Monday, January 2, 2012

10 Ways to Save On Electricity

I've been thinking a lot about more ways to save since starting the "31 Days of Nothing" Challenge. One that I thought I'd already conquered was the Electric Bill.

Save Money On Electricity
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Last December & January, our bill was over $500/month (eek!  $1,000 out the window).  After that happened, we started taking the normal measures to cut back on our usage.  We turned down the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 67 degrees at night.  We were more careful about turning off lights that we didn't need to have on.  We burned more firewood to supplement the furnace.  We decreased our electrical usage from 3438 Kilowatt Hours to 1672 Kilowatt Hours, translating into a $300/month savings.

During the summer, I kept the thermostat at 80 during the day and 74 at night.  On days that weren't so humid, and especially in the spring and fall, I simply turned off the thermostat altogether and opened the windows!  Before it began to cool down outside, I shut the windows and trapped in the heat for the night.  For instance, the month of May was so nice last year that we only used 860 Kilowatt Hours.

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The other day, I pulled out my electric bill and I took a good look at it.  Did you know that there are three different rates you pay for the same exact electricity?  They are categorized as Peak, Intermediate-Peak, and Off-Peak hours of use.

Curious, I called my electric company and they were kind enough to give me the different hours/rates for my area*:

Peak Usage (0.086/kwh) - Monday-Friday, 12:00 Noon - 8:00PM
Intermediate Peak Usage (0.083/kwh) - Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM - 12:00 Noon, 8:00 PM - 12:00 Midnight
Off-Peak Usage (0.079/kwh) - Monday-Friday, 12:00 Midnight - 8:00 AM, Weekends & Holidays

*Peak hours/rates may be different in your area, so give your provider a call to verify.

GE Wattmeter Display - Mode 888
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This got me to thinking - could I save even more on my loads of laundry/dishes/hot water/baking simply by changing the time of day I do them?  Only one way to find out - try it!

Here's my 10 Point Plan to Save on Electricity:


1.  Take all showers before 8:00 AM


2.  Do the laundry before 8:00 AM or on the Weekend


3.  Run the dishwasher when I wake up at 6:30 AM instead of after dinner at 6:00 PM


4.  Do any baking/freezer cooking on the Weekends


5.  Keep all upstairs doors shut - the heat just flies out of those rooms.


6.  Turn off any lights/appliances when not in use, especially the TV!


7.  After 4:00 PM, use the fireplace to supplement the furnace.  Turn on the air circulator/fans to spread the warm air through the house.  


8.  Turn the thermostat to 65 between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM, wear extra sweater/slippers inside.   


9.  Turn the thermostat to 67 between 5:00 PM and 7:00 AM, put flannel sheets & extra blankets on beds.   


10.  Open the drapes at first light and shut them at sundown.  


**I'll follow up this post in a month to see if there was any savings!**

Meantime, please share some of YOUR ideas, no matter how stingy they seem, to save money on electricity.  The more comments, the better!

Linking Up at Tip Junkie, Today's Creative Blog, The Frugal GirlsFunky Junk Interiors and these other Great Parties!

35 comments:

  1. I work for an electric company. In addition to the above I would suggest a few things. Do you plug vehicles in overnight? They don't need to be plugged in all night, usually just a few hours before yo0u start them. If you leave for work at 7, try plugging it in at 5 am instead of 5 at night when you get home.

    Space heaters are HUGE energy suckers. People think that because they are so small, they don't take much power, but they do! If you have an old one, upgrade to a newer, more effienct (and most likely more safer) version. Then only plug it in when you need it.

    If you still can't figure out why your bill is so high we always suggest the following to our consumers. Have one person stand outside by your meter and another person inside by the breaker box. Turn off all breakers; the meter dial should stop spinning. Then just one at a time, turn a breaker back on. If it runs something, like the dishwasher, turn that on too. Do this one breaker at a time while having the person outside what the dial spin. What ever makes the dial spin the fastest is what sucks up the most energy.

    Old windows can be hard on bills too because they let heat and energy escape. That's not cheap to fix, but I know in my area there is a program that will help families replace their windows for much cheaper, or maybe they pay for it outright, I'm not sure, but that would be something to look into.

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    1. If the notary upon execution of the instrument determines that a valid Epc is available for conscious residential building, he then put the VEA will immediately informed. If no EPC is present, the owner will be invited to a hearing. The owner is at risk of a fine of between 500 and 5000 euros.

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  2. Use your dryer less, get a drying rack. Even one or two loads a week helps.

