Nearly four years ago my husband and I bought our house, a ranch home with ‘character’. It turns out that in this case “character” meant wild fluctuations in our electricity consumption and some troublesome heating issues (we’ll get to the heating issues in next month’s newsletter). In the last three and a half years, we’ve made energy improvements, specifically to electricity. Saving energy is quite literally my job so I decided to track the results. So where are we?

Do you see that flat line from May ’15 on? This means we’ve lowered and stabilized our electricity use significantly. That’s a 40% improvement, saving us $260 over 2015 and $530 over 2014! By comparison, the average Chugach Electric Association customer used 602 kWh per month.

So… what the heck happened here? It’s about the hot tub. Our home came with a 1995, 500-gallon hot tub. We thought this was great and we would use it all winter.   Well, we didn’t. The age and size meant it took forever to heat up and we barely used it. So I turned to Craigslist and gave it away.

Photo: Tim Leach

That’s not all – of course we immediately started swapping out old bulbs for more efficient LEDs. LEDs are a no brainer. They are 75 – 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Over the past five years they have dropped significantly in price and simultaneously increased in quality, offering a wide color spectrum. To further improve our efficiency, we chose an Energy Star washer when it came time to replace ours. Energy Star products met strict efficiency guidelines that save you money.

Even after those energy efficiency upgrades, some of the savings came down to good old fashioned energy conservation. I have declared myself the official Energy Czar of our house and after a couple of months of making my husband do push-ups when he left the lights on even he is in the habit of turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use. (Before you judge me too much, let me say that he needed the exercise just as much as we needed to save the energy!) When it comes to heat, we had a greater challenge. Stay tuned in February for ‘Walking the Talk, Part II’.

Written by Shaina Kilcoyne, Energy Efficiency Director, REAP