Home frugal living/saving money Family of 15 Has a $65 Power Bill–How do They do it?

Family of 15 Has a $65 Power Bill–How do They do it?

by Kelly Crawford


“So far our daily expense has gone from a high of $8.08 per day to ( I believe) a low of just under $2.00 per day.”

I promised I would share some secrets from my neighbor who, though there are 15 people living in their 2-story, 3,000 sq. ft. house, manages to keep an average power bill of around $65 a month! And to top that, she’s working on cutting that by half, which she says is what her stove and oven uses.

And let me add that even she said every family is different, can handle different things, and has different needs.  So don’t feel guilty if you can’t cut out or implement all the same things–just be inspired to do some thinking about how you could curb a number of spending areas in your home. It’s about frugality, challenge, and fun! (And, you’ll be en vogue with all the “green” hype 😉

Sherry said they started by turning everything off. That is, shut the power grid, the water heater–everything. That way, they were able to see what they couldn’t live without, and what they could. She pointed out that we are so accustomed to convenience, we waste a lot of energy we wouldn’t even miss.

She mentioned that they replaced all their digital clocks with wind-up ones and haven’t missed them a bit.  A small savings to be sure, but it’s all those little things adding up.

  • Hot Water Heater.  One of the things she said they grew accustomed to was no hot water.  They have officially left their water heater off for about a year now. (I know, I can’t do cold showers either!)  They have a solar power water box that they use to heat up necessary water (dishes, add to children’s baths, etc.), which they put into a thermos pump, but other than that, the whole family has testified that cold showers are rather invigorating!  (BRRR!!!)

Sherry says:

“My husband was supportive of this new adventure, and not totally surprised, as I am often known to do whacky experiments at our house!  The children think we’re getting to play a fun new game.  Well, except when I, for the first time, forgot to turn the hot water heater back on.  The first two in the showers, my husband and my oldest son got the surprise of their life on that cold winter morning!!!  I have, in recent years, turned off the hot water; but I believe it was probably in the spring/summer time.  I wanted them to experience what some missionaries/people in foreign countries experience on a daily basis!  Now the hot water heater is off all the time and they tell me they actually enjoy the cold showers.”

Since the hot water heater is one of the big energy grabbers, this saves them a lot.  HOWEVER…there is an alternative  (I may have mentioned this before):  try turning off your water heater during the day and only turning it on right before showers/dishes, etc.  The water actually stays hot so it doesn’t use up much extra energy reheating, though it pulls all day if left on. (This is where our experiment starts 😉

NOTE: I’ve heard of some wrapping their hot water heater with blankets or extra insulation to extend power usage.

  • Lights. Sherry’s family virtually goes without electric lights.  They do use an occasional lamp for reading/piano etc., but other than that, they use two other sources–oil lamps and solar yard lights (is that not the coolest idea?)  She added that the oil lamps (which hang on the walls out of little’s reach) add a beautiful ambiance to the room 😉  The solar lights are left outside during the day and brought in like “torches” at night.
  • No Dryer. They wash a lot of laundry, so they use their energy–efficient front-loading washer.  But the clothes are hung on the line–inside if raining.  I heard her joke about selling the dryer all together–but I don’t think it was really a joke.

Sherry says:

“I think we’re saving approximately $40.00 dollars a month on our dryer alone (we hang all our clothes on the line)…”

  • Large appliances. Sherry experimented and found that her big deep freeze would keep food rock-hard if only plugged in every 2 or 3 days.  Try at your own risk 😉


  • Cooking Creativity. Rethinking meals is an important thing when you’re trying to watch appliance use.  Eating more raw foods obviously helps, as does using the crock pot more (Sherry turns her crock pot off earlier than usual, wrapping it in towels to cook further.) She gave another great example:  instead of cooking pinto beans to make re-fried beans (for dips, tacos, etc.), she grinds the beans to a powder first, then just needs to add hot water (from the pump) to make the bean mixture!  (I guess grinding uses less that heating water?)

Sherry says:

“We’re also working on a repertoire of no-bake desserts and we’ve gone from almost daily baking to twice a week bread-muffin-cookie-homemade pizza baking.”

