No Sweat energy saving

Hi everyone,

I’ll start with thanks to the 1967 of you who logged onto Frugal Queen, to those of you who left comments and those of you who became followers. Apologies for not writing a blog yesterday but I returned home with a migraine and went to bed. Go to bed early will be one of the things I will be writing about today. Today my frugal refresher is all about saving energy, or in my case, not using it at all!!!!

I’ve had a look at old blogs and thought I would throw in the photos and write about a variety of ways that I save money on energy. So here goes.

1. Turning the thermostat right down! Here is our central heating thermostat. The last British winter was unusually harsh and we spent weeks being sub zero. Usually, winters here in Cornwall are usually around 5 – 8 degrees, which are easy enough to cope with. When you think of the average summer temperature being around 18 – 20 degrees, the fact that I heat my house (when I heat it!) to 17 degrees, means that I keep my house at the temperature of a warm summer morning. I don’t need a jumper in that weather, I don’t need a coat. I drastically reduced my heating bill simply by keeping it as low as I could without feeling cold. I leave for work at 6.30 am and get home around 6 pm, so I don’t need the heating on then. My heating is set from 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm and as the house is so well insulated, it never really drops below 10 degrees and the heating only has to raise the temperature slightly. It’s warm enough for us.

2. Dry outside and get rid of the tumble drier!!!! As you can see by the leafless tree to the right and the long shadows, this is the middle of winter! I use drying racks as I can grab them inside if it rains. We have no tumble drier and we manage to dry everything outside or indoors on racks. Like my mother, and undoubtedly my grandmother, I launder according to the weather report. If the ‘weather is set fair’ then everything gets washed and I’ll ‘do an extra load’. I also launder as little as possible. Clothes are hung up to air and worn again, work trousers are ‘spot cleaned’. We use the same bath towels all week and hang them over the banisters to dry. Weekend jeans are put away for the next weekend (and sometimes the next!). I’m a clothes sniffer! If it can’t be smelt when I put it up to my nose, then no one else can smell it just walking by!

This sight above is my dining room/laundry room. Dinner is eaten whilst looking at the undies!!! The house is warm enough that it dries and I open the windows enough that the house is aired and doesn’t get damp. I always wash work clothes on a Friday night on a wet weekend, to make sure they are dry for Monday.

3. Just heat and light the room you are in! Now I’ve come to my senses and I’m preparing to downsize, I’m happy to report that two people can live in just one room if they want to! I’ve bought, from my monthly shopping budget or with my ebay money, a couple of plug in oil filled radiators. They use the minimum of energy and will heat either my lounge, office or bedroom on the lowest setting. When I’m working late, I might only want the office heating, or if it’s the weekend and we’re watching a film we’ll often just use one room. At that point, we make sure we’re comfortable and just heat that room. As working people, we can often get in from work late, eat and want to do no more than go to bed a read. On nights like that, we turn the heating off all together and just heat one room. The same goes for lighting, we turn every light off behind us and only have the light on in the room we are in.

4. Cook in bulk and fill the oven up. I bulk cook at the weekends and freeze dishes as a sort of ‘ready meal’ to reheat in the week. After twelve hours away from home, I don’t always want to stand over a cooker. I also don’t want my oven to be switched on unless I’m going to fill it up.

What ever I cook, I cook plenty of it and it’s frozen for another time. This is really useful in the months where I have spare cash as I can free up some of my budget for things I need such as new work shoes. Not only that, it’s a comfort to know I have a freezer full of food to keep us going and that I made a 2 litres of soup in one go, or three meals at a time from one pot of bolognaise sauce. In the long run, you will save time, energy and money by bulk cooking.

5. Use low energy devices!  We use a variety of electrical devices which are smaller and more economical now there are just the two of us at home. They are well worth the outlay. I have a slow cooker, which is used so often when I’m at work. There is nothing better that knowing I’m coming home to a ready cooked meal waiting for me.

