Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kohl's: Is it really a deal or not?

If you ever wondered if you're getting a deal at Kohl's like I do, you've probably also done what I did on Tuesday.  I bought a pair of Asic tennis shoes.  They were 30% off on sale and I had a 30% off coupon.  So, that made them $49.  There was also one of those promotions that if you spend $50, then you'll get $10 Kohl's cash to spend a few days later.  I needed to get my husband a wallet, so I did get that $10 Kohl's cash (which I spent on socks I needed today).

I came home very curious about whether or not the shoes were actually a good deal, so I looked them up online.  The regular price on several different websites was $70--Kohl's sale price.  So, my theory theory I told my husband held true.  I think the only way to get a good deal at Kohl's is to buy something on sale and have an additional coupon.

Paint the walls? Or Paint the windows instead...

A friend of mine pointed out to me that instead of painting the walls in their house, they painted their window and door frames a color.  I hadn't noticed it until she pointed it out, but of course I did after she said something.  Indeed, they had painted all of the walls in their home white and the frames a nice, calming blue.  It fit perfectly with the character of her home.

I have always, always painted the frames white.  I have always figured that white is easy to touch up.  Our new house has wood frames on  almost all of the window and door frames.  But, in one of the bathrooms, the walls were peach (as well as the ceiling) and the window frame was black.  This week, I painted the walls white.  The bathroom is still old fashioned with all the original tile (peach and black) and blue tub and toilet, but the white paint makes me smile.  

Here's the old

and new:

The black against the white reminded me of my friend's house, so I decided to do the same in our bathroom.  I tried to find a picture of the walls and frame before, but I think I disliked it so much I couldn't bring myself to take one.  But, imagine walls the color of red burgundy wine and a white window frame--with blue and maroon tile on the walls.  This is a picture of the frame now surrounded by the white wall.  I think the blue frame complements the tile rather than overwhelming it.  I like it.  

So, I'm glad I did it.  But, I don't know if I would choose to paint all of the frames in a house one color.  I admire my friend and her husband for doing it.  I love the way it looks, but I think it can be a lot more difficult to paint a window frame and door frame than the walls.  I don't use tape so it was much trickier to paint the sides of the frame and cut in just right.  I was able to scrape paint off the glass with my finger nail, so that wasn't a problem.  But, it was much harder than I thought it would be.  

One of the things I love about fixing up a house is finding the projects you can do with materials you already have.  That's one reason I buy white paint.  It has so many purposes and can be used to paint trim, walls, furniture...  The blue paint that I used in the bathroom was one that I found in the basement left by the previous owner.  I think it's also what she used on the kitchen cabinets, but the rooms are far enough away from each other that they probably won't seem too similar.

So, that's what I was up to this week.  The last room has now been painted.  Yippee!  Now on to the basement walls and waterproofing masonry paint... 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Saving Electricity

My sweet 3 year old son is sleeping on the bathroom floor tonight.  He complained of a tummy ache and I asked him if it was a hungry tummy ache or a throw up kind of tummy ache.  He thought it was a throw up kind.  So I made a little bed of towels for him on the floor of the bathroom.  I asked him if he wanted to have the light on.  This was his reply:

"No, because I don't want to waste the electricity."

I smiled inwardly and outwardly.  I want my children to have the desire to not waste--whether electricity or water.  I don't want them to obsess about it, but I do want them to wise about what they consume.  It took me by surprise that Eli would say this, but it made me glad to know that he's on board.  

I have recycled newspapers and aluminum cans all of my life.  I can't remember a time when I didn't.  In my mind, the reason I do it is because my mom did it when I was growing up.  I'm glad she did.  I hope my kids will feel the same way about me some day.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saving Energy

Our electric and gas bill came this week.  I'd been waiting for this bill expectantly to see what it held.  We've had an extremely warm winter, but even so our January bill was very expensive--twice the bills of my friends who I asked.

