Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Super energy savings

Freeze Yer Buns ChallengeSince we use oil heat (actually BioHeat, a mix of biodiesel and regular heating oil) to heat our house, this doesn't totally pertain to the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, at least for us, but I just had to share.

I got my electric bill today. I haven't exactly been paying too close attention lately, but this one really got my attention. Ever since Low Impact Week back in June, I've been instituting some energy saving changes around here. Although I must admit I haven't been line drying our clothes since Sir Crunch-A-Lot got sick. Since clothes drying is fairly energy intensive I am even more amazed at how much we cut back.

For the same period last year, we used 2024 kWh. This year? Drum roll please.... 931 kWh. Now I know that if I had been not using the dryer it would have been even lower. This works out to an average of $.78 per day.

Unfortunately, I can't really calculate out how much heating oil we're using this winter until maybe the spring since our readings are irregular (based on temperatures). So, I won't know what kind of savings we'll have for a while. But since we are lowering our daytime house temperature by about 7 degrees and our nighttime temperatures by about 8 degrees, it has to be a somewhat significant to the amount of oil we used.

What have we changed to reduce our electricity usage?

1. Well, for one, I'm more attentive to the lights in the house. We used to light the house up like crazy, but now if I know no one will be in a room, I make sure to go around and turn off all those lights. It's hard with little kids and their fixation with light switches, but it's a start.

2. Next off, our hot water heater usage has gone down since we started bathing the kids less. A lot less. We used to bathe both of them every day, but since I'm the only one at it these days, they get baths twice a week each. And, it really doesn't seem to matter much.

3. Our washing machine is being used less since I'm wearing bulky clothing items more than once (like jeans and sweaters). And since my husband is home-bound his clothing needs are minimal at best.

4. We no longer use the Heat Dry option on our dishwasher. We always run it on Air Dry now. We do one load a day and it's always full.

5. Finally, I suspect that since our oil heater runs on electricity and it's running a whole lot less, it's probably sucking down less energy.

The only thing offsetting all of this is our new chest freezer that is hosting a myriad of frozen fruits, vegetables, sauces, breads and pizza doughs that I made in the last few months. But, having these around saves us additional money and time too!

I just can't believe our electric bill is less than $25 a month! We'll see how we do next time around.


Anonymous said...

I think my (very frugal) hubby may just decide that the crunchy wagon is really worth his time once he reads this post! As of late, he's been convinced that no one in the Northwest is crazy enough (other than his wife) to put the heat below 62, just to "save a few cents." Thanks for letting the world peer in on your efforts! I hope Mr. Crunchy constantly improves in health and vitality!

Miss Sub said...

Wow! $25 for a family of four Chickens?! That's amazing! If I could figure out how to learn my roommate to turn off lights and unplug things we might make some more progress.

Jane said...

Wow that's awesome! We stopped using the heat dry on the dishwasher and we have switched out a lot of the light bulbs. I have been trying to be better about lighting up the apartment like a Christmas tree. But, just now I mentioned it to dh and he just said, "are you kidding we get a Christmas card from the electric company!" I guess he doesn't notice my efforts!

Deb G said...

That's great! Seattle has cheap electricity though (lived there for 10 years). I got my electricity bill yesterday. I used 384 kwh and was charged 31 dollars....

Oldnovice said...

We used 456 kWh and our bill is $70.17. (sigh)

Rechelle said...

Are you sayin that Mister Cruncy is runnin around nekkid? Wait until your kids get a little older - you will only remind them to bathe when you can smell the ripeness from across the room.

Greenpa said...

You put your finger on one of the things that prevents some folks from really tackling home energy conservation- you have to actually pay attention to it. Forever.

You are (cheerfully, it seems) chasing around the house and turning stuff off after the kids absentmindedly leave it on. There are a ton of folks out there who won't- or even can't- do that. And they're not cheerful about it.

Something I keep nudging for is for folks to install "motion detector" type switches on their lights. It CAN be done- though I know it's not very easy right now.

We need a way to turn lights, and TV's, etc. OFF, automatically, when there is no one in the room. If we rely on humans to do it, they will occasionally forget, or eventually become forgetful; or become resentful when it becomes their primary responsibility. Automatic would be so much better.

