Your electric bill was how low?

Another beautiful day here in Central Florida.  I woke up and started my morning routine. This means shutting off the outside lights, turn on Fox 35 News  from Orlando, turn on the computer, feed the dogs and cat, take the bird outside, grind coffee, turn the kettle on, and play Viking Clan on my game face book account.  I did all that, except turning the kettle on, so here I am writing a blog on my first cup of coffee this morning.  This is about an hour after I woke up.  I even got the flowers out front watered already.

My plan for this morning is to plant 2 pineapple bushes that I started earlier this year. I need to transplant my spearmint plant into a larger pot outdoors as I kill any and all plants in the house.  I will be cutting lettuce for a salad for dinner tonight from the garden too.  But today is another extension of how we cut our electric bill to $56 last month.

My husband had heard all about kill switches that literally shut all power going to vampire electronics.  He thought that would be a great idea as we have tv’s, computers, dvd player, etc.  When you think about it that makes a lot of sense. In our bedroom we have 1 older model tv, one of those converter boxes, a dvd player, and a Roku box.  Now that we have an empty nest we no longer have to watch 2 different televisions at night.  We really only use the television in the master bedroom on Saturday and Sunday nights.  I decided to start turning everything off and unplugging the plug.  We have everything on one of those surge protector strips.

Chris decided to bite the bullet and spend  $34 at Home Depot for one of the Green Strips. We got a very big one for the computer room.  We have the computer, modem, wire less router, our ooma box (free phone service), a telephone, the speakers for the computer, and the printer plugged into it.  I think I am forgetting something else, but oh well.  Actually at this time the computer is not on it.  I will be adding it to the system, but our previous computer wasn’t working well so we took it off thinking that would prolong it’s life.  Nope, but on to the post.  How this works is you have 2 live plugs at all times, and the rest are kill switch plugs.  We have the modem and the wireless router plugged into the live plugs.  This way we can watch Netflix or be on the laptop anytime we choose. Everything else is hooked up to the kill plugs.  When we are done with using the computer and don’t plan on going on we just flick a wireless switch.  The switch can be placed on the wall next to your light switches. When you would like to use the computer again, just turn the switch on.  Very little inconvenience and pretty easy.  It does take a little time to warm the computer up, but the energy savings is so worth it.

not the same model, but very close.

We thought we were saving money so we went on to the living room.  We didn’t purchase a kill switch we purchased a product that uses a car remote to turn a light on in your home so you don’t have to walk into a dark house.  This works very well for our Living Room television group.  Now we really don’t have a lot of things plugged in there. The television can’t be plugged in.  Our television can’t even be put on energy savings setting as it kills the projection bulb. Those things are close to $100 a piece!  I love our Mitsubishi projection TV, but those bulbs are scary expensive!  We do have the Wii and the charger for the Wii plugged into the strip that plugs into the receiver for the remote. The remote is hanging from a hook in our television nook.  One button turns the Wii stuff on and the other button kills the power to the set.  This works like a charm.
If you are interested in this remote system you can go to Home Depot and look in the Electrical section.  There is another item that comes out around Christmas time for the outside lights to be turned on that you can use. Or you can just spend the $24 for a smaller Green Strip.  We are cheap and I think the remote option was close to $12.  I really can’t remember, but it was quite a bit cheaper than the Green Strip,   Our local Home Depot was really helpful when we were looking for these items.

An easy way to save money that we do is unplug everything that is not needed.  Most of the time my microwave is unplugged.  Most of the day the electrical appliances in my kitchen are unplugged unless I am using the appliance.  Here is a excerpt from an article on

