Like everyone else, we are feeling le crunch de credit. And we, like many others have decided not to turn our heating on this winter. The stewards are still out as to whether this will actually be achievable.
In the meantime, the wood burner is going night and day, we have laid rugs everywhere (makes a huge difference) and are all wearing slippers.
Eldest daughter spends most of her time at a friends whose huge house has no heating, save two open fires and is quite used to watching TV wrapped in a duvet.
Middle child doesn’t feel the cold in any case and small son usually wears so many layers of dressing up clothes that he has not yet noticed.
It is only the parents who suffer.
But, I am enjoying the money saving benefits and get a twisted delight from not using the tumble dryer; the washing dries to a crisp by the fire. It is also amazing just what you can cook on the top of a stove. Ours has a little covered area and we are now producing the best pizzas ever.
A palette de porc, one of the nicest cuts of cheap pork, has also been a success. Slow cooked in a casserole dish for around nine hours, this proved a hit with all the family.
I probably sound like a complete masochist and have to confess that I have always yearned to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, ever since I first read the books aged seven. However, the reality is that with our oven out of action for the last ten months, (customer service anyone?), I have had to adapt.
The upshot of all this frugality and pioneer spirit is that I am now totally turned on to the benefits of using wood as a fuel source.
And I am not the only one. Some communes are now bulk ordering wood for their residents along with heating fuel. This means that the buyers benefit from economies of scale and the distributors lives are simplified. Its a no brainer really!
Why not check to see if your commune has such a scheme? And if not suggest setting one up?
If you are on a low income you could also be eligible for a grant to assist with the cost of any fuel-oil purchase made between 01.07.08 and 31.03.09. Ask the local Tresor Public for the form or download it from the gouv.fr site.
Low income families who have a gas heating system may be able to benefit from special tariffs. Check with your local CAF for the income limits as a family of four could save up to 118€. Those getting the CMU will also be able to access reduced price electricity and will be contacted directly by the electricity companies.
And if you don’t qualify? Wear lots of clothes and get a cat to sit on your lap when working at your desk.