This week, the price of crude oil jumped to almost
$100 a barrel. Heating our homes could cost us more than 20% over what we paid last year…maybe $500 extra for
the season. And gasoline may soon be nearly $4 a gallon.
The ripple effect will be seen in everything from electricity
prices to higher bills at the grocery store.
Still, everyone thought we’d stop driving when the price
at the pump hit $3. We didn’t.
We slowed our consumption of gas-guzzler SUV’s, though.
We’re evidently smart enough to realize that “something has to give.”
I remember when I was about 6 (1954) gas was a whopping 23¢ a
gallon. Grandpa owned a welding shop and sold gas. Customers came in and exchanged their dollar bills for silver dollars which
ran the coin-operated pumps.
Other pieces from the 1950’s?
A home would set you back $22,000 dollars.
A new Ford cost $1748- $3151
Bread was 18¢ a loaf
And you could mail a letter for 3¢.
Of course, the average income was around just $4500.
Some people are doing really well financially. For them, the prospect
of spending another $20 every time they fill up their vehicle or that $500 extra to heat their homes isn’t daunting.
Me? I’m daunted.
And I’m cold blooded.
And I’m old. I’m a Beyonder.
Okay, Enough whimpering. We can’t turn back the clock. We
can turn back the thermostat.
I read an article that encouraged me to take a walk around the
outside of my house. Okay, I was up for that. It was warm, the leaves were changing.
From somewhere, I heard the musical sound of wood being chopped.
Wait. That wasn’t an axe. That was my storm windows flapping
in the breeze. I guess I need to take care of that. Fix the storm windows and make sure they’re on correctly.
While I was checking out
the windows to make sure they fit tightly, a movement caught my eye. My grandson was waving at me through a gap in the
siding. I have a feeling the warm fuzzies I get from that wave won’t help much when the snow flies. Fix gaps in siding.
I would have stayed outside a bit longer, except for the piece
of insulation that fell from the roof and hit me smack on the head. It didn’t bleed much. Still, I made a mental note: Make sure the skylights, chimneys and vents
are tightly and securely insulated.
I went inside, iced my head and continued my inspection. The attic
has always scared me. There are things up there that go bump!
But in the daylight, I realized the noise came from wind coming
in around the air ducts. And from the door to the main house rattling in the air currents. Gotta caulk and insulate up there: At least 10 inches of fiberglass insulation on the attic floor.
The doors could use a
little weather-stripping, too. Maybe some foam strips to make them fit tighter.
And the article I read said to feel the roof. If the roof is damp, there may be places where moisture and cold could enter. Find them and fill
The article said to go to the above ground floors next. It said
to feel the area around light fixtures, windows, doors, electrical outlets and exhaust
fans. A little note here…it works best to shut off the fans before
you stick your hand in there. Again, not much blood.
If you feel cold air coming in, you need to caulk, or somehow fill the gaps. There are gaskets made to fit behind the outlet coverings.
Air conditioners let the
cold in, and the heat out. Take them out and store them, if you can. (Careful
here, as you could cause some more of those pesky gaps if the unit isn’t made to remove.) If you can’t take them out, surround them with fiberglass insulation and use duct tape to cover that with plastic
The article said a ¼ inch
gap at an exterior door has the same effect on heating a room as a 4” square hole in the middle of a wall!
The article said to also
check the entry spots for telephone, computer and television cables. You might want to caulk around those. And if the gap
is larger than ½” use expanding foam to fill it.
Okay. I also read that
cobwebs are a sure sign of drafts. The spiders have to be getting in somewhere.
At my house, cobwebs are a sign that I don’t want to climb
up on the stepladder today. Maybe tomorrow. (Daddy long legs are our friends, consuming their weights in mosquitoes.)
Vacuum the cooling coils
on the back of your fridge. Dust makes them work harder. (I pulled out three dust bunnies from behind my refrigerator,
They smelled funky. They had tails.
Change the furnace filters
often. Dirty filters make the unit work harder and use more fuel
Consider lowering the
temperature on your hot water heater. A household of four people taking five-
minute showers every day uses a lifetime supply of drinking water for one person every six months! I’m not lowering
mine much, I’ll just drink less water.
And turn down your thermostat
on your furnace. To 68 degrees.
Unless you’re a Beyonder, and cold blooded. Then consider
no more than 70, and wear a sweater. Or a parka. Maybe watch TV from a sleeping bag…an outdoor-approved type with a
smooth zipper so you don’t get stuck in case you need to go to the bathroom (Just being honest here. I’m a Beyonder,
In the kitchen, the article
said, flip your refrigerator’s anti-sweat heater switch
(whatever that is) to “save energy.”
And get rid of the “beer
fridge” in the basement…it can cost up to $80 a year.
Dust all light bulbs…dirty
bulbs don’t give as much light. (that’s okay in my book because then you can’t see the dust on everything
Switch to the new compact
fluorescent bulbs. They’re more energy efficient and last
AND TO SAVE GAS IN YOU CAR:
1) TURN OFF THE IGNITION WHEN IT IS STOPPED. 10 SECONDS OF IDLING USES MORE FUEL THAN RESTARTING THE ENGINE.
2) IN THE WINTER, DON’T IDLE A COLD ENGINE FOR MORE
THAN 30 SECONDS BEFORE DRIVING AWAY.
3) AVOID AGGRESSIVE DRIVING…JACKRABBIT STARTS AND
HARD BRAKING CAN INCREASE FUEL CONSUMPTION BY 39%.