Last Sunday I wrote about our recycling habits, and how they benefit the the environment and our budget; today I'm doing the same as it applies to our electric bill.
We're not yet on Hydro's equal payment plan, where the bill is the same amount every month, based on the previous year's usage, and the difference between usage and payments is calculated and billed or credited once a year; we get a bill once every two months for our actual usage. After averaging out last year's bills, I thought I had a pretty good idea of how much to put away every month ...
What I failed to take into account was my family's chronic absent-mindedness.
My Big Guy will yell at the rest of us for leaving lights on when we leave a room ... and then leave the television on when he goes out to work in the yard or in his workshop. In warm weather, he'll also leave fans running in every room when he goes out. I've developed the habit of checking on his whereabouts every so often and turning off whatever he left on.
Our younger daughter has apparently forgotten how to turn anything off. Most mornings I wake up long before anyone else, and if I tiptoe into her room, she's sound asleep with the computer still on and the monitor lighting up her desk, her television lighting up the rest of the room with the sound muted, and often the stereo playing softly as well.
Until the end of May, our older daughter was renting our basement suite. She got a puppy early in the spring, and I later found out she was leaving her television on 24-7 "so the puppy won't get lonely". Well, at that point it was only going to be another month, so I bit my tongue for the sake of family harmony, and looked for ther ways to cut usage. I cut my own television viewing to about an hour a day, didn't turn a single light on in the house until it was too dark to avoid tripping over the cats, and kept a thermos of milk on the counter for my coffee instead of opening the fridge so often. What I didn't know was that she was also keeping the electric baseboard heater in her bedroom set at 80 degrees "so the puppy won't get cold". Hello, he has a fur coat on! And she forgot to turn it off when she moved out ... and since the weather had been so nice, it didn't occur to us to check it when we looked over the room to make sure she'd cleaned it. So we didn't find out it was on until our new tenant moved in at the beginning of July and asked us if there was a reason for it to still be on.
Our July 5th electric bill was a little over $300.00 - more than twice what we'd budgeted for - and arrived three days after we paid the year's property taxes. OUCH.
So I went looking for more ways to save on electricity.
First I went to Hydro's website to see if there was anything we could do that I hadn't already thought of. Lo and behold, they have something called the "Team Power Smart" challenge ... If I reduce our usage by ten percent between now and this time next year, not only will our bills be lower, but they'll credit an extra $75.00 to our account! How's that for incentive?
Then while searching the basement for empty boxes for our younger daughter's upcoming move, I found two dozen CFL bulbs! It turns out that the Big Guy's brother had given them to us when his workplace was going to toss them because they didn't fit the fixtures there, and my absent-minded love had put them down somewhere and forgotten about them. So instead of one at a time as they burned out and we could afford to do it, I've replaced every incandescent bulb in the house with a CFL. Sweet! My frugal soul rejoices at getting 100 watts of light for the price of 7 watts. And CFL bulbs don't put out heat the way incandescents do ... I wonder how much less heat there'll be in the house on summer nights? Probably not enough to stop Big Guy from turning the fans on, but I can dream ...
Final result - less money spent on electricity, less resources wasted, a rebate next year on the electric bill, and a little less wear and tear on Hydro's infrastructure. Win-win.