This new day brings another day of triple digits. The weather has been very hot and uncomfortable this week and we just made it to the first day of summer. Many people are feeling the financial squeeze due to price hikes and I think about all the people that cannot afford to pay their Utillity bills and do not know what to do.
I think about Lil and Bob in the diary readings and it was 99 degrees in the house and it was rare during this time (1943) for someone to have any kind of air conditioning. People felt the heat but were knowledgable how to cool themselves.
I can share what we do here in our home to keep our bills down in hopes that it will help others to manage their home expenses.
To help keep the heat out of our home, I put an extra layer of fabric over our windows to keep the sun and heat out. This was an old spread with a batting under that I cut up to use for the windows and I put it over the top of the curtain rod.
Everything we do, small or large can help to keep down costs.
To stay cool we can sit with our feet in a pan of cool water, that helps quite a bit to cool our bodies, a cool rag around our neck and wrists. Might as well read or knit a dishcloth while we are cooling off.
We cannot let ourself get frustrated about it but instead do something about it to keep ourselves cool. If the power should go out, the pan of water would be something we can do right away.
Long ago when I was a child, I remember sitting outside at the clothesline between wet sheets drying on the line. Also sitting under trees, whenever there was a breeze it was so welcome and if we stayed inside we would miss that wonderful cooling breeze.
We do have air conditioning but we also use fans to circulate the air. We have our fans strategically placed in the house to where they create a bit of a wind tunnel circulation. One faces a certain way to direct the air to meet up with another fan that pushes that air to another direction and what it does is causes a circulation of air flowing in and out of each room. It is worth the investment of these simple fans because they will pay for themselves by reducing the power bill.
When doing this the air conditioning does not have to run as much. When our central air got old and broke down we did not replace it but purchased two window units. This has saved us a lot of money on our electric bill. We only cool the area that we are in or set them to switch out.
I have hand fans from many years ago and if the power goes out this is a way to create a breeze. How many of you are old enough to remember going to Church and the simple hand fans with the wooden handles were in the church pews and people would be sitting in Church fanning themselves briskly.
A piece of cardboard will work as well and if the power goes out this would be a very needed item.
During this kind of heat I do not go to the clothesline because it is too hot for me to hang the laundry so I hang it inside the house and the fans and airconditioning will dry them. If I were younger and stronger I would certainly be out there hanging laundry.
We do have a clothes dryer but I do not use it when there is such a high demand on electricity to stay cool or warm. I choose to stay cool over using the clothes dryer.
This is our hallway fan that points towards our bedroom. There is an air conditioner in the bedroom to the right and it blows air towards this hallway, the fan picks up that cool air and sends it towards our bedroom. The fan in the bedroom blows toward the dining room/kitchen area, the fan in the kitchen area blows the air toward the living room and the living room fan blows back to the hallway fan. The air conditoner does not necessarily have to be running, the fans will help to push the air. On very hot days, the closer the fan is to the floor, the cooler the air is that is circulating so sometimes I sit the fans on the floor and why we like to use the table top fans.
These fans do not cost a lot to run and I can set the thermostat on the airconditioner to a higher temperature so that it does not come on as often because the airflow from the fans is making the house cooler.
When the weather is not scorching hot like it is now I enjoy opening the windows and letting outside air blow through and not running anything inside the house.
Trying to prepare for rising food costs.
One day recently I made a sampler meal. This was more food than we needed but I had read on the news about food costs and that one of the nations largest grocery chain said that people are spending less at the grocery store now and more people are choosing store brands because the store brands most often cost less. So after pondering on that a bit, I talked with Charles and we purchased some store brand canned vegetables to do a taste test to see what tasted good to us and what did not.
To our surprise the whole potatoes were not bad once I drained the liquid off in the can and rinsed them and replaced the liquid with filtered water to heat them. The peas and carrots were a little on the soft side but okay. We prefer our food out of our garden but our garden does not sustain us and the prices at the produce market are very expensive now.
The vegetable medley on the plate was also canned and it had carrots, potatoes, peas, lima beans, green beans and corn. I would think this could make a soup with ground beef added or meatless and add some canned tomatoes.
The rest of the meal was some barbQ chicken and rice and fresh tomatoes. We did this because the next day was grocery day and we wanted to pick up some canned vegetables but did not want to get any that did not taste good. I most always save anything we do not finish eating and eat it for lunch on the days that Charles is out of town and most always turn it into a soup.
