“The things we were doing in the name of minimalism, actually had a huge impact on our use or consumption when it came to energy too.”
Written by Jordaine Chattaway
If I had to describe my style when it comes to interior decor, I would probably be best described as industrial minimalism.
Our two bedroom, inner city Melbourne apartment has always been relatively void of clutter and intentionally filled with furniture which represents that of what I would imagine a renovated New York warehouse apartment. Basically, I am living the warehouse apartment lifestyle without the money to live in one. But, I’m okay with that.
When my husband caught the Minimalism bug over the Christmas break I can honestly say I was excited. I am all about owning less and experiencing more and, while we have attempted this journey once in the past and slowly, over several years, found ourselves back in the never-ending consumerism wheel, this time – we both know it’s for real.
Our rule? If we don’t need it, or we don’t absolutely find value in it and love it – then we either donate it or, if it’s not up to standard, we throw it out (with the intent to not replace it). Anything we do love, which is of a low quality, we wait til it breaks and then replace it with a high-quality alternative with the intention to have it ‘forever’ (or, as long as our toddler allows us to own it in a satisfactory state).
When we set out on this journey, I knew it would impact our life in little ways. For example, less things means a cleaner apartment and a much smaller job to keep it in order. It’s also seen us really think twice about buying ‘stuff’ and encouraging us to live ‘intentionally’ and to value things outside of our materialistic belongings.
But, one thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the fact that it helped our hip-pocket. More specifically, our energy bill.
For us, the move represented more than just a fad of ‘getting rid of things’ as some New Years cleansing act. It was a chance to be better for the environment and use less; collect less and use our money for good.
What we found was that the things we were doing in the name of minimalism, actually had a huge impact on our use or consumption when it came to energy too.
The last bill we received prior to us kick-starting this voluntary ‘life of less’ was around the $700 mark. We live in a two-bedroom apartment with an electric oven, down lights, a microwave, the basic kitchen appliances, a Nespresso machine (which we both agreed we gained immense value from and so it remained safe from our ever-growing donation list), a dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer.
The first quarter after we started we received a bill for only $240.
In the name of full transparency, there were some obvious differences in the seasons which, as we all know can make a big impact on bill fluctuations, for example, a portion of the last bill would have covered winter and we have two electric heaters which we rely on to keep warm on those cold Melbourne nights. But, to also be fair to our new, better looking and more wallet-friendly bill, we had since added a electric air conditioner to our summer electricity regime so the dramatic change in our quarterly bill was very much a pleasant, albeit unexpected surprise.
So, in honour of minimalism, let’s not procrastinate any longer and take a look at how minimalism helped me save money on my energy bill:
1. Our clothes dryer is almost irrelevant now
Sorry dear little clothes dryer, but this is the end of the line for our relationship. You see, as part of our attempt to become minimalists, we forced ourselves to take a long, hard look at our closet and explore where we could possibly lessen the sheer amount of stuff we had cramped in there. For my husband, this was a lot easier. For me, it meant agreeing to take part in the concept of Project 333. This meant committing to only 33 items of clothing for three months. No exceptions. So my closet, which was packed to the brim of items I really did love was reduced to only 33 items. Other than making me think creatively about how I can chop and change, it also meant I had so much less washing! Instead of having to run a load through a few times a week, I am better at washing at lesser intervals and, because there is less, it is so much easier to line-dry. Now, my dryer is only used for those dire moments when one of my 33-items isn’t dry and I need it then and there!
2. Our appliances go to sleep when we do
You’ve probably heard us speak a lot about how much money turning appliances off at the wall can save you and your family on your energy bill. But, have you ever actually tried to switch everything off at the wall? I hadn’t until we started this consumption overhaul. Despite writing to you all (numerous times) about how standby power or vampire power can cost you, I had never actually bothered to try it in my own home. Well, now I have. All of our appliances are switched off at the wall, but we’ve also extended the family bedtime to our Wi-Fi as well. It’s safer for us all, and it saves us money. Tick, tick.
3. It’s summer, so we enjoy our view and use the sun’s light wherever possible
With an apartment full of down lights and a few feature lights for good measure, it’s easy to fall into the trap of turning all the lights on, despite the longer summers days keeping our living areas nice and bright. Well, we’ve changed that. We keep our blinds wide open until the sun goes down and then we switch to a lamp which provides a beautiful ambiance in the room. Now our kitchen down lights are only used for midnight runs to get milk for bubs or overcast days when we’re at risk of chopping off a finger during our dinner preparation.
4. Fresh foods means less cooking time; less cooking time means less electricity
Our efforts have extended to our diets and that means more fresh food and less cooking. It’s easy to overlook the oven when it comes to consideration of your household consumption. For us, cooking was a nightly ritual. Now, we plan and prepare meals in advance and eat a lot more foods in their raw form which means less time in the kitchen.
Keep in mind that minimalism doesn’t mean living with nothing. It means living intentionally with the things you love and value and making room for the things that are important. But, when it comes to saving on your energy bill – it really does make an impact and is worth a shot – even just for a quarter to see how your bill is impacted.
More about the author
Jordaine leads Origin’s Social Media Content by day and runs her own fashion news outlet, The Modern Black, by night. The former newspaper and television journalist loves to play with words and has a passion for finding new ways to change the world for the better … one little step at a time.