Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another power rate hike

We just received word that Nova Scotia Power has been approved for another 10% rate hike. This is just as we finished making budget adjustments from the last 10% rate hike. I'm not sure we can squeeze our budget any tighter, so the only alternative is to reduce our power consumption to the tune of 10%. I plan on making a few changes:

  • Putting power bars on our electronic equipment, and shutting them down when things are not in use. This includes our computer (and associated equipment), our entertainment unit, and a small entertainment unit we have upstairs. From what I understand, all of these things draw "phantom power" even when turned off, so the only way to stop them from drawing power is to disconnect the power supply. We attended an eco expo a couple of week-ends ago, and a representative from Nova Scotia Power was there. He said that most people pay more for their electronics when they're turned off than they do when they're actually using them. Food for thought!
  • Indoor drying racks. I'm on the hunt for a quality, sturdy, indoor drying rack. I bought one last year at Wal Mart (the only one I could find!), and I'm not sure what it was designed for, but it wasn't wet clothes! The rack buckled and sagged under the weight of the clothes, and finally collapsed. I returned that thing pronto. But now I need a replacement! Since we use a woodburning insert to heat our home, I could hang our clothes on racks in front of the insert in the evenings (after the kids go to bed and there's no danger of it being knocked over).
  • Using the toaster oven for more than just toast. Tonight I was about to bake a Lima Loaf (it tastes much better than it sounds!) in the big oven. I looked at the size of the little loaf pan, and the huge oven, and decided it was a waste of energy. My toaster oven doubles as a mini-oven, so I just set the temperature, the timer, and popped it in there. No wasted heat.
  • Switching our Christmas lights to LEDs. Home Depot had a promotion on last week-end where if you brought in your old incandescent Christmas lights, they would give you a coupon for 50% off a new set of LED Christmas lights. We gathered up all of our old Christmas lights and did the exchange. Since LEDs last much, much longer than incandescents, I think we made a wise investment. Not only will we save on energy consumption this Christmas, but hopefully the lights themselves will last us a lifetime.
  • Less things on. This seems obvious, but is one I sometimes overlook. During the day we watch too much t.v. If the t.v. isn't on, we're listening to music. The computer often runs for the entire day. Powering down will be good for us. It will help us to reconnect, and hopefully we'll find some more productive things to do during the day!
I'm sure there is more that I can do, but this list is a start. Are any of you noticing energy rate hikes in your area? What are you doing to offset the hikes? Powering down, or budgeting up? Or some combination?


  1. I don't think we've seen any increases here in PA yet. 10% is a lot!

    I also do the TV, etc., on power strips, hanging to dry some, turning things off, and using the toaster oven for more than toast. My other tricks are generally about saving on heat - guess that's still an issue even if you use wood. Are you well insulated? Wear sweaters when it's just a little chilly? That might offset some of the electric cost. Let's see - you could cook multiple things at once in the big oven. Keep the freezer full to help keep the temperature constant. Switch to CFLs where it works if you haven't already. I bet there are some good articles out there on this stuff.

    When I first did the power strips, a few homes ago, we noticed an improvement in our electric bill, so I bet that will help.

    Good luck,

  2. Thanks Jennifer!
    We've switched most of our bulbs to CFLs. Unfortunately, we are not well insulated. We live in an 85-year old home that was completely uninsulated when we bought it. We've added some insulation as we've done renovations, but the majority of the home remains uninsulated, and we still have a few old, drafty windows. 2 years ago we had to decide between installing the woodburning insert, or insulating. We couldn't afford to do both. The cost of oil was skyrocketing, and was crushing us financially, so we chose to go ahead and install the insert, and switch to wood heat. It's cheap heat, although the house is still drafty. The Nova Scotia government has recently come out with a program that offers an interest-free loan of up to $5,000.00 to make energy-efficiency upgrades to your home. We've booked our energy audit, and are considering taking advantage of the program. I really, really hate the idea of accumulating more debt, so we'll have to give it lots of thought. It's so cheap to heat with wood that insulating is going to have very little impact on our heating costs, but have more of an impact on our comfort level (some windows we just don't sit in front of in the winter!).

    Thanks for the tips! Hope to hear some more!

  3. Hi there! Greetings from a fellow Canadian! Am replying to you here to you regarding the eco-friendly art supplies.
    There is a fabulous little online store,, and they sell wonderful eco friendly art supplies (back to my blog post you can click on the products to get to the store). I bought all the supplies there, except for the beeswax crayons which were from Stubby Pencil's prices are really good for those products and they last and last.

    Now...your blog...I'm hooked! I am coming back to read more later on when the house is quiet, but I read your envelops budgeting system with great interest because we did thiat last year, and it worked! I read about it through Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. You mentioned Mary Hunt -- I read all her books too. Great reading!

    Anyhow, thanks for visiting me, I'll be back!

  4. I think those are great ideas. During our first year of marriage, I kept our electric under $50! I unplugged everything, kept a candle lit in the bathroom,etc. Once I had kids I threw it all out. LOL. About the drying rack.. Linens n Things is going out of business and I know they sell that. Maybe worth checking out?

  5. Thanks Bridgett, I'll definitely check that out!