Our bread machine was given to us by a friend having a clear out, but they can often be picked up at car boot sales, from the classifieds and freecycle. People often buy them as a good idea but don’t use them that much, so us froogals can benefit from their flippancy. If I’m bulk baking, then I use my main oven and bake six loaves at a time and freeze them for DB. Often, because he likes it freshly made, I make just the one loaf. Simply tip the ingredients in and set the timer and get on with something else.

Finally our mini-oven, which is our main ‘cooker’. It’s big enough to do everything we need and uses far less energy than a conventional oven. People buy these to take camping or in their caravans, so look out for the summer sales when stores such are Curry’s, Dixon’s or Comet sell them off cheap. Ours was only £15 and has been the best purchase I’ve ever made. It has saved me pounds.

6. Wrap up warm It may be summer and no one is worried about the cost of energy but whilst you may get around the car boot sales this summer, look out for blankets. Keep them on the back of chairs, on the end of the bed, on your chair in the office. Look out for wooly pullies and buy them bigger than your size so you can add layers. I’m warm enough and happy enough about wearing a few more layers.

7. Get a timer. We use our timers for showers and can get in and out in five minutes. That even feels like a long soak now. Our bathroom isn’t heated in the morning so we don’t need to linger in there! Our timer came from the Sally Army shop for £1.50 and we’ve used it so much for so many jobs.

8. If it’s good enough for John and Yoko. Get to bed early when it’s cold. We read, listen to the radio, read the paper (found free on the train) or in my case knit, in bed. If some one has a TV to give away on freecycle then we might get one for our bedroom and watch a film in bed (that’s if some one gives away a free DVD player on freecycle!). We then don’t need the heating on at all!!!

I know many of you reading this do not live in the moderate British climate, where it doesn’t usually get too cold or too hot. We certainly never need air conditioning or massive amounts of heating (where I live). I’m sure you’ve all got your own way of saving energy and some of you generate your own such as Gavin in Australia and many of you in America, Australia and New Zealand harvest your own water or have solar water heating. I know some of you live in extreme weather conditions and heating your house is a must or you will probably die of hypothermia, I know some of you have children and need to keep them warm and some of you have health conditions where you are burdened by huge energy costs. I can live in this manner as I’m young, relatively healthy and I choose to. However, we can all use less energy and do what we can to live lightly and spend less.

I’ve halved my energy costs since 2009 even though energy prices have continued to rise and they are just about to rise again. I wrote recently about water poverty and we also have ‘fuel poverty’ in the UK where many people can choose heat or to eat. I’m lucky enough so far that I can do both but understand that families on low or fixed incomes, such as pensions have to be as meagre with their heating and energy costs as I have to. If anything, I’d better get used to this way of life now as this is the way it’s going to be when I have only my pension to live on.

Now it’s over to all of you. Share your struggles with energy costs or how you fight the battle to use less and keep the costs affordable.

Until tomorrow,

Lots of love, Froogs xxxxx


17 thoughts on “No Sweat energy saving

  1. We are using a lot less energy than we used to but our bills have gone up because prices have gone up….mad.
    Our Ontario summers are hot and humid, we do not have air conditioning which some people find ridiculous, but our house is placed under the trees which keeps the house much cooler, for free. Our house is passive solar which means we have HUGE windows facing south and only one tiny window facing north. In the winter when there are no leaves on the trees the sun comes streaming in and helps heat the house (when it's-25C outside we need all the help we can get). In the summer the leaves shade the house from the heat.
    We used to have propane heaters (we do not have central heating)but they are too expensive to run, we replaced a heater with a wood stove. It kicks out the heat and is much cheaper to run.
    It seems as though the more energy we save, the energy companies increase their costs to make up the shortfall.
    Jane x


  2. First I needed to go to the temperature converter so I am on the same page. Seattle isn't quite as warm as were you live, but we are not talking Buffalo, NY. We keep our house at 68 in the winter and wear jackets and sometimes hats. I sit on my bed in the evenings and wear hooded jackets and read or watch TV. We use the oven when it is cold as it will heat the kitchen where I have my main TV. I like hard chairs with a pad because of my bad back so don't need to heat the livingroom very much. Summers are wonderful here and we never turn on the gas furnace. We have fans when it gets very hot, but we don't have an air conditioner to keep us cool. I will live in the basement in hot weather where it will stay at about 82 degrees, if the hot spell doesn't last long. We had some beautiful warm weather for the 4th, but we are back below 70 today, so pizza for lunch so we can heat this place up a tad.


