Laine's Letters. Saving money on electricity.

 Dear Sisters,

One year in California when our four children were young, we had an energy crisis. Our electrical bill astronomically shot up. We were in shock! We were not prepared for it at all. All my friends were up in arms about it. The phone was ringing off the hook.  We had a mortgage payment and were raising four children on one income. We were already so very financially tight. So what could we do? After much prayer about it, we shut off our electric water heater. At the start of winter. It helped lower our electrical bill back to a workable amount. No, none of my friends did this.
It was not pleasant, but we lived through it.
I will never forget yelling "Hot water! Hot water!" as I carried our stove heated water through to the bathroom for a very shallow bath for me or one of the kids. I heated water on the stove to wash the dishes as well.  We also put all our electrical plugs (tv, microwave, computer, etc.) on long plugs that we could shut off when not in use.   Every light bulb in the house was changed to the lowest price per hour bulb, and they were shut off when not in use. We used our fireplace for heat, and we used our electric blanket to just warm up the bed until we got in. Every bed had a down blanket which really helped us and the kids to sleep well.  We used also Christmas white lights to "warm up" the living room and kitchen rather than just light bulbs in the evening. Lots of candles were used that winter. Lots of warm clothes layered on us in the house. Many times my daughter and I were fully dressed with a fluffy, thick, long bathrobe over our warmer clothes. This was our "house dress," and I was honestly quite warm all day this way. The boys preferred warm sweaters. A microwave heated rice pack (for a minute or two) was so lovely to keep on you as well with a blanket thrown over while doing school.
Only full loads of laundry were done in the washer. We hung out all our clothes. The crockpot was used a lot as it was more economical and would help heat up the kitchen at the same time. So it was on pretty much every day that winter. I had every appliance written down and the approximate cost per hour for each particular appliance. I knew which ones were drawing the most current per kilowatt hour and avoided those if I could, or quickly used them. If I did use the oven, which was one of the more expensive kilowatt hours, I would load up the oven cooking many things at one time.
Here are two of my energy saving stovetop methods:
Boil the water for the pasta, put the pasta in, set the timer for 10 minutes, put the lid back on and bring it to a boil again leaving it on the burner, then shut off until timer rings. Pasta is done!
Hard Boiled Eggs
Bring water to boil, put your eggs in, bring to boil again, then cover, shut off burner but leave it on the burner for 12 minutes. Eggs are done!
I hung up pretty, long vintage curtains to separate the hall from the kitchen. I did this to keep the heat in the kitchen, with what heat we could generate by cooking, and to keep us warm around the kitchen table for our homeschooling. One of my grandsons remarked to me this past winter that he loves when I put up those same curtains. I bring them out still year after year! I have a hassock filled with warm, fuzzy slippers that the grandkids love to wear in the winter when they sleep over. I bought these to combat the cold winters in our house as we have no central heat, just our fireplace.
After having that experience, I have added to my "saving electricity methods". Years ago I started slowly adding to our solar supply as we could afford it. I bought a sun oven and used it often to cook and bake. It was awesome in saving money and not heating up our house in the summer. For just as we didn't have heat, we didn't have air conditioning as well due to the high prices of electricity in California. I bought also a Jackery solar generator which I have used many times in power outages. (Just this month in fact.) I bought many solar light bulbs and solar lights, which I have also used over the years. I bought 2 battery operated clocks, one for our bedroom and one for the living room. I have bought 2 emergency solar radios which my husband and my daughter regularly use. I also bought a solar charger for our cell phones. When we had to replace our refrigerator, we bought an electrical saving model. We did the same with our freezer. I bought a Berkey water filter, which requires no electricity to filter the water. Lastly, I bought three rechargeable fans which can be recharged with our Jackery. All this was bought over many years, but I never forgot that expensive, cold winter and wanted to be more prepared for the future.
While I know it is not as cold in California as in many other places in the world, it is cold to us in the winter.  It is also very expensive here for any electricity. (So expensive that we recently bought solar for our whole house.) 
I can honestly say we still practice all these electricity saving habits. Except for one.
The water heater is on. 
It's propane though now...
"I love you, LORD, my strength!" Psalm 18:1


