Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Just Tuesday Stuff

I made it through another end-of-the-quarter with my job this week.....I don't think I've ever been so happy to see April 1st before. Since Sunday, I managed to get almost $100,000 of damaged and failed computer cards approved and sent back to the suppliers (big sigh of relief for me and the people I support). Now I can sink back into the regular, manageable work routine for a couple months (and even find some time for blog reading during the day.....life is good!)

So we had some nice sunshine today which melted almost all of the snow that fell again yesterday and overnight. It wasn't very warm, but it was above freezing for the afternoon, so I won't complain.

It's so great to see the sun all the way into the evening now. The only bad thing is what it reveals on my windows.....
Kitty doesn't seem concerned, but I'm almost embarassed to show you how dirty this big dining room window has gotten over the winter! I think I know what I'm going to be doing this weekend once the temps get back up into the 50's.

I did manage to find a fairly clean spot to get this nice picture of Mr. Cardinal glowing in the sunset.
He sure likes those safflower seeds and seems quite happy not having to compete with grackles at this feeder anymore.

April 1st also marks the end of the "Freeze Your Buns Challenge" where we tried turning the thermostats lower than normal for the winter. I was curious to see how the last 6 months (October through March) of utility bills compared with the same time period of last year. I set my programmable thermostat for 64 degrees in the daytime and 62 degrees at night (I kept it a little warmer for the dogs who were in their kennels all day while we're at work). Last year I ran it at 67 degrees while we were up, 62 degrees during the day while at work, and 60 degrees at night.

Here are the natural gas usage results:

October 2006-March 2007: 440 Therms used (average 73 per month) for a total of $440.11 (average $73.35 per month)
October 2007-March 2008: 446 Therms used (average 74.3 per month) for a total of $464.64 (average $77.44 per month)

I think the minimal increase was actually worth freezing my buns for. I don't know how much of a cost increase there was in natural gas from last year (but it must have gone up, right?) I also didn't do any further checking to find out what the difference in average temperatures was from last year to this year, although I'm pretty sure this year was much colder than last year. We also went through almost an entire cord of firewood ($165) in the fireplace, but that supplemental heat kept the furnace from running as frequently--especially on those cold weekends when we were home to keep the fire going.
NOTE: We also have a gas clothes dryer and gas water heater.

So as long as I was checking utility bills, I decided to check the electric bill and see if there was any noticeable difference (especially since switching to compact fluorescent bulbs in most of the light fixtures). These results were a bit more surprising because my electricity usage actually increased a little bit (maybe too much time spent on the computer every day??)

October 2006-March 2007: 3060 KWH used (average 510 per month) for a total of $432.35 (average $72.05 per month)
October 2007-March 2008: 3072 KWH used (average 512 per month) for a total of $445.56 (average $74.26 per month)

I keep two heated birdbaths plugged in all winter. I know that these use quite a bit more electricity--especially when the outside temps are at or below zero. But I just can't bear the thought of my birds not being able to find water in the winter--especially when I have so many of them visiting my backyard habitat, so it's a sacrifice that I've learned to live with.

So anyway, there you have it....if this post doesn't cure your insomnia, nothing will! At least I have a good idea now of my actual utility usage and also a good baseline for next winter's conservation efforts.


Meggie said...

You get an A+ for conservation, Ruthie. I'm not quite as dedicated. My thermostat stays at 65 degrees all the time. I'm lucky I can remember to brush my teeth...I could never remember to change the darn thermostat.

Beth said...

Good for you for conserving. That cardinal looks like he is glowing, very beautiful. Our snow pack is still at least 2 feet deep but that's down from 4 feet a couple of weeks ago--it won't be long.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Meggie,
I'm with you, that's why I'm so glad I've got a programmable thermostat--don't have to try and remember one more thing! The hardest part was figuring out how to program the durn thing!

Hi Beth,
Gosh, 2 feet of snow yet? Is that normal for April? I hope you start getting some nice weather and can enjoy spring soon too!

Hedgewitch said...

The sun came out here, too, yesterday and I resolved to find a window-cleaner asap, lol!!

I'm so impressed you did the thermostat thing to conserve energy .. good for you :-)

April said...

Windows are high on my Spring cleaning list as well! That cardinal certainly brightens my day. You make a good case for turning down the heat and being aware of our consumptions.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think your kitty has the right idea. Just relax. No one is going to worry about that dirty window. Gee I mean you can still see out the window. Not to worry.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Hedgewitch,
Just having the sun shine can sure change my overall attitude (for the better). My biggest windows in the house all face southwest, so even though the sun provides a lot of solar warmth, it sure highlights the dirty windows.

Hi April,
It wasn't so much that I was worried about my consumption, I was more worried about whether I'd have the financial means to pay the heating bill (good thing I can knit and crochet--lots of afghans and sweaters in my house!)

Thanks Lisa, for the reality check--you're right, I don't have any trouble seeing out (but it does make it difficult to get good photos)