It’s Energy Awareness Month…and I’ve Entered a Contest – Frugal Confessions

It’s Energy Awareness Month…and I’ve Entered a Contest

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Things have gone rather dark in our household. Literally. It’s Energy Awareness Month, and I’ve decided to enter an exciting contest to see how much energy use we can shave off our bill in the next two and a half months. If you’ve been following my blog over the years, then you know that I personally challenge myself each year to spend less on energy than the previous year (so far, with great results). We’ve gone from spending $1,628.86 on electricity and natural gas in 2010 to spending only $1,384.32 in 2012. I hope to take it a step further with this challenge (and to win the prize along the way).

boxing gloves

The Challenge: Reliant Blogger Conservation Challenge

The Competition (er…contestants): Arena from The Nerd’s Wife, Staci from 7 On a Shoe String, The T-Shirt Mama, and Mackenzie from Cheerios and Lattes.

The Prize: Sponsorship to BlogHer Conference in 2014

Being able to go to such a large blogging conference is a big deal for me. Needless to say, I am pulling out all the stops in finding ways to lessen our electricity use. I am so into this challenge, in fact, that when our ceiling was repaired this week in our living room I cringed at the robust purr of power tools that were undoubtedly plugged into our electrical outlets.

war paint 2

So far, here’s what I’ve changed:

  • Unplugged the Plugs that Crept Back in for Convenience: Even though I have always been an unplugger, it turns out that I’ve let some appliances stay plugged in while not in use for the sake of convenience. Now that I’m in a competition, forget convenience! I want to win! This week I conducted a room-by-room sweep of the house, unplugging the microwave, stereo in my office, printer in my office, coffee maker that only gets used once a week (Paul likes the clock, but is willing to sacrifice in the name of winning), and the lamp by my bed.
  • Dusted Off the Ole’ Kill-A-Watt: I have this neat little gadget that you plug into a wall, then plug an appliance into, and it will tell you how much electricity the appliance is using (both in standby mode as well as when in use). This week I took it out of hiding and starting playing around with a few settings on my appliances. I also wanted to see if unplugging appliances when not in use was making a difference or not, so I plugged a few into the device to verify that yes, even though the appliance was not on it was still sucking a small amount of energy.
  • Sourced Alternative Work Spaces: One of the things I have going against me is that I work from home now. Getting out of the house to write and create is helpful in that I will use less electricity, and also in that it is nearly always helpful to work in a different environment. I found out that our library (just one mile away) has little spaces you can reserve for free. Also, I figure I will probably work at a coffee shop once a week or so (though it is not lost on me that I would not want to balloon my costs in the tea department just to save on electricity).
  • Energy Savings Through Behavioral Changes: In just one week, I was able to significantly cut down on our electricity use by simply changing the way I used our appliances. Here’s what I shaved off: 80 minutes dryer time (used our laundry line instead), 162 minutes dishwasher (skipped one day of dishes by using less and washing a few by hand; also opened up the door when the cycle reached drying time to air dry instead), 8 hours of television time (it’s a crutch as background noise; what wasted energy!), approximately 8 hours of lamp time, 168 hours of the printer being on standby (not sure why, after we purchased my first printer in five years, I decided to let it stay plugged in and on standby 24/7), 168 hours of the microwave clock, 168 hours of the coffeemaker clock, 56 hours of A/C/Heater (from approximately 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. each day I turned the system off completely; the highest it got was 79 degrees Fahrenheit during the day).

I’m amazed at what we’ve accomplished so far! Let’s hope this is reflected in the numbers. If nothing else, we will have decreased our electric bills this month and for the next several to come, and you know I’m all about that.

Got any other energy-saving tips for me? Help me out by posting them below!

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9 comments… add one

  • Tina

    Hi Amanda,

    Love your blog. I know it’s outside of the post topic, but can you write about savings on water usage too?


    • FruGal

      Hi Tina,

      I haven’t thought about that before, so thank you for suggesting the topic. It’s logged in my mind, and hopefully there will be a post in the near future!

    • FruGal

      P.S. Thank you for the kind words!

  • I can really see the difference for us in cost between the winter and the rest of the year. For Dec-May, our monthly gas and electric bill averaged $142. For Jun-Nov, our monthly bill averaged $75. And that’s with an almost new (2-year-old) natural gas heater. Your post does remind me that I want to cut down on the heat of our hot water heater. Right now the hot water out of the tap could scald a person. Thanks for the reminder. I’m off to the garage…
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..Networking to Help Our Niece Get a Job

    • FruGal

      Glad to help remind you of a way to save money.

      Here in Houston it’s the opposite–winter is cheaper than the hot and humid summer months.

  • Bob S

    Perhaps you could monitor your Smart Meter if you have one to see the effect of your changes. There’s a web site at where you can register your meter and monitor your electric use.

    Your post inspired me to look for this. I started by checking at Center Point Energy and discovered that all they showed on the web site was my natural gas information. A little more research took me to the Smart Meter site.

    I don’t have time to register right now: it’s still dark outside and I’m not going out to look for my meter number! But I’m going to do it because I’ve always wanted to know what the Smart Meter information could do for me.

  • I love that you mention unplugging appliances when they are not in use! I am OCD over turning off lights and not running the air if its not necessary, but never unplug things. How much of a difference did just the unplugging make?
    Megan @ Momma Loves Money recently posted..Is Selling Avon Worth it? A Look at the Numbers

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