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Watt The Heck is an Electric Bill?

This is going to sound bad but I need to break another promise and not write about stuff on the outside of the house, lets just say garden hoses are more complicated than they look.

Instead, due to my extravagantly high electric bill, I will be sharing with you all the ways to save money on power that I have put into practice.

Now at first some of these concepts sound ridiculous but believe me they will protect you from a $498 electric bill at the end of the month. Not that mine was that high, I just feel it’s a nice round number.

First, the techniques that make complete and total sense:

1. Weather strip all of the doors and windows to keep all the cool air from the air conditioner in your house. This keeps the house cooler for longer and put less strain on the A/C.

Sunlight beams through my poorly weather-stripped door.

2. Keep the thermostat on 78 degrees at all times. The difference between 78 and 74 is not too noticeable and this makes the A/C go on less frequently.

My thermostat stays on 78 degrees

3. If nobody is in a room the light should not be on. Get into the habit of turning of the light every time you leave any room.(Even if other people are still in there.)

4. Change all of your light-bulbs to incandescents. Not only do they use less energy but they are also good for the environment.

5.  With everything else in the house if you are not using it, turn it off. (simple concept, tough practice.)

I feel that these all make sense and can be done on a daily basis with ease.

Now for the more exotic practices:

1. If you are not using something, keep it unplugged. Believe it or not just by being plugged in a device can drain electricity from the outlet. (I personally went wild and unplugged everything , but that’s just me.)

Microwave is unplugged and unused

2. Know where everything in your fridge is before you open it. This has two reasons the first being that the open door allows cold air to escape, making the fridge use more energy to cool it back down. Also the light inside the fridge is only on when the door is open. (Trust me I went through a lot of trouble to figure that out.)

3. Turn the fridge to a less cold setting and switch the air flow so that it is set on “freezer to fridge”. This puts less strain on fridge to stay cold.

I know that these are a “slight” inconvenience, but then again I’ll take a minor inconvenience over a $498 electric bill any day.

When you’re in an apartment you don’t realize how much more power you could be using, mainly because you don’t know any better. After moving into a house it becomes obvious that electricity costs some serious dough.

It’s hard to know exactly where it all goes if you don’t know these things. I personally spent about an hour looking up my light bulbs because I was convinced that fluorescents used more juice (They don’t.)

I now know how difficult it is to minimize bills when you live in a house, and I’m proud to say that I haven’t turned on the bathroom light to shower in a week. No one needs to go as extreme as me, but if you care to try do so at your own risk. (Legal rep. suggested a disclaimer so there it is)

That’s all the money saving advice I have for you. Next week I’ll get outside and attempt to learn what all of those tools in the garden shed do. Maybe I can do it with out getting hurt too, although that is highly unlikely.

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The Mystery of Laundry Unfolds

After conquering the dishwasher last week I suddenly remembered that I had to do my laundry. Shortly after that I remembered that I still hadn’t folded my laundry from last week, or the week before. Then I remember that I didn’t have any dryer sheets.

My hamper sits bloated in my room

This isn’t because I am clueless when it comes to laundry, it is due to the fact that laundry in an apartment is much easier.

When you live in an apartment building you have two options of how you want to do your laundry. The first being to use the communal laundry room on the first floor, and the second being that you go to the laundromat down the street.

I was a big fan of the latter back in Brooklyn. Going to the laundromat made everything so easy; if you needed detergent they have it, dryer sheets too, and there was that huge table area to fold all your clothes when you were done.

Needless to say that the biggest obstacle of doing laundry in the house you live in is doing it the whole way through.

This got me thinking so I had Adam and Marcus come up with a list of the reasons why laundry can’t get done:

1. There isn’t enough time to do all of it.

2. Deciding the proper setting on the machines.

3. Lack of dryer sheets.

4. Pairing socks never seems to add up.

5. How did your clothes get in my laundry?

Now of course these are somewhat unique to my home but still I feel that they are all valid.

