Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Could this be right?

So, each summer I brace myself for a dramatic increase in our electric bill.  This increase comes, without fail, the cost creeping up in May and maxing out by August, and then is gradually falls back to a less heart-attack inducing rate.

In the cooler months we pay around $50 a month (we use natural gas for heat) and in the warmer months, our bill ranges from $150-$230, depending on the month.  It will usually go from $50 to $100 to $180 and on up the the top.  It has been as high as $280 some summers, but we've figured out how to manage our air conditioner usage to keep it below that.  Also, we have window units, not central air.  This is one of the many joys (heh) of living in 93-year-old house.

Usually, we have one window unit downstairs on all the time, and two upstairs that I turn on for nap time and bed time.  This summer has be HOT.  A real scorcher, even by DC standards.  This means there have been weeks where I've had all our window units on all the time.  I expected our electric bill to be through the roof.

I braced myself for the August bill, usually our highest bill.  $163.  !!!  I was shocked.  Last August our electric bill was $230, and we definitely used more AC this year than last year.  I checked, and our usage is down by more than 200 units over this time last year!  Now it is true that we conserve.  We keep lights off during the day, unplug appliances that we are not using, only run the dishwasher once a day, wash most of our clothes in cold water (though we use natural gas for heat), stuff like that.  But we haven't notched up our efforts on that front.  Just the same as we always do.

What we have done this past year is switch all of the light bulbs in our house to compact fluorescent bulbs.   We just did it gradually as the old ones died, we replaced them with CFLs and I think now we are at about 90% CFLs. That's really the only difference, the only real change we have made.

Could this be right?  Our energy usage is down by about 15%, maybe a little more (math is hard!).  Has anyone else switched to CFLs and noticed this much of difference?  I think it is pretty dramatic.


Sprite's Keeper said...

Most likely it is the CFL's. We have some in our home, where we can put them since some of the can lights are not CFL friendly. Hasn't really caused a plunge in our bill which has been steadily going up since 2007 after the last hurricane tore through.
Have a great time on Mom's Weekend!

Michele said...

When CFLs first came out we replaced all of ours. It was quite an investment. I notice right off that our electricity bill went down by about the cost of the CFLs. The months after that were all gravy. They do make a huge difference.

Captain Dumbass said...

CFL's are great, especially for Xmas. You can run a billion of them and not even see a blip in your power.

Andrea said...

What rock have I been living under? Thanks for showing me the light (pun possibly intended)--I have to go get some of those!!! I will be the most energy efficient of our neighbors yet!!!!

unmitigated me said...

When that happens at my house, it's usually because there is a big "E" next to the meter reading, meaning "Estimate" meaning someone didn't bother reading my easily accessible out-front meter. And then we get slammed the next month. Not that I am bitter.

Keely said...

I get 'estimates' sometimes too that are based on people who lived there 5 years ago, so it can seem low. My last power bill was $27. Which means next month will be $180.

CFL's are awesome, though, especially for Xmas as the Captain said.

Amanda said...

Wow, that's incredible! Totally worth the investment. I will definitely take this into consideration the next time I'm shopping for light bulbs.