The Low Energy Fridge

Awhile back on the Riot for Austerity on-line, support site, I saw a link to a refrigerator that claimed it only used 0.1Kwh/day. I was really intrigued by this and anxious to give it a try. Although it has not lived up to its extremely low energy use, it is quite a bit lower than the average fridge. Lower than average is what I seem to be about these days so we have stuck with it. Until Thursday.

Thursday was the day Tropical Storm Fay was scheduled to blow through the area. Schools were canceled and I was fed up with my 6.8 cubic foot fridge. So was my husband. Not only is it small, but it is a cube, so you have to layer everything in there and things can hang out at the bottom for weeks unnoticed.

Last year we had your regular fridge, 18 cubic feet, freezer on the top, no frills. I realize this in itself was less than average, since most people I know have larger fridges that tend to be side by side. These use a lot more energy. Our 1999, no frills 18 cu ft energy star fridge was using 1.6 Kwh/day. That is 585 per year. So what we did was buy a 6.8 cuft chest freezer for $200 and a temperature controller for $60. The temp controller allows you to over ride the freezer control so it maintains a temp of 38-42F. You plug the temp controller in the wall socket and the freezer into the controller. The controller turns the freezer on when the temp gets to 42F and then off when it reaches 38F. We have a killawatt meter to measure energy use. It told us that the new fridge was averaging 0.3-0.4kwh/day. Usage fluctuates more here in Florida, with higher energy use in the summer.

One of the main draw backs to doing this is that you no longer have a freezer. Well if you are like us, then you already had a 12 cuft chest freezer to store all your garden produce. So we really did not need that small freezer attached to a stand up fridge. If you are a small family, your needs could be met with two small chest freezers and one controller. Buying everything new might cost less than $400.  Not bad to get more freezer space than a small fridge with freezer would provide.

Our family of four was having trouble using such a small fridge. 6.8 cuft isn’t that small, but doesn’t lend itself to great ease of use. It made it so my kids had to depend on us to get most things out for them, unless it happened to be right on top. The milk never was.

So FINALLY, this past Thursday, I was charged up by the storm, and decided to make a major change. Did we run out and buy a huge fridge to make up for how we had deprived ourselves? No, because we really had not, we just switched the fridge with the freezer. So now we have a 6.8cuft freezer and a 12 cuft fridge. WOW, it was SO easy. Aside from moving everything out, cleaning the inside and switching all the contents, the only thing I had to do was move the temperature controller. I think we will even save energy and money.  You see, keeping a freezer cold, uses more energy than keeping a fridge cold. Since we are keeping less space and stuff frozen. I have not hooked the killawatt up to the “new” appliances yet, but can let you know in the future what the energy use is.  Now maybe you are asking yourself-well where is all the garden produce going now? Well in the past year I have learned to preserve food by canning, lacto-fermenting and drying. I have a hot water bath as well as a pressure canner. So I shouldn’t need as much space. So far I am happy with the new arrangement, until I go digging for something at the bottom of the freezer. Atleast it isn’t a daily occurrence like it has been. Now on to some photographs.

6.8cuft chest freezer in refridgerator space

6.8cuft chest freezer in refridgerator space

We chose the 6.8cuft freezer because it would fit into the space where our refrigerator was. This picture was taken after the swith so the controller is not shown. Now our freezer is in the kitchen and the fridge is in the laundry room. So far, no big deal.
Temperature controller

Temperature controller

Sorry it is blurry. It is a Johnson Controls temperature controller. It was purchased at a brewing supply store for $60. You can get them online if you don’t have a supply store in your area. Notice at the bottom of the picture there is a small wire sticking down next to a large one. The large one is the power cord and the small one is the wire that leads to the temperature sensor that goes into the unit. See next picture.
Temperature sensor inside "fridge"

Temperature sensor inside

 At the end of the wire is a thick piece of metal that measures the temperature inside the unit.

Inside of 12 cuft freezer-now fridge

Inside of 12 cuft freezer-now fridge

This is our 12cuft chest freezer. I have like items organized together. Veggies in the center basket, cheese, sour cream and tofu in the basket on the right. Eggs and miscellaneous on the left. Then there is a lot of room under the baskets.

On the left of the photo you can see the black power cord and the silver temperature controller wire. The wire lays across the top lip of the box and continues in under the left basket. 

