About That Electric Bill – the breaker box
In recent days I’ve been reading an abundance of energy saving tips, testing them out each day to find areas where we can make the biggest changes and greatly decrease our energy usage. Why have I suddenly become aware of our electricity consumption? It was thanks to a very recent $366 electric bill that we expected to be around $200 (YIKES!). I’m blogging about what I’m learning here, and how we’ve been able to implement changes to drastically reduce our kilowatt hour usage to help us soon achieve our goal of regular monthly electric bills under $100 for our family of 10. If you’re interested in our challenge and you’ve missed the beginning of the “About That Electric Bill” series, view my first installments here:
Part 2: The Water Heater
Part 3: The Air Conditioner
What we did after we figured out how much money it costs to run the air conditioner and hot water heater, was start looking at the smaller things like lights, things we keep plugged in all the time, chargers, etc…
We quickly realized that there are way too many things to remember here, and trying to figure out what used how much would take us forever. So I opted to just learn the workings of the breaker box instead.
First, we turned all the breaker switches off except the main one. With paper and pencil in hand I flipped them back on one at a time and had the kids tell me what each one went to. Some of them were already labeled, but some weren’t clear. However, now I know what goes to what.
Then, when we turned the breakers back on, we only flipped on the ones that we wanted to use right then. We’ve managed to keep all but two breakers off for the majority of every day! When we started doing this we noticed an immediate drop in our KWH usage during the time we had the house ‘off’. We went from about 1 per hour to 1 KWH every 3 hours.
And I started seeing things in a different light – or actually, no light at all.
Here is our new daytime electricity plan.
I made a list of the things we needed to keep on during the day. The fish tank, refrigerator, and the water cooler were the only things we deemed necessary. And with that list in mind we scheduled a period of time during our day, every day, when all other breakers would stay off. We calculated how much time we actually needed to cook breakfast, do chores, print off any school work, etc… We figured that if we were ready to turn off the power at 10am each day, and leave it off until 5pm each day, we could save between $30 and $35 a month!
We do have to flip the range on to cook lunch on certain days, but everything else stays off, off, off.
Candles and solar lights work well to help light a home when it’s too hot outside to have the curtains pulled back. We found an 8-pack of cheap solar lights at Walmart for just $15. They aren’t super bright, but they definitely help – and recharge fairly quickly outside. You can get high quality, powerful, bright solar lights, too, but you’ll pay a little bit more for them. We’ll be getting some of those soon. As the days get shorter so goes the daylight.
We do have a few perks that make this an easier task. I have a laptop that my Android phone supplies wireless internet to. So, as long as it stays charged we can use it during the day if we need to. Also, we have an extra outlet in the kitchen that is usable all day long. We use this as our charge center and even left the laptop plugged in there all day long yesterday (Kait had some online ‘work’ to do) without any noticeable change in our KWH usage.
Right now our house is what I call, “off”. The kids have finished their school work already – amazing how quickly that happens without the normal distractions that come with having the electricity on all day. They are outside playing in the backyard.
This is day 3 and they’ve almost stopped trying to turn lights on, have completely quit asking to play the XBox or watch a movie, and haven’t complained at all.
I didn’t realize how much sound my house made when it was ‘on’. Everything is quiet here except for the sounds of the kids playing, talking, laughing.
We’ve got natural light pouring in. A breeze blowing across the living room is keeping the house fairly cool. The rainy day is providing to be a natural air freshener.
There seems to be less that needs be done each day, and I feel like I’m accomplishing more.
I’m liking this. I’m liking this a whole lot.
I thought this challenge would be difficult, and I suppose for some people it would be, but I’m finding it a super easy and quite pleasant experience.
After figuring the changes in the water heater, the air conditioner, and the general electricity usage in our home we are now averaging between 21 and 25 KWHs per day. At .107 cents per KWH (I know I said .09 before, but I was mistaken), that would bring our monthly bill down to between $70 to $75 per month, leaving us plenty of money for taxes and fees and still keeping us under our $100 per month goal.
If you’re following this series and you’ve been itching to make a big dent in your electric bill, let me know about any strides you’ve made!
I have some more tips, little ones that I’ve learned over my last week of research that I’ll be posting about later. It is true that every little bit helps – I’m seeing it happen before my eyes.
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