This is an article written by Amanda L Grossman blogs about living in frugal decadence over at Frugal Confessions. In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day Amanda discusses ways she plans to go Green.
The other day my friend emailed me her $12.43 February electric bill from her 2600 square foot home. I could feel the smug expression oozing through the computer screen and I have to admit: the competitive spirit in me felt put to shame, seeing how I had only ever managed a $34.72 electric bill in our 3100 square foot home. The other part of me was in awe—what an accomplishment!
My friend and I egg one another on in our frugal ways. We swap coupons, email one another deals, and have weekly bragging sessions about the products we have found at their pre-WWII prices. Since we are both environmental investigators, we particularly enjoy finding ways to live more sustainable, eco-friendly lives that also save us money. We find it thrilling when we manage to get through Houston humidity until June before turning on our Central A/C, or the day that we learned that if you throw rocks or bricks in the back of old toilet tanks you can essentially turn them into low-flow toilets. But a $12.43 electric bill? How does one manage that?
After much thought and discussion with my friend, I have come up with five different things that she has incorporated into her household in order to cut energy use but that we have not done in mine. I’d like to share these with you in the hopes that you also may fine tune your own energy consumption (and bank the savings!).
1. Install a Clothesline: I will admit that it is against deed restrictions in my neighbourhood to have a clothesline. We found this out after moving into our first home in the fall of 2009. This has stopped me from installing a clothesline thus far, but it turns out that my friend has one, and also has a deed restriction against it. How does she get around it? She installed a retractable clothesline in her garage. On laundry day she simply hangs up her laundry in there instead of from her tree. Brilliant!
2. Air Dry Dishes: Most of the energy use in a dishwasher is during the dry cycle. By simply opening up the dishwasher and pulling out the racks to dry, we can still have the convenience of a dishwasher with the energy savings of hand-washing.
3. Watch Less Television: Do you ever get into a TV routine that you can’t seem to shake? We find that once the television is on in our home, it is hard to turn off. Even though we meant to just tune into one show that we really enjoy, we end up watching it until bedtime. I find myself even wanting to turn the television on for background noise when I am cleaning, cooking, or writing. Instead, I will try to turn on the radio or use my iPod during these activities to cut down on energy use. We will also try to go for walks and bike rides more instead of just plopping down after work.
4. Install Low Flow Toilets: We will be renovating our bathrooms over the next year and plan on installing low flow toilets. This will not only decrease our energy consumption, but decrease our water bill as well!
5. Use a Window A/C in My Office: My office is on the upstairs floor of our home…and it’s about the only reason to be up there. We have a central A/C unit hooked up to our downstairs, and a separate unit for the upstairs. Instead of cooling off the entire upstairs floor for one room, we have purchased a window A/C unit.
It is hard for me to quantify the energy savings we should see from these changes, but I am hopeful nonetheless that the next time someone gets a sub $15.00 electric bill my household has a fighting chance!