Keeping Your Dollars: Saving Electricity

by Tammy Taylor

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Last week I shared a two-part segment on how RancherMan & I make ends meet while living and working here on our ranch without the comfort of a regularly-scheduled corporate salary infusion.  Those posts were wildly popular!  There are lots of you hungrily looking for ways to cut back!  Whether planning to make the leap to self employment or just looking for ways to stretch your dollars.  Now last week I pointed out that researching for the lowest cost on anything you buy is important, but it’s doubly important to research & reduce your month-to-month obligations.  Those bills are going to come around not just once, but Every. Single. Month.

Think about your recurring monthly bills for a moment. Have you just been paying them when the bill arrives without giving them another thought?  Well it’s time to take a good hard look at them.  Oftentimes you can cut out wasted money spent.  Today Let’s Look At Electricity.

KEEPING YOUR DOLLARS: SAVING ELECTRICITY. Save money by eliminating waste. There are many ways to reduce your electricity usage. #TaylorMadeHomestead

 

 

Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written.  But links preceded with * are affiliate links.  If you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a small commission.  But the price you pay will NOT change.  It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket.  So click often!  Thank you!

Choose A Provider

A large portion of a typical monthly budget goes toward paying for electricity so paying attention to this expense is important.  In Texas we have the benefit of electric company competition – you can choose the electric provider (and the rate) that works best for you.  If it’s been a while since you’ve researched electric rates it might be a good idea to grab a cup of coffee and sit at your computer to check it out.  The difference may make a huge impact in your recurring month-to-month electric expense.

For our state there’s even an online tool to help compare electric providers & rates –> powertochoose.org.  Check to see if electric competition exists in the state where you live – if so this research could save you a bundle.

Whatever electricity company or rate you choose, be sure to waste as little of it as you can.  I’m not talking about sitting around in the dark or lighting candles (although there are times when that’s fun)  I’m talking about WASTE.  How can you cut back on electricity that you’re not even aware you’re wasting?

Electricity Vampires

Well did you know that many electronics sip electricity even when they’re turned off?  Oh yeah, that DVD player is sitting at the ready waiting for you to point the remote at it to turn it on.  And by sitting at the ready it’s quietly sipping electricity, even though it’s turned OFF!  Also cell phone chargers, coffee pots, anything controlled with a remote control or has a timer/clock is an energy vampire.  We have power strips that are used for many of our electronics, a quick flip of the switch when we go to bed at night turns off a whole group of those potential vampires.

KEEPING YOUR DOLLARS: SAVING ELECTRICITY - unplug cords. Save money by eliminating waste. There are many ways to reduce your electricity usage. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Use The Light You Need

And everyone knows it’s easy to use either efficient LED or compact fluorescent bulbs in all your light sockets but it’s important to only use the lights you actually need. We have a small lamp in the living room that’s often the only light needed in the evenings when we’re snuggled on the couch watching TV.

And remember last week when I spoke about that large mirror I wanted in our dining room?  The reason I wanted a large-sized mirror and the reason I wanted it mounted where I did is because a well-placed mirror will reflect light deeper into the house, reducing the need for electric lighting to be used.  The lesson here is to only use what you NEED.

Solar Energy Is FREE!

How about saving electricity used for cooling your home or for cooking? Since it’s typically very hot & humid during our NE Texas summers I do my best to keep that cooking heat outside whenever possible.  It’s not unusual to see a jar of sun tea brewing on our picnic table out back.  And I even have a * solar oven to be able to do much of my actual COOKING outside.

KEEPING YOUR DOLLARS: SAVING ELECTRICITY - Solar Oven. Save money by eliminating waste. There are many ways to reduce your electricity usage. #TaylorMadeHomestead

I get double bonus points here!  Not only am I keeping that cooking heat outside but also I’m not paying for cooking fuel.  The sun is offering it’s amazing cooking energy for FREE.  I really like free, how about you?

sun-oven-coupon-299

Passive Solar Needs No Expensive Upgrades

When we were thinking about house designs way back when we designed the house with a passive solar design (rectangular shape with long walls facing north & south, smaller windows to the north, larger windows to the south and NO windows on the west) and also with an open floorplan to allow light throughout.  Although not everyone is in the house-building stage I urge you to think about passive solar principles in your own home.  Can you open or close blinds and drapes to either capture or repel the sun’s light & heat?

Saving Electricity With Solar Screens On Windows

And speaking of passive solar, in our area we deal more harshly by summer’s heat than we do with winter’s cold.  We found out how easy and inexpensive it was to make solar screens ourselves, so we did.  We only needed these removable screens for a few windows on one side of our home so we slashed the price of those screens by picking up regular screening frame materials and some * solar screen cloth.  I’m here to tell ya it makes a HUGE difference in reducing the heat transfer through those windows during the heat of summer!  But here’s the deal, we remove those screens when summer’s heat starts to wane.  That allows the warming sun to hit the windows to bring that welcome heat and light inside during the drab cold winter months.

