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How We Keep Our Electric Bill Low

If you’ve been keeping track of the recent shenanigans involving BG&E in Maryland and rate hikes, rate deferments, council meetings, et cetera … then you’d be aware that the electricity rate caps were recently removed and many families are feeling the pinch. Electricity costs are going up everywhere with the increase in the price of oil so being aware of energy costs is hardly a Maryland phenomenon, though it’s slightly more acute here.

That being said, our most recent electricity bill was for $82.32 and the bill before that was a scant $48.58. Our daily average kilowatt usage was 23.1 kWh in July (73 average temp), 17.1 kWh in June (67), and 27.0 kwH in May (74). This includes a $10 Credit for Air Conditioning Control. I’m not sure why we get it (or if everyone gets it) because I can’t find information about it on the BG&E website. All this to power and cool a 2,400 sq. ft. home (800 sq. ft. is basement) to nice comfortable 75 degrees when we’re home. I know friends who pay at least two or three times that to cool similarly configured homes and I’m not entirely sure why, but I can explain how we keep electricity use low.

1. Programmable Thermostat
This is probably the biggest money saver because we don’t run the AC or heat when we’re asleep or out of the house. I have it programmed to shut off after midnight and turn on at around 5pm, so our air conditioning only runs when we’re actually at home. Some would say that leaving it off all day just means it takes longer to cool down at night and you are probably right, except only when the external temperature exceeds 90 does the internal temperature of the home exceed 82.

2. Shut Off AC Entirely
In a three story house, the top floor will always be warmer than the middle floor which will always be warmer than the first floor. Our master bedroom is located on the third floor, right underneath the blazing hot attic that bakes all day, and there are days when that room can’t get cool even if you run the AC all day (I’ve tried and failed). In those instances, we simply shut off the AC and sleep in the basement on some mattresses we pull out of storage. There’s no sense running an AC you can’t take advantage of so we utilize the natural coolness of the basement.

3. Use Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs
All the crap people say about how CFL’s don’t give you nice light are all a bunch of crap. Do the math and you’ll realize that the cost to run a CFL is one fourth the cost of a regular light bulb. In fact, some of you may remember I wrote about the money saved using compact fluorescent lightbulbs [3]. If you aren’t using CFL’s, get with the program!

4. Turn Off Unused Lights
You’re only one person, you only need one lightbulb right? So, turn off any light sources you don’t need and save yourself a few pennies on electricity and a little bit of generated heat. While it sounds minuscule, and it is, the little numbers add up to a bigger number at the end of the month and represents money you could use to do something else.

5. Don’t Heat Up Your House
We grill instead of bake/broil/use the oven and we air dry instead of use the dryer. If you’re spending so much money to cool down the house, it doesn’t make much sense to do the things that generate the most amount of heat. Sometimes we use the oven because it heats up the kitchen, which isn’t where we spend a lot of spare time anyway, but the dryer generates a lot of heat and humidity that spreads throughout the house (we don’t vent it outside, which is a positive in the winter).

What are you favorite energy saving tips?