Thursday, November 01, 2007

I had so much fun doing my social experiment, that I have decided it is time to challenge myself to something new. This challenge will last for two months as well, from November 1st-December 31st.

I am going to attempt to cut our power usage in half.

The power bill came in the mail today. Last month (October) we used 1456 KWH of energy. I am not sure how that compares to others with similar geography, home size, lifestyle, etc. but it doesn't really matter. This is a competition with myself. It will be exciting to see how much control I have over our finances and dependance on creature comforts. You might scoff that I am beginning this experiment in November in South GA, that I am copping out, since the weather is great now. Duly noted. However, my goal is to cut my usage in half from LAST MONTH...not from how much we use it in the summer. So, put that in your peace pipe and smoke it. :)

Here are a few ways that I have thought of that I can reduce our electricity. Please feel free to leave me a comment with more suggestions.
-Turn off the lights. Easy. Don't leave lights on in rooms that we aren't in.
-Utilize my clothesline more. I am using it about 40% of the time right now. I can easily use it more often and this should have a big impact, considering that dryers are one of the most energy-guzzling appliances in the home. The Westin in Savannah had a neat retractable clothesline in the shower. It was a small aluminum one that was very minimal and really cool. I am going to look into one of those for my bathtub, for rainy days.
-Turn up the temp. in the fridge and freezer. Foods don't have to be frozen at the very coldest temperature. I have turned my fridge and freezer thermometer to the middle of each range. I did this several weeks ago and my food is still cold and/or frozern.
-Buy solar night lights. Right now, we keep the hall light upstairs on all night for my afraid-of-the-dark chidren. This is an easy switch.
-Change out the remainder of my regular light bulbs for CFL's.
-Leave the thermostat off. It has been off this whole week. With the windows and doors open, we get a great cross breeze. Once it gets colder, we will put on warmer clothes instead of automatically adjusting the thermostat. Put warmer bedding on the beds.
-Use other elements to bring heat to the house. After I bake something in the oven, I can leave the door cracked to let the hot air out. Same with the dryer.
-Turn off dormant electronics. Anything that has a red light (standby mode) is sucking energy, even when not in use. I will be more mindful about cutting off the power strip, rather than just the appliance/electronic itself. Also, chargers still use energy, even if they aren't charging anything, so I will be unplugging those when not in use.

If I am successful in this challenge, I will not only be saving 728 KWH of energy each month, but I will also be saving our family approximately $63 a month. Add that to the $200 I am saving each month from my social experiment, and I have just "found" $260 extra each month! With that money, we can pay off our vehicles more quickly, or, according to Dave Ramsey's Mortgage Calculator, apply it to our mortgage and cut 12 years off our home mortage, saving over $80,000 in interest!

Anyone interested in doing this new challenge with me? Come on, it will be fun!

*This image from ajft on


  1. Laurel,
    We met in the shadow of a clothesline, so I'm truly excited to see an American with full access to a tumble dryer voluntarily give it up. I used to work in Advertising for Westinghouse Lighting, so I can attest that if you change out your 5 most frequently used light bulbs with CFLs, you can save $60 a year from your energy bill. Check out Energy Star's website ( for more energy saving ideas.

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  3. hey with that much in savings, you can afford a few pairs of those cute shoes!! :)

  4. This is a FANTASTIC idea!!!

    I am all about experimenting. I've started treating my new year's resolutions that way; last year my goal was to let go of fear, guilt, shame, and controlling assholes and this year it was to have more joy and fun in my life. Big year-long experiments instead of "I am going to go to the gym every day oops I failed oh well."

    Let's see... this month the gas/electric bill was $34.37 each (between me and my girlfriend), which is pretty low. But I am all for using less energy even if there isn't the huge financial impact I dream of. I could totally hang up a clothesline or two and change the temperature on fridge and freezer. I think we've maxed out the bed, though; it has eight blankets on it including three comforters. OMG and we need to turn off the damn power strips, stat.

  5. It's going to make me split my comment in half again, (and lo, it did), but I have to add this: I read that LED light bulbs are even more energy-efficient than anything else we have and that the only barrier to them is that they are so expensive - but I have seen them on ebay for like five or ten bucks each, which is nothing compared to the energy savings. I have not tried them so I could be totally wrong about the kind of bulb I am looking at or something, but it is worth checking out!