If you’re a frugal prepper then you want to save money everywhere you can. You’re electric bill is probably the easiest place to find waste that you can start to cut out. I’ll tell you a little bit about what we’ve done to kill the watts in our Bug-In-Location. (I call it that, because we’ve always lived in areas that we would want to be if things ever get real bad…if the SHTF, we’re bugging in, not out)
Our first choice was location. If you have a choice on where to live and want to focus on reduced energy costs, then choose a place in the northern states, preferably where firewood is accessible. I’ll get into firewood more in a bit, because the focus right now is how my wife got our electric bill down to $51 in the month of July and about $60 in the month of August.
By living up north the need for air conditioning is minimal…Even if it’s what we’d consider hot, it’s not like you’re going to die if you don’t have air conditioning. Yes we do have one small window mounted unit, but it’s rarely ever used and only as an amenity.
Here are some more tips:
*Insulation: If you are looking for a home, then get one with thick walls and adequate insulation. Our home is built with 2×6 exterior walls. Now I’m not a building expert but I do know the better the R value the better insulated your home is. This is even good to pay attention to in hot climates as you want to keep the heat out and the cool in. Make sure you have proper vapor barriers, and have sealed all drafts and that the attic and floor are also well insulated. Solid Core wood doors and double pane insulated windows are also a must. Wood transfers less heat than metal.
*Color: For siding, go with light colors rather than dark. Light colors reflect heat better and will actually reduce heat build up by several degrees. Do this with the roof also as that is where the direct exposure to the sun is. Now if you live in an area that is normally cool in the summer and very cold in the winter you may just want to do the opposite to absorb as much heat as possible.
*Shade Trees: we have tall trees and mountains where we live so our home receives a substantial amount of shade keeping it cool even in the summer months
*Windows: In the summer, when it’s cool outside at night open your windows to cool the inside, then close them during the day. Keep the curtains closed to keep the sunlight out. In the winter, keep the windows closed and curtains open to draw in the sunlight for natural warmth
*Appliances and electronics: Keep them unplugged when not using them. Yes, most appliances and electronics still continue to consume energy even when they are turned off
*Hot Water Heater: We use this as a convenience…Really, do you need hot water to survive? If we did away with this amenity I’m sure we would have had a $25 electric bill rather than a $51 bill. But if you must use it, then turn the temperature down so that it’s bearable to run your hand in the hot water even with the cold water turned off.
*Dryer: This is probably the next biggest loser of electricity next to hot water heaters….Come on now, use a clothes line! This one isn’t rocket science.
*Turn out the lights: We see no need to have the lights on during the day, and go to bed when it’s dark. Do you have kids and find this to be a tough rule to enforce? Then swap out your switches with switches that have motion detectors, light sensors, and timers. They can be set to only come on when it’s dark and when someone moves in the room, this also makes for a great safety feature. When no one is moving in the room they will shut off automatically. We’re staying with the incandescents because while they may use more watts they are dirt cheap to buy compared to the CFL’s and are non-toxic. We plan to stock up on them before 2010 when they will no longer be sold in stores…If you rarely use them to begin with, then why not? I’d almost bet that I have incandescents that are used so rarely that they’ll last longer than a CFL bulb that gets used constantly.
*Buy Energy Star Appliances: All of our appliances are new…Our newest addition is a Kenmore Energy Star freezer and is said to only use about $35 worth of electricity per year. Got more time on your hands, then can your food…Who says you have to have a freezer to store food anyway? If the grid goes down your freezer will only work as a box to store dry goods in anyway. This is another amenity.
And lastly, my favorite, Wood Stoves:
It’s easier and cheaper to keep a home warm than it is to keep it cool if you have access to firewood. We live in Northern Idaho on acreage so wood is basically free. Despite what environmentalists say, it’s good to burn firewood if you have an efficient wood stove. A dead tree is breeding grounds for beetles that kill more trees and adds to the danger of forest fires if not removed. Do the forest and your neighbors a favor and remove the dead trees, check local laws first. If it’s gonna burn, might as well be inside your fireplace keeping your house warm and reducing the strain on the grid rather becoming a danger to the forest. If the dead tree rots, termites and other insects that devour it will release methane into the atmosphere adding to the infamous “Global Warming”…LOL…If Environmentalists had any sense they would be proponents of efficient wood stoves for heating homes….A wood stove can also be used to cook your food, heat water, and dry your clothes (No, don’t put your clothes on the stove, hang them a safe distance well away from the stove so they don’t catch on fire.) Always consult with a professional and follow proper instructions on the usage of wood stoves. Our Wood stove is installed in the basement which is common practice where we live. Heat rises, therefore the whole house is heated more uniformly, again, check local laws and codes and seek professional advice before installing a wood stove.
I have several more tips about saving on power, just cant seem to think of any more off the top of my head at the moment. The most important thing to remember is every little bit helps. If it wasn’t for “wanting” the amenities like the hot water, computer, and freezer, we could go off grid tomorrow, and use a generator when we really need power.