What things did you enjoy the most about your experience this week?
After 9 years of loyal service, our mid-size, second (or third?*) hand microwave decided not to warm up stuff anymore. It still turns the light on, spins the plate, and pings after some minutes, but the things inside come out as cold as they got in.
Our first idea was to get it repaired… the two technicians that could do that in our city strongly suggested our buying a new one. Looking up online tutorials, my husband and I concluded that a do-it-yourself repair was out of the question; we don’t have the skills, tools, or risk-prone personalities to undertake such an enterprise.
We sat down to answer the question: do we actually need a microwave oven? I’m not going to say it’s not convenient and since we thought that we really didn’t use it much, our decision was clear: no more microwave.
So, we’ve been microwave-less for a week, and we turned this experience into an experiment of sorts. Sadly, we won’t receive the energy bill until next year to see if there are any significant changes, but we’re hopeful.
The situation with the microwave made us think about other appliances that we have at home and barely use – many of these things were presents, yet, I think we could be just fine without having them at all.
The broken microwave presented itself as an unexpected situation that led to a family experiment: my husband and I are now tracking how often we use small appliances (or big ones like a juicer!) and what for, could we use something else instead? The plan is to declutter our electronics so those that we used less than three times in one month will be put up for sale or donated at the end of the year.
What were the main challenges you faced during the week?
Is it really efficient to warm up my cup of coffee on the stove? I mean, our stove is electric, so technically speaking, our energy consumption is less than using a microwave. However, our smallest burner is way bigger than the cup for warming the coffee. So, I ended up using a small pot (the same size as our small burner) to reheat my coffee, which made me feel silly because the content was so paltry in comparison to the size of the container.
I faced the challenge of either alternating between drinking cold coffee (not exactly the most enjoyable experience); drinking more than three cups (the original one that did not need reheating + one very hot, one OK and one lukewarm) to make proper use of the burner; or, reheating my coffee using a burner that is way too big for just one cup.
One may argue that, since I don’t have a way to reheat my coffee or tea, I just make a smaller pot – but then again, it’s a bit ludicrous to use the water boiler (also electric) to warm up water for only one cup of coffee when I am fully aware that I’ll consume at least two cups and my husband other two.
What solution is more energy efficient? Only time will tell…
Of course, there’s also the route of not consuming any coffee, tea, or warm beverages at all, but that’s an advanced step we’re still not ready to take.
What were your main lessons learned of the week?
Until the day the microwave broke down, I wasn’t aware of how many times a day we used it for nimieties like reheating a cup of coffee or the leftovers of the day before. I believe our peak use was when we were sterilizing baby bottles a couple of years ago. We are wondering whether our energy bill will go up because of using the stove more often to do the small things we normally used the oven for; or if the energy consumption will be reduced because an electric stove, technically speaking, is meant to consume less energy than a microwave, even though the burner is way too big for reheating only one sad cup of coffee.
What would have made it easier for you to achieve or surpass your target this week?
Funny enough, earlier today, when sharing my burner dilemma with a fellow coffee-drinker, she simply asked, “have you tried using a thermos to keep your freshly-made coffee warm for longer? I also don’t have a microwave. Actually, I’ve never had one.”
It’s not like I’ll buy a new thermos or something; we have one that we take for picnics so… duh! Why didn’t I think about this before? Sharing these apparently insignificant daily life challenges with people in a similar situation really helps, I mean, the idea of using a thermos to keep my at-home coffee warm for longer didn’t occur to me earlier, but I’m definitely trying from today on!
* We’ve got the microwave from a friend that was moving to another country. I believe she took the device from her parents,’ but she doesn’t even remember now.