Reading meters is a great simple living tool

19 November 2008

These are the posts that really make blogging worthwhile for me. Oh sure, I blog for myself in that it creates a good record of what I'm doing here but the real pleasure comes when I connect enough with you to change what you're doing. I am so pleased at the results of this challenge - you have made significant changes by reading your meters, and I'm sure that while you continue to want to save precious resources and money, you'll continue to read your meters and reduce your consumption by doing it.

Patricia, our electricity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). I'm sure when you start turning off your appliances not in use you'll notice a big difference.

Donetta, thank you. It's amazing how much power those plasma screen TVs cost to run. Hanno read your comment too and we talked about it for a while.

Gail, welcome. Don't wait to start living the good life. Start today. It's not about location, it's more a change in the way you think and how you live your life.

Rhonda, our grandmas were much more frugal than we are. They didn't waste anything. We can learn a lot from the way they ran their homes.

Deb, thanks for your comment, it's a good one to repeat here. You did really well and it shows how easy it is to reduce consumption by taking small steps. This is part of what Deb wrote: We are a 2 adult household and reduced our average daily electricity from 18 to 16.5 units and water from 430 to 205 litres. We have just moved back to this house and after the first two days we replaced the existing light globes with energy efficient ones. I turned a few things off at the power point and left the blinds open a little longer so the lights were turned on a little later. I did a couple of loads of washing on each of the first two days but none on either of the second two. We were also more aware of how long we were in the shower and reduced this on the second two days.

Emma, you've done well too. I hope you can get your landlord to fix any leaks there.

Hi Jacqi, Blogger strikes again. You're doing well too, particularly as you're all at home all day.

Hi Bee, welcome. It's great you got that subsidy three months in a row. Well done!

Ruralaspirations, you're right, meter reading is a great budgeting tool.

Hi Shannon, it doesn't really matter love. You are more aware now of your readings, and what increases and decreases it. Work on your family because without them on board, it will be an exercise in frustration for you. Good luck.

Hi Leanne, it takes a while to get to know your own patterns. Keep at it and it will save you money and greenhouse emissions.

Cripes Julie! $800 per quarter would send me into a spin. Good luck and make sure the family helps.

Hi Donna, the hot showers and laundry really increase usage. I'm really pleased you enjoyed the challenge and hope you continue with it.

Well done Kate, that's very impressive.

Hi Eli, we use Dipel (it's an organic solution). Read this, it might give you more ideas.

Hi Sue, my suggestions are to get everyone in the family to help. They all should turn off lights, TV, iPod and phone chargers at the wall stitch, not just at the appliance itself. Standby power, which is that electricity we waste just to have the convenience of not turning the appliance on at the wall, costs us all a lot of money. Change to CF energy saving light bulbs - this will save a huge amount. When you buy new appliances, make sure they're energy efficient with a high star rating - they cost more but save that money back, plus some, over the course of their lifetime. See what difference there is between hot showers and baths with a few kids in the bath at a time. You'll have to read your meters to find that out. When you're baking, bake more than one thing. Use a slow cooker (crockpot), they're energy efficient. Sweep instead of using the vacuum cleaner. Turn off the computer when not in use. The old style monitors use a lot of power. I'm sure we'll get more tips in the comments today.

There were about 3000 readers here yesterday so I hope a lot of the lurkers also read their meters. I'm really pleased so many of you joined in this challenge. I think we've proven just how effective meter reading is. When I went to work yesterday, I thought about the $90 saving we will make over the course of our billing period if we continue to cut back. If someone told me that they would pay me $90 to turn off lights, the TV and chargers, I would certainly do it. The problem is unless we know how much we'll save we rarely go that one step extra to turn off and cut back. Savings are there, we just have to do those small steps to make sure we realise those savings. The important part though is to make it a habit so it's not just a challenge that will be forgotten by next week, but become a normal part of the way we live.

