Green Wizardries, Reducing Electrical Bills by Maxine Rogers
I managed to persuade a friend of mine to talk about his cost -cutting measures on his BC Hydro bills. He has managed to get is bills down 15%, 18% and 27% from last year’s consumption in the last three billing periods. That is pretty remarkable. Here is what he has been doing.
“I am feeling the bite of inflation so the more money I save on electricity, the more money I have to buy groceries and fuel for the car. I began to try to get our electrical consumption down last summer. My efforts have been pretty successful. I am also interested in dropping our electricity consumption with an eye to going off grid. You need to drop your electricity consumption a great deal to make going off grid possible.
The first conservation measure I tried was to be absolutely religious about turning off lights when they are not being used. I only use electric light for a task and then I make sure it is turned off. I also consolidate the fridges and freezers as soon as I can. This gives me a chance to turn off and clean fridges and freezers and find out what exactly is in the freezers. I also write up a new freezer log when I do this so we know exactly what type of food and how much food we have in the freezers.
I try to turn off as many electrical appliances as I can. We don’t keep things plugged in. I also want to utilize electric heat as little as possible. It is much more cost effective to rely on wood heat. For some people,I think purchasing a heat pump might be a good idea, especially with all the government rebates.
I am not getting a heat pump because I am still fit enough to do firewood. If I wasn’t, I would certainly consider a heat pump. However, a heat pump does not work with my long-term goal of going off grid.
We switched from an electrical stove to a propane stove last summer. This shift the cost from electricity to gas, but the propane can be bought in large quantities and stored for the long term. Our propane stove top and oven both work during power outages and work very well in an off-grid situation.
The ignitors for the stove’s oven and burners are powered by a single D-cell battery. It is a Unique off-grid stove and it is manufactured in Ontario. They have good customer service. These stoves are carried by Courtenay Appliances.
I am thinking of going off grid because I don’t have confidence in the electrical grid remaining viable. In Canada and the United States, there is not enough maintenance being done on the grid. The whole grid is subject to the price shocks and the availability of liquid fuels. All their repair trucks need liquid fuels to keep the lines working and I am not confident about the future of liquid fuel supplies.
One of the major savings we did is accounted for by switching all the lights to LEDs. They are more expensive to buy but last a lot longer and use much less power that incandescent bulbs. I think this is a savings that is in reach of most people.
If you are using electrical heat, it is a good idea to check and replace damaged seals on the doors and windows to exclude drafts. It just makes sense to do this no matter how you are heating your house. We also wear sweaters and slippers in the house in the winter.
We don’t use air conditioning. It is an energy hog. To keep the house cool, we close the blinds or curtains when the sun is shining in. If it is really hot outside, we close the windows early in the morning and open them wide in the cool of the evening and for the night. We use small electrical fans when it is very hot. During the heat dome, we were able to stay comfortable by sleeping wrapped in wet sarongs. This year has been much better so far for excessive heat.”