Friday, October 1, 2010

Killing Watts

I had a near-death experience today; I opened my Hydro bill.

$414.49 for the last two months.

The previous bill was $377, which was the most I've ever paid until this one.

Most people blame their high bill on the rising cost of electricity, or the fact that there is HST added since July.  While the rates have gone up and there is HST added to the bill, both of those combined do not explain why my bill is over $100 more this year than the same period last year.

Looking at my bill, I can see why our bill is +$100 more.  Our usage for the two months is up by around 20% compared to last year. And last year's was up compared to two years ago.

I called my wife at work and told her the news. I told her that I was going to start unscrewing light bulbs on any light that I find left on without a person in the room.

She didn't like that idea. In fact, she really didn't like that idea. She even got a little angry with me.
I tried to justify it by saying "We haven't even reached the darker days of winter yet. Can you imagine what we'll be paying in January and February when we need lights on more often?" Seriously, I don't even want to think about it.

Our kids are the biggest offenders when it comes to electricity waste. For example: Our finished basement has 3 recessed ceiling lights, 3 table lamps, and two small spotlights that point at our dartboard.  The light switch operates only the ceiling lights. When we got home from work yesterday, I went to the basement. The only lights that weren't on were the ceiling lights. On top of that, the Xbox 360 was on, the TV was on, and the digital cable box was on. There was nobody in the basement. My son said he was using it and was going back down. Why he needed so many lights on, I have no idea and neither did he.

We're all guilty of waste in my family, but seriously, I think I waste the least. The only waste from me is leaving my PC on for about 18 hours a day. I've been doing that since the beginning of time. As of today, it is is now off. Everyone else seems to feel the need to turn lights on wherever they go, at any time of day, regardless of how light or dark it is in the room, as well as leaving the TV on when they're going to be away from it for more than a few minutes. The only light I turn on is the one in the room I'm in. I don't turn any lights on in the rooms or halls that I use to get to that room. I walk in the dark.

Anyway, I'm setting a goal for the next billing period. That goal is to cut our usage by at least 50%. In fact, I am going to make it a family challenge and maybe even make it fun and profitable for one lucky person. If we can cut our bill in half, that'll give us some extra cash. What I might do is offer some of that savings back to my family... like maybe a cash prize draw using the names of those who didn't waste in the two months? I'm not sure yet, but I'll work out the details.

In the meantime, we'll be making a stop at Canadian Tire on the way home to pick up a few more CFL bulbs. I also noticed that they have a electricity usage meter on sale for less than $20. I'm really curious how much electricity some things in my house use, even when they're turned off. It might be a worthwhile investment.

Stay tuned.

(Update: we picked up three 6-pack boxes of 13W (60W) CFL bulbs on sale for $5.99 w/ the $5 off shelf coupon at Canadian Tire and already used twelve of them. We're going to buy more tomorrow and grab some 40W as well for the dining room chandelier)

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