24 September 2007

Electricity usage

How are you all going with your electricity and water meter readings? I hope you have mastered the meters and are now doing weekly readings. It really will help you cut your usage back if you know what you're using a lot of electricity and water on. We've completely moved over to compact fluro globes in the entire house now, even the down lights and it's made a different in our bill. We bought four globes every month, or more if they were on special, so it didn't hit our small grocery budget too much while we were buying them. If you do this, replace the globes you use the most first.

One of the readers here, Wildside, has reduced her electricity bill a lot and I asked her to share her secrets. Here they are:
  • candlelight, kind of romantic, it hides the dust bunnies when you have company and forgives wrinkles -- everything/everyone looks better by candlelight!
  • strategically placed nightlights to light the way at night.
  • don't turn on an overhead light or lamp unless you have to -- and if you do, make it a nightlight or energy efficient bulb.
  • make good use of natural daylight.
  • think/talk in the dark -- it can be fun!
  • cook on a grill over coal fire outside year-round and think of it as fun -- and how much better food cooked this way tastes!
  • energy efficient fridge.
  • a smaller freezer.
  • consider manual appliances/power over electric -- or make use without some other way!
  • stretch your garden as far as possible and appreciate raw, simple food.
  • wash dishes by hand.
  • only run full loads of laundry and try to limit that to one per day maximum! (My rule: you can do far less than that, but not more!)
  • only run the dryer for 20 minutes then hang everything to finish drying (we live in a damp, rainy climate where stuff gets mildewy and there is a laundry law about hanging clothes outside in view anyway) ... 20 minutes is enough to give things a head start on drying and take the wrinkles out.
  • turn stove burner, oven off just before things are set to come out and let food finish on residual heat.
  • a better thing for us to do (or at least ½ of us [meaning me!]) would be to only use our computer and TV during hours of darkness as a rule... I think I'll decide to pick this habit up again -- we do use both the computer and TV a lot!

Thanks Wildside.



  1. I have a small woodburning stove that heats the back of our farmhouse in winter. It is small but has enough of a flat top that 2 large pots can sit on it. Every winter I challenge myself to cook on it. I have mastered many things! I heat with it, cook on it and the only cost is the effort to chop and bring in the stove wood. I am trying more and more to cook our meals outdoors in summer which isn't a task at all for the girl from the deep south.

    I have just discovered your journal and have enjoyed reading here. :)

  2. hello Angie, welcome! I'm quite envious of your little wood stove. I have wanted one for a looooooooooooooong time. Your's sound ideal for long slow cooking.

  3. I haven't tried solar cooking, but I did make pumpkin soup in one of those foam veggies boxes once! Heat the pumpkin in a pan with water till boiling, then wrap the pan in newspaper, put it in the foam box, stuff newspaper all around and put it in the sun. At the end of the day it was cooked :)
    The permanent solar cooker looks great. I wonder if I can convince my dh to make me one.... !

  4. Rhonda Jean, I first saw the solar oven idea in the book, "The Complete Tightwad Gazette." My husband had built a barrel stove, mounting one 50-gallon drum over another, for our heating needs in Michigan. Thus, I KNEW he could make a solar oven to take advantage of the sun in Phoenix, AZ, where we now live. Basically, it's a cardboard box within a cardboardbox, with foil lining the inner box and a sheet of foil also attached to the hinged lid for reflecting the sun's heat. The lid is propped open with a long pole, and a sheet of plexiglass is laid over the box opening, with a heavy rock on each corner. I place an oven thermometer inside the box to keep track of the temperature, and accordingly adjust the placement of the box and the tilt of the lid throughout the day -- to keep the temperature up. For building a box, you can find detailed instructions on the internet, as well as in various solar oven cookbooks (obtained from the public libary). Ready-made boxes or kits of various designs and materials are also available for purchase. I regularly make my granola in the solar oven, usually starting it at 9 a.m. and bringing it inside by 3 p.m. I mix the granola and spread it on a cookie tray, and I place a small rack beneath that. I have also used my solar oven to bake Italian bread, chicken, and rice. I thought the solar oven would be a fun experiment, as well as a savings in electricity. I like the granola texture and prefer this method to using the conventional oven. This winter, I plan to do at least one meal a week in the solar cooker. I haven't done soups in it, but I think those would do well. The first time we tried the cooker was a Sunday morning. We came home from church, expecting dinner to be cooked, but the wind had closed down the lid! We set it up again and went to our daughter's for dinner, and the food in our solar oven had finished cooking by late afternoon. It's important to be at home when you're using this type of solar cooker! The cardboard version is inexpensive to make, and I read that one man saw these used in Africa and lasting for as long as 10 years -- with proper care, especially not being allowed to get wet. Sorry this is so long, but it might help someone else get started! Desert Lady

  5. great ideas! one thing about the flourescent bulbs...i heard they had mercury in them and was wondering about the proper way to dispose of them? no one has been able to answer that for me.

    i'll have to check out the solar oven links...sounds neat!

  6. Well I haven't tried a solar oven yet but DH and I are intending to build one for this summer. Should be an interesting project. I'm quite looking forward to it. I imagine you'd get quite a lot of use out of one up where you are. Here I think we'd only be able to use one over the summer months - but I LOVE the idea of not having to heat up the house. :-)

  7. The energy efficient fluro bulbs do contain mercury and should be disposed of separately at rubbish stations that take chemical wastes etc. Same as for car batteries.

  8. My electricity usage is 11.28kwh for domestic power and .5kwh for hot water for 3 people. I am pretty happy with that but would really like to get it down to around 9kwh or less.
    I am going to show the solar ovens to hubby and see if I can inspire himt o build me one. Up here the last thing you want to do in summer is turn on the oven in the house!
    Don't know how I'll go inspiring him, I've been waiting 18 months for my vegie gardens!!!

  9. Wanted to add that I always turn my stove/oven off before I've finished cooking as it stays plenty hot enough to finish the job :)

  10. For those of you who have old fridges beware they do sometimes use MORE electricity. I recently had to replace my 15year old fridge and in its last month of straining to work it significantly increased my electricity usage :(

  11. oops, forget to sign off. Bella

  12. I have a solar oven from Rainbow Power Company. Since getting it in July (the family all chipped in for my birthday!), I have cooked most of our bread in it. It takes a bit longer, but it tastes so much better! Friends who come for dinner are now disappointed if it was a cloudy day and the bread can't be baked in the solar oven. It also cooks stews, curries, beans, etc anything you can do in a slow cooker. It bakes cookies and muffins and even handles a roast dinner (lamb leg, potatoes, pumpkin, etc). Takes about double the time to cook things but is much slower to burn, so you don't have to worry about watching things so much. I love cooking with the sun and I loathe turning on my electric oven now!

  13. I just found your blog, and I LOVE it!

    Definitely on my favorites list :D

  14. Hello! I just found your blog and I love it! Do you have your grocery list written down? I read that you only go to the grocery once a month. I would like to be able to this too can you tell me how?



  15. We have been trying hard to not use as much electricity as what we have been using.
    We just had a "smart" meter installed at home and once they have them all done we will be able to have different rates for our power. Peak and off peak.
    It makes it very easy to read because now it it digital and it started off at zero. We have used less that 17kwh per day in the last week. Which is a great savings considering that previous to that we were using 28kwh per day.(though we had the air conditioner on a few times then).
    Now we just have to try to use the Tv's and the Computers less.
    This solar oven sounds interesting. Does anyone know if they can be used in the winter as well?
    Off to pick up some seeds and soil as I'm going to try my hand at growing some vegy's indoors this winter.


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