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Joined: Feb 2003
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Jilly Offline OP
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Each month I actually eagerly await my electric bill, since each month I experiment with ways to use less and less watts.

I did have two people living here but now it's just one, so next month it will be interesting to see what the difference will be. I also moved all my appliances onto power strips to prevent ghost energy/standby power drain, have only compact florescent bulbs in the house, and line dry all my clothes.

I turned off the electricity running to the RV as well, and am changing out several of my household appliances to be Energy Star types, or at least ones with less watts overall. (for example, a 4 pot coffeemaker uses only 600 watts, whereas the 10 cup model uses 1200-1500 watts!)

I am also trying to see how long I can prevent starting the AC unit, which will be the single largest AC expense of the year here in AZ.

My March-April bill is for $41.64. That's for two people with very light sporadic space heater use. The actual bill for electricity is only $19.81...which means that MORE THAN HALF of my bill is for fees and taxes through the electrical company.

I called the company (APS) today and asked how this works. The taxes and fees slide along a percentage scale. I was told the best case scenario, price wise, was to pay only $10 a month and use no watts at all.

In other words, if i turned off the circuit breaker and used zero electricity, I'd still be owing $10 just for the privilege of being on the grid.

For reference, this total bill of $41 applies for my use of 457 kWh (kilo watt hours). This is a decrease from my 561 kWh use last month (feb-march).

By looking at my actual bill, I can see exactly what the differences are from month to month in my electric use. Small changes can be actually measured! There is a graph in each bill showing how much electric was used for the same month in each year prior, for a better test case depending on what is going on with the climate at the time.

Isn't this interesting? Have you ever sat down and read your electric bill?

I am so excited to see what my bill is for April-May with just me here!

Last edited by Jilly; 05/03/12 05:29 PM.
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Jilly Offline OP
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Something that is interesting is that my electric bills provide a graph of my monthly energy usage.

Looking at last year, the BIG bill months are clearly:

July
Aug
Sept

(for air conditioning in the 100 degree AZ high desert)

And:
Dec
Jan
Feb
March

(for heating when temps are in the 30s and 40s).

The heating bills compared to the cooling bills are not really comparable though - the AC uses many, many more watts than heating.

There is also a yearly comparison. I am gratified to see my monthly consumption for 2011-2012 are much, much lower than in 2010-2011. I attribute that purely to insulation. When I was living in the RV there was no insulation. When I rebuilt my back shed, I added as much as i could afford for insulation, knowing the savings would pay off greatly. I even borrowed money from my parents to get extra insualtion.

Living in my shed studio is a far better choice, clearly. If i was to stay in the RV, i would have found a way to insulate that!

For more notes on how I am saving money on keeping things cool inside, this is my thread on 10 Simple Ways to Keep Cool without AC.

Last edited by Jilly; 05/03/12 05:41 PM.
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I got my electric bill for the last month! I am so excited. Yes, I am excited to get my bills these days. smile

It looks like my activities surpassed my goals by quite a long shot. I am so pleased with myself; I feel like a cat with cream.

So for April/May, i used 128 kWh. Last month it was 457 and my goal was to simply be under 400 kWhs this month!

My electric use was only $5.66. Last month it was $19.81. With taxes and fees and my low-income discount, my total bill this month was $13.36. Last month was $41.65 and I thought that was pretty good. smile

What I am doing is working. And I know i can do better. This wasn't even trying. All i did was add surge protectors, replace my small appliances with lower watt varieties, turn off the RV...oh and have dan take his many electronics away. I wonder if that was the big difference.

We will see next month. I am still committed to not turning on the AC until it's 100, and I just picked up a coffeepot from goodwill that uses half the watts of the one i had yesterday.

I am also experimenting with my fridge use patterns, with hand washing laundry and using lower watt appliances in all things. When I feel ready I will be adding the solar panel and battery to my system. I really want to see how low i can get things on their own, first.

