Saturday, 30 November 2013

Going to War on Waste: Time, Energy, Food, Water, Fuel and Finances

2014 Will be my Personal War Against Waste!
As previously mentioned, my journey to this place in time has taken 15 years of challenging myself to beat a financial mess into submission and recover enough to take control of my own finances.
Along the way, I have been joined by many others and, hopefully, I have been able to offer sufficient moral support to enable them to move on, leading their own personal journeys, sharing their news as they go. I know many have and continue to do so.
Despite everything, however, I still find myself day dreaming about what I would like out of life, wandering off the straight and narrow 'path of need' in search of bigger and better things, or perhaps substitutes for those things in my life that haven't materialised. Life, for me, is about marking progress, passing each milestone marker and ticking it off as a small achievement before moving on to the next. If one route isn't fulfilling all my own, personal needs, then I need to retrace my steps and set off in a new direction, once again hopeful of achieving what I set out to achieve.
So, here goes with my war on waste!
The Frugaldom eco(nomical) renovation has been in progress since April 2011, when we first bought the house. Work is slow but we are getting there. Where 'there' is, I'm not exactly sure, nor am I sure how I'll know when I reach that destination, or where I'll go from there! But for now, that's where I'm heading.
Since having the old back boiler behind the open fire replaced with a Grant's triple pass boiler (second hand/reclaimed), we soon discovered that the hot water being produced was not being used! It was soul-destroying the night I had to run off gallons of hot water just to stop the tank boiling up, but there was simply too much of it to do anything else. We have now invested in another two radiators and, this time, bought them brand new.
Of course, I bought online through a cash back site and used my cash back credit card so there was a little bit of saving involved, but all done with the view of not wasting precious hot water in the future. We've had one fitted in the hall leading to the shower room and the other fitted in the living room, where the fireplace is. It's brilliant! Even now, with two extra radiators, there's sufficient hot water to run a bath - if we had one! Needless to say, I am now on the lookout for a bath! Sheer luxury for wintertime use when the fire is lit. But, of course, with all highs, there can be lows...
This is what will be the living room, complete with its newly fitted radiator. Looks a bit wet, doesn't it? That's it drying out after our latest disaster; blah, blah, blah, nobody really gives a toss about why etc... but it's drying out now.
I have to say that I am majorly impressed by my workman's ability to keep his cool while all around him is chaotic! He even made mention of Rudyard Kipling and his famous words! I'm not sure how funny he found it when I asked what 'King of the Swingers' had to do with anything!    Shows you how my mind works - it leapt to Jungle Book and the Just So Stories while he was beginning to recite lines from 'If...'!

All mopped up now and I was singing my version of 'Steamy Windows', while lighting the fire and trying to remember where I read that music and song calmed crazy minds... I'm sure that's of Biblical origin, so it brought Noah's Ark to mind and that made me think of 'Noah and Nelly' the TV cartoon, which brought me right back around to Rudyard Kipling and his Just So Stories - the one about how the elephant got its trunk.... Crazeee...... me? Never!
Moving swiftly on, now trying to ignore thoughts of Jonathon Swift and Gulliver's Travels, it brought
me to the fact that we almost have the living room competed, as soon as it's dried out, but how do we get in and out of it when there's no door? Yes, OK, I know we just walk through the hole in the wall! Anyhow, that hole in the wall isn't a standard door size (I wasn't in the least surprised at that news!) and it meant having a door made to measure. Umm... I don't think so, not at that price, thank you very much.

Cue an online search and some helpful suggestions from the trusty workman. And this is what we came up with; a light-weight shed door that can be cut to fit the existing door frame and made to fill the gap!

I was a bit dubious at first and couldn't, for the life of me, work out how I'd open and close a shed door with what I thought was a latch! But look at this! A set of black hinges and a matching black latch, known as a Suffolk latch, and the new door is beginning to look mighty fine to me! In fact, I love it just the way it is, all natural and woody and rustic, but it still has to be undercoated and then painted.

Had I been changing the other doors in the house, I might have left this one bare wood and simply varnished it, but the other doors are white. White should look good with the black, as that's what's already on the replacement front door. I'll let you know what I decide, eventually.

Back on my war against waste, everything that got delivered was boxed in brown corrugated cardboard, so the past 3 days I have spent tearing it all up into strips and rolling it into fire sticks for 'Wilbur', our pot-belly stove in the sitting room. They have worked brilliantly, boiling kettle after kettle of water and even cooking dinner for the past couple of nights. How great is that?

One of my MAJOR grievances is the cost of electricity, especially when it is the main source of energy for cooking, heating and lighting. Over the past few years I have faithfully recorded electricity use on a weekly basis, along with the costs involved in heating by way of coal and logs. I haven't had a house with central heating in it since renting a property in Suffolk while working down there in 2001-2003, so getting this solid fuel system up and running here is absolute luxury, even if it will never have push-button convenience.

For the past year, I have worked extra hard at trying to drive down my spending on electricity, coal and logs, despite the prices of coal and electricity increasing. Here are how the current results of that challenge are looking.

