Winter is a tough time for frugalites. We're cooped up inside a lot. We pay to warm our houses and there's not much opportunity for most of us to garden or take advantage of other outdoor money-saving activities. Still, there are a few ways we can take advantage of winter's chill.
My first suggestion has to do with your freezer, particularly if you have a chest freezer. I've already posted about winter being a good time to defrost your freezer, since your frozen food is less likely to thaw while you tackle the defrosting. But here's another suggestion. If you're like us, your freezer stores are probably dwindling about now, as you eat through food produced during the warm months. That means extra room in your freezer. If you leave those empty spaces, your freezer will end up working a little harder to cool itself after every time you open it. Why not fill the space with free ice?
Containers of ice can take up the extra space in your freezer to act as cold storage. And while the temperatures are below freezing, you can produce ice essentially for free. Just fill some empty plastic bottles or jugs with water, leaving a decent gap at the top for the water to expand as it freezes. Put the bottles outside in freezing weather, with the caps off or only on loosely. When the water freezes, put the bottles in your chest freezer or kitchen freezer.
Over the summer, as you need the space in your freezer for storing more food, just remove the bottles to make room. If you move them into your refrigerator, that appliance will need less electricity to keep the food in there cool for a few days. Set the bottles of ice on the top shelf for most effective cooling of the entire compartment. The frozen bottles can also be used in coolers to keep food chilled for a picnic. Set the bottles aside to be refrozen and re-used come winter.
My second suggestion runs along very similar lines. When you make a nice hearty, warming dinner for yourself, use the cold outdoors to chill the leftovers before you put them in the fridge. Since the outdoors is frequently colder than a refrigerator in winter, this will cool your food faster, ensuring better food safety. It will also prevent your refrigerator from heating up and having to work harder, and the food in the fridge from warming up and spoiling more quickly. Be sure you cover your food well before chilling it outside. And exercise caution if your leftover food will tempt wild animals into undesirable behaviors.
These tiny tips will save you small amounts of electricity. Every little bit helps, especially in this economy!
I live on a 2/3 acre homestead in a residential neighborhood. A major goal is to demonstrate how much food a non-expert can produce in my particular climate and hardiness zone, with the soils native to my immediate area. We have gardens of annual and perennial plants, keep laying hens and honey bees, and regularly bite off more than we can chew. Another major goal is to pay off our mortgage as fast as possible. Here I blog about frugality, self-reliance, gardening, cooking and baking, food preservation, practical skills, half-baked experiments, and preparing to thrive in a lower-energy future.