Another benefit about turning everything off allowed her to see which appliances were pulling the most power.  By using one at a time, she could go out and look at her kilowatt usage and determine its pull.  (Look below for a handy web site that estimates appliances’ power usage.)

Sherry says:

We initially turned our power off during Tom’s office hours!  We would get all our laundry done by 7:30 or 8:00, cook whatever food we needed to prepare with the stove, get the laundry on the line, have a computer time,  and turn everything off.  We turned power back on at 4:30 and used the stove to heat up whatever was needed for dinner.  This helped us figure out what we actually missed, made our days a lot quieter, and helped us better organize our computer/electricity time. I also noticed that my children stopped trying to turn on lights, and the little ones gave up on asking for video time during the day. We left our hot water heater on during the night which provided enough hot water for the next day.

Of course the biggies are heat and air.  They usually do turn on the air conditioner during the 2 or 3 hottest months (it gets about 98 here), but I think they are up for the challenge of leaving it off this year.

Tips on staying cool? Spritzing the curtains with water (windows open, of course.)…Fans to circulate air…leaving your hair wet and put up…and by accident she got a dress off the line that was dew-damp and found it really did the trick keeping her cool!  She also mentioned rethinking the order of the day:  heavy work in the early morning, “down time” (reading to children in the swing) during the hottest part of the day.  And with a creek out back, I’m sure her children stay pretty cool!

Knowing where your breakers are and what they go to is a must.  Sherry said keeping them off altogether, besides a few outlets for computer, telephone, etc., helps with the temptation to flip on lights and things that aren’t really needed.

Sherry says:

“It really becomes a game–a challenge to see how much more you can save.  And we are hoping our children will be thinking, as they get ready to build houses, about ways to invest in more efficient ways of living.  It’s all about re-thinking everything.”


For the Crawford record (this stuff is contagious!) , we’ve had our 3rd hot day of the summer (upper 80’s), so far managing to keep the air off.  And remember, I’m pregnant–VERY pregnant, so kudos for that, huh?  Yes, we’re hot.  But it’s really not that bad, and our basement is much cooler if we get too hot.  Lots of people go without air conditioner–we just have to decide if it’s worth the savings!  (Although, we are at an unfair advantage:  we run a wedding business with the reception room on the same power grid as our home, and I don’t think the brides will be very sympathetic to our money-saving efforts 😉

Estimated Average Costs for Operation of Various Applicances

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Lori April 30, 2009 - 6:36 am

Hot water: In several of our faucets it takes gallons of water to get the hot. So I whenever I do get hot water (running the dishasher, boiling water for coffee) I save some in a carraf (it stays hot for 12 hours, warm for 24) for washing my face upstairs that evening, or (ahem) *strategic* bathing. I’ll microwave the water if I need to in a pinch.

Warmth: keep your heater low, and drink lots of hot tea, and take a hot pack to bed (we have flannel pillows filled with field corn that we microwave).

Keeping cool: drink more water! And if you live in a very dry arid area drinking hot bevs will make you sweat a bit, cooling you (dosen’t work in humid places) – a tip I learned from a family from a hot central asian city.

Also, in addition to using the crock pot (which is more energy eff. and won’t heat up your kitchen like the stove), use your toaster oven! It heats up so quickly you won’t waste energy pre-heating, and it is a small space so that requires less energy too. It’s perfect for anything you can cook in a 9×9 pan, so perfect for the small-medium size family. Also, the top gets hot too, so that’s a great way to warm the bread or last night’s veggies in a pan(if not heavy) – just keep the vent clear, and you might make a bit of a foil tent over it, but with the front and back mostly open. This helps to heat from the top too. If you utilize the toaster oven, its top, and the crock pot on the same night (maybe for soup), I bet you could even feed a large family with little energy.

Fun posting! 🙂

Kathy @ Teaching Good Things April 30, 2009 - 7:15 am

This is so wonderful! We are about to embark on the same journey. A penny saved is a penny earned.

Word Warrior April 30, 2009 - 7:18 am

Lori–good tips–I just started trying to do more toaster oven too.

