Sunday, November 29, 2009

If it could always be like this...

Since we no longer use a dishwasher and seldom use the dryer, our electricity use has dropped significantly. The power company continues to "estimate" our usage at the old level so every other month we get a high bill, followed the next month by a bill from the actual meter reading.

This month was the best yet:

Not only do we owe nothing, we have a credit! Now that is cool. I will be calling them to suggest they lower their expectations of our usage.
I looked for a past bill to see the trend in our use. You'd think this would be available online, but if it is I could not find it. Here is July's usage chart:

We took out the dishwasher last November, and started hanging most of the laundry on the clothesline in April. Almost all light bulbs in the house are the new energy-efficient ones. We also started using a smaller coffeepot; we waste less coffee, have more fresh coffee and it doesn't run as long. The impact of these changes in our lifestyle is apparent in the estimates and actual use.
The other not-so-measurable impact of these changes is that we get outside a little more, get a little more exercise (bend and stretch!) and our sheets and towels smell heavenly. In the kitchen, we enjoy the companionship of washing and drying dishes with someone when company comes--which leads to some good conversations. Even when doing the dishes alone, there is something relaxing and reflective about standing at a sink full of suds and hot water and looking out the window into the woods. And now I don't worry about Larry putting my wooden spoons, cast iron and delicate glassware into the dishwasher to be ruined forever.

This has me wondering what other changes we could make that might lower our bill even more. We still have an electric range and electric hot water heater; both of those will leave when the gas line gets put in. What other changes can we make to drive this bill down further? That's my new challenge. Any suggestions? I'm not into buying more things to make a change--that seems counterproductive. But perhaps there are more things we can do?


Janet, said...

I don't think you could do much better than that. That's great! I'm not one to give advice, though. Our current bill is for 146.00. Maybe you could give me some advice. I don't have a dish washer either, but haven't been using my clothes line much lately and our heat pump is what makes our bill high, and we can't get rid of it.

Homesteadwriter said...

Congratulations on the electric bill.

I am a new reader and I love your blog.

In the last place I lived we had the freezer on a timer, it only ran at night when the rates were lowest. This works best with a full freezer.

We also ran the hot water heater only at night, again taking advantage of the lower rates. The hot water tank was 80 gallons, when it was gone it was gone until the next day.
There were 3-5 of us living there and using the hot water for showers and dishes and we never ran out.

I hang my clothes to dry year round. It just takes a little planning ahead.

I arranged the furniture in the living room so that one or two lights served a small sitting area. That way we didnt need a light on for every chair in the room. I covered windows and drafty dooorways with heavy wool blankets at night .

We heated with wood as much as possible.

Alexander Lee said...

Congratulations, Granny Sue, from all of us at Project Laundry List.

Granny Sue said...

Janet, I'm sure if we had a heat pump this would be a different story! Our wood heat saves a lot of money, although it causes more mess. Upside is it helps keep Larry in shape :-) cutting firewood is hard work. I used to help a lot, but not now that he's home full time. He gets it done while I'm at work.

I like the idea of a freezer on a time, HW. I've wondered about shutting it off at night, but perhaps the better idea is to do it during the day. I didn't realize rates are cheaper at night. I've wondered the same thing about the fridge. When the power is off, we just don't opne the fridge door and everything holds very well for a couple days.

Another thought is to get an old-time icebox and keep it on the porch to be used in winter. Again, when the power was off for a long time in the winter (over a week) we put our stuff in coolers on the porch and didn't lose anything. Thank you for the suggestions. And thanks for visiting! Come back often--your ideas are always welcome.

warren said...

I don't have any suggestions but Bravo! You've done very well!

Tipper said...

Wow I'm impressed-and so it my husband : )

Mary said...

Very impressive! You are a role model of sustainable building.
I've seen some homes with geo-thermal heating, but that's expensive to install, as are solar and wind power, I guess.

Granny Sue said...

I would have love to try wind power when we first moved to our land, Mary, but back then (the 70's) wind power was a little pricey and according to the NWS we didn't have enough wind to produce the power needed. I'm not sure that's true now, and the price may have dropped on the units in the meantime.

I don't think our house is a poster child for a sustainable building--more of a "what not to do" building! We were so young when we built it, literally using a book to learn how to build the house I'd designed on graph paper. With wood heat, it's not an issue--we adjust the thermostat by opening the doors :-) But if we had gas or electric heat, we'd be doing some changes to the ol' place.

With wood floors, windows for light and ventilation, and no TV, dishwasher and little dryer use, we have been able to do without many of the typical appliances.

Granny Sue said...

Thanks, Tipper and Warren! That's high praise coming from you two.

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

Don't you love to see those cr's one the bill. Everyonce in awhile I'll overpay the cable bill or the cell and see a cr.

Good job on cutting down.

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