KEEPING YOUR DOLLARS: SAVING ELECTRICITY - solar screens. Save money by eliminating waste. There are many ways to reduce your electricity usage. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Drying Clothes For FREE

Another place to save chunks of money is by not using the dryer.    Clothes dryers are energy hogs so I hang our clothes outside on our double-line * Retractable Clothesline.  Now this is certainly not a sacrifice for me, I absolutely LOVE the smell of line-dried clothes!  But when the weather’s not right for hanging clothes outside such as rainy or cold weather I have a couple of * folding clothes racks that I set up in our guest room to dry our clothes.  When the clothes are dry each of my drying options store away out of sight.

I could go on & on but you get the idea – I think the biggest thing to remember here is to look at your recurring monthly electricity bill with a critical eye and eliminate the waste that you’re paying for.  And of course the beauty to me about all of these things is they speak to my crunchy-green heart.  Plus many times by eliminating waste you’re also lowering your footprint as well as your expenses.  She shoots, she SCORES!

~TMH~

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29 thoughts on “Keeping Your Dollars: Saving Electricity

    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      It looks and feels like a flexible plasticy-type material instead of metal wire mesh, Betty. But DANG it does a stellar job in keeping the heat out in the summertime! ~TMH~

      Reply
  1. Leigh

    Marvelous ideas! We’re farther north and keeping the electric bill low in winter weather is a challenge! Thank you so much for this. I’ll share it on my Facebook page this evening. Blessings, Leigh

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      We’re all trying to keep an eye on our dollars Leigh. We can learn from each other! ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Bobbie

    We did some updating on our old home before we put it on the market. One of the things we added was a new dishwasher. My husband just couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t use the new dishwasher. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had noticed that the farm we were moving to didn’t have a dishwasher. When we moved in, he immediately wanted to buy a new dishwasher. NOPE! Don’t need one. I’ll continue to wash and dry our dishes by hand. Now that we are here, we have made some changes. We normally finish dinner when it’s dark — you know, staying out late working on the new farm until the last second of light. So anyway, after dinner I rinse the dishes only. Then lights go out in the kitchen. The next morning (after a couple of cups of coffee), I get started on the dishes — but because it’s morning and light comes through the window — there is no need to turn on the light. And now hubby stands next to me, drying the dishes and we have some of the best conversations over doing the dishes together every morning. It’s a WIn-Win situation for us. When I called our electric company to set up our new account, a lady informed me that the previous owners normal MONTHLY electrical bill was $400! What? We have two bills, one for the well and one for the house. I have yet to see $100 electric bills. It definitely pays to watch yourself – turn off lights, unplug what you can, and do as much as you can in the daylight. I don’t have a clothes line yet – but have always had one and normally hung my clothes out. Now I’m using a vintage clothes wrack that I picked up at an estate sale years ago (just because I thought it was cool). Ha! Now it’s getting used constantly and I’m grateful to have it. Every little bit of effort one puts into saving electricity, food costs, etc., adds up to a lot of saved money that can be used for the important things! Bobbie

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      A $400 electric bill? YIKES!! You’re proof positive that very easy steps can make a powerful financial punch… each & every month. Good for you Bobbie. And I love that your hubby and you are not only sharing in the routine household chores but finding it’s a special time of meaningful conversation. RancherMan & I have a similar relationship and you’re right, those times open up lots of deep meaningful conversations indeed. I have a dishwasher but I’ll admit it’s CRAP. Perhaps I need to consider hand washing again. The dishes would certainly get cleaner! I love the small glimpse you’ve shared into your life – thank you! ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Those screens have lasted for years April. We’re about to remake a couple of them to freshen them up, but it’s such a snap to do. ~TMR~

      Reply
  3. Terri Presser

    What great hints to help reduce our electricity bill. Thank you for sharing them at Good Morning Mondays. We have solar panels on our roof that feed power back into the system and we usually make enough power off the roof to save us paying for any electricity. It is such a blessing. Blessings to you and Rancher Man.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      OMGosh Terri, we *SO* wanted to put solar panels on the roof when we built. I mean c’mon, we’re in TEXAS for cryin’ out loud! But we just couldn’t make it financially feasible. But the price of panels is dropping and the efficiency is going up, so I fully expect some day to have solar panels too. ~TMR~

      Reply
  4. Erika

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing it on the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop link party 🙂 Erika http://whaterikawears.com/