    Going off Savannah's post if you can't afford new windows you can get plastic to cover windows in winter as well as thick curtins.

    We only have one rate on our elec. so it doesn't matter when we do things like bake or do our wash.

    In your case I would also have the water heater heat up over night.

    Unplug items such as phones, laptops, and anything else with a "box" which will draw engery even when the item is charged or to pluged into to charger.

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  3. This is a very help-ful post and I loved it. Very informative and maybe this will help us save some money as well. Thanks.

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  4. I set my heat to be 65 all day. When it gets dark, it goes up to 67. Then, about 1/2 hour before bedtime, it goes down to 55. I set it to go up to 67 about 1/2 hour before the first person gets up, and then down to 65 at about the time the showers are all finished.
    When I lived in an old house with crappy windows, I not only put up plastic, but hung fleece with a staple gun to protect us a little more. I did this in the bedrooms, where light wasn't really that important. Helped everyone be more comfortable.
    When I was on a really low budget, I let the water heater come back up to temp after baths/showers, and then turned it off (throw the breaker) for the rest of the day. There was enough hot water to wash hands, do pots and pans, etc., so that we never ran out of warm enough water.
    I still hang all shirts and knits to dry - have been for over 30 years. Stains don't set from the heat, so you have another chance to get them out. The shirts don't shrink, so they don't have to be replaced as often. And shirts that are not plain last longer, because the dryer is not melting off whatever the picture is on the front. My daughter is wearing a Lord of the Rings t-shirt that my son got over 10 years ago- still can make out the picture well enough that she gets comments about it.
    For things that need to be on most of the time, but not all the time, like charging a car, or a space heater in the bathroom, you could put them on timers.
    If you have exhaust fans in the bathrooms, put in a timer switch like they have in hotels. Running an exhaust fan can suck all the heat out of a house in less than an hour, from what I have read on my utility company's website.
    My combined gas (furnace) and electric (everything else) bills are running about $125 a month in the winter. We have 3 adult size women, and 13 day care children in the house, which is about 1400sqft plus a full basement.
    Good luck in your money saving, no spending endeavors!

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  5. Thanks so much for all the ideas. The only thing we do is after showers in the morning, we flip the breaker to hot water heater that's saved us $30 a month.

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  6. I don't know if it is something you can do, but where I live you can choose your electricity supplier- sort of the same way you would shop around for the cheapest oil prices :)

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  7. Thank you very much for linking this to the Frugal Tuesday Tip. So full of good info. http://juliecache.com/2012/01/03/frugal-tuesday-tip-wrapping-up-the-year/.html

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  8. Great tips! It's interesting that you make your house a little warmer at night in winter; most people I know make it colder at night, since they will be under blankets. Don't forget to turn down your heat when everyone is going out for a few hours!

    You might appreciate my ways to save on lighting or guide to line-drying laundry. Here's to low energy bills this winter!

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  9. Hi Becca,

    Yeah...It's just my personal preference to stay warmer at night - good thing electricity is cheaper at night! I always turn down the thermostat when we're out - which isn't much this month!

    Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. If you keep the temp cooler your body naturally burns more calories...and you stay healthier

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  10. Ok I am just waiting to see what happened Heather.?. I have heavy curtains on all my windows and 2 space heaters.. I read a few posts back that space heaters use more energy but my energy bill has gone down since using them: by $57! So I just make sure that the heater isn't near the thermastat so that the rest of the house isn't cold. I don't do cold.. my house stays 70-75 degrees! But i turn it off if it is 60 degrees out side.. I also wash my clothes during the day and my dishes in the morning.. Computers and LCD TV use a lot of power so I always turn them off when I am not using them.. I keep a list of thing that I am goin got do on the internet when I get on so that the time is all used wisly, and same with the TV.. I have T-VO so that My shows are right there and ready to be watched. My bill runs $170-$200/mth and last mouth was really nice at $169!! After reading my bill today I feel great Last year 2010 DEC $297 --- 2011 DEC $169!! OOHH yea!

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  11. Dear Anonymous, Thanks for bragging. I think that your bill depends on a few more factors. For instance - your location. Some locations have MUCH cheaper rates of electricity - I happen to live in a place that doesn't. Also, it will depend on the size of your home. Mine is 2000 SF.

    As far as space heaters, I think the newer ones are more energy efficient. I had a very bad experience with one that resulted in a $700(!) bill one month.

