Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

March 14, 2008

Electrical Woes

Filed under: Uncategorized — theburts @ 1:02 pm
Tags: , , ,

So imagine this scenario…you drive a big V8 Corvette to work every day. You can afford the gas, but you get tired of your monthly auto gas total of $450. You start biking to work 1 day a week, you try to cut out any unnecessary driving, and you avoid the manly urge to accelerate quickly. Your gas the next month? $432. “Dang girl, what happened?” you ask. So then you make the plunge…you sell your Corvette and invest in a Toyota Prius. Still biking some and driving as little as possible, the expectation is great when you calculate the gas totals at the end of the next month. And the number is….$437.  ???

Our electricity bill was $117 this past month. We unplugged our heat completely, we switched to energy efficient lighting, we turn everything off when we’re gone or when we’re in another room, our two space heaters only operate when we’re at home and then only some of the time, we don’t watch TV, and we still can’t get our bill down. Frustrating! We feel like something must be wrong, like we could turn off and unplug everything for an entire month and would still have a $100 bill. But so far NES has been very anti-helpful. They’re basically placing the blame on the space heaters…it’s nice to have a scape goat.

Any ideas? Specifically, we’re interested in having someone come out to do an electrical audit and find out what in the world is draining our energy! NES no longer offers that service. Anyone know of a place that does that in Nashville?

Electrically yours,

Amanda and Daniel

PS. Going back to the first story, yesterday Daniel biked to work for the first time since winter started. Excited to be back on the road with two wheels. Also feeling rather embarrassed (after visiting Chicago twice and seeing tons of bicyclers) about quitting during the cold months. Maybe we can work on that for next year.



  1. AHh I think Jackson Energy Authority offers that service..HINT HINT.
    I will talk to the guy that does that and see what tips I can get from him.. It is true some of those space heaters can use a lot of electricity.
    One of you watch your electric meter and the other turn the space heaters on and see how fast the meter turns.. If Nashville has Digital meters then you cant do this.. try reading the meter 15 minutes before you turn them on and 15 minutes after you turn them on and compare the difference. Also do you have an electric Water heater. You might see if NES offers savings on it.(Thur TVA). they put a timer on it so it only heats the water at times you will be using it.
    I cant help on the bike thing, but maybe I can get some ideas for the electric..
    Oh you might check and see if there is a TVA office in Nashville they may offer energy audits. ‘
    Another read your meter every day (at the same time if you can) and see how days compare in usage. If you find a spike ask what you did different that day?
    Will send what info I can find..
    Love yas,

    Comment by Charles Harris — March 14, 2008 @ 1:24 pm | Reply

  2. Any chance your electricity is part of an average for your whole condo building or something? That was the way our apartment in Atlanta was.

    Also, you can get one of those kill-a-watt things to plug into each of your appliances and see the electricity use. And also, read your meter.

    Comment by Ariah Fine — March 14, 2008 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  3. Us, we haven’t even gotten an electricity bill for our place yet. I don’t know why they are slacking.

    Comment by Ariah Fine — March 14, 2008 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  4. How about your electric (?) dryer? Do you have one? Started Airdrying my clothes inside (winter) and dramatically cut down my electric bill — almost in half, in addition a few other changes. Both of my sister-in-laws have had the same experience air drying in their homes too. Got the idea after reading Serve God, Save the Planet. You can check out my “Air Drying Testimony” on my Blog sandstone-sandstone.blogspot.com Hope you find the “drain”! -Sandy

    Comment by Sandy — March 15, 2008 @ 8:32 am | Reply

  5. Thanks for the ideas everyone.

    Sandy, that’s awesome that you’re air drying your clothes. Though we don’t have a dryer in our apartment, you’re right that they use a huge amount of energy. I have to admit that we haven’t made the switch to drying clothes the natural way yet. I grew up with clotheslines, so I’m all about it…it’s been a little tough to figure out a way to effectively do that in our little apartment with wood floors that can’t get wet. I saw an idea lately that said hang up 2 or 3 extra shower rods over the tub for clothes hanging. Not a bad idea!

    To the others, we located our meter and will start to watch that more carefully. Ariah, I don’t know how to check on that…NES wouldn’t tell me that, I don’t think. :) I really don’t think it’s set up that way, cause these condos are mostly individually owned. Thanks again everyone for the ideas!

    Comment by theburts — March 15, 2008 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  6. In Maryland, the electrical companies were trying to get some electrical rate shenanigans passed where even if you conserved electricity you would essentially pay the same amount each month.. I tried finding the article but couldn’t.. I wonder if they have anything like going on in Tennessee. Its definitely enough to drive you nuts

    Comment by Jason J — March 15, 2008 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  7. You may be interested in joining a yahoo group called Riot for Austerity. They also have a web page: http://www.riot4austerity.org/blog/

    I’m a member of this group, and although I will never be the eco-warrier that most of them are, I have gleaned some great ideas and cut my heating and electric substantially. The goal is to use 90% less than the average American across the board. I’m down to about 50% of average…but that’s better than nothing, right? (At least that’s the way I look at it!)

    Best Wishes, and I love the blog.

    Comment by Sandy too — March 17, 2008 @ 7:42 am | Reply

  8. If you go to the following link you can do an energy audit on your own and it says you will receive a gift after completing it: http://www.nespower.com/energy_audit.aspx

    It likely is the space heaters along with an electric water heater if that is the type you have. I have a dishwasher, an electric dryer, an electric water heater and 5 people in my house and my bill runs less than $100 in the winter when I use gas heat. It also makes a difference if your condo is on top of another condo, whether you are the end unit or sandwiched between other units, etc. If you have access to your attic and/or under the house, you should check to see if there is any insulation.

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Chad — March 17, 2008 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

  9. Most home inspectors will do an energy audit. Not sure what they’ll charge, though. Try this one: http://www.homeinspectionnashville.com/

    Comment by AJ — March 17, 2008 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  10. I don’t know if it’s true, but I have heard that when you turn off your heaters, you actually use up more energy than if you had left it set to one level and never changed it. Supposedly, it’s more expensive to get it warm, than to just leave it a consistent temperature all the time.

    You may want to try it…but I can’t make any guarantees.

    Blessings, Jenn

    Comment by Jennifer Cullimore — March 19, 2008 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  11. I second the comment about the Riot 4 Austerity. I’ve been doing it since last July. Our electricity bill this past month was $38 and that includes a $15 donation to green energy. But what is more important than what you pay is how much electricity you use. Then you can compare to others more easily. So we really payed $23 for 212kwh. Over the past several months we have used as little as 179kwh/month and as much as 229kwh/month. We are a four person household, 2300SF house. We are in FL so we don’t heat for the most part which is gas or wood stove anyway. A kill-a-watt meter could be really helpful. An old refridgerator can use a lot of energy.
    Cindy in FL

    Comment by wasteweardaily — March 25, 2008 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

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