    Reply
  5. JES

    Great tips! We also turn on certain appliances like our washer after 11 PM because the rates go down. Thank you for sharing your wonderful posts on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I’ve never been lucky enough to get on a variable rate electric agreement, ours has always been just a standard rate. But it’s shocking the difference in our electric usage versus the neighbors around us and even our friends & family. It makes it almost a challenge to RancherMan & me to see how low we can keep it! 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
  6. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    It is amazing how much money we can save when we are intentional. I run my appliances on the shortest cycles possible, turn off, unplug, use the dryer as little as possible, take shorter showers, etc. Solar power is a dream of ours! We’ll see…. Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Solar power was a dream of ours too, it was just too expensive for us at the time. But passive solar we can do often for free and we use it extensively. Our electric bill is a mere fraction of our family & neighbors – they’re all amazed when they find out how little we pay each month. ~TMR~

      Reply
  7. Gentle Joy

    These are good points…. in our house, w/ so many boys into cell phones… fixing, collecting, etc, there seems to be a lot of them plugged in all of the time…. we have addressed it before, but this reminds me to check on that again. 🙂 Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I agree, looking around with a fresh eye often shows many potential areas of improvement to reduce energy waste. ~TMR~

      Reply
  8. Barb @ A Life in Balance

    Thanks for linking up at Motivation Monday! You’ve inspired me to stop using the dryer even though it’s a little bit at a time.

    Reply
  9. Amy @ Tenth Acre Farm

    We literally just contacted the electric company to switch providers. We got a note in the mail from our current provider, informing us that our account would auto-renew for another year at such-and-such rate. When we looked into what our current rate was, it turns out they were going to almost double our rate in the new year without telling us. So we instantly switched providers. It’s all a scam, and you’re absolutely right, being vigilant with your month-to-month utility providers is a great way to save money. They will almost always give you a better deal if you call!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Good for you Amy for doing the research to get a better deal. It seems oftentimes we’re complacent, just paying the bill when it comes in and not giving it another thought. But lots of money can be saved by taking note of changes in your monthly statements. ~TMR~

      Reply
  10. CTY

    Just some food for thought: Whenever you flip the switch off on a surge protector strip you are also turning off the surge protection feature and your electronics are no longer protected. I still use the strips, however I simply unplug the protector from the wall socket–everything is protected, and plugging/unplugging is quick & easy.

    Reply
  11. ColleenB.

    Gosh, I haven’t had a clothes dryer for at least 25 years or more. Just never replaced it after it quit working and have been hanging up my clothes to dry ever since. A clothes dryer will also wear out your clothes much quicker. Just take a look at the lint compartment. Our living room windows face the southwest so we get all the afternoon Texas heat beating in but after putting on solar screens some years ago sure made a big difference not only making it cooler in the living room but also saved on the electric bill. Only light we have on in the evening comes from the TV and have the light on above the stove in the kitchen or else it’s our night light. I have a little sign in our hall / guest bathroom (mostly for our grandkids); ‘If you turn it on, Shut it off’; ‘If you washed your hands, turn off the water’; ‘ If you used the towel, hang it back up ;’ ‘ if you used the toilet, Flush it.’ Even on the toilet seat I put; (for the boys / men) on the top side; ‘Lift Me Up’ and on the underneath side, ‘Put Me Down’ all painted on in big black letters.

    Reply
    1. Carol

      I use himalayan salt lamps with dimmer switches. They are very healthy for you, and they have replaced my night lights. It actually replaces any lighting I needed in the living room and bedrooms at night. They take a small night light bulb, so they aren’t using any more electricity than a night light would, AND they are healthy for you! I got mine at Amazon

      Reply
  12. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

    Love your comment Patricia – thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been thinking of doing the same as you, selling our dryer to make room for canning jar storage shelves in our mud room. You may just have given me the push I needed. Thanks for your comments! ~TMR~

    Reply
  13. Patricia

    Love these types if articles. We practice much of the same things that you do. This year I sold my gently used dryer and freed space in the laundry/mud room (that isn’t air conditioned or heated ) for the deep freeze. That helps keep the cooled part of the house cooler by not having the deep freeze compressor running in the kitchen! 🙂 I live in Texas too- but we are members of an electro co-op— I don’t think we can switch in this area- but being members we are given a kick back periodically. I honestly don’t know too much about it. But wanted to say– most electric companies– the co-op does this- will come and walk through and give pointers on where electricity is wasted in your home. Worth an afternoon to save year round. Phantom electricity is something I combat too! It’s amazing how much waste there is there. I’m interested in solar cooking– I find it fascinating. I’m going to do some more research there. Kudos on making your own solar screens AND SWITCHING THEM SEASONALLY. My son in law has his own business and these installments aren’t cheap! Great post— sorry to hog the comments;)

    Reply

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