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.