Getting Prepared Pt. 6 Off Grid Pt 2

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In the last post, we talked about if we lost power for an extended time. But what if there was still power but it was cost prohibitive due to rising power cost, job loss, or underemployment. Here are some ideas to help cut back on your power usage.

A few years ago Andy lost his job and was out of work for close to a year, then when he did find work it was only part-time and my daycare had slowed way down so I had to cut corners where ever I could and for people who know me, I can be pretty extreme when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Andy is still at the part-time job and my daycare has once again slowed down so I am starting to implement a lot of these things again.

Ways to save on your power cost.


Do not use the lights during the day- open all the curtains and use the daylight. You might think about putting skylights in rooms that don’t have windows or the light is bad We don’t have a window in the laundry room so I am wanting to put in a skylight.                               It is such a habit to just turn on the lights when you enter a room, and during the day when you don’t need the lights on.

Use compact fluorescent bulbs, energy saving bulbs
Fluorescent lights have greatly improved in quality over the past ten years, and prices have come down recently: you can get 13-watt bulbs for less than four dollars. Fluorescent bulbs are 6-8 times more energy-efficient. They last 10-20 times longer than normal bulbs, so you won’t have to change them for years. You can buy fluorescent bulbs that give off a very warm yellowish light, not that harsh white light. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a fluorescent bulb will prevent the emission of 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide from electrical power plants. Let’s say you have a light on for 4 hours a day, 250 days in a year. On average, running a 23-watt fluorescent bulb for that long will cost you $1.88, while a 100-watt incandescent bulb will cost you $8.30 in electricity. A 23-watt fluorescent bulb costs about $13, but it saves you $6.42 in energy costs per year, so it will pay for itself in 2 years. Note: Sometimes you’ll see a light bulb advertised as a “long-life bulb”, or something like that. That’s not a fluorescent bulb, and it won’t really save you much money. Do you work at a desk at home?

Use a 20-watt desk lamp instead of turning on a 60-watt light bulb that lights the entire room. You’ll save about $5 on electricity for every 500 hours you spend at the desk.

Keeping your bulbs clean and dusted can improve efficiency by up to 20 %.

Light up only the area you need lit up. Use lamps instead of the overhead light that has multiple bulbs.

Use solar lights, Put the outside solar lights in a vase and set out during the day then bring in at night and put in rooms that don’t need much light at night such as the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen etc.
Add dimmers to your overhead lights.


A Wood Stove – As I mentioned in the last post a wood stove is great, it is the only heat we use. I Turned off the furnace when we got the wood stove ( I even covered several of the floor vents when we put down new floors).It has saved us so much money on heating cost. I keep a large pot with a lid full of water to heat water for cooking, washing dishes and washing hand and faces.

Keep your thermostat turned down. If you don’t have a wood stove to heat with then keep your thermostat set at the lowest possible setting that is still comfortable, remember you can always put on a sweater or cover up with a blanket while watching t.v.

Make sure your heater filters are clean.

If you don’t have doubled or triple paned windows cover your windows with clear plastic. Before we replaced our windows we had to use plastic on the windows to keep the wind from blowing through the house. Made a huge difference.

Use lined curtains or hang heavy blankets over the windows at night.

Keep doors closed to rooms you are not using.

Cover your doors with a heavy blanket at night. I keep a blanket on our doors during the winter.

Keep your curtains open during the day for the light and heat from the sun and close at night to hold in the heat.

Seal up the house. Cooled air can leak through cracks along window and door frames. Invest in some caulk and weather-stripping to plug up these drafts. A home that s properly insulated and sealed improves energy efficiency by up to 20% year-round, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. This will also help with your cooling cost.


Depending on the size of your home, you can save 3% on your cooling costs for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer. Raising the thermostat from 73 to 78 degrees can mean savings of up to 15% in cooling costs.

Keep your curtains closed when the sun is shining in the windows.

Open windows at night and early morning and late evening to get teh cool air.

Keep doors closed to rooms you are not using.

Use fans whenever possible, ceiling fans are great

Fridge and freezer

 Refrigerator temperature should be 36-38 degrees and freezer temperature should be 0-5 degrees.