I have been trying to pay attention to our pantry and make sure we are ready for whatever could happen next. If everything is good then we still eat from the pantry. But everything right now is concerning, prices are getting very high and we are seeing shortages on certain items and there is talk about more shortages to come. When covid hit we were okay with the pantry but we were not with sanitizers and things like that. So we learn from our experiences and do something about it and simply live a better prepared life now.
Charles and I try to eat fresh vegetables, but fresh vegetable costs are going up and when our garden has quit giving us fresh vegetables we need to be ready to move to canned. It is best to taste things first so we do not end up with a pantry full of items we do not enjoy eating.
I do home can what we grow if we harvest enough to home can. Last year there was the canning lid shortage and very frustrating for people that can their food. Blanching and freezing is more popular today but keeping canned goods is shelf ready.
So it is best to figure out all our options. Gardening is quite a learning curve and each year seems to be different. Sometimes we have a good harvest and some years not. Even our perinneals can have an off year. Our son's tomatoes have bottom end rot this year but ours are doing good but we did not plant enough to can. We are enjoying them each day as we have them and share when we have extra.
It is my opinion that frozen vegetables taste better than canned but I do not want to rely on electricity to store our food supply. If the power should go out there goes all our frozen food. That has happened before and with the costs today that is very risky.
These canned potatoes above, I did try them again and made mashed potatoes and they were good.
We cooked a steak for Fathers day and we had some left over so I opened a can of green beans and a can of potatoes and drained both of them and rinsed them and replaced the liquid with filtered water and then heated them five minutes as directed on the can. I mashed the potatoes and added a little butter and milk, salt and pepper.
The green beans, I added a chopped clove of garlic when I heated the beans. I picked some banana peppers from the garden, Charles said that it was really good so this is a shelf stable meal except for the leftover steak. However that meat could be canned chicken or beef. Charles loves the chicken fritters that I cook with canned chicken so that would make a shelf stable meal.
When I iron these shirts tomorrow, I will have everything ready so the iron is not on any longer than it needs to be. Right now there is nothing in our house running except for the fans and this computer because I am controling what I use today. Each day we have choices and decisions to make and if we think nothing of what we use then when the utility bill comes in it will show if we were careful or if we were careless, we do have some control over this, and just because we have it does not mean we use it without thought about how much it is costing us.
The same with groceries, did we buy vegetables and staples or did we buy chips and soda? It is up to us and we can make a difference.
Charles and I try to watch everything that costs money to run. We plant a garden and eat fresh from it when we have it. When there is nothing fresh, we eat from our pantry. To buy fresh from the store we have to make more trips to the store because fresh does not keep long and that is using expensive gasoline. So we do our best to plan so there is no waste.
I try my best to do things the old way which is normally by hand and no costs attached. Handwashing, hanging laundry to dry in the sun or on a indoor line. I do use my electric washing machine but sometimes I do not. It all has to do with budget and if I have the strength to do it. I like to do the things that I can do each day and the things I cannot then I rest.
This is in the shade of our back porch today.
There are other money saving things to do so we have the money to run air conditioning and be able to pay the utility bill.
Don't buy what we do not "Need".
Take care of what we have.
Have simple meals that do not have a lot of ingredients because ingredients cost money.
When it is very hot outside, try and not use the oven.
Try our best to use less water this way we can decrease our water bill.
Keep cold packs in the freezer.
Make homemade popsicles.
Put ice in the pets water bowls.
Have salads, sandwiches, something that does not take long to cook or heat up. I make a macaroni garden salad that is delicious and simple to make. I just cook and drain some macaroni, add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers if I have them and mayo, salt and pepper. It is a good summer salad when these fresh vegetables are available in the garden or market. Put it in the fridge to chill. It makes a meal.
If you are hot and need to use air conditioning, go around and make sure everything is turned off, this will help save us from having a high electric bill.
Use cold water instead of hot water when we can so the hot water heater does not have to heat so much.
Wear cotton clothing.
We all can get through this if we roll up our sleeves and do what is necessary and it is not about depriving ourselves, it is about empowering ourselves. I hope this inspires you to think how you can save money with your electric and water use and how to manage the increasing food costs.