Monday, July 25, 2016

Battling the electric bill


For the first time in my life, I am living with central A/C. This home is 11 years old, seems well built, hopefully energy efficient (I have an "inside" unit, meaning I have neighbors on either side). Whenever possible, I shut it off, open the house up, use fans. When in use, we set it to 76 degrees, use fans, close drapes. We've had simply oppressive weather; heat index to reach 100 F today, multiple air quality alerts. Add in that the busy street behind the complex makes it difficult to sleep with the windows open, which I prefer to do. I am adjusting, the noise pollution is better for me, remains a factor.

Last month's electric bill made me blanch. It did cover 2 homes, and one where the A/C unit wasn't working properly (since fixed). While a bit lower than last month's, we still have to lower it significantly more. DS was reminded that we are now on an electric water heater; showers must be short. I also reset the programmable thermostat upstairs and cautioned DD that regardless of her wonky schedule, the A/C will run at a hotter temp, once I am up(which is 6 a.m.).

I can't think of anything else that I can do to lower the electric bill. My former2  rentals cost me approx (depending upon price of oil) 1 gallon of oil/day to heat water through the boiler furnace. Call it $90 for hot water. My electric budget was $100 at my last 2 rentals as well so I am aiming for $200/mo for electric. Natural gas was ubber cheap last month, I await the new bill. The realtor who rented the unit to me, lived here and told me to plan on $200/mo for utilities.



Linda said...

Turn down the water heater. Don't use the oven often. I cook lots of skinless, boneless chicken breasts and eat sandwiches for lunch and salads for dinner. With a family to feed, I am sure that won't go over well, but you can figure out something. Wash clothes in cold water.

Juhli said...

I feel your pain. We do find that a floor fan facing us in the room we are in keeps us cooler and the AC running less. Also, don't run bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans very long as they can turnover the air in the house quite quickly. Can you turn down the temp on the water heater to the lowest safe setting?

Kathy said...

We are in the same boat. The heat has been awful lately, and we are an all electric house. We are on a montly plan where we pay the same amount every month which is $212. We have a catchup month during May where we receive a credit or pay extra. I haven't checked our useage yet this month, but I'm sure that it is crazy high with the a/c running so much. My husband wants to be comforable so we keep the a/c at 76 during the day and turn it up at night. Ds has asthma so the heat makes breathing harder for him.

thyme2save said...

I read the safest setting is 120* for water heater. Articles might advise to turn off water heater when gone from home. Not sure but could be danger of Legionaires Disease.

More electricity is used when re-cooling a house if walls get too hot. It's tricky saving money with whole-house air. We have small emergency units for bedroom windows should whole-house unit need repair.

For a month, until next bill arrives, house is set at 76 for 12 hours or less during day. At night, house unit is set at 85*, and window unit is used in one room. MEMPHIS is hot.

We also use ceiling fans and small fans, which are very cheap to operate.

Busy Bee said...

Ours runs high, too.

My tips are:

1. run the dishwasher at night.

2. as much as I miss the sunlight, putting up drapes on the side the sun shines in brightest helps. We don't have blinds, but if we did closing them might help.

3. I also rely on the bread machine, slow cooker, or pressure cooker more this time of year for cooking. Whenever possible I grill outside. We also have a receptacle on our patio and I can set the slow cooker out there if I decide to do so.

4. we used to have a timer on our old water heater, where we could set times for it to come on and off. It helped some, but we haven't installed one on the new water heater.

5. Keeping lots of cool drinks on hand and homemade or inexpensive popsicles helps, too.

6. make and serve chilled salads whenever possible. we find when we are eating colder foods, we feel cooler. Pasta salad, chicken salad, potato salad, cole slaw, etc.

I'm sure there are more, but these are what come to mind that should be pretty easy.

CTMOM said...

Thanks for your suggestions, here is some follow up:

I can look into turning the electric water heater temp down, meanwhile DS who WAS taking longer showers is on board, now taking under 10 minute showers.

I already rarely use the oven, which is gas heated anyway. I automatically turn to my countertop, mini convection/toaster oven or batch bulk bake when I do use the oven.

Laundry is run as full, super sized loads in cold except for 2 loads towels and 1 of whites/week.

I am using the one bedroom ceiling fan, have 2 oscillating fans in the living area.

Kids living with me aren't picky when it comes to meals, and I preplan planned overs to reduce cooking time/energy use.

Kitchen hood fan is not an exterior vent, so kind of pointless, bathroom fans only used as needed (esp. for showers).

With current weather conditions, it is medically necessary to run the A/C. I shut it off when possible.

DW is run every day when DS is here, otherwise, it's every other day if it's just me and DD. I never use the heated dry feature. It's usually run at 8 p.m.

Blinds/drapes are shut.

Small appliances chosen ever the range.

Menus often reflect the season and/or the weather. CP homemeade pork beans tonight with grilled Kielbasa dogs, homemade cole slaw, sliced tomatoes.

Any other thoughts?

Amanda said...

Some Ideas, have the duct work checked. In our current rental the central a/c runs us 250 a month and the temp barely breaks 83! Also turn your power strips off.