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Cold weather brings out the bubble wrap

Cold weather brings out the bubble wrap
By Frank and Muriel Newman
The winter chill is setting in so it’s not surprising oily raggers are turning their attention to cheaper heating costs.

Last winter we received lots of tips recommending bubble wrap as window insulation, like this one from Lisa in Whakatane. “In response to your article about keeping warm in winter I would like to share my enthusiasm for bubble wrap. It simply sticks on a window with a little water. It’s amazing what a big difference it makes to the temperature in the house. If you’re lucky you can find free bubble wrap (some businesses receive their goods in it and throw it away), but it’s not too expensive at stationary retailers. On frosted windows it is hardly visible. On windows with a view (such as the living room) I put it up when I draw the curtains and take it down again in the morning. I am very, very happy with it.”

Chuck tried it recently, but it came unstuck. “I have three Heat Pumps and they dry out the air so efficiently that the bubble wrap kept falling off, especially the high windows.” After some thought, Chuck came up with this solution. “Take a 450ml spray bottle and half fill with water. Add three teaspoons of PVA craft glue and shake until dissolved. Spray on the bubble wrap then fix to the glass. PVA doesn't stick glass or plastic, but when it dries there is enough adhesion to hold up the bubble wrap. To remove any glue on the glass just wipe with a damp cloth.”

Denise also has a tip to deal with sneaky draughts under doors. “I made some draught excluders out of an old feather pillow. It was messy to make, but it did a much better job of keeping out the draughts than using other types of fillers.”

Let us know if you have money-saving tricks to fight off the winter chills.

Kathleen from Tauranga has a couple of tips – one for cleaning and the other for the garden. “Instead of buying expensive cling wrap, visit a $2 shop. I bought 20 plastic cover-ups of different sizes for $2 - you can use wash them and re-use many times. And when your Chives have done their dash, cut them off at the base of the plant, and watch them grow again.”

Jan from Whangarei has this useful suggestion. “I was given this tip a couple of weeks ago and it works just fine. When you cut into a pumpkin sprinkle pepper on the cut surfaces and just leave on the bench - no need to refrigerate or remove the seeds. I keep cutting slices off and renewing the pepper. Wonderful and saves space in the fridge.”

Denise from Auckland makes a good point about house brand products. “Although budget brands are cheaper not every item is economical. I have found, for example, a more expensive wash-up liquid lasts much longer than the cheapest. Same with floor cleaners. First time I purchase a new item I keep a note of the date and compare to see which is the best value.”

Marise has asked which milk powder is the best. Margaret replies, “The cheapest! Which is Woolworths Homebrand 1kg Full Cream which seems to fluctuate between $9.49 and $9.90. The other brands are several dollars more than that. I also use less than they suggest to make up the milk, which gives me another massive saving. I just worked out what taste (level of milkyness) I was happy with and I use that ratio. My ratio is 1 cup powder with enough water to make up 1.25 litres (that's my jug size). Since 1 cup of milk powder is 96g, I get 10.4 jugs of milk - which is 13 litres – from each 1 kg packet. The packet says on the front that it makes 7 litres of milk! So my cost per litre of milk using powdered milk (in my concentration) is $0.73 vs Countdowns price of fresh milk of about $1.80 per litre. I'm saving over a dollar a litre!” Well done Margaret.

Another Margaret from Porirua has this recipe for making a cleansing face mask. “Brown sugar mixed into a paste with a few drops water. Leave on the face for a few seconds and then wash off. It really works for me.”

As it happens there appear to be lots of recipes for face masks using base ingredients like: egg whites, pumpkin, yoghurt, avocado, bananas, bentonite clay, fried onions (just kidding!), among others. If you have your own recipe for a low cost face mask, don’t forget to let us know. We love hearing your favourite money-saving tips, so please send them to us by visiting or by writing to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei and we will share them with the oily rag community!

*Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at

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