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Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Battle of the Electric Bill

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By Heather Andrews

We often feel somewhat powerless when it comes to the cost of having electricity in our home. Many people have opened their utility bill and been shocked by the increase from the previous month. There doesn’t seem to be any option besides paying it and cutting your life expenses elsewhere. However, there are things you can do to cut your bill so you can still enjoy a meal out or catch a movie at the theater once in awhile.

In order to decrease your electric bill, you must first understand how it works. Your bill shows the price per kilowatt-hour and the amount of kilowatt-hours consumed. The cost of electricity comes from the cost of fuel used for power generation and the transmission of power to your location, plant maintenance and operation fees, supply and demand for fuel, weather, and other factors. Burning natural gas to produce power drives the cost of electricity up when gas prices go up. This means the cost of electricity can fluctuate daily.

The next step is to understand where you are using the most electricity. Appliances and electrical devices in your home such as televisions, dishwashers, stoves, and computers combined can consume up to five times as much energy as your heating or air-conditioning. Heating water can cost about the same as heating your whole house. The cost of lighting in U.S. homes is about equal to the cost of air conditioning.

Here are some standard tips for lowering your electricity usage: 

  1. Turn off lights and appliances when you are not using them.

  2. Seal your doors and windows to keep the heat or cool air inside.

  3. Purchase energy efficient bulbs and lighting structures.

  4. Close the curtains on sunny days when your air conditioning is in use.

  5. Run the dishwasher or your clothes washing machine and dryer at night using cold water to use less heat and less water. The cost of energy can fluctuate by time of day depending on demand.

You can have fun while decreasing your electric bill by following these extra tips:

  1. Turn off the tv and enjoy playing board games or doing other activities with the family.

  2. Create a peaceful environment in your home with candlelight instead of regular lighting. This can add a fresh scent to your home too!

  3. Open your windows up when the weather is right and allow the outside air to set the temperature of your house and provide natural lighting.

  4. Listen to a radio program instead of watching tv.

  5. Get the family outside. Stop the kids from playing video games and play outside instead. Try camping in the backyard. A fire is all you will need to stay warm, light the area and cook a meal.

The most important thing is to make this a household effort. Get everyone in the house involved in saving electricity. Monitor your power usage the same way you would monitor what your children eat. Just being conscious of what is turned on in your house can make the difference.

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