Our electric bill arrived and I was whisked away to my childhood. Bills coming in the mail was never a joyous occasion growing up. My dad would see the total and start saying things like, “Why is this bill so high?” “What, do you think we have stock in the electric company?”
Our bill this month was for $91.00! That is the highest electric bill we have EVER had. My mouth dropped when I saw it, and all I could say is “Oh my…”
My husband was in the other room, and he yelled, “What…what…” He thought something was terribly wrong. To me, it was. I wanted to start saying things like my dad used to say way back when. I didn’t understand his words then, but I sure do now!
All I could muster saying was that our electic bill was over $91.00. As I sit here writing, I am still amazed. My husband was the voice of reason and said that perhaps the cost for the electricity has gone up and that’s why our bill is so high. A quick look at the bill shows that we used over 100 kilowatt hours more than the same period last year!
Can we pay $91/month for electricity? Technically, we could probably handle it. Do I want to? Heck no!!
So far, we were planning on doing the following:
1.) Shutting off power strips and unplugging things when not in use. Some electronic items draw power when they are turned off and that adds up.
2.) Drying clothes by hanging them and using our electric dryer very little.
3.) Buying those energy efficient bulbs.
We’ve started doing all three. A few days ago, we went out and purchased some spiral compact fluorescent bulbs (<- affiliate link) from our local department store. The ones we purchased were by General Electric and it ran $9.99 for 3 of them. We purchased 9 total which took care of almost all of the lights in our house. These bulbs are guaranteed to last 5 years and they only use 15 watts to output a greater amount of light than a 60 watt bulb. So far, we are very impressed. We used to have 4 60 watt bulbs in our kitchen. With the new bulbs we only need two. Our living room is brighter and it has a nicer light. Before, we were using the cheapest bulbs possible. We are saving money on electricity AND we have better lighting in the home. It wasn't easy to spend $30.00 on bulbs, but I believe over the next 5 years we will save that much and more. In fact, on the packaging they say you will save $36 per bulb. That will be a savings of $324 over 5 years. No, it's not immediate savings but I will look at the purchase like an investment 😉 That's three things that should help us save money on our electric costs. But, there are a few other things we can do. They are more "last resort" type of things, and after seeing our bill - we are going to do them. 1.) No fans running at night. I am hooked on having a fan on when I sleep and it has rubbed off on my son as well. It's time to break that habit. I'm not excited about it, but I don't like our $91 bill! My husband is thrilled with this news because he likes silence at night. I'm going cold turkey, but I will wean my son off of the fan and will try a radio in it's place. 2.) Purchase more power strips. Our VCR/sound system is plugged in at a hard to reach area (behind the couch). With purchasing a power strip, we can bring the plugs out where they can be easily turned off at night. There are a few other hard to reach plugs as well. 3.) Get rid of unnecessary things drawing power. We have an old freezer in our basement that we don't really use. We rarely buy enough frozen foods to fill up the freezer in our fridge. So, I will unplug the old freezer. I also have two alarm clocks for our room; it's time to go to one. I will have to get myself up when the one goes off (this should be easier now because my husband and I are both getting more sleep since he isn't working nights). Part of me is excited to see how low we can get our electric bill. I view it as a little side challenge since our debt reduction progress is slowing down a bit 🙂
If you watch the local electric company/state (at least in my neck of the woods) runs these promos a couple months each year where you can purchase compact fluorescents for 99 cents due to some instant rebate.
I have them everywhere in my house and even my outside lights and like you said I like the light better and because I installed them all at once I could see right away in the next bill that it saved us about $10 a month in electricity.
Since it’s primarily the heat and cold producing appliances that are the electricity hogs, one thing that helped us was to put an inexpensive thermometer in our refrigerator and freezer. We discovered that we were actually keeping our freezer lower than the 0 degrees recommended, and the freezer compartment of our refrigerator was well under the 10 degree recommendation as well. By turning these up a bit we (painlessly) saved some money. We try to bake more than one thing at a time in our electric oven and hang as much laundry as we possibly can, as well.
