I reduced my electric bill by $ 120.00

wjswecampbellSeptember 30, 2006

First of all I live in Texas, Im sure that you all know how hot it can be here. I have a good ac and use it like theres no tomorrow. But last month my bill was $336.00. Needless to say I wasnt to shocked. It was August. But I decided to try to reduce my bill. That is of coarse money out the door. So here are a couple of the things that I did. I did as much of my laundry at night that I could. I used to live in California, where they did something called rolling blackouts.The electric companies asked their customers to do laundry and use major appliances after 7:00 pm. It reduces you bill. I unplug all appliances that I am not using. ie; toaster, electric can opener,microwave,tv's dvd player, radios etc..... I keep my computer printer off unless I am printing.... I don't just let my dryer run until it goes off. I have to run mine one and a half cycles....My kids started back to school so tv's off at 9:oo pm.... Constantly tell the kids to turn there lights off, they think that they need it on during the middle of the day.....I was running that ac at about 69 or 70 most of the time last month, I turned it up to 72 or 73...It is cooling off a little here so that helps....I run my dishwasher on the light cycle, why? because I wash the dishes before I let the dishwasher do it....well anyways my bill was 210.00 this month. KUDOS TO ME!!!! Soon my bill will be around 140.00. I don't use the heater much for the winter. GOOD LUCK TO ALL MY FRUGAL FRIENDS...

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steve_o

Good for you!

One thing to keep in mind is that, if your dishwasher is relatively new, it likely uses less water on a long cycle than you would pre-rinsing dishes for a regular cycle. Saves you time and money!

Another thing I didn't see you mention is the use of compact fluorescent bulbs. Replacing just the most-frequently-used (or most-frequently-left-on) bulbs with CFs will cost a little up front, but they run with far less power (about one quarter of the wattage of an incandescent bulb). They also run cooler, so you don't have to spend as much on AC to reduce the heat generated by light bulbs.

And if your house is all-electric and it fits into your lifestyle, you could consider a water-heater timer which would shut off the heater during the night when you're not likely to need much hot water.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 11:27PM
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dadoes

I have to add that 69°F, 70°F, and even 72°F and 73°F is quite low for air conditioning in the midst of summer. I live on the central Texas coast, two counties in from the coastline. I run my a/c at 77°F during the heat of the summer (82°F when I'm not home, which is most of the day except on weekends), dropping it a little when the season shifts to fall for better humidity control on the mild humid days that hang in the lower 70s and upper 60s. With a ceiling fan or other fan for circulation, it's plenty comfortable.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 11:54PM
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mikie_gw

I keep ac at 79, and a paddle fan. Bought some 'handy shades' at HomeDepot. Think a pack of four is $12. Sort of a pleated window shade - fan folded paper, with a glue strip on top and a couple of fancy clothes pins to adjust height. Figure they saved me instantly $5 per window on the ac bill by just trapping some heat & letting it re-radiate back out the window glass.

(actually cut my total power bill in half this summer, gilafilms window tint, new white roof, white ceramic exterior paint, a minor amount of insulation, and just a bit or partial radiant barrier in attic, more attic barrier work once things cool off, its a definite wow & easy)

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 10:58AM
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western_pa_luann

AC at 69-70! I'd be freezing!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 8:39PM
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bigtexan99

Great tips, just 1 question.

you said: "The electric companies asked their customers to do laundry and use major appliances after 7:00 pm. It reduces you bill. "

How does that reduce your bill? If they take a reading once a month, they cannot tell the difference on what time of day you used the electricty.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 11:56AM
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stumpyouch

bigtexan99,

Most utility companies employ demand based pricing tiers. More energy is used during the day than at night. So they charge more for daytime usage.

Where I live, on-peak time (11 am-5pm) electric rates are almost four times higher than off peak rates. Because of this, I do all my laundry, dishwashing, baking (electric oven), etc... at night.

Of course, rates and peak times will differ from place to place.

Stumpy

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 12:42PM
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clink

We have a special time-of-day meter --- the high rate is 8-5; drops down between 5-9 and then 9-7am and weekends are the cheapest. This worked great for us when I was working 9-5 --- now being home most of the time -- I find I do my laundry in the day so I can hang it on the line or at least, have it done when DH comes home.

But you might check into it with your electic provider --- we are with a small REC company and they provide them.

Cathy

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 12:42PM
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western_pa_luann

I don't know about "most"! LOL!

