What more can I do in a rented property?

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Islay
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What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #163880 Islay
Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:16 am

We're trying to improve our Ishness every day, but I'm running out of ideas as long as we're stuck in our teeny rented Victorian terrace with its equally teeny courtyard garden. I want to be as green, self sufficient and frugal as possible (with the eventual aim of buying our own place with a little bit of land for growing more veg, add some form of power generation, etc).

I'm looking for inspiration for ways to be even greener/more frugal/more self sufficient, and I'm a bit short of ideas at the moment!

Here's a list of the obvious things that we already do.
1) Grow as many veg as we can cram in pots in our little courtyard (also on waiting list for allotment)
2) Quite careful about energy usage (recently turned off our freezer, for example, which is saving us the most insane sum of money)
3) Careful about water usage (have a water butt for watering the plants, and are careful inside the house. Not on a meter though)
4) Not frugal, but lifestyle - eat organically, and locally (choose local over organic as a general rule)
5) Only use car for essential journeys (for me this is anything over walking distance, as I don't have a bike, but we do live in the centre of a small city)
6) Eat very little meat
7) Bake our own bread and sweet things (muffins, cakes etc)
8) Forage for the obvious things like blackberries and salad leaves

Umm... There are probably a few other things, but they are the obvious ones. I suppose one of our biggest drains at the moment is energy (gas for heating and water and electricity for everything else), but I can't think of anything more we can do on that front.

Any ideas more than welcome!
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #163890 Rosendula
Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:29 am

Home brewing
Preserving all the lovely stuff you forage for
Take a look at what cleaning products you use and see if you can use a natural alternative
:toothy4:
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #163893 Flo
Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:55 am

I suspect that use less could be the answer to cleaning. Not less cleaning but using less of a variety of things.

We can so easily be conditioned that we need one bottle of stuff for mopping the floor, another for cleaning the windows, a third for cleaning the oven, a fourth for cleaning the bathroom, another for the toilet ... and so on before we even turn to us personally.

Hey ho, you need far less than you think when you get down to it. It's a journey from the myriad of bottles to the one or two essentials.

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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #163895 Annpan
Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:37 am

Wear a jumper rather than turn on the heating - IMO a home doesn't need to be any warmer than around 15 - 17 Celcius (this from someone who's bathroom and kitche rarely reach above 5 C in the winter :( )

Be sensible when cooking (using the oven for several things at a time, pressure cooker, slow cooker etc)

Eat less meat

Have you got the ish bible? i has loads of tips that are good for renters :cheers:
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #163953 mrsmiggins
Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:46 pm

I'm not sure of your circumstances re a water meter, but the water company install them for free in our area. It's saved us so much money it's ridiculous!

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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #163972 Islay
Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:33 pm

Thanks for your ideas! Sorry to post and run, have been busy entertaining the baby all day (I suspect teeth may be coming, which means Mummy has to do silly dances/singing/clapping non-stop to avoid hysteria).

In answer to your suggestions:
- Home brewing: I am scared diddly scared of home brewing, don't you need equipment and things?
- Preserving foraged goods: Haven't done much so far, but hoping to get better and better at that over the coming months!
- Cleaning products: For the past couple of years I've been bulk buying eco laundry liquid and method cleaners, but I have decided that once this lot runs out I'm going to investigate making my own surface cleaners (still no idea about laundry liquid, but since the eco stuff I use is complete crap, it can't hurt to branch out!)
- Heating: our house heats up really easily, but we actually ended up using the heating more for drying clothes (and nappies!) last winter than for actual heating. I will endeavour to do so less this winter, as it's a bit silly really.
- Oven usage: I have decided to only cook dinner in the oven in future if I am baking bread/goodies, and vice versa, and will use the oven afterwards for drying tomatoes etc.
- Meat: Only eat this about once a week now, but need to up beans and lentils instead of cheese as my alternative of choice
- I am a tightwad and have rented the Ish bible from the library (will admitting that get me cast out?!), so will have a look for more inspiration
- Water meter: ooh, I will investigate and then if it is, we'll ask the landlady

Any more ideas gratefully received!
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #163987 mrsmiggins
Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:04 pm

Hi Islay, I'd recommend any of the nettle beer recipes on the main website for your first homebrew attempt, bit of an acquired taste, but it's really easy, and you get results quickly. You don't need a lot of equipment and I got mine from freecycle!

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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #164045 ina
Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:11 pm

Yes - I'd say keep a look at freecycle or charity shops for winemaking gear; or maybe some Isher in your are would share some stuff with you? (That way you wouldn't have to buy yeast, nutrients etc before you know you will use it all...)

The only other things I could suggest - get a wind-up radio and get rid of all your other music equipment and tv; see if your circumstances allow you to get rid of your fridge (I find that a pot-in-pot cooler suffices for my needs - and that's in Scotland, where the high humidity means the cooling effect isn't all that great at times). Pre-soak very dirty washing in bath or shower water; that way you can always get away with using the economy setting on your washing machine.
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #164068 Thomzo
Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:16 pm

I use wash balls or soap nuts for most of my washing. They are great for stuff that isn't really too dirty and you can presoak anything that is very dirty.

