Huge Savings on Electric Bill, Finally!

Posted by in Articles, personal finance | 20 comments

Energy Savers

Energy Savers

I’ve been on a mission to lower my electricity bill by a substantial amount. For years now, two months of electricity usage has been averaging near the $350 mark, much too high for just two people.  At first, I blamed it on our old energy-sucking rental house. But then, after moving into a more energy efficient apartment, our electricity bill didn’t budge. I realized our habits were creating this energy hog of a situation. The solution: turning off our computers every night and keeping the printer and scanner turned off until we needed them. It turns out that our home office alone was responsible for the high electric bills. The result: Two months of electricity for $221! That’s a savings of $150.

Here is a comparison of our electric bills since we’ve moved into a more energy-efficient apartment (or an apartment that has insulation compared to our old rental house that didn’t have any):

  • November/December electricity bill: $371 (a little over 2,400 KWH)
  • January/February electricity bill: $321 (we had just started turning off the computers by the end of February – that saved us $50 from the previous bill- 2,000 KWH)
  • March/April electricity bill: $221 (1,519 KWH)

We’ve reduced our kilowatts by almost 1,000 KWH; that’s a huge difference. However, we’re still going into tier 2 usage. Anything over the first 1,000 kilowatts moves into a second tier. Come June, tier 2 power costs more in direct correlation to warmer weather. This means we need to reduce our electricity usage by another 519 kilowatts. One thing I will begin doing this week is keeping my computer off during the day when I’m not home as well as through the night. That alone should reduce our kilowatts by almost 500. Yet with the warmer summer months approaching, I’m predicting that we might end up breaking even come July and August – the hottest months for our region. Thankfully, the insulation in our apartment allows us to set the thermostat to 80 degrees and still remain comfortable (we’ve had a few 94 degree days to test this theory out.)

I’m just giddy over our lowest electric bill to date!

How are you saving money on electricity?

20 Comments

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  1. MoneyCone

    That is awesome! How are you finding the culprits? Are you using kill-a-watt?

    I keep my printer turned on, maybe I should turn it off even though it has an energy saver feature.

    • Little House

      @MoneyCone – I don’t use Kill-a-Watt, but I have a battery backup hooked up to my computers and it records our KWH usage. So, when I turn off my computer, the display shows the KWH’s going from 300+ down to below 20 when both computers are turned off. As for my laser printer, the battery backup is what gave us the clue it was “surging” throughout the day. My display would go from 300 to over 900, so I just kept turning off the things attached to the battery until I figured out it was the printer!

  2. retirebyforty

    Wow! I know computer cost a lot of energy, but I didn’t know it was that much money. $50/month is huge! I always turn off the computer at night already.
    You can also get a laptop instead of a desktop PC. Laptop are usually a lot more energy efficient. That’s my plan for the next computer.

  3. krantcents

    I changed out my light to CFLs last year. Although I turn off my computer, I don’t actually turn off the surge strip. I am going to try that next.

    • Little House

      @Krantcents -We’ve changed out most of our bulbs to CFL’s and that does help. I haven’t tried turning off the surge strip yet, but maybe I should. That might save me a few kilowatt hours!

  4. taka

    Trying setting your office equipment (e.g. printer) to go to standby power. Can be done with NAS (e.g. Dlink dns 323) and even large office copier/scanner/faxes.
    Invest in powerstrip that shuts off peripherals when not in use (I have the TV as the device the smart strip looks for, and it shuts off DVD and game console…. u can’t use those w/o TV on so, shut them off.)

    • Little House

      @Taka – We tried standby for a while, but overnight it still eats up too many Kilowatts. Just leaving them off overnight is saving us a huge amount of money. Can’t wait to see if I can get the electric bill down even more!

  5. Maggie@SquarePennies

    @Little House
    That’s amazing! I always heard that it used electricity to keep computers on for long periods of time, but I had no idea it was that much. DH said it would be negligible, but now I have figures to show him! Thanks!

  6. Everyday Tips

    Little House- what a great amount of savings. You are totally motivating me to turn off my printers and such each night (or just leave them off like you said.) I would love an extra hundred dollars a month. I am going to have to go through my house and see what I can disconnect!

    • Little House

      @Everyday Tips – I know, I was happily surprised that we were able to save so much just from turning them off at night. I’m curious to see if I can save a little more by turning my computer off during the day when I’m teaching. I’m sure I can save a few more bucks!

  7. Financial Samurai

    A double wow! $175/month for utilities does seem like a lot for two people in a “little house” right? Our average is about $110/month for our house.

    Could it really be just shutting off all the electronics? Does sleep mode count or no?

    • Little House

      @Financial Samurai – I thought we were spending a lot for two people too, and we don’t leave lights on all around the house. The only electronics that we had continually on were the computers, printers, and scanner. After figuring out the printer was spooling itself (seeing our battery pack surge to over 900 KWH every now and then) we decided to start turning off the computers to see if we could save a few bucks.

      I’d also say the computers have to be turned off because when we were setting the computers in “sleep” mode, they were still using a lot of juice (we could see how many KWH on our battery pack.) We still have a few things plugged in and going full time in our office, like the battery pack and our share drive, but turning these things off is a real hassle and the share drive doesn’t like rebooting itself. But, hey, I was able to bring our usage down by 1000 KWH over 2 months!

  8. Heather

    We are on a time-of-use plan and don’t use the washer, dryer, dishwasher, water heater, or pool filter during peak hours.

    We put new windows and shades in the hottest (south-facing) room of our (Phoenix) house, which drastically cooled the room. (It’s still warmer than the rest of the house, but it’s not nearly as bad.)

    With rare exceptions, we stopped using the clothes dryer and line-dry everything instead.

    We have an evaporative (swamp) cooler that we use until it’s not really effective. Great in May, most of June, most of September, and October!

    This is much smaller, but we unplugged clocks in rooms we don’t usually use (i.e. the guest room) or replaced them with battery-powered analog clocks.

    Just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve started turning off the computer and modem at night. We’ll see what effect this has, if any. The rest of the computer-related things are off by default anyway.

    Our oven died and is old enough that parts aren’t even available any more (which the repair guy learned through looking it up on microfiche…). We replaced it with a double oven — a small one on top and a regular-sized one on bottom. 99% of what we cook is on a tray or in a casserole dish, so the smaller top oven should save some energy. We do use it a couple of times per week.

    We’re always looking to bring it down a little more. Next plan is to see if hubby will turn off the power strip to the TV except when he wants to watch it. We watch so little TV these days — I watch none and he will sometimes go 3-4 days with none — I don’t think it would be a huge inconvenience.

  9. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

    Does anyone have a MAC computer? Because BF bought one and for the life of me the thing doesn’t have an OFF switch. WTH?!! I’m sure that it’s sucking the life out of my pockets at 20 something inches.

    • Little House

      @Sandy – Have you looked towards the back, underneath the monitor? I know that sometimes the switch (flat button) is under the bottom frame or off to the side. Hope that helps!

  10. youngandthrifty

    Wow! That is a huge amount of savings!!

    I think I’m going to invest in one of those outlet bars (I forget what they’re called).

    I’m terrible for turning off my computer (even though its a laptop) and often leave it in sleep mode.

    I would think the dryer would be a huge energy sucker. How often do you do laundry?

  11. Paul Messineo

    I am doing some of the items mentioned.

    The other thing I did to lower my electricity bill is change my electricity supply to 20% renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, geo-thermal, and bio-mass). No equipment change is required.

    I am helping people from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut change their home and business to more environmentally friendly energy and save money too.

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