Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I've got the Power...bill

Our electricity/gas bill is ridiculous. That's the only way to explain the almost 300 dollar bill that we just paid. Ridiculous. No only is it ridiculous, but wasteful seeing how much of our electricity still comes from coal and not renewable resources.

My husband suffers from hypothyroidism, which is probably the reason that he's CONSTANTLY hot. He'd be happy in a t-shirt in 40 degree weather. The fact that he now has to wear a coat in winter (when I'm completely bundled up and chattering) or that he is capable of getting cold, is a new concept for him. I sympathize with his plight of hotness, but he keeps our AC at 72 (okay, I've managed to push it up to 74) all the time and I'm COLD. It is NOT right to be cold and wearing a sweatshirt when it's 100 degrees outside. I think it is training his body to never get used to adapting to heat, and making me more susceptible to getting ill.

We do try to save energy though. For example, when we moved into this house, the first thing that we did was change all of the bulbs to florescent bulbs. My hubs likes them, and I like the idea of saving money. The ones that they have now that are less 'white' and don't make my head hurt. Also, they don't take forever to warm up either. I used to have nightmares about walking into rooms, flicking the switch and having it be really dim. Something bad was in the room but I wasn't going to be able to see it until the freaking fluorescent light warmed the heck up! Yeah, wasn't a fan.

Moving on...I get that we pay a premium for having the AC on but what is that premium?
Let's check out my bill:

Customer charge: 7.50
EmPower MD charge 4.00
Distribution Charge 54.19
RSP(wtf?)/Misc. charges that I'm pretty sure they make up 9.42
wait...I'm paying 75.11 before we even get to the electricity that we used? Are you freaking kidding me? My parent's electric bill isn't even that much in total! Okay..then we move onto the actual electricity that we used, which is about $194. This includes me turning up the AC 3-4 degrees most days when my husband leaves for work. It also however reflects that the temperature was above 85 degrees for 195 hours this last month.

So what the heck am I going to do to lower this bill? We already closed off vents in rooms we aren't using, but it doens't seem to have made a difference (nor do those rooms even get hot). I turn up the AC when the hot one isn't home, and I think actually I'll buy him a fan and keep the AC up more. I can help him with cooling devices like our neck coolers, cool clothings and air flow. This is better than the AC being up super high anyways! We change our filter constantly, but we do need to check out cleaning the coils. We aren't going to sign up for electricity cycling--it's my husband's worst nightmare, so please don't suggest it. Once we take AC out of the equation, what is left?

I decided to check out the other electricty busting the dryer. This puppy uses 4400 watts vs the fridge which uses 57-160 watts. The dishwasher uses 1200 watts, but if you don't heat the water, only 200. So I decided to cut down on using both. When I was growing up, we always had a cloths line. We would take our stuff out, hope it didn't fall on the ground or get bugs on it, and hated using crunchy towels. Now, apparently in an attempt to see it's effect on my electricity bill, I am going back to crunchy towel town.

In the last year I stopped drying half of my clothing in the dryer anyways because I was sick of my shirts shrinking up (not getting too small, just too short!), and when I recently bought a bunch of new clothing realized that I'd been blast heat drying most of my stuff, most of my life. The 'normal' setting is medium...NOT high. Yeah, this explains the holes in clothing and why they never lasted long, right? My dad gave some suggestions on where and how to hang a line, and I put in a request that one be put up in the basement. We live next to misquito breeding ground, and it's so insanely muggy here lately that nothing would dry outside (not to mention the HOA probably could care less about the environmental impact of a cloths line and just see it as impacting the quality of their cookie-cutter houses. We need to buy better line, but the one thinner line he managed to hang between two bookcases across our basement worked well enough to dry about half of a load of towels. I did throw the rest of them into the dryer on 'air only' because they were SOAKED (I'm not sure our washer spins them enough) AND I had no where to hang them. My bedroom has been the defacto place to hang stuff lately, so I'll hang up the shirts on hangers, and put them spaced around the room (on doors etc) to dry, then lay flat other stuff on the drying rack, blanket rack, ironing board and elliptical (see I'm using the workout equiptment). I'm also running the dishwasher less, re-using/better about washing dishes between uses and reusing instead of grabbing new dishes and making my husband put a kill-o-watt thing on his computers to show how much power they are sucking while he's at work not using them. I'm also unplugging more stuff, and being better about turning off lights.

