May 19, 2008

Personal Post 9: Cut Electric Bill by Half

Just thought I'd share my efforts in cutting the electric bill -- of course, the real test will be the next few months, when the hot Texas summer kicks in. (Today, we're going to be in the mid-90s for a high.) So far, I'm proud to report that the electric bill is half what it used to be.

Yes, folks, HALF.

1. I've started buying the CFL bulbs, one or two at a time, during the major grocery run. The plan is to stagger replacement of the bulbs throughout the house, starting with those used the most to those used the least. This is still a work in process.

2. Any appliances that aren't used daily have been unplugged. In my home office, for example, the electric 3-hole punch (which I love) is a fantastic help, but I don't need it everyday. Other examples: table lamps in the living room, a corner lamp in the den, and we just got rid of the electric can opener flat out. (Standby consumption by each of these appliances can equal leaving a lamp on with a 75 watt conventional bulb.)

3. The chargers don't get plugged in unless it's time to charge something.

4. Using room air conditioners instead of central air - for as long as possible (this is Texas, after all). And, using them only when necessary -- the house is well-insulated and the roof is protected from full sun by shade trees; it averages 10 degrees cooler in the house than outside as a general rule.

5. Using fans instead of any air conditioning. Fans give a nice breeze, they're comforting in an odd way, and they really can keep you cool.

6. Washing all the laundry in cold water (learned this trick from watching Kate doing laundry on the reality show Jon & Kate + 8).

7. Drying lots of things on a little clothes hanger set up in the laundry room instead of throwing everything in the dryer (and always changing the lint filter before every load, too).

8. Handwashing the dishes instead of using the dishwasher except on weekends, and then waiting to run a full load -- and choosing air-dry for those loads.

9. Hung heat-resistant mini-blinds and heavier drapes in the den (where there are two big sets of floor to ceiling windows) - this has really helped keep the den more comfortable than past years.

10. The ever-popular rule: turn the light out when you leave the room ....

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