This week’s installment is regarding your utilities. If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that just over a year ago we moved to a newer, larger home with a pool…..our forever home! We love it here and it is a home that my honey and I can grow old in together 🙂 One of the big shocks when we moved here was that our electricity bills were so much higher than our family that we are buying the home from. Anyhow, our first full month here, we didn’t have to run the a/c and our bill was $282. And the next couple of months went up from there! We did find a few ways to cut back on the useage a little bit but nothing significant. We just resigned ourselves to high electric bills. Fast forward to either September or October, and the electric company put a smart meter on our house. I had been very resistant to having it because of the controversy surrounding them regarding super high bills, electrical magnetic fields, etc, etc. Let me tell you, this past 3 months, (once the smart meter went completely accessible online with our account with our electric company) being able to see our hourly useage day to day, I have gotten our electrical bills down in the $160s! 2 months in a row now have been in the $160s.
Here’s what I have noticed…..
1. Yes, we have the compact florescent bulbs in every light fixture in the house that isn’t florescent tubes. But our lights use a LOT of electricity! Turning off the lights when we leave a room, not turning them on at night until it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY (this time of year we aren’t turning them on until 7:45-8:15, later if we are watching a movie or sporting event on tv), this has saved a significant amount of money! And I am able to tell you on a day to day basis when there are lights on in my house based on the daily useage on the electric companies website. BIG SAVINGS
2. Our desk top computer (even though it is an energy star rated computer) still uses a LOT of electricity. I can also tell you when the computer is on by looking at the hourly useage. This and the lights are our biggest changes, and it has saved us an average of $70 per month!!!!!
3. Unplug anything that isn’t currently running. I walked around the house, went room by room, and found no less than 15 outlets that were being used by something that rarely gets turned on!
4. our oven is electric, and again, it uses a lot of electricity, even though it is really new (less than 5 years old….I’m thinking 3ish years old)……we have two gas grills (“inherited” one, and had one)….we have been reading a lot on how to make one of them into an outdoor oven….we are going to line the bottom and sides of one of them with firesafe and food safe brick and use it as an oven for the summer months when I a) don’t want the heat inside the house anyhow and b) want to offset the cost of running the a/c as much as possible. Eventually, I will get a solar oven as well, but at this point in time, we just don’t have the resources for that, we are going to use what we have 🙂
5. Use alternatives as much as possible. If your stove is electric, and you have a gas grill, use it for cooking as much as possible (even the bottled propane is cheaper ….at least where I live…. than the cost of electricity for the amount of cooking that I do). If you have a lot of outdoor lighting in your yard, consider switching as much of that as possible over to solar lights. We have both our front and back yards lit (not bright lighting, but path lighting) with solar lights, and once you are out in it, they do offer nice ambiance lighting…..eventually we would love to add some stringlights that are solar powered to a couple of the trees.
6. For water savings, use timers for showers. Turn the faucet off when you are lathering your hands or brushing your teeth. Don’t run the water constantly while washing dishes. Fill your sink, and don’t turn the water back on until it is time to rinse out the sink.
7. Check with your gas, electric, water, sewer, phone, cable, etc companies and see where they can offer you savings. Oftentimes there are discount plans or tiered plans or cheaper plans that can save you a bundle. I recently called our satellite tv company because our initial introductory period was up, and our bill had gone up by $35 a month…..I was able to get them to discount it by another $15 for another year. So by making a simple 15 minute phone call I saved us $240 this year! Same thing with our internet, our introductory period ended, and the bill was going to go up another 8.01 per month. I called to see if there was a lesser rate, they extended the introductory price, so I saved us another $192.24 over the course of the next two years with a simple 5 minute phone call. We have gone to wireless home phone service, and only pay $25 a month, if we were to have the exact same services provided by the phone company (or even bundled with our internet or satellite) it would cost us a minimum of $49 plus taxes per month. So we are saving $300 a year by using the wireless home phone service (it is offered through Sprint….I’m sure other wireless providers offer it as well, we just found out about it when we were looking at a new cell phone for me last year).
I hope that some of these tips have spurred some ideas of your own…and if they have, please share them! 🙂