What is your power bill (will you share?) and what have you done that has been effective in lowering it? What do you keep your AC setting on? Am I working for the greater good of helping preserve resources, or simply making life more difficult?


  1. Put liquid fabric softener in the washer should help limit crunchy towels (but i know what you mean). My bills in VA were best when the temp was left at the same temp all the time - like changing it alot uses more power. Fans could certainly help in specific locations. In the room i used to live in at my old house (since I just moved in with david) I leave the window open and put a large box fan in it and for the past two weeks its been amazingly comfortable in there. All computer equipment can be unplugged/turn off power cord when not being used. only use the dish washer when one meal creates enough dishes like a dinner party.


    1. Excellent ideas--especially the fabric softener. I need to work with the hubs on getting all our computers on power strips

    2. white vinegar in place of fabric softener is safer, cheaper, and chemical free.

  2. We have also recently dealt with super-high (to me, anyway) utility bills. Part of it was due to a toilet which would not stop running.

    But anyway, we do keep the AC on, for sure. I think it was 100 yesterday, plus humidity. I keep it at around 72-75. I hate being cold. It hurts my joints, not to mention the fact that it uses less power. When we leave for the day, I'll usually turn it to 74 or maybe 75.

    So to lower our bill, we have been turning off lights we don't need, turning off fans in rooms we are not in (my husband HAS to have a fan in bedroom to sleep), watch water use, and if I remember, unplug things we aren't using (blender, coffee maker, hair dryer (which I barely use, anyway, lol), phone/laptop chargers, etc.. I am sure there are more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head...

    1. Yes!!! My joints hurt when it gets super cold too! I think acupuncture helped me sooo much b/c my feet used to be cold and hurt constantly and it's gotten so much better.
      My hubby needs a fan on too :-/. Nothing is plugged in in the kitchen...except we can't unplug the microwave that's installed.

  3. we keep the temp at 85 when we're not there (the cats survive) and 75 when we are. we installed a ceiling fan and sleep with it on in our room. we take our socks off when we're too hot, and have even started keeping ice cubes in the house (never used to)! our bill hasn't been too bad so far, only $115, but that does include the $25 credit for letting them cycle our a/c. oh, and also we don't cook much or wash much clothing (about 5-6 loads a month, tho they're big loads)...if you're a slob who doesn't want to cook often, you save money on all the appliances that do that sort of thing! we probably run the dishwasher every 3 weeks or so. it's definitely a lot cooler if you close blinds/curtains/shades in parts of the house you're not using. also, might want to consider getting a thermostat you can program from your phone, so that if you're not going to be there for an extended period of time you can crank it up.

    1. I have to think that a FAN uses less electricity than AC, AND is better for directly cooling. I want to get A some for downstairs that we can use also on our laundry.
      We haven't been cooking lately:( which makes me sad, but does keep it a lot cooler in the kitchen! We are working on cutting down on the dishwasher as well.
      I would love a programmable thermostat, but if we don't own our house, how can we get one?
      I have to admit...I think our cats loooove how cool we keep it.

  4. I have to ask does it make a lot of difference to unplug the blender, coffee maker, ect? I have a lot of things plugged in and wonder if I should unplug them. I always turn lights off when I leave a room but the kids turn them on and forget to shut them off. I spend a good bit of time going around after them shutting of the kitchen and bathroom lights. I have the energy saving light bulbs in the 2 lamps I use. (I only have overhead lamps in the kitchen and bathroom and need lamps in the other rooms) Should I unplug the computer when I don't use it.
    I run the AC a lot during the day as I have no air flow throughout the house and it gets insufferably hot in the living room. I have a fan to push the cool air into the bedroom at night and if it's not to hot or humid I open the windows in the 2 rooms I have to get fresh air. (Middy likes that)
    My electric bill runs around $35.00 in the winter and around $80.00 when I have to use the AC. I want to replace it with an energy star/energy efficient one but this place won't let me as the AC comes with the apartment. I hate having to run it as much as I do but if I can't get the air through the windows I have to get cool some way. I have hot flashes where one minute I'm shivering and the next the sweat is pouring off. There doesn't seem to be a happy medium.

