Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on January 8, 2010 · 20 comments

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

I picked up pizza toppings at my local Papa Murphy’s this afternoon, (which is my trick for inexpensive pepperoni.)  Not only is it lots cheaper than the grocery store, but I can bring my own container for smugness inducing zero packaging.

The manager, who I always chat with, was excited to see me because she had seen my interview on the local news about the No Heat Challenge. She then proceeded to tell me how her family tries to keep the furnace off as long as possible as well.

I am amazed how many people saw this interview, which ran just the one time. Even my boss at work (who I normally have next to no contact with) sent me an e-mail with the title, “Brrrrr.”

But the best part is that everyone I talked to actually remembers what it was I was droning on about. Which I consider to be a success.

I have been fighting a cold all week, mostly doing pretty well, but finally succumbed to the horizontal comfort of my bed all day yesterday. Luckily, I’ve recently started watching “The Office” and had just checked out a library DVD set of the entire second season. This meant I was able to watch practically endless episodes while working my way through the mending pile.

And I know I’ve said it before, but I will say it again:

“I love my library! I don’t know what I would do without it.”

And after darning 11 individual socks, I am finally caught up with all the mending.

I think I finally have concocted an indoor laundry drying system that can keep up with Oregon’s dark and rainy days and my family’s high laundry needs:

  1. A standard laundry line in an unfinished room at the back of the house. It’s dark, cold and cluttered and I hate going in there. But, it is perfect for sheets and tablecloths that need to stretch out and can wait a few days until I get back to them.
  2. An expandable wooden drying rack that works well for medium size garments such as T-shirts and pants.
  3. An Ikea brand “Frost” drying rack that is perfect for small items like dish towels, napkins, socks  and underwear. I bought this new while on my investigatory trip to Ikea the other day. I did however peel off the thick plastic shrink wrap and stuff it into their plastics recycling.

I will still have to use the electric dryer for towels, (we have no respectable back ups) and my husband’s work uniforms, (he doesn’t like how they come out when line dried) and any laundry that I fall behind on.

We somehow used 841 kWh last month, which set us back $100.20. Crap. Keep in mind that we have a natural gas stove, hot water heater and furnace, so this number is truly humbling. For reference, we used 444 kWh last June. Yes, the days are longer in Summer, but I believe the big difference to be usage of our electric clothes dryer. I’m able to line dry everything except my husband’s uniforms in the Summer.

The racks are set up in our spacious bedroom, which is actually very convenient for folding and putting away. Plus, it just makes my heart smile to see their cheeriness from across the room.

What can I say? I’m a cheap date.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Hiptobeme January 9, 2010 at 12:16 am

Pap Murphy’s eh? Hmmmmmm…..


Hiptobeme January 9, 2010 at 12:17 am

Papa Murphy’s eh? Hmmmmmm…..


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl January 9, 2010 at 2:25 am

Another indoor drying idea is to use hangers. I dry all my husband’s collared shirts on hangers…I hang the hangers over door moulding or from the unfinished ceiling pieces in our laundry room. Of course, this is no good for sweaters and many other things, but for shirts (and pants…I use those clippy hangers), it works great.


Bellen January 9, 2010 at 3:48 am

I was going to mention hangers also – we hang them over the shower curtain rod. Find things dry overnight. For any clothes that look better machine dried I stick them in the dryer for 10 or 15 min. and then hang them up.

I do not use fabric softener but instead add 1 cup white vinegar to the wash. This has pretty much eliminated the stiffness associated with line/rack dried towels. You could also toss them in the dryer for 10 min after they are dry using the no heat cycle.


Amy January 9, 2010 at 7:17 am

I think you need a gas dryer. I try to stay under 400 kwh…I stay away from elec appliances and lights all energy savers still cannot figure how we use so much.


Charlotte January 9, 2010 at 8:24 am

Part of your higher electricity bill in winter is also your furnace. If you have the usual hot-air-blown-through-ducts furnace, then the fan to blow the air actually uses a LOT of electricity.

I hang-dry my clothes in winter by having a sun-umbrella stand in the basement, and then moving the clothing stand into it (I have one of those that fold like an umbrella and just perfectly fits the stand.) You need a big room for this, but it gives you tons of drying space.


Katy January 9, 2010 at 9:41 am

I just looked through the Portland General Electric website, and saw that our electric bill from February 2007 was $ 194.57, and that we used 1392 kWh!

I will have to make sure and point this out to my husband, who does think I’m a bit of a Scrooge for putting my foot down on outdoor Christmas lights. Instead, I hang blue and silver glass balls from a long window box in front of the house. They look pretty and use no electricity. We did have lights on the house in 2007. BIG difference.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Carla January 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

Sigh, I would KILL for only 841 kilowatts. When we built this house (which is beautifully insulated by the way) my husband chose to have it all electric and we got some price breaks for building it that way. We don’t even come close to the national average electrical usage of 11oo or so of kWh per household. At the moment our rates are very reasonable, cheap even, but the company is asking for what I have to admit is a well-deserved rate hike, since they haven’t had a rate raise in about 20 years. I understand why they need it, but I do dread the increase if it comes.


