2016 Oil, electricity, water and other bills plus a few 2017 plans

Sorry for no photos on this one, it’s more about keeping records!
In our first year in the house we’ve used 4500 litres of oil and it cost us £1402.02 plus £50.97 in additives for the oil.  There’s enough in the tank to see us until the end of Jan and maybe beyond but as we moved in on 15th Jan, this will balance out.  I shall compare usage and cost with 2017.  I do love doing things like that. 
We bought coal, which I didn’t keep a record for, so have started for 2017.  However we use wood which is free for the most part.
Electricity we used £438 and are just in credit so our monthly payment is about right.
Water was £322.
The septic tank was emptied at a cost of £145.
On top of that we have the usual bills, all of which I knew what the cost would be through the year, so could plan for those.  I am pleased that we forecasted appropriately and things came in on budget.  This year I want to decrease our use of electricity and oil, however will increase the oil savings as we’re just on par with what we saved v what we used and I can’t see the cost of oil going down.  Water is needed.  We’re on a metre and it is for the animals too.  That is what it is.  We waste very little I think.
The groceries came in on budget for the most part of the year and December went right up which I can handle but need to plan for if it is to happen again.  It was out first year celebrating in this house and I refused to scrimp on things.
Hopefully with the plans I have for veg for 2017, our grocery bill will be right down, even further in 2018 when we have more of our own meat on the table.
We’ve also spent a lot to get up and running.  That will continue this year as we continue to get set up in all areas.  2016 saw expenses on things like:  fences, wood, veg beds, an auger, hens, eggs, poultry essentials, decorating, field gates, 3 geese, 3 ducks, 3 sheep and our first cockerel Jto mention a few.  This coming year we are putting up more fencing and gates, buying 2 pigs (weaners), automating water supplies, buying more poultry housing, buying dairy goats, creating a new raised bed area and putting up a polytunnel.  That’s what we’ve already thought about, there will be SO much more comes to mind during the year as always!  Just a few things then J  I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We are hoping to make a small income from egg sales, geese and turkey at Christmas (just a few), selling surplus veg and fruit and even veg plants.  Enough to cover the cost of feed maybe?  We’ll see. 

Central heating

Our sources of heat for the house come from the Aga which is oil fired, the stoves which are multi fuel (coal and wood) and our central heating. We haven’t had this on yet. Well I tell a lie, we put it on and then felt far too hot and sweaty when we came in from doing the daily jobs. We aren’t a family who sit down when we get home from a days work or school,  we get out and do ‘jobs’, have a warming hearty meal and then take a hot shower after locking up. We rarely sit down before 8pm and find that this keeps us warm for free, so to speak. The stoves have been on, mostly on weekends when we do make time to sit and relax together but we certainly aren’t needing them daily just yet and as for the heating, I think November will be well and truly here before that word is uttered again.
I must say however that I won’t be scrimping when it is needed. I am a strong believer that a family needs good food in their tummies and warmth round their bodies. Sometimes that’s putting a jumper on and sometimes that’s having the heating on all day. You can’t be happy and healthy if you’re cold and hungry. In my opinion anyway :-). I’ll keep you posted as to when we feel the nip and put it on. It’s good for me to have it as a record too I think. After all, we’ve only been here 10 months. We don’t have last year for comparison just yet.

Aga in the summer

We decided to keep the Aga on during the summer despite many of our neighbours or friends switching theirs off.  Our kitchen is a big old farmhouse kitchen that is north facing.  In the winter, it’s just a nice temperature in there despite the Aga kicking out some heat.  In fact the whole house is cold so we tend to congregate solely around the Aga in the colder months. 
I did think it would be too hot in the summer and although it’s been hot, we’ve been able to manage it.  Now why don’t we turn it off?  Well we use it every single day for a multitude of tasks.  Steven’s overalls for work (he’s a butcher) dry on there a couple of nights a week, the kids clothes that inevitably get wet, dry on there before they dash back off outside, our boots dry in front of it (yes, even in the summer), we have toast on it daily, boil the kettle and every main meal of the day is cooked on it plus the dogs love laying in front of it! 
Now if I switched it off, I’d have to find alternate methods to do all of these things, using electricity instead of oil and to be honest, I don’t want to.  Whether we will feel the same next year, our second summer in the house, I don’t know.  It will also depend on how much the price of oil rises too.  Not to say that we have money to burn on oil this year, we don’t.  I just don’t feel as much pressure from it as I would should I be paying double the amount.  It is a part of the family now, I simply love it and I think I would always have one now. 
Ours is 45/50 years old according to the engineer who services it for us.  He installed it in the farmhouse many, many years ago and it was a good age then as he bought it second hand and reconditioned it.  It’s an amazing little thing. 

