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Got any frugal electricity tips?

Dear Kristen,

I am teaching my younger children about electricity right now. We went outside and looked at the electric meter, and I told them about how the power company charges for every bit of electricity we use. Of course, I told them that is why we should turn off lights if we’re not using them.

Then the lesson was over, and I went to the kitchen and filled a pot with water so that at supper time I can turn it on to boil for pasta. I’m not sure allowing our cold well water to warm up to room temperature saves much electricity, but since it saves me time at supper and at least some electricity, I call it a frugal-ish habit.

I wondered if you might ask your readers what frugal electricity-saving tips they use; I think my children would be excited to read them in your comments.

Warm wishes,
Jody S.

(We met Jody in a reader interview.)

I love this idea!

I’ll share a few of my ideas, and then I’ll open up the floor for everyone else.

Heating/Cooling

Use blinds and curtains 

In the summer, I close blinds/curtains when the hot sun shines on certain windows.

sunlight through curtains

And in the winter, I make sure to open those same blinds and curtains to take advantage of the sun’s heat.

This helps to reduce my heat and air-conditioning needs a little.

Be strategic about window-opening

If a summer morning is temperate, I open all the windows up until mid-morning. Then I shut them to prevent hot air from getting inside.

If a fall or winter day is unusually warm, I open up all the windows in the heat of the day and then I make sure to close them as soon as the temperatures start falling.

Dress and eat for the season

What you wear can help reduce the need for heat and air-conditioning.

In the winter, eat hot foods and drink hot beverages while wearing sweaters and socks.

A cup of coffee in a white mug.

In the summer, drink iced tea and eat watermelon, while wearing as little as is socially acceptable.

A purple smoothie in a Mason jar.

Cooking

Only preheat the oven when it’s necessary

For many baked goods, a hot oven is essential.

But if you are baking something that does not require a blast of heat (such as a casserole), there’s no need to preheat; the casserole can come up to temperature along with the oven.

Plan meals around the weather

Mandarin chicken salad in a white bowl.

If it’s a hot day, I plan a salad rather than oven pulled pork (which requires three hours in the oven!).

If I see a cool day coming up, I plan to make pizza.

You don’t want your cooking to fight your cooling plans!

Bake things in succession

The oven uses most of its energy to come up to heat and less to maintain it. So if you can avoid extra preheating, your baking is more efficient.

So, bake several things on one day rather than one thing each day for multiple days.

Hot Water

Shower after a workout

If I’m already hot, I use less hot water when I shower!

Wash most laundry in cold water

folded laundry in a white basket.

I only use hot water when a load is particularly dirty or greasy.

Use the dishwasher instead of hand-washing

The dishwasher is more efficient with its use of hot water than even the most efficient hand-washer.

(Amy Dacyzyn tested this out!)

Use a kettle to heat water for cooking

A Capresso electric kettle pouring into a tea cup.

If you already own a hot water kettle, use it to heat water for things like cooking pasta. Electric kettles heat water more efficiently than a stovetop pot does, saving electricity and time.

_____________

Alrighty, readers! What frugal electricity tips would you like to share with Jody’s kids?

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MommaL

Friday 16th of July 2021

Turn off the tv when nobody is in the room. (I remind my DH of this all the time) We have a number of half circle windows, we bought some waffle type covers for them. I dry my baking sheets in the oven while its still warm, it keeps them from rusting. If anyone has a cure for night hot flashes, I'm open to suggestions. Right now our bedroom thermostat is on a cooler setting than I used to use for sure!

Suzan

Friday 16th of July 2021

I read the comments because I didn't want to repeat things. But I do have to agree insulate, use thermal backing on curtains, install fans in your roof, hang washing etc.

I will add to the mix my thought on solar as we have had this for over 25 years. Firstly in my part of Australia we receive feed in tariffs. Because we have had this quite a while we have a great rebate and it is actually cheaper for us to use power through the night in preference to using it during the day. Our ambient water temperature is 22C or roughly 72 F so we don't use hot as much as some. Our hot water system is a heat pump ( so is seen as solar in our power bills) and we pay less than $50 a quarter. But this winter is the first time we have had the air conditioner running 24/7 as my mother has been cold. It will be interesting to see what that does to the bill. It ha s been so hot I have only worn a sweater once.

