Couple Suggests Ways We Can All Be More Eco-Friendly AND Frugal
By Anna Edwards, Daily Mail
They spend barely any money on bills and produce their own honey.
It’s certainly the Good Life for Yvonne and Steven Lucas, who spend just £4 a month on their electricity and heating bill by living ‘The Good Life’.
Yvonne, 48, and Steven, 53, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, have slashed their energy bills by installing solar panels, growing their own fruit and vegetables and collecting rainwater to flush their toilets.
The prudent pair model themselves on the characters from cult 1970s comedy TV show The Good Life, starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal, by creating a simple and self-sufficient lifestyle.
Since installing a water meter, they have seen the bills for their three-bedroom detached bungalow drop from £200 a year to under £30 for six months.
They also own six-acre woodland in Surrey as well as their own bee hives to produce honey and chickens to lay fresh eggs.
Thrifty Steven bought his first set of solar panels in 1992 and has stepped up his cost-saving green campaign since being made redundant in 2010.
The former electronics engineer said: ‘We visited the Centre for Technology in Wales in 1992 and brought our first couple of solar panels. From that it has just evolved.
‘We have always grown organically but we knew we wanted to do more for the environment and over the years have brought more and more.’
Yvonne and Steven, who have two sons, James, 22, and Jonathon, 19, installed solar panels in their 40ft garden to generate hot water, which they use in their home.
Knitting teacher Yvonne added: ‘We don’t feed our solar panels into the national grid as we store the energy in a two kilowatt battery system.
‘If our neighbours didn’t have any power we would still be able to turn our lights on, have access to the washing machine and everything else.
‘Our rain harvesting system also collects around 1,000 gallons which we use to flush our toilets and for day-to-day living.
‘All our chutneys, jams, cordial and wine are home-made, as well as keeping bees for honey.
‘We’ve always been interested in gardening and recycling and having a more environmentally friendly life style.
‘Gradually we did more and more upgrading, reusing and recycling items which has saved us a lot of money.’
Vegetarians Yvonne and Steven use three allotments, two greenhouses and their garden to grow more than 15 fruit trees, a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, flowers and several ponds.
Six years ago they also brought the woodland to use the timber to fuel their wood burner and carry out repairs at their eco-friendly property.
Steven added: ‘We only probably spend five hours a week working on the land because we try and keep on top of it.
‘We also use the woodland to camp down there once a month to collect and chop wood and enjoy the bird life.
‘We have even managed to see badgers down there one evening – until a woodpecker disturbed them.
‘It’s great being able to enjoy the great outdoors.’
Yvonne said: ‘Our friends joke we are like The Good Life television show – we just don’t have a pig in our garden!
‘Everybody can do their bit by recycling more and turning things off when they are not in use.
‘You can’t get away from plastic products but you can make sure everything possible gets recycled, sometimes we only put our bins out once a month.
‘Even composting green waste helps.’