This is a tough subject for me to tackle since I haven’t spent much time on our utilities. It’s also one of the areas in our budget which feels unchangeable.
Here in Pennsylvania, most of the time, we have been stuck with one supplier, PECO Energy. About 2 years ago, PECO told its customers that rates would increase this year, and that we could set aside money to compensate for the rate increase. At the time, we decided to do the early savings program which would increase our bill by a few dollars each month. We could opt out of the program at anytime, and receive our money back with interest.
This year, the rates went up, and Electric Choice was instituted in Pennsylvania. After reviewing the Electric Choice site and talking to a few friends about their research on electric providers, we went with another provider. Doing so has brought our monthly bill down some.
The other part of the equation for saving money on electricity is usage. We line dry all our clothes year-round. I have a clothesline set up in the basement which can handle about 2 loads of clothes, and 6 drying racks. During the warmer months, I have a clothesline outside built by my husband, along with 2 to 3 drying racks that I keep on our back porch. I do have a dryer which I use for emergencies or when I need to hurry the heavier clothes along.
I’ve been struggling recently with our water bill. I think I’m going to have to impose timers on certain family members, like the resident teenager. His showers are always long and hot. However, I have been pretty good about saving money on watering our vegetable garden. We never water our flower beds, unless we’ve installed a new plant. For the new plants, we hand water with water from our rain barrel or from the hose. I water all of my containers with the rain barrel water, too. This year, I’d like to install a rain barrel on the other side of our house to reduce our water usage outside even further.
We don’t use much gas in our house; it’s just for the cooking and heating of hot water. When I’m baking, I try to bake several items at the same time. If I’m only baking one loaf of bread, I’ll use the microwave/convection oven which is electric over the gas oven which would heat up the kitchen, too.
We use heating oil to heat our house. Unfortunately, our furnace is very old and very inefficient. It was originally a coal-fired furnace. We had been saving to buy a new furnace last year, but we had to replace our refrigerator instead. We are very frugal with our oil usage. During the winter, we keep the house at 67 during the day and 58 at night using a programmable thermostat. We wait as long we can to turn the heat on in the fall, and turn it off as soon as possible in March/April.
When the furnace is running in the winter, I have my drying racks for the cloth diapers set up next to it to take advantage of the extra heat. I also dry the socks and underwear by the furnace in the winter.
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Now I’m feeling inspired to tackle our utilities and see where we can make improvements, including saving to replace our oil furnace. Please share your favorite tip in the comments.