ADDED LATER: The Crone has posted her results on her blog. She's got a brand new place it's well worth a visit. Check her out here The Crone at Wits End.

Photo from Allposters.


  1. Hi Rhonda,
    Whilst saving money is fantastic, this challenge has also made my family consider the environmental impact of saving electricity and water.

    Perhaps with all the money people can save by turning things off, we can all look into switching our electricity account to green accounts.

    Our electricity comes from 100% green power and it costs us $1/day extra. Yes, this will bump the bill up a fair bit but by reducing our usage our bill is still less than what it was - and we are helping the environment and increasing the demand for green energy.

  2. Here via Winterwood blog.
    Have always hung out laundry, it one of my favourite times to just check out the garden and watch birds etc.
    Love your blog ,will be back.

  3. Hi Rhonda
    If you get a chance, read this short blog entry
    titled 'early morning eco-lesson from my 5 year old' - perfectly fits in with your current theme ! Amazing words of wisdom from a little one !

  4. Hello Rhonda, congratulations on inspiring so many people to read their meters :)

    Your comment that if only people knew how much money they'd save, touched a chord with me... I thought we were good at keeping our power use down, until I began reading our meters earlier this year. Since then we have cut our electricity bill by around 40% through both winter and spring! That equates to around $180 a quarter. We weren't power guzzlers before, but reading the meters and being more conscious of our use - and following some of the great tips from other bloggers - has saved us a lot of money :)

    We've since installed solar hot water, and I think our power use is still too high so we are going to test appliances with an energy meter - I'm sure we can use less :)

  5. Tell Hanno I have been thinking of him. I do hope his test came out alright. You two are such a wonderful example of a cooperative marriage. I see so few of us out there.

  6. rhonda - I dont know if you saw a tv show over here called carbon cops last year? and I was appalled and amazed actually at how people waste energy and electricity by leaving on ipods, computers etc etc. i was always taught that if I'm not using it to switch it off..a good mantra that! Good post and maybe a few more people will be inspired to switch things off.

  7. Love your blog Rhonda :-)
    You've been tagged for an award at

  8. I also might suggest (as Rhonda has I believe) a solar hot water system, and if you are in a windy area, a small turbine. We put both these in, and our electrics consumption is down by 2/3rds. Some little things that also help are:

    only filling the electric kettle with the water you need, or if you are going to fill it, use that hot water to wash your clothes or to wash your floor.

    Clothesline...nuff said

    Except for socks and underwear (and the occasional shirt if you get very dirty) most clothes can be worn for two days if they are shook out/brushed and hung up.

    getting a manual carpet sweeper to do the daily the electric vacuum for once a week. A rubber brush on the carpet also works well.

    Get a woodstove...much better than electric storage heaters.

    Wash your hair at night and let it air need for the blow dryer then

    If you are home alone, only have electrics on in one room

    Get a motion detector for your outside light rather than one that stays on all night. You can also get garden lights that are solar powered, store the energy in the battery, and then turn on at night.

    Very good column, Rhonda!

    AM of the bread

  9. Question from a Lurker
    Hi Rhonda. Your blog is inspiring in so many ways. Tried a couple of times to leave comments but somehow it hasn´t work. Realise you have removed your email address so I hope you can read and answer my query.
    Inspired by your blogg I crocheted my two first kitchen cleaning cloths. Was disappointed with the result. They just don´t seem to absorb moisture and mop up so well. Thought maybe they needed to be washed first but that didn´t help. I have used good quality cotton yarn. Read somewhere else about someone experiencing the same thing. Please, doo you have any advice/comments?
    Greetings from Uppsala, Sweden
    Ramona K

  10. My husband and I lived 14 years without electricity. We have been back on the grid so to speak for about five years. It is wonderful to have again what so many take for granted. We watch the meter, hang the clothes in the sun. Pretty much do all that you recommend. We live in the desert and in summer the wash dries in about ten minutes. I tumble the line dried laundry in an unheated clothes dryer to soften it. I take advantage of every windy day. Wind generators are becoming an everyday sight here.