  3. Hi Froogs! Here in Texas, AC is a neecessity. When we purchased our home to renovate (that was a really bad decision, but that's another story) our biggest concern was how to cool the house. We bit the bullet and paid a considerable sum of money upfront to pay for top-of-the-line foam insulation that was blown into all exterior walls and under the roof. Out house is basically the same as an insulated cooler now. Though the square footage and the footprint of the house is larger than our prior house, our heating and cooling costs are about half of what we used to pay, even with higher prices per kilowatt hour. That, together with zoned AC allows us to heat and cool only the rooms that are occupied. We always turn off the system when we go to bed, even in the hot summers. Using a ceiling and box fan in our bedroom allows us to sleep comfortably, even when it is 100 + outside (that's about 38C). We figure in the three years we have lived in our house, we have more than made up for what we paid for the insulation upgrade. Next on our wish list is either a solar panel or wind turbine to generate some, if not all of our electricity. But that is some ways down the road.

    I'm still trying to figure out how to batch cook, but I have been using my pressure cooker more often in recent months. It allows me to cook in less time, and it seems it helps to retain the flavors of the food more since the cooking time is a fraction of conventional cooking. I always try to turn off lights not being used, and my husband and I always seem to be nagging at our sons to do the same, without much luck. But that again is another story.

    I so admire your hard work and dedication! I'm still learning.


  4. My partner and I bought two oil-filled plug-in radiators last December from Lidl. I think I read about them on your blog back then – thank you so much for mentioning them as they proved to be a wonderful buy for us last winter.

    Our house is really cold and draughty and has very few radiators (it's rented so we can't remedy the problems.) During the really cold weather last winter those plug-in electric radiators made life so much more bearable for us. They've proved to be very useful on chilly evenings in April and May too as it meant we didn't have to put the central heating on to warm up the living room – one of the electric radiators was more than sufficient. Thanks again for originally mentioning them – they are wonderful.


  5. As an afore mentioned pensioner, we are lucky we do not have to make the decision to heat or eat, but we are careful with electricity, it is our only form of heating. Our apartment was built with night storage heaters, we have just 2, one in the kitchen and one in the living room.

    We aim to keep them both on low this winter. I liberated an oil filled radiator that a neighbour was going to take to the tip, we can use it where ever we might need heat. The bedrooms have timer and thermostatically controlled convector heaters, the guest room does not need heat, no one sleeps in there, except me if I have a bad night, in our bedroom I will switch the fire on just before we go to bed, and nip out and switch it off, then put it back onto get up, turning it off when we leave the room after we have got dressed.

    I often go to bed early to read, hot water bottles warm the bed, I have a bed jacket I picked up years ago made from fleece which keeps me warm.

    Quilts on the bed and also on the back of chairs and the settee for extra warmth if its needed when we sit and watch tv.

    Many years ago I bought two fleece jumpers from Poundstretcher, they have zips up to the neck, they are big enough to wear a jumper underneath, we just about live in them in the winter, thank goodness they dry quickly!!

    I suffer from cold feet and have a pair of thermal socks I bought years ago, they are very useful for keeping my feet warm and toasty in winter. I also waer socks in bed, I cannot sleep if my feet are cold!!

    We are lucky that we have enough money coming in to pay oyr bills and eat, it does worry me though where we are going with the cost of everything going up. I wonder how long it will be before we are in the eat or heat situation.


  6. A very pertinent post for today, when British Gas and Friends have warned of massive energy cost hikes in the near future.

