The Benefits of Living Inefficiently | The Old Farmer's Almanac

The Benefits of Inefficient Living


Save Money and Improve Health by Being... Less Efficient?

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Psst! Wanna save money, improve health and fitness, and lower your carbon footprint—simultaneously?

Think about ways to make your daily life a little less efficient.

The idea: arrange your life to move more and rely less on power tools, appliances, and machines.

Living Inefficiently

A few tips:

  • Put up a clothesline and hang the wash. Clothes dryers account for almost six percent of household electrical costs. Line-dried clothes and sheets smell great. No, your towels won’t turn out soft and fluffy, but they will replace all those expensive exfoliants.
  • If you have an unheated basement that doesn’t freeze, keep your refrigerator and freezer down there. The cooler year-round temperature means the appliances will work less to do their job, saving money on utility bills. An exercise physiologist once helped me calculate that simply by running up and down stairs to fetch and put away my food burns the calorie equivalent of 10-13 pounds each year.
  • Stash bedding, towels, pantry staples and other items on another floor or in a far corner of the house from where you’ll use them.
  • For every errand of a mile or less, commit to walking or bicycling. You can carry quite a load in a sturdy backback. Biking or hiking just five miles a week when you’d ordinarily use your car will save around $40 a year in gas and burn the calorie equivalent of five to seven pounds.
  • For city errands, park on a side street where you don’t have to feed a meter, and walk the extra blocks. I often hear people at my local YMCA trudging away on the treadmill, moaning that they couldn’t find a nearby parking space and had to park three blocks away.
  • Consider selling your snowblower, power lawn mower, and/or leafblower and going back to the shovel, push mower, and/or rake. (Hint: check out the new-fashioned ergonomic models of shovels, rakes, and other hand tools.) If you’re out of shape, you can avoid back injuries with just a few core-strengthening exercises a day. Here’s a good three-minute routine (not just for the office).
  • Learn (from a local expert) about wild-food foraging in your part of the world; then get out and forage. For a weekend adventure, take a few friends, then cook up a wild feast for dinner.

Other inefficiencies that can save money and foster family wellbeing include food gardening, composting, splitting and stacking firewood, and getting outside to hike/bike/explore with your kids.

Yep, you do deserve a break today. Instead of indulging in fast food for dinner, take 10 minutes to hang a load of wash, 15 to bike to the store for the newspaper and back, or 20 to rake part of the yard. Or do all three!

Any other ideas? Share them in the comments below!

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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