After having a great string of No Spend Days, it's being broken today. I paid my electric bill ($149), my car insurance ($86), a balance due to my MD ($74) and my phone bill ($31.00). I also need to gas up the car ($35) and do a food shop ($50).
My electric bill is high and each year seems to get higher. I have electric heat (cheap to install, not cheap to run) and an electric hot water heater. Plus my utility company has raised it's rates something like 30-40% in the past year. Ouch. Even with prudent use of electricity, my bill is high. I have unplugged the vampire appliances, upgrading the TV means only two units plugged in (TV and DVD player) instead of four (TV, DVD, VCR and RF Modulator). I only plug in the cell phone charger when I need to charge the phone. The power strip for the computer and printer is turned off. I've been getting better about not having on tons of lights (there is only me in the house most of the time, why do I need three lights on?) and switched a majority of my bulbs to CFL's.
My house is a converted summer cottage with minimal insulation (in the attic crawl space, and in most of the basement crawl space, not sure what's in the walls). I have electric baseboard heating, one strip in my bedroom, one in the bath, one in the kitchen and one in the living room. The only strip that is on full time is the one in the kitchen and I keep it at a bracing 52F. The bathroom gets turned on before I go to bed and then turned off after my morning shower. Sorry folks, I don't like a cold toilet! I keep the bathroom at a balmy 68F. The exception to the rule is when we get frigid and windy weather, then I crank the heat up to 60-65 so my pipes don't freeze. A gift to myself was a heated bedpad. I got this baby in early December with an unexpected $50 win from the Lotto. I turn the bedpad on about half an hour before I go to bed and it gently heats up the bed, no need for the bedroom electric heat. That plus an extra blanket, I feel like I'm sleeping in a cocoon of warmth.
Options to reduce my electric bill are limited. I have an Energy Star hot water heater (replaced three years ago), I'm looking into switching energy retailers (but they all want a year committement-kind of like your cell phone provider), I've put up plastic insulation on the windows, I've put extra insulation in the attic crawl space and in the spring, I will replace some of the basement crawl space insulation with higher R-Value insulation. I do have an auxillary gas heater that runs off of propane, but it's an older model with no thermostat and has three temperatures, low, high and off. It's not the best for keeping the house at a moderate temperature and I use it only when it's really cold or if I need a quick warm up. I'm on the lookout for a replacement one with a thermostat, I have this feeling they will go on sale once the DIY stores start putting out lawn mowers and barbeques.
I guess all I can do at this point is wear sweatshirts in the house and pray that Puxatwaney Phil forecasts an early spring!