Anybody listening out there? Here is a way for someone to become a super millionaire- develop and market a system of sensors that are cheap and easy to install, and easily adjustable so folks can make them suit their personal habits.

The sensors that are currently available are a) not very available, b) not very adaptable, and sometimes not really functional. You don't want a pure motion detector, for example; it would turn your reading light off if you just got very involved in your book and didn't move for a while.

It could be done; really rather easily. The savings Chrunchy has demonstrated here are proof of how much energy there is to be saved.

Room sensors could be the next big easy thing- after CFL's-

Chile said...

All the little steps add up. That was the big lesson I learned from the Tightwad Gazette books. It works for the budget and it works for resource use. Our water, electric, and gas bills have all gone down, yet our quality of life has not suffered as a result. :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

Yes, we have very cheap electricity in WA state - mostly from the hydroelectric. The rates have been creeping up but we pay nowhere near what a lot of people pay.

rechelle - Mister Crunchy definitely does not run around nekkid given the lowish temperatures in the house. Well, that and the fishbowl windows. I'm sure the parents and the kids walking by from our local school wouldn't appreciate that.

Jennifer said...

Great job!
I just added up last year's savings on natural gas from doing a "Freeze Yer Buns" style winter last year. It was quite substantial!
(And, previous to putting in the programmable thermostat, we had kept it at 62ยบ anyway!... the savings is in dropping it at night!)

QT said...

Dude - get ready to faint -we use an average of 900-1200 kwh monthly and never pay less than $150 for our electricity. This includes two of our outbuildings (one of which has motion detection lighting, the other we turn on/off every day) and the aeration system for our pond, which needs to run every day, all year.

The only plus for me is that since I signed up for 100% renewable energy, I am not subject to utilty rate hikes. And according to the Alliant Energy Second Nature calculator, I am saving the equivalent of 3 acres of trees annually, or taking 2.3 cars off the road...I will try to keep that in mind the next time I have to write them a $250 check.

Christy said...

We used 464 kWh last month and were charged $76.00. They just almost doubled our electric charges a few months ago. We are definitely freezing out buns here! I'm not enjoying it, I HATE the cold, but I'm surviving.

Tara said...

Thanks for the inspiration to keep going against the masses - at least at my house. My family is constantly groaning at me for harping on them to turn off the lights when they leave a room and shut the back door all the way even if they are headed out for "just a minute."
It all adds up!

Anonymous said...

WOW... there is a lot of information in this post and in the comments. I am taking notes. I am ashamed to say I don't even know what we pay. My husband pays the bills and I just don't worry about it. I do know it is expensive due to his griping about it. I'll have to implement these great ideas!

Anonymous said...

We're two in a one bedroom apartment and use about 90kwh/month. But our oven is gas, and our washing machine is in shared space, off of our meter.

Our gas is about $20 and electric about $10/month. Our refrigerator uses the most electricity. I know this because when we leave the country for a few weeks at a time, our bill barely changes. I wish we had a smaller one (no, I'm not doing without one, though I know a few of you are successful without one).

~Shelia said...

~sigh~ I wish we were anywhere close to that low of usage of electricity, or amount paid. I just checked our last bill, and we used 1572 kilowatts and paid $210!. And that was a cooler month here in TX! You don't even want to know what it is like around here in summer, say late August. (Oh, and did I mention the horribly energy inefficient doors and window we have in our ALL electric house?)

Anonymous said...

You are putting me to shame, Crunchy! You should be very proud!

Anonymous said...

You are so lucky to be paying only 2.5 cents per KwH Crunchy. Here we pay 22.5 cents. It's a luxury just to read at night. I have cut everything way way down but my bills are still going up as our fuel adjustment here is criminal. I am opening the new bill.......GAAAAH. It's $71.79 for only 320 KwH. I think I will sell the refrigerator and read in the daytime only.

Oldnovice said...

You are (cheerfully, it seems) chasing around the house and turning stuff off after the kids absentmindedly leave it on. There are a ton of folks out there who won't- or even can't- do that. And they're not cheerful about it.

I read somewhere that if we JUST did stuff like this the world would be okay. There's no need to become luddites, suffer deprivation or anything. Just don't use the stuff you don't use. Like anything else, it CAN become habit to turn stuff off at the circuit breaker, AND you'll find yourself unable to sleep at night if you've forgotten to turn stuff off.