The Thermos: One Small Step Toward Conservation and Savings

By , October 6, 2009

As more Americans realize that conservation measures must be taken to survive amid rising prices and falling wages, we suddenly discover that small, simple steps very quickly lead to savings. Some steps are so simple it’s almost embarrassing to point them out. At the risk of stating the obvious, one way to save energy is to incorporate the humble Thermos™ insulated bottle into your daily routine.

Keep a couple of thermoses on the kitchen counter. How big depends on the size of your kettle. In the morning when you boil water for hot drinks, pour any extra into a thermos. Seal firmly and set aside. When you need hot water later, you have it on hand instantly. Using the thermos throughout the day saves a little bit on electricity or gas. It’s just pennies, but if you have a hot drink every morning, then one or two throughout the day, those pennies add up. With a high quality thermos, you may only need to heat water every other day, saving even more.

If you brew a pot of coffee or tea in the morning, pour them into thermoses as well. Color code them with electrical tape or paint if necessary. Thermal carafes make hot drink storage even easier. The key is finding one that actually holds heat all day.

I learned this practice from my brother and his wife, who live aboard a sailboat. It has served us well on the homestead, especially when we heated water on the wood stove. Now that we have a propane stove, we still store hot water in thermoses to save gas. If the water has cooled too much to use for drinks, it’s usually warm enough for hand washing, or a spit bath, saving the time and effort to fire up the wood-fired hot water tank.

In the average American home, the ease of turning a knob and moments later getting all the hot water you want is hard to beat. But, as many of us are finding out, there is a cost to that convenience, and a time may come when conservation may be wise. Perhaps that day has already arrived.

Here’s a hard truth: electricity is a relatively inefficient way to heat water. Most alternative energy manuals recommend removing electrical heat sources from your life, as these draw an inordinate amount of power. Looking around your kitchen, you’ll soon realize that most modern conveniences include an electric heating element: coffee makers, espresso machines, hot plates, electric kettles, mug warmers, crock pots, and toaster ovens all use electricity to generate heat. Since the electrical meter’s out of sight and mind, we don’t see how much electricity goes into creating that heat. If we could, we’d be appalled.

“Thermosizing” hot water isn’t a silver bullet that will save your bottom line. But waiting for a silver bullet won’t help as much as starting now with a whole lot of bird shot.

2 Responses to “The Thermos: One Small Step Toward Conservation and Savings”

  1. Ekij says:

    If you heat 3 cups of water when you only need one there are indeed savings to be had by saving the other two cups for later use but by far a more efficient use of power would be to only heat the 1 cup of water you needed!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    True, but academic. Before boiling a kettle, do you poll the family to find out how many cups each person needs, or do you simply boil a kettle? Life’s a little too short to be that careful, in our opinion. We boil about as much water as we need, and if we find we have extra, we throw it in a thermos. On the few occasions someone tries to boil exactly what they need, it’s almost guaranteed someone else will come along and pour water for some other use before the person who put the kettle on can use it!

    Besides which, in our small home, one person may offer to boil water for everyone, but others may decline until they smell the hot drink the person made–boiling more than precisely what’s needed allows others a second chance. If they still decline, there’s hot water in the thermos for later.

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