Also, it works out great for me right now that I crave ice in my pregnancy! (The kind that you scrape off the freezer ceiling 😉

After I eat a bowl of it, I’m downright chilly!

So I’m thinking for the children, homemade popcicles, frozen yogurt, etc, are great treats to keep on hand.

Lori April 30, 2009 - 7:33 am

Oh, speaking of frozen, frozen grapes and frozen blueberries are delicious snacks, and boiled sweet corn is even sweeter when chilled!

Quinn April 30, 2009 - 7:52 am

Wow – she is an amazing woman, with one supportive family. My husband would never go for that. He thwarts many of my frugal attempts (cloth diapers for example) Maybe I’ll try to break him in slow ;D

Ruth April 30, 2009 - 8:11 am

I am enjoying my coffee and reading my blog reader to see this fascinating post… then I check my email and see that Kim Komando posted about a similar topic today, as well! She posted the following link, which I found coupled well with your post. It has to do with how much electrical items use when NOT in use: When they are in standby or plugged in. Here is the link: http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-table.html

I am looking forward to reading more comments here!

The Cottage Child April 30, 2009 - 8:49 am

Ya’ll are amazing- Kelly, I don’t know how you do the no a/c thing preggers – you’re a stronger woman than I. I pretty much have an unholy relationship with my a/c, but I will have it serviced this week to make sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible, and I’m trying your idea of turning off the hwh. I hear it cranking all the time and it’s like the tell tale heart – it’s haunting me. I also turned my closet light off last night when I went to bed. I leave it on when Lance isn’t here, it’s like a security blanket. Wouldn’t you know, I slept better than I have in weeks without that thing shining in my eyes all night.

Thanks for all the great ideas, everyone!

Word Warrior April 30, 2009 - 8:55 am

Cottage Child,

Did you know you just experienced a scientific fact about melatonin and sleep?

“By increasing light during the day and dark at night, you will fall asleep faster and sleep better.”

Lesley April 30, 2009 - 9:53 am

These are great ideas…I just don’t know if I’m ready for cold showers!! What about the fridge? Does she turn that off during the day as well?

Joanna April 30, 2009 - 9:56 am

These are great tips, and it really is nice when we can shave some money off of our expenses, which I think is good stewardship.

But God also does give us gifts to rejoice in, like AC during pregnancy (it felt like such a blessing while I was pregnant and I was thankful for it). And also, I think that we use the things that we’re given to show hospitality to others. In cases where we can (without going into debt) make people comfortable in our homes through cooking them a meal or having the house at a reasonable temperature, I think that we can use these conveniences as services to others.

Just a slightly different take, even though I really appreciate these tips.

Kim M. April 30, 2009 - 1:17 pm

That is just amazing! Just to think… Our house is way, WAY smaller so if we were to do even some of those things it could really lower our bills. I need to print this off and talk to my husband about it!

Bethany Hudson April 30, 2009 - 1:17 pm

Good tips, but I’ve gotta ask: Do you all live in a warm and relatively sunlit area? Because, I’m not sure I could do even a quarter of this stuff here in Seattle 🙂 Our electric costs are low compared to a lot of our neighbors, but this area in general is an electricity hog 😛

Bethany Hudson April 30, 2009 - 1:19 pm

OH, and Kelly – If you’re craving ice, you may want your iron levels checked. It’s usually a big red light for anemia. Of course, you’ve been through many more pregnancies than I, so perhaps you already know all this. Just thought I’d mention it 🙂

Word Warrior April 30, 2009 - 1:27 pm


Yes, we’re in the South with 4 distinct seasons…a few months of really hot and humid, with winters that can get in the teens several weeks out of the year, but mild compared to Northern states. Spring and Fall are perfect, usually 😉

Word Warrior April 30, 2009 - 1:39 pm


Yes, I did know that, and have been put on it before…but usually the levels aren’t low enough to matter (they tell me!) so I just enjoy my cravings *grin*

It’s actually hilarious–me trying to get the ice out of our freezer…I’m in the pantry banging on the metal shelves with a metal spatula into a big bowl…sounds like I’m tearing the house down.

