Before we moved out here to the sticks, I did a massive de-appliancification. My goal was to lower our dependence on electricity, as well as to lower our electric bill. I borrowed the Kill-a-Watt electricity monitor from the library (the library!) to see where our usage was going. But frankly, admitting my ignorance here, I wasn’t sure what to make of the readings. What DO all those numbers mean?
What I did find out by looking around the house was that, holy plug, were we using a lot of unnecessary electricity. I didn’t need a Kill-a-Watt to tell me that. I did do some internet research and found out some things I didn’t know. For example, that my appliances were like vampires, sucking small amounts of electricity even when they were turned off. I also learned that there are peak electricity usage times, when your costs for usage goes up. So here’s what I did:
- Went around the house and unplugged things. I donated a bunch of devices that were plugged in, but that we didn’t need, like a clock and a bunch of lamps. We had three cordless phone cradles, which basically just promoted laziness. I got rid of one and kept one upstairs and one downstairs.
- Donated a bunch of appliances—the waffle maker, toaster oven, and those myriad kitchen things that I used occasionally, but which took up space usually.
- Put a switched adapter on the few remaining appliances that I used regularly and kept out on the counter—the fancy espresso maker and the toaster. Instead of turning off the appliance, I turned of the switch at the outlet to stop vampire draw.
- Put in a conserve switch surge protector strip with remote at my two points of massive electricity usage—the office and the tv area. What these allowed me to do was keep on the devices that I wanted to stay on all the time, like the DVR for recording shows and the internet router, but turn off all the other things with one switch before going to bed. I mounted the remote on the wall right outside the bedroom and switched it off when going to bed.
- Turned the thermostat down to 63 at bedtime and threw on warmer pajamas.
- Changed my wash times to weekend and before noon on weekdays, and switched to washing all in cold water (with no noticeable change in cleaning effectiveness, mind you).
Amazingly, the next month, my gas and electric bill dropped by $100 dollars with no real change in our habits or reduction in the stuff we actually used. Crazy.
So when we moved over here to the sticks, I was already ahead of the game, with only a coffee maker, a toaster, a blow dryer, and a stick blender with blender/mixer attachments.
We also have our laptops, internet router, home phones and cell phones.
But gradually, over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that even those last few appliances ought to go. We have solar power, but just enough to power our computer and phone usage. I had to turn on the generator just to use the toaster.
So over the weekend, I loaded up my espresso maker and milk foamer in the car to take to Goodwill. Don’t laugh. I get up at 4:30 a.m. Good coffee is on my list of must-haves. Giving my beloved coffeemaker is a big step.
But it’s funny what happens when you’re pressed to make choices. You realize what you needed was really just something you’ve gotten used to, and that there are legit alternatives, without much loss of quality of living.
Introducing my new (actually old, pulled from our camping gear) analog espresso maker (on the propane stove):
And my new toaster:
As for the blow dryer, it’s gone, too. I got a hair cut. With express instructions to the stylist that my new style had to be air-dryable, long enough to put in a ponytail—my go-to mom look—and still groovy enough to wear out and not look like I just stepped out of the woods.