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There were a lot of things we didn’t have in that cabin. No freezer, no fridge, no electric stove, no blender or microwave or crockpot.
But do you know the other thing that was missing from our cabin in the woods?
Huge power bills.
It seems strange to think about it, but the only thing in the kitchen that used any type of power was my propane stove. And no, I don’t live in a particularly cold place. Nova Scotia is quite temperate all year, warmed by the Gulf Stream. In other words, it’s never very hot here, but it’s also never very cold, either.
When we first moved to our retreat, the plan was to manage without refrigeration.
The idea of living without a fridge might seem strange to many, but our goal always was to see how simply we could live, how much we could diminish our footprint on this planet, to see what was possible, what was impossible and what was … well, technically possible but realistically too difficult.
Considering that we came to the cabin with three little children, and a final one was born right there, I know many people wouldn’t even try. Children are enough work when you have all the amenities.
We were determined, though. No fridge. Before moving to the cabin, I had worked hard at minimizing the amount I used our apartment fridge, getting to the point where it was practically empty most of the time.
But there was a little propane fridge at the cabin and we started thinking about how convenient it would be, so when that little fridge proved to be a dud, we bought a new one. $800 Canadian for a propane fridge delivered up the long, lonely dirt road.
It’s not big, though.
At 3.3 cubic feet, it’s smaller than the little freezer on most fridges. But at least it could hold milk, a bit of fresh meat and leftovers.
And, really, that’s about all I was using it for, anyway. Even at 3.3 cubic feet, it was often half empty, and the little freezer in it (YES, it had a freezer) was almost always empty. What a waste of propane!
Problem was, though, it’s a “camping refrigerator” and not intended for long term use (or indoor use, but that’s another matter). And then, it stopped working.
And we didn’t replace it.
There are a few reasons for that, but the deciding factors were our location and the price of a proper fridge. Although propane is definitely available out there, the trucks do not like coming up that dirt road, and frequently they simply can’t. Our propane company actually gave us a second tank, no charge, so that they could come out and fill them once a year. That tells you how bad the road to our cabin is for much of the year.
Yes, we used about 600 litres of propane, total, all year.
So anything we did to limit our propane use was good. Plus, well, a propane fridge would cost several thousand dollars and take up precious room in our small place.
I really do have better things to spend $3000 on.
So what’s the secret? How did we it? As I said, we don’t live in the middle of the Arctic, and everything we do can be done in town. (In fact, we were doing most of these while living in the city.)
The bonus for you?
Every change you make will save you money in power bills!
At this point, you’re either dying of curiosity about this strange family that spent so much time living without a fridge (it’s really not THAT strange, just for North Americans!) OR you’re looking for ways to decrease your power bill with these methods. (Or both?)
Either way, you’re in the right place.
The first step in living without a fridge is understanding the importance of seasonal eating. Click the arrow to keep reading!