We’re Doing Big Things to Tame Our Heating Bill

November 20, 2013 Permalink

One of my most hated expenses is the heating bill.

We don’t have air conditioning, so we only experience this type of bill for a few months every year, but it’s still a pain. Our heating bill isn’t even all that much, but it’s enough to make us want to save a bit here and there on it.

We moved in December 2012 to a house that is quite a bit larger than our previous dwelling/shack. A larger house generally results in larger bills, particularly when it comes to heating, cooling, and electricity.

We’ve been able to keep our electricity bill cost neutral, but we’re on a mission to save some cash when it comes to heating, too. So far we’ve taken a few steps to bring it down a bit.

The Attic Re-Insulation Project

Our house came with a big problem when we bought it: vermiculite insulation in the attic, which unfortunately tested positive for asbestos.

We found out about the asbestos when we got our home inspection, and were able to negotiate the removal costs of the dangerous substance, but post-abatement we were left with an un-insulated attic.

We re-insulated the attic and every other point we could get at by purchasing the highest possible grade of thermal resistant insulation we could find. We insulated with R-40 and saved quite a bit of money on it by buying it off of Craigslist. 

Wood Burning Stove

We have a wood burning fireplace, which we try to use as often as possible instead of the alternative forced air heat.

The heat from a wood burning fireplace seems so much warmer than forced air or electric heat, and it’s free.

We don’t buy wood for the fireplace. Instead, we use discarded pallets. There are a lot of companies that have to pay to get pallets picked up and shipped away, so we (and by we, I mean my fiance) picks them up from the businesses (construction companies, grocery and furniture stores, etc) after talking to the management.

He then chops up the pallets and we have free heat all winter.

Changing out the Windows

Our fireplace doesn’t reach our loft, which we’ve turned into our ultimate master bedroom. This is the only room in the house that doesn’t have double paned windows, as the reno company that worked on our house before we bought it overlooked them.

This is next on our priority list. While we don’t really use the electric heat in the loft, single paned windows can be poor for air quality. Condensation can build up more readily with single paned windows, causing mould and mildew on the window sills.

Plus, the loft can get pretty hot in the summer and double paned windows can help with that.

 

What do you do to reduce your heating bill?

What I’ve Watched & Read – Fall Edition

November 14, 2013 Permalink

My posts in the past that touch on what I’ve watched and read recently are pretty popular. I guess I can see why – I love getting recommendations of good books to read and documentaries to watch.

Recap of May

Recap of April

To find documentaries, I usually just call out on Twitter to find out what other people are watching. That way I don’t have to re-create the wheel.

What I’ve Read

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been super busy, but being in planes, trains, and automobiles as allowed me some down time, unplugged, to read. I’ve also always been in the habit to spend at least 15 minutes before bed with a book – no matter how late I turn in – and if I don’t do this, I don’t sleep. Despite it being a solitary habit, reading can also be expensive. Check out my post about how I read 4+ books per month for free.

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

This was such. a. good. book.

Alias Grace

Alias Grace

I got it for free using Swagbucks [referral code], and started reading it on my way home from my vacation. Despite being in a plane/at an airport for over 14 hours, the trip went quick (as trips do when you have a good book to read).

I love Margaret Atwood, and Alias Grace was no exception.

The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton

I loved this novel. I find it hard to describe, but it’s essentially about a little girl (turned teenager and adult later in the book) who is growing up with a self absorbed, dysfunctional chocolate heiress as a mother.

I gobbled it up in under a week.

My mom bought this book and loaded it on her Kindle. This enabled me to read it since we share an Amazon account. Free!

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

I’m currently reading this book. It’s really good. You can tell that it’s written by a young girl, and the writing is good but not amazing, but with a really good story, that doesn’t matter.

Malala focuses on the school that her father ran and she went to, and the horrors that her valley underwent under the Taliban. I’m only about 60% through the book but she hasn’t really focused on the shooting.

So far I’d recommend it.

What I’ve Watched

I love documentaries, and I also have a bit of a weakness for MTV reality TV. This will become apparent below..

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

I love documentaries that make me want to get off my ass and get moving. I find that they usually stoke small lifestyle changes on my part. When I watched Forks Over Knives, I cut out a lot of the dairy that I was eating prior to watching it. Even though I knew that animal products weren’t healthy, I still ate them. Seeing real life examples of the effects of these things and real statistics kicks me into gear.

This documentary had a similar effect. The documentary is about a man who was overweight, had a rare disease, and was overly stressed. He took a few months off and went on a juice diet, and was committed to living a healthier lifestyle. His juice fast lasted for several months, and the transformation was pretty amazing.

I didn’t buy into the whole juicing thing, but it does make you think about what you’re eating and whether or not you are getting the nutrients you need.

Catfish the TV Show

We caught an episode of this when we were travelling and were hooked.

There’s something so interesting about watching people fall in love online, and find out who their internet amour really is. It’s probably more interesting for me, because I met my fiance the old fashioned way – at a party (when I was 18).

Plus, Nev and Max are adorable so that’s helpful.

I watch this for free on mtv.ca.

 

Any suggestions on my next favourite documentary or book?

Making Your Cubicle Work for You

October 2, 2013 Permalink

For those who haven’t yet graduated to the corner office, you can still find the silver lining of cube-dwelling by making your cubicle work for you. While some are of the camp that a messy desk means you’re hard-working and busy, recent data show that 83% of managers and workers find that tidiness affects their perception of professionalism.

How can you use this to your advantage? Treat your cubicle like a personal assistant to help you build your reputation even while you’re out of the office.

Paperwork

Keep it clean

Not only does this mean that your cube needs to be free of clutter and chotchkies (goodbye, towering plants and lucky charms) but also neutral-smelling. Read: Neutral does not mean floral. It’s a no-brainer that you want to avoid food smells, but you also want to avoid overwhelming perfume or scented soap, lotion, or candles. Don’t be the one people avoid because of your strong scents!

Decorate wisely

Hopefully you know to avoid posting a photo of your most recent keg stand, but too many photos of family, friends, and vacation might not give the best impression, either. Pick one or two carefully chosen photos in which you look friendly, responsible, and professional, and leave the rest in your home office.

As for office supplies, leave the flower-ended pencils and cube wallpaper in your home office, too. In today’s virtual climate, your cube should be equally comfortable to you as to a virtual employee who crashes it on your work from home day.

Attract a crowd

Interacting with coworkers can be hard. So, take a few steps to make it easier by being stocked on basic office necessities such as extra staples, mild painkillers (think Tylenol, Advil), bandaids, etc. Even better? Throw in a few snacks and treats to send out an even more welcoming vibe. When the office gets wind that you’re the go-to-gal (or guy) for just about everything, you’ll find that your workspace will always have a friendly vibe.

Leave work behind

Finally, while your cube should always be tidy and clean, make sure you leave some kind of unclassified working documents in a neat pile somewhere. Not only will this give you a great reminder of where to begin the next time you are in the office, but it also subtly reinforces to passersby that your cube is a place of business.That way, the words that come to the mind of anyone passing by your cube are “neat,” “clean,” and “work.” And who doesn’t want that reputation?

Do you think a person’s cubicle speaks for them? How do you leave your workspace?