I think we will be happy with this new arrangement. Would you be?







Bounty of Nature

When mother nature gives you free food, why waste it! Now how to preserve all those pears. If you have like I do, a tree in your yard that bears fruit, find a way to put it to good use. Give it away. Eat it or preserve it. In times of plenty gather what you can and make the best use of it. Otherwise it all just rots. What a waste.

The pears are washed, peeled, sliced, cored and chopped. Then cooked in a large pot with a little Cinnamon and sugar. The resulting pear sauce is ladled into jars and processed in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. Viola… 5 pints of canned pear sauce. Yummy almost free food.


These were Florida Sand Pears. Rather hard and a bit gritty, not so sweet. But still free. I have quite a lot of pears waiting to be eaten fresh or made into something first. If you had a huge pear tree, what would you make with your pears?

Homemade cheap solar water heater

Have you ever turned on your garden hose to find out that the water was so hot you would cook your plants unless you let the water run awhile?  Well if you haven’t, give it a try. It is the inspiration behind our cheap solar water heater. Several years back, my Dad gave us a bunch of irrigation tubing. We decided to try to turn it into a solar water heater. It worked really well, so when we moved, we brought it to the new house. This is how we hooked it up.

The solar water heater we have is a black garden hose connected to an outdoor spigot at one end. The hose travels up the side of the house and onto the roof.


The next end is connected to another hose, then about 100 feet of irrigation tubing.


Special fittings were added to be able to connect it to the hose.

The next part is a hose that is designed to withstand hot temperatures. It is red. We got it at Lowe’s.

At the end of the red hose is a metal piece that allows you to shut the water off.

We keep the water turned on at the spigot all the time. This keeps water in the hose. We have had problems doing this. The hoses sometimes weaken with the hot sun and you get leaks or large busted holes. Then my husband repairs it and we may turn the water off each time we use it for awhile, then go back to leaving it on. Even if you turn the water off in between uses, there will still be enough left in the hose for the next time. If you had the mental ability to do this, you could turn the water on about 30 minutes before you needed it and then off when finished. My mind just doesn’t work that way.

Obviously, the more hose length you have, the more water you can heat up. There is a formula to find out exactly how much water a hose will hold according to its diameter and length.  Someone else can figure that out. I don’t know how many feet of hose we really have, but we can get about 10 gallons of hot water. Now remember, we only use about 4-5 gallons of water for bathing. The only other thing we use the water for is laundry. The washer needs 7 gallons to get it going. I don’t add more for the rinse cycle. The other thing to consider is that the water temp will vary from 110F to 140F when it is in the sun. If you do a bucket bath you may need to add cold water to get a reasonable temperature. Don’t burn yourself!

If you were to attempt a do it yourself version like we have, remember we live in Florida. We have less than 20 days of below freezing temps. If you live in a colder climate you may need to drain all the hoses and store them for the winter. For even more information on various DIY solar projects visit this site:  They even have the garden hose as an option. Any questions?

Wastewater Wantwater

It is difficult thinking up really good titles for posts. If the title doesn’t explain things this will. This post is about how to irrigate your garden or water your plants without taxing one of our most precious resources.

First off I have to say that using fresh drinking quality water to water your lawn/grass is in my opinion a big waste. I am not saying you cannot have grass. We have grass in our yard. We have more grass than I would like, but it came with the house and it is hard to get rid of. We do not irrigate our lawn. It turns brown in the winter and occasionally in the spring when there is no rain, like right now. It has not rained for over two weeks where I live. So consider where you live, how much rainfall you get and what kind of ground cover is best suited to your region. Sometimes, rocks are the best ground cover.

If you just have to have a lawn that needs irrigation then the least you should do is have a grey-water system installed. All the water from your shower, bath and laundry can be diverted to a tank to water your grass. Some municipalities even offer this as an option to hook up to. If you cannot hook up to a grey-water system and you do have a sprinkler system, then use it to its fullest potential. Do not water when it is raining. Water only once a week. Test your system to see how long it takes to fill a tuna can with one inch of water. Only run the system for that long each week. Many people over water their lawns. Use less or no fertilizer and leave your grass long, say 3 inches tall to keep it lush and healthy. It retains the moisture better that way.

