Cutting down on Electricity- what are you doing?

Teaching Children about Monitoring Electricity UsageYou may or may not know that through September the Israeli electric company is having a “contest” to get people to use less electricity. The basic idea is that people will get a discount on reduced usage between 10-30%. Why the 30% cutoff? Probably to make sure people are actually still in the apartment and using electricity in a regular way.

We are fairly new to our apartment so are competing with last years residents-a family of three. We know how much electricity they used though and are competing against that.

First we thought about ways we could reduce electricity use:

  • Replace light bulbs with compact florescent We did this when we moved in except in one lamp which almost never gets turned on.
  • Reduce usage of washer and dryer We barely use the dryer as it is, and certainly not in the summer. We never owned one until this past winter (despite living in a city that had 20cm of snow in the winter, for a good chunk of time.) We do use the washer though but washing clothing in cool versus hot water does save electricity, as does trying to figure out how to do fewer loads a week.
  • Heating water We are lucky to have a solar water heater. We don’t boil hot water in the summer, at least not for things like showers and such. We do use an electric kettle though. We could be more careful about how much water gets heated at a time.
  • Cooling We don’t have an air conditioner. We do have fans, but we are trying to make use of window shades and strategic window opening/closing to cool our apartment.
  • Turning off lights Trying to make sure lights get turned off, putting lights on timers etc.
  • Cooking We have been thinking about how to deal with this one. The alternative is to use the gas top, but it seems strange to replace electricity with natural gas when there is still a shortage of natural gas due to rumblings with Egypt. We have spoken about trying some solar cooking, but in the meantime oven use is getting more efficient rather than highly reduced.
  • Shabbat Shabbat is energy heavy since there’s extra cooking/cleaning and various appliances are left on over Shabbat. We’ve worked in a few extra timers and have been thinking more extensively about what gets left on. I have to say this issue has made for some interesting table discussions, especially with various family members who learn full time in various yeshivot or those who are electronically inclined. We will likely try some of the suggestions that came up on our hot water urn and will likely borrow an ohmmeter for further testing. One of the results of the discussions is someone tested a regular plata with an ohmmeter and concluded that it uses as much electricity as four regular light bulbs. Ok we’re a bit geeky but we find this stuff interesting.

We decided to make it a learning experience for our daughter so she and my husband went to check the meter every day and then count how many kilowatt/Hour were used each day. This was a lot of fun (as I mentioned- us=a bit geeky) because she really understands the connection between turning on the light and getting charged for electricity. This makes it a bit of a game for her to make sure we turn things off around the house. It has also been a great math learning game, counting, subtracting, checking out percentages. Because of it, she’s much more in tuned to electricity use and has been asking to test some solar cooking so I think this has made a big impression on her.

For the first month of the contest we did actually come in with a about 29% reduced usage. We were surprised at that since we work from home and have more people in the house. Then we realized that regular light bulbs do add quite a bit to electricity usage.

I made a little form to help keep track of the electricity use and I’m passing it along. Let me know if you use it.

Electricity Monitoring Chart Letter (PDF)

Electricity Monitoring Chart A4 (PDF)

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