    Thanks for your common sense blog.

  11. I was travelling and so didn't participate in this meter challenge, but I do want to report on past experience. Last May (a mild month here in N. Mississippi, USA) I made three changes: I installed an energy efficient window AC to use in the room I use the most (instead of an old central unit); I replaced an old "tube" TV with a small LCD(LED?) one; and, my hair dryer died and a I chose not to replace it. I also began to unplug small electrical appliances except when I'm using them. That month my average daily power usage went down from 27 to 9 KWH!

    Since then my average daily usage has been a little higher, 13-15 KWH, but that is about HALF what my usage was last year. (My power company gives figures to compare to last year on the bills.)

    I am amazed and thrilled that such simple changes made such a huge difference. Now I'm looking for other places to cut back!

    On another note, the hens I bought as chicks last June just produced their VERY FIRST EGG! I am so excited.

  12. Since having a combined gas and electricity bill of £250 for the late summer quarter I have been reading the meters weekly - there's a site run by Oxford University which enables you to log readings. We also bought a plug-in energy monitor and have pretty much found where we were being lazy - mostly in the back bedroom where we keep the office equipment. A simple case of switching off kit that isn't being used (including PC monitors when stepping away for more than 5 minutes) has made quite a difference. Our usage hasn't fallen hugely, but I feel that anything that makes you think about what you're doing is a good thing.

    We've always turned all electricals off at the wall at night - in all honesty this was originally for fire prevention reasons....but it has meant that we haven't had to think about it for carbon reduction issues - we're just reducing elsewhere.

    I'm sure we've still some way to go yet - a couple of appliances are over 15 years old and are due to be replaced (in particular the boiler....). Hopefully this will lower our usage further - we're planning to stay here for the duration, so any outlay will be recouped in the long run.

  13. WOW! 3000 readers!!!!!!

    I am not at all surprised -- you are so awesome!

    I loved Emma -- the berry patch 's comment. The fact that her family is so environmentally conscious is inspiring for those of us who are hopeful to have such a family one day.


  14. Hello Rhonda. This is Rhonda2. I'm giving you a heads-up because I've selected you as one of the deserving bloggers for the "Butterfly Award." It's a way of saying that I think your blog is very cool. When you have a chance, pop over to my blog and check out how to apply the award to your blog.

  15. Dear rhonda,
    I have two more suggestions for saving energy / water:
    I use to bath my son (3 yrs old) in his old baby-bath-tub (a yellow plastic one). I put it inside the big bath tub, then fill with warm water. He loves to sit there inside and plays. It does not only save a lot of water, I think it is also much safer, as he does not slide around in the big tub.
    -use a notebook instead of a big desktop computer. A notebook needs only a fifth of the power.

    Hope this was understandable - I'm from Germany.

    Greeting to all the other meter-readers!

  16. In our house, we've recently been working at energy reduction as well, so I put all our lights on timers including our indoor led christmas lights. (Haven't got outside christmas lights yet) All our lights are either compact flourescent or led. We hope to get rid of the CF lights and move entirely to LED for the ultimate in savings over incandescent. But it's really nice to have all our lights automatic now! We don't have a meter that I've found on our water because we live on a farm and have a well. Though that being said we are always careful about usage of the water and the well recharge rate. So, we don't do tons of loads of laundry all at once in a row, and we all take showers, including the dogs when they need a bath. Our natural gas consumption we are still messing around with as we have a big, old house and trying to get it heat insulated more than it was when we moved in a couple months back. We have put polyfilm on the windows, and discovered some broken seals on a few windows. We are putting more insulation in the attic, and sealing all the doors, windows, and taps etc on the outside with caulking to get everything sealed up nicely. We should see a substantially lower gas bill next month I hope!



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