by Chiot's Run
Here at Chiot's Run we strive to keep our utility bills in check through various methods. We collect rain water to help reduce water usage. We keep our house cool in the winter and warm in the summer to reduce gas/electric usage for heating and cooling. We keep electronics plugged in to power strips that get turned off. We have some appliances in the house that aren't efficient and we're slowly switching them to more efficient models as they wear out. Our water heater is one of these appliances, it's electric, it's 14 yrs old, but still going strong. We'll be switching to an on demand gas water heater when it dies. Until then we do what we can to maintain the current model to keep it running as efficiently as possible. We drain it yearly to get rid of sediment, and closely monitor our electric usage so we know when one of the elements has burned out. When our electric bill is $5-$10 higher than usual for a couple months we know it's time to install a new lower element (this usually happens every 3-5 years for us). For a few dollars we get a new one from our electric co-op and we install it. We're hoping the water heater will last a few more years while we save for a nice tankless water heater, which are much more expensive initially. We've already researched and chosen the one we want in case our current water heater doesn't last as long as we hope.
We keep a close eye on our utilities with a graph. I made a spreadsheet and each month I enter the total amounts used for gas/water/electric. This helps me chart our usage and it lets me know if our efforts to reduce our usage or at least maintain are working.
What tips do you have to keeping track of your utility usage?