Sunday, November 9, 2008

September electricity bill, $7.70, October $9.96

Those are very low numbers, they are not usual for a person’s household electricity bill.

While I am for sustainability, it usually would need an economical reason for me to follow it. For example, I would not go out and buy a Toyota Prius because it is has great fuel mileage, is super chic and green, because of price. While the Prius does get good mileage (48/45 mpg) it is not very economical because of its price. A car similar to the price and mileage of a Honda Civic is more inexpensive, not as great mileage, though the ownership costs is less over time (many reviews on cost over time of Prius compared to other vehicles, and it gets sweeter for other cars as gas prices lower).

Phew, back to the electricity bill. I am not writing a true guide how to save electricity for the matter, a how to for most things in this blog, rather I will write my experience and my suggestions, not a canned list for a broad amount of people.

Here is what I do for a low electricity bill; it will not fit most people, though it can help give useful advice on habits of saving electricity. Most of what I do might be for lazy people.

First, I do not have an air conditioner. I do not need one because it does not get very hot in my apartment during the summer. I do not use my heater at all, because it does not get very cold in my apartment during the winter, I put on a layer, one. I do not use my dishwasher (because it's broken and my landlord does not really want to fix it). I believe my water heater is one of many for the building, so I probably do not pay for the water heater for the apartment (I say probably because I cannot locate it). The rise in the electricity bill is due to my new water cooler, one of those upright 5 gallon bottle on top of it ones, which to me is more economical and sustainable than water bottles.

Remember, I am a single guy in my apartment, a family is different.

The basics:

1. Everything I do not want on forever (refrigerator, water cooler, alarm clock, lights, etc) is on a power strip I turn off.

With this, I consciously choose to turn on and off the power which goes to my computer, monitor, hard drives, TV, game systems, and many other items I consciously choose to turn on. I remember reading all over the place about phantom power these devices use, and saving electricity by turning them off completely from power strips. I turn off the power strips I do not use.

2. I turn off lights I do not use.

This one may sound simple, though to some it's silly or maybe too much work. I had a friend over one day. She turned on all my lights, I mean, every single one, and said I like having light. To me it was too bright and the lights do heat my place, so I turned the ones off which were not necessary. After she told me the reason, I turned them back on. She made a possibly unconscious decision to turn them on, I understand why, which is why for her I left the lights on. That's right; I made the unsound financial decision of leaving of turning the lights back on, similar to paying the dinner bill at a restaurant with friends. Life is about compromise in some ways, sometimes we need to compromise our financial desires for others. Pretty much, if you are not in a room or not in the bathroom, turn off some lights to your comfort level! All I need is one light where I work, play, etc.

3. Participate in activities outside the house.

This does not directly relate to actually saving electricity through some method in the house, it is a very sound method for progression in life. I will talk about more of these aspects in depth as I write posts though here is something's a person can do outside the house to save electricity and move forward in life. Volunteer, exercise, hike, work, a picnic at a park with family and friends, cycling, and many more! Each activity is inexpensive; some of them make money, and are worthwhile in the long run. This may seem silly, it does great wonders to follow my third step because instead of watching TV as much (I actually do not watch any TV) a person can accomplish many other things.

4. I use CFLs.

While many articles are springing up saying these are dangerous because of the mercury content and can cost more in the long run if one is broken (uhh don't break one) they are very efficient. Check out this article. The article says its not too dangerous, just be cautious anyway. Saving $$ over time, blah blah, last long blah blah. It works well for me, my light is on, and it is inexpensive to have them.

My main point:

Do what works best for you. The main point is balance, if we do not have balance in our life, similar to on a rope, we fall off. While what I do may not work best for everyone, nor is it the best saving tips (there are many articles which are broader than mine), its what I do, and it is what works for me.

Sustainability to me is economical not environmental. Why would I go out and buy that for 30% more in the long run when I can have this item for 30% less in the long run? Going green is great, for great reasons. Being chic, hip, with the times, and a good person have really no good justification for going green, though it probably is a main reason for many. It is about sustaining the environment and using our limited resources wisely. My limited resources are economically important to me. Remember, this is my opinion, have a great day.