Project Envolve™ is a program sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities with the mission of helping us all save more and use less electricity. I am a Project Envolve Ambassador and have been provided with complimentary products and/or payment in exchange for sharing these ideas and my own use of them with you. The opinions in this post are 100% mine. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Check-in time. How are those resolutions coming? I know, don’t even ask. I’m struggling over here. But, the year is still young, and it’s never too late to get ourselves back on track. So let’s do it! This month my Project Envolve mission is to share some tips for us for reviving a few of the most common resolutions in ways that are totally practical. We got this!
1. Save More, Spend Less
I think the key to long term, consistent saving is to make it part of your lifestyle. A really practical way to save money is on your energy usage, and you can get the entire family involved! Did you know that your appliances (think TV, laptop, Keurig, Nintendo, etc) are sucking down electricity even when you’re not using them? I discovered that not completely shutting off and unplugging my laptop every night was accounting for 1% of my electricity bill. Just my laptop!
Go on a hunt in your own house for hidden energy suckers using a Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. This little device is genius and you won’t believe where you’ll find easy ways to save just by pulling the plug on appliances you’re not using.
Here’s a handy sheet to use with the kids (I find my kids love charts like this they can fill out). Click the image or link for a full-size printable version and get started. It’s really eye-opening and actually pretty fun to discover these ways you never knew about to save money every single month!
2. Plan Healthier Meals
Healthy eating, losing weight, making a weekly meal plan. Check, check, check. All things I’m trying to do, too. This is why I love my slow cooker. Did you know that using a smaller appliance like a slow cooker uses a lot less energy than heating up your oven or stove? Plus, you know how great it is when dinnertime rolls around and it’s DONE, no crazy rush to get something going before you have to rush the kids off to soccer.
Another perk of making dinner with a slow cooker? There’s almost always leftovers (quite often that taste better the second time around!). That’s two meals in one, saving you time and money. Yes, please! The image above explains some widely held myths about cooking with a slow cooker. Learn anything new? You can click that to get a full-size printable version.
Use Your Freezer
Freezer meals, meals you prep ahead, freeze, and then throw together quickly when you’re ready to eat them, are a huge time saver. Did you know that your freezer functions most efficiently when you pack it as full as possible? I had no idea! Freezers should be kept between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid wasting energy and spoiling your food.
I don’t know if this is the case for you, but one of my biggest issues with our freezer (we have a side-by-side) is that I never remember what’s in there. Stuff that gets shoved to the back or way down on the bottom can easily be forgotten. I’ve just started using this printable freezer inventory sheet to help me use what I already have before buying anything else. That means saving money before I spend any more!
3. More Quality Family Time
I feel like I do a pretty good job with this, but having an online job when it’s so easy to be connected all the time, I do have to be mindful of putting down the phone and completely unplugging with the family. I find that a lot easier to do when it’s nice outside and we can get out and about. Wintertime? Ugh. I’m over it, and when we’re stuck in the house it feels like real quality time can be a bit of a struggle. Boredom eventually sets in and we turn to the TV.
Now, I’m not totally anti-screen, but it has to be in moderation. And I will add that if you go with a movie night, make sure you’re using an Energy-Star Blu-Ray player to minimize your energy usage.
Need some other ideas? Here are our 10 favorite electricity-free ways to fight cabin fever over the winter:
- Family game night (Chinese checkers is the current favorite!)
- Hide-and-Go Seek
- LEGOs or other building toys
- Read a book (we’ve been reading this one as a family each night)
- Make a no-bake recipe (these Peanut Butter Balls are our favorite – a mixer is required but no oven!)
- Set up a scavenger hunt (these are REALLY fun!)
Getting back on track with your resolutions is very doable. I’m a firm believer in baby steps, so pick a couple of things here, like adding one slow cooker meal to your menu each week, or doing the Kill-A-Watt challenge with the kids, and get back in gear. We got this, 2016!
For more energy efficient ideas that you can easily implement to keep you on track to achieving those resolutions, check out the PPL Electric Utilities Pinterest boards.