From free travel to DIY sparkies

Summer is a busy time for oily raggers: they are busy in the garden and in the kitchen preparing no-cost meals from their bounty. It’s also been busy on the oily rag website with lots of readers sending in tips and titillations. Here are some of those we have received.

  • P.L from Auckland writes, “It’s possible to cut travel costs and enjoy driving free rental cars and campervans in New Zealand by checking out the online transfer deals. Most of the time drivers also receive a free tank of petrol! How does this work? Rental car companies need to reposition their fleet for new hires and usually spend large amounts of money to do this using trucks for transportation.” P.I. says having a free driver return the car to its home base is a win-win – for the traveller and the rental company, and it works well when combined with a cheap one-way flight. Have a look at
  • Lorraine from Whakatane has some recycling tips. “I use the inner tops off yoghurt half litre pottles of cottage cheese etc to separate layers of food for the freezer. Saves using plastic, and can be re-used over and over. I also find the white newsprint type paper that supermarkets wrap some goods in can make a good lining for my fridge vege bins to stop that wet messy bottom – and the used paper can be composted when soggy. I also get 52 free lunch bags a year using the Listener magazine wrapper so I never buy lunch bags!”
  • S.M. from Honiara has this simple kitchen tip. “May I spread the good news about the economies that can be derived from a very simple piece of kitchen equipment: the spatula. Not only will it ensure that every last drop of cake mix is saved but it also has a knock on effect of saving soap and water in the washing up bowl – which lasts a lot longer since it doesn’t get clogged up with bits of food. Every last scrap of food on plates gets scraped into the chicken or dog bowl.”
  • A.M. from the Wairarapa has some wise cautionary advice for DIY sparkies. “Make sure that you only DIY within your capabilities! I am an industrial electrician, mother, strict budgeter and long-timer oily-ragger, however, I get nervous when I see people cutting corners, risking their future financial stability and well-being to save a few bob in the short term!

    I’ve seen some lethal situations waiting to happen. The house we moved into had had a number of ‘basic repairs’ done by the home owner – metal light fittings not earthed, terminals not tightened properly, a ceiling waiting to catch on fire from absent heat shielding. There’s a reason it costs good money to hire an electrician – it takes years to become one and they assume a lot of legal liability. Do it wrong, and you can void your home’s insurance, face prosecution or at worst it can be fatal.

The best bet is to save your tradesperson time, and if not urgent (or dangerous), have the small jobs saved up:

– Clear the way to the switchboard, under the house, the attic or the appliance being serviced and know where your access hatches are. They may need room to open a ladder and there’s no point paying a specialist an hourly rate to do your spring clean.

– Make sure any fittings you have in mind can be fitted first. There’s no point ordering fancy light fittings from China and hiring a tradesperson only to find out that you don’t have existing earths or that the gear is unsuitable or non-compliant. A good tradesperson would rather advise you first than waste their time – and your money – later on.

– If the work will involve going indoors and out a lot (such as to an inside switchboard) consider throwing down old towels or drop-sheets in the work area to save time taking boots on and off.

– Record details of any faults and under what circumstances they happen, as complex appliances with intermittent faults may be time-consuming to fix.

– Consider travel time – it’s probably worth getting someone local.

– Ask to see your electrician’s practising licence – don’t pay a premium rate for a cowboy.

– Make sure you get a copy of your Certificate of Compliance and/or Electrical Safety Certificate within 20 working days and store these in a safe place – it is your assurance that the work was completed safely and legally and it will help to have these if something should go wrong.