The other half spent a quiet hour sewing hems on door curtains the other night. What is a door curtain, I hear you ask? Basically you put a curtain across your doorway so you can keep the door open and still keep the heating or cooling contained within that room. If you live in a house where you are heating or cooling anything, a door curtain can save you some serious money if you can’t shut doors – or if like this house, it has been built open plan without doors in the right places.
Essentially it keeps the heat/cool in the room where you have put it, without having to shut doors. This is perfect for those of us with kitties (make one for your laundry door which is usually where you put the kitty litter, you’ll love it!) who like to have full access to the entire house. You can usually find a suitable kind of material ready made in any fabric store, but if you are crafty you could make your own.
How did we hang it up? There was no curtain rail or anything there, and this is a rental house so we did not want to leave marks. We found a brilliant thing at a local hardware store. I can’t really describe how it works and I can’t remember what it was called, but it is basically a rod you can twist in the middle to extend it and somehow it stays up all on its own. Like magic.
So this house we’re renting is set on a hill, and we get wind drafts into the bedroom and through the front door. Some days the temperature in that room was getting down to 10 degrees C. Quite cold and not very energy efficient because when we go to bed we turn on the reverse cycle aircon to keep the room warm.
We’ve taken some of the left over material from the door curtains and used it to make window curtains in the bedroom. These now cover the two front windows and keep the heat in brilliantly. It is now a small dark warm cave of goodness. I’ll take comfort over fashion anytime and this is almost both, to me. Others may look at it with horror but they don’t have to pay my electricity bills, which fill me with horror and scare the other half’s wallet into getting out the credit cards.
Despite the fact that we have moved states and now pay at least 5 cents less per kwh of electricity used, our bills have been somewhat high – though we do pay extra for green electricity. This house has electric hot water – tip to anyone building NEVER EVER get electric hot water, it is not cheap or good – if you don’t have access to natural gas try LPG or even solar.
I used to work for an electricity company. One of my tasks was to speak with callers about ways to reduce their energy usage. Doing that all day every day inspires one to actually do some of the things one talks about all the time – and at the time one was living in a state where electricity was expensive. So here’s some of the better tips which worked for me.
1. Replace all light globes with energy savers.
Yes, they cost more to purchase at the supermarket but this is the single thing we can all easily do which really saves a lot of energy. Put your maths brain on for a moment. Take your standard 60 watt globe. For every hour you have it turned on, it uses 60 watts. 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt (1kwh). So with a 60 watt globe, you can run it for just over 16 hours and it will cost you 1kwh of electricity. You can replace your 60 watt globe with a 10 watt energy saver – it has the same amount of light. You will be able to run this for 100 hours for the same cost.
The bottom line – 100 hours vs 16.6 hours =1kwh. 100 hours is a lot better, so go install a bunch of them – and consider going lower than 10w – there are 5w globes out there too.
2. Air conditioning temperatures.
If you have an airconditioner, does yours allow you to set the temperature? If so, you want to go with 24-26 degrees Celsius in summer, and 18-21 degrees in winter.
3. Get rid of old appliances.
If you have a top load washing machine, you’re using a shitload of water. Seriously. For each wash you’d be using between 150-200+ litres of water. If you live in Australia you know we have serious water issues – do something about it. Buy a front load ASAP. Imagine 150-200 one litre milk cartons. Now imagine 50 one litre milk cartons to do the same amount of washing. Plus front loaders are more energy efficient and wash your clothes better.
If you have a beer fridge, turn it off or replace it with a new, more energy efficient version.
If you have an old air conditioner that will really be costing you big money. Purchase a new one if possible.
4. Use door snakes on all external doors.
It can make a huge difference to keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer. Also consider using door curtains and getting thicker curtains for your windows.
5. I’m not going to tell you to take shorter showers.
However, putting a clock in the bathroom can help you to be mindful of how long you are spending in there. The less time you are in there, the less energy and water used. I know I tend to stand there lost in thought but putting in a clock was useful.
Finally, if you want to do something good for the environment, speak to your energy supplier about green electricity. For example, people in Melbourne can choose to purchase green electricity for as little as one extra dollar per week. Less than one can of coke per week to be completely green? That’s fantastic.