So winter has arrived in the Northeast! And don’t we know it. Our recent electric bill topped out at a whopping $250; that’s a $100 increase from the same time last year. I admit that we have never paid too much attention to our electric bill; it is paid automatically every month from our checking account. But times are tough and we are now looking closely at every expense. And reducing our electric bill is my new money saving pet project. So what am I doing?? I’m turning into my grandmother, that’s what I’m doing!
1. I am turning the lights OFF. I never thought I’d see the day when I’m chasing my kids around the house to get them to SHUT THE LIGHTS OFF. If I had a nickel for every time I went upstairs and found every single light on (including ceiling fans!) I’d be a very rich woman. My little son is the worst culprit. I now have him giving me a dime out of his piggy bank every time I catch him leaving a light on (he’s 6 and a dime is a big deal).
2. I’m doing LESS laundry. Like everyone else, I hate doing the laundry so the less I have to do the better. With 4 kids we have been washing at least 2 loads per day – and we have a big front loader. So this is ridiculous, time-consuming and incredibly wasteful. Can our clothes be that dirty?? Remember when there were “play” clothes and “school” clothes? Well, now when my kids come home from school, off come their school clothes and into their play clothes they go. I can get another wear out of the school clothes because most of the time they are not dirty. And frankly, I don’t really care what their play clothes look like. I am also using the dryer a lot less. If I can hang it dry, or dry it outside I’m doing it.
I’m also washing clothes with cold water when I can, and running the dryer on sensor vs. the timer to save even more energy.
3. I’m shutting off the TV. While I think this is terrible, I freely admit that our TV is on most of the day, whether someone is watching it or not. Again, ridiculous on so many levels and wasteful. Off it goes!
4. I’m unplugging. I saw this on Oprah. This woman significantly cut her electric bill by unplugging everything when not in use. It was a lifestyle change, but it sure saved them some money. My husband thinks its a crock, but he is willing to see if it works. And I saw this on Kiplinger’s – of the total energy used to run home electronics, 40% is consumed when the appliances are turned off.
5. I’m switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. The lights not only last ten times longer than regular bulbs but apparently also save up to $60 in electricity per light over their lifetime.I
6. I’m lowering our water temperature to 120 degrees. I think this is a good idea anyway if you have small children and it can be an energy saver too.
7. I’m running the dishwasher LESS. No more than once per day, and less if I can do it. Today there are some great cures for dishpan hands! And, I am air drying the dishes whenever possible.
8. I’m running my major appliances during off-peak hours. You can check with your electric company to see what they consider “peak” and “off peak” hours. For me, I’m doing more laundry at night, and also running the dishwasher very late in the evening.
9. I’m LOWERING the heat. This one is a tough one for me because I like it warm. We keep the upstairs heat on at 62 degrees because no one is up there during the day. We keep the downstairs at about 67 degrees and 65 at night.
10. I’m using energy efficient appliances. When shopping for appliances, we look for the “Energy Star” label to help ensure we are buying the most cost efficient appliance.
Finally, I’m putting a call into our electric company to ensure that our meter is working correctly and that we are being billed appropriately. I believe that one of the best ways to save money is to review every bill in detail and QUESTION everything that doesn’t look quite right.
I will be anxious to see if the steps I am taking in February to reduce our electric bill work!