Our pellet stove is getting a real test out this week. With sub-zero temperatures (wind chills down to 20 below zero Fahrenheit) we’re quickly finding out how well our plan to lower our heating expenses is working out. When outside temperatures were in their mid-thirties we only had to turn on the pellet stove in the morning and late afternoon. We shut it down after midnight and booted it back up around 5AM. Now that the frigid winter temperatures are more consistently lower, we keep it running 24 hours a day all week long to heat our 1140 square foot living area. We shut it down once per week for an hour, to do a clean out. The ash has to be cleared out with a special soot vacuum.

The pellet stove is replacing our propane heating system (which we still keep filled to capacity as a back up). The pellet stove runs on electricity but we have a generator should the power fail. The pellet stove is cleaner and easier to maintain vs a wood stove, plus the pellet stove can be managed by a computerized thermostat system. We only need to fill up the hopper once at 5AM and once at night before we go to bed (around midnight).

Our winter heating costs this year went from burning 700 gallons of propane @$2.89 a gallon = $2023 to only two tons of pellets @$250 a ton = $500 total pellet heating costs. That’s a savings of $1523 which is more than enough to cover the initial cost of the pellet stove ($1200) and respective piping ($300). It’s like we’ve been heating our house this winter for free. Next winter we will feel the real savings in our wallets! (I’m certain by now and next year a gallon of propane will have risen substantially.)

When the outside temps were between 30F and 20F, our inside temperature was around 70F. Now that the temps outside are below zero, we’re able to maintain an indoor temp of 67F. The pellet stove is located in the front of the house, which means the back of the house, where the bedrooms are located are a bit chilly. We deal with that by sleeping under an electric blanket (electricity here is very cheap) with the setting set at the lowest possible number, which is ‘1’. We sleep toasty fine!

At the end of the year I thought I would tally up how much money we spent on food in 2021 as compared to how much we spent in 2020. The results were encouraging. We spent $1,280.70 or roughly about 17% less on food this past year (2021) than we did the previous year (2020). Despite the rising food costs due to inflation, we still managed to save on our grocery bill. I credit that accomplishment to buying mostly what’s on sale or as advertised as a weekly loss leader and by preparing ALL our meals from scratch and at home.

I’m back to making our own pizza dough from scratch, every Friday night only this time I make a few and freeze as many as I can. This way I save time and effort. The frozen pizza dough defrosts quickly and I can make any kind of pizza I want from there (i.e. spinach, veggie, Greek-style etc). My home made pizza dough, IMHO, is far superior to whatever they sell in those fast food joints!

As a wrap up for this day’s post, I’ll show a few photos of what we’ve been eating this past week. I seem to make a big pot of anything and then we eat the same thing for a few days. Luckily, we haven’t gotten bored or tired of eating this way. It’s been just too cold here at night to stand, chop and cook. Having something pre-pared seems to be working out quite well.

One of our neighbors gave us a smallish turkey that they had left over from Thanksgiving. Apparently they wanted it out of their freezer so on to our dinner table it went. I still had a package of frozen cranberries in my freezer, so I made a relish. Hubby made a gravy. We baked some potatoes and poured the gravy over everything. It may not look perfect but man-oh-man, it was delicious! I made a big pot of Tuscan Bean Soup with sausages. I had some organic milk that was on the verge of going sour, so I made a Big Mac ‘N Cheese casserole with it. I also tried my hand at baking a Martha Stewart coffee cake from scratch. It tasted great in the morning with a hot cup of coffee (once I put on the powdered sugar!)

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