I've got the power!

Posted June 7th, 2006 by Penny Wise

I apologise in advance for any spelling mistakes, I’m trying to type with gloves on! Jings, it’s FREEZING! Makes this power saving lark a bit of a challenge I can tell you. Not that I mind not having a clothes dryer – my drying racks do the job very well (I have an 8kg top loader and I can fit an entire load on one large rack and one small one). Another bonus is that the room always smells lovely while the clothes are drying! Well, normally it does – my nose is actually too cold to smell anything today. Anyway, freezing or not, my power saving efforts are paying off. I have never complained about our power bill; I’ve never thought it was unreasonably high for a family of four, but apparently there is sufficient room for improvement. I realised this a few months ago when our lovely power company gave us all a rebate (I can’t remember why but it was much appreciated!) and while the average family I spoke to said they got about $200 credited back to their account, we got well over $500 back! I thought this was very impressive until they pointed out that the reason we got so much more is that our power bills must be far higher than theirs!

Judging by the hints in the Vault, it seems most Simple Savings members receive their power bills quarterly – ours are monthly. I don’t mind – they get paid by direct debit and we receive a prompt payment discount of around $30 a month. Anyway, do you remember not so long ago I decided to empty our beer fridge and turn it off? Noel thought I was overreacting at the time, even when I pointed out the fact that it didn’t seal properly and made puddles on the floor. Undeterred I continued and couldn’t believe it when the power bill came the other day. Now, even though since we stopped using the fridge I have had to start putting the heaters on in the boys’ rooms at night and running a dehumidifier, since I turned off the beer fridge, our power bill has gone from $294.22 for last month to $171.24 this month! A saving of over $120 – even though we’re using more appliances for heating! You only have to read the Savings Story in the current Simple Savings newsletter to see how those old fridges can suck up the electricity – I think our one will be on the next trailer load to the dump!

There’s still plenty more power savings to be made around here though. My next experiment is to turn off as many power points as I can each night, not just a select few. The Vault hints are always saying that appliances left on standby still waste power and I couldn’t believe it when I went to lock up my office last night and counted no less than eight little red standby lights winking at me in the dark, in just one room alone! I was quite shocked! So from now on I am going to try and switch off as many appliances as possible before going to bed each night and see how much of a difference it makes to the next power bill. While I think of it, a quick update on my shampoo experiment – the same bottle is still going strong after 40 days so far!

While on the subject of shampoo, I found the newsletter section on pretend bargains rather interesting. I got sucked in myself by a false bargain just a few days ago! My local store sent round a flyer to say that my favourite V05 shampoo was on special all week, down to $3.49 compared to the $4.99 I usually pay. $1.50 a bottle less was a pretty good saving I thought, so I made sure I picked up two bottles the next time I was in store. The very next day I happened to be walking through a supermarket when I saw that the exact same bottles were on special for an even better $2.99! I was a bit miffed as you can imagine but at least something happened shortly after that cheered me up.

I had Liam with me as we had spent half the day at yet another hospital appointment for his foot and decided as it was just the two of us that I would treat him to McDonalds. It was during the lunchtime rush and we had to wait for ages to be served. While we were waiting I noticed two flustered young Mums in the queue next to me, busy trying to keep their four hungry toddlers happy. I was impressed to notice that they were ordering the healthiest options from the menu for their children, but then I realised that they were about to order bottled water for the children and themselves. At $2.00 each to order a bottle for each of the four children and both Mum’s, they were about to part with $12 on water alone! I couldn’t stand to watch them, so I said ‘Excuse me, did you realise that you can ask for water in a cup with a straw? It won’t cost you anything!’ I had never used this tip myself with my fizzy guzzling pair, but I had recently read about it in the Vault. The two women had never realised they could do this either and couldn’t wait to try it out! Sure enough, they were rewarded with six free cups of water and the kids loved their ‘proper’ McDonalds cups with lids and straws. Made me feel great to save them some money and my false shampoo bargain no longer felt so bad!

It’s amazing how much money you can save if you really put your mind to it and there is no better example I can think of at the moment than a Simple Savings member called Barb Kane. In an email which blew me away, Barb wrote to tell me how she recently took menu planning to a new extreme, using what she calls ‘The $21 Challenge’. After her well-meaning husband returned home with a $20 note for her (considerably less than she had been expecting as she had asked him to get her some cash in order to go grocery shopping!) Barb asked him jokingly ‘How am I supposed to feed the family with that?!’ She found another $1.00 coin in her pocket and decided to set herself a challenge to see how long she could make her $21 last. It wasn’t easy, but with some planning, baking and careful shopping, Barb successfully managed to feed her family of four (including 17 year old twin boys!) for the entire week on her $21. What an inspiration! Barb was kind enough to share all the details of her week’s menu and I promise all shall be revealed in due course. I couldn’t wait to tell Maxine about Barb’s achievement and she was blown away too, so… we decided we’re going to have a crack at it too! Yes, next Monday we will be doing our own week-long $21 Challenge, how exciting! Is anyone else game enough to give it a go? hide('penny')Email me for more details - let's start a Simple Savings trend!

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