Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saving Money: Utilities

We are two weeks into the New Year and as part of Operation Mortgage Payoff, I am attempting to cut our expenses as much as possible.  One way of doing this is to cut back on our utilities. 

I will be the first to admit that our home is an energy “hog” and I hate that we use so much electricity.  The house is mainly run from electricity with the exception of our heat which is propane.

I thought that by purchasing a smaller water heater earlier in 2012 to replace an old 80 gallon inefficient tank (the previous owners of the house had a hair salon on one side of the house) to a 40 gallon efficient tank, that we would see a noticeable decrease in our electric bill.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.

I have been racking my brain to think of ways to cut down on our energy use and this is what I’ve come up with.

Back in July, we purchased an energy-efficient washer and dryer.  I enjoyed being able to wash an entire load of laundry from start to finish in less than an hour and a half since owning this new set.  This changed January 1st.

According to the Energy Star efficiency rating, our washing machine uses $16 worth of electricity per year based on 8 loads of laundry a week.  On average, we wash 4 loads of laundry each week.  I am not going to invest alot of time trying to minimize this use of energy.

What I am focusing on is lowering the amount we use our dryer.  Our dryer, though it is new, is not considered “energy efficient.”  There is nothing listed on the machine to show how much energy it uses each and every time we dry our clothes.  That being said, I have been hanging my clothes to dry on a quilt rack and wood drying racks exclusively in 2013.

My husband washes his own work clothes at least once a week.  I have attempted to take over this job of his, and so far, have been pretty successfully.  He prefers his clothes to be dried in the dryer; however, I dry them using the racks and then “fluff” them for 5-10 minutes in the dryer.  The “fluff’ mode does not use heat, so it is a win-win for us.  I would be extremely happy if the dryer gets used only once each week.

It takes a lot of energy to heat up and maintain a constant temperature in a conventional oven.  When I cook something that requires the oven, I am going to attempt to make more than one meal at a time in the oven.  I am using the crock pot more this year in place of using the oven as well as cooking in cast iron skillets on our wood burning stove.

In the past, we ran the dishwasher 3-4 times a week.  No matter what setting I wash our dishes on (light wash or heavy wash), it takes about 2 hours from start to finish.  I have been washing the dishes by hand and let them dry in the dishwasher overnight.  Previously when we used the dishwasher, I had to pre-rinse anyway, so this isn’t so bad.  I am hoping that by running the dishwasher no more than once a week, we can see a visible change in our electric bill.

The electric company offers a “budget” each year where we have the option to pay one set amount each and every month throughout the year.  We do not take advantage of this offer.  Instead, we pay our bill based on our usage each month.  I feel this helps to keep us on track when it comes to lowering our consumption.  That being said, the only way to determine if we are actually lowering our use of electricity is to compare this year’s usage to our usage in 2012.  In 2012, we used 13,297 kilowatt hours of electricity. (WOW!) I would like to lower our use of electricity by 15% this year, decreasing our use to 11,302 kilowatt hours or less electricity. 

Our home is heated by a propane furnace.  Currently, we keep the thermostat very low (55 degrees) and heat only the rooms we are using.  If we are going to bed, we start up the potbellied wood-burning stove.  If we are in the family room, we use the propane logs in the fireplace to warm up the room.

I am proud to say that we are still using the same propane that we purchased back in the spring of 2012 to heat our home!  We will need to have the tank filled any week now, but until then, we are definitely saving on our use of propane so far this winter.  On average, we have our tank filled 3 times a year.  My goal is to lower that to just twice this year.

What other ways could we save on the use of our utilities?
I would love to hear your suggestions.


1 comment:

  1. I always set my washer on 10 minutes without thinking about it. But my clothes don't get that dirty maybe they would be just as. Lean on 8 minutes. I do 2loads a week which saves 4 minutes of electricity a week which is 208 minutes of electric per year. I rarely use the dryer so I flipped the circuit breaker. That must save something in phantom electric. I put safety plugs in my outlets. It keeps the wind from blowing in. You can spritz your windows and put bubble wrap on them for added insulation. That's all I can think of for now. Good luck!