As temperatures in Oklahoma go on the 32nd day of over 100 degrees of heat, with heat indexes pushing at least 113 degrees and even higher in certain parts of the state, all of us are wondering how we can conserve on our electrical usage.
Trying to stay comfortable and still not break the household budget is a real chore for many of us. When you go from $42 a month bill to $94 and now looking at a projection of $107 this coming billing cycle, I am really wondering what else I can do to keep costs down, especially when I am far more conservative than others that I am compared to in my neighborhood.
We are on Smart Meters here in Norman and you can sign up with O.G.& E. and view your daily consumption hour by hour on a daily basis. You will be able to see where the peaks and valleys are in your usage. I have gotten so I check several times a day in an attempt to see what is causing these exceptionally high hours of usage. So far I’ve noticed that when the A/C runs a lot, the refrigerator kicks in, cooking (even though I do the majority by microwave), using the computer, washing in the washing machine, and of course a real electricity hog, the hot water heater.
I know that a lot of people have been trying to keep their A/C set at 78 degrees and a few are even pushing it up to 80degrees and still the unit is running almost continuously. Here are some things that I’ve done in an attempt to keep my bill lower. I started by raising the temperature in my home in increments of 2 degrees above 80 to where you will usually find my unit set between 84 and 86 degrees depending on the humidity in the air. The less humidity, the higher I can turn the unit and be comfortable.
I try to dress as cool as possible, in shorts, bare feet and tank tops or T shirts. There are days when even a T shirt is too warm and by baring my arms I feel cooler. I will also wet a hand towel and drape it around my neck to help cool me off. Another trick that my grandmother taught me is to make a large pan full of cool water and stick your feet in it!
There are ceiling fans in several rooms in my home and I also use a box fan all set at the highest settings possible in order to help circulate the air. Moving air cools you better than just letting the A/C unit do all the work.
Some people swear that using a window unit A/C helps them lower their utility costs. Since I do not own one myself, I have to rely the advise of others. The consensus seems to be that the newer units that have the Energy Seal of Approval are worth their weight in gold and really do save you money. Some people use them in specific rooms and only during certain hours of the day. The room of choice seems to be in the bedroom, when you are ready to retire and needing to have a cool sleeping environment is important.
Taking a cool shower at night or in the morning, rather than a hot one, will also help cool your core body temperature down. Drinking lots of cold water during the day will also help keep you cool as well as keep you hydrated.
Close doors to room that don’t have an A/C vent, such as you bathroom or laundry room, there is no need to cool them on a continual basis.
Keep Curtains closed during the heat of the day. As the temperature rises outside, close off the windows to keep the sunlight out which will heat your rooms quickly, especially rooms that have West facing windows.
Many surfaces in your home gather heat, whether you realize it or not, from upholstered furniture and bedding to carpeting, as well as clothes inside your closets. Keep closet doors closed and it will help a lot.
Everyone will tell you that it is important to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Another thing you can do is lower the wattage of the light bulbs you are using in your fixtures. Even try installing a night light in rooms that you only occasionally enter during evening hours rather than having to flip on a switch and heat up a 100 watt bulb.
Use power strips for those things that steal electricity even when you aren’t using them. A good way to know what those items are, is look for the LED light that says it is on. I know that I have to leave my clock on even though I do have a battery backup, but I have my TV and converter box on a power strip and I turn it off and on from there. My computer and modem are also on a power strip and after powering down my unit, I turn off the power strip and in adverse weather, actually even pull that plug from the wall as well as the Ethernet cord which goes from the phone line at the wall to the computer. I learned a lesson the hard way, if that Ethernet cord is not removed from the wall, even though you have turned off your computer and even disconnected it from the wall, lightening can strike and fry parts of your computer, just like it can travel inside your house on just a regular land-line phone line. The microwave’s plug is also pulled from the wall when not in use.
Try rearranging your schedule so that you do many of your household chores in off peak electricity usage hours. Many suppliers charge you less per kilowatt hour during non-peak hours. Wait until after 8PM to run your dishwasher or do a load of laundry, or do them early in the morning. Rather than use your dryer, hang things out on the line to dry. If you insist on having fluffy towels and wash cloths and softer sheets and pillow cases, toss them into your dryer on the air only cycle for a few minutes after they have line dried them.
You will find that your refrigerator will cycle less often if you keep the freezer section at least full and take up the vacant space. If you don’t have enough food in there to do so, fill some pitchers full of water, about 3/4th’s full allowing room for expansion, and let them freeze. This will help keep that part cold and cut down on the cycling process.
On your water heater, many are set at 140-145 degrees and they can actually be lowered to around 120-125 degrees and still give you plenty of hot sanitary water for dish washing either by machine or hand and for cleaning and bathing.
If you really want to try and be conservative, why not shut off the TV, all the video games that the kids play, and the computer and at sunset go out onto your porch or patio and light some citronella candles to keep the bugs away, sit back and relax and enjoy the beauty of the sun going down and the peaceful feeling that you will have with no outside distractions. Take an hour away from using electricity and feed your inner soul.