How to Save 9.1% on Your Electric Bill

By: Mr. Wilson on August 19, 2008
Now that we know our electric rates will go up by 9.1% beginning September 1, it's a good time to figure out how to offset the new costs. Here at 625 Elm Street we aren't the most energy savvy bunch, but we do try a couple things. For example, turning off unused lights. Actually, there's no "we" in this one; it's just me. The Missus is terrible about leaving lights on. It's not unusual for her to have 500 watts worth of lights turned on in rooms she's not in. That accounts for both wasted light and (during the summer) wasted heat. Unfortunately, her father was a big "turn off the lights guy" when she lived at home, so I have a hard time saying much to her. Who wants to remind his wife of her father? So I just follow her around and flip switches whenever I can. We have a programmable thermostat. It allows 4 settings per day for each of the seven days of the week. It's awesome for keeping the house at an appropriate temperature for specific days and time of day. Now if we could just get one that could sense the outdoor temperature (and humidity!) and open windows when appropriate. We also have ceiling fans in each of our bedrooms. Those help substantially. I'm not sure I could sleep without one on some summer nights. One thing I know we should do is swap out our incandescent light bulbs with CFLs. I'm still not completely sold on CFLs, but I hear they are getting better and better. I was hoping to skip CFLs altogether and go straight to LEDs, but LED technology just isn't there yet. Hopefully in a few years. What do you do to save electricity at your home? Do you have any recommendations with regard to CFLs?


See what your friends and neighbors have to say about this.

August 19, 2008 at 2:07PM

We’ve moved to some CFL’s, but I haven’t gone all the way. I do have some fears about the breakage issue. It sounds like you need a HazMat team should one break. With little kids at home, breakage is possible. That slowed me down. I’m hearing cool things about LED’s… hard to say how soon they will be affordable and viable.

August 19, 2008 at 2:15PM

The biggest savings comes from the biggest consumer of electricity - heating and cooling.  I don’t have to heat an entire house - just a 2 bedroom apt, but I turn off the system when I go to work and just deal with any discomfort for an hour or so upon returning home.  Cooling an empty place makes no sense to me.

If a home is well insulated, it shouldn’t cool or warm too much.

August 19, 2008 at 2:27PM

We are 90% CFL and are just waiting for the living room bulbs to burn out so we can get the dimmable CFL’s loaded up.

Those things never last the 5-7 years they say they will, but still are worth every penny.

I like to crush spend CFL’s in a bag and inhale the fumes 😉

The mercury in those bulbs is very minute. I would guess a couple tuna sammiches would contain the same.  The last time I broke a light bulb I was prob 12.

We have ceiling fans all over the house.  We have two we got for $20 at Menards which work really well.  We close vents in the basement, keep the basement door closed, and turbo suck air through the house when it is nice out with an industrial fan in a window.  I have been loving this last week of cool evenings.  I had to bust out the heavy blankie the past two nights.

We are really close to paying off our HELOC and are gonna replace the 100 year old windows once we do.

August 19, 2008 at 3:29PM

We have a programmable thermostat, ceiling fans, and CFLs in our house. They all work great.

August 19, 2008 at 4:21PM

Hi, I’m new here.  Long time reader, first time post-er.  We made the transition to CFL’s a few years ago in our rental house.  When we bought a home this spring we took all of our 3 year old CFL’s with us and use them in our new home.  With the new house came ceiling fans (yay!) and so we needed to seek out some more traditional looking CFL bulbs.  The whole point of my post is to let you know that, imho, Menard’s has the largest selection of CFL’s as far as size, style and shape.  I had a funny experience when I was calling around town looking for a specific shape of bulb and after Home Depot, and Lowe’s, I called ACE and the Lady there told me point blank, “I’m not going to waste your time…Go to Menard’s”.  That’s where we went and they had exactly what we needed.  I am looking forward to moving to LED lights in the future too!  😊

Mr. Wilson
August 19, 2008 at 4:32PM

Welcome, Kc! Thanks for the tip. Maybe my son and I will make a field trip out to Menard’s one of these evenings. I need a few other things out there anyway.