Rachel Falaschi April 30, 2009 - 2:45 pm

Joanna, you are so right about hospitality. We keep our house at 63% in the winter. We have all adjusted to it, however, friends and family would decline invitations to come over because they would freeze. Now we either build a fire in the fireplace before visitors come, or we turn our heat up a bit.
We are very blessed to have our house located where it is. It is brick so it hold the heat better in the winter. In the summer we are covered by a canopy of trees that keep it shaded, the brick doesn’t have a chance to see the sun to get hot:) I love it.

We also have a timer on our water heater so it automatically shuts off at night and turns back on in the morning. It has helped our bill a little. I wonder if I try it the other way around if it would work better. We would have hot water in the morning for showers and go the rest of the day without it. Dishes though, that could be a problem…

The Cottage Child April 30, 2009 - 3:18 pm

Rachel, I’m just like you – I don’t turn on the heat until I can see my breath, inside the house. My husband and children accuse me of freezing them out, and my inlaws thought the furnace was broken and I was being too proud to ask for help to fix it or something. Here, it’s just impractical to run the heater. It makes more sense for everyone to take warm baths and run the dryer for a load, and take the bite off that way. Even if the temp drops to freezing, many times by early afternoon it’s in the high sixties, and everyone is complaining about how hot it is. We’re in a limestone house, so it works kind of like your brick does.

Fires for company are a great idea – it’s cozier than the painfully dry heat of the furnace. Good suggestion.

Missy in TN April 30, 2009 - 3:24 pm

Just wanted to let you know how I have looked forward to these Thrifty Thursday posts. There are only about 5 or 6 blogs that I love to read everyday and yours is one of the first! These were some great ideas but I just know we would go crazy with the cold showers. We are just trying to make them much shorter. I wondered if your friend had a blog so we could get even more helpful hints. Thanks, Missy in TN Also I keep meaning to find out when the baby is due. We are due for #6 in about 4-6 weeks and I am also craving ice, mostly the kind of ice you get at sonic. I am already HOT!! This week it has been 85-90 Yuck!

wordwarrior April 30, 2009 - 4:52 pm

Missy in TN,

LOL! Gotta love that ice.

No, Sherry doesn’t have a blog (that’d take up way too much electricity 😉 Just kidding…she’s a busy woman. But boy could she write a book though! I keep toying with the idea of compiling all her ideas into an ebook for her–you know, selling with royalties 😉 I’m seeing her tonight…think I’ll talk that over!

I am due July 13 but if you saw me you’d think it was tomorrow. Really huge. Congratuations on #6!

Meghann Jones May 1, 2009 - 1:42 pm

Oh this topic is fun! My husband and I have toyed with the idea of the oil lamps, but we cannot figure out how to use them without blackening the walls with the smoke! Do you know how they do it?

I love the other ideas as well, look forward to sharing with my hubby to see what he thinks!

Sherry May 1, 2009 - 6:24 pm


We purchased 8 inexpensive reflector lamps from Lehman’s and we haven’t had a problem with smoke. The lamps mount far enough from the wall to prevent smoke damage. The lighting is beautiful and the wall mounted lamps are out of reach of little hands! We also have one tabletop Aladdin lamp which produces light equivalent to a 50 W bulb. We use that one for our nightly reading/devotional time.

Meghann Jones May 1, 2009 - 8:22 pm

Thank you so much Sherry! I had heard of the Aladdin lamps but those were so out of our budget to do on a larger scale for the house. These Lehman one’s are much better.

I actually found two large beautiful lamps for $5 a piece at our local resale shop awhile back, just haven’t found oil that doesn’t smell while using them so we have not used them yet. I’m thinking those would be powerful enough for our reading times. Thank you! (And thank you Kelly for all of this info)

Ruby May 2, 2009 - 2:16 am

Great topic and very challenging!

Luci May 2, 2009 - 11:11 am

I have a few suggestions for those readers with furry friends… we’ve been able to cut our spending for our two cats without any hardship at all (for us or them!) (Sort of off topic, but I hope that’s okay!)

– Many brands of pet food are NOT cheaper at big box stores. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s cheaper for us to buy cat food (wet and dry) at our local grocery store in smaller packages. Check the prices – you might be surprised!

