Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Electric Shock AND A CHALLENGE

YEA!!!! Today I got my Utilities bill in the mail. WHOOPPEEEEE. I know, many of you would probably say, Ummm... are you feeling okay? Does that bill come with a coupon for a free massage or something? No sillies! But I have been conserving my energy this last month and it was finally time to see if it paid off or not. AND?????

Well, you be the judge. Our bill last month was $437. Our bill this month is..... $305.

Now, for those of you who think $305 is a high bill, you are right. But, if you are from Texas, where the deregulation of electricity has caused a spike in power prices (the opposite effect intended), and you know that it's pretty darn hot here, then you know that $305 is not bad for a 2100-square foot home.

Now, I am going to share with you some of my energy-saving tips. Before I do, though, I want you to know that I have never hugged a tree, I do not eat granola, I do not wear Birkenstocks, and I have never even set foot inside Whole Foods. I refuse to buy organic because I think it's just too trendy and I'm not totally convinced that it really means a product is better anyway, just more expensive. SO. The energy conservation bit is totally selfish. Totally self-serving. I don't want to pay such a high energy bill. Oh, but my energy company does do 100% renewable energy so I guess I'm helping the green freaks - oh, I mean folks - a little bit. OKAY, ON TO THE ENERGY-SAVING TIPS:
1. Shower with a friend
bah-dum-bum. (insert rim shot sound)
No, seriously, here they go:
1. Only run major appliances at night (like washer and dryer and dishwasher) because other folks aren't using their energy as much at that time. I don't know why that helps, but the energy gal said it did. I guess it's like water pressure - if everyone else is using it at the same time your water pressure is less; but if you're the only one using the water then you get a better flow.(???)
2. Install a clothes line and hang-dry the clothes, then pop 'em in the dryer for 15 minutes to soften them up. This also provides me with some "quiet time" away from the kiddos because if they get too close I say, "I'm doing a chore. Do you want to help?" They scatter like roaches under flourescent lights.
3. Keep thermostat HIGH - we keep ours at 78 during the day and 80 at night. This is a good excuse to take your clothes off at night while in bed with your husband. If you need an excuse. We also run our ceiling fans all the time.
4. Keep the freezer stocked because a full freezer requires less energy to run. We fill up empty milk jugs with water just to take up the extra room. We also fill the fridge with items like Diet Coke, Miller Lite, Raspberry Iced Tea, etc.
5. Don't run the dry cycle on the dishwasher. Make the munchkins unload.
6. Put smaller appliances on a power strip.
7. Turn down the water heater to 115 degrees. You can also get a thermal insulator blanket for your H2O heater but ours is pretty new and didn't need one.
8. Use all flourescent light bulbs in your house in every fixture. Less changing of bulbs to do. More time to make up lightbulb-changing jokes (how many blondes does it take to change a lightbulb? How many Lutherans? How many stay-at-home moms? etc.)

So, HERE'S MY FIRST CHALLENGE: Starting today, try FOR JUST ONE MONTH to adopt one or two of my principles above and see if your energy bill drops. How much do you think you can get it down? Our bill dropped by about 25% (there was a bit of overcharge on the $437 because they had to estimate our meter reading from the previous month). Can you get it down even 10%? If you pay $200/month, that would be $20. It might not be a ton, but every little bit helps. If it's enough to go out for dinner, then use the money you save to spend some family time together.

Some of these efforts, I admit, are uncomfortable changes. I looked at them as necessary changes because WHO CAN AFFORD $437 A MONTH FOR ELECTRICITY??? But you can just do what you like and see if you're pleased with the results. Living at 78 degrees was a tough adjustment but now we are really used to it. Right now the thermostat is running at 80 degrees and I feel just fine. But there are days that I get hot and I just crank it down 1 or 2 degrees then put it back to normal after a while. And, your A/C is the one thing that probably affects your bill the most, so making changes in its workload will show you the most significant result on your bill.

Right now, I am so happy about our power bill. That sounds ridiculous, being happy about a $305 electricity bill. But I think I'm just happy that I am seeing results of my hard work. That's the part about being a mom that is the toughest - where is the payoff for all my hard work??? Seeing an energy bill come down is the biggest high I've had for a while. God, I lead a sad life, don't I?


Kellie said...

I started line-drying our clothes last summer and our bill dropped almost $100. And wow, you're a trooper for sleeping with it at 80 degrees!

Abbi said...

That is a project I have been working on at our house as well. Thankfully though our electric isn't quite that high to start with (normal is around $150). I am still hoping to get it lower. It looks like we do most everything you listed, I have also been working to not use lights so much (and be sure to turn them off when we are leaving the room) and just rely on the sun coming through the windows. A lot of it is just being aware of all the energy use in our home and trying to eliminate as much as possible. Something else that I really try to work on is really filling the oven when I turn it on and getting most of the weeks goods baked at once.

Donna-Michele said...

Hey! I have more than one pair of Birks, and they know my name at the health food store and I make and eat my own granola... I still challenge myself to lower my electric bill out of greed.

Though you didnt ask...(hint) there are other things we do here.

Leaving the lights off for a candle-only take it for an adventure, and it can be romantic after they go to bed.

In the winter we cook out meal in the oven in iron skillets, then prop the door open for it to cool (warming the house).

Iron all at once, on slightly damp clothes.

Bake all at once, and freeze extras in portions for work meals.

Heat the house in winter with wood.

My hubbie said I can go the spa or buy clothes or hobbie supplies with half whatever I save.