Since moving into a larger home, I have been worried about what our utilities were going to be. Well, after receiving our gas bill last week and our electric bill over the weekend, it’s safe to say we will be cutting back immensely this month.
Our gas bill was $167, our electric bill was $196 and our water bill was $48.
Let’s break it down…
January was a cold month here in NC, especially for us considering we are from AZ. We decided to put our thermostat at 70 degrees and adjust as needed depending on that first bill. This may surprise some of you, but I’m actually OK with the $167 gas bill. John and I decided if it was more than $200, we would turn it down but since it’s $167, we’re keeping it at 70 degrees. I know I’m a wimp…but I’m FREEZING even though to most people 70 is probably warm. I definitely plan on lowering the thermostat next winter once we’ve adjusted a bit to the colder climate. In comparison, our electric bill in AZ over the summer months was $250-$300 keeping it 80-81 degrees in a 1700 sq ft house. It’s all relative…
Now let’s talk about the water bill. At $48, we’re happy with that. We don’t use water excessively and $48 isn’t that much, so moving on.
The electric bill is what shocked us the most. Honestly, we expected $80 or less. How in the world did we use $196 of electricity?!?! We turn off the lights when we’re not in the room, the heater is run by gas, we don’t watch much television…I didn’t get it. After looking closely at the bill, I saw there was a $25 activation fee and the bill was for 40 days instead of 30. If you subtract those expenses, the actual “usage” was more along the lines of $125. Not great, but that’s something I can work with.
How we plan on saving on utilities
I expect to see a significantly lower bill in February in regards to our electricity usage. Here’s what we plan on doing:
Using the dryer minimally. We purchased our washer and dryer off of Craigslist for cheap. The washer works great…the dryer, not so much. It takes 80-90 minutes to dry clothes with that thing. I do laundry pretty regularly and never thought much of it until seeing that bill. So, from now on we are going to hang our clothes in the garage to dry and then “fluff” them for 10 minutes or so to get rid of the wrinkles (if needed). We’re also cutting back on doing laundry every day or every two days to once or twice a week. I’m 99% certain the high bill was due to our inefficient dryer.
Unplugging electronics not in use. Did you know that electronic devices that are plugged in use energy, even if they’re not on? It’s not much, but little things do add up. Think about things around your house that are plugged in but not being used – your cell phone charger, the coffee pot, the television, the DVD player, lamps, the computer, etc. This month, we’re being more aware of what’s plugged in and not on and making the effort to unplug the item.
Using lights minimally. While I don’t leave lights on if I’m not in the room, I do rely too much on lamps and lights rather than natural sunlight. Instead of having the kitchen and family room lights on while I work, I’m opening the blinds and relying on the sun!
Taking shorter showers and less baths. I LOVE baths, but in an effort to save money I’m limiting my baths to once per week. I’m also going to take shorter showers instead of standing under the hot water for 15 minutes in an effort to warm up.
Other ways to cut back on utilities
Turn the thermostat down a degree or two. We’re not doing this, but if your gas bill is high this is the easiest way to lower it.
Don’t pre-rinse your dishes
Turn the water heater down. Lower it to 120 degrees – you’ll still have hot water but you’ll save a few bucks a month.
Purchase energy-efficient appliances
Use cold water for your laundry. Save the hot water for the heavily-soiled clothes.
Only wash clothes that truly need washing
Use energy-efficient light bulbs
Switch to low-flow shower heads to use less water
I’ll be reporting back in a month with an update on our bills. Hopefully, our strategies will pay off…or else I may be lowering our thermostat. What tips do you have to save money on utilities? I’d love to know!!
photo credit: Flickr via Brendan Wood