt hours per day, I’ll be delighted to try it out.
Wednesday, 9:28 am
This morning when I woke up, I glanced at the upstairs thermometer and it said 62°. That’s about right where I want it. Very good.
Then, I came downstairs and the thermometer said 60°. Well, that’s pretty brisk. I still can’t keep the upstairs cooler than the downstairs unless the stove is cranking out heat. I can’t quite tell whether that’s because the downstairs is less insulated and losing heat through the windows or whether the heat eventually makes its way upstairs. Such as it is.
Since today is supposed to reach the mid-60s, I decided to forgo a small fire in the stove this morning. The downstairs temperature has only inched up to 61°, so far, and for some reason, I’m not cold. Of course, I’m also wearing a down vest, but hey. I’m comfortable and warm. That’s a few more sticks of wood saved for another time.
Two months ago, I’d have laughed to think I’d be any where near comfortable at 61°, regardless of what I was wearing. I seem to be adjusting.
Abbie isn’t, though. She has been quite aware that the upstairs has been cooler than the downstairs over the past couple of weeks. She doesn’t care for it very much. Instead of trotting upstairs with me at night, she gives me a sorrowful/apologetic look from her nest of blankets in her favorite chair. “Fair weather friend,” I say to her.
This morning, though, I told her she’d made a mistake. She should have come upstairs. It was warmer up there. But she was nestled deeply in her soft, fuzzy blankets and just yawned at me. I don’t imagine 2 degrees would have made much difference to her, though. I miss her at night.
Tuesday, 8:26 pm
I had to go to the grocery store tonight. Usually a trip through the grocery store is a benign sort of experience. As it was tonight. Until I reached the checkout counter.
There was a woman in front of me who didn’t impress me as being anything out of the ordinary. I waited for her to transact her business as I leaned against the front of my carriage consulting my list to make sure I had everything. All of a sudden, my carriage lurched backward into my diaphragm and I let out an “Ouf” while my pen nearly went up my nose. The woman in front of me had bent over to pick something up off the floor and her rear end had slammed into my carriage.
I moved back a little bit.
Not more than a few seconds later, she bent over again to stick something on the shelf under her carriage. Once again, she rear ended me and this time the right wheel of my carriage went up and over my foot. And, you know, there had to have been at least 3 1/2 feet between us. It took talent to do what she did.
But then. Then she turned to me with flaming red cheeks and LOUDLY said to me, with her hands on her hips, “I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t run into me with your cart again. That’s twice you’ve done it.”
Holy crow. The only thing I could think to say was, “We’re not sharing the same reality, are we?” The look she gave me should have melted glass.
The nasty things I wanted to say just didn’t come out until I was in my car on the way home. Her ears should be little smoking cinders on the floor by now.
So dumb that it works
Tuesday, 3:37 pm
I stopped by my bank today to do a little business. While standing at the teller’s window, the head teller walked down the line and placed a cold can of 7-UP at every teller station. It wasn’t a gift to the tellers...it was...well...for public viewing. My teller and I looked at the can and at each other. She said to me, quietly, “Why’s there a can of soda sitting at my window?” I shrugged and said, “Product placement?”
A few seconds later the head teller saw us looking at the can of soda and said, “Well, aren’t you gonna ask what it’s for?”
My teller and I both said, “Yeah, we were just wondering.”
The head teller launched into her advertising mode and informed us that the bank now has an improved product. If anyone has a home equity line of credit with an interest rate higher than 7% (7-Up...get it??), they can come to this bank and get it refinanced at a much lower rate.
“Oh,” we said. I also added, “I don’t have a home equity line of credit.”
“Oh,” the head teller said. “Well, if you know anyone who does, please let them know.”
Huh. A can of 7-Up soda. I can’t help thinking that’s a pretty dumb advertising campaign. But, it’s effective, I think. At least, I’m not going to forget it any time soon. I also wonder if 7-Up is paying the bank for product placement. But that’s a whole other bag of beans. But really. A can of 7-Up? I think I’d have enjoyed being a fly on the wall during the meeting where that campaign was hatched. It had to have been an in-house brainstorm. They couldn’t possibly have paid an advertising agency for that idea. Could they?
90 Percent Project - Week 21
Monday, 3:43 pm
My Weekly Values for the 90 Percent Project...
Week 21: 25 kWh
I think I’ve reached a plateau in electricity use. There’s just not much left that I’m willing to cut at this point. It’s that word ‘willing’ that bothers me. But, it will probably stay this way until I get my hands on a laptop computer. I have to remind myself that even at 25 kWH per week, give or take a kilowatt hour or two, I’m still using roughly 88% less electricity than the Average American.
Gasoline purchased (for 1 person)
Week 21: 3.653 gallons (Oct. 23)
Now I’m playing head games with myself. When I fill my gas tank to the brim, I have that luscious feeling of plenty and I’m apt to think I can waste a bit in unplanned splurge trips here and there. When the gas gauge reaches the halfway mark, then I start thinking I’d better be more careful so it will last longer. So this week, I filled the tank only half full. Seems to work.
Water (for 1 person)
Week 21: 119.69 gallons (I think)
It dawned on me, this week, that I have two water meters. One in the basement and one outside. The one outside is the one that the meter reader reads. For whatever reasons, the reader couldn’t get a clear reading on the outside meter last week and left a card in the door asking me to read my meter and call it in. And then thought better of that idea. Since he was already up on the front porch, he read the meter manually and made a note of that on the card stuck in the door. So, according to the reading he took, I’ve used 1720 fewer gallons during this 6 month billing cycle than the last one (despite all the lawn watering). Yet, according to the meter I’ve been reading, I have used more than reflected in the current meter reading. I’m rather confused about that now. They are both supposed to measure water in cubic feet, so I don’t know why there is a discrepancy between them. I think I’d better read the same meter that the meter reader reads.
Week 21: 5 cu ft
My idea of turning the hot water heater down to a low setting until hot water is needed doesn’t seem to yield better results than leaving the hot water heater at a higher setting all the time. Over the last month, I’ve still averaged 4 cu feet of gas per week. That’s disappointing. Of course, as I mentioned last week, part of that may be a result of the much colder water coming into the house now, which takes more energy to heat. During the summer, cold tap water is a definite misnomer.
Yesterday, my handyman was here cleaning out the gutters. I poked my head out the door and asked if he knew how to shut the stove’s pilot lights off. He said, “sure, it’s easy.” He came in and showed me the little screws on each of the stove’s pilot lights. All we had to do was tighten the screws and the gas to the pilot lights shut off. So, I am now burning two fewer pilot lights than before. We’ll see how much difference that makes. Since Thursday, I’ve already burned 2 cu ft of gas. That rate had better drop noticeably the rest of this week. I mean...it has to. The only gas I use in this house is for the hot water heater, stove, and 4 pilot lights. Eliminating half the pilot lights should make a difference.
I’m still debating whether to shut the furnace and its pilot light down completely. Leaving that pilot light lit is wasted gas since I’m not using the furnace. But my furnace repair guy said I should run the furnace a couple of times each month in winter to avoid problems—and it’s a real project relighting that pilot light. Well, it’s an option to consider.
Trash (for 1 person)
Week 21: 3 lbs
Week 21: $14.18 - bubble wrap ($8.79), duct tape ($5.39)
Most of the summer fare was still available at the Farmer’s Market last week. We’ll see what the rest of this week brings. We finally had a frost last night—mild here at the coast, but probably didn’t do the tomatoes or other tender vegetables any good. It won’t be many days now before we have a hard freeze.