Personally I feel that the lack of table space put aside for folding is the biggest pain in the butt when it comes to household laundry. Since the washer and dryer are in my bedroom I have developed the fool-proof system of taking the clean clothes out of the dryer and throwing them directly onto my couch. This goes on until I need my couch and then they get folded and put away.

Marcus also has trouble folding his clothes, he said, “On average I probably folder my clothes anywhere from 45 minutes to three days after they’re done drying.”

Meanwhile Adam just leaves his clothes in the dryer until someone throws them on the floor.

Clean unfolded clothes occupy my futon.

I suggest avoiding all of our systems of folding clothes and essentially finishing your laundry, mainly because they’re all horrible. (Take my own advice? I guess I could give it a shot.)

Now the major difference between the house and the laundromat is that at the laundromat the washer and dryer doors are both on the same face of the machines, unlike at home.

Adam expressed his frustration with this lack of convenience saying, “Laundry isn’t sex. You should be able to keep your junk in the same position.”

This was the best way to state this argument because it puts it in terms that every single man on the planet can both understand and agree on. (I’m talking about the laundry of course.)

Anyway it is apparent that an innovation needs to be made in laundry for those of us that just can’t seem to perform the entire task.The obvious solution is a hamper that makes the dirty clothes smell fresh while they sit there, then washes, dries, folds, sorts, and stores them all on its own. Personally I see this coming before the 2016 Olympics, but just in case it doesn’t here are the steps for doing laundry:

(Before step 1 this is what the washer and dryer look like.)

The machines responsible for my confusion.

(Dryer is on the left and washer on the right.)

1. Separate clothes into whites and colors. (Gray is white not a color.)

2. Wash each load separately. (Use detergent for colors and bleach for whites.)

3. Place clothes in the dryer and turn it on. (Colors and whites can dry together.)

4. Take dry clothes and fold them.

5. Put the folded clothes away. (Here’s an example from the last time I did it.)

Nice neat folded clothes in my dresser drawer

I know it’s easier said than done but I guess we all need to learn some time. That hopefully it as far as mechanical washing goes, next week we’re going outside to the backyard. Maybe I’ll even figure out how a garden hose works?

My Dishwasher Doesn’t Have a First Name?

Triumph! As promised I have learned how to use the dishwasher and am ready to share the secrets to defeating that monster.

If you follow these easy yet somewhat inconvenient steps you will have clean dishes in no time:

Step 1 – Take the clean dishes that are in the dishwasher and put them away. If you don’t you will have no room to put the dirty dishes.

Step 2 – Take the dirty dishes and wash them by hand. I know this sounds completely outrageous because if you wash the dishes, why do need the dish washer? The answer is only minimally wash them to reduce grease build up, a heavy rinse should suffice.

Step 3 – Put the rinsed dishes and load them into the dishwasher. Put plates, pans and silverware on the bottom tray, while putting pots, bowls, and cups on the top tray.

Step 4 – The the washer detergent type thing into the compartment on the inside of the door and close the compartment. (Sorry I don’t know what the actual name is.)

Step 5 – This is by far the most important step, CLOSE THE MACHINE DOOR. If you don’t you and your floor will be very unhappy.

Step 6 – Push the buttons on the door that say “pots and pans”, “big load”, “extra dry”, and “start wash”.

Step 7 – Repeat steps 1 through 6 when the sink gets full again.

That is the full proof way to conquer the dishwasher. Also if you would like visual aide, they are located at the top of the page  in “Household Comics”.

While Marcus was teaching me how to do all of this Adam said, “Let’s just push all the buttons and see what happens.”

Sadly this is actually a good idea. I know this because me and Adam tried it one time while Marcus wasn’t home and the dishes came out spotless.

Remember I was also the guy who couldn’t properly put out the recycling (Which I did correctly this week!) so don’t exactly take my word on that last bit of advice.

Now as the house continues to be explored I am continuously finding new things that I do not recognize and I will post about them. However, in order for this to be a forum I need to post what you want to read about.

That being said, if there is anything I have yet to discuss that you would like to hear an apartment dwellers perception of please post it in a comment.

