I picked up an excellent book at the library the other day called Making Your Home Sustainable: A guide to retrofitting. This is an Australian book, written by Derek Wrigley (a retired architect based in Canberra) and has been recently revised and republished.
There’s a whole wealth of information in this book about retrofitting your house to make it more environmentally friendly, reducing your bills in the process. Everything from the more expensive options like installing solar, to free options for renters, like insulating your roof with polystyrene boxes from Woolworths! I’ll write more about some of his more innovative ideas when I’ve finished the book.
One idea that I found really interesting was his way of making use of the heat generated from the back of the fridge. His diagrams show the modifications that are possible to the space around the fridge to make the most of this heat.
By adding some shelves or a rack above the fridge and some simple, makeshift walls to direct the flow of hot air, he created a drying rack for fruit or to warm dishes or an extra place to dry clothes.
He also describes a system where you can vent this hot air out of the house during summer and then close the vent in winter to keep the warmth in, or, if your fridge backs onto another room, vent the air into an adjacent room. It’s not a lot of heat, but every little bit helps.
What I really like about this idea is the innovative way it takes the potential downside of a household item (the heat generated from the rear of the fridge) and turns it into something useful, saving money in the process.
I’ve written in the past about how we dry washing on the hot bonnet of the car when it’s parked in the garage, and how we put our clothes airers in the kitchen when I’m doing any baking, to take advantage of the heat given off by the oven.
I’ve also read about how others use the heat in the car when it’s parked in the sun to dry fruit or how people convert the bottom stair in an inside stairwell into a drawer for storage.
This out-of-the-box thinking is a great way to use the things (and the space) we already have rather than buy another item to do another task. It’s all about seeing things with different eyes and being solution-oriented rather than problem-focused. Young children do this naturally everyday.
I’m now on a mission to investigate how I can use other things in the house in ways they may not have been meant for.
What are your ideas for using everyday objects in ways they may not have been intended?