– You can make your own cat & dog food. I’m not kidding. If you live near a farm, ask about buying whole ground chickens. Our cats didn’t like this and simply refused to eat it, but many cats prefer this sort of food! You get more food for a whole lot less, and it’s better for the animals. (This is esp. true for dogs.)

– Beware of cheap, off-brand pet foods. They’re often made with very inferior ingredients, and can have bone chips in them that scratch your pets’ mouths. (The cost of vet bills rises accordingly…)

– It’s often cheaper to have a vet come to your house to do exams/shots/surgeries than to take your pets in. Why? The vet doesn’t have to pay overhead costs for operating an office. Plus, if they can come to you, it’s so much more convenient for scheduling! We cut our vet bills in half by doing this. (Also be sure to ask for 3-year or 2-year vaccinations instead of 1 year — some vets will automatically do 1-year vaccinations for things like rabies, when 3-year vaccinations are available, safe, and obviously save money.)

– If you feed your cat or dog wet food and it dries up, and your pet won’t eat it, put leftovers in a blender with a little bit of water and blend for ~20 seconds. You can mix this into normal food – our cats love this! (My husband discovered this trick!)

– If you feed your cats or dogs treats, you may find that giving them individual pieces of dry food is just as satisfying to them. Treats can be expensive – but our cats didn’t seem to know the difference between little pieces of what they eat every day & the brand-name treats! (You can also make your own treats.)

– If you’re thinking of getting a pet, go with a rescue cat or dog. Not only will you save a life, but purebred cats and dogs from breeders often have genetic health problems (think Persians or Pugs with breathing issues from having flat faces.) Of course, if you want a purebred cat or dog, about ~25% of cats and dogs in shelters ARE purebred – and it’s much cheaper to adopt from a shelter than it is to get one from a breeder! (Knowing the history of a pet isn’t important; both of our cats had been abused – it was very sad – but after about a month of good food, fresh air, and affection, they’ve come around & are now the biggest lap cats ever.)

– Finally, grow your own catnip! It’s $2.00 for 100 seeds, the dirt is free, and all you need is a pot. Fresh catnip is better for cats, and they prefer it to dry catnip. If you spend a few dollars on supplies, you’ll never have to buy catnip again! (Some people like to put catnip in their tea; it’s apparently relaxing – I’ve never tried it, though…)

I hope these are helpful — many people don’t seem to think about reducing costs of pet care/food, or, if they do, they’ll simply go with cheaper food which isn’t good for them & costs more in the long run w/ health problems. We’ve saved a LOT of money this way without any problems for our cats (if anything, they’re healthier now than they were earlier!)

Luci May 2, 2009 - 11:31 am

P. S.: I almost forgot! If you have a cat (or cats), try adding 1 or 2 cups of baking soda to the litter box & mixing it in with fresh litter. It will extend the life of the litter by 2 to 5 or 6 days (depending on how many cats you have & how large they are.)

Lucy T May 4, 2009 - 3:23 pm

I really love that you are doing this.I don’t know what a solar power water box is though.I googled it and still haven’t figured it out.My family thinks the solar light idea is genius.Well some of my family my two oldest sons not so much.We are also turning off the water heater t.v. and maybe the computer.o.k. and the computer between bed time and four or five p.m.
Kelly,I really don’t like to leave comment I have lurked here a long time and will continue to do so for as long as you blog.I really just want you to know you are appreciated.

Word Warrior May 4, 2009 - 3:46 pm


Thanks for de-lurking–I appreciate that!

» The Enterprising Family: “Using Your Gifts” June 3, 2009 - 10:19 pm

[…] neighbors I posted about with the outrageous utilities savings (with 13 children) have a daughter who teaches several children in our community piano lessons.  […]

Gretchen November 3, 2009 - 1:55 pm

Great post!

Ruth that site http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-table.html was great, thanks!

I’m always looking for inspiration in this category. I always want to go off-grid, but simply cutting back would probably be more economical than paying for an off-grid system really.

charge your cell phone in the car

Also, Lehman’s has these fun oil lamps for you wine drinkers out there:
(there’s a glass cover for them too)

Anyone use a wood cookstove? This is my next leap of faith for our home.

