How to Heat your Home for Free…..or Almost Free




By Luis

It’s springtime and that means many things to many people; spring cleaning, landscaping, gardening and picnics.  All of those things conjure up bright and happy images for a multitude of people.  Springtime, for me, however get me thinking about heating up my house.

fire

Wait, before you click away let me explain.  My household loves a roaring fireplace during the cold dreary winter months.  If you do too, then you know exactly how wonderful it is to hear the crackle of a wood fire while basking in its radiant warmth.  This kind of heating source always comes with a price, most notably the cost of the firewood.

Anyone that has purchased firewood as a cord, half-cord, quarter-cord or even a prepackaged bundle from your local hardware store can agree that firewood is expensive! A cord of firewood is defined as cut firewood stacked 4ft. tall, 4ft. deep, and 8ft long.  Depending on the type of wood, a cord of firewood can range anywhere from $300 to $700 dollars.  That’s exactly why springtime to me means FREE firewood.

 


This is the time of year that several people perform tree trimming.  Some people trim their own trees; others hire someone to do the trimming, either way most are faced with the trouble of getting rid of those trimmings.  This leads to a win-win situation.  Many people will post online ads on sites such as Craigslist or Freecycle for “free firewood”; the only catch is that you have to go pick it up and haul it away, it might seem like quite the effort, but the payoff is the huge savings for free heat in the cold months that lie ahead.

I recently responded to such an online ad and after meeting with the homeowners, I learned they had trimmed 6 oak trees on their property and happily encouraged me to “take all you want”.  I loaded all our family van could carry which ended up being just over half a cord of oak (the best) firewood. My family enjoyed the free warmth of many a fires this past winter, and because this past season was unusually warm, we still have quite the large stockpile to start off this upcoming winter season.

spring-haul

So if you are willing to answer these ads, put in some muscle and bring home free firewood, whether a trunk-load, or pickup truck-load at a time; you can start to amass your own source of free winter heat  without paying the high prices of ordering firewood from a vendor.

 

Coffee, Tea or More Money in your Wallet?

barista

by Liz

Convenience, it is something that comes with a price tag. We have all seen it and we have all, at one time or another, indulged in this luxury.

Whether it be a meal from a drive thru window, buying a cooked rotisserie chicken for a quick dinner entree or stopping for that favorite cup of gourmet java.

Life is busy, and sometimes these conveniences are a godsend.  This article is not about cutting them out of your life, but how to maximize them. Let’s take a look at one in particular and most everyone’s favorite,(especially mine) that cup of coffee or tea that gets our engines running for the day or mid day in my case.

Have you noticed that the lengthier or more fruity the name of the beverage, the heftier the price tag? Ridiculous when you think about it, especially when you consider that the main ingredient in these beverages is water, and if you are a frequent consumer to these kinds of establishments on a regular basis, this cost adds up.  The last time I frequented one of these establishments, the average price for a medium , regular, straight up cup of coffee was around $2.00 and one of those high falutin beverages hovered around $5.00 (and don’t even get me started on the calorie count).  Using some simple math; $5.00 a day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks in the year = $1,300.00. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least 10 things off of the top of my head that I would rather spend $1,300.00 on.

Ask yourself, if you were in your own home, would you be making this kind of drink on a regular basis? Or, like most people, would you be making just a regular cup of tea or coffee?  My guess is that most people would answer the latter of the two.  Nowadays, with gourmet flavored, teas, coffees and creamers available at your local grocery store, not to mention the invention of the commuter cups, why is a stop at one of these establishments even on anyone’s radar?




A few Christmases ago, my loving husband gave me one of the best gifts ever. It was a Keurig machine.  Sure, a traditional automatic drip coffee maker with its large filter system is less expensive, but I enjoy fresh, hot coffee and with the auto drip coffee maker, I would find that after about 30 minutes of the coffee sitting on the warmer, it would tend to start tasting bitter, and I would toss out about half a carafe full.

Yes, there is the argument that the pod inserts for these machines are costly as well, however, over the years; there have been many alternatives to the brand specific beverages made for this machine.  Many bulk warehouse stores sell  pods by the case, discount stores sell generic as well as some name brand, discounted pods; it is up to you which of these lower priced alternatives your wallet and your flavor palate can agree upon.

Personally, I have gone one extra step in frugality, and I will get two servings of coffee from just one pod. My first cup of coffee, I always choose the largest cup selection my machine offers, for my second cup, I go down to the second to largest selection. Since these coffees are well concentrated in this little container, I hardly taste a huge difference between the two cups and my average cost is a whopping 22 cents per cup…..much easier to swallow, isn’t it?

Another option is the mesh; reusable coffee pods available in usually a two or three pack at most stores.  With these pods, you fill it with your choice of ground coffee or tea, thereby cutting your expense dramatically. Here is when you can take a little creative license because nowadays you can get coffees and teas in bulk in all sorts of strengths and flavors from almost anywhere and you will still beat the hefty price tag of a convenience purchased $2.00 regular cup of coffee.

Try giving these methods a try for a couple of weeks and see what comfort and compatibility level you can live with. Stop making the beverage conglomerates of the world richer and start putting your hard earned cash back in your pocket.