The Mindful Merchant

Shop – Eat – Live – Mindfully

Save Energy – Save Money – the old-fashioned way November 6, 2009



I am very blessed to have both my parents with us in their senior years. They are inspiring, loving people.  Both have incredible life experiences and stories to tell.  My parents have taught me about being frugal, and I am proud of that. I also joke about it…often.

Recently I sat at their kitchen table, enjoying a delicious lunch of leftover soup made from the Thanksgiving turkey. We were using cloth napkins Mom made when I was a Girl Guide and Dad was wearing a fleece jacket done up to the neck. We discussed how to reduce my family’s energy consumption and lower monthly bills. You are probably aware of all the ideas listed below. I found it a good reminder to crack down on bad habits and make some significant changes. Here is how Art and Audrey save energy in their home.


Turn down the heat. Put on a sweater (or a jacket in my Dad’s case). Wear slippers and use an extra blanket at night. Install a programmable thermostat. In my parent’s home, Dad just cranks the dial down himself – no need for the technical gadgets. Mom simply turns the dial up when the dog starts to shiver. If you lower the thermostat just 3 C  (5 F) while asleep you will save up to 6% on heating in the colder months. 


Run the dishwasher only when it is full, late at night before you go to bed. When the wash cycle is complete simply open the door and let it air dry overnight. My parents time it with “The National” and open the dishwasher door when Peter Mansbridge is finished delivering the news.


Wash your laundry in cold water. Hot water laundry is only for sheets, towels and nasty stuff. Hang everything you can to dry.


Unplug everything you can. Appliances and electronics draw electricity even when they are powered off. The only way to stop this is to unplug them.


When baking, roasting or broiling resist the temptation to peek. Opening the oven door causes the temperature to drop 20%, wastes energy and prolongs the cooking time. Mom says that is why cakes fall and cookies flatten. (I do not have this problem because Loblaws apparently does not peek at their baking)


Turn lights off when you leave a room. Replace burnt out bulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs. (cfl’s)  They use 60% less energy.  I used to laugh when my husband and I used to drive up to Art and Audrey’s house. “Oh, your parents must be asleep” my husband observed. “Are you kidding?” I would laugh, “They are inside huddled under one lamp watching TV”. Sure enough, we rang the bell and the lights would turn on as they made their way to the front door.  Install motion sensors on outdoor lights to reduce energy use.  It is a good security feature too.


Do not forget to clean the condenser coil at the back of your fridge. It will help the appliance run more efficiently. While you are there, you might as well clean under the fridge too. That is not an energy saving tip, but Mom always insists your house is only as clean as it is under your fridge and stove. (?)


Change direction on your ceiling fan blades. They should operate in a clockwise direction pushing warm airflow down in the winter. Hey Dad, there is no need to argue under the fan this winter – I looked it up – the correct direction is CLOCKWISE.


As much as I make fun of my parents, they are right (and smart!). Reducing our energy consumption this winter is better for the environment and saves us money. All these little things add up. I am going to call Art and Audrey tonight to tell them about this post…just as soon as I put on another sweater.





6 Responses to “Save Energy – Save Money – the old-fashioned way”

  1. CMac Says:

    Thanks for this Mindful Merchant. You had be laughing out loud but also creating a mental checklist of things I need to adjust around ChezMac this winter.

  2. Glad you are smiling and thinking about a few changes in your home. Hope you have a warm sweater too. lol

  3. Alli Says:

    Thanks for the reminders and tips!! Your mom is not allowed to look under my fridge or stove on her next visit! 🙂
    My 8 year old also loved reading this with me, interesting and important to discuss with our children!

  4. Thank you Alli. I am happy you read this with your daughter – that is wonderful! You have reminded me to share my posts with my children too…I haven’t done that in a while.

  5. Chris Says:

    Do be careful about the setting on your hot water heater though. As this post would suggest, the temperature has to be high enough to kill bacteria in your water tank. Not nice to think about but it’s a reality.

  6. Thank you for bringing that to my attention Chris. Scary stuff! After reading the article you forwarded I have decided to delete the suggestion to lower the temperature on the hot water tank. I will look into this a bit more and perhaps write a post in the future. I do worry about setting the water tank above 60 C – that is a scalding accident waiting to happen with young children. Thanks again for the heads up.

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