Frugal Living 

Housepooling: When Energy Quintuples

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JD asked his readers today for energy conservation tips after a reader in Juneau wrote in about electricity prices in his state increasing from 11 cents a kilowatt hour to 50 cents a kilowatt hour. Over at the BFP household, we do quite a bit of energy conservation, many of which were documented in a guest by Fred from One Project Closer titled 10 Homeowner Secrets That Save You Money Now!. However, if energy prices were to increase five-fold, I think we need to think out of the box and turn to more drastic measures. That measure… is housepooling.

Simply take the idea of carpooling, where you share a commute to and from work, and extend it to living in the home. Once a week, invite a few friends over for dinner, drinks, board games, and then a slumber party. It allows multiple households to live under one roof, one energy bill for one night. Since the idea would be for everyone to housepool, your friends would reciprocate and you’d get several nights “energy-cost free.” It would cost a little more than usual to cook and entertain, but I suspect the increase would be minimal and you might even find that the heating bill going down with more people milling about your home.

The reader estimated that their new energy bill would be around $750, which is about $25 a day for heating alone. Put in a few housepooling days and you can cut maybe a hundred bucks or two off the cost of your bill, plus you get some time with your friends and have a good old fashioned slumber party!

What do you all think? Feasible when energy prices are 50 cents a kilowatt? Am I off my rocker?

{ 10 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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10 Responses to “Housepooling: When Energy Quintuples”

  1. Haha, i love the “housepool” idea. Except with my friends i’d lose all my food and drink in the first hour 😉 On the other hand, if the cards-playing entails some no limit Texas Hold ’em, i can try and get it all back throughout the night!

  2. Four Pillars says:

    Neat idea. It wouldn’t be energy-free in the winter though – you still have to heat the empty house – although not as much.


  3. fred@opc says:

    While I think the idea is interesting, My guess is that in order to really save some green, we’re going to need to consider downsizing our houses. Instead of a family of 4 having a 3000 sq. ft. colonial, maybe they should live in a 2000 sq. ft. rancher. That alone could reduce heating costs by 33%.

    The other thing about spending a single night at someone else’s home is that you can only save a small portion of your own home energy expense. Let’s say it’s the dead of winter and 20 degrees out. You can’t simply turn off your heater when you leave, or your house might freeze and your pipes burst. You could turn the heater down to say, 50 degrees, but when you return the next day, you’ll need a whole lot of that “saved” energy to warm the house back up. Certainly there will be some savings, but I suspect not that much for all the hassle. Oh, and you better be staying at neighbors’ houses close-by, otherwise you’re going to burn up that savings in gasoline.

  4. fred@opc says:

    Oh yeah, and thanks for the link 🙂

  5. jim says:

    Thanks for being a downer Fred. 🙂

  6. Llama Money says:

    $.50 per kWh sounds like a *great* argument for solar energy. It might pay off in just a couple years, even without huge subsidies like they have in some states.

  7. Llama Money says:

    Damn I just saw that he lives in Alaska. Perhaps no luck with that whole solar energy idea 🙂 Anyone know of any fancy ice-panels?

  8. saladdin says:

    I live in the Great State of Tennessee with a residential rate of 8.12 cents per KWH (Go TVA !!) .

    It’s hard to tell someone living in Alaska to “turn the heat down.”


  9. In the 70’s, I believe they called this a “Swingers Club”. 😉

    It would be interesting to chronical how much more energy was consumed by having a party. Will the oven/stove be on longer? More TV’s on? The refrigerator opened and closed more often than usual? More lights on?

    Would you have fuel costs in going to the store to prepare for a party? Would you buy food items you normally wouldn’t buy (a party platter vs. hot dogs and ramen)?

    Would the cost actually be offset by this? Would you lose productive time in both hosting and attending these; or family time? Would you find your best friend in bed with someone he didn’t arrive with?

    Lots of things to account for besides the electric bill.

    Fun post, tho.

    –Dave, Chief Executive RockStar

  10. If you have a slumber party, are the guest going to use your shower in the morning? Will they bring their own sheets & towels, or will you have to use your washer & dryer to clean those? If you can’t get all the dirty dishes into one load, you’ll have to run the dishwasher twice. And unless you do a potluck, fixing a big dinner will consume a bunch of extra power.

    It’s been our observation that house guests, even for a few days, really jack up the power & water costs.

    All that said, it sure sounds like a great excuse to have a bunch of parties!

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