We do not have any tiered pricing here. I have heard people speak of it for quite some time now... but we don't have that option yet!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 12:59PM
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marie26

Is there a site to get an idea of how much I would save a month by unplugging different items such as the printer and a toaster?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 1:14PM
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dadoes

Plugging in a toaster doesn't use any power unless it's turned on and heating. Maybe a *tiny* bit if it has electronic controls.

The cost for running any electric device can be figured this way:

Find the tag or label on the device that lists its power rating -- wattage, voltage, amperage, etc. The number you want is wattage. If watts is not listed, it can be roughly figured by volts X amps.

Divide the wattage by 1000. This is kilowatts of power used for running the device for 1 hour (KWH), which is how electric service is metered.

Find your most recent electric bill. Divide the bottom-line $-amount of the bill by the KWH used. That's your cost per KWH.

Multiply the figure calculated for the device by the cost per KWH, which tells you how much it costs to run the device for one hour. For shorter or longer periods, divide by 60 (minutes in an hour) then multiply by the number of minutes of run time.

Example: 100-watt light bulb.
Light bulb = 100 watts / 1000 = 0.1 KWH
Electric bill = $154 for 1,400 KWH = $0.11 per KWH
0.01 X $0.11 = $0.011 per hour of light-bulb use, a smidgeon more than 1 cent per hour.

Larger item, central air conditioner. Approximately 6,000 watts = 6000 / 1000 = 6 KWH
6 KWH X $0.11 = $0.66 cents per hour of continuous running.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 5:58PM
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marie26

Thank you, dadoes, for that information.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 11:36AM
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joyfulguy

Hi marie26,

I have two rates for the power that I use: up to ( I think) 60 KWH (KiloWatts used per Hour) I pay a lower price, about 5 cents plus, and above that amount of usage per month, at something over 6 or 7 cents, I think.

They read our meters every three months, and I can phone in the reading in the intervening months. This time, following an actual reading, I have a small bill, so if I'd phoned in the reading on the reading date (I missed by a couple of days, a couple of times, didn't do it, most of the time) I might have been able to move some of my usage from higher rate to the lower rate, as I did not use that much in the month of the actual reading.

They are talking in a nearby city of installing meters which will record the time of day during which we use our power (at a cost of between $200. - 300. per unit, I think - to be paid for by the users, naturally).

Some time ago, when I lived in the city, the utility came to install an extra insulation blanket on our water heaters, and a timer to provide heat at about 2:00 a.m..

Later, the heater rentals was taken over by a different level of the electric supply system, and when they came to deal with the heater, they removed the timer (as my landlady said they would) and were gong to remove the insulating blanket, as well, and I more or less said, "Over my dead body" ... so they left it.

When I called their agency to complain, I was told, sweetly, thet they didn't offer that service.

I guess they were uninterested in distributing the usage of power away from peak periods of consumption.

Obviously, they were not the agency doing the generating.

'Twould be nice if the left hand let the right know what it was doing.

I called some of my parliamentarians who have been making noises about the power problems to let them know of this stupidity.

Got little satisfaction.

GGGRRR-RR-RR-R-R!!!

Don't dissipate your personal power on fruitless enterprises. But be peristent about the important ones.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 3:13PM
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ninjakaren

SNIP "Is there a site to get an idea of how much I would save a month by unplugging different items such as the printer and a toaster?" and
"Plugging in a toaster doesn't use any power unless it's turned on and heating. Maybe a *tiny* bit if it has electronic controls."

My electric company suggests unplugging all appliances when not in use, but that gets a little too much for me. However I do have a power bar on a number of outlets, in these cases I turn off the power bar everytime I'm using the appliance.
Here's a link to Leaking electricity estimates http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_arc97/10_25_97/bob1a.htm
and a good article on the subject as well
http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/appliances/small_appl.html

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 8:47AM
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greatlakesmower

One way to understand this a little easier is to separate electronic appliances that run or turn on via remote control from basic electrical appliances that don't.
Items such as TV's, TV cable boxes, stereo components, DVD players, etc. operate on a stand by mode when "turned off" that allows them to be turned back on via a remote control. Obviously, if the item was completely turned off, it would not be able to respond to a remote control to be turned on. PC components such as printers, computer speakers, computer scanners, need to use a little electricity to sense any commands from the PC. Each one of these items may not consume that much in stand by, but if you add them all up and multiply by the hours they sit in stand by, it makes a difference. With electrical appliances like a toaster, it does not need to run any electricity to respond to a remote control (although that may happen someday) so it is pretty much turned off until its manually turned on.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 11:12AM
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oakleif

