Part of achieving our goals to follow a path of stewardship involves getting back to basics. Over the next few weeks I will tackle several areas in a typical household budget to see if any of the ideas presented will help you shave a little off here and there. Even small changes, when added up, can result in significant savings. This week I want to address the electric bill.
A service we have available to us through our electric company is a “time of use” plan. With this plan, we have certain hours of the day when we are billed at an “off-peak” rate and other hours of the day that are considered “on-peak.” After a trial period, we found that this service reduced our electric bill significantly. If your electric company does not offer this service, it might still be worth checking with them to find out if there are times of day when it is more beneficial to use certain appliances. Doing laundry later in the evening to avoid heating the house too much (or early in the morning to heat the house depending on the season) might help reduce your electric bill. I also turn off the heat drying option on the dishwasher. If you try this and find the dishes have some residual condensation on them, open the door and pull the racks out to air dry. Of course, the best way to make sure the washing machine and dishwasher are running most efficiently is to run full loads.
Another service we use is a budget-billing system. Our electric company tracks our electricity usage for twelve months, periodically reviewing our usage every few months. Now, our monthly bill is the same even though our usage is higher in the summer months than in the winter. Again, if your electric company does not provide this service, you can still manage your bill in a similar manner. Simply take a look at the electric bills over the course of the year and take an average of what you have paid. For example, if your electricity bills total $1200 over the course of the year, set aside $100 each month. Or you can open a separate account specifically for the electric bill so that the money is always there when the bill comes due.
These methods are great ways to budget for the electric bills, but we also need to be prudent on a daily basis to manage our usage. A few ways we try to stay on top of things is by turning off lights and ceiling fans when we leave the room. Both incandescent and fluorescent bulbs only take a couple of seconds to warm up so if you’re going to be out of the room longer than that, it is better on your electric bill to turn the lights off. Similarly, the ceiling fans circulate the air to help you feel cooler by creating a “wind-chill effect” while you are in the room, but they don’t actually reduce the temperature of the room. Therefore, it is best to turn off ceiling fans when you leave a room.
Sometimes it is more difficult to gauge how much electricity certain appliances use, but if you’re able to disconnect things like the TV, computer or the coffee maker when you’re not using them, you might notice some reduction in your electric bill. Appliances such as the refrigerator are harder because they regulate themselves, but if your refrigerator is fairly well-stocked, you might be able to set the thermostat a little higher, keeping it from cycling on and off as much. Insulation within the refrigerator is created between items helping to keep them colder (which is also why it is not a good idea to open the refrigerator during a power outage).
While these are just a few ideas, I hope they prove to be helpful to implement. I also hope they get you to think about other ways to reduce your electric bill. If you have ideas about how you have saved on electricity, please click on the link to contact us and share your suggestions with us.
“A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them.”~Proverbs 22:3