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Ideas to save on energy bill

864 Views 24 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  kathirynne
I just found out that Baltimore Gas and Electric will be increasing their rates about 72% this summer!!! ACK!!! So I am trying to think of some ways to reduce our consumption. I know I should have been doing these things all along but there's no better time to start than now. Here are some ideas I've come up with:

-Get a clothes drying rack to set out on the patio to reduce dryer usage (we live in an apt, so no clothes line). This will be super important once I start washing diapers!
-Get a couple of good fans for use in the summer so we don't have to use the air conditioning very much. I know the fans use electricity too, but much much less
-Replace our lightbulbs with the energy conserving ones
-Wash only in cold water

Anyone want to add some suggestions?? We don't use the heat very much at all in the winter because our apartment never gets very cold (must be the insulation from the other surrounding apts), so there's not much we can do there.
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I think you have a pretty good start!!!...

I just wanted to second the using fans over AC...We did that last summer and saved quite a bit...Once you get used to it, it is not so bad!!!!!!
we got window fans they rocked, two fans and you can pick to circulate one fan blows in one blows out, or two in, two out.

also unplug everything you are not using as everything draws power.
if you are charge during peak hours for more post when those are, you can do your laundry at night and hang it out in the morning.

you can also take a look at how much power one thing uses vs another..
like using the micro to heat something up vs the stove..

good luck!
subbing for future use. BG & E is a PG & E baby company isn't it? Which would mean our rates are going to do the same?
Very interesting! How would I find out when my peak hours are and whether or not they've raised prices for the summer?

I live in an apartment, and just have electric to worry about, but last summer it was a little over $100 per month for the four months that can be considered hot enough for summer... lmao! I'm dreading this summer. Especially since our winter electric bills have been $60/mo.

I remember 3 years ago when I met my DH our electric was only $20.00/month, and that was with out roommate paying his share of $10....

-dreams of the old days-
You already may know this, but replacing your lightbulbs with compact flourescents will not only reduce the energy needed power the lights. CFs also produce less heat, so you may not need as much cooling power.

You may also want to look at the appropriateness of curtains. If you are gone all day, it may make sense to not let the light (and heat) in.

(This reminds me I need to be on the lookout for curtains!)
Unplugging the TV,VCR, computer, washer and anything thats electronic not used when we are gone or asleep or in use really helps cut down on the phantom drain.
Subbing b/c I too am in BGE territory, ugh! Kait-- not sure how other companies are dealing with it, because apparently the others around here (like Pepco, etc) have increased their rates gradually so there won't be as big of a shock this summer for their customers.
Air conditioning is our big draw, and I hate summers here, and I will have a new baby... ugh. I suppose I need to bite the bullet and get flourescent light bulbs.
Also I have another method-- write my representatives and demand they do something about it!
The best energy savings info that I ever found was on Michael Bluejays website. He has tons of good tips.

We have an empty house (that is finally sold as of this friday). Through the winter, we kept the heat at 50. But the power bill was still really high. We then turned down the hot water heater and that reduced our empty house bill by $75 a month. Crazy.
If you have to dry some things in the dryer you can throw in a dry old towel with them and it will shorten the drying time. Also when you cook things on the stovetop always cover them. The water will come to a boil faster and then you can turn it on low (on 3 cents an hour here) verses having it on high (14 cents an hour). Also have bake things at the same time. You can find meals that all need to be baked at the same temp and cook for the week so that you want keep having to heat up you oven all the time. Eating cold food helps to like salad and sandwiches and doing BBQs out on you balcony. I don't usually turn on the light until night time during the summer. The sun will provide plenty of light until about 8 or 9pm.
Install a ceiling fan.
Keep blinds / curtains closed during the day.
Thanks for all the great tips! I grew up without air conditioning, so it shouldn't be hard for me. We do have two ceiling fans where we live, and I hope our new apt will have them too (we're moving July 1). I never thought about unplugging the TV, VCR, etc, when we are not using them.

Oh, and when the baby is born I may not have time to shower every day, that saves some energy
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Put some insulation around the hot water heater. You can get "jackets" that are pretty easy to slip on.

Also, insulate around doors and windows.
for small things, a toaster over uses less energy than a full sized oven.

We try not to have too many things "on" at the same time. We used to have the TV, computer, lights, fan all on at the same time but not anymore.

