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I’m Saving $20,000 in Electricity Because I Don’t Want to Work to Pay the Bill

This morning I had to wake early to greet the electrician. He was kind enough to come over to help me install my latest gadget, the TED, the electricity detective.


It was advertised as a DIY kit, and for some homes I’m sure it is a breeze to install. But for some unexplained reason, my house does not have a main breaker to the primary breaker panel. After carefully considering the situation I called the electrician and told them I’d rather be the guy that calls the ambulance, than the guy in the ambulance.

Well Brian showed up this morning with his big rubber gloves to play around the live power panel and with some drilling, swearing, and a lost screwdriver tip, he got the transmitting part of the device installed. The install cost me $125.

I ran inside to see if the monitor was working, and it was. I can now measure the realtime electricity consumption of my house. Now that might sound a little geeky but the only way to cut back on usage is to be able to measure the usage and track the progress. It’s exactly like trying to get a grip on where your money is going, you’ve got to track the cash to find your stash.

My goal is to cut my electricity usage by 59%. Over the past year we’ve been using 2,800 kilowatt hours a month and that sure seems like a lot. So recently we’ve done a bunch of home improvements to help reduce our heating and cooling needs. The crawl space has been closed in and insulated, new insulation was added to the attic space, and our whole house fan is going to be installed soon. The whole house fan will significantly reduce our running the air conditioning.

We are also going to have a solar panel system added to the roof of the house so we can generate our own power. I know, it’s a big expense to put the panels in but we get 65% back and it will pay for itself over time.

So for now, Pam and I are running around like idiots, turning stuff on and off to measure it’s power usage. We turned on both A/C zones, the washer and dryer and watched the meter spin like crazy. Cha-ching.

Latter we’ll start going around and measuring the power consumption of all those little chargers and see how much we save just keeping those unplugged.

The goal here is not to live in the dark, but to be able to make educated and informed decisions about what we want to spend money on running.

With some power awareness and generating our own power I will be thrilled to get out consumption down to 1,150 KWh a month, a reduction of 59%. Our panels should produce about 550 KWh a month so our total consumption would be around 600 KWh. I think we can do it and if we can, our electric bill will only be around $31 dollars a month. Why so low, well the power company buys our generated power from us at a higher rate than they sell it to us.

Currently our power bill is about $333 a month so if the plan works, over the next ten years, and not counting for an increase in power costs, we should save $36,240 in electricity bills. And the solar panels are costing us $16,000 after rebates and tax credits to install so that will reduce our expenses by about $20,000.

Now the key factor here is that by reducing my cost of power by $20,000 it just means that I can spend some more time goofing off and having fun and less time having to work to just pay the power company.

I like this plan.


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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Steve Rhode


    I just finished a big summary of the project to date. You can read it online here.


  • Kim Kilbride

    Will you provide more info about the solar panels you chose? Where does one even start w/ that kind of project? Do you call your utility and ask if they will buy back your generated power? Would they have any recommendations about panels and/or installation contractors, do you think? If not, how would find someone locally you could trust?

    Kim Kilbrides last blog post..South Bend officer to serve five-day suspension for squad car accident

  • Peter

    Whole house fans are not only the least expensive, they are also the most environmentally friendly way to cool a home in areas where outdoor temperatures and humidity are low enough at night to provide cooling. Unlike conventional air conditioners, they don’t use any potentially harmful refrigerants and power consumption is extremely low. I have really been trying to get the word out about this method of cooling at Whole House Fan Info because I think not enough people are aware of the benefits!

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