You can also get solar or wind up chargers for mobile phones, MP3s etc.

How about asking the neighbours if you can 'rent' a bit of their garden for growing veg and pay them in surplus veg.

Keep bees. The hives can be moved when you move on and there are people in flats in central London keeping them on their balconies and roofs, so I'm sure you could keep them.

If you live in a Victorian house, does it still have a working chimney? If so, you can buy yourself a small wood burner (oh, are you in a smokeless zone?) which you can cook on using foraged/skip wood. It can be taken with you when you move on and shouldn't damage the fireplace.

Make clothes and all your household linen. If you trawl the charity shops you can often find bits of material which you can patchwork together.

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Islay
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #164083 Islay
Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:06 pm

Ooh, wind up radio and no TV etc would be good - it will make an excellent challenge (I set myself weekly eco/self sufficient blog challenges), and hopefully a long term change.

I would love a washing machine that actually had an economy setting - the one we have is with the property, and is so old that the instructions have reassurance to users that an electric washing machine can do as good a job as a manual one. We don't want to buy one as we're moving next year and the next place might be furnished. :dontknow:

We're planning on using a pot in a pot cooler in the winter. my vague aim is to run a fridge in summer and a freezer in winter (I make a lot of casserole etc in big batches)

Bees: I'm so worried about having them in our tiny courtyard, due to the baby, who will (eventually, if he ever gets off his bottom) be toddling around outside.

We have a chimney, but it's been blocked up very well (friend with knowledge in such things looked for us). However, wherever we are next year we're going to have some kind of outdoor cooking facility.

Bedlinen/clothes is a good idea - my boyfriend and I were just saying the other day that we both (for some reason) prefer patchwork quilts and blankets to duvets, and my sister wants to buy our double duvet off us, so i might replace it with a lovely/very amateur patchwork quilt - I have a sewing machine, so no reason not to make more things like that. And perhaps a winter skirt for myself. Ooh, the possibilities!

Thanks so much for all the great ideas, feel free to suggest more!
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #164201 Rosendula
Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:21 am

Islay wrote:- Home brewing: I am scared diddly scared of home brewing, don't you need equipment and things?

Have a look at this thread. Once you get started it's really not that scary.
Islay wrote:- Heating: our house heats up really easily, but we actually ended up using the heating more for drying clothes (and nappies!) last winter than for actual heating. I will endeavour to do so less this winter, as it's a bit silly really.
We have a retractable clothes line in the kitchen. It's really 4 clothes lines, and it never gets retracted because it's in constant use. Something like that may allow you to use the heating a bit less for drying clothes.
Islay wrote:- Oven usage: I have decided to only cook dinner in the oven in future if I am baking bread/goodies, and vice versa, and will use the oven afterwards for drying tomatoes etc.
I try to do as many things as I can with only one pre-heat of the oven, too. Also, if the oven's on for part of a meal, I'll put the baked beans, or peas or whatever in a casserole dish in the bottom of the oven instead of using another ring on the hob. I have a double oven; main oven at the bottom, and a small oven above it that is also the grill. I'm trying to get into the habit of using the small top oven if I'm only using it for one thing, as the space is smaller so I figure it must take less fuel to heat it up.
Islay wrote:- Water meter: ooh, I will investigate and then if it is, we'll ask the landlady
I don't have a water meter because my water rates are quite low and we are a family of 5, so I reckon we'd probably pay more if we were on a meter. I do use water carefully for enviornmental reasons anyway, and reuse grey water whenever I can.
Rosey xx

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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #165628 MuddyWitch
Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:20 pm

Years ago I saw an advert that read: 'It might not be your house, but it's your wife that has to wear a jumper in bed'! It was extolling the virtues of loft insulation, which might not be appropriate if you only plan on being there one more winter, but cling film double glazing will make a big difference to your fuel consumption if you don't have double glazing already.

Re-drying nappies: invest in a maiden/pulley viewtopic.php?f=4&t=13090&start=0

Try to find like-minder souls in your neck-of-the-woods with whom you can barter & brainstorm. Keeping each other notified of local shops having sales etc is addictive, trust me!

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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #165653 wolfsong
Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:44 am

ay on the brewing front, you can get most of what you need anywhere really, try Wilkinson's.
Get plastic Demi-Johns which are basically large water bottles with a special top.
Wilko's do all the other stuff cheap... Beer and wine kits are supposed to be good easy way of making a brew...

what small south eastern city are you in? if it's Canterbury, I'll be there soon...
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Islay
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #165668 Islay
Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:39 am

Isn't it nice when a thread you started pops up again in Active Topics? Thanks for the continuing ideas. We're moving next year, so not worth installing any insulation, but the good thing about a tiny terrace house is minimal heating bills anyway!

Wolfsong, we're in Chichester. I love Canterbury though - my sister went to uni there, and it's such a lovely city.
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Re: What more can I do in a rented property?

Post: #165670 Helsbells
Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:03 am

This is a really great thread, heep the ideas coming!!


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