Gee!! you're electric bills are terrible. I have a small house and live in the country. I have a fit if my bill goes over $120 dollars. Have saved money this year by keeping my outside security light off and thermostat up to 79 useing the florascent bulbs.Keeping my cooking to a minumum like cooking enough for 2 days and than nukeing it. Have a lot of shade trees so cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This fall i turn ac off and open windows.
good luck in getting those electric bills down.
oakleif

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 3:59AM
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hunternicholas

If you have an electric water heater ditch it for either a gas or oil model. Then watch you electric bill really drop. Even with today's higher natural gas prices our total monthly savings by switching to gas (after adding gas cost) is about $80 since we got rid of the electric water heater.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 8:59AM
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steve_o

our total monthly savings by switching to gas (after adding gas cost) is about $80 since we got rid of the electric water heater.
I'm just curious: how much of that saving is from the price of gas vs. electric and how much of it is that the gas heater is more efficient than the electric heater (or is it?)?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 10:05AM
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bry84

Electric water heaters are rated around 99% efficient as they convert nearly all the electric they consume in to heat, and the submerged elements transfer most all of it to the water. A standard gas water heater is rated at about 70-80% efficient. Both heaters loose energy through their case, although a gas unit also looses energy from the internal heat exchanger up through the chimney.

However, this isn't the full picture, your gas water heater is burning the fuel at the point of use. When you buy electric you're paying someone else to burn fuel for you and send the energy down a wire. This results in large losses, often in the range of 40-60% of the original fuel's energy is lost before it reaches your water heater. Thus, gas water heaters are more efficient. This is reflected in the price of use to some extent, as is the fact that electric generation is more exepensive than the extraction and supply of natural gas. Increasingly these days electric is made from natural gas anyway, so it makes sense to avoid paying for it to be turned in to electric to power heating appliances when you could easily burn it yourself for much less expense.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 4:04PM
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sharon_sd

Don't forget the added cost to deliver natural gas to each house. It has to be pumped, so the delivery isn't free, even after you figure in the cost of the delivery system, pipes, road work, etc.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 7:37AM
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mikie_gw

My Electric water heater gets turned on for 20 minutes then off, right before I take a shower. Shower has a lever to slow the flow for when I'm lathering and scrubbing, so actually dont use all that hot water. I actually feel wastefull heating it 20 minutes. Anotherwords less than 2kwh or probably about 20 cents of power per shower at 13¢ per kwh.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 3:51PM
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valtog

I was wondering what others pay per KWH. We pay 14.7 cents. My bill is about $75. I have a gas range, we get our hot water off our boiler, we use the fluorescent bulbs, we just replaced our 10 yo fridge, (haven't got the new bill yet) turn off thing we are not using. I am curious as to what my actual savings would be if I DID unplug them...maybe it's time for an experiment...

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 7:21AM
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bry84

I wasn't considering the costs to extract and deliver fuel, just the efficiency of the fuel from its point of combustion.

It's too situation specific to give a straight answer about the extraction and transport of fuel to either a power plant or your house. Totally depends which fuel is being used and where it's comming from. However, if you're heating your water with a gas or coal fire which is burning miles away, as many people with electric water heaters do, then very little of the fuel's energy is making it to your hot water, and you're still paying for someone to dig up coal or extract gas and transport it to the power plant.

If I had to give just one answer then I would say if the final use of the fuel is to make heat then it's always more efficient to burn it at the point of use.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 1:40PM
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talley_sue_nyc

PC components such as printers, computer speakers, computer scanners, need to use a little electricity to sense any commands from the PC.

I knew it! We got a new scanner and it came w/ a noticeable blip upward in electricity bill. DH insists it's not the scanner. I don't care; I'm going to insist he start unplugging the thing, esp. since he's home w/ the computer on most of the day now!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 2:36PM
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bry84

You can get automatic power adaptors for computers now. They look like a normal 4 or 6 way adaptor, but the first outlet where you attach the computer base unit switches on all the others when the computer turns on, and off again when the computer turns off. It's a clever idea and it would save money and energy, possibly wear on the components too, but for the current price I doubt it will pay for itself.

