Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reducing Our Electric Habit

 As the days grow hotter here we see our electrical bill start rising.
So, we are on a mission this month in our home to use less electricity!
You know this mission, right?
Daily fights over the AC temp and Mom constantly yelling, TURN THAT LIGHT OFF!
Sounds fun doesn't it? Ahhh, good times.
Anyways, we have found success in our efforts though and I wanted to share them with you.

For informational purposes just a few facts first :
We live in South Florida & use AC almost year around.
We battle seasonal allergies that prevents us from opening our windows in the spring.
The home we rent is 1200 sq feet give or take, built in 2002. 
We do have a larger AC unit than is recommended, which helps.

First thing I tackled was the AC. It runs almost non-stop in our home. 
This time of the year see's us rise from a $150 a month bill to $230 in a flash.
The outside temps rise and the ac works harder to keep up. 
So even I keep the temp inside on 80, it still works harder to maintain 80 than it did a few weeks ago.
Then I realized the only sure way to make sure it doesn't run all the time was to turn it off.
Yes, I am a genius. ;)
If I turn the AC off the kids cried, how do we stay cool?
That is where I realized that just as our Northern friends fight to keep the cold out in the
winter, we must fight to keep the heat out in the summer.  
We have vertical blinds on all the windows. We keep those closed.
It still felt hot in here. So I added lightweight curtains over top of the blinds. 
Better but when the temps started climbing to the upper 80's, the heat slowly crept back in. 
So I took pretty tablecloth that were in my stash, sewed a pocket and hung them in FRONT
of the blinds in the windows that got the most light. 
This helped a great deal. We are now able to turn off the AC completely every morning
around 6 am and we make it to almost 5 - 7pm before it comes back on. 
This trick alone when we can make it the whole 12 hours saves us HALF the KW's we were
using before. Don't believe me? Check it out...

 You can see the days I circled. Those days were 40 and under KW days. If you look
under my account summary you will see that my highest daily usage was 76. I highlighted
the lowest point by clicking on it for the picture, my lowest day I used 32 KWH's. Ignore the
following day where I hit 61 KWH's. Let's just say even though I line dry most of the time, that
day was not a good day. Lots of children with nothing clean to wear. So I used, like an addict. ;)

Like with all the other examples and advice I give, I should point out that this is just one phase of 
cutting our usage. Right now I looked to the biggest power sucker & worked on that. We have 
a few more windows to cover before we move on to another phase. A programmable thermometer
would help but this is a rental and I am not sure of their cost. It is something I will run past a 
friend of ours who installs AC's for a living. 

The next phase? Not sure.
But here is a list of things I have written down that we want to work on in this area :
* Changing lightbulbs to LED's -
We don't do the CFL's due to the mercury in them should one break. 
We do have two LED bulbs right now and we are very happy with them. 
Turning out the lights help as well, not just saving electricity but they do generate heat in the house as well.
*Phasing out the dryer completely -
We use it for small things or like above, in a time crunch. 
This involves me being more disciplined (ahem) in the laundry area. 
*Using ceiling fan's effectively - 
Right now the kids have it in their head that fans should be left on all the time. 
I have tried to explain to them that fans only work if the person is in the room.  
This website has been such help in reducing our costs.
*Dishwasher vs. Hand washing -
This one is going to require lots of research. 
Our dishwasher does not work effectively so I think I already know the answer. 
However I am not the dishwasher, a teenage girl is. And she is going to 
want hard data to support my theory of her hand washing dishes. 
*Baths vs. Showers -
We have well water. That means that every time we turn the tap on, it requires the pump to use
electricity to deliver it to us. Conserving water will help reduce ours costs. 
However I am the loverof nice large baths of hot water. 
That is my escape. I will have to curb those and I am not looking forward to that , at all. 

Do you have any suggestions or ideas how to save money on your electric bill? 
We would love to hear them!


Denise said...

We live in West Texas, and it gets hot here fast.

Because we don't suffer from allergies, we open our windows at night and put fans in them to draw the cooler air into the house. I leave them like that until it starts to warm up, then I close up the windows. We can't do this for long, because it doesn't really cool down much at night when you are hitting 100+ temps during the day.

I line dry in the summer and use the dryer to 'fluff' the super stiff stuff, like jeans and towels. Just a few minutes on the air dry does the trick. During the winter we vent the dryer inside and leave the laundry room door open to help heat the front living room.

We keep our winter temps low (60 over night and 65-68 during the day depending on what time of day it is) and our summer temps higher. We also have a couple of fire places we use to help warm up the house in the winter. They are what we call 'Texas' fireplaces and were built more for decoration than function, so they don't heat a lot, but every little bit helps. We get our wood for free when people are clearing land or moving.

Right now we are saving up to replace our AC unit. It is super old and freezes up in the summer. We are using window units in the meantime. We only turn on the units in the rooms we are in. So, during the day the bedroom units are off and the living area units are on and at night we switch. We keep bedroom and bathroom doors closed during the day and bedroom doors closed at night to keep the ac confined to the rooms we need it in.

Chele said...

Our humidity is so bad here that at night it feels worse than the day, blah!

Freedom Acres Farm said...

Have you heard of phantom power? You would be surprised at how much power you can save by unplugging all appliances when not using them and putting all TV's and computers, dvd players, etc.. on power strips and shutting them off with those to cut the phantom power. It seems small but it makes a huge difference!!

Chele said...

I have heard of this. We are working on putting the electronics we have kept on power strips for this very reason. I do unplug coffee maker, microwave etc and it drives the family crazy but every bit counts. :)

Mary Brown said...

I love the graph. I am wondering if I can get a hold of one for my house. I just had my 8 yr old go turn the heat off I didnt really need running. My hubby and i went to Lowe's just lastnight to get the stuff to make a clothesline and when we got there totally forgot about it. Duh. I cloth diaper so this will be a huge help in the dryer area. My hubby is an electrician and for 8 years I have been fighting him about unplugging and shutting things down and I think he just gave up and now I am going to be going around doing this and he is going to just roll his eyes. Haha. I am going to find the graph thing and watch our house stats. :)

Chele said...

I love that I can get daily totals from my power company. Even if you can't, you can learn to read your own meter. I use to do this before they offered the graphs.
Aren't cloth diapers the best? I used them for my last little ones and if I ever have any more I would use them again. I love how easy they are! :)

Denise said...

Humidity isn't an issue here in the desert of West Texas. LOL

It's quite a change from the 8 yrs of England humidity...

Mary Brown said...

Cloth diapers are great. I have just switched over fully. I now have a cloths line! Yay! It is just a single line but i ont feel so bad about washing our bedding now. I started reading my meter and found a way to make my own chart! I am so excited about this. I didnt tell my hubby I was doing this until I started and of course he is like that is great. After we go the kids to bed he even went and turned off the lights. we usually leave on a small light in the kithcen and then the fish tank light in the livingroom for the kids but we turned them all off lastnight. Being that I just started tracking I think I am going to keep doing my usual thing though for this week and then make cuts starting next week to see how much it saves us. I am so excited!

Chele said...

You have to let me know how it turns out. :)

Q said...

We live in the deserts of AZ and totally relate to all things a/c. Having just moved to a place with cheap windows (which we can't afford to replace at the moment) I purchased some heavy duty insulated curtain panels from WalMart (I know, eww, but desperate times!) They are keeping our upstairs/south-facing rooms nice and dark and COOL! :)

Chele said...

I truly think that is the key. Keeping the heat out. I use to open up my windows and try to cool it down. It always was awful. I learned this trick from our Amish friends. They insulate their windows in the summer and kept them closed! Wish it had not took me so long to figure that out. ;)