saving energy

October 12, 2007

I’m a bit of a miser about certain things, and a spendthrift when it comes to others. Like, I won’t mind spending $300 on a coat if I think it’s going to last and fulfill it’s purpose (keeping me warm and stylish).

But if I have to spend an extra few bucks a month for text messaging on our cell phone, I flip. We recently rewarded the teenager with an unlimited texting messaging plan on our phones, for continued achievement on her grades. We did place a few conditions. At the first sign of dropped grades or bad teen attitude around the house when it comes to helping out, so goes the cell phone perk. But the only upside is that with this unlimited business I won’t have to check the phone every day to make sure she’s not texting in the 1,000s. Now how many of our “anytime” minutes she uses is another matter.

But what I really wanted to vent about is conservation. And it’s somewhat fitting, since my desire to cut back on our electricity and water consumption has less to do with being kind to the environment (which I do value, don’t get me wrong) but more to do with being cheap and wanting to save a few bucks every month.

I’ve employed the following electricity-cutting measures in our house:

Surge protectors:

Diego’s and Itzul’s rooms have all their electronics plugged into surge protectors that I turn on and off every day (or try to, if permission is granted to enter the teen’s lair). I’ve read this helps keep electronics from sucking up juice from simply being plugged in to an outlet, despite not being on. Anyway it gives me peace of mind.

those funky lightbulbs:

It’s been out with the old and in with the slightly more expensive but cheaper in the long-run and longer lasting bulbs that are corkscrewy in shape and emit the dullest light I’ve ever seen yet are supposed to save me some money somehow. So yea, we have these in almost all the light sources throughout the house. I don’t love them, but if they save me some change…

not so hot:

Don’t think I’ve ever used the “hot” function on our washing machine. Or “hot” on the dryer. We’re a cold water family when it comes to laundering, and I try to dry things on the medium (it seems kinder to the clothes). But with the energy consumption on the washer and dryer, we’re kind of screwed. We went with the second to cheapest washer and dryer, and although they are working great and serving our needs, I do wish we could have splurged a a couple thousand dollars more and gotten an Energy Star washer and dryer. Then we would really be saving water and juice (but be thousands of dollars more in dept – *sigh*).

We also finally adjusted our water heater to the suggested 120 degrees. And I’m keeping the furnace set at around 63 degrees, which I think might not be totally accurate and actually warming our house more. So maybe 60 would be more appropriate. But then would our pipes freeze?

Energy Star:

We did luck out on a couple of appliances, just not really by choice. The slick new television we did splurge on has that cute little blue sticker on it that indicates each time we sit on the couch to stare at its images, we’re saving energy! Our dishwasher, which came with the house, has the same Energy Star feature. Good thing, since we’re running that little guy every day now. Can’t say the same about our fridge, though. Like the washer and dryer, we opted for the cheapy model. With $1,000 more invested, we could have also gotten one of those blue stickers. Darn! But one thing I’m trying to do to save money on the fridge is keep the freezer well stocked, since I read somewhere that’s supposed to make it more efficient. So there.

And just for good habit, we’re doing our best to turn lights out when we leave rooms, using natural light as much as possible and unplugging things that aren’t on power strips (like the microwave, toaster, cell phone chargers).  My next goal will be to add some weight to the back of the toilet tanks so that less water is used with each flush. I learned this trick from living in California during endless droughts.

Anyone else have any tips, please pass them along.

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3 Responses to “saving energy”

  1. Josh Gesler said

    EnergyStar.gov has a great page on CFLs. They give some tips about how to get the most out of them and also how to compare light output so you don’t end up with dim lights that you can’t stand.
    http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls

    If you are looking for general “green” info then you might checkout treehugger.com. They focus a lot on news but they have some good tips at times. This page (http://www.treehugger.com/gogreen.php) has a large index of helpful tips.

  2. Alasdair said

    *An* option for very green clothes drying is to use a drying rack and forgo the dryer. Truly, even a fancy schmancy dryer isn’t going to do much to conserve electricity. The technology doesn’t seem to be much changed since dryers came into being.

    Hanging things to dry in this town works pretty well, but it isn’t super quick…

    The easiest way to lower your costs is to run an extension cord from your neighbor’s house 🙂

  3. mipilar said

    That is a great suggestion. And we have the poles out back for a clothesline we just need to find the lines somewhere and figure out how to string them across. I’ve thought about that too. That’s how we used to dry clothes at my moms when we lived in our first house. So maybe next summer, if I’m up for it.

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