Saving money on utilities
Here at Ontario Rabbits we are focusing on trying to reduce our expenses. Monthly utilities take up a big chunk of everyone's income, no matter who you are. There are ways to lessen the financial burden.
Depending on where you live, your utility types can vary. I personally have natural gas, electricity, a cistern, a septic tank, and then extras like cell phone, internet, and tv streaming services. Since I live in a small town in a farming community, a cistern and septic tank takes the place of water and sewer.
Cutting costs on your monthly utilities can happen by doing a variety of things. This year we are planning on investing in an umbrella style laundry line dryer.
It's around $100 to buy, but the savings for drying clothes once a week (at least) for the nicer months will add up, and the clothes line should last for You can hang your clothes outside to dry all year round, but honestly, I don't think I will in late fall or winter. I'm not a fan of cold and snow.
With having a toddler who loves playing in water, this will also be helpful for hanging his play clothes up to dry after fun outside or in his kiddie pool.
Blinds and curtains
Blinds and curtains are a way to help reduce heating and cooling costs. Two years ago, my first summer in this home, I purchased black out curtains for all the windows. They do an amazing job at keeping the house cooler in the summer by blocking out the sunlight. In the winter they also help with heat loss. The thicker the curtains the better. Research shows, depending on the type of windows you have (single or double glazed) you can reduce heat loss by 20 to 60 % with properly fitted curtains or blinds.
Keeping your blinds and curtains closed at all times isn't the only answer. If it's a bright sunny winter or fall day and the sun is coming at your windows. Open the blinds and allow the sun in to help heat up the room. When the sun starts to go down, close them back up to help keep the warmth in.
This can be a relatively cheap upgrade or investment that's both practical and visibly appealing. Most people have curtains or blinds anyways for privacy reasons, but simply using them in a specific manner can help cut costs.
Trees can help shade your home. This is not a quick fix by any means, but if you plan on living where you are for a few years or more, consider planting trees. Keep them far enough back that their roots won't interfere with your home's foundation, but close enough that once they reach a good size, they can help to block out or filter the suns light as it hits your home.
Fruit trees are multi purpose. They may not get tall enough to provide much shade, but they can help break the wind and keep your house warmer during winter storms. Don't forget about the fruit they provide also helps cut down on your grocery bills. Last year I planted 4 new fruit trees on my property. It's an upfront investment, but it's worth it over time.
If your like me and you have a cistern, make sure you have eavestrough on every part of your roof that you can, and that they go into the cistern. A cistern is a large holding tank for water. You need to keep an eye on it to ensure it does not run out. Having your eavestrough connected to it collects rain water or melted snow, and helps fill up the cistern for free. If you do not have water collecting from your roof, you will have to order water and pay for it and it's delivery.
Regardless of cistern or town water, you should also consider rain barrels or something similar. Collecting rain water to water your flowers, gardens or trees, is another great way to save money. During a dry hot summer you can expect to water your plants several times a week. This adds up quickly. If your paying for all your water, the cost of growing your own vegetable garden just went up. If you have a shed, simply sitting an open top barrel or large garbage Pail under the edge of the roofline will collect run off water. Any bit collected, is a bit you didn't pay for.
Programmable thermostats are another easy way to reduce heating and cooling costs. Mine for example has Monday to Friday and weekend options, as well as four different time zones for those days. I have mine set through the week to warm up around 7am to 70 degrees, at 8am it cools down to 65 degrees. It warms back up at 4pm, and cools back off at 630pm. The idea is when I'm getting up and getting ready, it's warm. While I'm at work it can stay cooler, which saves gas and hydro from the furnace not running as much or as high. Then after work it warms up until I leave to go take care of chores and then bed time it's cool ad well. I much prefer to sleep cool, and do does my son. The same idea follows with the weekend, only it stays warm from 8 am until 630pm. Generally we are home weekends so we keep it 70 degrees to stay comfortable.
My thermastat also has the option to program it for air-conditioning as well. So you set it cooler when your home, and warmer while your away.
Once it's set you can forget about it, but you can also easily turn it up or down if your home during a time your not usually there.
Reduce phantom power loss
Phantom power is power that is running to an appliance or item even when it's off. A radio that has a clock displaying the time at all times is an example of phantom power being used. It may not seem like a lot of electricity being used, but all the little bits add up. To help eliminate some of the phantom power, use power bars and shut them off when going to bed, leaving the house for work, and especially when going away for a weekend or on vacation. Some examples of phantom power electronics are coffee makers, computer or laptop speakers, computers and laptops, videogame consoles, and phone chargers. Any electronic that has a standby or power saver sleep mode that are not shut off completely, are still using power.
I utilize, or in the case of the clothes line umbrella, will utilize, each of these methods. There are more costly things you can do to increase your home's efficiency. Replace old windows, beef up your insulation, replace seals around your doors. A new roof, new updated energy efficient appliances.... The list goes on. But on a budget, the above mentioned tricks are easy, and relatively cheap to implement. Every little change helps. Every cent saved helps you live a more self reliant lifestyle