A couple of times recently I have been asked about how we use electricity. We have cut our bills back from around 20 kWh per day to under 7 kWh. I'm happy to share with you, because it wasn't that hard!
The first bit of advice I can offer you is to stop thinking of electricity by price and try to think of it in kilowatt hours. It is then easy to work out how much you are actually using. The price of electricity changes but a kilowatt hour is always a kilowatt hour.
The most major change we have made is to our water. Our hot water is heated by solar so obviously this is a huge saving to our bill. We reduce this further by turning our electric back up off on sunny days and just rely on the sun. Solar hot water services are designed to use electricity to heat at the cheaper overnight rate if the water is not hot enough, but we find most of the time it is warm enough without overnight heating.
If we have a couple of cloudy days we switch it back on. The trap is remembering to turn it off again when the sunshine returns.
You may not have solar hot water or be in a position to buy a system but there are plenty of other ways to save. Don't think the little changes don't make a difference to your bill because they add up to HUGE savings. If you can, put all your computer related plugs into the one board. You know...... monitors, speakers etc. Then when you have finished with the computer, turn it off at the wall and you'll save money on those silly little lights. You can do the same with all TV stuff - DVDs, set top boxes etc. Put them on the same power board and then just one flick of the switch and they're all off! Laptops use about one third as much electricity as standard computers. (I have one on my wish list) When I use my computer, I have the speakers turned off. You don't need them unless you are watching a video or something. I just check my emails regularly and save the power instead.
We use the clothes line, not the dryer or we hang clothes inside on a clothes horse if the weather is wet.
We no longer have the time set on the microwave. I have a watch and we did have a battery operated clock but it's broken at the moment. Hubby uses his mobile to tell the time. When I use the microwave, I switch it on at the wall, use it and then switch it off at the wall. At first it was hard to remember, but if you persist it quickly becomes second nature.
I try not to iron or vacuum unless it's completely necessary! Both these things use massive amounts of electricity!!! The upside is I hardly ever vacuum or iron! And I save money! WIN/WIN!!!
We have a gas oven that runs on bottled gas so the only other thing I can think of is the lights. Now, I used to feel like an ogre as I ran around telling everyone to turn off the lights. Now I don't have to hassle anyone in the family for two reasons. The first is that it has become like second nature and the second reason....... Well that's worth me telling you about. We like to go on a family holiday to a place near Corryong and try to go most years. The kids love it! When our last bill came I talked about it with the children and explained that we would have heaps more money at holiday time due to how careful everyone had been with electricity. I didn't deliberately mean to make it relevant to them but now I can see that it works. If your family understand the importance of saving electricity and can see a benefit to them, they will be enthusiastic. I never need to tell anyone to turn off lights any more. If they leave a light on, one of the others will cry, "Don't you want to go to Corryong?!" Perfect! No longer is it just Mum nagging over nothing. It is the difference between having a holiday or not!
Usually the most lights running at one time would be two. We have about an hour a night when everyone is running around cleaning teeth and getting ready for bed, that I think of as 'peak hour'. At this time there can be five or six lights being used! When the kids are tucked up in bed, Hubby and I usually only have one lamp on.
The last thing I would like to share with you is our thoughts on gadgets. You can buy all sorts of gadgets these days for saving electricity. There are gadgets that will turn off your appliances for you, measure how much power individual appliances are using etc. I don't believe they are necessary. We try not to be consumers so I don't want to save electricity by wasting precious resources for the manufacture of these gadgets. Why would I need them? We don't feel the need to have every modern convenience. I believe that even with our frugal use of electricity, we are living a life of luxury. We live a simpler life than many but our home is warm, our bellies are full of good food, we have clean clothes to wear and don't even need to wash them by hand! (Thank goodness) I believe luxury is in the eye of the beholder. I don't need to have everything the neighbours have (and more) to feel satisfied. In fact, I think our family is happier (or should that read hippier!) because we focus on the things we do have in our lives and are very grateful for them. The bottom line is, you don't need to use bucket loads of electricity to be comfortable.
If you are trying to reduce your usage take notice of your daily usage on your bill and aim to better that next quarter. You don't have to do it all at once. Each quarter try to think of another way to save. It is easy! Truly!!!
I'm sure there are many other ways people are cutting back on their power and I would love some ideas in the comments! Also, please let me know if you do start saving on electricity. I would love to hear how you go!