Friday, July 11, 2008

Saving money and energy takes a lot of time and effort

Recently we have made a large effort to make our living here in New Jersey better for the environment and cheaper (after realizing our oil costs would be at least $5000 next year). We still don't have the solar hot water/wood burning heat system we are dreaming of, but I think it is in the works, at least in our heads. But smaller steps are good too.

So, we got an expensive, 10-year warranty Australian laundry line, and we now dry our laundry (mostly) outside. This works great, but you have to hang and unhang and fold it... and keep an eye on the sky. With about 6 laundry loads a week in this house, I bet this will cut down on our electric bills and our arm muscles will swell.

Collect water in rain barrels to water the garden - this hasn't happened yet. I called the vineyards and they want $100 for a used wine barrel, so I think we will stick to plastic which lasts much longer anyway. We are going to collect rainwater from the house and store it and then gravity feed the garden hose for the vegetables. So instead of more sustainable wood, we will probably have plastic...

We bought 4.5 cords of fire wood and stacked it all, it is about 4 cubic meter I think. It wasn't free but it is cheaper than oil, and we are lucky that we already have a wood/oil furnace. Now we want to get a Smart Splitter like at barking Dog Plaza and a Husqvarna chain saw to attack the bigger pieces. And then in the winter we will have to light the fire in the basement instead of just letting the automatic oil burner take care of it all.

No air conditioners this summer either, yet. Take off your clothes instead and sweat.

Next on the agenda - do temporary fixes to the kids' windows that are in bad shape to reduce winter drafts, until we can replace them. Fix the seal on the front door. Get solar power to the barn so we have light in the winter when we chop wood. Catch all ground hogs, especially those that trick the trap repeatedly. Dig a new fence around the vegetable garden. Put in a tile floor in front of the main door to the house. Paint around some windows. Drain hot tub, which has been turned off to save electricity (who needs a hot tub in the summer anyway).

While I was swimming my 22 laps recently in the township pool I realized that it is so easy for people to do the 'wrong' thing. It really takes a lot of effort, time, and sometimes muscle power to live more cheaply and sustainably. Why would anyone that is rich stack their own firewood or hang their own laundry? Being environmentally friendly is inconvenient and sweaty. Our whole society has been going towards more and more convenience and easier-living, and now this? Why can't environmentally friendly solutions be easy? Solar power should be cheap! It isn't. This country (USA) is so far behind Europe it is not even funny.

All of this of course reminds me of growing up at Barking Dog Plaza - hanging laundry, wood fires in the morning, chopping wood (all free there), and so on.

(Updated with photos)


RosaMilton said...

Vi försöker också få ner våra elkostnader/försöker vara miljövänliga... Hänger tvätten, torktumlar endast i nödfall. Hänger dock inte ute men har två torkställningar. Det funkar bra men vad jag avskyr att hänga strumpor! Det tar sån tid! Sommarhälsningar från Malin

LS said...

I have to admit that I threw the socks in the dryer today. I want one of those little round things with many plastic clothes pins on it for socks, they are so much easier to use.

RosaMilton said...

En sån borde vi naturligtvis ha... Jag hänger sockor och underkläder och så ramlar de ner och så får jag hänga upp igen :-)

PP said...

Yes it requires a commitment...I think its worth it. This country used to have so much of the independent spirit, where has it gone?