We have solid hot plates so I use residual power all the time.

I hang our washing on lines under cover. I always hang dresses, shirts etc on hangers. This keeps ironing very minimal.

Our iron turns itself off which is very necessary in this household. Finally we have two lights that are on overnight to help my mother move around.

Candy

Friday 16th of July 2021

We have a thermometer that tells us the temperature inside and out so I know when to open or close windows and curtains to keep out the heat. And I empty out the linen cupboard to cover windows with sheets or towels to keep out more sun and heat.

Sabine

Thursday 15th of July 2021

When we were building our house in the country, in Texas, we put in an attic fan to cool the house in the spring and fall so we don't have to use A/C at all. We put in a wood burning stove in the living room instead of a fire place and use fans to circulate the hot air around the house when it's cold. We also cook on the stove when the electricity goes out. We keep a kettle with water on the stove to make tea or hot chocolate and humidify the air. The kitchen and living room are in the middle of the house with the bedrooms on the outsides to keep the most used areas cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We put ceiling fans in every room including the bathrooms and laundry room except for the guest half bathroom. We built on pier and beam and insulated underneath the house as well as all the walls and attic. We put in extra wide overhangs to keep the sun from coming into the double hung windows but still let in light. We wash in cold water and hang out laundry to dry. I use the dishwasher for everything except pots and pans and the good knives and open to let it air dry. I have a big toaster oven that I can put a 9 x 13 dish in so I can make a whole meal which uses less electricity and makes less heat. I use a kettle to heat water in the summer instead of the stove and the microwave for smaller amounts of water. I make sun tea and cold brew coffee. I have a crock pot whose insert can be used on the stove to brown foods which also means that when I put the insert in the pot it is already hot at the start so it actually takes less time to finish cooking and I don't have an extra pot to wash in the sink. I cook multiple items when I do use the oven and leave it open in the winter to heat the house. When we grill we cook meats and vegetables for several meals. When we had to replace one of our water heaters we put in an on demand model. One water heater is by the kitchen and the other is by the laundry room so the water doesn't have to go so far. This also means that if one goes out hopefully the other one is still working. Our electric bill shows electric use by month for the last 2 years for comparison. I try to keep our use to 1100 kwh per month but it does go up to 2000 kwh in the July, August and September heat in Texas. I would put in solar panels, we may still, a thermal heat pump and other energy efficient measures if we build another house.

WilliamB

Thursday 15th of July 2021

If you live in a multi-level home, spend most of your time upstairs in the winter and downstairs in the summer.

Whenever you can, use a small appliance rather than a large one: toaster oven rather than wall oven, microwave rather than stove, etc.

Run appliances at the efficient time of day: at night during the summer, during the day during the winter (especially in the kitchen). Many big appliances allow you to set when it goes on or at least delay by several hours. After you use the oven in the winter, leave the door open so the kitchen stays warm.

Spin your clothes very well in the washer, so the dryer has less to do.

Unplug things you're not using: coffee machines, toaster ovens, anything rechargable.

Don't turn on the light unless you need it. When I was a kid I went around with my eyes closed to see what being blind like. This taught me I didn't need as much light as I thought. Usually ambient or small clues (the alarm clock's light) to see where I am. Keeping things in their places helps, as you don't need to turn the light on to find them.

Use unpowered tools when you can, including a rake instead of a leaf blower.

Bake multiple dishes at once.

Oven cleaning is a conundrum. You can use a lot of power or a lot of chemicals. I opt for the former but be sure to include any sturdy metal that needs deep cleaning. Great way to degunk cast iron for reseasoning. I also clean the only only after I've baked something, so the oven is at least a little warm to start with.

Use a pressure cooker for anything that takes a long time to cook.

Don't used heated dry in your dishwasher. Instead, open the dishwasher a few minutes after the rinse cycle is done, shake out anything very wet (plastic always is), then let it air dry.

Kristen

Thursday 15th of July 2021

I was figuring you would have some tips to share! :)

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