Riot for Austerity: Month 6 – and Ode to Freecycle

Riot for Austerity fist with Thermometer


Whenever there’s a birthday party or a school outing, I volunteer to drive ourselves plus several more kids there and back and even around to their houses. This month has been laden with those, and DH has had to drive in to work a couple of times. Result: 9.65 gallons/person, or

23% of the US National Average

Electricity: those lights!

The further jump in our electricity bill (from 484 KWH to 534 KWH) wholly coincides with the addition of one heat lamp (and incandescent) and two more fixtures (2 fluorescents each) for our germination and seedling area. We buy 100% wind energy electricity, though, so:

15% of the US National Average

Still, I’m looking forward to turning the lights off soon for many, many reasons!

Heating Oil for Heating and Warm Water: finally down!

Finally the weather has turned and it shows. For oil for heating and for hot water we reached:

48% of the US National Average!

Phew, what a relief! I doubt we’ll be turning the heat back on until Fall comes ’round again, but we musn’t become complacent: preparations for next winter are the following. (1) A good wood stove and putting more effort into drying the wood we already have (by then it will have been cured for two years) and getting more local wood – perhaps even from our own yard again. (2) Also, a wrap-around greenhouse that will double as a solar collector. For (1) we need to save money. For (2) we need to start designing and collect a lot more windows from Freecycle!

Trash: the usual, so far

Still on track, as we haven’t finished our guest room project yet – waiting for the inspector! – so haven’t reckoned the construction debris yet.

10% of the US National Average

We are still salvaging a lot of construction wood: We’re keeping it out of the landfill and it will all come in handy some time later, no doubt. Whatever we don’t plan to use we put on Freecycle.

Water: waiting for the rain (barrels)

We’ve been consuming more water as the new, small lawn and the larger patches of buckwheat become established and need frequent watering – the promised rains have not come.So we used up 595 gallons of water over the month, that’s

20% of the US National Average

All of us – the Rabbit (co-houser) included – have been very good with showers and flushing toilets, so we’ll just have to suck up the extra consumption, but not for too long!

The problem is we’re wavering with the rain barrels. They cost a lot to buy new ($100 a pop). I’ve pursued all the avenues I can think of for free/cheap barrels that we can convert to rain barrels ourselves and no luck: that market seems to be “saturated” already around here. A tank, maybe? That would have to be bought online and shipped, and also costs a pretty penny…

Consumer Goods: good, depending how you count…

We bought some big things in April. Some were garden related, those I’m not counting (a hoe, for instance, which came to a pretty penny!).  Other expenses were for our guest room – for our family, all of whom live far away and visit for long stretches, and co-houser(s). They include a toilet, a shower enclosure, an interior door, and the usual construction stuff like studs, dry wall and subfloor… Just like the garbage, I’m going to count all these next month, when the project (hopefully) finishes. Then we’ll tally it all up. It all goes into a yearly average anyway, at the end. (*)

So those expenses excluded we did reasonably well, with two take-out dinners, coffee (I’m counting these here as I’m not counting food), and a couple of dollars for books from the library book fair: $160, that’s

19% of the US National Average

(*) I want to add we did quite well by getting a lot of good stuff on Freecycle: a slider for the main entrance to the room, off the mudroom, a casement window that will let light from the mudroom into the room, and a really nice window for the new bathroom.  As for other things we kept out of the landfill: Amie spotted a clean, almost new and more importantly *real* Pooh Bear at the good-goods-exchange at the dump, and what could we do? Poor “not-real” Pooh Bear!

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