Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm In Heat

My children are pretty good readers. Every year since they've started kindergarten they participate in Six Flags' "Read to Succeed" program, where they earn a free Six Flags ticket for reading 6 hours in a certain time period. Yesterday was the day I got to take SE and RS to Six Flags, and I was about as excited to go as I usually get about my yearly hoo-ha exam. Naturally, the weather was very hot, humid, sweaty, scorching and just plain miserable. After a while of walking around and waiting in lines for rides, we were pretty tired, so we decided to take a break. I found a spot to go, so we headed inside. As soon as I opened the door, I felt the cool air hit my face. "AAAHHHHHH" I said. I sat down, and I relieved myself. Yes, I was in the bathroom. The only place in the entire park where you can go to enjoy the A/C without feeling pressured to buy anything. That is, unless your Aunt Flo is visiting and the spares you packed just got soaked by the Roaring Rapids. And you better hope you've got some dimes or quarters.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, it's hot here in Texas. H.O.T. I watch the weather reports for every city we've lived in as a family. One city is in Wisconsin. One city is in the midwest. One is here in TX. And, just for fun, I also watch the weather in Southern Florida because that's where my folks go in the winter and it's ALSO where I go for my yearly "girly time" retreat with 3 sorority gal pals. And... among those 4 cities, which would you expect to be the hottest? If you were me, you'd expect southern FL to be the hottest. After all, it's geographically further south, right? And it's more humid there too, so I'm told. But if you were me, you'd be wrong. Every damn day Southern Florida is about 3 degrees cooler than the weather here. In the midwest, always at least 5, sometimes 10 degrees cooler. And Wisconsin, ALWAYS at least 10, sometimes up to 20 degrees cooler. So my question is this: Why in the hell didn't I know this before agreeing to move here?

See, I think that Arizona gets all the props for its hot weather because the temps reach so high, like 110 degrees. Ooohhh impressive. But it's a "dry heat" so we all know what that means: no humidity, doesn't feel as hot as it really is, you can use an evaporative cooler to save big bucks on A/C. But here in the lovely state of Texas, where it's as hot and sweaty as a cowboy's armpit, the only cooling to be done is to a) hang out in Albertson's all day, or b) get a job as the bathroom attendant at Six Flags, or c) pump up the A/C in your home to a comfortable level, thereby draining your pocketbook in the process. By the way, who says "pocketbook" anymore?

If you chose (c), you are like most Texans. I am not like most Texans, as I am a Texas Transplant, so I chose (c)plus. Which means, I cool my home with the A/C but I keep it cool like we do up in the midwest. See, up in the midwest we set our thermostats at like 72. If you like it cool, you set it at 70. If you are a crunchy tree hugger, trying to save the environment from your big bad carbon footprint, then you set the thermostat at 74. NO ONE sets it higher unless they are in super dire straits and on food stamps and just crazy. See, this is because up in the midwest, it gets into the 90's and 100's for only a very brief time during the summer, then there is relief weather in the 80's and even the 70's at night. You could even reasonably turn the air off and use an attic fan to pull air through the house while you are sleeping. The weather in the 90's and 100's will only last a few days, or a week at the most, then back to the "hot" but manageable weather. Down here in the nation's armpit, it has been in the 90's EVERY DAY SINCE THE THIRD DAY I MOVED HERE WHICH WAS MAY 1. That means all of May, all of June, and still now in July. And I've been told this will last till September. SEPTEMBER???? However, we are very lucky in that our house has quite a lot of energy-efficient features, like Solar Screens, newer appliances, adjustable thermostat, and white wooden blinds to reflect the sun's heat. So, I figured, I will set my thermostat at 76 and see how it goes. For the whole month of May I felt fine and thought, "Wow, I will be able to save a few bucks!"

Hmmm.... not so much. Our first month's energy bill was $437. For one month. Yeah huh.

Yes, we are all electric, absolutely no gas. Admittedly, I was being foolish and wasteful with my energy, oh silly girl that I am. I washed half-loads of clothes. I used the dry cycle on my dishwasher. I left a light on in a room if I would be coming right back in a few minutes. Oh, but now I know the error of my ways. I keep the thermostat at 78 during the day, 80 at night ('less I gots comp'ny comin' over, then I sets it at 76). I only run the wash machine at night and now use a clothes line to HANG-DRY my clothes (oh, the humiliation) then just pop 'em in the dryer for about 15 minutes to soften them up. I even set the thermostat up to 80 or 82 when we leave the house, and program it to go back down to 78 for when we will be coming home. So how has my super-energy-efficiency efforts affected my bill? I should be getting it in the mail in a few days' time so I will check back in and let you know. Until then, let's say my new mantra together: "think cool thoughts..... hmmm.... think cool thoughts.....hmmmm......"


Dianne - Mama's Pocketbook said...

Oh My Goodness! I like you, I really like you! LOL! I found your blog because I get Google alerts on the word "pocketbook"! Yes, I still say pocketbook, and in fact my business is called Mama's Pocketbook! I am really enjoying reading your blog.. you're so funny and so true! I'll be bookmarking it for sure. And sharing it with all my pink friends, so if you start seeing a wave of pinkness coming your way, blame me!
Mama's Pocketbook

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

Dude. When we have our $400 heating bill in January, February and STILL MARCH, you will be laughing yourself to the bank...

Seriously, though $437/month. That would do us in. What other things can you do to cut back? Drive less. Eat differently. Coupons, etc. Don't know. Just brainstorming. Try this site for some tips on saving money at grocery stores, walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc..


Anonymous said...

I found your blog from Crunchy Chicken's... I took her diva cup challenge forever ago... and I haven't gone back! Those miserably hot days, like those you describe, make me SO thankful I switched!

Sorry if that's TMI... Best wishes to you and your family.

Bridgett said...

My first summer in Houston was oppressive. I could not believe it could be so hot for so long. and thunderstorm all the time. How?