If you have a garden, be water wise. Know how often you need to water. Know which plants need more water. Also, water at the right time of day. Our utility prohibits watering from 10AM to 4PM. This is when the water is most likely to evaporate the fastest. Overhead sprinkling is probably the most inefficient method. A lot of the water can be lost into the dry air.  Here are some articles on watering.

Prepare your soil at the beginning of the season to hold the water longer. Mulch the surface of the beds to help retain the moisture. Using drip irrigation or soaker hoses uses up to 50% less water than overhead sprinklers. Drip irrigation can be specifically designed to water each plant as opposed to the whole garden which would include the paths. Unless your paths are a walkable ground cover, they don’t need watering. Here is a great article on using grey-water in your vegetable garden.  

The biggest take home message I got from that article is don’t water root crops or leafy greens with grey-water. Also rotate between grey and fresh. There are guidelines on how much to use and what not to put into the water to begin with.

No matter how much rainwater you get annually, I think a rain barrel is a fantastic idea. There are plenty of places to buy really expensive ones or you can make one fairly cheaply.  This site  has a wealth of information on rainwater collection, rain barrels and irrigation.   We have several rain barrels that we use for irrigation as well as toilet flushing. Rainwater also is excellent for washing hair and clothing since it is naturally soft.     


Above is our rainwater collection system we currently use in the garden. We have a 26′ x 12′ shed with a metal and plastic roof. The rain gutter catches the water and diverts it to the first barrel. My brilliant husband figured out that the water would automatically syphon from one barrel to the next with a piece of garden hose that reaches from the bottom of one barrel to the bottom of the next. The hoses have to be filled with water, pinched off in the middle then shoved quickly into each barrel. Takes two people. Also the barrels have to have and maintain enough water to keep the ends of the hoses covered with water, otherwise the syphon action is disrupted. We did it this way because for the short term it was easier than connecting all the barrels together and elevating them to drain one into another. The last barrel is an open garbage can for dipping my watering can into.


These are pictures of rainwater collection up near the house. My daughter is transferring water from a full container into empty ones. She has a lot of fun doing this. We try to collect as much water as we possibly can since this time of year can be very dry. You do have to watch the barrels for mosquito larvae and empty those barrels sooner or use a net to scoop them out and feed them to your fish. Covering the container can prevent the mosquito from laying her eggs in the water in the first place.

What I wore

This is a follow up to my post What to wear. My husband was given a five year pin for working for the same company, for you guessed it, 5 years. There was a dinner party planned for all the people getting pins for various numbers of years. You were supposed to dress up for this occasion and the invitation even said semi-formal or business attire. Due to my challenge, I needed to find something to wear from the garbage. Well I think I did pretty well in my selection. This is what I chose to wear.

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It was very warm outside last Thursday, so I did not want to wear the velvet jacket, but I still wanted some sort of cover-up. While looking for something else, I found this lace jacket that I knew I had but could not find. So I wore it to the event and brought the other jacket for warmth once inside. I never needed the warmer one.

After we arrived and had our picture taken and got drinks, the director from my husbands company called us over. She told my husband that she had a job for him. She thought he should be in charge of organising a bike to work day on Earth Day. I chimed in with “What about walking, busing or carpooling?”. Then she said I should be the co-chair on the project.

After we were seated at a table with four other people and had started eating our dinner, my husband brought up the Earth Day car-less idea. The others at the table were interested in how you could set up a carpooling project so people could find other people who lived near them. If we can figure out a system, we can use it at our church as well. We also discussed cloth grocery bags and how to remember to take them with you.

This was the first event with my husbands company that I actually enjoyed. We had to leave early so I was unable to ask about leftover food, but the Salvation Army was right next door so hopefully they have something worked out with them.

What to Wear

I am hardly ever in a quandary about what to wear. However, my husband will be awarded a five year pin from the company that he works for and we have both been invited to the awards ceremony and dinner. For some reason it is a semi-formal event. Now what are the chances that I will find an appropriate semi-formal outfit? Well excellent if I could go shopping for one. But due to my challenge, I am constrained to do my shopping from a dumpster.

Well, you might not think that I could pull this off. But then you could be wrong. I actually have found quite a few semi and even formal dresses. My only hardships have been finding the right size.


