Electricity bills in the summer can be brutal! Our summer rates are double and triple what they are in the winter.
If you’re lazy about conserving electricity in the winter, there is some serious motivation to buckle down in the summertime.
When we moved into our new house earlier this year, I signed up for OhmConnect, a free program that encourages people to save power by giving you cash for doing so!
Several times a week I’ll get a text notifying me of the next upcoming OhmHour (usually a day or two in advance), then during that hour, we try to use as little electricity as possible (or at least less than our projected usage).
We get our results a couple of days later and if our actual usage was below our projected usage, then we get points which translate directly into cash via PayPal. The lower your actual usage versus the projected usage, the more points you get.
I thought I was excited about OhmConnect, but it has been my kids that have really taken control and run away with it. Since they’ve been so motivated and involved with saving electricity (both during OhmHours and generally), I’ve decided to put all the OhmConnect money we earn in our family fun fund.
Of course in addition to earning money through OhmConnect, we’re also saving money with a lower electric bill because we’re using less power. Thanks to the OhmConnect program, we’ve closely examined our energy use and become savvy power consumers.
In fact, in May our power bill was the lowest that it has been since we moved into our new house. What makes that even more impressive is that we essentailly added another household to our bill, now that we have our rental (which is on the same electric bill).
We’ve learned to be energy conscious and it pays!
We have learned that the little things we do to save electricity really do make a difference. We already have good habits of the saving electricity in the big ways, but as we’ve gone the extra mile recently to tackle the little things too, we’ve seen great things happen (i.e. a cheaper electricity bill)!
Air dryer, not hair dryer
If you can get away with a summer ‘do’ that doesn’t require a hair dryer, it will pay off! Any appliances that heat or cool suck lots of electricity. Letting your hair air dry either at night or during the day is another way to keep you cool. Plus, you aren’t heating up your house by blowing hot air into it!
Put a lid on it!
It doesn’t get more simple than this! When you boil water, put a lid on your pot or saucepan. The water will boil faster, which means you won’t have to keep the stovetop on as long. Having the stove on as little as possible not only helps by reducing the amount of electricity needed, but also means you aren’t heating up your house as much, which is expensive to cool down.
Did you know that even when an appliance is off it’s still drawing power if it is plugged in? True story. It takes such little effort to unplug something when you’re not using it, but it can make a difference when you make unplugging a habit, especially in the summer when rates are higher.
Confession time. I actually learned this a long time, but was too lazy to unplug things. Could it really make that much of a difference? Well, now, motivated by OhmHours and high summer electricity rates, we got in the habit of unplugging and it’s making a difference!
Use free air conditioning
If you live in a place where it cools down at night, open your windows and let that cool air fill your home at night. Before it heats up in the morning close the windows. It’s so refreshing to feel the cool (sometimes even cold!) air in the morning! This small daily habit has made a huge difference in how much we need to run our air conditioning.
Be the thermostat
Instead to setting our thermostat to a normal temperature, we set it ridiculously high during the summer (or ridiculously low in the winter). In essence we use it as an on/off switch for our air conditioning. With a high temperature set, the default is that the air is off. We make a conscious decision to turn on the air when it gets too hot. Another benefit is that we don’t accidentally have the air running when we’re not even home.
Many of us would love an excuse not to cook. Am I right? Not only does cooking take electricity, it heats up your home. Summer is a great time to have a salad for dinner. (I hated salad until I was in my twenties, but this was the cure for me.) If you like to grill, that’s a great way to keep the heat outside. If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I’m not above serving cold cereal for dinner on a hot day.
Use those window treatments
Curtains and blinds aren’t just to look pretty. Make sure they’re being functional too! Keep your house cool by drawing the curtains or closing the blinds when the sun is shining straight in and heating up your house. In the winter, of course, you’ll want those window treatments open to capture that nice heat, but in the summer don’t let it make your house toastier.
Both my husband and I grew up with this habit, so it’s not a problem for us, but I have to mention it because it really is a super simple way to make a difference. I’ve been in many homes where all the lights are on all the time. If that sounds like your house, it’s time to make a new rule: Last one out of a room turns off the lights.
Shorten the shower
For a while I thought this was only a matter of conserving water, but I’ve since seen the error of my ways. One Saturday night, I had all four of our kids their take baths/showers in right before an OhmHour started. My thought was that if their baths were over when the OhmHour started we wouldn’t have to have lights in the three bathrooms on. We ended up not meeting our goal that OhmHour because the water heater started doing its job (heating up the water for four simultaneous baths/showers) just as the hour we were conserving energy started.
That was the first time it hit me that shortening showers would reduce the amount of water that the water heater would have to heat, which is why shorter showers not only save water, but electricity too!
Ditch the dryer
If you already have a clothesline installed at your house, then it’s just a matter of choosing to use it. If you don’t have a clothesline, then putting one up might take a little effort (more than the other suggestions on my list), but it will quickly pay for itself.
A couple of weeks ago I finally put up a clothesline at our new house. I had it on my “Honey Do” list for a while, but Honey was busy with a million and one other things, so I grabbed some clothesline rope and some clothes pins at the store and did it myself. Every time I use it I get excited about the savings. If you need some motivation, read these 9 reasons to use a clothesline.
If you’re in California (or Toronto or some parts of Texas), I recommend signing up for OhmConnect to both make you aware of the power you’re using and motivate you to reduce it. After you sign up you’ll need to sign a form (digital signature of the person whose name is on the utility account) giving permission for OhmConnect to have access to your utility account. They use your history to determine your projected use for each OhmHour and to know your actual usage after the OhmHour occurs.
If you’re somewhere else, try having your own family challenge! Take a look at your bill and what your family’s average usage is, then set a goal for how much you want to reduce your electricty usage. Set up a reward that gets your family excited. For example, you could tell your kids that if they can help reduce the bill by a certain amount of money, you’ll take half that amount and put it toward a fun family activity (bowling ice cream party, pizza, etc). Each month you can heighten the challenge.
Not only will you save electricity and money, but you’ll create good habits have fun too!
How about you?
- Do you make conscious efforts to reduce your electricity?
- Are you savvy about how your electricity use is monitored and billed?
- What simple things do you do to save electricity in the summer?