Thursday, July 30, 2009

Angry Julie on a Budget-Saving on Electricity (Guest Poster)

I still haven't recovered from BlogHer. I have clothes all over my bedroom, the garage floor, and the bathroom. My computer is on the kitchen table, surrounded by business cards, and notes. I'm trying to visit all the new sites that I've discovered. I will get to you all by the end of the weekend, I promise.

My best friend, Stacey, offered to write a guest post for me. One of these days, I will write my own stories about being on a budget, saving money, etc. Stacey has cut her electric bill drastically. It's so low, it's scary. And we live in Southern California.

I'm adding a wonderful photograph I took of Stacey, Angry Toddler, and her daughter, Stella. Stacey was "parenting" via her iPhone.

From Stacey:

I’ve been budgeting a lot since I decided to open my own business about 2 years ago. It’s hard to go from a decent salary to no salary at all. My husband suggested we just try a little to save on energy. It started small by just replacing our incandescent light bulbs as they burned out with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL’s). I loathe the way the spirally ones look in recessed cans. We have recessed lights throughout our house, but they have CFL’s with the traditional glass casing around them so they look “normal”. I bought a whole bunch of dimmable and regular CFL’s at Costco. Go here for a funny story about me changing a light bulb. They aren’t much more than regular recessed lights. I think the non-dimmable lights were $14 and the dimmable are $18. I would say that about 75% of our lights are CFL’s now and it’s made a difference in the electric bill.

The other thing that has helped our electric bill is only doing laundry with cold water and during off peak hours. You can look at your electric provider’s website to get a list of their off peak hours. I do all our laundry (between 5 and 8 loads a week) on Sunday. When I started doing this my electric bill went from $170/month range to the $130/month. I liked that so I tried to see what else I could do.

I started turning off some excess junk not being used. You know that little red light on your DVD player that’s on while you are NOT using it? It eats up power. So we started small by just turning off the power to the TV, amplifier, DVD and cable box, as well as completely shutting down the computers and monitors every night. The next bill was $100. Hmmm, me then I started turning everything that was not necessary bill, our bill was $64.

Here is the list of what we do:

*Unplug everything in kitchen when not in use (coffee pot, margarita maker , toaster, kitchen aid mixer)
*Every night we turn off the power button on the, cable box and amplifier. I don’t need the glow of the power button. I have suggested putting a surge protector on there but I’m afraid all the stuff on my DVR will disappear and I still need to watch like 14 episodes of Heros.
*Turn off ceiling fans and lights when we leave the room.
*Turn OFF your computer and monitor every night (off, not power save mode)
*Unplug the laptop cord from the wall. It does not need to charge all night.
*Unplug your phone/camera chargers when you aren’t using them.

I know a lot of you are probably freaking out by a $64/month bill. Our lowest bill ever was $53.88. I do have kind of a small house, it’s a condo that’s just over 1400 square feet. We have a plasma TV and all the media junk that my husband says has to come with it. We have 2 computers and I think we have a pretty normal lifestyle. My house is only 5 years old, so I’m sure some of the newer building standards helps out.


I was watching this Living With Ed episode where he installed a green switch to eliminate all "phantom power" while you are away. With the flip of one switch you can turn off ALL unnecessary power when you are away from your home. It leaves things like refrigerators, answering machines and alarm clocks on. But, it completely kills the phantom electrical feed to all other unused power sources while you are gone. Apparently, most homes can be outfitted for between $500-$1000 but there are estimates that 45% of power use is actually phantom power.

Now if we could just get the cable company to lower their prices!!!


  1. I'm so bad about turning off my computer and pulling plugs from the sockets. But I keep reading that it saves electricity. So I know I need to do it. I will have to check into the off day for doing laundry. That's a great tip!

  2. I may have to try some of these things. I live in a 2000 sq ft house and this time of year my electric bill is $400-$500!!! We do have a pool so I know that cost a little more but should not be that high. I have a friend with a 3400 sq ft house and a pool and her bill is less than mine. I just don't get it.

  3. Okay...I'm such a slacker about most of this stuff. I live in a teeny house, but still leave power on in all the rooms. This summer, my bill has grown and I'm going to try and see if I can change my outcome by implementing some of these ideas!

  4. I work for an electric utility, and it kills me to go to people's houses and see ceiling fans going in every room- even ones that don't have any people in them!

    Never run a ceiling fan in a room you are not in! Fans are a trick- they don't really cool the air, they just create a breeze that makes you feel cool...

    Now the winter is a different story. Hot air rises, so if you switch the blades to go the other direction, they can help push the warm air down to the ground.

  5. I have been getting better and turning off lights, using cold water to wash and turning the AC thermostat up. It has saved me some money, but nothing great yet!

  6. These are great tips! My new goal is to get my electric bill under $100. Thanks for the post!

  7. great tips.. thanks!
    i am so guilty of leaving ceiling fans on...
    i've got to try NOT to...
    Cable tho...
    they'll NEVER lower their prices! EVER!~


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