Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet Your Breaker Box

For those of you who tuned in earlier we are into seeing how low we can get our power bill.

One the of the steps I mentioned was identifying those power hogs- heating and a/c systems, hot water heaters, clothes dryer, etc. While turning off lights is important we don't want to "strain at a gnat and swallow a fly". Another important step is becoming familiar with your breaker box- I hope yours is in as convenient location as ours is. If not, I'll have a suggestion for that in a minute so don't tune out :).

If your box is not labeled and major breakers identified now would be a great time to do that. Stand beside your box with a roll of masking tape and marker. Flip each breaker off and have children stationed throughout the house as you turn them on again letting you know what breakers control which switches. As you identify the switches they control label them. This may take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run. An electrician built our house and thankfully ours was marked very well, but in the ten years we have lived here we have rearranged and renamed rooms so it's always good to update your information. One other little tip- tape "on" those breakers you don't want to ever turn off. For instance we learned the hard way it was not worth it to turn off the outlet that ran our cordless phone and computer modem :).

These particular breakers are important- your hot water heater, stove/oven, freezers and/or refrigerators, and a/c system. Now because I'm home most all day and my breaker box is very convenient I can turn these breakers on and off to accelerate our savings. Yes, it is very important I remember to turn them on again. For instance we turn our hot water heater off at night and most of the day. We turn it on again in the evening to wash dishes, start the first load of laundry, and for baths. If all this jiggling of the breakers is not for you they do make an electric :( timer you can put on your hot water heater that will turn it off and on for you. We have really been amazed at the savings from this simple step. The water stays very warm even with the heater off. Of course we are entering summer so we don't need our showers to be quite so hot.

What about the other breakers? Why would I want to turn those off? As you are all aware many of our electric appliances use power even when they are off. The timer /clock on your stove and microwave, the clock on your coffee pot and on and on. If not being used why not turn them off ?- or you can unplug them.

The other reason is to help everyone think differently. Do I really need to turn that light or that switch on? Well, if I'm used to the power being off chances are I'll find another solution- maybe move to in front of the window. Gee, what a great idea!!

What about you- what great ideas are you having?

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