One of the things we wanted to do was save energy and water and keep money in our wallet. This isn’t always an easy task and it’s taken some time but our electric bill runs about $125 a month in the Summer now. I’ve seen it higher than $150 before. Our water bill has been as high as $100 before as well. With things being slow at Will’s work it means his paychecks aren’t that great and we took a vacation about a month an a half ago and we haven’t even recovered from that yet because the staycation part of it was more than the vacation part of it. Anyhoo, so we’ve (mainly me because I do the bill paying) have implemented a few things to help with the monthly bills.
How to Save Energy
I love LEDs. The first thing we said we were going to do when we bought our house was replace existing light bulbs as they burned out with LEDs. Well, about half have burned out so far. I almost can’t wait for the rest to burn out. Although LEDs cost more up front, I have seen the savings on our electric bill and I know we’re saving energy. Plus, now LEDs come in all sorts of styles and colors and what not.
Another thing we do is set our programmable thermostat to 80 degrees when we aren’t here. Our thermostat is pretty basic. I can’t control it from my phone and it doesn’t learn our habits (so wish I had the Nest thermostat right now) but it serves it’s purpose and until it dies (which will probably be never since it was new right before we bought the house) we can’t justify the money on a new one (Nest anyone?). Even when we are here, we rarely change it and that helps to keep costs down.
We also run our ceiling fans. Every bedroom has one along with the living room. I bought a Vornado fan for the dining room because there isn’t a fan there. We keep them on low during the days we aren’t here and turn them up some when we are. This almost sounds counterproductive but it keeps the AC unit from kicking on as often. Also, when we aren’t here I close all the blinds and curtains. It helps keep heat out of the house, which in turn saves on the AC system kicking on all the time.
Then there are the typical reminders to turn the lights out when you leave a room or use natural light during the day when you’re in a room. Our flag light is solar powered so that uses the power of the sun. This week we are buying a motion sensor night light for the hallway since the only light it gets is from the bedrooms and eventually I’d like motion sensor porch lights for our front porch.
How to Save Water
I love the idea of WaterSense and when we remodel the bathrooms (if we ever get to remodel the bathrooms) then I will be sure to put in WaterSense faucets and low flow toilets. They even make WaterSense irrigation controllers that you can override from your smartphone wherever you may be. I’d love to have one if ours ever dies. During the summer our irrigation system pretty much stays in the off position. This summer, we’ve had more rain than in the past which I am super happy about (so are the weeds). If we need something watered, we will generally use the water hose for a spot or two instead of the whole irrigation system.
I only do laundry once a week. Period. If it didn’t get in this past time then it goes the next time. There isn’t any mid week washing around here. I now wash lights and darks together. It’s one large load with one cup of detergent and that’s it. Unless I have something new and bright, I’m not worried about the colors running in the washer. Most of our items have been washed a zillion times anyway. I still wash jeans separate because I don’t want holes in our delicates but it saves a load of laundry. I also use liquid detergent instead of pods because if I have a smaller load I can control how much detergent I use. With pods, you are stuck to that size no matter the load size of your laundry.
I also wash all towels together despite their colors (again they’ve already been washed numerous times). I do all my washing on cold to save on the electric bill (hot water heater). Sometimes we find a flea when the kids come to visit since they have pets so that’s about the only time I will wash something in hot water. We also reuse our towels for a week or 2 before switching them out or washing them. The kids use theirs every other weekend for 2 nights so theirs get washed even less. Same with the bed sheets and they all get washed together as well.
We also run the dishwasher maybe once a week. Unfortunately, a couple of our kids haven’t learned to use the same glass all day so when they are here (like this past weekend) I ended up running it twice (in the same weekend). I also told them they need to start using the same glass for the whole day because next time, once the glasses are gone, they will have to figure out how to drink their juice and water without a glass. It sounds harsh but there’s no need to have a new glass every time you want a drink of water. Sometimes, we run out of plates (5 people total and only 11 plates in the house) so I will generally hand wash one or two plates to get us through the weekend instead of running the dishwasher and I only run the dishwasher once its full.
We’ve also cut back our shower times. Will and the boys generally take 5 minute showers. Tracy and I generally take closer to 15 minute showers. We shower once a day. I used to take 30+ minute showers 1-2x a day but not anymore. I try to plan ahead so if I know I’m going to be outside or doing something sweaty then I won’t shower that morning.
Then there is the typical water saving advice like turning the faucets off while brushing your teeth and things like that. Will and I even save water by not flushing the toilet after every use (sounds gross but “when it’s yellow, let it mellow”). Our toilets are from the 80’s so they’re not very water efficient.