Looking back at my consumerism past, my electric bill ranged from $130 – $250/month, a sharp contrast to my current bill of $35 – $50/month. Although minimalism contributes significantly to this decrease, I explored other systems to keep my consumption and costs low. I use on average 45% less electricity than my neighbors with similar homes based on type of home, location, age, and size as depicted below.
As I researched this blog post online, I came across several common sense savings ideas like, use a programmable thermostat, turn off your lights, unplug unused gadgets, use less air conditioning, to name a few.
No doubt, there are tons of theoretical and practical ideas out there so, I encourage you to do your own research. The ideas I discuss below are ones that I personally explored with significant results.
1. Downsized my living space
Downsizing from a 2000 sq. ft. home to 860 sq. ft. apartment caused the most significant impact on my electric usage. This may not be an option for everyone but if you are already thinking about moving and downsizing, here is another incentive to do so! It’s very simple. The less space you have to heat up or cool down, the less electricity you consume and the lower your bill. The table below represents my bill during the peak winter season from my single family home in the north east. Yikes! no wonder I was broke.
2. Choose the right electric plan for your lifestyle
Using generic electric plans is a perfect example of when “one size does not fit all”. We all have different jobs, demands and lifestyles, why not have an electric plan that compliments it? Picking my current electric plan made a significant impact on my electric bill.
My current apartment complex allows renters to choose their electric company and plan. I shopped around and eventually settled for the Reliant Truly Free Weekends 12 plan. The catch is that the weekday energy charge per kWh is slightly higher than average. This is perfect for me because I work from 7:30 am – 5 pm Monday through Fridays and I home on the weekends. I capitalized on the Free Weekends plan by shifting my high-usage activities, like laundry, running the dishwasher, ironing, and cooking to the weekends. This drives my weekly usage significantly down as shown in the graph below. I use roughly 50 kWh/week from Monday – Friday.
Obviously this plan works for me because of my current work schedule and may not be practical everyone. There are a variety of plans out there, so I encourage you to find a plan that best fits your lifestyle instead of settling for the generic one.
3. Track your electricity usage
I have to admit, I get neurotic about tracking and graphing things related to personal finance, so monitoring my KWH usage daily is no exception. I get instant gratification from seeing how my actions (or lack thereof) translates to savings. This keeps me motivated to stay on track. It also helps me appreciate how little actions also matter when it comes to electric savings.
While I do not recommend doing this daily, I do recommend reviewing your usage at least weekly or monthly if you have that service provided to you by your electric company or track it using a device like the Wireless Energy Monitor. Full disclosure, I have never used it but here is a link to an article titled Chasing Electrical Demons to Cut your Power Bill by 80% by Mr. Money Mustache that does go over it. He also covers more details useful for home owners so do check it out especially if you are a home owner.
4. Do the normal stuff (Unplug unused devices and switch lights off)
This is old but effective advice. To be honest, it’s the easiest one to implement but requires discipline and consistency to see results. Because I track my usage every few days or so, (cough! daily) I see slight upticks in my usage when I forget “do the normal stuff”. The lights and fans are turned off in the room that I am not using and when I leave the house. I also unplug my TV, apple TV, and cell phone charger when not in use. Did you know that even when not on, these devices still suck up some electricity?
What energy savings tips have you explored with results? Do share them in the comments section below?