- Personal Finance
Cut Your Electric Bill Without Really Trying
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You Don't Have to Make Big Changes to See Results
My electric bill for July 2011 was $41.20, for August it was $40.62, and for September it was $42.00. I don't have solar power, nor do I live in an apartment. I live in a 1300 sq. ft. house. My family and friends were amazed when I told them how much my electric bill was. "How'd you do it?" they asked. My response? "It really is the little things that make all the difference."
- First, I hardly ever use my clothes dryer in the summertime. (Sure, there are emergencies, but for the most part, it sits in the cellar collecting dust...poor thing.)
Clothes dryers are energy hogs, even if they are "energy efficient". It's free to use a clothesline. Or if you don't have that (which I actually don't), you can tie a rope around a tree and hook it to something else. But, I am addicted to the scent of fresh-smelling, sun-kissed clothes warmed by the sunshine. And I have blocked out any embarrassment I might have from the neighbors looking at my underthings hanging on the line.
- Second, my hot water heater is covered with an insulating sleeve.
For about $20, you can get this at the hardware store; it looks like opaque bubble wrap (though not the same thing!). It's easy to install yourself. It helps to keep water from cooling down too much in the summer and helps keep water hot in the winter. That saves a good amount of energy because the heating element doesn't have to work so hard at keeping the water at a constant temperature. While you're at it, turn the hot water down on the temperature gauge. It costs more money to heat water to a higher temperature, so don't keep it on too high a setting.
- Next, I take short showers.
I LOVE my showers, but I like having cheap electric bills even more. By taking five-minute showers, the hot water heater isn't working too hard, the water pump to the house isn't constantly pushing water through AND I'm conserving water. I'll admit, though, that I'm not above the occasional long shower as a reward for a long, hard day, but generally I try to keep my showers short.
- Plant shade trees.
Lots of people have air-conditioning. I, fortunately, don't. I don't need one. No, I don't live in the North, I actually live in the South. It can get quite hot. But I have so many shade trees around the house, they significantly reduce the ambient temperature. In the winter, those same trees have no leaves, letting full sunlight hit the house and help to keep it warmer. Sure, there are some days in the summer when it is exceptionally hot. On those days, I run the overhead fans and mist myself with a water bottle from the refrigerator. It's refreshing and cooling at the same time.
- About a year ago, I got a new roof on the house. It is light in color and is an Energy-Star approved metal roof.
It really reflects the sun's rays in the summertime that do get past the shade, thereby cooling the house even more. The roof cost about $1500, and if you have a really handy person around the house, there's no labor cost to install it. Just be sure to fix a nice meal for him or her and maybe give them a nice massage for the hard work.
- I have energy-efficient CFC bulbs installed throughout the house.
The longer days in the summer mean that you don't spend as much time lighting the house in the evenings. They use a fraction of the energy of a regular light bulb. But, I try to conserve even more than that. I try only to have a light on when I am occupying a room. When I leave, I immediately turn it off. A good rule of thumb is that there should be no more lights on than people in the house. When multiple people are in the same room, one light should be sufficient unless someone's reading or doing a similar activity.
So, doing common-sense activities and consciously trying to not use much electricity helps keep that bill down. These energy-saving measures carry over into the wintertime, too. But in another article, I will have some more ideas for helping to keep energy costs down in the wintertime, when energy needs can be at their greatest. Plus, all these easy ideas help keep that carbon footprint smaller.