Saturday, August 10, 2013

I keep tweaking the bills!

I'm reviewing our electric bills over the past year in this rental:

Oct-$149.91-heat usually on starting in Oct, even if just to get the chill out of the house as we dress and before bed)
Nov-$155.29 (energy audit done right after Thanksgiving)
April-$97.41 try to shut off furnace by now but as with Oct, may need to warm up the house a bit. This is a stone cottage, poorly insulated, too. When it's cold, it's cold.
May-$122.32 depending upon humidity, heat, we may start using A/C

Areas to address:
Lighting: got this pretty much covered. I came with CFL's and had 29 more installed with the energy audit this past November. 2 chandelier fixtures in DR have been converted over to standard sockets, so I can and am now using CFL's there, too. 2 wall sconces and chandelier in powder room-replacement CFL's too pricey. Get in, get out, use lights as needed. Chandelier in main bath-we are able to switch that one off, great. 2 areas of 8 "theatre make up room" lights-one area we don't use-so automatic savings there. The second area over the sinks, I've recently taken to unscrewing every other bulb to drop the electric use down to 50%. These fixtures take expensive, narrow base bulbs. Too expensive to replace with a CFH or LED, which would be my top pick.  We use passive solar light to our advantage as well.

Cooling: 2 ceiling fans, 3 oscilating fans thruout the home help keep us cool, at low cost. A final, window box fan is used in the main bath to draw moisture out. I do have 2 ancient A/C units that need replacement. I would get energy star ones. I'm keeping an eye out on Freecycle and end of season clearances. We only use these on sweltering nights when a fan just won't cut it. If I have to sweat all day, I MUST at least be able to sleep at night.  Lots of air circulation at this home (we are located on top of a mountain, lots of large windows throughout the home.

Heating: does take alot to heat (oil) but it also uses electric for the furnace to some degree. I had programable thermostats installed in the 3 zones of the home. We keep the house cold. I hang "room divider curtains". Can't do much more

Cooking: I use the wood stove when I can in Winter. I also try to select a small appliance over the oven or at least do a whole oven meal when I do use it. I use the microwave to heat up leftovers. I store extra coffee in a thermus rather than keeping it on the stove. I make a pot of tea, keep it under a cozy.

Food storage: we do have a new, energy star upright freezer. Saves me significant $ on groceries. I did get a new to us, second hand refrigerator that is supposed to be 6 y.o. which replaced the dead 10 y.o. one. It's smaller than the previous one. We also just disconnected the under the counter, copper colored (1970's) bar refrigerator. It's an adjustment, but hoping that by reducing fresh food storage, I can save on electric.

Laundry: all in cold except whites (1 load week) and towels (2-3 loads week). Towels in dryer 30 minutes before hanging up. Everything else is line dried,,even in Winter. I am thinking of doing a second spin cycle  on the towels as they come out of this standard washer, more damp than they would if I still had a HE washer. I wonder if this would really save as electric is needed for the washer. Frankly, I don't iron clothes unless I have 2 a few times/year. I use the iron more with sewing.

Dehumidifier: when my electric escalated to $165, I contacted the electric co. They replied that yes, the dehumidifier was using a lot of juice. I tried a compromise, which helped: to only run the dehumidifier down cellar when using the washer, so an hour tops/day. Now, we're going cold turkey. Some have suggested damp rid type bags. Worth exploring.

Dishes: dishwasher run once/day and set to air dry. I wash pots/pans, knives etc by hand, using a dish basin (water from well and oil fed water heater means that water uses electricity). Any conservation helps.

Cleaning: vacuum once week, otherwise Swiffer/sweep.

Cellphone recharging: we all plug in at night to a power strip, I set it on while I get ready for bed. Usually completely charged by the time I'm done.

I-pod one kidlet has, and he plugs in at cell phone station
I -Pad-one kidlet has, he charges as needed
laptops-we have 4. No longer use PC's they use more electric.
TV-we do have 2 and usually only 1 is on at a time. Not much tv viewers.
Xbox-do have and it has a Knex component (like a Wii)-used several times/week

What am I missing? I am aiming to reduce my monthly bill back down to under $100.  Suggestions?


DW said...

A thought ... any other "phantom" things .. like the microwave, that you could unplug overnight?
It really sounds like you've covered just about all the bases (unless you want to try candles or oil lamps .. just kidding)

CTMOM said...

DW, while I expect utilities to rise with DD now rejoining the nest, that is offset with her modest "rent". I am hoping that the shutting off completely of the dehumidifier will do the trick.