Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Switch it off! Even better, don't switch it on.

Hello, I've spent most of the day indoors today, the weather has been horrible. I did pop out briefly to run to the doctors surgery, yes run, only two minutes away, I got distracted and nearly missed the appointment. As soon as I went in I was called straight away for my flu jab, other people were sat around waiting. I don't want to be in there longer than is necessary, all those nasty germs floating around. I was in and out in two minutes.

It seems one of my readers is most impressed with my gas and electricity charges, and asks how I keep my usage so low. Thank you for your email, I'll try and give you a few pointers. For a start there is only me here, so no one to fight with over switching things on and off. I only switch lights on in the room where I am sitting. I have my desk light on and the small Christmas lights on in this room at the moment.

I don't have anything on standby except the fridge freezer. My gas cooker can be plugged into the electrics but I don't bother, I don't need a clock in the kitchen. I switch the microwave on when I use it. In fact I don't have any clocks at all plugged in. I have a wrist watch and a wind up clock in the bedroom, that's all I need. I have a music centre/stereo/radio which I only plug in if I want to listen to something. I like quiet in my house, don't need constant noise, don't need a tele or radio for company.

I use the dyson when the floor looks a bit mucky, and have a blitz every so often on the cat hairs. I have a hair dryer but very rarely use it, always let my hair dry by itself. I use the washing machine when I have a full load, and only wash things when they are dirty or smelly. All the washing gets dried outside on the line, so I only do a wash if it's windy or sunny. I have plenty of clothes, bedding and towels so could last several weeks without doing a wash load. If it's a nice drying day I might do two loads. I use the thirty minute setting at 30 degrees for everything.

For cooking I never use the oven, I don't bake or make pies or roast anything. I use the top gas rings, usually just one as I steam all my vegetables in one pan. I sometimes use the grill. I don't fry food because it makes a mess of the cooker, and I don't like washing greasy pans. In fact I have a new system for washing up now. As soon as I have finished with a pan, a plate, a mug, cutlery etc, I rinse under the cold tap with a brush. Saves on wash up liquid, water, and heating the water. I might do a proper washup in the bowl if I have used several pans for different things. For that I heat the water on the hob in one of the pans that needs washing. Then have a blitz and wipe down all the worktops and top of cooker, and scrub the sink. I might do this once a week.

I have only one mug of coffee a day, first thing in the morning. The rest of the time I drink diluted juice or water. I have a kettle but hardly use it. I put a mug of cold water in the microwave, take it out after a couple of minutes, add coffee, sugar, and dried milk, taste it, then put it back in the microwave for another minute so that it's hot. I must save loads of money by not drinking endless cuppas during the day.

I heat a tank full of water when I have a bath. I have a good soak and scrub every bit of me. Every morning I wash in cold water, it's not too bad if you do it quickly. If I want to wash my hair in between baths I use the sink in the kitchen, for that I boil the kettle, can't wash hair in cold water, that's a step too far.

I have the computer on a lot, but have switched to using the small netbook, it probably uses less electricity than the big one. Other gadgets, sewing machine, lawn mower, strimmer, slow cooker, stick blender, food processor, battery chargers, all used occasionally.

So that's about it really, keep things simple. At the back of my mind I always think that when I switch something on it's costing me money. I am used to living this way, for me it's normal, it's no big deal.
Hope that helps, thanks for asking. And now for the question. Is there any way you can cut down on your use of gas and electricity? Winter is approaching and bills will be creeping up, now is the time to start thinking about how you can monitor the situation, be more aware of what it is costing you to run your home. The next quarterly bill for me will be in January, I will be ready for it.  

And now for tonight's simple dinner. One portion of home made veg curry frozen in a margarine tub, and a portion of frozen rice.

A few minutes in the microwave, and Bob's your uncle, instant dinner, and I know exactly what's in it, well more or less. Can't quite remember but I know it hasn't any nasties in it.

Thank you for popping in. Toodle pip


  1. Your dinner looks lovely!

    I knew a girl who called all the mystery 'can't quite remember what I put in it' stews and soups Freezer Surprise,

  2. Which always made me smile ( sorry my comment got cut off!)

    1. Thank you Maria. It was a surprise. I couldn't remember, apart from the mangetout peas which were still whole. One reason why I don't menu plan, I like a surprise.

