Thursday, November 15, 2012

Energy savings

I’ve been looking back at some of the changes I’ve made over the last year to reduce my expenses and free up more cash to pay towards debt.  Besides the food bill which I looked at last post, the energy bills are also a big chunk of the monthly budget.  To cut energy costs I made the following top five changes:

#1: Cold water washing:  This was an experiment at first to see if cold water washing would get our stuff as clean as using hot/ warm temps in the washer.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn’t tell any difference in the cleanness of the laundry and have noticed that our darks are staying darker which can also be due to my next change…

#2: Line drying: Our washer and dryer are out of the way in a corner of the basement so we hung a couple clothes lines from the ceiling, put a stackable flat racks for sweaters, and a folding rack for the smaller stuff and started letting our clothes air dry.  Sheets and towels still get tossed in the dryer.  It’s more work but it saves electricity and is also easier on our clothes. 

#3: Thermostat battle: The one thing we did that is still a constant battle for me is turning the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter.  The summer’s not too bad for me but S hates it when the thermostat is set at 78.  During the winter we have the opposite problem where I’m freezing at 60 and he’s loving it.  But in the name of savings we have toughed it out as much as possible.

#4: Smaller energy items: We switched all our bulbs to compact fluorescents and have been making sure we turn off the lights when we absolutely don’t need them on (which is a lot harder to do than I would have thought).  We are also turning off or completely unplugging more of our smaller electronic items when not in use.

#5: Cook wiser: This is probably a teeny amount of savings but we’re trying to be more aware of the energy we use in the kitchen for cooking.  Like when I heat up the oven I try to use it for multiple meals instead of just the next one we are preparing to eat.  This has actually been really helpful in having lunches ready for work and already prepared dinners for the nights we are too busy to cook.  Also, we’ve been making sure we’re using the lowest temp on the stove or oven required and using the right size burner on the stove. 

Because we’ve only lived in this place for a year and I implemented all the changes when we moved in plus we moved from Florida to Massachusetts where energy costs and consumption are different, it’s hard for me to estimate how much these things have actually saved.  However, the elderly gentleman who lived in our place before us shared some of his previous year’s bills with us before we moved in to help us budget so I’ve been comparing the costs.  Our January bill for electric was $114 and gas was $69.  His bill from last January was $162 for electric and $147 for gas.  His bills for April were $170 and $33 while ours were $77 and $11.

I know it’s not really accurate but using his cost as a baseline means we saved around $120 per month by making relatively minor changes to our lives or at the very least we are $120 smarter about how we use energy!

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