Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pioneering Through the Summer

Living in Southern California just a few miles from the beach, it's rarely hot enough for us to need air conditioning. I know a few folks who live near us who couldn't live without their A/C, which is a surprise to me. For us, keeping the front windows and back slider open is a great way to catch a breeze. Our townhome is ideally situated to catch the breezes and shelter us from too much weather. A good oscillating fan spreads the joy.

We have gas for cooking, heating water, and using our dryer. We do run four computers most of the day, which is an energy-eater, but try to keep lights off when we need to. We run the dishwasher once a day or less.

So I was surprised when I received a notice from our local electric company with ideas to save money. "Things You Can Do To Lower Your Bill" the brochure states on the front, encouraging me to forage inside. I'm thinking, "Wow, we're on the low end already; they must have some radical ideas for me!" Here are some of their ideas:

Recycle your second refrigerator. We could probably do without the fridge in the garage, but where would we store our bulk-buy milk and beverages? Also, watermelon and ice cream live in this unit, which are on our family's meal plan. We could possibly give up the fridge, but not the separate outdoor freezer, which is where I store all my bulk-buy meat and freeze-ahead items to pull out for meals at a later date. The amount of homemade chicken broth in there alone would feed the neighborhood for at least a... lunch. Anyway, the fridge is only a couple of years old, so it's equipped with most of the energy-saving features we'd want to utilize.

Install programmable thermostat and only cool the house when we're home. Well, we don't even have A/C, so that's a moot point. Seems like they could give us some credits toward that garage fridge.

Switch our five most used lights to CFL's. We're in the process of doing that. As a light bulb burns out, we replace with the energy savers. Why throw out a good light bulb? I will say the energy savers have come a long way since 10 years ago when I tried them out. The gap between flipping the switch and obtaining illumination was palpable and unacceptable with a baby in my arms.

Turn your dishwasher off after the final rinse and let dishes air dry. Already do it. In fact, I don't even turn the heater option on. This freaked out a friend of mine who nearly leaped from her chair to towel dry my dishes before I put them away. Come on, they weren't THAT wet. And they'll dry in the cupboard.

Switch off computers and monitors when not in use. This one is making me twitch. Hubby's is off all day when he's at work (unless he logged on in the morning and forgot to turn it off), but the rest of us are on and off all day. The power-saver mode is an option, but it doesn't really work well on my computer, leaving me slamming my fist into the keyboard to get it to "wake up". The frustration level I experience heats me up, requiring me to cool down the house... too much energy expended.

Thus... we have room to improve. I do feel as if we've achieved some balance by over-doing other areas :) We'll see how the bill looks later this month.

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