Paycheck Chronicles

Gas & Electric Bill Update X2

You might remember that I have had two unpleasant utility bills already this year.  In order to get this big cost under control, I decided to made four changes:  limit shower lengths, seal windows & use curtains, stop using the space heater under my desk, and deal with the failing fridge in my basement.

Here's how it has gone:

  1. Shower length:  I haven't yet designated a timer for showering, but I have been more diligent about reminding my kids that it is time to get out of the shower.  And reminding them again.  And again, until they get out.  There is still room for improvement but I think we've gotten better.

  2. Sealing windows and using curtains:  I checked to make sure that all our storm windows were properly closed.  I didn't caulk or weather strip as planned.  I did put a throw rug up against the bottom of the laundry room door as it tends to leak a bit.  I also closed nearly all the curtains and blinds in the house, and I've been trying to open them when it is sunny outside.

  3. Stop using the space heaters:  I stopped using the one under my desk everyday, and I don't think I've used it all month.  We had a small one in the family room for cold nights.  I think we've only used it one or two evenings.

  4. Doing something about my downstairs fridge:  I tried to level the refrigerator so that the door would seal properly but I couldn't get it to work.  Instead, I removed all the food from the refrigerator section and turned it to the hottest setting.  I've been working on using up the stock-piled food in the freezer section.  Once the freezer is also empty, I'll unplug the whole thing.

One other thing that I have done is to set my programmable thermostat to a chilly 62 degrees for all times except for the morning wake-up time.  If we're home and I'm cold, I'll manually over-ride the thermostat to make it warmer and it will automatically reset at the end of that phase.

Even though I've only made small improvements, my gas and electric bill has dropped near $80 this month.  They haven't yet posted the breakdown of gas and electric usage, which also includes historical data and the average temperatures from each month.  From the weather information I have gathered, it seems as if it was slightly warmer this month than last, though it is possible that the amazing wind has offset the benefits of the higher temperatures.

I'll post an update once I'm able to see the actual figures, but I'm encouraged that my small steps have helped.  Yeah!

Updated update:  I've gotten the breakdown part of the bill today.  Yes, it was an average of 6 degrees warmer this month.  I'm sure that is a part of the 20% decrease in gas usage.  (We use gas for heat, hot water and cooking.)  The electric portion went down about 25%, which can probably be attributed to turning off the space heater and using electricity on the inefficient refrigerator.

So, what should be my action plan for this NEXT month?  Hopefully the temperature is going to go up, but I guess I can't include that in my plan.  I guess I should focus on getting the refrigerator completely emptied so that it can be unplugged, replacing incandescent bulbs with compact florescents where appropriate, and working on even heavier drapes for windows that currently have lighter curtains or blinds.

Let's hope next month is even better!

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