When we moved here, well just before, my Mam and Dad bought me Mary Berry’s The Complete Aga Cookbook and it’s extremely good.  It’s very informative and so many recipes in there that I’m working my way through.  I think I will pick a month and make a dish a day (or so!) from it.  This will help me get through the recipes too as I am terrible for having recipes books and then making 1 or 2 from them and shelving it.  I’ll maybe do that through November, when the clocks have gone back and I have less time outside.

Aga toast – from when we first moved in and ever since!

 

Quite comfortable here

 

Poor Buddy!

 

Yummy food from the Aga

 

He seems to be here a lot!

 

See what I mean?

 

The Aga fixes poorly children

 

and sends you off to sleep if you sit there too long

Preparing for winter.

When we moved in, we set up a housekeeping account which we use for any house related income and outgoings.  One of the unknowns that I try to budget for is heating oil.  Each month we put away £125, ready to fill the tank when we need to.  It also pays for our coal.  The amount we have left in the tank, we’re hoping, will last us until the end of August and then the money we’ve saved will buy us 1000 litres of oil and also another car full of coal.  This is the start of our preparing for winter. 

We have log burners which we use as a heating source for the main house, but they aren’t linked to the central heating system so they only warm the room they’re in, plus a bit of escape heat into the corridors.  Our heating in the new house isn’t great, it merely takes the chill off and given that our house is 100’s of years old, it’s glacial inside during Winter, so taking the chill off simply brings it up to a zero temperature opposed to a positive temperature (or so it feels like).  Therefore I begrudge putting the heating on as I don’t think we’re benefitting enough from the amount of oil we’re using.  We do however have the Aga which is on constantly and heats the kitchen so it is lovely and toasty.  We’ve taken the decision not to turn it off for the summer.  We use the two plates on the top to dry a multitude of clothes, boil the kettle and keep it warm, toast our bread, cook our eggs, plus use the main ovens for all of our meals.  At present, with oil prices being so low when we last bought oil in January, this wasn’t a difficult decision to make, however if oil prices go back up to their sky high 50p+ a litre then we would switch it off over the summer.  Maybe.

Another expense of the Aga is to get it serviced twice a year.  Now I don’t know if this is overkill, but that’s what we were advised.  It’s an old solid fuel conversion which now runs on the oil and it’s circa 45 years old so I want to take good care of it.  The service is £80 a time *gulp*.

In other planning ahead news, we’re having a housewarming party now the main jobs are done and the weather is being kinder to us.  We’re combining this with my son’s 6thbirthday which has resulted in catering for around 100 guests!  I am really looking forward to it but by the same token must plan, plan, plan.  I’ve been good and accepted all help where it’s been offered, from bringing food & drink, to coming to help set up the night before and also an offer of a gazeebo to be prepared for the weather, umbrellas, tables for food and so on.  We have some lovely, helpful friends which we would struggle without, so thumbs up for them!

Throwing a party means that this month’s grocery budget will be stretched out to cater for everything, however I think we can do it and I love a good challenge (plus it’s ‘Bring your own boose’ so that expense is gone straight away!).

Finally for today, dare I say this, once we’ve had the party, I shall be planning for Christmas.  Now don’t shoot me, I love Christmas.  However this year is obviously hugely important as it’s our first Christmas in the new home.  We’re inviting all of our family over who want to come and I’ll do a traditional Christmas lunch for everyone, play games, have family time, drink mulled wine and generally enjoy how blessed we are.  I would like December to be full of Christmas cheer and that does not include stressing over cards, gifts and food.  I would like to do a get together/open house for the neighbours and some close friends but I need to think about how I’d manage that to keep numbers down, where do you draw the line!? 

Oil

We are oil fueled here for the main part. Here is a picture of how much oil we had on 9th March versus today. Now this is a big tank, over 2000 litres so I am hoping it doesn’t go down quickly!
The Aga, central heating and water are fueled on oil and the heating has been on for a fair few days whilst we all had the lurgy so it seems to have dropped more that I would have liked. You can’t put a price in health though.
So this post is to allow me to start and monitor the oil use over the year. The heating won’t be going back on now thay we are heading in to April so the only use will be the Aga which I plan to leave on during the summer (north facing big kitchen and may change my mind yet) and a couple of hours for the water each day.
I may regret saying this buy I hope that oil amount will last us until August which is when our next order is budgeted for on the spreadsheet!