Monday, December 21, 2009

Frugal Electric Tricks Helped!





Two months ago I was shocked to see my energy comsumption was up 195 watts over the same month last year!  Wondering why the significant change I began to look around the house.  I found some eye openers that I could address.

All the shop tools were plugged in.  Some of the tools have batteries and need to be recharged once in a while.  Electric tools do not need to be plugged in all the time.  I was wasting phantom wattage.  Phantom wattage is the small amount of electricity that is going from the wall outlet in a circle through the wire to the electric unit.  It is simply being lost and not doing anyting constructive.  Phantom energy loss is like having vampires in your house and not one of those cute ones like that fellow in the new Twilight movie.  These vampires suck up hundreds of dollars annually, quietly going unnoticed.

I put my foot down and told Tim we were going to war against the vampires.  All his tools were unplugged!  I found them in his room, in the garage and even a battery charger sitting outside.  Tim really had not thought about how many watts were being used simply by leaving things plugged into the wall outlet.  I am sure at first he thought I was just being over frugal and had gone over the edge.  I told him we could agree to undergo a one month test and see how much we could reduce our usage.  He agreed begrudgingly.

Next, I checked all the appliances in the kitchen.  I unpluged what was not being used like the microwave, coffee maker and toaster.  Those appliances have digital clocks to seduce you into keeping them plugged in.  What is going on?  Are the appliance makers in bed with the power company? Have I stumbled on to another conspiracy that I should let Jesse Ventura know about? 

So again I took action and began unplugging things.  I realized how unconcious I have been about using appliances.  I would just go to the microwave, put something in and push the buttons.  Now I have to stop, plug it in, then use it.  I also looked at the microwave digital clock often.  Now it is blank and I use the battery operated clock on the wall.  I actually had to turn back by hand for the daylight savings adjustment.  Can you imagine that one?  Another task that I had become unconcious to.

When I turned off the toaster I realized that bread is put in the lever will not go down unless it is plugged in!  Another thing to think about and remember.

Next, I thought about the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer.  I decided not to unplug the dishwasher yet because the plug is under the kitchen counter and not easily accessible.  The concession I made was to unplug the dishwasher as soon as the wash cycle was over.  By opening the door, the heat and moister came out and heated the kitchen and the moisture was helpful to humidify the air which is dry due to woodstove.  I only put the dishwasher on when it is full  which is about every third day.  I wash most of the pots and pans by hand.  Sometimes I do dishes as well especially if I have been working outside and my hands are really dirty with ground in dirt.  Don't choke.  I wash them first but soaking them seems to help get the garden dirt out of the cracks in my weathered gardeners hands.  It is also a fact that using the dishwasher can save on the amount of water that is used.  I haven't addressed my water usage but that day will come.

We have a front load washer and dryer that is very efficient.  In fact, all our appliances have the energy star designation.  Again it is hard to unplug the washer and dryer.  I have asked a friend who is an electrician to come over and see if he can modify the outlet so I can have a turn on and off switch.  I have to admit the washer and dryer are in a small space and often my ample hip grazes them and turns them on.  This is not good.  I now hear that vampire sucking electricity and the sound of cha ching cha ching when the washer accidently turns on.  I set the washer on cold water and always make sure I am doing a full load.  I only do wash at night after 7 p.m. when the rates are lower.  I read on the internet that if you use the dryer for 20 minutes then put on the fluff or less dry setting it will save wattage.  I did that and by golly it worked.  I am now using the dryer less often.  Where we live it rains this time of year so drying outside is not possible.  I did dry some things on a wooden rack in front of the wood stove.



Next, I looked around and found all the power strips I had collected from yard sales over the past couple of years.  I never did understand why someone would sell one of those things?  Anyhow, I put one near the television and plugged in the cable box, DVD and television.  At night when I turn off the tv I simply shut it off then get up and on my way down the hall turn off the power switch.  It does take longer to get everything you want to watch tv as the bable and television need to reformat.  So these machines were developed for convienence by having to keep them plugged in all the time and using electricity 24/7.

Two more power strips were used in the livingroom near the lights.  I put a piece of velcro under the end table and attached the power strip to the table so it could not be seen and was easier to reach.  Now at the end of the evening I turn things off and push the power strip button. 

As I have written about before, we agreed to not use the electric heat this winter and see if we could heat with free wood scavenged in our local area.  So the wood was collected, cut and split.  The woodstove has an electric fan but it does not need to be used all the time.  Once the house is warm it can be shut off and the house is toasty warm.

I do not leave the outside door entry way light on in the evening unless I am expecting company.  I chose not to put up holiday lights this year and made wreaths from blown down boughs of evergreens instead.  The bedroom lights are now on power strips.  I do not leave my bedroom CD player plugged in.  I only use the hair dryer when I am going out.  I found some velcro like curlers and I leave them in my hair till it drys.  Voila I have nice easy flip when my hair has naturally dried.

The water heater was lowered to 120 degrees.  I have not insulated the water heater yet but plan to this month.

I just got the new electric bill and this past month 441 watts were used and last year 659 were used for a savings of 218 watts.  I am thrilled!  The cost is higher than last year due to rate hikes but my bill is $41.49 (pretty good for a small three bedroom ranch style home).  The bill also tells me that the average temperature was 41 degrees and last year it was 47 degrees so it has been colder.  I really feel we have not only saved money but reduced our comsumption footprint.

Now Tim has moved onto greener pastures and I am living alone.  It will be interesting to see how many watts I use this month.  I am looking forward for once to see the next bill come in the mail.

I will continue to take action to make that meter run more slowly!  I have more ideas that I will be working on in January.  What have you done to reduce your electricity usage?

3 comments:

WomanWhoRunsWithHorses said...

Good for you lowering your electric bill so much! We've tried to be more watt-conscious lately too. We have fluorescent fixtures in the kitchen and use coiled looking energy saver bulbs in all of the incandescent sockets. The bulbs cost more but they last for years and you three times the light for the wattage they use. I am looking forward to your ideas in January.

ps If Tim thinks pastures are greener elsewhere, he must have a screw loose. Most men appreciate a frugal woman!

bctruck said...

hi frugal canner gal!im a connecticut transplant living in louisiana. i tend to get focused on something very intensley sometimes(anal retentive is a phrase ive heard alot)a couple of years ago i went thru the same thing with my electricity. first i replaced all ,every single lightbulb with the flouresecnt bulbs.then i started looking around at other power consuming things that i didnt need on all the time. the surge protectors came next. i have a big screen tv that stays plugged in all the time and just out of curiosity i cut evry thing in the house off and went outside to look at the meter,it was turning slowly. i went back in and unplugged the tv and went back outside and it stopped. that convinced me then that i needed to examine every electrical appliance in my home and find a way to stop it from cunsuming power when it wasnt in use. now im proud to say my all electric house (including heat) is costing me about $50.00 a month on a yearly average.great article and im sorry for the loss of your greener grass grazing hubby.his loss is a gain to all men.

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