If somebody gave you an extra hour a day and $100 a month would you be happier? Would you do something useful or interesting with the time and money?
If your answer to the above questions is No, then stop reading; you are too stupid to profit from reading any further.
If you would like to find out how to save time and money fairly easily, and at the same time benefit the planet, read on! You might even get some tips on what to do with the time and money saved.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the metal plate at the side of your hot water cylinder and reduce the temperature to 60 degrees Celsius (most people can get by with anything between 50 and 60 deg C or 122 to 140 deg F). Doing this reduced my electricity bill by 10 %. If necessary ask a friend to help you. This will save you so much money it’s even worth paying a handyman to come and do this. What are you waiting for? Do it! And while you’re at it, wrap the geyser in a geyser blanket to preserve the heat longer and save even more money.
- Find out where the trip switch to your hot water cylinder is (mine is labelled “GEYSER”), and switch it off for 22 hours a day. This saves me at least a further 10 % on my electricity bill. And if I can do it so can you. All it needs is a bit of ingenuity. When I wake up in the morning I boil a litre of water in a kettle while brushing my teeth. When the water has boiled I add it to some cold water in the basin and wash the sleep out of my eyes. Then, when I can see what I’m doing, I flip the switch to start heating the geyser while I make myself breakfast and set a timer to go off after one hour. I have a little red one that was given to me years ago, and I put in a spot where it is in the way, and this and the sound of it going off reminds me to switch the geyser off again when I have had my breakfast and shaved, showered and washed up. (You can use an oven timer or a cellphone countdown timer if you don’t have a portable timer.) The water in the geyser will remain hot for several hours. Later on if you need some very hot water for washing up, or whatever, you can simply switch the geyser on for 15 minutes.
- When washing up I don’t run the cold water tap at all. I simply collect the cold water that initially comes out of the hot water tap in a jug, and use it in the kettle for making tea and coffee. (Experts will tell you that only fresh cold water lightly boiled will make a perfect cup of tea. Bullshit! I challenge these experts to detect the difference in a blind tasting.) Save the planet; don’t waste water!
- Replace your shower head with a low-flow one. During a recent radio broadcast an expert said that the one simple most effective thing you could do to save electricity, water and the planet was to make this substitution. I haven’t tried it because the hot water pressure of my shower is so low I don’t want to do anything to lessen the force of my shower. But I do confine myself to showers of short duration. Bathing uses a lot more water and electricity. It also wastes time, and doesn’t get you any cleaner than a shower will. Do you really need to bath or shower every day? I know someone who has a good wash every day, and showers once a week. He says he has asked for comments but no-one has detected any dirt or smell. Africans living in mud huts or shacks have perfected the art of doing an all-over wash from a basin of warm water. Most of them never get to shower or bath. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
- Use the cooking technique outlined in my post “Save the planet!” of 25 April. Here is a crucial sentence from it to give you the general idea: “I now use an old bath towel which I fold to make it slightly bigger than the lid of the pot, so that it and hangs down slightly all round, but remains well clear of the stove surface. Many dishes that are cooked on top of the stove can be cooked this way: just get the thing boiling, put the towel on top, switch off and relax for an hour or so. Instead of hovering over a hot stove, read a book, go for a walk, make love . . . whatever blows your hair back. You can forget about your pot of food; it won’t come to any harm; food will not stick to the bottom of the pot. And when you are ready to eat just warm it up for a few minutes if you’ve left it for several hours.”
- Don’t go to gym. Unless you are a professional sportsman or a very serious amateur, going to gym is a great way to waste time and money. You don’t need to consciously exercise every muscle in your body; just going for a brisk walk, cycling, or swimming for half an hour five times a week will do your heart, lungs and general health a lot of good, and give you all the exercise you need. It will also help you to lose unwanted fat. If you want to make your body look extra good in a swimming costume you can also add a few muscle-building excercises three times a week. Use an “Iron Gym” attached to the top of a doorframe to do pull-ups, and stretch rubbers with handles attached (available from sports goods stores or Dis-Chem in South Africa) for giving biceps and other muscles a workout. Press your palms against the underneath of a doorframe to provide resistance for calf raises. Press-ups on the floor or dipping between two chairs are a cynch. Use your ingenuity! How many people do you know who have signed on (sometimes for years) for regular gym workouts but only went a few times? How many of them still have hefty debit order deductions every month but never go? You wouldn’t be one of them would you? (Gyms bank on many of their members losing interest; if every member went three times a week most gyms would not be able to cope.)
- Sell your gas-guzzling car or cars and get a Toyota! I bought a small year-old Toyota Tazz hatchback four and a half years ago and take it in for a service once a year. And that is basically it, apart from a tank of petrol once a month, a little air in the tyres, and water in the windscreen washer tank. No oil. No repairs. No nothing. I have owned many types of cars but nothing compares with this for economy and reliability. A friend followed my example six months after me, and is having the same experience. You really don’t need a big fancy car; only weak minds will be impressed. (I often drive my firm’s very expensive cars, but don’t find them appreciably more comfortable than my modern small car.) Another benefit in buying a good second-hand Japanese car is that it has a great re-sale value. A new, expensive car loses 20 % of its value when you drive it out of the showroom. When my car gets to 100,000 km or so I’ll be able to sell it for only slightly less than what I paid for it.
I think I have gone on long enough for now. But I have a lot more useful ideas on saving money and time which I hope to share with you in a later post. In the meantime why not give some of these ideas a try? You won’t be sorry.