We have been thinking about keeping warm and keeping the bills down this week. Getting the two to go hand in hand is a challenge and we think the time has come to invest in the future.
We have more than one source of heat and cooking. Half the house is centrally heated by gas. Three of the rooms have independent gas fires. The large lounge has an open fire with a back boiler for hot water. We cook on a range cooker with gas jets and electric oven and of course we use a microwave and two slow cookers. Three bedrooms have no heating and here we use oil-filled radiators if needed. We only have heat on in the rooms being used and not necessarily then as we use knee blankets and hot water bottles in bed. Outside in the workshop we have an old army field kitchen, where D. and the guys keep warm, make hot drinks and I fill with baking if it is lit for any length of time. (Shed bread!)
I asked D. if he could make a trivet for the open fire so that we could make hot drinks or cook a casserole while the fire was lit (while heating a tank of water)
D tells me that he has been thinking that we need to be more efficient and safer and that the open fire is only 32 percent efficient, whereas a multi fuel stove is 70 percent efficient. It can also be left, rather than watched all the time and uses considerably less fuel. He installed a back boiler and double tank when he installed the fire over 30 years ago, which was extremely forward thinking at the time - the tank was specially made to his specifications. So we are now looking for a multi-fuel stove with back boiler. I should be able to use the top for keeping food warm too. Our eldest daughter who is a fire officer is delighted that we will have a fire that will be better regulated and safer to use. The unit will cost between £500 and £1,500 - ouch! Watch this space.
I have also started a campaign to have his field kitchen put in my kitchen, which has a hole of exactly the right size, but he is loathe to lose it from his workshop. I'm not at confident that I will get my way on this one!
Before anybody suggests that the way to save money would to be downsize - we aren't ready to do this yet. We will know when the time is right for that, probably when we can't manage the smallholding.
I was intending to start my tomatoes off this week. I have plenty of seed for my outdoor and "speciality" tomatoes, but needed "Shirley" seed for my main greenhouse. So I popped into town and couldn't get any ! I am at the hospital tomorrow, which is close to a garden centre, so I will pop in there to see if they have any. If not D. wants to go the B&Q tomorrow (wrinkly day) maybe they will have some.
We have quite a lot of Civic Society and Canal restoration stuff going on this week, so are quite busy outside of the holding, so we will be on catch-up next week I guess. At least I'm never bored!!
All for now. Bit of a boring (for you) post - sorry!