Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Small houses

For several months I have actively been researching small house living. The idea of having a small "paid for" house, no mortgage payments, lower utility bills and property taxes and has definitely got me interested. The underground movement of living small, living simply, and living off the grid is gaining momentum. And I can see why. The last several years of economic strife has made a lot of people realize self suffiency is a good thing.

What I like most about these small houses is their simplicity. They are built affordably, often by the same people who will inhabit them. They are built to be energy efficient and laid out to be totally functional. Many are constructed with recyced materials and enviromentally friendly products. Smaller houses mean smaller footprints. People are finding "stuff" doesn't bring you happiness and are instead opting for a debt and stress free life. A simple life.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


We decided to lower our thermostat this winter to see what effect it would have on our Progress Energy bill. Cutting it down to 64 degrees at the beginning of December proved to be quite chilly and we used our gas logs to help out. It was soon apparent after having to order another propane tank 3 weeks into the season, that using our logs daily to help out wasn't going to save us any money. It would take hours of running the gas logs to raise the temperature from 64 to 68 degrees, especially since our home's living room, dining room and kithen are open to each other. No partition walls between rooms means you have a greater area for the heat to dissipate and lose warmth(or at least it sure feels that way).

So, we upped the thermostat to 66. If we needed to turn on the logs to take the chill off, it of course didn't take as long to raise the temp up to 68. We started layering our clothes and have found 66 degrees to be quite tolerable by doing so. I put an electric radiator heater in the bathroom and turned it down to the lowest setting. Surprisingly it has done the trick to take the morning chill off when we shower.

Did we save any money? Well, yes we did. To the tune of $40 less this month compared to the same time last year and we did it during one of the coldest winters our area has had. The proofs in the pudding, lowering the temperature down a couple degrees has definitely saved us a few bucks this winter season.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Well, I'll be!

Waste management systems for dog poo. I'm not sure how long these have been around but I just heard of them yesterday. Monty said Lowe's Home Improvement has started to carry them and for ~ $25 you can buy one.

The idea is very simple and here is a little information taken from a website that sells them:

The Four Paws Waste Manager is the easy and “green” way to dispose of dog waste. The Waste Manager was designed to perform like a mini septic tank. The Waste Manager works “naturally” with rain/sprinkler water and enzymes as a catalyst to speed the breakdown of pet waste. Four free Natural Enzyme Tablets included. Additional Tablets are available for sale separately.

Since we have a pretty large lot, Monty long ago quit scooping every time Nina does her business. Instead it just lays out there on our lawn until it decomposes or gets stepped in, which usually elicits a loud #@#@. When that occurs he usually takes the initiative to search for and clean up the piles. Maybe having this system ready to go will make it easier to just get rid of it to begin with. No more hurling it down the hill, burying it or worse yet just letting it lay out there.

Sounds like something I should definitely check out.