Just for a reminder, the electrical company told me the lowest i can get my bill, with no electric use at all and purely paying for service and taxes, is $10. I have some wiggle room, from being on the low income plan, so I would be really pleased to see a total bill lower than $10. If this month's was $13.36, i bet i will get there.

Last edited by Jilly; 05/27/12 11:05 PM.
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Our electric bill is in outer space. I would love to get solar panels.

You inspired me to try not to use the dryer. After all, why not make use of the sun here in So. Cal. We have two refrigerators as well as an extra freezer. I will reconsider donating the freezer and refrigerator in the spirit of green living. My husband may not agree, but I will talk him into it.

We use a lot of technology here as my husband has an IT business. We have been considering solar panels, but we may not be living here in a year so we will wait and see.

Jilly, a $10 bill is fantastic. I hate to tell you what ours is. frown






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Jilly Offline OP
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Oh Lori, c,mon. Share for the greater good. I knwo we can get you to a dramatic difference with small changes. We just need to see where you are starting, or the data is meaningless. smile

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Jilly Offline OP
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Was just thinking. If my total bill is around $10 a month, that's $120. Not terrible for home comforts like lights and fans and kitchen stuff. I am not even using solar power yet. That is purely from watching my watts.

My bill the month before, when i wasn't paying attention to my watts, was $41.65. That is $499.80 in a year, if each month was only that much. March 2012

The month prior - $56.10 Feb 2012.

Jan - $62.89 - the coldest month here.

And last summer, the hottest months cost $95, $120 and $148.

My entire last year's electric bill was $881 with 8,493 kWhs drawn. This is AZ's APS Standard Rate Plan with a low income discount.

All these numbers. Sorry. i am trying to work this out. If last year cost me $881 and this year costs me $120 (just go with it for now), that is a savings of $761 in a year.

Solar panels are not very cheap, and there is a lot of 'hardware' that goes with them. Still, for around $200 i now have a 15w panel, a deep cycle battery, an inverter, a charge controller, cables and my multimeter. This is enough to get started.

And I still have $561 in my imaginary bill budget to add more panels, after i figure out what I am doing with this one. My next panel will be 50 watts, to give me 65 total once i have them wired together. I can get a 50 watt panel for $150 and i still have $411 in this budgeting scenario. Then I could add more panels, more batteries or a larger inverter. I have my eye on one for 2,000 watts.

To sum this up: if I do this properly, I can get my whole home on solar power using only the one's year's supposed electrical budget. After that I might never have another electric bill. Think about that! smile

I'll discuss this more in the solar power thread once I know how to manage the panel and battery that i have! My point here: if you bother to look at your electric bills you might be able to do this too.

Ask for a copy of your bills from 2011-2012 from your company. Find cheaper watt appliances and eliminate energy vampires. Use all the techniques I am developing here. At least get started! Know how many watts you used last month, as a miminum step. smile

Last edited by Jilly; 05/27/12 11:00 PM.
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Jilly Offline OP
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Yay - i got my bill again! (it's funny to say that). Another $5 bill in electric generation. smile smile laugh

Details: 128 kWh this month for a total bill with service amounts and fees: $13.87. I saved $8.44 from being in the low income program (40% off from using less than 200 kWhs).

According to their webiste, HALF my bill was spent on the fridge. The next biggest amount was for cooking, then two small chunks were listed from using lighting and cooling.

A few days ago i did put in a 5 watt LED screw in light bulb by my bed, so i am guessing that will help with the lighting amounts on the next bill. I do also have my solar ambient and task lights, and really should consider using them more.

Turning off the power switches attached to everything really is working well. I can't believe how much stand by power was bring drawn for absolutely nothing.

And I love my solar stake lights outside. HA. Electricity cost is zero. smile

I haven't been using my solar panel like I could be, but have had company all week and got lazy. I need to hop back on that. I could be running all my lights, my netbook, the fans and the smaller cooking appliances from the solar/battery/inverter combo.

That would leave just the microwave, coffee pot, fridge, printer and AC unit to run on the grid at this time.


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