Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Going Without Appliances

As much as I want to live in the Laura Ingalls Wilder days where people knew where their food came from and life just seemed simpler, there are a few modern conveniences that even I would have a hard time giving up.  I never gave this subject serious thought until recently when we went 3.5 weeks without a washing machine and the microwave left in the home was broken.

The door lock on the washing machine broke during the move so it was completely unusable.  Clothing, towels, and rags piled up, but surprisingly we only had 9 loads of washing after 3.5 weeks, which included sheets!  The final week I washed underwear in the shower and Jon wore his socks twice, but we managed.  Would I want to wash all clothing by hand!  I would have to give a big "no" for  doing away with a washing machine because I have carpal tunnel and wringing out towels would be a bit painful; unless I have one of those old fashioned machines that have the rollers for getting rid of excess water.

Can I go without a microwave?  Yes, I can.  The kitchen has more counter space without it and it's a beast of a thing!  Check out the picture below!  I find myself cooking smaller portions (less leftovers) and being more resourceful with the stove and oven.  For example, I'll use the residual heat on the stovetop from making soup to melt the butter for cookies.  I reheat leftovers in the oven when I am using it for others things such as baking bread.

(This picture was taken when the microwave was sitting on the garage floor sideways.)

Can I go without a clothes dryer?  Absolutely!  I prefer to line dry my clothes anyway.

What about a refrigerator/freezer?  I'm on the fence about this one.  If we had a draft box or a cellar, then I think it would be easier, but I'm skeptical about keeping dairy products in either system and I really enjoy berries from the freezer versus dried.  While living at Aprovecho, an intentional community in Cottage Grove, OR, we used a draft box for everything except dairy.  The draft box at Aprovecho was placed on the north side of the hose and pulled air into this enclosed box through a screen.  It was basically a box placed in the wall with a screen in the back.  It worked well when the temperatures were low outside.  This video also shows a draft box, but this design is open on the bottom and pulls cool air from the crawl space below the home and vents out the chimney.  I think the design on the video is a better model, but I'm wondering if one should worry about gases (e.g. radon) from coming into the home?

An oven/stovetop?  I don't think I could cook over an open fire or use a solar oven to meet all my needs every day.  Our family uses the oven or stovetop probably an average of two times each day.  To help reduce our stovetop/oven demands, I could construct a haybox to help reduce cooking times.  We pressure cook all of our beans so a haybox would work great! I used the hay box many times at Aprovecho with great success.

And for those of you reading this blog, what appliances can you do without and why?


Christopher Beeson April 26, 2012 at 1:33 PM  

I think I could do without the microwave, too. Provided I had a stove, while a little slower and less convenient than a microwave, certainly doesn't come with the potential radiation side effects of a microwave.

I think we could also do without a dryer. We try to dry on the clothes line (both inside and outside) whenever possible. The washer we'd probably keep.

One thing I've often considered doing, is spending a couple of hours once a month or two and just turn off the "main breaker" to the house and live without power/appliances all together.

I've found during strong storms, when the power goes out for a few hours, everyone, especially the kids who are so young they take technology for granted, really begin to slow down and relax.

No TV going, no video games, no lights or hot water. Candle Light and cooking on a camp stove kind of takes them back to a more natural, basic instinct mode for a few hours, similar to a backwoods camping trip.

Great post by the way.

jenn merfee-t May 30, 2012 at 4:13 PM  

Yes, I love the idea of turning off the main breaker for a few hours. We could do that each week or each month to have a candle lit quiet meal and story time as a family. We keep talking about turning off all the breakers in the house except for the refrigerator for a while. I could heat my butter by putting it in the sun in a sealed container. The sun can be used for baking and melting and drying and capturing energy. I love finding ways to live without the microwave and love hanging my laundry to dry on my deck, reminding my neighbors of the possibilities. Outdoor laundry and melting butter are so hippie. And it's cool nowadays to be more hippie, you know! My goat-loaning friend likes to say, "It's hard work being a neo-hippie!" But so much fun too! The possibilities are endless.

jenn merfee-t May 30, 2012 at 4:27 PM  

I also love your idea of only turning on your oven when you have multiple things to put in, such as a dinner roast, cookies for dessert, and granola for the next week's breakfasts.

Jessica Griffith August 5, 2013 at 1:06 PM  

We sold our dryer when we bought our house. And that was 3 years ago. We have an outdoor line as well as portable racks (from Ikea) that we can bring inside. In the winter we can freeze dry the clothes or dry them inside. I figured if the Amish could do without a dryer so could we. We definitely need a fridge as we have dairy goats that we milk daily. I would love to eventually get rid of the microwave. Its built into our kitchen so it would be noticeable if we took it out. I try to use it as little as possible. Great ideas!

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A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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