Since it’s wintertime, and maybe cold where you live (I can’t remember your location), the easiest way to same some electricity $$ would be to drop your thermostat by a few degrees, and start wearing more/heavier clothes around the house. Also, check/replace your furnace filter to make sure it is clean and that the furnace doesn’t have to work harder than it needs to. Also, make absolutely sure that your windows are closed completely and latched; I almost fell over when I discovered that several of our windows weren’t completely locked several weeks into winter.
Good luck! We’re going to see a tremendous rate increase on our next Ameren bill here in Illinois.
I’ve always been envious of those that have low light bills and low water bills because no matter where I have lived, my bills run high. The spiral fluorescent bulbs HAVE helped a great deal. Turning off the ceiling fans also helped a bit. A new fridge was the biggest help for us because our old, old fridge just ran all the time – not efficient at all.
Incredibly helpful debt resource this is for all of us on the same journey!
Tammy in Maine
Lowe’s always has the 13 watt bulbs (6 pack) for under $10. I use these for every bulb in the house, and I use the 40 watt appliance bulbs for the ceiling fans.
I also bought electric foam insulator covers (they go in between the cover and wall to stop air flow). $2 for 6, they really seem to stop the air flow.
Taking fungal living to the next level..
I guess that elec bill really made u hit the roof..
U can also, check your elec breaker, put all not so important appliances on the same breaker.
and at nite, just flip that breaker, no need to be running around the house unplugging…
As the mother of a 4 year old, I would suggest going cold turkey for your son’s fan as well. Make it a sort of game or challenge so that you don’t have to replace one thing with another. We did this when my son was attached to a blanket that we didn’t want to carry around anymore when we would sleep somewhere other that at home. It had accidently been dipped in the toilet! Somehow it managed to spend about 2 weeks “in the laundry,” as I tell him (and actually this is true), and then he just never needed it again. Just a suggestion, but of course you know your son the best.
Do you have an alarm clock radio with a sleep function? If so, you an use that for your son. That way you can set it for 30, 40, 60 minutes… Long enough for him to fall asleep, but it won’t be on all night.
And shutting off the freezer should help, especially if it’s empty. Freezers and fridges are more efficient when they’re full.
Check the energy ratings on your appliances and consider donating old ones and replacing them. Considering how much energy costs, you could save in electricity the cost of the new appliance within a year (this is esp. true for fridges older than say 10 or 15 years).
That’s one of the reasons I love Equal Pay. After we were in our apartment for a year we called and they took the amount we paid over the prior year and averaged it out over the next year. That way we pay the same amount every month. If we use less the next year, the monthly amount goes down. But we always know what it’s going to be. We don’t have A/C only heat so the summer months help pull the average down. Plus it helps when we have cold spells because we can justify the extra heat use since we won’t be paying for it immediately. That’s not to say we’re frivolous with electricity just that we aren’t afraid to use it when necessary.
You might look into a Kill-A-Watt meter. It plugs in between an appliance and an outlet and tells you how much power the appliance uses over some amount of time. It’s a little pricey ($40), but it’s kind of fun to see which things are power hungry (check your fridge). You might even discover you can keep your fans. Here is a good review I found:
Thank you everyone for the tips and hints. I’ve been doing pretty good with making sure lights are off when not using them and I’ve been unplugging things (much to my husband’s dismay since I unplug things before he’s done using them :)).
Our stove and fridge are both less than 2 years old. The ones in our house when we bought it were quite old. Of course, all of that went on the credit cards. The only old appliance we have is the freezer and that is getting unplugged (waiting for garbage day to get closer to toss some mega old stuff out).
As for weaning us off of the fans – it isn’t going well. I have a story about the fans when I get a chance to write it.
Maybe you could sell that old freezer in the paper for a little extra cash!!! Might as well if you’re not gonna use it any more! Bonus!
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