Saying Goodbye to My Espresso Maker

Before we moved out here to the sticks, I did a massive de-appliancification. My goal was to lower our dependence on electricity, as well as to lower our electric bill. I borrowed the Kill-a-Watt electricity monitor from the library (the library!) to see where our usage was going. But frankly, admitting my ignorance here, I wasn’t sure what to make of the readings. What DO all those numbers mean?

What I did find out by looking around the house was that, holy plug, were we using a lot of unnecessary electricity. I didn’t need a Kill-a-Watt to tell me that. I did do some internet research and found out some things I didn’t know. For example, that my appliances were like vampires, sucking small amounts of electricity even when they were turned off. I also learned that there are peak electricity usage times, when your costs for usage goes up. So here’s what I did:

  • Went around the house and unplugged things. I donated a bunch of devices that were plugged in, but that we didn’t need, like a clock and a bunch of lamps. We had three cordless phone cradles, which basically just promoted laziness. I got rid of one and kept one upstairs and one downstairs.
  • Donated a bunch of appliances—the waffle maker, toaster oven, and those myriad kitchen things that I used occasionally, but which took up space usually.
  • Put a switched adapter on the few remaining appliances that I used regularly and kept out on the counter—the fancy espresso maker and the toaster. Instead of turning off the appliance, I turned of the switch at the outlet to stop vampire draw.
  • Put in a conserve switch surge protector strip with remote at my two points of massive electricity usage—the office and the tv area. What these allowed me to do was keep on the devices that I wanted to stay on all the time, like the DVR for recording shows and the internet router, but turn off all the other things with one switch before going to bed. I mounted the remote on the wall right outside the bedroom and switched it off when going to bed.
  • Turned the thermostat down to 63 at bedtime and threw on warmer pajamas.
  • Changed my wash times to weekend and before noon on weekdays, and switched to washing all in cold water (with no noticeable change in cleaning effectiveness, mind you).

Amazingly, the next month, my gas and electric bill dropped by $100 dollars with no real change in our habits or reduction in the stuff we actually used. Crazy.

So when we moved over here to the sticks, I was already ahead of the game, with only a coffee maker, a toaster, a blow dryer, and a stick blender with blender/mixer attachments.

We also have our laptops, internet router, home phones and cell phones.

But gradually, over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that even those last few appliances ought to go. We have solar power, but just enough to power our computer and phone usage. I had to turn on the generator just to use the toaster.

So over the weekend, I loaded up my espresso maker and milk foamer in the car to take to Goodwill. Don’t laugh. I get up at 4:30 a.m. Good coffee is on my list of must-haves. Giving my beloved coffeemaker is a big step.

But it’s funny what happens when you’re pressed to make choices. You realize what you needed was really just something you’ve gotten used to, and that there are legit alternatives, without much loss of quality of living.

Introducing my new (actually old, pulled from our camping gear) analog espresso maker (on the propane stove):

IMG_2014

And my new toaster:

IMG_2012

As for the blow dryer, it’s gone, too. I got a hair cut. With express instructions to the stylist that my new style had to be air-dryable, long enough to put in a ponytail—my go-to mom look—and still groovy enough to wear out and not look like I just stepped out of the woods.

7 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to My Espresso Maker

  1. Those espresso makers make good coffee. Have you seen the pyramid toasters? No electricity in those and so pretty. I will share this with David and see about the energy audit. Wow.

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    1. Ooh, pyramid toaster. Had to google it. Yes! In fact, I’m finding that the generation or two before us had pretty much all the answers to my most pressing off-grid challenges. They lived it.

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      1. We just passed over the CA aqueduct on the way back from SoCAL. (They gotta cover that thing!).

        Sara, me too with the switch in England. Ha ha. I forgot about that.

        And you gotta get the RIGHT stovetop machine . . . pay a little more, ask an Italian for advice or . . . I had some cheap ones that didn’t do it. Is it the seals? The mysteries of a good maker are impenetrable.

        Jacki, if you find good second hand places, LMK. If not, I can scour VT places when I am there for such things. They still have plenty good pickings. 😀

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  2. hi there 🙂 I’m Italian and your new/old espresso maker is a must in every single Italian household, home and abroad 😉 And as you pointed out, it’s perfect for camping too.
    In the UK (where I am at the moment) there are switches to every power outlet. Initially, I would think the appliance was broken, oh no, it doesn’t work… because I would ALWAYS forget about the switch. Now it’s so embedded in my routine that I think this kind of system should be mandatory in every country. Such a power saver!

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    1. Hi Sara,
      Italy is where I got my love of espresso, long before Starbucks was a thing. My dad was born and raisted in the Veneto region and when I studied in Rome, I lived with a family who fired up the espresso maker every morning. In fact, that old thing came with me straight from Italy and sat in the back of my cupboard for years. It sure has come in handy. Those Italians. They could teach me a thing or two about off-grid living. Aqueduct, anyone?

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      1. I’m from Tuscany 🙂 The funny thing is that I also have a filter coffee maker that I occasionally use. It’s not the same, but sometimes it’s useful if I have a lot of guests or if I need to make some less strong coffee for cakes… la la laaa…. OK OK… I’ll get rid of it.

        Humans – the only living beings highly proficient at creating problems and at finding silly excuses 😉

        Ah, aqueducts! When I was living in Tunisia, we visited quite a few that are still very well preserved… virtually in the middle of nowhere! Those Romans… 🙂

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