Keep the coils in the back cleaned and dust free.

Keep your freezer full, if you have unused space put soda bottles filled 3/4 full with water in the space then when froze use a couple in the fridge to help keep the temperature down, have enough to rotate every couple days.

Keep your freezers defrosted.


Use the clothesline – I hang all my clothes out even in the winter sometimes I have to adjust my wash day if the weather is really bad, I hang even in the cold (There have been times that by the time I got the clothes out of the basket to the line they were already frozen ) they will dry. Back before dryers, everyone hung clothes all year around. This will also make your clothes last longer ( Where does all that lint come from in the dryer? It’s fibers from your clothes). If it is super cold or the weather is really bad you can hang them in the house to dry. I have a drying rack that I put either in front of the wood stove or in the bathtub to dry.

Only wash full loads.

Try and wash in cold to warm water when possible, Andy’s is super hard on his clothes and they get absolutely filthy and they have to be washed in hot water, I take some of the hot water off the wood stove and add to the water to try and cut down how much hot water I have to use from the water heater.

Water heater

Water heaters use a huge amount of power, turn the setting down to 130 to 140.

Wrap in a fiberglass wrap to help insulate it. If it is easy to acess turn it down a few degrees if you are going to be gone for more then a couple days.

Fix leaky facets you can lose a lot of water from a leaky faucet and if it is hot water you are also using a lot of power to heat that water that is just going down the drain.

Wash Dishes by hand-The dishwasher uses a lot of power and a lot of water. If you keep them caught up it isn’t too bad and sometimes takes less time then loading and unloading the dishwasher ( if you let them pile up then it does take a bit to get them done don’t ask how I know haha). You do need to use a tub for the rinse water so you are not wasting a lot of water ( like our grandparents did). After you are done use the rinse water to water plants or pour into a bucket to use for flushing toilets ( told you I was extreme haha ).

Dishwasher-If you do use your dishwasher make sure it is full when you run it and use the energy saving setting, if available, to allow the dishes to air dry. You can also turn off the drying cycle manually. Not using heat in the drying cycle can save 20 percent of your dishwasher’s total electricity use.


A computer system can use $35 to $140 worth of electricity per year. You can reduce this cost by about 85% if you use a laptop computer. Or you could use the “standby” mode that’s available on newer desktops, and/or use flat-screen monitors. You can go to your PC’s power settings and tell it to automatically go into standby after not being used for a while (when it wakes up, your PC will still have the files and programs that were there when it went to sleep )

Go around your home and unplug devices you haven’t used in the past week. Even if they aren’t turned on, they probably use some juice just to stay warm.

Use a microwave oven or toaster oven when cooking or heating small items. They use less energy and they don’t require preheating. The approximate yearly cost to use ovens of various types is:
Electric Oven: $27
Toaster Oven: $14
Gas Oven: $13
Convection/Toaster Oven: $10
Microwave Oven: $5

If you have a wood stove you can also cook and heat things on it even if it isn’t a wood cook stove. I heat and cook a lot of things on mine.

Eliminate Phantom Load A surprising 75% of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they’re turned off. These “phantom” users include televisions, VCRs, stereos, computers and many kitchen appliances–basically anything that holds a time or other settings. A simple solution? Plug all of these items into power strips, and then get in the habit of turning off the strips between uses. I have even had a power strip in the girl’s rooms for the phone chargers and Radios when they were still home.

I am sure I missed some things. What are some of the things you do to help reduce energy cost?


5 Replies to “Getting Prepared Pt. 6 Off Grid Pt 2”

  1. Lady Locust

    Great post! I did as you said this summer and went room by room checking every outlet and unplugged everything except the coffee pot which yes has the time but is programed. We also have a couple of freezers, and I was able to consolidate so unplugged one completely. Over the course of 4-6 weeks I cut our usage by 58%! Our extra freezer has meat in it at the moment, but you can bet I will be consolidating and unplugging asap. Going through that was a huge eye-opener. Our power co. has an app. to track daily usage which is also helpful.

