Winters coming thick and fast, I’ve just got the bed sheets out of the washer to hang outside, Mark told me while I was half-listening half-asleep yesterday that today was going to be lovely… well – its misty with a speck of sunshine coming through. Not any good for drying the washing. Our last power bill came in at $140 for the month, which is close to our average over the warmer months now. Long gone are our $60-100 bills! from when we lived in a house almost half the floor area of this one and no one was home all day. Also our electronics and our data usage is gone through the roof with my addiction to youtube tutorials, the kids owning a couple of devices each and the salons sound system running spotify 🙂
How times change so quickly.
Here’s my list of what I do, what I know others have been successful doing, and things I will do this autumn/winter and I hope something in it helps you to save some cash during our NZ cold months.
1. Invest $90 to get yourself a day/night smart meter installed by your power provider. We’ve done this type of electricity plan from the get go. When we lived in the village during our rebuild, the power bills were crippling! on just a one-rate 24/7 plan. This will save you so much money on your biggest costs: water heating and heating. More on that in a minute.
2. Invest in either a heat-pump or devise ways to get firewood in for your house super cheap or swapping for something you can do of value for someone else. My dad for example mills forests on farms that want clearing work done, he charges them no invoice, he keeps the wood and his church is using the funds from that sold wood to do ministry and missionary work. My older sister does a day every now and then with her kids and collects pine cones – who remembers doing this as a kid? It doubles up as a zero-cost family outing. win-win. If neither of these are an option, get yourself some manual timers you plug into the wall to plug your electric heater into so that you can set it to turn on at 6 am to heat up your home on the night-rate.
3. Set your heat pump, or manual timer to turn on at 5 or 6am (our night rate is 9pm-7am) so that you get the most expensive heating done on the cheaper power rate.
4. Have your hot water cylinder temperature checked (someone handy, the hubby? brother? yourself if you’re a clever wifey!) to make sure your water isnt any hotter than you really need it to be and have it HARD WIRED to your NIGHT meter when they install it. If you already have one of these meters just call your provider and have your plan changed to night rate and then organize an electrician to make sure your cylinder is only heating during those hours. They will tell you when you call that the savings of night heating aren’t that great and that they’re going out of fashion. Nice try! I had a spreadsheet of comparisons handy when I called and gave them a figure or two I tell ya!!
We also have an electric califont shower, this has been both a blessing and burden with young kids because while you never run out of water…. you never…. run out of water. I have to yell at them to get out of the shower, and sometimes I forget! so there goes half an hour of instant water heating on DAY RATE arrrggghhhh! little mites.
I have my own shower after 9pm, and often the hubby showers well before 7am so its only the kids showers on the day rate.
5. For those with labour intense working hubbies, fill the washer and soak clothes in it a day before you actually wash them. Sodium Percarbonate is my newest bestest friend! available at bin inn! its the best part of napisan and keeps all the fibres of clothes lovely and lush, its also what hotels and motels have used for years on their luxury linens. I put 2 Tbsp of this in with every wash as well as a scoop of regular washing powder. Do NOT use fabric softener, it gunks up clothes fibres and makes your towels crunchy. What!? Seriously… trust me. Do all washing on a cold wash or warm wash if you have enough water in your cyllinder for showers+washing on warm in the coldest of months. I don’t feel my clothes come out clean when the water is ice cold. Add half a cup of washing soda crystals to your water in the winter. Put your washing on just before 9pm so that you’re using the last of your cyllinders hot water before it starts to heat up again. Get it hung up before you go to bed beside an ajar window or with your heatpump on dehumidify… this is optional but you’ll thank me later when your home doesn’t smell musty or mildewy. In the morning place the washing in the sunny spots of your house, sun kills germies 🙂 and by that evening I would be throwing it into my clothes dryer at 9pm to finish it and fold it. This has cut my dryer time down to needing 1/3 of the time in the dryer. If you have a hot water cupboard you can place the towels in there to get the absolute last dampness out of them instead of the dryer if you really have to 🙂
6. Open your house windows first thing in the morning for half an hour then close them back up. Do it while you do the school run so when you get back you’re not freezing your ass off. Its so important to keep the house moisture free. Use a fan in the bathroom and I have that window open/ajar 24/7 as well as our toilet rooms window and I just keep both those rooms doors closed. Yep its freaking cold in there in winter, but its clean and healthy and doesn’t impart moisture into our living rooms or bedrooms. We’ve all seen the ad’s on tv that prove its easiest and cheapest to heat a dry moisture free home.
7. Dedicate towels to people and wash them just once a week. Hang your towels in a sunny spot of the house each morning and return to the bathroom just before everyone arrives home in the avo/evening. Make everyone wear their outer layers of clothes at least twice before they throw them in the wash. Wash bed sheets once a fortnight if not weekly and mist your pillow each morning and your whole mattress lightly when you do change the sheets with a DIY alcohol/lavender spray to help keep germs away. Change your pillowcases weekly or every few days if you’re a drooler!
8. Use a slow-cooker for meals. You’d be surprised at how many meals can be converted to being done in the slow cooker. Hit up google for meal conversions and recipe ideas. Make double sized meals so you can do re-heat nights. Also do your baking at 9pm, that is if you’re still awake at that time! I’m up til 11pm each night and out of bed at 7am so it works well for my sleep cycle.
9.If you’re a stay at home mum, keep yourself busy with clubs, groups and if it works for your house…. a part time job. This means you’re not needing to heat your home with everyone out for the day.
10. Keep a record of your power consumption and work out where your moneys going. I used to download the excel spreadsheet but now our meter sends the data to my cellphone. It’s really interesting to see how changing your lifestyle habits a little can save you so much. It’s not so much about being frugal and pinching pennies for me now a days, its more that I’d rather ensure my household isn’t wasteful with our income and that we put our income to better life happiness increasing uses – such as trips and vacations!
Have you got any tips to share? Add them in the comments below!