    1. Actually nothing in our kitchen is plugged in. I think most of our issue might be TV/printer etc. I can't turn off the DVR if I want anything to record, but I can put everything else on a strip and kill it when I'm not here. The husband needs to do the same.
      Yeah, it's really hard to get airflow in apartments. Can you put a fan in one window and then another in a different one to create a cross breeze?

  5. We use florescent bulbs too. But, we're on the budget plan. You still have to pay the leftover at the end of the year, but we've been doing so well, Shawn hasn't had to pay it the last two months, cuz we've got such a high credit on it. We don't use the air that much and even in winter, we don't keep the heat on.

    1. interesting--I don't think that our company offers that :(. We don't use the heat much, since we can mooch off of our shared walls lol. I'm NOT interested in not using AC with our humidity though

  6. I came across on an idea of taking an extra shower curtain & putting it over the middle of the tub. You can hang clothes on it that way & you can close the shower door or curtain to hide it if you need to.

    Our bill doubled last month. I think most of it was from the A/C. There were days it could not keep up it was so hot.

    Unplugging chargers & gaming equipment will help. I also try not to have the tv on just for noise.

    1. ohhh I like!! I forgot that I could hang stuff in our guest bathroom. Thanks for the idea!
      Yeah...105-115 is just too hot. I wouldn't care as much but the humidity here is KILLER

  7. Well my utilities all come bundled together: sewage, water, gas, electricity. Each month in the summer I pay about $200 (June-August) and then every other month it's at least $300 and the worst was almost $600 when one January it was -50 outside and you have to leave your water run otherwise your pipes in the ground freeze and you spend $5000+ to have someone dig them up and replace. It's a NIGHTMARE, so I'll pay the almost $600. If you're able to get on a budget plan, do it. We can't because we'd have to update our venting and obviously can't afford that right now. But in the winter our house gets to 50 degrees at night (not joking) and at most it's 72. In the summer we have to suffer with a fan unless it's 100+ degrees and then I put the AC on. Matt is constantly warm as well and I tell him this is what being frugal is about. Sometimes you just need to deal with it. And I deal with it when my toes are blue in the winter. :)

    But I also keep most everything unplugged (did you know you use electricity when it's plugged in even if you aren't using it?), I'm down to doing dishes once a day and I do HUGE loads of laundry and dry everything I can on the line too.

    1. As always, your answers make me giggle. I can't believe it was -50 out! The worst I can remember was -40 when I was a kid, but we didn't have to leave water running. We DID have to pour hot water down the tub drain every hour though to keep the pipes from freezing. I really don't mind too much if it's cold in the house, as long as I can feel my fingers, and my nose isn't too chilly. I like bundling up...but no blue toes lol. This last winter I was having serious issues being really cold all of the time.
      I'm not sure I could ask my husband, that works to pay the bills, to suffer in the heat. I can however do everything possible that uses LESS power to keep him cool. For example, the other day he was complaining (AND IT WAS 72 UPSTAIRS) so I took a cold washcloth and rubbed his back/head/shoulders down and it really helped him cool off. He doesn't NEED the AC blowing on him, you can do other things!
      Yeah...I know that stuff uses power when it's just plugged in. It's such a pain in the ass!
      I do moderately big loads of laundry. We have a top loader right now because we sold our front loader when we moved here. We can only control so much since we rent.

  8. 1. turn off lights in rooms you're not in
    2. Get a special "power saver" power strip for the TV. i.e.

    it uses 1 control plug, and when that device is shut off, the rest of the things are sliced off from power.

    3. turn down the water heater to the 'recommended' temp
    4. if u have an old appliance, consider upgrading to something more efficient.
    5. get a power checker to see how much drain your appliances are taking:

    6. Turn your AC up to 82 when you're planning on being out of the house for hours. Auto-scheduling really works well for this.

    1. 1. yep...have done that my entire life and all our lights are florescent.
      2. ohhh I like the power switch designed for DVR's and laptops. That's awesome!
      3. YES! It may be below that. It was burning the CRAP out of me so Aaron turned it down. Now if we could get warm water upstairs a lot faster so I didn't feel like I was wasting water whenever I wanted to wash my face!
      4. Hard to do that if we don't own. I don't think our stuff isn't energy efficient...I think we may have an ineffectively insulated house though.
      5. Yep! We have a Kill-o-watt that the hubs is hooking up to his servers right now.
      6. I really want a programmable thermostat b/c when A isn't home, I already bump the AC up 4 degrees.


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