And as all ways keep wandering through that maze, just don’t touch anything that looks like it could cause you harm (ie. can opener).

To Infinity and the Bedroom

Just a heads up to everyone before you start reading this, the dishwasher will not be discussed in this post. The main reason being that I have yet to figure out its mysterious ways.

However, due to this weekends events I have been reminded of the biggest transition of going from an apartment to a house, the space. I ended up in a room this weekend about the same size as my old bed room in Brooklyn, 6 feet by 9 feet, and that’s when it came to mind that this had to be posted.

When you live in an apartment, especially one with only two bedrooms and six people, the little amount of walking space you have seems tremendous. It’s almost as though that Manhattan thought of “build up” gets ingrained into your brain when you design any room.

It isn’t until you upsize to a room double the size of what you had that you realize, “Wow, I have a lot of stuff.” Then again George Carlin always said, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff, while you go out and get more stuff.” Notice he never once said apartment, only house. Believe it or not its true.

While living in an apartment you don’t care about your things because the hottest commodity is empty square footage, well that and a door with a lock.

However, in this house I have sacrificed windows, current bedroom count at zero, for an extra 100 square feet. Then like that “build up” mentality suggests, after the queen sized bed, futon, four dressers, closet, washer, dryer, coffee table, and computer desk; the widest walkway is two feet wide, and it feels huge.

Where was all this stuff going in that tiny 6×9 room? How did  it all in an Elantra? Why is there still so much room in this bedroom? Why is there a yard in the front and back of this place that aren’t made of cement? (Yes I am a veteran of the sidewalk backyard.)

These are all questions that anyone who has, is, or will ever go through this transition will ask themselves at one point or another. The answers can only be found after you’ve gone back to that 6×9 bedroom with a bunk-bed for a night and then they become clear:

1. It was stacked to the ceiling.

2. You didn’t buy the bed until after you moved here. (D’oh)

3.  There is an extra 100 square feet.

4. It’s called a backyard and frontyard. Stop complaining and go play tag.

Those are the simple answers and simple is always better. That’s where I’ll leave you until next week, and Adam is starting to get mad about my lack of dish cleaning so hopefully I can get that dishwasher down for you soon. Until next time keep roaming around that four bedroom maze.

A Home Without Upstairs Neighbors or a Recycling Shoot

What happens when you spend the first 18 years of your life growing up in an apartment in Brooklyn, NY and then move into a four bedroom house in Tempe, AZ? The correct answer is you now have at least four rooms that make no sense to you.

I’ll start at square one. My name is Jeffrey Platt, although “Jeff” will do just fine, and I am a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. I just relocated from my humble apartment style upbringings in New York to a house in Tempe, and after realizing that I have no clue of neither how to live in a house nor use half the appliances I decide to create this blog to open a forum of discussion for anyone going through the same change.

(Side note for all the ladies reading this; I enjoy long walks on the beach, poetry, and candle light dinners. Just in case you’re interested.)

Back to business. It only took me eight days to unpack and the first piece of guidance I would like to provide is to try and unpack in one or two days, not eight.

Now that it’s clear that my way of doing things is probably the incorrect way I can start using my housemates (Marcus, Adam, and John), who all grew up in houses, to help me provide you with useful information.

The first screw-up happened when I attempted to take out the recycling. The correct way is somewhat obvious, just not to me.

Marcus,who was raised in both Arizona and California, said, “When you take out the recycling you need to make the lid close. Also it goes in the street, not on the sidewalk. That reminds me next time put it facing the house not sideways.”

What happened to that small cramped room on my floor with the garbage shoot and one blue recycling bin for everyone to throw their bottles and cans? Its gone and now you’re responsible for taking you’re own recycling to the curb or the garbage man. Something about that just doesn’t sound right.

Anyway I’ll leave you to mull over Marcus’ brilliant insight on residential recycling, but that’s it for this week.

Stay tuned as next week we learn about the Apartment Native’s fantasy, the dishwasher.