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  12. Both my furnace and hot water heater are run by gas which is much less expensive here than electricity is. But, to save on electric costs,
    I have changed all of my light bulbs from the old incandescent type to the new florescents and have noticed a drop in costs. I have also unplugged anything that isn't used all the time. I'm fortunate to have a timer on my dishwasher so it usually runs during the night. I wipe out my oven instead of using the self-clean cycle too often - that really makes the electric dial spin!

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  13. I have also heard (not sure if it's accurate or not) that anything that is plugged into a wall socket will use electricity whether it is turned on or not. Just in case this is true I make sure I have every counter-top kitchen appliance I have unplugged unless I'm using them. Except my coffee maker and my electric can opener.

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    1. my husband is an electrician and this is not true. the amount of electric that runs these items is not going to make a dent in your cost saving by unplugging them. opening up blinds/curtains during the day and lowering your themo. is going to have you much more than what you think will unplugging your appliances.

      Hope this helps :)

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  14. Good tips! I try to d my laundry and dishes during off peak hurs as well. Plus, once the dishes are done, I open the dishwasher to let them air dry instead of paying the expensive electric price of using the heat dry. Thank you for joining TTF last week! I hope you are having a great day!

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  15. I turn my heat down at 10pm to 60 and have it kick back on to 66 an hour before its time for us to get up and start getting ready for work/schoo which is around 5am, then I have it shut back down to 60 from 8am to 4pm which is about an hour before we get home. I keep it on 66 for the most part. YES, we do wear long pants, socks, and sweatshirts but want you get use to it you don't really notice the differences. We do run our fireplace most of the time on the weekends when we are home more during the day and make the kids keep their doors to their bedrooms shut if they are not in them. This does help keep them warm all night and they only have one extra blanket on them in the winter. Also, I would have to agree on the times to do your dishes I have them start running as soon as I get up each morning instead of after dinner at night. I have notice about 100$ saving a month over last years bills. Now, if I can get my kids to take shorter showers I just might see even more of a cut in cost. LOL good luck everyone

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  16. Great tips. I agree it depends where you live, home size, etc. I turn off lights when not in a room. I think we have gone through about 12 bulbs in 7 years. Blows the EPA's whole theory that the ave. person spends $40/year on bulbs. I don't like fluorescents. I have reg. old incandescent bulbs. Our gas/elect. is a co-op in our town, no searching for cheaper rates. Windows make a huge difference. My house is cold. There are so many drafts. Believe it or not, this house was built 7 years ago (obviously by a wood butcher). It is a two story (top two floors about 1900 sq ft), and is like living in an igloo. So, until we can afford to replace windows and find the million drafts and blow in more insulation in the attic space, it will be cold. I turn the heat down when we leave, but not when we are home. Your typical 68, is not 68 in here. It is colder. Our furnace also short cycles a lot. 4 HVAC guys and thermostats later, and they still can't figure out why. Closing the door to the master bedroom, you freeze. Kids rooms aren't so bad. I try to run the dishwasher really early in the AM or the delay gets set so it runs very very late at night.

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  17. Just turning off the TV and lamps aren't enough. They still are using electricity unplugging them is best. I unplug everything that is not being used, TV in living room lamps and fans in the bedrooms, my PC when I go to bed, etc. I wash clothes once a week in cold water so I don't have to sort colors from whites I do everything together. When the wash is done I give the clothes 2 extra spins to remove as much water as possible so I don't need to run the dryer as long which in turn saves money too. I light just the room I'm in not the whole house at night. I like using battery operated candles in living room at night. I replaced all old style light bulbs with the CFL bulbs. In summer I keep my AC set at 78 and use all the ceiling fans in the house to keep the air circulating.

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    1. I'm not sure you're saving any money here, Tybee. Two extra spins on the washer vs. running the dryer an extra (?) 15 minutes? Using every ceiling fan in the house, vs. keeping the air at 76? I know it's hot down there in South GA, but I dunno. As for the power usage of "plugged in" things, you might be saving $1 a year. If that.

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  18. do you have any of these tips for the summer months? since i live in ga i have a hard time without the ac but seeing as how we're trying to cut out the unnecessary spending. thanks in advance

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  19. We live in GA also. We are not running the AC unless the outside temps are 80 or higher. Thank goodness for cooler weather so far! We are on the budget bill plan and have lowered our monthly usage from $180 to $141. Using box fans and ceiling fans, when someone is in the room, makes everything cool and comfortable. We also do the usual, turn TV off and lights, when no one is in the room.