I have an older computer and all the components have a big mains power switch on the front anyway, the mechanical type that cuts the power from the mains so you know it's totally switched off. I only turn on the components I'm using, normally the base unit and monitor, sometimes disk drives and the printer then they go off again when I'm finished with them. People with newer computers where it's harder to turn things off (they like to hide switches now, and there's not much certainty it's really off anyway), and people with more componenents than me might find these automatic adaptors more useful.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 9:42AM
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mkt2le

We live in the Dallas area and, unfortunately, our house is totally electric - as is our entire neighborhood. No natural gas is available. Our electric bills this summer for our 2700 sq. ft. home (on a totally shaded lot with 30+ oak trees) were the highest they've ever been. We'd gotten used to $350 electric bills but, this summer, they were around $450 per month. Our neighbor, with a pool and 4000 sq. ft, was paying almost $1000 per month for electricity! Ouch! We always keep the house comfortable with the thermostat set on 72 but we bought some fans and kept them running with the thermostat moved up to 75. We've, also, made sure lights are turned off, etc. We didn't save much, though. We're thinking of changing out our system to a heat pump, which one neighbor has who has more reasonable bills. Things just keep going up and up. I'm starting to sound like my grandparents!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2006 at 12:10PM
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joyfulguy

If I reduced my monthly bill by the $120. reported by the OP - they'd be paying me.

Usual bill about $95. - 100.00.

So I'm not complaining.

They have a deal now that, while previously our ammount at low billing rate was 600 kwh. per mo., from Nov. 1 to April 1 it's to be raised to 1,000 kwh. (through the winter heating season).
_________________________

mkt2le,

Seems to me that you guys lacking gas availability in the Dallas area should consider building your houses underground.

Like gophers.

Have a great Thanksgiving - or, if you're reading this tomorrow or later, I hope that you and yours had a good one.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 23, 2006 at 12:43PM
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pkguy

We just moved into our "new" house and spent the first few days replacing near every lightbulb I can find into CFL's. About 30 so far and only a few left to go but those are in the dining room chandelier with a dimmer and also in the family room fancy ceiling fixer, again another pesky dimmer on it but I like dimmers, just that CFL's that are dimmable aren't cheap LOL
Since I don't have the previous owners power bill I won't have anything to compare mine with but I can bet it's going to be significantly lower. I mean they had a ceiling light in the bathroom with two 60 watters in it, plus a vanity light with three 60 watters in it. I'm getting the same light from 5 CFLS for what about 60 watts total give or take instead of 300 watts to take a pee. LOL I got my mother hooked on them as well and re did most of her light fixtures, we're waiting for her next power bill to see the difference

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 9:44AM
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vala55

You should not leave a toaster plugged in for any reason. At one time they were the #1 cause of home fires. When fireplaces became common, they moved to the #1 place. Now the #1 spot is shared between fireplaces and candles.

My sister's friend's home burn and the fireman said it was the toaster. The safety switch failed and the toaster came on. Toasters are probably much safer today than 40 years ago.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 2:44PM
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LuAnn_in_PA

ummm... why bring up a post that is FIVE YEARS old?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:38PM
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sushipup1

LuAnn, there was a spam post a couple of days ago that bumped the thread up from 2006. When Gardenweb removed the spam, the thread staying bumped. I applaud them for removing the spam!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:50PM
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miscindy

I thought the post was interesting and relevent, despite its age. It never hurts to bring topics up again.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:23PM
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joyfulguy

I've had a Smart meter for less than a year ... charges at peak rate (10.7? cents/kwh) during day in summer, morning and evening in winter, mid-range (8.? cents/kwh) at other times during those periods, and low rate (5.8 cents/kwh) overnight and weekend, year-round (well over half of the usage is during that period).

They used to send readers down our rural roads every three months, we could read in the other two months, phone in: now the meter sends the messages.

Our provincial government made deals a while ago with some providers of wind- (and solar-?)generated power to pay them something like 80 cents/kwh to feed power back into the grid; lower rates offered, more recently.

Some agencies installed several wind towers or banks of collectors in rural areas ... and now a number of them are having trouble getting the utility to connect to their system, as the grid won't handle it, or something. I think that city-based systems are having less trouble hooking up, as the grid is stronger. A public storage place has many collectors on their roof, and a newly-built community centre in a nearby village, which I visit frequently to use computer in the library, which is to relocate there, has a roof covered with solar collectors.

Landlord, a shrewd guy, and a real nice one, to boot, has a brother in the business, hasn't decided to install some, yet - says pay-back takes too long. When he built his shop, a separate service would have cost him something like $40.00 extra per month ... he and I split the current cost on the original meter.

Some local churches are installing the solar collectors.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 8:32PM
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47dt

i keep my AC on 70 as well. i can't stand a hot house

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:56PM
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totsuka

That's really good!. We don't get the "night time" rate for electric bill here in Florida. I do run the a/c at 78 during the summer. Of course, ceiling fans worked well too. I turn off all the "vampire" appliances at night too. I wash my dishes by hand and seldom use the dishwasher. I hang the clothes outside and seldom use the dryer. I got rid of the cable tv since I seldom watch anything but the news. Once you start thinking "electic bill" it is amazing how many little things you can cut to help lower the bill.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2011 at 7:14AM
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joyfulguy

I've referred to widely varying time-of-day rates that affect our power consumption, but that's about 1/4 of the full bill.

