Monday, August 31, 2009

Every light in the house is gone

When I moved in I was told that the power bill for my house was often $350/month. Scary. Worse, when I called the power company to set up service they charged me a $500 deposit (equal to the largest bill the house has had). O.M.G.! So immediately upon moving in I reset all of the thermostats. Only using AC after 5:30 at night and making the default setting 78 degrees (if we're too hot we can manually turn it down and it will reset later). We've had two bills now, averaging $200, which is GREAT for the summer (tends to be my highest power usage so the bills should get cheaper). It's better, but still... So, I'm looking for more. The home already has upgraded insulation (blown into the walls) and the windows and doors have good seals. All cooking and heating is gas and the main part of our bill is electric, by a LOT, which I assume is still mostly AC as the weather has been consistently 85-90 degrees every day.

Our next step was the light bulbs. Our kids like to turn on every single light in the house and, being a newer house, the house has a lot of can lights. We counted 80 lightbulbs in the house. 80! This weekend we removed every one of them (well, except the two we can't reach) and replaced them with CFL bulbs. If the lights in the house are on an average of 4 hours a day we'd save $50/month. That's about right since some don't usually get turned on and some never get turned off. I'll settle for $30.

Next I want to look into thicker curtains, especially for the sun facing windows, to cut down on the need to cool/heat from window heat transfer.

What have you done to cut down the energy bill?


  1. Wow Sara! I always advocate this to people who want to change their energy bill, but no one actually does it. Now I can say I know someone who did (besides me)! I am proud of you!

    My other tips are to take advantage of the south facing windows for lighting, thereby reducing the need for artifical light. Look into shades that reflect the heat but still allow in the light. They are out there, I just can't remember the trade name of them. Also, Close off rooms that aren't used in the day during the winter to elimate the need to heat them.

    You are doing great!

  2. Ahemmmm excuse me we have the ugly curlies going on too!!! although I have to say we do run the A/C at alarming temps due to living in the Hot sweaty south and me being 40!!!!
    I tried walking around naked but it freaked the neighbors/kids/dogs/husband/mailman/bug man/bugs/birds and squirrels out so I had to cover it up!!! :-O

  3. If the kids are famous for leaving the lights, you might look into motion sensing light switches. Maybe that would help keep them off when nobody is in a room. Besides, if they have to jump up for a second every 5 minutes, that can't hurt.

  4. Throwing the curtains open with great enthusiasm every morning and filling our livingroom/kitchen with light works a treat; BEFORE my husband turns all the lights on!

  5. we got a new furnace last year (replacing the old one which was 30 years old) and it HALVED our gas bill for the year. we actually got $2000 BACK from the gas company.

    we're also pretty religious about turning everything off, not keeping it on the t.v., Wii, computers...that and low energy lightbulbs have made a big difference (tho' i don't like the light they give off, i wish they'd make it more glowy). :-)

  6. Ok, you're officially a super hero! : ) We are also running into problems w/ seriously high energy costs. When I lived in Idaho, my monthly power bill in the summertime ran around $20-30 a month, max! Small house, temperate region (no A/C was necessary), my extremely modest amount of electronics and fastidious efforts in turning off anything we weren't all added up to having very minimal expense in the warmer weather months. However, after moving to Reno, talk about some serious shock when I discovered how much more we have to spend in the summertime! It's the extreme 'other end' of the spectrum in energy costs. Anyways, I have a mental checklist of things we can do to minimize the electrical cost and #1 is switching to more energy efficient light bulbs. I noticed the comment left about motion sensitive switches and may check into that as well, particularly in the kids rooms and bathroom. It's a big task to make a larger home more efficient, kudos to you on your improvements!


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