Just to put this in perspective for everyone, we have oil heat. Prices were WAY high last year, but we were fortunate to have a locked in rate of .99 cents/gallon. This year, it’s up to $1.19… I just got my balance billing offer from them – $181.00 for 10 months, then 2 months off. Argh! Argh! is so right. Wow. Okay I’m trying to work thru my shock here….. Time to start saving money!

First line of defense – plastic covering on the windows.

I use the expensive stuff only on the few windows that I really “have” to see out of clearly/or the looks are really important to me (so the front room for looks and the kitchen for sanity) All other windows, I use the cheap plastic painting drop cloths from Walmart that cost .99 cents and cover several windows. Second line of defense: window and door quilts. I made these for one very cold apartment in PA. I used thrift store sheets and old blankets for the “stuffing” (I wanted them to match and let light thru so I used all off-white sheets and light colored blankets.)

I “tied” the quilts with yarn–I was able to do 5 windows and one door in an afternoon. I tacked a tieback on the back of each quilt so during the day I could tie them in/up. I just nailed the quilts up–they were under the tabtop curtains so it didn’t look too funny. The door was slightly more of a pain–if I do it again, I’ll use a rod so the quilt can be slide off to the side. Of course, you could actually try and make these pretty–paints or different fabrics. I was happy with plain and serviceable…. It made a big difference for us. Single pane windows with cracks let in a lot of cold air…..

Saving on dishwasher detergent

I notice that you moved to the new list shortly after asking your question about dishwasher detergent, so I thought I’d answer this over here on the new budgeting tips website since I see you are here (your test message is the only message I’ve received so far). I only use powdered dishwasher detergent but I have used that you only need about a tablespoon rather than filling up those one or two empty dispenser cups. If your water is very hard, you might need a bit more.

In one of the tightwad books (III), there is a chart on how much soap you should need according to your water’s hardness. Water’s hardness is measured in “grains” (if memory serves) and you can ask your utility company for a reading.

OR, if you don’t want to get that technical, just start with 1 Tablespoon and add more if you think you need it. I believe I’ve heard that vinegar can be successfully used in the rinse dispenser, but don’t quote me on that.

Congrats on the dishwasher! We had a portable for several years – a real lifesaver for us! Like was mentioned, the big thing is to measure your soap. I store my detergent in a large square plastic container with an 1/8 measuring cup. My dishes come clean with that amount. Because my water is fairly “soft”, I don’t notice a big difference between expensive versus cheap detergents. So I use the dollar store brand.

Folks with harder water seem to have more problems. At my parents, we use vinegar in the rinse water (their water is super hard–we set the timer for a reminder.) Final thought – I picked up a bar of all-purpose laundry soap – Octagon by Colgate-Palmolive – to make the homemade laundry soap with and the company says that it can be used for dish-washing too…… hmmmm.

BTW, I have used white vinegar in my dishwasher as a rinse aid in the past.

I tend to alternate it with using jetdry (bought with a coupon, of course! LOL), and using nothing. I have found that in our hard-water area, I tend to get buildup and etching on glasses if I stick with any one of these methods for too long. I definitely agree on using less detergent…..the manufacturer’s little handy measuring device calls for about three times more than my d/w needs to clean a regular load.