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The above outfits are about the right size except the last one which is a beautiful  white suit in a 22w. I believe I have ruled them all out except for maybe the black sweater and pink skirt. The coral dress actually looks better on me than on the hanger and oddly the silver one looks much better on the hanger. The navy blue dress with the tie in the middle just got laughed at and the brown suit is a tad too small.

I have found a very nice dress that is just one size too large. It is a long dress with a high waist. The material is a dark floral sheer and there is a velvet ribbon along the bodice. It is sleeveless and very modest in front, but it does have a plunging V in the back that means a bra cannot be worn. I’m going to assume that I will be freezing, since I always am at these kinds of events. I will be wearing a velvet jacket, I think, over the dress. This may be the one I ultimately chose.

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As I have said before, I am not one for high fashion. I am a simple girl who prefers jeans and a t-shirt. Sometimes I enjoy dressing up a bit, but usually not to this extent. I sure hope the food is good. Maybe I will get up the nerve to ask what they are doing with the leftover food.

What do you think of my choice of outfit? I’ll try to have a picture taken of me wearing this ensemble so you can see just how beautiful wearing garbage can be.

Recent Aquisitions

I have been so busy with spring planting, oh and life, that I have not posted for a while. I did another few loads of laundry today and was folding some of the fantastic finds and I thought “I need to photograph some of these and post them”. So I did. If you click on the photos they will enlarge.

My latest trip to myfavoritedumpster yielded an enormous bounty. I found a 100% cotton creme colored king size fitted sheet. No stains and only one small hole that maybe you could get a pencil through.


I found several dresses  near my size.

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Maybe 6-8 bras in various sizes, a couple that might fit. One is even a wonder bra. I haven’t tried it on yet. No picture of those.

I found a very colorful skirt with black trim and a black shirt to go with it. I wore them to church last Sunday. My minister was awestruck, (she knows about my pledge now). That is, my pledge to wear only clothes I find in the trash.


I found a bag with material in it and another bag full of ribbon. I found quite a few large pieces of muslin type material, but only took the piece that did not have mildew on it.

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One very exciting thing was a box of brand new canning jar lids and rings. It was like the universe new of my plans to can this summer.


Every single time I go to this dumpster I am amazed at the things I find. I am in a quandary about wishing the clothes were not thrown in the dumpster. If they were not, then there are a lot of people who would not get free clothing. Sure, I am one of those people, but honestly I can afford to buy what I need. There are people who can’t. I just wish the clothes could go to the people who really need them. I also wish the people who really need them did not have to dig them out of a dumpster. There has to be some other way for this to work. I’m just not sure yet what that is.

Saturday Summary Week 3

Three weeks down and 49 to go for my “Year of Wearing Garbage”.  I’ve had no slip ups in the past two weeks. This challenge is actually really easy. So why do it? Well, It is really more about being able to say I could do it. It is about bringing attention the vast amounts of resources wasted. To show that there are so many clothes thrown away that someone could have a large wardrobe of perfectly useful and sometimes really nice clothes just from what people throw away. The real challenge is telling people I know that I am doing this. I am slowly divulging my challenge to friends and acquaintances. It is a little hard to just out myself. But I am working on it.

Last week I gave a young lady at my church a shopping bag full of really cool teenager/college type clothing. It was all way too small for me. She was able to pick out what she wanted and then share the rest with her friends. I told her Dad where the clothing came from and that I was doing my challenge, but I am not sure if that info traveled down to her or her friends. I love being able to share  the bounty.

From the bounty of clothing I’ve accumulated so far,  I discovered a velour top. A very outdated and ill-fitting top, but nice velour. As I mentioned last week, I made a hat from a shrunken sweater. Well it was a little itchy, and I wanted to find another garment to make into a hat. Since I am doing the Riot for Austerity, my house is occasionally cold. We only heat when it is freezing outside, which has only been about six times this winter. When we do heat, we use our wood stove, and use downed wood. When we don’t heat it can be 60F inside and I like to wear a hat to keep warm. So here is what I did after finding the velour pullover.

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I turned it inside out and cut the sleeves off. Then I cut along the side seam on the left side. Then using mostly the piece from the back of the garment, I wrapped it around my head to see how big to make it. I cut off the excess and pinned what was left, and tried it on, to make sure it fit. It is actually the back of the top folded in half with a little extra added to the side. I sewed a seam up the side of the whole thing, the side being the bottom part of picture number 3.

