The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Cutting your carbon footprint saves money too. 10:10 are you on board?


Photo: Andrew our money saving hero

Photo: Andrew our money saving hero

Richard Curtis’ short film made for the 10:10 campaign might have caused a huge backlash but it has directed a lot of attention to the movement – which can only be a good thing.

10:10 is a movement that encourages people to cut 10% of their carbon footprint in 2010. I must admit I was initially attracted to the idea of 10:10 as I hoped that it would save us money. I reckoned that we had already done most of the first step initiatives – such as bricks in the loo cistern, low energy light bulbs, extra lagging in the loft, economy washes in the washing machine and dishwasher. Our fingers have developed good muscles turning off lights like madmen. So I was wondering if we could actually achieve a reduction of 10%. But I always enjoy a challenge and signed up.

Some people believe that global warming is a myth. Others believe that one person taking action has no effect on global warming. The latter is right of course. But 10:10 has a wide vision and is a worldwide campaign – gradually people in over 40 different countries are taking up the challenge. By banding together we do make a difference. And by following just a few of their suggestions you will save money in the long term, even if you have to invest now and wait to reap your rewards.

The 10:10 site is packed with ideas and this Guardian page is well worth a look too. I haven’t yet started using grey water from the cottage to water the herbaceous garden (grey water is not suitable for vegetables) but hope to have this up and running by the Spring, along with the well. Incidentally, on the well front, I haven’t been out with the water divining rods yet but I keep on dreaming at night about finding water. Lots of it.

We have inadvertently been cutting our emissions by me being laid up (nearly 14 months now) and based at home. Last winter Danny discovered a good local supply of wood and the wood burning stove in the kitchen is our major source of heat during the colder months – supplemented by the central heating when we are feeling uncomfortably cold.

Working in the garden on the mammoth leaf collecting operation last year I was astonished that so many houses in our neighbourhood have their heating coming on automatically at 4 pm – whatever the temperature. We used to do the same until we seriously had to cut back on the heating bills – we are on oil as there is no mains gas in the village.

Most of the windows in the cottage are double glazed but we’d discovered that putting up temporary secondary double glazing on the single glazed windows made a difference of at least 3°F in a room – this meant that we could turn down our thermostat just a little bit more and still be quite snug. Last winter we trebled glazed any double glazed windows that we didn’t need to open. That made a big difference too.

We now share Danny’s car. Jalopy is still asleep in the drive and if the time comes when I need a car of my own we will get her serviced and back on the road again. I always imagined that car sharing – especially in the country where a car is vital – would be fraught with problems. There have been a few glitches, smoothed out by buying my bike. Generally with a bit of forward planning sharing a car with D works well.

Danny has largely worked from home for years.  Now I ‘work’ from home – no driving to work. No petrol consumption and emissions.

Yesterday I was looking at our electricity bills and was amazed to discover that they have reduced by 17%, compared to the same 9 month period last year. The only thing that we have changed in the last nine months is to invest in Andrew. So hats off to Andrew he cooks like a dream, has paid for himself and saved us money too.

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  1. Shari

    Hi Fiona,Love reading your blog,it makes me feel part of a huge money saving family.Really helpful tips as well.We only have a small garden but grow a lot of veggie in tubs.Living in the Chiltern hills there are lots of places to go foraging for sloes,damsons,hazelnuts and crab apples.any recipe ideas for crab apples besides jelly?Love to all at the cottage,Shari.

  2. I worded it badly – I didn’t mean they’re officially being phased out; the government is still pushing this con down our throats. I meant that _we’re_ phasing them out at home, because they’re so flipping useless at creating light!

    The boilers firing up might only be heating the water for when people get home, not heating the radiators.

    As an aside, I don’t think it’s going to be as easy to dry the washing indoors this winter as it has been previously (I don’t have a tumble dryer – well I do, but it’s been buried under a mountain of junk in the garage for the past 20 years!); the ceiling airer used to be heated by the warmth generated by four dogs asleep in the kitchen. Now we’re down to one, and he’s just nt hot enough!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi KateUK

    I agree, you save and the prices are hiked up. But our bill is 17% less than last year so I™m smiling.

    I am embarrassed to admit that in the past I have squandered these dwindling resources. I didn™t even consider the world view and was entirely selfish. Lights on in most rooms etc etc. Now I™m actively trying to cut our carbon imprint. Quite easy as we can™t even afford a holiday in the UK let alone jet off for a long weekend! But that™s fine as we don™t actually want to go far away anymore.

    Hello Paula

    If you can freeze offers etc, I reckon that a big freezer is a winner. Petrol/diesel prices have rocketed so a trip into town to the big shops costs four times more than it did three years ago. We don™t have a big freezer so dehydrate and bottle a lot now.

    I love washing that has dried on a line “ it smalls so fresh!

    Hi Jan

    Thank you so much for alerting us to this fact about ˜energy saving light bulbs™ “ I had no idea ?

    Now I understand why Homebase were selling five for a pound last Spring. I stocked up “ silly me.

    Hello Linda

    This is not steam from an outlet but boilers firing up and roaring away. It just seems silly when they are all largely out at work.

    Poor you, arthritis is hellish and of course you need to keep warm.

  4. Steam from a boiler outlet need not mean that the heating is coming on – with an ‘instant’ boiler there is no hot water storage, so turning on a hot water tap will cause steam to come from the outlet.
    I agree about saving as much fuel as possible, but I suffer from arthritis, which is made worse by the cold. I take painkillers every day, but without the heating on I would need to take even more. And yes, I do take ‘alternative’ remedies as well. The thing is, all our circumstances are different.

  5. Our problem is that energy-saving lightbulbs aren’t bright enough to read by, let alone to embroider or draw. They’re more expensive to buy and don’t last nearly as long as advertised, and are hugely expensive and polluting to dispose of. So they’ve had to be phased out again.

  6. Hanging the wash out all summer really reduced the electricity bill this summer.

    It would probably help a lot if I stopped watching so much television, and maybe got off my computer earlier.

    Our big freezer made things go up after we bought it, but we’re saving on carbon by not having to buy non-local beef every other week- plus I have veggies from the backyard waiting in it as well.

    This inspires me to try harder though, especially because reducing carbon does lead to saving money. Thanks Fiona!

  7. The depressing thing I have discovered about saving energy is that half the usage now costs twice the money…but then, if we still used the amount of energy we used to, it would cost four times as much…but it would be nice to feel that we were keeping ahead of the price rises!

  8. lizf35c

    Hi Fiona,
    Firstly let me say congrats to you and Danny on a fabulous, informative and totally absorbing website. I discovered you when looking for info on storing and drying walnuts and for the past three weeks at every spare moment have read your blog from start to finish….my hubby became used to me sitting hunched over the laptop and would ask if I was reading about the “chicken woman” again!! (I was reading about your chooks when he peered over my shoulder and saw the pic). Having read your reviews on a Halogen cooker was stunned to see a small one for sale in a charity shop in Kings Lynn last week at £19.95, it was one of those teetering moments when you waiver between should I or shouldn’t I? I thought I would check out the prices for a new one and return the next day – alas, it had been snapped up by someone with more sense and savvy than me. Still, Christmas is coming isn’t it!?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Lizzydrippin

      Thank you so much for such a heartwarming comment. It came at a moment when I really needed a boost. The constant light rain has changed our garden into an uninspirational bog.

      What a shame about the halogen oven 🙁 They are excellent and we use ours constantly.

      Regards to your husband from the Chicken Woman!

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