  1. My Nan stil had a wood fire, by choice, when I was in my teens. Nan and Pa moved into a big old home with the wood stove still in the kitchen plus a regular electric stove. After living there a little while Nan got the wood fire going and she quickly decided she much preferred it and the warmth it gave the kitchen in winter. People tended to gather around. It was beautiful. I remember how the warmth of the oven was used for multiple things. I doubt she ever just cooked one thing. If you had the oven on you made the most of it. So you planned. I think the days of having one thing in the oven are well and truly over! In the city I cooked a lot mainly using my electric oven. At that time the electricity in South Australia became the most expensive in the world. I am not sure where we sit now but its in the top few. I decided then to use my slow cooker much more and my oven much less. I did see an immediate drop in the power bill. A little toaster oven, air frier, slow cooker, insta pot... they are a lot cheaper to run than the oven. So the way we cook can make a big difference.

  2. We dont get the cold winters here in the Aussie sub tropics. We do get summer heat and humidity, often without much rain. We have solar panels that feed back into the grid. This has brought our bills down tremendously.
    Our house does not have air con for either heating or cooling. In the winter we add another jumper and snuggle into a crochet blanket. Bluey needs an electric blanket at night in Winter. This heats the bed up and is then turned off.
    To overcome the harsher summer conditions, we have potted trees along the Eastern side of our brick house. On days that are expected to be hot we water these early. The natural transpiration of the plants has a cool cell effect. We keep the windows and blinds shut until the sun is off the wall and then open the windows. We do have ceiling fans, but these are only on if we are in the room.
    An outdoor kitchen has been established on the veranda. We do all our cooking and baking out there. This stops the cooking process adding to the heat of the house. Our main cooking source is our hooded barby that is run on gas.
    Our veranda is a good breezeway and is the coolest place to be on a hot day. We often set up a pedestal fan with a chair in front. A wet sarong or lightweight wet towel is place over the chair. The air is blown through this wet fabric and feels quite cool.
    There is a three light rule in our house. At night no more than three lights are on at one time. Often the only light on, is my lamp next to my chair, so that I can knit or crochet. We have gradually changed over to the cheaper to run LED light bulbs. When I go to bed at night appliances are turned off at the wall. We tend to have most things on power boards so it really is only three switches at the wall that I need to turn off.
    We have a small gen set and battery operated fans if the power goes off. I have two hand crank radios that have a solar panel, torch and USB charge port. These are used regularly. We have solar lights in the yard for night time movement and solar fairy lights on the veranda.
    This is what I can offer to those living through hot summers and mild winters. I look forward to learning more.

    1. Dear Jane, Your wall of trees against the side of the house is really clever. Stooping the sun hitting the window and the walls would really make a lot of difference. The outdoor kitchen is a really good idea too... not heating up the house. You have a brilliant set up! Love

  3. We heat with wood we collect over the summer; it seasons for a year before it is moved to the woodpile for burning. Powerpoints not in use are turned off and any appliance cord removed from. Crockpot and pressure cooker get used a lot. I cook our boiled eggs the same way - saves gas and stops them from cracking. I use a haybox to cook rice. Open the north facing curtains in winter, close them in summer. Open/close windows and doors as appropriate. Solar lights are all over the place. We all have solar chargers for our phones/tablets/computers. We also have portable solar panels and an inverter for power outages that will run the fridge and freezers. We've had wind-up radios and torches for years and years, they are very handy any time, but during a blackout they are brilliant. We always keep the gas bottles for the bbq full, and have enough canisters for the camp stove to cook for six weeks. Only run full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. Only iron if necessary ;) Keep the freezers full, use bottles of water if necessary as they maintain temp better and so cost less to run. Use the clothesline or clotheshorses to dry laundry (we don't have a dryer). A few years ago I started to collect manual kitchen tools rather than electric. I have my mother's egg beater, a mandolin, various balloon whisks in different sizes, an apple slinky for peeling, good knives and a steel to sharpen them. I'm always looking for ways to lower our bills, these few things have made a big difference.

