I thought the responses to yesterday’s post on water filters illustrated the folly of throwing money at problems when what we should be throwing is ingenuity.

My DH and I have a number of projects that need doing around the house. At the top of the list is to work on our energy efficiency. This is a great house but it was built in 1863 and it is anything but tight. We could use new windows and an updated furnace. We also need the chimney rebuilt and a lot of insulation upgraded. The windows are a huge expense and we refuse to take on debt or to hit up the savings account. After a lot of discussion, we have decided to tackle the problem in steps. We had already caulked and sealed the windows we don’t open. This week, we will put thin plastic up on most of the windows. We did this last year and found it helped a lot. Next, we are going to replace one room of windows at a time. Fortunately, Bruce can do the work himself which will save a lot of money. For the worst windows, Bruce is going to make interior storms with plexiglass in wood frames. It will take a while but over the course of a couple of years, we should have all new windows and, in the meantime, still be warmer and use less propane. If we find that we can’t afford all the replacements, the interior storms will be made for all the windows. This seems like a better, if more cumbersome course, than financing many thousands of dollars.

I am going to set up  my sewing machine this weekend and make up a bunch of draft stoppers. It is a simple matter to sew tubes of heavy-duty fabric into about 2″ diameter tubes, fill them with sand and put one in front of doors with draft problems. I use them in front of all our exterior doors, the door to the basement and to the doors to the closets.

Bruce spent yesterday putting up more insulation around the foundation. He borrowed a draft finder from a friend and was able to locate and seal up several places that were leaking cold air into the basement. We are also having a sit-down with the girls and talking about how we can all work to save energy. We already take pretty quick showers but small things like shutting the closet doors and making one pot of hot water and filling a thermos with it rather than reboiling a pot for every cup of tea will help too. Would I like to get a team in here to button up the whole house and reinsulate? Sure, but it isn’t going  to happen. We will just have to get creative. I have my eye out for down comforters for the girls’ beds. I found some ugly green ones at a discount hous and passed them up but now I am reconsidering. I could make duvet covers out of some old sheets and have the benefit of down without resorting to a camouflage pattern that we would hate.

I do spend money but the buy has to meet certain criteria. I must have a need, not just a want. I must have given some thought to alternatives to buying new. I must have thrown the problem out to my creative friends and picked their collective brains for solutions. And I must have the money in hand. If I can’t pay for it, I don’t get it. Delayed gratification is a skill we have collectively lost but must regain if we are to be fiscally responsible. Too bad we can’t teach our politicians how it’s done.