I like the idea of using breakers and shutting your house down completely for awhile. We are always amazed when we lose our power how creative we can get when allowed to not run to the tv, computer, or whatever as a source of entertainment.

Thank you for this post. I was really encouraged by it.

Claire November 17, 2009 - 7:21 pm


This is sure an extreme version of what is possible out there. I was totally fascinated in reading this, though, and thanks so much. I’ll be linking back!

aardvark November 18, 2009 - 9:05 am

An old-timey idea and one more commonly seen in European homes is using one room, especially in the winter or evenings. Instead of having big homes with everyone having their own rooms and all spread out, folks were used to being in the living room or even in the warm kitchen with reading, homework, or sewing, and chatting till bedtime. Then it was off to dive under warm covers. Only one room had to be heated or lit and the family was all together.

Frugal or Foolish? | from bottle 2 box November 18, 2009 - 12:23 pm

[…] on the spending, and I have to say I’ve done well. I came across a blog post from Sherry at Generation Cedar describing how a family of 15 pays only $65 a month on their power bill. CLICK HERE to read it in […]

Apple Annie November 18, 2009 - 1:29 pm

There are less intrusive ways to cut costs. Solar water heaters have come along way and are worth the investment. Checking with your electric utility about getting a time of use meter. With an all electric house (no A/C)(except a dual wall furnace), the savings has been huge. For summer heat the shade trees have done wonders. They are deciduous so in the winter the house warms up. There are also some sort of electric plug that can be put on large appliances to even out their energy use.

And lastly, with concern over air pollution, the use of oil lamps are a detriment to one’s health. Not only is there the end user cost for oil. (Is it really cheaper than electricity per kW/hour. This isn’t high math do figure out, nor turiing off lights to see your utility KW usage)l. Plus this is a petroleum product. Would one use a BBQ in the house? This is soot produced, little microscopic particles that you inhale. They don’t come out but stay in your lungs. Plus, would you paint in your houss on a daily basis? This is volatiles coming off the oil. This too is escaping when the lattern is lit AND when it is just sitting not in use. Both unfortunately are cancer causing. Show caution and hesitation when using a lattern inside. At least a Carbon Monoxice monitor is needed.

Cassandra November 18, 2009 - 1:41 pm

Wow. I consider myself frugal, we use a woodburner in the garage to heat our house in the winter, and I don’t spend money very often, but this- nope, wouldn’t want to do it. Cold showers? I guess that’s where I draw the line! I scrimp and save in so many other areas that I don’t feel the least bit guilty using my oven and water heater! I am amazed that you can pull this off. I think I could- I just don’t want too! = )

Lillian November 19, 2009 - 10:09 pm

We got a tankless hot water heater which only heats on demand. That makes much more sense to me then going without hot water. But if they like cold showers so be it. The other thing we do is not eat meat. I almost never cook now that we are all vegetarians. Our power bill for a family of 4 is 80 dollars a month and I never notice we are trying to save.

How a family of 15 spends peanuts on energy bills November 20, 2009 - 7:11 pm

[…] energy bills. This family of 15 spends $65 a month only on energy bills. Read the article here at Generation Cedar. Clearly there are some very extreme measures taking place here – no hot water showers, […]

Diane November 22, 2009 - 1:11 am

I posted this on my blog. I will incorporate a few of the tips like cutting my hot water heater off until 2 hours before doing dishes or bathing.

