Tuesday, 6 September 2011

We HALVED our electricity usage in less than a year

When we became serious about reducing our impact, we were concentrating on food.  I wanted to cook good food at home, reducing food miles and packaging.  We were growing our own food and producing as little rubbish as possible.

I thought we were fairly careful with electricity so I didn't give our usage too much thought.  This quickly changed when someone showed me how to read my bill.  I was told that the average usage was around 17 or 18 kWh a day.  Ours was about 22kWh!  I was horrified!

Needless to say, reducing our consumption became a priority.  The silly thing is..... it was easy!  And I don't feel our lifestyle is worse off. 

So................... How did we do it?

Well, the lights changed.  We began to use a small lamp at night which is actually very relaxing.  It creates a lovely atmosphere.  Apart from an hour or so before the kids go to bed, which is a busy time in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom etc., we would have a maximum of two lights on.

We have taken away our telly - this was not actually part of our consumption reduction plan but it has helped, I'm sure.  We just felt we were all watching too much telly!

We never, ever, ever use the dryer!  It has been a  bit painful over winter, only because we have a small house and therefore had to negotiate the clothes horse when moving around.  Those of you with larger houses would find this fairly easy to manage.

We also were using a very old and inefficient dishwasher.  We have since puchased a dishwasher that uses both water and electricity wisely.  I would like to make a couple of points here.  I think they are very, very important.

  • Obviously washing dishes by hand would have solved this problem without us adding to the problem of consumerism BUT......... the changes you make must work for YOUR family.  If they don't, you are going to throw your hands in the air, feeling that it is all too hard!  One of our children has needs that require us to travel a couple of days a week and we often have many medical appointments to attend.  With all the home cooking and three ravenous children and a hungry husband, I would be chained to the kitchen sink if I didn't use a dishwasher.  I am sure using the dishwasher uses much less energy than if I was to give up our efforts and buy frozen and pre-prepared food!  For you, this may be using the dryer because you have many toddlers, or a baby in cloth nappies.  Give usage serious thought, but don't be too hard on yourself.  Make it work!
  • The other important point - You may have an old appliance that is working very well.  Yes, it may use more electricity than if you bought a new product BUT every appliance has embodied energy.  The energy that has already been used in its production.  If the cost of energy in producing the materials and assembling and transporting the new appliance is too high, you are saving nothing in energy!  Possibly keeping the old appliance would be wiser.  This is something you need to weigh up carefully before you decide.  Too many people try to save electricity by buying every new, whiz bang product that they can get their hands on.  Sadly they are defeating the purpose!
We are now turning off appliances like the microwave at the wall.  It is difficult to remember at first but becomes habit after a while.  We turn it on at the wall, use it and immediately turn it off at the wall again.  Phone chargers need to be turned off or unplugged when not in use, otherwise when you remove the phone they will still be using electricity.

We have solar hot water with electric backup so it heats overnight with electricity.  We have turned off the hot water switch at the meter now.  It heats enough through the sun on most days.  I haven't gone through a winter like this yet.  We may need to turn it back on in winter.

The meter with the hot water switch turned off on the far right
  We haven't received a bill yet since all these changes have been implemented.  Believe it, or not, I can't wait for our next bill!  I'm hoping to have dropped below 10kWh per day.

We have set ourselves a goal of 8 kWh per day as our ultimate and are now looking forward to trying to achieve it.  We have finally decided on the size and type of solar 'on grid' system we want, and have found someone we trust to install it.  I will post about our journey of investigating our solar needs soon.


purplepear said...

I agree wholeheartily with what you say. Don't fix it if it's not broken and don't be too hard on yourself. Good luck with the energy descent. xx

Busy mum of 3 said...

I just grabbed our last electricity bill to see what our daily consumption is...are you sitting down...25units per day, for a family of 5, and I wouldn't consider us power wasters, no lights blaring in our house. Obviously we need to do some work too! Great post!

Evi said...

Great thought provoking post! We dry our clothes inside over winter when its too wet outside and we have a tiny house (6m x 8m - true!) with 7 of us!! It's possible - necessity is the mother of invention!! I love that saying!

Linda said...

Thanks Purplepear! I hope we reach our goal on the next bill. Fingers crossed!

Busy Mum, isn't it amazing how much we use without realising. Please let me know how you go. I'm very interested. I expect, like me, you'll be nicely surprised at how easy it is to lower your consumption.

Evi, I think your house is even smaller than mine! We were six but now we are five. It's nice to live in a small house sometimes. We can't run away from each other like families can do in 'rumpus room' type houses. Though there are times........... *sigh*