"Here are some of the things we have done and/or are doing in our home:
1. Line dry all clothes. I have a huge laundry line outside and a wooden drying rack inside. In the spring, summer & fall I try to only use the dryer to fluff our clothes in order to soften them. I also avoid doing laundry on rainy days since I can't hang things outside to dry. Sometimes if we have a week of straight rain I have to give in. =) In the winter I have a short line in the basement. I use that for heavy items like sweaters, jeans & towels.
2. Make my own laundry soap. I have found a huge savings in this!
3. Have electric company come in and do evaluation. Last year we qualified for a free weatherization evaluation. The guy, Malcolm, came in and changed every, single light bulb in our home to the squiggly fluorescent ones. He said we were in the running for the most light bulbs changed in one house! Lol! He also gave us water saving shower heads, a thermometer for the frig. & a sand hourglass timer thing for the shower. He taught us a lot too. We qualified for free blown in insulation but are still waiting for it to happen. Seems the state ran out of $ and we are on the waiting list.
4. Insulating - My husband put foam insulation on our water pipes downstairs. We have steam heat & a boiler for our hot water. The insulation helps the pipes stay warm & therefore we use less oil when the water needs to heat up. The insulation was quite inexpensive too! A few years ago hubby also went under our front & back porch and installed insulation. A huge help in the winter!
5. Thermostat ~ I know you hear this everywhere but it does work. This winter I tried very hard to keep our thermostat at 63 or 65. This was big for us as we have a large, older house. The downstairs also has very high ceilings. Sometimes I would let the house heat up to 68 when it was very, very cold & windy out and then put it back down to 63 once it reached 68. At night we would put the thermostat down as low as we could while still keeping the pipes from freezing. Sometimes I would get it as low as 50. We live in the Northeast and it gets mighty frigid here in the winter months! We don't have central A/C so the thermostat isn't something I have to worry about in the summer.
6. Using Fans & not the A/C unit - When I saw our electric bill last month I about choked. It had almost doubled! I knew I had to do something and that something was to cut out usage of the A/C unit in our bedroom. I have put 2 fans in my bedroom instead. One wasn't cutting it. I was amazed to find out that even a single unit A/C uses 10 to 12 times the energy per hour than a fan does! YIKES! So even using 2 fans is far less $ than the A/C unit. (I know this might not be an option in extremely hot climates. The highest temp. here is about 92-95 degrees. Mostly it is in the high 80's with very high humidity.)
7. Installing ceiling fans - This can help in the summer and the winter too. We put a nice one with lights in the girls room. What a difference it makes! We also bought a cheaper one for the kitchen.
8. Water in Pans & Cups - In the winter I put water in pie pans or in containers and hide them accordingly. The water evaporates into the air and helps the rooms to feel warmer.
9. Cold Water - I use the cold water setting for my wash for everything except for extremely dirty items or bleached items. I also use colder water in the summer for showers & baths. We prefer it anyway as it's nice to cool off.
10. Food - I am trying now to use up what we have in the house before buying more. Sometimes this means being quite creative in our meal planning. =) For instance 2 weeks ago instead of buying our usual fresh apples & bananas (which have gone way up in price) I decided that we'd consume our canned fruit instead. This saved me a few dollars especially since I have done this for 3 weeks now.
I've started cutting coupons again too. I will see if this makes a difference as the sales start matching the coupons.I always shop only the sales in my regular grocery stores. Today I did this and saved $81! I have a price in mind & I will not pay above this. Some people keep a grocery book for this but I've shopped long enough in these stores & for the same items that I have it memorized. Shopping the less frills grocery store. We do our main shopping at Price Rite. That is the lowest priced grocery store in our area. It is only 5 minutes away from my house too. I compared many items from P.R. to our lowest priced main chain grocery store and almost fell over. Most items were twice the price than in P.R.!!!!!! And they were store brand too! Yikes!
11. Reusing whatever possible ~ We wash out plastic containers and use them again for food storage or other storage. I also wash out all zipped storage bags and use them over & over until they have holes. I don't re-use the ones that had raw meat stored in them. They are the exception. Foil can often be washed off & reused too. Dryer sheets can often be used more than once esp. if you are only using them for a few minutes to soften your line dried clothes. We re-use cardboard boxes for storage too. Newspaper has many uses. Plastic grocery bags are used for all sorts of things. I even have a stash in the van for accidents, dirty things, trash or grocery shopping. Price Rite charges 10cents a bag so this definitely saves me $ if I bring my own.
12. Picking our own produce. This year we haven't done it b/c of the upcoming move (I know it's coming sometime! ) but every other year we have. We pick our own blueberries, strawberries & apples. One year we did tomatoes too. It's much cheaper than the grocery store & you can make so many yummy things.
13. Growing a garden. Like the picking produce we have done this every year. This year we have a much smaller garden.....again b/c of the move that is to come. We can & freeze as much as possible. The rest we eat fresh.
14. Humble ourselves =Because of my husband's modest income and that we are a one-income family we qualify for some help. We have been given some fuel assistance, WIC & help with making medical co-pays, etc. This year we were blessed with a CSA Family Share. Often other families will give us hand-me-downs including furniture. Our boys bunk beds were a gift from a friend at church. So was a dresser & nightstand. We have also been given homeschool books, misc. craft items & even an older van & an older car! This was hard in the beginning but now we see it as another way the Lord is providing for our family.
15. Freecycle - One of my best friends told me about this group. There are groups all over the U.S. & beyond. The intent is to recycle items that are in good condition that you no longer need or want. You recycle by offering them to others who can use them. My we have been blessed by this! In turn we have also been able to bless many others & clean out in the process!
16. Trash & Curb Shopping -Okay, this may sound extreme but hear me out. =) We don't dumpster dive like some others though I must say I am intrigued by those who do. In our area people will leave things that they think others many want on their curb. As long as you don't leave a mess behind you are allowed to take what you want. My kids LOVE this! LOL! Before we were cleaning out for our move we used to take a drive through nicer neighborhoods on their Trash Day. We found some treasures! We've also left items out on our curb. It is such fun to watch & see someones excitement as they spot & take away our old stuff & their new treasure. =) My parents visit their dump. People will leave items out from the garbage. Sometimes the guy working there will even put good items out on the side for others to take. Another thing a lot of people do here during the spring & summer is to leave their leftover tag sale items out on their curb. You'll see a "Free" sign and it's a help yourself situation. Last year I found a great Jansport backpack! I was thrilled b/c I was going to buy one and though they are worth it they are expensive. Yay, God! We've found clothes, toys, household items, books, etc. etc. Definitely worth the time & humbling ourselves!
17. Back to Basics - Over the past few years we've tried harder to get back to basics in our cooking, grocery shopping & cleaning products. We're buying very few processed foods & have always bought store brands as much as possible. We are also buying main ingredients to make our own instead of pre-made food.
18. Changing Cleaning Regimen - I have changed my cleaning habits as well. My cleaning products are now basically vinegar, bleach, dish soap, ivory soap & baking soda or Comet. Not only are they much less expensive but we aren't inhaling the harsh chemicals all the time."
I hope these have helped. I will be posting more tips soon!