Hello again. I’m back. I just wanted to expand on some of the stuff I spoke about in my last blog about how to save money while living an ordinary life. Most people think when they read articles like that, “What a miserly life he must live. No fun and watching everything he does.” Well, it’s not like that really – but it is at the start. Let me explain.
It’s true that when you start on this crazy saving road, you must analyse everything you do. Why? Because, apart from sleeping, everything else you do costs money. Here’s a typical day. The alarm goes off and you wake. Turn on the water jug or put the kettle on for a cup of coffee. Turn on the radio or the TV or your iPad or laptop and catch up on the news. Take a shower. Dress. Make some breakfast, let’s say cereal with milk, toast and some fruit juice. Get your work bag ready, fly out the door, start the car and drive to work.
Let’s look at this morning ritual. Boiling water you used electricity or gas and, of course, water. Checking the news you used electricity to power your device. Showering you used water and either gas or electricity. Milk was in the fridge, that uses electricity. Did you have any lights on while doing all this? Electricity. Did you make your own fruit juice or buy a packaged one? The car? Wow, we have registration, fuel, insurance, maintenance and probably parking either at the station or at work. See what I mean? It’s a nightmare. Double this morning’s cost then multiply it by 365. That’s a year.
When I designed the house that costs me just £20 a year to run I had already measured all these costs to get an idea of just what it costs to live from day to day and that’s why I looked at energy as being the biggest cost tat needed attention. Almost everything you do needs power so how can you get power for free? Well, you have to use natural elements like the sunshine and the wind. There isn’t a practical wind generator invented yet for housing but solar panels have been around for years and that technology has improved every year.
I’m an architect, not a builder, and convincing my building subcontractors about some of my designs was frustrating at times. People generally, don’t fully understand advanced insulation, solar panel positioning and how, with a specialised pump, you can use the air to maintain a constant temperature inside the home. My aim was to stop wasting energy when heating, cooling and powering the home. That was the cost that had to be cut. If your electricity is free then you don’t care a lot about what appliances you have on, do you? And here’s a bonus. If you generate enough power, you can sell the extra you don’t use back to the suppliers. The original investment is fairly high, but once your power savings have paid back the initial spend you are on free electricity.
Did you know that you can buy and install solar panels yourself? The connection to the grid has to be done by an expert and licenced by the power company. Why don’t you start small and add a panel with the money from your electricity savings?
Let’s get back to the daily routine. Not everybody will be able to build their own house like I have so you guys need to see how, with some simple actions, you can save a significant amount on your annual costs. Hands up those of you that fill the kettle or electric jug before boiling the water? Why are you using energy to boil extra water which will probably sit there until evening or the next morning until your next cuppa? Boil the amount of water you need.
Do you go to bed of an evening with your wi-fi still on? Just in case you get messages during the night right? Turn the power off at the point. In fact, turn all your power off at the point, not just at the device or appliance. Do that when you leave the house as well.
Cut your shower time. That’s an obvious one but it’s a double save. Water and power. You should question everything you do in the house and you will be amazed at your bad habits that cost you a fair chunk of your hard-earned.
Your car, or the family car, is a money guzzler. Even if it sits in your garage or driveway most of the time, it’s going to cost you. Insurance and registration you must pay. Maintenance? Well, it’s an area to look at. Modern cars are equipped with computers to manage their engines and engine analysis for a tune up probably needs to stay with the local mechanic. But an oil change is as easy as undoing the sump plug under the car, filling the engine with new oil and replacing the oil filter with the one you bought at the auto accessory shop. Rotating your wheels is also something you can do in your own garage and it takes no more than about 45 minutes.
Do you drive your car to work? Public transport sucks but so does the cost of fuel. Car pooling? I haven’t seen that work in any country ever. Maybe it’s okay with friends but with complete strangers? We love our privacy don’t we?
How often do you flush the toilet? Every time you go? There’s an old rhyme that goes like this: if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow. Do I need to explain that? The saving on the water bill will amaze you.
The average gas and power bill for a house in the UK is £1270 per year. By changing your habits, you can cut that by more than 200 quid! That’s almost £20 a month which will pay for a couple of pints on a Saturday night at the local with the lads. Of that annual cost, £600 is for electricity. How would you like that to be £0?