We've also cut back on the number of lights we keep on. We don't live in the dark but we dim the lights to a lower level. We can still do what we need to do without the rooms being very bright. If no one is in a room we don't leave a light on. We use energy saving bulbs too.
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Forgot to add that when you're buying appliances look for the energy saving star.

Get solar heat if you live in an area where it's available. Here, we can get a tax credit for solar power.
If you have more than one fixture in the bathroom, it can be helpful to have one with a very dim bulb for when you just need to go in quick. Then you can turn on the other light for when you are showering or washing up. Also, I discovered that my habit of turning on the computer in the morning and leaving it on until I go to bed so I can check my e-mails a few times during the day was costing us (according to the electric companies material) about $27 a month. When I talked to the service representative to discuss the rate at which a computer uses electric, I think I actually shocked her when I did the math and said $27.
Don't use the bathroom exhaust fan if you don't want to lose your heat or air conditioning. Leave the door open a crack if you don't want to steam up too much.

In the summer put up some gauzy white curtains (you don't even have to hem them), spray water on them to dampen or soak and let the breezes blow through.

As mentioned, turn off power drawing deices. Our computer and equipment are on one surge suppressor and our TV, DVD player, etc are on another. We just turn all those things off unless we're going to use them.

Lower your hot water heater to 110. We always have plenty of hot water and ours is never above that temperature.

If you live in a part of the country where you can use a swamp cooler instead of AC, do it. It lowers our electric bill by $75 a month in the summer.

Don't use overhead lighting. In the living room, sit in chairs or sofas next to spot lighting or table lamps for reading etc. Put a lamp with a 40 watt bulb on the dining room or kitchen table to eat rather than light the whole room with a 75 watt or higher bulb.

Shade very sunny summer windows so you get less heat in the house in the first place. JCPenneys has insulating liners in white for very little money. We bought some for our sliding glass door "wall" in our apartment and we stay much cooler by leeping the heat from the windo from radiating into the house. We just use the liners and no drapes.

Weatherstrip windows and doors. Cover vents with something if you aren't using them so you are not heating and cooling unused space. Same for closets: close them.

Try to vent air out the ceiling or attic if you can.

Drink lots of cold water. Refrigerate water overnight, add ice in the morning and leave it in a crock on the counter during the day so everyone stays hydrated and cool and feels less hot and tired.

Plan after nap trips to the library or grocery store errand in the hot part of the day. Use their AC, not yours!

Install awnings over windows outside to shade them from summer sun.

Get up early in the morning, siesta nap between 2-4, eat dinner later.

Cook with a solar oven or eat fresh raw foods so you cook less. If you cook something like a lasagna, make two so you only run the oven once for both meals. Use the oven major only once a week - cooking casseroles and baking all on one day.

Line dry all your clothes. Before they get too hard and crackly, soften them in the dryer for less than 10 minutes.

Buy a thermometer and make sure your fridge doesn't keep colder than 40 degrees and the freezer no colder than 0. I can't even get my freezer colder than 10 degrees and eerything in it is fine.
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we save $50 a month just by turning off our hot water heater. We Turn it off midday and turn it on each morning. Sometimes it will stay off for two days before we need to turn it back on. We also turn off the AC when we leave. We live in FL so our AC eats a lot of the bill. We usually save 50-100 by just doing those two things. My neighbor has a switch but we use the breaker.
mysterygrl - good reminder about using the breakers for power shut-off. I once kept hearing this wiring "whine" and couldn't figure out just what was causing it so I turned off one breaker at a time to see exactly which rooms, outlets, etc. they ran. The last "whine" was the furnace motor which was in the kitchen (manufactured home) and was used for both AC and heat. I finally turned the breaker off to it in between seasons to reduce the mental noise. But the breaker system is a great way to audit your home and see just what uses electricity at what rate. Like leave on only your entertainment system (turn it off but leave plugged in), for example, and check your meter box and watch how fast it spins. This is how we found out the AC and heat systems in our apartment use MORE electricity in a smaller space than did our central AC and heat in a house almost twice as big. Cheaply made and inefficient so we're very careful about use. And we still use only the fridge, hot water heater , and a radio clock with intermittent use of TV, computers, etc, and the bills are still $50 for that. I think it's time to turn off this furnace in the apartment and I'll bet my bill goes down $20 more. Those things draw even when they are not "on".
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