This is the first time my husband and I have ever had to deal with an actual utility bill. Crazy right? Well, all of our previous places to live always had all the utilities included. This was a definite blessing. But before all the flooding chaos began, I actually started to be more frugal and considerate of how much electric I was using. Looking back on it now, I realize that this was just preparation for where we are now.
I honestly had no idea how much electric could be per month. Our current landlord said that it could run us up to $250 per month, especially in the winter months. And yes, we DO have the dreaded “electric baseboard heat”.
When I signed up with the electric company I inquired about getting on a payment plan where we would pay the same amount each month so that we would not get bombarded in the winter time with a huge expense. But because we are NEW tenants, we did not have anything for them to average. So, what they did was take the last 3 month average of the previous tenants and gave us our monthly rate.
Well, I was so concerned that the rate they gave us would probably increase by double after OUR 3 month average just because we are a family of 6 as opposed to 2. I was dreading finding out after the first 30 days of us living in our new home what the “REAL” price would be.
When I spoke with the electric company, I asked them if they had any information on how to save on my electric bill. They said they would send me a pamphlet in the mail. I knew a few things just from visiting my mom at her home. She is extremely frugal when it comes to things like that, which is definitely a good thing in this day and age when so many are facing hard times financially.
Anyway, I got the pamphlet in the mail and it had a lot of great tips – some that I had already been doing in our previous home and a few new ones that I began to utilize immediately after reading.
Here is the list of tips from www.NYSEG.com on how to save on your electric bill. My FAVORITES are in green. They are the ones I have been utilizing the most.
Heating Your Living Areas
- Set your thermostat at 65° during the day to reduce your heating use by as much as 15%.
- Lower your thermostat at night either manually or automatically with a setback thermostat.
- Weatherstrip windows near your thermostat and keep them tightly closed. A cold draft across the thermostat will turn your heating system on unnecessarily.
- Keep heating supply and return registers and radiators clean and unobstructed by furniture and draperies.
- Close all heat registers in unused rooms. (CAUTION: To protect pipes in these rooms, make sure the temperature stays above freezing.)
- Close the fireplace damper when not in use.
- To keep air from leaking under a door, roll up a small rug and place it across the bottom of the doorway.
- Open draperies on south-facing windows during the day to let in free heat from the sun and close them at night or on cloudy days to keep the heat in.
Cooling Your Living Areas
- Set your air conditioning thermostat at 78° or higher during the cooling season. Each degree above 75° saves you 3% of the energy used to cool your home.
- When using air conditioning, only cool the rooms you need. Close doors to other rooms.
- Turn your air conditioner off when you leave home.
- Help keep your home and yourself cool by using natural ventilation and wearing
- Close your draperies and shades on hot, sunny days to reduce solar heat build-up.
- Close windows and doors during the hottest parts of the day.
Lights and Appliances
- Turn off unused lights, stereos, televisions, computers, etc.
- During the day, use as few lights as necessary. Let daylight do the work.
- Keep light bulbs and shades dust-free. Dust absorbs light.
- Use three-way bulbs where possible and choose the wattage or amount of light
for your needs.
- Use a concentrated light for tasks like reading, sewing or cooking.
- Use fluorescent, rather than incandescent, fixtures and bulbs where possible. Fluorescent lights are three to four times more energy efficient.
- Consider energy efficiency by painting walls and ceilings light colors. Light colors reflect rather than absorb light, thus reducing the need for extra lighting.
- With incandescent lighting, use one high-wattage bulb rather than several low-wattage bulbs. Replace on-off switches with solid-state dimmer switches to better control lighting and efficiency.
- Put your refrigerator in a cool spot with good air circulation and away from heat sources like direct sunlight, your kitchen range and heat vents.
- Open and close the refrigerator door quickly and infrequently.
- Carefully select a refrigerator/freezer with energy-saving features. Units with the ENERGY STAR label are among the most efficient. Be aware that manual-defrost freezers use up to 30% less energy than units that defrost automatically.
- Avoid putting hot foods in the refrigerator.
- Clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils regularly.
- Use your refrigerator optimally. A full but not tightly-packed refrigerator is most efficient.
- Inspect the seals on your refrigerator, freezer and oven doors to ensure that they fit tightly. Simply place a lighted flashlight inside the appliance. If you see light around the gasket after the door is closed, replace the gasket.
- When cooking small meals, use only small electric appliances.
- When necessary, pre-heat your oven for no more than 10 minutes.
- Resist peeking into the oven. Every time you open the door, you lose heat.
- Use flat-bottomed pans with covers and match the size of the pots and pans to the size of your burners. Also, minimize the amount of water in pans and use the lowest heat setting needed.
Sink / Dishwasher
- Use the dishwasher only when full. In addition, let clean dishes air dry.
- Install a flow restrictor in the kitchen sink faucet to reduce the use of hot water.
- Take showers rather than baths. A typical shower requires only half as much hot water as an average bath.
- Use your bath and kitchen exhaust fans sparingly. In just one hour they can remove a houseful of warmed or cooled air.
- Repair all leaky faucets. One drop per second can waste as much as 10 gallons of water in a week. If the water is hot, you lose not only the water but also the energy used to heat the water.
- Install water flow restrictors on your shower heads and faucets to reduce your water use.
- Wash clothes in hot water only when necessary. Always use cold water for rinsing.
- Operate washers and dryers with full loads to make best use of warm water or warm air.
- Clean the lint screen on your dryer after each use to keep it running efficiently. Also check the dryer exhaust periodically to be sure it is not blocked.
- Don’t overdry clothes in the dryer.
- Hang your laundry outdoors to dry. The fewer times you use your clothes dryer, the less energy you’ll use.
- Turn your iron off a few minutes before you’re finished ironing. Residual heat will finish the job.
Did you learn anything new from this list? I know I did! But the most important thing I do to save on electricity is to use my washer and dryer and dishwasher during what is called “night hours”. I learned that night kilowatt hours can be much less than day kilowatt hours. I was told by my electric company that there is a 3 cent difference. So, currently the day hours are around 10 cents here in my location and the night hours are 7 cents. The night hours are from midnight to 8am. Well, there is no way I am going to be able to stay up to do laundry after midnight. LOL I am zonked by 9pm. LOL But having 4 little ones, I do get up very early.
So, I now have a morning routine of throwing in a load of laundry and turning on the dishwasher as soon as I get up. I can get 2 loads of laundry washed and dried between 6am and 8am. This, to me, is great and it feels great to have these large tasks completed before the day has even begun.
Another thing that I have been doing is trying to unplug appliances that are not being used. I have always been one to leave my cell phone plugged in overnight- but my wonderful and all knowing mom (thanks mom!), has taught me that this not only wastes energy, but also destroys the phone battery sooner.
I hope that this has helped someone out there to realize that it is possible to save money on your electric bill. These things really do work! After 30 days of living in our new place, I made the dreaded call to my electric company and read them the current meter reading so I could find out how much we spent. I SWORE that they would say we had gone WAY over their original monthly quote according to the previous tenants average. And remember there were only TWO people living here and now there are SIX. Well, they put me on hold to do some figuring and when they came back and told me the price – it was UNDER what we were assigned to pay. What??? I couldn’t believe it!
So, now I am totally obsessed with doing what I can to save energy in our home. Yes, I still forget sometimes and leave lights on or forget to turn down the heat at night – but I am really trying. 🙂
Here are a couple funny cartoons I found on the subject: