There is at least one good thing for us that came out of the January ice storm here, which left hundreds of thousands without power and caused such widespread damage that it looks like a tornado or bomb damaged the landscape from here to Kentucky.
We learned how much electricity our radiator type heater was using. You see, our small house is insulated so well that it can be heated all winter with nothing but one of those electric heaters. Still, the darn thing used a lot of electricity, apparently.
When the lights went off here for 8 days, we used, for the first time, our small wood stove. We had it installed (thank goodness) as the house was being built for just such an emergency. However, when we realized how well the house had been insulated, we were always afraid that even the smallest of fires would run us out of the house.
Instead, we did learn to use and control it and after the electricity was restored, we decided to keep using it, saving us money - and the environment from the KWh needed for more electricity.
I'm so glad we did. When I received our bill last month, which included 14 days with the heater, 8 days without power and about 6 days using the wood burner, the bill stated we had used 817 KWh of electricity. Our bill, for a 480-square-foot house (less computers which are on a separate meter for my office) was exactly $100. I called to argue with the electric company that this couldn't be possible, but the rep. insisted it was and suggested we read our own meter periodically and "keep an eye on it."
She told me what numbers to read on our digital meter that hangs on the house. In the meantime, we continued to use the wood stove for heat (we aren't without a seemingly lifetime supply of wood thanks to the storm) and we also unplugged our kitchen appliances - microwave, toaster oven, coffee pot when not in use. We also hooked the television, a non-essential phone, lamp, and DVD player to a power strip that is turned off when we aren't watching TV. It is saving us.
But yesterday was an eye opener, we used 42 KWh of electricity in one day doing laundry - even after I figured out a way to reduce the chore by two loads. Still, we've only used 370 KWh total this month, and we have just a few days to go on this billing cycle. Our bill should be reduced by at least half.
So, I challenge you to learn to read your meter, figure out what is pulling the most power from your house and try to reduce it.
It will not only save you money, but will help save the environment too.