It started simply enough.
I was cleaning out a room, prepping it to be painted. I was looking for peace, so I chose to repaint the dark cranberry walls (attractive as they were) with the palest sky blue, and I eventually filled the room with playful art, whimsical things, and garden colors. I call it my “children’s art garden room.” My youngest daughter has tried to claim it for her own. “I want to live here,” she tells me. “It’s mine.”
Along the way to this peaceful room that’s now under ownership discussion, I made a fascinating discovery. I’d unplugged quite a few items that weren’t even in use anymore. At least I thought they weren’t in use.
But there’s a catch, where electricity is concerned. Just because you don’t use an item that’s plugged in doesn’t mean it’s not using electricity. Many devices do.
Lo and behold, the month after I’d unplugged all the items in just a single room, I noticed a dip in my electric bill. Hmmm, that was interesting.
And it’s not like I didn’t know about this electric phenomenon. I just hadn’t really done anything about it. I guess I hadn’t thought it would make that much difference. But, as Lemony Snicket’s clock intoned, Wrong, wrong, wrong!
This got me thinking, how far could I go with a little subversive electric bill cutting? Without, you know, driving my kids a bit crazy? I decided to turn it into a game and began unplugging other things when not in use, from outlets that are easily accessible: Laptops and phones when fully charged. An old TV I don’t watch anymore. The window air conditioners. My bill dropped again, and again. To almost half its usual amount. (And this, despite that I was getting some work done on the house, and the guys were freely charging up all their power tools and using spotlights from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
The other day while I was at the salon, I met a woman named Francine. She told me she even unplugs her washer and dryer. “Why pay all that money to the electric company?” she said. “It’s not so hard to unplug things.” Then she told me what she pays. It’s about 25% less than what I’m paying even though I already cut my bill almost in half. Unbelievable.
I lamented that my laundry is in the basement and I’d have to climb over a double utility sink to get to the plugs. This is probably not a great idea. Francine felt sorry for me and seemed to agree: probably not a great idea.
But now I’m pondering. Is there a little further I can go, to keep unused devices from handing me bigger electric bills?
Maybe I could invest in a few power strips that, when you plug items into them and then switch them off, truly cut the power. I could make it part of my end-of-day ritual to flick the strips off room by room. This would be a way to handle the hard-to-reach plugs that are behind the chairs, the beds, the couch. It would also be a simple way to shut off my Wifi and Airport in one fell flick.
I’m not sure there’s a power strip that would be appropriate to plug my washer and dryer into, but even if there was, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t descend into the basement as part of my night-night routine. Believe it or not, I do have my limits.
Which is too bad. Because, even though she’d never know, it would be kind of fun to pay less than Francine.
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