Harper November 23, 2009 - 12:26 pm

Here in Israel, pretty much every home I’ve seen has a switch outside the bathroom that allows you to turn the water heater on and off. In our flat, we turn it on about 15 minutes before we shower and off immediately after.

tracy November 25, 2009 - 4:24 pm

Thanks for all the wonderful ideas! i love it that we are not the only frugal folks out there. we have a 4000 sf home and my electric bill; averaged at the elec co, at $91 per month and my gas bill is $20 each month year round! not too bad. we do fully run the ac during the summer but for winter we purchased space heaters (cute ones with the little fake fires in them) and put them in the bedrooms- didn’t turn our heat on all last year. pilot light out! only heating the rooms we occupied.

i cook thru the winter in my solar oven (tulsi oven-love it-can plug in if necessary) and i make my own dog food with the leftovers we don’t eat- boiling down leftover bones for broth add leftover meats rice, veg, wheat flour etc. i make a “bread” and roll it out thin and bake it. my dogs have spit out dry dog food to eat my homemade food (makes a dog mom proud).

i make my own laundry soap, which is super easy. i only wash in cold and have retractable laundry lines in our large washroom – mom’s humidifier! then i fluff them for 10 minutes in the dryer with one “rewet” item and a shoe! my clothes come out soft,fluffy and lint free every time.

oh, and you’ll get a kick out of this: i bought an outdoor solar shower ($75) and put it on my upper back deck. it has cute louvered doors and no, the neighbors have no idea and cannot see anything 🙂 the best part is no hot water is used and the runoff goes directly to our strawberry/asperagus beds! think about it… no hot water, no messy bathroom and no watering outside! i love it. crazy aren’t we.

our urban “farm” lol – consists of asperagus, strawberries, basil, thyme, tomatoes, zukes, catnip(for tea), bell peppers, banana peppers, brussel sprouts, chives, pineapple sage, oregano, sage, leaf lettuce, onions, garlic etc… all under the guise of decorative plantings. no one would ever no from the street that we have planted a farm in our neighborhood! if i could only have chickens in my home owners assoc., life would be perfect!

we aren’t broke, we’re just smart. i love the fact that i can talk about it online with folks that feel the same way. thanks for letting me share! tracy

Chin December 18, 2009 - 4:17 am

Thank for information.

Vic December 19, 2009 - 3:58 am

Thank for sharing !

wendy January 11, 2010 - 9:53 pm

It’s interesting to read what others do and will do to save money. I will freezer cook, thrift shop and get $100’s of dollars of things we use each and every month for free from Rite Aid and Walgreens and sometimes grocery stores. We eat healthy and good.

I remember freezing as a child as my parents tried to save money on the heat. I hated it and none of my friends wanted to come over. It was cold! I can’t imagine a COLD shower!! anytime of the year.

I spend about 10 hours a month get my deals ready and in November I got $1200 of food/home stuff – things we use for $150. I like that savings and will keep my heat:)

Thanks for sharing ~ I am in no way critizing but I can’t imagine this for me 🙂

Kim M May 24, 2010 - 9:14 am

Hey Kelly, I just had to come back to this post. If you decide to get Shari to write an ebook, I will probably be the first one to buy it!

Word Warrior May 24, 2010 - 9:40 am


Ooooh…I may just prompt her to do that. I could write it for her through interviews. 😉 Oh dear, another endeavor to mull over!

Kim M May 24, 2010 - 9:49 am

Oh don’t feel any pressure. 🙂 I am so busy these days if someone told me to write an ebook I would get really stressed out! I love these ideas though. We had a really hot day up here yesterday and left our air off…. so I decided to come over and find this post and print it off and show Michael. He just put my clothesline up this week and I keep telling him I want to try turning off the hot water heater….

Elizabeth King July 9, 2010 - 2:05 pm

We have installed a solar water heater at home and it is also as good as conventional water heaters.*:,

My biggest money saving challenge yet : September 25, 2010 - 12:21 pm

[…] recently read about a family of 15 who has managed to get and keep their electric bill down to about $65 a month (and they’re […]

About that electric bill – the water heater : September 27, 2010 - 9:00 am

[…] a few days ago.  The bill came at a good time, however, as I had just finished reading an old post of Kelly’s where she gave some pretty extreme energy reducing […]

Adler September 15, 2011 - 1:10 pm

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Ten Simple Money Saving Ideas | September 30, 2013 - 7:37 pm

[…] your hot water heater […]

Alyssa Faith January 21, 2014 - 8:06 am

We have LED Christmas lights in our bedroom and living room. They provide a nice, ambient light and use very little electricity. Also easier than candles or lamps.

Kelly Crawford January 21, 2014 - 8:07 am


I love that idea!


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