Don’t you find that winter and summer complement each other perfectly? Winter is such a restful break from the busy summer-time while summer is a pleasant break from winter’s extra costs. Winter brings along so many extra expenses that only with summer savings can we keep our budget straight.
Our extra Winter costs include:
Heating Costs. We have a wood-stove and an oil-furnace to heat our large, drafty farm house. Last year we purchased 16 cords of wood at a cost of $1,500.00 and filled up two oil tanks at a cost of almost $2,000.00. The wood-stove itself was a huge money-saver. Before we had it installed, the oil bill was triple what it is today.
Car Expense: In late Fall, before the snow falls, we change to snow-tires and of course have them changed back in early Spring. This is always good for a few hundred dollars. We also get our car undercoated to protect against road salt, another $150.00 or so.
Snow Removal: We are fortunate that we have a neighbour who keeps our driveway free from snow. But this can cost up to $500.00 dollars, depending on the amount of snow we get.
Food: Since most food is imported during the winter time, it is naturally more expensive to buy.
Energy: A lot more electricity is required in the winter. More lights on, more hot water use, more oven use, more indoor time so more TV watching, etc. It all adds up.
Our Summer Savings:
The biggest summer savings come from cutting energy costs and we do this in a number of ways.
- Before the season starts, we check and clean the air conditioner and replace the filters. This improves air-flow and keeps the unit running smoothly and lasting longer. We also run the a/c only when it’s really needed.
- The hot water heater is another large energy user if not monitored and we save a fair bit by turning it down a few degrees for the summer. In the summer showers are taken to cool off and refresh and for that we don’t need the hottest water.
- The savings continue by running the dishwasher only when it’s fully loaded and letting dishes air-dry.
- A huge money-saver is to make full use of the BBQ. Besides the energy savings offered by not using the stove/oven, there will be additional energy savings since the oven isn’t heating up the house, further reducing the need for the a/c. I use the side burner on our barbecue to make soup or cook up large pots of potatoes or macaroni for salads. More energy saved.
- Using the micro-wave is another money-saver. It uses very little energy and doesn’t heat up the house.
- No dryer. I love hanging my laundry out on the clothes-line and, since dryers suck up huge amounts of energy, this is another great cost-saver.
We save a lot of money over the summer by growing our own food. We don’t have anywhere near the garden we used to have but do grow salad stuff including tomatoes, a variety of herbs and our favourite organic vegetables – kale, spinach, beets and zucchini. Instead of celery, which is tricky to grow, we grow lovage, an easy, fast growing perennial that tastes sort of like beefy celery, great for soups and stews all winter long.
It doesn’t take much room to have a salad or herb garden. It only requires a large patio planter or window box to grow low-cost organic produce all summer long. These gardens can be made to look very attractive, especially if interplanted with some edible flowers, such as nasturtiums or bergamot (bee balm). Extra produce can be frozen for use during the winter for more savings.
Any produce we don’t grow can be bought at Farmers’ Markets. We get great bargains by buying in-season and shopping just before closing time. That’s when vendors cut prices so they don’t have to cart the unsold produce home. An example of my best bargain to date: a flat (8 pints) of organic blueberries for $5.00.
For more about Farmers’ Markets Click here
By taking advantage of all summer savings opportunities, we are able to significantly lessen the burden of winter’s bills.
Talk to you again next week,