We had a major blip last winter after the worst snowfalls here in 60 years, cutting us off from the outside world for 4 days. Temperatures were dropping well below zero and we didn't have the heating system repaired at that time - thank goodness we'd had 'Wilbur' fitted, as it meant we had one warm room in the house, the rest relied on electric heaters! We're now about to enter the coldest period of the year; temperatures have already begun dipping below zero and we've had the first flutter of snow. December, I suspect, could be much worse, but the fight against wasting electricity continues.
Firstly, this week I learned the fabulous new (to me) trick of switching the cold water feed for the hot water feed on my little washing machine. This means I can do the laundry while there's hot water in the tank and have no need to burn extra electricity waiting for the machine to heat the water - I can let the fire do it for me and afford a warmer wash for things I'd normally do cold! How simple and ingenious is that?
Secondly, I was very fortunate in that I was awarded £60 of Amazon vouchers by Barclaycard for taking part in a quiz and then listing it here for everyone else to take part. Amazingly, very few of you chose to take part, although it isn't too late yet - you have until midnight tonight and I have 3 x £20 Amazon vouchers to give away tomorrow! (See here) Anyhow, I gave mine over to Christmas shopping and this freed up another few pounds from my savings.

Seeing the 'Black Friday' offers for light bulbs prompted me into spending a whopping great £14 of my own money (plus £60 courtesy of Barclaycard and £15 courtesy of Topcashback) to replace every light bulb in the house, barring the fluorescent strip light in kitchen, with maximum 5watt LEDs plus motion sensor battery operated LEDs for the stairs, cupboard and even the wood store. The batteries will be rechargeable, so I'm now saving for a solar battery charger and a set of spare batteries - unless anyone has some they'd like me to review?
Even our old rechargeable (via electricity) torch has been made redundant by way of this fabulous little device! It's a wind-up torch complete with phone charger. I have a whole other tale to tell about this after grand daughter and I took it away on out hillwalking and indoor camping holiday last month! Just thought I'd mention it here since it is contributing to my overall energy savings by way of no longer needing the other torch plugged in and at the ready for power cuts!
I'll let you know on Monday if electricity use is down this past week, despite there having been some power tools in use, By next Monday, once the new bulbs are all fitted, there really should be a marked difference.
That takes care of wasting electricity - we simply won't be doing it, as it's just like burning money. With what gets saved by the above actions, there should be sufficient surplus in next year's electricity budget to more than cover the cost of having the silly prepayment meter replaced and then switching onto a cheaper tariff. Our tariff increase comes into play one week from today, but the electronic key has been topped up sufficiently to last us for what could be months if my calculations are anywhere near correct.
Back to my war on waste! What else is worth saving? Well, basically I see binning anything that we've had to pay for as binning money, but so many people remind me that time, itself, is money, so I have decided to severely cut back on wasting my time.
For November, I made some recipe card sets and fridge magnets to sell, either as gifts from frugalers for those who could benefit from learning some basic cooking skills, or for newcomers to frugal living, so they could learn to make their own delicious alternatives, plus have a bit of fun. (I included a card about papier mache.) All profits (25%) were for my nominated charity. I'm ashamed to say that I sold only 11 sets over the entire month and earned a pitiful £11 for the charity! I can clearly see I have been wasting my time trying to promote these via social media, as it has proven to be one of the most unsociable, to the point of being anti-social, places I have ever set virtual foot online. For me, it simply doesn't work! After a month of trying (and failing) I discovered that only a handful of people were seeing my posts on the Frugaldom Facebook page and even fewer were seeing my Twitter posts.
No more wasting time, no more wasting money, food, water, energy or fuel, no more wasting opportunities to have fun. My war on waste has been declared!
NYK, Frugaldom


  1. Interested to hear you worked in our beautiful county for a while. Where were you based?
    I've got a solar battery charger - USELESS unless it is in full sun for hours and hours and how often does that happen?

    1. Lived in a lovely little place called West Row while working in Newmarket, Mildenhall and Lakenheath. :)

    2. very close to where i live

    3. Beautiful part of the country, although it did get a bit hot for me during summertime and I apparently spoke far too quickly for anyone barring the Americans to understand my accent. LOL

  2. Apparently I'm a screen saver, thanks for the opportunity to win Amazon vouchers.

    1. Mindo you need to post your comment in the competition thread so it will be seen in the draw tomorrow.

  3. Hi - enjoy your Amazon vouchers - I'm on radio cornwall tomorrow - talking about saving money at christmas - it would be lovely if you could share some frugal christmas ideas with us and we can read them out

  4. I found this you may be interested in How to recharge batteries using a garden light

    1. Thanks for that tip, I'll go and check my solar garden lights to find out what is powering them and then check my wind up rechargeable torch, as it can charge mobile phones. :)

  5. looking forward to this one as the war on waste is ongoing here......getting id of eldest will help a lot but don't imagine that will be until March time


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