"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Thrifty ways which help the planet (and our bank balance) ...

A while ago we decided that, in addition to not using our electric stove / oven, we would also ditch our electric kettle, and switch off our geyser.  

I used the solar oven extensively last summer, and changed all our light globes to CFL's.  We also sold off / gave away all our power hungry gadgets.  Who needs power hungry gadgets when you have manual implements which work as well, if not better, and all it takes is a little bit of human power to achieve the same result!?

The geyser has been set at 50oC (100oF) for the past 16 - 20 months - switching off the geyser, in summer, was a breeze LOL as the water in the geyser heated up in the roof of our house to the point that we didn't have to switch it on at all!  In winter, we switch it on for one hour just prior to showering.  As we don't have a handy isolation switch, this involves climbing on a chair to reach the main distribution board - a hassle!
For cooking purposes in winter we pulled out an old (about 25 years old!) two-plate gas cooker, and RSon invested in his own LP gas barbecue, which, until he moves into his own place, we are using as an oven.
Two plate gas stove with bbq
"oven" in the background

We boil our water in a whistling kettle on that gas "stove" - and ensure that we only boil as much as we need.  And the whistle tells us exactly when it is ready.

I also got rid of our two electric heaters, and now, if we are cold of an evening, we either light a fire in our fireplace, or heat up a bean bag in the microwave (it takes 3 minutes on high to heat two bags simultaneously - in place of having a heater on all evening!). Snuggling under a blanket with the warm bean bag, we are toasty as can be whilst we watch TV / chat of an evening.
Bean Bags filled with Pearl Barley

But, with all the steps we have taken, I have had no way of establishing how much power we have saved, as we have only received estimate accounts since January this year.  Today, finally, I received the account.

In comparison to the same period last year, we have saved 1755 kWh of electricity!  A whole bunch of coal fired pollution has been saved from contaminating and drifting up into the atmosphere!  And, financially - it equates to a saving of ZAR2843.45 (approximately US$271.79 or €191.68) in six months!

Bearing in mind that we run a business from our home, so we are here 24 / 7, and the kettle gets switched on a zillion times a day, I am well pleased with our efforts.
Owl electricity monitor
Thinking out of the box has paid off, and, we don't feel like we have impaired our lifestyle in any way whatsoever.  I can honestly say though, this would not have been that easy without our Owl electricity monitor. Whenever we notice that the readings are suddenly higher or increasing we immediately walk round the house to see what unnecessary power we are using can happily be switched off.

Be aware - that's all it takes :)


tffnguy said...

Outside of making coffee by boiling water in the morning (Propane) and of course the propane fridge which doesn't work to well on hot summer days that's about all the footprint I add to the earth. (Not counting the small amount of driving I do and the propane fridge is the best I can do for now) With picking up the thermos coffee pot for $2 at a resale shop it will save a good bit by not having to light a burner every time I want my next cup of coffee. The pot is pretty old, but works like a champ and I wonder now why all coffee makers don't use thermos technology instead of the hot plates built in to them that are watt hungry monsters. Can you imagine how much electricity could be saved if all coffee makers in the world used thermos pots? That would probably be about 1000 watts per coffee maker for the length they are on just to keep the coffee hot.

Leigh said...

Oh yes, you should be very pleased with your efforts. Very well done indeed. I love the bean bags. We don't have a microwave but I'm certain I could figure out how to heat them near the wood stove!

Dani said...

tffn - On the farm we naturally use no grid power. I'm just try8ing to achieve as close to that as I can here in town.

I l-o-v-e your bargain flask, and so agree - using as little power as possible - it is achievable by everyone...

Leigh - Funny - we're hoping to get to the farm this weekend, and I have something I want to try with our Dover stove. If it works, I'll tell you - I promise :)

Jane said...

It is amazing how all your changes did add up. What a great savings. And the thing I always say about all the manual appliances is that they warm you up quite nice, and you dont need as much heat in the house ;)

Dani said...

Jane - Too true LOL

jandean said...

I use those bean bags, and don't own a microwave. I put them in the oven on a pizza stone or cookie sheet at 300F. Covers are 100% cotton. Nylon or synthetics might not work. When camping, I put them in a pot inside a pot, and boil water in the outside pot.
You sure have pared down a lot. Kudos!

Dani said...

jandean - Welcome :-)

Now - you're a clever lady, and that is exactly what I was going to try this weekend. I'm going to try with pearl barley, and if that doesn't work then I will try with small beans :-)