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Then I opened it up so the seams were in the middle, as in pic #4. Then I sewed across the top to finish off the hat. When I turned it right side out it looks like pic #5.  

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Picture #6 shows the two sleeves sewn together at the shoulder ends to form sort of a tube. Picture #7 is what it looks like turned right side out. A scarf!

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This is the finished hat and scarf. Not really needed today, but has been useful over the past several days. Especially since my cold still hasn’t gone away.

Wardrobe Refashion

The Pledge

I, Cindy in FL, AKA Wasteweardaily, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for the period of  6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed Cindy in FL

6 month pledge

I have officially signed the pledge provided by the Wardrobe Refashion blog site.   I  made a commitment to myself and my blog that I will not buy any clothing new or used for the period of one year, but the site only gives you the option of 2/4 or 6 months. You can of course renew your vows after each time period has expired. If you are interested, visit the site by clicking on the icon.

I also vowed to pack up all my clothing that did not come from a dumpster and start over, so as to have a 100% cast-off, reject, garbage wardrobe. Well, I had been doing really well with that. Finding clothes like crazy in dumpsters, but when I got sick this past weekend and was just freezing, well I put on a hat. I didn’t realize until I had been wearing the hat for 2 days that it was not a dumpster hat. My only consolation is that I did actually sew it myself. But even considering that, it does not fit within the parameters of my rules. Not because I made it and didn’t find it, but because I purchased the material new. So since I have not found a hat, I decided I needed to make a hat out of something I found in the dumpster. Here is what I found and how I made my hat.

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I found an Abercrombie and Fitch, mostly wool sweater, that had seen better and bigger days. The whole  sweater was shrunken or felted. Someone may have thrown it in their washer or dryer by accident or even on purpose not knowing what would happen. The body of the sweater was the same size as my head so I thought I would just cut off the sleeves and the top.  I put it on  and tried to pin along the curve of my head to get it to fit just right. Then I sewed it together using two strands of embroidery thread and an embroidery needle. I think it came out fairly well. It has some bumps in it where it just doesn’t fit that well, but I may still be able to fix it. It was a little itchy on my forehead so I think I will be making a more comfy hat a soon as I find some polar fleece that has been tossed.

Summary Saturday week one

I’ve made it through the first week of the challenge with no problems. As long as you don’t count not having a slip from the dumpster.  Basically I had said underclothing was exempt from the challenge. I hardly ever wear slips, and was not anticipating the need. Sadly a  friend passed away and I was an usher at the memorial service. I had saved a dress I found in the dumpster quite some time ago and it was a thin polyester material that really needed a slip. It was black with small red roses and green leaves. It wasn’t a designer dress by any means, but a Kathy Lee from I think Walmart or Kmart. A friend told me once that dresses with little buttons all the way down the front were out of fashion, well I thought it looked nice. I considered having a picture taken, but it just seemed inappropriate to brag that you wore dumpster clothing to a funeral. She was such a wonderful woman and all who knew her will miss her.

The coat that I found in the dumpster last week did not survive the wash very well. Patches of the PVC coating came off and left the coat very worn looking. I was giving some thought to just wearing it inside out since the inside is fairly nice. I would need to remove the label which would end up being smack in the middle of my upper back if I leave it. 

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Yesterday I did four loads of laundry, 95% dumpster finds. I hung them all out on the clothesline and they all dried. It was a beautiful day. I still have two loads to do today to wash all the clothes I found Tuesday. I had a very successful haul. I finally have enough pants now. Only one pair of jeans, but five other pair that fit. I even found five pair of socks, and a pair of sandals my size.

My daughter said she wanted to do this challenge with me. Then I reminded her that it would mean she could not wear any of the clothes she got for Christmas. So she said she will do it for one month. We haven’t picked which month. What I did realize is that even if my family will not pack up *all* their clothing and start over with just dumpster finds, that we can still make a compact to not buy any new clothing, maybe not even any used clothing for a year. I already bought my daughter some clothing from the thrift store this year. She is going to a wedding with my Mom and I bought her a pretty purple velvet dress. But then we found a long black skirt in the dumpster and a beautiful pink blouse that was in a box in the attic and she decided she would wear that instead. Live and learn.