Turning back time to save on electricity

Jun 09, 2022
Do you remember the old kerosene heater? Source: Getty

With rising gas and electricity costs, plus some states are looking at gas shortages, I thought it’s a perfect time to get nostalgic and look back on how we and our parents managed in the 50s and 60s.

Yes, it was hard but we survived and we were able to pay the bills even though there was no such thing as equal pay!

Do you remember the kerosene heater? My mother in law always put a cup of water on the top to absorb the fumes. I’m not advocating that you go out and buy one (yes they are still available) as they can be dangerous, especially for us older people and children. However, if you have no gas you can pop the kettle (not an electric one) on the top to make a cuppa. You can also save on electricity by cooking your toast instead of using the electric toaster.

If you live in Victoria, you may remember when the Longford Facilities exploded on September 5, 1998, and Victoria was left without gas for about 2 weeks. We did survive though, we went out and bought a small electric hot water service and out came the electric frying pan. We also purchased a single-coil hotplate for cooking.

In our home, we have four types of heating: a reverse cycle air conditioner, a wood heater, gas ducted heating and blankets! If prices continue to rise, we’re going to have to look at what is the most economical option for our budget. I suppose the winning one will be blankets, there’s no gas or electricity involved. I don’t have an electric blanket as our old one burnt a hole in our mattress. My husband wants another but I refuse, so we use flannelette sheets, nightshirts and bed socks!

We could go back to the 50s and boil the kettle on the kerosene heater then fill the hot water bottle.

Another way to cut back on electricity is to go back to using the carpet sweeper and taking the carpets out to the line and banging them with a broom to get the dirt out! Or sweep the floors and pick up the dirt with the pan and broom, it’s good exercise if you don’t have a bad back or are able to reach the floor!

Now, how can we save gas in the bathroom? You could fill the bath and use an electric immersion heater (these are still available), that’s if you can get in and out of the bath!

Now, let’s look at the laundry and how to save money there. I remember the copper and the stick (that was bleached white) to get the clothes out, but the copper used gas unless you do it outside over a fire, so the only alternative is going back to hand washing and the scrubbing board – and the old mangle! I also remember grating velvet soap to wash the baby clothes. I do have a dryer but it’s rarely used. I’m old fashioned and peg my washing out on the line and if it’s raining I use the clothes horst to air the washing and get them dry.

What about the kitchen, how can we save there? We’re already saving on electricity by boiling the kettle on the kerosene heater, and we also had the slow combustion heater that we used for heating the water and for cooking – this was great in winter but not so great in summer. My Kenwood chef turned 50 last Christmas, but to save money on electricity I could retire my Kenwood and return to the old egg-beater, which I used to use to make pavlovas.

We could also get rid of our fridges and go back to the old ice chest. Who remembers the ice man calling with that huge block of ice?

Even typing this on my computer, I could save money by going back to the old manual typewriter. Using the manual, you quickly learn how to spell, as to make a mistake was a disaster until those little white sheets made of chalk came along, followed by whiteout!

How many television sets do you have? Remember when we only had one and it was only in black and white! Even down to the humble alarm clock, which we used to have to wind up every day, now they are electric too.

Yes, there are many ways to cut down on gas and electricity but do we want to go there? Just remember when you leave a room to turn off the light. When you finish using the kettle, turn it off at the power point, turn off the taps on the washing machine and turn off the power point. They may be little things, but they all add up!

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