    1. Dear Cath, Thanks for a great list of things you do. I think full loads for the dishwasher and washing machine I can improve on.
      I also have been collecting manual tools like the old kitchen beaters where you turn the handle. I thought mmm maybe we are going to need these things again! Everything old is new again! Many thanks, Love

  4. These are practical, helpful ideas. I especially love the idea of keeping extra warm slippers for the grandchildren! We have a large, drafty house in rural New England. The winters are bitterly cold. I want to get a few extra warm things to keep here for the grandchildren to use, as well, on their frequent visits. Thank you! You made keeping house in difficult times sound so cozy!

    1. Dear Mrs. White, Thank you for replying to Laine. I also think keeping warm items for my Grandchildren is a good idea. Things to make the home cozy and welcoming are always remembered as I still recall how snug I felt at my Grandparents house when I stayed over. With love

  5. We are in the Southern USA which is not extremely cold all winter but when it gets cold it is damp and that makes it feel really cold to us. We have throws on every seat and a big basket available for anyone to use. I have spring tension rods and thick fleece curtains that we can put up to block off cold areas of the house. Sometimes just moving from one place in the room to another will really help me stay warmer. Hot beverages are always the ticket to warming up quick when we are cold and I do heat a rice bag when I really need to warm up. We save on cooking pasta by using a Fasta Pasta which just gets loaded with pasta and cold water and cooked in the microwave. It is so easy. You can look at it on Amazon and then keep watch in thrift stores as we see them there frequently. I learned the trick of turning off burners and putting on lids for the cooking time from my Mom. Besides saving electricity it makes the pot mind itself so I can do other things.

    1. Dear Lana, The thick fleece curtains are a great idea. In my old house there was no door at the end of the hallway. I put a curtain rod across the door frame and made a velvet curtain to pull across. This make our living area much warmer. To anyone who has no door to shut this is a very effective option!
      The microwave method of cooking pasta is one I didnt think of! Thank you for your tips! Love

  6. I am actually so scared of the price of electricity right now that I use barely any. Even though our UK government has stepped in said that prices won't rise, at least this winter, electricity is still double what it was last year.

    I try to cook just once a week and reheat the rest of the time.
    I only do 1 load of laundry a week, whites one week, colours the week after and they're all done on a 20°C wash.
    Everything possible is turned off, the only thing that stays on is my freezer. I actually have 2 freezers, but I have unplugged one and I don't think it will ever be used again.
    Even when I use my slow cooker I tend to put it on high for several hours then switch it off and cover it with towels and blankets and leave it until the following morning. This works very well.
    The water from potatoes or boiled eggs etc is used for doing the dishes or mopping the floor.
    I also turn off the heat under pans of vegetables, soups or stews and use the residual heat to finish the cooking.
    I am a big fan of hot water bottles, if it's cold they just can't be beaten in my estimation, much better than an electric blanket. Obviously the bigger they are, the longer they stay warm, most of mine will stay warm for at least we hours.
    I no longer use my oven, it's just too expensive, that means unfortunately that I have to buy bread, but at least I know how much that is going to cost me, there are no nasty surprises several weeks down the line.
    It all feels a little desperate right now, I just hope we have a reasonably mild winter!