August 19, 2008 at 4:34PM

New windows will make all the difference in the world.  When we replaced our old windows the heating and cooling bill was reduced at least 20%.

August 19, 2008 at 4:53PM

Since when was need a requirement for a trip to Menard’s? 😊

August 19, 2008 at 5:03PM

One of the best days of my life involved a trip to menards.  A boy around 12 years of age somehow got stuck in the turnstile thing they have (had?) and what I would believe was his grandmother was screaming at him while the kid was crying.  The Menards folk had to bring over a cart and dismantle the thing to get him out while the grandmother continued to scream in some European language.

I know it sounds mean to find it so enjoyable, but it was such an amazing moment of sheer awesomeness which would of made me a theoretical millionaire on youtube if I had my camera.  The kid was not injured, but completely embarrassed.  I think he tried to hop over it and it spun and caught his leg.

So yeah CFL’s are cool 😉

Did some googling on their mercury content and found some neat info.  I think the scare tactics have been very effective on folks.

Diane K
August 19, 2008 at 5:50PM

I hang out at Menard’s too, and agree…since when do you have to need something to go there (or any similar store)? 😊

As far as mercury in CFLs - it’s about 4 milligrams, about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. In comparison, the old mercury thermometers contained around 500 mg. I’ve read that exposure to the mercury in a CFL would be roughly the same as eating a couple of cans of tuna fish. I suppose if you broke a few dozen CFLs a day in your house and inhaled the fumes and rolled around in the mercury, you’d notice some bad side effects, but I’m not so worried about it all that I’d quit using CFLs.

I appreciate not having to climb a step stool and change my light bulbs all the time.

We also conserve by opening windows during cool nights, installing a progammable thermostat, and even little things that add up… such as combined cooking so I only use one electric burner. For example, hard boiling my eggs in the same pot as I’m cooking my pasta or veggies.

August 19, 2008 at 5:57PM

I live with a few roommates and we work and mull about the house at all hours.  This means the air conditioner is never turned off.

In addition to CFLs, I’ve finally convinced the crew to close the blinds during the hot days.  Having them open means the sunlight is heating up the room and, boy, can it get hot.  Keeping the air conditioner running at full speed to counter-act the heat is unproductive, in my opinion.  It gets dark during the day, when the blinds are closed, but having those CFL’s on is a LOT less expensive than having the air conditioner going full-on.

August 19, 2008 at 8:11PM

So. you go ahead and try and conserve by using other lighting, turning the thermostat down/up depending on the time of year.  And yet they STILL continue to ask for increases year after year.  It’s a never ending cycle.

Anything to get their hand in your pocket and pull any extra dollar that they can.

I am SO glad that I no longer live in Lincoln.  At least here on the east they have this thing that, evidently, Lincoln has never heard of.  It’s called “COMPETITION”.  And it DOES work!!!!

Don’t like a company?  Switch and go to a different one.

Time Warner comes to mind.  I currently have three cable companies, two electric and two gas companies to choose from.  Heck, I can even have a propane tank installed if I choose to go that route.

Lincoln BADLY needs some of this going on before more people, like myself, tire of it and move somewhere the living is better.

“The Good Life”???  I think not.  Maybe a number of years ago.  But no more…...

August 20, 2008 at 12:09AM

Even with all that said, I like it here just fine.

Diane K
August 20, 2008 at 12:57PM

Even so…we have cheaper electrical rates here in Lincoln than most places in the U.S.  In this case, introducing competition wouldn’t necessarily result in a better situation for us.

August 20, 2008 at 9:45PM

I am definitely NOT knocking people for their choice to live in Lincoln.  And the taxes were not the only thing that brought me here.  Actually it was more job related as the reason for the move.

But it certainly IS nice to have more than one choice for Cable, electric, et al.

I have had only ONE electric and gas provider since I have been here.  But they are forever sending coupons, rebates and the like to keep you I guess.

As for Cable, well there IS Cox.  But there are numerous others that one can get.  I went with a smaller local provider and have have GREAT service.  Even requested a station be placed on the lower tier and they actually did it.  Of course, I doubt it was at MY request alone.  But it was nice.

All I am saying is that it’s pretty good to have SOME kind of competition out there.

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