LifeStyles

PREMIER REPORTS: Going Green Part 2

Last month I told you about my ridiculously high electric bill that soared to $488 and the lessons I learned that month regarding worn out and broken appliances.

MISSION:
PREMIER Reports: Going Green Part 2

SAVING MONEY WHILE ALSO SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT
Last month I told you about my ridiculously high electric bill that soared to $488 and the lessons I learned that month regarding worn out and broken appliances. This was a lesson that cost me $1400 over the course of seven months and saved me $192 on my February electric bill.
In the beginning of April I received my March electric bill and it plummeted an additional $156 dollars. Now I am going to share with you what I did in the month of March that allowed me to save even more money while helping to save the environment.

ELECTRIC BILLS:
November………………$453
December………………$488
January…………………..$492
February…………………$299
March……………………..$143

LESSON #2
Appliances and devices in your home that are plugged in drain energy even when they are not being used.

MISTAKE #2
I have an above-the-ground spa which I brought when I moved into my home. It is now about five years old. Normally I keep the spa heated to 93 degrees but when San Diego reached 90 degree temperatures last July I decided to turn the heater down. The lowest temperature I could turn the heater to was 80 degrees and that is where it stayed. The spa features jets which go on every hour or so and would run for 5-10 minutes then turn itself off until its next hourly cycle. Without the spa heater turned on as high as usual I didn’t think it would cost me that much extra to keep the jets on. Then on February 28th I decided to drain the spa and see if it would make a big difference on my electric bill. I am now estimating that it costs me around $50-60 a month just to keep the jets on their cycle.

My specialist also asked me about my televisions. “How many do you have?” she asked. “Four” I responded. She then asked “How many do you use?” “Two” I replied. She then told me to unplug the other two. She queried me about whether they were high def or plasmas. “High def” I told her. She informed me that even though they are turned off, plasma and high def televisions are never really turned “off”. This I had already learned when after 2,500 hours my high def television would no longer turn on. I had called a repair man and he replaced the picture light which cost me almost $600. Then the Specialist told me that plasma and high def televisions will usually cost about $60 a month EACH even when they are turned “off”. The next day I went out and bought a few surge protectors and plugged my televisions, DVD players, DVR devices and surround sound speakers into the protectors making it easier to unplug just one plug each night instead of several. For the next month I disconnected all devices every time I was done using or watching them. Keep in mind that if you’re using your DVR to record a show, don’t unplug anything until the show has finished recording because once you unplug the TV the DVR is then wired through the cable and can no longer record. I learned this the hard way. If I stay up late reading I unplug the appliances before I go to bed. If not, I unplug them first thing in the morning until such time I’m ready to utilize the appliances again in the evening.

Looking at my latest electric bill I really do think unplugging my televisions and other appliances did make a huge difference. I also now unplug lamps which I’m not using and at night I even unplug my computer, printer and fax machine which thankfully I’ve got plugged into one protector now too.

I also believe an additional help was the arrival of daylight savings time. With our clocks having been set forward by an hour I was able to adjust my outdoor lighting to go on later and I also turned off two clocks entirely. I left all my front lights on timers, but turned off my backyard lights because, let’s face it, why light an entire backyard when only rare occasions necessitated this?

CONCLUSION #2
Unplugging things around the house that are not being used at the moment saved me an additional $97 per month. I have even unplugged my coffee maker and hot water machine and now simply heat water on the stove for a pot of tea. Overall, I was very happy with my choices and not inconvenienced once I adjusted to the routine and I am quite happy with my $156 savings.

I never thought I would get excited about receiving a bill in the mail but this month I was really looking forward to finding out if my hard work would pay off. And it did!

Coming in the JUNE issue: I have a few more tips my high bill specialist gave me and in a follow-up column we will provide you with an entire breakdown of what every appliance in your house is costing you each day and every hour it’s plugged in. That is an issue you don’t want to miss.

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