    1. Dear Su,
      Firstly can you believe we have come to this? I would never have believed it.
      I agree on hot water bottles! Love them. When I empty one I put the water in the sink to wash dishes or water plants.
      I do hope it wont be a bad winter but plan to get through a bad winter too. We hope for the best and plan for the worst. The freezing cold scares me. I havent even experienced much of it but it is a misery to be really cold.
      Thank you for your ideas. I am turning off the slow cooker, hot plates etc earlier because as you say the residual heat will finish things off! With love

  7. Hello Laine, Annabel, and everyone,

    Thank you for this very helpful letter. Everyone has such good ideas! Thank you all for sharing.

    One thing that my parents and grandparents always had, and that helps to this day, is putting "draft stoppers" at every door leading outside the house - long fabric tubes filled with sand or something else small and dense. It really helps keep the cold out. (You could also buy foam strips for the same purpose at the hardware store, the fabric/sand stopper is just the frugal version.) My grandmother used to put hot water bottles into the beds before we got into them, and that made a big difference. I also keep a ton of extra quilts and blankets on hand and hand knit wool socks in a worsted weight - thick wool socks combined with nice slippers keep feet toasty warm.


  8. I loved reading Laines letter and the comments are so helpful. We live in Michigan where it has turned cold today on the first day of Fall. It will be down to 38 degrees tonight. It will get colder of course and we find that what we wear helps the most in keeping warm. We wear wool socks in the winter. The blend must be mostly wool. We also wear long johns under our clothes. No one knows! Once you get cold its hard to get warm again. Flannel and fleece sheets help a lot. As for electricity this summer we rarely used the air and used a fan in the window a lot. I also planted a small tree right by our bedroom window about 8 years ago. We are know enjoying a nice breeze. Its never too late to plant a tree.

  9. Louise from Long Island, NY27 September 2022 at 22:44

    Thank you for the electricity cost cutting ideas! Kathy, the “draft stoppers” at every door is a great idea, but I also use them around the windows, too. Especially if there is a draft coming from the “double hung” style. I put one at the bottom of the window, if there is a sill, and one in the middle (along the top of the bottom window).

    Also, check each window to be sure they are properly closed & locked. If not, there could be some space for a draft to get through.

    Lastly, my mom used to tape clear, heavy duty plastic sheeting around the windows (on the inside). With curtains and/or drapes hanging inside, you don’t really notice it, and the sheeting being clear allows the sun to shine through.

    For personal warmth, I also bought what I call “Bob Cratchit” gloves. They are gloves without finger tops. They keep my hands warm but makes it easier to use my fingers. I got them for the office, but now that I just retired, I’ll be using them at home. The grandkids think they’re “cool”.

    As for what’s old is new again ... maybe wearing a “cap” to bed at night might help ... “mama in her ‘kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap”😉 (‘Twas the night before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore)

    I, too, hope and pray for a mild winter ... and unquestionable faith.

  10. How do I sign up for your newsletter? I do not see anywhere on your blog to do that. Thank you.

    1. Hi! On the top of the page to the left of the title are several lines... click on those and there is a subscription option for meals. I hope that helps.x

  11. I was wondering if all is ok with Laine? I often think about her and check for new posts. I only discovered Laines letters a year or so ago. So much wisdom and encouragement I have gotten from these. I’m praying she’s ok, as I read she was going through a tough time with her health a little while back. Kirsty, Australia

    1. Dear Kirsty, Laine did have a major surgery and a cancer diagnosis. She is now doing really well. It took a while. She has recently visited the sons and families in other states. She is just doing much better. I am checking you have her list of old letters as well as the ones you see here... I provided a link to the archive which is so wonderful! I used to live for a Laine's Letter, I cant believe the journey that saw us become friends! With love

    2. Thanks so much Annabel, I’m so glad she’s doing better now. I have read lots of her letters on the Laines Letters Revisited Blog. It’s amazing that her letters were written back when I was a little girl, but seem like they were only written yesterday. I have gleaned so much advice and teaching from her letters (and yours). I often repeat her little sayings, “pray before pay” and “asking God to give me eyes to see”. She’s definitely been a great role model for me.
      Kind regards,


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