Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm thinking of converting to buring twenties.

Up until the moment we received July's electric bill, I have to admit that as a household we were not very green. Lights are on 24/7, All the TVs are on while boys snooze in front of them and heaven forbid we turn the A/C off.

For July's usage we received a 700 dollar electric bill. Seven-Hundred-Dollar.

That is just unbelievable. Let me say it again. s-e-v-e-n hundred dollars.

We have had what we thought were high bills before but this was good 40% higher that anything we have seen before.

Suddenly I see what Al Gore and Ed Begely Jr are talking about. We have to do something about this global warming thing.

Part of the problem has to be our appliances. Most are ancient. Our electric clothes dryer sometimes takes two 80 minute cycles to dry towels. The Air Conditioner compressor would be more efficient if it ran on twenties. And don't forget the garage full of ancient computer hardware, the kind before they had that little energy star thing.

We started by turning the Air off on marginally hot days, not that this would helped in July. It's been great sleeping with the widows open at night but the boys have been complaining about "it's hot in here". I'd tell them to suck it up but I'm spending me day in nicely air conditioned office and it would be a tough sell.

I grew up with no air conditioning at all. In July you would stick to your sheets at night while fans blew hotter air in from outside. Then there was the cruelest of the devices, the oscillating fan.

While this moved a lot of air around, it only blew on you once every 60 seconds while you waited for it to come around again. Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, ahhhhhh, there it goes, there it goes......

I've also previously documented the whole house fan that my father had when we were growing up, the kind where even the toilets need seat belts from the volume of air moving through the house. Now my father has central air and never opens the windows. My mother says "because something has to be on".

Since we had A/C we ran it all the time too. It's just that we ran it at like 79 degrees so the house was hot anyway. It was cool in the downstairs but upstairs was downright scorching AND WE HAD HIGH BILLS. It didn't make any sense.

So we have been digging out the fans and sweating a little. In our room I threw the box fan in our back window. In the morning, when the fan is blowing in chilly damp late summer air, it feels like Wildwood for some reason.

My wife and I have been "discussing at elevated vocal amplitudes" the merits of blowing hot air out of the house vs blowing air in. I'll come in find the fan sucking air out of the house because "that is how her father did it". I'm not sure it matters anymore.

I also bicycled over to the library and picked up a copy of Living Like Ed. I felt so green. People had no idea I had a 7-0-0 hundred dollar electric bill.

Ed says I should switch to those compact fluorescent light bulbs. I hate those compact fluorescent light bulbs. I had them once in back family room. In the winter when I turned them on in the morning, they would be dim and they would hum. Finally I just pulled them out and replaced them with the kind Ed and Al hate.

Ed says I should have an electric car. Right. So I can have a 700 dollar electric bill year round, I suppose. That electricity has to come from somewhere.

My wife also started hanging the wash out side to dry. On a hot summer day it makes sense but our dreaded home owners association frowns on laundry hung to dry. We are not even allowed to have clothes lines. It's as if they want to appear more prosperous, as if we all have maids inside drying our clothes for us. But, since we have no clothes line, she sticks the clothes everywhere including trees. It's like camping.

I guess our refrigerator has to go too. The freezer keeps opening just a little and that must make the compressor come on more frequently. I guess that has to go too.

There are so many things we need to replace that I am not sure we can get to them all in reasonable amount of time (and money).

In the mean time, I'm thinking converting to static electricity like Steven Wright:

I lived in a house that ran on static electricity...If you wanted to
run the blender, you had to rub balloons on your head. If you wanted to cook,
you had to pull off a sweater real quick.


Anonymous said...

this is right up there with the cellphone bill from the son-m

Paul said...

Yo - we live in Mount Laurel as well, and I'm a freak about energy. A $700 energy bill would give me a stroke.

I use a Kill-A-Watt ($19) to measure the power consumption of various devices in the house. I also did things like setup a charging station in my home office. This let me measure the power consumption when nothing was connected (very little), and I can switch it off when nothing is connected.

One year ago, our AC died. The unit was 24 years old, and the family suffered while I did R&D and got quotes. Moving to a high efficiency HVAC unit is something I should have done sooner, and it will pay for itself in something under 5 years.

If you want to borrow the Kill-A-Watt, or compare notes, drop me a line ( and