A Shocking Adventure

A Shocking Adventure

Mango has a mission.  He is on the trail of electric conservation.  They no longer give that stuff away.  No lightning farms around here.

The first thing I did was read and understand the bill.  I even called to clarify a few things with our electric company.  Electric companies get into 7 digit fractions after the decimal point for the rate.  I am sure this adds up.  I have rounded UP to the nearest penny.

Read your bill.  We have a discount program here for buying CFL light bulbs worked out with certain merchants.   I did not know that.

We have a base charge and tax and miscellaneous charges and rebates all broken down and mandated by regulation.  Essentially here one pays around $25.00 a month to be a customer.  (About half of that is those taxes the poor don’t pay.)

We then pay (about) 10 ¢ a kWh (kilowatt hour) for the first 450 kWh.  The second 450 kWh is billed at 12¢ a kWh and any use over 900 is billed at 13¢ a kWh.  We have no “peak” variations here.  Some of you may.  In spite of the recent 9% rate hike here, that is still an incredible bargain compared to what a lot of you pay.

1,000 watts for an hour is a kWh or kilowatt hour.

Lighting generally accounts for between !0% or even 20% of the Electric bill.  If you still use incandescent bulbs you can cut your cost substantially.   Compact fluorescent lighting (CFL)  keep getting better.    A few years ago they had drawbacks and limitations but no more.

They now come in flood light, spotlight, dim-able and even Christmas colored bulbs.  Daylight spectrum bulbs are available.  Indoors and out, replacing your bulbs can save you 50 watts of use per hour per bulb.

Don’t forget your outside porch lights and even your garage door opener if you have one.

You probably knew about CFL lighting but may not realize how much better they are since you looked into them.  If your local shops are a bit behind the times a vast selection is available online.  Yes, they cost more but last longer and save a lot of electricity.


For now you are better off NOT using them in motion detectors.

Standby power is another waste.  Also called “vampire power” or “phantom load,”  it can add up to 5% or even 10% of your bill depending on how many toys you have. This juice doesn’t perform any task at all.  Every appliance waiting to turn on with a remote or anything with a plug in transformer, clock or ready light uses juice all the time.   24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Power strips are the answer.  Put it where the switch is easy to reach and turn everything REALLY OFF at once.  Don’t get Nancy on me.  There are attractive ones on the market now.  Decoupage the damn thing or throw a shoe box over it.  Use them.

There is a wonderful array to choose from.  Some even have marked outlets that stay on even when the switch is flipped.  That could be handy.  Cord lengths vary and some have the flat rotating plugs.  Many have surge protection.

Timers are another great tool.  Again the selection is vast.  Many of the new ones have backup batteries so they are immune to power failures.  Some look ridiculously complex to program but have amazing functions if you need that.  I plan to put my water heater on a timer.  Who cares if the water is hot while I sleep and my research indicates the appliance will last longer.

Vacuum your refrigerator coils every three months.  You may have suspected your big appliances use the most juice (they do) but when the coils on a fridge (or freezer) are dust free they use a bit less.

Individual appliance meters comes in different styles, prices and capabilities.  I bought the 25 dollar one because it tells you more, stores the data and has a 6 foot cord so you aren’t on your knees at an outlet to read it or moving the fridge out…

Here is the one I chose.


Just knowing what one appliance costs a month can be helpful.  If your refrigerator runs $30.00 a month maybe you will buy a power strip for your computer, printer, external hard drive, fax machine and office phone?  Maybe the antique fridge in the garage uses triple what you thought because it is so old and just keeps your beer cold.  Maybe.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know?

One appliance at a time you can see your use in dollars an hour.  Nice.

Beyond that …   I sent away for this high falutin  thingamadongle.  Mac or Microsoft compatible.


Two collars clips to the big wires at the breaker box or meter and wirelessly transmits data to a monitor.  The monitor gives (and stores) data but also USB connects to your laptop or desktop computer.  Quick…  go fire up that coffee pot and no longer guess but KNOW how much it costs to brew a pot.  Turn off the circuit breaker to a room WHERE NOTHING IS ON and see how much the use plunges.

Installing the device was cake.  The wireless transmitter works extremely well.  I am below ground and my meter is outside.   That it works for me is a miracle.  Installing the software was a real pain.  Probably easy if you have a Microsoft computer.  I am a Mac.  The software is not as Mac friendly as the company thinks.  Save yourself some time and get the Mac software from the link here:


Some maintain that this or that appliance doesn’t use a significant amount of electricity.  Those folks will continue to pay whopping bills.  It is that small amount multiplied by the number of toys that comprises your total bill.

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6 Responses to A Shocking Adventure

  1. osolikeyou says:

    Interesting and helpful. Thanks Mango! Com Ed just picked up my garage fridge Friday.
    I even get a $35 check in about 4 weeks. sweet

    • osolynden says:

      A lot of folks know most of this. It was fun doing the homework and putting it all together. The efergy unit is providing much useful data. (and i love electronic toys)

      Congrats on the fridge. Love ya.

  2. Little Sun says:

    I haven’t mentioned this as you’ve regaled me with your electric tales but I still have PTSD from a landlord who would swoop into my house to measure phantom power loss while I sat in the heat of a New Mexico August fanning myself with a paper funereal fan by the light of one candle reading a book with my three electrical appliances dutifully unplugged, lol, twitch twitch…

    If I dare exit a room with a light left on, I am still haunted by the whoosh of her kimono-wrapped wings.

    When we swap stories of serfdom, I try not to mention that one lest I find myself twitching when I plug in my laptop and completely forgetting that I really do believe in reducing my energy use as best I reasonably can.

  3. Cary Ryerson says:

    Thank you “Captain NM Light and Electric”! ALWAYS such an informative super hero you are! Love you lots Cap’n.

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