Footnote Frivolity***, Going Green, mustbethrifty house, Reviews, Uncategorized

Goodbye gas, we’re NOT going to miss you (part 1)

Over the Christmas break, Cheap Geek spent a lot of time crunching numbers. He downloaded a year’s worth of electricity usage data from the power company, poured over utilities bills, and trawled through solar panel specs in an attempt to determine the whens and hows of breaking even with solar panel technology. At the end of it, he figured that

  • it would take us 9.5 to 10 years to recoup the initial estimated outlay*;
  • based on our consumption patterns, we could only achieve this if we also installed battery technology; and
  • getting rid of gas would effectively pay for 80% of the solar panels within ten years.

This project was of immense interest to him, so much so that he spent much of the next few months telling everyone and anyone about the financial merits of switching over to solar power. He even convinced my dad, a big Liberal, no-Greens-hogwash supporter, that solar power plus batteries was the way to go.

As of this Thursday, we are officially gas appliance free. These last couple of months have been a frenetic mess of tradesmen replacing gas hot water, gas ducted heating, and gas stove with reverse-cycle heating and cooling, induction stove, and hot water heat pump. Apart from reverse-cycle cooling, most of these technologies are still as fresh as the fresh air fanned out of a heat pump (brrrrr), and the average John Smith/Jane Doe might feel uncomfortable adopting them. Ripping out the gas stove sounded particularly traumatic to some of our acquaintances (especially the wok-loving ones)**.

So the rest of this post will be about my thoughts on changing over from various gas to electric appliances, starting with the

STOVE

Disconnected gas stove

Before: Bosch gas cooktop

After: AEG induction cooktop

Tradie costs: $165 (plumber) and $370 (electrician)

As per above, switching over from gas cooking to induction is the greatest mental hurdle. Cooking is so very personal and seeing flames lick the sides of a pot must fulfil some Neanderthal need within us. I’ve even had greenies ask me whether I miss my stovetop or not.

FYI: I don’t use a wok much as it is not conducive to batch cooking. I usually cook casserole-style dishes, soups, and roasts. I’ve just newly discovered pressure cooking, which really suits my one-pot mindset (less pots to clean) and doesn’t even require a stove. When  I do use the induction stove, I use it to make sauces, soups, stews. I fry eggs sunny side up, make an omelet, boil water/stock, cook meat.

What I love about the induction stove is the evenness and control. It is superior to gas when needing to cook food at low temperatures: heating milk, cooking eggs and fish. Sausages also cook more evenly.

The AEG stove that we bought also has some fancy eco functions. For instance, it will tell you if you can use the residual heat on the stove as a ‘keep warm’ function, and it can turn off power to an element just before the end of a timed cook, using the residual heat to continue cooking the food.

What I find hard to adjust to is the speed in which a pan will heat up. You can’t leave an empty pan heating on the stove (I manage to burn butter for the first time by heating up an empty saucepan and then dropping the butter into it). This could be overcome by using a heavy cast iron pot; these take much longer to heat up than my Baccarat Bio+***.

There also is a lot more steam produced; you can’t cook without turning on the exhaust fan. And you need to hold onto your lightweight pans when stirring the pot, so that the pans don’t move around, scratching the cooktop surface. Regular cleaning is also important: the bases of pots and pans need to be properly cleaned of grime/residue and the cooktop needs to be wiped down with a soft, damp cloth after each use.

In the next post, I’ll talk about our experience with reverse-cycle heating and cooling, and hot water heat pumps.


*This estimated outlay included new energy-efficient electric appliances, solar panels, batteries, electrical work to get solar power ready, plumber work needed for the removal of all gas appliances, and various installation costs.

**It didn’t take too long for me to find a new home for the gas stove, whereas the gas hot water and gas ducted heating seem destined for the scrap heap.

***You may need to upgrade your pots/pans if you don’t already own induction-compatible ones.

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Uncategorized

Making do

Whilst helping Mum clean the dining room, I got to use her vacuum cleaner.
dad's very old vacuum cleaner

I remember when my parents bought this beast. It was in the early nineties, when household appliances were still made in Germany. Dad’s been ‘servicing it’ over the years: the cord has been replaced, the end of the hose has been reinforced with plastic piping, and the LED lights that used to tell you what level of suction you were using have been removed.

Mum and Dad’s make-do attitude never ceases to amaze me.

Uncategorized

A Christmas of wanting

Once-off guest contributor Melbourne on My Mind invited Cheap Geek and I over for Christmas celebrations this weekend. Except when we turned up at her house, we found out that Melbourne on My Mind’s friends/cousins weren’t the only guests: it turns out that her parents had decided to throw a shindig and she thought it a good opportunity to shout her friends/cousins some free food and booze. According to Melbs, mooching some Christmas cheer off one’s parentals is fair game, especially when one is a financially challenged uni student. Continue reading

Money Matters, Uncategorized

Keeping up with the Kumars

Alcoholic drink
Image courtesy of Money Blog Newz (note: Money Blog Newz does not endorse the author or contents of mustbethrifty.com)

I met up with Cheap Geek and his work colleagues for Friday night drinks. One particular fellow had started reading my blog after getting himself into a spot of financial difficulty. He had invested in the wrong kind of margin-lending account with borrowed money.

It’s great meeting a fan. But no amount of mustbethrifty chicken stock was going to get him out of the red, not unless he changed his attitude towards money. Continue reading

Uncategorized

Introducing Magpie

Cheep Geek and I have just adopted Magpie from the RSPCA. He’s a domestic short-haired cat who’s curious and very cheeky. Like all pets, he is also costly. Initial outlays include a scratching post, food and water bowls, some catnip and cat grass, two kitty litter trays, a poop scooper, a collar, some pet training sprays, and toys. Ongoing costs will include food, kitty litter, council registration, as well as veterinary costs (i.e. vaccinations, worming treatments, and checkups).

We’ve never had cats before so it’s a bit of a mind-warp, trying to figure out what’s going on Continue reading

Uncategorized

To market, to market

A bargain hunter with a competitive streak, my friend Sarah refuses to let her mortgage get the better of her. BM (Before Mortgage), she used to dine out at Comme and shop on Collins Street, but AM (After Mortgage), she’s traded dining out for dining in and makes do without furniture.

Despite her conversion to Thriftianity, there is one habit that she won’t renounce: supermarket shopping. Continue reading