Monday, August 25, 2008

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

I'm in the depths of frugality despair. You see, I'm always on a mission to save money. Kevin works hard for our family and I can't stand to see his work be wasted. My first project was lowering the grocery bill. I made everyone go on a diet of saltine crackers and ketchup. JUST KIDDING! Seriously, I've made a major dent in that area. Each week I save somewhere from 30-50% off my total.

My second project started about a month ago, when the electric bill came in. It was just over $200. So I got my game plan: do some research to see what is causing the most damage, make drastic cuts for one month in ALL of those areas, then evaluate my efforts.

The first part was fairly easy, thanks to Mr. Electricity, aka Michael Bluejay. I'd give a link but the guy is a little nutso and I'm not sure what ELSE you'd find on his site. But he knows his stuff about kilowatt hours. So what were the Hinton Family Electricity Hogs?

1. The pool pump was running 24 hours per day, costing an estimated $78 per month. That was about 40% of our bill.

2. The stove is a wattage mammoth. Not only does it cause my meter to spin at the speed of light, it also heats up the house, meaning the a/c has to be turned down to keep up with it.

3. Ditto the dryer.

4. I assume the a/c is bad. I can't tell for sure because our attic stairs broke and Kevin screwed the opening shut so heat wouldn't pour out of the gaping hole. Okay, well, he KINDA screwed it shut, but that's a different story. Either way, I wasn't going up there to read labels.

Although I secretly hoped that the X-Box was a money sucker, it was not.

Now I was armed with information, and we all know that information is power. Or, rather, information results in less power being consumed. So for an entire month, I went outside every morning and turned the pool pump on. Every afternoon I turned it back off again. I cooked with the stove only once or twice, favoring my big Bobo George Foreman grill, Crock Pot, and stovetop instead. I hung almost every load of clothes out on my deck to dry. (Our undies were stiff enough to walk alone!) And I cranked the thermostat up to 82......thank goodness for ceiling fans in almost every room!

Today my electric bill came in. It was....$195. I couldn't believe my eyes. So, wallowing in self-pity, I went directly inside and threw some clothes in the dryer. And then I turned the a/c down. May as well be cool while I pout.

At least I won't have to hear Mom complain about the heat anymore. She's from Kenosha, dontcha know.


roger said...

ok. I didn't want to burst your bubble but I had a hunch it wasn't gonna work, at least to the level that you expected it to. Unless you see the meter man coming by consistently; odds are he ain't, your meter is probably being averaged with a number of other houses. So to explain another way; the mean ol' electric people probably are not sending Billy Joe out to read your electric meter so Bill Joe is not going to say "WOW look at what the Hintons are doing. I think I'll charge 'em less." The reality is there is a billing person crunching the numbers somewhere and deducing the average killowatt per hour is X for y number of houses for this time of year. Worst yet, its probably a three month rolling average to keep the billing flat. as possible. You can always go out and check it yourself. Record the numbers and then try to report the numbers to the electric company. I'm sure your phone call will be warmly welcomed. (Just a dash of sarcasm added (Free of charge))

Jenny said...


They went DIGITAL! I don't think Bill Joe even comes by anymore!

Mary said...

Bless your heart ... all that research and effort for such little return. Jenny, it might not show up in the bill, but I know your husband appreciates your efforts! Once again, you've put me to shame ... btw, I DID use coupons today at Wal Mart :)

Jenny said...

WOOHOO!!!! GO FRUGAL MARY!!! And you are not using your oven, either. You can count that.

Roger is flat-out wrong. After thinking some on this subject I recalled our two-month stay at Dad and Mom Hinton's house. My electric bill was ten bucks.

Luke said...

Sad, sad times. I feel for you, Jenny. I have never done that kind of research, but now I don't want to. I like believing that hanging laundry out to dry is better. But it's good to know I can keep running the swamp cooler!


Kara said...

Mary, has Jenny taught you nothing?!? Kroger, Kroger, Kroger! Wal Mart is evil. Repeat after me... Wal Mart... is... evil!

Mary said...

LOL - I do remember one hilarious account when Owen was a baby, although she didn't think it was very funny at the time ...