  3. I live in a warm climate and rarely need to use the heat. Instead, when it is cold I use an electric blanket. I do use air conditioning in the summer but keep it set at 80 degrees F. (26.6 C.) in the daytime and 78 degrees F. (25.5 C.) at night.

    I got my flu shot recently, too, on Saturday, but waited about 15 minutes at the local pharmacy. Not as quick as you.

  4. Do your windows freeze over in the winter with no heat on? I'm being serious here, ours do, even with extra padding, etc. to cut the cold Our floors are very cold, and all the pipes would freeze without a tiny bit of basement heat from the furnace, even wrapped they have, any suggestions? Thanks for sharing your posts!

    1. Hi annie. No the windows don't freeze, and in the 17 years I have been here I have never had a pipe freeze. I do get a bit of condensation on the inside of the windows overnight when it is really cold, but it soon disappears when I open the back door and a couple of windows in the morning. The key for me is ventilation, I like plenty of it.

      I think how the house was constructed, the type of materials used, the layout, and the age of it has some bearing on how energy efficient it is. Also the personal needs of the occupants and how many people live there. A single person rattling around in a big old house will find it cold in the winter, whereas a family in a normal semi with cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, and no pipes exposed to the elements will have a much easier time.

      My house is a brick built semi constructed about 65 years ago, they knew how to build them then. It was built by the local authority, (Council). The downstairs floors are solid with a heavy underlay and carpets. The whole house is carpeted apart from the kitchen. I have cavity wall insulation and loft insulation, provided free with a government Warm Front Grant. Windows are double glazed apart from one, the back window in the lounge. There are ventilation bricks built into the walls in each room.

      If your house is prone to freezing windows there might be nothing you can do about it other than keep a little bit of heating on. Have you got very thick curtains? I double up on my curtains over the winter, hang two sets on one rail. What are your window frames made of? Mine are plastic. I remember we had metal frames in a house when I was a child, there was as much frost on the inside as there was on the outside. They went rusty quickly and always needed painting.

      Are there other neighbours in your vicinity who have similar houses, could you ask them how they combat frosty windows? Could you get a quote from a glazier to install secondary double glazing, making it triple glazing?

      Sorry, that's all I can think of apart from selling up and moving. Hope you find a solution.

  5. I do have hot drinks during the day but only fill the kettle with the minimum amount. What I don't use for my hot drink goes into a flask kept by the kettle and this is tipped back into the kettle next time. You can also buy tiny kettles or travel kettles which will only boil one mug's worth so this can save on electricity. Training children to switch off lights and other electrical appliances saves a lot too.

  6. I enjoyed your post thank you. I am always looking for ways to improve/reduce my gas and electricity. You seem to have it down to the bone. I think I might reduce the time my hairdryer is on and let it dry naturally, there are a few things that stay plugged in that I could unplug. I guess it's the small things that get forgotten about but add up through the year.

    1. I have tried letting my hair dry naturally but if I do this in the winter I feel chilled to the bone if I have no heating on.

  7. I bought a Kill-a-Watt a few years back and know exactly how much each appliance costs to run. A crock pot costs more that you might think and just for fun I worked out that the clock on my microwave costs $3.28c per annum. I cant turn the microwave off easily as the plug is in a high cupboard so I just leave it on and have a chuckle everytime I check the time.

  8. Hi, I Have decided to try and keep the heating off for as long as possible as I find once you get used to it you need it all the time. A question also, do you get any problems with mould? from not having any heating on. I thought we were doing the right thing moving into a small bungalow but every winter we get mould in the bottom corners of the outside wall. I think we have a high humidity level from cooking showering etc. However, I do try to ventilate as much as possible but as we are built into a hillside with nothing at the front of us we are exposed to the elements and it does get very cold in here in the winter. We are desperately trying to find somewhere else to live which is newer and more insulated. Our dual fuel for one month is about 42 pounds during summer months so we have a long way to go to ever get to your level.
    Kind regards


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