Electrical Appliances You Can Do Without

Technology is a good thing, don't get me wrong. It saves lives and makes our days more enjoyable. Sometimes though, it is preferable to cut back on use of modern technology, either because of the pleasure of pure physical labor, or because of the expense involved.

I, and others, try to minimize using electrical appliances for many reasons that include, but are not limited to:

1. Electrical appliances are expensive to buy.
2. These appliances have a shorter life. The more bells and whistles, wires and motors an appliance has, the more parts there are likely to break, and the more expensive it is to maintain them or replace them when they are no longer worthwhile to fix.
3. When space is at a premium because you've downsized to save money, it may not pay to take up that space with large electrical appliances if there are alternatives that won't take up that space.
4. Electricity use. "Don't pay someone to do something that you can easily do yourself" is one of my rules in life. Electricity use is just one of the many ways in which that plays out. If I can easily do something by hand or with an appliance that uses less or no electricity, I try to do that if it doesn't inconvenience me too much. Doing this, I'm able to cut my home's electricity bill tremendously.

Electrical Appliances You Can Do Without

1. Air Conditioning. Use fans. Or be daring and cut the fans entirely by following my techniques to keep cool without a fan.
2. Microwaves. Nearly everything can be heated just as easily on the stove top, in the oven or in a toaster oven. There have also been claims as to the health and nutrition repercussions of using an appliance that heats food via a type o radiation, but I haven't looked into it. The electricity cost alone is enough to deter me.
3. Vacuum Cleaners. We had a vacuum cleaner, but it must have been defective. From the moment we brought it home from the store, it emitted a stench of melted plastic and shot out sparks. We never used it and  managed fine without. While I don't have experience with full house carpeting, we managed to keep our large area rug clean with a broom. Occasionally we'd take the rug outside, hang it over the porch railing and give it a nice beating to take out any residual dust. (That's what everyone did before vacuum cleaners were invented anyhow.)
Brooms replace a vacuum cleaner quite well for everything; you can easily manage without.
4. Coffee Makers. Let me preface this by saying that I not a coffee aficionado. Coffee makers are a complete waste, in my opinion. Cut the coffee- its cheaper (and probably healthier). Want coffee anyhow? Use the cheapo instant stuff; no need for a coffee maker. Can't handle the taste of the instant? Simply boil water in your stove top kettle, put your coffee grounds into a cheese cloth (or two) and pour your hot water into the cheesecloth and let it drop down into a pitcher. Coffee maker? Completely unnecessary.
5. Stereo. Unless you have a specific desire for eardrum popping music, the CD player in your computer should work fine to play all your musical needs.
6. Dryers. We're now month 2 with our dryer out of commission. Line dry instead- it saves a bunch of money (in more ways than one).
7. Fax Machines. Send and receive faxes with your computer- see how here.
8. Food Processor, Mixer and Blender. An immersion blender with attachments works as a good replacement for almost all these functions. Instead of the shredder on the food processor, use a hand held grater. I got rid of my food processor and mixer months ago and haven't regretted it for an instant.
9. Fish Tanks Equipment. I know, I know, I've written about how to have a frugal fish tank, but it is much more frugal to simply not have a fish tank. Even with all my electricity cutting tricks, our electric bill was still too high until we sold our fish tanks when we moved to our new apartment. If you must have fish, try to get ones that require the least electricity to take care of them, ones that don't need filters and air pumps and water heaters.
10. TV, VCR, and DVD players. Computers work fine for watching any and all movies, so long as you've got a DVD Rom drive or the availability of the internet. Most TV channels can be accessed free online, as can many, many movies. More on this in another post.
11. Oven. With a crock pot, solar cooker, and stove top, you can make nearly everything you would normally make in your oven. With the addition of something like a wonder pot, you've got absolutely no need for an oven at all. I'm also currently experimenting with a special pot I got from my neighbor, instruction-less- that is also supposed to mimic oven cooking on the stove top.
12. Hair Dryer, Straightening Iron, and Curling Iron. Embrace the hair you've got, or simply pick one of the above instead of all three.
13. Waffle Iron. Waffles and pancakes are the same thing! Take your waffle batter and fry it on the stove top to make pancakes. Tastes the same anyhow.
14. Sandwich Maker. A non stick frying pan and a lid that fits inside the pan will do the trick. Simply place the pan on a low flame, put in the sandwich, cover with the lid, and weigh down.
15. Electric Tea Kettle. A stove top kettle works just as well and for less money.

I do realize that many of these replacements are based on the assumption that you have a non electric stove top. To check the cost comparison of different electrical items you have, check out this handy tool from GE's website.

Electrical Appliances in the Penniless Household

In order from most used to least used in our household, these are the electrical appliances plugged in to the Penniless's outlets:
  1. Refrigerator.
  2. Wireless internet router
  3. Two laptops. (One plugged in much more than the other.)
  4. Portable phone.
  5. Fluorescent light bulbs.
  6. Washing machine.
  7. Vent from a room without an outdoor window.
  8. Immersion blender.
  9. Oven.
  10. Bedside lamp.
  11. Cell phone chargers.
  12. Crock pot.
  13. Scanner/printer.
  14. Electric kettle (only until I have a chance to buy a stove top kettle.)
  15. Fans/Heaters (used sparingly).
  16. Drill. (Used rarely.)
  17. Microwave. (Used 4 times in the last 2 months- by guests, to show you how infrequently we use them.)
  18. Hair trimmer/shaver.
  19. Battery charger.
  20. Toaster.
I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two here, but this is the general extent of our electricity use. Not bad, in my opinion.

What electrical appliances do you use? What have you cut back from using, and what have you eliminated entirely? Do you eliminate anything on my list above? Do you eliminate any of the things that my family does use? What are your thoughts on cutting back on electrical appliance use?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Im with you for putting the kettle on the hob, much more cost effective & there is something reasuring about about whistling when its ready.

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