Okay, I just have to boast a little bit about the great success my family and I had this past month with our energy conservation, evidence being our electric bill. Grand total for the month: $96.
For context’s sake, here’s the scenario:
We live in a two story, 2500 sq foot home in south Texas that is half brick. It is situated east-west, so our back porch area sees the sun all day long (thus making the southern-most rooms warmer). Currently, there is a minimum of five warm bodies occupying the house and using the resources at any given time, this number expanding up to ten and twelve bodies every other weekend or so when my kiddos stay with me. As you can imagine, in a typical scenario like this every light in the house would be on, the tv would be blaring, the fridge left open, water running and toilets flushing constantly…moderately managed chaos. Ah, but in our house it doesn’t quite go that way. Here are some of the things my wife and I did to achieve such a monumentally tiny electric bill.
First, we both became electricity nazis, in more ways than one. Not only are we tenacious about making sure no electrical appliance is ever in use unnecessarily, we’re also expert brainwashers and masters of persuasion (or coercion, whichever you prefer ;) ). So now, even with as many kids as we have running around, it is indeed a rare occurrence for any of them to leave an empty room with the light on, or a radio playing when they are finished with it, or even the computer monitor on after they’re done updating their Myspace. Our household’s general rule of thumb in this regard is “if you’re not using it, turn it off”. To help convey the true meaning of this rule I have on occasion stopped providing electricity to certain rooms of the house via the fuse panel. I know, what a meanie!
In addition to making sure that the rules of the house are keenly observed, I also installed the alternative fluorescent light bulbs throughout the house. Fact is, they may never actually pay for themselves, but for some reason it gives me peace of mind knowing that for every hour of light a person uses, I’m only using up one fifth of the electricity to do so. Not only that, but they also produce a lot less heat than standard bulbs, resulting in less hot air to have to cool down later.
I think the most effective thing we did, however, was when I took on the addition role of A/C and heat nazi. Living in south Texas, we are blessed with some fairly moderate weather for a good portion of the year between winter and summer. So, I made myself king of the thermostat and when people complained of being cold, I did the most OFF THE WALL THING: I told them to put some more clothes on or grab a blanket. When they got too hot I made yet another unique suggestion: take off some clothes and put yourself under the ceiling fan or go outside. When taking off more clothes wasn’t an option (we don’t subscribe to the nudist philosophy), I went out and bought everybody their own personal floor fan. Here’s my logic: You as an individual are either hot, cold, or just right when it comes to the ambient temperature surrounding your current location. So where is the logic in spending the electricity to drop an entire house three degrees when you will only ever be occupying one spot in that house at any given time? All you really NEED is for the place you happen to be in to be comfortable for you, temperature-wise. So, put yourself in front of your fan. It’s at least 10 degrees cooler in the low breeze of a floor fan, and perfectly comfortable. So, by taking this approach we’ve managed to greatly reduce our usage of the A/C.
Let’s see…besides that, I think the only other thing we actively do to conserve is to also be fridge nazis. Our standing rule/sermon: figure out what you want in there before you open the door, then get it and close it as fast as you can! Our current refrigerator even has a door alarm, so if it is held open for too long, everybody knows it.
So, the consistent, collective effort of a family to help bring their bills down to manageable amounts does indeed pay off! It also helps lend cohesiveness and a sense of teamwork to the family unit, and you can’t get too much of that stuff, eh?