In the last post, we talked about if we lost power for an extended time. But what if there was still power but it was cost-prohibitive due to rising power cost, job loss, or underemployment. Here are some ideas to help cut back on your power usage.
A few years ago Andy lost his job and was out of work for close to a year, then when he did find work it was only part-time and my daycare had slowed way down so I had to cut corners where ever I could and for people who know me, I can be pretty extreme when it comes to this kind of stuff.
Andy is still at the part-time job and my daycare has once again slowed down so I am starting to implement a lot of these things again.
Ways to save on your power cost.
Do not use the lights during the day- open all the curtains and use the daylight. You might think about putting skylights in rooms that don’t have windows or the light is bad We don’t have a window in the laundry room so I am wanting to put in a skylight. It is such a habit to just turn on the lights when you enter a room, and during the day when you don’t need the lights on.
Use compact fluorescent bulbs, energy-saving bulbs
Fluorescent lights have greatly improved in quality over the past ten years, and prices have come down recently: you can get 13-watt bulbs for less than four dollars. Fluorescent bulbs are 6-8 times more energy-efficient. They last 10-20 times longer than normal bulbs, so you won’t have to change them for years. You can buy fluorescent bulbs that give off a very warm yellowish light, not that harsh white light. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a fluorescent bulb will prevent the emission of 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide from electrical power plants. Let’s say you have a light on for 4 hours a day, 250 days in a year. On average, running a 23-watt fluorescent bulb for that long will cost you $1.88, while a 100-watt incandescent bulb will cost you $8.30 in electricity. A 23-watt fluorescent bulb costs about $13, but it saves you $6.42 in energy costs per year, so it will pay for itself in 2 years. Note: Sometimes you’ll see a light bulb advertised as a “long-life bulb”, or something like that. That’s not a fluorescent bulb, and it won’t really save you much money. Do you work at a desk at home?
Use a 20-watt desk lamp instead of turning on a 60-watt light bulb that lights the entire room. You’ll save about $5 on electricity for every 500 hours you spend at the desk.
Keeping your bulbs clean and dusted can improve efficiency by up to 20 %.
Light up only the area you need lit up. Use lamps instead of the overhead light that has multiple bulbs.
Use solar lights, Put the outside solar lights in a vase and set out during the day then bring in at night and put in rooms that don’t need much light at night such as the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, etc.
Add dimmers to your overhead lights.
A Wood Stove – As I mentioned in the last post a wood stove is great, it is the only heat we use. I Turned off the furnace when we got the woodstove ( I even covered several of the floor vents when we put down new floors). It has saved us so much money on heating costs. I keep a large pot with a lid full of water to heat water for cooking, washing dishes and washing hands and faces.
Keep your thermostat turned down. If you don’t have a wood stove to heat with then keep your thermostat set at the lowest possible setting that is still comfortable, remember you can always put on a sweater or cover up with a blanket while watching t.v.
Make sure your heater filters are clean.
If you don’t have doubled or triple-paned windows cover your windows with clear plastic. Before we replaced our windows we had to use plastic on the windows to keep the wind from blowing through the house. Made a huge difference.
Use lined curtains or hang heavy blankets over the windows at night.
Keep doors closed to rooms you are not using.
Cover your doors with a heavy blanket at night. I keep a blanket on our doors during the winter.
Keep your curtains open during the day for the light and heat from the sun and close at night to hold in the heat.
Seal up the house. The cooled air can leak through cracks along window and door frames. Invest in some caulk and weather-stripping to plug up these drafts. A home that s properly insulated and sealed improves energy efficiency by up to 20% year-round, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. This will also help with your cooling costs.
Depending on the size of your home, you can save 3% on your cooling costs for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer. Raising the thermostat from 73 to 78 degrees can mean savings of up to 15% in cooling costs.
Keep your curtains closed when the sun is shining in the windows.
Open windows at night and early morning and late evening to get the cool air.
Keep doors closed to rooms you are not using.
Use fans whenever possible, ceiling fans are great
Fridge and freezer
Refrigerator temperature should be 36-38 degrees and freezer temperature should be 0-5 degrees.
Keep the coils in the back cleaned and dust-free.
Keep your freezer full, if you have unused space put soda bottles filled 3/4 full with water in the space then when froze use a couple in the fridge to help keep the temperature down, have enough to rotate every couple days.
Keep your freezers defrosted.
Use the clothesline – I hang all my clothes out even in the winter sometimes I have to adjust my wash day if the weather is really bad, I hang even in the cold (There have been times that by the time I got the clothes out of the basket to the line they were already frozen ) they will dry. Back before dryers, everyone hung clothes all year round. This will also make your clothes last longer ( Where does all that lint come from in the dryer? It’s fibers from your clothes). If it is super cold or the weather is really bad you can hang them in the house to dry. I have a drying rack that I put either in front of the woodstove or in the bathtub to dry.
Only wash full loads.
Try and wash in cold to warm water when possible, Andy’s is super hard on his clothes and they get absolutely filthy and they have to be washed in hot water, I take some of the hot water off the woodstove and add to the water to try and cut down how much hot water I have to use from the water heater.
Water heaters use a huge amount of power, turn the setting down to 130 to 140.
Wrap in a fiberglass wrap to help insulate it. If it is easy to access turn it down a few degrees if you are going to be gone for more then a couple of days.
Fix leaky facets you can lose a lot of water from a leaky faucet and if it is hot water you are also using a lot of power to heat that water that is just going down the drain.
Wash Dishes by hand-The The dishwasher uses a lot of power and a lot of water. If you keep them caught up it isn’t too bad and sometimes takes less time then loading and unloading the dishwasher ( if you let them pile up then it does take a bit to get them done don’t ask how I know haha). You do need to use a tub for the rinse water so you are not wasting a lot of water ( like our grandparents did). After you are done use the rinse water to water plants or pour into a bucket to use for flushing toilets ( told you I was extreme haha ).
Dishwasher-If you do use your dishwasher make sure it is full when you run it and use the energy-saving setting, if available, to allow the dishes to air dry. You can also turn off the drying cycle manually. Not using heat in the drying cycle can save 20 percent of your dishwasher’s total electricity use.
A computer system can use $35 to $140 worth of electricity per year. You can reduce this cost by about 85% if you use a laptop computer. Or you could use the “standby” mode that’s available on newer desktops, and/or use flat-screen monitors. You can go to your PC’s power settings and tell it to automatically go into standby after not being used for a while (when it wakes up, your PC will still have the files and programs that were there when it went to sleep )
Go around your home and unplug devices you haven’t used in the past week. Even if they aren’t turned on, they probably use some juice just to stay warm.
Use a microwave oven or toaster oven when cooking or heating small items. They use less energy and they don’t require preheating. The approximate yearly cost to use ovens of various types is:
Electric Oven: $27
Toaster Oven: $14
Gas Oven: $13
Convection/Toaster Oven: $10
Microwave Oven: $5
If you have a wood stove you can also cook and heat things on it even if it isn’t a wood cookstove. I heat and cook a lot of things on mine.
Eliminate Phantom Load A surprising 75% of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they’re turned off. These “phantom” users include televisions, VCRs, stereos, computers and many kitchen appliances–basically anything that holds a time or other settings. A simple solution? Plug all of these items into power strips, and then get in the habit of turning off the strips between uses. I have even had a power strip in the girl’s rooms for the phone chargers and Radios when they were still home.
I am sure I missed some things. What are some of the things you do to help reduce energy costs?