May 8, 2010

May's Debt Reduction Challenge

This month's category of choice is Utilities. Ironically, I'm sitting in the dark with a hurricane lamp to provide light while I'm typing this. The entire street went dark about 10 minutes ago, perhaps to provide inspiration!

Isn't it amazing how much we've come to rely on electricity? That convenience has not been around for all that long, but it has permeated every area of living for us.


For this month, designate TWO days during which electricity will be minimized. From 8am to 8pm, unplug EVERYTHING that is not necessary. (I will leave the refrigeration along--obviously--and won't bother with the hot water heater as savings there would only be if I turned it off for an extended period of time.)

That would mean:

  • No lights.
  • No hot food. (Prepare cold food the day before.)
  • No computer and other electronics. (Now I've gone to meddling.)
  • Unplug all "phantom power" cords. (If it's plugged in, unplug it. Even when things are off on a unit, they draw power from the outlet.)

There are two ways to determine your savings. One would be to compare last month's bill to this month's bill. The difference could be calculated according to the wattage price.

You could also go out and write down the meter numbers at the beginning and ending of the day before and then the beginning and ending of the day of the challenge. Compare the two and use the difference to figure the savings.

I mentioned I would also provide a lighter version of the challenge:

Lite Version:

Choose two days during which you will unplug everything that is unnecessary for three HOURS, either in a row or throughout the day. Calculate the savings as above.

I've decided to turn off all unnecessary electricity on May 12 and May 17.

I normally wash a load of laundry on each of those days. I figured out my costs and came to 34 cents per load which INCLUDES the water. I think I'll go ahead and do the laundry!


Packrat said...

Since the days are getting longer and a little warmer (barely!), I think the only way to see if there is a savings is to compare amount of power used to the previous year's use for the same time period. Since we heat with electricity we'd also have to consider the average temperature.

Curious, how will not doing laundry for a couple of days save? Do you do small loads? Out of pure laziness, I always try to wait until I have a full load before running the washer.

One way to save is to try not to use big energy users (oven, hair dryer, curling iron, clothes dryer, space heaters) during peak times. (Your power bill should show what the hours are.)

Roxanne said...

Packrat--We had to build a fire tonight! It was 59 degrees IN the house and in the high 30s outside. We even had a little snow! What happened to spring???

That's a good suggestion about comparing last year's and this year's bills.

I always wait until I have a full load of laundry, too. I figured out a few years ago how much it cost to wash and dry a load. The dryer (electic) was $1.00 a load back then. That's when I started hanging the clothes! I can't recall exactly, but it was like 25 cents or something to wash a load in COLD water at the time. I need to find out what the costs would be now.

Our off-peak time is 11pm to 9am. I always do the dishwasher in the middle of the night because of that. If I had a timer on the washing machine, that would be good to set for the middle of the night, too.

I think the phantom energy might be somewhat significant. I am certainly interested in seeing the results of this challenge!

Lorie B said...

These are interesting ideas. I will haveto brainstorm to see if there are any other ideas where we can cut. It is REALLY hard to cut laundry with all my kids, lol. I am trying to get hubby to install a clothesline for me. I know that would help. That, and I wish he would move the washer and dryer into the garage. That would save me alot of work. They are in the FAR end of the basement right now.

Roxanne said...

LoriB--I figured the amount for a full-load of laundry using cold water as 34 cents a load (in my area). That was the electricity and water combined.

Unless you wash in a creek by hand, the washing machine is a bit of a necessity.

The dryer, according to the website below, also costs about 34 cents. I wash and dry 5 loads of laundry each week. By hanging the laundry, I save half the cost, or $1.70 each week.

1.70 x 52 weeks (to give a general average) = $89 savings for me. In the winter it adds humidity to the house and in the summer it gets me outside more.

To me, it's worth it for the $89. With your family, the savings would be more. Even if you reduce the dryer usage by half, it's still a savings.

If you hubby can move your washer and dryer out of the basement, encourage him!!

Roxanne said...

I forgot to mention something that could be useful.

You do NOT have to use hot water to wash the clothes. They WILL get clean if you don't.

Personally, I like to wash my dishtowels, towels and sheets in hot water, but I think it's more of a mental thing for me. The hot water heater does not heat the water high enough to actually kill much. Soap and agitation probably do more toward killing things.

I went for 2 years using only cold water in an apartment I lived in because there was no hot water hookup. The clothes were just as clean as always.

Just info to pass along!

Lorie B said...

I very seldom use hot water in my laundry. Only if it is something really nasty. Otherwise, I just use cold,and as I pull the clothing, if a piece isn't quite as clean as I want, throw it in with the next load. Pre-treating things that have stains saves alot on the washing as well.

I have made my homemade laundry soap. And am usingthe liquid fabric softener that is been mixed to 1/4 consistency with water...those alone save alot. I figure is is about $4 +/- for the laundry soap and softener, where as purchased was $9 for detergent and $5 for softener. And this will go father than the purchased. I meant to put a sheet up to check each time I ran a load to see howfar they go so I could cost compare, but I forgot. Maybe next time.

Packrat said...

At my house, laundry is becoming a dirty word. (Sorry for the unintended pun.) I have one of those blasted washing machines that was made to run the same length of time it takes to dry a load of clothes, and there is no way to change it! (I didn't know this when I bought it; none of the paper work that came with it mentions this.)

Since I treat all the spots, I use only a fraction of the recommended amount of detergent (or none at all), but still have trouble getting the rinse water to be suds free. (Those aren't air bubbles; it's suds.) Our water is so cold and hard that I always use the warm setting but adjust the water temp so that the water isn't icy cold.

Roxanne said...

LoriB and Packrat--Laundry is just very interesting, isn't it?

I'm so glad we don't have to do what women have done in the past. OTOH, we seem to have machines that eat socks, suds up even WITHOUT detergent, stretch a shirt out about 3 feet when it gets wrapped around the agitator, and put stains ON the clothes. (All experiences of my own, anyway!)

I think we've all gotten the cost of laundry down to the bare minimum and we should congratulate ourselves.

Seriously. The next possible step to take is the washboard method and I'm NOT going there unless I have to!

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