For those of you who are seasoned travelers and/or have been to this part of the world in your moho, it may come as no surprise to learn that Finland does NOT have LPG.
We were aware of this fact and filled our Gaslow twin gas bottles up to the brim in Sweden before heading over.
Having lived full time in our moho, Betsy, we really hadn’t considered the need to conserve gas. After all, it’s cheap enough to buy, it’s relatively easy to find (although Italy did give us some grief) and it lasts quite a while.
We use gas for our fridge and freezer, to heat our water for showers, for warmth when it gets cold (although this isn’t yet needed in Finland), for making tea/coffee, and of course to cook meals.
At what I would consider our usual consumption rate, we would get up to six weeks from our two bottles. Then we started baking bread every second day and cakes on a regular basis, which took us to about a four-week cycle.
We arrived in Finland but were shocked to notice that after just twelve days, with considered usage, we were one bottle down already. The weather has been relatively warm which could contribute to greater gas consumption for the fridge/freezer. So what is considered usage I hear you ask? We had just stopped baking cakes and bread but continued to cook dinner every night (we eat out infrequently).
We expected to be in Finland for another three or four weeks so it was time to get serious, look at how we were using gas and drastically cut down our usage or we were going to run out and have to make a break for the Swedish border for a refill. Here’s what we did.
1. Stopped all baking of yummy, non-essential food, ie bread, cakes, etc and bought bread a couple of times a week and a cake now and again instead.
2. Purchased a low wattage (1000W) electric jug. We have two solar panels and a large inverter, so by swapping from a stovetop gas kettle to an electric jug (when the batteries are well charged) has made a huge difference to how long we have the gas running every day. We have reduced our tea consumption, which can’t be a bad thing. The jug is also used for boiling water for washing the dishes, which we usually save for the morning when the sun is up so the batteries can maintain a higher charge.
3. Monitored the hot water system for showers. In the past, we would turn on the switch to heat the gas then forget it for half an hour or an hour before jumping into the shower and leaving it on until the second person had finished. Now we set the timer for 20 minutes, the heater is turned off and both showers taken quickly while the water is hot. We have found there is ample hot water for two satisfactory showers and we may experiment with reducing the heat time to 15 minutes.
4. After we both have showers the residual hot water is sometimes used to wash the dishes, hence making the most from the gas heated water. Previously we would just boil the kettle for the dishes.
5. Reduce our shower time (I know this sounds obvious, but I really like to stand under hot water and contemplate the world). Now I contemplate it quickly when drying off. However, our shower routine has typically been to get wet, turn the shower off, lather up with soap and shampoo, then turn the water back on, job done. We have also noticed a reduction in our water usage as a result.
6. The biggest step we took was to check into a camping ground for a night, which we normally only do when we absolutely have to. It had to be done, so just for one night we bit the bullet, paid our money, and then made the most of this resource. We arrived at 11am and set about in the kitchen cooking up meals that we could freeze or chill so we wouldn’t have to cook for a couple of weeks. This took the rest of the day and part of the next day. Thankfully the camping ground had a 3pm checkout time.
We made nacho mince, (2x meals); Swedish meatballs (2x meals); Caponata (yummy on bread for meze type meals), Aubergine rolls (3 x meals); Beef and Guinness pie (3 x meals); honey-soy chicken wings (1x meal); Thai Chicken Curry (2 x meals); and our famous lemon cake. Then we had to cool everything down and pack it neatly into our fridge and freezer. To read more click here for the full lowdown.
7. We have a microwave oven that will allow us to heat our pre-made meals up in no time, reducing our gas consumption. We will just use the gas for cooking up fresh vegetables for the evening meal.
8. Of course, while we were in the camping ground we plugged into the power (to give the fridge a break from using gas) and also used the campground’s showers. That’s something I wouldn’t usually do even if we do find ourselves in a camping ground.
9. We turned the temperature of the fridge up (warmer) one notch so it would use less gas. Everything is still frozen and cold as it should be so that seems okay.
At this stage, we don’t know how well our efforts will be rewarded, but we are hoping to stay in Finland for up to four more weeks so fingers crossed. We believe that we have cut our usage by at least 80% which should be more than enough, but time will tell.
I will update this post when the experiment has Finnished (excuse the pun). If you have any suggestions or recommendations please feel free to share them. We are keen to learn from others.
To find out what happend, click on Part 2 for the Finale.