|Use - it - up Squares|
BC Hydro warned in 2013 that over five years electricity rates would be going up by 28% to pay for aging electrical infrastructure. It is going up again in April 2017. Although we have had a pretty good handle on it I checked our current billing cycle online and see that my next two month bill is projected to be about $448 for two months of use (Dec 3-Feb 2). We have primary electric heat and have natural gas for water, BBQ and the fireplace. That amount is $60 higher than the same billing cycle last year. Why the increase? We had more humans in our house for a 10 day period over Christmas, rates increased and we had more Christmas lights up than last year (all on timers). We also have faced the coldest winter since we moved here with many days below zero. It just warmed up over night and melted most of last weeks 3/4 foot of snow.
Fortunately it is January and early in the budget so I did some further budget adjusting to increase the electricity budget for the year which required other areas to be reduced. We are much better off than those in other areas of the country where winter is much colder and longer and electricity rates even higher, particularly in Ontario. Last month someone commented that they live in a condo and rates were much lower. Yes, rates are much lower in condos generally. If you have shared walls that tends to keep the heat in.
What can we do to combat it? Here is a list of small and large things you can do to help keep electricity costs within your budget:
1. Turn off the lights - pretty obvious when you leave the room. What about not leaving exterior lights on at night? The only time we ever have any lights on at night is if we are expecting company or have Christmas lights on in December. If you live in a high crime area it might be better to keep them on but I happen to live in one of the safest neighborhoods ever (2 RCMP officers live on my tiny keyhole street with cop cars seen daily).
2. Unplug it - I just walked around the house and found 2 things to unplug. Items that are not used all the time should be unplugged as they use electricity even when not in use.
3. Use an appliance that takes less energy or conserve what energy you use when using appliances. I baked some squares this morning using up an older cake mix, a pudding sample and some older coconut flakes in an effort to reduce food waste. When I was done I shut the oven off and left the oven open for a few minutes to allow the warmth to heat the kitchen up. I could have saved even more energy by baking squares while cooking supper at the same time...but supper is soup today so I couldn't do that. Lately we have been using the crock pot for suppers - they use far less energy than turning the stove on.
4. Turn down the thermostat. I just turned it one degree colder than it normally is as hubby is away on business again until late tonight and I am sitting with a blanket. No need to heat up the whole house just for me and Buddy. If you are going on vacation lower your heat or AC depending on where you live.
5. At night consider even cooler temperatures. We have an electric blanket which is used primarily for my bad arthritis but it sure makes it easier to turn down the heat at night when I have a warm bed to climb into. These are low voltage and don't take loads of electricity. Ours was bought half price on a black Friday sale for $150. Yes, the good ones are expensive but they do save money over time. Ours has dual controls so no need to heat hubby's half if I am the cold one.
6. Shut the door! This is common sense but my hubby is the biggest culprit at our house of leaving the fridge door open when snacking or patio door open when Buddy is doing his business. Yes, I have been accused of harping about this.....no need to harp if the door is closed, just saying.
7. Monitor your usage - just the small act of monitoring electrical usage can reduce your bills as you become far more energy conscious. Most electric companies have daily usage online now - BC Hydro does. We don't have billing for different times of the day yet but I know they are planning it, other Provinces have it already so plan to do chores like laundry and vacuuming around those hours.
8. Wear more clothes! My stepdaughter used to complain she was cold but refused to wear socks or more clothes...needless to say we kept the thermostat where it was.
9. Use the short cycle. We do this for both the washing machine and dishwasher. The dishes come out just as clean, so do the clothes. Even our 10 year old washer and dryer are High Efficiency and the dryer has a cycle that automatically knows when clothes are dry. Better yet where possible hang clothes to dry.
10. Make everyone who lives in the household aware of energy consumption. This means showing them how you monitor it, and how much it costs each day. It is easy to ignore energy savings when you are not the one paying the bills.
There are tons more tips on saving on electricity. Feel free to share yours. Stay warm!