There's a delivery charge, that varies depending on the usage, I'm not sure if it's a direct variation, plus an admin. fee, that varies some, also, plus rental on our yard light, plus tax.

SO cutting the actual usage would cause a variation in the bottom line, but not in exact proportion.

ole joyfuelledand a debt retirement charge,

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 3:55PM
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grubbyknees

Now that there are only the two of us at home, I got a little toaster oven at a thrift shop-$5 . I can bake small amounts of bread, broil meats and make casseroles without heating the big oven (and the whole kitchen).
Christmas and Thanksgiving are about the only times the stove oven is used now.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 4:40PM
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toxcrusadr

Ahh, electric usage. I have a few ideas:

Setback thermostat. We let our house go up to 85 while at work and it cools down right before we get home.

Close the curtains & blinds on the sunny side during hot weather. In winter, close them at night and open during the day for free solar heat.

If your climate is humid, get a dehumidifier. A lot of the work the AC does is to dehumidify the air before it can cool it. The dehumid. can do this efficiently all the time, taking some load off the AC. Also produces free water you can use to water plants.

Run hot appliances at night, not just for cheaper rates (even if you have those) but also to reduce AC load.

Hang up your laundry for free solar drying. We dry it 5-10 mins to help the softness and get wrinkles out, then hang. For winter, get yourself a dryer vent diverter and recycle that free warm humid air.

Turn off the darn lights when you're not in the room! Incandescents especially, because they convert 90% of the electricity they use to heat.

Get used to 72, then 75, then 78 degrees on the AC, gradually. Use fans to move air that helps cool you.

Install gable vent fans to cool the hot attic and/or a whole house attic fan.

Good luck and happy savings!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 3:51PM
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tussiemussies

One thing that really helps is getting a motion sensor light fixture that just goes where the switch is. We have used these on hallway lights and they work fantastic;great if you have a family that never turns off the hallway lights!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 3:13AM
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azzalea

I know this is an ancient thread, but it's always a timely topic.

We only just got AC at our other house (where we lived for 39 years) last year. There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with setting it to 78--that's more than cool enough to give relief when the outside temp is higher. Only time I ever set it lower than that last summer was when I was really doing a lot of heavy (sweaty) work. At the new house--which is a very spread out rancher, I got one of those portable units you can move from room to room. With it just being one or two of us home, it makes no sense at all to AC the entire home (we have central air, I just can't justify the cost of using it). Cooling one room as needed, making use of our finished basement (which is ALWAYS cool, of course) really cuts back on the power use.

I always shut the curtains or shades facing the sun on hot days--Grandma's method really helps keep the house cooler.

This 'new' house came with a tiny wall oven. Eventually, I want to replace the electric cooktop across the room with a gas range, but I'll keep the extra wall oven, since it makes sense to have the small one for the two of us. We'll also being installing my extra Advantium--that's another great saver--cooks in a fraction of the time of a regular or toaster oven. Once it's in, I'll hardly use either of the ovens (wall or in the range)--since the Advantium needs no preheating, and can bake a real (not nuked) potato in 8 minutes, cookies in 4, a hot, bubbly, browned casserole in 12.

I do try to keep unused appliances unplugged here, but that's because we're a little unsure about the electrical system here--DH has discovered and fixed a number of problems, so it just makes sense to be cautious.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 3:28PM
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dadoes

Dehumidifiers can be expensive to run. They're nothing more than a free-standing air conditioner (although equivalent to a window unit, not a central unit) that pulls moisture from the air but dumps the exhaust heat back into the room.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 2:03PM
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LuAnn_in_PA

Yes, they may be expensive to run. But replacing things damaged by moisture (and maybe even mold) can be MORE costly!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 5:13PM
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toxcrusadr

I suppose you're right about the cost of running a dehumid. OTOH the newer ones should be more efficient. My basement was pretty humid and musty before I got one, and it's taken care of that. On cooler nights our AC doesn't run much overnight, but the dehumid. is down there chugging away and keeping the moisture down. Probably not for everyone but it works for us.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 2:16PM
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LuAnn_in_PA

Works for us too!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 4:09PM
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oceandweller

A great way to save in the south on electricity, even in very nice neighborhoods, is to buy a window unit and run the main unit in the house at 78 ish yet run the bedroom unit/units at 70. Its much easier to cool a room or two than a large house, especially ones with vaulted ceilings.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 3:24AM
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