A Time to Save... and Sometimes Not

It's that time again. The electricity bill is here. Last year, almost to the day, I began our electricity saving project. I was aiming to save the 20% that our electricity prices were increasing, and so far, haven't managed it. This time, we have saved 11% on our consumption from last year. It doesn't sound amazing, but it's better than last quarter, when we used more electricity than the year before!

The most exciting thing is that we are using less than the average 6 person family in Tasmania. And the most, most exciting thing is that, on perusing the website, those averages don't include households with a pool, so that, apart from the pool use, we are using significantly less electricity.

So compared to last year, what are we doing differently? The Man decreased the hours the pool filter runs by two hours over the twenty four. I have stopped using my hair dryer. As I mentioned previously, when I stopped using it, I realised that my hair doesn't look any different. Not better, so much as not different. I have also decided that I'm not that dirty, so I am skipping one or two showers per week. This has been such a good thing for my skin. Once one reaches, well, a certain age, hot water tends to turn one's rose petal skin into something more resembling dragon's hide. So this is probably a good thing for everyone. So much better not to live with a reptile. However, I am still not taking shorter showers, and neither is anyone else that I have noticed. So there is still room for improvement. Should we ever want to improve that much...

I am relentlessly turning off lights and annoying everyone. And we are trying very hard to cook lots at once in the oven. Which sometimes makes our evenings interesting. I wish you could see us. Last night we started at five o'clock, with Posy cooking two cakes and a dozen cupcakes for the school fair, with hardly any help. I cooked dinner, which we finally ate at seven. The Girl made a cake, because apparently she needed one for her English class (???!?), then decided that she didn't like that cake (new recipe), so whipped up a batch of our old standby choc chip cookies.. The oven finally got turned off at seven thirty, the dishes were mostly done by nine. Posy was making a terrific mess, icing all the cakes, which looked amazing, chocolate with aqua icing, sprinkles and choc chips. The kitchen was an explosion. It was rather late by the time it was all cleaned up, or lets be honest, mostly cleaned up, with the cakes wrapped and beribboned.

The next thing I knew, it was dawn, and I was awoken by the sound of wailing... my dears, I can hardly bear to write this... it was Posy, who had discovered that the cakes had been invaded by hundreds upon hundreds of ...ants. It was a massacre. It was a tragedy of epic proportions. Poor Posy was heartbroken. How is it that an army of ants can spend all that energy working out how to get into a tightly glad-wrapped cake, when right next to them is an unwashed bowl of aqua icing? Mystery of life. Stupid ants.

So today, I used a whole lot more electricity making more cakes for the fair, and you know, at the end of school, when Posy got to place her cakes next to everyone else's, with a big smile on her face, well, sometimes, saving electricity is not the be all and end all of the day.


Heather said…
Oh, ants...always destined to show up at the most inconvenient times. That must have been so frustrating for your daughter after having put in so much effort the night before.

Resolving to take shorter showers is hard. There is something so cathartic about letting hot water flow over the body.

Good for you for lowering your energy usage. Our summer is coming up and I know our electricity bill is going to go through the roof. I am so energy conversant during those months that it gets exhausting.
Oh no that's terrible (and kind of funny how the ants went for the glad wrapped items and not the open bowl). Great idea trying to save 20% energy, will have to try and embark on this mission my self!
Jo said…
Hey Heather, I know what you mean about conserving energy being exhausting. You have to think and plan, instead of mindlessly flicking a switch. But I want to be more mindful. Well, sometimes..
Nathalie, note the word TRYING. We're nowhere near our target yet, but 11% closer than we would have been had we not tried...
Anonymous said…
I hate ants. I don't understand their purpose in the whole scheme of nature. And why are so many of them? And why do they find the one jar packed away in the pantry with the lid not done up right?

I am hoping my whole "not-falling-asleep-on-the-lounge" thang will cut our electricity usage. We have a pool and still use less than the equivalent family of four. But come winter our gas (and do you know what Americans call real gas if they call petrol gas?) bill rockets. We have a wooden house in an amazingly cold suburb. I have ice, millimeters deep, on my windscreen at least a dozen times every winter. I know. Frost! The horror! (I am expressing this empathy for you as a gardener!) I have lived my whole life in Sydney and never experienced cold and frost like this suburb. Wooden floors are great to clean but horrendous on bare feet in winter. I am going to get Mr Sans to readjust the timer on the ducted heating this winter to stop half an hour earlier. Might make me go to bed on time, rather than use a blanket on the lounge and fall asleep there!
Judy said…
Congratulations on saving 11%. It can be hard persuading the rest of the family to be energy conscious.

Do you have an energy monitor, like an Owl http://www.theowl.com/ ? They are fairly inexpensive and easy to fit. My husband loved this, because you can see the energy you are using at a glance. He became obsessed and took charge of telling off those who dared leave lights on.

You could try introducing a bedtime routine of switching off items at the socket, such as the microwave, TV equipment etc. This may help reduce the standby consumption of things like set-top boxes. Many people don't realise that items such as toasters often draw a charge when plugged in, even if they are not in use. Also get rid of hands-free handsets if you can, which constantly draw energy and won't work at all in a power cut. Timers can be used for mobile phone chargers so they are not left on all night.

I find electricity use is very hard to reduce. Insulating buildings has a bigger impact on reducing energy consumption, along with good heating controls and an efficent boiler.

My eldest daughter recently stopped using a hairdryer and the condition of her hair has improved loads. Our shower is heated by gas, but I am the only one who takes just 5 minutes, though hubby only takes 10 mins. The skin experts reckon that you should only have 5 minutes of exposure to very hot water before it damages your skin. If you like a long shower or bath it is better for your skin if it is only warm. Also if you are going to be in the shower for 30 minutes anyway, a 30 minute bath would work out more efficient.

Laundry is a good area to save energy. Ensure every washing machine load is a full load and reduce the temperature to the minimum. Dry everything outside or on a porch if you have one, so that you don't use a tumble dryer.

Best of all, stop ironing clothes. Take clothes out of the washing machine as soon as it stops, shake the creases out before you hang them on the line, and fold them carefully as you bring them in, to prevent adding creases. You can also try hanging shirts in the bathroom and the steam from the shower will straighten out the creases. (Some people love ironing and will be outraged by this, but if you had to choose between electricity for 10 hours of computering or an hour of ironing, which would it be?)

Also, if you are going to invest in LED lighting, always do it in the room where the lights are on the longest first, whether that is the hall or your teenagers bedroom. That way you make the biggest savings.

Sorry, I can't help myself. Energy is my life!

Jo said…
Hi Lucinda, I can relate to the problems of a wooden house on a frosty morning! We have spent much time and expense insulating, double glazing, and installing floorboards over our floor boards (apparently this double floor method is common in colder climes) and it is finally making a difference.
On the getting-off-the-couch problem - I am hoping someone will invent a Wallace and Grommit-type machine that will tip me into my pyjamas and clean my teeth for me, but maybe being cold would work too..
Judy, it is great to have a professional opinion - that is an amazingly comprehensive comment. We do most of those things already - I don't use the tumble dryer (well, only in an occasional domestic emergency), I only iron school uniforms and business shirts.
We don't have an energy monitor, although I think we can borrow one from the council. The Man uses clever maths to work out how much our appliances are drawing, because he can.
The really scary information in your comment was about about the hot showers. Aaargh! 5 minutes? Really? I don't want to turn into a lizard! But Hot showers. Oh, how I love them!
Thanks for all that detailed, unwelcome information! :)

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