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Runaway Electric Bill – Looking For Electricity Savings Tips

by Debt Destroyer on February 10, 2009

I thought I was prepared for winter.

I took some steps to winterize my house, we’ve added insulated curtains, and have been wearing our smart wool socks we got for Christmas.  But now I hear that according to Punxsutawney Phil, we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter.

turn-off-light-switch-electricityThank goodness!

I can’t wait for Spring to get here.  I’ve already mentioned how my back is tired from all the shoveling, now my wallet is ailing from the high electric bills.

I don’t know what the first thing you would do if you got a $485 electric bill, but the first thing I did was turn down the furnace.  It was set at 68 degrees, so I lowered it to 67 (Kept it at 63 overnights). The next thing I did was turn off all the lights.

My precious daughter is on kick about turning on lights.  I think she likes this so much because she is finally tall enough to flip the switch herself. But her new found hobby leaves us with a bunch of lights on.  It’s cute, but not that cute.

So for the past month I’ve been pretty adamant about “when not in use turn off the juice.”  Lights have been off, heat slightly lower.  I was actually looking forward to getting our next bill to see how much all our hard work has paid off.

$468…Ugh.

While January was just as cold as December, I still hoped there would be a bigger drop off in our bill.  I guess I could lower the thermoset some more, but it’s already pretty chilly and it didn’t really do all that much last month(but I probably will go down to 66).

In addition to being able to see our breath in our house and reading by candle light, I think it may be time to make an action plan for reducing electric costs.  Luckily I didn’t have to go very far to find some great resources.

In fact I didn’t have to leave The Happy Rock:

  • Spartan Saving – I found this site listed under “Top Commentators.”  This site has lots of great tips for saving money around the house.
  • Vampire Power – Frugal Dad (listed under “Personal Finance”) wrote about how our household electric devises are sucking energy even when they are turned off.
  • Switch our light bulbs – The Simple Dollar (also listed under “Personal Finance”) broke down the cost benefits of using different types of bulbs  (A side note, a local lighting store talked me out of buying 5 CFLs last year telling me that I’d be crazy to spend $45 on CFLs when I could get old fashion lights for $2).

I think these are all great ideas/tips that I will adding to the mix to help lower my monthly electric bills.  I’ll probably also sign up for the “budget plan” so I can spread the pain of the winter bills to the other months.

That way there won’t be any huge surprises next winter.

Now it’s time for me to turn to you.  Did I miss anything?  What are some of your favorite energy saving tricks?  As always, thanks for sharing.

Until next time,

-DD

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

The Happy Rock February 11, 2009 at 8:23 am

If you haven’t looked into it yet, I would look at wrapping you hot water heater and/or your hot water pipes. It helped reduce out bills significantly.

Also seal up the cracks in the house. Feel around doors for drafts and replace weather stripping if needed. Fireplaces can be drafty too. Also make sure the crawl space is closed up from wind too.

Replace the heater air filter if you have one, and maybe consider getting it serviced if you haven’t in a long time.

We also get good results by adjusting the heating temp on our hot water.

Most of all keep trying, because at 67 degrees you are keeping the thermostat at the bottom end of the spectrum with little kids around.

We pay $150-170 a month with a 900sqft condo for both gas and electric, just as a reference point. It isn’t as cold here though.

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The Weakonomist February 11, 2009 at 8:32 am

I’ve heard wrapping the water heater works as well. If you’re at home during the day let in the sun by opening curtains. We have very large windows and the sun comes in to warm our primary luvin space considerably. But that may require the right angles and insulation.

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lulugal11 February 11, 2009 at 11:59 am

I have a friend who has the same problem as you do. He works from 8:30 to 5:30 and turns everything off when he leaves.

He slept with sweaters and socks to avoid having the heat go above 65 (yes 65 degrees)…he does not use the oven to cook….and his bill was still sky high. I wonder if you guys use the same electric company. The last two bills were ridiculous.

He lives alone so there is no one to mess with stuff during the day…yet the bill was significantly higher than when he had his mother spend last winter with him and she was cooking all day and running the heater.

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Spartan Saving February 11, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Hey mate, just wanted to say thanks for mentioning me in your post :).
Home heating is such an expense now a days, although the prices should be dropping but arn’t. I ahve to admit my current home temperature is at 20 degrees down from 25 (77 to 68) although the temperature here has been in the -40’s for the past couple weeks but this week were back to 32 F.

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Jacquelin February 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I know this is a drastic step, but my family had to do it to keep our heating bills down…and it is working.We live in an old 4 bedroom farm house. We heated with natural gas. Last year for the months of December through March, our gas bill was avg. 650/month. And that was keeping it at 63 degrees-with little kids in the house. So the hubby and I finally got smart-we used our stimulus check to purchase a wood burning furnace. My husband put all the duct work together himself (with me as his assistant) and so far it has been a blessing. Our tank was filled in November and is still 3/4’s full. Yah, we have to keep wood around, but think about it-we pretty much got the furnace for “free” and now we don’t have monthly gas bills. One of our best financial moves yet.

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Grog February 12, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Couldn’t agree more…I sick of winter.
My back hurts as well, but that’s because my 2 1/2 year old refused to walk. (He makes me hold him)
I really enjoyed this blog and will be back in the future.

Thanks

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Kristy @ Master Your Card February 12, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Well, you may need to look at doing some weather stripping around the doors and windows. Also, check your plug outlets and see if there is a draft coming through them. If there is, you’re letting heat out and we know how much that costs. You can buy plug covers at your local hardware store. Of course, check your filters and make sure all is well there. In addition to insulating your water heater, you can turn it down to 120 degrees and that will save you some money, too.

Good luck! I think the first thing I’d do with a bill that high is cry!

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Debt Destroyer February 13, 2009 at 12:20 am

Thanks for all the comments!

@ The Happy Rock – I wrapped my hot water heater at my old house, but I haven’t done it here yet. I’ll probably get to that this weekend.

@ The Weakonomist – I’d love to use the sun’s power, but our windows are on the wrong side of the house. :(

@ lulugal11 – I hope it doesn’t come to sleeping in sweaters :)

@ Spartan Saving – Thank you for having a site with so many useful tips. The weather here too has warmed up as well (20s-30s). I think that will help a lot.

@ Jacquelin – Actually I don’t think that is so drastic. I’ve heard of several stories of people around here adding wood burners.

@ Grog – Thanks for the nice words. I hope your back starts to feel better.

@ Kristy – Good idea. When I’m wrapping the water heater, I’ll check the temp.

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The Passive Dad February 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm

We have an extra fridge in the garage for meat and beverages, and I’m debating whether to get rid of it. We could also wrap our hot water heater too. I did go around the house and check for air leaks and filled them with caulking. New insulation is on our list of to do’s for 2010.

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David @ PYF February 16, 2009 at 1:45 pm

You should try vaccuming the dust off the coils on the back of your fridge. I don’t have numbers as to how much it can save, but I remember that the number was impressive, especially considering how little time it takes and also that it has no impact on your comfort.

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Krunk February 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

You should definitely look into changing your incandescent light bulbs to CFLs. I switched all my light bulbs to CFLs a few years back and they’ve been working great. Not only do you save on your electricity bill, but these bulbs also last quite longer. I don’t remember how much I was saving a month, but it wasn’t small.

If you’re looking for bulbs, most energy companies have huge rebates/reimbursements if you buy CFLs. If you have a Costco membership, those rebates are instant making these CFLs rather inexpensive.

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Krunk February 28, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Oh yeah, as someone else has also suggested. I’d definitely check the air filter on your heater. I believe it’s recommended to change at least once a year, and right before winter would be the best time.

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