    1. Post author

      Lady Locust,
      It is amazing how much energy we can save if we just think about it.
      Have a great day

  2. NRP

    I agree with the Florescent Lights, almost, the newer LED lights are now the way to go. Have a friend (Yes I know that’s surprising) that replaced 100% of the lights in his home, he has a family that does not realize that one can actually turn “Off” a light, anyways, he replaced all lights at a cost of almost $600 for the lights, He told me the cost savings paid off the new lights in less than 8 months.
    I also have wood stoves, notice plural, I HATE to buy propane, I do use a lot of wood pallets and all the free wood I can get my hands on, which is a LOT of wood. Having 2-3 years of wood already cut is a GREAT feeling. It’s been 11-13 degrees here, and have yet to use the Furnaces. This also helps to keep the electrical bill down.
    Cooling, I have a LOT of AC in my little 1800 foot home, BUT I have learned to use the house correctly, open the windows at night, close them during the heat of the day, and go Swimming in the river LOLOL.
    Freezers are my biggest downfall, 3 in the Shop and one in the house, I keep a LOT fo stuff in them, helps with the longevity of stuff aka Spices, Flour, so-on. I agree on keeping the Freezers FULL, Air is not a good thing to keep frozen.
    My bad, I’m lazy and to busy, I just bite the bullet and use the dryer that will change once retired. Always a full load and only whites get even warm water, all else is cold water.
    Water Heater;
    Replace that Tank Water Heater with a “Tank-less”. Havint to keep 40-80 gallons of water hot is foolish, save yourself a LOT of energy and go with a modern heater. I agree 1000% on the Dishes, just do them after each meal.
    Computers, hook them to a Power Strip and shut it “totally” off when not in use, same with all the other ‘electrical’ toys aka TV, CD-player, so-on.
    Cooking and ovens, Invest in some GOOD Cast Iron, and slow cook on top the Wood Stove, the food will taste a LOT better that Zapping it in a Nuke.
    One last thing, once you are retierd and can, unplug the CLOCKS, use the sun and your instincs to time your day, forget about the rush and hurry of the out-side world, just “Unplug”.
    FYI, I have two electrical Meters, one 200amp for the Garage/Shop, one 200amp for the house. 4 freezers, electric oven and dryer, HUGE AC units; my electrical bill last month was $65.16 for both meters, that’s mighty dang good I think, did I mention I HATE buying Propane AND Electricity.

    1. Post author

      So glad to know I am not the only one with 4 freezers lol. We had two beef in for processing and only had a half sold I was starting to panic, I had no room for that much beef as all 4 freezers are full ( a good problem to have). We did get all but a half sold which was what we wanted.
      We only use wood for heat I to hate to pay propane when the girls were still home we had to fill twice a year now that they are gone once a year and it isn’t even that low (amazing how much hot water two teenage girls can go through lol).
      How do you like your tankless water heater? Had been thinking about one but the house the girls rented had one and they never seemed to have enough hot water.Didn’t know if it was the heater or them just using too much.
      Love my cast iron pans, I do try to do some cooking on my woodstove especially things like soups and stews.
      Totally look forward to retiring and not having to pay attention to the clock but don’t know if that will ever get to happen lol. That is great for your electric bill, I need to do more to get mine down but one of my freezers is very old and needs to be replaced with something a little more energy saving along with my fridge.
      Have a great day

      1. NRP

        Ok, now what’s really sad, is All four of my freezers are full also and I live alone… HAHAHA
        (1) Buffalo 1/2 Beef, and 2 hogs will take the space FAST (and I give away 60% of the Beef Burger), and I can only about 3/4 of the Garden, so the rest gets frozen… UGH! I need another freezer……
        I have a two-fifty gallon Propane Tank and I get it fill every two years. I’m doing more and more Wood Stove cooking and Crock-Pot as well.
        I do have a Rinnai 200BTU instantaneous water heater, I have NEVER ran out of HOT HOT water, have had it since the house was build (10 years now) and absolutely love it. There is a newer one out there, Navien, that’s to be even better. I believe your ‘girls’ renter house water heater must need cleaning. Checkout y-Tube on how, very simple.

        FYI, you retire?? Hahaha never going to happen, you live on a Ranch LOLOL