Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Runnin' up mah light bill

There's a bit in the The Original Kings of Comedy show that my fiancee has been over-quoting lately. It's basically about grandmothers and their propensity to berate about the power bill.

Everything you did over your mean grandmama's house gonna run up her light bill. "Don't you come in my house talking loud! You gonna f*ck around and run up my light bill! My light bill be sky high cause of yo' "

So now every time I forget to turn off a light before leaving the room, I get "Turn off that bulb! Yo' gonna run up mah light bill!"

In the past three years we have been living in our house, I have watched our electricity bills spiral out of control. At first we thought it was the pool pump, so we cut down the unnecessary hours that it was on. Then, we unplugged the second fridge under the patio – we aren’t really big drinkers so we didn’t have much booze that would require an entire other fridge. We tried to avoid using the dryer wherever possible and hang clothes on the line to dry, and attempted to rug up rather than switch on the heater in winter. To add insult to injury, we have a gas stove and solar hot water. So we are not even using power for those things to start with!

All of this to no avail. The electric bill continues to rise. In desperation, I booked a ClimateSmart home service. This is a Qld Government initiative similar to the water home service that was offered during the water restrictions a few years ago. For $50, a qualified man comes to your house and goes over your electricity usage. He gives you all this wonderful stuff:

[image: mine]

… plus gives you good advice on how to reduce your bill. All I wanted to know was which appliances sucked the most power, but the ClimateSmart man went above and beyond. He confirmed it wasn’t the pool pump or the dryer that was killing us – it’s our fridge and freezer. Apparently they’re pretty old and are just electricity guzzlers. He suggested replacing them and also installing another electricity meter, with the capability to monitor the times we use electricity – this will allow peak and off-peak billing through the electricity provider (hopefully our current one offers this, otherwise we’ll have to switch). Basically, for the outlay of a few hundred dollars, he estimated that we could cut our quarterly bills IN HALF.

So now it’s just a matter of deciding when to do these things – we’re trying to save for the wedding at present, but I really want to take on board his suggestions. And guess which item in our house sucks the most electricity of all? The electric kettle. Apparently it actually uses less power to boil a cup of water in the microwave!

Now C is obsessed with watching the little power meter, and getting it down as low as possible. It shows in cents how much electricity you are using at present, and it spikes up and down according to whether the kettle is on, the fridge is humming or the pool pump is working. After a week of meter-watching, I’m over the novelty of it I can tell you.

The one gadget I do like though is a remote control for your power switches. C has installed the little receiver plug on the outside carport light, so I can turn it on from inside the house with the remote, without having to grope about finding the garage switch in the dark. Wondrous technology!

Have you instituted any energy-smart behaviours or technology into your home?


  1. We boil the kettle and if there's hot water left we put it in the thermos. Actually made a difference to our bill and I have instant hot water ready at my disposal. great if you're heading out and know you're going to want a cuppa at some stage too.

  2. We only boil enough water for two cups of tea. That way, it's not heating more water than is needed. We have top up meters at the flat rather than bills and it works out a lot cheaper. I think I only put £20 a month to electricity.



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