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.
Lots of love, Froogs xxxxx