Lisa January 9, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Due to frigid temperatures lately, line drying outdoors has NOT been a consideration. I postponed laundry as long as possible before finally deciding to get it done today. It was fun slipping around outdoors in the snow to detach the longer gray water line (done in case it was frozen…which it surely was! Didn’t want the water backing up into the house!). Hubby intended to take me to the local laundromat to dry them. Unfortunately, something came up so now I have clothes strung up everywhere. At least they’re clean though! Though it sounds nuts, I turned a small box fan onto the ones hanging on the back porch. The circulating air will aid in drying.


Kris-ND January 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm

My electric(it is electric or propane out here….no gas out in the middle of nowhere) was 2MILLION dollars last month! Hee hee. Several other people in the co-op received the same amount due, so once we finished laughing and got the corrected bill in the mail, it didn’t seem like much at all 😉

Maybe that is how I need to feel better about all my utility bills. Just send me a million dollar due amount first, and then when I see the real amount…eh, doesn’t look bad at all.


magdalena January 9, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I used to line dry in a basement room using a fan. It was a lot cheaper than a dryer. I had two of those plastic-covered metal racks, and the problems were a) they bent under heavy wet jeans and b) the welds came apart so I had to fix them with a little Boy Scout knot work. Also, if the plastic coating chips, the metal leaves rust marks. Still, they are fine for socks and underwear or tea towels. Dspite the problems, I used them for years. The advantage is that they are very cheap compared to a good wooden rack.


Makenzie January 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm

pray tell about this Papa Murphy’s!! You can buy their ingredients?! I love their pizza… but I had no idea you could hop on in and get some of their stuff without going to the store?! And it is really cheaper than buying some from the grocery store?! Goodness I love it when people like you do all of our homework 😉


Jess January 9, 2010 at 8:28 pm

I lived in England (the land of not often seen dryers) and the hanger trick was my main method of drying, everything on a hanger and hung randomly. Only about 2-3 items would fit on the radiator in my room and I coudln’t bear to hang stuff where the housemate could see it. I like tumbling the clothes in the dryer first then hanging, sometimes I ever do that in the summer. You might also look into building an indoor line that is on a pulley system. I was visiting a friends flat and there was a very tall ceiling near the kitchen and the laundry line (4-5 strung between boards) could be brought down to put clothes on and then put up for drying out of site. If you are handy I bet you could figure it out! Good luck!

Speaking of electricty – where we live in Ohio we got a discount for going all electric when we built about 5 years ago (we didn’t want gas as our previous home burnt down in a gas furnace caused fire). This year our rates went way up because the company doesn’t give all electric discounts anymore because of complaints from non-all electric customers 🙁


Carolyn January 9, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I’m going to repeat the “use hangers” advice. We have a chin-up bar in a doorway. During the day, my son and sometimes my husband do chin-ups with it. During the night, I put all t-shirts, shirts, pajama tops, and anything else that can go on a hanger on the chin-up bar to dry. It works great. The rest of the laundry goes on a small wooden rack in front of the wood stove.

I am actually curious as to why you all seem to use so much electricity. We have two refrigerators, use lights liberally (although all the light bulbs are compact fluorescent), and we generally use between 180 and 270 KWH per month. Granted, we have a propane stove for cooking, never use a dryer, and heat our water with an oil-powered hot water heater. But still, I don’t feel like we are being particularly careful.


Katy January 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I too am unsure why my electricity usage is so high. I did check and found that the average American family uses 1500 kWh per month though, so we’re still under that amount.

– We have almost all CFL’s, (although not in our living room and dining room, which have dimmable lights. The glass shades require regular size bulbs, and to buy dimmable CFL’s would cost around $72 last time I checked.)
– Our refrigerator is 10 years old and I don’t think it’s an energy star model.
– Our washing machine is possibly from the 1970’s, although we’re getting my mother’s used one (but still newer than our current one) next week when she upgrades to a high capacity front loader.
– Our TV is flat screen, but not a plasma screen. It is on more than I would care to admit. I have all the media equipment on a single power strip which gets turned off when not in use.

I am curious to see what happens to our electricity usage with a concerted effort to hang dry. I did use our indoor line last year, but the new racks double how much I can dry. I do use hangers on the indoor line.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”


Jess January 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I read a study once that said it costs abotu 34 cents to dry a load of laundry, so if you know how many loads you dry you could calculate.


Kristy January 12, 2010 at 11:13 am

I love my IKEA drying rack. I am currently using it in the bathroom in lieu of the dryer. I just open wide the bathroom windows (I live on the beach, so the breezes are balmy here) and am hoping to reduce my energy consumption.


sunny January 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm

how did you find out about the papa murphys ingredients available for sale without buying a whole pizza? I’d love to get some of their pepperoni!


Paul January 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Here are two things to try:
1) Dry you husbands outfits on a rack. Then, put them in the dryer for 30 minutes with it off with a wet towel to get some small moisture in them. Take out the towel, and run the dryer for 5 minutes. This might be acceptable to him.
2) Get a Kill-A-Watt meter to measure how much electricity each of your appliances uses. This can help with your decisions. Make sure you get one with the right outlet style for the appliance you are measuring. To be truly frugal, go together with a few people and buy one to share.


Mary February 6, 2010 at 6:13 am

I got a new clothes drying rack for the holiday as well. Mine is round and made out of maple and plated steel. I really like that none of the clothes end up under other clothes. And I don’t have to open it all the way up if I only want to dry one sweater.


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