I discovered something as I asked my friends.  Many people keep their daytime indoor temperatures at between 61 and 63 degrees.  I know that your body adjusts and you get used to wearing sweaters.  My mom being a Southern California transplant is adjusting to our mid-Atlantic winters.  She wears a second layer in our house with it at 67 degrees.  My family all prefers it at about 67 so that means I need to budget and expect a higher bill because of it--as long as the bill is affordable for our budget.  If we find it is too much, I will turn down the temperature on our thermostats.  

With that in mind, I wanted to reduce our bill without turning down the temperature in our house.  These are the problems I found in the past 2 months that we fixed.  I was very thankful to find that after fixing these things our bill this month was just a little over half of the month's previous bill.  Yahoo!

1) Air was pouring in around our back door.  I weatherstripped it.  It's not perfectly sealed, but it probably reduced about 80% of the air coming in. (cost: $5)  At first I tried a self-adhesive weatherstripping, but it didn't adhere very well.  So, I had to then nail in a different type of rubber weatherstripping in.

2) I just discovered this week that around the base of our front door, air was also pouring in where the hot water baseboard met the wall.  So, I went downstairs and got some foam weatherstripping that I stuck on the wall (It's not visible under the baseboard) and caulked around the rest of the door. (cost: $3 tube of caulk and a portion of a roll of weatherstripping foam $4)

3) Several windows were slightly cracked open and can't be closed, so I needed to stick weatherstripping foam in them. (previous roll)

4)  I caulked around the living room windows that had been installed and finished, but never caulked.  (cost: caulk tube $3)

5) We started teaching the kids to not turn on so many lights.

6) I painted our bathroom walls white.  This surprised me.  The white brightens up the bathroom so much that I almost never need to turn on the lights in the room.  (cost: the room needed to be painted and it took a portion of a gallon so probably cost about $15 because it needed several coats)

7) We upped the humidity setting on our dehumidifier in the basement so that it isn't constantly on.  I am going to paint the basement walls with drylok in the future to decrease the moisture, but for now the dehumidifier is there.  I think turning this up saved us a lot of money on our bill.  (cost:  drylok will cost $23-$27/gallon at Lowe's.  It will take several gallons to paint the basement walls.)

8) We found that there was electricity running to the extra water heater in the basement that hadn't been removed (and it was heating water!).  We had the water heater removed.

9) We replaced some of the specialty high wattage bulbs with LED bulbs.  These were very expensive, but they're safer because of their locations as well as more energy efficient. (cost: $60)

10) We discussed as a family which light fixtures consumed a lot of energy and make a concerted effort not to turn them on unless we need them.

11) I make sure I don't leave the stereo receiver on if it's not in use.

For the future, 

1) We're going to hopefully insulate the floor boards of our den down the road.

2) We're going to replace the back door this month and install a storm door on the front door.  (The kids leave it wide open when they're all entering or exiting and lose a lot of heat through it accidentally).  One friend of mine said that they saved $15/month on electricity when they replaced their front and back doors.

3) We're going to insulate some of the pipes in the basement (particularly the ones that run the water to the kitchen) when we have time.   It's on the future to do list.  Right now we're basically heating our entire basement and our main floor because all the pipes are exposed in the basement.  The best way to insulate them would be to get these long strips of foam that fit around the pipes.  

When I got the crazy bill in January, my mom and I looked over several energy usage lists.  The high use culprits for electricity in our house are the dryer, clothes washer, dishwasher, oven, stereo receiver, lights (there are some fixtures in this house that have a lot of bulbs!), the toaster oven, the dehumidifier.  One that was on many lists that doesn't get much usage in our house is a hair dryer.  Hair dryers use a surprising amount of energy.  

So, now I'm going to wait expectantly for next month's bill and see how we fare!  One friend told me yesterday that she loves to save money and consume less.  I feel the same way.  As much as these efforts are about saving money, I really want my family to consume less energy.  I want to be the best steward that I can be of the world God has given us to live in--and not waste energy.