Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Up yours, OPEC!

Bills are up. Gas bill. Food bill. Electric bill. It's just costing more and more to live, especially if you have a family with school age kids. I'm taking the girls school shopping tomorrow and I am not looking forward to that bill! Whatever happened to just needing Crayons, glue, paper and pencils for school? Now we need dry erase markers, washable markers, colored pencils, Ziploc bags, antibacterial wipes, Germ-X hand sanitizer and a variety of 2-pocket folders along with all the other "necessary" school supplies. Oh, and new clothes. Can't forget the new clothes for both girls. It's no wonder I'm still wearing 4-year-old shoes with very little sole left.

Anyway, with bills continuously climbing but our paychecks staying the same, Hubby and I decided we needed to do something NOW before it gets out of control. I think I mentioned before I was spending nearly $600 a month on gas for my truck. Yes, you read that right $600. Insanity! I was almost to the point where I was paying for the opportunity to come to work every day, rather than the other way around.

Last week we started carpooling in his car, which is much, much better on gas than my truck. I think we've spent right around $50 in gas so far, which is a far cry from the nearly $200 I was spending a week. Sure, we have to leave the house by 6 a.m., but it's actually been kind of nice not only sharing the drive time, but also nice having an extra two hours every day with each other.

In anticipation of outrageous propane bills this winter to keep our house warm, Hubby is building a solar heat exchanger to put on the roof of the house. I'm not entirely sure how it works, but basically, it gathers heat from the sun, which heats the air in the exchanger. The heated air is then pumped into the house via a solar-powered intake fan. Cooler air from the house is pumped back into the exchanger to be heated by the sun. It's a non-stop cycle. We'll see how well it works. He's pretty excited about it, and, if it helps keep costs down, I'm all for it. We are also looking into installing a wood-burning stove in the living room. We have a fireplace in the family room and it keeps that end of the house pretty warm, but it's not enough to warm the other half of the house. For the price of a tank of propane (which usually lasts us about two months) we can have a wood-burning stove installed. Add the solar heat exchanger to that, and we may see our lowest heating bills ever.

We've researched a wind turbine to generate electricity for us and would like to have one installed, but, at this point, it's a tad bit cost-prohibitive at about $23,000. One day...

It sure will be nice to have an "extra" $600 a month to get some much-needed house remodeling projects done! And, I've got my little eye on a new horse trailer, too. Hehe!


Wendy said...

can't ya burn all that horse poop for fuel, too?

Jenn said...

The horse poop makes my veggies grow nice and big so I'm spending less at the grocery store. :P And can you imagine the STINK of burning horse poop in the house? Icky.

Sona said...

I hear ya about the supplies for school. And we're trying to sell a car to cut down on bills, too.

amy said...

For carpooling, did you guys adjust your work schedules so you aren't waiting around for the other to get off work or for your work to start? Aren't your schedules like a couple hours different or something? And who gets to keep the car during the day? Don't you need it for work? Who gets to drive to and from work? Do you take turns? Do you fight over radio stations or books-on-cd? Ok, Ok, now I'm only asking questions to be annoying :)

Jenn said...

Sona...the school supply thing is getting out of control. Of course, on top of all the supplies, there are the book and activity fees. $60 for the 7-year-old, $95 for the 16-year-old. Sheesh.

Amy...oh, you are annoying! Let's see: We didn't have to adjust schedules by much. I get my online stuff for work done at home by 5:30 a.m., and we both get off at 3 p.m. Because I start work an hour earlier, I can take an hour and a half lunch, which I use to go to the gym. He walks to the base gate (I can't get on base w/out a pass)and is usually there by the time I get there from my office. I keep the car during the day. He doesn't need to leave the office, but I do, frequently. He drives us to work, I drive home. And finally, I've converted him from radio listening to audiobook listening, which is kind of nice because now we have that to talk about, too. So far, so good!