    Those oil filled radiators look a good idea. I already have blankets on the backs of chairs. Some charity shops sell really good, hardly used and clean blankets cheaply, marking them as Dog Blankets!


  7. As a new pensioner, I am very lucky that I'm debt free with a small amount of savings, so I can afford to live on my small pension.

    However, I still have to be very careful with my pennies, so I do a lot of the money saving things you do.

    One of my very favourite winter pastimes, especially when it's pouring with rain or a howling gale outside, is to sit on the sofa, snuggled under a warm blanket, watching a favourite film on TV. Bliss!


  8. We recently bought a water heater that works like a heat pump. According to the energy label, it will heat water for about $220 per year. It was pricey–about $1,400–but there have been tax credits in the U.S. Also, I used a 10% off coupon from Lowe's at Home Depot, where we bought it.

    This is in a house where we do not live full time. I turn off the water heater when we leave and turn it back on when we return. We also leave the heat at 50 degrees when we are not there in winter. We do not have air conditioning–just fans. So far, so good!


  9. I should add…about the heat pump water heater, the energy savings are projected to pay for the unit in only 4 years. I encourage others to consider this type of water heater when they need a replacement.


  10. Have just read all your posts in one go! I was 'saving' them. Great information and advice. Truly brilliant approach to all. I think I will make a big effort to reduce my grocery bill and make more bulk food for the freezer. I agree simple eating is a must and not fancy pants treats – our indulgence is rich tea biscuits! xx


  11. A while ago you mentioned Dave Ramsey as someone worthwhile to read. I've just got myself a copy of The Total Money Makeover and I'm up to the Snowball bit. I can see why you recommended him – he makes perfect sense, no BS just commonsense. I know that following his advice is going to make a big difference in my finances. Thanks for mentioning him.

    Linda xx


  12. Hi froogs…loving these posts..having followed you for a while its nice to have a refresher course lol..i have been raiding the local CS for blankets and wool to knit scarves for my tots..we also have 2 oil filled down stairs the other upstairs..they are great..i have been busy all summer prepping for winter..seems never ending really..but so worth it.
    Our gas/elec is about to take a hike..have been over our budget and its still do-able but only just..
    Also have been batch-cooking,baking and preserving..thsnks for all you advice..hoping for more to come


  13. Excellent post as usual !
    I so agree about laundry, I'm always surprised that some people do so much laundry each day.
    We are a family of 5 (with 3 children 15/13/10) and I do about 5 loads a week, I have a quite big machine by European standards (7kg), and I fill it to the top.
    We have a “if it's not underwear and it isn't stained or unusually dirty you wear it 3 days” rule, it works very well, so I only have undies, socks an t-shirts in the hamper on a daily basis.
    I change the kids sheets every other week, ours once a week and towels once a week.
    We keep the house at 17/18° in the living-room and 16° in bedrooms, we never get cold, we wear sweaters and we have very warm duvets on our beds, we also have a efficient wood furnace in the living room, since the wood is cheap in my area, we use it a lot !
    I checked wikipedia for the temperature here, the lowest average is on January 0° and highest average in July/August 25°…
    So no extreme weather here too (I knew it of course, but I wanted to know the actual temperatures)
    We also have solar panel and we sell electricity to EDF, last year we had a nice income of 1593€ from it !
    I could go on and on this subject but I'm gonna stop before earning the price of the longest comment , have a good week-end !!!


  14. Dear Frugal Queen,

    I am about to move into my own home again, but will be watching every penny. It has gas central heating, but I plan to use that v little. I am planning to get a self-heating shower fitted and use Iona's idea of boiling a kettle of any hand washing up.

    The reason I am posting you, is that I am very interested in the oil filled radiators. Like you I would buy them cash neutral, it is more the running costs of them and the oil itself. Really daft quesion, but how and how often do you fill it up? etc How much do they cost to run in othe words.

    Look forward to your reply.

    Thanks so much.


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