    The Furnace is set to 68 during the day and 60-63 during the night. Extra blankets make us sleep like babies. I think it is healthier for you also. No more bloody noses from drying heat during sleep.

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  20. After reading this blog I got lot of information about how to save an electricity. This blog is very helpful for us
    Ways To Save Electricity

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  21. I realize this is an old post, but I have to chime in with MOTION SENSORS! I replaced my closet, mudroom, garage, bathroom, hallway, and exterior porch lights with motion sensors. My averaged power bill dropped by almost $42 a month after that.

    The thing is, you can't use CFLs with them. Altho the circuit is supposed to be off, the CFLs flicker. So far that hasn't affected my bill badly, since the lights are just off after motion ceases. I'm waiting for the CFL motion sensor sockets to come out, and I'll happily replace the old sockets with them.

    I also open my doors wide when the weather is nice. It airs out the old and nice clean air gets into the corners. :)

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    Replies
    1. They make LED bulbs now that are 10 watts that screw in like regular bulbs. They are not bothered by cold temperatures and can be used with motion sensors. They can be found at Home Depot 3 in a pack for $11.00. They last longer and will save over the course of their life.

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  22. Another tip to lower your costs, whether you're using a gas or electric water heater, use cold water when washing most clothing. It's even easier on your clothes and they look newer longer. I do use warm water on sheets, blankets and towels though. If you live in warmer climates, you may already know that heat breaks down elastics prematurely and that holds true for socks & underwear, so cold water wash helps these last longer.

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  23. I could use some of these. Thanks for publishing.


    energy efficiency arizona

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  24. You can install a timer on your water heater. They run about $50 -$60 dollars. My brother-in-law installed mine. They can be set up to turn on and off several times a day or night as desired.

    Caulk you windows and doors. Use great stuff to fill in large gaps. Use inexpensive electrical outlet sealers to insulate you outlets on the outside walls. Also add child safety plugs to stop drafts. The Tightwad Gazette recommended making them from styrofoam meat trays, but the ones you buy are UL listed. In case of fire, your insurance company may balk at the use of styrofoam meat trays. If there is a big gap, spray a little bit of Great Stuff in to fill gaps.

    Sew curtains with insulated liners.

    Wrap some insulation around your dryer vent or buy a 5" or 6" duct sleeve. Caulk around the vent opening as necessary.

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  25. You also have to be careful because sometimes constant unplugging and plugging of certain items is even worse than leaving them running. Your AC for instance... if you turn it up to say 72 while you're not home then either right before you get home it's set to be cooler or you adjust after you get home, if it's been really hot tgat day it will take longer to cool your home, the unit has to work harder and longer to cool it down, thus defeating the purpose of the temp change.

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  26. You also have to be careful because sometimes constant unplugging and plugging of certain items is even worse than leaving them running. Your AC for instance... if you turn it up to say 72 while you're not home then either right before you get home it's set to be cooler or you adjust after you get home, if it's been really hot tgat day it will take longer to cool your home, the unit has to work harder and longer to cool it down, thus defeating the purpose of the temp change.

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  27. We plug all electronics into power strips which we only turn on to use the item. All bulbs are led. They are long life and low operating costs. We are home all day, heat never above 68, or 65 at night. No heat drying of dishes and never run a less than full load of dishes or laundry. We clean dryer vent every 6 months as a dirty vent makes dryer work longer to dry. It is also a fire hazard. Our highest bill ever was 180. Usually 130. Many local electric companies will do usage inspections and ours gives rebates on energy efficient appliances, as well as pay consumers who have them pick up working appliances being replaced.Seniors can recieved help with lowering costs including replacing incandescent bulbs with cfl or led bulbs.

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  28. We plug all electronics into power strips which we only turn on to use the item. All bulbs are led. They are long life and low operating costs. We are home all day, heat never above 68, or 65 at night. No heat drying of dishes and never run a less than full load of dishes or laundry. We clean dryer vent every 6 months as a dirty vent makes dryer work longer to dry. It is also a fire hazard. Our highest bill ever was 180. Usually 130. Many local electric companies will do usage inspections and ours gives rebates on energy efficient appliances, as well as pay consumers who have them pick up working appliances being replaced.Seniors can recieved help with lowering costs including replacing incandescent bulbs with cfl or led bulbs.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Great post. I enjoyed reading this piece. Congrats :)

    I think this article from the blog of Kings Great Buys will complement this article.

    ReplyDelete

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