Top 10 ways for you to fight the vampires

  1. Unplug your devices. It’s as simple as that. Pull TV/computer/stereo/etc power cords out of the outlet.  If they’re not in use or if they’re totally unneccesary (are you really going to ever use that VCR player again?), unplug.
  2. Reduce your demand.  Sure, electronic gizmos are fun.  But do you really need 2 TVs for one room?  If the answer is yes, then at least follow number 6’s advice! 
  3. Use the other  off switch. Many devices also have an ‘off’ switch in the back. For example, most computers come with one ‘soft’ power switch on the front, which takes it from standby to on. Separately, there is usually a real ‘on/off’ switch located in the back on the power supply (near where the power cord goes in).
  4. Plug your devices and chargers into a power strip. And when you’re not using those devices, turn off your power strip.
  5. Remove chargers from the wall when you’re not charging. Your cell phone charger, iPod charger, laptop charger, etc. keeps drawing electricity even if your phone/Ipod/laptop/etc isn’t charging.  So if your phone says “Charge complete” (or worse, isn’t even attached to your charger), pull out the charger.
  6. If you’re in the market for new electronics, buy Energy Star qualified. Energy Star takes standby power into account and their qualified devices draw less than the average when in their “off” mode. Some of their best electronic items include cordless phones and audio equipment.
  7. Get a cell phone that tells you to unplug it. Nokia announced in May 2007 that it will be rolling out new phones with audible alerts (they say, “Battery is full, please unplug the charger.”) This feature will first appear in models 1200, 1208 and 1650 (they will most likely start in Europe).
  8. For your various computer accessories, try a smart strip. These work really well when it’s not feasible to be constantly unplugging your devices. Check out the Isole Plug Load Control. This power strip saves energy by monitoring occupancy. The Smart Strip Power Strip monitors power differences between computers and peripherals. This way, when you shut down your computer, the Smart Strip automatically shuts off the accessories. The Mini Power Minder also works by communicating between your computer and your accessory.
  9. To learn about the power consumption of your electronics, look into a Kill-A-Watt. This device will tell you about the efficiency of your electronics, whether turned on or “off.” It can actually be kind of fun (and definitely enlightening) to run around your house and see how much juice each piece of equipment takes, in both and and standby mode. You’ll likely be surprised. (If you want something a little more hardcore, tryWatts Up?).
  10. If you’re up for a whole house project, check out GreenSwitch, a wireless home energy control systemthat let’s you cut off power to your various electronics quite easily.  For other whole house devices and monitoring, here’s an interview that might be right up your alley.

Vampires To Watch Out For

Vampire Average (W) Silver Stake (or what to do)
Desktop computer 73.97 W when on and idle (21.13 W when asleep and 2.84 when off)
  • If you’re going away for a short period of time, make sure you hibernate your computer, instead of leaving it on
  • If you’re going away for a good while, TURN IT OFF (and better yet, switch off the surge protector/power strip)
Laptop 44.28 W when on and charging (and down to 4.42 W with just the power supply plugged in)
  • Pretty similar to a desk top. Make sure to unplug the power supply when you’re done.
DVR and digital cable combo 44.63 W when not recording with the TV off…but still a whole 43.46 W even when it’s turned off by remote
  • Unplug it.
Microwave When it’s off with the door closed, it’ll use about 3W (with the door open, you’re looking at 25.79 W and when you’re cooking…a whole 1433 W)
  • Don’t leave it cooking with nothing in there.  That’d just be silly.
  • Close the door.
  • Unplug it.
Cell phone charger When you’re phone is plugged in but fully charged, you’re drawing 2.24 W (and when the charger alone is stuck in the wall you’re down to 0.14 W)
  • Don’t leave your phone “charging” when it’s not charging
  • Unplug it.

One of the biggest eater of Watts are water heaters.  We lowered the temperature in ours to 120 degrees ages ago.  Chris had read how people shut the water heater off all the time.  They turn it on an hour or two before using it.  If you can put a timer on the water heater that would work also.  In our case the outside temperature doesn’t get all that cold so the water doesn’t get all that cold.  We shut the fuse switch off at night when we go to bed.  I turn it on in the morning when I need to wash the dishes or take a shower. When we are done using the water heater (or I remember to turn the switch) we turn the fuse off.  We get the savings of a tankless water heater without all the expense.

As you can see it takes a few extra steps to save money and energy use.  The use of Green Switches and timers save a lot of those steps. There are just a couple more things I want to share with you more so that you can save some money and energy.   By the way, I just vacuumed my home for free!  I love having a Creative Living life!


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